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MPs call on churches to raise a new generation of politicians

Last Monday I found myself with a crowd of church leaders and parliamentarians from around the country listening to a group of MPs sharing stories of how Jesus has changed their lives. Having become so accustomed to seeing politicians playing party political games, it was incredibly refreshing to hear honest and personal talk that has nothing to do with point scoring and everything to do with honouring God’s name.

Gary Streeter (Con), David Burrows (Con), Tim Farron (Lib Dem), Stephen Timms (Lab) and Fiona Bruce (Con) displayed a great deal of unity as they took part in the launch of Christians in Politics at Westminster. This umbrella organisation, which is owned jointly by the Conservative Christian Fellowship, Christians on the Left and the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum, seeks to be an all-party non-denominational platform for Christians involved – or seeking to get involved – in politics and public life. This was the event to set out the vision, but what stood out most of all were these personal journeys of faith that had led five individuals to give their lives to God by serving Him as MPs.

David Burrowes cited his time at university, where he became increasingly aware of the need for Christians to be the decision-makers in places of authority, which resulted in him taking an active role in the Student Union and also co-founding the Conservative Christian Fellowship. Tim Farron, whose talk was underpinned by a great deal of theology, recalled the time when, as a boy, he watched Cathy Come Home , the powerful 1960s television drama about homelessness. He knew at that point that his calling was to devote his life to seeking justice and serving others.

Perhaps the most remarkable account was Fiona Bruce’s. She had been establishing her own community law firm when she was shocked to find God telling her to become an MP, despite having no great political inclinations. As she began to step out in faith, she found herself in greater places of influence than she would otherwise have been in. She talked about her anti-trafficking and slavery work that has resulted in the Modern Slavery Bill and her fight to tighten the law on sex-selective abortion.

This need for Christians to bring the values of God’s kingdom into everyday politics, that genuinely impact our nation, was a recurring theme. During the question-and-answer session there was talk from both those attending and the panel of a need to nurture a generation of godly young people who are committed to changing this nation through the structures of power that are in place. As this was discussed, a significant hindrance became clear – there is a lack of Christian role models in this arena for young people to look up to.

How many of our churches with young people are encouraging them to enter into politics or business taking with them integrity, a confidence in their faith and a yearning to seek justice for all? When I talk to young Christians I often hear their hopes of becoming worship leaders, youth workers or being involved in social action. They see those who have gone before them and have been inspired as a result. Jesus told his followers to go and make disciples, but He also had plenty to say about seeking justice and mercy and serving the poor. Churches and charities have a key role to play, but if politics is avoided because of the perception that it is a dirty place where it is impossible to stay true to your faith and beliefs, then Christians will be left shouting from the wings as big decisions are made that affect us all. Where are those seeking to emulate the great biblical heroes – the Josephs, Nehemiahs and Daniels who will influence the course of history?

Mark Scott, Christians in Politics communications manager, had this to say when I asked him to explain what he hopes it will achieve:

Our desire is to serve the community by raising up future leaders who will be the decision makers. These will be men and women who take up positions of authority and use those positions to influence the sources of injustice rather than just the outcomes. We see getting on the pitch as being just as invaluable as commentating from the side lines. That’s why we will do what we can to support Christians as they enter the sometimes messy world of party politics and equip them with the tools they need to help them navigate with integrity and purpose. We also seek to build bridges across party lines between Christians and organisations. In so doing we seek to create a culture within politics that puts God’s kingdom before tribalism.

This is a vision with so much potential, but it will only come about if churches and church leaders are willing to open their eyes and take hold of it. If we fail to deliver, the Church will have disregarded one of its key duties and all of our society will suffer as a result.

This article was first published at Christian Today on Monday 3rd November.

  • Rasher Bacon

    “In so doing we seek to create a culture within politics that puts God’s kingdom before tribalism”

    Great idea, and to be supported, as long as people go into it with their eyes open and a willingness to go to jail. One day the spirit of “we will not have this man to reign over us” will reject those people and any young people who follow them. Until then we’ll pray they succeed.

    Interesting selection of Joseph (sold into slavery & then prison for integrity), Daniel (carried into captivity and sentenced to death for faithfulness). Then there’s Nehemiah, who risked his head when he remembered Zion.

  • Martin

    Gillan

    When we bring our children up to be honest can we really be expected to want them to enter party politics where dishonesty seems to be so important a skill?

    • Scott

      Is it any more dishonest than business, sport, or the legal practice? We live in a fallen world where every sphere of culture is compromised. Does that mean we should ignore it or seek to embrace and redeem it? Jesus got his hands dirty in a very messy world and our lies, cheating and deception wasn’t enough to keep him away.

      • Martin

        Scott

        I think it is.

    • Uncle Brian

      Your conclusion, then, Martin, is that the best thing for all of us is to leave politics to the crooks?

      • Martin

        Brian

        I can’t see how anyone can expect to rise to a level in those clubs called political parties without some crookedness.

  • dannybhoy

    In the early years of the Church Christians were to obey and pray for those with authority over them.Christianity was born into the greatest empire the world had ever seen and slaves had no rights of any kind.
    Today we live in a democracy. The command to pray for those in authority remains, but the difference is that we are now free men and women with obligations as citizens to do our best to influence society for good.
    I suspect that the current idea that Christians should be good people and shun politics developed with the changing relationship between the Church of England and the State.
    I think that the Church moved from being the moral guide and conscience of the nation to becoming an anxious maiden aunt; impotently wringing her hands at the anti Christian social trends taking place whilst at the same time desperately trying to stay “relevant and trendy.”
    Christians need to exercise the freedoms afforded them in part by our evangelical ancestors while we still have them. At the same time we need to start seeking the Lord in repentance and prayer for revival.

    • Busy Mum

      I agree…though strictly speaking we live in a constitutional monarchy, not a democracy!

