I suppose there are several reasons why I regularly blog. I am approaching 700 posts right now (check out here for the index of click onable links to all the titles) and have not yet run out of steam. Quite frankly, I regard this activity as therapeutic and forms part of my own coping strategy. It represents my window into the world, which imho is not only as valid as the next persons but also provides powerful insights that many miss or don’t understand and yet cry out to be said, even if no-one reads what I am saying. While it is true, I do offer personal perspectives on a whole range of subjects that happen to interest me, I do make every attempt to be relevant and adopt the “true, necessary and kind” ideal. I also try to make allowances for people seeing things differently to me, realising I may not always be right and do not always have the full picture.
I suppose, if I were pressed, I would say that I approach many of my subjects as a gospel preaching, community activist. I believe it is paramount to proclaim the Christian gospel, and the Internet provides fantastic opportunities, not from a narrow Bible bashing perspective but rather trying to make sense out of what is going on around me and applying godly insights into what is going on. I do so knowing mine is not the last word but the Word (the Bible) should be applied to every area of life and Jesus is Lord of ALL creation, and while I look forward to Christ coming back to the earth as King of kings, and only then will all wrongs be righted, it is also beholden on me to work toward His Kingdom NOW. As a long standing community activist, I see the need to fight for social justice and defend the rights of the poor, vulnerable, oppressed, dispossessed, marginalized, excluded folks living in the world, of which there are many, and I try in my own small way to help as best I can. I see doing the latter as a pre-requisite for doing the former, when it comes to earning the right to do so. As far as the wider church goes, gospel proclamation and social action ought to go hand in hand.
However, as one that watches developments in the culture at large, I sense doing so has challenges, for all sorts of reasons but a lot of which is to do with a Christian world view being replaced by one that isn’t, all of which is touched on in a number of my blog posts, where I point out what is happening, why it is happening and what can be done about it. Either Christians are shut up or they compromise by going with the flow. But there is a better way, even though there is a price to pay. That better way involves practically loving our neighbor, without strings attached, because it is the right thing to do, while at the same time fulfilling the Great Commission and proclaiming unpalatable truths. When I survey the world of preachers, I sense that a few are saying these things, but most aren’t. I recently came across one article that more or less says the sort of things I think need saying (although I would have liked the more positive message of community activism to have been included). But since this person (who I won’t name for the sake of being discreet) has said something important and invited us to share, then that is what I will do. What he says is by nature of a warning, in much the same way Hebrew prophets warned Israel, even if sadly they did not heed the message. But we (the church) need to heed and respond appropriately. Anything less falls short of what God requires.
I’ve been meaning to write this for some time. I have hesitated. ‘People will think it’s over the top.’ And obviously I really hope I’m wrong. But I’ve begun to wonder how long churches like those represented by our constituency will be allowed to continue by the powers that be.
Think about it. We stand for one way of salvation, Jesus Christ – non-inclusive. We respect other religions, but believe they are untrue. We do not favour abortion. We stand for male headship in the family and leadership in the church. We do not approve of same sex marriage. We believe God made two genders and, though we need to be caring towards all, everything else is ultimately an aberration, like so much in our fallen world. In all honesty, how long are organisations like ours going to be allowed to carry on? How long, in particular, will we be allowed to teach children? As things stand, the answer must surely be ‘not very long.’
The move to have Ofsted vet Sunday schools, which may still happen, was ominous. But what made my concerns more urgent was a news item from Scotland, reported by The Christian Institute in July. A newspaper columnist there had vilified a church choir touring from the US, saying that they were a ‘musical Trojan horse’, who were part of a church that ‘ticks every box of the Ugly Religious Fundamentalism checklist.’ Their church’s pro-marriage and pro-life views were cited as reasons why they were ‘not welcome’. Picking up the baton, the Scottish Secular Society questioned why the church group had ‘even been allowed in the country’. If secularists do not want such Christians even visiting they certainly would not want such churches permanently operating in the country.
