Not everyone that says they are a Christian are followers of Jesus Christ. There are those who claim to be a follower, but lack the love and tolerance for non-essential doctrinal disagreement. One of the main problems with Christianity is the division of denominations.-I am of Apollos; I am of Cephas; I am of Paul. We should all be of Christ Often those claiming to be Christian are intolerant of those with different religious opinions. It is time that Christians come together and put aside the non-essentials of doctrine and preferences and work together to bring change to our churches and our country. Persecution of Christians is about to take a trip back in history and it will not matter what name you call yourself, it will come down to this, are you a true Christian?
Let us take a little trip back in history to 1660. The Massachusetts Bay Colony of the New World was a Puritan theocratic state in the early 1650s. Puritan leaders did not have much tolerance for people of other religions, and as a result, the Puritan government often persecuted and banished religious outsiders who tried to enter and live in their Puritan towns. A fear was embedded in the Puritan society that if they started to admit outsiders, they would lose their political and religious control of the colony.
The Bay Colony enjoyed a high degree of social harmony, stemming from common beliefs in the early years, but dissension soon appeared. The Quakers who flouted the authority of the Puritan clergy were persecuted with fines, floggings, and banishment
Beginning in 1656, members of the newly formed Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) started to arrive in the Massachusetts colony on ships from England, where Quakerism had recently emerged. The Quakers who arrived in Boston's harbor demanded that they be allowed to live in Massachusetts and practice their own religion freely. They were greeted by intense hostility and were often forced to board the next ship out.
The first known Quakers to arrive in Boston and challenge Puritan religious domination were Mary Fisher and Ann Austin. These two women entered Boston's harbor on the Swallow, a ship from Barbados in July of 1656. The Puritans of Boston greeted Fisher and Austin as if they carried the plague and severely brutalized them. The two were strip searched, accused of witchcraft, jailed, deprived of food, and were forced to leave Boston on the Swallow when it next left Boston eight weeks later. Almost immediately after their arrival, Fisher and Austin's belongings were confiscated, and the Puritan executioner burned their trunk full of Quaker pamphlets and other writings. Shortly after they arrived in Boston, eight more Quakers arrived on a ship from England. This group of eight was imprisoned and beaten. While they were in prison, an edict was passed in Boston that any ship's captain who carried Quakers into Boston would be fined heavily. The Puritan establishment forced the captain, who had brought the group of eight Quakers to Boston, to take them back to England, under a bond of £500.
Despite the intense persecution of Quaker newcomers by Massachusetts' Puritans, Quakers continued to come to Boston in increasing numbers and attempted to spread their message by whatever means possible. They came by ship from England and Barbados and by foot from Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Once in Massachusetts, they rose to speak following Puritan sermons and during trials and shouted from jail cell windows. They published pamphlets and held illegal meetings. They refused to pay fines to the Puritan government and refused to work in jail, with the latter often resulting in their jailers depriving them of food.
The Massachusetts Puritan government soon passed other laws aimed at stopping Quakers from entering and disrupting their status quo. Ship captains, learning of the fines, often refused passage to Quakers intending to sail to Boston. One Englishman, Robert Fowler, from Yorkshire, however, felt called to build a ship to transport Quakers from England to Massachusetts. He built the Woodhouse and set sail from England with eleven Quakers. One of the eleven was Dorothy Waugh, a farm servant from Westmorland who said she had been called by the Lord to come to America and share the Quaker message.
In all, from 1656 to 1661, at least forty Quakers came to New England to protest Puritan religious domination and persecution. During those five years, the Puritan persecution of Quakers continued, with beatings, fines, whippings, imprisonment, and mutilation. Many were expelled from the colony, only to return again to bear witness to what they believed. One of them, 60-year-old Elizabeth Hooten, returned to Boston at least five times. The Boston jails were full of Quakers, and four known executions of Quakers took place in Massachusetts during those five years.