      • dannybhoy

        Thanks for mentioning that. I nearly did so as to cover all the bases… 😉
        but the problem is that in trying to take everything into account you end up writing so much more.
        Have you ever noticed how long some of my posts are?!
        PS I was a boarding school boy with fees paid by the County Council.. snap!
        Back to subject: I also think Christians should pray about whether the Lord wants them to go into politics, because even at the lower local level I was involved i,n it can become very time consuming.
        I think churches that do get actively involved through representation would have to see it as a form of outreach and support their representative(s) with prayer and counsel.

        • Busy Mum

          Maybe that’s why assisted places etc were scrapped….the left don’t really want to educate the poor because otherwise the poor see The Light!

          • Coniston

            Shirley Williams, when Education Secretary, abolished the Direct Grant schools (which took fee-paying pupils as well as those who had passed the 11+; the latter – half the pupils in many schools – were paid for by the state). She thought this would compel such schools to join the state system. But most went independent, so pupils whose parents could not afford the fees had to attend the state schools. Many of these were good, but then came the comprehensives; again some good schools, most middling and too many downright poor.

        • James60498 .

          Time Consuming. That’s the big problem as you rightly say.

          If you are going to make a difference you have to have the time. And lots of it.

          I do wonder whether one of the reasons for the “gay takeover” is that the vast majority of them do not have children and therefore have far more money and time to themselves than people with families.

          Of course they are still a small minority of those without children, but if one group, almost irrelevant of size has a target in mind, plenty of time and money and, particularly an opposition who had no idea that they were planning anything then it makes their task do-able.

    • CliveM

      Re the CofE being the moral guidance of this country. Sorry to say this but in the main over the last 300 years it’s not been a glorious history for the CofE. Riddled with patronage and indifference in the 18th Century, more concerned with its power and influence (along with propping up the existing social order) in the 19th Century and finally trying to halt its decline and identify for itself a proper role in the 20th Century!

      And I say this as someone who doesn’t want disestablishment!

      Which makes me at least inconsistent!

      • Busy Mum

        I am equally inconsistent! The strange thing is that the more decadent the C of E has become, and the greater the moral gulf between the two churches, the more eager the RCC is for union. Or not so strange, given the Oxford Movement and the gradual departure of the C of E from the 39 Articles.

      • dannybhoy

        Disestablishment an issue I agree with.The problem is that at this point in our thousand year old history we need to preserve our great offices of State, otherwise we will fall into a morass of multicultural confusion which will benefit only Islamic extremism/fundamentalism.
        That is the big threat facing our nation.
        It doesn’t matter that the majority in our nation owe no allegiance to Our Lord; what matters is that we the Lord’s people, are here,and we can cry out to our Father God and ask Him to spare our nation.

        • CliveM

          Dannybhoy

          I have a distrust of constitutional change. Reviewing the modernising changes we have gone through to date, EU ‘citizenship’, devolution, the inclusion of the Human Rights Act into British law, the thing they all seem to have achieved is the steady deterioration of British Nationhood and identity. I like our constitution being messy and archaic. I don’t want European style rationality and conformity!

          I don’t therefore support disestablishment. I would give the monarchy more real power.

          I suppose I am just an old fashioned Tory!

          • dannybhoy

            Clive, even worse you’re a Scottish old fashioned Tory!
            Personally I lost respect for our Queen when she failed to stand up for our sovereignty and the Church.
            She accepted our entrance into the EEC/EU which would disempower her anyway, and then in the emergence of a multicultural society she failed to insist upon the supremacy of the values and teachings of the Church of England, opf which she is the monarchical Head.
            Nothing personal, but she sold out.

          • CliveM

            You do her is disservice. On this we are in fundamental disagreement.

            I respect her greatly. If more people had her sense of duty, work ethic and honesty (particularly our politicians) this country would be a finer place.

            I understand why she feels unable to break out of the expected constraints of her role.

            God save the Queen, you old Republican.

          • dannybhoy

            “I respect her greatly. If more people had her sense of duty, work ethic and honesty (particularly our politicians) this country would be a finer place.”

            No disagreement there, but the fact is that she sold out, and continues to sell out.
            Look, let’s face facts.
            Were Islam to take over in the UK, whose fault would it be?
            Do we honestly believe that an Islamic UK State would accept an ageing female monarch, or a Christian Church?
            Really??
            They would set about debasing and abusing our monarch, the Royal Family and our leaders. much as they have to Christians and minorities in the Middle East.

          • CliveM

            Sold out, rubbish! She is a Constitutional Monarch, she has to by our constitution accept what her Govt proposes.

            IF Islam takes over (which it won’t) it will be that war criminal Tony Blairs fault. He was bent on destroying this countries character, he may have succeeded. If we do use the treason laws on returning jihadists, we should also consider them for him.

          • dannybhoy

            No Clive,
            you’re wrong. But seeing as you’re Scottish and a Conservative I will make allowances.. 🙂
            At her coronation the young Queen swore an oath to defend and protect the Church (of England).
            She has not done so.
            Whatever her job description as Monarch she maintains her position by the will and agreement of the people, not the government.
            Otherwise she is but a mouthpiece for the government of the day.
            Personally and in all honesty, I do not regard any man or woman of greater value than myself, since we are all created in the image of God.
            I respect their positional responsibilities, but not their divine right to tell me what to do.
            Only God and the Lord Jesus Christ has that right.

          • CliveM

            Hmmm an addendum!

            Of course Oliver Cromwell was a war criminal and a regicide.

            Bit like Tony Blair.

            I don’t believe in the Devine Right either! Would have been on Charles I side however. Remember he was also Scotland’s King!!

          • dannybhoy

            Clive
            Dear friend and brother in the Lord Jesus,
            One of the reasons I so admire Oliver Cromwell was because as a child of his time, to go against the King must have been a most traumatic thing to do; tantamount to blasphemy.
            Let’s not lose sight of the fact that the King was siding and funding a (Catholic) monarch who was seeking our destruction and subjugation to the Catholic version of Christianity.
            He was acting not as the King of England, but as her chief traitor.
            We can accept (or at least I do), that the Church of England was a bastard son of the Catholic Church, born out of Henry VIIIth’s determination to secure a divorce.
            But Charles First became King of England through the blessing and anointing of the Church of England, not the Church of Rome.
            He betrayed that office.

