How Christians and the Church should respond to Corbynism

This article has gone through so many changes, it’s crazy!  The post talks about how Christians and the Church should see the ‘Cult of Corbynism’ and how do we respond to it.  I do not hide the fact that I support Owen Smith and the PLP in the attempt to remove Jeremy Corbyn from leadership. I mean come on, I have Smith in my profile picture on Facebook! But unlike some Corbynites, I do not worship him; He is just a man, but one whom I just feel will do a far better job for the electorate!  Labour should be about all of us, and not about one man.

This post will be split into two issues.  One on how we deal with Corbynism personally as Christians, and the section section on how the church should deal with it. This allows us to see the issue from an individual standpoint, and from a wider collective issue.

In my humble opinion, Corbyn has been in fact disastrous for the left, always behind in the polls, losing council seats, making the party look like an idiot at PMQs, and failing to lead a credible opposition, failing to call the government to account on key issues at key times and has allowed hard left from the SWP and Greens to join the party (then moans because they cannot vote, though common sense says they shouldn’t) .  This post won’t focus on his past or on his failing, but on what is known as Corbynism.  I have been in many a debate with people over their leader, and it eventually just becomes a cycle, or me just getting called names.  Therefore i am focusing on the whole issue of leadership and what some people have classed as a ‘cult’.  I accept that I have a bias, however certain issues have to be addressed and this article attempts to show how Christians should especially look at the so called ‘Cult of Corbynism’.

What are traditional Labour values?

I keep hearing that we must go back to traditional Labour values, by both Corbyn and Smith.  Go back to the days of Keir Hardie.  I disagree, as a party; we must be forward looking, being adaptable and modern.  The times of Hardie are completely different to what they are now, the working class has transformed and their needs have changed.  The Labour party should be a party that should not be looking back, but always looking to see what it can do next.  As Christians, we should also be forward looking, to the coming of Christ, and in politics, we shouldn’t be tied to what a party thinks ‘values’ are, but by the what the Lord wants, to be that light!  Love needs to be our guide and we should let our values be shaped by the bible.

atlee

A few hours ago, I just watched another Labour leadership debate, once again Smith showed passion and directness, with Corbyn being all over the place regarding policies.  What caught my attention was a speaker who said he left Labour when Blair won and has only just re-joined the party under Corbyn.  Is this what we’re about?  Do people want us to win?  Shouldn’t that be a key value, to win, to help the people of this nation, no matter their position in society?  Of course Christians should be helping people no matter who is in government.  We play a huge role in society, but by having a Labour party in government, at least there is some help given by those in power!

Being the change

momentum-corbyn-a-cult-of-dangerous-thugs-body-image-1469032172
© Chris Beckett, image used under non-commercial reuse licence.

Corybnites seem to rally behind this man even after he is proven wrong, after he failed the nation in his stance on the EU debate (even appearing to sympathise with the Brexit side), and many  polls and voter surveys suggest he’s the worst party leader in the history of Parliament.  We have to acknowledge our failures and faults; we have to remember as Christians, that he is just a man.

What about Owen Smith then? He is a man too, after all.  The simple answer is Smith has a greater chance of winning the 2020 election. He will have more of an appeal across the land, rather than the fanatical obsession of a few (which isolates much of the country) and with that bring a government, a cabinet that will aim to improve the conditions of people’s lives across the board, but it won’t be perfect, it won’t solve all our wants.  Christians should not follow their leader or their party blindly, as sometimes appears the case with many ‘Corbynites’.

Corbyn has many, many faults, and we have to see that and get beyond the propaganda spouted by his office and take a step back.  If you want to make a difference, do not look to the leader of a party.  BE THE CHANGE, look to Christ, and follow His example.  My friend corrected me in a debate once; he said that change has to be done at the grassroots.  We as Christians need to be that change, by the power of the Spirit, help people’s lives.  You want kinder gentler politics?  Then do it yourself, respect the Tories, yes we disagree, but we have to disagree well!  Respect those on the centre-left, and all in the party.  I know you want to be radical, that I understand, but we have to be careful.  If this is achieved then we will see change!  So forget your faith in the man, put your faith in Christ and see what can be done!

Corbyn won’t bring salvation, he won’t change the world, in fact he will fail us, and he will let us down, as any man would.  The Bible, the ultimate authority on life says quite simply:

“Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. [But] blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.” (Psalm 146:3-4).

