Alas, the Liberal Democratic Party didn’t exist in the early days of the Roman Empire. That deprived Jesus of an opportunity to affiliate himself with the LibDem manifesto, which he otherwise would have done with alacrity.
However, should he choose today for his Second Coming, he’d get his chance. Why, if he timed it properly, he could even stand for the party in the general election, in the unlikely event he could pass the preliminary vetting.
That’s the impression one gets reading Prof. Ian Bradley’s article Why Liberalism Stands at the Very Heart of Christianity.
The article was inspired by Tim Farron, who, writes Bradley, “spoke movingly and bravely in last Saturday’s Times about the tensions involved in being an Evangelical Christian and leader of the Liberal Democrats”.
Well, I was moved by Mr Farron’s conundrums too, but in a direction opposite to Prof. Bradley’s. In fact, the first adjectives that sprang to my mind when reading Mr Farron’s article were neither ‘moving’ nor ‘brave’, but ‘vulgar’, ‘ignorant’ and ‘disingenuous’.
It’s both vulgar and theologically illiterate to co-opt Christ for any political platform, especially one of recent vintage. As a self-professed Evangelical Christian, Mr Farron ought to remind himself of Christ’s own words about where his kingdom isn’t.
Surely he must realise that the salvation Christ brought to man wasn’t the kind achievable through redistributive political action and social engineering, both the hallmarks of modern ‘liberalism’, as practised by the LibDems.
“Theological and political liberalism surely go hand in hand,” writes Prof. Bradley, and for once he’s right. One could argue, however, that neither has much to do with Christianity, the former usually and the latter by definition (the modifier ‘political’ should be a dead giveaway).
“Both,” laments Prof. Bradley, “are under assault from the rise of fundamentalism, populism and nationalism across the world and especially in its most powerful nations… Common to [these] groups is a literalist interpretation of scripture, a strong attachment to nationalism, Islamophobia and opposition to gay, transgender and women’s rights.”
Seldom does one see such a mishmash of ontological category errors in one paragraph. For, being political and not religious phenomena, neither populism nor nationalism has anything to do with any type of Christianity.
Christian fundamentalism does have something to do with it, although the same pejorative adjectives I used earlier sometimes apply to it as well. Actually, “a literalist interpretation of scripture” isn’t alien to Evangelical Christianity in general, which shows a certain lack of both theological and poetic imagination.
So is one to understand that, unlike those objectionable groups, Mr Farron isn’t opposed to “gay, transgender and women’s rights?” Does he regard such opposition as un-Christian? If he does, he’s either ignorant or mendacious.
Admittedly, transgender rights didn’t figure in either Testament. In those backward times, people still couldn’t imagine that within a couple of millennia their descendants would praise men born as women getting pregnant by women born as men.
However, taking a wild stab in the dark, somehow I don’t think that either Leviticus or, say, Romans would have welcomed such a development should it have been mooted. As to the other two rights upheld by our liberal Christian, both scripture and ecclesiastic tradition are absolutely unequivocal about them.
Homosexuality is described in both Testaments as an ‘abomination’, which is the traditional Christian position, at least in the apostolic confessions. But it’s not Mr Farron’s position. When asked whether he regarded homosexuality as a sin, he replied “I do not”, adding a silly non-sequitur to the effect that we’re all sinners anyway.
Indeed we are, and homosexuality is one of the sins some of us commit. As a political ‘liberal’, Mr Farron is free to think otherwise, but wrapping that faddish secular stance in a Christian mantle is a vulgar and ignorant category mistake.
As to women, scripture defines them as ‘helpers’ to men, and St Paul says: “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.”
Women clearly played a vital role in Christ’s life and Passion, but to talk about them in the crude terms of modern feminism and MeTooism again represents vulgarity at its most soaring. People who do so don’t have much in the way of intelligence, nor, more important, taste.
Not only do Messrs Farron and Bradley misunderstand Christianity, they also stumble over the concept of liberalism. Both use, or rather misuse, the word in the sense in which it’s used by modern socialists, whatever party they represent.
English liberalism, whose roots Prof. Bradley correctly identifies as Nonconformist, has performed an about-face since its inception. It used to stand for individual liberty, a small state, free enterprise and personal charity. Now it stands for exactly the opposite.
Citing biblical usage, Prof. Bradley equates liberalism with “broad, open-minded, gracious, expansive generosity.” Presumably, this fine quality is best expressed not through individual love, but through the good offices of a central, omnipotent state committed to robbing hard-working people for the sake of creating a vast parasitic class and sapping the country’s resources.
No? Sorry, my mistake. I must have been misled by the policies consistently advocated by today’s ‘liberals’, including Mr Farron. His voting record and numerous pronouncements show a loyal commitment to every hare-brained leftie superstition on offer.
For example, he insisted that 50 per cent of target seats be contested by women and 10 per cent by ethnic minority candidates, regardless of any other qualifications. As a LibDem leader, he practised what he preached by appointing 12 women and 10 men to senior positions.
In the good Christian spirit, he voted not only for homomarriage, but also for extending it to the armed forces. Mr Farron’s voting record also shows that, while considering same-sex marriage essential to our defence, he regards a nuclear deterrent as superfluous.
While describing himself as a Eurosceptic, he logically believes in staying in the EU and flinging our doors open for migrants whose views on Christianity may be rather less liberal than Mr Farron’s.
And of course he supports the complete legalisation of marijuana, although he stops short of suggesting that it could be used as incense. Anyway, his brand of Christianity has no room for those time-honoured bells and smells.
The attempt to usurp Christianity for left-wing politics is nothing new. Yet people who insist that Christianity is some kind of socialism believe in the latter more than the former, and properly understand neither. That’s predictable in our academics, but unfortunate in MPs, whose policies affect our lives.