Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Lessons from the Minor Prophets


I've being leading a Bible study series on the Minor Prophets and below I've published links to the study notes I have compiled. 

Core Christianity, when I eventually understood it, was a revelation; it was as if a mist had gone from my eyes. I experienced that turn-about face which many converts know; namely, that salvation isn't about us taking the initiative and winning our stripes but rather the initiative is on God's part: Here's Romans 8:15-17

15: The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

The metaphor of adoption is good one, particularly given the Roman culture pervading the Middle East at that time: Favoured slaves, on the behest of their masters, were sometimes adopted into their master's family thereby receiving all the rights of sons and daughters. Hence much of the connotational content  in the above passage is lost on us today.

Christianity is less something you do than it is something that is done to you on the initiative of God. For countless years the religious paradigm has been that the faithful must engage in the superstitious fetishes found in practice, belief and ritual in order to appease deity and make right the contract between God and (wo)man. But it's the other way round; it is primarily all about what God has done and not what (wo)man has done; all we need do is agree to partake of the new contract.  Wanting to become a Christian and wishing to lead a (re)new(ed) life under adoption is all that is needed to become a Christian. There then remains the question of our acceptance/adoption by God - but we know what the answer is to that. After that the details, the experiences, the formulaic doctrinal expressions and interpretations vary and are often arguable.

For many years humans have tried to fix the human-divine interface be means of tedious rule driven minutiae of practice, practice that amounts to a form of ritualistic magico-manipulation. But the interface remains broken until the psycho-spiritual engine which drives it is fixed and only God can do that. 

But let me add a circumspect rider at this point. I have met numerous Christians with a sectarian bent who will insist on imposing their proprietary facade of belief and practice on others. And if that facade doesn't graft those others are thought of as at best inferior Christians and at worst heretical blasphemers. I have to confess that there is more than one argument for the untruth of Christianity and these sectarian reactionaries are certainly one of them!

However, as one reads the minor prophets one realizes that the foregoing considerations are very old themes. These prophets understood that inner spirituality could not be fixed simply via better religious and magico-ritualistic window dressing and one of their main laments was that Judah and Israel did not understand this. Get the engine fixed and the interface will look after itself.
.
Introduction

Amos

Jonah

Hosea

Micah

Nahum

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Church, Social Networks and Community

The contemporary Western Church faces many challenges. One of them, frequently mentioned in my blogs, is its gradual cultural marginalization. Since the 1960s this marginalization has favoured a reactionary resurgence in Christian fundamentalism and gnosticism. But there is a more subtle challenge which impedes the formation of successful well integrated church communities, a challenge brought about by modern social conditions. I don't think I would have become aware of this problem without being a member of a Church and also being acutely aware of the fundamentalist and gnostic fanaticism dividing some parts of Christendom; the latter is in part a reaction to the problems of group identification as community ties have been weakened by modern conditions, thereby favouring extremist responses. (See also here)

A community, by definition, is a group of people who are networked together via mutual social relations; it is these relations which define "membership" of the community and convey a sense of belonging. A person who is well connected to one member of the group will also likely have social connections with other members of the group. A strong community is a concentrated network of these mutual social relations. But to form these mutual relationships people need get to know one another and relate to one another in ways that make a community a community. These relationships don't happen suddenly; they need to be worked at and built up. To do this requires a variety of resources such as time, human social aptitude and perhaps a knowledge of a shared history and shared explanatory narratives, all of which ultimately lead to group identification. Each link between people in a social network is an implicit investment in time and the expenditure of mental processing power dedicated toward building social relations. But human beings are finite entities and therefore human mental, sensory, contact opportunities and temporal resources are limited. The upshot is that each person in a social network can only support a certain number of social links before their finite temporal and mental resources maxes out. If the average strength of a social link is measured in terms of the effective resources it consumes and is represented by the quantity and the number of links an average person maintains in a social network is represented by N then finite human resources will imply some kind of conservation law which limits human social potential. We might therefore conjecture a conservation relationship such as:

 R x N < some constant
Inequality 1

From a relationship of this type it becomes apparent that at the limit any one person can only increase his or her value of N at the expense of the strength of the social linkage, R. For example, a person who has mutual social connections with many, many people will concomitantly have a lower average linkage strength R. Conversely, a stronger average linkage implies fewer relationships.

