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The Remarkable story of Christian persecution over the centuries

By Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo
Isaac Publishing, McLean, VA. 260pp https://isaac-publishing.com/
The book can be purchased here: https://barnabasfund.org/nz/shop/product/hated-without-a-reason

Reviewed by David W. Virtue, DD
May 1, 2019

Few persons have had a front row seat to the persecution of Christians across the globe than the Very Rev. Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo. For nearly half a century, as director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity and for 25 years International Director of the Barnabas Fund, he has watched with alarm the steady invasion of militant Islam in the West, eroding Christian confidence in its own truth claims.

Now 72, and the author of numerous papers and author/editor of some 47 books, including Global Jihad: The Future in the Face of Militant Islam, Sookhdeo is an outspoken advocate for persecuted Christian minorities around the world. As an Anglican, he has been a fearless advocate for orthodox Christianity, for which he has experienced his own persecution. He is convinced that only an orthodox view of the Christian faith can stand up to the rigors of absolutist and militant Islam.

This volume represents a life time's work, mostly historical, with chapters focusing on periods and some on geographical areas that bring to life the history of persecution from the first Millennium to the 21st century to those who heard and responded to the call of Christ and suffered for it.

Sookhdeo has documented the nightmare of the twentieth century, one of great persecution, perhaps the greatest, but notes that this was due to political and ideological developments on the world stage. He says the actions of Western politicians directly or indirectly, undermined the work of Western missionaries and led to distrust, harassment and persecution of local believers. "However, this persecution did not bring about the extinction of the Church as happened in certain times and places in the past. Rather, the twentieth-century Church seems to have grown best in some of the contexts of greatest pressure, such as China and Iran."

He notes that Christianity also spread wider than in any other century. "By the end of the twentieth century there were indigenous Christian believers in every Muslim-majority nation, something that was unthinkable at the beginning of the century, or even halfway through it. They may have been very few in number, as in Mauritania, Libya or the Maldives but by the year 2000 they were there."

Sookhdeo understands Our Lord's words to his first disciples when he said, "If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also." Christian believers have suffered for their Lord down the centuries and across the world. Hated Without a Reason tells the glorious story of their courage, faith and endurance, including many moving and inspirational examples that are little known. At a very personal level, Dr Sookhdeo's book considers the different ways in which individual Christians could respond to persecution. It also explores the wide sweep of causes of persecution over two thousand years, whether religious, political, economic or ideological, finding lessons from the past which are relevant and applicable in the twenty-first century.

Sookhdeo says that the first two decades of the twenty-first century have seen increased pressure on Christians. Some Middle Eastern countries with a continuous Christian presence for two millennia are now in danger of losing it, as desperate Christians leave their homelands to seek freedom, security and equality elsewhere. But the dwindling Christian communities remain -- at least for now.

The early twenty-first century has also been marked by a belated recognition in the West that Christians in other parts of the world are suffering unjustly for their faith. Some Western governments also have been active on behalf of Christians, for example, the German and Hungarian governments gave financial support to Christians in the Middle East. Both Cyprus and Hungary sought to offer safe refuge to Christian refugees from the region, though thwarted by European Union regulations.

Sookhdeo is not just content to catalogue the atrocities perpetrated at Christians, he delves deeper into what should be Christian responses to persecution. He asks, is religious liberty a biblical concept? He argues that freedom is rooted in God's nature and in His dealings with human beings. He touches on the liberty of the spirit, freedom and humanity with references to the OT, later the Church Fathers, The Reformers, the Roman Catholics and the touchy issue of how individual Christians respond to being persecuted. What about state protection? Escaping and avoiding? Accepting and enduring and the even thornier issue of denying Christ.

"If some in extreme circumstances commit apostasy with their lips but continue to love the Lord in their hearts is that right or wrong? Only God knows."

Sookhdeo concludes his book by asking Christians to take care that if we are hated, it is only because we love the Lord. If we are hated, it must be without a reason except the reason that we are faithful to Him and to His Word.

I cannot commend this book too highly. The volume covers ground in an easy to read style in well laid out chapters, some highlighted in color. Dr. Sookhdeo has done the Church a wonderful service in writing this book. If he writes no new book, this volume will carry Christians under fire well into the twenty-first century. With this book in their hands, they will know why they suffer and why they are persecuted. They will know that they are not alone; that millions have gone before them, and they can say in the words of Hebrews 11:35-38 "...they were put to death by stoning; they were sawn in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated -- the world was not worthy of them."

For more books by this author, click here: https://isaac-publishing.com/product-category/christian-persecution/

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