Show Up
Democracy

Show Up: we need God's vision for the future of politics

 

Just in case anyone wasn’t paying attention to Twitter yesterday, Christians in Politics – which is the umbrella group of Christians on the Left, the Conservative Christian Fellowship and the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum and backed by the Bible Society – has launched a potentially significant campaign entitled Show Up. Its purpose is to encourage positive Christian engagement in the run-up to, and beyond, the 2015 General Election. It ‘s not short of significant partners either, with the likes of the Church of England, Salvation Army, Evangelical Alliance, Christian Aid, Tearfund, Open Doors and plenty more giving their support to it. This ought to make it a key focal point of engagement for Christians in the run-up to May.

So what’s the big idea? What does the ‘positive engagement’ that Show Up is promoting look like?

What Show Up comes down to is saying make sure you vote in May but don’t ignore politics for the other four years, 11 months and 20 days before the general election after that. Christians really should be getting stuck in somewhere, whether it be at a local community or national level, and bringing God’s kingdom values with them.

Is this a sufficiently big idea that will catch people’s imaginations? Well, for the regular readers of this blog, it’s probably not going to make much difference. The fact that you’re reading this right now suggests that you care about politics already. The issue is not with convincing the sort of person who already takes an interest in these matters, but the hordes of Christians who (sadly) have no idea that Archbishop Cranmer is blogging despite having been burnt to death in 1556. Winning over the disengaged is a much tougher job.

Christians in Politics have released a video to accompany the launch and you can make up your own mind if it’s going to inspire a new generation of Christians to get their boots dirty it the muddy field of politics:

There is something paradoxical in the attitude of many Christians to political engagement. Whether they are consciously aware of it or not, Christians are more political than your average member of the public. They are far more likely to vote, give money to charity, campaign on specific issues, demonstrate compassion through action and have an awareness of injustice and inequality on a global level. At the same time, most are just as disillusioned with, and frankly apathetic towards, the political system in this country as anyone else. To have anything to do with party politics is highly irregular and best avoided.

Somewhere down the line, churches lost sight of the fact that the Conservatives, Labour and LibDems can all find strong Christian ties to their formation. At times in the past, Christians have been the driving force behind party politics. William Wilberforce is well regarded as a great Christian who dedicated his life to destroying the slave trade. But he could only achieve this because he was an active participant in the political process, often supporting the Tories but more often collaborating with the Whigs.

Wilberforce had a God-given vision, and when we see Christian movements come to life and bring about change it is invariably down to the vision that inspires them. One that is happening right now is the foodbank movement: an unintended consequence for those who are volunteering is that they are becoming more politically aware and vocal. They understand that without political involvement they can only do so much to change the situation that is causing so many people to show up at their doors. This exposure to the realities of poverty will most likely draw far more Christians into politics than any sermons or videos.

The Show Up campaign is just beginning its journey. It is serving an important purpose, but it needs to sell a vision that will capture the imagination if it is to make a significant difference. Something like this:

In Krish Kandiah’s Just Politics, written for the 2010 election, Andy Flannagan, one of the directors of Christians in Politics and also Director of Christians on the Left, set out his vision for how young Christians would be engaging in politics in 2020. Its rousing message provides the sort of inspiration that our churches need to hear:

Youth work in churches is missional. Young people are continually serving their communities. They understand that this is a vital part of the discipleship deal, rather than a fun summer extra. This engagement with their friends and community is breaking their hearts and forcing them to their knees. It is also highlighting where broken lives are a product of a broken society, so action is required not simply to mend individual lives but to mend the context in which they attempt to grow.

Young people are at the leading edge of an eschatological shift that has spread to the whole church. They see themselves as partners in God’s restoration and redemption of all things. They see themselves as agents of the kingdom in the here and now. At youth gatherings they are commissioned to bring heaven on earth, rather than cajoled into buying an escape ticket for heaven. They are ruthless in their desire for justice and righteousness to burst forth in schools, supermarkets, youth clubs and the internet. They refuse the old ‘either/or’ of denominational and ecclesiological boundaries in favour of ‘both/and’. They are just as comfortable lobbying a supermarket to stock fairly traded goods as they are praying for miraculous healings in the aisles of the same supermarket. They are just as comfortable speaking in the town hall as a local councillor as they are speaking in tongues in a brightly coloured prayer room.

Thus local Conservatives, Liberal Democrat and Labour branches are flooded with young Christians who always hold the kingdom above any political ideology, yet realise they need to find a common cause, to engage and debate. They are building relationships that don’t allow them to be pigeon-holed as ‘crazy people’. They are listening and learning. They are serving and giving. they are blessing new friends, surprising them with gifts of fairly traded chocolate. They are invaluable because they turn up on time for meetings and they do what they say they will do before the next meeting. People can see the evidence of ‘the yeast working through the dough’ (see Matt 13:33) because there is a renewed integrity and enthusiasm about politics. They refuse to make politics about personality, or abuse people just because they are from ‘the other side’. They campaign and make their case on the doorstep with a smile and a listening ear, This exposure to the reality of people’s lives breaks their hearts and inspires much prayer as they walk around estates and suburbs.

It is as normal for a Christian young person to be pursuing a life in politics, as it is for them to aspire to be a worship leader. This calling is being affirmed and given space to grow. People are astounded that MPs are giving away so much of their money to good causes. The days when they were claiming expenses for garden gnomes are long forgotten.

Worldwide attention is focused on Westminster because MPs are being miraculously healed in the corridors of power and legislation that ‘Speak[s] up for those who cannot speak for themselves (Prov 31:8) is being enacted.

Looking back, the twenty-somethings of the ‘roaring twenties’ realise that everything shifted when young people were encouraged to see politics as mission. When they put politics in the ‘mission’ part of their brains and hearts, they started to understand. In the same way that they would encourage, pray for, emulate, visit and support a ‘missionary’, they began to act like that towards those whose mission field was politics. It also changed when politics was presented as something exciting, countercultural and subversive, rather than the maintenance of the Establishment; just people serving people, rather than themselves.

There is little doubt that our political system is not functioning as effectively as it could or should. When there is a belief that things can be better, and a vision that Christians are able to latch on to and act upon, then things can and will be made better. We need to Show Up, but, more importantly, we need to pray that God would instil a vision of hope for our politics that will cause His people to act with purpose and passion for the sake of this country and all those who live in it.

  • sarky

    This is all very well, but is not the real world. Christians are now in such a minority that they are going to be pretty much ineffective in causing a political shift. Christianty is now so fragmented and spends so much time arguing amongst itself (just need to read the comments on this blog) that the coming together that would make even the smallest difference now looks like a pipe dream.
    Events not beliefs are going to shape the political landscape. If you don’t believe me just keep an eye on the upcoming French elections.

    • Anton

      Events AND committed people with beliefs – otherwise there wouldn’t be anybody to vote for in the French elections. Only a small committed proportion of a population is needed to make a difference. As exaan example (not one I am arguing for), most revolutions are led by a small number of people and followers.

      Gillan Scott wrote a great sentence above: “Somewhere down the line, churches lost sight of the fact that the Conservatives, Labour and LibDems can all find strong Christian ties to their formation.” David Alton wrote a fine book about that. The three parties emphasised different complementary aspects of the gospel.

      • sarky

        But those days are long gone aren’t they?

        • Anton

          In my 2nd para, yes; in my 1st para, we cannot know what God will do.

          • sarky

            I think we do – nothing.

          • Anton

            If he continues to do nothing then it might be to facilitate His impending judgement. You pre-empt him if you wish but I’m not going to.

          • Nick

            Hold on. God can’t do nothing and then judge. That’s negligence. He has responsibilities towards us. He has a duty of care.

          • sarky

            Well he’s failed in that! Think we need a tribunal!!

          • Nick

            He would only turn the tables. We need a better plan – I suggest we all begin dialogue with him immediately.

          • Anton

            He has no duty of care whatsoever toward people who rebel against him – which is all of us, for who can say that they have not sinned – but you may be glad that out of commitment-love he has given us a way forward.

            “Duty of care” sounds like “human rights”, which don’t exist.

          • Nick

            If God does not have any responsibilities or conscience then I shall remove my free-will love for him out of protest.

          • Anton

            He has a conscience alright; you have one because you are in his image, although yours has become distorted. He has no responsibilities toward rebels but has offered them a way, at great cost to himself, to be reconciled with him. I urge you not to fling it in his face, for his sake and yours.

    • Linus

      The only overtly Christian politicians here in France, Christine Boutin and Jean-Frédéric Poisson, are figures of fun and exist on the margins of active politics, although the UMP party did support Poisson in his Rambouillet parliamentary constituency at the last election and he therefore sits in the Assemblée Nationale.

      Boutin on the other hand has become a form of national buffoon as she staggers from one gaffe to the next making herself and her faith look utterly ridiculous. Any credibility she had as a junior minister in François Fillon’s government evaporated overnight when it was revealed on national television during a debate on the morality of equal marriage (which of course she opposes, being a fervent Catholic), that her own 42 year marriage to her first cousin was invalid in the eyes of the Church because the appropriate dispensation that would have allowed her to marry within the forbidden degrees of affinity had never been procured. The revelation left her red-faced and spluttering in front of an television audience of several million and the hashtag #Boutincoucheavecsoncousin trended on Twitter for weeks following this public humiliation.

      And that’s the trouble with Christians in politics. In the main they’re crackpot extremists who just aren’t suited to the rough and tumble of political life. If you want to be taken seriously as a politician, join a secular party and keep quiet about your faith. The less said the better, because as soon as the public knows you’re a Christian, they’ll be on the lookout for any dishonesty or inconsistency and when they find it, which they will because politics is a dirty business where all sorts of unsavory compromises have to be made, God won’t save you from a public lynching and disgrace.

      • sarky

        Agreed.

        • Zanderz

          Cameron openly said he was a Christian on an interview for Classic FM a few days ago. This may confirm your piece, or it may be that no one actually believes him.

