As historic liberties are increasingly denied to Christian individuals and churches, we must stand with Christ and with Scripture.
The Pragmatism of Polytheism
A further irony, that bears consideration in all this talk of values and liberty, is that the British state’s Counter Terrorism Security Bill seeks broad, invasive powers (asking Britons to simply ‘trust the state’ with a suspension of their civil liberties) to deal with a serious problem that it has created through its own stupidity – the suicidal social experiment of multiculturalism, which has proven an impossible disaster, leaving us with citizens who engage in terror and now, as well, with state coercion. Historically, British values certainly included hospitality to other peoples willing to live under the rule of Christian law, but such values never embraced polytheism! The subversive idea that all beliefs, gods, cultures and practices are ‘equal’ is as dangerous as it is false, and it is only recently, in the face of the rise of political Islam in our back garden, that Westerners are discovering just how false it is. A people with a strong faith and confidence can absorb large numbers of aliens, gaining their allegiance and converting them to their cultural beliefs, as the United States has ably demonstrated in the past. In 1840, when Lord Macaulay was describing what had taken place in North American colonies planted by England, he said: “Our firm belief is that the North owes its great civilization and prosperity chiefly to the moral effect of the Protestant Reformation.” However, when the faith of a dominant majority is undermined and wanes, militant minorities are able to sway and manipulate a whole nation.
The Anglosphere has lost its faith and is no longer able to absorb other peoples and win them to its culture. Polytheism is thus producing a kind of civil and social conflict, and all the modern state has is ‘pragmatism’ to fight with. However, the ‘cures’ that pragmatism offers for polytheistic strife in the West are more deadly than the disease. As one cultural theologian has observed:
The modern state has limited and desacralized life by declaring Christianity and the triune God to be matters of private concern and private allegiance. The realm of public life, seen by political theologians as the realm of the state, is a neutral realm…by removing the state from under God, and from a responsibility to God’s moral law, the civil theologians have thereby removed the realm of politics from the realm of meaning into the realm of pragmatism…pragmatism posits a meaningless world in which no [ultimate] criteria exists…the decline of belief that the state must be as much under law and authority as the church has led to a decline in the state’s authority… The modern state increasingly claims total power and at the same time sees increasingly the decay of its authority. Having removed itself from under the authority of God, it has lost authority. More and more authority is replaced with coercion and terror. [i]
These latest British proposals, and others like them in the Anglosphere, which are seeking to regulate thought and speech and curtail freedom, are an expression of this pragmatism, manifesting the decline of real authority and the state’s inevitable decay into coercion.
The popularised doctrines of the cultural Marxists (political correctness) which dominate the thinking of the intellectual and political class (and therefore the media), seek only a radically privatised Christianity (or its eradication) and an entirely secularised, state-regulated, welfare society – humanism stylised as religious neutrality. Multiculturalism (relativism or polytheism) has been used as a battering ram to indoctrinate Britons and the entire Anglosphere into believing that there is nothing exceptional about Christendom and that we must not just tolerate but accept all other worldviews as equally valid, making the state the ‘neutral’ arbitrator or referee between various cults within an authoritarian political community. This move was designed to facilitate the removal of Christianity and English liberties as the centre of life and meaning, undermining our self-understanding in the Anglosphere and leaving only political pragmatism as the governing social principle. In this worldview, the Christian account of marriage, family and social order under God – along with its concomitants of individual liberty, freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of the church and the rule of law – must be undermined to create social chaos. Such chaos would ‘require’ the curtailing of historic liberties and greater coercive control, resulting in the creation of a statist socialistic order.
With the growth of Islamic populations in the West has inevitably come Islamic social and political thought, which is also statist, coercive and totalitarian. The English liberties of Magna Carta are unknown in the Islamic world and, if expressed at all institutionally, are present because the Anglosphere exported them there. Now, however, the legal creation of Sharia tribunals, the rapid expansion of mosques and Islamic schools, and the implementation of Sharia law in Muslim communities in Britain is helping to create a climate of violence, abuse, terror and hostility to historic British values (that is, Christian values). The effective promotion of multiculturalism has allowed many Muslims to abuse the historic freedoms afforded by Christianity in Britain and cynically use them against their generous hosts. But our faithless politicians do not have the political will or courage to call a spade and spade and acknowledge that their humanistic assault on Christendom in the name of multiculturalism, with its radical secularisation of society, has exposed the Anglosphere to deadly threats.