The psalm goes on, beautifully, to talk about how the Lord ‘upholds the cause of the oppressed’, in a way that man never can, however much he tries.

Leadership is very much a Biblical principle, but leaders should only go so far and never infringe or get anywhere near the first commandment . Corbyn, however, charismatic chap that he is, is worshiped like some demi-god by his almost-fanatical supporters.

Support for Owen

Recently, key figures such as Khan have given Smith the backing to be leader.  With the support of 170+ MPs and an ever growing support amongst members, i wonder who it is who will be able to unite this broad church in Labour?  As Christians, we understand the value of unity.  How I long for it in the church, reformed, charismatic, we need unity.  Corbyn is like a Hyper-Calvinist or extreme Arminian in a church, just divides it!  You need to understand all viewpoints, and this is why my support goes to Owen.  Yes he is not perfect, but no one is.  I won’t follow him to the ends of the earth, but i trust him to lead the party to victory.

Voting

Vote whatever way you want, but before you do, pray!  I can say that if Corbyn wins in September, I, along with many others will never vote Labour. The soft-left looks to have been defeated.  The radical/hard left politics has won, and now we have right vs left.  History shows that the right in England always prevails, the soft-left was really the only way you could implement socialist policies like under Clement Attlee.  Anyhow, fellow Christians, maybe I am wrong, who knows, God certainly does, but for me, I use what is in front of me, the evidence and facts.

I do pray that Christians can be the light in politics, that we can be the real difference.  It isn’t about a man or a woman, about whom he or she is or where he or she was raised.  It is about Christ, and what he gave us.  If we want to see a radical change, then stop following Corbyn, and get out there and be the difference yourself.  Let love be in your heart.

I call upon Christians to be love, we are always bound to disagree on issues, but let us disagree well.  I am guilty as the next person for letting my emotions get the better of me, but let us learn and let us love.  At the end of the day, vote for whoever you feel is best for the job, however seek God in prayer before making a decision.  Remember that neither Corbyn or Smith will improve us, if you want to see change, then you be the change, by your love, by your actions and by the work of the spirit.

corbyn vs smith

Warnings for the Church

So far, I have discussed how Christians should respond to Corbynism. How as individuals we should respond to the media and support surrounding him.  However the issue can be related to the health of the church.  It can be stated that this point alone could be its own article entirely.  Nonetheless, I feel led to write this together, to see what can we learn from the leadership election as a part of the Body of Christ, the Church.  We have learnt that as individuals we should be loving, and that we need to be the light.  This also applies to the church.  We don’t need to follow political leaders, and that has been shown, but there are also other lessons that can be learnt from this contest.

The Church, sad to say, in many ways is no different than a political party.  We have disagreements over tertiary and secondary issues, just like a political party.  Yet we should have more to unify us – Christ. The Labour leadership contest should be a warning to the church.  So what are these warnings?

  1. Following men is wrong.  Too often do we as a church look to ‘big names’ past and present, at Spurgeon, Ryle, Lloyd-Jones, etc. and see them as something special in and of themselves.  However, we are not meant to follow men, or to glorify the past (1 Cor. 1:10-13 & Phi. 3:13-14) .  We are to see how God has worked in their lives and ministry, and be inspired, yes. Yet too often I seem to hear people treat these men as people treat Corbyn.  We must be careful, look forward and follow God in all we do.
  2. The lack of passion in the church.  We are seeing people turn out on mass to support a man in a political election.  They put us to shame!  Where is our passion brothers?  They defend Corbyn likes he’s their Saviour.  We have a Saviour and where is our voice?  We are quiet, usually in our little bubble.  We should pray and ask God to renew our lives, our hearts, to give us passion for Christ and to make a change in this world.  We don’t have to attend silly rallies, but the passion and energy is something we need.
  3. The Church needs unity.  Like the Labour party at the moment, we have become too divisive.  There are more and more denominations, and it’s getting frankly ridiculous.  CofE, Reformed, Charismatic, Pentecostal, Baptist, Evangelical, Methodist, etc… then all the many sub-divisions of each of these, some wackier than the rest.  We all agree on the fundamentals, that Christ is our Saviour, yet we let secondary issues and the like divide us into arguments.  We take too much pride in our denominations and not in Jesus.  Denominations are man made, and although we will never see a unified church here on earth, we need to make steps towards a more comradely, loving church that sees Reformed and Charismatic churches working together, to understand that they may not be 100% right and can learn something from other churches.
  4. We need to be the light.  What this leadership election has shown is just how nasty politics is.  I’ve already talked about being the change.  But we need to be the light, whether on social media on when we meet people face to face.  I’ve been called a red Tory, a Blairite, and someone even called for a Final Solution for people like me.  When we respond to this behaviour, we must do in love.  I’m glad that the Christians on the Left have not nominated a candidate, but express both camps well.  We need to be careful with what we say and do, the world watches us!  That does not mean we cannot support a candidate!  Just be careful in how we either show that support and how we treat others
  5. We need to be loud.  Too often are we, the church, stuck in our little bubble.  We have to ask God for strength and for courage.  To make a stand in this world.  In the words of my favourite band

