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Staying Christian amid ‘Brexit Derangement Syndrome’ – Eternity Magazine

This is my second article for Eternity magazine – you can read the original here.  Regular readers of this blog will recognise some of this material – and will know my own political stance – but I tried to write this without showing my own views…you can judge for yourself whether I have succeeded or not!

Staying Christian amid ‘Brexit Derangement Syndrome’

In the middle of a bitter fight, we need to shed light

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Australians must wonder what is going on in the United Kingdom. What is going on?

In case you forgot where Brexit began, the British electorate shocked the political classes in the 2016 EU referendum by voting 52 per cent to 48 per cent to leave the European Union. The referendum was granted by the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, who thought it would help him deal with the United Kingdom Independence Party.

All the options are still on the table …

Over three years later, despite numerous promises, the UK has still not left the EU. There seems to be both a collective paralysis and hysteria gripping much of the UK.

In fact, what has become known as Brexit Derangement Syndrome is spreading like a virus – especially through the political classes.

To witness the hatred, lies, abuse, confusion, propaganda and the dumbed down panic is a profoundly depressing experience.

The basic situation is that we have an impasse between a parliament which, largely, does not support leaving the EU. As a result, it is struggling to implement the decision the electorate made to leave. Confusion and division continues between the parties.

In the latest episode of the seemingly neverending Brexit soap opera, Boris Johnson, the new Tory Prime Minister, managed to do what most people thought was impossible – he renegotiated a new deal with the EU, which would allow the UK to leave on the deadline date of 31st October. But, in doing so, he managed to upset people on both sides. As a result, the British Parliament is paralysed and the EU have been asked to grant a further extension, but there is no guarantee that they will do so.

All the options are still on the table – leaving with no deal, leaving with Johnson’s new deal, a general election followed by a second referendum, or even the revocation of Article 50 and the UK just staying.

When it comes to responding to such a confusing situation, the vast majority of ordinary people just seem fed up with it all.

So, can the Christian Church shed any light on Brexit? With Christians professing to have good news to share, no matter what is going on in the world, can followers of Jesus help the UK community to deal with Brexit?

Light can break into the Brexit darkness, though

It is not the role of the Church to take sides on political issues. Individual Christians can, and will. But it is imperative for the Church as an organisation to stay out of party politics.

In the UK, however, the Establishment Churches tend to side with the Establishment and support the general anti-Brexit consensus amongst them.

Some more ‘conservative’ (in a religious sense) Christians believe that they have received ‘prophetic’ words, indicating that the Lord is a Brexiteer. Others are more subtle. They weaponise both the Bible and prayer for their own political views.

It has been sad to see Christians on both sides do this.

Light can break into the Brexit darkness, though, if we apply three biblical principles (not only in this situation, but in other divisive areas):

Pray for peace

We are to pray for kings and those in authority – that we may live peaceable and Godly lives (see 1 Timothy 2:2). We don’t weaponise prayer and only pray for those on our side and against those who disagree with us. We pray for all political leaders. This is a radical teaching. It means that a Christian anti-royalist will pray for the Queen, a Brexiteer will pray for EU President Jean Claude Juncker and a ‘Remainer’ will pray for Boris Johnson. We don’t pray for our will to be done – but God’s. And we don’t tell the Lord what his will should be!

Proclaim Christ

The fractious and divisive nature of politics and civil life should remind us that this is a broken world full of broken and sinful people. We can’t save ourselves. We can’t save other people. We can’t save the planet. But we can point to the one who can and will. King Solomon knew that his greatest need was to get wisdom from God to govern his great nation. Much of our current troubles lie in the fact that most of our political classes have rejected the wisdom of Christ and, having lost the root, they cannot expect the fruit.

Practice what we preach

We need to moderate our language – there are far too many harsh, bitter and hateful words coming from many of us Christians. It is not helpful. We also need to moderate our expectations. We are not to ‘trust in princes’! The EU is not going to bring peace on earth and goodwill towards all men. Leaving the EU is not going to usher in the Kingdom of God and result in peace and prosperity for the nation. Things are a mess – and that is what we should expect them to be. Once the Bible’s teaching about the fundamental depravity of humanity is confirmed in our own eyes, we can do nothing but fall on our knees and cry for the Lord to have mercy.

It is the same prayer that is needed in Australia and, indeed, throughout the world.

Political leaders in the West used to be prepared to call for a day of ‘prayer and humiliation’ in times of crisis. Now it seems that the leaders of the UK having forgotten prayer, are giving us the humiliation.

Perhaps our Australian brothers and sisters can remember to pray for the UK?

It is the same prayer that is needed in Australia and, indeed, throughout the world. It is the prayer Paul taught the Church to pray: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

David Robertson is a Scottish Pastor who has moved to Sydney to become the Director of Third Space, a new evangelism initiative of City Bible Forum.

This is my previous article on Eternity – Evangelism in Todays Church – Interview with Eternity Magazine

The Brexit Truths

Is Britain Breaking Up?

