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Notre Dame Burns: Personal thoughts from Dr. John Neufeld

As Notre Dame burns, Dr. John takes some time to dissect the recent acts of violence towards the Catholic Church in France. In all of this unsettling news, Dr. John also gives us a reminder about the truths of our Saviour, and what we know to be true; even in times of chaos.

As I write these words today, Notre Dame is burning. It looks like the damage is extensive, and the loss inestimable.

I am struck that this event has happened on the Monday of Holy Week. I am also struck that in the last two months, there has been a wave of attacks against Roman Catholic Churches. A month ago, the second largest church, after Notre Dame, had its large wooden door on its southern transept set ablaze. The fire was started deliberately. In early February, vandals drew a cross on the wall of the church of Notre-Dame-des-Enfants in Nimes. The vandals drew the cross with feces and stuck communion hosts to it. In another church, the statue of the Virgin Mary was smashed, with its remains left on the floor. In another, vandals urinated in the holy water. In other places, church statues were beheaded. Clearly, there has been an enormous spike in vandalism against Catholic church buildings in France. And in all of this, the press has remained remarkably silent.

An average of two Christian churches per day was vandalized in some fashion

But the spike in the desecration of Catholic buildings is a part of a campaign of violence against these houses of worship. Reports seem to indicate that in 2018, an average of two Christian churches per day was vandalized in some fashion. Again, these incidents generated very few headlines. Indeed, in 2018, there were only 100 anti-Muslim acts in France. But, according to Breitbart News, there were 541 anti-Semitic acts and 1,063 anti-Christian acts.

Is the fire at Notre Dame-related to all of this? It is important for Christians to wait until it becomes possible to examine the evidence. The truth is, we simply don’t know. But it is also true that this burning has happened amid a spike of violence against Catholic Churches throughout France.

Notre Dame has had an amazing history

Notre Dame has an amazing history. It took hundreds of years to build, and it is supposed to have housed a piece of the crown of thorns. I doubt most of these stories, but I wonder if this relic has survived. Notre Dame has a memorial to Joan of Arc. It is the place where Napoleon crowned himself, refusing to testify that his rule had anything to do with God. During the French Revolution, it was renamed as a Cathedral to human reason. Notre Dame remains the seat of Catholicism in France to this day. As such, the burning of Notre Dame is surely a symbol of Roman Catholicism and even Christianity in France.

Christians are being put into increasingly hostile conditions

What shall we make of all of this? Again, wise Christians will not jump to conclusions not supported by evidence. It may well be that the fire at Notre Dame was caused by workers who did not use sufficient caution. In all of this, one thing remains; it is not just France. All over the world, Christians are being put into increasingly hostile conditions. This serves us as a reminder that our Saviour was put to death on a cross.

Let us then remember that our Saviour demands our loyalty, even when men despise us. Let us also remember, that our Saviour does not shield us from all fires. He does, however, promise us an eternal kingdom. In all of this, His promises remain, so let’s give thanks.

Dr. John Neufeld

Dr. John Neufeld

Dr. John Neufeld is the national Bible teacher at Back to the Bible Canada. He has served as Senior Pastor, church planter, conference speaker and educator, and is known both nationally and internationally for his passion and excellence in expositional preaching and teaching.

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