Philip Tait

PhilipTaitThe Rev. Philip Tait, formerly Director of Ministry for the PTS, ceased employment with the Society during April. During his tenure he brought some helpful ideas to our work, and produced some thoughtful and challenging articles for the Protestant Truth magazine on a variety of subjects. He joined us at a significant time of change for the Society, as well as in society generally. His presence helped us to work through some of those changes, moving towards a stronger and more certain future. His gentle and good-humoured approach was much appreciated. We are most grateful for his time of service to us, and our prayers are with him and his wife. He continues to serve the Lord in a semi-retired capacity in the North-east of England, where his labours remain much appreciated.

The post of Director of Ministry will not be re-advertised.

EU Referendum Result

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The Council of the PTS gives heartfelt thanks to God that the British people have voted to leave the European Union.

We urge all our supporters and friends to thank God and to pray that our country would return to the Protestant Christian faith upon which our constitution is founded.

Soli Deo Gloria.

On behalf of all at the Protestant Truth Society I would like to thank those who have been praying for God’s will to be done regarding the outcome of the referendum, and encourage them to continue their prayer for our Government – that it may be guided to ‘do justly, and to love mercy’ in its subsequent workings.

Dominic Stockford, Chairman

PTS Stand at Christian Resources Exhibition

Left to right: Andrew Price, Duncan Boyd, Ruth Price, Regan King

The Protestant Truth Society ran a stand at the Christian Resources Exhibition from May 17 to 20 at the ExCeL Centre in east London.

The stand had a wide selection of PTS literature, including a number of copies of booklets from the Time Travellers’ Club and Garry Williams’ latest pamphlet Why Protestant Truth Still Matters. Many people took copies and spoke appreciatively of what was on offer.

The main focus of the stand, however, was the forthcoming referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union. Large numbers of the PTS pamphlet Why Christians should vote to leave the European Union and also of the bookletA Christian Case for Leaving the European Union were distributed. They were, on the whole, received enthusiastically. A number of people came back to ask for more to give to their friends or churches.

Our presence at the CRE will certainly help to raise awareness of PTS in the wider Christian world, and, God willing, made a useful contribution to the referendum on the EU. This is probably the most important political decision that our country faces since joining the EEC in 1973. It is the prayer of the Council of the PTS that the UK will leave the EU and return to the faith on which Britain’s Protestant Constitution is based.

Duncan Boyd of PTS Council organized the team, and was ably helped by Regan King, the minister of a Baptist church in Islington. Andrew Price and his wife Ruth manned the stand faithfully every day. Edward Malcolm, the PTS Vice-Chairman, also rendered valuable assistance on the Wednesday.

PTS at Christian Resources Exhibition, London

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The PTS will be represented at the forthcoming Christian Resources Exhibition in London.

Located in ExCeL, in Docklands, the exhibition runs
May 17 – 20, 2016.

This is an opportunity to make the Society known to the wider Church.


PTS publications will be available

including latest booklet and leaflet for the EU Referendum.

Download exhibition floorplan
showing location of PTS stand P41B.

Opening Times

Tuesday 11.00am 6.30pm

Wednesday 11.00am 6.30pm

Thursday 11.00am 8.00pm

Friday 11.00am 4.00pm

For further information visit the CRE website

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A Christian Case for Leaving the European Union

Duncan Boyd           A5, 16pp (including cover)    Full colour throughout

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Prior to the 2016 EU Referendum the Society produced a high quality 16-page colour booklet entitled A Christian case for leaving the European Union by Duncan Boyd, a member of the PTS Council. The booklet defines the EU and its structure, and gives an account of its history. It details issues of current and developing concern, and demonstrates how Britain’s membership of the EU endangers its Protestant Christian heritage.

Duncan Boyd, a member of PTS Council, is a barrister and company director. He was a lay member of the General Synod of the Church of England for London. He also worked in the economics section of the Conservative Research Department.

The European Union – A Protestant View

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It is clear that campaigning on the forthcoming referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union has got off to a bad start, with both sides more concerned with criticizing their opponents, and prophesying disaster if they do not win, than with putting a positive case for remaining or withdrawing. Such has been the tone of these exchanges that it has been satirically suggested that before long someone will be prophesying a plague of locusts. This is no way to conduct a serious debate.

