From the chapter “The Cross and the Crown” in God & Government by Charles Colson regarding the Church’s history ancient & European history:

“When the church isn’t being persecuted, it is being corrupted.  Man’s own nature has created centuries of conflict.”

Love to read your thoughts on the above quote.  Where do you think the American Church is?

30 comments
  1. Given Colson’s silly axiom, the church in America has been corrupted for centuries. Taking it to another level it would appear that he thinks that Christians are being corrupted when they are not persecuted.

    I fnd it to be a pretty cynical view of the body of Christ corporate and individual. I guess it all depends on your definition of corrupted and persecuted.

  2. Given Colson’s silly axiom, the church in America has been corrupted for centuries. Taking it to another level it would appear that he thinks that Christians are being corrupted when they are not persecuted.

    I fnd it to be a pretty cynical view of the body of Christ corporate and individual. I guess it all depends on your definition of corrupted and persecuted.

  3. Given Colson’s silly axiom, the church in America has been corrupted for centuries. Taking it to another level it would appear that he thinks that Christians are being corrupted when they are not persecuted.

    I fnd it to be a pretty cynical view of the body of Christ corporate and individual. I guess it all depends on your definition of corrupted and persecuted.

  4. Being guilty of ripping this quote out of context – he was outlining the Church in relation to the State and the history was the European Church, not the American Church.

    But I think he’s right when the Church seeks to “cozy” up to the State it leads to corruption. So he isn’t saying the American Church has been corrupted for years – though we can lose our prophetic voice in the nation.

  5. Being guilty of ripping this quote out of context – he was outlining the Church in relation to the State and the history was the European Church, not the American Church.

    But I think he’s right when the Church seeks to “cozy” up to the State it leads to corruption. So he isn’t saying the American Church has been corrupted for years – though we can lose our prophetic voice in the nation.

  6. Being guilty of ripping this quote out of context – he was outlining the Church in relation to the State and the history was the European Church, not the American Church.

    But I think he’s right when the Church seeks to “cozy” up to the State it leads to corruption. So he isn’t saying the American Church has been corrupted for years – though we can lose our prophetic voice in the nation.

  7. Though it’s a strong generalization, I’d say the American church has been corrupted, but not by relation to the government. Materialism and prosperity would be my choice. Of course, that is also related to a lack of persecution.

    KB’s point hits on the weakness of any such generalization, but I think the church in every context (society, era, nation) needs a strong prophetic voice to speak to it’s failure.

  8. Though it’s a strong generalization, I’d say the American church has been corrupted, but not by relation to the government. Materialism and prosperity would be my choice. Of course, that is also related to a lack of persecution.

    KB’s point hits on the weakness of any such generalization, but I think the church in every context (society, era, nation) needs a strong prophetic voice to speak to it’s failure.

  9. Though it’s a strong generalization, I’d say the American church has been corrupted, but not by relation to the government. Materialism and prosperity would be my choice. Of course, that is also related to a lack of persecution.

    KB’s point hits on the weakness of any such generalization, but I think the church in every context (society, era, nation) needs a strong prophetic voice to speak to it’s failure.

  10. Even out of context, he has a point. Without persecution, the inevitable reminder that we are walking in the truth of Christ, we do become corrupted by thinking because of our success we must be right about everything or because things are going well, we are being faithful…It’s only when we’re truly persecuted that we focus on who Christ is and what we are really about.

  11. Even out of context, he has a point. Without persecution, the inevitable reminder that we are walking in the truth of Christ, we do become corrupted by thinking because of our success we must be right about everything or because things are going well, we are being faithful…It’s only when we’re truly persecuted that we focus on who Christ is and what we are really about.

  12. Even out of context, he has a point. Without persecution, the inevitable reminder that we are walking in the truth of Christ, we do become corrupted by thinking because of our success we must be right about everything or because things are going well, we are being faithful…It’s only when we’re truly persecuted that we focus on who Christ is and what we are really about.

  13. Well, you asked for my thoughts.

    I assume you’re referring to the Catholic Church.

    For one, the Church has hardly ever been persecuted. The Romans under Nero did persecute it and there have been other isolated incidents. But these have been blown out of all proportion by Church propagandists.

    On the other hand, the Church has persecuted for centuries. Mainly it has persecuted other Christians, called “heretics” or “Protestants.” But it has also persecuted Jews on a massive scale. The story of the Conquest of America is one of quasi genocide perpetrated in the name of Christianity.

    As for the use of the passive voice in the above quote, “is being corrupted,” who is doing the corrupting? I can’t find a likely candidate. Can you?