14 comments

  1. During a prayer meeting tonight, my eyes fell on these words in the 1 Timothy 2 passage on praying for those in authority, “that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” When we pray for our leaders, trusting them into God’s hands, we can live in peace. Doesn’t mean our circumstances change or governments change, but we are at rest, knowing who’s in ultimate control of all things. I’m praying for the UK, brother David. It hurts my heart to see such open rebellion to the will of the people, but once again, I’m praying for the leaders and am at rest, knowing God’s not surprised by any of it. Blessings

  2. I think you’re a Brexit supporter because I don’t know any Remainers who can bring themselves to say, “the decision the electorate made to leave.” Other than that, this really is an impressively neutral article.

    Just one point: when praying for peace, it’s a good idea to be specific about the situation in which you are asking for peace. Because even the concept of peace has been somewhat weaponised in this debate: there are some Christian Remainers — arguably including the Archbishop of Canterbury — who think the UK should remain in the EU because the purpose of the EU is to bring peace in Europe. (It’s true that the EU was set up shortly after World War II with the bringing of peace to a divided continent as one of its goals. Whether that was its primary goal, and whether its goals have changed since the 1940s, is a matter for debate).

    1. The vision of the founding fathers of the European project – Monnet, Schuman, Spinelli. Adenauer et al – was to make war between France and Germany unthinkable, hence it started by creating a community of coal and steel, the two things essential for war. It has been essential to the peace of Western Europe these past 75 years, supported by the US and defended by NATO. When the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012, this was worthy recognition of how successful it has been as a peace project. It is a part of the story that is seldom told in the UK and it has little if the resonance it does for those of us living in continental Europe, where we drive past the war cemeteries every day (there is one by the main road into my nearest town). For us living here in Flanders, it is unquestionable and unquestioned that what started with ECSC and is now the EU has been the most successful (human) peace project in history

      1. Adam – first of all the ECSC is not the EU. The EU has not been essential to peace in Western Europe. I also find it ironic that no sooner is the EU awarded the Nobel Peace prize that they decide to have a European army to project European power! It is a somewhat simplistic and unrealistic view of European history to think that if it were not for the EU we would be having another war between France and Germany!

      2. I didn’t say the ECSC was the same of the EU, but the EU began with the Schumann declaration of 9 May 1950, and that was the founding vision. The idea of a European army has been around since the beginning, as in the proposed European Defence Community which France rejected three years before the Treaty of Rome, because of sovereignty fears. As for a European army as you and I would understand it, this is no nearer happening now than it was when the UK joined. There is the widespread desire for European countries to shoulder more of the burden and not freeload off the US as much, and the response has been to look for greater interoperability and improve shared procurement and research (which the US is keen to get its slice of the increased spending).

        I totally disagree with your last sentence. It is not a sentiment anyone here in Belgium would share, since the European project has provided the political framework where these countries in north-western Europe have enjoyed the longest period of sustained peace in history, and it is the framework which has made war between France and Germany unthinkable. Just because too many of the inhabitants of the big island across the Channel still have 1940 as their go to point of historical reference, and sneer at the notion that the EU has been an enormous force for good, does not make the success of the EU in bringing sustained peace any less true. It is not simplistic. The European integration project, encouraged and supported the US and its largesse, is the single factor without which this would not have been the case, as our history shows

      3. The EU began a lot earlier…read The Great Deception to get a better p[icture. And I know people in Belgium who do share my opinion! As for 1940 as the point of historical reference – that is precisely what you are doing! Things have moved on!

      4. David

        This is your blog and you will always have the last word, do rather than coming back on this, I will withdraw.

        I really appreciate the way you try to think through issues biblically and I have learnt a lot from you.

        However, when it comes to the one area where from the best part of 30 years I FN professional life I have a great deal of first hand experience of what you’re discussing, I do not think you always apply the same approach, as it seems sometimes more eisegesis from the view that the EU is intrinsically malign, rather than exegesis from facts. I would no more base my view on the EU from the Booker/Notth book than I would base my approach to New Testament theology on Steve Chalke’d recent life of Paul.

        Thank you for everything I have learnt from you. Keep on doing what you’re doing in serving our Lord in Australia.

      5. Thanks Adam…but my view of the EU cahnged from being pro- to being anti – long before I read Booker/North. I actually read what the EU says and does…Greece was a big factor for me…and the discovery that it was a supranational, rather than an intergovernmental organisation….Appreciate your remarks though…thanks..

      6. Since Adam has chosen to open the debate on the EU’s primary goals and whether those goals have changed, I offer the attached article as a counterpoint to his views.

        NB For current purposes, please ignore the last section of the article, which is not primarily about the EU but about what the magazine that published this article has been saying for a long time. I reserve judgment on whether this section is worth taking seriously.

        https://www.prophecytoday.uk/comment/society-politics/item/1621-the-european-union-revisited.html?fbclid=IwAR1UndY2ttkw22MtwdV7iExp7tv2nPu2MiluHYu-6APby_UhPi2AaWLoW3c

  3. Brexit Derangement Syndrome , may be , mutatis mutandis, heading for Scotland if the SNP get their way . However, I am sure that we shall be in good hands :

  4. BRD is the responsibility of Remainers . The toxicity and division of UK politics is entirely due to sore losers.

    After all , winners, who may sometimes annoy through displays of repugnantly triumphalist celebrations, seldom prevent political business from proceeding.

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