Something in your eye, Mr Cameron?

Thursday, 22nd December 2011 at 13:03 UTC 1 comment

I find the undertones of Cameron’s speech on Christianity quite disturbing. Whilst some have read it in a very favourable light, a look at the manipulation of American Evangelicalism by Karl Rove and other Republican Party Grandees should show just how dangerous this speech is. At a time when Bishops and other church leaders are raising their voices in opposition to

David Cameron’s statement about Britain being a Christian country do not fill me with satisfaction. First, because the church is not, and should not be, the teacher of morality and subservience. It is a role in society we should be glad to have left behind. You only have to look at parts of the protestant church in Europe to see that replacing the teaching of the gospel with the teaching of mild mannered behaviour has essentially killed off many congregations and made them into social clubs for the well behaved to complain about the world outside.

Of course, Christians need to seek to be changed into Christ’s likeness. There are plenty of behavioural and attitude changes one should seek in one’s self, and the whole Church within the West needs bringing to account on many of these. A society full of Christians living out Christ-like attributes would not look anything like British society today.

Jesus taught his disciples and followers a lesson with humorous imagery: “What good is it to tell a someone that they have a speck of wood in their eye, when you have a plank in your own? Surely you need to remove the plank first!"

We often read this as entirely humorous, to the extent we miss the connection between the substance of the speck and the substance of the plank – they’re both from the same origin. We could say “What good is it to demand harsh punishments for someone who has stolen a pair of trainers, when you yourself have raided the public coffers for exorbitant expenses?”. “What good is it to call someone a benefits cheat for receiving a few hundred pounds a month, when you sustain your life of luxury on corporate welfare hand-outs every time your sector runs into difficulties?” Perhaps there is a link to Jesus more straightforward statement “As you sow, so shall you reap”.

Jesus declaration that the “Meek shall Inherit the Earth” can so easily be twisted into “Those who suffer in silence and don’t rock the boat shall inherit the Earth”. But that undermines the entire message of the Sermon on the Mount. Surely what Jesus was actually saying was that those who force injustice and suffering on others have no place in Christ’s Kingdom. If Cameron wants Britain to be a Christian Country, with Christian Values, it is his political backers and not his religious detractors to whom his concerns should be addressed, and the Church must be prepared to stand up against his twisting of the Gospel to suit the whims of the rich and powerful.

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Entry filed under: Britain, Church, Conservatives, News, Religion, The Right, Theology.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Greg  |  Saturday, 24th December 2011 at 0:31 UTC

    My chief gripe with CMD’s speech is that he used “summation” where he should have used “summary”, in the bit where he was praising the KJV’s contribution to the English language! The irony would kill me with laughter were I not too busy weeping.

    We need to remember that this was a speech given about the King James Bible, to a hall full of clergy. Of course Dave’s going to say he likes the Bible – this is about as surprising as the fact that the pope wasn’t there because he was in Rome, not yet having converted to anglicanism. There’s a tide of aggressive secularism in the country today, that tries to remove or re-brand all trace of Christianity from our isles. The message of this speech to the audience present is that the PM isn’t one of those, he’s on their side.

    I thought you’d like the bit about “the Judeo-Christian roots of the Bible also provide the foundations for protest and for the evolution of our freedom and democracy. The Torah placed the first limits on Royal Power. ” However, I suppose it was too much to expect that you’d have a good thing to say about a Conservative politician, whatever it took. He’s saying that the bible has had an effect – would you prefer to hear that Christianity and the Bible have had no effect whatsoever on our country? Instead you start waffling about America and the evangelical right over there, as if that had any relevance to a very different church in a different country with different political values. It’s not as if the CofE are lapping it up from the government – not after Runcie’s Falklands prayers, not after Faith in the City and not with the current beardy leftie in charge. When Dave wooes the CofE, it’s not “Be mine”, it’s “Come back baby!” As such, I think your concerns are completely unfounded, and wish you’d stop waving the Republican evangelicals around as scare stories.

    Where is this talk of “subservience” anyway? I don’t see it anywhere. The closest I can find is, “The values that are apparently our country’s values, founded on the Bible are “Responsibility, hard work, charity, compassion, humility, self-sacrifice, love… “ That’s not an exhaustive list of Christian values, but neither does it claim to be. In fact, I thin the speech-writer had Galatians 5:22-23 in mind: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

    You’re right that too many churches have been neutered through too much assimilation. (My best example is 1930s Germany and the Kulturprotestantismus, but Helen Godwinned me last time I used it.) Far greater than the likelihood of the CofE becoming assimilated to the government, though, is the evidence that you’ve become assimilated to your own political cause, to the extent that you can’t stand up for your faith. When you can’t give credit to a speech in praise of the Bible’s influence on the nation but must instead find some spurious reason to criticise, when you can’t unabashedly profess all of Christianity’s values (not just the socialisty anarchisty ones) because that would mean praising the wrong party – then you’re putting your faith at the command of your politics . Ignore the mote in David Cameron’s eye an get the beam out of your own!

    Reply

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