Friday, 30 May 2008

"Christians Have Duty to Witness to their Faith"

BRITAIN’s destiny depends on Christianity, the Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, said this week, in an article published the day after he responded to questions on a General Synod motion that has called for Christians to evangelise British Muslims.

The private member’s motion, by Paul Eddy, who is training for the priesthood, called on the Church to proclaim Christianity as the only route to ultimate salvation. Mr Eddy said he had been under pressure to withdraw his motion.

“What I have said to journalists regarding the Paul Eddy motion is that we need to respect people of all faiths and none,” Dr Nazir-Ali said on Tuesday. “In the context of our dialogue with them, it is our duty to witness to our faith and to call people to faith in Jesus Christ, whilst recognising that people of other faiths may have similar responsibilities.”

The Christian faith was the basis for welcoming people into the life of the nation, he said. “There cannot, however, be an honest conversation on the basis of fudge.”

On Wednesday, the Bishop helped launch a new magazine, Standpoint, in which he warned that the days of separating religion and public life were over. “The Westphalian consensus is dead,” he wrote in his article, “A Christian Britain in a plural world?” He was referring to the 17th-century agreement that a country’s religion would not again be the grounds for going to war, and which ended the conflict in Europe between Roman Catholics and Protestants.

“We are now in a global context where we will not be able to escape the questions raised by faith for public life,” the article continues. If Britain was to be prevented from wandering too far from the path of its national destiny, then it needed to understand the central part that the Christian faith had played, and still played, in what it achieved. “In a plural, multifaith, and multicultural situation, it can still provide the resources for both supporting and critiquing public life in this country,” the article says.

Christianity had once united England, and had created a “golden chain” of social harmony under God. That Christian consensus had dissolved, and left a moral and spiritual vacuum into which radical Islamism was moving.

“What resources do we have to face yet another ideological battle?” the Bishop asks. Only the restoration of Christian faith and discourse at the heart of the country’s common life was “robust” enough to re-establish the core British values of human dignity, equality, freedom, and a safe and peaceful society, he concludes.

Source: Church Times 30 May 2008


Lorna said...

Olive, what is your take on what the bishop said? or the motion in general.

Personally I feel that all of Europe is going so far into the pluralist route that soon we will no longer say that Jesus is the ONLY way to salvation. Then I wonder what makes Christians different to those e.g. of the Bahai faith.

should we be different? Is perhaps THE question

BTW please note my new blog address if you haven't already done so

(still writing as see-through faith but at a new address) blessings xx

Sally said...

I picked up on this article too Olive. It will be interesting to see what type of response it gets.

Olive Morgan said...

Lorna and Sally,
This is not as easy as it seems at first glance, is it? In my teens, when I yearned to go overseas to witness to my faith and 'convert the heathen', I would have agreed wholeheartedly and even been surprised that it had to be stated like that! But many - too many! - years have passed since then and we live in a 'global village where we no longer think of 'them' and
'us'. As today's Thought for the Day reminded us, Christianity was the 'glue' that stuck Great Britain together, whereas now it has become a multicultural society.

I still have the urge - the need - to share my faith with those who have never heard of Jesus or who are in need of help. In fact, the plea from Churches Together in Caversham for volunteers to join in street evangelism this summer has only found response from the Minister and me from my church!

At a time when Sikhs in great numbers go to their Temple which I remember as a Methodist church and another Methodist church is now a very busy, thriving Hindu Temple, I am having to rethink my motivation. I am still in this process. It seems to me that I now look at evangelism as dealing with the individual person where they are in their quest for faith when we meet, rather than converting Muslims or Hindus. In many ways, it is easier to discuss faith with those who already have a faith - Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, etc. - than those in our own culture who have rejected all faith and are possibly also very antagonistic.

When all is said and done, the Good News of Jesus - his sacrificial death for us, his resurrection and his living day-by-day presence with us now - shows a Love that cries out to be shared. It is a Love in which those of all other faiths and none can find relief, foregiveness, joy and peace. After all, our Lord Himself told us to go into all the world (which we now have on our doorstep) and make disciples of all people. I don't see this as aggressive evangelism - shouting 'Are you saved?' at passers-by or stuffing leaflets into unwilling hands - but as mingling with the crowds and entering into natural conversations as they occur, as well as offering help if that appears to be needed. In other words, just being there for people and ready to talk about Jesus if the opportunity arises.

Yes, we have a duty to 'gossip the Gospel'. We have been silent too long.