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The End of Christian Britain?

This is an article I wrote for Premier  which was published yesterday in response to the interfaith commissions report.  Obviously it is something that we will return to in Solas as it is our bread and butter!

A two-year interfaith commission has come up with a report that is bound to cause a little bit of controversy.

The 150-page report actually makes for fascinating reading and I will need to take some time to go over it again – to get all the nuances. But the main hits which will be picked up by the media, include the following:

  • Britain is no longer a Christian country
  • Faith schools are socially divisive and selection on the basis of faith should be cut back
  • Anglican bishops in the House of Lords should be cut back and replaced with those of other faiths and other denominations. The report states; The pluralist character of modern society should be reflected in national forums such as the House of Lords, so that they include a wider range of worldviews and religious traditions, and of Christian denominations other than the Church of England, as recommended by the Royal Commission on the Reform of the House of Lords.
  • The Coronation service should include those of other faiths
  • Religious radicals should be allowed to speak in University courts
  • Thought for the Day on the BBC should include non-religious messages
  • School assemblies should be replaced by ‘time for reflection’
  • There should be a national ‘consultation’ to draw up a kind of 21st Century Magna Carta to determine what British values are
  • Where a religious organisation is best placed to deliver a social good, it should not be disadvantaged when applying for funding to do so, so long as its services are not aimed at seeking converts

The C of E are not happy. Nicky Morgan the education secretary is not happy. The National Secular Society are not happy. Lots of people will be unhappy – for different reasons.

Whilst there are actually parts of the report that are helpful and suggestions that make sense, I would offer the following critique.

Inter-faith control

An inter-faith group comes up with a report that recommends more inter-faith control. What a surprise!

Any of us who have served on these kinds of committees and groups know exactly what is to be expected. It is a Disneyesque view of human society and religion which tells us that we are all basically the same, we all get along and its only the few odd bods and ‘bad guys’ who prevent us living in total harmony.

The inter faith model only works in the minds of those who essentially regard all religions as the same, all human beings as basically good and who think that if only they can get to implement their particular version of utopia then it will happen.

Is Britain a Christian country?

It is true that in one sense Britain is no longer a Christian country. The fact that the majority of people do not attend church (did they ever?), the increase in other religions (particularly Islam – which seems a major focus of the report) and the ever-increasing demands of secular humanism are indicators that much of Christian Britain has disappeared.

However there is another sense in which Britain very much remains a Christian country. That is our foundation on which we are built, it is our historical heritage and maybe, before we give up on that that, we need to know what we are selling our heritage for.

The secularist nirvana and the interfaith paradise are as yet untested pipe dreams, fed to us by those already in positions of power and establishment. For those of us who believe that Christianity is the source and therefore the best guarantee of our Western liberal democracy, it is profoundly dangerous to remove the foundations and walls, without knowing what we are going to replace them with.

Useless religion

The report in effect suggests replacing the Christian foundations of our society with a vague inter faith potage that is dominated by the values and principles of secular humanism. For example the report states that people are ‘free to express their beliefs and practise a religion, providing they do not constrict the rights and freedoms of others’.

This sounds good until you ask the question who determines the rights and freedoms of others? What about someone’s freedom to be racist? Or someone’s freedom to marry whoever they want? Or the freedom to engage in sexual perversity? Or make oneself rich at the expense of others?

The danger is that we end up creating a secular state where the State acts as God, and where the powerful, rich elites determine the ‘rights and freedoms’ of others according to their own fashions and fancies. Religion that is reduced to the level of a knitting group or a golf club may be harmless, but it is also fundamentally useless.

A seat at the table

Overall I would suggest that Christians especially need to be very careful before going along with this report. Some of us may be offered a seat at the table, but that’s no use if we don’t get a say in the menu! For example in the section on religious worship in schools the report states ‘In this connection we applaud the joint initiative in Scotland between the Humanist Society Scotland and the Church of Scotland to work together for an inclusive ‘time for refection’.’ Again it sounds nice, but at best it is waffle and at worst it is Orwellian distortion of the English language. An ‘inclusive’ time for reflection is nothing of the sort. It only includes those who buy into the humanist agenda (including the humanists in the church) and excludes any one who dares to disagree with that agenda.