“Today is ours, it’s always been
Before we face the fight
We know who’s gonna win
We live by faith and not by sight
We don’t want safe and quiet
We don’t wanna run and hide”

We shouldn’t want a safe and quiet life, we shouldn’t be running from the world.  What we have learnt from the leadership election, is that we have to be bold, and not afraid.  We have to stand up for what we believe in and be a difference.

Conclusion: Let love Prevail

I have never been a Corbyn supporter, and to be frank, his support is terrifying.  He fails us time and time again, yet it never wavers, it is certainly interesting to watch.  Nonetheless, we as Christians do not owe our loyalty to political leaders, but to Christ.  The Church does need to learn lessons and the state of the Labour party is a great example of what disunity look like, and how it can happen.  We should learn some lessons and become more like Jesus.

We are meant to lift up one person alone, and that is Jesus Christ.  Our Saviour and our light.  These words from a Skillet song tell us how we should lift him up and no one else!

“I testify, this is not a secret meant to keep
Your love, like fire, spreading from my heart straight to my feet
And when I was dead, you gave me new life
I’m lifting you up with all of my might
I don’t care who’s to the left, to the right
You’re all that’s on my mind
Don’t really care what they say, what they think
I feel so alive”

Love and peace to all, doesn’t matter what your politics are, who you are, or what you think of me.  I hope and pray that the rest of the Labour leadership is done in more of a comradely fashion and If Corbyn wins, then I wish you and the Labour party all the best.

Why I am not a Calvinist

I am not a Calvinist. This may be a shock to some of you who know me, and those who don’t know me, well I doubt you worry as much!  Before there is total uproar at my statement, let me explain myself in this post.

Firstly being a ‘Calvinist’ means that you are labeling yourself a follower of Calvin. This has many problems, one of which is that Calvin was of course was just a man, a sinner, who should be looked at critically as with all reformers, so we can distance ourselves from treating them as ‘special’. Calvin, for example, was involved in the burning of a few Protestants at the stake for heresy, through hazy circumstances.  Something that has worrying connotations!  We should not be followers of a man who has a set of ideas; instead we should strive to class ourselves as followers of Christ, of the Way.  Therefore I am not a Calvinist, but instead a Christian, who focuses on the word of God before any works of man.  In 1 Corinthians 3:10-17, we see Paul’s appeal to the church not to follow men

11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: one of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas[b]’; still another, ‘I follow Christ.’ 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptised in the name of Paul? 

Christians shouldn’t be going round labelling themselves as a Calvinist, Lutheran, Arminian or such like because it can be a massive stumbling block. These are man-made traditions, and terms that smack of pride and smugness.   I’ve known scenarios when people have gone and said straight away “oh, I’m a Calvinist by the way”, it can be an immediate obstacle, if the other person in  this conversation didn’t believe in the ideas set forth by Calvin, it could cause division and even argument.  Such labelling detracts from the fact that, first and foremost we are followers of Christ and not of Calvin, Arminius or any other man.

So I recommend to all those who think that John Calvin was right with his ideas on the doctrines of Grace, to focus on the gospels. Don’t follow Calvin; instead centre your focus on Christ. If other Christians believe in the ideas set forth by Luther then cool, that’s fine, it is not something that should divide the church, and even when any fundamentals are compromised (as is sometimes tragically the case in the extreme wings of these theological positions), let us tackle the issue in love and prayer.

