Encouragements and battles in the latest news

Jun 25, 2019 by

by Andrew Symes, Anglican Mainstream:

A number of articles and books have recently demonstrated how the BBC – like many of our national institutions – is controlled by a liberal-leaning elite, and has moved away from its nominally Christian roots to promote a progressive worldview, while marginalising and despising orthodox Christianity. While this may largely be true, nevertheless from time to time excellent, encouraging material bucks the trend and gets through.

For example, an elderly lady departed from the programme’s script on “pensioners suffer because of government cuts” in a live radio interview, and instead shared her joy in life because of her faith. A whole programme devoted to the work of Christians against Poverty captured something of the transformative effect of faith in Christ in disadvantaged communities.

More recently – a piece about Christian influence in the Hong Kong democracy protest, as journalists have been interested in how the old 1970’s chorus “Sing alleluia to the Lord” has become the main anthem of the protesters. And in a feature on churches becoming safe havens for young people in a context of rising knife violence (shortly to be discussed at General Synod), radio interviews featured Pentecostal and C of E ministers speaking freely about faith issues, and a testimony from one young man who abandoned crime after finding faith in Christ.

An interesting ‘reality’ series has just ended, in which families recreate the harsh life of living on a Welsh coastal island in 1900. In one scene, after three days at sea catching nothing, the men let out their nets one more time, and one man, clearly a Christian, prayed fervently. They caught 85 fish.

Meanwhile there are other examples to show that the culture war is not going all one way. Like a sporting competition where occasionally there is an upset and a powerful favourite is beaten by a ‘minnow’, we’re occasionally seeing reversals for the progressive cause. A extraordinary and very worrying judicial decision to compel a woman to have an abortion was reversed after a campaign.

There is now significant pushback against the transgender ideology from secular organisations. In Scotland, feminist politicians, outraged at the prospect of hard-earned rights for women (defined by biological sex, not subjective feelings) being mocked by men in dresses accessing female-only space, are resisting the absurd and dangerous ‘self identification” proposals driven by the LGBT lobby.

In England, the Transgender Trend website has gained traction by giving voice to the concerns of parents alarmed by the revolutionary proselytising of children by trans lobby groups. Recently they have been highlighting the way scientifically false myths about gender are being presented to educators, social workers and other service providers by the Mermaids charity, and how Mermaids have been guilty of serious data privacy breaches. Meanwhile a group of academics are so concerned about the Orwellian clampdown on freedoms, where people are bullied into accepting nonsense through Stonewall “diversity” training”, that they signed a letter to the Times – a newspaper which for all its faults has been a space for expression of views opposing the transgender ideology. At least one of the academics has been threatened with dismissal as a result, but the willingness to speak out is encouraging for the rest of us.

Are these examples signs of a turning of the tide, a move towards the regaining of good sense, where as a culture we will wake up from the bad dream of enforced political correctness, celebration of immorality and shaming of Christian orthodoxy, or are they rather pockets of resistance against the cultural Marxist juggernaut?

As Christians we are optimistic about the reality of God, his sustaining of the world and his faithful love for his people, and the certainty of the future in which the Lamb triumphs and the new heaven and new earth are established. We know that the Holy Spirit is active in the world today, working through the church and in answer to prayer according to God’s sovereignty. But this does not mean that we can expect everything to turn out comfortably for us.

In my view, the good news stories mentioned above are not signs of an imminent return to an era of peace and freedom. I don’t think we will be like the Israelites in the time of Isaiah who woke up to find the Assyrian army had abandoned the siege of Jerusalem. The need to contend for truth, to point out error, to support those who have got into trouble for saying the ‘wrong’ thing, to develop communities of wisdom, faith and resistance against an increasingly oppressive secularism – the faithful church is called to do this and it may become harder. We need to find examples to follow in the persecuted church overseas, in our own national church history, in the occasional glimmer of hope in the secular world – sometimes even found on the BBC!

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