          • Anton

            Then let him behave like one instead of furthering “hate speech” laws that persecute Christians who peaceably read out in public lists of what the Bible says are sins while never touching the those who actually make incitement to violence inside mosques.

          • Do you know why Roman Catholicism believes Christians should let their faith inform their decisions in elections and as politicians?

      • Anton

        That, Linus, is the trouble with Christians in FRENCH politics. France’s tragedy is that the Catholics persecuted the evangelicals (ie Huguenots) out of the country in 1685 and then the seculars broke the Catholic church in France in the Revolution. So no Christians left except a tiny faithful minority of a minority and a few wackos. Not the same here.

        • Linus

          There are plenty of Christians here. But most of them seem to understand that you can’t govern a diverse country as a theocracy. Not without giving undue privilege to one religion and discriminating against everyone else.

          • Anton

            But some religions are intrinsically political, such as Roman Catholicism and Islam, whereas free-church evangelicalism isn’t. And politics is to do with the laws and government.

        • Are you overlooking the Catholic Church of France? It is estimated that between 51% and 88% of France’s population is Catholic – not all faithful and not all practicing.

          A sleeping giant, none the less. When 800,000 protested in Paris against homosexual marriage in 2013, not all protesters were Catholic but it is recognised it was the influence of the Church that brought so many out on to the streets. In terms of political parties we see more and more Catholic voters switching to the National Front.”

          And don’t the secularists and atheists whinge. Michel Canet, president of France’s Union of Secular Families is on record as saying :

          “The church is still too powerful in France. In the past it was powerful on the ground among the people because there were priests in each town and village. But now, because there are not as many, the hierarchy of the church tries to make up for this by having a presence in politics.

          “It tries to intervene in policy-making far too much. The Catholic Church forgets we are a secular country. It implies that we, the general public, are not rational, because we do not follow a faith or have a belief. The church should not give their opinions to politicians. That should only be done by the public.”

          Astonishing comment …………. .

          Johannes Robyn, president of the French Union of Atheists complained:

          “Our upbringing means that for many in France the Catholic Church – despite its despicable track record – remains an inescapable moral force. Everyone talks, without a hint of embarrassment, about our ‘Christian heritage’ as a good thing.”

          • Anton

            I said that seculars “broke” the Catholic church in France in the Revolution and I meant it. To be more specific, they broke its political power. Of that I am glad, for authentic Christianity is a dissenting movement called out from the world, ie the prevailing culture, which will everywhere be Satan’s plaything until Jesus Christ returns. At various times the prevailing culture from which the church is called out has been rabbinic-Jewish, Greek-pagan, Catholic (with the true church comprising groups like the Waldensians and the Lollards), and today is secular humanism, manifest in some places as communism.

            If France’s Catholics have given up hope of political power then they are probably more serious Christians for it, and I welcome their influence.

          • Hmmm … let’s say we differ on your analysis. The Church is called to engage with the culture and convert the world.

          • ” … for authentic Christianity is a dissenting movement called out from the world, ie the prevailing culture, which will everywhere be Satan’s plaything until Jesus Christ returns.”

            You think Jack would disagree with this statement? The question is how the Church resists this and brings as many people as possible to Christ and sustains and strengthens them.

            “At various times the prevailing culture from which the church is called out has been rabbinic-Jewish, Greek-pagan, Catholic (with the true church comprising groups like the Waldensians and the Lollards), and today is secular humanism, manifest in some places as communism.”

            This is much too generalised a statement to be meaningful. Can you put your hand on your heart and truthfully say you understand the theological divisions between Catholicism and Protestantism? That you are able to separate the differences from the historical narratives and political. social and economic forces that have complicated the Church’s history and clouded these divisions? We could discuss the Waldensians and Lollards as reactions to perceived corruptions in Rome as well as look at the scriptural merits of their theological objections to its teachings. We might agree on the former but not on the latter. They are two separate debates with different sources of ‘evidence’.

            “If France’s Catholics have given up hope of political power then they are probably more serious Christians for it, and I welcome their influence,”

            Power is not an end in itself. Your conclusion probably comes from your position that Rome’s corruption renders the Catholic Church’s theological teachings as means to promote its earthly power. That its theology was driven by a desire for control and, as a result, is inauthentic and unbiblical. This does not necessarily follow. One can hold to the truths of Catholicism whilst accepting its history is riddled with human error and with human sinfulness.

            French Catholics are embracing relative, secular values concerning marriage, divorce, homosexuality and abortion because Church teaching and its influence is waning. You believe this to be a good thing?

          • Anton

            “Can you put your hand on your heart and truthfully say you understand the theological divisions between Catholicism and Protestantism?”

            If told to answer Yes or No, then Yes – meaning, of course, that I believe I do. But there is such a thing as depth of understanding, and this caveat applies to everybody.

            The Waldenses and the Lollards match biblical criteria for the church – a peaceable minority (Matt 22:14) persecuted for their faith in Christ by ‘the world,’ meaning the culture in which they lived. Jesus warned his followers that the time was coming when whoever kills you will think that he is doing God a service (John 16:2). This was such a time. Most church historians regard the Lollards and Waldenses as fringe movements, but that is because historians focus on political movements whereas Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36).

            “Your conclusion probably comes from your position that Rome’s corruption renders its theological teachings as means to promote earthly power. That its theology is driven by a desire for control and, as a result, is inauthentic and unbiblical.”

            I believe that the interplay between theology and worldly power is much more subtle than that and not invariably one-way.

    • SidneyDeane

      Yes I really hope Marine Le Pen does well out of this.
      It really is long overdue that Europe fights back.
      Paris has also encouraged me to undergo a political shift – I now intend to vote UKIP in May, where once I would have voted Conservative. We are at war. Drastic measures and all that.

      • sarky

        There is a whiff of the 1930’s creeping in that I find very very scary. Since when did the far right become acceptable?

        • Nick

          When UKIP take over I will be there beside you sarky taking on the regime. They will all be chanting slogans in unison and you and I will raise our hands in quiet, peaceful, questioning resistance. They will kill us both of course.

          • Linus

            Come to France and swell the ranks of the secular guardians of true democracy.

            We even have M&S here now, so you won’t run short of chicken tikka masala or any other English “delicacies”.

          • Nick

            I would join the ranks of the secular guardians of true democracy if I didn’t believe that God is the source of all true freedom. ‘Do you hear the people sing?’

          • Linus

            I do hear the people sing. It starts like this:

            Allons enfants de la Patrie
            Le jour de gloire est arrivé !
            Contre nous de la tyrannie
            L’étendard sanglant est levé…

          • Anton

            And that ended with Napoleon declaring himself Emperor, didn’t it?

          • Linus

            I wonder why the English all seem to believe that history ended in the 19th century. I know you prefer the past to the present (and looking at the state of present-day Britain, who can blame you?) But here in France in the Common Era year of 2015, we have no emperor, we have no king, and we live in a peaceful and stable democratic republic.

            Perhaps you should stop watching those BBC costume dramas. I fear you may end up like poor old Mrs Proudie and start confusing fantasy with reality. It’s a common Christian failing.

          • Anton

            I wonder why the French all seem to believe that history began in 1789?

            Stable democratic republic? De Gaulle had a helicopter on standby in 1968, and there was nearly a rightwing army coup in 1961. Before WW1 France was like a gigantic waterwheel, doing a few revolutions per century.

          • Linus

            The history of democracy did begin in 1789. Until then all the world knew was autocracy or, in the case of the English, oligarchy with parliamentary window dressing.

            We know where we come from in France, and we don’t want to go back there. This is why we like the present and look forward to the future. In England on the other hand, you all seem to be obsessed with a mythical, idealized past and are trying your best to turn the clock back to a time that never really existed anyway. Quite how the people who rule you managed to make you forget how nasty, brutish and short your lives were before democracy finally filtered its way into your “constitution” (such as it is), I really don’t know. Perhaps it has something to do with the English love of colourful fairy stories. We’re much more in touch with the reality of our history here in France. Which is why so few of us believe in gods, spirits and other superstitious nonsense.

            But no matter, I’m happy enough to leave you to your romantic and highly coloured vision of a mythical past where the English were conquering heroes and everyone else, especially the French, were two dimensional cartoon villains. When you vote to leave the European Union, I’ll happily volunteer to help with bricking up our end of the Tunnel sous la Manche. Good riddance and good luck!

          • Anton

            “The history of democracy did begin in 1789.”

            Funny, then, that it’s discussed by Plato more than 2000 years earlier.

            Everybody was surprised when Burke came out against the French Revolution. Then he explained why: in the mouths of people who had no experience of these concepts as a living political tradition they were empty slogans and would simply lead to more bloodshed. As they did subsequent to his Reflections. The contrast with England, where these things had been developed without blood or fanfare since 1688, was stark. Voltaire bore witness, in his letters from England of the 1730s; he was struck by the greater liberty under the English system.

          • Linus

            Voltaire lived under the Ancien Régime, so of course he found the English system of government more libertarian.

            Had he lived 150 years later, I doubt he would have had the same opinion.

            The English believe their system is a great deal more democratic than it actually is. Your governments govern by Order in Council. Your citizenry passively accepts measures it passionately (well, as passionately as is possible for a cold-blooded Englishman) opposes. Hereditary privilege is alive and well and still participating in the parliamentary process. And the Scots, the Irish and the Welsh have parliaments, but not the English.

            How democratic is a country where a citizen in one area (Scotland for example) benefits from a totally free education and superior health care, whereas a citizen in another area (England, let’s say) has to take on significant debt in order to go to university or to receive certain types of expensive treatment?

          • Anton

            Linus,

            You not only don’t know when and where democracy began but what it means.

          • Linus

            Read your history books.

            Ancient Greek democracy had nothing to do with our concept of one person, one vote. In Athens, only citizens could vote. Women, slaves, foreigners, those who owned no land and those under the age of 20 were not citizens.

            Citizens only represented around 12% of the Athenian population. We would classify such a system as an oligarchy rather than a democracy.

            So yes, true democracy as we know it started in 1789. It did not start in ancient Greece.