          • CliveM

            Wow that’s formal!! Usually that level of formality means your in trouble!

            One thing to start with, whilst I believe everything I have said, you do know my tongue is also firmly lodged in my cheek?

            Oliver Cromwell left a lot of death, destruction and famine in Scotland, but particularly Ireland. Even by the standards of the time, he was a nasty, brutal piece of work.

            The Commonwealth was unpleasant and for all Charles I’s failings, he was less brutal in power the OC was.

          • dannybhoy

            “Oliver Cromwell left a lot of death, destruction and famine in Scotland,
            but particularly Ireland. Even by the standards of the time, he was a
            nasty, brutal piece of work.”
            Whatever.
            You mean that the English folk, the Scots, the Irish and the Welsh had it easy until “he” came along?!
            Rubbish. The ordinary folk were always being ripped off and abused by the hierachy of their day.
            That’s how tribalism works.

            But what Oliver did do that was good was open up the way for England to become a modern and organised country founded upon true Christian principles, hard work and honesty.
            The bad he did he will answer for, but in all honesty to talk as though Oliver was the definitive ogre of his times is nonsense.

          • CliveM

            Did I say everything had been sweetness and light? I simply said it was preferable.

            What good did he do? Inoculate against republicanism!!

            Anyway we are not going to agree, so mustn’t hijack this thread further.

          • dannybhoy

            Okay.

          • CliveM

            Thanks for the debate………..!

            You old Republican:)

          • retiredbloke

            Danny, it’s not just that. She signed the Royal Ascent to same sex marriage, the abortion legislation and a whole host of amoral legislation which she should have resisted. It may have caused a constitutional crisis, but if she is a Christian she had a duty before God to act in a way which was pleasing to Him. She will, one day have to answer for the moral failings of the country she led.

  • Monica dyer

    My own son, at 20, is already an experienced politician. The question is: How did he get there and why don’t more kids do this? I think there are two reason. The first is outlined in this article – a sense that this is a ‘dirty’ game (not a view that I share, now I know more about politics). The second is to do with education.
    Politicians need to be able to speak, they need to be able to persuade. You would have thought that Church would be the perfect place to learn this. After all, we have a staged performance every Sunday (sometimes more than one). Some churches are letting their young people have a real voice (All Saints, Peckham is a good example of this) but many just let them sit there and listen to the clergy speak week after week. William learned his trade on the stage. I remember the first time he spoke in Church (he had already spoken at the liberal party conference by then) he actually got a laugh! If we want our young people to speak in the world they need to start by speaking in Church.

    • Busy Mum

      When I was at school, the entire Lower Sixth followed the English Speaking Board course. It was very useful, along with the political and debating societies we sixth-formers ran. Of course, it was an independent school – so we were ‘privileged’….I was ‘privileged’ to be an assisted place pupil….no reason why state comps can’t choose to spend their money on the ESB course rather than diversity programs is there?… Or, is there??
      Interestingly, the school mag I still get every year has become a cultural Marxist’s dream.

      • Monica dyer

        Having got one of my kids all the way through the (state) school system and another to the GCSE year I see very little sign of anyone learning public speaking. Most schools do drama but there is enormous pressure on boys not to do this at school (my own son did this outside school and was lucky enough to find a teacher who really believed in him). The emphasis is almost entirely on the written word. I agree with the previous comment about support, both practical and financial, but first we need to allow young people to speak and be heard.

        • Busy Mum

          Have got three past GCSE and another two just coming up to those exams….no public speaking provision at all, though more opportunity then we had to speak in class in other subjects; presentations etc. One school had a speaking competition at KS3 and afterwards the head had to diplomatically criticise the crudeness of some of the jokes, language and subject matter…but of course, he couldn’t possibly be ‘judgmental’! Cannot teachers see that they are betraying these children by allowing them to demean and debase themselves? The kindest thing any teacher could do would be to express complete disapproval.
          The state grammar school had debating clubs but the level of political correctness in that institution meant my children were ‘de facto’ barred from joining in. No point in teaching children how to speak if they are not given the freedom what to say!!

  • CliveM

    Yes let’s encourage our young to take a proper interest in politics. However we are already plagued with enough ‘student’ politicians, who know nothing about the real world. Make them get a job and get their hands dirty first. Good 10 years. And then and only then may they be worth listening to and experienced enough to take an active part in the legislature.

    • dannybhoy

      Well said Clive. I’m sure that like me over the years you’ve had some corners rounded and acquired a few dents and scuff marks… 🙂

  • MrsBurgin

    It is all very well saying we “need more Christians in politics” but as someone who is actually in the trenches on this, we need to do more than talk about it.
    1) practical help: selections and elections involve a herculean amount of work. Sometimes it can be hard turning up at church, explaining your week and people wishing you well – and even offering prayer. I need my church to be in the trenches with me, stuffing envelopes, delivering leaflets and knocking on doors. I appreciate people can be held back by party politics, but if our *priority* is getting more Christians in parliament then we absolutely must get past this.
    2) financial support: again people get queasy over this but if the competition has money then we need to be able to match their firepower. Leaflets don’t just appear out of thin air – and voters don’t just wake up one morning with a vision from God telling them who to vote for. Yes God can perform miracles but in the same way He normally uses doctors to heal people, He normally uses party activists to deliver messages to voters.

    • dannybhoy

      Although, when one joins a party you do get all sorts of help and advice. Active Christians do tend to get a warmer welcome from the Conservative Party. Funnily enough I’ve found that socialists are more hostile to the Christian faith than those you might find with little stalls in the temples,,, 😉

      • James60498 .

        I agree that local Conservative Associations are often happy to have members that go to Church.

        But try telling them that as a Christian you are not prepared to campaign for the female twice divorced, three abortions soon to “marry” a woman candidate that they have selected, and you will soon find that you are not so popular. (Exaggeration maybe but there are plenty of very objectionable people around that I wouldn’t want to campaign for).

