Tag Archives: secularism

Frothing at the mouth, this time it’s Creation

I’ve previously taken my fellow Christians to task for taking a story and then misrepresenting the substance (‘Christmastime, mistletoe and lies‘). Given how central Truth is to Christianity we should be renowned for our integrity without recourse to swearing to prove it (‘Swears‘).

We fall short of those standards, all the time, and it’s unreasonable to hold those on the outside to a higher bar than we set ourselves. Nevertheless, the rhetoric that says Christianity and Science are at odds and completely divergent is, bluntly, either casual ignorance or wilful misrepresentation.

This week it’s the free schools that will fill the minds of impressionable children with the not-worthy-of-the-word ‘science’ of Creationism. And when that word rears its head then most people instantly associate it with the Young Earth beliefs (that I don’t share) lampooned to good effect by Ronson, Theroux, Gorman et al.

I’m not going to rehash what The Church Mouse has written, suffice to say it’s a massive +1 from me over his concerns with the presentation of this story and the treatment of known fact (rather than future, paranoid conjecture).

What Mouse doesn’t get into but what strikes me about the ridicule levelled at Christian Creationists is how it undermines Christianity’s delight for you as who you are.

Continue reading Frothing at the mouth, this time it’s Creation

My worlds collide

When I first wrote this it was relevant but I got overtaken by other events. Still, whilst it’s old news there’s no point it staying sat in my drafts.

There is no single theme for my blog. Most of the time there’s very little overlap so maybe I should be more focused and write in different places for different content. Irrespective of that, today is a bit different.

In the aftermath of this story I’ve read a lot and heard a lot of bluster in various media. As I’m a Christian who works in local government and have family connections to church in Bideford this particular story couldn’t be more relevant. Continue reading My worlds collide


I’m doing jury service at the moment. And the courts are full of spiritual connotations. If it’s not bowing in reverence, or calling judges ‘Lord’ or ‘Worship’ it’s the very presence of an advocate interceding on behalf of someone else. Mind you, it’s hardly a surprise that an environment built to house truth and justice should remind me of God.

However, what’s most striking is the spiritual barometer of trustworthiness, the swearing of an oath on the Bible.

‘I swear by Almighty God that I will faithfully try the defendant(s) and give a true verdict (true verdicts) according to the evidence.’

All those on my jury chose to do this. I didn’t.

And you may think that’s quite strange given that I am a Christian, that I believe in a personal relationship with God and that the Bible is a phenomenal tool for equipping us to live to our potential (actually irrespective of whether you have faith or not).

I don’t know whether the 11 people who swore on the Bible would describe themselves as Christians. If they wouldn’t then it seems a little strange to start court proceedings with what amounts to a falsehood (not that this is an accusation of perjury!).

It might make the Daily Mail weep but I just don’t understand the reason for having a spiritual barometer of trustworthiness. And the reason for that is because Jesus tells his followers that oath taking, that swearing by heaven or by God isn’t necessary.

The Sermon on the Mount is one of the most well-known chunks of Jesus’ ministry (and another one of those moments in the Life of Brian where the two figures are demarcated). In amongst the Beatitudes and a warning about our thoughts rather than just our acts Jesus talks about oaths.

Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. (Matthew 5:33-36)

And why shouldn’t, as followers of Jesus, we take oaths? Because Christians should ‘let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one’.

Part of being a Christian is being trustworthy, of having integrity, of being credible and living a life that reflects the person of Jesus (or tries to). This is what Jesus is saying. He’s saying if you follow my teachings then you don’t need to swear oaths to make a promise. If you promise to do something, why would you do anything other than keep it?

When I said I was affirming there was slight confusion about what that meant. Someone said it was “for those who aren’t religious”. Obviously, for me, it was actually for completely the opposite reason.

If the court system was to lose the spiritual barometer for trustworthiness there would be OUTRAGE and it would be further evidence of a creeping secularism. Would it? Wouldn’t it actually be Christians recognising that it’s in conflict with what we believe and for those that don’t have a relationship with God, or even any faith in Him, creates a situation that may actually ring hollow?

