Archive for category Issues with Christianity in England today

“Transgender Jesus play”staged @ St. Chrysostom’s C of E

Cultural secularists in 21st century Britain have implemented radical changes upon the people of this nation.

More often than not, certain political and social reforms reflect the views of ‘the powers that be’ rather than the traditions and beliefs of the people of Britain.

More often than not we find that anyone who publicly speaks against certain winds of change and presents views that differ to the cultural mainstream are labelled “uneducated” fanatical” “fundamentalist” being victims of ‘ad hominen’ attacks, branded with the hot irons of the powers that be and the penetrating growth of media mind seeds.

The contradiction must be that ‘freedom of speech’ appears to have more flexibility in Britain with those who agree with cultural secularism than those who don’t.

Shamefully, the people of 21st century Britain are seeing more and more of this prejudice directed toward them. People are being emotionally blackmailed into keeping their opinions and beliefs silent, lest they cause offence. Even many within the state Church are falling into these deceptive political snares. Many ‘Anglican Churches’ are failing to reflect the beliefs and traditions of the Christian community or the Bible on the whole, presenting a more politically correct form of Christianity rather than an authentic position.

Many’ ‘Anglican’ churches fail to represent authentic Christianity in favor of religious and cultural liberalism. This decline has been forming for many years and we regularly hear ‘Anglican’ Bishops presenting positions and beliefs contrary to authentic Christianity.

St. Chrysostom's Church, Manchester © 2016 Simon Peter SutherlandThis certainly the case with one of the current affronts to the Christian faith. On Sunday 14th February 2016, St Chrysostom’s church in Manchester, presented a play featuring a “transgender Jesus”. This play is called “The Gospel according to Jesus, Queen of heaven”.

Despite the fact that this play is “blasphemous” and inconsistent with Christianity and “repugnant” to the Word of God and the 39 articles and Cannon Law, St Chrysostom’s had decided to re-interpret the cannon, and stage the play.

However, I’m not going to overstate the play and insult them, that’s just what they want. On the contrary, it is they who are attacking Jesus Christ and they would not do this with ‘Mohammad’. Thus, they pick on Christians knowing they can get away with it in this life. Yet insults to the Christian faith are nothing new and fallen Churches are nothing new. People have been insulting Jesus since He first came to earth and they will do so until He returns to judge them. Likewise, St Chrysostom’s Church is ‘liberal, inclusive and anglo-catholic’ so I don’t expect anything else from them however, St.Chrysostom’s claims to represent the Christian church and are part of the Anglican communion and the Parish of Manchester and have clearly broken the clear meaning of article C1X of Canon law (Constitutions and Canons Ecclesiastical) and its laws on plays being “consonant with sound doctrine”. A penalty for failing to observe canon law is the “removal from such office or membership as afore said” (Constitutions and Cannons Ecclesiastical 1X)

I am convinced this is but a glimpse into what is coming in the future. It is clear that somewhere behind the scenes, the ‘Anglican’ communion is being either forced or persuaded to bow her religious and political knees. But “there’s an East wind coming all the same”. The question is, what’s the bigger agenda?

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Church of England and the consecration of women bishops

York Minister © 2015 Simon Peter Sutherland

York Minister © 2015 Simon Peter Sutherland

Church leadership for women is changing. What with female activists and activist goals, the culture has been shifted by the media and many people have been persuaded by rhetorical speeches and sensuality. On 3rd July 2015 a second woman bishop was consecrated at York Minster. The Church of England remains divided upon this ‘unbiblical’ practice and during the consecration at York Minster, the Rev Stephen Holland Protested, walking through the Minster calling for the “Church of England” to “return to the Bible”. The Rev Holland is not an Anglican minister but there are many within the Church who disagree with the way things are going.

Since the 4th century AD to the 19th and 20th centuries, the Bible has been the dominant book of Western society, and in some sense, it still is. The relationship, which could be likened to a marriage between the West and the Bible has been interrupted by the gradual appearance of another lady. Society has become like a man who wants to keep parts of his wife while embracing the fancies of his sensuality. The situation we face today in the Church of England is a political structure which is attempting to re-define the Church in order to keep itself alive and financially secure. In doing this it ignores the Bible when it contradicts the liberal and feminist agenda, and merely re-interprets the rest to fit with changing times.

Closed Church door © 2014 Simon Peter Sutherland

Closed Church door © 2014 Simon Peter Sutherland

The door is closed to the polemical position of women bishops. The majority C of E elite recognize Ecclesiastical history but merely look upon it as past, and claim ‘we need to move on from that now’. The problem is however, people can’t change things when there is no backbone to keep standing upright to witness the fall.

