23 May 2012

God Save The Queen

Even hard line anti-royalists find it hard not to respect Queen Elizabeth, and many secretly have a soft spot for her. The rest of us love her and will wholeheartedly share in her jubilee celebrations this month.
Christians were glad to hear her unashamed confidence in the Saviour Jesus Christ during her Christmas speech. Nonetheless, since then there has been a subtle but worrying shift in what her majesty has been saying. It has led some to ask whether she is becoming ‘the defender of all faiths’ instead of what she is under oath to be as the supreme governor of the Church of England: ‘the defender of the faith.’

The point is that we want to promote the right sort of tolerance in the UK without selling out on ‘the faith’, which is the gospel. Christ Jesus commanded us to love our neighbour and even to love our enemy. This is completely unlike the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah. On March 12th he declared that it is necessary to destroy all churches in the Arabian Peninsula. Christians are simply not allowed to meet openly or talk to Muslims about Jesus for fear of arrest, torture & imprisonment. By contrast, real tolerance means loving you as a person, putting up with your error, whilst arguing vigorously against it and holding firmly to the truth of the gospel. In fact, this is the most loving thing to do, because the power of God to save is exclusively in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

What tolerance does not mean is making all faiths equally valid. And that is where her majesty started to stray in her speech to leaders of nine other faiths in February and in her State Opening of Parliament.

 In February she said, ‘The Church’s role is not to defend Anglicanism to the exclusion of other religions. The church has a duty to protect free practice of all faiths in this country.’ She was heard to be defending all faiths. But it is dangerous to say to someone ‘It’s OK for you to remain a Muslim or a Sikh, a Hindu or a Zoroastrian’, because that would mean leaving you in your error and consigning you to God’s judgment on your unforgiven sin.

The testimony of the Bible is demonstrably reliable. And the Bible is clear about God and how all people are to be forgiven and saved. Take 1Timothy 2v5: ‘For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus who gave himself as a ransom for all people.’ Or Acts 4v12: ‘Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’ This is said about Jesus Christ, the only one who died on a cross for our sin, and the only one whom God raised from the dead and seated at his right hand, having given him all authority in heaven and on earth to rule us all. The Queen must be the defender of the faith because the way of salvation is exclusively by faith in the only Son of God, Jesus Christ.

So, God save the Queen from caving in to pressure from our secular culture to make all faiths valid. Instead may He strengthen her faith in Jesus Christ, and give her courage courteously ‘to hold firmly to the trustworthy message ...and refute those who oppose it.’ Same goes for us.

Simon Smallwood
Pastor of St Georges