The issues are mind-bogglingly complex – finance, free trade, control of borders, immigration, and so on. Perhaps the central issue is that of the sovereignty of Parliament. At the moment European Union law ranks higher than United Kingdom law, and European Union legislation passes into effect without any parliamentary debate or vote.

Is there a distinctively Protestant view on this? Vatican City is a sovereign state, and enclave within a European Union member; but not itself a member. It is difficult to judge how much influence the Vatican has on European Union affairs, but my feeling would be that it is less than the Church leadership would like. The European Union of today is a very different creature from the original six-member European Economic Community established by the Treaty of Rome(!) in 1958. In the area of social legislation, for example, it is pursuing policies that seem a long way from the concerns of traditional Catholicism. See, for example, the European Network of Legal Experts in the Field of Gender Equality 2013 Update on European Union Gender Equality Law, which is at http://ec.europa.eu/justice/gender-equality/files/your_rights/eu_gender_equality_law_update2013_en.pdf. The elaborate title and complicated web address seem symptomatic of the level of European Union bureaucracy.

Nevertheless, the Vatican has not been able to resist getting involved. Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States within the Holy See (in effect, the Vatican Foreign Secretary) gave an interview in which he gave a clear signal of the Vatican’s – presumably the pope’s – view:

The Holy See respects the ultimate decision of the British people – that’s for the British electorate to decide. But I think we would see it as being something that is not going to make a stronger Europe. Better in than out.

Meanwhile the pope was awarded the Charlemagne Prize. This is a German award ‘given to public figures or bodies distinguished by their outstanding work towards European unity or co-operation between its states.’ The awarding committee’s citation seems to take ‘Europe’ in the narrow sense of the European Union: ‘In a time when the European Union is facing the greatest challenge of the 21st century, it is the Pope “from the end of the world” who orients millions of Europeans to what the European Union brings together at its core: a valid system of values, respect for human dignity and civil liberties, the uniqueness of human beings whatever their ethnic, religious or cultural background and respect for our natural resources.’ I think we can take it that the Vatican is in favour of the European Union, and that the rest of Europe perceives the Vatican as being in favour of the European Union.

All this implies that the Vatican is seen as having some moral authority in Europe; otherwise it would be absurd even to notice the opinion of the head of a non-member state (the Vatican City) who is himself by origin from a non-European state (Argentina). That should give us as Protestants something to bear in mind when we come to cast our votes.

Further, there is lesson from church history in all this:

Getting rid of continental jurisdiction over the UK is as easy an enacting an Act of Parliament. It was an Act of Parliament that brought in major EU powers. It is through amending or repealing that same Statute that EU powers can be limited or removed.

England had to do this before. In 1533 Henry VIII was worried about the succession and believed his marriage to Catherine of Aragon to be void, as he had married his brother’s wife. The King wished English divines to settle the matter without fear of Rome intervening and overruling. The Crown appealed to long history and custom, and to the powers of Parliament, to assert its own authority at the expense of the see of Rome. Parliament willingly passed an Act preventing future appeal of legal cases to Rome or elsewhere overseas. The UK wanted to make its own decisions. Royal will used Parliamentary authority to allow the Crown to end appeals to Rome.

In language which rings down the centuries Parliament said: ‘…this realm of England is an empire, and so hath been accepted in the world, governed by one supreme head and King…And whereas the King his most noble progenitors and the nobility and Commons of this said realm, at divers and sundry Parliaments…made sundry ordinances, laws, statutes and provisions for the entire and sure conservation of the prerogatives liberties and pre-eminences of the said imperial crown of this realm, and of the jurisdictions spiritual and temporal of the same, to keep it from the annoyance as well as the see of Rome as from the authority of other foreign potentates attempting the diminution or violation thereof…’

(Quoted from http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2012/06/07/this-realm-of-england-is-an-empire/)

‘This realm of England is an empire’, that is, it is subordinate to no foreign power. It was by asserting the independence of England in this way that Henry VIII’s Parliament accomplished the first steps of the Reformation in England. And that too should give us as Protestants something to bear in mind when we come to cast our votes.

