Squaring the Circle: Faith and Politics
I want to take us back to the resignation of Tim Farron as Liberal Democrat leader. Now, I am sure many readers of this blog welcomed the moment, Mr Farron after-all is an arch-Remainer and the Liberal Democrats are easily the most pro-Remain party in British politics. So, a certain amount of delight is understandable. However, that was not the reason that he gave for his resignation, he said it was ‘impossible’ for him to be a Christian and lead the Liberal Democrats. It is a watershed moment in British politics – as the former Anglican Honorary Chaplin to the Queen put it, it really is the beginning of the exclusion of the Christians from the public sphere.
As someone who has been politically active and a baptised and confirmed Anglican Christian for nearly a year I have to declare my interest here. Firstly, I would tend to agree, especially because it is the Liberal Democrats Mr Farron was leading that everything he said was absolutely right. The fact is there is widespread hostility on the British left to Christianity because any proper and truthful reading of Scripture leads you to what would be described politically as socially conservative attitudes. True, it’s call for the defence of the poor and needy will lead you to economically left-wing positions but true defenders of the Word of the Lord dont cherry pick the message. Having said that I cannot see a Biblically faithful Christian leading a right wing party either because deeper contradictions exist in a liberal democracy, in a liberal democracy, a career politician aspires to serve the people where as the appointed role of a Christian is to serve God and these two things are most certainly not always the same thing, in fact, the one Biblical experiment with democracy was when God assented to the Israeli peoples wish for Saul as King, something that went disastrously wrong as Saul’s disobedience led to civil war and the eventual installation of God’s choice and Israel’s greatest King, David.
However, Mr Farron was right to say that Christians who try to impose Scriptural law on the public sphere are wrong. In fact, this has been less the problem with individual Christians than it is with the Church which has spent literally thousands of years trying to do this not to advance the cause of the Gospel and “make disciples of nations”, not to glorify God, but to fatten itself and sate its own heretical and dangerous desire for temporal power. The covenant through Jesus is based on the free choice of person making that choice, the case of Israel and the Jews is different because they are born into the covenants God made with their forefathers such as Abraham and therefore are automatically under His Law as they are a chosen people, but for Gentiles the choice has to be freely made or it means nothing at all. So, to attempt to impose the Covenant and its strictures on non-believers is in itself a breach of that covenant, however, covenant law does very much apply to the Church (and confirmed believers who are in receipt of the Holy Spirit) even in Gentile (non-Jewish) nations.
Here we come to the principal political demand of Christians. Let Christians be Christian. Let us freely profess our beliefs. Let the state understand that it has no authority to impose its law on God’s people and God’s Church. Also, let us preach and let those who wish to respond choose to listen. Let us expose and confront the evil, deceitful fakery of Islam openly in the way we know how spiritually, openly and truthfully. This is a cardinal difference between Christianity and Islam – we do not seek to impose our will forcefully on others, we do not seek ‘submission’, we seek peace and advancement through the preaching of the inerrant truth of the Gospels and by striving to be the living embodiment of God’s Law. However, if the treatment of Mr Farron is anything to go by, even that simple and fair, some may even say democratic, demand is too much for the establishment to endure. That being the case we should remember the words of the Apostle Peter when he said “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29) and we will not submit where there is conflict to a state that is hostile to us, persecutes us and spits in the face of God.