Many court cases have taken place in recent years in which Christians, for various reasons, have fallen foul of the law. This has ranged from refusing to bake a cake with a message that goes against one’s convictions; to preaching in the open air, where someone has been offended and made a complaint; to refusing a shared room in a guest house due to the conviction that such rooms should only be let out to married couples. These cases have been wonderfully supported and defended in law by such Christian legal groups as the Christian Institute, Christian Concern and the Christian Legal Centre.
The author, an Anglican vicar, outlines a number of these cases for us. Before doing so, we are given a brief look back in time to when the former prime minister, Tony Blair, promised so much under New Labour. But, Mann writes, ‘I began to sense that the attitude of the political class in our country was changing from a broad acceptance of Britain’s Christian heritage to one of hostile indifference… New Labour’s core aim of ‘modernising’ the country inevitably entailed clashes with biblical Christianity’ (p.11).
Sadly, the many court cases highlighted in this book prove him to be correct in his judgment. This departure from our Christian heritage is not only evidenced by the prosecution of Christians seeking to live out their Christian faith in public, but also in the decline in biblical standards and norms. Examples include care for the terminally ill (euthanasia) and the sanctity of marriage (same sex unions).
I am grateful that the author draws attention to the plight facing Christians in modern Britain, but we are not really given a full answer as to how the Christian is to respond. An urgent call to pray, to return to faithful exposition of the Scriptures, to boldly and graciously live out the Christian faith and to evangelise resolutely appears to be absent.
What we are given is a couple of imaginary scenes as to how Britain may look in future years: churches closing, mosques appearing and Islam dominating (even a Muslim prime minister!), religion being banned and Christians persecuted for their faith. Mann does end on a rather positive speculation: a nationwide revival in 2050.
I found such imaginary scenarios rather grating and pointless. We do not know what may be in future days. To merely speculate serves little purpose, in my opinion. One wonders whether the author would have better spent his sabbatical, as a Church of England vicar, writing about the current state of Anglicanism.