 

 

EU Citizens express ‘wrong’ opinions

ECI2The European Union has established a system, known as the European Citizens Initiative, under which members of the public are able to put forward proposals for new EU laws. If a million signatures are obtained, the European Commission is obliged to consider the proposal. But now the European Citizens Initiative is being reviewed, because EU citizens are not expressing the right opinions.

Ideas to pass the million signature threshold include a ban on animal testing, and a ban on using EU money to fund abortions or experiments using human embryos. But when Christian groups gathered support for a proposal that ‘gay marriage’ should not be recognized in EU law, EU officials began to express concern that the Initiative could ‘generate Euroscepticism’. In a masterpiece of obfuscation, the minutes of the meeting that considered the petition state: ‘The members regretted that experience to date had shown that citizens’ initiatives did not always move European law or the European project forward, but tended instead to involve highly controversial and emotionally charged issues of greater interest to minorities than to the vast majority of EU citizens and, ultimately, generated Euroscepticism.’ The meeting ‘called for a debate on how to rectify this situation and stressed that, in the current European context, the Commission should take account of the political consequences that this mechanism could have in the longer term.’

In other words, because the people who are making use of the Initiative to express their concerns are not expressing politically correct, liberal, progressive ideas, they must be written off as ‘minorities’ and ignored. Apart from revealing the manner in which the EU holds its citizens, this episode has its encouraging side. It shows that the peoples of Europe, who have a long Christian (if not always Protestant) history, still hold Christian values dear, and are prepared to express them, even if no one in Brussels is listening.

 

 

 

Understanding the Times

10753We live in perilous times, when many of the Christian foundations of our society and nation are being knocked away. Indeed, to those of us who are of riper years, the world today is a strange place, scarcely recognizable from the world of our childhood. Consequently we preach the gospel to a generation with new and unfamiliar preconceptions. 1 Chronicles 12:32

In 1 Chronicles 12:32 we read of some ‘men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do’. We cannot ignore the times in which we live, however alien and unfriendly they may feel. God has put us here to serve him, in this place and this generation. We are not to look back to the past—neither our past, not the distant past—and wish that we were serving God there. ‘Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.’ (Ecclesiastes 7:10) Or in the blunt language of the NIV, ‘Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such a question.’

‘Triggers’—a new threat to the preaching of the gospel

In a fascinating and alarming essay in a national newspaper, Professor Frank Furedi, (author of Power of Reading: From Socrates to Twitter, published by Bloomsbury) sets out a rising threat to academic freedom in British and American universities—a threat which may have strong implications for the preaching of gospel.

Professor Furedi draws attention to two particular areas of academic life where freedom of expression is being seriously challenged. First, there is the banning of speakers whose views are considered controversial. These are not necessarily directly related to the speaker’s present subject, but can relate to something they said or wrote many years ago. For example, the well-known academic and feminist Germaine Greer withdrew from giving a lecture at Cardiff University before she could be banned. Her offence was that she once expressed the opinion that a man trying to act like a woman, even one who has become a woman by surgical means, would not act, sound or behave like a woman. For this and similar opinions the Cardiff students branded her ‘transphobic’, and lobbied for her to be excluded. On this specific point, we as Christians must be very sympathetic towards Professor Greer, who surely expresses the biological and psychological facts of the case. But in any case, surely a university is meant to be a place where a great variety of opinions can be vigorously debated, not a place where speakers who fail to endorse the liberal consensus are banned, and further discussion is suppressed. We live in a very strange world, where feminists campaign to ban Germaine Greer; and she is not the only one who has suffered from this kind of bullying from the ‘trans’ community.

King under the Law

John,_Magna_CartaThe year 2015 was the year of Magna Carta, celebrating 800 years since the famous charter was sealed. There have been numerous books and at least two exhibitions commemorating the anniversary, some of which are reviewed in this issue. The great struggle of the barons who forced the charter on King John, and of many other rebels down through the centuries, was to make the king accept that he was not above the law, but was under it just as they were. The kings and queens of England and Scotland accepted the rule of law only reluctantly until the Glorious Revolution of 1688, when the ability of Parliament to create a monarch and legitimate a dynasty finally shifted the balance of power.

Today it is not kings and queens but government ministers who try from time to time to act outside the law, and have to be reined in by the members of Parliament.