The New Year is a time of reflection and resolution. At the end of a tough year for many people - and it seems a particularly chaotic and depressing year in the UK – it's good for us to consider the bigger national picture, as each of us reflects on our own personal circumstances.
Perhaps nothing indicates the changes that are occurring at the top of our society more than the new King's Christmas speech. For King Charles this was a tough ask. His late mother's Christmas speech to the nation was for most people in the UK a normal highlight of Christmas. I remember as a child how Christmas dinner always had to be over by 3pm so that we could all go through and watch the Queen's speech. In her later years it struck me how Christian some of them were.
So how would King Charles fare on his first? In terms of production quality, tone and empathy, it hit the nail on the head. Rather than sit behind a desk, King Charles stood in front of the camera, and spoke with warmth and empathy about his late mother: "Christmas is a particularly poignant time for all of us who have lost loved ones. We feel their absence at every familiar turn of the season and remember them in each cherished tradition."
The speech was short – only 617 words – but those 617 words revealed a great deal about our new King and about the direction that Britain is going as the New Year ushers in a new age. And what it revealed should be profoundly disturbing for any Christian because the head of the Church of England does not know what his own church teaches, who Christ is or what the Bible says.
The general theme was about faith in the power of the light. But who or what is the light? According to King Charles, it is the light that shines out of every religion. It is the light that shines out of every human heart: "It is a belief in the extraordinary ability of each person to touch, with goodness and compassion, the lives of others, and to shine a light in the world around them. This is the essence of our community and the very foundation of our society."
It's such a naïve view of the world – one that is far easier to say from the comforts of privilege, than it is to say from the suffering of the poor. If this is the foundation of our society then it is a weak foundation that will fall apart at the first hint of evil and suffering.
In this 'inner light' world, what religion you are does not matter, because as the King informed us "while Christmas is, of course, a Christian celebration, the power of light overcoming darkness is celebrated across the boundaries of faith and belief."
He went on to tell us of this new humanist religion he is espousing: "So, whatever faith you have, or whether you have none, it is in this life-giving light, and with the true humility that lies in our service to others, that I believe we can find hope for the future."
That's not what Christ said. I would suggest that before King Charles next tells us what we are supposed to believe, he read John 1:1-19. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it because Jesus is the light. The light is not the inner light that shines in every human being. Even such a phenomenal religious figure as John the Baptist was not the light – he was just a witness to the light. Christ is the light who gives light to everyone, but people reject him and so continue in the darkness.
The truth is, you can't have the light that gives light to every person without Christ. The religion of the head of the Church of England is not the faith of the Bible. Nor is it the faith of Christ. Instead It is the faith of Hallmark humanism.
I was surprised to find that the Catholic Herald summed it up best. The newspaper wrote: "If Charles is really going to shift from being a Christian Protestant monarch, saving the schismatic Protestant establishment from the dangers of Catholicism, spiritual and political, into a 21st century religious relativism, this is no small thing. It is not even a change of gear or shift of identity within a faith. It is the abandonment of that faith. Perennialism is not Christianity. Multi-faith observance is not Christianity. The shibboleths of multi-culturalism are not Christianity."
What the King has done is incredibly dangerous for both the country and the monarchy. The Queen was one of the last civic leaders who recognised that the foundations of the United Kingdom are built on Christianity. If the foundations are destroyed, who shall stand? But this is also a disastrous step for the monarchy. Christianity is not founded on the monarchy but the monarchy is founded on Christianity. King Charles is sowing the seed that will eventually lead to the end of monarchy in the UK.
It was intriguing to compare the new King's first Christmas speech with the Guardian columnist, Polly Toynbee's annual Christmas rant against Christianity: "So, Christmas comes with good cheer, enjoy it. But know that it comes with religious baggage we should shed." She has an ally in the King. Our new religion will be the pseudo-pagan progressivism championed by Toynbee and in effect endorsed by King Charles.
This King's speech did indeed herald a new age for the monarchy and for the UK - a dark age. But Christians need not despair, not least because ultimately it is Christ who is on the throne. It is Christ who is the King of kings. And it is Christ before whom all knees will bow - whether king or pauper.
In an extraordinary article in The Australian, their foreign editor, Greg Sheridan, reminded us of how the early Church thrived and flourished in the pagan and hostile environment we are returning to. If you wish to read the whole article, then Greg gave me permission to reproduce it here. It is well worth reading, but I leave you with this taster:
"When Jesus died on the cross the apostles were terrified and could barely move out of their meeting room. After he rose from the dead, they became the bravest and most consequential force human history has seen. They were able to do this because Jesus is the truth. The way they did it, among cultures more uncompromisingly hostile even than our own, can teach today's Christians invaluable lessons."
Jesus is not 'a' truth. He is not 'a' light'. He is not 'a' way. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the Light of the World. May it be that you are entering this New Year accepting and following Him. Happy New Year!