31 July 2008

Courageous Conservatives To Celebrate Christian Great Britain

Interesting article by Melanie Phillips in the Daily Mail this week, urging the Conservative Party to stand up and be counted, to stop kow-towing to prevailing opinion and to provide a 'clear and principled alternative'. She cites issues such as devolution, EU plans to reduce nations to mere sub-regions and massive and growing public debt. And she highlights the threat of a nationalist protest vote which. in the absence of a mainstream political party offering a real alternative to Labour's failed policies, may turn to a distinctly unpleasant tribalism.

I agree with all this and would go one step further. The issues we face as a nation ALL, without exception, stem from one thing. One fundamental thing. The loss of our sense of identity and cohesion as a nation, the disintegration of family life and the profound alienation of our young people, the rising level of crime, the falling standards of education, long-term dependency on the welfare state. All of these result from our rejection of our spiritual foundations.

This nation IS a Christian nation.

It just is. That is who we are.

And we need, we desperately need, to recognise this, to acknowledge this, to celebrate and declare this. And then, as we bring our policies, social and economic and environmental, in line with the worldview on which this nation is founded, the relationship with the living God which weaves through the very fabric of our nation, we will find that we thrive, we start to prosper and we remember who we are.


Dave B said...

I've just finished reading Robin Aitken's Can we Trust the BBC. He puts a good deal of blame on the BBC for deliberately undermining our faith in British institutions and cultural practice, not least our Christianity.

Terry said...

There are 2 issues where the Conservative party's attitude to Christianity can be measured. One is in relation to homosexuality; the other is in relation to Islam. I just want to concentrate on the first. Here, the sounds of the "modernisers" (out of proportion to their number I suspect) drown out the traditional conservative social thinkers, so that gay rights come first and a traditional Tory paper like the Telegraph will back them up in this. If they are not casreful, and an alternative new conservative (with a small "c") party came up, they could lose a lot of support from traditionalists like me.

Anonymous said...

At the moment, I'm not sure there is much to be proud about in the Church of England. They seem quite happy to split themselves over a very minor issue of no significance at all.

No reason at all why women and gays can't be bishops. Let's not pretend that it's something God wanted.

Raised Eyebrows said...

Anonymous @ 14.54 - out of interest, how are measuring 'minor'?

Always wonder about this when someone writes about how insignificant these issues are. Are you a theological scholar? Do you have a full understanding of the nature of things such as sexuality and leadership within Christianity?

Anonymous said...

Anon 1454:

no there isn't very much to be proud about in the CofE at the moment- but not for the reasons that you mean.

In the Creed recited in churches up and down the country each week/day are the words "we believe in one holy, catholic and apostolic church." With that in mind, how can the CofE unilaterally decide its interpretation of scripture, without affecting/weakening its relationship with the Roman and Orthodox churches?

You may very well argue that the CofE has already made such steps in the past, through allowing married clergy or (in many but not all churches) refusing to acknowledge transubstantiation or the Marian dogmas. However, this has not addressed the key isue of fitness to preach. There has always been the key fact that the other churches may catch up with us if/when they come to see us as right. Conversely, as has been shown by John Paul II acceptance of married anglo-catholic clergy into the Roman church after 1992, there has been nothing to stop us going back the other way were it to be found that we were wrong.

Homosexual clergy are a common enough feature of religious life for it to be absolutely certain that there have been in the past gay bishops. The issue is whether they practice their homosexuality or not- which in a strict doctrinal interpretation of the faith would have to be called a sin.

The issue with women is rather different. Women bishops are not part of the apostolic succession as it has been taught and practiced since the early church. I am mildly persuaded by the view that this is an oversight and not necessarily a bar to women bishops.

However, to deny the succession doctrine as it stands is to have women bishops ordaining male clergy. If at some point it was discovered that we were indeed in the wrong by consecrating female bishops (or, indeed, ordaining female vicars) then we would risk having a great deal of manpower suddenly disbarred from the running of the church.

All this can sound very much like trying to work out how many angels can dance on a pin but the point I am trying to make is it would have been so much better if the decision to admit women to the priesthood/episcopate had been taken in concert with the Roman and Orthodox churches. The Anglican faith can of course be leaders of the change in international opinion- but do they have the moral right to be?

Given that, and whilst I would argue that just at present the established Church needs all the help it can get, is the Tory party right to support it? Maybe not.

Mary Douglas said...

Not quite sure how a discussion of the identity of this nation and our relationship with the living God has become confined to the merits, or otherwise, of the C of E.

The Church of England is important, as its name suggests. But it is only a part of the body of Christ here and there is more to this than the future of the C of E.

This nation and God go back a long way. God will never forget that. And nor should we.

We need to reclaim our heritage and build on it...

Robert said...

Just a few hours ago, the Republican Presidential Nominee, Senator McCain, announced Sarah Palin as his VP choice. That is certainly a sign both of his individualism, and of his commitment to the Christian heritage of the USA. There were some interesting comments from callers phoning to Faith to Action and to Crosstalk .

Sarah Palin is a Christian who has actively applied Christian values in both her political career and her own family life. She refused to abort her 5th child after a Downs Syndrome warning, and has described him as "perfect" in spite of the challenges that handicap will bring. Hers is not "blind faith", but a real commitment fully aware of the facts.

The challenge to ourselves, in learning from the USA, is how we can recover that boldness which our ancestors showed in applying Bible-based principles to improve our nation and society. In the USa, the "separation of church and state" concept has been fraudulently turned on its head. It was written into the Constitution to ensure that the state could never, never, never interfere with the free excercise of Christian religion, either in private or in public. And the Founding Fathers, almost all of them committed Christians, saw the necessity of Bible-based Christianity as an essential qualification to holding public office.

We are facing a similar problem in Britain.

One of my friends who is a Labour councillor sometimes asks me how I, with my Methodist background, could fail to be a socialist and in the Labour party. It is precisely because of my Methodist background (with Methodist ancestry dating back to the time of John Wesley and Hugh Bourne) that I could never be in the Labour party. In the Conservatives, there is some hope of those Christian principles which so vastly improved society under Methodist influence may also benefit our nation in the 21st century.

The origins of trades unions, co-operative societies, and many social reforms owed much to the Methodists, especially the Prims founded by Hugh Bourne. But the Labour party itself sold out to atheistic socialism, and became a party which is less worthy of support by a Christian. The Conservative party is far from perfect. But it provides a more fitting "home" for Christians who wish to engage through politics in our national life. This is in spite of the betrayals of Biblical principles which brought the crushing 1997 electoral defeat.

Nicole M said...

I agree with the article and with all the above comments. The Conservative party need to get back to their roots + core values if they want to win the next election. They need to be PROUD of their differences and make a stand for traditional Christian morality. Our country is in desperate need of it. We are a nation that mourns in private...

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