Thursday, April 05, 2012

David Cameron’s Easter greeting

As he gathered together prominent Christians and honoured Church leaders at a reception in Downing Street, the Prime Minister released his Easter message which His Grace is now delighted to fisk for the political entertainment and spiritual edification his readers and communicants:

Easter week is a very important moment in the Christian calendar, so I would like to extend my best wishes to everyone here in the United Kingdom, and across the world, at this special time of year.
Easter week? Ah, you mean Holy Week? But perhaps that’s a bit too pious or liturgical-sounding for you? And a ‘very important moment’, is it? A bit like buying a new car? Or getting married? Or a general election? It’s actually rather more than that – to Christians, at least. And that’s who you’re talking to. Ostensibly. But we’re glad indeed that you are, at least, a prime minister who is prepared to ‘do God’. Or (more often) instruct your party co-Chairman to do Allah on your behalf (and that of the entire Cabinet). In fact, the more you do God personally, the more you reveal to us the depth of your understanding of the Christian doctrine of God, and so the more can we see and understand the inspiration of your policies... So, thank you. At least you’re not hiding your light under a bushel for fear of being thought a nutter. For that, we are grateful.
This is the time when, as Christians, we remember the life, sacrifice and living legacy of Christ.
This is actually the holiest period in the liturgical year, Prime Minister. And Easter Day is the day we remember the Resurrection of Christ, not his ‘legacy’. Politicians tend to be concerned about leaving us with a legacy: the Son of God was concerned with offering us eternal life. Yes, that’s a legacy of sorts. But what’s wrong with the word ‘Resurrection’? Does it stick in the PC-pantheistic throat a little? Is it a bit too literally theological? Or mythically laughable? After all, carpenters tend not to get resurrected very much in Coalition Britain, so it’s probably safer to allude to some generalised ‘legacy’ rather than risk inciting Richard Dawkins and his intolerant secular-humanist hordes and being classed as a ‘nutter’ who believes on ‘conjuring tricks with bones’.
The New Testament tells us so much about the character of Jesus; a man of incomparable compassion, generosity, grace, humility and love.
Yes, yes, but the New Testament tells us so much more than that, doesn’t it? Let’s not forget his uncompromising assertions of truth, his anger, his sharp tongue, his sternness and absolute intolerance of hypocrisy. What about the Jesus who was physically violent in the Temple? What about the Jesus who spewed out verbal abuse when the Pharisees criticised Him for healing on the Sabbath? And it’s not very Christian, is it, to curse a fig tree such that it ceases to bear fruit? That wouldn’t go down very well in Witney Garden Centre. Jesus told us to suffer the little children; not abort them. He told the woman caught in adultery to go and sin no more; not find a lesbian partner and marry her. And he taught quite a lot about money, greed and hell, but they’re not so fluffy and pink, are they? Jesus was an Orthodox Jew, Prime Minister. An awful lot of what he did and said may seem utterly antithetical to the modern, decontaminated Tory understanding of ‘compassion, generosity, grace, humility and love’. Love demands truth, or it is not love. And sometimes the truth is unpalatable, and people tend not to want to hear it. Especially if they’re politicians.
These are the values that Jesus embraced, and I believe these are values people of any faith, or no faith, can also share in, and admire.
You have to shift the narrative to some Hickian overture of universalism, don’t you? Good grief, you don’t mention people of other faiths (and none) when you send out No10 greetings for Ramadan, Eid, Diwali or Guru Nanak’s birthday. Honestly, have you ever said that Mohammed exemplified the ‘values people of any faith, or no faith, can also share in’? You don’t reduce the important celebrations of minority groups to a set of ‘values’: you honour the significance and meaning of each out of respect for the followers of their respective gods. You’ve just issued your Passover greeting to British Jews: there was not a whiff of an allusion to the Muslim Moses who led the Ummah out of Egypt to the Promised Land of Palestine. You can reduce any religion to a shared duck-down duvet of ‘values’, but they are no substitute for the hard wood and nails of the Cross.
It is values like these that make our country what it is – a place which is tolerant, generous and caring. A nation which has an established faith, that together is most content when we are defined by what we are for, rather than defined by what we are against.
Ah, so the Christian character of England begets a Christology of British Values. But how much has ever been achieved by those Britons who were ‘tolerant, generous and caring’? Was Margaret Thatcher tolerant, generous and caring? Was Oliver Cromwell? William Wilberforce? Lord Shaftesbury? Emmeline Pankhurst? Elizabeth Fry? Those who have made our country what it is have been known to be manifestly intolerant, ungenerous and uncaring of that which is unjust, immoral or wrong. They possessed a crusading passion for justice which was animated by a deep and burning sense of anger. Of course, they might also have had their ‘tolerant, generous and caring’ moments, but by exalting these ‘values’ above all others you seek to neuter Christians by demanding that they be ‘nice’; and by their smiley faces and happy-clappy choruses shall ye know them. You favour the gentle, inoffensive, easy-going type of Christian, whom Jesus might have termed ‘lukewarm’. What about those who, like Jesus, can be prickly and principled? Is there a place for them in the modern Conservative Party, or, indeed, in modern Britain? His Grace asks, because you seem to do to them as the world does: cast them aside as bigots and extremists. Honestly, how many times have you commended members of Cornerstone for upholding Christian values? How often have you patted David Burrowes on the back, or Nadine Dorries, or Edward Leigh? Did you commend the Archbishop of York for defending the traditional Christian teaching on marriage? Have you ever commended any Christian for upholding the biblical view of sexual morality? Or is it that these really aren’t your type of Christian?

