Archive for the ‘Culture and society’ Category
Many Christians in the UK will be aware of one or more of the various campaigns opposing the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill currently passing through the Houses of Parliament. There was significant opposition to this legislation in the House of Commons, though the Bill did pass its Second Reading and is now heading for the Committee Stage (keep up at the back). After this it will pass to the House of Lords, where their lordships will hopefully give it a good kicking.
Anyway, one of the campaigns seeking to muster principled Scriptural opposition to the Bill is called Keep Marriage Special (other campaigns are available). This particular campaign deliberately maintains a narrow focus on the teaching of Scripture with regard to marriage, avoiding other concerns (however legitimate). They have been having some technical issues with their online petition, but it is now up and running here.
The petition is for UK residents only aged 16 and over. Anyone answering this description can sign even if one or all of the other similar petitions have been signed (there are also printable petitions for download for those who may wish to sign up but who do not have ready access to the interweb). So, if you are interested, please check out Keep Marriage Special.
Spurgeon offers an antidote to the epidemic of haziness in the allegedly-evangelical would-be mind:
Know what you know, and, knowing it cling to it. Hold fast the form of sound doctrine. Do not be as some are, of doubtful mind, who know nothing, and even dare to say that nothing can be known. To such the highest wisdom is to suspect the truth of everything they once knew, and to hang in doubt as to whether there are any fundamentals at all. I should like an answer from the Broad Church divines to one short and plain question. What truth is so certain and important as to justify a man in sacrificing his life to maintain it? Is there any doctrine for which a wise man should yield his body to be burned? According to all that I can understand of modern liberalism, religion is a mere matter of opinion, and no opinion is of sufficient importance to be worth contending for. The martyrs might have saved themselves a world of loss and pain if they had been of this school, and the Reformers might have spared the world all this din about Popery and Protestantism. I deplore the spread of this infidel spirit, it will eat as doth a canker. Where is the strength of a church when its faith is held in such low esteem? Where is conscience? Where is love of truth? Where soon will be common honesty? In these days with some men, in religious matters, black is white, and all things are whichever colour may happen to be in your own eye, the colour being nowhere but in your eye, theology being only a set of opinions, a bundle of views and persuasions. The Bible to these gentry is a nose of wax which everybody may shape just as he pleases. Beloved, beware of falling into this state of mind; for if you do so I boldly assert that you are not Christian at all, for the Spirit which dwells in believers hates falsehood, and clings firmly to the truth. Our great Lord and Master taught mankind certain great truths plainly and definitely, stamping them with his “Verily, verily;” and as to the marrow of them he did not hesitate to say, “He that believeth shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned;” a sentence very abhorrent to modern charity, but infallible nevertheless. Jesus never gave countenance to the baseborn charity which teaches that it is no injury to a man’s nature to believe a lie. Beloved, be firm, be stedfast, be positive. There are certain things which are true; find them out, grapple them to you as with hooks of steel. Buy the truth at any price and sell it at no price.
Avram Grant’s story is an incredible one. We know him as the quietly spoken man who took Chelsea to within a John Terry penalty of the Champions League title in 2008.
We know him as the boss at West Ham and the man who gave the passionate speech to Portsmouth fans on the brink of relegation and administration in 2010.
His own story – the son of a Polish Jew who married the daughter of an influential Iraqi lawyer who was forced to flee to Israel – is remarkable, but the history of his family is as rich as it is tragic, as heart-warming as it is heart-breaking and as inspiring as it is dark.
My brother blogs movingly about football manager Avram Grant’s family history and sense of the past.
Dear Prime Minister,
Re: Same-sex marriage
You must be aware that there are many Christians in this country who are experiencing a variety of reactions to the proposal (or is it decision?) to permit same- sex marriage. Reactions include disbelief, that such a major change in the family and social structures of this country could go through without a serious debate about the issues, or at least get a mention in your party manifesto to put people ‘on notice’; disillusionment that political power is being used to override the sincerely held convictions of millions on a major issue; and disappointment at the way our very valid objections and questions are being sidestepped or met with contempt or abuse. . . .
Read the rest of Mostyn Robert’s thoughtful letter to the PM here.
Football (read soccer if you are from the US) fans will be deeply troubled by the news that filtered through from White Hart Lane earlier this evening. During the course of the match, just before half-time, the Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba collapsed – quite separately from the action on the pitch at the time – and was immediately attended by medics. Resuscitation was immediately attempted, including CPR and a defibrillator.
The other players were plainly deeply shocked and distressed. Muamba was taken from the field apparently not breathing independently and rushed to hospital. News of his condition has yet to be confrmed. The worst is feared and the best is hoped for.
Certain things become immediately plain in the aftermath of such a tragedy.
The first is that things quickly achieve their proper perspective. Bill Shankly’s idiotic observation that “some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that,” is immediately revealed for the nonsense it is. As Mark Lawrenson put it, “Football is absolutely and totally immaterial in comparison of what’s happened to Fabrice.” Watch the faces of the players and the spectators and it immediately becomes clear that when life and death are in the balance, football does not matter very much at all. If it did, someone would have dragged Muamba’s body to the side of the pitch to allow the teams to get on with the game. Rather, when a man’s life – when his immortal soul – is in the balance, suddenly the trophies and glories of this passing world are seen not to matter very much at all.
The second is that the religious instinct in men made in the image of God has not been eradicated. To be sure, there will be thousands who sincerely care about Fabrice Muamba and his recovery who will have no thought of God, but look at the tweets and Facebook updates, listen to the interviews, and what is the one thing that so many commentators are saying and encouraging? “Pray[ing] for Fabrice Muamba.”
A typical response reads, “”Doesn’t matter who you support. Doesn’t matter if you aren’t a football fan. Doesn’t matter if you aren’t religious. Pray for Fabrice Muamba.”
These are people who – by and large, and by their own admission – live day by day with no regard for God, acting as they please in accordance with their own desires, with God’s name usually no more than blasphemy on their lips. But then the crisis strikes, and what is the response? Let us pray. But why? Really? How? For what? To whom? In what way?
That these questions are not answered, and might not be answerable, does not alter the essential fact: the instinct of fallen man when faced with a situation he cannot handle is to cry out to God, or at least to whatever he believes crying out is to whatever God he may imagine. The point here is not so much to critique the theology of the praying as to point out the reality of the reaction.
Let us not imagine that secularism and irreligion and sinfulness have eradicated the image of God in mankind. Let us not forget that man is, by his very nature, a religious individual, a reliant, dependent individual, a worshipping being. When a real crisis occurs, that instinct – however marred and twisted – rises swiftly to the surface.
Prayer is a real hope for Fabrice Muamba. Those who know their God and know what prayer is might pray for his survival and recovery.
But let us also be ready to aim at the target once more revealed by the reaction to this terrible event. Let us be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within us. Let us take the opportunity – when men who have nowhere else to go, being rendered powerless (and knowing it) by a turn of events for which they have witnessed, begin to cry out to God – to make God known: “Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, him I proclaim to you” (Acts 17.23).
It is not wrong for the thoughts and prayers of true believers to be concerned with Fabrice Muamba, asking that God would preserve his life and – without presuming to know his relationship with the living and true God – to save his soul. It is right for our thoughts and prayers also to be with those shaken and bewildered men and women who have had their deepest fears and their great weakness and ignorance suddenly revealed, and to ask that they would come to a knowledge of the truth, seeking and finding the God whom we proclaim, the living and saving Lord of heaven and earth.