MUZZLED BY FEAR
In a society which is becoming increasingly hostile to Christianity, preachers and believers in general are discovering that it can be costly to speak out; and accordingly safer to remain silent.
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation". (Mark 16:15)
Some time ago a church member reported that his church had removed some sermons from the church’s website. The reason being that the church did not want to attract unwanted attention from the authorities regarding what the Bible preacher had said about unbiblical sexual activity.
Such action is in effect gagging oneself, and amounts to a failure to preach the Truth and the whole Truth into all the world as Christ called all disciples to do.
Another form of self-censorship occurs when preachers remain in a denomination which has overtly and explicitly departed from the Word of God. How can such a person preach against the apostasy of those who pay their wages and sit as an authority over them?
A financial bind
We are now living in an age whereby governments are implementing regulations and laws which run completely contrary to what the Bible teaches. However though these things should be proclaimed from the pulpits and into the public square, there is a deafening silence. Why? Partly because most churches and Christian organisations are registered charities and the regulations forbid pronounicing on anything deemed as being 'political'.
So why might churches and Christian organisations not wish give up their charitable status? Because that would deprive them of the income from the reclaimed tax under the gift aid scheme. Additionally charities can and do apply for financial assistance from public funds and grant-making bodies. Imagine if some of these funds are required to finance a new building or other significant investment. Or if the pastor's salary depends on it.
A lawyer's web site gives the following advice to those considering setting up a charity:
It is however, important to bear in mind if you are wishing to set up a charity that the benefits of charitable status are only available in exchange for the not inconsiderable restrictions imposed on how a charity may operate.
Added to the above are the following which could silence a preacher/church.
church premises suffering damage or buildings being defaced by graffiti
being accused of being ‘fundamentalist/bigoted/unloving
attacks on church individuals and or family/home/private property
adverse reaction from 'politically-correct' church authorities who have adopted the world's standards
It is not always obvious when the above dynamics effectively silence the voice of the believing church. However last May (2015) the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly set its mind on accepting same-sex marriage within the ranks of its clergy.
At least one presbytery has, retrospectively, dissented from this ‘trajectory’ but following the Assembly not a single local church or preacher in a that presbytery gave public voice to their view.
Additionally when that presbytery – following an internal vote to do so - attempted to distance itself from the denominations decision, the former was held to be in contempt of the Church’s General Assembly and ordered to rescind the notice of dissent and strike the record from the Presbytery minutes. The Presbytery obediently complied.
Street preacher arrested
Elsewhere, some years ago an American street evangelist was preaching the Gospel in Glasgow with grace and sensitivity when he was approached by two people and asked what he thought about homosexuality. The preacher replied that he loved all people, but he also said that all sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage was wrong. He was then reported to the police, apprehended, locked up in a dirty police cell and charged with Breach of the Peace, Sectarianism and Homophobia. The team's video recording of the event was taken from the preacher and never returned. (Article on Shawn Holes can be found here. The recorded interviews with the evangelist and his team are very revealing.)
The three charges levelled against Holes were
1. Breach of the Peace
In effect merely reading out three verses from the Bible could render any believer vulnerable to the above charges. Respectively:
For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead. (Acts 17:31)
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men. (1 Cor. 6.9).
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me". (John 14:6)
Fear is the enemy's device
Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified
Fear is a powerful device in Satan's toolkit, and the enemy of God is using it to silence the voice of the church.
In King Saul's day a Philistine giant threatened the nation of Israel:
"This day I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other." (1 Sam. 17:10) And the response of the King and his subjects?
"On hearing the Philistine's words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified" (1 Sam. 17:11).
Later, after the split between the northern and southern tribes, King Ahab's evil wife Jezebel who had killed the other prophets threatened Elijah with the same fate. We read:
"Elijah was afraid and ran for his life" (1 Kings. 19:3).
In New Testament times the fear of men was similarly evident (Matt 21:26) but the apostle Paul wrote to the young Timothy:
Paul "moved freely in Jerusaelm, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord"
"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Tim 1:7).
