Worship and Eucharist The Whole Christ Head and Body

The patronal festival of St Petroc, Hollacombe, Holsworthy, Devon on Saturday 1st June.

from Wipf & Stock Worship and Eucharist: The Whole Christ, Head and Body

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Catechism 5/6 The Blessings

The Sermon on the Mount – The Seven Blessings

5.1 The Blessing – The High Status of Man

The blessing of God has come to us in Jesus Christ. It tells us that our identity is secure and that it is waiting for us in Christ. The blessing protects man from all that would diminish him. It is the arming and equipping of man, so he can tell the difference between truth and falsehood, and between true authority and false, and so defend himself from evil. It is the sword of the Spirit that cuts through confusion and distinguishes truth from falsehood. 

The gospel celebrates the blessedness of the poor. As a result, its impact over many generations has been to limit the disparity of wealth. It emphatically and repeatedly celebrates the poor, and those who are disparaged and disregarded, and those who are regarded as of no account. The gospel warns the arrogant and so makes it more difficult for the wealthy to consider themselves above everyone else. It gives the poor and the uneducated the means by which to withhold their approval of the rich and withdraw their consent to their rule. There is no permanently subhuman caste in any society in which the gospel has been heard.

He has put down the mighty from their seat and has exalted the humble and meek. He hath filled the hungry with good things and the rich he hath sent empty away…

Has raised up the humble and meek.

The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.

Christianity gives a society the skill set of reconciliation, by which torn social fabric can be repaired. When that society is able to respond to each rip in the fabric by taking steps to achieve reconciliation and so to make good damage to its fabric, it will continue, and can prosper.

Reconciliation involves accusation, investigation, judgment and discovery of the truth, perhaps through a public trial. It requires an attempt to encourage confession from antagonists, involving expression of remorse and penitence. It requires discussion of penalty, criminal sentence and recompense perhaps through the payment of compensation.

These steps require a degree of public revelation, and so depend on news media. They require public consent. Though the victim may not concede this, the public has to concede that the punishment is adequate to the crime, and that justice has been done. When these steps are taken, reconciliation is achieved, damaged social capital is repaired, and confidence and trust are restored.

But when they fear that there will no justice, people begin to withdraw from public participation and stop taking risks. When they fear that their property or their lives are in danger, because government and justice system do not do enough to keep them secure, they will take fewer economic initiatives.  When there is long-term failure to implement enough of these steps to enable reconciliation, there is a long-term loss of public trust and morale. Relationships are allowed to lapse, contracts are not honoured, new contracts not made, and that society drifts towards long-term economic decline. When the environment in which people are willing to take risk is not maintained by public practices of reconciliation, that society becomes poor.   

What is the trick that makes a society prosperous? What is it that restores trust when it is broken?  What is the mechanism that repairs damaged social fabric? How can people continue to trust one another when so much social capital has been destroyed? 

There are three procedural parts to this moral faculty of reconciliation. The first is acknowledgement of continuing generosity, the second is judgment, the third is forgiveness. Grace is the gospel term for this generosity of God. This means that that reconciliation is not a mechanism or technique, but is the function of a person. It relies on Christ, the one person who, having mastered self-mastery, has the power to endure, and so will not let us down. He is indeed able to bring judgment, and forgiveness, and to supply the grace which will enable a new start. God will establish the truth, and enable a society to investigate so that the truth of any loss or crime is adequately made public, so that that society is satisfied, and the process of reconciliation can start. These processes of judgment and reconciliation are begun, but they are not made complete. What that judgment will be, and what is eventually required to bring justice and reconciliation, is not yet known. We look forward to Christ’s coming to reveal the truth and establish complete justice. But the society that is convinced that the process has begun and that it will be completed, is able to endure the present injustice, make good the losses and live in expectation.

The culture formed by the gospel assumes an unlimited supply of good will. Christ can make good what is missing and will be able to satisfy all those who have been betrayed. God is provider and guarantor of the generosity available to any society that asks for it.

To bless someone is to give them an opening. You give them the opportunity they want. You tell them what you are giving them, and you give it to them in the moment that you tell them so. You bless me when you admit me to the firm, by telling me, and all other members of your firm that I am from this moment a member of it. We say, ‘Your application has been successful. We give you the job and we look forward to sharing a successful future with you.’ You employ them, or give them pay increase, or a loan or a place to live. You give them some new responsibility and larger budget. If they take this opportunity as it is given, they may grow a step towards maturity and self-mastery. Through it they may learn how to receive and pass on the generosity that comes from God, and which enables future opportunities and greater self-mastery. God blesses us, and calls us to receive, learn, practice and pass on the blessing we have received from him and so grow to maturity.

The Sermon on the Mount, starts with seven Blessings, the Beatitudes, which are then enlarged on by the teaching that follows. So the first blessing, Blessed are the poor in spirit…love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…’ (Matt 5.44) is amplified by You have heard it said, Love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…’(Matt 5.44). In the heresy of modernity this has been taken to mean we should abandon and despise your nearest and dearest, and promote over them those who seem new and exotic. But the blessings are the amplification and fulfilment of all teaching, not its abandonment. The Law of Israel tells us to pay your debts, return to them whatever they give you, respect for respect, scorn for scorn.

Some Christians have attempted taken the second line away from its basis in the first line and so altered and evacuated this elementary and foundational understanding. The Lord universalizes the law of love, so that we must return not only love for love, but also love for hate. This has meant that our post-Christian societies are unable to allow public expressions of what they hate, that is, they are unable to reject the cult and the society that opposes them and which repudiates our high account of human dignity, our citizenship and our freedom and secularity, and the open civil society. Instead, our political class directs its hatred at those who express their revulsion at the crime and the criminal, and so they hate anyone who honestly expresses the horror of evil. 

Love and truth are foundational teaching of our Christianity and society. Love of a person allows that person to be free. They are not bound to love the one who loves them. True love allows them to be themselves and so be free.

The gospel does not consider ‘belonging’ or ‘community’ as solely fundamental, and it does not consider that ‘freedom’ or ‘autonomy’ as solely fundamental either. It does not define community and freedom as opposites. It is not a flight from belonging or into it. Other people can demand that we give up freedom and individuality. 

5.2 Seven Blessings

The blessing of self-mastery is set out in seven statements. They understand that self-mastery become available to us in Christ and through an apprenticeship with him. 

Blessed are…

the poor in spirit

those who mourn

the meek

those who hunger and thirst

the merciful

the pure in heart

the peacemakers

those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake

Blessed are the poor in spirit…    

    The blessing is to be humble. To be arrogant is a curse. The humble man is open to the world, and so he can learn and he has a future. The proud and self-assertive man is closed: he has decided that he is sufficient to himself, and is unprepared to receive new challenges or experience. The humble self-deprecating man is content to take the least conspicuous role. He may be promoted, but he does not elevate himself.   

    • Blessed are those who mourn…

    The man who mourns waits and remains alone, without support and is content to do so. He builds himself no political support and so appears unvindicated.

    • Blessed are the meek…

    The man who is meek is modest and self-restrained. He does not try to throw off those constraints and discipline of the apprenticeship. They are not pushing a political agenda or looking for political solutions. They forgive the debts and trespasses committed against them. They do not want revenge or retribution for the robbery and aggression directed against them.

    • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…

    The man who hungers for righteousness looks for what is right, just, fair, straight, pure and simple. He avoids whatever is bent, twisted, unclear, ambiguous or contradictory. 

    • Blessed are the merciful    

    The merciful man is the generous man. Blessed are those who are generous. The generous bless those they meet and pass on to them the blessing they have received.

    They have worked and saved and so have provisions to share with those who need them.

    • Blessed are the pure in heart

    The man who is pure is single-minded. He is undivided and unadulterated. He does not envy anyone. He wants just one thing, which is the kingdom of God, so he is not tugged this way and that.

    • Blessed are the peace-makers   

    The man who makes peace reconciles those who are at war. There is no envy, resentment or rage in him. He is not driven by desire for revenge. He can absorb the aggression of others.

    One more blessing tells us what follows from these seven blessings

    5.3 Persecution – the eighth blessing

    Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven …

    In summary of these blessings, what are these humble, mourning, meek, justice-seeking, merciful people going to receive? 

    They will receive suffering and persecution and martyrdom.     

    Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me… in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you

    As you become a Christian, you learn that you are going to be hurt. People want to transfer their hurt to you, making you carry as much pain as they can inflict on you. They do this in the belief that this will transfer their pain away from themselves so that they no longer feel it.

    This realisation, that you are going to suffer for this, occurs at the moment you become a Christian, and it is this that makes you Christian. You realise that Christ has taken your pain so that you are free of it. Christ has it, so you don’t. Your injuries, your fury and distress have been taken on by him. By this discovery moment you are born anew, so your baptism is the moment of this realisation.

    To be a Christian is to know that you are in line to be persecuted by other people. You will be persecuted undeservedly, while knowing that all this time you have been persecuting Christ, and persecuting the people sent to you by Christ, undeservedly. You were the persecutor. You were deceived, but you were also vicious and deliberate. At the moment you realise this, you cease to be that persecutor and become one of the persecuted. Now you are in the queue for punishment by people who hate you without cause, just as you hated Christ without cause. Your tormentors are waiting for you. They are going to try to punish you, but though you may fear them, you also feel pity for them. You see that are doing terrible damage to themselves for no good reason. You may tell them that it will not help them to inflict their pain on you. Yet you also know that only you, Christ’s servant, can take their pain. Only your steadfastness could convince them that their pain is caused by their own viciousness, and convince them that Christ can help them escape this viciousness. Your endurance of their rage and your self-mastery all through this passion is the one constructive you can do. If you love them, you must remain unmoved. For their shake, you cannot not be shaken or broken by them. You must not give in to their fear, or their fury. You must remain unyielding in the face of their accusations and threats. You feel fear, of course, but you know that under this onslaught your Lord is standing just ahead of you, and taking the brunt of it, and his strength is sufficient to hold you there, just behind him. 

