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Christian Life In Exile

Last week I wrote a post [1] in which I spotlighted a warning from the Rev. Peter Sanlon, a young vicar in the Evangelical wing of the Church of England, highlighting his warning that faithful orthodox Christians within the C of E are going to have to found congregations outside the official church if the faith is going to survive the deluge. He wrote:

I am begging you to pray that if there is catastrophic spiritual ruin ahead of us, that God would open our eyes to it before it is too late. If you have not been praying with heartfelt sincerity and desperate dependence on God – start tonight.

Dr. Sanlon, who is Vicar of St. Mark’s (Church of England) and Rector of Emmanuel Anglican Church (Free Church of England), agreed to an e-mail interview with me about his views. The transcript is as follows. I strongly encourage US Christians to pay close attention to what he says. What British Christians are living with today, American Christians will almost certainly be living with tomorrow. We have the advantage of time to prepare — though not much of it.

Dr. Sanlon, you’ve mentioned to me that the situation for faithful small-o orthodox Christians in the West today is a lot like passengers on the Titanic refusing to believe that the ship is sinking. What do you mean?

The Titanic was believed to be the ‘unsinkable ship’ – yet 1,503 souls perished in the icy Atlantic waters. The designers, financiers, media, crew and passengers held that the ship was unsinkable — and therefore were unable to consider or prepare adequately for her sinking. People are shaped and formed by their beliefs: if you believe something cannot occur, you will not think about it or prepare for it. This is all the more true if the thing you believe cannot happen is something that would be deeply unpleasant to you.

The human heart has an astonishing capacity for self-deception, and together with those who are similarly disposed we have almost infinite abilities to participate in mass delusion. Consider how the shudders of the Titanic liner impacting the iceberg were dismissed as insignificant. Those down in the hull of the ship could see water pouring in — but those in the restaurants and cabins above them would not believe warnings. Those bringing the warnings were uncouth, less cultured, not as intelligent — and crucially theywere bringing warnings of tragedy that were unpalatable. The mind rationalizes what the heart desires.

What then do I mean when I say that orthodox Christians in the West are like passengers on the Titanic?


I mean that the Church in our Western nations has already hit the iceberg. Water is flooding into the hull — the ship will sink. The grinding judders of our ship impacting the iceberg have been felt — but the majority of Christians will do what the Titanic passengers and crew did — explain the evidence away and refuse to help one another prepare to save one another’s spiritual lives. The iceberg that has has ripped open the Church is composed of not frozen water, but three things. Radical sexual gender ideologies, Islam and governments’ totalitarian instincts.

Why is it that these three movements are so certain to sink the ship? The reason is that the mainline churches in the West are deeply compromised. Over many decades our leaders have fostered the hope that by political action, legal efforts or even by embracing the cultures’ ideologies in these three areas, that it can prosper or survive. This has severely weakened the Churches and leaves us unprepared for the future.

One final point about the Titanic. People said at the time that ‘God could not sink her.’ They believed that God was on their side due to their technological ability and cultural superiority. The ultimate reason for refusing to believe that God would remove our positions of security, privilege and cultural acceptability is that we think God is on our side and could not do it. Well, such spiritual pride is often met by God with his humbling judgement.

Help American readers understand what the situation looks like for UK Christians. It is hard for many of us to imagine that the country that gave us C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien could have turned so hostile to the faith.

It is important to explain that I do not believe the Church itself — in the sense of God’s people — will be sunk. What I do mean is that the public, easy, culturally acceptable way we do church is sunk. We face a situation where, short of supernatural intervention, the Church is moving into exile.

How has such a situation arisen? It is a complex story – but in essence Britain secularised 20 to 30 years before the USA. When Ronald Reagan talked about his faith it was viewed as bizarre in England. Today the political commendations of Billy Graham given in America would not be given in England. This means that we now have people in leadership positions who had their entire schooling and formative lives lived out under a regime of full-blooded acceptance of radical deconstructionist ideologies.

It is always the case that societies have many people who reject the beliefs of Christians. This is different. British people in their sixties recall that when they were twenty, many thought Christians were ignorant due to their ‘unscientific’ beliefs. Today, people in their twenties think Christians are not ignorant, but evil and dangerous due to their inability to commend the radical sexual ideologies, Islam and further government control of life’s details. People who are evil must be silenced, protected from themselves and prevented from infecting others with their beliefs.

