A Christian Country?

17/12/11 | Posted by HughB

Earlier in this week, David Cameron, addressed Anglican clergy in Oxford to celebrate the Four Hundredth Anniversary of the King James Bible. During his speech, the “committed…but vaguely practising Church of England Christian” declared once more that “we are a Christian country”. [You can read the whole speech here]. Of course, he is not the first, but I wonder what Jesus would make of his claim.

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 Christian?

Cameron justified his belief by saying that “the Bible has helped to give Britain a set of values and morals which make Britain what it is today” and reminded us that Margaret Thatcher once said, “we are a nation whose ideals are founded on the Bible.” They are both quite right. Much of the law of the land was drawn up and influenced by the faith and understanding of our ancestors.

When John the Baptist started calling the Jews to repent, he encountered people who felt that they did not need to because they could trace their ancestry right back to Abraham. But John felt that family trees counted for nothing - “out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham” (Matthew 3:9).

Similarly when a Roman Centurion asked Jesus for help, he held him up as a great example of faith, saying that people like him would join Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in heaven, not their descendents (Matthew 8:10-12). Elsewhere Jesus warned people that simply claiming to be one of his followers or living in an area where he taught carried no weight. His response would be “I don’t know you” (Luke 13:26-7).

The deeds of those who have gone before us don’t make a country Christian. In fact, our values and moral code are not Christian because our ancestors were inspired by their Christian faith when they drew them up. Nor are they Christian because we can still find them in the Bible. Our values are only truly Christian when they flow out of a daily walk with Christ.

Cameron pointed out that, while Christians may be in decline in this country, in other parts of the world, such as China, they are increasing exponentially. Perhaps that’s because while we fool ourselves that we’re Christian because of our history, they know that they need to follow Christ in their lives today.

 

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