Article
Christianophobia: A Faith Under Attack
Christianophobia: A Faith Under Attack
Rupert Shortt
Eerdmans, 2013
328 pp., $26.00

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Mark Noll


Their Blood Cries Out

On violence against Christians.

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Yet their most enduring message concerns the character of Christian faith itself. In 2011 Shortt interviewed Afghans who after converting to evangelical forms of Christianity had been forced to flee for refuge to Europe or India. One of them, who had been taught to view all non-Muslims as satanic, was eventually drawn to Christian faith. For him the attraction was "God's self-offering in Christ, the characteristically Christian notion that victory can be won through apparent defeat, and that Christians have the status of adoptive children through the Spirit of Jesus." Shortt reports that despite ostracism, mortal threat, and forced immigration, this Afghan believer did not regret his conversion. Instead he affirmed that "the gospel had freed his conscience and imagination … especially in its emphasis on the core principle that forgiveness precedes repentance, not vice versa."

Similarly moving were words that Shabbaz Bhatti recorded on video only weeks before he was killed for trying to help Aasiya Bibi, and after he had received many threats against his life: "I am living for my community and for suffering people and I will die to defend their rights… . I want to share that I believe in Jesus Christ, who has given his own life for us. I know … the meaning of the Cross and I follow him on the Cross."

Because of such testimonies, Christianophobia and The Global War on Christians are almost as inspiring as they are frightening. To read them is to weep. But it is also to grasp the wisdom of a slogan popularized by Catholic Action in the middle of the last century: Observe—Judge—Act.

Mark Noll is Francis A. McAnaney Professor of history at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author most recently of From Every Tribe and Nation: A Historian's Discovery of the Global Christian Story, coming in October from Baker Academic.

1. See the Amnesty International 2013 report on Eritrea, including information about the death of a Jehovah's Witness at Me'eter, www.amnestyusa.org/research/reports/annual-report-eritrea-2013?page=2 (4-24-13).

2. For an update, tribune.com.pk/story/569761/blasphemy-convict-aasia-bibis-appeal-at-least-two-years-away/ (4-24-13).

3. Available on a Kindle edition in English as Blasphemy: The True, Heart-Breaking Story of the Woman Sentenced to Death over a Cup of Water (Virago, 2011).

4. Philpott, Toft, and Shah, God's Country: Resurgent Religion and Global Politics (Norton, 2011).

5. Albert Raboteau, Slave Religion: The "Invisible Institution" in the Antebellum South, 2nd ed. (Oxford Univ. Press, 2004), p. 333.

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