The UK is not only ahead of the USA on secularisation; it has always been more left-leaning than America politically. There is a spectrum of right and left in both cultures, but as the editor of The Economist explored a few years ago, the UK shifts the spectrum of possible political views several notches towards the left. So a view held to be ‘right wing’ in the UK could be thought of as let wing in the USA. This research is detailed in The Right Nation [2]by Adrian Wooldridge.

A consequence of this is that the UK is ahead of the USA in seeking to use state apparatus to enforce cultural norms that would be rejected by American libertarians. Such moves are done with the support of many in the British population.

It may well be that, as Os Guinness argued in his book The Gravedigger File [3], that cultures which were once deeply shaped by Christian beliefs turn upon them with a deeper ferocity than cultures that never had them. Perhaps. The UK has turned deeply and aggressively against public expressions of Christian faith because the mainline Churches have so compromised that they are no longer willing to teach things that run counter to the culture’s deeply held views. So one Church of England bishop told me that he ‘personally believed the Bible’s teaching on sexuality – but I can’t say so in public for fear of upsetting people.’ The lack of clarity from the Church leads to a situation where this week the Prime Minister of the UK declared:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js [7]

Theresa May is lauded as the daughter of a Church minister. No wonder people are confused as to what the Church believes when leaders are silent or promote the world’s views. Flags are flown in universities, councils, fire stations and schools to celebrate the new radical ideologies. To even ask how to question the rightness of that has already led to people facing investigations and discipline from their institutions. The movements for acceptance have now allied with the totalitarian instinct and become views which are to not merely be tolerated but to be celebrated.

I’ve been told by a British reader that Evangelicals in your country are especially resistant to facing these harsh realities. Is that true? If so, why?

I believe it is the fallen human heart that is resistant to the challenges facing us — but they do manifest themselves in Britain in particular ways.

As the compromised Church moves to suppress faithful ministry, we see that those Titanic passengers who are in denial, painfully turn on their friends and colleagues who suffer. So there are currently a number of clergy in the Church of England undergoing disciplinary procedures against them for upholding plain Biblical teaching in areas that the culture finds offensive. Bishops have told clergy that unless they submit to the situation they will face discipline. Some are currently facing that and others have done.

One example — a friend of mine — was eventually forced out of his job and given a severance package on the basis of a confidentiality agreement.The Church of England would be deeply embarrassed if the contents of his legal proceedings were made public. Now the deepest tragedy is not that a mainline church behaves like that, nor is it that Churches other than the Church of England do the same. No the greatest sadness is the reaction of long-term friends and fellow believers to a minister who undergoes such victimisation. Many simply say of him — and they will say of those currently undergoing investigations — ‘Oh it is their fault. They must have been angular or difficult. If they had been more winsome and discreet all would have been fine.”

In other words the orthodox ministers are standing on the shore of a beach. A tidal wave is sweeping inland and it knocks somebody to the ground a few feet away from you. But instead of accepting there is a tidal wave coming that will drown you also – you tell yourself that your friend drowned because of his attitude or posture.

Another minister who has observed the inability of many to accept the tidal wave that is sweeping over the Church summarises the reasons for British orthodox attitudes as:

It is important that orthodox believers analyse the reasons they are tempted to deny the nature of the challenge faced by the Church – we face powerful ideologies allied to governmental force and compromised mainline denominations. The forces arrayed against real Christian belief are an echo chamber. So a civil servant told me how frustrating he finds it to see that LGBTI campaigning groups receive taxpayers’ money — and they are then consulted by the government on how to improve the issues they campaign upon, and then paid to deliver the training they say addresses them! One cannot get much more of an echo chamber than that. The consequence is that the views are every more deeply ingrained. Doubtless the fruit of similar alliances will be seen in America in the coming years.

One can analyse all this from a psychological and political standpoint – but in the end believers need to wrestle with the spiritual realities. We need to pray, ponder scripture and relearn what it means to be a Christian community that suffers, is marginalised from the mainstream culture and shares a quality of supportive love together.

What lessons have you learned from your work as a pastor in rapidly secularizing Britain that could benefit American Christians, who are headed down the same path?