    Christians attract the hostility of those who do not exercise self-control and do not wish to. Those who do not seek self-mastery, do not learn how to endure and be content. Those who cannot endure can only lash out at those who do. They believe only that they have a mandate to punish those who do not share their passions. They punish those who do not conform, who do not express the same rage they do, and who do not lash out as they do at whoever seems easy prey. They believe that Christians are moral delinquents: those who stick out must be brought back in line.  Those who challenge the authority of those in power must be belittled, ostracized, silenced, and have their livelihood taken away from them.  Rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven…

    5.4 Seven Warnings

    Blessing comes to those who are disciples of the Lord, who take up the discipline and discipleship and follow him. Their happiness is in that apprenticeship in the self-mastery of Christ.

    But there is no blessing for who only want to express their present tantrum, who want to avoid the persecution that could teach us to endure and so gain mastery over ourselves. The cult of modernity we pursue autonomy by imposing our mastery on other people, express our resentment, find scapegoats and inflict our rage on them. It widens the gulf between those who freely take up service and apparent powerlessness and find their contentment in that service, and those who want to evade that service, hold on to power, and exert their power to increase their autonomy.

    In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus reinforces the blessings by contrasting them with seven warnings, traditionally called ‘curses.’ The seven blessings, now expressed as seven warnings, call us away from the narcissism given expression by the cult of modernity. They hope to turn us from arrogance to humility, from superiority to humility, from violence to peace.

    They are exclamations of pity for those who reject these blessings, each woe describing the unhappiness that would result from this rejection.  These are the curses that the leaders of our society want to inflict on us, but will only succeed in inflicting on themselves. Only misery can come from rejecting the blessing of God. The warnings mirror the blessings

    1. Those who are not humble and poor in spirit exalt themselves.
    2. Those who are not content to lament and mourn now, build little kingdoms for themselves.
    3. Those who are not meek and self-controlled, imagine that they are the source of their own power and authority
    4. Those who do not hunger and thirst for righteousness, neglect justice, mercy, and faithfulness
    5. Those who are not merciful and generous are full of greed and self-indulgence
    6. Those who are not pure in heart are full of hypocrisy and wickedness
    7. Those who do not bring peace, are violent in the same way as those who killed the prophets. They suppress the witnesses God sends and are prepared to be violent against us.Woe to you…  who exalt yourself

    You shut the kingdom of heaven in man’s faces. You do not go in and you stop other people from going in. (Matt 23.12-13)

    You assert yourself, and have no wish to learn humility. You promote yourself over those around you. You climb over them and tread on as you go. You shut the kingdom in men’s faces: you don’t enter that kingdom and you won’t let them do so either.

    But it is the humble who are blessed, for Blessed are the poor in spirit.  For whoever exalts himself will be humbled. Whoever humbles himself will be exalted…

    • Woe to you… who when you make a convert make him twice as much a son of hell as you are…

    You seek supporters and make converts to your cause. You demand that they obey you and call you master. You have a reputation to build. You want glory and renown. You grow your power by rent-seeking and confiscation. You tie up heavy loads to put them on other men’s shoulders (Matt 23.4).Woe to those who convince others to do the same, climbing over others, and keeping them out of the kingdom. 

    You encourage your converts to become more extreme and destructive than yourself. Each generation becomes more uninhibitedly power-seeking, departs further from the sources, resorts to more extreme self-invention, and is less willing to acknowledge any limit to their power.

    But blessed are those who mourn. Blessed is the man who seeks no glory for himself. He is on his own, and has to be content to remain alone. He mourns, laments, waits and endures. Blessed is he who gathers no supporters, builds no power base, and seeks no empire of his own.

    • Woe to you who say that temple means nothing, but only the gold in it is what counts …

    Woe to those who try to recruit God to their purposes. Look out, you who claim to act with the authority of God. You claim to lend your authority to our culture, to the education of our children and to our national life. You want the status and the income that you think that your association with church and culture will bring you.

    Our political class wants us to believe that we receive our authority from them. But the authority of this generation cannot come from this present generation. The source of its authority must be much deeper. Authority comes to us across many generations. Our nation has received its identity and its authority from the gospel and from the many generations of Christian witnesses who have shared that gospel and that discipleship with us. Through their efforts we have inherited a more or less politically mature society and learned a level of civility and humanity. All authority comes from God to the people formed by the gospel through all the various forms of discipline, enquiry and science that have developed out of it. Authority does not originate in our current political class, that mistakenly believes that it can lend or withhold authority from the Christian witness, worship and culture. It is not the present regime that has formed this nation. The gospel, and the Church created and sustained by it, are the origin on the nation and the source of authority within it. 

    They claim too much. They take the name of the Lord in vain. They do not give God credit for the generosity that they have received. They should look out. All that they have has come to them as gift, that belongs to God, and which comes from God, and will return to God again, leaving them without authority.

    Look out, you who do not acknowledge that God is the source of generosity. Look out, you who make out that you yourself are the source of all that you have. Our people received grace from God and acknowledged him and gave thanks to him. But you want to cut them off from God and so from all grace and generosity. God is the source of the life of every society and nation. You now wish to cut us, as you have cut yourself, off from the source of life and so hold us captive, so we are hostages in your campaign against life itself. Look out, you who do not worship God. You want to be honoured and respected; you want that worship for yourself, but we will not give it to you. 

    It is not any globalising elite that lends legitimacy to our nation or our culture or our history. It is that faith, that public worship and discipleship, that culture and history that has given our leaders and institutions the authority they have. This authority is lent to them, so that they may invest it in those who would most benefit from it. It is not a piece of their property, which they can keep, bury, sell or exchange for something else. If it is not theirs, they cannot dispense with it. It is God only who gives authority: he gives it first to the community of his witnesses, the Church, and then through the Church, to each people and nation and the world.   

    Look out, you globalists. Look out, you who set out to eradicate every particular local, regional and national identity. You have appointed yourself the dissolver of all national identity. You have made yourself priests in the cult of the universal identity. You want to start, of course, with the particular identity of the Christians. You want to push us out, hound us and silence us so that we are no longer able to speak up for all the other particular identities. Totalitarians always, and rightly, identify the Church as their first opponent. You want to dissolve and homogenise. But you will be dissolved and homogenised in your turn.  

    He who swears by the temple swears by the One who dwells in it…. Whoever looks to the church, and to Christian worship, Christian discipleship and culture, looks to God from whom that church, worship and culture come, and by whom that culture is supported and renewed. Any appeal to our culture is a reference to Christianity and so, however faint, it is an acknowledgement of God. God made us what we once were, what we are now, and what we always could be if we turned around. Our nation and our culture are not so moribund that a single appeal to the Lord would not at once revive and restore them. 

    But blessed are the meek. Blessed are they who submit themselves to the authority of the Lord. Meekness is self-mastery. Self-mastery comes from Christ who learned it and perfected it. He did not flinch; he took on the anguish and fury of the whole world. He did not attempt to escape it, but bore it, alone. And he bears this fury still, for us, who continue to fight him, by our hostility to all, and particular to those whom he sends us. Christ mastered his passions. He withstood and overcame the forces that we used against him, and so he mastered our passions. We have not been able to break him. We cannot make him give in to the fury that moves us, rules us and destroying us. His strength is revealed in his limitless ability to endure. We cannot break him. His restraint and patience are perfect. Christ has perfected self-control. The truly meek one, from whom all meekness comes.   

    Christ offers his own self-control to us. Through his companionship and discipling we may gain the same meekness and participate in his self-mastery. Meekness comes through submitting yourself to the discipline that will make you independent and mature. It will give you self-restraint and so make you civil, and able to receive all others without attempting to recruit them or dominate them, and so you can be members together of an open liberal society. Meekness and self-restraint are fundamental to a secular society.

    • Woe to you who… neglect justice, mercy and faithfulness.

    Whose image is this? And whose inscription? Caesars. Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s (Matthew 22.20-1) .

    Give back to the dictator what he offers you. Return it. Refuse it. Don’t touch it. Have nothing to do with the works of darkness.

    You pay your taxes, and so you support the state which wants to expand its powers over us, becoming unstoppably idolatrous and tyrannical. It is your failure to bring justice locally in your own community that encourages this endless resort to state power, intervention and centralisation. As you feed the tyrant so he grows, devouring the powerless, enforcing compliance, destroying resistance. You find yourself doing homage to him, giving assurances of your obedience, ever more extravagant displays of worship in his personality cult, until you discover that you have become powerless too. The tyrant is intent on making himself divine. He is the product of our own faithlessness and failure of courage. He is the result of your complicity. It is your worship of him that has created this monstrous world-devouring idol.  

    From whom do the kings of earth collect tax and duties? From their own sons, or from others? From others (Matthew 17.25-6)

    You neglect justice, mercy and faithfulness. You have no appetite for justice. You have given away your own powers. You should have provided justice, quickly and locally. But, instead, you delegated that responsibility to far-away authorities, from whom no justice is forthcoming.

    But blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness

    • Woe to you who clean the outside, while the inside is full of greed and self-indulgence ….    

    Blessed are the merciful. Blessed are the generous.

    But you have shown no generosity. You feel no pity for them and show them no mercy. You do not provide people with the resources they need, do not relieve them of their burdens or cancel or pay their debts. You maintain the appearances, but inside all remains filthy.