Secondly, Calvin’s ideas are somewhat problematic for me (and many others). These set of ideas are often referred to as the five points of Calvinism, otherwise known as ‘TULIP’.   The points can be huge stumbling blocks and should never really be preached from the pulpit on their own.  I personally disagree with the way Limited atonement and Irresistible Grace are set forth, by so-called ‘Calvinists’. They seem to contradict essential Gospel truths. I do think that they are red herrings, as it’s a debate that can split churches, families even.  Yet they do not change our attitude towards Christ.  The doctrines of Calvinism do not bring salvation and definitely should not be the main focus of our lives.  The point is: let us focus on the fundamentals, on the fact that Christ died for us and that we must be sent into the world to evangelise and do his will.  Josh would say he accepts the teachings of the ‘Doctrines of Grace’ and that is cool, personally I think it’s a better way of going around this whole subject of ‘Calvinism’!

This post isn’t meant to be long, full of lengthy paragraphs about who Calvin was as a man and explore deeply his theology. It is meant to be simply stating that we should not call ourselves ‘Calvinists’, that we shouldn’t follow a man, and that some people such as myself have a few problems with the term often called TULIP.  It is often said that the Doctrines of Grace or TULIP bring the assurance needed, and it might do.  In further study it may help, but remember the simple truth, that we know we are saved as God is love and thanks to the Spirit, we know his truth.  Knowing we have been accepted by God and can’t be let go is wonderful.  For quite a few Christians, being a so called ‘Calvinist’ leads them to smugness and puts themselves, puts man before God, before Christ.  We shouldn’t focus on what men teach, or on what they say is good for you, but on the cross and on what God has given us, his spirit and his love.  At the same time, I do not mean to offend any Calvinists or those who call them the doctrines of grace.  I love you brothers and sisters, and I accept most of what you say.  Being in a wide church means that we can disagree on these secondary issues, let us work together for Christ, whatever our secondary or tertiary thoughts are!

Let us therefore focus on the Cross, on Jesus, and give him our full attention. May we long for the Holy Spirit to renew our hearts and when we do disagree on issues such as those mentioned in this post, that we do with a brotherly love and listen to others and respect their views on the Bible.  I doubt any of us are 100% right, and we shall find out in heaven!

Why I Love Christian Rock!

Christian Rock has always been quite controversial in Christian circles. I have always struggled to understand why. I guess some would say that it is too worldly, that the focus in wrong, but I would whole -heartily disagree. I think Christian rock is amazing, inspirational and powerful, something that I will explain further in this post.
I will discuss music from a few bands that I listen too, covering a variety of genres, from rock, to power metal. These include, Skillet, TFK, FireFlight, Theocracy, HB and Decyfer Down. I will use some of their songs to show their message and purpose, and hopefully show that they actually have an important role to play, especially for younger Christians such as myself.

Before I go into individual songs, let me explain why I think Christian rock is beneficial.  I love rock music, I love the beat, the guitars, the drums, they all make an awesome sound.  There is nothing evil in it, and with Christian rock, its all about acknowledging God in our lives, about how great he is and how we can rely on him.  God has given us all individual gifts, and thus musicians are also given a gift to play music.  The bible tells us to praise God with a variety of instruments, cymbals, strings, etc, and this can be found many times in the OT, most notably psalm 150.  God also wants us to be creative, wants us to use our gifts to glorify him, and Christian rock is one way we can do this.

Christian rock can have its problems, some bands you may have to be careful about, are they really Christian?  Rock shouldn’t really be used as an evangelism tool either, but from what I see it hardly ever is.  Its more of a ‘hey guys we’re different’ type of message, whilst giving Christians an encouraging message.  So with that being said, let me go into a few songs and what they talk about! Enjoy!

TFK-Honest

When we examine this song, the meaning is clear. It describes about the love of God, the saving power of grace and that God gives us meaning and hope. It talks about us being failures, about being far from God. It talks about the brokenness of the world, but that love is the answer. How wonderful is this song! It has so much meaning, so much power, and is a great encouragement for Christians. TFK (Thousand Foot Krutch) lyrical genius in this song and like all their other songs is evident. For young people especially, songs like this are powerful, at many times, more powerful than hymns because they are relatable. These songs are praise, but at the same time they help us understand more of God.
Skillet-Back from the dead

This time we move onto Skillet, probably my favourite band at the moment. The song back from the dead, is a positive feeling rock song. Feelings are important in the Christian faith, and this song to me talks about the Christian coming back to Christ. That the journey is not easy, in fact it’s tough…but nothing can keep us down if we have God. It’s a song that lifts us, and helps us understand that this world cannot keep us down, and that we fight, and struggle for the kingdom. The thing with Skillet is, that their message resonates with both Christians and non-Christians. Their songs aim to help people in difficult situations, being that positive light in the world. They are never ashamed of their faith and speak openly at all their concerts. The witness is strong, they are not going to change to sell for CD’s and the fact they are so popular shows how God is using them!

