The growing influence of secularism

Parents have successfully challenged compulsory Christian worship in their child’s Primary school and demanded that the school provides an alternative assembly without any prayers or other acts of Christian worship. The school has been told to tell the parents of all its pupils about the alternative assembly, and one can foresee that it will not be long before the numbers attending the Christian assembly are so few that it is scrapped. Humanists UK are now campaigning that all schools should be told to follow this example. It is time we Christians woke up to the creeping march of anti-Christian secularism in our society.

Everyone has a worldview, the set of attitudes, assumptions and accumulated expectations which shape how we interpret and respond to everything we experience. Increasingly the world views of the majority are no longer influenced by the biblical worldview. The secularist worldview exalts the individual. Everyone does want is right in their own eyes.  The individual must be free to choose.

That individualism leads to relativism. This is not new. Judges 21:25 observes “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit” and that led the Israelites eventually to worship other gods. Something similar is happening in Britain today and we see the result in the statistics for family breakdown, single parent families, cohabitation outside marriage and births outside wedlock. Patricia Morgan has noted that none of these phenomena is new. “The only difference is that today’s family forms are yesterday’s immoralities. What is new is the scale on which they are occurring and the claim that these trends are nothing to worry about.”

In a relativist culture that recognises no meta-narratives, no-one is allowed to claim that their way is the only way. Post-modern tolerance allows everyone to believe whatever he or she chooses so long as they keep it to themselves. This leads to the privatisation of faith. Religion now belongs in the private sphere but not the public square. Those campaigning for the abolition of religious education and religious assemblies do so on these grounds. It has even be suggested that as only 5 or 6 percent of the population go to Church at Christmas and so few still identify Christmas with Christ we should rename the holiday “Winterval”.

So how should we Christians respond to this secularism? My answer is that we should actively engage in society seeking to contribute Christian perspectives in a graciously persuasive manner. For me that means politics but for you it might mean teaching, community service such as working as a volunteer in a food bank, or any other opening for the gifts and skills you have. Whatever we do has also to be undertaken with prayer and in a relational, not confrontational manner, expressing the neighbour love Jesus requires of us.

Relationship building is crucial for achieving influence. Sometimes Christians are seen to be moralistic, conservative and pre-occupied with issues of sexual morality. Of course we are committed to the moral absolutes of the Bible but there are many other issues that are just as important.

What we do about global warming and climate change matters too because we are caretakers of God’s creation. What we do to maintain a proper functioning health service matters because it exists to care for us and our neighbours suffering from sickness. What we do to keep the young people in our communities out of trouble and prevent knife crime matters too. Our Christian faith is not a private apolitical affair. Being disciples of Jesus involves aspiring to change the world in which we live, just as much as preparing for another one when he calls us home.

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