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The church’s role in extinguishing the truth


WE LIVE in a Lewis Carroll world. Brian Nguyen, 19, an overweight young man, can compete against attractive young women in a beauty pageant in the USA and win. In doing so he/she scooped a scholarship designed specifically for young women. Nguyen was described as ‘iconic’, ‘brave’ and a ‘history maker’. The business management student will go on to compete for the title Miss New Hampshire; we can only hope that the swimsuit round will be omitted.

Men who have failed to make an impact in sport can say they are women and compete in women’s events and become the winners they have always wanted to be. ‘Comedian’ Eddie Izzard can sometimes be in ‘boy mode’ and sometimes in ‘girl mode’, often depending on the height of his heels. He is a possible Labour candidate for Sheffield Central in the next general election.

A duchess can lay out differing versions of ‘my truth’ which are contradicted by the facts and still be admired and followed by millions because it is ‘her truth’. The Archbishop of Canterbury can say that there was no ‘secret’ wedding before Meghan Markle married Prince Harry, and that not only would he refuse to do such a thing, he couldn’t as it would be unlawful. Nevertheless, ‘my truth’ reigns.

Those of us who cry out that the emperor has no clothes are either silenced or ignored by the holders of power in the media, academia and politics because in today’s society truth is subordinate to feelings. Ours is a society without anchor, adrift in a chaotic complex of competing claims to ‘my truth’, every one of which must be respected; if we feel something is true then it is true for us. 

Who is responsible? The 19th-century grandfather of today’s post-modernism, Friedrich Nietzsche, the pastor’s son who killed God and buried good and evil at His side, said that ultimately the only authority we can appeal to is ourselves. ‘May each man, or woman, be only his or her true disciple,’ he wrote in 1878. We can see that post-modern philosophy has spread the anti-gospel of Nietzsche throughout the universities and colleges and into the schools and media until a generation is indoctrinated.

The Frankfurt School and the proponents of Cultural Marxism, following the lead of Antonio Gramsci, have also played their part in altering society fundamentally, not by violent overthrow but by infiltration. Those who have deliberately sought to change the culture and destroy the legacy of the Enlightenment by banishing reason have won.

While they are responsible for the present state of cultural confusion, just as responsible are those who should have resisted them and failed to do so. The watchmen who failed to raise the alarm are as responsible as the cultural despoilers. Chief amongst the failed watchmen is the mainstream church. 

Western culture, our values and ways of thinking, our achievements and advances stem ultimately from the Christian worldview. Whether or not the individuals who pioneered our scientific and cultural advances shared the faith (and the great majority of them did) they all operated within the parameters of a Christian worldview. Today’s mainstream church has failed to defend what has been built on a biblical foundation. 

Writing in the Times on the way in which our culture has been degraded, Melanie Phillips said: ‘Crucial to that process has been the absence of any concerted opposition. Institutions such as the Church of England, which might have produced a counter-narrative, have instead been among its principal cheerleaders.’  

This cheerleading tendency is exemplified by Dr Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford, who thinks the Church of England should conduct same-sex marriages. He has been joined by the Bishops of Worcester, Dudley, Buckingham, Reading and Dorchester. So eager is Dr Croft to accommodate LGBTQ+ sensibilities that he is willing to split his denomination apart by setting up a separate episcopal structure for conservative priests and congregations.

His reason for rejecting the teaching of the Bible and two thousand years of church tradition is that the CofE’s claim to serve the whole of society is at stake because its present stance ‘is leading to a radical dislocation between the Church of England and the culture and society we are intending to serve’.

Dr Croft, and those like him, labour under the illusion that the Church reaches the world only when it is no different from the world. Why should unbelievers consider the claims of Christ if there is little discernible difference between being a Christian and being a member of the Green Party? No wonder many think the mainstream church is more concerned with saving whales than saving souls. Dr Croft has added an extra vow to the confirmation service, affirming care for the environment. In Oxford you must follow Christ and St Greta of Thunberg.

Dr Croft fears that ‘we are seen to inhabit a different moral universe’. The truth is that Christians do inhabit a different moral universe. The church is called to follow Christ, and that includes defending the teaching of Scripture including the unpopular bits, even ‘if the world hate you’ (John 15:18,19).

The mainstream church has morphed into just another social institution. Institutions begin with a vision and the passion to carry it through. A necessary structure develops to serve those who do the work of furthering the vision. However, every structure carries the danger of seeing itself as important; what can follow is a gradual shift from maintaining the vision to maintaining the structure.

There are members who maintain a gospel vision but increasingly the institution sees the function of the organic church, the living stones, being to serve and preserve the institution rather than the institution being there to serve and further the organic church.

Ezekiel 33:1-6 reminds us that the watchman who fails will be held responsible by God. Without doubt the mainstream church has failed to sound the alarm and has gone over to the invader. As we needed a Reformation five centuries ago, we need a Reformation today.      

This article appeared in A Grain of Sand on November 25, 2022, and is repblished by kind permission

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Dr Campbell Campbell-Jack
Dr Campbell Campbell-Jack
Campbell is a retired Presbyterian minister who lives in Stirlingshire. He blogs at A Grain of Sand.

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