Steve Hays has given me permission to post his article here. He applies these four categories of people in the current oppressive climate for Christians, but they can easily be applied to people living during the Antichrist’s great tribulation.
Living under the Beast
Christians in the English-speaking world are beginning to face persecution. In the USA, the Trump presidency has given us a temporary reprieve, but that won’t last if the Democrats regain power. There are different ways in which people respond to oppression:
They switch to the winning side. When they sense a shift in the balance of power, they switch sides ahead of time to avoid getting caught on the “wrong side of history”.
They are enthusiastic collaborators who propagandize for the oppressive regime. They rat out friends, neighbors, and colleagues to prove their fidelity to the oppressive regime.
In some cases they were always sympathetic to the ideology of the oppressive regime, but they only went public when it was safe to tip their hand.
Past examples include Heidegger and Vichy regime. Contemporary examples include Randal Rauser, Eugene Peterson, David Gushee, Tony Campolo, Jan Hatmaker.
They are pragmatists rather than ideologues. They have no core convictions or principles. In some cases they believe whatever is fashionable to believe, with no sense of cognitive dissonance as intellectual fads change, and they change accordingly.
In other cases they may privately disagree with the ideology of the oppressive regime, but they say and do whatever is necessary to succeed. Don’t make waves. Don’t rock the boat.
They do what’s necessary to survive and function. To protect their family. They don’t do anything openly provocative. But they do whatever they can to subvert the oppressive regime. Low-profile saboteurs. They take calculated risks.
Past examples include Brother Andrew, Eric Liddell, the Confessing Church, French and Italian Resistance, Christians who sheltered Jews from Nazis.
These are men and women who openly and fearlessly confront the oppressive regime. Heroic, inspirational figures. Sometimes they prevail. Sometimes their zeal is suicidal. Sometimes they’re imprisoned or executed.
Historic figures include Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Paul Schneider. Contemporary figures include Robert Gagnon, Jordan Peterson.
Martyrs and Quislings represent opposite ends of the spectrum.