To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Dealing With Authorities.

Over the last five hundred years the moral framework of the United Kingdom has been determined by biblical values. At the heart of society therefore there has been a desire to uphold truth. Connected with the determination to uphold truth has been the commitment to reliability. Hence we have the phrase: an Englishman’s word is his bond. As a result of this there was always an expectation that when dealing with authorities there would be a straightforwardness about their approach.

Further, the historic Christianised development of our society has meant that people were inclined to be helpful. The essence of love in Christianity percolated into society so that those in authority had a tendency to give assistance to those in need..

Alas things have shifted. Two particular influences increasingly dominate in our society. They stem from Humanism and Islam. My postulation is that these two ideologies have led to the following developments:-

  • Humanism inevitably puts self-interest before truth. Accordingly we see increasingly when dealing with authorities a tendency to “cover-my-own-back”. Rather than being concerned with a desire to uphold and convey truth, people now want to make sure that there is no come-back upon them. Accordingly, people will deviously operate whether that be in verbal or written communication. People no longer are driven by truth and helpfulness. Just as long as the file looks good for them then all is well. It does not matter how many people have suffered and been messed around along the way.
  • Islam. An essential aspect of Islam is that of maintaining honour. Islamic families, for example, are driven by a desire to uphold family honour. Aa a result, we hear of “honour killings” which are undertaken when someone is seen to have brought shame to their family. The murder is seen as removing the shame and being the means through which honour is maintained. Accordingly, when this thinking manifests in a society there is not a priority to uphold truth and helpfulness. The driving motive is that “I must maintain my honour and so there must be no shame on me and upon my family.”

All of this means, I suggest, that dealing with authorities will be become more and more difficult; Frustration will increase through people not returning calls and people failing to keep their word. Bullying will be experienced as the authorities, who want to cover their own back or maintain honour, will want to get their way rather than be helpful.

Accordingly, I feel our whole expectations need to change. Historically, we have expected the authorities to be on our side, helping us to resolve issues. More and more i suspect that we can expect  them seeking to do that which is their own interests.

 

Church Leaders and Politics.

So Wayne Grudem has had to withdraw his support for Donald Trump in the 2016 US Presidential Election. The detail is here. A question I would raise is: why declare support for him in the first place? Accordingly, flowing on from Wayne Grudem’s example, in this piece I want to consider the issue of the endorsing of political parties and politicians by church Leaders. I mention the following:-

  • For a church leader to indicate who to vote for can be divisive in a church. There are likely those who hold views which are politically diverse in the church. Church leaders are to be leaders in keeping the unity in Christ and advancing political causes can take away from this.
  • Church leaders should be leading people to think and make decisions for themselves. Wise elders guide the church members in how to think through political issues. The danger with declaring allegiances is that you end up with church members who just do what their leaders do. Far better simply to present biblical reasoning and lead the people in thinking biblically about issues.
  • Church leaders have to be ever vigilant in portraying what really matters to the people. Are we a people set to pleasing the Lord and living for His kingdom? Or are we primarily focused on the systems of this world? Are we godly or worldly? We need to remember that we belong to a kingdom which is not of this world. As our Saviour, Jesus, said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place’ (John 18:36)
  • Big declarations like that which Wayne Grudem originally made on the Presidential Campaign can come back to haunt you. Skeletons can come out of cupboards. I feel the stature of Wayne Grudem has been diminished in many ways through this sorry episode.
  • Our primary responsibility to the authorities is to be subject to them (see Romans 13:1) and to pray for them (see 1 Tim. 2:1-2). It is not to establish them.

 

EU Referendum; The Issues.

You may not have been persuaded by my post of yesterday about not voting. So if you’re set on voting I now want to address the issues to consider in voting. One of my observations concerning the things I have seen put forward by Christians is that their reasoning, very often, is hardly distinguishable from that of unbelievers. So here are some questions I think you should be asking so as to decide whether you go for Brexit or Bremain:-

