Monday, November 20, 2006

Purity, Humility & Certainty

It was only a matter of time. Now, finally, some local controversy in Edinburgh and Exeter has hit the national press. The Times Newspaper and Scottish Television News headlined with the same controversy: increasing restrictions on Christian Unions in the UK.

This follows the virtual closing down of Exeter Christian Union, because it restricts membership to Christians, and the banning of the "Pure" course at the Universty of Edinburgh - a course teaching a biblical view on marriage - because some claim it 'homophobic.' For more extensive details, read here one of the main Times articles: Faith, Fundamentalism and the Fight for Students Souls. A supplementary article also claims that student Unions may take legal action over the matter.

Whatever else we might say, once more it seems evident that our tolerant society is in fact tolerent of everything except the views of evangelical Christians. The head of UCCF communications makes a telling comment when he says:“The politically correct agenda is being used to shut people up under the guise of tolerance when, in fact, you tolerate anything other than the thing you disagree with."

The temptation, nevertheless, is go soft on truth whenever society finds it uncomfortable. I'm reminded of something John Piper has said, stressing that we must not confuse humility with uncertainty in our times:
"Beware of a modern mistake here. Humble does not mean wishy-washy when it comes to truth. Forbearing does not mean saying: truth doesn't matter. It is a great mistake to confuse humility with uncertainty. But many today do confuse them. They think that the only humble demeanor is the uncertain, vague, iffy demeanor. The only way to preserve the unity of the Spirit is to be vague, uncertain in your grasp of truth? He didn't seem to be that way. I think G.K. Chesterton put his finger on our problem fifty years ago in a little book called Orthodoxy:

What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert--himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt--the Divine Reason." (G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, p.55)

John Piper, sermon: "One Lord, One Spirit, One Body For All Time and All Peoples"


A non-evangelical Christian said...


With regard to your comment "This follows the closing down of Exeter Christian Union, because it restricts membership to Christians" I feel some clarification of the situation at Exeter is needed.

The society has not been closed down, it has been renamed the Evangelical Christian Union because it discriminates against Christians from non-evangelical backgrounds (Catholic, Orthodox, Quaker etc.)

Nicki said...

Dear non evangelical christian,

I've ammended the wording slightly to "the virtual closing down of Exeter Christian union." I'd want to maintain this strong wording because according to the Christian Union (as referenced in the Guardian Newspaper):

1. the CU has been suspended from the official list of student societies
2. the CU has had its bank accounts frozen
3. the CU is only being allowed to use the student premises at a cost (see,,1950955,00.html).