The danger is that we end up creating a secular state where the State acts as God

Britain’s liberal democracy and its values of freedom, equality and tolerance are based upon Christianity. This report is indicative of a well-meaning inter-faith movement that is in danger of becoming a Trojan Horse for the new ‘Human Rights’ religion of the metro-elites. It is the poor, the marginalised and the ordinary people of this country who will suffer most if we allow our country to be taken over and destroyed by this untried, untested new faith. I prefer to stick with Jesus and his Word.

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  1. Your seem to have misunderstood what a Secular State is and seem to think it’s a bad thing. It isn’t. A secular State is one in which the government takes no stance on religion and no action on religion. In effect it protects religion from the state. One has merely to look back to the time in which being a Catholic in England could cost one’s life- or being a reformer of the Catholic Church could cost one’s life.

    Today we have lots of religions in the UK as well as a lots of denominations of Christianity and it is not for anyone to say this one is right or this one is wrong.A Secular State protects the right of the people to do whatever religion they choose. After all, no one on the planet can KNOW that any religion is actually right – they can only believe it which is rather different.

    1. Your faith in the State is somewhat naive. I cannot think of a single secular state does what you say. It is impossible to be neutral on religion/ethics/philosophy.

    2. If you don’t think a secular state is a bad thing, I would invite you to take a critical look at daily life living under Soviet rule in the former USSR.

  2. Two questions come to mind: First, how has the situation of declining faith in Christ arisen. Second, what is the body of Bible believing, born again Christians going to do about the situation. Perhaps if those who call themselves ‘evangelical’, actually started to do evangelism in each of Scotland’s localities, things would change. Inward-looking, hand wringing, social club Christianity, based on the ‘gospel of niceness’ has brought our society to this point. Things must change and complacency and more of the same is not an option!!

  3. David, this is a genuine inquiry, not a criticism but an attempt at understanding where you are coming from. I hope it will be taken as intended.

    You say “Britain’s liberal democracy and its values of freedom, equality and tolerance are based upon Christianity” yes at other times you have spoken of a “liberal gospel” with words like “poison” and being “from the pit of hell”.

    I’m confused by this. Perhaps others reading your blog are too and I don’t think this is “perfectly simple”.

    Please tell me how on one hand a “liberal gospel” can be poison and from hell and at the same the “liberal democracy” be good as you are portraying and based on Christianity. In other words how is it that the liberal gospel is not the gospel being applied appropriately in a liberal context?

    1. You are confusing liberal political democracy (liberal there being tolerant, equal etc), and liberal theology which is not really liberal but just opposed to the Bible. The liberal gospel is an oxymoron – it is not the gospel.

      1. I don’t expect this to make it past your moderation or if it does I expect you will make a personal comment as you just have about “confusing.”

        First off – it is possible I am confused but I don’t think so. Of course you do realise that anyone just as easily say that your conduct in your comment was to set up a straw man to knock down instead of doing the more difficult task of answering a genuine inquiry.

        Respectfully brother, I don’t accept your conclusion about the “liberal gospel”. I would welcome parts of it and reject others. There seems to be elements to it, I would argue that are in keeping with a contextually relevant application of the gospel in keeping with the freedom, equality, and tolerance that I agree with you about Christianity underpinning Britain’s liberal democracy.

        I think to separate into liberal / evangelical is a dichotomy which at times is bordering on if not actually demonic division. Whereas the actual battle often times could otherwise be fought with so called liberals and evangelicals in union in Christ. I think this gives the enemy a foothold and makes Christian worship and community appear to be unattractive and even repulsive to outsiders.

        Please do not mistake this with supporting heresy or “playing the equality card” – as mentioned there are aspects of liberalism in the church that I reject, as I reject elements of evangelicalsim that you have rightly pointed out to be evident of pride.

        So – shall I leave you now to choose to make me out to be “waffling”, “confusing the plain meaning of words” “supporting heresy” etc? Or….?

        Yes, agree totally with what you say about the disneyesque approach and the need for something more robust. But what is that to be and how is that to be implemented? Pat answers and rhetoric will only get so far (not saying that this is what you are doing).

      2. Adam – its ok – you don’t need to use the tactic of ‘I don’t expect this to get past your moderation’….or pre-empt my reply. As I said before you post so much here that it has to be restricted – I recommend getting your own blog!

