Compassion Comes from a Belief in God, Not from a Secular Worldview
The ancient world was awash in filth, disease, and squalor. As such, Christians were often the ones who would step up and provide care and compassion for the sick and dying. Why is this? The answer is quite simple: because compassion and mercy are unique to the Bible and the Christian worldview.
The reality is that secularism, pantheism and polytheistic religions do not have a track record of compassion and mercy. The reason goes back to their worldviews of evolution, an impersonal universe, or the petty vindictiveness of the gods. It’s not that individual atheists, Hindus or Buddhists cannot be compassionate at times—they certainly are! But historically it is the Judeo-Christian tradition that spawns hospitals, orphanages, leper colonies and palliative care during times of suffering such as pandemics. This is because of the Bible’s teaching that all human beings are created in God’s image and deserve to be loved, treated with care and respected. In short, theism leads to ministries of mercy. Monotheism leads to compassion. Secularism and pagan religions do not.
Just think about it. What charitable ministry is it that erected a field hospital in the middle of Central Park during the recent COVID-19 pandemic? Answer: Samaritan’s Purse, which is a vibrant, evangelical ministry headed by Franklin Graham. There were no Buddhist or Hindu equivalents.
Historian Rodney Stark writes in his book The Triumph of Christianity about the significant contrast between Christian mercy and compassion in comparison to pagan religions. Stark is graphic in his description of the horrible conditions in the ancient world, and yet in the midst of the poverty, misery, illness, and the anonymity of ancient cities, Christianity provided an island of mercy and security.
Foremost was the Christian duty to alleviate misery and suffering. Think of the words of Jesus, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me…Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:35-40). You will never read such words coming from the mouth of Buddha, Confucius, Zeno, Socrates or Lao Tzu. Why is this?
In AD 251, the bishop of Rome wrote a letter to the bishop of Antioch in which he mentioned that the Roman congregation was supporting fifteen hundred widows and distressed persons. This was not unusual. In about the year 98 CE, Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, advised Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, to be sure to provide special support for widows. As the distinguished historian Paul Johnson put it, “The Christians…ran a miniature welfare state in an empire which for the most part lacked social services…” When calamities struck, there were people who cared—in fact, there were people assuming the distinct responsibility to care! All congregations had deacons whose primary job was the support of the sick, infirm, poor, and disabled. This is the Christian way. This is the Jesus way.
by Jay Childs, Senior Pastor
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