    On the other hand, I can find many instances of the Church corrupting society throughout the centuries. Not least of this is its practice of covering up for pedophiles because of its doctrine of celibacy. Serial rape of children is a mere “weakness of the flesh,” to be dealt with by meditation; having normal sex with a woman is cause for excommunication. It’s hard to imagine a more “corrupting” system of values than that. I shouldn’t have to add that this is not a recent problem. It’s only recently that it has been exposed to the light of day. It’s been happening for centuries.

    Your idea that the Church seeks to “cozy up” to the state, which leads to corruption, is exactly backwards in European history. It’s the state that has had to cozy up to the Church, which has led to corruption.

  14. Well, you asked for my thoughts.

    I assume you’re referring to the Catholic Church.

    For one, the Church has hardly ever been persecuted. The Romans under Nero did persecute it and there have been other isolated incidents. But these have been blown out of all proportion by Church propagandists.

    On the other hand, the Church has persecuted for centuries. Mainly it has persecuted other Christians, called “heretics” or “Protestants.” But it has also persecuted Jews on a massive scale. The story of the Conquest of America is one of quasi genocide perpetrated in the name of Christianity.

    As for the use of the passive voice in the above quote, “is being corrupted,” who is doing the corrupting? I can’t find a likely candidate. Can you?

    On the other hand, I can find many instances of the Church corrupting society throughout the centuries. Not least of this is its practice of covering up for pedophiles because of its doctrine of celibacy. Serial rape of children is a mere “weakness of the flesh,” to be dealt with by meditation; having normal sex with a woman is cause for excommunication. It’s hard to imagine a more “corrupting” system of values than that. I shouldn’t have to add that this is not a recent problem. It’s only recently that it has been exposed to the light of day. It’s been happening for centuries.

    Your idea that the Church seeks to “cozy up” to the state, which leads to corruption, is exactly backwards in European history. It’s the state that has had to cozy up to the Church, which has led to corruption.

  15. Well, you asked for my thoughts.

    I assume you’re referring to the Catholic Church.

    For one, the Church has hardly ever been persecuted. The Romans under Nero did persecute it and there have been other isolated incidents. But these have been blown out of all proportion by Church propagandists.

    On the other hand, the Church has persecuted for centuries. Mainly it has persecuted other Christians, called “heretics” or “Protestants.” But it has also persecuted Jews on a massive scale. The story of the Conquest of America is one of quasi genocide perpetrated in the name of Christianity.

    As for the use of the passive voice in the above quote, “is being corrupted,” who is doing the corrupting? I can’t find a likely candidate. Can you?

    On the other hand, I can find many instances of the Church corrupting society throughout the centuries. Not least of this is its practice of covering up for pedophiles because of its doctrine of celibacy. Serial rape of children is a mere “weakness of the flesh,” to be dealt with by meditation; having normal sex with a woman is cause for excommunication. It’s hard to imagine a more “corrupting” system of values than that. I shouldn’t have to add that this is not a recent problem. It’s only recently that it has been exposed to the light of day. It’s been happening for centuries.

    Your idea that the Church seeks to “cozy up” to the state, which leads to corruption, is exactly backwards in European history. It’s the state that has had to cozy up to the Church, which has led to corruption.

  16. Roque…

    Wasn’t just thinking about the Catholic Church and neither was Colson.

    It could be said of any state church, and you are right that often it is the state trying to “cozy” up to the Church.

    An example from the 20th Century would be German Church under Nazi rule. Either they were persecuted or were corrupted and preached a false gospel. There was no middle ground there.

  17. Roque…

    Wasn’t just thinking about the Catholic Church and neither was Colson.

    It could be said of any state church, and you are right that often it is the state trying to “cozy” up to the Church.

    An example from the 20th Century would be German Church under Nazi rule. Either they were persecuted or were corrupted and preached a false gospel. There was no middle ground there.

  18. Roque…

    Wasn’t just thinking about the Catholic Church and neither was Colson.

    It could be said of any state church, and you are right that often it is the state trying to “cozy” up to the Church.

    An example from the 20th Century would be German Church under Nazi rule. Either they were persecuted or were corrupted and preached a false gospel. There was no middle ground there.

  19. “When the church isn’t being persecuted, it is being corrupted. Man’s own nature has created centuries of conflict.”

    I almost wonder if the church did face persecution – like it’s Jewish counter-parts – if it would not have just vanished (after Constantine I mean).

    I contend the church is not as strong as it wants itself to appear – it’s very divided and it’s communal belonging is, at best, weak. They do not control their faith as it stands – so why not deny their faith in the face of persecution – what kind of sin is that exactly? It’s already paid for (as one example of weak theology).

    Colson believes in theology – not reality. How can a church stand in persecution if it struggles to stand in times of peace? If this Western church gets persecuted – it might actually struggle to stay afloat due to it’s weak communal connections within the congregation. It is also massly divided – how many different denomination have existed since this time of peace in the West? I heard it was in the 1000’s.