Very few orthodox churches in England are seeing people become Christians from total secular backgrounds in their twenties and thirties. The vast majority of converts are those who have had some Christian background. Studies from secular Europe (See Church Planting in the Secular West [8]by Stefan Paas, p.162) suggest that on an optimistic reading of the research, for every 400 converts who had some background Christian faith, only one person converts from the full-blooded secular background that now makes up the majority culture of England and Europe. I have friends who lead healthy vibrant evangelical churches – but over the past decade they have noticed that their congregations are made up not of native secular English people, but primarily Kenyan, Polish and South African people — that is people from less secularised nations than our own. They rejoice in the cultural diversity of God’s family, but are pained that they seem almost unable to evangelise secular English people.

So the first lesson I have learned is that it is very, very difficult to see a native secularist —  somebody in their thirties who has all their life been raised to imbibe strong versions of the secular postmodern ideology — convert to Christianity. I have seen many many people explore the Faith, but as soon as they discover the gulf between postmodern secular views and Biblical belief,  they run a mile and/or get angry. Some secular parents in England still want their children to attend church occasionally – but they are outraged that some churches do not view their secular beliefs as true. Our models of church are simply not designed to cope with this.

Another key lesson is that orthodox Christians are going to have to work hard to come to terms with the speed at which governments are beginning to legislate against Christian beliefs, and the way that is intertwined with views of Islam. In the UK we see this manifested in the PREVENT Strategy, a government project to address ‘extremist’ beliefs. Extremism is defined very vaguely, such that it can catch up not just Islamic terrorists, but also Christian parents, Jewish schools and even people who take certain views on global warming! Rod Liddle wrote about the insanity of this situation this week,  [9]but of course it has been detailed before, in George Orwell’s novel 1984.

Last week the head of Scotland Yard said that courts should remove children from extremist parents  [10] That’s a terrifying thought given how unclear the government seems to be about what extremism is. The head of OFSTED (government schools inspection body) has accused a mainstream evangelical organisation of being extremist.  [11]The government protests that its laws do not do what they manifestly in point of fact do – allow people to
report people to PREVENT for all kinds of disagreements over matters of faith, belief and opinion. Some of these cases have been carried far too far, causing untold stress and anguish. They never should have been brought — and that they can be, itself further changes the cultural expectations as regards freedom of religion and freedom of speech and association.

Some proposals such as the registration of church ministers and the government inspection of Sunday schools are as yet unimplemented. But they will be raised repeatedly until delivered. In the UK we are on the cusp of seeing homeschooling registered with the government by some means. That will begin a further process of control and checks that will bring new pressures for many. Christians need to realise that the law is no longer on their side. Part of that means recognizing that while some laws may technically be on your side – it does not mean laws will be applied or administered with fairness.

As all that comes crashing down upon a sleeping and compromised Church, I have learned to work much harder at developing friendships and supportive relationships with any believers who are prepared to suffer for Jesus. Most Christian groups draw tight lines round their distinctive secondary beliefs — over sacraments, evangelism, worship etc. I have however found that when meeting with Christians who have suffered the harshness of losing their job or being forced out of a church over upholding Christian beliefs, there is a spiritual unity and fellowship that transcends other matters. Such a unity must be sought, nurtured and developed. As Jesus said, ‘The world will hate you … by this all people will know you are my disciples: by your love for one another.’ (Jn. 15:19, 13:35)

Finally, I have realised that somehow it will be necessary to keep the communication up with those Christians who cannot bring themselves to accept how much Western culture’s changes will overwhelm the Church and ministry models. The people who are believers but close their eyes to the iceberg are good people who love the Lord. And they will need support and help in the future as things get even more difficult.

In my Benedict Option work, I’ve advocated for orthodox Christian believers to start forming tight, strong networks now, across denominational lines and international borders, to prepare for hard times ahead. What kinds of concrete suggestions can you give to this end?

Christian ministers must look to the future. They must know both the times and the Bible, for they are organically inter-related. If you do not know the times you will misapply the Bible. Christians in the West as they come to accept the immensity of the cultural shifts need to learn to own the Biblical word for what we are entering. Historical illustrations such as the Titanic (or the Dark Ages or historical seasons of totalitarian rule in Russia etc) can take us only so far in our understanding. We must appropriate the Biblical image: Exile.

The first step believers must take is help one another to accept the reality that Exile is coming to the Western Church. Pretty much everything we have seen about how to plant, manage, fund, grow and lead churches is going to have to change. People’s expectations of career for themselves and their children will have to change. People’s commitment levels to church will have to change.

Helping one another be open to the reality of Exile and its implications is the first step. I know of people who are developing friendships with believers who presently have more experience of these things, and I know of many who are spending hours reading about how the church has survived in previous ages that had similarities.

