David Cameron’s Easter Message
I would like to send my best wishes to everyone here in Britain and across the world as we come together to celebrate this very special festival in the Christian year.
Easter is a time when Christians are reminded of God’s mercy and celebrate the life of Christ. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus taught us to love God and love our neighbour.
He led by example and for millions of us his teachings are just as relevant now as they were in his lifetime.
As we share in this festival with our friends and family, we can all be reminded of the enormous contribution Christianity has made to our country. Easter reminds us all to follow our conscience and ask not what we are entitled to, but what we can do for others. It teaches us about charity, compassion, responsibility, and forgiveness. No matter what faiths we follow, these are values which speak to us all.
Er, didn’t you miss out the Resurrection, the defeat of sin, the conquest of death? It’s not his teachings which are crucial (why is it that quasi-christians always go for “the teachings”) unless you mean those about who he is (Son of God, propitiatory sacrifice etc), it’s rather what he did and who he was. He atoned for the elect. He rose from the dead. He declared victory over sin. He is the eternal YHWH, the one and only true God amongst legions of false gods.
Seriously Dave, if you want to do God, do him properly, not just in a nice media friendly kind of way. Either proclaim Jesus and the whole gospel boldly (seeing as you say you’re a Christian) or don’t bother. This fence-sitting is not becoming (and has serious eternal consequences).
Harsh I know, but, I think you’ll accept, fair.
I'm no Conservative, but Dave here is not here speaking in a purely or even primarily personal sense. Her Majesty the Queen is of course a Christian and rules by the Grace of God, but her Christmas messages necessarily have to reach out to non or post-Christian Britain (which is sad of course, but reality is worth acknowledging whether it makes one happy or unhappy). I read :
"He led by example and for millions of us his teachings are just as relevant now as they were in his lifetime"
as referring also to non-Christians. Obviously many non-Christians, perhaps recognising the trillemma for the obvious fallacy it is, do respect Christ's teachings in some matters. Is it really an intrinsically bad thing to speak of the popular hold and cultural influence of Christainity? David Cameron is not an evangelist (and even if he is, he doesn't have that hat on here). IIIRC Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W.Bush have all said things along the lines of Cameron's speech – the vague nature is a formal requirement of speaking for and to a not-entirely Christian nation, not an indictment of Cameron's beliefs per se.
Well, Peter we could look at this one of two ways. We could criticise him for picking out the wrong part of Mark's Gospel for Easter Day, and for not expounding the resurrection and the way of salvation correctly. Which would be perfectly valid, if he was preaching a sermon, or if he was a Church leader giving his Easter message.
Or we could notice that a Prime Minister has chosen to mark Easter Sunday by putting out an explicitly Christian message, for perhaps the first time in living memory, and certainly for many years. And we might say, that in a country where there is a real battle going on over the questions of faith, secularism, and religion, that is a really heartening thing.
Take your pick.
I think what the issue for me was that I suddenly realised, if Cameron wants to do Jesus (as in not just "God") he needs to do it properly. Otherwise, he is just perpetuating the liberal "nice Jesus, nice words, let's ignore the real gospel" nonsense that so permeates our society. Either nail your colours to the mast, or stop pretending you have a flag to wave in the first place.
By his ignorance of Christian theology Cameron is showing us he is not likely to be a theocrat – and we should all be grateful for that.
You don't like theocracy? You're going to *hate* heaven…
God, by definition, knows what He's doing, whereas "The state has always been made a Hell by man seeking to make it his Heaven" ;-)
God knows what he's doing? So everything he does is good? Like forbidding certain things? :-)
I don't think anyone knows what Heaven is like, even Dante, but we do know what theocracies on Earth are likely to be – just think Iran. Surely the best protection for minorities is a secular constitution?
Secular constitution? Like the old USSR, Albania, Communist China? Those bastions of morality?
