Being a Christian, I find the comments of David Silvester interesting as well as alarming. Rather than merely shouting him down like many others are doing I find myself looking critically at his theology and wanting to understand where his is coming from. I don’t think Mr Silvester wants to be hateful. I think he simply wants to stand up for what he believes are Christian truths. Good for him for trying, but I am confident he is wrong this time.
It is reported that in a the letter to the Henley Standard he wrote: “The scriptures make it abundantly clear that a Christian nation that abandons its faith and acts contrary to the Gospel (and in naked breach of a coronation oath) will be beset by natural disasters such as storms, disease, pestilence and war.”
He added: “I wrote to David Cameron in April 2012 to warn him that disasters would accompany the passage of his same-sex marriage bill. But he went ahead despite a 600,000 signature petition by concerned Christians and more than half of his own parliamentary party saying that he should not do so.”
Now I know that almost every Christian church was against the redefinition of marriage and still are, but what about it bringing natural disasters such as storms, disease, pestilence and war as Mr Sylvester claimed?
I have since listened to Mr Silvester speaking to a journalist on the radio where he repeated his comments and this time I heard him referring to the Old Testament part of the Bible. Ah, this is where his theology goes adrift.
The OT (Old Testament) tells the story of a particular people who are chosen by God to be special. It was to be their destiny to hear from God and to preserve those revelations in their national memory. The time would come when God would become flesh and dwell among us in the person of Jesus the Messiah (or the Christ). That chosen nation would (because they had preserved the previous revelations) be the ones best placed to recognise the Messiah and to provide a context for his life and teachings.
So in the OT, God is seen as having a relationship with a nation, a people. They were to preserve their distinctiveness and be separate from things God did not like. That nation was warned that to turn from him would result in all sorts of punishment, and if they persistently refused to turn back to him when he gave them warnings they would end up being invaded by foreign powers and plundered. It came to pass and they were eventually invaded by the Babylonians under the leadership of Nebuchadnezzar. The account of Nebuchadnezzar’s victory was carved on stone, at his command, and this stone can now be viewed in the British Museum.
In the post Jesus age God now enters into relationship with individuals. Instead of transforming the world by choosing a nation or country, he invites individuals to come to Jesus to follow him, be transformed by him, and then become agents of transformation in this world by working for the common good. This is what Christians are seeking when they pray “They kingdom come…”, they are seeking the enlargement of the rule of Christ on the earth. This is where Mr Sylvester makes his mistake. Whereas the OT laws were to show how a nation could live in harmony with each other and with their God, we are now in an age where it is individuals who are dealt with individually regarding their faithfulness, or otherwise, concerning Jesus.
Simply put, I can say that my failures will not bring judgement upon others. Though there is a caveat to that statement. The crooked bankers caused others to suffer but it is they who will answer to God for what they have done. Crime, violence and war harm people. Though the perpetrators will have to face God (judgement) for what they have done, the innocent do suffer because of them. But that is not the same thing as judgement. We each will give an account to God for our own lives. This will include David Cameron.
However, I don’t want to end on a note about judgement. A continual theme right through the NT is the offer of forgiveness from a generous God who is good, and who loves us.