In 2008 a published study claimed that should the current decline of Anglican congregations continue, by 2050 Sunday service attendance could fall to 87,800. This seems to me the motive behind the current winds of change. By using the influence of historically significant and controversial changes and twisting them to suite the current agenda’s, the Church of England has merely lowered itself from integrity to rhetorical intellectual dishonesty. Repeatedly we hear the intellectually dishonest claims that modern liberation movements are mere continuations of great historic works such as ‘the Abolition of the Slave trade’ and those who oppose them are merely the same ‘sort’ as those who opposed freedom back then.

Intellectual dishonesty is not the way forward if you are in the right!

The facts remain that some of the greatest works the West has ever known have been established by fundamentalist Christians. And the establishment of the Church of England would do better to hold fast to its long standing historical tradition, than to have tasted Truth and turned its back upon it.

The very reason the 19th – 21st century decline of the Anglicanism came about was because of the spread of liberalism. A movement which dramatically failed to bring about evangelism to the salvation of souls thus giving people a reason to go to Church. Thus, the Church of England was swept away into irrelevance. Biblical Christians either attending or moving on to other more Biblically loyal Denominations, thus understandably bringing about more divisions for which they are not responsible.

Jesus’ command was for His disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations” not mere Church goers. The true soul winning Church has historically been anything but liberal. In fact, the Church of England was founded by people who would now be labelled ‘fanatical fundamentalists’.

The establishment of the Church of England dates back to the 6th century and was led by Augustine of Canterbury and in the 16th century when the Church broke from Rome, could either of these these foundations have been laid by anyone but ‘fanatical fundamentalists’? The facts remain that this establishment was once grounded upon the Biblical text and the historic writings of the Church fathers and ecclesiastical creeds and devout evangelical Christianity. Fair enough the Church of England/Anglican Church has many Godly people within it and has many devout Christian bishops and because of this the Church is divided on issues such as women bishops, but today, it seems that the elite ‘society for the prevention of Christianity’ has become so liberal and politically motivated, that the liberal lobby have trampled upon 2000 years worth of Ecclesiastical history and even Cannon Law. Thus making the present Church of England either irrelevant or illegitimate and guilty of intellectual dishonesty.

Cannon Law reads like so;

  • “The doctrine of the Church of England is grounded in the Holy Scriptures and in the teaching of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church, and is particularly contained in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal.” (The Cannon Law of the Church of England. Of the Doctrine of the Church of England. V)

The Holy Scriptures read like so;

  • “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife…One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity…(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)” (1 Timothy 3: 2-5)
  • “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.” 1 Timothy 2: 11
  • “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” (1 Timothy 2: 12)
  • “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.” 1 Corinthians 14: 34

The writings of the Church fathers states the following;

  • “Even if it is granted to a woman to show the sign of prophecy, she is nevertheless not permitted to speak in an assembly. When Miriam the prophetess spoke, she was leading a choir of women … For [as Paul declares] “I do not permit a woman to teach,” and even less “to tell a man what to do.” (Origen, Fragmenta ex commentariis in epistulam i ad Corinthios)
  • “It is not permitted to a woman to speak in church. Neither may she teach, baptize, offer, nor claim for herself any function proper to a man, least of all the sacerdotal office.” (Tertullian. On the Veiling of Virgins. 2nd century)

Finally the 39 Articles states the following;

  • “And yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another.” (39 Articles of Religion. Article XX. OF THE AUTHORITY OF THE CHURCH)

What has become clear today is that we are living in strange times. The Church has become like the world and seeking to appeal to it, which is contrary to Scripture (Romans 12: 2) But where does that leave the Church of England? In light of Scripture she paints a very bad picture of herself. As Thomas Cranmer once wrote;

  • “But if the church proceed further to make any article of the faith, beside the Scripture, or direct not the form of life according to the same; then it is not the pillar of the truth, nor the church of Christ, but the synagogue of Satan, and the temple of antichrist which both erreth itself, and bringeth into error as many as do follow it.” (Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. Works of Archbishop Cranmer, Parker Society I, p 377)

So what I ask is where does this historical yet eternal reality leave the Church of England? What of our modern liberal bishops who have choked the breath of historic reliability? I can understand that some bishops are genuinely working for the survival of the Church, but they are going about it the wrong way. It was Jesus Himself who said “I will build My Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it”. If the bishops were willing to submit to Scripture then Jesus would draw His flock to Shepherds true to His word. But in reality, too many bishops are not going to change for they are not willing. They have set themselves up as rulers and gods. They are not following any measuring line but their own ideas. The argument is not even about Scripture anymore, it has gone beyond that. They merely use Scripture to promote their own agendas. So in reality, there can be no way forward but to outnumber the liberals and win back the majority. In doing that, there needs to be an outpouring of true evangelism throughout Britain and the unbreakable power of the Holy Spirit. Then and only then will the Church be returned back to the truth, when Christians, not political spin doctors, are in the pulpits.