The truth is that conservative evangelicals are now painted as ‘the nasty guys’. Al Mohler explains in his recent book We Cannot Be Silent: speaking truth to a culture redefining sex, marriage & the very meaning of right & wrong: ‘The Christian church has long been understood by the culture at large to be the guardian of what is right and righteous. But now the situation is fundamentally reversed. The culture generally identifies Christians as on the wrong side of morality. Those who hold to biblical teachings concerning human sexuality are now deposed from the position of the moral high ground.’ We must take seriously the fact that many secular people want to ‘evangelise’ us. We are the ‘sinners’ who need to be converted to become ‘nice’ and take on their laissez faire approach to life. And, if we won’t convert, eventually there will be vociferous calls to shut us down.
I hope I’m wrong. It may just be that our churches will be protected simply because so many Muslims have similar traditional moral values to us. But that may not afford us protection. Somehow we Christians tend to get singled out.
Supposing I am right, are we as a constituency thinking ahead at all? I can’t see that there would be violent persecution of Christians in the West, but I can see plenty of fines and court orders to shut us down unless we change (a route some churches are already taking). Are we planning for the future, simply assuming that religious liberty will persist? Is it time for churches to discuss how to operate outside the law? Are we preparing a new generation of pastors (part-time workers?) equipped to care for an underground church in a high-tech environment? It could be a waste of time, but perhaps not.
One thought on “I hope I’m wrong…”
I think that Christians have had it all their own way for so long that now they perceive a society where Christianity is not afforded any special privileges as being oppressive to them. But is it really? After all conservative Christians are not obliged to allow same sex marriages in their churches, are not forced to accept divorce etc. But what they are obliged to do is to recognise that they live in a diverse society and they do not have the right to make the law of the land conform to their standards of morality. When it comes down to teaching children, it becomes difficult. State schools have a responsibility to all their pupils, including their LGBT and religious students, to protect them from discrimination and bullying. How they do that is a difficult one and it really needs different groups e.g. LGBT, Christian, Muslim, Jewish etc to actually get together in the same room with each other and the education ministers to work out how can this be done fairly and supportively, putting the needs of the children above everything else. But can these groups work together when there is so much distrust and antagonism between them?
With regard to the exclusivity of Christianity I would recommend looking at this site as the writer expresses himself and his views much more eloquently than I ever could – http://www.explorefaith.org/religions.html . I think too many people think they know the mind of God or think he speaks to them (from every religion) and they put too much faith in the written word (the Koran, the Bible, the Torah etc) – but these books were written by people and people are fallible, they have bad memories and they cannot help but put their own interpretations upon what is said or upon events. We all know this to be true. It is shown, for example, in the way these books contradict themselves. And what can they tell us about the morality of artificial intelligence, or even homosexuality? Gay people did not exist in the minds of the people who wrote these books. Same sex relationships did exist but it was presumed these people were just like everyone else but had deliberately gone against nature because they were so wicked. This view was confirmed by the fact that in such societies, where women were kept away from men, the men would sometimes indulge in same sex relationships until they could get married. (The same thing happens today in prisons where only same sex relationships are open to heterosexual men). It is only in recent times has it been discovered that actually there are people in society whose natural inclination is towards their own sex, not the opposite sex and it also happens in the animal kingdom as well. But if you accept that everything written in these books is unchangeable and immutable, then we have been already written off and in a sense are damned from the moment we are born. Would a God of Love really do this?
I believe God gave us intelligence and minds to think for ourselves and to work out what is right and what is wrong. To surrender your thinking to a book written by people from thousands of years ago and say ‘Well, that’s it settled. We don’t have to think about this any more, it’s all there’, is a denial of your humanity and the humanity of the people who wrote the book. Humans are imperfect – to therefore say they have produced perfect books ( ones which other humans have used to justify slavery, genocide, racial discrimination, subjugation of women, antisemitism, homophobia etc ec) is wrong in my view. The light of God may shine through these books, but sometimes it is clear but other times very dim – how else could it be unless God himself had written them, and I don’t believe he did…..