Saturday, April 28, 2007

Book Review: Shattering the Darkness, The Crisis of the Cross in the Church Today, by Joseph Foreman

This was a difficult book. It was not difficult because it was hard to understand but because it was very simple to grasp. The author of the book, Joseph Foreman, was a leader in the Operation Rescue movement in 1988-89. Operation Rescue was the organization that blocked the entrances to abortion clinics preventing people from going in and killing their unborn babies. Throughout reading this book, I found myself wanting to wiggle out of their logic, to try and believe that one can do other things besides this to advance the pro-life cause, but whatever objections I brought up seemed to be not based on reason but based on my own selfish desires. I don’t rescue because I have legitimate Christian objections but because I don’t want to get persecuted by this society. This book is difficult to review because it hits so close to home in that it asks the sincere Christian, “Why aren’t you rescuing the little ones?”

Conservative Christians tend to believe that abortion is killing a human life. However, most of us are content with just voting for pro-life candidates, helping out at crisis pregnancy centers, etc. The difference in Rescue is that they act as if abortion was taking a human life rather than just trying to get rid of it via political means. The question is how a Christian ought to act if people are killing children every day in public? Act of terrorism obviously isn’t following Christ’s example just as doing nothing is not in keeping. Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one the least of these, you did not do it to me.” Matt. 25:45. By blocking the doors to abortion clinics in the late 1980s these people stopped the killing of these children saving actual lives in a self-sacrificial way. For these actions society rewarded them by beating them, arresting them, putting them in jail for months on end, taking their property and pretty much doing things that people tend to try to avoid. Like the Christians of the first few centuries A.D. these people literally lost everything for what they were.

They are an indictment against the Church, and against me personally, in that they actually act in accordance with their beliefs. Christians are much derided for not practicing what they preach, especially in America where we all lead quite comfortable lives. Operation Rescue failed because the Christians involved couldn’t consistently stand up in the face of persecution. Taking away their material possessions, taking away their freedom and ripping apart their families was an understandable disincentive to rescue. People tend to be selfish, even and especially Christians in America. Christians in America are unfortunately more American than Christian. Again, I know that in this judgment I am judging myself.

Rescue was even more dissuaded perhaps because it reminded people, especially Christians of something that is extremely uncomfortable and unsettling about our faith. That something is the Cross. Rescuing children who would be aborted is costly in that it calls for near total self-sacrifice. It shows that the Cross is diametrically opposed to the idolatry we Americans have brought into our lives speaking against the gods of Comfort, Security, and Man’s Opinion/Law. For the last two thousand years every generation has had to say, “If you are the Son of God, come down from that cross.” Matt. 27:40. God as revealed through the Christian scriptures has always been the one who sides with the poor and downtrodden, the large masses of suffering people throughout history; the people no one speaks for or cares for.

Only the Cross, exemplified in those early Christians who were burned as human torches and fed to the lions in the Roman coliseums, can shatter the darkness around us. Only through humility and the obedience that comes from faith can we transcend our tiny self-centered existences and seek to rescue. I am not merely talking about rescuing in front of abortion clinics but rescuing in all aspects of one’s life. It’s about denying the self to rescue an unsaved friend, sacrificing your time and energy to serve your neighbors or just serving your wife by doing always doing small things for her that she does not see.

“Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” Matt. 10:39. The Christian calling is not easy and our natures are opposed to it. That’s why we can only succeed in being “salt of the Earth” and the “light of the world,” through the grace of God made effective through true repentance and faith in Christ. Only through having faith and obedience to the gospel can the Cross finally shatter the darkness.


Steven Carr said...

Could you name a Christian who was killed in the Colosseum?

Kevin Craig said...

Ignatius? Telemachus? Colosseum & Christian Martyrs