          • Anton

            And where, pray, did they get the original idea from? There are many different forms of democracy but the concept began in Athens. You are correct that it was restricted to Athenian citizens. However the first French Revolutionary elections, in 1791, were restricted too – to taxpayers. (Not a dreadful idea in my opinion, but that’s another debate.) You will find that universal suffrage was advocated in the Putney debates during the English Civil War period 150 years before the French Revolution, and that various forms of democracy flourished even earlier in the internal governance of England’s colony in America that eventually became the United States. On both sides of the Atlantic the much-maligned Puritans were behind it, on the basis that all men are in the image of God.

            You tell me to read history books after obviously doing the same yourself once you had been informed that democracy started in ancient Greece not modern France!

          • And MacDonald’s restaurants too, Linus. Don’t forget McDonalds. Very, very popular with the native French diner these days..

            Marks and Spencer ‘Simply Food’ outlets are indeed flourishing in Paris. There has been strong demand from the locals local for traditional British delicatessens such as biscuits and jam and also the ready meals.

            Only problem is so many Frenchies are crowding in and, well, French hygiene is well known to be lax.

            Did you know the French are the number one weed smokers in Europe and also number one on alcohol-related fatal road crashes?

          • sarky

            Warm beer and pasties and I will be there! !

          • Linus

            Cold beer and croque monsieur is as far as we can stretch, I’m afraid. Take it or leave it.

          • sarky

            That’s why I’ll be standing behind you 😉

          • Nick

            Well, we have just been through a recession and there has been a sudden resurge in nationalism. I think even the Tories are using the union jack in the tree for their new logo (in their first party election broadcast at least). I’m not sure Farage has the charisma to mislead the whole country though.

        • Anton

          Since when was the moderate right redefined as the far right?

        • SidneyDeane

          When Islamists who want to destroy us infiltrated our societies.

          Mainstream parties and politicians cant even admit that the problem is Islam, they are that scared.

          They, like leftist so called liberals, think that placating violent muslims will save them. It won’t.

          Like I said, we are at war.

      • Linus

        There’s no room for expansion in Marine Le Pen’s support base. 25% of the vote is the most she can hope to command. A clear three quarters of the electorate rejects her message of xenophobia and 30s style autarky and will never vote for the FN.

        Of course with 25% of the vote she can still do a lot of harm. She’ll never be president of the Republic, but she may end up holding the balance of power. It remains to be seen whether either of the two main parties will form a coalition with her. They might decide to ally with each other just to exclude her from power. Only time will tell.

        Whatever happens, the most she can hope for is a minor ministry or two. But the most likely outcome is that she’ll find herself excluded from power altogether by some form of arrangement between the UMP and the PS. They’ll shut her out because they know how unstable she is. Just look at the tantrum she threw over the issue of the Republican March last Sunday. It should have been a moment of national unity. Indeed it was except for her. But because the government didn’t lay a red carpet down for her, she flounced off to the Gard in a fit of pique and refused to participate.

        Classic Le Pen behavior, unfortunately. They’re a volatile family. An autocratic father who treated his wife so badly she ran off and posed nude for Playboy to get her revenge on him. This is the background Marine Le Pen comes from and it’s given her a very peculiar outlook on life.

        • SidneyDeane

          I think it is common sense to limit muslim immigration.
          Do you know how much strain pakistanis and bangladeshi muslims put on our security services?
          Do you know the extent of Sweden’s problems with crime committed by muslims since they allowed them to come to their country?
          Do you know there is a rape epidemic in Norway and Sweden as a result of Muslim immigration.
          Are you aware of muslim paedophile rings all over the UK?

          • Linus

            Then you should vote for Ukip and hope they win.

            If they do, I hope you have deep pockets to pay for all the costs of sending these Muslims back home. Should only cost a few trillion pounds. Cheap at twice the price!

          • SidneyDeane

            I will be voting UKIP.

  • Richard B

    Gillan, thanks for interesting extract from Krish Kandiah, especially on eschatalogical shift, which is gaining ground as we’re beginning to see welcome changes breaking out, as prophesied!

  • Doctor Crackles

    Dear Gillan,

    The CofE, Christian Aid and Tearfund are all anti-Israel even supporting BDS. The Salvation Army and Evangelical Alliance are on the same path in my opinion.

    Attitude to Israel is the litmus test for the church. It is failing and brings judgment upon itself. It fails because it doesn’t understand God’s specific and prophetic work. The nations will be saved through Judah. While Judah itself doesn’t understand this fact, but the church should.

    The Show Up piece you linked gives an example of the church’s misunderstanding:

    “Similarly, civil rights leader Martin Luther King once explained that the Church often plays the Good Samaritan role on life’s roadside and works to meet people’s immediate needs. But King went on to warn that we rarely take the time to do the hard and perhaps more mundane work of going back to the Jericho road and working to identify and eliminate the factors that made the road a dangerous one to travel on in the first place. Who is going back to work out how to stop more people getting mugged? Could we improve the lighting, or increase the policing? Perhaps some more CCTV cameras are needed?”

    The Good Samaritan is a parable about a Jew travelling to Jericho. No Jew should go to Jericho, as it is cursed. He was travelling in the wrong direction! He was saved by a Samaritan – certainly a Hebrew and part of the lost sheep of the House of Israel. The parable is about the saving of wayward Judah by an estranged brother. It is prophetic before it is a general plea to help others and good works!!

    • Richard B

      Agree 110% on the Litmus test.
      Perhaps an ‘eschatological shift’ at the Lord’s hands will bring revelation and due repentance, for it’s said He’s calling the CoE out of ‘Lazarus’ cave’? That implies it would realise, like Lazarus did of his resurrected self, it is of Jewish origin – albeit once ‘grafted in’.

      • Dominic Stockford

        If he’s calling the CofE out of Lazarus’ grave then the CofE is by definition absolutely dead, and powerless to raise itself again. Which I would agree with!

        • Richard B

          Powerless to raise itself again

          Quite so Dominic. When a leader at a well-known retreat told me about this word (received in prayer-time) I was reminded of being by a parish church’s cemetery in the Midlands several years ago. I had the impression it reflected the state of the adjacent church – dead – and probably whole CoE.

          Yet, as seen within my few clergy/laity contacts who are certainly Spirit-filled, then Holy Spirit must be hovering over corporate ‘Lazarus’. But, I’ve just been told our local lady vicar thinks infant baptism is all that’s needed, and is thus not living supernaturally. And at a recent local clergy prayer meeting I could tell they’re nowhere near the place the leaders I’m associated with are moving in! (In fact, possibly cannot yet perceive/desire to be there in Christ?)

    • Athanasius

      Heretical, Promethean rubbish indicative of ignorant fundamentalism, the Wahabism of Christianity.

      • Doctor Crackles

        The presence of the tiny state of Israel must really send your head spinning.

        • Athanasius

          No, just the presence of heretical, Promethean rubbish.

          • Doctor Crackles

            I don’t believe you.

          • Athanasius

            I don’t care.

          • Doctor Crackles

            If you really didn’t care you wouldn’t be here.

            You are a supersessionist irritated that the impossible has happened and people like me may be at all pleased that God keeps His promises towards Jacob.

          • Athanasius

            By definition, the impossible can’t happen.

          • Doctor Crackles

            Surely you are aware of Matt 19:26?

          • Athanasius

            All things WHICH ARE POSSIBLE are possible with God. If something happens, clearly it’s not impossible. This is a theological argument analogous to angels dancing on a pin and has nothing to do with the right and wrong of anything.

          • Doctor Crackles

            I used impossible as a figure of speech, but it was certainly true for those back then.

            I’ll leave you with these words:

            “When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.”

          • carl jacobs

            Your assertion that the modern state of Israel is somehow the fulfillment of prophesy does not make it the fulfillment of prophesy. The Jewish religion completed its purpose when it brought forth the Messiah. It was irrevocably ended with the destruction of the Temple. The priesthood is gone. It cannot be reconstituted. There is no reason to reconstitute it since we have One High Priest.

            The Israeli state founded in 1948 is a state like any other. It has nothing to do with the fulfilment of end times prophesy – wooden Dispensationalist readings notwithstanding.

          • Doctor Crackles

            Carl,

            I do not believe that the state of Israel is the same thing as Israel as mentioned in scripture. I do not understand God’s purposes for the State, but strongly believe that he has a plan for physical Abraham and the land He gave to the patriarch.

            I just don’t care for dead and secular reading of scripture. Jesus was a Jew who spoke directly to Jews and came first as the saviour to his own people. He is the Jewish Messiah. I also believe in the fulfillment of prophecies towards the whole of Jacob, which I personally believe we get a glimmer of in parables such as the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son.

          • Anton

            I argued otherwise from the Bible above and I am not a dispensationalist; what is wrong with my arguments?

      • The Explorer

        ‘Promethean’ to me (via Aeschylus) has always meant having foresight (a good thing), being defiant of a divine tyrant, being creative and original. Combining it with ‘rubbish’ has me genuinely puzzled. What am I missing here?

        • Athanasius

          I’m referring to the sin of Prometheus, ie, stealing the fire of the gods. In the Catholic scholastic tradition, the word was used to indicate such sins as fortune telling and sometimes witchcraft, although fear of witches was something which only became a mania with the advent of Protestantism. The point is that Israel’s fundamentalist supporters are only concerned for that entity in as far as they see it as the harbinger of the apocalypse. They couldn’t care less otherwise. This is classic Prometheanism. In truth, we CANNOT know or anticipate the will of God; all we can know are His commandments, and stealing somebody else’s country counts as a major transgression.

          • The Explorer

            Thank you for such a clear reply. That all makes sense now. One query, Wasn’t ‘Malleus Maleficarum’ written by a Catholic?

          • Pubcrawler

            Witchcraft was predominantly tried in secular/civil courts, not ecclesiastical courts. For most of its history the church considered it a baseless superstition: no such thing as witchcraft, therefore no such thing as witches. It was during the chaos of the Reformation, when it got associated with Devil-worship and heresy, that things got a bit more heated.

