Well, I should probably just get on my bike and let this whole thing blow over, but, I really can’t. There are some important points that, as is normally the case, are being lost in the fog of battle. Maybe someday someone will go, “Hey, there were some folks who really did try to encourage everyone to chill out and think about what ended up being really important.” I want to be one of those guys.
Let’s start with whether drag queen story hours are better or worse than the Inquisition. No. False dichotomy. Do either comply with God’s law, God’s truth? Do either honor Christ? No, but for different reasons. They are not parallels. There is an element of truth in pointing out that our “liberal democracy” has been utterly undermined by secularism and its inherent commitment to the culture of death. That we cannot just “hope for a better election next time” or something along those lines. Quite true. But on the other hand, re-establishing the Christ dishonoring sacralism of centuries past is not the answer either. Surface level obedience destroys the soul, too, and may do so on an even wider basis (most folks I know even today find all this gender stuff repulsive). So we really have to get past the simple dichotomies by admitting the elements of truth and saying, “OK, granting that, what next?”
Second, I have done a little work in church history over the decades. Guess what? Catholics and Protestants are guilty of exaggeration in their polemics against each other. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs? Lots of history combined with lots of mythology, even a form of Protestant martyrology/martyrlatria. Worth the read, must be recognized as coming from a particular time period. You can look up sources on line that pretend, on some basis (rarely disclosed) to give numbers of persecutions, deaths, etc. Fact is, history doesn’t give us too much in the way of documentary evidence. Oh, sure, there are fragmentary Inquisitorial records that are honestly fascinating, but they are clearly incomplete. And who gets to decide what was a religious act of persecution and what was just a basic abuse of power, political move, even an act of personal animus? Sadly, historical events are far too easily employed in polemics so that truth suffers in the end.
If you include “wars of religion” everything gets inflated. Were wars that were motived primarily by religion fought in the past? Of course. But especially in Europe, “religious” wars were most often a massive mixture of motivation, with religion becoming a truly minor element in many of them. Personal ambition, rising nationalism, all were very much a major issue. Do we lay these wars at the foot of so-called Christendom? Well, some might, and you could make an argument in defense of that, but it would have to admit of many exceptions.
As far as the actual numbers of executions undertaken over the years (I saw one source actually state that the Papacy began in 606 as part of its calculations, and I really wondered exactly how that date was arrived at), most serious modern scholarship would put the number minimally at 50,000, most up to 300,000. But this would not include crusades against heretics in regions in Europe (no way to count the bodies), and would not include battle casualties in, say, the Crusades themselves. So, you see, it is a pretty messy business, one that leads us to exercise extreme care in what claims we make.
So let’s try to make something out of all of this. First, sacralism was a violation of sphere sovereignty. It involved both the state and the church doing things they are not called (or equipped) to do, and the result was catastrophic. The Reformers were sacralists and unfortunately the process whereby the movement moved away from sacralism was not a clean or overly thought-through one. I have stated from day one that sacralism is not pleasing to Christ and brings dishonor on His name and His cause. When Calvinists burned Baptists in Reformed nations well into the 18th century, even cutting out their tongues or putting metal tongue clips on them so they could not preach as they died in the fire, Christ was displeased. The theology that was argued to substantiate the action was wrong, wrong, wrong. And if we do not know why it was wrong today, we could be called down a dark path.
Next, liberal democracy cannot exist without morality and ethics that corresponds to the realities of the world in which we live. And that world was created by, and is sustained by, Christ. This is not arguable either. The myth of neutrality has crippled the church in the past and it will continue to cripple us in the future if we do not repudiate it. Drag queen story hour is the inevitable result of capitulation in this area. The prophetic announcement to the culture that such behavior will destroy life and bring God’s judgment is central to the church’s duty of being light and salt.
Blessed is the nation whose God is Yahweh. That’s Scripture. Every nation has a god, and the easiest way to identify that god is to speak Christian truth and as soon as that hits the idol, you will be accused of blasphemy. Preach what Christ preached about marriage and you will find out our culture has an idol of sexual libertinism, for example. This idolatry will bring God’s judgment. It is our duty to proclaim this reality, and it is God’s promise (in the postmillennial understanding) that the Great Servant of Yahweh, the Messiah, the Risen Savior, “will not be disheartened or crushed until He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law” (Isa. 42:4). We do not use the force of arms or politics to force that law upon unbelievers; when God covers the earth with His knowledge as the waters cover the sea they will wait for, hope in His law. That requires a heart change. Till then we prophetically announce, we preach obedience to Christ through repentance and faith, and live lives that reflect His glory.