But at least we must thank you for referring to ‘an established faith’, though His Grace would rather you had referred to the Established Faith, for Her Majesty is Defender of that Faith, and that Faith has a definite article, and that Faith boldly asserts what we are for, and by so doing defines us by what we are against: the two are mutually inclusive.
In the book of Luke, we are told that Jesus said, “Do to others as you would have them do to you” – advice that when followed makes for a happier, and better society for everyone.
And so you can probably expect your backbenchers to do to you what you’ve done to them. And Conservative Party members won’t particularly care, because you don’t particularly care about them. In fact, there are quite a few who can hardly wait to do unto you as you’ve done unto them. And (sadly) it doesn’t always make them happier or society any better.
So as families and friends get together this week, I would like to send my best wishes to you all, and I hope and pray you have a very happy and peaceful Easter.
And the same to you, too. But here, for your interest and as a helpful comparison, is the Easter message from the President of the United States of America, delivered at a prayer breakfast gathering in the White House:

In a few short days, all of us will experience the wonder of Easter morning. And we will know, in the words of the Apostle Paul, “Christ Jesus...and Him crucified.”

It’s an opportunity for us to reflect on the triumph of the resurrection, and to give thanks for the all-important gift of grace. And for me, and I’m sure for some of you, it’s also a chance to remember the tremendous sacrifice that led up to that day, and all that Christ endured – not just as a Son of God, but as a human being.

For like us, Jesus knew doubt. Like us, Jesus knew fear. In the garden of Gethsemane, with attackers closing in around him, Jesus told His disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” He fell to his knees, pleading with His Father, saying, “If it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” And yet, in the end, He confronted His fear with words of humble surrender, saying, “If it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

So it is only because Jesus conquered His own anguish, conquered His fear, that we’re able to celebrate the resurrection. It’s only because He endured unimaginable pain that wracked His body and bore the sins of the world that He burdened – that burdened His soul that we are able to proclaim, “He is Risen!”

So the struggle to fathom that unfathomable sacrifice makes Easter all the more meaningful to all of us. It helps us to provide an eternal perspective to whatever temporal challenges we face. It puts in perspective our small problems relative to the big problems He was dealing with. And it gives us courage and it gives us hope.

We all have experiences that shake our faith. There are times where we have questions for God’s plan relative to us, but that’s precisely when we should remember Christ’s own doubts and eventually his own triumph. Jesus told us as much in the book of John, when He said, “In this world you will have trouble.” Let me repeat. “In this world, you will have trouble.”

“But take heart! I have overcome the world.” We are here today to celebrate that glorious overcoming, the sacrifice of a risen savior who died so that we might live. And I hope that our time together this morning will strengthen us individually, as believers, and as a nation.