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Jesus out of focus and Christmas with Christ

Cross out of focus © 2014 Simon Peter Sutherland

Cross out of focus © 2014 Simon Peter Sutherland

I greatly admire Christmas and it is at this season of the rolling year that I have a few traditions of my own. One such tradition I have is my reading of ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens.

First published in 1843 after a visit to Manchester, Dickens clearly wrote the book with the aim of reforming the festival that was starting to fade. I think he did a good job of it. His term “humbug” was a masterly description. The problem is, Scrooge was in fact correct, Christmas was a “humbug”. A 19th century definition means ‘fraud’.

In the 21st century, Christmas is in fact a time for paying bills, acquiring heavy debts and a time where people indulge in constant spending, socialising, gluttony and alcoholism in an industrious commercial institution that focuses upon materialism and not the person of Jesus Christ. In that context Scrooge was correct; ‘Christmas sir is a humbug’.

But for me and many Christians, Christmas is not merely a time for gaining material or spending, and I certainly do not drink alcohol or indulge in gluttony. Christmas for me, is a time for remembering the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ and in that, Christmas is with me 365 days a year.

However, despite the fact that a secular Christmas has little to do with Jesus Christ, there is little doubt in my mind that many people today, Religious and none Religious would seek to abolish Christmas, and replace it with something else or nothing. In many ways, secularist culture has done just that, it has abolished the true historical meaning of Christmas.

Likewise, the use of the abbreviation “X” rather than “Christ” can be argued that the secularists have used a historic meaning. The letter “X” is from the Greek “Χριστός” which means Christ. The problem is that the majority of people, especially the secularists or average soul, has little or no knowledge of the Greek language, so “X” to them is just a letter.

Secularism has turned Christmas away from a festival where people celebrate and remember the birth of Jesus and turned it into a time of worldliness and sin and selfish gain. People are celebrating the sins that Jesus came to set us free from.

St Paul Outside the walls, Rome, Out of Focus © 2014 Simon Peter Sutherland

St Paul Outside the walls, Rome, Out of Focus © 2014 Simon Peter Sutherland

In the year 1647, the Puritan government in England banned Christmas and regarded it as little more than a snare of “Antichrist” and “Popery”. But today in the 21st century it is difficult to connect Christmas with the Roman Catholic Church or even as a Religious festival. We all know that for many people in the West, particularly in Britain, Christmas has little to do with the Lord Jesus Christ.

But for me as a Christian, the season is very much related to our Lord Jesus. He is everything! And even though we do not know the exact date or year when Jesus was born, we do know that the early Church made the decision to celebrate His birth at this time of year.

Because of a 4th century reference to Christmas in the calendar of 354 AD, we know that early Christians at Rome regarded the Nativity to have taken place on 25th December. However, Christians in the East celebrated the Messiahs birth on January 6th.

Moving forward in history toward the Protestant Reformation, I would think that no accurate case can be established to claim the 16th century Reformers denied Christmas. It is true that governmental 17th century English Puritans banned Christmas, but such was not the case with the 16th century Reformers. The facts remain that 16th century Lutheran, and Church of England Reformers continued to celebrate Christmas: that point is clear from history and the Book of Common Prayer.

Christmas reminds me in many ways of the Jewish season of Hanukkah, recorded by Jewish historian Josephus as “The festival of lights” (Antiquities X11) In this festival the Jewish people commemorate the establishing or rededication of the Holy Temple, and is an eight day holiday which starts on the 25th day of kislev. This can occur from late November to late December. Concluding for many on what we call ‘Christmas eve’.

It is clear to me that the things which Jewish people celebrate in Hanukkah were fulfilled in the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I see that in and through Jesus, Judaism is made whole. Without Him I see little conclusion or fulfilment of the Torah and the Prophets. Not only is Jesus the “Light of the world” and not only has did He fulfil the prophecies but He has rededicated the Temple and purified it in His people. And if one desires to see Jesus in this, a good place to start would be throughout the Gospel of John, where Jesus is at the Feast of dedication during winter (John 10: 22-23) and also the book of Hebrews.