Of course, relationships will not all be of the same strength. Any one person will have layers of social links of varying strength. The first and strongest layer will probably be family followed by close friends, other friends and then acquaintances etc. At the periphery of a person's social network there will be relationships where people only know one another by sight. In effect a persons relationship cluster thins out until at the edges it fades all together. In a small socially well knit town everyone will at the very least recognize everyone else by sight. But resource limits on human mental, contact opportunities and temporal powers will no doubt mean that there is some threshold (perhaps a population of a few thousand) when the power of an individual to at least recognize everyone fades out to nothing. Anonymity starts to become a factor in town life and this will have a bearing on the social cohesion of the community

In the past there would have been a strong correlation of community networks with spatial relations; those people you knew best were likely to be closest to you spatially and as a rough rule the further you got from your locale the weaker your social links. Towns were much smaller than they are today and travel and communication were primitive. The people you networked with were by and large in your vicinity. Moreover, it is likely that your family, your work colleagues, your neighbors and your church were groups with considerable social overlap. Thus a group of people related by spatial vicinity were, to a good approximation, also a community - that is, they were socially related as well as spatially related. Consequently, the resource burden of getting to know church people was less than it is today because your church may well have contained many of the same people who were your work colleagues, family and neighbours; this would undoubtedly have helped reduce the networking resource burden of church fellowship.

But conditions today are likely to be very different. Changes in travel technology, communication, working conditions, social ethos, and the size of towns etc have brought an end to the old parallels between spatial and social networks. The community experience has been fragmented: Viz: The social networks of family, friends, work colleagues, churches and neighbors have little or no overlap and constitute separate communities. The break up of a local self-sufficient industry in favour of national and international industry and the consequent need to move to a place of work has meant that family members often live far apart and thus are disconnected with church, work and neighbourhood communities. Travel from dormitory towns to work has disconnected one's work community from one's neighborhood community. In big cities Christians travel several miles to the church with an ethos & culture which suites them. Consequently the so-called "local church" with its catchment area taken from a local community is no longer meaningful.

The one-time inter-connecting overlap between one's family, neighborhood, work community, and church is now largely absent, especially in large cities and conurbations. Thus, any one person will be a player in several otherwise disconnected community groups. Work colleagues, family, the neighborhood, hobby group and church will likely all be separate social networks with little or no connection. This lack of overlap, needless to say, will put a strain on those limited human resources needed for social networking. Church community life in particular suffers. Churches may only meet on Sundays with perhaps the odd mid-week meeting; this stresses those critical human resources which relationship-making necessarily consumes, especially time and contact opportunity. In fact church people may well form stronger social links with work colleagues than they do church members simply because they spend more time with the former. We must also add to the contemporary mix the addition of online communities - people now spend a lot of time in web forums and social media with people they don't meet face to face, This spreads those limited  human social networking resources even more thinly. Church communities thus face competing claims for social networking resources. Those competing claims have come to the fore in modern times. But it's not just church; go into a modern residential area and it is quite likely that it is no longer a community in the old fashioned sense. The social networking between neighbors which once existed are under stress because work, family, locality and church have much less overlap than they once did. Neighbors may well try to be spatial neighbors but they face the same challenges that churches face in trying serve the competing demands of all those separate and disconnected social networks. Identification with one's "natural community" can become a problem.

The upshot of all this is that modern churches may be quite loose associations of people. Sectarian and cultic Christianity addresses this problem by maximizing the networking time between their members and instilling a strong sense of belonging, identity and obligation to the status quo using guilt and fear; one's standing before God is called into question if your social networking isn't up to scratch; if not you may be categorized as one or more of a compromiser, a heretic or an apostate. For example, the Watchtower organisation discourages its young people from attending colleges as that will detract from their time spent studying with other Jehovah's Witnesses in the local kingdom halls. Also, as a means of spiritual intimidation character defamation is practiced by the Watchtower on those who fall short of expectation.  This is a tactic common  to fundamentalists in general.