Well, I can't remember the last time I had shellfish ;-)…
In all seriousness, even if one's theology implied that theocracy per se was a good idea, that is surely dwarved by the fact that there's (to say the least) not exactly an abundance of states you can cite as self-evidently moral and successful Christian nations. Evangelicals might cite America as a Christian nation – but, of course, the Bill of Rights is wholly contrary to the "error has no rights" assumptions of Christian attempts at theocracy. Iran is a good example of the errors of theocracy. Wasn't the whole point of the War on Terrorism the fact that God gave man Free Will and (as such) western democracies are more (in a sense) "godly" than literal theocracies? It's largely a good thing, not reflective of a sinful capitulation to secularism, that Christians aren't keen to refight the crusades.
And secularism can benefit Christians too. Here in Scotland, episcopalians were persecuted for religious reasons, and so are (or should be) wary of attempts to invoke an alleged theoractic golden age. Scotland never had one. Did anyone?
I you think that mentioning shellfish is a sophisticated theological argument (or even a sophisticated theological quip) then I think you need to brush up on your debating skills.
We have a State religion down here in Englandshire, Ryan, unlike the US and some think that that serves to keeps us innoculated against too much enthusiasm in religion that Mgr Ronald Knox thought so harmful. But a state religion is a very distant thing from a theocracy. Perhaps it was when first constructed but once it got a taste of temporal power the dear old CofE sold out to Caesar big time. Why else do you think the Catholic Church refuses to let its bishops sit in the legislature? Cardinal Hume refused the very idea (but he was a saint in my book), Cardinal Murphy O'Connor might have dallied with the idea of a life-peerage offered by Blair but the pope said no. But all the rest of them couldn't wait for a visit to Ede and Ravescroft to get their ermine fitted – Jacobowitz, Carey, Harries and Sacks. I read somewhere that Tutu was offered the Archbishopric of Canterbury. What a difference that might have made for Christianity in England – a real saint on the throne of Augustine! (Just IMHO of course.)
Try the United States of America or India or France or even modern Turkey. Are you sure you are not confusing secular with atheistic just to tease? Secular in this context means that the government may not favour one group of religious adherents over another or prefer religious believers over unbelievers and ideally does this practically by a strict separation of church and state.
Secularism actually seems just to default to agnosticism or atheism. That's certainly not a position that is unbiased. I think anybody who thinks secularism is neutral is living in cloud cuckoo land.
It's human. Who said it is perfect? It needs safeguarding and I believe the US Constitution is a very good standard to hold to. But of course it needs protecting all the time so that continues to protect the citizens as the Founding Fathers intended, free from religious persecution and imperial rule.
Actually, it's a self-deprecating parodic invocation of the idea that "liberals" "justify" things they know to be contrary to God's will via specious analogies to (e.g.) dietary laws, not a "debating point".
In contrast, I'd be genuinely interested if you can attempt to cite any particular societies as being theocratic golden ages that contrast favourably with the alleged evils of secularism.
I am under no illusions that there has ever been a theocratic golden age anywhere. Not really sure I argued that in the first place.
In which case, does that suggest that secularism, like Democracy itself, has been proven to be the "least bad" form of goverment/society? In light of the genuine persecution that certain groups suffered – the days before Catholic Emancipation, or when this country had the death penalty for homosexuality – claims by the likes of the Christian Institute that conservative Christians are "persecuted" or "marginalised" in the UK are self-evidently ludicrous.
I largely go along with you on that Ryan. Democracy is a fine principle but can give way to the tyranny of the majority if we are not very careful – "no minarets in Switzerland" comes to mind. I wonder if a saint, given the reigns of absolute power with no checks and balances might eventually turn into Sauron.
I think it's quite charming from David to do this. I think his intentions are pure in this and he just wanted to spread a positive Easter message to everyone who was listening. Nothing wrong with that in my opinion. Hope he will do it next Easter in 2012 as well, it can only do good in my personal opinion.