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LITERATURE

Generation Lost: A New Call to Christians

By Chris Carpenter
CBN.com Producer

CBN.comNASHVILLE, TN -- Combining an experts knowledge with a no-nonsense approach, author Elwood McQuaid brings North American Christians a sobering but thought provoking view of persecuted Christians around the world with his new book "Persecuted" from Harvest House Publishers. In the book, McQuaid challenges what he perceives to be a lost generation of Christians to step outside their comfort zones to bring this increasingly critical threat to the forefront of their thinking.

Thought to be a problem that existed only overseas, the horrific events of September 11th brusquely narrowed the gap between separation from such tragedies and a new frontier of reality regarding the persecution problem.

In "Persecuted", McQuaid calls out to a new generation of believers to consider such events that affect not only their brothers and sisters in Christ overseas but also on the home front. Through prayer and compassion, McQuaid encourages readers to confront the ever-increasing persecution problem and to reexamine their lives in the process.

Recently, CBN.com's Chris Carpenter sat down with McQuaid to examine the persecution problem worldwide, the medias failure to properly convey such stories, and the challenges facing seminaries to educate aspiring theologians regarding this problem.

CHRIS CARPENTER: I had a chance to read "Persecuted" and I thought it was excellent. I loved it. I have read many of these types of books before and much of the time I get lost in the psychobabble so to speak. But in "Persecuted" I felt you were very clear and concise about your viewpoints. I felt that you mixed in a great deal of research on the situation and that was quite helpful. This is probably an obvious question but what was your inspiration for writing this book?

ELWOOD MCQUAID: First of all, I do a lot of work in the Middle East. I became acquainted with some of the situation there where extremist Muslims were oppressing Christians. I then began to learn about what was happening in places like the Sudan, where the implementation of Sharia law militated against Christians two million so far have died because of it. So, it just kept going on and on and on. I noticed in concert with that that very few people were saying anything. I felt it was really the great unspoken tragedy of our time. I think Don Wildmon gave a report in 1966 that 160,000 Christians had died that year. So, it just grew from there.

CARPENTER: You point out in the book, and I think it is a very valid point, you mention the story of Jim Elliott going down into South America and being killed by the Auca Indians there. That was a national story where everyone knew about it. Conversely, the more recent Martin and Gracia Burnham story received coverage but it failed to generate the national outcry that the Jim Elliott story did. Why do you think there has been such a decrease in media coverage over the last 50 years?

MCQUAID: I think it has a great deal to do with the cultural revolution we are in. It has a great deal to do with the fact that evangelical Christians for the most part have been assimilated into the culture. That is a big problem. It is the familiarity with these things. For example, when the 31-year-old nurse was going into the Lebanon to open a pre-natal clinic, they shot her like it was a gangland shooting. Three medical personnel missionaries in Yemen were assassinated. Stories like these are just a blip on the news. It is just like you said about the Burnhams, reported and forgotten. The tragedy is that here we are as Christians, these are our brothers and sisters in Christ, and the culture is saying, look, these missionaries shouldnt be talking to anybody about their religion anyway. So, maybe they got what they deserved. So, why should we bother." Now, we understand that about the secular media but what about us, that is the question?

CARPENTER: Why do you feel there is such a tremendous sense of apathy regarding persecution stories? People realize that these types of stories are there but no one wants to talk about them. Meanwhile, these are very important stories that are being lost in the shuffle.

MCQUAID: It is really the big story today. What I think about so often is going to the churches. I wrote a chapter in the book based on what Paul Marshall said about going down Bathgate Street in Toronto when the Jewish Refusniks were in prison (Natan) Sharansky and his people. There was not a synagogue, not one, whether it was conservative, liberal, or what the stripe of it was, that did not have sign out front saying Remember the Persecuted Jews. But he said that when this started to develop among Christians, he asked himself the question, "where are the signs on the churches?" And even if you listen to the media, for the most part with some notable exceptions, you hear at least something. But from our pulpits there is almost nothing being said about it. In missionary ports there is almost nothing being said about it. I think it is one of the great mysteries of our time. I think there are reasons for it but it is one of those things that is very difficult to figure out.

CARPENTER: As you were writing and pulling together your research for this book, what was the most striking factor that you kept encountering over and over again? In other words, for lack of a better term, information that just kept slapping you across the face.

MCQUAID: It was this indifference. I have a chapter in the book on the generation gap. Im over 70 years old but I can remember in my lifetime, in my line of sight experience, Civil War veterans. When I was a little kid these Civil War veterans in tattered uniforms shaking hands. I remembered World War I. I used to listen to Adolf Hitler (on the radio). From World War I, I had an uncle who fought in France who talked about the Battle of Belleau Wood and being gassed. I remember all of those things. The next generation did not have that same line of sight. They had a different culture. It was a time when Judeo Christian morality, ethics, standards, and values went by the board in this country. So, I said to myself there must be a big difference in how the older generation thinks. But when I began to examine this, one of the most surprising things to me was on this very issue. There was no difference.

CARPENTER: Earlier in this interview I mentioned Jim Elliott. I grew up in the church and around the church. I had heard the name Jim Elliott but never really never connected it to anything until just a few months ago when I attended a Steven Curtis Chapman concert. That night, he (Chapman) devoted approximately one third of his concert to Elliotts story. He has written several songs based around this story. After hearing his performance and then reading your book I came to the realization that as Christians, we could be and should be doing so much more to make people aware of these stories of persecution. How can we as Christians, get that message out there?