 Another sectarian solution to modern community challenges is to mystify the nature of church social networks. This is achieved via the gnostic gambit, a solution which claims that gnostic initiation is a rite of passage into a sacred network that can't be seen or managed visibly, but neither can it be revoked without threat of divine displeasure. However, observation of sectarian gnostic Christianity generally shows highly partisan and schismatic behavior between different gnostic sects; evidence that the gnostic mystification of human relations is a very human attempt to cajole a belief in the presence of a super-spiritual social cohesion, when in fact no real cohesion beyond that implicit in Inequality 1 is actually present. Further observations of gnostic fellowships shows that there is no gnostic short cut to human social networking and that the real cost of social networking is implicit in the same inequality.

Non-authoritarian, non-fundamentalist churches can't, by definition, enforce community upon their congregations. They therefore have few options but to be simply conscious of the fellowship stresses that modern life places on their community and cope with it as best they can. Getting to know people brings understanding of their motives, problems, and personalities thereby giving greater insight into their behavior. But as we've seen, the modern Sundays only church (with perhaps a mid week meeting or two thrown in) means that community is only going to build slowly. Blank spaces in one's knowledge about people are easy to interpolate wrongly; if there are two ways of taking something then trepidation and fear of the unknown means that it is all too easy and all too human to take it the wrong way.

What churches need do then is to become aware of the relationship misunderstandings that so easily result when relationships are underdeveloped. Baring the pressures of cultist, sectarian, fundamentalist and gnostic social environments, relationships in the free churches will, under modern conditions, be delicate flowers. If it's any consolation at all to the free churches then it may help to understand that the problems which arise out of the loosely networked church environment parallels the problems also found in the wider society whereby people have difficulty identifying with their community and cultivating a sense of belonging - see here. In short fostering an awareness of the pitfalls of the loosely networked fellowship will help church members from being deceived by false interpolations and thinking its all down to church failure when in fact it isn't  - it's a product of modern times. If free churches realise this then members of congregations will be apt to give one another more allowance and leeway, thus removing one barrier to fellowship; namely the suspicion, fear and paranoia that so easily breeds in the silences. Although we are unlikely to be able to wind back the clock it may at least be possible to optimize fellowship under the constraints of modern times.


Interesting Links:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamentalist_Church_of_Jesus_Christ_of_Latter-Day_Saints
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/apr/03/utah-fundamentalist-sect-latter-day-saints-end

Monday, January 09, 2017

NCBC Leaks No. 3

Concerning inter-Christian info-wars
The eco-movement: To the conspiracy theory touting Christian-right the above reference to "Global-citizenship" is seen as the key to the ulterior agenda of the eco-movement; namely, to unite the world under one oppressive world government!

My Norwich church has an enthusiastic eco-committee, a committee who are working hard to work out the implications of the big eco-issues for our church. Recently I received an email providing an end of year summary of all that had been achieved on the eco front by the committee. Now, although the anti-eco sentiments of the allegedly "born-again" Christian Donald Trump  were alluded to in the email I wanted to find out just how much the eco-committee appreciated the deep world view divisions which exist within the broad Christian scene. So, I sent a probing email. To be frank I had no great expectation of a reply (& didn't get one) as I don't have a strong rapport or synergy with these people in spite of supporting their work (my support is based on the sentiment that wise and economic use of resources is a good protestant business ethic!). However, as one of my favorite sayings by George Bernard Shaw goes "A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing." So being loathe to do nothing I just couldn't stand idly by and let this eco-church email pass without attempting to draw attention to what (to me) is a very pressing issue; namely, the problem of vicious Christian infighting which revolves round the eco-issue (among many others!). Here's my reply:


Dear All,

Thanks very much for the effort and work that's gone into all this. I'll do what I can to help on the premises front. Although that won't be very much, every little helps (I'm actually much more of an arm chair theorist in temperament than I am a practical man).

Now, I guess, or at least I am hoping, that some of you are aware of the sharp world-view conflicts within the Christian scene: Viz: Perhaps some of you know that across the Atlantic evangelico-fundamentalist Christianity is organically joined to the republican-ultra right; so much so, in fact, that in some quarters the eco-movement is thought of as one of Satan's many end-time deceptions (See for example christian right-wing conspiracy theorist Tim Lahaye etc).

