Standing on guard

by Mathew Block

cl2903-cover-webIt’s become almost commonplace to note that Canada is not the nation it once was. We have quickly become a post-Christian society—a nation which counts Christian faith as part of its history but not its future. Last year, Statistics Canada announced that the number of Canadians identifying as Christian has dropped dramatically: from 77% in 2001 to 67% in 2011. And a new study confirms that fewer and fewer Canadians—even self-professed Christians—recognize the Bible as God’s Word. The fact is, most Canadian Christians never read the Bible at all.

It is not hard to understand why, as a result, that the Canadian consensus on hot-topic social issues is moving in a decidedly non-biblical direction. We’ve seen it in the headlines a lot these past few months. Consider, for example, the subject of abortion. The leader of the Liberal party made waves after declaring that, in the future, no pro-life candidates would be allowed to run for his party. The NDP took things a step further, calling for a vote in the House of Commons to recognize a woman’s right to abortion as “a fundamental question of equality and human rights.” And, lest we forget, the leader of the Conservative party is himself on record saying his government opposes changing the law on abortion. He even voted in 2012 against a private member’s motion that sought to study Canadian Law’s definition of when human life begins.

Of course, abortion is hardly the only issue that’s been in the news as of late. We’ve seen the province of Quebec attempt to ban public servants from wearing religious garb (including large crosses and crucifixes). We’ve witnessed a move to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide (see our new article on this subject). The federal government is currently considering loosening the laws prohibiting prostitution, after a court struck down existing laws. And we’ve even seen attempts to ban a Christian university—Trinity Western University (TWU)—from running a law school. Even though the school eventually received the green light from the province of British Columbia, the law societies of Ontario and Nova Scotia have nevertheless barred TWU graduates from practising law in their provinces.

These actions, of course, are not outright persecution. Canadian Christians do not face death for their faith, the way Mariam Ibrahim of Sudan does. Ibrahim, a 27 year old woman and a Christian, was born to a Muslim father. Under Sudanese Islamic law, children must follow the faith of their father. Ibrahim has consequently been sentenced to death for converting to Christianity. She, and countless others like her, face true persecution, and need our prayers.

Nevertheless, Christians in Canada are also learning, if only a little, what it means to suffer for Christ. The rising tide of intolerance towards traditional Christianity is something we must learn to bear, with God’s grace. And we should not react to it with anger or vitriol. Yes, we must defend the right of Christians to speak, both in the private and public spheres, but we must do so, as St. Peter writes, “in gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:16). If we are still reviled after that, so be it. “For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be God’s will,” St. Peter continues, “than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:17).

Christians in Canada are also learning, if only a little, what it means to suffer for Christ.

Canada is changing; there is no doubt about it. But in the midst of that change, we have our Lord’s promise: “I  will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5; Deuteronomy 3:16). That assurance gives us strength to stand firm in our convictions—to reject error, “speaking the truth in love,” as St. Paul writes (Ephesians 4:15). The fact is, there has never been an ideal time and place to be a Christian. The early Church suffered martyrdom for the faith. Once Christianity was legalized, it had to contend with major heresies—like Arianism, for example—which threatened to overwhelm orthodox Christian teaching. Later, Christians had to deal with the destruction of the Roman empire and invasion. Then came the rise of Islam. And later still, the Christian Church itself was ripped apart by doctrinal controversies. Even our past century has seen its challenges—consider, for example, the situation Canadian Lutherans faced during the World War I era (watch for our upcoming article on this topic).

There’s no point in looking back to a golden age. It’s never existed. Not since Eden. Yes, the “gates of hell” have long stood in opposition to the Church—but as Christ promised, they have never prevailed against it (Matthew 16:18). And—glorious good news!—they never will.


Mathew Block is editor of The Canadian Lutheran, communications manager for Lutheran Church–Canada, and editor for the International Lutheran Council.

6 responses to “Standing on guard”

  1. Francesco in Pennsylvania says:

    It’s rather ironic to speak of Canadians’ “intolerance towards traditional Christianity” considering that the Christian Europeans who colonized and built Canada were deeply intolerant of the beliefs of the indigenous peoples who had lived here for centuries. The phrase “getting a taste of one’s own medicine” comes to mind…

    • Tia Jane says:

      Native communities are not restricted to Christianity and are free to worship as they wish like any Canadians. We have evolved in Canada.
      I do not feel threatened by anyone to worship as I wish nor to let others do the same. That is what freedom of speak and religion is all about. We are past this thinking about a century ago. I am sure the US too has evolved. Different times.

  2. reddog44 says:

    One only has to study history to realize there never was a “golden age”. Our history is littered with wars, greed, colonization, powerful elites who subjected the people (peasants) to abuse, high taxes, slavery. Most countries engaged in warfare sometimes in each generations lifetime.
    Some refer to a “Golden Age” in 1950’s when Lutheran youth groups numbered in the hundreds. Prayer was said in public schools on a regular basis. But someone noted if it was so great, “where are they now?”

  3. peters says:

    i been baptised, confirmed, married, had 2 children baptised, but never has anyone in the churches come forward and even tried to include me. The services are boring and it seems the Lutheran Church is stuck in th 17th century. I have started to worship again, purchased a new Bible, volunteer and feel excited about going to church again. But it isnt a Lutheran Church. I am 57 and am excited to call myself a christian. Go out and try to excite your congregations, they might come back.

    • Tia Jane says:

      Glad to hear you have found a new church home.
      Our Lutheran church has recently received new members from other denominations who are finding what God wants for them in our fellowship. I am excited about what is happening at my congregation. I’m so sorry your experience was not a good one. Sometimes God leads us elsewhere.

  4. Tia Jane says:

    Our country is only as secular as we make it. I have worked in Christian settings but feel very happy right now in my secular work setting.
    When people ask “what did you do this weekend,” I begin by saying, “At Bible study yesterday we discussed….” Next thing I know we are discussing a Christian truth. People are much more interested than we might at first think; and when they aren’t, then the subject is dropped. But that same colleague know who I am, not ashamed. They know they can come to ask about staying strong when things are bad or when they need to know why my outlook is so different than others. 1 Peter 3:15-16. And…there is a season for every activity under heaven, just as Scripture says.
    We cannot keep blaming others for our weakness to talk about Christ. When we are determined to only demonstrate our faith by bashing other faiths, blaming immigration, and any other social reason instead of looking, really looking, in the mirror, we waste valuable time for the Lord’s Kingdom. Pray that God gives you an opportunity and then take it. Tell people you will pray for them. After the initial shock, they smile.

Leave a Reply

Posted By: Matthew Block
Posted On: June 16, 2014
Posted In: Headline, National News, Table Talk,

More Resources