Monday, September 1, 2014

The Privilege of Persecution, by Dr. Carl A. Moeller and Rev. David W. Hegg

This book is an address to the Christian Church in the West but specifically to American Christians. It was written by Dr. Carl A. Moeller, the US President of Open Doors, USA, a Christian nonprofit that serves persecuted Christians all over the world, through advocacy, awareness and direct support and assistance. It is co-written by Rev. David W. Hegg, a seminary Professor. Together, these authors take the reader through six Christian disciplines. These are God's Word, worship and church life, prayer and dependence, community life affecting following Christ, authority structures and stewardship of all we have. The authors hold the persecuted Church up to us as examples as to how they excel in all these areas, and how most of us American Christians get it wrong.

This whole book, derived from Dr. Carl Moeller's direct experience with the global, persecuted Church and Rev. David Hegg's theological expertise, is mostly exhortation and rebuke. I found the book easy to read but emotionally tough to digest. Dr. Moeller, with all his direct experience, knows what he is talking about, so I had to concede that the global Church, as a rule, excels beyond us in the US, in most ways. Yes, in a very deep way, we need them far more than they need us. Their organic and raw discipleship is far closer to the Biblical model of Church, than what we have in the US. Yet I didn't like the tone of the whole book, which came off as "shame on you" and overgeneralizing. I would think, are we American Christians this bad? To be fair, the authors did offer a disclaimer, at the beginning of the book, that they are not talking about all American Christians as some are truly faithful to Christ. They imply that these faithful are not the rule, though. As I took some offense when the authors, in the last chapter, said that donors "should travel" to visit the sites where those they support serve. Maybe that's just me, as I'm unable to travel. Yet I know that the message is spot-on and that many of us can vastly improve and learn so much from our severely persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. I'm amazed at what God has done in many of their lives, according to countless stories.

This book is written for Christians primarily. Non-Christians who may stumble on it, will no doubt cheer, thinking, "You give it to those hypocrites for us!" This book, co-written by an author who spends many of his days comforting the afflicted persecuted global Church, writes this book to afflict the comfortable American Christian Church. I recommend this book for all Christians who have become complacent in their walk with God, and I recommend it for the many Christians who are unaware of the plight of their persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. I also recommend this book to local churches which want to become more effective corporately and help their members grow as Christians.

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