        And I know you don’t accept the conclusion about the ‘liberal gospel’ but that doesn’t really matter does it. What matters is what Christ thinks. And I suspect that he is more than a little bit concerned about a gospel that denies his divinity, his resurrection and his atoning sacrifice – don’t you? Whether you welcome parts or reject others is largely irrelevant isn’t it. We don’t get to pick and choose our own personal gospel/Jesus.

  4. The Lord God Almighty – the God of the bible – the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ – doesn’t do “comparative religion”!

    “To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal? says the Holy One”

    Isaiah 40, 25 and many other similar verses.

  5. This is a belief not a fact. Don’t forget Muhammad who is the last prophet of god. Muslims can easily make the same claim. This is the problem with religion in making these claims as clearly no religion can really substantiate its claims by solid facts.

    This is reason why a secular state is so desirable – to allow al religions to practice as they will we no interference from the state or each other.

    1. The trouble is that you make assertions as much as any faith. Actually Christianity can substantiate its claims by solid facts. And can you substantiate your faith claim that secularism allows all religions to practice as they will? I would like some evidence for that statement.

  6. No point in any hand wringing. The real question now facing the church in Scotland is how to deal with the shrinking of its size and influence in society which has been known for decades.

    The answer is not ‘rocket science’. It simply means that Bible believing evangelicals carry out the ‘Great Commission’ in their locality i.e. local evangelical churches and fellowships engage in evangelism….now there’s a novelty! It’s good to see that the Free Church is actually working at this.

    Growing churches are evangelising churches which:

    1. Accord outreach to the locality with the Gospel of Christ the highest priority.

    2. Have a published strategy for the perpetual evangelisation of their locality.

    3. Researches, learns and adopts the most effective and innovative evangelism methods.

    4. Train their members in how to share their faith and how to contend for the faith in the home and the workplace.

    5. Give individuals responsibility for leading, organising, supporting and motivating the church in its outreach efforts.

    6. Regularly evaluates progress with its outreach work.

    7. Makes outreach a continuous prayer focus

  7. Would someone (of your calibre) please write a post highlighting the umbilical link between the parlous state of Christianity today and the generally appalling level of leadership in the main denominations?
    If the past 50 years of cataclysmic decline in influence, popularity and relevance had happened in any other organization then heads would have rolled. There would have been radical restructuring and a new leadership team would have taken control. But not the Church, Oh no! With very few notable exceptions ( hem hem) the hierarchies continue to meet, bleat,spout words I never heard in the bible and yet still claim their pay and pensions.
    What other organisation has such a disconnect between the beliefs and attitudes of its members, the needs of its market and the attitudes of its management elites? What other organization has a policy of continuing to dig whilst in such a hole?
    I know I am far from perfect in many ways, but then I am just pew fodder; exasperrated, increasingly disloyal but with a long enough memory to know that things were, and can be better once again. But surely we must somehow engineer a large scale clear- out of the faithless and pusilanimous time-servers. Any ideas?

    1. What a judgemental man you are. All believers have to face God eventually. You will not be able to blame someone else for your sins or wanderings. Yes, the Bible speaks very powerfully against leaders who cause the flock to go astray…but the flock are not without their responsibilty. Give Nehemiah another good read and see how ALL have fallen short and need to bow before the face of God in saddness and contrition.

  8. The questions are:
    How many ‘ministers’ are actually born again of the Spirit?
    How many actually believe the whole Word of God? and actually preach true to it.
    How many believe in sanctification, walk it and preach it?
    How many live lives different to those of the world?
    How many…….I could on and on.

    With the sorry state of the CoS and CoE and the Monarchy I can only see sin increasing all the more to the destruction of the nation and the Christianity that once made Britian a beacon to others will become but a distant memory, sadly.

    I believe God has withdrawn His Grace and just letting everyone do what is right in his own eyes, well that’s what the majority of the nation wants, isn’t it? But it is indeed a sad day when Christianity and all it reprsents is being blotted out and with the help of those who have benefitted greatly from it, believer or non alike.

    No, not all religions are similar, there is only one whose name is far above all names and the only one under heaven who can save from the judgment to come, it is for man to die once then comes judgment and every knee shall bow and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

    May God be merciful to us. Come Lord Jesus, come quickly.

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