  1. Which will lead to the greatest honour for our Lord Jesus? (God’s purpose is to honour His Son; see Phil. 2:9-11)
  2. Which will provide the best environment for the gospel to spread and go forward? (We should long for the spread of the Word of God; see 2 Thess. 3:1)
  3. Which will most engender peace among nations? (We are called tbe those who work for peace; see Matt 5:9)
  4. Which will most likely lead to the countries having laws which are in line with God’s law? (Righteousness exalts a nation; see Prov. 14:34)
  5. Which will enhance justice; that is the punishment of evil and the rewarding of good? (God approves of this; see Rom. 13:1-5)
  6. Which is most likely to facilitate the progress of false religions? (False religions destroy lives; see 2 Pet. 2:1-3)
  7. Which will lead us to be able to bless strangers? God loves to bless the stranger; see the book of Ruth and Luk. 10:29-37)
  8. Which will lead to our hospitals and schools being brought to collapse so that many are harmed as regards to their health and education? We should love our neighbour ( see Rom 13:10)
  9. Which will lead to many having the blessing of jobs, homes and food? We should have concern for others; see Matt. 5:43-48)
  10. Which will limit corruption and bribery? These always lead to harm (see Hos. 4:1-3) and are involve lying which is hated by God (see Ex. 20:16)
  11. Which will lead to a destabilising of Britain and other nations? The gospel prospers when there is stability and it can spread and so the great commission is fulfilled ; see Matt. 28:18-20)/
  12. Which will lead to most glory for God. the Lord is set to honour His Name; see 1 Cor 10:31)

For more details on all this please see here (from 33.57 in particular).

EU Referendum; to Vote or not to Vote?

Well, the month of the referendum has finally come, and there is still just over a week left to go to the actual event. One issue I hear very little off is that of not voting in the referendum.  I feel it is something that the Christian should seriously consider. I have previously stated some of the arguments in this document for the 2015 General Election. However, I further wnat to engage with the issue given the impending referendum.

The accepted consensus among Christians appears to be that you must vote in any election because in doing so you are exercising a privilege (dare I say right) that God has ordained that you would have. Moreover I know that there are strong arguments for voting. It somewhat galls me, though, that Christians seem not to consider any countervailing arguments that would present the case for not participating in the voting process.

Pilgrims.          The whole godly predisposition for Christians to be strangers and pilgrims on this earth is not considered at all. Let us consider the implications of this Scripture concerning Abraham that By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Heb. 11:9-10). Further we read that All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth (Heb. 11:13). It does seem more in line with the pilgrims and strangers ethos that we refrain from getting involved in the voting process. After all this is not our home, we have another home. 

Entanglement.          Paul says to Timothy Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer (2 Tim. 2:3-4). Although it can be argued that this particularly applies to Timothy as regards his pastoral calling surely there is a principle for all Christians here. Entanglement in civilian affairs seems to accurately reflect so much of what is going on in the Christian community concerning the referendum at the moment. There seems something not right (dare I say unseemly) about that.

Looking At Jesus.          Let us consider this Scripture Another disciple said to him, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ But Jesus told him, ‘Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.’ (Matt. 8:21-22). The full meaning of our Lord’s retort here is perhaps hard to establish. However, it does seem to strike a strong note against being overly concerned with resolving issues appertaining to the affairs of this world. It is sobering to ponder upon how much mental energy is being devoted to deliberating upon how to vote in the referendum. If only people were so concerned about deliberating about how they can help other Christians grow in Christ and how they can reach the lost masses around us.

So I want to urge towards some thinking here. I think there is a strong argument for not voting in the referendum (and elections generally).

 

Complaint

I wrote here about a case I had with HM Revenue and Customs some time ago. Amidst being set on a course which would lead to a tribunal and feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the whole process, I withdrew from the fray at the end of July 2014, and thereby admitted defeat. Nearly twenty two months later I have summoned up the, dare I call it, “courage” to make a complaint. So I posted the letter last friday.

I do believe firmly that Christians is called to be subject to the governing authorities (Rom. 13:1a) and pay taxes (see Rom. 13:6-7). Therefore we are not to be rebellious and disobedient to the authorities. However, I have made the complaint for two reasons:

  1. I still don’t know how my tax should be sorted out for other years. and so there is an issue of truth here. Also I don’t want the issue left for someone else to sort out should I pass away.
  2. There is an issue of Love your neighbour as yourself (Matt. 22:39b). I do not want others to go through what I went through. I want HMRC to learn something of the harmful effects that can ensue from the way they treat people.

I must say I mention those two things conscious that I have a deceitful heart that tends towards wanting revenge. Oh Lord save me from that and keep my motives pure.

The whole experience has, I trust, given me an insight into three things.