    But blessed are the merciful. They are generous, who share what they have received and what they themselves have worked for, who, when the poor ask, bring out of their storeroom provisions that they have long saved and what they have just grown, inherited resources and new ones.  

    They show no mercy. They are ungenerous. They do not share with the poor. But blessed are the merciful…

    You use one measure for outsiders and opponents, and another for your own people. You conceal what you are doing, so you claim to be what you appear, consistent and fair, but you are not. You employ two different standards, and are divided and double-minded, so you are unknowable and unpredictable. You can only create confusion. Without an intrinsic unity and integrity, you cannot be reliable or trusted. 

    The hypocrite wears a mask. The appearance is not the reality. Under the surface they are devious and malevolent. They are not pure, since they are not the same on the inside as on the outside. The outside is all pleasantness and reason, but the inside is all vindictiveness. They want to get back at whoever they imagine opposes them, or has slighted them, or who would refuse them. They are two irreconcilable things, goodness and evil. They discriminate against the poor, and against those who refuse to obey and pay them tribute. They impose a harsh law and penalty on them.

    You stay compliant in order to keep in with the present regime. You make accusations against others, and turn them into the scapegoats that the regime wants. You insist that others obey the regulation of the current regime and conform to current thinking in the hope that you will not be persecuted. You will not hear the call of Christ to follow him through suffering into the long apprenticeship in self-mastery. Wickedness is malice, that wants to destroy whatever is independent and good.

    But blessed are the undivided and single-minded. Blessed are the pure in heart

    • Woe to you who….  are descendants of the those who killed the prophets…

    Woe to those who take up arms against God. Word to you who do not welcome the gospel of peace. Woe to those who raises their voices, hurl insults widen divisions, threaten punishment, and seek no reconciliation. Woe to those through whom violence comes.

    If you allow violence to start, you may be drawn in, and will be unable to escape when the blood-letting starts. Violence will become your master, and your violence will be returned to you. Though you are violent, violence owes you no loyalty, and you will be destroyed as easily as you destroyed others.

    Those who do not follow them, turn against the prophets that God has sent us. They may find themselves drawn into the persecution and murder of the servants of God. They do not want to hear that it is God whom they are fighting, and it is God who will end that fight. 

    You are on the same path as those killers. Woe to you who express contempt, bring division and encourage sectarianism. Woe to you who want to see our resentments grow. Every generation has its psychopaths. If you do not actively attempt to reconcile opposing parties while they are still able to listen to one another, you may find that that the psychopaths are in control and you are no longer listened to. If you insist on following the same path you will end up in the same orgy of violence as they did. They murdered those who brought you the gospel, the news about the peace that God has brought us. You say that you would not have rejected and killed the prophets as your forefathers did. But you are about to reject and kill the prophets sent to you now, the Son of Man and his disciples, and by turning away from the gospel, this nation exposes itself to the same violence. 

    Our cultural leaders today celebrate just a few of the best-known figures of our national history, who were regarded by their contemporaries as Christian prophets. With their heritage industry and by replacing education with indoctrination in schools they sanitize and control our national memory. But they suppress the history and witness because these prophets were Christians, and suggest that, apart from a small selection of exceptional figures, all previous generations were fools and bigots.

    Many want to win the approval of our tyrants, in the belief that they will be rewarded. So they reject most of the prophets given to us today and suppress anyone who does not affirm the claims the regime makes for itself. They decide who is an opponent and dissident and prevent their message from reaching the public, just as their ancestors did in their time. In this way the present regime is the heir of the regime that killed the prophets, punished the missionaries who brought the gospel and so turned the people of Britain from violence to peace. They are not peacemakers, but create the tensions that bring conflict. But blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called sons of God

    Seven Things Christians Need to Know

    Seven Things in summary

    1/ God is the sole source of authority

    No state, government or other institution has authority over us unless it is exercised with our consent, a consent that we can withdraw, and acknowledges that it is accountable to us through law. 

    2/ The Gospel gives us a discipleship, a way of life and a Christian culture

    The gospel gives us Scripture, the wisdom that comes through the experience of our fellow Christians and our own well-discipled conscience. The nation and its political culture are formed from Christian culture and require the constant renewal of that culture. Christian culture requires constant renewal through the lives, and through the public witness and the worship, of Christians.

    The gospel has resulted in a vast informal covenant of Christian culture, which has given us a very high view of human sovereignty and the rule of law. This culture crumbles away when it is not renewed by Christian public worship. 

    3/ There is an anti-gospel

    The gospel is imitated, and the imitations are offered as alternatives to the gospel, easier ways to the same end, the hope of human autonomy. We have to contrast the gospel with the anti-gospel, the culture of life with the culture of death.

    4/ There is a contest between the gospel and the anti-gospel

    The gospel raises man, gives him the hope of reaching maturity, and provides him with the company and the discipline by which he may endure the apprenticeship that will enable him to grow up into this maturity. All other rival versions take away this hope, leave him without the discipline or the company that would enable him to aspire to self-mastery, so that he remains foolish, frustrated and angry.

    The gospel made our public institutions, but these have separated themselves from the gospel and are now turning away from public service to the sole pursuit of power, totalitarianism disguised by agendas and ideologies. The gospel re-affirms the truth of their vocation and warns the powerful of the consequences of this betrayal of the hopes of man. This takes place in public confrontation and contest between the gospel set out by Christian witnesses and all the representatives of all rival ideologies and institutions.   

    5/ Each of us has to become aware of this contest

    Each of us has to become aware of this contest, and take measures to protect ourselves.

    We may defend ourselves by learning and internalising for ourselves the whole experience of God’s people, given to us in the Scriptures. We do this in the worship in which the assembly of Christians give their public witness, in which those Scriptures are read and sung to the nation. There is no substitute for the experience we receive through the bible and through the worship that brings us into confrontation with the envious and aggressive rival powers of the age. 

    6/ We may have to resist the ideological and cultic demands of state and corporations.

    We have to say that God only is the source of authority. All exercise of power must keep to its proper calling, which is to serve the common good. It must acknowledge its limits and remain modest. When it does not, its claims expand until it is making absolute claims on us, and compelling our obedience and punishing our autonomy.

    We may have to refuse and resist the demands made on us and endure the consequences of doing so. We may talk through these pressures and threats, and our responses to them, and must make it possible for other Christians to do the same. We must pray publicly for those who are being persecuted, and for those who have overstepped their powers who are persecuting them. 

    7/ Public Worship

    Our public worship is our public speech. You have to meet together in one place with other Christians and raise your voices together, singing and giving thanks to God, praying and lament as Christians have always have done. Our worship of God in Christ is the best thing we can do for our society and nation.

    Seven Things

    1/ God is the sole source of authority

    The gospel is the source of life. The life we have, we have received from God through Jesus Christ, and from no other source. God gives us the promise of a future, in which we live with him, and through him, with one another. This is the gospel that has makes us human and that keeps us civil. It alone can bring us salvation, deliver us from death, and give us the unbroken life that God intends for us. It alone has created, and can sustain the culture of consent out of which the modern world has emerged. The gospel promises us that life, and Christ supplies it to us and defends it against all rivals.

    Christianity is the blessing of God to us and so it is religion of life, and creates a culture of life. But there is another religion, the cult of death, which is the reverse of that blessing. It intends to undermine and remove the blessing. The Life Cult is honest, because it tells us what it is, but the Death Cult conceals what it is. It does not want us to realise that it is a cult, so we are not able to decide against it and defend ourselves from it. It does not present itself as a religion, that is, as a single package, which we can believe and follow, hides behind many claims, which are all claims to power. They present themselves in terms of our personal well-being, of our health, our safety and security, in terms of measures to increase our efficiency, to save whatever is under threat, to manage the economy and bring back growth. These are all claims to power, made by people, by institutions and governments, and behind them, by forces that acknowledge no limits and do not respect us because they do not fear God.  The drive for limitless power is what the Death Cult is. It cannot bring life, so it hates everything that has life, and so only works to take life away. It exercises power through destruction. All our institutions were founded by Christians, but whenever they separate themselves from the gospel, they turn into the opposite of what they were, and become destructive.

    2/ The gospel creates a way of life and a culture

    As the gospel is heard and the Christian life lived, so a Christian culture is formed. The gospel tells us that we are made in the image of God, and so has it created a uniquely high view of the dignity of man. As a result we aspire to be independent, accountable, mature, unafraid, sovereign beings.  We are given freedom, and Christian discipleship gives us the disciple to practice that freedom, to hang on to it, to use it well, which means use it in the service of those around us.

    Religion – the Christian religion and no other – is the means by which we identify what is public, secular and therefore political. It is the means of the identifying what we have in common and then protecting public speech so we can deal with those concerns together. 

    This Christian culture has enabled generations to discover their identity through public service. Public service develops into political service, administration and government. Government is the outworking of the self-government of the many members of nation who understand that dignity comes through service. 

    It is the law, not the state, that is the source of authority. The law gains its authority from the political and moral culture of a nation, which comes from the gospel. The law is an expression of the sovereignty of the people formed by the gospel. The law therefore comes from Scripture and from the natural law of creation, both of them given by God. God is the ultimate source of law, as of all things. The nation is healthy when the state recognises that God, and not itself, is ultimate arbiter, and that the nation, with its long-accumulated wisdom expressed in its customs and culture, is the secular arbiter of law. God gives each of us sovereignty, so together as a nation we have authority to discover the law of God, the blessing revealed by the gospel.  

