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Rev. Koole is pastor of Faith Protestant Reformed Church in Jenison, Michigan.

The Beast Coming into Focus

 

What is taking place in the Western world in growing, open opposition towards Christianity is alarming, to say the least. It is not just the Far Eastern nations, influenced by their heathen backgrounds, that are expressing themselves in militant fashion against Christianity, it is now also nations of historical Christian background that are doing so more and more in openly hostile, aggressive fashion. An article by the Rev. Austin Miles (entitled AG [Assemblies of God—KK] Missionaries Expelled from Belgium and carried by ASSIST News Service, Feb. 21) makes plain just how quickly things are developing in apostate Europe. Read the following and tell me that words of the book of the Revelation do not simply jump out at one. The Beast out of the Sea with the seven heads and ten horns (Rev. 13, 17) begins to take shape before our wondering eyes.

The formal crackdown on Christian activity in Europe has officially begun. When the Belgium government deported several Assemblies of God missionaries last week (Feb. 11) based on their having short-term visas and “few permanent ties to the country,” it was obvious to more than a few observers that this was just the beginning.

Following that initial governmental action, a broader sweep has taken place, with fully appointed Assemblies of God missionaries who have been there for years and planned to be there for years to come being told to pack up and leave the country.

According to an e-mail report from Belgium AG Missionaries Alan and Tricia Baker, the Christian Center, which is the AG’s International Church in Brussels—the one where a police sweep occurred last week—has had to immediately close its Christian School for at least the remainder of this school year.

There appears to be little chance of it ever reopening. Their Bible School, which has also been in Belgium for forty plus years, is also in a grave situation. Its president, Roland Dudley, has been give 8 days to permanently leave the country.

The legal status of all professors and staff is in serious question. Missionaries working with ministries such as International Media Ministries, International Correspondence Institute, Students for Christ, and others are all facing great uncertainty at best and possible deportation at worst.

For the moment it appears that only those missionaries working in pastoral ministry are not being challenged.

Missionaries are being challenged, however, on their right to stay, as the government has, without any warning of any kind, decided to clean the country of those who have been suddenly deemed “undesirables.”

That this is true is clear from the press and media reports that continue to come out. On Feb. 14, one of Belgium’s largest TV channels showed a special 30-minute program on the AG Missionaries. Psychologists were used to portray them as “a danger to the population, and are cultic in their doctrine and practice.”

Citizens of Belgium readily believe their government and media, therefore the attacks on the missionaries are very effective. And what is curious about the cult label put on the Assemblies of God by them, the Belgium government itself ruled several years ago that the AG church is not a cult.

It is conceivable that Belgium will expel most if not all missionaries from its shores. And events are showing that this will become European policy as well, as the EC becomes more and more unified and its laws become more and more standardized across national borders.

The gradual shutting down of religious organizations had already begun in France and Germany. This of course marked the beginning of a strictly controlled, government-approved-only religious organization. Especially targeted were evangelical churches.

To add fuel to the fire, the Orthodox Church in other countries is playing a significant role in this religious cleansing operation, working with the various governments to declare them the only legally sanctioned church, and all the rest cultic.

Of special concern is the speculation of several groups that the seat of the eventual One World Government will be Belgium, where the expulsion of Christianity is now out in the open, cluing (sic) other countries to follow suit.

The Belgium Regional Director of the Assemblies of God, Greg Mundis, has flown to Brussels to attempt to deal with the situation. A meeting of all the missionaries was scheduled Sunday afternoon with him.

A number of things are worth noting. First, notice that the opposition of the state is aimed at missionaries. And there is reason to believe not just AG missionaries, but all missionaries. An official, state church that does nothing in the area of evangelism is viewed as no threat. It is those who seek to evangelize and to proselytize who are labeled as “dangerous” and “cultic.”

