The movement toward legislated persecution of devout, orthodox Christians continues and today on Worlmagblog, Gene Edward Veith offers some good insight :
Nicholas Kristoff of the New York Times has read the finale to the “Left Behind” series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins and he is horrified to see what Christians believe about the Last Judgment. In “Glorious Appearing”–not the best representation of Christian theology–Jesus comes back and the unbelievers are judged in gruesome detail, their flesh dissolving, their eyeballs melting, and the whole pack of them pushed into a fiery fissure in the earth. To Kristoff, all of this violence against non-Christians is intolerance on a monumental scale, the very same kind of fundamentalism that gives us the jihad of Islamic terrorists. This view of “Jesus returning to Earth to wipe all non-Christians from the planet” is believed by millions of Christians. “It’s disconcerting to find ethnic cleansing celebrated as the height of piety.”
Observations and predictions: One does not have to believe in the “Left Behind” eschatology to be tarred by this brush. The Christian belief that there is no salvation apart from Christ is anathema in the postmodern culture of religious relativism.
There is no longer a sense of sin–that those condemned by God get only what they deserve–so that the doctrines of judgement, Hell, and by extension the Atonement for sin on the Cross–are perceived as arbitrary, cruel, and thus unbelievable.
At some point, there may be legislation or other overt acts of persecution against religions that are not “tolerant” or “inclusive.” Evangelical Christianity may be defined as a hate-crime, with only “good religions” that preach niceness and tolerance extended First Amendment protections. When that happens, many once-Bible-believing churches will change their teachings to make themselves culturally acceptable.
I hope that I am wrong. And certainly the Holy Spirit through the Word of God can and does bring conviction of sin, which includes the realization that we do deserve God’s wrath, as a prelude to receiving the good news that Christ has borne the wrath we deserve and offers us free forgiveness. But let’s not expect to be liked.