At least when President Obama does God, he preaches Christ and Him crucified. And everything else flows naturally from that central historical truth and soteriological imperative. While Cameron pussyfoots along a Pelagian-Anglican via media which wouldn’t be out of place in Southwark Cathedral, Obama gets right in there with the Calvinists to a chorus of ‘Amens’ and ‘Hallelujahs’ from the Southern Baptist Bible Belt. Some might quibble and assert aspects of Arminianism, but with this message no-one could accuse President Obama of reducing Jesus to the man who ‘set a good example’ and who bequeathed to us a ‘legacy’ of ‘values’.

38 Comments:

Blogger bluedog said...

An embarrassing comparison, Your Grace.

But then if Dave had given Obama's Easter address the Coalition would have collapsed as the Lib-Dems flounced out of the Government. You can say what you like about the United States of America, but it's definitely not post-Christian.

5 April 2012 09:49  
Blogger Emlyn Uwch Cych said...

Spot on as ever, YG.

Now, young David is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. I assume, then, that he makes these remarks in a British context to the people of Britain.

That's where things usually start to get sticky, since although the Tories now "do" God, they really don't "do" England.

Over to you, Dave: "It is values like these that make OUR COUNTRY what IT is – A PLACE which is tolerant, generous and caring. A NATION WHICH has an established faith, THAT together is most content when WE are defined by what WE are for, rather than defined by what WE are against."

Who is the OUR and WE, living in which COUNTRY, PLACE and NATION WHICH has an established faith?

If he's talking to the English, which he seems to be doing, then please let him name the country. The Irish, Scots and Welsh Christians can then expect their Easter greetings in the post.

5 April 2012 10:14  
Blogger Shakassoc said...

Peter Hitchens's comment:
" The words... ‘Abide with us, for it is toward evening and the day is far spent’ are mysteriously moving (this is to be found in what Mr Slippery, who is being Christian this week, calls ‘The Book of Luke’, more generally known as the Gospel according to St Luke, the 24th Chapter)"

5 April 2012 10:26  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

Did Obama, really write that? If he did he must have a high degree of Schizophrenia. Or maybe he is just positioning for the upcoming election

5 April 2012 10:58  
Blogger non mouse said...

Great fisk, Your Grace. From it I derive the notion that by the time they've finished manipulating Biblical language for their world, the post-modernisers will have re-inscribed the Judaeo-Christian message altogether. That's why whatever ham-handed translation this bozo's using goes so well with his post-post-mod political jargon.

Btw Do these puppets realise how ridiculous they are? ... He's more cardboard than Bliar; they posture as if they were the royalty they intend to replace: with "messages to the nation."

Or maybe they just enjoy turning #10 into the backdrop for a Punch and Judy show.

5 April 2012 11:07  
Blogger Sam Vega said...

"He told the woman caught in adultery to go and sin no more; not find a lesbian partner and marry her."

Alas, he didn't say that these two courses of action were incompatible.

5 April 2012 11:20  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

I wish Cameron would just shut up and get on with being Prime Minister. He sounds more and more like Blair, who talked of "my armed forces" and whose wife was constantly referred to in the press as "first lady".

5 April 2012 11:24  
Blogger Nicodemus said...

An excellent post, and thank you for expounding on the PM's Easter speech - except to say David Cameron is simply following the vast majority of Anglican sentiment, so can he be blamed? This is why 30 years ago, after conversion, I could not bring myself to become an Anglican. "Judgment begins at the house of God," yet I see dim signs of God's mercy, including his blog.

5 April 2012 11:27  
Blogger AncientBriton said...

>>So as families and friends get together this week, I would like to send my best wishes to you all, and I hope and pray you have a very happy and peaceful Easter.<<
Pity Dave hasn't spared a thought for Christians in the Arab Peninsular:
http://ancientbritonpetros.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/all-mosques-in-europe-should-be.html

5 April 2012 11:37  
Blogger Jim McLean at Acoustic Village said...

Your Grace...this is your finest piece of writing to date. I despair that our own priests, vicars, bishops and other clergy do not seem to have the wit, vocabulary or inclination to place similar sentiments in their respective newspapers or homilies. Wishing you a Very Happy Easter.

5 April 2012 12:20  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Your Grace,
Brilliant. One of your best.

Dave is trying to do his best but is actually doing his worst.

