There is little doubt that the referendum debate in Scotland can get a wee bit overheated. There have been instances of posters being defaced, people feeling intimidated etc – on both sides. However overall this has been a great example of democracy at work – passionate, ordinary people engaged, full public halls, vigorous debates etc….nonetheless we should deplore anything which inflames rather that helps this civic discussion.
But I have been a little bit disappointed with the behaviour of some Christians. We are not immune from the emotions and sins of others! I know my own attitude and behaviour has not always been the best, but I have come across something which to be honest, as quite surprised me. I have been a recipient of several messages which are a particular form of ‘Christian’ intimidation. It runs like this. Firstly they tend to point out how divisive and nasty the referendum debate is and this is of course the fault of the nasty Nats in general or the evil Salmond in particular (the sub text being – how can you as a Christian endorse this? Which I don’t). They then go on to ask me how I as a Christian can support independence. One beauty yesterday accused me of ‘being a bastion of Christian credibility’ but this slipping because of my support for independence. When you point out that its ok for a Christian to have a different political view they then jump to the unbeatable point ‘oh – but its the way you express it, you are arrogant’. That point is unbeatable because it is of course arrogant to claim you are not arrogant! Others drop hints that one is seen as not quite ‘sound’ and so might be blacklisted from speaking at events. Still others have accused me of breaking ordination vows or denying the gospel. It is a subtle ‘Christian’ way of intimidation. A ‘nice’ way of name calling.
The trouble is that far too many Christians identify their Christianity with their politics and their culture. In the US one friend told me that when he became a Christian he became a Republican, because the two were seen as synonymous. In the UK I have known people who thought that if you were NOT left wing then your Christianity was suspect. Likewise it appears that amongst a certain section of evangelicalism if one is a Christian, or at least a sound Christian, then de facto one will be for the Union. After all who wants to be a covenant breaker, hateful separatist, divider of the church, destroyer of Christian Britain etc (all these and more have come into my ‘in’ box). The trouble in all these cases is that people are confusing their culture and their political beliefs with the Gospel – and that is always a disaster. I have very good friends who are totally opposed to Scottish independence and who are fine Christian brothers and sisters. I don’t consider them to be any less Christian, I won’t defriend them, uninvite them from speaking, or hint that they are not quite ‘sound’ because of their political views. To equate the Kingdom of Christ with the kingdoms of this world is a fundamental error, which I expect liberal and non-Christians to make. It is disappointing that some evangelical Christians seem to have fallen into that trap.
Anyway here are some reflections on this and other issues in the latest episode of Quatum of Solas – listen, enjoy and pass on….