          • Anton

            Er, the Malleus Maleficarum came out in 1487, thirty years BEFORE the Reformation. As for the fact that witchcraft was tried in secular courts, guilt was determined by the Inquisition using highly partial means after which the miscreant was handed over to be sentenced by the secular courts so that the Catholic church could make the hypocritical claim “Ecclesia non novit sanguinem” ie the church has not known blood. Except that it was churchmen who lobbied the authorities for the death penalty for witchcraft.

            Protestantism has blood on its hands too over this issue but let us be accurate.

          • In the interests of accuracy, it should be noted the Catholic Church condemned the ‘Malleus Maleficarum’. It was deemed to recommend unethical and illegal procedures as well as being inconsistent with Catholic doctrines of demonology.

            in the ‘Canon Episcopi# (900 AD) witchcraft and magic were defined as delusion and those who believed in such things were seen as having “been seduced by the Devil in dreams and visions into old pagan errors”. Until about 1400 it was rare for anyone to be accused of witchcraft but heresies had become a major problem within the Church by the 13th century and by the 15th century belief in witches was widely accepted in European society. Those convicted of witchcraft typically suffered penalties no harsher than public penances such as a day in the stocks.

            Persecution of ‘witches’ became brutal following the publication of the ‘Malleus Maleficarum’ and escalated during the Reformation era.

            (Jack knows these things because he consulted the text about his mother-in-law)

          • The Explorer

            Hope she doesn’t read this blog! (Or HJ’s wife.)

          • Who says she can read? That was unfair. Jack will whisper this in case a certain ‘Frenchie’ (the Urban dictionary gives different meanings to this word) is lurking.

            His mother-in-law has a French father. This explains a great deal and Jack concluded she is not a witch, just misguided. Actually, she is a lovely woman and Jack is very fond of her.

            … is that okay, Mrs Jack?

          • Anton

            Saying that persecution of alleged witches escalated during the Reformation era is a bit loaded; fairer to both sides of the Reformation to say that it escalated during the 16th century.

            When and in what document did the Catholic church condemn the Malleus Maleficarum please, Jack?

          • “In fact, the Catholic Church did not publish Malleus
            Maleficarum, and the Inquisition actually condemned its views.

            While writing, Kramer directed a trial at Innsbruck, where he investi­gated fifty-seven suspected witches. The bishop of Brixen became so disgusted by Kramer’s fascination with the witches’ sexual behavior that he stopped the trial, declaring that the devil was not in the witches but in Kramer. Malleus Maleficarum clearly reflected his own vulgar sexual preoccupations.

            In 1487, Kramer attempted to have the book approved by the Catholic faculty of Cologne University; they rejected it because its legal procedures were unethical and because Kramer’s demonology differed radically from the church’s
            understanding of Scripture. In response, Kramer forged a glowing letter of approval and claimed it came from them. The Inquisition condemned Kramer and his book in 1490.

            In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Malleus Maleficarum did become popular among secular and Protestant judges; until publication of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress in 1678, it was Europe’s second-most-popular book. Nevertheless, it wasn’t used in the Inquisition, but primarily in secular courts. Furthermore, although its recommendations were applied in some cases, there is little evidence that its procedures were followed throughout Europe. Its long-term popularity was likely due to its prurient appeal rather than in its usefulness in locating and trying witches.”

            http://www.thetruthaboutdavinci.com/faq/malleus-maleficarum.html

            “Probably the most disastrous episode was the publication a year or two later, by the same inquisitors, of the book “Malleus Maleficarum” (the hammer of witches). This work is divided into three parts, the first two of which deal with the reality of witchcraft as established by the Bible, etc., as well as its nature and horrors and the manner of dealing with it, while the third lays down practical rules for procedure whether the trial be conducted in an ecclesiastical or a secular court. There can be no doubt that the book, owing to its reproduction by the printing press, exercised great influence ….. ”

            http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15674a.htm

          • Anton

            Having read the Malleus Maleficarum in English I entirely agree with the opinion of the Bishop of Bixen and am glad to learn of his comment. The work was published with a preface comprising the papal bull Summis desiderantes affectibus which praised its authors, although that bull had been promulgated some years earlier so the praise was not based on what they had written in the Malleus Maleficarum. This bull also repeated as fact the wild confessions under torture of women accused of witchcraft – obviously made in hope of stopping the torture, which is not surprising when you learn of the interrogation methodology; details of a specific interrogation under torture can be read in this chapter of HC Lea’s History of the Inquisition of Spain:
            http://libro.uca.edu/lea3/6lea7.pdf

            I can find no reference to the Inquisition condemning the Malleus Maleficarum in 1490. According to a wiccan website on the subject (malleusmaleficarum.org) there is an online myth circulating that the Catholic church put the book on the Index (of prohibited books) in 1490; this website is aware that the Index did not come into being until many decades later. So perhaps the claim that the Malleus Maleficarum was condemned by the Inquisition in 1490 is untrue. Apparently the Spanish Inquisition in 1538 cautioned its members not to believe everything the Malleus said, even when it presented apparently firm evidence (E. Peters, co-author, in: Witchcraft and Magic in Europe: the Middle Ages’, p236, Bloomsbury Academic, 2001).

          • Thank you, Anton. We seem to be on the ‘same page’ on this one.

          • Anton

            I’d add that Gregory IX, who centralised and expanded the Inquisition, wrote a Bull Vox in Rama (1233) stating that devil-worship involved cats which led to their
            mass killing – probably hastening the spread of the Black Death by rats a few
            generations later.

          • The Inspector would have agreed with Gregory IX.

          • The Catholic Church condemned the Malleus Maleficarum It was written in 1486.

      • Anton

        “Heretical, Promethean rubbish indicative of ignorant fundamentalism, the Wahabism of Christianity.”

        You don’t agree with Doctor Crackles about Israel then, Athanasius contra mundum?

        God speaks of a return of the Jews to the Holy Land in unbelief followed by a return to faith in Ezekiel 36:24-6. This does not match the return from Babylon but accurately matches the present era.

        Zechariah (8:7-8) promises a future return in a prophecy given after the return from Babylon. (Ezra 5:1 & 6:14 state that Zechariah is prophesying in Jerusalem, and Zechariah 1:1 tells us that he was speaking after the exile.)

        Amos (9:13-15) spoke of a permanent return, which the return from Babylon proved not to be – so the prophecy does not refer to that return but is to date consistent with the present return.

        A second return is prophesied by Isaiah (11:11-12), assembling the people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth (not just Babylon). This accurately matches the present return and no other.

        All of these are based on the covenant with Abraham through Isaac and Jacob/Israel, which is not abrogated by the coming of Messiah Yeshua/Jesus Christ; only the Mosaic covenant is thereby rendered obsolete. If you think that the New Covenant outdates all of the Old Testament covenants then you should be pretty worried about bad weather, because Noah’s covenant promising no second flood would also have gone.

        So who are the Jews/Israel in post-crucifixion theology of the Abrahamic covenant? Paul answers this in Romans 11:28-29, saying that as far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account, but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. Paul is speaking here about Jews who reject the gospel, so the definition of Jewishness that he is using in this context is NOT a faith-based one. Through the centuries many gentile bloodlines have been mixed with the Jews’, but those bloodlines have always flowed into a people living in a recognised tradition that has continued unbroken, so that essentially all who identify themselves as Jews today include the promised line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob among their ancestors.

        So Zionism is biblical, as the Puritans understood very clearly. The Jews have divine right to political control of an area roughly matching Mandatory Palestine, although not to dispossess peaceable Arabs of residence on that land. But that’s another question.

    • magnolia

      The litmus test was clearly and undeniably stated by Jesus Christ and we have no authority to change it. He did not state it as “attitude to Israel”. He asked us to love God and our neighbour (and this included the Samaritan). Jesus was subverting a well tried formula in the story of the Good Samaritan and one which Jews of the time were well aware of, where the holy man and the official did wrong, but then….trumpets… the ordinary decent citizen was the one who did good. In his story it is the Samaritan.

      Indeed the rabid nationalist Judas messed up badly precisely because he didn’t see the wider picture. The whole of Acts is about the wider picture, and the vital importance of the gospel being spread to the Gentiles who were not to be seen as in any way, shape or form as inferior or less significant. St Paul and St Peter (“Rise Peter, kill and eat”) learnt this lesson despite their original bias.

      You seem to have forgotten. Both the Israeli and the Palestinian are our neighbour in this sense, and we are to make peace, not take sides in war.

      • Doctor Crackles

        Magnolia,

        Then you understand these words from Romans 1:

        “I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.”

        • magnolia

          Yes, I have no problem with that at all, but maybe you are reading in something which is not there? I completely don’t see what there is to dispute. Of course “life from the dead” is great, and of course the more “fulness” the better, the more followers of Christ the better, but none of that contradicts the thrust of Acts, nor does it justify all kinds of prophetic interpretations that are of specious provenance and have been foisted upon somewhat credulous Christians who have thrown the traditional tried, tested, and notably sane amillenialist position of ALL mainstream denominations agreed over centuries to the winds to espouse crazy dispensationalist theories.

          It comes to something when Bush is reputed to have said to Chirac that he went to war with Iraq to fight “Gog and Magog”. First off it is not how Ezekiel was written. Secondly if it were geographically it would be Libya, not Iraq, nor Russia, which frequently suffers also from this loony handle.

          We need Christians in politics but God save us from dispensationalists, neocons, and those who, for a variety of purposes, encourage these illiterate misreadings.

          • Doctor Crackles

            I see so-called Christian organisations falling over themselves to attack the state of Israel, while at the same time interpreting their bibles in the most secular way possible and emptying it of any prophetic meaning.

            The prophecies are still there and some waiting for fulfillment. That this belief should be called ‘ignorant fundamentalism’ and ‘Wahabism’ on these pages is very sad.

            How would old Simeon be treated today? Given short-shrift no doubt. Enjoy these wonderful words from the Nunc Dimittis:

            “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace : according to thy word.For mine eyes have seen : thy salvation,Which thou hast prepared : before the face of all people;To be a light to lighten the Gentiles : and to be the glory of thy people Israel.”