    Colson thinks this persecution would bind the church – I think he is wrong – and has not considered the temperature of the church as it stands now. The church is not a very close knit community – not like the disciples had in their days (and even up to Constantine). Those days are long gone – that connection does not exist anymore.

    I am good friends with a lot of people from church – and respect and admire them. I cannot think of one I would ask to lay their life down for mine in the face of persecution. I do not think we are all that close to ask such things. Maybe we need some suffering to draw us close as a community – I don’t truly believe that – but we will find out that with this time of peace we have we should be building stronger communities (that mean something to everyone in the church).

  20. “When the church isn’t being persecuted, it is being corrupted. Man’s own nature has created centuries of conflict.”

    I almost wonder if the church did face persecution – like it’s Jewish counter-parts – if it would not have just vanished (after Constantine I mean).

    I contend the church is not as strong as it wants itself to appear – it’s very divided and it’s communal belonging is, at best, weak. They do not control their faith as it stands – so why not deny their faith in the face of persecution – what kind of sin is that exactly? It’s already paid for (as one example of weak theology).

    Colson believes in theology – not reality. How can a church stand in persecution if it struggles to stand in times of peace? If this Western church gets persecuted – it might actually struggle to stay afloat due to it’s weak communal connections within the congregation. It is also massly divided – how many different denomination have existed since this time of peace in the West? I heard it was in the 1000’s.

    Colson thinks this persecution would bind the church – I think he is wrong – and has not considered the temperature of the church as it stands now. The church is not a very close knit community – not like the disciples had in their days (and even up to Constantine). Those days are long gone – that connection does not exist anymore.

    I am good friends with a lot of people from church – and respect and admire them. I cannot think of one I would ask to lay their life down for mine in the face of persecution. I do not think we are all that close to ask such things. Maybe we need some suffering to draw us close as a community – I don’t truly believe that – but we will find out that with this time of peace we have we should be building stronger communities (that mean something to everyone in the church).

  21. “When the church isn’t being persecuted, it is being corrupted. Man’s own nature has created centuries of conflict.”

    I almost wonder if the church did face persecution – like it’s Jewish counter-parts – if it would not have just vanished (after Constantine I mean).

    I contend the church is not as strong as it wants itself to appear – it’s very divided and it’s communal belonging is, at best, weak. They do not control their faith as it stands – so why not deny their faith in the face of persecution – what kind of sin is that exactly? It’s already paid for (as one example of weak theology).

    Colson believes in theology – not reality. How can a church stand in persecution if it struggles to stand in times of peace? If this Western church gets persecuted – it might actually struggle to stay afloat due to it’s weak communal connections within the congregation. It is also massly divided – how many different denomination have existed since this time of peace in the West? I heard it was in the 1000’s.

    Colson thinks this persecution would bind the church – I think he is wrong – and has not considered the temperature of the church as it stands now. The church is not a very close knit community – not like the disciples had in their days (and even up to Constantine). Those days are long gone – that connection does not exist anymore.

    I am good friends with a lot of people from church – and respect and admire them. I cannot think of one I would ask to lay their life down for mine in the face of persecution. I do not think we are all that close to ask such things. Maybe we need some suffering to draw us close as a community – I don’t truly believe that – but we will find out that with this time of peace we have we should be building stronger communities (that mean something to everyone in the church).

  22. @SocietyVs – I can understand your point of view if we were looking at the current state of the Western Church.

    The Persecuted Church however is thriving in places like China & Vietnam and the Global South. Also there has been a resurgence of the Church in Eastern Europe and Russia.

    Regarding your church friends “laying down their life for you” – those who are persecuted are suffering for Jesus which is a much more motivating thing.

    It does tend to purify the Church though. Looking at the early Church had it not been persecuted they were content on staying put, but God scattered them.

    Even after Constantine – you have examples of persecution strengthening the Church. The Puritans, Hugenots, Free Church movement, Moravians – anytime there was push back with the institutional “State Church”.

    Anyway persecution does much to strengthen the faith of many and draw the persecuted church together. Then and now.

  23. @SocietyVs – I can understand your point of view if we were looking at the current state of the Western Church.

    The Persecuted Church however is thriving in places like China & Vietnam and the Global South. Also there has been a resurgence of the Church in Eastern Europe and Russia.

    Regarding your church friends “laying down their life for you” – those who are persecuted are suffering for Jesus which is a much more motivating thing.

    It does tend to purify the Church though. Looking at the early Church had it not been persecuted they were content on staying put, but God scattered them.

    Even after Constantine – you have examples of persecution strengthening the Church. The Puritans, Hugenots, Free Church movement, Moravians – anytime there was push back with the institutional “State Church”.