        As Cameron said about himself. He goes to Church because it is the traditional thing to do. And that’s the way that a number of senior Tories see it.

        • dannybhoy

          James,
          I have to confess that my wife and I are both divorcees and were married in a Registery Office umpteen years ago.
          Our vicar knows this.
          It took a while before we would go up for Communion, but in the end it was our decision not our vicar’s.
          My wife divorced her husband.
          I was divorced by my wife.
          Conservative people are no different from Labour people or any other group.
          Human beings are by nature tribal. We build and reinforce icons and traditions that bind us together. Our deep desire is to belong and to be recognised as having value.
          Politics of any colour work in the same way. Whether as a communist or a capitalist, we try to find points of agreement that tell us and others “we belong.”

          • James60498 .

            Danny. I really don’t know how to respond to that or whether I should.

            Just to say that I was in no way intending to offend you but rather feel as though I have. My best friend in politics had been divorced twice, and I understood her reasons. No abortions though, and whilst it’s a long time since I have seen her I think it somewhat unlikely that she will be in a “gay marriage” any time soon.

            I take your other point though about belonging. I “belonged” to the Conservative party for over half my life so far but can no longer do so under Cameron. I don’t belong any more. “Gay marriage”. Making abortion easier. Taking Child Benefit off 40% tax payers whilst helping couples earning vastly more with child care so that they will put their children with OFSTED approved child minders.

            This is the latest.

            http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/11209109/Teachers-told-sex-at-13-is-normal-part-of-growing-up.html

            I was a councillor when he was elected leader. I saw the way in which the councillors voted for him because he was a good speaker. Many of them didn’t care that he was very clearly a liberal. And at the same time they were overthrowing a good committed local Christian council group leader and replacing him with, shall we say, someone who wasn’t.

            I do not feel ANY sense of belonging in the Conservative Party

          • dannybhoy

            James,
            You didn’t offend me my brother. The problem with cyberspace communication is that we only have written words on which to build relationships.
            The key thing to bear in mind is that all of us will one day give account of ourselves before our Creator and Redeemer.
            Not the Pope, nor the ArchBishop, nor even the Chief Rabbi, God bless him!
            I am also an ex Conservative.

          • James60498 .

            Glad to hear that. As you say, sometimes the written word doesn’t entirely convey the correct meaning.

      • MrsBurgin

        My point is that if Christians want more Christians in politics, they are going to have to work for it. The CEO of the Church Army (“active Christian”) narrowly lost the Labour selection for Sheffield Hallam. Opportunities are everywhere for Christians to make a *practical* difference to the numbers of Christians in parliament – and we need to grasp those opportunities with both hands.
        Speaking personally, I probably wouldn’t last 5 minutes in a local Conservative Association. As a Christian, I feel very welcome in the Labour Party. I believe it’s important to have Christians in all of the main parties. Others might disagree.

  • Busy Mum

    “Our desire is to serve the community by raising up future leaders who will be the decision makers.”

    It is only God who can raise up future leaders and He will only give us leaders of whom we are worthy.

  • len

    I don`t know if anyone has noticed but the UK has joined up to one of the most Anti -Christian organizations known in recent history namely the EU.We have’ our’ laws made for us by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels who`s main objective is to sideline if not totally destroy Christianity.We have ‘speech control’ to make sure that we conform to ‘the party line’ or whatever Brussels decides is ‘good for us’.

    So after centuries of fighting to preserve our national identity and religious freedom we have surrendered these on the altar of some sort of European Superstate which has morphed over the years into a Dictatorship.This was done so subtly that we hardly noticed?.

    So we continue with the illusion of being in control of our destinies but have hardly noticed the cell door closing behind us?.

    • Graham Wood

      Good post Len, and you are the first to point the actualitie of politics in the UK today. The greater part of our “government” directs policy from Brussels.
      Whilst we have the outward trappings of democracy in effect that has been hollowed out, and only the outward forms remain.
      But even if we left the EU our Parliament would remain almost unrepresentative of voters due to the entrenched party political system with the domination of the Whips to ensure the voting fodder known as MP’s will comply with a fixed party policy already agreed by a Cabinet with collective responsibility. So we have but the remnants of representative government, and today all three main parties wholly secular and subservient to the EU monolith.
      Wannabe Christian MPs are not called to support this cosy consensus of an anti-Christian party system.
      We are to support the State, but have no mandate to support a particular government or any one party system. The two are very different!
      What is the remedy?
      Clearly when the electorate see through this charade, rejects the party system per se (which is beginning to crack already) and it is replaced by the original concept of independent MPs representing their constituents and with a free vote on all issues.
      At a stroke this will end the continual hubris generated by the current system, with its waste of people, time and resources which should be devoted to discerning and executing the will of the electorate via a House of Commons devoted solely to that purpose.
      The first move must be to leave the EU and restore constitutional government.

      • CliveM

        ” original concept of independent MPs representing their constituents and with a free vote on all issues. ”

        Sorry when was this electoral nirvana in existence in this country? It is true that the Executive has grown ever stronger, but for as long as Parliament has been at least marginally democratic, their has been party discipline and patronage.

        • Coniston

          The trouble is that elected politicians (however disreputable) are being replaced in the decision making process by unelected lawyers and judges, who are as far removed from ordinary people as the politicians. Which are worse?

          • CliveM

            Well I agree with that. The Legal Profession seem to have created for itself a position above criticism (indeed we seem to have had created a new version of lese majesty in relation to judges) or any form of democrat oversight. A small number of unrepresentative individuals appear to be the ones who determine the type of society we live in.

  • carl jacobs

    Politicians reflect. There is very little of Christianity remaining in Western culture and our political life reflects this. You can encourage Christians to go into politics but they will not thereby change the culture. Voters by and large do not want to hear what they have to say. Fundamentally, every Christian argument is going to be some variation on the theme of “You are a creature under authority.” Well, that’s precisely what people no longer accept. They see themselves as self creators possessing self authority. In fact, their whole understanding of what it means to be human is invested in that concept. They no longer recognize a moral authority above themselves.