Secondly the Church must accept that the Exile could well last centuries. The Iceberg has struck the ship and the fatal hole below the waterline cannot be sealed. But the outworkings of that and the full suffering of Exile is far from complete. The Egyptians and Babylonians had many ways to increase the suffering of God’s people: more bricks with less straw, a newly built golden statue, and the lion’s den. Our Exile will not be identical to the past Exiles – but it is clear in the Bible that Exile is often multi generational. The cycle plays out from parents to children to grandchildren to great-grandchildren and beyond.

Given that, we must prepare for the future by investing in and helping the future leaders. They need to be prepared to suffer and serve in ways that we have not yet seen in our nations. At least not in living memory. How will we find the generation of servants to care for the church through perhaps centuries of Exile? We must seek out and mentor the people with the spiritual genes of Issachar’s tribe: ‘Of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, 200 chiefs, and all their kinsmen under their command.’ (1 Chron. 12:32 ESV)

If we are willing to suffer publicly and love people quietly, we will attract to ourselves people like those from the tribe of Issachar. If we meet together, pray and seek God’s ways, he will guide us and them. A good start could be to meet together and read about the Confessing Church from Weimar Germany (e.g. For the Soul of the People: Protestant Protest Against Hitler [12] by Victoria Barnett) or read about the lives of ordinary people under Communist Russia (The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin’s Russia [13] by Orlando Figes). Most of all, read the Bible books of Daniel and Ezekiel. Pray over those texts and
strengthen one another’s faith. Seek to find ways to do church that could outlast sudden changes in the acceptability of Christian meetings, financing and speech. They will be needed.

You are fairly young — 40 years old, I believe. Do you discern differences between the way Christians of your generation perceive the future of the faith in Britain, and the way older Christians do? In France, the main audience for my book The Benedict Option [14] has been 18-to-35 year olds. Traveling there to promote the book, I’ve been quite struck by how those young Christians don’t appear to harbor any illusions about fitting into mainstream society. It seems oddly freeing to me. Are you seeing something similar in the UK?

Obviously comments on nations and ages are very generalised and there are always exceptions. With that caveat I have noticed when I travel to Europe that the continent is even more secularist than England, while England leads the Western world in aspiring to use laws to combat religious extremism and promote radical sexual ideologies. Those differences between England and Europe play out in various ways. It frees what believers there are in Europe to not feel they should be or can expect to be part of a public religious establishment; while in England the more recent memory of religious acceptance makes
many believers unable as yet to accept the cultural reality you write of in The Benedict Option. [14]

In short, there are more believers in England but they are less open to accepting the marginalisation and implications of Islam that European Christians are cognisant of.

Within England there are then (with exceptions) noticeable patterns of age. In church ministers who are ten to fifteen years off retirement I find many just hope they can get through to retirement age withoutany big problem or radical change to their situations. This embeds the willful denial that anything is dangerously amiss, as younger men look to the older men for a lead. They are too often told in effect to settle down and enjoy the Titanic! A few such ministers have confessed their fear to me – and thankfully there are exceptions to the timid!

Meanwhile young trainee ministers in their twenties are torn. They can see that the culture is deeply hostile to their beliefs — they have been raised in it and converted out if it when younger — but this is in tension with their desperate desire to believe that somehow it will be OK for them. If they are winsome enough they will get a good job from which they can serve a church. They look for those who would show them how to prepare for the difficult future they fear and find few able or willing to — and they find numbers of men close to retirement only too keen to reassure them as a form of self-reassurance.

There are exceptions to all these generalisations. I am aware of them. Still the patterns seem sufficiently oft-repeated that they bear stating. We desperately need more people willing to help build up long term solutions for training and delivering effective missional ministry in the Exile situation we are entering. Strategists, organisers, funders and pray-ers. All are needed.

The Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg recently gave an interview in which he urged fellow Catholics not to shy away from getting involved in public life. One may well admire his courage, but there is the depressing example of former Liberal Democratic Party leader Tim Farron, who has spoken about how spitefully he was treated by some over his Christian convictions. What kind of future do committed Christians have in the British public square?