Sad thing is, many Christians won't discern the frailty of his message like you do.

Cranmer for Arch Bishop of Canterbury. (again)

5 April 2012 12:26  
Blogger Ian said...

Just comparing the Obama and Cameron speeches tells us everything.

To match Obama's words would take conviction, courage and as you intimate, would result in ostracism from the cancerous heart of our liberal establishment, as well as the limp dims.

I would have said that was a good thing but perhaps Dave knows better.

But I think it shows the vacuity at the heart of our country.

Thanks for a great post and congratulations on your 6 year tenure.

A very important blog.

A (slightly premature) Happy Easter to all the communicants.

5 April 2012 12:39  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

About President Obama's message. Remember a few things:

1. Christians still comprise a significant voting block in this country, and moving even a small percentage from one side to the other can make a big difference in a close election.

2. Much can be hidden in ambiguous use of language. I have read sermons before by church leaders who greeted the congregation in the name of the Risen Christ, and then asserted that there was not physical resurrection, of course. You have to get underneath the words anymore.

The message sounds good. But there is already too much religious water under Obama's bridge for me to give it much credence.

carl

5 April 2012 13:18  
Blogger len said...

The theory that Jesus was merely a 'good man'just doesn`t make sense!.

This is the claim of Islam regarding Jesus Christ( and of some in the secular World.)

If Jesus was not God then Jesus Christ was either a liar or a lunatic.

So the' good man'theory is a total 'cop out' and makes no sense at all.

So the question Jesus asks us all is "Who do you say I AM ? "

5 April 2012 13:32  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

len said...

"So the question Jesus asks us all is "Who do you say I AM ? "

Very well said that man.

Ernst

5 April 2012 13:37  
Blogger DevonMaid said...

It would be helpful to be able to link to individual posts on your blog ... this one in particular.

5 April 2012 14:59  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Ms DevonMaid,

You can. Just click on 'Permalink' at the bottom of each post. Bless you.

5 April 2012 15:01  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Hit the nail on the proverbial, Bish.

Thought: unencumbered as she is by political shoe shuffling, would it be a good idea if Her Majesty made an Easter speech?

5 April 2012 15:04  
Blogger Berserker said...

Len at 13.32
The theory that Jesus was merely a 'good man'just doesn`t make sense!.

This is the claim of Islam regarding Jesus Christ( and of some in the secular World.)

Now I am no apologist for Islam but surely the above is not right. Jesus was an extremely important prophet in the Islamic world. An 'aya' a miracle and spirit of God.

Of course, some of the sayings attributed to Jesus in the Moslem world are totally different to our tradition and have an almost zen like quality.

So is Islam just a cobbled together hotchpotch of various religions with a considerable basis of Old Testament prophets?

5 April 2012 15:21  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Your grace,
A Bit off thread but just saw this on Christian Medical Comment; http://pjsaunders.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/new-c4em-online-petition-supports.html
The C4EM Petitions states.
'I support the right of two people in love to get married, regardless of gender. It's only fair.'
The problem of course is that 'two people in love' covers a whole variety of possible combinations which are excluded by the current legal definition of marriage.
Marriage between close relatives who love each other - otherwise known as 'incest'
Marriage between two people who are already married to other people - aka 'bigamy'
Marriage between minors who love each other - call it what you will.

So a number of prominent people have been putting their names to these other variants of marriage.


Marriage between close relatives who love each other - otherwise known as 'incest'
Marriage between two people who are already married to other people - aka 'bigamy'
Marriage between minors who love each other - call it what you will

5 April 2012 15:45  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Your grace,
A Bit off thread but just saw this on Christian Medical Comment; http://pjsaunders.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/new-c4em-online-petition-supports.html
The C4EM Petitions states.
'I support the right of two people in love to get married, regardless of gender. It's only fair.'
The problem of course is that 'two people in love' covers a whole variety of possible combinations which are excluded by the current legal definition of marriage.
Marriage between close relatives who love each other - otherwise known as 'incest'
Marriage between two people who are already married to other people - aka 'bigamy'
Marriage between minors who love each other - call it what you will.


So a number of prominent people have been putting their names to these other variants of marriage.

5 April 2012 15:47  
Blogger Matthew said...

Are you sure that's Cameron's speech and not something lifted from Private Eye?

