Posted by: stpowen | May 3, 2014

Britain- A Christian Nation?

Jeremiah 5:2. ‘Though they say, “As the LORD lives,” surely they swear falsely.’
Luke 6:46. “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I say?”

Readers who live in England will be aware of a sudden campaign by leaders of the Conservative Party to present the country as being a ‘Christian’ one. First we had cabinet member Eric Pickles declaring loudly that Britain {1} is a Christian nation and telling atheists to ‘get over it.’ Then, following an angry letter by various members of the British Humanist Association objecting to the assertion, the Prime Minister himself waded into the argument, declaring himself to be a Christian and telling Christians to be ‘more evangelical.’

Finally (so far), Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General declared, “As I go around and look at the way we make laws, and indeed many of the underlying ethics of society are Christian based and the result of 1500 years of Christian input into our national life. It is not going to disappear overnight. They [the atheists] are deluding themselves.” However, he rather gave the game away when he went on to warn that in his opinion people are being discouraged from openly declaring their beliefs because of the “deep intolerance” of religious extremists of all faiths, including Islam and Christianity. He told The Daily Telegraph; “I do think that there has been a rise of an assertiveness of religious groups across the spectrum. That is why those with softer religious views find it disturbing and say they don’t want anything to do with it.”

So it’s O.K. to be a Christian in England today, so long as you don’t actually believe in any of the teachings of the Bible, or if you do believe in them, you keep very quiet because otherwise you are being ‘assertive’ and ‘deeply intolerant.’

When these politicians queue up to call Britain a Christian country we may be sure that there is a political reason for it. No doubt some focus group or other has reported to the Government that it is in danger of losing the ‘Christian vote’ and so a charm offensive is being launched upon Christians. I have no doubt that if there was a significant Zoroastrian vote to be gained or lost, someone in the Government would be found to say warm words about Zoroastrianism and maybe even to lay his deceased mother-in-law out on a platform to be eaten by vultures.

How can Britain be described as a Christian Country? Well, in the National Census of 2011, well over half the population described itself as Christian with only 45,000 people claiming to be be atheists or humanists. I’m not sure what people meant by ‘Christian’ since only a tiny proportion of them are found in a church on any given Lord’s Day. However, the place of worship that British people don’t go to is overwhelmingly a Christian one. Also, in contrast to France or the U.S.A., the Queen, who is Head of State, is also ‘Supreme Governor’ {2} of the Church of England. At the coronation of her Majesty, it was the Archbishop of Canterbury, the most senior Anglican cleric who placed the crown upon her head and presented her with a Bible, saying, “We present you with this book, the most valuable thing this world affords. Here is wisdom. This is the Royal Law. These are the lively oracles of God.” In her coronation oath, the Queen promised, to the utmost of her power, to maintain the Reformed Protestant Faith. So far, so good.

Martin Marprelate, as a dissenter or non-conformist, has nothing to do with the Church of England; but the ‘Protestant Settlement’ which came about in 1688 after the expulsion of Roman Catholic King James II brought to an end a period of quite vicious persecution of dissenters and was therefore largely supported by them. Non-conformists who could agree with the doctrinal articles of the Church of England were allowed to worship with impunity within their own buildings. Therefore the protestant monarchy and the Anglican Church were seen as guarantees of these basic liberties which until that point had been denied to Free Church people. The XXXIX Articles of the Church of England, despite their shortcomings, were basically Protestant and dissenters were prepared to tolerate the Church of England as the ‘established church’ to protect their freedoms.

I do not believe that there is any such thing as a ‘Christian nation.’ People are not born Christian; they come into the world as sinners and although everyone knows in his heart that there must be a God, by nature people hate Him and wish He wasn’t there (Rom. 1:18ff). But if there were such a thing, what would a Christian nation look like? Well, in such a country, everyone would obey the government (Rom. 13:1-2) because there would never be a situation when one had to choose between obeying God and man (Acts 4:18-20). Laws would not be passed that contradicted the Bible. Christians would not be being forced to work on the Lord’s Day and Christian Guest House owners would not have to permit homosexual practices under their roofs. There would not be about 200,000 abortions each year and a pandemic of sexually transmitted diseases, because Biblical morality would be exemplified by our leaders, taught in the home and supported in our schools. We would not see one politician after another having to resign because he has fiddled his expenses, nor would we see a massive bias in our state broadcaster against biblical Christianity nor street preachers being regularly arrested for preaching from the Bible, nor a lady being dismissed from her job recently because she stood up for Christian marriage {3}. I could go on, but you get the point.

An American Politian is supposed to have said, “You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, and those are the people you need to concentrate on!” All this talk of a ‘Christian Nation’ is pure political chicanery. Christian voters are being wooed by the very party that has flouted Christian standards in marriage more egregiously than any other in history. It is not for Martin Marprelate to tell his readers how to vote. However, Martin, despite having been a member of the Conservative Party for many years and Chairman of his local association, will not be voting Conservative in any election, European, local or national, while David Cameron remains his leader and while Hugo Swire remains his M.P. People tell me that Cameron is at least a professing Christian, whilst Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg are atheists. What of it? Early in the 18th Century the very first Prime Minister, Hugh Walpole, was utterly irreligious, and other leaders of our country, like Clement Attlee, were openly atheistic, yet they never showed the contempt for the Bible and for Christian standards that Cameron and his cohorts have done. They need to be thrown out at the earliest opportunity.

Britain is not a Christian nation. It is a nation that has wickedly gone astray from its Christian heritage and is ripe for judgement. But nor is it a ‘post-Christian’ nation as Rowan Williams has asserted. There is nothing about the situation that is necessarily permanent. Readers may be surprised to hear that the European country in which Christianity is growing fastest at the present time is France. Where there were just about five thousand evangelical Christians in France 30 years ago, there are now over 250,000, and the number is growing exponentially. Prayer and faithful preaching may yet, God willing, turn our country back to God. Let His people be about it.

Notes.
{1} I am not sure whether to limit my remarks to England or to extend them to the whole of Britain since no Scottish politician has declared that Scotland is a Christian nation.

{2} It was Henry VIII who declared himself to be ‘head’ of the Church of England. His daughter, Elizabeth I relinquished that title to the Lord Jesus Christ, and contented herself with being ‘supreme governor, a title that has descended to our present monarch.

{3} http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/10776411/Christian-nursery-worker-sacked-after-refusing-to-read-gay-stories-to-children.html

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Responses

  1. At least Archbishop Rowan Williams acknowledged that Britain is a ‘post Christian’ country. Surprising this politician Nick Clegg is advocating for separation between church and state


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