    Anyway persecution does much to strengthen the faith of many and draw the persecuted church together. Then and now.

  24. @SocietyVs – I can understand your point of view if we were looking at the current state of the Western Church.

    The Persecuted Church however is thriving in places like China & Vietnam and the Global South. Also there has been a resurgence of the Church in Eastern Europe and Russia.

    Regarding your church friends “laying down their life for you” – those who are persecuted are suffering for Jesus which is a much more motivating thing.

    It does tend to purify the Church though. Looking at the early Church had it not been persecuted they were content on staying put, but God scattered them.

    Even after Constantine – you have examples of persecution strengthening the Church. The Puritans, Hugenots, Free Church movement, Moravians – anytime there was push back with the institutional “State Church”.

    Anyway persecution does much to strengthen the faith of many and draw the persecuted church together. Then and now.

  25. “Anyway persecution does much to strengthen the faith of many and draw the persecuted church together. Then and now” (Shane)

    I am not sure about the claim concerning ‘now’. I think some would be able to keep their faith – while many would have no clue as to how to keep theirs. See, faith is not really a culture per se – it is a choice and the option in is as easy out. The communities are not very close because of the slack reasoning behind current Christian faith and how we come to belong…usually via a confession. Most things are…well…based on talk.

    When it comes to something like persecution – one needs to understand what they stand to lose if they leave the faith. I am not sure what one truly loses that they cannot gain on some personal or hidden level if the church crumbled tomorrow. If this is about renouncing one’s faith (confession) – then I would tell all people they are free to do just that – renounce the confession. If this is about renouncing certain values from the faith – then we are getting into territory that a stand must be made.

    I am not into the personal confession ideal – but the communal ideal (which is odd for me to say since it sounds like I am advocating against it). But if faith can become a vibrant culture – people – community – then people will belong one with another and separating that will be painful. As it stands, I think if someone came in a broke the church up – many would just leave since the persecution does not match their level of commitment.

    As for China and other places in the world facing actual persecution – I have not discussed them. I contend they are from a part of the world that allows them to be communal – considering China’s actual culture also. America’s culture is not as cohesive as that one – internally.

  26. “Anyway persecution does much to strengthen the faith of many and draw the persecuted church together. Then and now” (Shane)

    I am not sure about the claim concerning ‘now’. I think some would be able to keep their faith – while many would have no clue as to how to keep theirs. See, faith is not really a culture per se – it is a choice and the option in is as easy out. The communities are not very close because of the slack reasoning behind current Christian faith and how we come to belong…usually via a confession. Most things are…well…based on talk.

    When it comes to something like persecution – one needs to understand what they stand to lose if they leave the faith. I am not sure what one truly loses that they cannot gain on some personal or hidden level if the church crumbled tomorrow. If this is about renouncing one’s faith (confession) – then I would tell all people they are free to do just that – renounce the confession. If this is about renouncing certain values from the faith – then we are getting into territory that a stand must be made.

    I am not into the personal confession ideal – but the communal ideal (which is odd for me to say since it sounds like I am advocating against it). But if faith can become a vibrant culture – people – community – then people will belong one with another and separating that will be painful. As it stands, I think if someone came in a broke the church up – many would just leave since the persecution does not match their level of commitment.

    As for China and other places in the world facing actual persecution – I have not discussed them. I contend they are from a part of the world that allows them to be communal – considering China’s actual culture also. America’s culture is not as cohesive as that one – internally.

  27. “Anyway persecution does much to strengthen the faith of many and draw the persecuted church together. Then and now” (Shane)

    I am not sure about the claim concerning ‘now’. I think some would be able to keep their faith – while many would have no clue as to how to keep theirs. See, faith is not really a culture per se – it is a choice and the option in is as easy out. The communities are not very close because of the slack reasoning behind current Christian faith and how we come to belong…usually via a confession. Most things are…well…based on talk.

    When it comes to something like persecution – one needs to understand what they stand to lose if they leave the faith. I am not sure what one truly loses that they cannot gain on some personal or hidden level if the church crumbled tomorrow. If this is about renouncing one’s faith (confession) – then I would tell all people they are free to do just that – renounce the confession. If this is about renouncing certain values from the faith – then we are getting into territory that a stand must be made.

    I am not into the personal confession ideal – but the communal ideal (which is odd for me to say since it sounds like I am advocating against it). But if faith can become a vibrant culture – people – community – then people will belong one with another and separating that will be painful. As it stands, I think if someone came in a broke the church up – many would just leave since the persecution does not match their level of commitment.

    As for China and other places in the world facing actual persecution – I have not discussed them. I contend they are from a part of the world that allows them to be communal – considering China’s actual culture also. America’s culture is not as cohesive as that one – internally.

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