For a few more years there is in England the opportunity for some brave individuals to speak publicly on matters of contentious Christian faith. But Exile has begun and it must get far worse before light can dawn again. In my view, faithfulness means not asking how many more years can we get a comment on TV about a Christian belief, but preparing people to keep loving Jesus and one another in the coming years when it will certainly not be possible to speak so publicly. The ‘love of many will grow cold’ (Mt. 24:12) and the question Jesus asks the Church in both England and America is ‘When the Son of Man
returns, will he find faith on earth?’ (Lk. 18:8)

Many American Christians — most especially white Evangelicals — have given Donald Trump a full-on embrace, in hopes that he will return America to its Christian past. Others voted for him in spite of his many faults, not out of an expectation that he would be some sort of savior, but out of conviction that whatever Trump’s sins and failings, he would not be aggressively hostile to traditional Christianity. My belief is that whatever one thinks of Trump, Christians would be foolish to place hope in a political solution. Indeed, the great failing of Christian conservatives over the three decades has been to focus their efforts on winning political and legal influence, even as the culture shifted radically towards the left. What do you think? 

The challenge facing the Western church is far, far bigger than one of human politics. I do not know much about the current American president or his policies, but in the UK we have a political system deeply rooted in Christian freedoms, principles, and in addition we have a Prime Minister whose father was a church minister. As the American Constitution preserves certain freedoms, so the Magna Carta says that English government must uphold the freedom of the English Church.

For us all this is utterly irrelevant and has not helped us because the forces arrayed against the church are spiritual and have already irretrievably poisoned institutions at the heart of schooling, college, health care, human resources, media, law and government.

The great enemy of the Church is the most skilled deceiver of all. He would be delighted if Christians trusted in a earthly political leader to rescue them from the coming crisis, because that will blind us to the need for spiritual solutions that are local, small, quiet and more shaped by the suffering of Christ’s cross than any government’s voting system. Psalm 146:3 warns, “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.”

75 Comments (Open | Close)

75 Comments To "Christian Life In Exile"

#1 Comment By therightforright On March 5, 2018 @ 7:23 pm

The UK has fallen far from its Christian roots. Pray the Lord will shake the foundations once again.

#2 Comment By l’autre J On March 5, 2018 @ 7:24 pm

In what sense can Britain be said to be “pagan”? Certainly not in the sense of being neo-Pagan in a way our friend Franklin Evans would affirm. Yes, there are neo-Druid cults and the like, but they are a tiny minority.

Oh, the druid cults per se may be tiny. But there’s a lot of, for lack of a better term, residual folk religion in Western societies that is revealed when the Christian facade is allowed to fall. It’s found most openly in rural areas and doesn’t last beyond the generation or two that embraces it after letting go of Christianity. Rod sees it around himself in the South in a form he has called ancestor worship. It’s real, yet it also fades away in the light of Modernity.

Still, it’s a phenomenon that Christian activists pick up on and cling to in efforts to sustain plausibility of the God-Shaped Hole hypothesis. (Rod used to assert it a lot, not so much recently.)

And as Rod and others have noted Christianity would be better off if societies really were becoming paganized since despite all the differences pagans (make that Pagans) share a certain common worldview with Christianity, indeed all religion do. No, the modern world really is becoming secularized and losing its sense of enchantment.

The youngest generation in South Korea is currently dereligionizing fast in way that no one can sensibly call paganization.


I had a better source which described how young post-religious Koreans have decided to invest their trust in their ethnic group and circle of relatives, friends, and acquaintances instead. Which is almost identical to what I’ve seen in western Europe. Can’t find the link, though.

#3 Comment By TR On March 5, 2018 @ 8:29 pm

Sanlon is very bright and articulate, but he seems to be suggesting that something has happened to the CofE recently. As a Christian institution, it’s been a bad joke for years. Even political conservatives should have problems with the then-Archbishop of Canterbury’s “Kill the Huns” prayer at the start of the Great War. And liberals should have trouble with the infamous “Red Dean of Canterbury” of the early cold-war years.

I’d take the assessment of the health of Christianity more seriously if it were coming from non-conformists or RCs.

