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.

Annual Cambridge Lecture

The Annual Cambridge Lecture will be held (D.V.) on Monday November 2, 2015, 7.30pm, at The Round Church, Bridge Street, Cambridge CB2 1UB.

Rev. Geoff Thomas (Aberystwyth) will be speaking on Is the Bible Enough? – The Sufficiency of Scripture, and there will be opportunity for questions after the lecture.

My Pocket Companion 2016

This popular Christian Diary is now in its 101st year of publication. It includes a text for each day (AV) as well as devotional pages.

Containing 96 pages, it has a laminated cover, available in a choice of two pictorial designs.

Price: £2.40 (£3.00 by post)
10 for £24.00 (post free)
20 for £35.00 (post free)

Order your copy today

What Price Freedom of Conscience?

LutherWorms2

A lecture by a distinguished retired High Court judge in which he criticizes the present-day advance of secularism, and praises ‘Jesuits and puritans’ equally, has to be considered a truly extraordinary event. Just such a lecture was given by Sir Michael Tugendhat last May.

In recent years, the decisions of the courts have always favoured ‘equality’ at the expense of freedom of conscience to believe and practise the Christian—or indeed any—religion. One notorious judgment went so far as to describe legal protection for religious views as ‘irrational’.

New Director of Ministry

PhilipTait

The Council of the Protestant Truth Society is pleased to announce the appointment of a new Director of Ministry.

The Rev. Philip Tait joined the Society from 1 February 2015, and brings with him years of experience in ministry, management and publishing.

Over the years, Philip has been involved with the work of a number of Christian organizations, including the Sovereign Grace Union, the Strict Baptist Trust and Pension Fund, and the Association of Grace Baptist Churches. He is currently a member of the Committees of Grace Publications Trust and the Grace Baptist Assembly. He has written numerous magazine articles and reviews, and is the part-author of Learning to be Happy and the author of The Real Thing? (both Grace Publications Trust).

Philip obtained a degree in English Language and Literature at the University of Southampton.  He then joined the civil service, working in the Department of Health and Social Security.

He trained for the Christian Ministry on the Theological Training Course of the Evangelical Movement of Wales. In 1989 he became minister of St John’s Wood Road Baptist Church, London. In 2004 he become minister of Hardwick Baptist Church, Stockton-on-Tees.  He left the pastorate in Stockton at the end of January to take up his new post with the Society.

Both the churches where he served as minister enjoyed good relationships with the Protestant Truth Society, and he is looking forward to carrying that relationship forward by working for the Society.

Churches and fellowships wishing to extend Philip an invitation to speak at a midweek or Sunday meeting, on behalf of the Protestant Truth Society, may contact him through the Fleet Street office.

What do we owe to the Reformation?

J.C. Ryle   A5, 28pp (incl. cover)

This booklet describes the benefits to our nation of the Protestant Reformation.

http://protestanttruth.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Ryle-Reformation-Booklet.jpg

Order your copy today – only £2.95 incl. postage. Discount for bulk orders.

Buy the set of three:

What do we owe to the Reformation?
Why Protestant Truth Still Matters
The Man who Saved a Nation

£7.50 postage paid

Scottish Referendum Result

Rev. Dominic Stockford (Chairman) remarks:

It is with relief that the many unforeseen consequences, spiritual and practical, of the unravelling of our Protestant Union with Scotland has not come about. We thank God for the blessings He has poured upon the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland across the years, and turn to Him in trust that He will bring us all together under His rule. We hope that all the people of these islands will come to see that the freedom that He offers, through His Son Jesus Christ, is of so much more value than what this world has to offer.