    So a Christian can go into politics and perhaps work a little to shape the eddies near the shore. But he isn’t going to change the course of that river which surges relentlessly to the sea. To change the course of the river bed you would need to change the culture. You would need to change man’s understanding of himself. A Christian influence on politics will always follow in a democracy and not lead. If you want to see a Christian impact, then you must first create Christians. The votes will follow and the politics will reflect the vote. There is no political shortcut to Evangelism.

  • It would assist if Christians who are members of the Church kept their Ministers on track with the Gospel message. Every anti-Christian development in Britain since 1930 (contraception, abortion, homosexuality) has been tacitly or openly supported, one way or another, by the Church of England and other Christian churches. The lesson is you don’t compromise with evil. If you do, you succeed in opening the door to greater evil. If the Church isn’t resisting how can we expect Christian politicians to?

    • dannybhoy

      ” Every anti-Christian development in Britain since 1930 (contraception,
      abortion, homosexuality) has been tacitly or openly supported, one way
      or another, by the Church of England and other Christian churches.”
      Aww, Nuts.
      We could equally say that every step forward in ending slavery and increasing freedoms and emancipation came through the evangelical wing of the Church Universal, the Body of Christ.
      There are no perfect people, only imperfect people with a Perfect Saviour.
      The Catholic and Anglican wings of the Church have at times committed grave errors and allowed for the persecution and murder of innocents; sometimes wayward Christians, but more often the Jews.
      It was because of “dogma” that down through the ages Christians were persecuted and tortured because they wouldn’t accept the authority of the Church of Rome..

      • How is that relevant to post-1930 developments? Watch, assisted self-murder is next. Then, having abandoned dogma, you see no problem with this or with the abortion of disabled children.

        • dannybhoy

          HJ
          What I am getting at is that dogma so easily replaces a willingness to empathize, and see what another is going through.
          It doesn’t mean we abandon the word of the Lord, but rather that through empathy we acknowledge our own weaknesses and failings without watering down God’s standards.
          What you are really getting at is that the Church sold out so as to stay in with the oppressor.

          • “What you are really getting at is that the Church sold out so as to stay in with the oppressor.”

            Actually, Jack is not saying that at all. Empathy is a dangerous basis on which to found Church teaching about morals if it isn’t constrained by clear doctrine. Jack doesn’t believe the Church deliberately sold out for political reasons. Rather it has been attempting to remain inclusive and diverse and non-judgemental by accommodating sin.

          • dannybhoy

            We both agree about the importance of doctrine, but we also have to face up to the fact that the Church has often betrayed its calling by abusing and persecuting others it regarded as enemies or apostates.
            Just like Israel really… 🙂

          • Well, yes. And? Jack can’t see the relevance of that argument in respect of the moral collapse in the West he outlined in his original post.

            The Church has made mistakes in the past – so best not take a clear stand against modern sin in case we make further mistakes?

          • dannybhoy

            The relevance dear boy, is that it was the Church that got “up close and personal” with all the crowned heads of Europe and using the hold -I mean influence they exerted, were able to pursue their own agenda. This included the pursuit and punishment/re-programming of her perceived enemies, and the increase of wealth and influence for the Church.

            “Ipso- fatso”, the moral collapse in the West was in part aided and abetted by the Church herself. Had the Church stayed true to her calling we would have stood up against the likes of Hitler for example, before he really got going.
            Instead the Church mostly stood quietly by and in some cases actively cooperated.
            So the relevance is that just as Israel fell from her high calling from time to time, so has the Church.
            And for that reason a healthy dose of humility rather than dogma wouldn’t go amiss.

            Hebrews 12:6-11(KJV)
            “6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence shall we not much rather be insubjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but
            he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness
            unto them which are exercised thereby.”

          • Well Jack agrees with your last paragraph but struggles with the rest. You can’t lay the responsibility of human history and all the ills of this fallen world at the door o the Church. The moral collapse of the West has many causes.

          • dannybhoy

            HJ
            It’s such hard work trying to ensure that good Christian people and devout Jews understand where you’re coming from, but I do regard it as important.

            I wanted just to point out that the Church (by which I mean the whole true Church), has failed its Lord just as much as Israel failed HaShem.
            Now obviously we both agree that the Lord Jesus is Israel’s Messiah and that He fulfilled the Law and the Promise and brought redemption first to the Jew and also to the Gentile.
            We therefore have to proclaim the Gospel to the whole world, to proclaim the Holiness and Righteousness of the One True God who calls all men to repentance and renewal.
            But it does us no harm to reflect upon our past failures and to proclaim our message with humility and an awareness that we ourselves have not always been the example of His grace that we should have been.

          • Agreed …. but still we shouldn’t let this to prevent us speaking Christian truth with confidence and conviction as we know and believe it. It does no good dwelling on past failures either, running around trying to make amends whilst watering down the Gospel because it offends and we don’t want to cause upset.

          • dannybhoy

            Good, so we agree then.

          • To quote our young, mutual friend: “whatever”.
            *chuckle*

          • dannybhoy

            🙂

    • uppitynorth

      Which is why many people, myself included, are slowly making their way to the Orthodox Church.

      • If you’re on your way to Constantinople, why not tarry a while in Rome?

        • uppitynorth

          That was my first thought. However, my search has led me away from Rome;cannot get round this infallibility and Pope as supreme head thing. Still,There’s a long way to go and big decisions to make so no door has been locked yet (except C/E)

    • Old Nick

      That is not true. Generations of English bishops fought against successive Matrimonial Causes Acts.

      • Happy Jack did not mention divorce but restricted his comment to contraception, abortion and homosexuality. Generations of English bishops resisted all these developments too. The question is: how many bishops today are opposed to divorce and remarriage?

