Get PJ Media on your Apple

The PJ Tatler

by
Raymond Ibrahim

Bio

May 23, 2013 - 7:03 am

Despite the fact that Christian martyrdom under the militant Roman Empire has long been an unquestioned historical fact, Candida Moss in her new book The Myth of Persecution claims that it was largely a “myth,” that many of history’s best known narratives of Christian martyrs were entirely fabricated.

Failure to comply: Saint Sebastian, who was ordered killed by the Roman emperor Diocletian.

Failure to comply: Saint Sebastian, who was ordered killed by the Roman emperor Diocletian.

This thesis, as most modern-day academic theses concerning early history, is fundamentally based on conjecture, projections, and above all, anachronisms—the sort that earlier turned Christ into a homosexual hippie and Muhammad into a humanitarian feminist. Neither Moss nor anyone else can prove or disprove what the primary historical texts say—that Roman persecution of Christians was very real, widespread, and brutal.

We weren’t there.

But from an objective point of view, is it not more reasonable to accept the many testimonies of contemporary eyewitnesses, than it is the conjectures of a politically charged book that is separated from its subject by 2,000 years?

Among other ideas unintelligible and inapplicable to the ancient world, Moss invokes “T-shirts,” “favorite athletes,” and “brands of soda” to “prove” that the ancient narrative of Christians tortured and killed for their faith was all a gag to make a profit: “Martyrs were like the action heroes of the ancient world,” Moss says. “It was like getting your favorite athlete endorsing your favorite brand of soda. …Of course, the prices were completely jacked up.”

In short, the merit of Moss’ thesis rests in the fact that it satisfies a certain anti-Christian sentiment, that it satisfies a modern-day political perspective—and not that it offers any facts or serious arguments. By projecting cynical postmodern perspectives onto the mentalities of both Romans and Christians, who lived worlds and centuries away, the thesis is ultimately farcical.

Even so, let’s tackle the myth charge from a different angle.  Let’s leave the question of eyewitnesses, texts, and traditions, and instead rely on common sense—that which is in short supply in the academic community.  The fact is, we can often learn about the past by looking at the present. If at least 100 million Christians are currently being persecuted today, in an era when Western ideas of humanitarianism and religious tolerance have permeated the rest of the world—is it not reasonable to conclude that 2,000 years ago, when “might made right” and brutally prevailed, that Christians were also being persecuted then, especially when contemporary sources indicate as much?

Consider the modern Islamic world alone, where today’s overwhelming majority of horrific Christian persecution occurs, as documented in my new book Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians.  Today in the 21st century, Christians under Islam are still being tortured, imprisoned, enslaved, and killed; their churches and Bibles are routinely banned or burned.

Why is that?  Because Islam is a supremacist cult, which brooks no opposition and demands conformity, one way or the other: Islamic law (see Koran 9:29) teaches that those who come under its hegemony must either convert, or keep their faith but live as ostracized third-class citizens (dhimmis), or die. The supremacist culture of the Roman Empire—an even older martial cult devoted to the gods of war—was not much different….  Continue Reading

Raymond Ibrahim, a Middle East and Islam specialist, is author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007). His writings have appeared in a variety of media, including the Los Angeles Times, Washington Times, Jane’s Islamic Affairs Analyst, Middle East Quarterly, World Almanac of Islamism, and Chronicle of Higher Education; he has appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, C-SPAN, PBS, Reuters, Al-Jazeera, NPR, Blaze TV, and CBN. Ibrahim regularly speaks publicly, briefs governmental agencies, provides expert testimony for Islam-related lawsuits, and testifies before Congress. He is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center; Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow, Middle East Forum; and a Media Fellow at the Hoover Institution, 2013. Ibrahim’s dual-background -- born and raised in the U.S. by Coptic Egyptian parents born and raised in the Middle East -- has provided him with unique advantages, from equal fluency in English and Arabic, to an equal understanding of the Western and Middle Eastern mindsets, positioning him to explain the latter to the former.

Comments are closed.

All Comments   (6)
All Comments   (6)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
Part of the problem is that most people and especially most Americans are historically illiterate. Asked for examples of Christian brutality they will reflexively blurt out the words "inquisition" and "crusades" , of course, but if you ask them to explain what those things actually were you'll get a blank stare most of the time. I had a co-worker last year, a woman in her late 30s, who insisted that the Crusades were an anti-semetic campaign aimed at wresting Jerusalem from the Jews. It's really hard to have any kind of debate in the face of that kind of deep, willful ignorance. And when you feed them a line of utter BS that dovetails with their ignorance and prejudice they're usually not inclined to question it too deeply.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yes, SilverAge, it seems that very few today know that the Crusades were in response to Muslim conquest of Christian holy lands and persecution of Christians. PC has turned history on its head, and teaches that "up is down, and down is up."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
No one expects an inquisition about the Inquisition!!!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
100 percent correct Raymond. The most destructive thing that is occurring in our culture right now is the claim that truth is subjective which leads to the belief that truth is irrelevant.

Those who hold this view must be scorned.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It might also be argued that most of the trouble in the world is caused by people who believe that THEIR truth is THE truth - and have given themselves permission to kill anyone who disagrees with them.

On the other hand, if I understand correctly, the Romans were pretty relativistic and statist, a bit like today's liberals. Romans didn't kill Christians for having different beliefs. They killed them for refusing to engage the Romans' state-sanctioned religious practices. The Romans didn't care if you "believed" the Emperor was a god, but they did expect you to show up at the Emperor-worshiping ceremony (or whatever) and go through the motions like everybody else. If you didn't, you were bucking the system, undermining state authority, promoting dissension, and weakening the Empire. You were dangerous and needed to be brought into line or eliminated.

I think that's what they call the "civic religion." America has had a number of civic religions in its history. The current one is left-liberalism. It is enshrined in our laws and our culture. Multiculturalism, political correctness, and statism are part of it. Anyone who bucks the system gets attacked by its guardians and protectors. Fortunately, this tendency is held in check (most of the time, and for the time being) by older, deeper beliefs enshrined in our Bill of Rights.

Sometimes I think the Constitution is the only thing standing between us and death in the arena.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Oh, my point was - before I started babbling - was that trouble starts when people's REAL religions conflict with their country's CIVIC religion. Many Jews and Christians refused to act like their pagan neighbors and just go with the flow. They bucked the system. The Romans punished them for it.

Today, bucking the left-liberal civic religion, questioning its assumptions, failing at least to go through the motions, to pay lip service to the common wisdom, can get you in trouble as well. At the very least, it's considered rude or in bad taste. At the very worst, it can get you mugged by the IRS.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
View All