Now, you may be aware of all this, but it might seem a long way away over the pond. However, given that social networks follow "small world" structures I'm sure that it wouldn't take much local defective work to find out where eco-scepticism and the much more strident anti-eco conspiracy theorism has close links with Norwich Churches and Belief Communities and thus concomitantly all the inevitable potential for sharp controversy and polarisation.

Just thought I'd bring this issue to the fore and add it to the mix of thought; it may have a bearing as per the allusion to Trumpkinism in the notes below.

Tim

Polarisation passion feeds. Passion polarisation breeds. Polarisation is passion's cause, for crusade and holy wars.


To be fair I suppose it is really difficult to know how to respond positively to Christian infighting, infighting which signifies fundamental world view differences (See herehere and here); after all, this infighting compromises the faith, or at least raises big questions over it; ignoring these question is the easiest response.

The holy wars between Christians are passionate, very passionate. Consider, for example, the following: 

The August 2016 edition of Premier Christianity magazine carries a news item on page 13 entitled "Trump has made a commitment to Christ, says Dr James Dobson". The article reports that Dobson  claims televangelist Paula White had 'personally led him (Trump) to Christ'. Dobson is a right-wing  Christian who, according to the article, sits on Trump's evangelical advisory board.

Let us now turn to the November 2016 edition of Premier Christianity. This edition contains an interview with Tony Campolo  a "red-letter" evangelical who supports Hilary Clinton and says "She (Clinton) wanted to use politics to do what her Christian faith had led her to do". Campolo, as an evangelical who accepts gay marriage, would likely be considered as at best a very substandard and untrustworthy Christian by the Christian right who have more tolerance towards Trump's sleaziness than they do toward the conscientious acceptance of gays. In fact, as a rule the Christian conservative right is far less accepting of the authenticity of  the faith of the 'Christian left' (such as Campolo) than the 'Christian left' is accepting of the Christian right. 

However, the point under scrutiny here is that the documentary evidence suggests that both Clinton and Trump identify as Christians. In short the Trump vs. Clinton presidential campaigns were effectively a Christian-on-Christian celebrity 'death match'. The Christian conservative right are likely to attempt to solve the paradox that this introduces by claiming that Clinton isn't a Christian - they may even claim she's demonically inspired! (See video below). To me, as an outside observer, that just doesn't ring true! Every sectarian division of Christianity between here and Salt Lake city have these exclusives opinions of their standing before God; it just smacks all too much of typically human conceits and self-deceits for me to believe any of it!

Alex Jones: You won't want for a moonshine if you believe him!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

NCBC Leaks No. 2

Concerning Fundamentalist John MacKay
Flying into the teeth of the evidence: Many fundamentalists believe that less than 6000 years ago 
people lived with carnivorous dinosaurs - except that they weren't carnivores at that time, they tell us!

I thought I had better publish the following item which I added as a comment to this post* on Network Norwich and Norfolk. It is topical because the main sanctuary of Norwich Central Baptist Church is currently being rented by John MacKay's fundamentalist Young Earth publicity and teaching organisation.

***

Yes, this article doesn’t make it clear that John MacKay is part of a fringe fundamentalist group who do not reflect the opinions of the majority of Christian scientists, evangelical and otherwise. 

But I would like to draw attention to some back ground on John MacKay. In the late 1970s John Mackay was a business partner of Ken Ham; they ran a business selling YEC literature. But according to the documentation I link to below there was a complex three way schism starting in the late 1980s triggered by the accusations MacKay made about Ken Ham’s secretary Margaret Buchanan. As a result MacKay fell out acrimoniously with his own organisation, now called Creation Ministries International (CMI). It seems that even today there is considerable rancour between CMI and MacKay. Also, CMI remain bitter about the way they were treated in the early 2000s by Ken Ham's start up, Answers in Genesis-USA. I needn’t go into details as those details are provided in the documentation I link to below. The revelations in this documentation are disquieting to say the least, quite apart from one’s opinion on Young Earth Creationism. As far as I'm aware the troubling questions surrounding this affair have never been satisfactorily cleared up

The British Centre for Science Education had a web article that is probably best read first as an introduction to the affair. My copy of it can be obtained here:


Some of the links in this article are orphaned but that doesn’t matter as I supply links to the requisite documentation below.

