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.