I think Christmas has been hijacked by secular culture and I think that unless peoples hearts and minds are won over to the Truth, there is little that can be done about that. Christmas for secularists merely implies faith, hope and gluttony:

  1. Faith in “Evolution”.
  2. Hope in “Science”.
  3. Indulgence in the flesh.

A person cannot honestly take Christ out of Christmas and continue to celebrate the festival as though He never was who He said He was, it is intellectually dishonest. And as for the mess that the world makes of Christmas, should we really expect anything else? The world would turn every celebration into a hotchpotch of drunkenness and fleshly pursuits, and entertainment. So what more can we expect? It is up to each one of us to be different, because we are different. We are not of this world, if we belong to Christ. Thus, it is up to us to know and understand what we believe and it is up to us to show the people of the world the historic Truth behind the Christmas many know and love.

Many Christians are speaking out for the Truth, but far too many Christians in Britain desperately need to start speaking out!

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The atheist who printed a splended Bible

Title page of Baskerville's 1763 Bible.  Public domain

Title page of Baskerville’s 1763 Bible.
Public domain

In 1763, Cambridge University printer and atheist John Baskerville produced a fine Bible. This Bible is known as ‘The Baskerville Bible’. Tis a fine piece of work and not merely because of its contents, but due to the fine clarity of the fonts.

The story goes that Baskerville wanted to produce a Bible which people could read with absolute clarity and not those old Gothic type prints that can be found throughout many early English Bibles.

The Baskerville Bible was first printed in Folio (Cambridge edition) in 1763. He also printed at Birmingham. His work, although criticized by some, became an inspiration to many, including Benjamin Franklin.

John Baskerville died in 1775 and according to his wishes, his body was buried in unconsecrated grounds but his memory lived on. It is believed by many that his name was borrowed by Arthur Conan Doyle for the title of the Sherlock Holmes mystery, The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Today, many prints of these original Bibles still exist. Having looked at a good number of these prints in research and devotion, I am thankful to Baskerville for this work and these prints, they are indeed a sight for sore eyes. And inspiring too! Since these days, at least on the surface, atheists appear to be against the Bible and Christianity, but such is not the case with established history. For this version furthered the printing of Bibles for centuries, even to this day.

Just goes to show, that God can even use atheists to accomplish His will on earth.

 

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And so this is ‘Reformation Day’, and what have you done?

Church cross © 2013 Simon Peter Sutherland

Church cross © 2013 Simon Peter Sutherland

Every Christmas I hear John Lennon’s voice singing “And so this is Christmas, and what have you done…” It saddens me almost every time.

Today, I thought of that line and turned things around a little. I was thinking about this tonight, that today is reformation day, 31st October 2013, the religious holiday where some reformed congregations remember that day when Martin Luther posted what is known as “The 95 thesis” on 31st October 1517.

Back then the church was a bit of a mess. People did not believe that salvation was by Gods grace alone, and the essentials of the Christian faith were either not presented or had become muddled up and fuzzy due to the unscriptural claims of church leadership.

Not much has changed. Today in England, 2013, we still see the same old mess and many leaders of the Christian church being the very people who somewhat decronstruct the church and turn it into either a social gathering or a self centred platform for ear pleasing, man made doctrines. The Word of God is so often denied for the word of man.

If it was not for God Himself, His Holy Spirit and His Word of Truth, I would, apart from Christian history, I confess it, be ashamed to be called a Christian and not because of the message or the claims of Christian creeds, but because of what Christianity has become in Britain. And what do Christians do to see things change? Do they even see the need for change? Or are they so busy building their own lives and founding their own careers, being so steeped in that that they see little need for church restoration?

Luther did not nail his thesis to the church door so that this statement could be trodden under foot. Jesus did not say He would build His church so that Christians could sit back and let Him do all the work. No. He said He would build His church upon His chosen people and does that exclude you in this very generation?

If Jesus Christ was truly God and truly man, and He was born of a virgin and truly raised the dead to life and was crucified, dead and buried and rose from the dead, then He is the singularly most important person this world has ever known or will know. And if He said, “I will build my church”then the church is the singular most important establishment on the face of the earth.

Thus, with this in mind, I ask you all, what is more important; your own lives, your own wealth, your own homes and careers or the church of Christ?

