I think @Rod Dreher (and by extension the article he cites) is about right here. The coming dividing line for Christians is how low you're willing to let your status be.
That said, I don't think it's as simple a calculus as he suggests.
We have entire sections of the Bible which serve as a how-to guide on persisting in persecution, and it's been a very effective manual for our Jewish kindred who have managed to persist despite literally centuries of nonstop persecution.
It's called Daniel, Esther, Nehemiah, Ezekiel, and Ezra.
All those stories reveal that 1) a lot of Jews were willing to take whatever status hit they had to to stay faithful 2) they also made a whole gigantic pile of compromises
Daniel's an astrologer: that's not okay for a nice Jewish boy! But we call him Daniel, his Hebrew name, presumably because he himself insisted on being called Daniel. Compromise and resistance.
But what about Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael? They are brilliant emblems of resistance---
But they evidently are fine with being recorded by their false-God-praising pagan names, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego!
The Biblical witness is never ambiguous that the compromises *are compromises*. They are not good. They are part of what makes the Exile *bad*.
But do we look back on Esther and condemn her for sleeping with the enemy? No-- we see that as one of the evils the exile did to God's people, but we celebrate how she used that position of power to save her people.
I am worried that in the various Christian responses to our shifting culture we are seeing various kinds of condemnations of the Biblical example: some condemn Daniel for his thumbing of the nose at the king and his bigoted refusal to share a meal with the wider society.
"Why can't you just get along?" one imagines people asking of Daniel. "Why do you have to be so exclusive?"
OTOH, some condemn Daniel on the other margin: "You're practicing astrology. You're helping the king who oppresses us. You're serving in pagan rituals in a pagan court."
I'm not arguing for a via media "a little compromise is fine," no.
I'm suggesting that the Biblical witness on persecution is that God has called different persons into different kinds of vocations. Some wise as serpents.
As Christians, we do well to keep our dividing lines as basic matters of confession as they have always been. Do not let the world around us draw new lines of division. Keep the lines where they always were.
And in the meantime, understand that God is going to bring His people through all that accosts them, and he may do it in ways we have profoundly mixed feelings about.
Time for another one: Why read the Bible in Hebrew?
Today's example is from the story of Joseph. Let's look at how the echoes of that gripping story can be heard throughout the Bible.
A thread (for non-Hebrew readers too!) 1
Also worth noting that the "most successful" of Gods-people-in-exile (Joseph) ultimately leaves a legacy of slavery for his people.
But it is Moses, the slave-keeper, the totally-Egyptianized-prince (whose actual name very possibly is a reference to a pagan God!)...
Whom God uses to bring His people out of Egypt. It is not easy to know how God is working to save His people, and we do well to use every strategy we can.
Recent persecution is always a sexy way to make an argument but it's a very bad way to do it because:
1) We don't know if the post-persecution psychology of those churches is very good.
2) It's not canonical.
I feel like you should reference more recent examples the Chinese Christians that the CCP couldn’t stamp out and the Georgian Orthodox that resisted the Soviets
on 1), you need a few centuries to see how persecution plays out. A church might survive the persecution but turn out to be a hollowed out husk that can't survive the peace. That's a lot of European Christianity post-1648 to be honest!
The benchmark for a faithful witness in persecution is not just that you got through it, but that you came out of it situated to "win the peace."
On 2), I admire recent churches that survived persecution. But their experience is not literally canonized (IMHO).
Of course many Catholics and Orthodox DO in fact canonize saints from fairly "recent" persecutions. But this is one of those things I as a Protestant kinda raise an eyebrow at. The Bible is special and higher; you can't elevate anything to it.
This isn't to say we can't learn from recent persecutions. It's just that it's always a subordinate kind of learning which must be disciplined by the explicit and divinely inspired example given in scripture, the fruits of which are fully known.
idk but when George Washington in an official presidential speech responded to a "request from Congress" to institute a day of prayer and thanksgiving, he said the purpose of good government was "the increase of true religion," so that seems significant. twitter.com/ijbailey/statu…
One of the oldest still-legally-in-force treaties the US has (the only older still-active treaties are with France, the UK, and Denmark-Norway), which was revised as recently as 1956, is the 1836 Treaty of Morocco, which explicitly calls the US a "Christian power."
or hey, how about that time in the 1860s and 1870s where there was a huge campaign to pass a constitutional amendment to CREATE SECULAR EDUCATION and it was defeated because Americans didn't believe public education needed to be secular?
there was that time in the 1940s or whatever when Congress was like, nbd, just gonna put "in God we trust" on all the money
IMHO, there are two periods of US governance where "Christian nation" is really incorrect:
from 1789 to the 1960s, it's trivially easy to assemble legal and political evidence of us as a "Christian nation"
now look, I'm open to the idea that it's *not good* to be a Christian nation, that this approach to state-and-religion had *bad* effects. that's a defensible argument.
but as a basic matter of history, yeah, we've been a "Christian nation" most of our history.