Christianity Lite from the Prime Minister Lite

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You Really Don’t Quite Get It, Do You, Mr Cameron?

David Cameron has been discussing the contribution made by Christianity to Britain.

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, no, Mr Cameron. Not quite.

Of course, for most people, Easter just means a few days off, lots of beer, chocolate eggs, bunnies and flowers. Not really all that meaningful.

For those of us who are Christians, Easter reminds us that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, voluntarily submitted to being tortured and killed, and then rose again to new life on the third day. And by so doing, that he enabled all of us to be forgiven of our sins, so that we may live for ever in the presence of God.

Easter is, in fact, the Christian festival of the Good News of our salvation.

Phew. Bloody death … new and everlasting life … forgiveness of sins … salvation from God … those things don’t sit too well with Mr Cameron’s cuddly view of Easter, do they?

Mr Cameron’s comments are typically crass. Of course I can understand that he is not a Christian, and I don’t at all have a problem with that. I do have a problem with his trying to enlist Christians to support him, by vomiting out a “Christianity Lite” view that tries to show how compassionate and “christian” (with a small “c”) he is, while at the same time completely failing to grasp the Christian understanding of Easter.

Easter is the major Christian festival of the year. If Mr Cameron perceives the truth of the Christian message, and converts, I shall of course be extremely delighted.

Otherwise, stick to the chocolate and bunny rabbits next year, David.

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Love, Death and Politics

The followers of Jesus are today mourning his passing.

Jesus preached a message of peace, of doing God’s will, of showing love to others, and of being saved from our evil ways by the God who created us.

He was seen by the powerful priests of his own people as a threat. They saw him as someone who would usurp their leadership of the people. And they saw him as a heretic who threatened the very basis of their religious beliefs.

They therefore wrongly accused him of inciting rebellion against the Imperial Power. The Roman Governor of Israel, Pontius Pilate, investigated their claims. He could find no case against Jesus, but the Jews were becoming increasingly restive. Fearing a riot, and punishment for himself by Rome for allowing it to happen, he had Jesus executed by crucifixion, even though he knew he was innocent.

It was a particularly gruesome end for a man of peace. It brought shame on the Jewish religious leaders, who were supposed to be the spokesmen of God. And it was a damning indictment of the Empire of Rome, with its pretensions to legality and the rule of law.

Jesus himself refused to defend himself, and chose instead to die a bloody death alongside petty thieves. And he was heard to forgive his tormentors.

There is some sense in which Jesus died for all of us. Which of us, being Pilate, would not have avoided a riot in Jerusalem by condemning Jesus? Which of us, being the Jewish leaders, would not have defended our dogma by betraying Jesus? We all hope that we have not caused someone’s death by our own selfishness, but most of us – even all of us – have made others suffer for our own benefit.

We are all sinners: Pontius Pilate, the Jewish religious leaders, you who are reading this, and me as well. Only Jesus is innocent in all of this.

May God forgive us all for this darkest day in human history. By His love and forgiveness we can be assured that after every long dark Good Friday, there always follows an Easter Day.