A godly fear
Following his Damascus Road conversion Paul "moved freely in Jerusaelm, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord". His preaching produced a church in the region of which we read: "was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord." This was a godly fear and is the only legimated fear allowed to Christians and commended to the unbelieving world.
"In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:
Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry."
(2 Tim 4:1-4)
The Editor, 26/04/2016
|Thank God for one 'fearless' Christian. But read about the cost:
No freedom given to Victoria Wasteney to talk to a Muslim colleague about her faith. Andrea Williams of Christian Concern reports.
Victoria Wasteney, the NHS therapist who was disciplined for giving a book to a Muslim colleague, has today lost her appeal against the Employment Tribunal's ruling.
In a judgment handed down today, Judge Eady QC upheld the Tribunal's ruling, that the NHS had acted reasonably in disciplining Victoria for:
* Inviting her colleague to church-related events
* Praying with her (with consent)
* Giving her a Christian book
Today's ruling raises serious questions as to whether any Christian in a position such as Victoria's will be protected, if they manifest their faith in the workplace.
Victoria is consulting lawyers at the Christian Legal Centre as she considers how to respond to the judgment.
Victoria, who is Head of Forensic Occupational Therapy at a London hospital, was suspended for nine months and then received a written warning following allegations of 'harassment and bullying' by a Muslim staff-member.
An internal disciplinary panel dismissed five complaints against her but upheld three saying that Victoria was wrong to have:
* Invited her colleague to various church-organised events
* Prayed with her colleague (despite having her permission to do so)
* Given her a book about a Muslim woman's encounter with Christianity
This had taken place over a period of several months in the context of what Victoria believed to be a genuine friendship.
In April last year, the Employment Tribunal ruled that her NHS employer had acted reasonably in disciplining Victoria.
Following a hearing last October, Victoria was granted permission to appeal, after Judge Eady QC said that the Employment Appeal Tribunal should consider whether the original ruling had properly applied the European Convention on Human Rights' strong protection of freedom of religion and expression.
Responding to today's decision, Victoria said:
"What the Court clearly failed to do was to say how, in today's politically correct world, any Christian can even enter into a conversation with a fellow employee on the subject of religion and not, potentially, later end up in an Employment Tribunal.
"If someone sends you friendly text messages, how is one to know that they are offended? I had no idea that I was upsetting her. For example, I was sent the following text message by the Muslim complainant:-
'Hope your (sic) okay Victoria, your (sic) am (sic) amazing manager and a wonderful person, I hope you never feel otherwise!! Anyone that can't see that is an idiot, see you tomorrow xx'
"I believe the NHS singled me out for discipline because Christianity is so disrespected. Previously a Christian worship service that I set up for patients was closed down, but accommodation for Muslims to practise their faith wholly facilitated and encouraged ".
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre which is supporting Victoria, commented:
"Week by week Christians are marginalised, threatened, sidelined, sacked and disciplined simply for holding normal conversations about their faith which is held dear to them.
"The United Kingdom has a strong foundation rooted in Christianity which has brought us freedom and flourishing. The NHS and our Education System were started by Christians - motivated by their faith. Our legal system was founded on Christian values and yet we now see that it is one of the most liberal and anti-Christian legal systems in the Western world.
"We need a radical review of the balance of rights in this country which is skewed to favour religions and ideologies other than Christianity. This is ironic given that it is Christianity that has given our society freedom, tolerance and hospitality".
At this rate how long will it be before Christians are driven underground?
I believe you will find that the NHS was founded by Aneurin Bevan, a Marxist socialist-he was no Christian!
The NHS has robbed the individual of personal responsibility and made him/her reliant on the state/big government, which was Bevan and co.'s aim.
|Talk about being "muzzled with fear", I put a public comment on facebook thus:
In an already hostile world toward Christians, it got even more hostile, we now have a Muslim mayor of London and a lesbian leader of the Scottish conservatives.
My wife told me to remove it (I complied) as it may offend some of her 'friends'.