5 April 2012 15:52  
Blogger Oswin said...

Cameron is a failure, full-stop. God only knows what non-Conservatives think of him, because as a Tory, I loathe the mealy-mouthed scunner!

5 April 2012 16:00  
Blogger Dr.D said...

I do not think Obama was quoting Jesus, but rather was speaking in the first person when he said, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” This is exactly how he sees the world.

5 April 2012 16:28  
Blogger Deadman said...

Jesus told us as much in the book of John, when He said, “In this world you will have trouble.”

Pres. Obama, apparently, relies on the New International Version which, among other infelicities for instance, makes the “only-begotten son” the “one and only son”, but which, according to its website is “easy to understand” and “the clear favorite for hundreds of millions”.
According to the KJV, John (xvi, 33) has Jesus saying “In the world ye shall have tribulation”.
There’s a bit of difference, I submit, between “tribulation” (θλιψιν—pressing, pressure, affliction) and “trouble”, though perhaps it is “easy to understand”.

5 April 2012 16:31  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Absolutely splendid that, Archbishop. You certainly told him where to get off, what !

The very idea, presenting Jesus as some cuddly humanist. The damn man is extremely stupid and so out of touch with the faith he professes to have. Perhaps after this, he’ll see that he doesn’t ‘do’ Christianity at all, just a pale watered down failing comprehensive school version.

Anyway, such a pleasure to read, more of the same soon. Do carry on...

5 April 2012 17:58  
Blogger IanCad said...

You're hitting on all eight again today YG.
So much good stuff of late. How do you do it?

5 April 2012 18:02  
Blogger David B said...

Cameron seems to have fallen between all stools, annoying Christian and atheist alike.

David B

5 April 2012 20:07  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

BDavid
Indeed, his natural place is between stools of all sorts.

5 April 2012 23:36  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

"To the angel of the leader of the Conservative party write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold-I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realise that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so that you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so that you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so that you can see.

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

6 April 2012 08:17  
Blogger len said...

We are called to pray for our Government. Perhaps more effort is required?.
Rather than cursing the darkness perhaps all who call themselves 'Christian'should start praying and those already praying redouble their efforts?.

6 April 2012 08:18  
Blogger David B said...

One of your better efforts, Dodo. Raised a chuckle.

@Len

But what if prayer works like homeopathy is claimed to, and is more effective the more it is diluted?

Joking aside, do you really believe prayer will have an impact on the government?

David B

6 April 2012 09:03  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

Getting back to Obama's version of Christianity, here is a Youtube link.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hi-V_ilJu0w&feature=related

6 April 2012 11:29  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

David
I wondered if anyone would notice. Trust an atheist, eh!

6 April 2012 11:42  
Blogger len said...

David B,

Yes I believe prayer will have an impact on our Government.

'I urge … that requests, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for everyone — for kings and all those in authority.' (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

The only hope for our Country is that God will be able to influence our Government and to put them on the right course!.

In times past in America days of prayer (called by the Government) were not that unusual.

6 April 2012 15:14  
Blogger DP111 said...

Obama will say anything to get re-elected- it is election year after all.

For the last three years he has done everything possible to deligitimise Israel. He is now trying to get back with American Jews.

No one knows what Obama really believes. His past is shrouded in mystery, and has been closed to examination by his lawyers.

7 April 2012 12:43  
Blogger DP111 said...

The snugness of Obama quoting the Bible, from the old and new Testament, is evidence enough that his latest Easter message is mere electioneering.

Obama assured Catholics prior Obamacare being passed through, that the Church’s “rights of conscience” regarding birth control, would not be violated.

This January, Obama stated that the birth control mandate had been settled, with no exceptions.

This infuriated not just Catholics but Christians in general. It energised Christians, particularly Catholics, against Obama.

What we see is an Obama in full Taqqiya mode. He cannot afford to have such a huge part of the electorate turn against him. If Christians in America fall for Obama's words yet again, they have no one to blame but themselves.

No matter the anodyne message from David Cameron, at least he cannot be accused of hypocrisy for political gain.

7 April 2012 18:00  
Blogger Ir'Rational said...

... a Man of sorrows, and aquainted with grief ...

8 April 2012 19:25  

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