Posted by: Philip Rushton | November 15, 2010

Persecuted For Un-Righteousness Sake?

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10

Jesus often warned his followers that they would face persecution. He anticipated that the gospel would clash with the values and practices of pagan culture, thereby implicating his disciples social standing. However, there is an important qualification in Matthew 5:10 that is sometimes overlooked. Jesus promises blessings to those who are persecuted for “righteousness” sake.

Christians in North America today face a lot of scrutiny and resistance from our secular culture. However, I am not convinced that this is the type of resistance that Jesus had in mind when he pronounced this blessing on the persecuted. In fact it seems as though things are backwards. Often the criticism that Christians receive from liberal academics or media critics is that we are failing to live up to our principles. Christians are criticized and villainized by the media for being hypocritical, uncaring, or ignorant.

David James Duncan, whose book I introduced last week, is an example of a liberal critic who takes issue with the hypocrisy he finds in the church. In his essay, “What Fundamentalists Need for Their Salvation,” he writes, “to allow televangelists or pulpit neocons to claim exclusive ownership of Jesus is to hand that incomparable lover of enemies, prostitutes, foreigners, and fishermen over to those who evince no such love.” The critique Duncan puts to the church is that it fails to love like Jesus loved.

When Jesus first uttered the words of Matthew 5:10, I think he was expecting that his followers would get into trouble for living a life that clashed with the powers of greed, violence, civil religion, and racial division. Instead I find that Christians are often getting in trouble for aligning themselves with these types of powers. It appears as though we are being persecuted for “un-righteousness” sake. This type of persecution does not lead to blessing, because it is produced by behavior that is distancing us from the kingdom of heaven.


  1. what’s a neocon?

  2. “design world comes together”

  3. too existentialist for me.

  4. Hey Shannon,

    Neocon is short for neoconservative. It is sort of a loaded term that has taken on different looks depending on the context it is used in. It has to do with a political philosophy that uses military and economic power to promote democracy in the world. To read more there is an interesting article at I think what Duncan is getting at this article is how Christianity is sometimes inappropriately attached to the foreign policy and military practices of the west.

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