I was recently provided a copy of The Privilege of Persecution by Moody Publishers for review here at Becoming Saturated. What I was hoping for were lessons for my convenience-immersed Christian experience from those who don't experience the western comforts as I do. I was hoping to be a partaker of Hebrews 13:3
Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.
However, I'm not sure that this book accomplished that. Though I'm certain that Moeller and Hegg have a variety of experiences within the persecuted church setting, I was surprised at how little stories of that setting were shared. There were certain stories seasoned throughout, but I'm not sure that they made the idea of "persecution" personal enough for the reader.
Their purpose was to show how the American church can learn in six areas from the persecuted church:
1. God and His Word
2. Worship and the Church
3. Prayer and Dependence
4. Community, Culture, and Evangelism
5. Leadership, Authority, and Power
6. Generosity and Stewardship
There were a host of quips and advice with which I would agree and were encouraged to ponder. I was especially challenged to deepen my prayer life through the "Prayer and Dependence" chapter. The authors were emphatic about the headship of Christ over His church, the organically driven communal nature of Christ's body, and the truth that loving Christ is a far greater endeavor that loving Christ's benefits. This book did provoke my desire to post more on my blog about persecuted and martyred Christians.
Sadly, though, I took this book as simply being page after page of jabs at the American church. The authors provided some redeeming remarks about the church, but at other times missed the opportunity to speak even a sentence into what the western church has to offer. One such example was in the chapter on prayer. They noted how persecuted church leaders took every chance possible to communicate with western church leaders about teaching, suggesting they ask, "Teach us how to teach. Walk us through the Bible so we can do it with our people." So the western church teaches well? I think so, but they didn't allow the grace of that comment to flow through the illustration.
If there is a fallacy in this book it would have to be with the premise. The persecuted church has a certain mode of operation specifically due to the persecution that takes place within it. To suggest that the American church become more like that by nature, would suggest that the American church needs persecution. I am not saying that we cannot learn to have a greater appreciate of God's Word or be more free in worship because of our persecuted brothers and sisters, but I am saying that persecuted church life will simply be vastly different from free church life. There was a comparison of apples to oranges, I believe, taking place in this book, because I think this book presented more of a "comparison" that a "lesson."