Christian Life 

Did the cock crow that morning?

The dilemma for the Christian is that followers of Christ are called to be of influence (as 'salt') in the world but disciples are also warned not to become tarnished or so assimilated with their secular surroundings that they lose their distinctives, and even their faith.
first published 21/03/10

Ed note: The following article relates to a Scottish Liberal Party conference. The case of Tim Farron's resignation (see discussion thread) a decade or so after the article was written again illustrates the dilemma for Christians who wish to remain true to their faith while operating in an increasingly Christian-intolerant political process.


RoosterSOME years ago I took a call very early one Sunday morning. It was unusual for my telephone to ring at that time on that day, and I answered the call quickly thinking perhaps it was a problem with a family member or something of that ilk. In fact the call was from a Christian friend (I’ll call him James) who was a leading member and official within one of the mainstream UK political parties.

The occasion of the call was during the annual conference of that particular party and James was due to speak to the assembled party leaders, officials and members later that morning. But James was in turmoil. He explained the situation of finding his Christian conscience in
He had a choice to make that day; he either had to speak to the gathering in terms of his Christian convictions or, alternatively toe the party line.
conflict with a particular, but very important, part of the party’s policies and manifesto. James realised that he had a choice to make that day; he either had to speak to the gathering in terms of his Christian convictions or, alternatively toe the party line. Hence the telephone call to seek counsel and prayer. James explained – and by this time his words were punctuated by stifled tears – that if he were to speak out what he truly believed then his career and years of work (and quiet witness) within that party were finished. He was caught between a rock and a hard place. Of course it was up to him to come to the decision; and I just prayed from him over the phone and also after we had concluded the call.

To my knowledge James is still active in the party and I never did ask him how it went. I didn't feel it was right to do that. It may have been that the Lord freed him later that morning from the situation he was anticipating; it may have been that he was able to in the immediacy of the moment to ‘square the circle’ of conflict in his conscience; it may have been that he felt the Lord telling him to "keep quiet" so as to maintain his standing and witness within the political hothouse. Of course there is also the possibility that he fell into the situation that Peter found himself when the disciple was asked to state his allegiance. I don’t know, but I never heard a cock crow three times that morning. And I’m happy to believe that no rooster did.

In the world but not off the world

CATCH 22: To get into a position of influence it is very often necessary to sacrifice the very ideals that one is fighting to implement.
However the incident powerfully illustrated the dilemma. If an individual wants to influence events in our world then they have to first get into a position of influence. But here’s the rub. To get into a position of influence it is very often necessary to sacrifice the very ideals that one is fighting to implement.

For many of us and for most of the time, the question remains as a philosophical abstract, but especially at time of a General Election (and other pivotal occasions) the issue leaps onto centre stage. And the debate on how best to bring Christian influence into the political domain will go on, and on.

It is the argument of Rev. George Hargreaves of the Christian Party that it is impossible for a Christian to work within the traditional mainstream parties and, on this premise, he believes that what our country needs is a Christian political party. However there are committed Christians who feel called to bear witness into the existing mainstream parties.

Alternatively, there are some branches of Christianity (typically the Brethren) which would believe that Christians should play no part whatsoever in secular politics.

At the other end of the spectrum of opinion, there are others from the Christian Reconstructionist / Theonomy camp which believes that God has given the Christian church a mandate to rule the nations. It's a case of 'take your pick'.

Meanwhile in the Western Isles it seems there is now a Lewisman who feels called to stand as an Independent at the forthcoming General Election.

Whichever way, there should be no place at all in the Christian's list of doctrines for the view that the political process is an alternative means of curing a society's ills. There may be some gains along the way – and the social reforms of the Shaftesburys and Wilbeforces of this world have achieved much – but Christians are essentially swimming against the tide. And Jesus and God's word tells is it will ever be so. But we can rejoice that when the polling booths close and the returns come in that the result will never deflect an Almighty God from His purposes and plans.

