August 4, 1792.
A liberal's dream came true in France on this day. The ruling body that had taken over France in the wake of the Revolution declared all churches closed. Many were used as prisons. Some were used for more ... inappropriate uses.
The French revolution was, from it's inception, anti-Christian and anti-Church -- but especially the latter. The Church in France at the time had become corrupt, with bishops ruthlessly persecuting Hugenots and other non-conformists. Most of the bishops were from the upper class of society, and abuses of their power abounded. They were very good at illustrating the wrath of God, but His grace and love were absent.
So the philosophers embraced Deism, with it's absent clockmaker God, or outright agnosticism and atheism. Rationalism and Deism became the state religions, and an oath of loyalty was soon required. Anyone who refused to swear loyalty to the new secular government was exiled from France. Churches were destroyed, priests were harrassed, and Christians were ridiculed and openly persecuted.
This is NOT a pretty day in church history. This isn't a day to remember with pride. It is a day that the failings of a church that had gotten proud of itself, that had decided that the people were beneath it, came back to haunt it.
There is an attitude about the church today that is similar to that of the French philosophes. I wrote about Mr. Kristoff
and his plea that Christianity become more tolerant and inclusive, and let go of the exclusivity of the gospel. I've talked about that subject before
, a long time ago when this blog was new. People want to neuter religion, and to make it harmless.
We aren't without blame. Every day, you can read about Christians who haven't been living up to expectations. Christians who are not showing the love of Christ. we fail -- we're human, after all. But we like to cover things up. We need to admit to the world that we are far from perfect, but that in spite of our failings God wants to have a relationship with us. We have been forgiven, and they can be too.
We need to learn from the example of France. Take a look there now. It is one of the biggest mission fields in the world -- and one of the hardest to work in, from what I've heard. Christians need to stop giving people a reason to ignore us, and start giving them a reason to listen to us -- Jesus Christ, proclaimed unashamedly.