Seasoned with Salt? – Christian Responses to Brexit

Britain-Reacts-To-The-EU-Referendum-Result

Blog from Australia – no.2 

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone – Colossians 4:6

 In the providence of God I find myself on the other side of the world as my country has made the biggest decision in 50 years and the political and chattering classes have gone mad! I am profoundly grateful to be out of the irrationality, and it is profoundly interesting to observe from afar, and to some extent, through the eyes of others – “O that God would gie us, the gift to see ourselves as others see us”.

I have also decided to take a three-week fast from interaction on social media – which for me is just as well, because it seems as though a collective hysteria has gripped many people, including Christians. And this has really set me thinking. Are we as Christians supposed just to reflect the agendas and perspectives of the culture or are we supposed to be different? If the latter, in what way?

As we (eventually) flew over here I wrote an article about how I felt about the UK voting to remain in the EU – something which I expected. To be more accurate I had two articles in mind. The first was the kind of ‘how could you?’ angry article. What a bunch of idiots/cowards/selfish swine we are to have voted to have stayed in a corrupt mega corporate institution. But to be honest that was an emotive not rational and not helpful article. So it was replaced with what I hope was a more Christian response, expressing disappointment, but acknowledging the sovereignty of God, and the need for us to accept what had happened and work together both in politics and especially in bringing the gospel to the people of Europe. I was prepared for disappointment (I am after Scottish!) but was thankful that in the grand scheme of things, this was only a ‘drop in the bucket’.
And then it all went right. In the most astonishing political surprise in my lifetime the British people voted to leave the EU. The cynic in me says, ‘aye right, we’ll see if they allow that’, but the optimist radical rejoices that change is possible.   So what should the reaction be of those Christians who supported Brexit? It should not be a kind of triumphalist ‘we won’, that is so often associated with your football team winning the cup. Nor should we react as if the millennium had come, and the kingdom of God arrived. That would be to give a political change the king of spiritual seismic connotations that it cannot deserve.

My own response to this vote is one of immense thankfulness that so many people voted against the Establishment and were prepared to take a risk. But it is a risk and it may not work out.   I recognize the fears and sorrows of those who perceive they have the most to lose (in this case people who have benefited most from the system) and also the danger of giving false expectations to those who think this change will bring them great benefit (essentially the losers under the present system). Justice and equality are never easy and cheap. I am glad to see that whilst I have read some triumphalistic comments, they have been few and far between, and most Christians I have read commenting on this have been somber and sober. As they should be.

Some of the comments from Christians who were on the Remain side have also been sober, reflective and asking for prayer and unity. Again as I would have expected. But what I did not expect are the number of comments and posts which have reflected a very different spirit; bitter, cynical and full of contempt and fear.   It seems as though the passive-aggressive posts have quickly morphed into aggressive-aggressive posts.

The passive aggressive were those who stated that their reasons for voting Remain were because they wanted international co-operation, peace and they loved their European neighbour, the not so subtle implication being that those who intended to vote Brexit did not share those altruistic motives.   When the result was announced it was astonishing how quickly that desire for ‘peace, love and unity’ expressed itself in anger, hatred and disunity.   Some of the vitriol has shown up the worst of Facebook/Twitter, or to be more honest, the worst of humanity. But I have been genuinely shocked at how many Christians have joined in with the mob.

I have seen posts/retweets about how dumb Britons have become (as bad as Americans supporting Trump), about how it is the end of the world (markets collapsing etc. – which by the way they have not), how those who supported Brexit were a bunch of working class racists or just too dumb to see that they were supporting racists. There seems to me to be an overwhelming identification of the church with the governing middle class ethos/values of Western society.   How could working people have been so stupid and gone against the ‘experts’ (ie. those who agreed with us)? Sover There is an anger, rage and contempt that makes David Cameron’s petulance seem moderate and mature! Why?

Because there is a lack of spiritual perspective. No, this is not the end of the world, or the victory of Satan, or the forces of evil taking over. Hitler has not come to power, Boris is not the Anti-Christ and the Stockbrokers are not the Masters of the Universe (whatever their own self-perception).   Christ is still on the throne. And please let us stop treating the Sovereignty of God as some kind of runners up prize! ‘Oh, we didn’t get what we wanted because of those idiotic racists, but never mind, God is still sovereign”. God would still have been sovereign if you had ‘won’. And his sovereignty (and goodness) should be our foundation, not our back up plan.   If it were we would avoid a great deal of the anger, fear and self-righteous loathing that we have of others who don’t have the sense to see as we do.

