So – we live in a secular society, not a Christian one. Nice to have it laid out so clearly by the judiciary. It grates that these judgements are so philosophically ill-grounded – but I’ve discussed that in more detail before.
“…if such a thing should be, the crimes of that nation will probably begin in infringement on Apostolical Rights ; she will end in persecuting the true Church ; and in the several stages of her melancholy career, she will continually be led on from bad to worse by vain endeavours at accommodation and compromise with evil.”
Should Christians be worried about this? Given that the church was (arguably) at its healthiest when working within the avowedly pagan Roman Empire, one would suspect not. Yet surely it is understandable for a Christian to want not to suffer so much? In a way, it will make Christian witness rather clearer. This isn’t a point about homosexuality so much as a broader point about how a distinctive Christian life is possible in a secular society. For example, take issues at the beginning and end of life. At what point will a Christian doctor be disbarred, or restricted from practicing in certain areas, if they, eg, refuse to terminate a baby’s life, or refuse to administer euthanasia? Will Christians be allowed to teach differently to the secular world-view? Will parents be forbidden from teaching Christian doctrine in those areas where it clashes with secular assumptions? “That’ll never happen!” Right.
“How may a man best reconcile his allegiance to God and his Church with his duty to his country, that country, which now, by the supposition, is fast becoming hostile to the Church, and cannot therefore long be the friend of God?”
I think what’s really running around my mind is whether it is legitimate to seek to make England a Christian nation (I leave off the possible ‘once again’ as it begs too many questions). There are, of course, all sorts of potential idolatries here – I have read my Hauerwas – but there is also an idolatry in quietism. If we, as Christians, are inevitably committed to questions of social justice then we are also inevitably political creatures – which, logically, and under God with all due humility, must mean seeking to so order our political arrangements in such a way that abundant life can flourish – and that “abundant life” is irreducibly Christian in character, not secular. We are therefore in necessary tension with any secular state.
There are several threads that I want to knit together:
– the internal collapse of the Church of England, culturally and theologically (symbolised by the abandonment of the BCP, however sensible that step was);
– the death of England more broadly;
– the on going threat of Islamisation, and the sometimes unhealthy political reaction to it;
– the way in which the Anglican Communion will split, and how TEC may be a better vehicle for the Anglican theological spirit than a Covenantised CofE; and finally
– the unhealthy nature of Anglo-Catholicism within the CofE (reactionaries contending with liberals), compared to the initial flowering of Anglo-Catholicism sparked by a political controversy.
I just wonder if there is a ‘sweet spot’ lurking here that would mean the project of seeking a Christian England would be blessed. Watch this space.
“What are the symptoms, by which one may judge most fairly, whether or no a nation, as such, is becoming alienated from God and Christ?
And what are the particular duties of sincere Christians, whose lot is cast by Divine Providence in a time of such dire calamity?”