So, it seems David Cameron is ‘doing God’ again. The possible reasons for this are numerous, from trying to court the so called ‘evangelical vote’, particularly after the recent passing of gay marriage into UK statute which has disappointed many evangelical Christians, to the apparent desertion of many evangelicals to UKIP. This latter motivation might be particularly likely given the upcoming European elections which the UKIPs are tipped to do rather well in. Alternatively, it could be neither of these things, it could be that Mr Cameron really does love the Church (or at least his version of it) and that he wants the UK to hear more about his faith. In any case, it’s not my job to judge Mr Cameron’s motives. No, my purpose here is to share some comments on how the Prime Minister portrayed Christianity in his recent media output.
The overriding sense I got from listening and reading to DC’s comments was that he felt Christianity’s main contribution in the past, present and future of UK society is essentially social. That is, Cameron made much mention of the soup kitchens, homeless shelters and plethora of other social projects run by Christians throughout the land. Furthermore, and perhaps even more importantly, he feels that Christianity has much to teach about ‘morality’ and ‘being good.’ Well, to put it bluntly, Christianity is neither primarily about doing good things or being good. Nor should it be doing things the state should be doing (i.e. the ‘Big Society’). To put it another way, why did Jesus walk this earth and found what we now know as Christianity? Observe Jesus’ words in the gospel of Mark, and the Apostle Paul’s words to the Corinthian church.
Jesus: ‘For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
Paul: ‘For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.’ (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
Thus, we can see here that Jesus didn’t come to tell people to live moral lives or encourage us to run good social projects but to give his life as a ransom for humanity. What is more, he did so for precisely for the opposite reason to what Cameron has insinuated in his Easter output up to now, because man isn’t inherently good but is inherently sinful (Ephesians 2:3), hence why we need a saviour in Jesus, who was inherently good (2 Corinthians 5:21). In other words, what makes Christianity so unique is not what Christians have done for the World, but what Jesus has done for us in offering eternal life through his death and resurrection. It is disappointing that the Prime Minister neglected to mention this life changing truth .
Indeed, this life changing truth is massively important because despite it being worthwhile to get involved in various social works as Christians, we should not do so for their own sake or because they in themselves are what make us Christians or what constitute the Church. Thus, without acknowledgement of the gospel, Christianity is merely a promoter of good social works and good morality in themselves, and not a solution to the ultimate problem of sin brought about by man’s rejection of God. Put plainly, Christianity without the gospel, is no Christianity at all. Hence, the PM was greatly mistaken in failing to mention this, and to me failed to really present the true Christianity seen in the Bible.
With this in mind, it’s no surprise that Big Dave appears to see Christianity and the Church through the lens of the so called ‘Big Society.’ I fear that one of the key reasons the PM sees Christianity as good is because it is a vehicle through which duties previously undertaken by the State can be performed. This, to be frank, is quite wrong.
The Bible makes it clear that Christians should be spending much of their time proclaiming the gospel to those unsaved (2 Cor 5:18-20), and building up fellow Christians in faith and in godliness (Ephesians 4:11-16), enabling them to stand firm in the gospel into eternity. This in my mind means that Christians shouldn’t be spending the majority of their time immersed in social programmes which the state should be initiating and maintaining. Now as I’ve said already, Christians undertaking social works is good, not least because evangelism (that is, sharing the gospel) can be particularly effective through building genuine relationships. However, the Bible clearly states that God has instituted the state to govern (Romans 13:1-2), not to palm off duties to the Church in order to fulfil the Tory small state ideal. That is not what the Church is there for! In other words, seeking to fit the Church and Christianity into some man-made political fad simply doesn’t wash.
To conclude, David Cameron in arguing the case for Christianity in Great Britain has missed out the very thing that makes Christians such in the first place, faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It seems sadly ironic that in and around Easter week, the Prime Minister has completely neglected to mention the death and resurrection of Christ, the very act which defines this period and which quite literally changes everything for those who place trust in this act for their salvation. Further, although it is good for Christians to undertake social projects, doing so is neither the central or only thing Christians have achieved for the UK, or should be in the future. Thus, on these bases, seeking to fit the church into the ‘Big Society’ is highly misguided. One prays that the Prime Minister would truly grasp the centrality of the gospel in Christianity and realise it is the role of Government to govern and not the Church.