Tied in with this, there is an over identification with one particular political point of view. We far too often equate our politics with the Kingdom and its just plain wrong to do so, even when our politics are right!

There is also a genuine concern for others.   We are concerned about racism, about our European colleagues and friends and the direction we perceive the country to be going. That is commendable. But we also need the wisdom and humility to realize that even the best of our motives are mixed with selfishness and sin. Sometimes it is very direct. We belong to, are paid by, and benefit from, institutions that are financed by or dependent upon the EU in some way. So we are afraid about our personal circumstances. Good. That should help us understand how millions of the ‘have nots’ feel. It’s one thing for us to express ‘solidarity and sympathy’ with the poor, its another for us to have to face the same insecurities and fears, especially when we are so self-confident, self-reliant and self-assured.

There is also ignorance combined with arrogance. The truth is that we don’t know. Despite the Bible’s very clear warning that we are mist and do not know what will happen tomorrow, we think, act and write as if we do. We make our pronouncements and then we have this wonderful facility that allows us to Google articles that confirm our worst fears, which we then share as some kind of independent authority. Christians of all people should know that we cannot stay with certainty what is going to happen in our own lifes, never mind the variations of the casino that is known as the stock market! Since when did Christians base their guidance, politics and hearts on what computer algorithms do on Wall St, the City or the Borse?

Please, please, please, stop the passive aggressive and the virtue signaling. Let me mention just one example. The person who writes “I would like to reassure my European friends and colleagues in the UK, that we love you, welcome you and want you to know that we are standing with you”.   It’s like the Scottish government grandiosely pronouncing that they will protect their EU citizens. From what?   Are we talking about forceful repatriation, UKIP storm troopers at the door in the middle of the night, anti-French mobs patrolling the streets? It is ridiculous scaremongering – deliberately feeding fear and creating prejudice. I don’t think the French, German, Dutch, Italian, Irish, Greek and Spanish people in my congregation are in any more danger now than they were before. They are in no more danger than the Malaysians, Chinese, Africans, Americans and Australians.   In two years time, if Brexit actually happens, it is not about closed borders and throwing out foreigners. I suspect that we will end up with something very similar to what we have today (with the one big difference that our elected politicians will be the ones that determine the policy – not unelected commissioners in Brussels), and even if we don’t, those who are already here, will be able to stay.

We need to calm things down, not create more rage.  There is  a great danger that we could be part of stoking up an atmosphere which will do a great deal of harm.  There are already those who are seeking to get the result of the referendum annulled because the result did not suit them.  Blame the old, blame the poor, don’t let them destroy our economy.  If you really want to see chaos and the end of democracy in the UK, then watch that happen if some kind of Euro-Coup were to be staged by MPs, the City and the Middle classes.

We need to learn to be silent. To stop emoting our rage, frustration and fears in public. We need to stop stoking up fears, prejudice and ignorance. Yes – there is a place for sharing things – but we need to be aware of the teaching of James 3 – All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. Lets make sure we are not adding to the collective poison of the human race by injecting even more into the Internet.

We are neither nationalists nor internationalists. We are Christians working for the Kingdom of God, working for the good of all humanity and seeking that Christ may be glorified on earth. Lets not get things out of perspective. And lets ensure that our interaction with each other and with non-Christians on social media, fulfills the scriptural injunction given by Paul in Colossians 4:

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

PS.  In case you missed it – I forgot to put up our podcast on the EU vote – pre the day –

http://www.solas-cpc.org/wp/politics-current-affairs/politics/quantum-70/

 

 

 

 

28 thoughts on “Seasoned with Salt? – Christian Responses to Brexit

  1. Of course Christians are going to be seduced by the world – Paul’s pastoral letters are full of this kind of thing. What reason is there to suppose that human nature has changed and a “Christian” approach has changed since then?

