Before the pandemic, I was addressing an audience in Washington, D.C. about American national security and the need for an American doctrine foundationally based on the natural law of God, which in the modern age would require nations to uphold democratic values and intervene against tyranny, genocide and persecution.
A questioner in the audience asked how I could possibly justify this. I looked perhaps as incredulous as her and said, “I am a Christian.” This and many events like it pushed me into writing a book well outside my usual area. I kept coming back to the unending tidal wave of suffering throughout the history of international relations. In researching my new book, “The International Relations of the Bible,” one of the many themes that erupt from the age of antiquity is that of persecution. However, most important to us is how prevalent that theme is with us today and the foreseeable future.
The Bible illustrates many international relations problems, especially the broad area of human rights. Persecution is a core issue and definer of Judaism and Christianity. The Old Testament is, in many ways, a constant narrative of persecution by one international relations kingdom or empire against the Jews.
The beginning of this is the Jewish enslavement by Egypt that creates the beginning of Judaism’s struggle and characterizes their relationship with God as the liberator. One has only to review the significant celebrations in Jewish tradition to see the core theme of persecution, Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles (Egyptian persecution), Hanukkah (Hellenistic persecution), Purim (Persian persecution), the Fast of the Seventeenth of Tammuz (Babylonian and Roman persecution) and Holocaust Memorial Day (Nazi persecution).
For Christians, there is nothing more pivotal than the persecution of Jesus, followed by the persecution of his followers and the faith itself. The persecution of Christians becomes one of Christianity’s most powerful stories of redemption and changes Western civilization beyond recognition.
The Herodians first persecuted Jesus at his birth and childhood, then the Sadducces, Pharisees and Sanhedrin steered eventually by the High Priest Caiaphas led to his crucifixion. The highest holiday for Christians, Easter, results from Jewish and Roman persecution. Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee, is the most infamous persecutor of Christians, leading not only to his redemption as Saint Paul but also to Christianity’s most pivotal evangelizer to the gentile world.
As Paul, he was responsible for writing almost half the books of the New Testament, warned the followers of Christ of the persecution of the day and that which will come later. His own persecution by the Romans and that of Peter’s, leads to the eventual religious conquest of the empire which ensures Christianity’s victory in Europe and eventually the United States.
Furthermore, Nero attempt to blame Christians for the great fire of 64 A.D., allowed him to amplify the very persecution he earlier initiated, which like today helped to create the conditions of Christianity’s victory.
The persecution of Christians and Jews continues today with very little attention by the worldwide community, the U.N. and the current administration in Washington. Samaritan’s Purse, one of the organizations that monitors this persecution and acts on it, has highlighted many anti-Christian sufferings. These include the attempt by ISIS to destroy Christians in Iraq and Syria, some of the oldest Christian communities globally, and attacks against churches in Africa.
Although there has been some attention paid to the persecution of Christians and Jews by Islamic extremist terrorist organizations, we have paid less to state-sponsored terror against Christians on the international scene in nations like China, Iran and North Korea. The exact list of rogue nations that seek to dethrone the United States from international prominence and promote insatiably are also the most egregious persecutors of Christians among their own population.
The vast majority of Chinese Christians attend illegal, underground “house” churches, with some estimates ranging well over 100 million people. They are threatened with imprisonment, torture, loss of jobs and social ostracism through China’s new social credit system. In Iran, Christians suffer worse fates and are perhaps 10 times the number of the official Iranian government’s estimate of 117,000.
Finally, as the most extreme example, North Korean Christians are placed in concentration camps. In these cases, the persecution and growth of the faith are complimentary, which worries the governments of these regimes perhaps more than American military forces.
It should also be noted that many of these regimes that cause the most problems on the international scene today through hostility, violence and destruction today revel in their persecution of Christians and Jews.
However, it is in the hope that arises from persecution that propels the international relations into a brighter future, best expressed in John 16:33 “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
• Lamont Colucci’s new book, “The International Relations of the Bible” (Post Hill Press) can be purchased on Amazon.
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.