Creation Ministries International at the time of writing still have a web page on the affair. My copy of this page can be found here:


The original, if it is still available, can be found here:

hxxp://creation.com/regarding-john-mackay

Supporting documentation can be found at these links:



Answers in Genesis’ theme park manager, Ken Ham, has, it seems, come out on the side of MacKay. See this link:



Footnote:  * This post has gone as of 2 May so I have now linked to my own copy of the article

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Rise and Fall of the Baptist Aristocracy

1840-1912

The picture above is of George White; that is, Sir George White to you and I.  White takes his place with the names of other establishment grandees who were once part of Norwich Central Baptist Church (then known as St Mary’s Baptist Church). If you are local to Norwich you may recognise some of those names: e.g. The Coleman’s, The Jewson’s and, Sir Samuel Morton Peto. These men were the pillars of a protestant society: They were MPs, Sheriffs, Mayors, business magnates and - this is very ironic - knights and baronets. George White was an MP as well as director of the Norvic shoe factory which can still be seen on St. George's today. Norwich had lost its position in the textile business as textile production moved to the power rich north; it might also have lost out in the shoe trade were it not for White who introduced mass production to shoe making. In fact the St George's works was the largest shoe factory in Gt. Britain under one roof.


White attended St Mary's Baptist Church in Duke Street for many years and was a Deacon there for 29 of them. The church was a fashionable place of worship for prominent Liberal businessman and provided a forum for debate on the moral and political issues of the day under the ministration of George Gould and his successor J H Shakespeare.

How is it, then, that a small Anabaptist* sect of 1669 inclined to fanaticism (as are marginalised groups in general) and oppressed by government and state church should eventually become a major and respected player in politics and business? That, no doubt, is a long story; the result of the confluence of many causes lost in the mists of time: One factor may have been the increasing confidence of an industrial nation growing in power as it left behind the paranoid days of pervasive fear about plots against the state by malign conspirators.  Moreover, after the repeal of the Test Act in 1823 (an act barring non-conformists from civic office) the way was clear for non-conformists to take up public appointment. The progressive Whiggish ethos at NCBC favoured an involvement in liberal politics and business.

The English Baptists had their origins in 17th century republicanism and this was not conducive to them viewing the aristocracy and the concentration of power in a monarch with any great favour. Ironically, however, by the 20th century these Baptists had become gentlemen and they were starting to ape the aristocracy of a former era. They were building churches that looked suspiciously like the worship houses of their well-to-do state church brethren. Moreover, the ruling influential families of the church now had their own coats arms and these can still be seen today in the stained glass windows of the main worship space of Norwich Central Baptist Church.  Viz:


In the left window the coat of arms with pictorial references to whelks is an echo of the family name of “Wilkin”. A notable member was Simon Wilkin: Although he had rather mixed business fortunes he was successful as a publisher and literary scholar.

In the right window are the coat of arms of the Jewson family: A notable member was Percy Jewson whose memorial can be seen in the church. He served as a Lord Mayor of Norwich and a liberal MP. 

In the middle window we have the coat of arms of the Colman family of Coleman’s Mustard fame. Notably Jeremiah James Colman attended the church (See also here). He was another Baptist who was a scholar, businessmen and politician. He became Liberal MP for Norwich in 1871.

Of course, those days have long since gone and a Baptist community well connected to the establishment has waned to be replaced by a congregation who from the outset take it for granted they are not so well enfranchised with power and influence and must cope with that fact. The ego nourishing self-image of Baptists has changed from establishment movers and shakers to that of the holy heroic remnant. There are opportunities and dangers for both types of congregation. The Baptist “aristocracy” of the past had the opportunity to bring a Christian influence to the corridors of power but a sense of having arrived might tempt them to put down roots in this world and lose that restless pilgrim striving which should always be the lot of the Christian. On the other hand the socially marginalised congregations of today are spiritually honed by their more humble status as they identify with the common people, but they may succumb to alienation and be plagued by separatist and sectarian paranoia. However, the underlying spiritual challenges of both types of Christian community remain the same:

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God……..  (Philippians 2:3-6)


Footnote
* Baptists of that time were called Anabaptist which means “Re-baptise”. This appellation would have had a subversive connotation as the state churches of the day endeavored to baptise all infants thus bringing them into the fold of state religion. Re-baptising was therefore likely to be read as a rejection of that religion.