    This Christian culture that created our law and created this nation, and many other nations. This culture has also created an economy which has expanded around the world. This culture and nation exist only because of this Christian culture. When the gospel is heard, they thrive. When the gospel is not heard, they decay and die. Our culture and nation are dying. All the hospitals and schools and charitable institutions once founded and run by Christians have long been absorbed into central government. As people have demanded that government takes on more responsibility it has made greater claims about its own authority, and taken responsibility away from us. People give their own powers away, and so at our own request the state has demoted us from citizens to clients, customers and supplicants and so it has become our secular saviour. Even Christians have erected this idol and sustained this idolatry, unable to let go even whilst it has grown into a monster that hates them.

    This Christian culture makes you a cultural Christian. It does not make you a Christian. For you to survive, and for that culture to survive, you yourself must take up your cross and become a Christian. You must be born again, be baptised into Christ’s passion and receive the promise of being raised with him at the resurrection of all. You must understand that this baptism makes you a member of his body, and makes you his witness, and it means that you have to receive the power of the Holy Spirit, be fed and equipped, and accompanied by those holy witnesses of all generations. Only so will you grow up, endure that service and be able to suffer the resentment of those who envy you, and so remain a disciple. 

    Our life depends on our preferring the culture of life, and the culture of Christianity therefore. It is for us to promote that culture that can regenerate our nation, adopt that discipline and learn those habits of mind that enable us to regard one another as equals and fellow members of nation, as political participants, and as bearers of the image of God. We may do this when we understand that that culture is not self-supporting. The culture, along with the political peace and economic prosperity that derive from it, must be constantly re-stated and renewed by the gospel. We regenerate our culture by our public worship of God. We cannot be cultural Christians, but must be actual witnesses and worshippers of God. 

    3/ There is an anti-gospel

    There is the gospel and there is an anti-gospel, and there is a contest between the two. There is a shadow gospel, a pretend gospel. The true gospel is so admired and so envied that many imitations of it have spawned. All of them are images of the thing itself, but they are no more than imitations and fakes. None of them can do what the gospel does, for none of them can create life. They want to pass themselves off as less costly and demanding, and want to give you the impression of the same functionality. They claim to do what the gospel does, and yet they are lifeless. The anti-gospel creates an anti-culture, a culture of death.

    The political class say that the political and the religious are two spheres, and that religion is a threat to freedom. But we say that the political and secular, the sphere of our mutual engagement, is generated and renewed by the religious resources of the Christian tradition, and that freedom, along with responsibility and self-discipline, comes from Christianity and can only be renewed by it. 

    Now we are at the turning of the time. If enough of our nation are determined to dismiss God, they will remove from the protection that the covenant has given us, our constitutionality will disappear and our nations will break up. They have taken for granted the advantages given by Christian culture. That protection has given us the priority of truth, the sovereignty of freedom, the dignity of the individual and the rule of law.  None of this is given by nature; it is only given by the gospel, and if we dismiss the gospel, we remove ourselves from this political covenant that gives us truth, freedom, respect, justice and rising standard of living. Our elite has made a mistake, in taking this for granted. As a result, it will disappear, to be replaced by delusion, coercion, subjugation, violence and misery.  We have done this to ourselves. We have not taken up this cross for ourselves, we have not received it and so have not passed it  on, and the result is over so many years in the West each generation has become thinner and weaker. Few Christians are able to explain the purpose of this gospel, or make the connection between the gospel and Western and modern culture. few are able to see that modern culture may collapse as soon as there is no effectively vocal church to provide the public speech and so sustain that political culture of consent. 

    God may leave us. The gospel and the church will continue in other parts of the world, but in Britain and Europe, and these countries and their peace will be replaced by loss of the politics of consent, economic breakdown, civil strife, demographic collapse, and then by a slave society living under totalitarianism. 

    4/ There is a battle going on

    There is a battle going on, over your head and all around you. It is a battle for you. You are the prize they are fighting for. Christ wants you. Satan wants to take you away from Christ. You are vulnerable until you realise this. If you do not take precautions, you will soon be swallowed up by those who want to take your dignity, freedom and life away from you. Each side intends to recruit you, so you must either fight with Christ, and so for your own life, or against Christ, and so against your own survival. This battle is between God who loves you, and the devil who hates you. It is spiritual, but it is fought through many different arenas, so that it may seem sometimes domestic and intergenerational, emotional, mental, psychological, intellectual, financial and economic and public and political. You have so many ways of losing this battle, and only one way of winning and surviving. If you realise that Christ has fought, and is fighting, for you, and you so say so and publicly give thanks, you will survive.

    When you tell us that you don’t believe in God this is not a sign of independent thought. It only tells us that their propaganda has worked on you, conveniently for them. The line that you are convinced is your own, an expression of your own independent thought, has been repeated and drilled into us by the political class over many generations. Even without being a Christian, you are a beneficiary of Christian culture, as you are even when you deride the gospel and belittle Christians. The political class has told us generation after generation that those who confess God are ignorant and unworthy people. You may have submitted to them, and tell us that you don’t believe in God, but this is only because you believe them instead, and believe that they will reward your loyalty to them.

    But it is not ignorant to insist that the powerful may not set themselves in God’s place as our judges, and that it is not for them to decide that we may not be their judges. Our fathers held the powerful to account, and the gospel is how they did so, and we should do the same. It is our essential public service to tell the powers-that-be emphatically that they are not our masters. They have always told us that we have no God just so that they themselves could take God’s powers and use them against us. They don’t want to be interrupted. Nevertheless, it is our job to interrupt them, and to tell whoever, both the powerful and the powerless, that God is the one true source of life and truth, and of all power and authority, and he is the guardian of our dignity and sovereignty. 

    5/ Discipline and discipleship teaches us freedom and responsibility

    The gospel brings service and responsibility, and through them comes freedom. Freedom is learned and exercised through the discipline, and so through the practice of self-control and restraint, that comes with discipleship. 

    The contest is between the culture of freedom that results from the gospel, and the culture of power and force. The culture of freedom creates a space in which a people are able to take each other seriously, listen and speak, debate, agree and disagree, achieve consensus, and make decisions so that policies are formed, solutions are found and settlements emerge. The culture of freedom creates this constitutional way of life, in which everyone understands that everyone else is a participant, a voice and can offer their input, or dissent, refuse, and withhold their permission. It is a slow orderly anarchy, in which enough order emerges to keep most people just about satisfied most of the time. It is not top-down, but an emergent order. This is not the government taking all decisions for us. This is not powerful men deciding that we are too immature to decide for ourselves and doing everything they can to make us even more dependent and childish.

    The culture of freedom exists only as long as people, shaped by Christian discipleship, insist on the dignity of each other person. We are taking part in the contest between the culture of freedom and wide political participation, and the culture of authoritarianism. It is a contest between consent and coercion, between independence and submissiveness, between the political culture of sovereign people, and surrender to the culture of death. We have to make this distinction between the culture of life, and turn to it, and the culture of death, and turn away from it.

    If you do not protect yourself with the protection God’s gives you, you will be picked off, assimilated. Worse than that, you will be turned into an advocate of some self-declared new and improved version of Christianity and, though you may still consider yourself a Christian, you exercise your powers against those Christians who have not been absorbed. Or you may believe that you have grown beyond Christianity. It doesn’t matter which. You are now swapping the gospel, for misleading abbreviations of it, offering half-truths in place of the whole catholic and apostolic truth, and of course you are doing the opposite of what the Holy Spirit intends you to do, and so you working against him. You are now a threat to those around you.

    We have lived under the blessing of God and so under the covenant. We have been sheltered by it for so many hundreds of years, that we assume that it will always be there. But it won’t. That culture is crumbling away and its protection is being taken away from us by forces that despise us. If our regime insists in rejecting God and dismantling the culture that has arisen through the gospel, God may give us what that regime demands. He will hear its prayers. God will let our political class have the consequences of their action, the consequences of which he has long protected them from. The culture of life is preserved by the God of life, but so is our freedom to shun that culture and pursue the culture of death. If our leaders continue to spurn the covenant and its protections, they will no longer have them. God who has held back the anti-culture of decay and the force of demotions will hold them back no more. When we allow our leaders to dismiss the covenant, seven other spirits push their way in and destroy the culture that once made us strong.

    6/ We may have to resist the ideological and cultic demands of state and corporations

    We should keep a proper distance from the state. You may have to refuse and resist the demands made on you. You are a Christian. God has made you his witness. As long as it is renewed by the gospel, you have a mind of your own. You are therefore able to conclude for yourself that our leaders have claimed too much, have lost their way, and do not have authority they claim. You may have to decide that the state has become an enemy of the people it once claimed to serve. You may have to decide that the state has just become a mob that must be withstood. You only have to stand, and give no sign of fear. It is a monster that is all fury, but which has no courage and no staying power. 

    You may have to decide that the particular circumstances in which you are being forced and tormented are not significant. They are not challenging you for the reasons they claim. It is not a matter of your own failings, as they claim, so the particular charges they bring against you may be irrelevant. They are frightened, despairing, angry people, fleeing from God, and determined to humiliate and silence whoever does not join in with them. They think that directing all responsibility and all blame at one individual will absolve them, and that punishing a single scapegoat and will make each member of the mob safe again for a while.  The institutions of the state are this mob. You may decide that you can do no more than have pity on them, and though they cannot hear you, you can declare that God is witness to all this. Whenever the mob becomes enraged against you, you may look up over their heads and see that the Lord is always directly before you.

    You have a conscience. You have a mind of your own. You may have to use it. You may simply have to say, ‘Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise.’ The state is not your friend. You may have to follow your conscience and go the other way, against the crowd, into unpopularity and into constant wrangling with your employer and every institution. The government no longer speaks with one mind and a reliably meritocratic public service intention. It is now many rival forces, some more or less rational, others inadvertently or even deliberately obstructive and destructive. We may to conclude that they are deliberately doing what is destructive and we cannot be their enablers, and will not pay the taxes that make this possible, that we will not be complicit.