          • magnolia

            Of course there are some prophecies to be fulfilled. But sometimes texts are wrongly understood as prophecies, not least due to misunderstandings about Hebrew verbs, mistranslations, geographical ignorance, and mistaking general principles for actual living people.

            You say that it is “very sad” that an emphasis on biblical prophecy should be called “ignorant fundamentalism” but isn’t it precisely very sad that so many deformed babies have been born in Iraq, and it has been bombed back to the Stone Age in parts, after all those military, but mostly civilian casualties due in part (how large no one knows) to some dolt miscomprehending Ezekiel?

            I find it gruesome beyond measure, and there is the real threat of the same happening to Russia, partly supported by people being misled.

          • Doctor Crackles

            Bit of a straw man argument imo. I believe in biblical prophecy, but I am not straining at their fulfillment or supporting the raising of armies to do this.

          • No, but some might be. And that’s the concern.

          • carl jacobs

            Magnolia

            due in part (how large no one knows) to some dolt miscomprehending Ezekiel?

            I asked you to substantiate this statement, and you did not do so. Has it therefore become received wisdom? You would have to see the quote in context to understand it, assuming it was ever said. But the quote doesn’t matter anyways. The US didn’t go to war over GWBs understanding of Ezekiel. That’s a canard with no basis in fact. The US went to war to:

            1. Mitigate the risk of a nuclear hegemon in the Middle East.
            2. Preempt the possibility of an Israeli attack.
            3. Secure the oil fields.
            4. Try to create a modern Islamic state along Western lines.

            Ezekiel had nothing to do with it. The answer to your question “How much?” is “None at all.”

          • A “preventative war”, not a just war, based on flimsy evidence and intended to promote American self interest.

          • magnolia

            Unlikely Chirac lied in this instance I think. No one was claiming it as the only motive, nor even necessarily a main one, even if presented as such when apparently attempting to entice France into supporting the pre-emptive war of aggression.

          • carl jacobs

            magnolia

            I haven’t seen a primary source that proves this quote was ever made. It sounds apocryphal to me. One of those stories that floats around the Internet as secondary and tertiary sources incestuously quote each other to prove its existence.

          • magnolia

            No, not floating around the internet, but from a published book! And from mainstream media, Andrew Brown quotes the story he has heard, and states that he thinks the sources are good. Later the book is published. When sources are iffy journalists gloss over the fact, and don’t publicly ask for further sources,.

            Chirac is the best primary source that can be expected, and the fact that he had to send out for an academic on Ezekiel as puzzled by the reference, as most French RCs would be, it not being their culture, adds credibility to the story I think.

          • carl jacobs

            Jack

            Yeah, a preventative war – sort of like the Six Day War. Or should the Israelis have waited? With all the attendant risks. And the specter of significantly increased casualties, greater destruction, and potential defeat. All to satisfy the qualms of some insular philosophe who inhabits a university office far away from the danger. Whose closest connection to war is the learned 36-volume tome he just wrote of Just War Doctrine.

          • Bit techy there, Carl. Jack’s comment was not about the Six Day War.

            Didn’t the Straits of Tiran have something to do with that? Israel made declarations that any closure of the Straits would be considered an act of war, or justification for war. Thereafter matters escalated. Egypt had carried out the following actions before Israel struck:

            – announced a policy of hostility to Israel;
            – put its military forces on maximum alert;
            – expelled the UN Emergency force from the Sinai border area;
            – strengthened its forces on the border with Israel;
            – announced the closure of the Straits of Tiran to Israeli ships; and
            – formed mutual support treaties with Iraq, Jordan and Syria.

            That level of threat might provide a moral justification for attack on these grounds:

            – an obvious intention to do injury;
            – active preparations that turn that intention into a positive danger; and
            – a situation in which the risk of defeat will be greatly increased if the fight is delayed

            What grounds did Bush have? No evidence at all. You are not comparing like with like.

            .

          • carl jacobs

            Jack

            I see. So your previous unqualified judgment (in which you contrasted the general category of Just War with the general category of Preventative War) and I quote …

            A “preventative war”, not a just war

            … was in fact qualified by some unstated prudential unquantified assessment of threat. You consider some preventative wars just according to some determination that might as well be called “Approval by Jack.” Have I got this right?

            Addendum: And, no, it wasn’t touchy. I was simply expressing my contempt for the intellectuals who take these ideas seriously. They know nothing of the profession. They know nothing of the craft. They risk none of the consequences of their ideas. They live in isolated towers and debate useless syllogisms.

          • Carl, these theologians and ethicists are not warriors and military strategic planners, granted. Then, soldiers are not theologians. You must respect these areas of competence.
            Ethics and philosophy are valid disciplines. They’re not your ‘thing’, nor Jack’s. However, the world would be a better place if they were given greater recognition and were considered before action. The Alberts and Old Jims of this life do have a place at the table – in economics, social policy, criminal justice and national defence. And we learn from the mistakes we make by such reflection.
            The Israelis had substantial and objective evidence war was being prepared and inaction would have made defeat inevitable. Jack reminds you he said the circumstances facing them “might provide a moral justification for attack”. What he was attempting to illustrate was the differences between the situations.

          • A wise, spiritual Christian once advised Jack to be cautious about prophecy and how we understand it.

            Jesus’ death was foretold and was necessary for God’s plan of redemption for mankind. However, those who actively participated in realising the fulfilment of this prophecy participated in evil through free will. God brought good from this evil, as He always does.

            One shouldn’t ‘second guess’ God. All we can do is consider the justice and injustice in situations we face and endeavour to do the right thing and live by Christian standards. God’s plan, whatever it is, and however He has determined it will be fulfilled, is for Him to know.

            We should deal with Israel according to God’s law of right and wrong conduct, not according to what we think the ‘outcome’ may be.

          • Doctor Crackles

            I agree with you about not doing God’s work for him so to speak. I do not spend my days musing about prophecy, but scripture is full of prophetic passages, which can be difficult to understand and can point to events yet to be fulfilled. Christians usually ignore this element of scripture and instead look for the utilitarian approach and pick passages which best support some desirable human activity. This is my problem with the ‘Show Up’ approach. That those supporters of ‘Show Up’ downplay Jesus’s Jewish mission and dismiss the prophetic element in scripture seek to delegitimise the state of Israel is not lost on me.

          • Jack’s view on Israel is ‘agnostic’, Dr Cackles. He tries to understand what the current politics are and what approaches might achieve peace and a just settlement for all concerned – Palestinians and Israelis.

            There can be no doubt that God wants us to behave with love and compassion towards our brothers and sisters in Christ and also towards our neighbours, who may not have yet entered His Kingdom. He also wants us, as His disciples, to share the Good News – in word and in deed.

          • Doctor Crackles

            Now, now Jack, the name is Crackles and not Cackles. I make the effort to get your name right, so please repay the courtesy 🙂

          • Apologies Dr Crackles, the misspelling of the name was a genuine error.

            No one is suggesting you side with evil in calling for the annihilation of the Jews or of Israel. Just that you consider the situation without preconceived ideas based on disputable interpretations of prophecy.

          • carl jacobs

            magnolia

            Bush is reputed to have said to Chirac

            Reputed to have said by whom? The Onion? I would be stunned if President Bush ever said that. It wouldn’t mean anything anyways, because the US had a long list of geostrategic reasons to fight that war. The US Cabinet was not sitting around discussing Gog and Magog in 2003. Decisions about war and peace aren’t made like that.

          • magnolia

            President Chirac, no less, in a book of interviews, confirms this.

          • carl jacobs

            Source?

          • magnolia

            “Si vous le repétéz, je démentirai…. ”
            is the name of the book, available at Amazon and no doubt many other good book stores. It does not in particular refer to this remark, but who knows, given the chance, of course, it might!

        • Richard B

          One and all – interesting to read your opinions on prophecy.

      • Nick

        “The litmus test was clearly and undeniably stated by Jesus Christ and we have no authority to change it. He did not state it as “attitude to Israel”. He asked us to love God and our neighbour (and this included the Samaritan).”

        You dare to speak sanity here!?!!

        • My good Nick, Cranmer is a blog with layers upon layers. Sanity is elusive and a worldly matter.

          Remember, there can be artfulness and order in seeming or actual insanity.

          “Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.”

    • What as odd take on a parable given in response to the question: ‘Who is my neighbour?’

      • Doctor Crackles

        Jack,

        Jesus was talking with an expert in the Law, Jew to Jew, so I think it misguided to leap to a humanistic understanding, however tempting that might be. Here a Samaritan is doing the work that the Jewish leaders should be doing. In fact if the religious leaders had done their job properly the man would not be walking to Jericho in the first place and certainly not the religious leaders. In the parable the priest and the Levite effectively condemned the man for his state while they themselves traveled the same road. The hypocrisy of the Pharisees?

        Knowing who the Samaritans were, why did Jesus select one? I believe that Ephraim and greater Israel has a positive part to play in events concerning the Jews.

        • Yes, well, Jack leaves you with your own interpretation. It is an odd one and sets you apart from 2000 years of traditional understanding.

          • Doctor Crackles

            Jack,

            Are you referring to the Augustine’s interpretation?

          • Is it Augustine’s?
            Jack was referring to the surface reading that Jesus was saying that even those we regard as enemies and ‘outsiders’ are, in the eyes of God, our neighbours and we have a duty of love towards them. There are other readings Jack is aware of suggesting the Samaritan represented Christ bringing the broken and injured into His Church.

          • Doctor Crackles

            Jack,

            Augustine’s allegorical understanding was dominant in the early church. It lost favour during the reformation. As a Catholic I assumed you knew of it?

            The surface reading as you describe is for God’s people, but it hard to understand superficially what the purpose of a Samaritan helping a Jew in those circumstances would be? Could the Samaritan have been a Roman? In your understanding I guess it makes no difference? I believe that as well as containing some prophetic element (granted in my opinion) that something very radical was being proposed by Jesus to this expert in the Law. Others will know whether the priest and Levite were wrong to do what they did in the context of Jewish understanding at that time. They were certainly a proud and prejudiced people. Jesus reveals the full spiritual understanding of God’s commandment in the action of a Samaritan dog. Kind of taking the teacher back past Moses to the faith we read about in Hebrews 11.

