What then should we do?

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As we face another year, it is a good time to ask ourselves what our priorities should be.

A Sinking Society

We cannot escape the fact that the United Kingdom really is post-Christian, and not only post-Christian, but post-liberal. Like the rest of the West, the UK has undergone a vicious assault on reason and tradition. What was once a liberal, tolerant society which sought to build communities has become censorious and intolerant with self-interest reigning supreme, resulting in a society where anything goes and nothing works.

It is possible to argume that the UK is post-liberal precisely because it is post-Christian. Lacking the guidance and restraint of Christianity, liberalism has degenerated into progressivism, an ideological derangement motivated by contempt for the past whilst lacking a rational direction for the future. A coherent moral consensus within a well-grounded community is totally absent and as a result we witness moral chaos, a lack of creative thought and an increasingly narrow-minded society. In the space of a single generation, Western liberalism has degenerated into a cultural suicide cult.

Who Is To Blame?

As we look at the decline around us – institutional, economic and above all moral – we are forced to acknowledge that the responsibility lies with those who have a duty to uphold those principles for life which lead to happiness and fulfilment: the church. The leadership of the legacy denominations, having tired of trying to convert the world to Christ, have settled for trying to convert the church to the world. As a result Christian distinctiveness has been submerged in a quagmire of niceness and weak-kneed eagerness not to offend.

The faithful Christian believer, from whatever tradition, is trapped between a rock and a hard place: either a blatant unbelief or a feeble, homoeopathic form of Christianity that serves as an enabler for what people want to do anyway.

The most common religious faith in the UK today is little more than Sheilaism, a grab-all individualistic system of belief which selects 'religious' elements from wherever they may be found, usually with little if any theological reflection. The term originates from Sheila Larson, who follows her own 'little voice' in a faith she calls 'Sheilaism'. Perhaps the clearest recent example of Sheilaism in the UK was King Charles's Christmas message, a jumble of various religions and none, all overlaid with thinking nice progressively acceptable thoughts.

Pursue Holiness

What is the concerned Christian to do in the face of societal decline and the increasing pressure of a narcissistic and intolerant progressivism? The best thing a Christian concerned with the state of society and the world can do is not to plunge directly into activism but to become part of a biblical fellowship and pursue holiness. Our ultimate priority should be our own spiritual health and enabling and encouraging other Christians.

If personal circumstances prevent us from physically joining with other Christians, we should learn from Luther and use the means of communication to hand: the internet. Through it we can join with other Christians and share prayer and encouragement. By making comments, asking questions and sharing concerns we can build communities of genuine concern. The creation of small, diverse communities of orthodox faith and practice, whether physically or online, made up of believing Christians who understand themselves as counter-cultural, is the way ahead if Christianity is going to endure the testing time ahead of us.

It Is Necessary

Why emphasise spiritual development and fellowship when the West seems to be in serious danger of regressing into a state similar to that of the third world? Surely the Christian response should be to focus on the duty to prevent further decline and strive to restore what we have lost?

Experience teaches that establishment social conservatives will do diddly squat to protect a Christian presence in the public square. Expecting them to use their influence to advance the practical outworking of Christian principles is the triumph of hope over experience. Even those in parliament who profess the faith and have power to influence legislation will rarely lift a finger to protect biblical Christians. We have to grasp the truth that we faithful Christians are on our own: we cannot expect biblical leadership from people who do not have biblical views.

We must be realistic. It is up to Christians to demonstrate how the faith works out in practice before a watching world. As well as talking, we should be clear examples of Christlike living. We cannot do this on our own: we need each other. Ours is the responsibility of looking after God's creation, and that means more than being environmentalists – all humanity is part of creation and we should care for how we all live.

It is vital for the sake of society that there exist fellowships of Christians able to retain the faith and ensure its survival through hard times, and to provide the foundations necessary for successful resistance and recovery. We cannot retreat and take our place amongst those who wish to stand back, not dirtying their hands, while the woke in power run amok through our institutions and trash our culture only to replace it with confusion and division.

Without a strong body of Christians able to hold firmly to biblical truths, any efforts to stem the flow of immorality and distortions of reality such as transgender confusion will falter, and where marginally successful will be swiftly overthrown. It's important that we do not deceive ourselves about political power. Social conservatives can share the Christian concern over the state of society but they can never see the underlying cause. As a result their efforts will be transient at best.

Our period of cultural instability arises from a rejection of the transcendent. We live as those who experience and understand a transcendent culture and as such we find ourselves colliding with today's therapeutic culture. The foundational question for which the Christian and the world give utterly divergent answers is: 'Do we follow God's pattern for life, or do we do what feels good to us?' We cannot be of any earthly use until we are of heavenly use. For the sake of our own souls and the health of the world, it is imperative that we Christians retain our distinctiveness.

Campbell Campbell-Jack is a retired Church of Scotland minister. He blogs at A Grain of Sand.