Posted by: stpowen | November 8, 2011

St. Paul’s and the Protestors

St. Paul’s and the Protestors

1Timothy 6:17-18. ‘Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us all things richly to enjoy.  Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share.’

2Timothy 4:2.  ‘Preach the word!  Be ready in season and out of season.  Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.’

The stand-off between the anti-capitalist protestors and the authorities at St. Paul’s Cathedral could almost be funny if it weren’t so tragic.  I am writing following the resignation of the Dean and the abandonment of legal proceedings to make the demonstrators leave.  The folk at the Cathedral seem to have no idea what to do about the happy campers outside their doors and no idea what to say to them.    They would rather like them to go away, but at the same time they want to appear to be on the same side politically as they are.  The one thing they seem to be quite unable to do is to preach Christ to them. 

The problem is that there seem to have been precious few people at St. Paul’s who actually know what the Gospel is.  Typical is Giles Fraser, until recently Canon Chancellor (whatever that is) of the Cathedral.  I cannot claim to have heard Mr Fraser’s preaching personally, but here is the view of the ‘Archbishop Cranmer’ blog (1) 

‘….This is the man who massacres Scripture; despises the ‘ego’ of heterosexual weddings while lauding gay marriage; berates conservative Anglicans as ‘homophobes’ and ‘extremists’; equates ‘Islamophobia’ with racism; does not believe in the immortality of the soul; rejects the salvific notion that Jesus was sacrificed for our sin…  His Grace could go on (and on).’

The authorities at St. Paul’s seem to have been horrified at the presence of real people asking real questions outside their premises.  In all the interviews that I have heard, the Gospel has never been mentioned, at least, not by the clergymen.  The nearest approach to it has been the banner held up by the protestors asking, ‘What would Jesus do?’ 

Well what we know He wouldn’t do is lead any sort of political movement (Luke 4:5-8; John 6:15).  However, that has not stopped the folks down at St. Paul’s suddenly seeking to identify themselves with the aims of the protestors.  In fact the good old Archdruid of Canterbury himself has now entered the fray.  He has just nothing to say about the Gospel and precious little about the Lord Jesus Christ, but he knows exactly how the economy ought to be run.  What we need, according to Rowan Williams, is a ‘Robin Hood’ tax upon all financial transactions.

My qualifications as an economist are, I think, identical to those of the Archdruid- zero.  So I shall not comment upon his ideas about tax.  But is that really what the man was placed in office to do- to pontificate about financial matters?  Is he not there to point the Nation to repentance and to trust in Christ?  ‘If they [false prophets] had stood in My counsel, and caused My people to hear My words, then they would have turned them from their evil way and from the evil of their doings’ (Jer 23:22).

So what should the folk at St. Paul’s be telling the protestors?  Well, they could tell them that if they took every banker in the land, confiscated all their money and then shot them, it would not mend one broken marriage; it would not sober up one drunk; it would not rescue one drug addict; it would not save one unborn child from death by abortion or help one teenage delinquent.  In fact it wouldn’t even help the poor.  Surely we know enough history to realise that revolutions do nothing to help the disadvantaged?  The French, Russian and Chinese revolutions did nothing but replace one bunch of sinners with another in the corridors of power and one form of inequality with another.   The revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya will do just the same.   For the ordinary people they will make very little difference at all; for Christians living in those lands, things are likely to get significantly worse.

So what would Jesus do?  He would preach the Gospel.  That’s what the bankers need, what the protestors need, and what the clergy at St. Paul’s need.  ‘It is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes’ (Rom 1:16).  It is the power that will cause a banker to cry out,  ‘Look, Lord, I give half my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold’ (Luke 19:8).  As a matter of fact, there has been a work of God’s grace among some wealthy folk in the City.  The Metropolitan Tabernacle, St. Helens, Bishopsgate and other evangelical churches are preaching the Gospel to such people and lives are being changed.  My little church has been able to do some renovations on its premises by means of a grant from a group of Christian City businessmen converted by lunchtime Gospel preaching at St. Helens.  There is much more going on.  It’s a shame that we don’t hear more about it. 

The protestors also need the Gospel.  I can tell the Bishop of London exactly how to get them off his front door.  First, get the Gideons to go round the tents handing out Scriptures; then get the Open Air Mission to conduct a marathon Gospel preaching session outside the Cathedral doors; finally, get some Gospel choirs to belt out some good old hymns at full volume, twenty-four hours a day.  If that doesn’t get rid of them, perhaps it will convert them.   Then maybe they will get of their backsides and help the London City Mission as it performs its wonderful work to help the truly disadvantaged in our Capital (2). 

Finally, the people at St. Pauls’s, and the Archdruid himself need the Gospel just as much.  They need it because their condemnation will be the greater without it (Matt 23:13; James 3:1); and they need it so that they can go out and preach it to the glory of God.  Politics is never going to change the nation.  Only the glorious Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ can do that.

Notes.

1. http://archbishop-cranmer.blogspot.com/  For the full quotation with the relevant links, go to http://archbishop-cranmer.blogspot.com/2011/10/canon-giles-fraser-accuses-his-critics.html

2. http://www.lcm.org.uk/

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Responses

  1. Precisely. If a load of people camped outside our church, I’d go to the door and preach to them every day. They would soon either be converted and leave, or just leave anyway!


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