  • carl jacobs

    Anyways. It’s Election Day in the US, and I am in a battle ground state. I must sally forth against a Democratic Majority in the Senate. Off to vote I am. For America, Ronnie, and St George W!

    As they say in Chicago. “Vote early. Vote often.”

    carl

    • Graham Goldsmith

      Hello Carl Saw a great Chicago blues band last saturday evening. Mud Morganfield and his band. I would vote for them , they were brilliant.

    • CliveM

      Just like our Muslim community!

      • DanJ0

        Heh

        • CliveM

          Multiple votes by the male head of the household. Fairly well known about and in some constituencies widespread.

          • DanJ0

            Indeed.

    • Uncle Brian

      From what the news programmes are saying, you’re on your way to success. Congratulations!

    • They say that in Tower Hamlets too !

  • Graham Goldsmith

    Christian concern are attempting to address this issue and have set up the Wilberforce academy to equip leaders in the professions including politics.

    • sarky

      A truly frightening prospect!!!

      • Graham Goldsmith

        Yes i know what you mean. Christian concern are seen as right wing and traditional but they do at least challenge the rather more frightening liberal orthodoxy and the cross party Christians in parliament group do promote a more ethical approach to governance despite the murky nature of politics. Bearing in mind repeated corruption in all our major institutions including politics some kind of change is needed. The status quo of spin (lying), bogus statistics, disregard for the poor, and orwellian double speak are all counter to the kind of integrity that the electorate deserve and should expect. Theos in their research identified a high level of religious illiteracy in the establishment so Christians working in these areas would help improve understanding and hopefully help create a more positive political culture because the ideology of secular humanism is clearly failing us.

  • TimeForTea

    It is testament to the mercy and grace of our God that there is room in Heaven for politicians and lawyers!

    However I can’t help but feel these particular politicians have an over inflated sense of self importance. From the Christians In Politics website:

    ‘Politics matters. It determines our life from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed. It affects our homes, our jobs, our welfare and our families.’

    It is not politics that determines our lives from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed, it is God.

    • CliveM

      I do think we are at risk of over spiritualising issues. God may indeed be in overall control, but that does not mean our day to day experience is not significantly affected by our more fallible politicians.

      • TimeForTea

        While I understand what you are getting at these people are Christians and as such, what they say on their website is important. They are taking the Lords name and representing Him in this world. I believe this is what Ex 20:7 is talking about when it says
        ‘Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.’ it is not about language it is about representing Him.

        As Christians we should be mindful that we are just pilgrims passing through and the language used on the website is not representative of the facts if you are a Christian. If you are a Christian, politics does not determine every aspect of your life.

        Recognising God is in control and not us is important in getting through this world, ‘For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places].’

        That does not mean to say Christians shouldn’t be involved the world for we are (as the website tries to point out) the salt and light of the earth.

        It is true that without Him we can’t but without us He won’t but the idea that the church needs to raise up leadership to pass on into politics seems really quite counter productive. Without Christ, life and everything in it has no meaning. Politics is but wood, hay and stubble. So why cast your pearls in front of swine; why take your best leaders and give them to the world? We should be encouraging leaders to stay in the church and not passing them off to the lions den.

  • Johnnyrvf

    Ha Ha Ha. Listen not to what they say but rather to what they do. When they have something decent to say about people whose choices are against their party whip then maybe I will believe this is more than cynical pandering to get lost votes.

  • sarky

    How are you going to get young people into politics?? You can’t even get them into church!!!!

    • Terry Mushroom

      Sarky

      So what do you suggest?

      • sarky

        Personally I’m quite happy with the current situation. The thought of more christians in politics is frightening proposition! !!!

        • carl jacobs

          sarky

          I wouldn’t be too concerned about we Christians if I were you. We are pretty much off the board. I would not be concerned about what is past, but rather about what is coming next. This easy libertine existence is sustained only by prosperity, and by its very nature must eventually consume that prosperity. People who believe nothing are dangerous in that circumstance. The day is coming when you will cry out for that time when Christianity dominated the Government. But the sky will return the echoes of your wailing unheard.

          • sarky

            Doubt it!!! And I never was one for wailing!!!

          • “I never was one for wailing.”

            That’s because mummy and daddy give you everything you want, when you want it. Wait until they can’t. You’ll soon learn how to wail.

  • As Christians, we can either get our hands soiled with the world ……. or set up Amish and Mennonite communities.

  • The Inspector General

    Splendid stuff, Gillan !

    One found himself humming Onward Christian Soldiers as he read your piece.

    It’s never too early for a young person to wake up to the mire that godless politics has given us, and never too soon to do something about it, what !

    Young Christian people therein, the Inspector salutes you all…

  • retiredbloke

    One of the main planks in an attempt to create a just, stable and God-fearing society is our education system. We are currently presented with the sight of a Christian minister of education recanting on her “no” vote on same-sex marriage, appointing Stonewall as an advisor, using OFSTED to threaten small schools with closure if they do not bow to the god of diversity and denying schools the right to teach the biblical account of creation as fact. She has also thrown money at the prevention of homophobic bullying with no acknowledgement that children are bullied for a myriad of other reasons. This she has done at the behest of Stonewall an organisation which has avowed to destroy the family. Never has Christian influence in schools been so iimperilled as it is at the moment; all under the authority of the minister who calls herself Christian. With “Christians” like this why do we need more?

    • The Inspector General

      Recanting is part of something called ‘career progress’ old chap. The law of libel prevents the Inspector from further speculation concerning that minister’s actions…

      • retiredbloke

        By “career progress” do you mean “accept twenty pieces of silver”?

        But now you have intrigued us ……. Speculating is not libellous, surely!

        • The Inspector General

          Rejoice, that bloke – a minister, perhaps after a chat with ‘David’, has seen the error of her ways. All praise to David then…

          • retiredbloke

            I’m sure Peter does not hold the record for denying His Lord three times!

          • The Inspector General

            Well, it’s like this. Senior government positions, above the Ministry for Oddballs, need filling eventually. And if it can be proved you can be trusted…

            Oh God, the Inspector has speculated too much and faces financial ruin in the High Court of Justice !

