Truth, love, persecution and the Mail

Truth, love, persecution and the Mail

Blair and Pope Benedict

Blair and Pope Benedict

Christians must speak out in an ‘aggressively secularist’ age – so said former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, last week. And, of course, he was right.

Our society is one in which we are encouraged to keep our religious convictions private, where, while we have freedom to profess religious faith, we are increasingly encouraged to limit its effects to things that don’t really matter.

But some critics last week suggested Mr Blair was, himself, to blame for Christianity’s becoming ‘sidelined’. Melanie Phillips (a columnist in the Daily Mail who is a teensy bit right-wing even for that paper’s spiritually dubious politics) was quoted last week saying that Blair had weakened our faith’s position because he emphasised human rights. (I know, it’s a shocking accusation. Those humans, coming over here, taking our rights…)

Ms. Phillips thinks that Britain has slid into a ‘religion of the self’ and that extreme individualism is promoted aggressively, resulting in moral and spiritual chaos. Don’t think it doesn’t make me feel physically and morally dirty to agree with her. But that is where our agreement ends. Ms Phillips thinks that human rights law is the enemy of Christianity. This is clearly nonsense. Read the history of western philosophy, read truly conservative, truly Christian commentators like Francis Schaeffer. None of what we face is unpredicted or very new. It has its roots in the Enlightenment and its branches in postmodernism, and that philosophy’s bankruptcy of truth is what makes all laws — not just human rights laws – dangerous to all people of serious and exclusive faith.

Christians should beware of people like Phillips. They may sometimes side with us, but not with our God or our mission. Last week Phillips also attacked Christians in a piece titled: ‘Beware the new axis of evangelicals and Islamists’. In it she attacks missionary organisation Global Connections and a conference held at All Nations Christian College which sought to promote a grace approach to mission to Muslims.

Ms. Phillips, with her aggressive ‘Londonistan‘ view of Muslims, foreigners and other traditional targets of bigotry (and now, it seems, socially conscientious evangelicals), is clearly not in favour of an approach infused with love.

But that is what we must have, towards Muslims, towards secularists, even towards right-wing fanatics who seek to spread fear and hate. We must love, but we must never compromise the truth we believe. The God we serve does not need to silence opposition. The Gospel we preach does not require a privileged position in society to have saving and transforming power. The Christ of the Bible told us to love and pray for our enemies, not persecute them before they persecute us.

We currently enjoy great freedom to preach truth. Only speaking out against injustice facing our own community is not enough. ‘Even the pagans do this.’

We should not persecute, but the idea that we should welcome persecution is monstrously glib and fails to apprehend the true horror of real persecution. But we should remember that it has always been our lot as the body of Christ. When we speak the truth of Jesus Christ’s uniqueness and glory, people will hate us. When we speak out against the tyrannies and oppressions that people like Ms Phillips would excuse, more hate will come. We should do both. Like Martin Luther King Jr, Trevor Huddleston and Oscar Romero, we must meet their hate with undaunted love and truth.

Here’s a clip from a film about Oscar Romero. The film is called Romero, it stars Raoul Julia and I highly recommend it. This clip demonstrates some of what is heroic in Christian engagement with politics:

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2 Responses

  1. I could not agree more with your points raisedin ‘Truth, love, persecution and the Mail’

    It is my pleasure to follow your blog

    Yours in Jesus

  2. you are very kind, Sprink!

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