Thus, I say it again, and so this is reformation day, and what have you done? Are you going to sit and watch the church fall and fail and say ‘it is not my calling’ and leave the work for other men to do or are you going to do something about it?

The choice is yours, but from this day forwards, you can never again say that you were unaware of this urgent need!

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Signs of Totalitarianism: Christian street preacher arrested for preaching in Scotland

Simon Peter Sutherland at the Covenanters prison Edinburgh © 2013 Simon Peter Sutherland

Simon Peter Sutherland at the Covenanters prison in Edinburgh, Scotland. © 2013 Simon Peter Sutherland

Recent reports have stated that a Christian street preacher was arrested in Scotland this week for simply preaching on the street. He was accused of being “in breach of the peace”.

Reports also suggest that the man was not actually using any amplification yet he was accused of having an MP3 too loud. When the preacher stated he was not using amplification, the police officer stated the noise was not the issue but that a complaint had been made against him.

This is not the only time such an event has taken place recently. This is one of three wrong arrests of this nature which have taken place in three months.

Clearly something is wrong. This is a violation of our ‘Freedom of speech’ and ‘human rights’ and is evidence of Britains growing bad attitude towards Chrisianity and Christians who are willing to spread the faith.

What is clear is that history is repeating itself, since in history it was common place for Protestant Christians to be arrested for preaching. In 1658, John Bunyan was arrested for street preaching yet he was not imprisoned for that. He did however spend many years in prison for his faith.

Clearly Britain is marching back even further, not only into the 17th century but into those glorious days of the 16th century where Protestants were arrested even for believing the truth.

It clearly shows signs of religious intolerance and inconsistency of thinking, since the police officer stated he arrested the man for being in ‘breach of the peace’ yet are the authorities going to arrest street musicians, buskers, street entertainers and all people who take part in noisey street events and festivals also? Since they certainly make a lot of noise! Could it not be argued the preacher caused offence? Yes, but could it not also be argued that many public events and festivals cause offence? Are those partakers too going to be arrested?

I am offended everyday by things I see in Britain. I am offended by attitudes, language, blasphemy, bigotry, prejudice and intolerance, yet do those offences matter? No, clearly not to some people. Or maybe my offences do not matter because I am a Protestant and perhaps, a very loyal one.

Here are a couple of links to articles on this troubling matter.

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/christian.street.preacher.arrested.in.scotland/34071.htm

http://www.christianconcern.com/our-concerns/religious-freedom/christian-street-preacher-arrested-in-scotland

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Transformation from “bigots” to ‘Dinousaurs’ Nick Clegg dig’s at opponents of redefining marriage

DSCF2260Yesterday Nick Clegg giving a speech at his Liberal Democrats Conference and in it he referred to those who stood for the traditional view of marriage as “dinosaur opponents”.

This comment was not made in any context on his part or historic reference to dinosaurs as creatures of importance or anything like that, but a very childish and immature insult on his part toward those people who are genuinely concerned about upholding a historic and proper view of marriage and freedom. Clearly Mr Clegg likens people who uphold to traditional views of marriage as ancient obscure beings who are from the past.

The immature and childish insult given by Nick Clegg offer the people of Britain a further insight into just how childish British Politicians can be at times. Perhaps it just goes to show how much a mess Britain is in, when its apparent leaders embrace such immaturity that they have to insult people who do not agree with them, while at the same time profess to be Liberal in the name of democracy? Clearly liberalism is just another word for a default position, which embraces anyone but those who do not fit in with their worldview.

As if the people of Britain do not tire enough at seeing the leaders of this country arguing week after week like teenagers in the house of Lords, Mr Clegg feels now to insult millions of people in a childish non-intellectual way because they do not agree with his world-view.

Is it not enough that people who stand up for their right to defend traditional marriage have to put up with being labelled ‘bigots’ as victims of some kind of stupid game which uses fear based words to accomplish its aim rather than plain reason?

Is that democracy? Well, in order to find out the answer to that, we Protestants should be consulted, after all democracy in Britain came from us in the first place.

Nick Clegg should really be more careful with what he says and he should remember that the wind of the air and the tide of the sea can change direction very quickly. People are generally like fish, they swim in shoals with the tide, and when the tide changes, they go with the flow.

Mr Clegg should remember that time is only but a moment and what is present now will later be past and what is seen as modern now, will later be history.

The times will change Mr Clegg, and they are changing, and when the time of this generation is over, a new generation will come and when all our bones are in the ground, a new people will rise up and the winds of change will fill the streets.

Mr Clegg should really have a care, for come election day he will find, he may need these dinosaurs.

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