            Bugger ! (if that is not too associated an outburst…)

          • The Inspector General

            The Ministry for Oddballs is of course the Equalities whatever. Apologies for confusion. One is comforted tonight by Johnny Walker Black Label. A superb 12 year blend. First time, so not used to it yet…

          • retiredbloke

            I prefer cast strength Laphroaig but can only afford it duty free! Why do they want to tax us more to die early?

          • The Inspector General

            The Inspector has many Scot friends. Your tipple included…

          • retiredbloke

            I thought that was a Stonewall phrase.

          • retiredbloke

            I see that in a further attempt to mollify David she has just decided that sex at 13 is normal. Is there no end to this woman’s sychophancy?

    • Anna055

      I think this just goes to show that it is possibly even more important to have 1000s of Christians praying for our politicians than to have small numbers of Christians becoming politicians. Has she recanted on her vote – I hadn’t heard that. I feel sorry for her. A Christian is under even more pressure than other politicians so needs protecting with our prayers- we should pray for her (N.B. not about her). I confess I fail miserably on this though. By the way she wont have made the OFSTED decision – OFSTED is semi independent I think.

      • retiredbloke

        Thank you, Anna. You have brought some humility to my anger. You are quite right. Having never been ambitious for adulation from the world I have difficulty understanding the motivation of those who do and a betrayal of the One who gave everything for my salvation is way beyond my ability to comprehend. Our journey should be a spiritual one, not one of chasing false gods.

        • Anna055

          I have thought for a long time that Biblically we are told to pray for our leaders but not necessarily to make sure our leaders are Christians (though I completely see that God may call some people to be MPs). We are not in a situation really where the leadership is leading the community of faith (as in the leadership of Israel) but much more in the situation of the early Christians where the government was pagan, and in addition: “Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.”

          Now I just need to follow my own advice and start praying seriously for our government.

  • DanJ0

    As long as MPs are upfront about what is motivating them and who or what organisation is pulling their strings, it’s a marketplace of ideas and people can buy what they like from what they see, so to speak. Obviously in some areas that results in a Muslim MP and in others (well, one other) a UKIP one. My local MP is a Christian and she made that plain in her election literature. I remember feeling quite put off by that but I can’t remember now whether I voted for her anyway.

    • The Inspector General

      Do you know, this man keeps on coming across people who can’t quite remember how they voted last time. Just shows you that the 3 main parties are now so bunched they appear as one.

      • DanJ0

        I know for sure I didn’t vote New Labour, BNP, or Green. 🙂

        • The Inspector General

          Now Green is very popular with men of a certain persuasion…
          {AHEM}

          • Uncle Brian

            Inspector General, Sir.

            With apologies to His Grace for going OT, here’s something that may prompt you to put pen to paper, or forefinger to keyboard. I found it by following a link from Luke Coppen’s blog at the Catholic Herald.

            http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/the-city-gates.cfm?ID=916

          • The Inspector General

            Thanks for the tip off Brian. Will keep the site in mind

            (CLASSIFIED Note to one’s self. Is Brian suggesting one ‘sods off’ to Catholic Culture ? One could NEVER desert Cranmer, let it be known…)

          • Uncle Brian

            No, no, Inspector, by no means. Just drawing your attention to something I thought you might not have seen yet. On the primacy of Cranmer, I’m with you all the way.

          • The Inspector General

            Brian, the Inspector has arranged a plenary indulgence for you. Go in peace, my son…

          • The Inspector General

            By the way, the Indulgence. That will be thirty bob :->

          • Uncle Brian

            And cheap at the price, Inspector. It’s worth every penny.

        • CliveM

          So Lib Dems!!

      • SidneyDeane

        Who?

        • The Inspector General

          One suspects mainly former Lib Dem supporters. The way these people go on about being let down, you’d think they’d been {AHEM} ‘man raped’.

  • Malcolm Smith

    May I humbling suggest that the first thing Christian MPs should do is show a bit of the prime virtue, courage and cross the floor, instead of voting for the party consensus. All too often, all they do is argue the Christian case in the party room. That’s not good enough. If the vote goes against them in the party room, the response should be: “Just the same, I will vote the other way on the floor.” If they stick together, they can’t all be expelled. If governments discovered that Christians will always vote against immoral laws, even to the extent of voting with the opposition, they will stop proposing immoral laws.

    • Or stop putting them forward as Parliamentary candidates.

  • sarky

    We talk about politicians like we think they make a difference. They dont. This is because we are ruled by big business and stock markets. Ever wandered why despite changes in government, nothing ever really changes???? You want to make a difference?? Then get into the boadrooms and trading floors.

    • You have a point, Sarky.

      • carl jacobs

        Re: You have a point, Sarky

        I always knew you were a Leftist, Jack. I bet you are wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt at this very moment…

        • Not at all, Carl. Jack left his Marxism behind many years ago. He has told you he is neither ‘left’ nor ‘right’.
          Sarky does have a point. Ever heard of the IMF? Of the G8? Global capitalism and our world financial systems have considerable control over our lives. Look at the way they constrain the actions of nation states. Granted, they do not pass laws pertaining to morality. Yet, look at their impact on everyday life. The ‘market’ needs a flexible workforce of both sexes. The ‘culture’ adjusts away from family life, redefines the role of women and men, devalues childbirth and legitimises contraception and abortion. The state moves increasingly into surrogate parenting and providing the welfare needed to support families because employment cannot. Institutions like the Church have to be weakened too or brought on-board.
          Jack learned this from Marxism: the economic sub-structure of a society has to be in harmony with the cultural super-structure. It has a biblical basis too -except the Judeo-Christian way is to place the culture above the economy and have it shaped according to the known Will of God. Where Jack departs from Marx is the degree of ‘determination’ by the economy. He believes it is about face at the moment. However, like Marx, he can also recognise there will be tension between the two and one can detect certain points of ‘crisis’ and conflict. Unlike Marx, Jack sees it as spiritual warfare and not class warfare and one in which Christianity can and must play a role.
          What’s so dangerous today is that the ‘left’ are united with the needs of the market. It suits our economy, at the moment, to undermine traditional family life. The left-libertarians, feminists, socialists are having a field day.
          So, yes Sarky has a point.
          And, no, Jack is not a leftist.

