The Kuyperian Commentary

Politics, Economics, Culture, and Theology with a Biblical Viewpoint

Archive for the tag “Patheos”

Roots of a British Awakening?

A guest post by Thomas S Kidd

My family and I just returned from two weeks in the U.K., and while we were there, several major British religion news events transpired. First, on a day we happened to be in Edinburgh, Church of Scotland delegates voted to allow gay ministers. Then, when we returned to London, came the appalling murder of a British solider by two Muslims, one of whom was arrested in Kenya in 2010 for seeking al-Qaeda training. Finally, a new study of U.K. census data indicated that within a decade, perhaps less than half of all people in Britain will identify even nominally as Christians.Michael-Adebolajo-1912414

These disparate developments suggest several religious patterns: first, prominent churches in the U.K. seem generally inclined to follow the lead of mainline denominations in the U.S. and Canada on issues related to gender and homosexuality. The Church of England has recently decided to ordain celibate homosexuals as bishops, and has issued a new plan to ordain women bishops within two years. These developments make inevitable more difficulties between the shrinking mainline churches in the west, and the burgeoning ones in the global south, which are generally more traditional on issues of sexuality.

Second, the U.K. (like much of Eurjeffertsschori_2_300(1)ope) has a pressing problem of how to handle its growing Muslim population, some fraction of which are jihadist sympathizers. (Anecdotally, I was struck by how ubiquitous the signs of Islam are in the U.K., from mosques to burqa-clad women.) While America’s Muslim population remains proportionately low, especially outside of large cities, in the U.K. a tenth of the under-25 population is now Muslim, and the self-identifying Christian population is stagnant and aging. If it were not for Christian immigrants to the U.K. from sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere, Christianity would be in utter free-fall as a percentage of the British population.

Abandoned_ChapelThird, the legal establishment of the Church of England looks increasingly strange and antiquated, when you consider how Christianity (Anglican or otherwise) is losing even a nominal hold over much of the population. It is hard to imagine how the church will survive calls for its disestablishment (meaning withdrawal of state financial support and other trends toward stronger separation of church and state) unless a very different pattern emerges in the next generation. In a democratic country, it seems impossible to justify an established Christian church when so few actively practice Christianity, and when even nominal Christianity seems destined to command no more than a plurality of the population’s  adherence. Yet the British government – particularly the monarchy – is still closely identified with Christianity. They still pray “God save the queen” in Anglican liturgies.

Given all this, is there hope for Christian revival in Britain? Christians, of course, always believe there is hope for redemption and renewal, because of God’s power. The observable facts are not promising, but there are certainly pockets of flourishing Christianity in Britain. The Kingsway International Christian Centre, an African Pentecostal congregation which is London’s largest church, attracts as many as 12,000 attendees every Sunday, and there are many other growing immigrant-dominated congregations across the U.K. Evangelical renewal efforts within the Anglican Church include the Alpha Course, pioneered by Nicky Gumbel (see more on the Alpha Course in this Anxious Bench post by Philip Jenkins).

While my family was blessed to attend Evensong services at both St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, the most vital church we visited was an evangelical Baptist congregation in Stirling, Scotland, which sits prominently in the city center. While nowhere near the scale of Kingsway, it is filled with young Scottish families. The worship is heartfelt, the preaching biblical and accessible, and community life and prayer support are vibrant. Those factors, enlivened by the Holy Spirit, would seem to be essential ingredients for revival in the U.K. and beyond.

@ThomasSKidd on Twitter

Thomas Kidd is a contributing scholar to The Kuyperian Commentary. His newest book is Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots, published in 2011 with Basic Books.

[This article first appeared at The Anxious Bench. Read more from Dr. Kidd there.]

The Sons of God Go Forth to War: Remembering Stonewall

Stonewall BrigadeSoutherners, especially Virginians, came to respect and love Jackson, sometimes to excess. One Virginia woman wrote that “I believe that God leads Jackson and Jackson his men, just where it is best they should go. My only fear is that people are in danger of worshiping Gen. Jackson instead of God, who rules over all. If we idolize him, he will be taken from us.” And taken he was, struck down by a volley of Confederate fire from sentries who mistook Jackson and his men for a Union detachment.

200px-Stonewall_JacksonMemorials to Jackson began even before his death, including the famous 1863 photo taken a week before his fatal wounding at Chancellorsville. Read more…

How Christians Can Utilize Twitter

The latest issue of The Weekly Standard includes a rant against Twitter by Matt Labash, who does not have a Twitter account. I am on Twitter, and I like it a lot. Of course, it has its vapid and vicious aspects, but all in all, I find that Twitter is the most useful means of staying apprised of a ideologically and geographically wide range of opinion and news, and simultaneously the easiest means of connecting with like-minded folks. It is also striking another damaging blow against the tunnel vision of the mainstream media.

I sympathize with Labash to a certain extent – anything truly novel is likely to be bad, and a reflexive opposition to newfangled ideas is probably going to be vindicated much of the time. Newfangled technology, however, may just improve upon older, useful products, and the best of today’s information technology often represents methods of communicating that are very similar to what scrolls, books, newspapers and magazines have been doing for a long time. Twitter’s limit of 140 characters is not nearly as significant as people like Labash suggest – 95% of what I share on Twitter includes links to longer-form material, such as articles in The Weekly Standard.

Twitter_Town_Hall

Read the rest with more helpful links at The Anxious Bench

Thomas Kidd is a contributing scholar to The Kuyperian Commentary. His newest book is Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots, published in 2011 with Basic Books.

Further Topical Reading:
“Why Most Christians Should Use Facebook!” ~ Uri Brito, KuypComm Founder

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Understanding the Puritans

The scholarly study of the Puritans has been marked in recent years by attempts to understand them in a fully transatlantic context. This follows a broader trend in early American history to focus on “Atlantic world” perspectives, rather than proto-national American ones. While others could view this de-emphasizing of the future United States as ideologically dubious, I think it is a sanguine development for understanding the Puritans in their own places and time. ~ Thomas S Kidd, PhD Read more…

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