Will You Be Found Faithful?: Chapter Five

When the Christian Church Is Unfaithful

Just as the ancient Israelites had a history of unfaithfulness, the church has committed spiritual adultery and left behind an embarrassing record that has caused the name of God to be vilified. The corruption of the worship of Christ has led to the same sin and injustice that was found in Israel–only worse. Our failure to remain faithful has led to massive human suffering throughout the ages.

In the debate with atheists, many apologists run into a wall when the failures of Christianity throughout history are mentioned. Skeptics use the sins of the church as an excuse to not love or honor God, arguing that the church has been a scourge on history rather than a blessing. This is what the infamous atheist Christopher Hitchens argued in his book God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. 

If I cannot definitively prove that the usefulness of religion is in the past, and that its foundational books are transparent fables, and that it is a man-made imposition, and that it has been an enemy of science and inquiry, and that it has subsisted largely on lies and fears, and been the accomplice of ignorance and guilt as well as of slavery, genocide, racism, and tyranny. I can most certainly claim that religion is now fully aware of these criticisms. (italics added) [1]

Many Christians would like for this to not be true, but the history of the church has four periods, in particular, that atheists can absolutely point to as failures:

  1. The Inquisition
  2. Southern slavery
  3. Colonialism/imperialism
  4. Nazism

It has been very difficult to defend ourselves against these charges. After all, the people who did these wicked things all carried the name of Christ. Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, and Lutherans were all involved in being cruel and heartless toward their neighbors–in the name of God.

The Catholics burned dissenters and “heretics” at the stake and often used torture as a tool to their views. John Huss was burned at the stake by a brood of Catholic bishops and cardinals who raged against him. [2]

Calvin’s Geneva was involved in burning Michael Servetus at the stake “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” because Servetus denied the Trinity.

The Baptists (and other Protestants) kidnapped Africans and shipped them to America, holding them against their will and using chains and the strong arm of the law to make them submit to their treachery. Frederick Douglass left this description of a Methodist for the record of history:

I used to attend a Methodist church, in which my master was a class leader; he would talk most sanctimoniously about the dear Redeemer, who was sent “to preach deliverance to the captives, and set at liberty them that are bruised”–he could pray at morning, pray at noon, and pray at night; yet he could lash up my poor cousin by his two thumbs, and inflict stripes and blows upon his bare back, till the blood streamed to the ground! All the time quoting scripture, for his authority, and appealing to that passage of the Holy Bible which says, “He that knoweth his master’s will, and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes!” (Luke 12:49) Such was the amount of this good Methodist’s piety. [3]

The social Darwinist/Christians of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries abused and used the darker races for their own gain. Believing the darker races were less evolved, they treated them as though they were the white man’s burden to Christianize and civilize. In the meantime, according to the testimony of faithful missionaries, those who didn’t submit had their hands cut off, their bodies beaten, and their families broken up. (Mark Twain revealed the testimonies of these missionaries in King Leopold’s Soliloquy.) [4]

Many Lutherans, Catholics, and other “Christians” from Germany gassed millions of Jews and cremated them in ovens, proudly displaying the swastika on their church altars, forcing humans to load onto cattle cars to travel to concentration camps and work until they died of starvation.

Even today, there are millions of Christians who stand in support of the bloody abortion industry. [5]

How can this be? How can those who carry the name of the loving and compassionate Jesus support something that hurts, and even murders, innocent people in his name?

I hope that by looking at church history and comparing it to the history of the ancient Israelites, we can learn what God desires of his people and what it means to be faithful to God.

 

 

[1] Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (New York: Twelve, 2007), 229.

[2] John Foxe, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (Pittsburgh, PA: Whitaker House, 1981), 110.

[3] Frederick Douglass, The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass. Edited by Philip S. Foner. Vol. 1. (New York: International Publishers, 1975), 102-105.

[4] “Blister the meddlesome missionaries! They write tons of these things. They seem to be always around, always spying, always eye-witnessing the happenings; and everything they see they commit to paper. They are always prowling from place to place; the natives consider them their only friends; they go to them with their sorrows; they show them their scars and their wounds, inflicted by my soldier police; they hold up the stumps of their arms and lament because their hands have been chopped off, as punishment for not bringing in enough rubber, and as proof to be laid before my officers that the required punishment was well and truly carried out. One of these missionaries saw eighty-one of these hand drying over a fire for transmission to my officials–and of course he must go and set it down and print it. They travel and travel, they spy and spy! And nothing is too trivial for them to print.” Mark Twain. King Leopold’s Soliloquy. (New York: International Publishers, 1970), 39.

[5] Carol Novielli. “Kansas Church to Host Planned Parenthood Abortion ‘Celebration.'” EAGnews, January 3, 2015. Accessed February 22, 2015. http://eagnews. org/kansas-church-to-host-planned-parenthood-abortion-celebration/.

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