MCQUAID: The first thing is to get the information out. It is not politically correct to talk about dead Christians in the present political climate. The west isnt saying anything about it; our leaders are not saying anything about it. We have to get the information out and broadcasters need to become aware that this is a serious problem. We need to get over this syndrome of a "feel better" society that we dont want to hear unpleasant things. The information is there.

CARPENTER: Why do you think people have become that way?

MCQUAID: Largely because of our affluence. It is a problem for all of us.

CARPENTER: So, you are saying it is one of these out of sight, out of mind situations?

MCQUAID: We think that America is the norm. Peace. Prosperity. Plenty. We think this is normal. This (life in America) is not normal. Around the rest of the world, I can show you otherwise. Look at Indonesia. Look at the Coptics in Egypt. Look at Algeria. Look at the Middle East. Look at these countries. These places had terrible catastrophes. Places where horrific acts are taking place. It is not our experience.

CARPENTER: Do you believe the events of September 11th have changed the way Americans view persecution?

MCQUAID: I dont think so. I believe there was a separation. I wondered myself when 9/11 happened. When the flags came out and the country experienced such a tremendous degree of patriotism that reminded me of the Reagan days, I said to myself I wonder if we are going to have a great resurgence and a return to God regarding spiritual matters. And maybe this is going to touch us. We didnt see that.

CARPENTER: There was a sense among many at that time that we were on the verge of a great revival in this country. That seemed to be the feeling for several months and then it just faded away

MCQUAID: And we didnt seem to make a connection. When I was writing this book I thought if this material hadnt been true I would be thankful. But to say is this book is going to be irrelevant because are people suddenly going to become aware? Are they going to return to a sense of responsibility and say, look, I need to step in and do something. September 11th should have been a reminder but it really didnt connect that way. I was rather surprised by that.

CARPENTER: You made a very valid point in your book when you referred to todays seminaries. There, you have your theological scholars and your new wave liberals. How big of a problem do you see this being? Obviously, seminaries have a responsibility in influencing future theologians who in turn are going to set the tone for what Christians in churches believe as far as the persecuted Christian.

MCQUAID: I think we are developing a problem in some of our seminaries that is being assimilated by the culture because we have had this peace and prosperity, this "feel-goodism" if you will. George Barna made an interesting statement when yuppies started coming to church. He said that when they are tired of playing with their toys they will come back to church. This statement was from a poll he had taken. My observation at that time was that the church was going to need to make a decision. These people are not coming back out of the Judeo Christian cultural heritage. We know that. They are coming out of hedonism and where everything is relative. They are basically coming out of a pagan mindset. Now, are we going to say we are going to be responsible, give them the gospel, and then deal with their problems; or, are going to have them come to us and say I want you to deal with my problems as I conceive them? That is far different from anything biblical.

CARPENTER: In similar fashion, I have noticed recently that there is an apparent disconnect as to why the topic of hell is not being preached in the church. I find the reason to be that pastors are telling their congregations what they want to hear. I can help but notice the distinct parallels being drawn between that topic and this situation we are discussing in regard to Islam and persecution of Christians. Please comment on that if you could.

MCQUAID: You have hit the nail right on the head because are we in some of our theological seminaries teaching people how to entertain or are we teaching them how to instruct? For example, why arent we hearing about what is going on in these places from our pulpits? Why arent we hearing more about the confrontation with Islam? This is a war. It is a fight to the finish. (Radical) Islam has declared this and they dont make any bones about it. They are out to destroy us and we dont seem to want to accept that. We insist on thinking in some of our theological circles that everyone thinks like we do. They dont. Most of the world doesnt. With Islam for example, the basis of their law is Sharia. That runs everything including the political system.

CARPENTER: So, religion in a sense runs government.

MCQUAID: We are pluralistic. We have this division of church and state. So, we think the world thinks that way. When we think about establishing democratic entities in the Middle East, specifically Muslim countries, that is a fantasy. You cannot install fundamentalist Muslim law as the legal basis for your state and have democracy. It is a contradiction of terms.

CARPENTER: What do you foresee happening regarding the persecution of Christians a year from now, five years from now, or even ten years from now? Do you see any types of trends that indicate this situation will get worse or will we eventually hit a point where it will improve?

MCQUAID: I hope we hit a point where we turn it around. I think it will genuinely take a spiritual revival to do that because I believe we are really heading for some tough sledding. The fact that we have these really acrimonious attitudes toward evangelicals and the militancy of Islamists is the biggest danger to us. It is a different type of war than we have ever fought before. If it were not for the current presidential administration I am afraid that under any other circumstances we would have peace by capitulation and appeasement. If we are to do that the war is lost. We will be the ones to pay the price. If anything will turn it around, and perhaps it needs to get worse before it gets better.

CARPENTER: As I said earlier, I sometimes start reading these types of books and I have to put them down because they dont draw me in. But I felt your book was very clear and written in a voice that everyone can understand. Also, I felt the points you made within the book were just packed with truth.

MCQUAID: I didnt want to just catalog atrocities. I wanted to put in the faces so we that we know it is a human book. It is also about causes, effect, responses to the problem, our ultimate responsibility. So, I tried to do that. I hope my readers think the same.

CARPENTER: Thanks for the time.

MCQUAID: Thank you.

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