#4 Comment By Michael Thompson On March 6, 2018 @ 3:08 am

As Christian in all common law countries, we have to get back to our God given roots and that is to our ‘common-law’ as derived from the scriptures, from where all our rights and values originate.
As Brent Winters in his book “The Excellence of the Common Law” says
THREE principles of law and government that arise from Scripture lie
at the foundation of the common-law tradition. First, the only lawful
exercise of law and government is ministerial: every magistrate and
officer holds his office, authority, and power at the pleasure of God to
whom he is responsible and to whom he will answer for the doing of his
office. Second, God alone is LORD of the individual conscience: each
individual, from the private person serving as juror to the public
magistrate and officer, is responsible before God to inform his conscience
aright and to exercise independent judgment in determining his
convictions and acting upon them; his duty of independent discernment
is non-delegable. Third, obedience to any command contrary to God’s
desire is always wrong. Moreover, when the individual answers to God
for the doing of his office, God will never allow him to take refuge in his
frank obedience to, or tacit conformity with, the judgment of any other
mortal or combination thereof, regardless of threats, demonstrations of
power, claims to authority, or assertions of infallibility. One’s only true
safe harbor is in one’s obedience to the God of Scripture, as one informs
one’s conscience aright with Scripture and whets his discernment into
evermore-sharp obedience. The common-law tradition rests on the
foregoing three principles for its foundation and is consonant with
them. Any doctrine or act said to be a part of the common-law tradition
that is inconsonant with any of these three is not a part of the common­
law tradition. By contrast, the civil-law tradition is inconsonant with the
foregoing three principles.
Popular politics will erode our liberty of life and property unless
experiential and right knowledge of our common-law courts and
government is second nature to the individual American. Good ..

The common law focuses on due process, not on a desired result.
Following the right process by asking the right question can yield a right
result, viz., justice; following the wrong processes by asking the wrong
questions will never yield the right result.

common-law tradition are consonant with Holy Writ. The one having
outfitted his conscience with the principles of Scriture, and having
informed his understanding with the common law’s applications of those
principles, will occupy and hold the ground allotted him against evil.

Ignorance of our common-law tradition of courts and the Jury has
spread from the Church outward. The Church, by offering justice through
the Jury, will teach the application of the above-cited three first three
principles: all human government is derived, God alone is LORD of the
indivdual conscience, and every attempt to find refuge in obedience to the
the powers that be for ultimate justification of one’s actions will fail.
Justice supplies the minimum requirements of duty concerning one’s
relationships with others and is best-learnt and known through
Experiencing of the saving grace of God brings the understanding and
appreciation necessary to motivate one to ever-wiser obedience-i.e.,
refined by ever-keener discernment-desired by God. The obedience of
faith is the fruit pf understanding God’s acceptance (grace) made possible by the satisfaction of divine justice in the sacrifice of Christ. Moreover,lack of appreciation of God’s graciousness results in lawlessness.
Consonant with Scripture, the common-law tradition insists upon a limited executive, legislature, and judiciary, each with defined power

Sorry that I could not add this as PDF.

#5 Comment By Houston Parks On March 6, 2018 @ 10:10 am

I share the concern with what militant secularism is doing and is likely to do to the church. I wonder, though, if militant secularism may be a logical reaction to the church’s failures in addressing the hurts of the world, including inequality, persistent poverty, environmental carelessness, and rampant despair. Might it be that the church’s disentanglement from worldly power will allow the marginalized church to align itself more squarely with the the world’s other marginalized ones?

#6 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 6, 2018 @ 11:11 am

I wonder, though, if militant secularism may be a logical reaction to the church’s failures in addressing the hurts of the world, including inequality, persistent poverty, environmental carelessness, and rampant despair.

That seems awfully shallow to me. A lot of militant secularists do darn little about any of those things. Militant secularism is a matter of hubris, not righteous indignation.

#7 Comment By KB On March 6, 2018 @ 11:27 am

“The great enemy of the Church is the most skilled deceiver of all. He would be delighted if Christians trusted in a earthly political leader to rescue them from the coming crisis, because that will blind us to the need for spiritual solutions that are local, small, quiet and more shaped by the suffering of Christ’s cross than any government’s voting system. Psalm 146:3 warns, “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.””

Amen. I feel like each of us should be reminding ourselves of that truth daily. It’s too easy to forget that there is a great cosmic battle going on all around us. (a la 2 Kings 6) We are too easily distracted and entranced by our immediate circumstances. This is a perennial human (and Christian) problem. Lord have mercy on us all. Thank you for this interview, Rod.

#8 Comment By Steve On March 6, 2018 @ 1:51 pm

I suspect the mainline US counterparts to the COE are in no better shape to face the future than the UK ones. Our hope will lie with the evangelicals, especially the non-denominational ones who have the independence to reject leftism, Islam and fight vigorously for the First Amendment rights to Free Exercise of Religion.