Relevant Links:

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Midnight Eucharist at Norwich Cathedral

Norwich Cathedral: Romanesque and Gothic
The liturgy at Norwich Cathedral for the Xmas midnight service is, in my opinion, inspiring. It picks out all the positive aspects of the faith which we associate with Xmas and explains why Christmas brings light, hope and faith to millions of souls who have otherwise lost their way or are oppressed by darkness. Below I reproduce a few of the highlights from the order of service:

Prayers of penitence before the crib
Deacon: Christ the light of the world has come to dispel the darkness of our hearts. Let us turn to the light and confess our sins.
All: Amen
Deacon: God our father you sent your Son full of grace and truth; forgive our failure to receive him.
All: Amen
Deacon: Jesus our saviour you were born in poverty and laid in a manger; forgive our greed and rejection of your ways.
All: Amen

The Collect:
Bishop: Eternal God who made this most holy night to shine with the brightness or your true light..bring us, who have known the revelation of that light on Earth, to see the radiance of your heavenly glory; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
All: Amen.

A Christmas proclamation
Choir: God is with us. Hear ye people. Even to the uttermost end of the earth. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light. The people that dwell in the shadow of death, upon them the light has shined. For unto us a child is born! For unto us a son is given! And the government shall be upon his shoulder; And his name shall be called Wonderful! Counsellor! The Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace. Hear ye people. Even to the uttermost end of the earth. God is with us. Christ is born!

Hymn: It came upon a midnight clear
All: For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When, with the ever-circling years,
Shall come the Age of Gold;
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And all the world give back the song

Which now the angels sing.









Prayers of intercession
Bishop: Father, in this holy night angels and shepherds worshiped at the manger throne. Receive the worship we offer in fellowship with Mary, Joseph and all the saints through him who is your Word made flesh, our saviour Jesus Christ. 
All: Amen.

The distribution
Bishop: Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Blessed are those who are called to his supper.
All: Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word, and I shall be healed.


My Comment
A humble stable, a helpless new born, a manger throne, worshiping ouctast shepherds, gentile astrologers, a mother of humble birth,... and above all the lamb of God who was to give himself to the uttermost.....who would have thought that these were to be the means by which in these last days God has spoken. Whoever, except from a divine perspective, would be able to say of those who viewed such an apparently prosiac scene: The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light!

The stable throne isn't the natural revelatory expectations of guilt and angst ridden human religion, religion which likely majors in one or more of: high and mighty patriarchal rulers, power, authoritarianism, sectarianism. judgement, condemnation, rule driven salvation, punishment by torture, vengeance, fear, hell and hamnation for the infidel, gnosticism for the spiritual elite etc....... this clustered complex fills the heads of those who have yet to see a vision of the God of grace for themselves or who think the gospel is only for their very bespoke religious community with its proprietary practices and beliefs.  

In the above liturgy, however, we see divine self-revelation. In all its facets the Gospel is beyond human creative spiritual thought; the evidence of that is seen in the fact that just about every doctrinaire religious sectarian I have met, I have found they do all they can to de-legitimize and undermine the means by which the liturgy above is commended to one's heart, namely, the Spirit of Adoption which cries out "Abba, Father!"

In humble circumstances we find The Unexpected Revelation

Monday, September 07, 2015

Seventy Years Ago

The following picture is a scan taken from the post-VE day edition of St Mary's Baptist Church's magazine, The Messenger,  dated June 1945. The scan shows the lead article written by the then minister Gilbert Laws. It takes the view that God was clearly on the side of the British. There is some justification for that view: For a militarily ill prepared country things hung in the balance for a while and when against the odds victory came about such evil was uncovered  that it seemed impossible for God to have been on the side of the enemy. One other thing which comes out is that St Mary's Baptist Church clearly felt very much part of the British establishment Christian scene; an ironic fact considering their origins in a strongly dissenting out-on-a-limb nonconformity (See my NCBC History walk for more details)

(Click to enlarge)