4 May 2014

Are we a Christian country?

Well done David Cameron for stirring up a hornet's nest!

He's successfully alienated the 'non-religious', who hate the idea of being labelled as anything religious. And he's exasperated many Christians, who have seen him and his coalition government steadily demolish long-held Christian values in our society (like redefining marriage so it's no longer exclusively the union of one man and one woman, but can now include the union of two people of the same gender).

To be honest, what's all the fuss about? Are we a Christian country? Well, yes and no (now I'm sounding like a politician!).

Yes, because the Head of State (The Queen) is also the Head of the Church of England so there's a sense in which Christianity is the state religion. Every town and village has its parish church. Also, since the 7th century our basic values have been shaped by the teaching of the Bible. Much of our culture, until recently, was shaped by Christianity, and we have benefitted from that hugely as a society.

No, because we are not a country of Christians, and truth be told, never have been. There's a big difference between religious identity and religious belief / adherence. It's like people who would say 'I'm Church of England’ but wouldn’t be seen dead in a church on Sunday! It's parents who send their kids to Sunday School 'to teach them some morals' but have no faith in Jesus Christ themselves. Yet, the vast majority of people still believe in 'a god' rather than atheism, and would naturally choose the religion of their heritage to identify with for want of anything else. Christianity is all part of being British for most of the white population.

But we are not a country of Christians. A Christian is someone who:

  • has heard the message about Jesus (the gospel in the Bible) and believed it
  • has put their faith in Jesus as their Saviour, who came to save us by dying on a cross in our place, suffering the death penalty hanging over us for our rebellion against God
  • has set out to live by the teaching of Jesus Christ in every area of their life, submitting to his superior wisdom and authority in all matters, because his way to live is the best way to live

Amazingly, whilst attendance at the state church (Church of England) is in sharp decline, the number of gospel-believing Christians is steadily on the increase - as it is worldwide! Wherever the gospel is being explained, people are turning to Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, because who he is and what he has done for us is evidently true and real when you look into it properly in the Bible.

Simon Smallwood