    The government may not be your friend anymore. That is the possibility we have to consider and we have to allow one another to say this. We have to listen to one another reservations, weigh up and make decisions, perhaps even the decision to withhold our consent, and to say that we can no longer be members of this political fix, and that we are conscious objectors. Over many centuries Christians in the UK have been regarded as dissenters and nonconformists.

    We cannot give the state or any political party or institution unconditional obedience.  Our governments cannot cede their jurisdiction to any international institution, whether claiming to secure our peace, our defence, our health, or our human rights. Such institutions represent the attempt supplant our own governments and to acquire an unaccountable power over us, exercised from outside our own territory, without consideration of our sovereignty and without reference to our culture and law. The worship of God is all that keeps our public political life modest, limited, truthful, rational and liberal. To worship God is to ensure limited government with a high view of our individual sovereignty. Not to worship God is to allow unlimited government and diminish personal sovereignty. The worship of God is all that keeps a nation political and secular, and prevents it from becoming ideological, cultic and absolutist. Not to worship God is to worship other gods, and to remove our own God-given dignity and autonomy.

    7/ Public Worship

    Our public worship is our public speech. It is the best thing we can do for our society and nation. You have to meet together in one place with other Christians and raise your voices together. You have to pray and lament as Christians have always have done, and by singing and giving thanks to God. 

    Our public worship is our public speech. It is the best thing we can do for our society and nation. You have to meet together in one place with other Christians and raise your voices together. You have to sing what Christians have always sung. You can save your own life by singing. Sing and you and your culture and declare what Christians it is only your voices.

    Singing is saying what is true, but doing it in unison. By standing and singing with others we show that the forces that want to split us up are powerless. the power of God to reconcile us and unite us is more powerful than any other power. The worship of God makes us mature, self-controlled, responsible, social and civil. Only God makes it possible for us to become human, and the more we acknowledge that this is what God does for us, the more the glory he intends for humanity appears in us.  

    Have you seen this 50-page Catechism?

    Part one is here –

    Catechism 4/6 The Creed

    The Creed

    We give a public account of our Christian faith. We give reasons in the hope that others will realise that this faith grounds us in the truth and logic of creation, and enables to live in harmony with all creatures in it. The Creed gives us this account. The first of the ten commandments is that we should worship God, while the Creed identifies for us the God who is to be worshipped.  

    4.1   Our Public Statement of Faith

    We say the creed together in unison in each church service. We read the Scripture and give long recitals of the narrative of God’s saving acts, and we give this short summary of that narrative, and we give many brief acclamations that summarise our faith in a single line. By saying the creed, we offer a single unchangeable and non-negotiable account of our faith, and by doing this, we remain catholic and apostolic and prevent ourselves from veering from the truth.   

    The creed is a record of the faithfulness of the early generations in fending off all the forces that want to bend Christian witness into pagan shapes, and which try to replace the truth with imitations of it. They were all intended to undermine the incarnation and overwrite the revelation of the truth of God’s dwelling with man that the incarnation brought. They want to negate the challenge to the self-appointed divinities and so to maintain the hierarchy in which those at the top have all power and authority, while the powerless remain at the bottom where they are no threat.

    Many powers and spirits try to control us. We can resist them, when we receive power to do from God. We can remain independent of all forces when God makes us so. The pagans who are bound by fate and driven by their resentments to their ancestors, and since they don’t have a choice, they have experience of hope are freedom, and so no gratitude. The gospel must always be stated and expounded again in order to pass the gospel on to each generation. Faithful theology must be set out in the face of faithless theology. As it was in the first centuries of the Church, so it must be in the twenty-first century.

    4.2   We believe in God

    I believe in one God, the Father the Almighty…

    We believe in God. God is first. We are second to him. God calls us to be his second, and so he honours us.

    Maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen …

    God is the creator of all things. Creation is his act of hospitality to us. It is the good place in which we can meet, grow and live. In Christ God took flesh, showing that our created materiality is good, and redeeming it so it become glorious. 

    Creation is not an unfortunate lump of evil material within which each of is trapped and from which we have to free ourselves. Material is not evil. The world is not a mistake. The materiality of the cosmos does not impose limits on what God can achieve with it. He is its supreme commander. All creation obeys him, though we do not see that obedience is complete yet.

    The gospel declares that there is such a love that brings God right up close. In the incarnation God appears to give himself away utterly to everything that dishonours him. No other religion or philosophy concedes this. Cultures not shaped by Christianity believe that man is unworthy of God, and that it is not in God’s nature to take any interest in man, and that God cannot endure a relationship that is so ungodlike and so unworthy. 

    The powerful of earth tell us that God does not make himself known to men, and that God himself could never come close to us. A very few men may raise themselves, for a while, but they will inevitably fall again. A few may be exalted to the position of gatekeepers, in a properly pious cult, that intends to preserve the heavens from contamination. The most philosophical expressions of other traditions insists that men are wretches, who cannot and should not be associated with what is precious. They say that they alone can be mediators and go-betweens between God and the poor. All who believe themselves worthy consider us unworthy. When you add to this incarnation the news of the cross and passion of our Lord, the offence becomes even deeper. The news of Christ is always controversial and contested. Every regime understands the threat to its authority.

    Much human art and culture represent our refusal to believe in this love, our wish to hide from it and decide that such love is not possible, and such a vast hope may not be permitted. Some would rather not take the risk than face such crushing disappointment. Some would rather believe that God is a sadist than that he loves us as he says he does. Some believe that their ability to defy him and insist on their own awfulness, is stronger than God’s ability to love them. Pessimism and fatalism are given until the appearance of the gospel, and every act of Christian witness must be pushed upstream against them. 

    We believe in one Lord. Jesus Christ, the only Son of God…

    Man is not brought too near to God; by being brought near to God his identity is secured, not endangered. God is not threatened by the new proximity of man. Man does not bring anything additional, either good or bad, to God. Man neither adds nor subtracts in this relationship. God is not glorified when man is abased or crushed, cast off or ignored. 

    We can consider everyone and everything when we concede that they are creatures of God, each given their own dignity, each knowable within their own set of relationships, in the light of the Jesus Christ.

    Eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father, Through him all things were made…

    The Father makes himself known to us through his Son, who is of one being with the Father. The phrase, secured by the council of Nicaea, ‘of one being (homoousion) with the Father’ is the confession that fastens man to God. Now we may no longer understand ourselves in any other way than as God’s man. The true God is God-with-man.

    All Christian theology is set out in debate with those who want to take God away from man and from creation. They say that the Son is not of the same being as the Father, but of lesser being, divine only by association, and immediately new intermediaries appear to fil the gap they have opened between God and man, and they are those intermediaries. As soon as it looks as though they have created a job for themselves, a job of pretending to make the relationship between man and God possible, but by pushing themselves in and attempting to create a gap where there is none, they are attempting to take God away from man, and so hoping to make themselves effectively the only God whom man can know.

    This fundamental statement that the Son is ‘of one being’ (homoousion) with the Father is the most succinct expression of the gospel that God is with man as the Father is with the Son. Any departure from this homoousion, is a reversal of the gospel that it is really God who has brought man into communion with himself. The unity of Father with Son, is the unity of God with man.

    When God is with man, man is with man. When God is with man as his companion. Companionship flows from God to man, and man can extend this companionship to his fellows. The division and isolation that spreads across humanity is halted and turned back. Division and death are driven out. The power of homogenisation that reduce the distinctiveness of each person is reversed. No longer is each entity pulled into the collective and finally absorbed back into the ground. Each person is established in their distinctiveness. They will eternally receive their supply of life, of companionship, of freedom and holiness. Communion and unity bring reconciliation and integration.

    The Western conception of God has never been adequately informed by Christian teaching about the incarnation, so it deist rather than Christian. Without the fully Christian doctrine, set out in this creed at Nicaea, the implicit conceptuality of the West assumes that God and man are two monads, units defined in opposition to one another, each fundamentally without communion or communication with anything other than itself. Whatever relationship between them is at most distant and brief.

    The Christian concept of God comes with an equally distinctive concept of Man. Man is the secret of God. God is the secret that only God can make known and does make known. In coming to know this secret man comes into his own true existence. In revealing himself, God both reveals man and calls into being the man he reveals. 

    By the power of the Holy Spirit, he became Incarnate from the Virgin Mary and was made man.

    The Lord took human flesh and dwelt among us. We have seen his glory, because he has taken on our flesh. He has made himself visible, audible, and tangible to us in the same way we are to one another. He has a body just as we do, and so he made himself perceptible to us. He clothed himself in what is created so he can be seen by people like us. 

    The Holy Spirit gave him to us, asking Mary, one member of the people of Israel to act for the whole people in hosting the Lord in her own body. He took her flesh, a sample of the flesh shared by all of us.

    The true and only knowledge of man is as God’s creature and companion. God loves man and has united man to himself. The inexhaustible and unknowable has made himself known, to us. Man may not be known apart from God. God may not be known other than as God who has united man to himself. This achievement must be maintained against the intellectual and ideological pressures around us that intend to divorce God from man, cast man off from God, and tell us such love and union are impossible, and that man is never the worthy recipient of it. God does not enter the circle of the universe. All theist and atheist protests against the outrage of the incarnation and against the audacity of the Christian revolution that express it, are a refusal to take this love as given and receive this communion opened up to us. 