    A couple of years ago you made a statement to the effect that all of us (including those of us who profess to be evangelicals) need to repent from church politics. It’s just the same in church political as politics elsewhere. Conservative/Liberal, Westminster/Hollyrood, Yes/No in out shake it all about. We do the hockey cokey and that’s what it’s all about. Yes there are the liberal elites and Wesminster that has the power at the moment. But do you think that we would all be better of with conservative elites and Hollywood with the power? Surely a more important issue than the flavour of who holds power and where power is held is to what degree whoever are the elites are use their position of privelidge to serve and to what degree they use it to dominate and satisfy selfish ambition.

    “I have been genuinely shocked at how many Christians have joined in with the mob.” Do you think being “Christian” excludes someone from being like that? I am surprised that this should be your emotional reaction.

    There’s always an element of nerves in times of uncertainty and Brexit is not different in this. What we need are leaders with steady nerves that will take courage and unite for good for the church and the UK’s sake. Three strands of rope are not easily broken

    Time will tell to what degree this will happen and to what degree leaders will be more interested in individual and political gain. From Christians the imperative for repentance is not a one off conversion experience but a daily dying to self in order to be resurrected in Christ. Christ as Lord is also a gentleman and doesn’t force his will – it is therefore left to the believer to choose his will (or not) and where there is choice there is responsibility and accountability.

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  2. And so it continues –

    1 Online petition against the result, presumably by those who didn’t vote, or want that their vote should count double.

    2 Tim Farron pitching in with, vote Liberal and we’ll get it overturned because people were taken in by lies.

    3 Evidently David Lammy saying that parliament could stop leave by voting against – the irony being that they’d be voting against those who voted them in, the people and demonstrating a very signficant reason for the leave vote- the “know better” political elite , not listening, not being servants of the public.

    4 There was an interesting vignette on BBC TV yesterday when Emily Maitliss brought together two older woman (but not old) from Boston, Lincolnshire, where there was a big leave vote and two young men (one a lawyer or budding lawyer, the other, a student) from London representing the young and leave. The accusation from London was along the lines of selfish older votes accepting the £350m lie. The response was to the effect, do you think we are stupid and were taken in by it- we voted leave for our children, and we are living in the consequences of being in, we want some control. The Londeners had no answer. The impresion I came away with was that of “London” living in a bubble. And I would extended that to politicians like Lammy and Farron living in their own life support bubble of politics.

    5 Yes, these are times of fear and trembling for many, but as Christians that is the way we come before our LORD. However, we have not been “given a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.”

    6 We should be able to empathise with those who are aliens and strangers for that is what we are in this world. We should be able to relate to hopes, dreams and fears and respond appropriately with the gospel, the good news of Jesus. Unless we live in a bubble of Christianity.

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  3. Wise words, as we’ve come to expect. But I don’t know why you felt the need to stigmatise UKIP (‘UKIP storm troopers’). As you yourself are so often unfairly stigmatised. I’m certainly no supporter of theirs ( or of any political party), but it seems to me a fact beyond contention that without the efforts of ( the hated) Nigel Farage and the rise of UKIP we would never have had the referendum.

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  4. One thing I can’t remember Jesus ever doing – shaming those who feel pain, judging them in their sorrow, or saying “Lo and behold, I bring you a new and complex list of rules about what it means to follow the Lord”.

    This article reads as, “do as I say, and please stop being so messy in your humanity”. And then invoking the mysterious Christian rules to try and keep us all in line with implied threats from on high.

    Jesus himself was criticised and shamed for not appearing as the religious folk would have liked.

    So it’s not OK for people to judge people who vote as you wanted, but it is OK for you to judge other Christians…?

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    1. I’m not sure who you are addressing this remark to. But if it is to me then its wrong…I am not saying at all ‘lo and behold I bring you a new and complex list of rules about what it means to follow the Lord’. All I was saying was what the Bible says about speaking with grace and truth.

      The article does not say ‘do as I say, and please stop being messy in your humanity’…..so why put that in quotation marks. Basically you should only put in quotes what is actually said, or you run the danger, as you have succeeded in, of completely misrepresenting what has been said.

      And no I did not say it was ok to ;judge other Christians’ or that it was not ok to judge people who voted as I wanted…the article actually implies the opposite.

      So as well as getting every ‘quote’ wrong and the whole message of the article back to front you have also committed the logical fallacy of judging me for judging.

