We don’t do God
George and Andrew Carey
Lion Hudson: Monarch, 176 pages, £7.99,
The former Archbishop of Canterbury here joins forces with his journalist son to express their concerns about the spiritual direction that Britain is taking. They lament the increasing pace of secularism in the UK public arena and the marginalisation of Christianity which, they argue, is accompanying it.
Their theme is an important one. Sadly, this book does not provide the insight or incisiveness that the subject demands.
The Careys give plenty of examples of apparently anti-Christian behaviour on the part of public authorities. The problem is that the sheer number of the examples given lends a negative tone to the whole book.
As a result, it sounds rather as if the authors are simply complaining that Christianity no longer has the public respect which it once enjoyed in this country. While this may be true, this approach is not necessarily the best way to help regain that respect.
Furthermore, the Careys’ response to the challenge of secularism is inadequate. They argue that the Church of England as the established church is an important bulwark against secularism for all churches, established or not, as well as for religion more generally. (The rather different positions of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are not explored in any depth.) For a nonconformist, this claim rings hollow.
Surely, it is the gospel itself which is our bulwark? The best, and ultimately the only, Christian response to an encroaching secularism is the continued bold proclamation of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, coupled with a life lived in wholehearted discipleship to him.
We must be committed to preaching the death, resurrection and coming return of Jesus Christ and to living out their implications. If the church leaders of any church wish to respond to secularism, as indeed they must, they have to make the gospel central.
If we fail in this, there is little point in complaining at the advance of anti-Christian forces in the public sphere. The everlasting gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is the only answer to secularism. Let’s give all our energies to preaching and living it!
London Theological Seminary