Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Why Christians must stand up for what they believe in

Speaking at an ecumenical gathering on the delightful island of Achill, Co Mayo he said: "Secularism is a cult which argues that more is better. Those who live by this philosophy look out for the 'me and mine' first, and everyone else is far down the line."

The growth of secularism is evident in the increasing use of BCE (Before the Christian Era) instead of the traditional BC which might give offence to non-Christians, though I cannot see why.

The same creeping secularism is evident in the use of the term 'Yuletide' instead of 'Christmas', and in other ways. Recently I read about a part of England where the Post Office apologised to local churches when an over-zealous postal worker withdrew a mail shot of one of the Gospels because the material might be deemed 'offensive'.

There are other examples of anti-church discrimination, situations where people are banned from wearing a cross as jewellery. These bans are often made by people who do not have a clue as to what Christianity means, and who act out of blind prejudice.

It is significant that the churches are taking this politically correct secularism seriously and are examining ways of dealing with it.

For example, the Evangelical Alliance Director for Northern Ireland, Peter Lynas, is speaking on this subject in St. Bartholomew's Stranmillis at 1.10pm on November 8. When I talked to him earlier this week he confirmed that his theme will be whether or not Christianity is being marginalised in public life, and he will look at the ways in which Christianity seems to be vulnerable to the currently strong forces of political correctness.

It would be wrong to suggest that the churches in the United Kingdom are being persecuted, in the way that others are suffering overseas. Recently The Times claimed that Christianity is the world's most persecuted religion, and the newspaper carries stories regularly on Christians who are murdered or maimed by non-Christian majorities because of their faith.

In large parts of Europe, Christianity is endangered not by persecution, but by indifference.

The Christian Science Monitor reported recently that nearly 75% of Sweden's 9.4m population claim to belong to the formerly official state church, but only 15% of the members believe in Christ.

One pastor claimed that church members are not required to be believers, and that they merely admire the church for its good works.

It is no surprise that the numbers are falling significantly. If only a relatively few members believe in Christ, the 'Christian"'church has therefore no credibility, and secularisation becomes rampant.

Northern Ireland remains one of the stronger church-going regions in the United Kingdom where the pressure of marginalisation is less acute than in other parts of Europe.

It is important, however, that church members here remain aware that Christianity is under attack and that they should make bold claims for their religion in a secular world.

Christians have every right to be believers, without ramming their religion down other people's throats, but in today's world it is the relentless non-believers who are threatening to become more bigoted than the Churches at their historical worst.

In the Year of our Lord 2011 AD, it is more important than ever to keep the faith.

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