      Next time before you comment, please read what is said, engage with it (not what you imagine) and stop being so judgemental!

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      1. Is it not the case that there is a difference between making judgement and being judgmental. One being an action and another about character?

        What one of us does not make judgments? There have been a number on this page and no judgement were ever made then every crime committed would go without consequence.

        Personally I wouldn’t apologise or condemn someone for having made a judgement. However I would hold to the reality that as you are judge then also shall you be judged either by others or ultimately by God. Isn’t that a truth that Jesus taught?

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  5. “the political and chattering classes have gone mad”

    “or to be more honest, the worst of humanity”

    “Because there is a lack of spiritual perspective. No, this is not the end of the world, or the victory of Satan, or the forces of evil taking over.”

    “‘Oh, we didn’t get what we wanted because of those idiotic racists, but never mind, God is still sovereign”. God would still have been sovereign if you had ‘won’.”

    All of the above quotes sit above and judge people’s pain.

    “Please, please, please, stop the passive aggressive and the virtue signaling. Let me mention just one example. The person who writes “I would like to reassure my European friends and colleagues in the UK, that we love you, welcome you and want you to know that we are standing with you”. ”

    ^This is outright judging of others.

    “We need to learn to be silent. To stop emoting our rage, frustration and fears in public.” – Example of new Christian rules not set by Jesus (in fact he himself expressed rage and frustration in public – in the temple). He also never once censored the pain of those around him, that I am aware of.

    “We are neither nationalists nor internationalists.” – More rules about who can be Christian in your eyes.

    I read the article fully before commenting. You asked for quotes so here they are.

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    1. I see. Any opinion you disagree with is ‘judgemental’…there is nothing more I can say in the face of such inanity (which is a judgemental statement!). To give you just the one example you cite ‘ the worst of humanity’ as an example of this when all I was saying is that the internet brings out the worst in humanity. The rest of your quotations are just as bad…as I said there is nothing I can say in response to such irrationality…

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      1. I think in view of the recent shocking expressions of racism post vote as well as the role of immigration in the campaign, the comment reassuring or attempting to reassure immigrants is entirely justifiable and is not necessarily posturing at all.

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      2. I agree with you about the expressions of racism, but be careful about attributing these to the Brexit vote. There have been expressions of racism for decades. I have seen many. The comments I was referring to were a rather self-righteous attempt to attack all Brexit voters and at the same time engage in virtue signalling. I think talking up racism is actually doing more harm than good.

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  6. Good commentary, David, on what has become a media frenzy of pot-stirring since the 52/48 vote. Ps 33 has a lot of excellent things to say about our situation, especially vs 10-12. Hope you have a good holiday.

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  7. Once again, Northern Ireland is completely forgotten. Where’s the Christian concern for the potential breakdown of the peace process and the death of hundreds or thousands of people if a border is re-imposed?

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    1. Once again my point is illustrated. The UK leaving the EU will not result in hundreds and thousands of deaths. My article was written about such hyperbole and nonsense. The fear mongering and scare talk is actually more likely to do harm…

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  8. Just seen on national ITV news a call in parliament by Kenneth Clarke for a return to parliamentary democracy, to not be ruled by the “plebicite.”

    How many plebs voted? I supose he means he is contemptible of all who voted on both sides, all the ignorant fools who turned out to vote at all. Or is being disriminatory, referring only to everyone, without exception (outside his parliamentary colleagues) who voted leave. The ignorance of arrogance , of the class divisiveness. Would he have said the same if the majority voted remain?

    This pleb, for one, voted leave, for a return of the supremacy of parliamentary democracy to the UK, so I could vote out the likes of him, which is impossible in the EU.

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    1. Actually Cameron has a point – provided he is consistent. Parliamentary democracy means our laws are made by parliament – not a European autocracy. Which is what the Euro referendum was all about!

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  9. If by “Cameron” you mean “Clarke, ” David, I agree. But I think the context was about invoking Article 50 after Cameron had already said something to the effect that the people had spoken and the will of the people must be respected. (After all he was elected on a referendum mandate) But I’m not sure as the news contained edited snippets from the Commons.

