I am sitting on the balcony of my friend’s amazingly beautiful condo in Alecante, Spain. The weather is wonderful, sunny, in the 70s. I am looking out at a big lake, some more condos and from one side is the Mediterranean sea, on the other you can see far off the city of Valencia and then the mountains. Alecante is a good place to be on my study leave. It is an ancient city 4000 years old. In the bible this place is called Tarshish. Jonah was fleeing here when God told him to go and preach the Gospel to Nineveh. In the AD time this was a Christian city, then the Moslems Arabs came and then Ferdinand and Isabella won this city back for Christianity. To ensure that it would stay Christian they drove out anyone they had any doubts was a Christian. The Moslems went, the Jews were forced to leave, and the Protestants which many of them still call “The Heretics” were forced to leave. Those who tried to stay behind were tortured and killed. Yesterday night at 10 and 11 pm we were walking around town and a huge festival was going on for Nuestra Dama de la Luz “Our Lady of the Light” It was wonderful seeing hundreds and hundreds of Spaniards eating, playing , talking. They were very gay. But this area is not happy. Spain has a 50% unemployment rate especially among young adults just starting. They are very happy to have the Swedes, the Brits and the Germans here to serve. The beaches are amazing, the water is clean and warm and it is a wonderful place to be.
I read that when the Inquisition was finished and Alecante was purely Catholic the place fell apart. All the skilled people, the merchants, the jewelers, the employers were gone. It fell into a slump that is still being felt today. Outside the foreign areas it looks like Mexico, broken buildings, burned ground, trash, graphiti. I am sure those festival goers, if they prayed at all, prayed for happier times here among the faithful to “Our Lady of the Light”.
I have often wondered how it would be if Christians in America were in control and forced those around us to confess the faith or leave. The Puritans did this in New England. Pennsylvania became a haven for what were called “Dissenters” those who disagreed with Puritan doctrine. William Penn, the Quaker, welcomed them in.
Today the Moslem fanatics are going further than the Inquisition did. Not only do they want you to be like them or flee or die, they want to do this to the world. It is submit to our god on our terms or you are dead. The hypocrisy of being better than thou, of persecution, of murder, of theft and a thousand other sins against god that they are doing is ignored.
God only ordained one inquisition. He told Joshua to take the land for the children of Israel. It was strict, no plundering, benefiting on their sorrow, just judgment that the Holy Land belonged to the people God had made a promise to in Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. There was never another time this was permitted. God wants us to live among unbelievers and provide an example, God wanted His children to live, work, talk and love unbelievers in the hope they are prodigals whose hearts of stone would be touched by the love of God and turned into living flesh. We are not to gloat, persecute or cast out. We are to love, teach and reach in their company for the truth.
How do we do this? In Alecante they have huge paintings of Our Lady of the Light everywhere in the Fiesta. But I didn’t see anyone praying. I saw a lot of eating tapas and paella. I saw children being enticed to buy Godzilla and rainbow making toys. I was wondering why so much fuss about “Our Lady” and no mention that I could see of Jesus Christ, her son, OUR LORD.
The Inquisition went further than saying “convert or leave”. There were many inquisitions and the latter ones took Jewish, Muslim and heretic (that’s us) converts to Catholism and accused them of not being converted enough. These were professing Christians but that wasn’t enough. They didn’t look, talk or were Catholic enough for their taste.
When I was in Karlstad with Michel he was pleased that I was a pastor. But he said in his view a huge problem in our world today is fragmented Christians who fight, argue and hate one another because they don’t look, talk or are Protestant enough to our taste. He says for Christ’s Church to move forward we must have essentials but the nonessentials we must overlook. The pagan world around us looks and laughs at us because we fight one another because of how we celebrate baptism or communion or which reformer our forefathers followed or how we feel God’s house of worship should look or what music we sing to. There are more important callings our Lord is calling us to. And this is to be like leaven in bread, to be amongst people and lovingly lead them to Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.
In Sweden the State Church has been captured by ungodly leftists. The faithful seem to be very few and they don’t know how to reach those whose knee will not willingly bow to the LORD in loving gratitude for life, for blessings and for the promise of eternal life. In fact the church looks like it is in full retreat. Michel said that the victory of the ungodly is to call sharing our condition and our Savior with children child abuse. The King of Sweden, the titular head of the state church is silent and not much of a Christian example at all. In America it seems our churches have become clubs where you learn how to enjoy Christianized rock, how to better your finances and raise happier children. The church today seems to cater to people wanting to please themselves instead of bowing in love the one true God of heaven and earth.
Here I divert to what I believe Calvin and the reformed faith would have us do. Education, pursuing real truth from its source, the Word of God that has stood for thousands of years as the pillar of civilization and faith. It is as old as Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, David, the prophets and the fulfillment of all truth in Christ’s miraculous birth, holy life, atoning death, bodily resurrection, Assention and promise to return at the end. In the meantime what did Christ tell us to do? To love Him above everything and our neighbor as ourself, to proclaim the way, truth and life. To not get sidetracked by riches and things that perish. Christ calls us to go out and make disciples of all nations, to baptize and to teach all that He commanded.
There you have the hope of the Church in the world. Right here is our focus and goal. Right here is our mission plan and the focus of our worship and stewardship and evangelism. I can imagine those Dominican friars frying those that didn’t look, talk or fit in to the way they thought Catholics should do. I can imagine a coming time when maybe we will be challenged to bow to Allah or die. It happened before it is happening again. How does Jesus respond? In Matthew we read Jesus saying “Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'" Let’s live as wheat, smell like wheat, look like wheat and love the weeds until they become wheat. Then let the Lord do His “inquisition”. Christ is the only one who knows how to do it right
PS - I am writing this from the balcony in full Spanish sunlight which is very bright and hot. Please excuse any mispellings occured, I can't see to correct.