#9 Comment By William Tighe On March 6, 2018 @ 5:52 pm

Siarlys wrote:

“I have yet to see anyone offer a reputable source about Sweden in response to JonF’s challenge.”

See these, on the case of Åke Green:




#10 Comment By David Russell On March 6, 2018 @ 6:36 pm

While the author compared this crisis to the sinking of the Titanic, there is a major difference. The sinking was an actual crisis.

#11 Comment By sestamibi On March 6, 2018 @ 7:40 pm

The future of Christianity. God bless them:



#12 Comment By David R. Graham On March 6, 2018 @ 8:06 pm

Well done! And here is a classical, orthodox Christian strategist: [21]

#13 Comment By Chuck Morgan On March 7, 2018 @ 11:24 am

That was really excellent. If this article survives a generation, Christians may well look back and characterize Peter Sanlon as the Jeremiah of the early 21st century.

I particularly liked his comment, “The mind rationalizes what the heart desires.” I have long held that people hear what they want to hear and therefore believe what they want to believe. Only God can change the variables of that equation.

It should be no surprise to us that we are in a cultural crisis relative to our past and relative to orthodox Christianity: just compare life in America today with 50 years ago. My solution to that in my very small sphere of influence is to remain unwaveringly in line with historical redemptive history and its culmination in the gospel.

As for winsomeness: I think it’s being over-emphasized. When interacting with individuals: absolutely and then some—humble and gracious. But when it comes to proclamation: bold and unapologetic.

#14 Comment By mike c On March 7, 2018 @ 3:35 pm

The clammer regarding Benedict Option, Exile, where oh where can I raise my children without them being peer pressure influenced to change sexes, join Isis, shoot liberals, shave their head and get a nazi tattoo, etc. is not missing the point but elevating it to an undeserved prominent position. IF Christians retreat surrender give up to the ‘tests’ of this world then no complaint from there is meaningful. Seems harder tests come when we turn away from the easier ones, as if god is saying, hey ya all hear?
Where is the direction that says; ‘if there is severe trouble in the world get the hell out, hide a bible in a tree trunk, put one in a glass bottle and throw in the ocean’. If I have to have a supportive political base in order to arouse my love of Jesus I may be looking in the wrong direction. Blame and you suffer, Dali Lama. Love your nieghbors as I have loved you. Jesus.

[NFR: Whut? — RD]

#15 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 7, 2018 @ 10:41 pm

See these, on the case of Åke Green:

The most interesting point in those links is that Green was acquitted, despite the reluctance of Swedish courts to do so, because European Human Rights rulings that were binding on Sweden as a member of the EU protected the pastor’s speech and/or free exercise of religion.

#16 Comment By Jack Brooks On March 8, 2018 @ 11:00 am

Reaction 1: This man’s perspective is formed only from within the CoE. I would question just how knowledgeable he is about the relative health of other Christian movements and churches in England,
other than the CoE. It sounds as if he knows almost nothing about the independents or Pentecostals. At least he doesn’t seem to factor them into his reasoning.

Reaction 2: He seems to have no faith in God’s sovereign, irresistible ability to arrest cultural degeneration through the Gospel, and reverse it. I would guess that England in John Wesley’s day was just as bad spiritually, socially, and politically, if not worse in certain ways, but God used the Evangelical Revival to radically change the country, and pull it back from a French Revolution-style disaster.

Reaction 3: English Christianity must have really lame, weak-kneed apologists, currently. Where are the British Christian reasoners, men and women, who can persuasively dismantle secular philosophy? England (or God, via England) produced the most influential, popular-level apologist of the 20th century, and into today. Have British evangelicals just given up on making a fight of it? Or are they just going to start making out their wills, as this fellow seems to recommend?

#17 Comment By Chris G On March 8, 2018 @ 11:42 am

“That seems awfully shallow to me. A lot of militant secularists do darn little about any of those things. Militant secularism is a matter of hubris, not righteous indignation.”

Perhaps militant secularism comes from the recognition that the universe is better explained and understood by using science and reason, and not faith and superstition. And the idea that militant secularists do not “address the hurts of the world” is silly, and speaks to a conception of secularism that is learned from religious leaders and not actual interaction or observation of secularists. For example, you might note that as secularism has increased in the west, violent crime has decreased. I’m not positing that the former caused the latter, but it should certainly make one question the precept that a secular society is less moral than a religious one, something commonly assumed in religious arguments such as this one. What if the world is not ending, but getting better? The evidence seems to point pretty strongly in this direction.