Skillet-Feel Invincible

Another song from Skillet, and this one again is a positive rock song. God is always with us, and makes us strong. We cannot be stopped, the word cannot be stopped, and with the strength given from God, we can feel invincible. God is our reason to fight, and we may win or lose, but it is what we are called to, fight for his word, and proclaim the gospel. The song itself is just so catchy, and is great to listen to just for some upbeat Christian music. Regarding the video, you may have noticed, but they have tattoos, they are wearing black, they cannot be Christians. Well if that is your opinion on what makes a Christian, I would be very concerned as to what you are reading. I personally wouldn’t want a tattoo, but he decided to get a few and so be it. Judging someone by their appearance is one of the worst things a Christian can do in my opinion!

Skillet- Stars

The final Skillet song could be considered a worship song. Its light rock, its not heavy, and uses mainly electronic sounds. The words are amazing and really hit home for me. What do we have to fear, God has called us through Love, and we are with him. He can calm storms, so he can give us peace. He is never far away and never is late to anything. He holds the stars in place, and he holds our hearts all the same. It is a beautifully poetic song. This song has to be one of my favourites at the moment!
Hopefully, you would have seen that Christian Rock can cover a wide range of messages, that show the power, the love of God, but also give encouragement to Christians going through tough times. Sharp, simple messages that reveal the light.

FireFlight-We are Alive

Here we have more obvious Christian rock. The song states we are alive in Christ. That we shine in the dark, and that we shouldn’t contain this light. We should go out into the world and spread the news. Fireflight have moved away from traditional rock, into more electronic sounding rock in recent years and it suits them. They have a lot of powerful songs, that range from trials and problems in the Christian life, to songs like this, upbeat and happy, which again give encouragement to Christians.
Decyfer Down- Best I can

This song is wonderful, I love listening to it, and taking the words in very time. God sees our mistakes, he sees our hearts. We are messed up, even when we try the best we can to do things right. The song talks about this and about that God loves us even though we fail and mess up, that we are his. The song is a dialogue between the singer and God, about how we realises how bad he is, and that he does his best, but knows he ultimately falls short of what God requires of us, yet God responds with love. This song again shows how encouraging rock songs can be for the Christian.

Theocracy-I AM

Theocracy is an interesting name for a band, you should look up the word! The band however focuses on the genre of power metal and wow do they deliver. Their songs focus on many aspects of God. This song, for example goes through many attributes of God. It is amazing, and well written. Theocracy also cover many aspects of Jesus’s message of how we should be a light in the world, or certain parts of the bible, where Paul finds the altar to the unknown god. In some ways, these are songs you couldn’t write in any other form. The structure of power metal makes it a perfect genre to write about these themes and topics. Again we can see encouragement for Christians, as well a proclamation of what Jesus is all about. Now I don’t advocate entertainment evangelism by any means, but the message in these songs are so powerful, that I think it would be hard to not listen and think about the gospel.
HB-Jesus Metal Explosion

Weird title for a song don’t you think? The band is Finish and again are amazing in how they deliver their songs. The singer has a beautiful voice, and this song is actually good. It talks about the truth that Jesus is the only way. No one can get to God without Jesus, and this song covers that point. It declares that we cannot be ashamed of his name and that we belong to him. It’s a call to proclaim his word, and songs like these are what Christians need to hear today. To get out there and make a impact. It reminds of us the simple message of the gospel. Yes they don’t go into the deepness of the doctrines, but I think our focus should go back to the simple points, lest we forget Jesus.

So Christian rock, it is quite clear that I am a fan of it. I love rock and metal music. Some of us, *cough* Josh *cough* don’t like the sound of rock music, and that is fair enough, it is not for everyone. However we should not be judging this genre of music. It can be extremely beneficial and useful for Christians and non-Christians alike. As my mother told me recently, Christian Rock artists are musicians who write about their passion, their desires. How great it is to see Christians openly singing about Christ and his love and the cross, how great to see them being so passionate about it. How great it is to see a light in the darkness. Do not judge my dear brothers and sisters, be open minded about this and do not discourage musicians. Now let me go and put some Skillet on, after all they are my favourite band.