In His letter to the Church at Ephesus, written by the hand of the Apostle John in the book of Revelation, Jesus lamented that the Ephesians had “lost their first love.” He exhorted them to “repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lamp stand from its place.” In other words, He would revoke their right to be called Christians.
Britain was one of the first countries of the world to be Christianized, and it’s role in bringing the light of Christ to the rest of the world is virtually unmatched. But today, Britain’s lamp stand is being removed. She has lost her first love and refuses to repent. Her state church has turned to apostasy and her people have fallen prey to false religions and atheism, like sheep without a shepherd.
I am a non-denominational American pastor of British heritage. This week I was speaking at a Bible conference here. On the Sabbath I visited a local town center and wandered through the streets talking with people about Jesus. It was an enlightening experience.
The majority of the “Christian” people I spoke with were, Biblically speaking, virtually illiterate. One woman who called herself an Anglo-Catholic had never heard that God sent Jesus to die on the cross for the sins of the world — the central tenet of the faith. She promptly rejected that idea, saying that “God would never condone human sacrifice.” Most of the people I encountered were self-professed atheists and simply rejected Christianity out-of-hand.
My most significant conversation of the day was with a Moslem man walking home from the market with his family. “I have a stronger faith,” he said. “And I keep the Christian laws better than most of the Christians.” His tone was slightly scornful, but I admitted to him that he was right. In fact, thinking back on the day, I don’t recall seeing a single non-Moslem family walking together: Dad, Mom and children.
I know that there are still genuine Christians in Britain, but there seems to be only a remnant still struggling against the rising tide of secularism. And they seem to be found mostly outside the walls of the Anglican Church (though I know several faithful Anglicans still laboring mightily to defend the Bible there).
From what I have observed in the recent history of Britain, the greatest impediment to Christianity is her own state church, whose recent response to sensing disaffection in the younger generation is the astonishing plan to promote homosexuality to them instead of teaching them Christian virtue and the blessings of authentic marriage.
The American Declaration of Independence from Britain in the 1700s insists that “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” I suggest that the time has come for the genuine Bible-believing Christians of Britain to declare independence from the Anglican Church, and to declare plainly to the nation that its ruler-ship over them has become illegitimate.
Long before the Church of England came into existence, the people of Britain wrested a set of major concessions from their government that is memorialized in a document called the Magna Charta. It’s very first principle states:
“THAT WE HAVE GRANTED TO GOD, and by this present charter have confirmed for us and our heirs in perpetuity, that the English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished, and its liberties unimpaired.”
All of the many denominations and variations of Christian expression existing in Britain today have equal claim to promise of the First Principle of the Magna Charta, a promise which is in truth a binding covenant upon the British government “in perpetuity,” meaning forever! They were all, as it were, “in the loins” of the universal church of that day, and are “heirs” of the covenant.
This venerable document, the cornerstone and foundation of all human rights law in the world today will celebrate its 800th Anniversary on June 15th, 2015. I urge the Christians of Britain to seize the opportunity of that global celebration, and the time of preparation for it, to rally the true church of Britain (those who love Christ and His Word) to lead the nation in repentance and a return to their first love.
Perhaps by reminder of the lesser covenant of the Magna Charta, the people will be reacquainted with the greater covenant of Christ, and by turning back to Him, will preserve their great privilege to be called a Christian nation, with all of the many blessings that entails.