  • Martin

    Gillan

    Can’t say I’m interested in politics, none of the political parties are in any way even approaching Christian in their viewpoints. They all support immorality to some extent and I see Premier (not really) Christian Radio were referring to a Labour Party MP, who is openly ‘gay’, as a Christian when 1 Cor 6:9-11 demonstrates that cannot be the case. As for the organisations you mention, none are anywhere but on the outskirts of Christianity.

    Frankly the “Just Politics” piece is just nonsense. God is not going to restore all things for this World is destined for fire, to be replaced by a new Earth. Nor is it the Church’s mission to serve their communities. Of course it is “as normal for a Christian young person to be pursuing a life in politics, as it is for them to aspire to be a worship leader”, since neither is a Christian position. Indeed, the ‘worship leader’ is a distraction to the churches, akin to choirs and the like. Being a (male only) preacher of the gospel, on the other hand, is a good thing, but a thing to be approached with fear & trepidation.

    • carl jacobs

      Martin

      Indeed, the ‘worship leader’ is a distraction to the churches, akin to choirs and the like.

      That sounds just a slight bit legalistic. You aren’t one of those people who write 12,000 word essays railing against Pianos in church, are you? And do you have any Scriptural validation for the above assertion?

      • CliveM

        “That sounds just a slight bit legalistic.”

        :0) you think? As a comment that is so understated you could be English!!

        Apologies!

        • carl jacobs

          Clive

          To an American, that construction implies irony. So the sentence should be read “That is ridiculously legalistic.” You don’t have to worry about me being English. Understatement has never been one of my particular skills.

          Jack will be so proud.

          • CliveM

            As I’ve said before “and the pupil has become the master “.

            I think you no longer need his guidance!

          • carl jacobs

            Clive

            When have I ever needed Jack’s guidance? He needs my guidance. Someone needs to point him away from the darkness of Rome. And how is it that I, an American, know more about Soccer than he does? It’s shocking, actually.

          • CliveM

            We’ll I’m a rugby man, so you’ll know more about football then I do!

            Regards the Roman Church, I pray for him daily :0£

          • Er, no he doesn’t ….

            As little as you might know, you know more than Carl about football. For example, you got the name of the sport correct.

          • carl jacobs

            Jack

            I know you won’t want to hear this but you really must come to accept it. The English language is now under the jurisdiction of the US. There is American usage, and there is non standard usage. The fussy Oxford Deans and their dictionary are no more.

          • An American come-lately supporting a football team simply because it won The Premier League. In Britain there is a name for that.

          • carl jacobs

            Yeah, no. I knew ManU as the NY Yankees of the EPL. Since I despise the Yankees, I was bound to despise ManU. The logic is irrefutable. I picked Man City because it was the anti-ManU club. It was pure coincidence Man City turned out to be good.

          • The truth will out.

            “I picked Man City because it was the anti-ManU club”

            Manchester United transcends global capitalism. You clearly know little of what the club represents or stands for. Ownership by a group of American ‘carpet-baggers’ does not diminish it.

            You, on the other hand, have allowed this prejudice about an American Rounder’s team lead you to give proxy support to a club owned by a member of a repressive regime. Sheikh Mansour is the deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, Minister of Presidential Affairs and member of the ruling family of Abu Dhabi. He is the half brother of the current president of UAE.

            The team you support is owned by a man who’s family enforce Sharia law. Flogging is a legal punishment for offences such as adultery, premarital sex, drug abuse and prostitution. Rape victims are criminalised and imprisoned for reporting crimes. Torture with whips, electric cattle prods, wooden planks with protruding nails has been reported and increasingly people disappear.

            This is 2015 and you complain about the Catholic Church in the Medieval Age?

          • carl jacobs

            GASP! I REPENT IN DUST AND ASHES!

            OK, not really. The choice of a sports team is irrevocable, Jack. It’s like marriage except without divorce. Faithfulness unto death.

            That’s the Code of the Guy again.

          • “The choice of a sports team is irrevocable, Jack.”

            Ah, some morality then? Jack agrees. And just like marriage, one should chose wisely or suffer the consequences.

            There is an option of annulment if your commitment was founded on an invalid basis.

          • Anton

            Catholic annulment is divorce by another name, because Rome has long forbidden divorce and cannot admit that it has changed doctrine, because it must preserve its claim of inerrancy in doctrine. In mediaeval times you could get a de-facto divorce, if you were sick of your spouse, by doing enough research to show you were closer than 5th cousin to your spouse, as that was Rome’s stiffer prohibition than had been God’s in Mosaic Law (1st cousin). In practice in mediaeval times almost everybody was more closely related to their spouses (spice??) than that. The practice was nevertheless confined to the aristocracy because they could influence ecclesiastical decisions. (I am not claiming that this get-out was the rationale for the 5th-cousin regulation: merely saying it was an unwise regulation and subject to abuse.) Nowadays you can sometimes get a divorce (sorry, annulment) from Rome if you are able to convince your parish priest that your spouse never intended to be faithful. How times change!

            When reading the scriptures on the subject it must be kept in mind that marriage and divorce have been nationalised and/or ecclesified since the New Testament was written. In those days a couple declared *themselves* married (or divorced) and simply informed the authorities – who had to know so that they could administer laws relating to adultery, inheritance etc. Since then the State and/or church has moved to declare people married or divorced (or not).

            Where Jack and I probably agree – albeit for different theological reasons (Catholic tradition; some fairly complex scriptures) – is on remarriage after divorce. And that is where rubber hits road, because nobody can stop a couple separating, but laws about adultery and inheritance/legitimacy of offspring become relevant if one party wishes to remarry.

          • You want a debate on annulment? Have a scroll through Jack’s comments where he’s recently been is discussion about this ‘elsewhere’.

          • Anton

            Do give the web address!

          • Oh, he does, he does.

          • Jack delights in your progress, Grasshopper

          • carl jacobs

            Jack

            You see…

            Jack will be so proud.

            … That was ironic. Surprised you missed it. Or perhaps I am not.

          • And Jack’s reply wasn’t Grasshopper?

            So much to learn; so little time.

          • carl jacobs

            No. It wasn’t. This is just Jack obfuscating again,

          • Such impatience, Grasshopper.

          • Oh, and Carl, understatement is not irony – it’s restraint. There was ironic content but it was subsequent to the initial opening.

            A more effective ironic comment would have run along these lines:

            “That’s an interesting and somewhat unusual observation. Do you have a Scriptural reference in mind?”

          • carl jacobs

            Too bland and indirect for the context.

          • True …..

            “A flexible and liberal interpretation of the words of Scripture. Do you have a reference to support your position?”

        • :0) you think?

          A question worth asking. However, now we know Carl admires the Vulcans the real question is: ‘How do you think?’

          (Never apologise to a colonist for being English)

          • CliveM

            As a Scot, calling someone English isn’t necessarily a compliment!

          • You have potential, Grasshopper Jnr

          • Martin

            Clive

            A Scot calling me English is a compliment.

          • CliveM

            Martin part of a light hearted interchange and not to be taken seriously?

          • Martin

            Clive

            I’m a Calvinist, is anything not to be taken seriously?

          • CliveM

            LOL :0)

          • Martin

            😉

      • Martin

        Carl

        I recall being told how the organs were welcomed into churches because it ended the endless squabbling between musicians and the preacher. It’s called the regulatory principle & it keeps things like choirs & musicians under control. I prefer a piano to an organ as you can hear the notes better, but there is nothing wrong with singing a cappella. Indeed there is a sad lack of psalm singing in our churches.

        Of course, the real worship is listening to the preaching of the word, not the singing.

        • carl jacobs

          Martin

          OK. I agree with you that a Worship Leader is not per se a Christian Office, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good thing. Most churches have someone who functions in this role. As with choirs. They can add or subtract. They can be good but they are not essential. I just wanted to make sure you didn’t think they were inherently wrong. You mentioned the RPW so I am content that I understand.

          • Martin

            Carl

            Anything that distracts from the preaching is a bad thing.

    • Nick

      Hard-core.

      • Martin

        Nick

        Fundamental.

    • “God is not going to restore all things for this World is destined for fire, to be replaced by a new Earth.”

      Yeah, that’ll draw people to Christ wrapped in a message of hell, fire and damnation.

      “Nor is it the Church’s mission to serve their communities.”

      It is the Church’s mission to demonstrate God’s love and mercy which is received as a pure gift and is meant to be given to others as a gift too.

      • Martin

        HJ

        Why would we be seeking to draw them to Christ, that’s the Holy Spirit’s job. We are called to preach the gospel, which includes warning to flee from the wrath to come.

        We proclaim the gospel, we don’t give the grace of God. To proclaim is to demonstrate God’s mercy.

        • You don’t believe the Holy Spirit uses men and women to draw others to Christ? That witnessing to Christ involves more than reading the Gospel and proclaiming the good news? That this of itself will result in the predestined Elect being saved?

          “It takes but a little leaven to leaven the whole batch.”

          Christ Has No Body

          Christ has no body but yours,
          No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
          Yours are the eyes with which he looks
          Compassion on this world,
          Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
          Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
          Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
          Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
          Christ has no body now but yours,
          No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
          Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world.
          Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
          (Teresa of Avila)

          Print a copy of this prayer poem and carry it with you.

          • Martin

            HJ

            Of course God uses means, but that doesn’t altar the fact that He draws people, He applies the grace & He saves. We are called to proclaim the good news, that is all. And God will save His elect, whether men join in or no.

            As for the poem, that is heresy for God can make the stones underneath our feet proclaim the gospel. God is not limited by us.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Stand yourself then,if you really feel your local candidates offer so little.

