Religious Liberty

The International Council of Christian Churches (ICCC), meeting in its 20th World Congress, January 22-29, 2020, in Puerto Montt, Chile, calls on people and governments everywhere to embrace and promote religious liberty. We condemn the alarming trend, even in some countries known historically for affording liberty to all citizens, of increased persecution of Christians and those of other religions.

Religious liberty is much more than just granting the freedom for citizens to believe something. To be genuine, it must also include the freedom for the individual to practice and propagate one’s faith in his or her daily life. The faith of the child of God does not just consist in attending church on Sundays, but involves every aspect of his existence. 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Governments which attempt to force Christians to dishonor God, and violate their faith, are the enemies of religious liberty.

Although the ICCC stands strongly against all false religions, and seeks to promote righteousness in our respective lands, we nonetheless advocate and promote liberty for all who are peacefully attempting to live their lives. Unlike the belief and practice of many other religions, true Biblical Christianity does not seek to force men into “converting to Christianity” by the power of the sword. We condemn all religious violence, believing that it is God alone who will mete out such reward or punishment as He, in His sovereign will, has ordained. Ecclesiastes 3:17 tells us: “God shall judge the righteous and the wicked.”

God’s command to the Bible believer is to preach the true Gospel of Christ with urgency and boldness. But, it is only by the working of God’s Spirit that a man passes “from death unto life” (John 5:24). Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 3:6-8: “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.”

The ICCC is in constant, fervent prayer for those everywhere who are being harassed, jailed, or even martyred for their faith and we urge our member churches and all believers to help those being persecuted. We further encourage them to be be clear and constant in promoting religious liberty in the countries where God has placed them.

Bible believing Christians know that this present evil world is at enmity against God, and against His children. Persecution has been the norm throughout human history. Paul told Timothy: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).

But, the Scriptures tell us that we are not to fret and be sad, but rather take comfort in the promises of God. In the Beatitudes, our Lord Jesus Christ tells us: “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).

May we take comfort and courage from the words of our Saviour: “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).