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Christians should learn from history

history book 365CFJohn Myhill explains that Christians should pay attention to history and stand up for what they believe.

“It is meet to scrutinise the inquisitive when you are weary.” Samuel Becket.

This line captures my recent experience of Christians: they are tired, and so, when you ask the simplest question, or make what you feel is a really helpful and positive suggestion; they respond with the full investigative power of McCarthy, expending their last reserves of energy on matters of no importance.

But you are inquisitive, and I am not weary.

  • Remember the Euro-election; and then remember all the previous elections that really moved you emotionally.
  • Remember the renewal of Trident and then remember the history of nuclear weapons right back to Hiroshima.
  • Remember the steady privatisation of the NHS and then remember its history back to the post war Labour government.
  • Remember whatever you were trying to forget in church, and trace that back to its origins in the past.

Now you are ready to read Ezekiel chapter 20.
Ezekiel explains to the Elders that God has nothing new to say to them.  All they have to do is to look back at their own history, and remember when they ceased from seeking God, and instead made idols for themselves to worship - they were struck with calamity.

This is the often repeated call to repentance, made frequently by the prophets, and later by Jesus and Peter and Paul.  Just remember your history and you will see what God is saying.  In other words, you already have the information, the Light within, the experience, all you have to do is to avoid past mistakes.  But do we learn?
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby launched a week of prayer for Evangelism, in which he said that people must not leave Christian Evangelism to the professionals. He said "It is the job of clergy to train their congregations in how to share their faith with others."  
Early Quakers were opposed to Evangelism as they saw it as mistaken, and yet they regularly preached in public places and were thrown into prison for it. Their message was that everyone had that of God within them, and needed no conversion.  They only needed to turn to the Light within, and allow it to lead them to “the way the truth and the life”.

Early Quakers "let their lives speak".  It was not what they said that mattered: indeed, they were strong critics of the misleading nature of words.  What mattered was the action of speaking, as this answered that of God in others, and was validated by their imprisonment.  So when someone speaks in Meeting, it is the act of speaking that is significant, rather than the detail of what is said.  As in ordinary conversation, if you remain silent, the other person may feel you are not listening; so in a totally silent meeting it may seem that you are speaking to yourself.
Roger Scruton, in his book  “Our Church” (Atlantic books 2012), says that the de-Christianisation of Europe runs at the same time as the loss of sovereignty (to unelected judges, bureaucrats and European ministers) by our parliament.
The test of orthodoxy is no longer belief in transubstantiation (as it was in the seventeenth century) but rather homosexual rights (e.g. bishop of Hereford fined £47,000 for failing to employ a homosexual man to work with young people.)
Europe’s foreign minister (unelected) refuses to recognise the persecution of Christians worldwide, but will stand up for other minorities.
The centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising as well as the Battle of the Somme and the Armenian Genocide of 1915, remembered by the Armenian Orthodox. Our Lutheran members will make sure that the Reformation of 1517 is well commemorated.
Men who applied for conscientious objector status in WW1 had to prove their sincerity of conscience through written statements and verbal arguments at tribunals. Although there is no longer conscription in this country, there is a continued need to make our conscience heard as the state takes our financial involvement in war and preparation for war for granted.
If you would like to fill out this form, detailing in full your own statement of conscience, we will include it in a volume of personal testimony in support of the Taxes For Peace Bill 2016, demonstrating why the right on conscientious objection needs to be extended to our current taxes.
One of my past jobs involved recruiting and training volunteers, and I was struck then by how much some people wanted role and position rather than the work itself.  Often the best volunteers just got on and did things, and organisations developed around their example, whilst voluntary organisations so often end up employing people to do the work, so that volunteers become the fund raisers or employers of a new bunch of professionals.
Is the internet taking up more of your time, even your prayer time?  The history of the internet is of geometric growth.  Does the huge increase in instant information prevent us from seeing what is really happening around us?  Divine guidance may be telling you to take it easy – relaxing with the quill pen!  Remember Ezekiel and pay attention to history.


JohnMyhill450John Myhill is a Norwich Quaker, retired magistrate and author. His blog is at http://johnmyhill.wordpress.com/

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