As is evident, the Quakers were not a quiet group in Puritan New England. From their speeches in the courthouse, the church, and from jail cell windows, they attracted a number of supporters and converts. Locals would often give money to jailers to feed the otherwise starved inmates, and the Quakers' unflinching commitment to speaking their truth touched many. There is evidence to suggest that the Puritan hatred towards Quakers was not omnipresent within the Puritan community. For example, the law banishing Quakers from the colony on pain of death was only passed by a one-vote majority. John Norton was the most outspoken critic of the Quakers and is credited with spreading much of the anti-Quaker bias.
Perhaps the most notable Quaker to be brutalized and eventually executed by the Massachusetts government for being a Quaker was Mary Dyer. Dyer originally came to Massachusetts in 1633 and settled there with her husband. In 1652, Dyer returned to England, where she was exposed to Quakerism and accepted Quaker ideals. Five years later, on her way to rejoin her family who had since moved to Rhode Island, she landed in Boston, along with two fellow Quakers, William Robinson and Marmaduke Stephenson. The three were at once jailed for being Quakers and were banished from the colony. Dyer left for her family in Rhode Island, but Robinson and Stephenson stayed. Two years later, in 1659, when Robinson and Stephenson were jailed again, along with several other Quakers, Dyer returned to Boston to visit them in jail. She was arrested upon entry and all were held for two months without bail. Upon their release, they were banished from the colony under penalty of death, but Robinson and Stephenson refused to leave.
In October of that year, Dyer returned to Boston once again to visit another imprisoned friend. This time Dyer, Robinson, and Stephenson were all jailed and sentenced to death. On October 27, the three were led to the gallows, and Dyer watched as her two friends were hung. When it came to her turn, she was granted a last minute reprieve but refused to climb down from the scaffold until the law banning Quakers was changed. She had to be carried down and was forcibly removed from the colony.
Dyer spent the winter in Rhode Island and Long Island but insisted on returning to Boston the following spring. On May 21, 1660, she entered Boston and was immediately jailed. She was quickly tried, and on June 1, 1660, she was hung on Boston Commons.
It was not too uncommon that when a Quaker was being tried and prosecuted under threat of death, another Quaker would openly walk into the courthouse and disrupt the proceedings. Wenlock Christison did just this at the trial of William Leddra in 1661. Christison, himself, who had been banished from the colony under pain of death, burst into the courthouse crying out that for each “servant of God” that the Boston government hung, five more would rise up to take their place. Christison was arrested but never had to face the gallows.
The citizens and magistrates of Boston began to grow tired of having to punish the Quakers and Leddra was the last Quaker to be executed by the Puritan government. A messenger had gone to England to ask for a memorandum from the king. King Charles II, a Catholic supporter, wanted to provide a notification for the Catholics of the New World who were also being persecuted. When a Quaker messenger came asking the king to also provide sanctuary for the Quakers, he agreed. The “King’s Missive” did stop the executions, but punishment of the Quakers by the Boston government still continued, though it was less harsh. As more diverse groups of people landed on the shores of the New World, the persecution of the Quakers by the Puritans gradually faded. By 1675, Quakers were freely and openly living and worshiping in Boston.
This persecution would not have stopped had there not been those willing to stand up and be counted. In fact, before the Quakers gained the freedom to worship after the four who were hanged, twenty-three other Quakers were scheduled to die by hanging before the King of England intervened. One would think that the Puritans, after escaping persecutions themselves by fleeing to New England, would have been more tolerant. But, as you will see, their self-righteous spirit, viciously dealt with all conflicting religious opinions; and, since the Quakers were far more convicting than any other sect, with their nontraditional doctrines, they were most brutally persecuted. The callous, unchristian brutality of the Puritan persecutors has only been exceeded by the priests of the barbarous Roman Catholic inquisitions, who murdered 9,000,000 souls in the Middle Ages. The murdering Puritans and the Catholic priests had all believed in Jesus, had been baptized, took communion, read the Bible frequently, prayed frequently, attended worship services regularly — they were all saved Christians murdering and torturing those with different religious opinions. So it is simple to conclude — if you want to understand true Christianity, study what those said, who were the victims. Few could argue that the murderers could possibly be Christians.
