Christian Life In Exile: An English Vicar Prepares His Flock For Life As A Despised Minority

Christian Life In Exile: An English Vicar Prepares His Flock For Life As A Despised Minority. From Rod Dreher’s interview with Rev. Peter Sanlon, a young vicar in the Evangelical wing of the Church of England.

The Church in our Western nations has already hit the iceberg. Water is flooding into the hull — the ship will sink. The grinding judders of our ship impacting the iceberg have been felt — but the majority of Christians will do what the Titanic passengers and crew did — explain the evidence away and refuse to help one another prepare to save one another’s spiritual lives.

The iceberg that has has ripped open the Church is composed of not frozen water, but three things. Radical sexual gender ideologies, Islam, and governments’ totalitarian instincts. …

It is important to explain that I do not believe the Church itself — in the sense of God’s people — will be sunk. What I do mean is that the public, easy, culturally acceptable way we do church is sunk. We face a situation where, short of supernatural intervention, the Church is moving into exile. …

In essence Britain secularised 20 to 30 years before the USA. When Ronald Reagan talked about his faith it was viewed as bizarre in England. Today the political commendations of Billy Graham given in America would not be given in England. This means that we now have people in leadership positions who had their entire schooling and formative lives lived out under a regime of full-blooded acceptance of radical deconstructionist ideologies.

It is always the case that societies have many people who reject the beliefs of Christians. This is different. British people in their sixties recall that when they were twenty, many thought Christians were ignorant due to their ‘unscientific’ beliefs. Today, people in their twenties think Christians are not ignorant, but evil and dangerous due to their inability to commend the radical sexual ideologies, Islam and further government control of life’s details. People who are evil must be silenced, protected from themselves and prevented from infecting others with their beliefs. …

Flags are flown in universities, councils, fire stations and schools to celebrate the new radical ideologies. To even ask how to question the rightness of that has already led to people facing investigations and discipline from their institutions. The movements for acceptance have now allied with the totalitarian instinct and become views which are to not merely be tolerated but to be celebrated. …

Evangelicals in particular pride themselves on being radical, anti-establishment sorts. In reality in England many are actually deeply shaped by the Establishment. They entered ministry assuming the establishment blessing of yesteryear would continue for ever, and as the evidence shows that the establishment has turned against Christianity with ferocity, they cling to the hope that they can find a place of safety within that establishment. Perhaps by being quiet, winsome or striking a political deal. In reality the only quarter that will be given is that which is necessary to beguile as many as possible into complacency. …

It is very, very difficult to see a native secularist — somebody in their thirties who has all their life been raised to imbibe strong versions of the secular postmodern ideology — convert to Christianity. I have seen many many people explore the Faith, but as soon as they discover the gulf between postmodern secular views and Biblical belief, they run a mile and/or get angry. Some secular parents in England still want their children to attend church occasionally – but they are outraged that some churches do not view their secular beliefs as true. Our models of church are simply not designed to cope with this. …

Orthodox Christians are going to have to work hard to come to terms with the speed at which governments are beginning to legislate against Christian beliefs, and the way that is intertwined with views of Islam. In the UK we see this manifested in the PREVENT Strategy, a government project to address ‘extremist’ beliefs. Extremism is defined very vaguely, such that it can catch up not just Islamic terrorists, but also Christian parents, Jewish schools and even people who take certain views on global warming! …

Exile is coming:

The first step believers must take is help one another to accept the reality that Exile is coming to the Western Church. Pretty much everything we have seen about how to plant, manage, fund, grow and lead churches is going to have to change. …

The Church must accept that the Exile could well last centuries. … The Egyptians and Babylonians had many ways to increase the suffering of God’s people: more bricks with less straw, a newly built golden statue, and the lion’s den. Our Exile will not be identical to the past Exiles — but it is clear in the Bible that Exile is often multi generational. The cycle plays out from parents to children to grandchildren to great-grandchildren and beyond. …

Young trainee ministers in their twenties are torn. They can see that the culture is deeply hostile to their beliefs — they have been raised in it and converted out if it when younger — but this is in tension with their desperate desire to believe that somehow it will be OK for them.