    For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried…

    To those appalled by the Lord’s association with those who are unclean and unworthy and by his passion and death the gospel is offensive. It is fear of the cross and suffering that makes us reluctant to concede that God has joined himself so irrevocably to our destiny. They represent the end of the attempt by any political or religious elite to raise themselves above all others, act as mediator, and so to promote themselves into a junior God, a second besides God. They persecute us when we contradict them.

    On the third day he rose again from the dead according to the Scriptures…

    Christ took on all that death could inflict, and withstood it, and broke the power of death.

    God himself is our mediator. The hierarchies that claim to be our way to ascend towards perfection are now redundant and their power over us is broken. The layers of priestly middle men are dismissed; our political class has lost its hold over us.

    God is entirely at home in the creation of his own making. Nothing about it manages to repel him. In Christ, God knows the full range of human experience, and of human degradation endured in the passion and crucifixion. 

    The resurrected Christ underwent the incarnation and passion. The glory and power of God is demonstrated in that the Son of God took on all the constraints of a creature, and within them, continued to display that same glory and power. This weakness taken on in the incarnation and passion is evidence of the power of God. The incarnation, passion and crucifixion are the work of the resurrection, which demonstrates that Christ always acted freely.

    Christ did this ‘according to the Scriptures…’ in fulfilment of the covenant and completion of the promises given to Israel. The people of Israel are witnesses of the long and patient approach of the Lord to man, and the record of the patriarchs, prophets and people is available is given to us in the Old Testament.  

    He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God…

    Jesus Christ is the truth about mankind. He is the true man who now sits at the right hand of the Father. The truth of us is there where he is. In him, man is already united to God and no power is strong enough to take us away from God.

    Since man has this future, he is not entirely knowable. Man cannot utterly know man, and thus he is not the object of our control or domination, and our attempts to do so are not only totalitarian but futile. Man belongs to God, who secures his identity forever. 

    He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end….

    God is able to bring judgment and forgiveness and to supply grace. God will establish the truth, and enable a society to investigate so that the truth of any crime or loss is made public adequately, so that that society is satisfied, and the process of reconciliation can start. These processes of judgment and reconciliation are begun, but they are not made complete. What that judgment will be, and what is eventually required to bring justice and reconciliation is not yet known. We look forward to Christ’s coming to establish the truth and to make bring justice complete. The society that is convinced that the process of justice has begun and that it will be completed, will be able to endure the present losses and injustice; it will live in hope and expectation.

    The fundamental act that establishes human freedom, and with this freedom, establishes humanity, is that we defy the powerful. We do this by declaring in public that the powerful are accountable to God, and to us and to all men. All of us are responsible and accountable, the powerful just as much as we are. None of us can put ourselves beyond accountability. We insist that there is truth and generosity and justice, and there are long-developed codes which enable us to say what is good and true and just. These allow us to challenge one another and hold one another to account. This code is given to us in Christian teaching and in the culture, morality and law that that have developed through each nation’s reception of that Christian teaching.

    We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified…

    The Holy Spirit anoints Christ, and brings us to him, making us the Lord’s people, the body of which Christ is the head. The Spirit is the anonymous servant who brings us together, hosting and enabling each of our relationships, who is able to bring good out of every encounter, who mediates between us all, who gives us power, by reinforcing us with the whole company of heaven, so we act in concert with them and their act is our act, and so making us social and gregarious. The Holy Spirit brings us out of ignorance, confusion and silence to recognise, give thanks and worship the Lord, and so grasp and articulate the whole truth, and to break out of delusion and confinement into the glory he has prepared for us, and so to become free and joyful. 

    The Holy Spirit makes us the people of Christ, members of his holy company. Without constant infusion of fellowship from God, man defines and identifies himself solely in contradistinction to others. He cannot say what he has in common with them and he cannot provide it. This commonality must arrive from outside, from some third party.

    Between every two persons, there is a third, the Holy Spirit. He is that self-effacing servant who makes it possible for each two beings to come together, acknowledge one another’s distinctiveness and become reconciled to each other. He is our interpreter and mediator, the supplier of what each of us needs in order to endure the other. The Holy Spirit continually provides the holiness that makes possible a society of persons, distinct from one another yet compatible with one another.   

    Who has spoken through the prophets

    The long experience of the people of Israel, recorded in the Scriptures and passed down to us, tells the Lord was already on his way. He foresaw what was coming, and through his witnesses he warned us of the opposition he would receive, so that the Old Testament tells us about the cost of our salvation. The Lord long anticipated what he would suffer at our hands, and yet went through this horror for our sake. 

    I believe in the One, holy, catholic and apostolic church…

    The fundamental act that establishes our freedom is the gathering and worshipping of the Christian community shaped by this revelation and this teaching. This community is making a public stand. It is a public manifestation of what is true, good and right. It is not only stating the limits of the claims of the powerful to determine what is true, that is to place themselves above what is true, so the truth is no more than whatever they state.

    But when the communion of saints meets, they demonstrate the authority of God over all the powers of dissolution. every Christian gathering is a reconciliation, an integration of what was otherwise fragmented and partial.

    The Church is the bringing together of the implausible, the unlikeliest of the manifestation of the reconciling of irreconcilables. As they stand there, together, opposites brought face-to-face in, former antagonists, and as they remain publicly together in peace, they display that message. The proximity to one another in which they stand itself indicates the truth of what they say. moreover, they not only say this, but they say it together, so one voice does not dominate while the many are silent, but all voices are heard. Moreover, they do not merely say this, but they sing it, and so they harmonise, each adjusting their words and tone to blend and complement the singing of the others, to amplify and affirm what their leaders say and sing, and so their voices together represent the harmonisation of creation. 

    Jesus Christ makes himself available to us in the public worship of the Christians that gather in each city. This body is the particular, gentle form in which he makes himself known. 

    Christ makes his people one indivisible whole, and the Church is this future whole, making itself present to us in time. God sends us instalments of this whole which make it publicly present within the world, in the communion of this people. The Holy Spirit holds the disparate community of the Church together as this one body.

    Saints are those whom God has made holy so that they may be our companions on our journey with the Lord to God the Father.  We are not divided from them by death. the world is full of people we don’t see. But we may yet see them. We may see them when we become holy enough to do so.

    We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come…

    We enter the holy community through baptism, by which we die to the world and are incorporated into Christ’s passion and death. The truth stands whilst falsehood rages all around it. As we are baptized into the truth, we are immersed in this turmoil, and must now live in the middle of a battlefield. For the truth is to be declared and made public and protected from those who oppose it and want to crush it. This is the vocation of the Church, the community called together by God in order to be witnesses who through the constant public iteration in their worship, state and re-state the truth, broadcasting what would otherwise be suppressed. 

    The Church is always there. Regimes try to assimilate it, but it cannot be assimilated. It is not only the one counter-culture that survives, but the survival of any culture depends on it. The church’s public act of worship penetrates what might otherwise be complete gloom. That worshipping assembly only needs to be stubborn. The representatives of the regime can ridicule, ostracise and ban the church yet still it is here. And just by continuing to be here, those two or three who gather infuriatingly show them the limits of their power.

    As long as any society is vaguely aware that there is this other culture, offered by the Church, this community within the community of the nation it lives on. The best thing for any culture is that it acknowledges that there is this other culture, that cannot be assimilated, that is ancient, and that remains and continues to say now what it has always said, over many centuries. The presence of the Church shows the leaders of that nation the limits of their reach, and so indicates that there are indeed limits, and that the nation is healthy when it acknowledges these.

    Christians say that there is a reservoir of generosity, which we can tap. There is a supply we can draw on, and a delivery of fresh generosity can get us out of difficulty. These moral resources include the means by which damage can be repaired and relationships restored so that life may continue. We insist that the truth may not be controlled or suppressed, but there must always be the possibility of public discovery of truth, a process of acceptance by all parties, and time for that process. There must be confrontation, accusation, judgment, confession, penitence, and punishment. There must be public discussion of restitution. We can do better than resort to collective punishment or appeasement. With enough honesty we can probably identify who is responsible and to punish the right individuals.

    Any society formed by Christian culture shares the assumption that when there is political or financial disaster, we need not stay paralysed. Fresh generosity can make good shattered relationships. We are not obliged to go round and round over the same terrain, making the same mistakes and never learning from them. There is not only the present, but there is also the future.

    The Christian insistence that God is able to provide what we cannot, and that we can appeal to him for more generosity to get us out of trouble, is enough to keep our moral economy partly open to what it has never yet experienced. The future could be larger and more generous than the present. Since there is generosity, there is also hope. Since there is hope, there is the possibility of a world to come.

    4.3   The Impossibility of Man without God

    The doctrine of God is the source of the doctrine of man. The doctrine of man cannot be separated from the doctrine of God. Man exists among men. Each man is one among many, who lives among responsive beings, whom he recognises and who are able to recognise him for what he is. He is able to give them this recognition only because each of them receives recognition from the source that is prior to all of them. Their circle is sustained by the life it receives from the being who is outside it and prior to it. But when man defies this, withholds acknowledgement from God, denies God, and attempts to be the source of his own being, he attempts to wrest life from those around him. Without acknowledgement of any reciprocity, no man can let any other man be, or concede him his own independent existence. Each wants the other to be only what fits the man who considers him. Without God, all life is an attempt to exert a relationship that is unilateral and so to dominate one another.

    But man may exist and hope to grow to maturity he stands in second place, turned to the one who is there before him. God is first. Whatever is first, is God. God is the basis on which there may be more than one, and on which there may be many. The priority of God is the basis on which there may be anything and everything. God makes it possible for each thing allows and enables it to be not-God, distinguishable from God, a distinct being. Man is second to this first. If man is first, nothing follows him or can exist distinct from him – all his creations are transient, and failing. No resources reach them from man, and so they fail and pass away. Man just does not stand on his own. Western ‘theology’ in which doctrine about (deistically-conceived) God always become secularist, that is, in revolt against Christian witness to God. The West continually lurches into heresies about secularism, in which a some conflict is identified between one group of human beings and another. God makes it possible for each being to recognise and be responsive to other beings, and so to be a person. 

