‘That which does not kill us, makes us stronger’ – anti-Christian 19th Century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, the originator of the aphorism, which the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, attributed to his father in a media statement on June 24th AD 2016 after the British electorate voted to leave the European Union.
‘I feel that, as Sheffield men, we shall deal with this matter in a practical manner. We have before us substantial marks of wreck, distress and loss of life, and our first duty and desire will be, as in times past, to meet and relieve, in a practical and warm hearted manner, the sad consequences now before us, without stopping to investigate the cause of the calamity or who is to blame for it. Let us put our names down for something at once, and not let that which is already bad be made worse by delay’ – John Brown, of The Atlas Steel Works, seconding a motion for the voluntary relief of the victims of the Sheffield Flood in the Town Hall on March 14th AD 1864 – quoted in The Dramatic Story of the Sheffield Flood by Peter Machan.
The worldviews epitomised by these two quotations are spiritually and morally polarised. One celebrates autonomous human power after the death of the transcendent God in Western civilisation, the other springs from a culture saturated with Christian values.
Certainly, the Victorian corporation whose burst dam flooded Sheffield in 1864 did behave badly after the event in raising water rates, showing the ugly face of unregulated capitalism. But the likes of John Brown and the Earl of Wharncliffe (‘Don’t pinch your contributions!’), who committed at one meeting, without any compulsion from the State, hundreds of thousands of pounds in today’s money for the practical relief of the flood’s victims, exemplified a society which generally believed in the reality of ultimate divine judgement and in Christian salvation.
John Brown was the product of a society that believed that humanity faced the clear personal choice as summarised by these words in John’s Gospel: ‘He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not in the Son shall not see life; for the wrath of God abideth on him’ (John 3v36 – King James Version).
Unless 21st Century Britons reject the death of God and embrace again the loving truth of the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of the one true God, what ultimate good can Brexit do us?
Is not a mess of pottage still a mess of pottage even if you take the European red tape off the packaging?