The recent remarks by David Cameron has sparked a series of comments and debates on whether England is a Christian country. Among others Nick Clegg has weighed in with his personal view and Justin Welby has responded to the criticisms aimed at the Prime Minister.
I’ve already responded to David Cameron here but it’s worth making some comments on Nick Clegg’s response and the Blog post on Thursday by the Archbishop of Canterbury (Justin Welby).
Good old Nick, trust him to enter the discussion. Like him, I too would like to see the separation of Church & State. His motivation however, I would question. It ought to make sense for the State to not interfere in the affairs of the Church. And likewise the Church should not interfere with the affairs of the State. What that shouldn’t mean though is that politicians as individuals should have no right to make comments and the Church should be free to pass comment on the activities of the State. As I see it, this is simply free speech in action. But in addition the Church in that capacity acts as conscience of the State as it addresses sin in all its manifestations and in all quarters of society. Where it sees injustice and immorality it should be free to comment but have no vote as a Church. This should also, I believe, predominately be the activity of individual Christians or Christian lobby groups such as Christian Concern or The Christian Institute. The Mission of the Church is to Preach the Gospel of the Grace of God not get involved in politics.
But I would see the motivation of Nick Clegg and other militant atheists or New Atheists as merely an opportunity to separate Church & State in order to attack and seek to destroy an unprotected Church. His motivation is to divide and conquer as he clearly abhors the Christian faith. What else should be expected from someone ‘dead in trespasses and sins’ that ‘suppresses the truth of God in unrighteousness’. We should pray for Nick Clegg that his eyes might be opened.
The Archbishop couches his language as inoffensive as it’s possible to be all things to all men and save none. The Gospel to sinful man is offensive. It strikes at independence from God. I read his Blog post ‘A Christian Country?. I also followed the link and read one of his sermons picked entirely at random – though attracted by the word repent expecting to find some Gospel content. Truth of the matter is there is absolutely no Gospel content at all. I also read the section on ‘Evangelism‘ but the ‘Evangel’ was markedly absent. Should a reader happen on the Archbishop’s Blog they would stay in the same darkness about what the Gospel is afterwards as before. One would think Jesus never said “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Luke 24: 46-47). Everything just like his predecessor is not written in plain speech but in words of human wisdom thus emptying the Gospel of its power.
A Christian Country?
The answer is we have never been a Christian country and are not one now. I’ll be doing another post to flesh this out.
The Good News
What is the Gospel? In a nutshell, it’s this. I, we, you, all of us have fallen short of the standard God requires – a perfect keeping of His law. We all have sinful natures. We have all sinned and are under His righteous wrath and judgement. We need a Saviour. God has graciously provided a Saviour – Jesus Christ who is truly God & Man in one person. He alone bore our sins in His body on the Cross, rising from the dead the third according to the Scriptures. The forgiveness of our sins can only be found in Jesus Christ & no-one else. To reject Jesus is to reject God and is to reject all hope with only the expectation of a fully conscious eternity in hell. Call upon God for forgiveness, repent and believe the Gospel of the Grace of God.
- Clegg: Separate Church and state (bbc.co.uk)
- Nick Clegg restates view on separation of church and state (theguardian.com)
- Welby rounds on critics of Cameron’s Christian Britain’ (thetimes.co.uk)