WITH the Church of England mired in a public scandal over its guidance for clergy in supporting asylum claims, it has now very arguably become a disgrace to Christianity.
The guidance, which the C of E published in 2017, has come under media scrutiny after it emerged that Abdul Ezedi, the suspect in the horrific Clapham attack on a mother and her two daughters, had ‘converted’ to Christianity to boost his asylum claim.
The leftist political agenda in this document is unashamed: ‘Some journalists have suggested that asylum seekers are only claiming to have become Christians in order to be baptised and use this to secure leave to remain in Europe. In responding to these claims, the anti-immigration rhetoric of a number of media outlets must be acknowledged. Their stories featuring asylum seekers and refugees are used to support a broader political narrative about British identity, rights and values, as was particularly evident in the run up to the EU referendum.’
The guidance offers clergy advice on how to find suitable legal assistance; how the Home Office addresses the role of faith in asylum claims; and how church leaders can help an asylum seeker ‘to mount a personal campaign’ if a claim is refused. Writing in the Telegraph on February 6, Allison Pearson described the guidance as ‘a How To Guide for political activists in the Church trying to do whatever they can to help bogus asylum seekers remain in the UK’.
In sharp contrast with the utopian neo-Marxist worldview evident in this guidance, Christianity emphasises the eternal salvation of individuals through faith in Jesus Christ and personal good behaviour. This emphasis is clear in the Prayer Book Epistle reading for today, the Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany. Writing to Christian believers in the 1st century AD who were under pressure from the purveyors of a false version of the Christian faith, the Apostle John, a witness of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, taught the true version of the faith in his first New Testament letter:
‘Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure’ (1 John 3v1-3 – King James Version).
The Christian hope that believers will be spiritually and morally transformed at the Second Coming of God’s eternal Son Jesus Christ spurs them on to ethical behaviour in the here-and-now. John affirmed that all those who have this hope of personal transformation when Christ appears at the culmination of human history purify themselves from the evil prevalent in a God-hating world.
The ethical outworking of true apostolic Christianity certainly involves practical love for fellow Christians. John taught later on in his letter: ‘Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth’ (1 John 3v16-18).
In John’s teaching the responsibility for altruism is at the personal level rather than at the governmental; the practical love for fellow believers comes at the Christian’s own personal expense rather than at the taxpayer’s. The apostolic attitude would thus appear to conflict with the globalist outlook of the political activists who have taken over the centres of power in the Church of England.
There are orthodox Christians in the C of E who hold to the apostolic faith. But are not the moral challenges and dilemmas they face similar to those facing genuine conservatives in the Conservative Party? Should they stay or should they go?
The Collect for today reflects the Apostle John’s teaching:
‘O GOD, whose blessed Son was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil, and make us the sons of God, and heirs of eternal life: Grant us, we beseech thee, that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves, even as he is pure; that, when he shall appear again with power and great glory, we may be made like unto him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, he liveth and reigneth, ever one God, world without end.’