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Church must make impact on society; Faiths IN OUR CITY.


THERE has been debate recently about whether political parties should be allowed to use Christian and other national symbols to give themselves an air of respectability. Does it matter? Are we really a Christian country now? I prefer to believe that we are a country built on Christian principles where many people claim some Christian allegiance, some claim another faith and some no faith at all.

I may have a utopian hope for an earthly Christian society but if it cannot be realised, does that mean that the church and the state are doomed to travel on parallel lines, aware of each other's existence but mutually irrelevant? When Jesus required his audience to give to Caesar what was Caesar's and to God what was God's, he was not suggesting that the two sets of accounts had nothing to do with each other. One obvious example where they do relate is that of the evil government that perpetrates laws which godly people have no choice but to oppose. This weekend, I will be the guest preacher at the Remembrance Sunday service at the Anglican Church in Berlin.

During the Second World War, in that city, an outstanding example of Christian defiance of an evil government was that of Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed in April 1945 on a charge of treason because he was implicated in the plot to kill Hitler.

As a Christian, he considered the interests of his God and his church to be directly threatened by the Nazi regime, so the strongest possible action was justified.

Can Bonhoeffer's action be contradicted by appealing to those who argue for the privatisation of religion, saying that the church ought to concentrate on what it is good at - prayer, worship, charitable acts etc - and let the state get on with the business of government? I think not!

Bonhoeffer fought against his own church's failure to critique a godless regime and is an example to us all when faced with similar situations.

A Christianity that remains within cloisters and does not make an impact on society is only a partial Christianity.

Christ's last words to his disciples were: "Go into the world and make a difference."

They did and, in the space of a few years, turned the world upside dow n!

The church is, to use the biblical phrase, to be "salt and light" in the world, whether on the domestic, business or national level.

For me as a Christian, and especially as a Christian leader, that interface with the world, that dialogue with Caesar, has been a vital part of living in the world since the church began. The church exists as a critique of the world and neither can, nor should, remain indifferent.

Major Samuel Edgar,The Salvation Army, Moderator of the Free Churches
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Oct 31, 2009
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