#18 Comment By Marita Garcia Sanchez On March 8, 2018 @ 10:37 pm

I am taking my Masters in Divinity at Wesley Divinity School, Wesleyan University-Philippines, Cabanatuan City and I am requesting that I be permitted to use your paper as my related literature to my term paper titled “Politics and Christian Churches in the Philippines.

[NFR: Yes, only give proper credit, as I’m sure you will. — RD]

#19 Comment By Brendan from Oz On March 8, 2018 @ 11:09 pm

“For the time being, this new Swedish law – that was shown to violate the EU Convention on Human Rights with respect to Freedom of Speech and Religion – is still very much the law in Sweden. It has not been repealed and no changes have been made or are under consideration. So, the very law that violates the European Convention still remains as something of a hammer that muzzles the free preaching of the Bible in this area. After all, which pastor wants to go through the time and expense of the legal harassment (not to mention the threats and ridicule) that befell Pastor Green.”

From [18]

#20 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 9, 2018 @ 9:50 pm

It has not been repealed and no changes have been made or are under consideration. So, the very law that violates the European Convention still remains as something of a hammer

You mean like many states still have laws on their books defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, and some even still have criminal sodomy statutes? Albeit, none of these laws are or can be enforced. I bet a few states still have antimiscegenation laws formally on the books. One of the last acts of defiance of recalcitrant legislatures is to not actually repeal laws that are declared and rendered null and void.

#21 Comment By JMC On March 10, 2018 @ 11:15 am

It’s already happening here in the US. I read almost daily about someone who has lost a job or undergone some legal action because they stuck steadfastly to the teachings of the Church. From church-run institutions to little mom-and-pop bakeries, the secularists have forced closure on any business that will not bow to their ideology. You won’t bake a cake for a same-sex “wedding”? You have no right to be in business. You won’t allow same-sex couples to adopt children? You don’t belong in the child-care field. You preach the Biblical teachings about sexuality from your church pulpit? You’re going to lose your tax-exempt status. I doubt that church closures are far behind. And we’re just like those British ostriches: We’re refusing to read the handwriting on the wall. Only prayer and fasting will stop this juggernaut…and too few of us are willing to subject ourselves willingly to hunger, because the secularist bug has bitten us, too.

#22 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 10, 2018 @ 8:11 pm

I read almost daily about someone who has lost a job or undergone some legal action because they stuck steadfastly to the teachings of the Church.

What religious conservatives are legitimately entitled to, and what gay men and women are legitimately entitled to, flow from the same point of jurisprudence: curtailing “employment at will.”

We live in an economy where “finding a job” is not only a social good, but a socially necessary good. Therefore, employers should be barred from using irrelevant personal preferences or beliefs to refuse to hire, or to dismiss, individuals who are presumptively or proven to be capable and productive in the line of work for which they are employed.

#23 Comment By Grateful On March 12, 2018 @ 4:45 pm

I am surprised that this warning is goiong out to “Western” Churches since this has been going on for years in the US, starting with the Episcopal Church then moving into other mainstream churches such as Prebyterian, Lutheran and Methodist Churches. TEC began turning apostate in the early 60s and gathered speed as it moved into the 21st Century, corrupting the Church of England as it moved forward. US Anglicans with the help of African Churches were able to move away from the Episcopal Chiurch to maintain the faith and found the
Anglican Church in North America. The Church of England is a “Johnny-Come-lately” in the business of teaching a false doctrine but Justin Welby is doing all he can to catch up. However, since it is a state church, it has the full force of a secular body politic behind it and Welby will have no problem in leading the demise of the CofE as a Christian Church. I pray for the people of England and their recovery of orthodox Christianity.

#24 Comment By Maritza On March 13, 2018 @ 9:18 pm

And God?…. The Great I Am has lost His Power to deliver the church today???……
Look, all of you pastors, preachers, apostles, prophets, reverends, all of you will perish but not the Church!….NEVER!!
Wake Up!! You “great theologians!”….
This is the reason why the church “sleeps!”….because of you!.

#25 Comment By Concerned of Tunbridge Wells On March 31, 2018 @ 6:58 am

Mr Sanlon does not to take into consideration the views of his parishioners. A man who throws out a choir at his church for being too traditional and behaves badly towards those who dare to disagree with him. [22] [23]

This man is not an example of a good Christian.