The same is taking place in America today. There are those who have a different view of their responsibility in serving the LORD. There are those who claim, like the Puritans to be doing the work of the LORD. It should be noted that these same Puritans were in control of the government in Connecticut and Massachusetts. These same religious leaders passed laws that confiscated property, cut off ears, bore a hole through the tongue with a hot iron, imprisoned and banned other Christians from their state. Today, the names have changed but the actions have not.
One would think that in the 21st century that the government would act in a more tolerant manner towards those who believe they have a certain obligation in how they serve the LORD. As not only moral laws are changing in the government, the same is true within the Church. As the government has legalized the murder of babies, those who speak against this barbarism are considered intolerant, unloving, unkind and even bigots. The same goes for those who believe they cannot support the LGBT agenda because of teachings in the Bible. So, just like the 1660’s the government fines those who cannot for conscience sake support the immoral actions of the LGBT, even though it has been made legal by the government.
What is amazing is the government leaders who support the killing of babies and the immoral actions of the LGBT often claim they are Christian. Like the Puritans and Roman Catholics it is justifiable to persecute those who cannot for conscience sake, support the actions of murder and immorality as they believe is taught in the Word of God.
One needs only to study the history of early Quaker persecution to understand the mindset of those who are intolerant. As you study records of persecution, notice how it was the preachers and ministers, (also true in England), who were the principal advocates of violence, including death; often inciting reluctant government officials to go beyond humane bounds, plunging into the depths of Satanic barbarity.
The actions of Puritan persecutions further proves the Quaker's belief that the government should not interfere in religious affairs. Every time the government has interfered with the religious freedom of any group of people, government leaders and often religious leaders felt justified in their persecution of those who did not bow to the powers that be. This has been demonstrated here in America where Native American Indians and Amish have been regulated by the federal government how they can practice their religion. Most Christian denominations did not care what was happening to the religious freedom of those who did not believe as they do. It was not their fight. What has happened is the government has now expanded their authority over Christian beliefs and practices by the power of the court. The religious freedom to worship the LORD according to the dictates of their heart is no more. It is time that true Christians take a stand to stop the loss of our religious freedom. It is time we start pushing back with the transformational power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We can no longer give a watered down version of the message of the cross. That message is to cry out against the evil in one loud voice. We can no longer listen to the voice of tolerance for sin. We can no longer allow the government to dictate to the church: how we believe, how worship, where we worship, what our mission is in the world.
There are government and church leaders who tell us to practice our religion in church and not in our everyday life. The cry of separation of church and state is a one-sided discussion. The state dictates to the church what they can and cannot do. An example is the IRS makes the decision who is an ordained minister. Besides giving the pastor his job description, which is based on the Roman Catholic model of worship and polity, the IRS is demanding many other things that are clearly designed to make the IRS Commissioner the new head of the churches in America. Some of these demands of the government are a direct violation of religious freedom. How can the government tell the Christian to practice their religion in church and not everyday life when the government practices their control in the church? Here is some ways the government is involved in the church:
1. The church must collect a Federal ID (Social Security) number from visiting evangelists, missionaries, preachers and singers before they invite them to the pulpit. They must give a Form 1099 to any minister who receives up to $600 in a years’ time, which includes missionary support. If the ID is not received, the church leaders must withhold a jeopardy assessment of 39% on the spot and send it to the IRS.
2. They must agree to the IRS definition of benevolence. They cannot deal in cash at any level, but must deposit all offerings into a checking account and write checks for every purpose. This means, of course, that the church, in order to conduct its ministry, has to have an Employer Identification Number which must be provided by the IRS by filing Form SS-4 which a true New Testament church could never do and remain obedient to her Lord. In fact, church leaders have to misrepresent the church as a religious organization rather than a New Testament Church to be compliant with government regulations.
3. Other things that pastors and church leaders are required to do are to be an informer against their members and also to preach only IRS prescribed sermons. Remember 1954, Johnson Amendment. Also, all fund raising material must be submitted to the IRS for their approval. Most churches are unaware of the IRS requirements and a not in compliance.