      • Martin

        Dominic

        The political parties have made it nigh on impossible for any independent candidate to even stand, part of the corruption of the British political system

        • CliveM

          Martin

          Every time I vote the list on the ballot paper seems to get longer and longer. I see plenty of independents standing.

          I will admit that they have VERY little chance of being elected.

          • Martin

            Clive

            A great deal of money has to be raised to stand. And canvassing requires even more.

          • CliveM

            I understand that the electoral maybe recommending scrapping the deposit requirement. If the parties allow it……….?

          • Martin

            Clive

            Somehow I doubt they will.

    • Richard B

      ‘God is not going to restore’? The schedule for fulfilling prophecies is outside our ken, and even Jesus doesn’t know when Father will l say “Go!”, BUT:

      “He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything,
      as He promised long ago through His holy prophets.” Before that we are to
      “Repent and turn to God, so that (our) sins may be wiped out and that times of
      refreshing may come from the Lord and that He may send the Christ…(Acts 3: 21 & 19) We’ve had at least one of Father’s refreshing times, so….

      • Martin

        Richard

        Is not the creation of the new Heavens & Earth a restoration? The Earth itself will be burned up:

        But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. II Peter 3:10

        And a new Heaven and Earth will be created.

        • Richard B

          Apologies for delay Martin but been indisposed.:
          Is the creation of the new Heavens and Earth a restoration?
          No. By definition there’s difference between brand new and entirely different from before, and something already existent but in need of renovating, or returning to its original state.
          It’s natural to think the verses foretell a supernova or nuclear conflagration. But not necessarily so for Moses saw God in a ‘burning bush’ and Jesus baptises in Holy Spirit AND fire. I think the Greek at IIPeter3 implies the fire is a refining one.
          Of course we may speculate until the cows come home on how our seemingly contradictory verses harmonise.

          • Martin

            Richard

            I think the new Heavens and Earth are an entirely supernatural recreation. In the sense that the Creation existed once and had now been recreated it is a restoration.

          • Richard B

            Definitely supernatural, but I think we have to be careful in not allowing conjecture to split hairs between ‘new’ and ‘restoration’. (Better to split infinity! 🙂
            I see your point, especially if we’re both talking about getting to God’s purpose for Creation, and I strongly suspect He already has the new creation lined up for the next book beyond the back cover of the Bible.

          • Martin

            Richard

            Looking at Revelation 20 & 21 I don’t think there is a need for a new book. God will dwell with Man, the unity of Eden will be restored and mankind will be those whose gratitude to their Saviour is eternal. That’s why I think of it as a restoration rather than a new Creation.

  • Nick

    I wonder (if we believe in a gospel of grace) whether we should no more try to compel other Christians to become interested in politics than other Christians should compel us to be interested in crochet (both arguably affect everything). One Christian will be dismayed that another is not interested in pro-life issues and another Christian will be dismayed at that Christian for not being involved in the anti-arms trade battle.

    Christians in Politics in a way join with the political condescension towards those who are not politically enlightened – but you don’t need to be interested in politics to go to heaven. More to the point, you could watch the Disney channel your whole life and not watch any news and still go to heaven (and I would like to argue that anyone who has chosen only to watch the Disney channel has chosen what is better).

    I like that so many Christians are interested in politics but the danger in joining a political party is the same as Cardinal Wolsey’s great mistake: “If I had served God as diligently as I have done the King” (or UKIP or the Tories or Labour etc), “He would not have given me over in my grey hairs.”

    Just let other Christians be and learn and grow. Maybe we don’t need another conscience – we already have a million of those in the Christian community.

    • “More to the point, you could watch the Disney channel your whole life and not watch any news and still go to heaven … “

      This comes close to recommending a life of sloth or laziness.

      Sloth is sinful spiritual, physical or emotional apathy, neglecting what God has spoken and being inactive with what He has given us and calls us to do. Unless one enters a cloistered community, dedicating one’s life to prayer, a Christian is called upon to work in the world to further God’s plan.

      In the ‘Parable of the Five Talents’ Jesus calls the servant who hides his away a “base and slothful servant.”. The talents symbolise gifts and abilities that God has given to us and He expects us to “spend” or “invest” wisely.

      • Nick

        Somehow I fear that not too many people are going to take up my recommendation to only watch the Disney channel. And I fear that my secret plan to tempt people into a life of laziness may have been thwarted yet again.

        • Was it a ruse? Well, hopefully it will work on protestants thus leaving the Catholic vote and politicians with greater influence. Just need a touch more discipline in the Church.

          • Nick

            No ruse intended. If you’re not going to get into crochet that is your responsibility and between you and God.

          • The Readicut Rugs keep me busy ….

  • carl jacobs

    Get involved or not as you see fit. There is no compulsion of conscience. Either is a valid choice. A few comments:

    1. It is your civic responsibility to vote regardless of the choice.
    2. Don’t mistake politics for the Gospel.
    3. Don’t confound your political opinions with Christian truth.

    • And:

      4. Always give prior prudential consideration to the social teachings of the Catholic Church.

      (This way 1, 2 and 3 become integrated)

      • carl jacobs

        I have given the teachings of the RCC all the consideration they deserve.

        • Yes, Jack knows this but the question is: is your ignorance of Catholicism culpable or invincible?

    • Dominic Stockford

      I have a concern with ‘1’. If all the choices are individuals I know to believe and act contrary to Christian truth then it would simply be wrong to vote for one of them, because I am not going to vote for the ‘least worst’. I cannot simply put myself up to be voted for if I think that may happen, but would be left unable to vote.

      • carl jacobs

        Dominic

        I undestand your point. I think however that the choices offered are within the Providence of God and we exercise our franchise within that Providence as well. As a citizen I am obligated to exercise that franchise just as I am obligated to serve on a jury or fight in the army.

    • Phil R

      “It is your civic responsibility to vote regardless of the choice”

      I have never voted in a national election.

      I don’t regard it as my civic duty.

      • One trusts then you don’t complain about the outcome.

        • Phil R

          Recently at least, those that are chosen by a manipulated electorate, do not do any of the things the people “elected” them to do.

          So yes I do point this out

      • sarky

        I see it as a moral duty. Many good men laid down their lives for my vote and I for one will not dishonour their memory by not using it.

        • Phil R

          Would those men by happy with what we have done with that freedom and the society we have created worshiping the god of self?

          BTW. Our freedoms that we are currently losing did not become law under democracy.

          • sarky

            The truth is they fought for that freedom, whatever we have done with it. You are still able to comment on this blog, attend your church and worship you god. Not voting is stepping on to a very slippery slope.

          • Phil R

            The reality is that participating has become a slippery slope.

            When I was a kid. There was a TV show four lads shared a house. The joke was that Neil always got to do the nasty jobs as they voted on who does what. The joke was “don’t you believe in democracy Neil”?

      • CliveM

        So what form of Government do you want and how would you ensure it has the public good as it’s main priority?

        • Phil R

          The problem with Democracy is that 51% are able to trample on the views of 49% with impunity and they feel a clear conscience.

          It is an Atheistic construction. There is no higher power guiding your actions or authority that you have to consider.

          They don’t need to care about the 49% because they “won” so their view passes the only test that matters

          • CliveM

            Yes it’s called an elective dictatorship. Even the Athenians saw this as a potential problem, however I’m not sure what you feel the alternative should be?

          • Phil R

            Council of Elders?

            20 years ago I worked on Hong Kong. It was a fantastic place to live and work. You were safe, high living standards, the rule of law was respected, little corruption (remarkable considering the culture). A fantastic place to bring up my young family.

            No democracy though and nobody cared it seemed.

          • CliveM

            Well a council of elders might work for a town council ( at most) but to run a country? How would they be selected? Remember Hong King was run as a Colony, are you suggesting the same for the UK?

          • Phil R

            “Hong King was run as a Colony, are you suggesting the same for the UK”

            Hong Kong had and still has a Legislative Council. Certain groups could nominate delegates to this council.

            I don’t know. It worked. In a few years HK coped with massive immigration and many went from rags to riches. Quite a number at our Church in HK came over in the 1960s illegally with just a shirt on their backs and were comfortably off sending their children to UK public schools and members of the Jockey Club etc.

            How many manage that in Britain?

            My view is that democracy has passed it sell by date. As Christians we should not be at all concerned at its demise.

  • Inspector General

    Being a perennial interestee in politics is rather like whether you’re interested in sport. You either are or you’re not. However, there is great scope here to focus the Christians who are to fly the flag better, or even at all. Who knows, had Cameron affiliated himself to a Christian umbrella group, he might have seen the problem with championing gay marriage. Of course, one is rather unsure if Cameron really is a Christian, or knows what it means to be a Christian, or whether he is just another political Billy Liar, of whom there are many. Far too many…

  • Inspector General

    Slightly off topic, but a humorous thought from the Inspector he’d like to share with you…

    Next month is the time when the Conservative old guard musters to fight the next election at constituency level. Thanks to the Conservatives abandoning conservatism and especially conservative principles over the years in order to appeal to types who are not natural conservatives and who will not vote for the party at any time, there are less guard as each year goes by. That’s because you’re not going to get the young interested when you can’t put a cigarette paper between the 3 main parties. Can’t blame them for thinking “Why bother?”…

    Anyway, one suspects that 2015 is going to be really special in this regard. It is going to go down in Conservative lore as the year of the missing faces. This will come to the attention of Central Office who will be asking themselves some serious questions. Have we done something to upset them all ? Have we failed to address any concerns ? Are there issues we could have handled better ? Is the leader of the party to blame in any way ? Why are these backwoods supporters so unhappy with our new, get ahead, metropolitan, with it, much improved, un-nasty, gay promoting, PC compliant, EU loving organisation ? Do you think we should change our outdated name ?

  • Dominic Stockford

    Interesting that the party with strong support from Reformed Christians of note (such as Nazir-Ali) is not one of the three which make up this undiscerning and inconsistent group.

  • len

    Christian values and morality cannot fit in with a corrupt world system.
    Christianity demands a new Creation . A new Creation demands a new man born from above.