Along the way, we need to pray that those believers who feel called – in one form or another to the political realm – will be given the wisdom and strength that they need to keep their witness and armour bright.
Editor 16/06/2017 00:47
Tim Farron's resignation shows 'totalitolerance of illiberal elite'

News release from Christian Concern (15/06/17)

Tim Farron's resignation as leader of the Liberal Democrats "demonstrates that Christians are simply not tolerated by the illiberal elite", says Andrea Williams.

In his resignation statement, Farron said that to be leader of the Liberal Democrats and "to live as a committed Christian...felt impossible" to him. He added "we are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant society".

Andrea Williams, CEO of Christian Concern and the Christian Legal Centre, which represents hundreds of Christians mistreated for living out their faith in Great Britain, commented:

"At the Christian Legal Centre we have seen first hand the pressure Christians have been under to conform to the new morality of sexual liberation and radical secularism. From street preachers arrested for quoting the Bible to students thrown off their courses for holding to a Christian view of sexuality, there can be no doubt that the supposedly tolerant society of 21st century Britain is deeply intolerant of Jesus Christ and his teaching.

"Tim Farron's story demonstrates that even those who accept the liberal political agenda wholeheartedly become targets who are unfairly hounded and bullied. He was forced to answer questions on the morality of 'gay sex' and abortion. During the election campaign he had to choose whether to surrender his conscience and forfeit his soul to the intolerant, marauding elite.

"Even though he capitulated, this did not stop the hunt. Today he felt he could no longer lead, and had no option but to resign.

"Tim Farron's treatment demonstrates that Christians are simply not tolerated by the illiberal elite in positions of influence. This, alongside the widespread reaction to the DUP's views on abortion and same-sex unions, is further evidence of this anti-Christian morality.

"The vilification of the DUP for its opposition to abortion and same-sex unions and castigation of Tim Farron is shocking and upsetting. If we continue in this crusade of 'totalitolerance', we will enter a harsh and conformist world where Christianity will be 'no platformed' and eventually squeezed out of every sphere of public life. The elite determines what are toxic unacceptable views. Unless you approve of their 'new morality' you are punished. At first comes the loss of privilege, a political position, a place at university, then the detriment: the refusal of a grant and ultimately criminal sanction.

"The history of our nation proves that when Christianity was firmly at the heart of public life there was freedom, prosperity and beauty. The hard atheism that currently dominates our political discourse is cruel and doesn't tolerate dissent. Tim Farron is another in a long line of casualties. It is time to fight back before it is too late."


Editor 16/06/2017 00:50
The fall of Farron: neither liberal nor democratic

News Release from Evangelical Alliance (15/06/17)

Dr Dave Landrum, director of advocacy for the Evangelical Alliance, has written today on the resignation of Tim Farron. His article for Christian Today includes the following comments:

“During the election, various Christian candidates were targeted for some pretty unsavoury media attention, political criticism and activist protests. Their crime? They are Christians. Or more precisely traditional, mainstream, theologically orthodox, practising Christians.”

“However committed Christian public figures are to seeing a plural public square, a truly civil society, and a common good, it seems that for some it can never be enough.”

“Perhaps, most importantly it’s also worth reflecting on the fact that, more than what Tim Farron espoused or how he had voted, he was pursued for what he believes, what he thinks.”

“This all raises the question: after centuries of shaping politics and government, are Christian beliefs now unacceptable in public life?”

“Maybe we should drop the pretence of calling ourselves a liberal democracy and simply legislate against Christians in public life. That’s at least a more honest approach. Because as Tim Farron conceded ‘we are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society.’”

Editor 18/06/2017 16:22
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Editor 11/01/2018 17:08
TIM FARRON says he regrets saying gay sex is not a sin.

Asked by Premier Christian Radio why he suddenly changed his tune and whether he had felt under pressure to say gay sex was not a sin, Farron said: “Yeah. I’m going to write about this more in the coming weeks. But the bottom line is yes, of course I did.

“There are things, including that, that I said that I regret. There was a sense in which I felt, look, I’ve got to get this off my table … I would say foolishly and wrongly I attempted to push it away by giving an answer that frankly was not right.”

Read on...

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Christians Together in the Highlands and Islands > Christian Life > Christians and Politics > Did the cock crow that morning?