Second, reference is made to the Orthodox Church (old, main-line denominations, filled with ritual, empty of truth) which, far from protesting this fist against religious liberty, apparently approve this cleansing of the land of other forms of Christianity, evidently so that they alone can stand as the official, state-approved representative of “Christianity.” They will accept the state’s sanctions and speak on the state’s behalf. Who can read this without thinking of Revelation 13and the second beast, the false church, and whose kingdom it will serve?

Third, the fear is very real that as the EC (European Commonwealth) becomes a reality, what is happening in Belgium will become policy across the whole of Europe. Belgium is but taking the openly aggressive lead. Others simply wait to see if Belgium can get by with this heavy-handed (echoes of Nazi Germany) treatment of evangelical Christianity without too much of an international outcry. The lack of it will embolden others in Europe to do the same.

As a related article from the “pen” of Mike Creswell in the Baptist Press News Service makes clear, this above-mentioned fear is not without substance and basis. Mr. Creswell begins his article “Leaders Assess Impact of New French Religion Law” by indicating that Baptist and evangelical leaders are trying to convince themselves that “… a controversial new law on religion in France may not be the threat to religious liberty some critics feared.” How shortsighted and filled with wishful thinking they are becomes evident from reading further on in the article.

The new law adopted last year by the French Senate in May and unanimously approved in June by France’s National Assembly will attempt to restrict activities of religious cults deemed dangerous. The law specifies five-year jail terms and $75,000 fines for those who use “manipulation” to encourage conversions (sic!—KK).

Groups are banned from activities aimed at creating or exploiting psychological dependence. Also outlawed is putting heavy and repeated pressure on a person, or using techniques likely to alter his judgment, so as to induce him to behave in a way prejudicial to his interests.

Under the lengthy 24-article law, French judges can dissolve a religious group whose members are convicted of a criminal offense. Suspect groups are forbidden to advertise and may not seek to enlist new members near schools, hospitals or retirement homes.

Supposedly this prohibition is aimed only at what are called “cult groups” (some 172 listed, including Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, and Church of Scientology). It does not specifically list any main-line evangelical denominations. Such would like to conclude they must be safe. But who can miss the broad, wide-ranging language, such as “manipulation” that encourages conversion, and “exploiting psychological dependence,” and “putting pressure on a person” to alter his way of thinking. The law obviously gives a judge great latitude and discretionary power in determining what he considers to be “undue psychological pressure” placed upon a person. Anyone who does not see how easily this can be turned against Christian mission work has his head in the clouds. Yet, astonishingly enough, such churchmen can be found.

Many people in the United States and France criticized the law for its potentially stifling effect on religion, especially for evangelicals committed to sharing their Christian faith with others.

But leaders of the French Protestant Federation and the French Baptist Evangelical Federation have said they do not yet fear the law will interfere with the church life or evangelism. They said they will have to wait until French courts begin applying the new law in actual cases to see what effects it will have.

“So far, nothing has changed for us. There are no differences for our churches,” said Christian Seytre, general secretary of the Protestant Federation of France. “We sense there is a danger but we cannot say there is no religious liberty in France.”

“Basically, I would say things are good and we are being vigilant,” Seytre added. “If we feel the basic rights of human beings are not being respected, we will react very strongly. I’m sure our president would contact the government.”

French Baptists share that position, said Etienne Lhermenault,

general secretary of the Baptist Evangelical Federation of France.

Amazing. One is reminded of the frog sitting in a pan of water slowly being brought to a boil. “We think it may be getting a little warm in here, but let’s not get unduly alarmed. Should the water actually boil, then we will try to jump. Croak!”

Neville Chamberlain of appeasement fame and “If you cannot trust Hitler, who can you trust” had more insight into human nature and the seriousness of the situation than these pastors, it would seem. It reminds one for all the world of the established church in Germany as Hitler took power, refusing to speak out, all but spiritually dead, convincing themselves that Adolph’s blandishments about his being no threat to religious liberty were true. They were his willing dupes.

What can one say? The Spirit of strong delusion is abroad. Has the Dragon been unchained? That conclusion is more and more forced upon one, it seems.