    Treating other persons as things, that is, as mere functions purely of our own self-promotion and self-construction is the modern mode of life. We do not concede that we are not the first being, and thus we assert that we are alone, and that we must make ourselves alone. We are determined to make ourselves beings without relationship, without a society, without a context, without our place characterised by history or even by the natural world around us. We recoil from them and denounce them. We are averse to everything. We drive ourselves towards greater self-differentiation and separation, towards fragmentation and isolation. The stripping away of all relationships is what modernity is. It is the long cul-de-sac, into which the generations before us have marched us. We flinch and evince before whatever appears in front on us.

    But we may avoid the direction taken by our most recent generations, turn around, and retrace our steps and pick up the way taken by much earlier generations, who were content. We need to renounce the aversion and unhappiness, and rediscover the contentment and happiness and transmission and continuity from one generation to the next that can only be found through marriage and family life, and through the Christian culture that turns a society away from this despair and which can supply any society with a forward orientation, with confidence, anticipation and which in the Christian gospel goes by the name ‘hope’. In particular we can resist the stripping of men from women, and women from men, and of parents from children, the stripping of the present generation from the future generation. This stripping is what modernity is. It is a syndrome and a pathology. It is the determination not to acknowledge anything it does not construct. It hates the world it finds itself in, and in its place constructs ‘technology’, by which we attempt to increase the distance between ourselves, repudiate the demands of other people and frustrate their attempt to reach us. It is the machinery of distance-creation, intended to enforce our dominion. It is the determination to reduce everyone to the status of servants, and then assert that we do not rely on them but are sustained sheerly by our own will. 

    The Western intellectual tradition contains the resources of the apprenticeship by which man can rise to self-mastery. That tradition is which is the accumulated experience and insight of centuries, of those who followed took this course of those who did not. They contain the resources by which man can decide that the apprenticeship has no attractions, that such a course would be demeaning for him. So this apprenticeship can be conceal and so the ways blocked so others never find it.

    The education offered by schools and universities is composed of intimations of that apprenticeship, and so it directs us towards self-mastery for ourselves, and so enables each generation to hold together as a society and even to flourish. But they when they offer us only bowdlerised and abbreviated forms of that apprenticeship those educational institutions can also inoculate us against that great tradition, so that we never grasp the vastness of the apprenticeship, or realise that the self-mastery that it makes available, is required for the continuation and flourishing of that society.

    But in each generation the elite generation has by attempting to silence the chief proposition of the gospel which is that God holds them to account. God hears the distress of the neglected, of the silenced and the poor. God holds that elite accountable for them.

    That elite is determined to conceal from the poor that they can appeal over the heads of their rulers to God, and that God always hears them, and that they are never cut off from him. The elite has no absolute power; it is always on probation. The elite that attempts to conceal from the poor their true dignity, that does not want them to understand that God hears them, and that those who rule over them and belittle and silence them. Such an elite is running out of time. In every act of public worship, the Christian congregation repents on behalf of such rulers and encourages them to make this repentance for themselves. 

    The rich man says that he does not believe in God. His message is taken up by the entire intellectual class, by university humanities departments and professions. They do not believe God. No, of course not. Their job is to replace God, and so make themselves God, the sole arbiter. They can stand no limits. They must bust them. They must assert their own sheer and limitless will.  The job of the department of religion is to root out the heresy that is ‘belief in God’. They are unable to deal with the complexities of life shared with large numbers of other people. They are narcissists and hysterics, who having a breakdown.

    The victim is a bully. Those who seek power are the same people that are willing to surrender all their freedom and dignity in exchange for security. But this surrender doesn’t give them security. They are anxious and their fear makes them vengeful. They will take it out on you.  They see themselves as victims, and do not want to hear that they are not victims. They find this status comforting, for they want to be able to blame someone else for their misery. They seem to want to be pushed around, and they are amazed that you don’t want to be pushed around. They want to share with you the fellowship of the abused and traumatised. Willingly they surrender their sovereignty. But we cannot do so.  

    4.4 Rejection of the gospel – the claim of ‘Atheism’

    I believe… We believe…

    You may become a Christian. You may believe, that is, you may realize that things are as the gospel describes, and it brings with it power to change our minds. This realization may come to you. It can come if you want it. But the Lord takes his cue from you. He will call. If you call back, he will call again. He will step closer only with your consent, at least until the time at which he makes himself known to all. 

    Our knowledge of God must be a matter of our consent to what the Lord wants to show us, and therefore it is the function of our consent, our faith and readiness to believe. We are not confronted by a revelation that is so indisputable that it takes away our freedom. We can see nothing if we choose.  

    He could do no miracles there because of their unbelief – They didn’t want what he wanted to give them. They had given up, and though he waited for them to change their mind, they did not. They denied their own need

    The question is not whether God exists. The question is not whether there is God. it is whether there is man. God is the condition of possibility of there being man. It is God who brings each man together with and holds them apart, and so sustain their distinctiveness, so that they do not become a sludge. We may become men, and learn about other men, and recognise and honour and respect them, because God enables us to do this. God who is first companion, is the basis of give. He is the fundamental host. There is humanity and there are individual human beings because God makes this so. 

    The rebellion against God is our rebellion against our own best hopes. This rebellion is conceptual and deep, for the West long ago evacuated the concept of God, by imagining that God is a second god to man. God is a possibility, but man is a certainty, and as such is the judge and criterion of all other knowledge. God is at the edge, man at the center. In Europe Christianity took this hit below the water line four hundred years ago, when there was a Reformation, which was simultaneously a reform of the Church and return to faithfulness, and an overreaching and failure of faithfulness. The Church in Europe went through a Reformation that reformed and renewed. The bad Reformation imprisoned the proclamation of the Church within the bubble which has the individual – or the mind, idea, or the will – at its center ever since. It was a return to a Hellenistic idea of the soul imprisoned in a hostile world, and a step back from the idea of the Church as the gathering of God’s people. The individual was the criterion by which all things are judged, while God was out on the periphery. The implicit corollary later made an explicit claim that there is no God. This means that the term ‘God’ has no meaning, and may not be used, and so ‘God’ is simply the idea that you are not allowed to have, the impermissible thought. This is equivalent to saying that there is no judge, that is, there is no such thing as a judge, and thus that truth is through hostage to the will of the individual, or the political class or the regime. The solitary unaccountable will is supreme. Willpower, or simply power, is all there is.  The will of the individual is God. Sheer power is God.

    The claim that there is no God, no such thing as ‘God’ or a ‘god’, is simply a universal act of powerplay directed against us, by those who don’t want us to identify the claims they are making as divine claims, and as unjustifiable ones. They want their own claims to without challenge. They do not want us to demand that public justification of their claims. They do not want us to be able to say that they are making absolute and therefore divine claims. They simply do not want to be challenged, and so wish to deny us the conceptuality by which we can do so. The doctrine of God enables us to challenge and demand an account from those who wish to remain unaccountable. We say that no one is unaccountable. They may consider themselves so far above us, and consider us so far beneath them. We reply that they are making a claim to mastery, but their claim is false, but is only an expression of their own misery. They are making a claim to divinity, but no one is divine, except God alone, and God has made himself accountable to us. Only the God who has sent his Son, who took on and now bears our flesh and our humanity, is God. The God of Jesus Christ is the sole mediator for humanity, and who, and in providing for all our needs, is our Saviour. That is the gospel and that is the good news.

    Catechism 3/6 The Ten Commandments

    The Ten Commandments

    We may worship the true God

    I am the Lord your God who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shall have none other gods but me.

    God is the Lord. There is no other God and no other lord. 

    We may know God because he makes himself known to us. He makes himself known as the Lord who brought Israel out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, and as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He gives us this knowledge of himself.

    To know God is to worship and be in awe of him. It is to be incapable of suppressing expression of your awe. We cannot help ourselves, so awe bursts out of us, and is heard by those around us. 

    That God is God, is the foundation and the source of all truth, and thus also of the truth of man. Man is a living being. The life he has is God’s life, the life that God gives him and shares with him. Man is not a lifeless being, and not a self-subsistent being either: he is neither thing nor god. 

    To love God, express awe and so worship him, is simultaneously to do the very best thing for yourself and for those around you. For the fundamental requirement of all human interaction is that it takes place in truth, not in delusion. To understand that God is God, is the beginning of truth and the basis on which all human relationships may flourish. You may love and serve your neighbour, and love and serve your enemy, by letting this exclamation of the truth of God, and of the glory of God, flow from you, so that it dispels delusion and establishes truth.  

    The first commandment is our foundation. The nine that follow it are amplifications and exemplifications of the first. The second commandment tells us that there are no imitations or substitutes for God; the third, the that you cannot use God’s name or authority as your own and thus cannot make yourself a junior god; the fourth, that other people are not your property, so you cannot hold them captive, but must release them on the Sabbath; the fifth, that you must give your grateful acknowledgement that you have received all things from those prior to you, who are your parents, who taught and mediated this knowledge to you, so you acknowledge that you are not the source or master of it; the sixth, that no one derives their life from you such that you have authority to take it away from them, since you are not their god, for that would be murder; the seventh, that there may be no adultery, mixing, dilution, ambiguity, confusion, darkness or chaos, but only purity, simplicity and clarity, so that appearances do not deceive us; the eighth, that we may not steal; the ninth, that we do not bear false witness and so do not lie; and the tenth, that we master our desires, and do not desire what is not ours to have, and so remain content.