    Yes, parliament can overrule the referendum. It was the high handed contemptuous language used by Clarke, which I thought is indicative of the attitude of political elite of all parties, no matter how it is disguised, and demonstrated the disconnect between them and those who vote and which seems to have played a significant part in the leave vote: generally people don’t trust. I let his language get to me a bit. Bless his little cotton socks.

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  10. Unusually, and with great sadness, I find myself in almost total disagreement with you, David. As the referendum approached, I asked myself how I should be praying about the result. I saw two possibilities: that God would intervene in wrath, or in mercy. I prayed for the latter but I believe God did the former and the present political chaos and economic upheaval is the result. A chilling scripture came to mind: Ps 106 v15 “He gave them what they craved but sent a diminishing into every area of their being” (my own translation of the Hebrew “razon nephesh”).
    I think that is just what happened. Last Friday I had the growing impression that Johnson and Gove had never expected or wanted to win and now found the results of their attempt to gain political popularity an acute embarassment. Similarly, David Cameron’s craving for continued political power which led to his electoral promise for a referendum, along with his failure to make any contingency plans for a leave result, invited judgement. Now, another scripture is prominent in my thinking: Hab. 3 v2: “In wrath remember mercy” which I think would be better translated with the hebrew imperfect rendered as an indicative: “In wrath you remember mercy.” With that in mind I am now praying for a final outcome which will see a still-United Kingdom (with a Prime Minister and opposition leader who show evidence of the operation of common, or even saving, grace) remaining in a somewhat humbled and more cautious European Union.
    I hope that all you Christian brexit voters will find yourselves sufficiently prosperous to be able to increase your missionary giving to offset the reduced value of the pound.

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    1. Hi Andrew, Thats ok – its good to have genuine disagreement! Although I have to say I am struggling to see where it is in most of your post! I agree with much of it. I think God is judging us. My only disagreement would be that I don’t see the EU as the solution to that! If we were to remain in the EU that would be the judgement of God too. One small word of caution – the last sentence is a wee bit snarky and unnecessary. As Christians we don’t trust in the markets, or worship Babylon. And the notion that the spread of the gospel is in any way dependent on a strong pound doesn’t really work for me!

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  11. Thanks Steve Wilderspin,

    I’ve done as you suggested and looked up plebiscite in the Shorter Oxford Dictionary. So if you heard Clarke in the Commons what did you think he meant, “vote” or “poll”. You will be aware that the root of the word is Roman., plebe, commoner, common people, coarse, base, ignoble.

    Plebiscite: law enacted by commonality, direct vote of all electors of the State on important public question- public expression of communities opinion, with or without binding force.

    Now bearing in mind Clarke is a committed Europhile, again, what do you think he meant. I’m sure a man of his intellect and legal background and understanding of constitutional law will not have been referring to a poll, but to the sovereignty of parliament over the referendum vote. As, seemingly, David Lammy has similarly expressed. I repeat my comment to that – it would result in parliamentarians (contemptuously) voting against the votes of the population, those who voted them in.

    I studied Constitutional law as part of my law degree, pre EEC vote, and I’m no expert and have forgotten much,, but the sovereignty of parliament was the reason I voted against joining (with a separation of powers, checks and balances between the legislature (Commons and Lords) the Executive (cabinet) and independent judiciary) not an antipathy to Europe. Indeed, the family after becoming friends with a local German prisoner of war had holidays with his family in Germany after the war.

    Although it would result in a constitutional crisis, I’m of the view that unless Constitutional law in the UK has had a radical overhaul, parliament could , as I think Clarke was suggesting, overrule the result of the referendum. But I’m more than willing to stand corrected.

    Tim Farron is on record saying, in effect, that his party would campaign in an election to reverse the result in order to remain. At least he’d be seeking a fresh parliamentary mandate and at the same time acknowledging and endorsing the sovereignty of parliament. But I’ve already commented on that.

    There is a recent non UK precedent of the government ignoring a referendum result – Greece. I acknowledge I know nothing about Greek governmental law, but whose will (non democratic) will prevailed ? The EU anybody? And yes it was more complex due to fiscal unity.

    As for the hideous manifestation of racism, is it implied that all “leave” voters are racist? What I have seen reported on TV, is vile, evil. I suppose that is all down to me, not the fall and total depravity. (see David’s previous blog posts)

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