Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Understanding The Times

Timing is Everything--They Say

Here is an excellent summary of a key aspect of English constitutional development.  
We like to think that liberty is fought for.  Judging by occasional comments in the media and by politicians, a widespread belief is that liberty was won during the [English] Civil War.  The reality is different: the war almost destroyed liberty.  Only when the country rejected fighting, and zealots had to abandon their visions of a compulsory New Jerusalem, was liberty possible.

To the Whigs we owe the principle--Magna Carta restated in modern form--that rulers must obey the law and that legitimate authority requires the consent of the people.  From the Tories came the principle--fundamental to any political order--that people have no right to rebel against a government because they disagree with it.  
Combining these seemingly conflicting principles produced characteristics of English political culture:
suspicion of Utopias and zealots; trust in common sense and experience; respect for tradition; preference for gradual change; and the view that "compromise" is victory, not betrayal.
  These things stem from the failure both of royal absolutism and of godly republicanism: costly failures, and fruitful ones.  [Robert Tombs, The English and Their History (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2015),  p.263.]
We Christians need to learn that the Kingdom of God comes upon the earth gradually.   The gradual nature of the reforming process means that necessarily, in the public square where both Christians and non-Christians interact, "compromise" solutions represent victory, not betrayal.  When compromises have to be made it should not cause disaffection, but a strengthening of resolve to work patiently for a better, more perfect Reformation.

Secondly, we must ever remember that the Kingdom of God is established first and foremost within human hearts, minds, and consciences.  As we often say, when 75 percent of a population is born again from above, keeping Christian principles in the public square will seem to everyone to be expected, ordinary, and common place.

We must learn to walk in-step with the King, not run ahead of Him.  When we forget that or neglect it, the results are inevitably terrible, even horrific.

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