Letter for June 2023

Dear Friends

This month we are starting our Summer sermon series from the Book of Daniel. It is from the Old Testament, and it is a book for our times.

Daniel was one of the young men who was taken from Jerusalem to Babylon, when the Babylonian Empire invaded and sought to dominate the Kingdom of Judah. Daniel was taken captive and marched to Babylon near the end of the 6th Century B.C. Very quickly, Daniel had to move from a society where worshipping the one true God was normal, to a society where normal was ‘competing worldviews and many gods’. In Babylon, the only god that all of the people had to worship was ‘whatever the Government says’.

If you have lived through the last 80 years in Britain, you have experienced a similar transition, albeit more gradual than Daniel’s.

Until World War Two, Britain was unashamedly a Christian-led society. Everyone learnt Christian scriptures at school, heard programmes on radio reflecting a Christian worldview, and considered that churchgoing Christianity was the usual faith of British people.

Since the 1960’s this situation has changed dramatically. The younger generations in Britain are encouraged to be ashamed about the Christian gospel which has built our nation from King Alfred to Queen Elizabeth II. It feels like that only certain church schools provide children with clear positive teaching about faithful Christianity. When movers and shakers describe the religious landscape of Britain, the references to Christianity are often in the category of negative or ‘bygone relic’.

The experience of growing up in Britain as a Christian teenager is so different now from 80 years ago. Christians used to be seen as a normal part of society. Now we are viewed suspiciously: as people who need the old ideas knocked out of us, to be replaced by the ideas of the latest social engineering project of our governing classes/mainstream media/education system influencers.

This is what Daniel was facing as he rolled up at the Palace of Babylon University in about 590B.C. It was a curriculum designed to immerse him thoroughly in the language and culture of the Chaldeans. By a mixture of carrot and stick, everyone was expected to fall into line, and become the new purveyors of the dominant worldview to all corners of the Empire.

How did Daniel cope?

How did his biblical faith survive?

How did he live peaceably and be true to God in the secular pagan place he had found himself?

He did. It wasn’t easy, but he did. By the hand of God, he and his fellow Jews prospered despite the opposition to his worldview inherent in the institutions of the new city.

We want to be true to Jesus Christ in our culture, and to prosper despite any opposition. We need to hear from Daniel. Come for the Summer teaching series starting Sunday 11th June.

Yours in Christ