4. The job description for pastors is a list of nine specific sacerdotal duties which again is a Roman Catholic definition meaning sacred. The Catholic Church teaches that these sacraments, when administered by a priest, are essential to one’s salvation. This is totally opposite to the Bible definition which states that baptism and communion are memorials of the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that they follow salvation. The nine duties are: baptisms, weddings, serving the Eucharist (the Catholic sacrament of communion), teaching, spiritual counseling, christenings or baby dedications, administration of church affairs and the regular conducting of worship services. If the pastor does a substantial number of these things, he will receive very lucrative tax breaks.
5. As a Quaker minister, the physical sacraments are not, nor have they ever been part of a Quaker minister’s responsibility. This action of the IRS is in direct conflict with the Quaker teaching of the “Priesthood of the Believer”. As Quakers believe everyone is a minister of the Gospel and we are called by the LORD and not by the government. This action of the IRS is in clear violation of the scriptures concerning the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes which the Lord Jesus said that He hates (Rev. 2:6, 2:15). Others who minister to the church in the area of music, youth, children, education and other areas of responsibility don't qualify as an ordained minister, according to the IRS.
6. The IRS does not consider such ministries as Sunday school, Christian school, busses, youth camp, vacation Bible school, nursing home, etc., to fall within their definition of the word "church". The Dole Committee (Sen. Bob Dole-R-Kansas) in the US Senate sought to bring the churches into compliance with the FICA tax (social security) laws. This was the deal that would eventually cause the raid and seizure of the Baptist Temple in Indianapolis, 17 years later.
I remember the discussion among Christians during the shut-down of the Baptist Temple how Rev. Gregg Dixson, should bow to the government. Today, the church has bowed so often that government regulation has taken away many freedoms of religion once held by American churches.
These requirements should be intolerable enough by just the fact that the IRS would even dare to suggest duties for pastors, but to impose under the penalty of imprisonment and confiscation of property the same responsibilities of Roman Catholic priests is nothing short of naked tyranny. The issue is very simple. Will the churches of America bow down to the government in violation of the first commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me," or will they bow down to the Lord Jesus Christ? Our Lord said, "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24). The purge is now on as we hear of Christian businesses closed on a regular basis because there is no such thing as separation of church and state. The state has been involved in the business of the church, to the point they even tell us how much of the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ we can actually carry out.
The church is regulated to the point that how the church shows charity to those in need is appalling. There are guidelines how charity is to be given in the areas of food, clothing, housing, medical emergencies and utilities. The church cannot help with transportation or auto repairs and a myriad of other things that churches have historically done on a regular basis. The church cannot make loans to the pastor, members, or others which churches have always done. Obviously, they want to make sure that the money lenders get their profits even from the poor. Can you imagine the government of the US limiting a church as to its duties in regarding charitable activity? There is no subject in the Bible that is nearer to the heart of God than charity. According to the Apostle James, it is the test of pure religion (James 1:27). Paul the Apostle declares that charity is of higher value even than preaching and sacrifice (I Cor. 13:1-3). For the churches to dishonor such a high and noble service to Christ by submitting its administration to the wicked IRS is beyond belief.
So, let me say this, there are more issues at stake in the protection of religious freedom than the LGBT concern. We can focus so intently on one issue, that we are fail to see our freedoms taken from us by those who seek to destroy the church. I believe there are true Christians to be found in every Christian denomination. I believe, the true Christian, is ready to join with other Christians, to fight the evil that is facing those who are following Jesus Christ. Just as early Quakers realized that if they were to have the freedom to practice their religion they would need to stand up and push for that freedom.
Christians who believe in God had better wake up and realize that a well-orchestrated campaign is moving to transform the United States into a thoroughly secular nation without any reference to God. If this succeeds, we will no longer enjoy our First Amendment right of “free exercise” of religion but will be forbidden to speak or display any prayers, Bible quotations, or other evidences of religion in any public place or event. If you are a true believer in Jesus Christ and part of the Body of Christ, then it does not matter what your denominational name is, what matters is that you a in Christ and need to stand with those who are faithful to the cause of Jesus Christ. Our religious freedom is important but our message of the transformational power of Jesus Christ is of greater importance. We cannot ignore the evil and sin that is destroying our churches and nation by being silent and allowing our faith to be dictated by an ungodly government. It is time that Christians come together and put aside the non-essentials of doctrine and preferences and work together to bring change to our churches and our country.