This will perhaps come as a shock to them, but the doggedly secularist elites of 21st century America and Europe view Christianity, especially in its Evangelical and traditional Catholic assemblies, in much the same way as the Roman elites of the second-century empire viewed a movement that was then but a minor irritant.
Or to put it another way, George Soros and your buddies with the Davos Great Reset crowd, meet Emperor Marcus Aurelius and the Pax Romana.
For one thing, both eras feature widely diverse religious groups professing multiple understandings of and approaches to living a good life. As George Barna puts it in his latest American Worldview Inventory:
“Almost nine out of 10 U.S. adults (88 percent) have an impure, unrecognizable worldview that is nothing more than a customized personal blend of disparate ideas adopted from multiple philosophies of life. This worldview is called Syncretism.
“People who are driven by this unique, highly individualized mishmash of ideas simply combine them into what is usually an inconsistent, sometimes internally contradictory, hot mess of a worldview. Syncretism reflects the superficial thinking and feelings-based decision-making that prevails in our cut-and-paste society.”
The America that not so long ago was predominantly made up of people who considered themselves to be Christians, mostly of a Protestant persuasion but a great many Catholics as well, has degenerated into a “hot mess” that includes New Age spiritualism, Mormonism, Hinduism, Islamists, Buddhists, “Nones” and Atheists.
Compare that with the religious demographics of the second-century Roman Empire. In his The Patient Ferment of the Early Church, Alan Kreider tells us that “the Roman religious world was extremely tolerant, and many Roman citizens cobbled together religious lives as they participated in a wide range of religious observances.”
And remember, the Roman Empire of the second century stretched from Spain and Eastward across the entire Mediterranean Sea, covering most of Western and parts of Eastern Europe, as well as the entire expanse of North Africa from Morocco to Egypt, and thence throughout the Holy Land and into and somewhat beyond Mesopotamia.
Literally hundreds of tribes and dozens of nations, as well as countless local and national deities, languages, and traditions, were encompassed within the boundaries of the empire. Rome was tolerant of all of these so long as the Emperor was honored as divine and his governing authority respected.
But what of those Christians who refused to bow down to Marcus Aurelius and acknowledge him as one of the many gods? That inevitably led to frustration, then punishment, and finally persecution that saw Christians thrown to the lions simply because they admitted to being followers of Jesus Christ.
“But wait a minute,” you might be thinking, “nobody in the West today is murdering Christians by putting them in arenas to be torn apart and eaten by wild animals, so where’s the parallel here, Tapscott?” You’re right, of course; Christians aren’t being thus treated, at least not today, but that just indicates we haven’t quite reached the persecution stage.
But it takes little observational effort to see there are widespread and systematic efforts to punish Christians who refuse to bow to the secular agenda of the Great Reset elites in the United States and Europe.
Yes, the Supreme Court recently in a unanimous decision instructed Boston authorities that they cannot bar the display of a Christian flag on the public square simply because it represents a particular faith. But that case took years to make its way through the judicial system and cost thousands of dollars and hours to make a point that not so long ago nobody in America would question.
And consider the censorship that is endemic on social media of Christians who express agreement with the Biblical view that marriage is solely between a man and a woman. Of all the secular orthodoxies, the gay agenda is all but sacrosanct, and to dissent from it is to subject oneself to a variety of punishments.
Finally, are you aware that thousands of members of the U.S. military — men and women who have sworn to give their lives to protect your freedom and mine — are being tossed out of the service because they claimed a religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine? The majority of these men and women are Evangelical Christians.
In Rome, tolerance meant as long as you bowed down to the Roman god, you could worship any other deity you chose. In America and Europe today, according to the International Institute for Religious Freedom, the fear of punishment for publicly expressing views consistent with traditional Christianity is so pervasive that there is a “widespread chilling effect” on such speech.
One of the places where I have found that chilling effect most pervasive is on Capitol Hill among the 20,000 or so congressional aides who work for members of Congress and for congressional committees.
These mostly young men and women (average age of 27) are highly educated, work long hours usually for low pay, and often go on to become leaders in their own right at the local, state, and national level.
They are also among the most influential groups in the nation’s capital because they do most of the daily grind work of Congress, and they often have a tremendous influence on how their bosses vote in the Senate and House of Representatives.
Yet, for Christians on congressional staffs, Capitol Hill is among the most hostile environments imaginable. Even so, the 52-Week Ministry Foundation’s HillFaith, which the Lord called me to start in 2018, is there, working away quietly and with great determination to equip Christian staffers to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with their colleagues.
For example, on Mondays at noon right behind the Supreme Court building, a HillFaith group that meets under the banner of “For Hill Aides Only” gathers for apologetical Bible study and fellowship. The group began with only a couple of folks but now numbers as many as a dozen and is steadily growing.
HillFaith is also planning a digital and print advertising campaign in publications read by Hill aides that will put a dozen key questions about the life, death, and, especially, the resurrection of Jesus before them that many of them have never even heard, much less considered. Go here if you’d like to know more about HillFaith or help support it. And your prayers are earnestly sought as well.