  1. The need to listen. A substantial part of the frustration over this issue has been a feeling that people are just not listening to what I say. This challenges me to make sure I don’t make responses to others  until I have fully listened.
  2. When you are badly treated by “the authorities”, and probably anyone else, there is this feeling of wanting to prove that you are on the side of truth. I have an innate feeling that chasing issues only harms those who do the chasing and in the end consumes the chaser. However, I can feel for those like the Hillsborough families who want to chase the truth in the face of continual obfuscation and cover-up.
  3. I feel for those who cannot cope with dealing with “the authorities” and leave those brown envelopes unopened because they just can’t cope. I received a brown envelope recently, for example, the contents of which started to send me into a mild panic. This was the hangover from my experiences in 2013/14, I believe that  having  brought that envelope before the Lord, He graciously gave me some peace.

I will see how it all goes now. I feel vulnerable of once again exposing myself to the might of “the authorities”. I pray to the Lord that I will be able to handle whatever the response is.

 

Cultural Imperialism

It is interesting to ponder upon the latter-day cultural imperialism that the we are seeing advancing in respect of Africa in particular. Here is one commentary on how pressure is being put on African countries to embrace the gay rights agenda. The scenario runs along the lines that if you don’t change your views you will not get our financial aid. However, if you do adopt our position on issues like same-sex marriage then you will get more aid.

Is this not cultural imperialism? Imperialism being the acquisition by a government of other governments or territories, or of economic or cultural power over other nations or territories, often by force. The force here is that of money. Imperialism is driven by a sense of arrogance. It thrives on the spirit that we are better than you and you need to learn from us. Hence the pressure being leveraged against the African nations has an imperialistic drive behind it. “We will use the power of our money to force you to be like us” is the message given. And the sub-text, in the message from the arrogant West is that you will be far-better off if you are like us.

Surely this is very distasteful.

General Election

Here  is an article relating to the forthcoming General Election

Authority Structures

I was recently reading here the observations of Boris Johnson that after the 2003 deposing of Saddam Hussein in Iraq there was a simultaneous destruction of the authority structures in the country. This meant that chaos ensued because there were no functioning authorities. In many ways the ongoing mess in Iraq can be traced to this destruction of all operational structures of authority those years ago.

This reminds us that the proper functioning of any entity or organisation revolves around the efficient operation of authority structures. Authority structures are those arrangements that are in place whereby certain people are recognised as being “in charge”. There are people who have positions of responsibility and are fulfilling the duties connected with that position. When those who fall within the jurisdiction of those structures recognise such leaders and act accordingly, by respecting them and submitting to them, then we have authority structures that are working well.

The ultimate authority structure is that of God ruling over His creation. He is the true and good ruler of all who is in charge of everything. When we submit to that rulership then we bring our lives into harmony with our Creator and thereby start to function properly. That means we need to repent of our sins and trust in Jesus Christ – the one who died to take away our sins. The proper ordering of this planet takes place when people place themselves under the authority of the Master of this planet. Acknowledging Jesus as Lord by repenting and trusting in Him is how we do this.

As the overall Master of all, God, in His good kindness,  has set authority structures in place for the proper ordering of different realms  in this world. Whether it be nations, businesses, governments, households or churches, proper authority statutes are required in order to make them work properly. Hence when these are demolished, as they were in Iraq, then chaos ensues. So here are three clear implications:

  1. We should be striving to encourage the provision of proper authority in the realms where we have influence. So in the family we need fathers who are taking the lead with the active support of their wives to lead homes. It is within this environment that children thrive. The ongoing attacks on this most basic, but profound, realm of authority has led to the undermining of society because many youngsters have not had a sense of submitting to authority imbued within them from an early age in the home/family.
  2. Authorities need to be submitted to . It is all very well have authorities in place, but those must be submitted to. Accordingly, in the work place if the workers decide to operate according to their own schemes then chaos will ensue. Inevitably,as a consequence, that business will collapse. And this applies in all organisations.
  3. We need to be encouraging with our prayers, our words and our actions the proper establishing and operation of realms of authority. That means that we support  those who are in authority to fulfill their roles and encourage submission to those structures by those who fall within the pertinent authority structure. Accordingly we are always encouraging parents to fulfill their role and children to submit to their parents. A similar permutation is to be found as regard to schools where we support teachers in their role and children to be submissive to their teachers.

Authority structures are critical for the proper functioning of any entity. Accordingly, we should be determined to support, uphold and encourage the ordering of proper authority. In such a way we will be blessed and many others blessed as well.

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