In this case, I really do hate to say: I told you so.
Back in June, when the “Trojan horse” Islamic “radicalization plot” was front-page news, and there was great fear about the creeping influence of Islam by the “back door” (or rather, school door), I blogged that Christians should be worried that the arguments being used against Islamicisation could equally be used against Christian teaching, and asked:
How long is it before there’s a news item about a school, or group of schools, where some of the governors stand accused of:
- being motivated by their religious beliefs
- holding outdated, bigoted views on areas such as homosexuality
- lobbying for changes in the way sex education is taught, to the annoyance of a sizeable minority of parents
- inviting speakers into assemblies who hold intolerant beliefs about things such as hell
- believing that, while all children should receive the same education, some roles in life should only be open to men.
I missed a bullet point off that list. I should have added: “Not offering their students a well-rounded, broad approach to spiritual formation”.
So, how long? About four months. Today’s media are reporting the case of the Christian private school whose inspection results will be downgraded because it has not invited in an imam (presumably a non-radical one who believes in the version of Islam that the government is tolerant of) to lead assemblies. It is, apparently, falling foul of new guidelines that were put in place in the summer to promote “British values”, one of which is actively promoting harmony between different faiths.
As I suggested in June, it’s the “devout (in)tolerantist” faith, and not radical Islam, that is most dangerous in terms of Christians being allowed a voice in the public square, a role in education in schools, and perhaps even to raise their children in their homes.
The time is coming (and has perhaps now come) when the Government will need to decide whether orthodox, historic Christian beliefs can exist under the umbrella of what it calls “British values”, or whether those beliefs are now excluded from those values, and opposed to them.
And so the time is coming (and will perhaps soon come) when Christians, like Daniel and his friends in the opening chapter of the book of Daniel, are going to have to start working out where to draw the line; when to obey the state, and when to disobey it and peacefully accept the consequences. Christian politicians, would you be willing to risk your seat and your influence in order to stand publicly as a Christian? Christian teachers, what will you do when asked to actively promote gay marriage as an equally valid marriage? Christian parents, what would you do if teaching Christian beliefs is labeled as emotional abuse?
We live in challenging times, and we need to notice that we do. But we also live in exciting times. All around us, and sometimes through us, people are coming to a faith that works, that provides security, that saves—faith in Christ. The culture may be hardening, but people are still hungry for the life and truth of the gospel.
And that’s very much like Daniel’s experience, and the early church’s experience, and indeed the experience of most of the church in most of the world through most of history since the resurrection. Suffering, and salvation. It’s going to be challenging, and exciting.