With robust Christian faith gone, the modern state’s only recourse is a pragmatism in which historic English liberties are jettisoned. Out of fear and confusion, they refuse to confront the real threat – Islam – head-on and hide behind extremism measures that will be used by progressives to assault Christianity. The radical forces of Islamisation can be combated by perfectly good laws which already exist. There are already laws against inciting violence and hatred, as well as glorifying terrorism, which could be applied to arrest and prosecute the barbarians in our midst, but they are not adequately used or applied. This leads to the tragic conclusion that, for many elites, the real targets of these new proposals aren’t terrorists, but Christians who refuse to accept the new order. The main problem is not large scale Islamic immigration – that is a symptom of the problem. The real challenge comes from the domestic opponents of liberty, whose cultural relativism has created hard policy and who want the Anglosphere’s political system brought into line with more autocratic foreign models. As Hannan has tellingly warned: The tragedy of our age is that those domestic opponents are succeeding. Having developed and exported the most successful system of government known to the human race, the English-speaking peoples are tiptoeing away from their own creation.[ii]
Instead of cherishing our history and traditions as a precious inheritance bequeathed to us by former wise or valiant men – a rich estate to be enjoyed and used by all, as Churchill had so eloquently put it – our “Anglosphere identity is seen as a colonial hangover, the patrimony of dead white European males. In every English-speaking country, a multiculturalist establishment hangs back from teaching children that they are heirs to a unique political heritage.” [iii]
One of the great patriotic songs of my homeland, England, is “Land of Hope and Glory”, a land the progressives of our age want to revolutionise beyond all recognition. The first lines of the chorus of that song read: “Land of Hope and Glory, Mother of the Free, / How shall we extol thee, who are born of thee?” Britain truly was used by the grace of God as the mother of social and political freedoms around the world and for the spread of gospel freedom to the nations. The great free nations of the world – the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Singapore and arguably other parts of the former Empire – were nurtured by the Christian freedoms of Magna Carta, English Common law and a Parliament and monarchy that recognised their subordination and accountability to God. This meant an appeal beyond the state to a higher law and, therefore, the recognition of the liberties of all people under God. It is heart-breaking that today the mother of the free is steadily abandoning liberty for coercion.
In the face of this, the Christian individual, family and church must hold fast to the freedom bequeathed to us in the gospel. The Great Commission in Matthew 28 asserts, amongst other things, the absolute freedom of the gospel and our authority to preach it and teach it to all men and nations for all time. Christ tells the disciples:
All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always to the end of the age. (Matt. 28:18-20)
We are authorised by the King of kings himself to disciple nations. To declare the truth of the whole gospel to presidents, princes and common people alike. We are also required to teach all peoples everything God has commanded and we are assured of his presence with us in the task. The immediate relevance of this authority is seen when the apostles were told by their government not to preach the gospel. They refused to comply:
After they brought them in, they had them stand before the Sanhedrin and the high priest asked, “Didn’t we strictly order you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching”…But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5: 27-29)
As historic liberties are increasingly denied to Christian individuals and churches, we must stand with Christ and with Scripture. For if the state commands what God forbids, or forbids what God commands, obedience to God and disobedience to the coercive state is the Christian’s duty. Jesus Christ, not Caesar, is Lord, and the only basis of true freedom that the world has ever known has been entrusted to us in the gospel. English liberties are not national or ethnic rights, they are freedoms inherited because of the influence of the Christian faith. If we abandon the biblical truth that undergirds them, these freedoms will not survive our apostasy. Liberty will then be inherited by other peoples who have received and applied the gospel whilst we will be subjected to tyranny.
The age in which we live is a time of judgment. There remains a window for repentance and change, but it is closing fast. The church still has the opportunity to speak loud and clear for the gospel and for liberty. If we fail to do so, we will be the first generation in 800 years to squander and despise Magna Carta and, more importantly, we will be turning our backs on our Christian forebears and the faith and freedoms for which they paid so great a price. Let us then write the words of Christ in the core of our being: “If you continue in my word, you really are My disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free… Therefore, if the Son sets you free, you really will be free” (John 8:31-32, 36).
[i] R. J. Rushdoony, Sovereignty (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2007), 380-381.