>Christian Freedoms

>Yesterday we prayed for the persecuted church and Songs of Praise featured Open Doors. The figures on the number of Christians who face real, life-threatening persecution are staggering (just browse the Open Doors site). Yet the words of a lady too scared to be identified demonstrated an incredible depth of faith in a personal saviour when asked why she didn’t just deny being a Christian

Life is good but nothing compared to the beauty of Jesus

Her story was one of living under the attack against freedom to worship. A human right, by the way. We are incredibly lucky in the UK not to fear oppression and persecution like hers. However, events like this suggest something different:

Many Christians are concerned at the marginalisation of Christianity which is increasingly being experienced in society today. The case of the Christian nurse disciplined for praying with a patient, the school receptionist disciplined for asking her friends to pray for her daughter told off for sharing her faith with another child, the Equality Bill likely to force churches to accept homosexual youth workers, the hotel owners charged with a crime because they discussed their faith and criticised Islam to a Muslim guest who asked about Christianity – the list goes on.

The things listed there are problematic, that I’m not disputing, but they’re not couched in the person of Jesus. I don’t know all the details, it’s just enough of an outrage to make you gasp and shake your heads. And I don’t suggest we’re immune from threatening behaviour but so are those of other faiths, or lifestyles. Where are the similar concerns about that?

The friction apparent in that list, most of which seem ludicrous rather than threatening, is a consequence of being in the world, but not of it. Gospel Freedom is living life to the full as citizens of heaven. We’re called to model salvation, not to create and enforce Christian states, or Christian societies. So there’s space for conflict.

Pluralism, the space for people to get on with what they believe and living how they wish (within societally agreed boundaries) is Christian freedom writ large. In fact, we really want to take it further because by default we love.

That’s more than tolerating difference. And it isn’t about expecting behaviour to sit within our beliefs or else. We do not get to choose rejection over love. But it’s that freedom – to choose rejection over love – which people believe encapsulates our faith. That’s the sound they hear above the noise.

Perhaps Britain is a Christian nation, it’s probably not, but it definitely is home to people who disagree with our whole belief structure; it’s home to people who think we’re dangerous and deluded; to those who have been hurt by our hypocrisy and home to those bemused by the righteous anger we whip up towards semantics, language and individual lifestyles.

Just google “Christian Institute” to see the opinion of the world. Sadly, the apparent freedoms seen by the outsider aren’t about Jesus. And yet, everything we do should be about Him, and about those out there, not us in here.

If freedoms are under such threat why do we try so hard to keep our cocoon intact? To build Christendom-on-sea where we don’t have to make allowances for people that don’t think like us. When the Church isn’t engaged with the world it’s revelling in sub-culture. When we revel in sub-culture we get sidelined by the world, it’s inevitable. Mind you, if freedom is our passion where’s the problem? If we marginalise ourselves, we vacate the moral high ground, we lose relevance as a spiritual reference point and become complicit with the development of the dreaded secularism.

As Christmas approaches and people attempt to avoid offence (Dundee, that would be you) should we not be celebrating that people go out of their way to avoid offence, because of love and respect for others? What happens instead is OUTRAGE and the (deliberate) misconstruing of events to make headlines. Just how insecure are we that we can’t cope with the loss of a word?

The more we build sites like christianchirp.com, hold holy climate events (sorry St Mike’s) that clash with the worldly (Friends of the Earth) and put No-shave-November up against Mo-vember (Edinburgh CU are doing it for Compassion, who are awesome, but still) the more Christian freedom looks like an invitation to an exclusive club, not a relationship that will transform you, your life and your community.

The day we are prevented from living with that freedom is when we can start to identify with our brothers and sisters who face prison, torture, rape and death. That is an affront to freedom, full stop. Surely any distinction of ‘Christian’ freedoms as something distinct is unhelpful anyway. It wasn’t ‘cos God loved Christians, or the church, that he sent Jesus; it was ‘cos he loved the world.