    The old creation has been condemned at the Cross of Calvary and we have either been transported into the New Creation or we belong to the old fallen creation.
    As this world staggers towards the inevitable confrontation with the God of the Bible Christians can uphold the Truths as revealed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ but do not expect the secular world to thank you for doing so even when this is the only means of redemption from this fallen world.
    True Christianity is far too radical for this present world system so the only way to make Christianity ‘acceptable’ to this present world system is ‘compromise’ which kills the redemptive Power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and this is where many Churches are today.

    • Happy Jack says it’s a good job Jesus had a little more optimism.

      • len

        What we need now is the Gospel not false optimism.

      • len

        Jesus and His Disciples had a lot more than ‘optimism’ Jack they had the Holy Spirit working with them and through them .What we seem to have now is Caesar sitting on a golden throne lording it over others.

    • chiefofsinners

      So do we let Muslims and atheists make our laws for us?

      • A good question, sir.

        We are called to fight the good fight and to do all we can to promote the growth of the Kingdom. Defeatism in the face of the enemy is not good enough. We are blessed in the West with the opportunities to pray, worship, speak, vote and act for Christ. We should do so and leave the results in God’s hands.

      • sarky

        We already have!

        • len

          I am afraid you are right Sarky.
          The foundations of western society are seem by many to be weak and vacillating so those who wish to attack feel enabled to do so(from within and from without.)

      • len

        Sarky has said it!.
        A compromised Church is worse than no church at all…

    • I hear what you’re showing Len, but…..salt and light, you know? If Christians don’t engage, field of play left to others, who win by default.

      If a lot of us each did a little it would make a difference

      • len

        Render unto Caesar …but Caesar seems to be firmly seated in the church?.

        • chiefofsinners

          Neither did Nicodemas give up his seat in the Sanhedrin, but argued for justice from the inside (John 7:50).
          Jesus healed the servant of a centurion who ‘loved the Jewish nation and built their synagogue’ – i.e. used his position of power for good.
          Paul used his Roman citizenship to appeal to Caesar.

          • len

            Your comment illustrates my point.Did Nicodemus advance the Kingdom of God in any way?.

            Did Caesar ?.( We are talking of Nero here I presume?.)

            The disciples (all but one ) died violent deaths for their witness for the Gospel as did ‘Stephen’ and countless others.

            How good at listening were the Sanhedrin?.

            “54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they became very angry. They were so angry they ground their teeth at Stephen. 55 But he was full of the Holy Spirit. He looked up to heaven and saw God’s glory. He saw Jesus standing at God’s right hand. 56 “Look!” he said. “I see heaven open. The Son of Man is standing at God’s right hand.”

            57 When the Sanhedrin heard this, they covered their ears. They yelled at the top of their voices. They all rushed at him. 58 They
            dragged him out of the city. They began to throw stones at him to kill
            him. The people who had brought false charges against Stephen took off
            their coats. They placed them at the feet of a young man named Saul.

            59 While the members of the Sanhedrin were throwing stones at Stephen, he prayed. “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,” he said. 60 Then he fell on his knees. He cried out, “Lord! Don’t hold this sin against them!” When he had said this, he died”.(Acts 7)

            (Of course Stephen could have acted like Nicodemus and ‘tried to change things from within'(as you and others suggest) this of course would have been ‘the ‘safe’ option’ but compromise will render your witness useless for the purposes of God and for the purpose of salvation . Which brings us back full circle to my original comments that ‘compromise’ is killing the Church and rendering the witness of the Church for all practical purposes useless.

          • chiefofsinners

            Nicodemas almost certainly did advance the kingdom of God. We don’t know how many he persuaded. As a man of influence in a position of influence it is likely that there were many. He certainly stood more chance than Stephen, on account of the fact that Stephen was dead.
            I was not suggesting that Caesar advanced the Kingdom. Rather that Paul did. He did this ‘by all means’, including invoking the privileges of his Roman citizenship on more than one occasion. He makes the case well in 1 Cor 9:19-23. Getting involved with people does not have to mean compromise.

  • Monica dyer

    What people don’t seem to see is that, by getting involved, they can change things. It might be making sure a crossing is built near a school or it might be changing government policy. So I agree in principle, the question is: Why am I not a member of a political party?
    The answer is time and priorities. I have a sneaking suspicion that, if I were to join a party, it would instantly take up a huge amount of my time and energy. I’m scared that it would swallow me whole and leave very little time for anything else. All the things I currently do would take a back seat and do I really want that?
    I really don’t see any theological reason not to be in politics. We are called to be salt and light in an imperfect world and, unless you live in a monastery, that is pretty much everywhere. I just don’t want to put my toe in this ocean quite yet.

    • Anton

      That need not necessarily be so. I am a member of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child and I joined because I am against abortion. I joined not to campaign as I devote my time to other issues, but so that SPUC could face abortionist politicians and say that their numbers were N+1 rather than N.

      I think that the main reason people don’t join political parties is that no one party has a monopoly on truth. Almost everybody will prefer party ‘A’ on one subject and party B on another.

    • Inspector General

      Madam. This man is about to join UKIP (when he can find the time to do the necessary…). He has already spoken to the local membership secretary and informed her that he has no intention of getting involved, from not having any spare time or these days, his own private transport, but if it’s numbers they are after, count him in. He was welcomed aboard, and told that the majority of the membership are similarly inclined. But every member counts, you know…

  • Retired Paul

    This question is very similar to asking why most church congregations are sitting in their local church on Sundays, instead of being out in foreign parts as full-time missionaries (I will ignore the obvious retort that there is a mission field here in UK – it does not affect the rest of what I am about to say)

    Some Christians are in full-time missionary work of various types. God has given them the appropriate gifts and called them to his service. Others, back here in the local church on Sundays, support them financially, through prayer, letter writing and many other ways. Just because they are not ‘out there’ does not mean they are ignoring the great commission (Matthew 28:16-20); they are playing their part in a way that is suited to their calling and gifts.

    So it is for politics; some will be called to participate fully, signing up to join the local party, becoming activists, standing for election in local or national government. Others will dip in and out as they are moved by local or national events, signing petitions, writing letters, going and seeing their local councillor or MP. We need Christians to be involved in Christ’s service at all these levels; otherwise the worldly forces get free reign.

    When it comes to the elections, in our local constituency, the election meetings that the candidates look forward to most, and are the best attended, are the ones organised by the local churches and attended by their members.

  • Anton

    The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have again shown that the Church of England, which formerly represented the Tory party at prayer, now represents the Labour party at prayer: stating in a book published today that politicians are obsessed with “Middle England” (if only!) and that the welfare state is the embodiment of the Christian command to love thy neighbour. The book is called “On rock or sand” showing that leftwing bishops have no sense of irony, for the era of the CoE’s decline correlates accurately with its leftwing activism. See
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/11345386/Archbishops-pre-election-assault-on-evil-of-inequality-in-Coalition-Britain.html

    In Mosaic Law every Israelite family owned outright their means of production, i.e. their land (unlike
    in the mediaeval feudal system), and could work it for food. But our industrial
    society doesn’t guarantee work – or, consequently, food. We are far richer than
    ancient Israelites per head, but if someone finds a better way to manufacture
    what your employer makes then your factory goes bust, so you lose your job, and
    if no other factory is looking to take on labour and expand, and you have no
    savings, then you’ll be unable to pay your rent or mortgage and your family is likely to lose your home. That is different from ancient Israel, and it raises the
    question of whether the government should take over wholesale in helping the
    unemployed: the nationalisation of charity. The choice appears to be between
    two evils, the disincentivisation of work (as preferred by the Left, who believe
    that people will always prefer to work than not, despite frank statements to
    the contrary by some unemployed on benefits); and the possibility of people
    going hungry (preferred by the Right, who are liable to callousness). But
    Mosaic Law can tell us more. Did it have a social security system? On the one
    hand, Mosaic Law mandated stores of grain, taken as a fixed proportion of each
    person’s crops, for poor relief. On the other hand the Law did not specify how
    much someone poor should get. There was an element of personal discretion in such decisions; significantly, nobody could use the Law to demand “Gimme!” The decision would have fallen to the local priests and elders, who would have personal knowledge of the people involved. (On top of this system, personal charity to the poor whom you encountered in daily life was a duty.) By divine precedent I suggest that we move to a system in which tax is taken for welfare but it is handed out with some element of moral discretion rather than by a mathematical formula.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Anton, absolutely. Although you are kind not to point out the many other theological failures in the statements they have made in this new ‘book’ (more of a polemic or a diatribe really). Some of which are utterly contrary to the 39 Articles of thier own denomination, and some of which are shher unpleasantness – they effectively call everyone who votes/voted for the Conservatives of LibDems at the last elecetion, and everyone in those parties, evil. Not fair, at all.

      I wonder what David Burrowes, MP, Conservative and conservative Christian makes of such vile abuse being poured at at him.

      • Anton

        Perhaps these Archbishops are also unaware of an earlier precedent. In 1795 the parish of Speenhamland decided on a minimum wage and set local taxes so that the wages of persons who were paid less than a certain amount were topped up from those taxes. This system then spread throughout much of the south of England, with variations. The law of unintended consequences promptly made itself felt, reducing the market wage offered because employers knew that taxpayers would make up the deficiency. Then, in order to maintain the top-up, taxes and tithes had to be increased significantly, even as wages fell. This was hardest on the poorest ‘labourers’ (meaning those who did not qualify for relief), who were soon living less well than some ‘paupers’ (meaning those who received relief). Moreover the paupers, initially grateful, soon made up gangs which physically threatened the people who set the rates and the criteria for relief. These criteria took family circumstances into account; the result was that, while labourers became poorer with the more children they had, single mothers and other pauper families often became richer with more children. The growing unfairness of this system was a major underlying cause of the rural riots of 1830-31, even if the immediate trigger was poor harvests in combination with partial mechanisation of farm work.

  • cacheton

    ‘hordes of Christians … have no idea that Archbishop Cranmer is blogging despite having been burnt to death in 1556.’

    And who would Archbishop Cranmer tell them vote for, then??