THE 18th century poet William Cowper said concerning societies which have cast off the fear of God:
When nations perish in their sins,
’Tis in the church the leprosy begins.
Cowper rightly observed that national decline is a direct consequence of the churches failing in their task. Recent days have afforded us with some sombre illustrations of this tragic reality.
On June 27, the Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, stated on GB News concerning the resignation of Matt Hancock that he was more worried about the breaking of social distancing regulations than ‘a middle-aged bloke having a bit of a fling’. Such words give the impression that man-made Covid-19 rules outweigh in importance the God-given seventh commandment.
Surely it is the primary task of a bishop to be concerned about men’s immortal souls and to warn those who are in danger? Adultery is gross moral wickedness, keeping the unrepentant outside of the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). The Bible refers to the adulterer as ‘destroying his own soul’ (Proverbs 6:32). Yes, the Bishop subsequently spoke of adultery as being a serious act of betrayal, but it was not his primary point. His words came over as a distinct sidelining of God’s commandment in favour of a greater emphasis upon the Covid restrictions.
This shows us how much the Church of England is grounded in the philosophies of this world, and in the prevailing fashions of the moment, rather than in the perfect revelation of God in Scripture. Daniel French has commented in the Spectator concerning the Bishop’s remarks that conformity to the Government’s pandemic regulations appears to have become a fundamental Anglican doctrine of the faith.
On June 30 the Methodist Church voted at its annual conference to allow the conducting of same-sex marriages on its premises. To compound this fist-shaking rebellion against God, the conference passed a resolution affirming the legitimacy in God’s sight of cohabitation outside marriage, even though the Bible refers to such practice as the sin of fornication.
The Methodist conference delegates voted to introduce same-sex marriage by a large margin of 254 to 46. The decision was much influenced by a study document produced in the summer of 2019 entitled God in Love Unites us. In this report we have the statement that ‘the Methodist Church must engage with the reality of how people are living today’. Here we observe the root of the problem within so many churches: a burning desire to go with the flow of a God-rejecting society. All adherence to the Biblical concept of separation from the world has been completely lost. The true church’s calling is NOT to conform to the crowd, but to ‘come out from among them, and be separate’ (2 Corinthians 6:17).
God in Love Unites us further refers to ‘the range of identities to be found among human beings, especially with regard to gender and sexuality’. This statement represents an appalling capitulation to the LGBT lobby. When God created mankind, we are told, ‘Male and female created he them’ (Genesis 1:27). There is nothing in the Bible about a range of gender and sexual identities.
On June 26, as Peter Mullen has told us in these columns, Paul Bayes, the Bishop of Liverpool, called for the Church of England’s recognition of same-sex marriage, using the term ‘gender-neutral marriage’. He argued that those in the world and outside the Church find it offensive to confine marriage to one man and one woman, therefore the Church must adapt. It appears that Christian doctrine is now to be determined on the basis of the opinions of a God-rejecting society.
So many people in the mainstream denominations now follow the social justice creed of the cultural Marxists. The teachings of the Black Lives Matter movement and the climate change activists now carry far more weight than the precious life-giving gospel of a Saviour crucified for sinners.
As one who is a minister in the historic Methodist tradition (thankfully independent of the main denomination), how I lament the Methodist Church’s departure from the faith of the Scriptures. To vote for same-sex marriage, rejecting the Bible’s plain classification of homosexuality as sinful, is to ignore what John Wesley once said about the authority of Scripture:
‘My ground is the Bible . . . I follow it in all things great and small . . . The Christian rule of right and wrong is the word of God, the writings of the Old and New Testament . . . This is a lantern unto a Christian’s feet, and a light in all his paths.’
Britain is in a mess because it has abandoned the Christian faith. The nation lies in gross spiritual darkness, which is why society has succumbed to so much disproportionate fear and anxiety in respect of Covid. The primary problem is that so many churches have embraced the spirit of the age, instead of confronting it. May the Lord be pleased to raise up spiritual leaders and mighty preachers whose priority is to declare Biblical truth, regardless of the winds of fashion, because the unchanging gospel of the crucified and risen Saviour is our nation’s only hope.