Ah Pentecost! The day when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to empower the church for the telling of the glorious good news that Jesus came and is the only way to salvation. Except in the Church of England it seems. Today, the visiting vicar, fresh from celebrating 50 years of ‘priesting’, chose to take one phrase from the account of Pentecost – ‘they were all together in one accord in one place’ – and use it to dismiss the real story of Pentecost and indeed of the gospel. This was because Pentecost marks the start of the Week of Prayer for Christian unity – fair enough, you might say. Except for the fact that the sermon started by saying that the Pentecost story is not about what people think it is, but is really about ‘people of all different cultures and religions getting together and talking’. Brilliant! In one stroke, he perfectly emasculated and eviscerated the heart of the Pentecost story. But wait, there’s more! He didn’t just mean that Christians from different cultures and denominations should get together, although that, he said was the priority, or the first step in the road. He also said that we should be coming to understand or have a union with other religions like Hinduism and Islam, and in the West even with secular humanists and the like. Brilliant! Let’s drink the spiritual cool-aid! Hemlock city here we come. The whole point of Pentecost is that it was the aggressive start of Jesus’ command being fulfilled to go out and preach the gospel and make disciples, not the start of a ‘more-tea-vicar’ style of liberal compromise with every false view going. Paul and the apostles did not sit around debating the finer political points with non-believing Jews or with the Mithraic mystery religion or with the Gnostics. No! They opposed and condemned them because they were counterfeits that stole away the central uniqueness of Christ and his work. In short, people like this priest are in effect not preaching a true Christianity at all, but rather a sort of seemingly nic-ified one world religion, just with Christian cultural clothing concealing the reality.
When I compare this with the other religions that we are supposed to be ‘gaining an empathetic understanding of’ and becoming one with, I despair. Topic of the hour : Islam in Pakistan. There, even the ‘moderates’ have openly commended the murder of politicians who stand up for Christian rights and other minorities. And now the extremists are trying to ban the bible as a ‘blasphemous document’. Or let’s talk about the aggressive ‘new atheists’ who describe any religious upbringing as vicious ‘child abuse’. If we are to follow the route of lilly-livered liberals like this priest, then the outcome is clear – why do we have to go through the process – let’s just surrender right now, abandon Christianity and Christ, and become Dick Dawkins-style unadulterated secular humanists, or more likely, let’s just don the hijab, oppress women, implement sharia and hang gays and slit the throats of Christians right now. Hand amputations anyone?
It is because of views like this that half the Anglican (and some other churches) in this nation are drinking hemlock – committing a slow social, intellectual, moral, theological and institutional suicide – except that unlike hemlock, it is and will be far from painless, more like a slow cyanide. Who will save us from these troublesome priests? They go on about how it is the terrible fundamentalists and conservatives who are the troublers of the church, the road-blocks to the road of progress, but like Elijah of old, I say ‘We have not made trouble for Israel, but you and your fathers house have. You have abandoned the LORD’s commands and have followed after other gods’ Like Elijah and Ahab, the church in this land needs another Mount Carmel to show who it is that really worships the true and living God.