          • carl jacobs

            Well that sure convinced me. You can sing the Internationale in three languages, can’t you.

          • Lol …. no, just in Latin. Plain song version.

            You’re ex-military – and an engineer to boot. Not forgetting you’re an American. How could you understand such things?

    • Your not wrong there Sarky.
      Keiser Report: Unequal Justice System E673

      In part two from 12:20 with Dr Bob Gill and Peter Bach, a discussion
      about the privatisation of the NHS and TTIP which hands over our
      sovereignty to global corporations. Where does UKIP stand on TTIP?
      Hopefully against it. As Max says they would be swapping the EU
      governing body for another, that of the corporates, mainly American.

    • Anna055

      Yup – I think you have a point too. – I’ve never read any Marxist books (see Happy Jack below), nor any political books in fact apart from the odd biography, but I see in Jesus statement that “the love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil” pretty much the same as what your comment says.

  • Che Yeoh

    I think Raymond Chandler sums up what a politician should be (although the quote wasn’t about politicians)

    “down these mean streets a man must go who is not
    himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. He is the hero; he is
    everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an
    unusual man. He must be a man of
    honor—by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and
    certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a
    good enough man for any world.’

    Should Christians go into politics? Of course they should. There is no point carping from the sidelines about truth and justice and not actually joining in the fight. I think that this is the flip side of the parable of the talents; Christ is saying, ‘Don’t stay on the sidelines away from the action. Take risks and if you do it in faith it will pay dividends.’ There is no place to hide from moral peril; no matter what course you take in life you will always be faced with moral choices. A just person in public office can do a great deal of good. It’s worth taking the risk.

  • Nigell

    The Catholic bishops conference has run a parliamentary and public policy internship scheme for over ten years, I am surprised none of the other churches has done something similar.

  • Uncle Brian

    carl jacobs

    A “comprehensive rout”, it says here. And yet it was only the other day, it seems, that the pundits were solemnly assuring us that the Republican Party was over and done with, as dead as John Cleese’s parrot. Congratulations again, Carl!

    In Tuesday’s comprehensive rout, Republicans won in places where Democrats were favoured, taking a Senate race in North Carolina, pulled out victories where the going was tough, like a Senate battle in Kansas, and swept a number of governors’ races in states where Democrats were favoured, including Obama’s home state of Illinois.

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/11/05/uk-usa-elections-idUKKBN0IO1OC20141105

    • carl jacobs

      I just looked outside and evidently…

      It is morning In America. 🙂

      It’s been a long time since I voted for someone who actually won.

  • IanCad

    Gillan, you wrote:

    “–but if politics is avoided because of the perception that it is a dirty place where it is impossible to stay true to your faith and beliefs,then Christians will be left shouting from the wings as big decisions are made that affect us all.”

    As one who is all for the total separation of church and state I would not go so far as to suggest that Christians should completely steer clear of the squalid business of politics.

    My concern is that a UK equivalant of the Moral Majority should emerge. It is hard, when among like minded individuals, to resist the temptation to flex muscles.

    I suppose any fears along those lines could be put to rest for the reason we live in a post Christian land. Perhaps the worst we can expect is a Moral Minority.

  • SidneyDeane

    Not sure this will have much political force given recent polls showing that more than half of the British public thinks religion does more harm than good. A pleasing, if not unsurprising result I must say.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/11208845/Half-of-Britons-think-religion-does-more-harm-than-good.html

    • carl jacobs

      more than half of the British public thinks religion does more harm than good

      This is:

      1. Humorous, since most concepts of right and wrong in the West are sourced in Christianity and are incomprehensible in its absence.

      2. Curious, since the rejection is paired with a desire to maintain Christian culture. Perhaps there is some thought to maintain the ethic without the supernatural foundation that so offends modern man. See 1.

      3. Impotent, because though men may be stiff-necked, they are utterly powerless to remove God’s sovereign presence.

      4. Non-specific, because it is based upon an unstated definition of harm. Let’s investigate, shall we? What unique harm does religion inflict? “Why, it makes exclusive truth claims.” (So does everyone else.) “It tries to impose its concept of morality on me.” (Yes, so does everyone else. Check out those ‘hate speech’ laws.) “IT WILL IMPOSE IRRATIONAL LIMITS ON MY SOVEREIGN AUTONOMUS BEHAVIOR.”

      Yes, we have finally gotten around to the real issue. It’s that word ‘irrational.’ Religion is bad because it presumes ‘irrational’ things that ‘rational’ modern man rejects. Specifically, that refers to the assertion that man is subject to any overarching moral standard external to his own authority. Any such thought is ‘irrational.’

      So what is ‘rational’ moral behavior? Well, we can’t say. Not with any authority. But it has something to do with freedom… except when men shouldn’t be free to act. And we know the difference according to… something. Empathy. What we had for dinner last night. How much lubricant is left in the bottle. Take your pick.

      • CliveM

        Carl

        As all religions are now given equal value and status the results are unsurprising. We have all seen the events in the ME, where the religion of peace has slaughtered its way across Iraq and Syria. For the average ‘man in the street’ told that all religions are the same it is hardly surprising he has decided that ‘religious’ people are less moral. As some in the Church also play this ‘all faiths are equal’ game, one hopes they wake up to the damage they are causing.

        Fat chance!

    • yes I’m with you Sidney – who are they to meddle with sex selective abortion, slavery or sex trafficking! busybodies!

  • David

    Too many Christians of ability are introverted, looking inward with their faith. They should look more outwardly, identifying opportunities to demonstrate how the practical application of their faith does indeed increase “the common good”. Yes certainly we need more virtuous Christians active in the public square including in party politics.