    The Commands tell us to give our worship to the true God, not to any other, and so not to make fake gods, and not to claim for ourselves the authority of God and make ourselves a rival to God. All the commandments that follow simply amplify this first commandment. Because God is our Lord, we are free. Any obligation or constraints that are not based in this truth, are false, invalid, and not binding. Our freedom from all other constraints is established by the acknowledgement that God is sovereign. As a result of his sovereignty, freedom is sovereign for us.

    Worship God …

      God must be worshipped. God is he who cannot not be worshipped.

      When you give your worship to the true God, you live in the truth, and many other things may become clear. When you withhold that worship, either believing in some other god, or in the belief that you worship nothing, so much more remains confused, contradictory and puzzling. The God you want is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who brought Israel out of Egypt, out of slavery and into the promised land, will do the same for you. The correct identification of God opens up to you a larger world. 

      Those who espouse atheism and agnosticism are, inadvertently perhaps, advocating for the unchallenged and unchallengeable power of the elite. Christianity say that the elite are attempting to make themselves gods. We use the concept of ‘god’ in order to challenge those who don’t want to be challenged, who are attempting to make themselves divine, putting terms so far above us that they cannot be called to account. Atheism is the resort of those elites who don’t want to hear any challenge from Christians, and who therefore want to belittle and take away the conceptuality by which we can make that challenge.

      • Do not worship any other being

      You must not worship or revere any other god. Other gods are idols, representations of God that are untrue. They have a power that is dangerous to us. Although these forces have no reality of their own, they still seem to us as compelling as any of the real forces of creation.

      ‘Pagan’ is the traditional name for those who do not worship God. They worship many gods or conceptions of God, but these are all just the products of their imagination. They are copies and they are fictions.   

      The pagans venerate these images and archetypes of their society. They idolise the strong man and adore the desirable woman. Pagans worship power. They worship power without truth, or goodness or beauty, and so without understanding the purposes to which power must be put. They do so without understanding that there are proper limits to power, and that self-control is needed to resist the temptations of power. They love power simply because it allows them to gain more, and to take away power away from others. Eventually their use of power without control will destroy whatever they touch, until finally they are also destroyed by it.  When it is uncontrolled by any other desire, the desire for power draws all things towards chaos and destruction. In their long-term effect, all pagan cults bring about the destruction of our civility and humanity.

      Those in authority uses the media to pump out a torrent of images, of fictional characters that represent passions and that meet in brief encounters. If you let it, this torrent may fill your imagination and displace all other real relationships. These images are pushed at you by those who want to keep you bewitched and malleable so that they can control you. Such images are carried into your awareness, your affections and life as on a conveyor belt, and at every moment as the gloss disappears from them, they are replaced by new ones. The powers behind the media want you to believe that these figures love you as truly as you love them, and forget that they are a performance designed to make you powerless. These figures are the gods of our age. As long as you watch and stay entranced you are caught in their cult, and you remain childish and helpless. You are giving your worship to pagan gods, whilst not realising that this is what you are doing, and in denial that this is what has happened to you. The powers of the present regime do not want you to become master of yourself. They want you to remain a slave. 

      • Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God…

      We may not claim to have the power of God. We may not say that our undertakings have the authority of God.  

      To make use of the name of the Lord is to claim to speak with ultimate authority. It is to suggest that you yourself have the authority of God. Do not claim that you have the Mandate of Heaven, or of History, or of Science. Do not claim that you are the Representative of the People or the Embodiment of the Nation or the Voice of the Future. All these are claims to be God. Do not take the name of the Lord in vain. If you claim such authority, you surely do so in vain. Your attempt will fail and bring you disaster. 

      Our contemporaries believe that the identity of things depends entirely on their knowledge and their will. Those in power believe that they can determine our identity for us, and that we have to accept their account of ourselves. They want us to recognise them as the spokesmen for reality, the infallible representatives of truth and science. They want us to acknowledge that they have authority. Though they do not want the absolute and cultic nature of their claims to become clear. They believe that they only have to acknowledge only what they are willing to acknowledge, so they don’t need to acknowledge either God or any reality whatever outside themselves. Their will is supreme: there are no other sources of authority.  They want to be our master and want us to be their prisoners and slaves.  

      The will to power is the fundamental principle of the modern era. Our contemporary pagans clamber up through media, government and every institution to win power over us. They want to decide what we may think. They want us to be interchangeable so they may freely employ us or discard us. They hate anyone who is able to hold out against them. They are at war with the Christian gospel because it enables us to think for ourselves.

      In order to defend ourselves against their constant, well-concealed, aggression we have to become familiar with our own history. We have to get to know the long experience of Christians in every generation who have held out against the powers of their own time, who have kept the faith, and passed Christian teaching down to us, even at the cost of their own lives. We have to revere these people who are the saints and the martyrs of the Church. Only the Church of faithful witnesses displays the wide range of talents that can make us servants of all and finally masters of ourselves. Only the life and experience of our Lord, that we now participate in, can turn a people from worship of power and consequent dissolution to worship of God and consequent blessing.

      • Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy…

      You can work for six days but on the seventh there must be rest. For six days you can send your workers out to work, but you must leave them on the seventh. They do not belong to you so their lives are not yours to dispose of. You have no authority to work them until they drop. There is no obligation on them on the seventh day, so do not prevent their release, or hold them back from worship of God. On that day they are free, and free of you.

      We are given authority to live with all other creatures and to interact with them in order to make our contribution to its beauty. We may work and do what is good. We may do this for ourselves, through our own labour, struggle and risk-taking. But we cannot coerce other people to work for us or force the land to produce without limit. 

      The Sabbath and Jubilee command that we live within the limits of what the world provides without depletion. But, by mineral extraction and over-farming we have been losing forests, soil and water systems, we have been turning the world into a desert and contaminating what remains to us. 

      The Sabbath is the coming together of all things, through the resurrection when death is overwhelmed by life, and so the start of the coming together of all broken parts, the reconciliation, restoration and completion of all things, the eschaton. 

      • Honour your father and your mother…

      We owe acknowledgement, first to our parents and their generation, to our teachers and local leaders, and then to our grandparents and their generation, and then to all the generations of our nation before them. They passed down to us whatever good practices we now rely on. They discovered them, recognised their goodness, taught and defended them and passed them on to us. We received these talents from them. We did not invent them for ourselves. We may receive what they offer us with gratitude. What they passed on us above all was the gospel with the entire package of Christian discipleship which alone enables us to grow up out of childhood and sullen adolescence, out of the bitterness and frustration of enforced servitude, to independence and maturity. They enabled us to aspire to self-mastery, and they taught us that this hope comes to us in Jesus Christ. We acknowledge that everything we have, we have received from someone who has worked for it, preserved it, kept it in good order for us and passed it on to us. For this reason, we honour our father and mother and all previous generations.

      Our predecessors intended to pass on to us all that would benefit us. We must do the same for our own successors. We must look for stability and permanency, not upset and rupture. Tradition and continuity are the basis of human society.

      We must honour our parents by giving them grandchildren, and so bring a new generation into being. We owe them life, but instead we have withheld life. Our generation has decided that the next generation owes us. We have put them in debt and like Pharoah, allowed them no Sabbath, no debt relief. We have not obeyed the wishes of our parents and so have not found our dignity through service to the next generation.

      The leaders of the present age want to divert our affection from our family to them, and so to replace our parents with themselves. They want us to accept their fiction as reality. Those who are convinced that they know better than their parents did suffer from a wilful blindness. Their effortless superiority, their determination to rip away our own roots, and do without the input of all previous generation tells us that they have set out to build their new world without considering whether they have the resources to do so. 

      Because it does not acknowledge its debt to past and to future generations, this generation has become idolatrous. It has attempted to avoid the bill for its expenditure by borrowing. It has lived by delaying the reckoning. As a result, disaster, demographic, cultural and economic, is coming.  

      • Do not murder…

      The life of every human belongs to God. It cannot be taken away without the formal judgment under the process of law by a man’s peers. 

      To take away the means of life is murder. To deny people the means by which they can support themselves and provide for their family, is murder at slower pace. Driving people out of public life, loading them with financial burdens and so impoverishing them so that they cannot take part in the life of the nation, is murder at its slowest.    

      Life has been withheld from us. The generation that does not pass on life to the next has raised itself above all other generations, past and future. It has taken life but it has not given it. It does not want to take its place in the succession of generations, and does not acknowledge its own createdness and mortality. It sees itself as the summit of history and so wants to stop time and make itself immortal.

      • Do not commit adultery…

      Do not introduce confusion. Do not mix or dilute or adulterate. Do not introduce copies and substitutes, do not replace the reality with mere images of it. Do not create ambiguity. Do not allow appearances to deceive us, so that everything is delivered to us mixed with its opposite, and nothing can be seen for what it is. Do not create ignorance, darkness or chaos. Ambiguity, confusion and any sense of the impermanence of our relationships are socially destructive. Instead establish purity, simplicity and clarity.

      Do not commit adultery. The basis of every society is the marriage of one man and one woman. Marriage establishes the equivalence and mutuality of one man with one woman. Marriage cannot be dissolved and no other form of partnership can substitute for it.  Marriage safeguards the formative years of new generation of children, which makes that society robust.

      Those in power want to rub out the differences given to us by nature and make us all equivalent and interchangeable. Their agenda is to dissolve all the things that make you unique, the first of which is your sex. They assert that there is no functional difference between male and female, but only complete interchangeability, so that every individual is functionally identical to every other, and any individual can be substituted for by any other.

      Modernity is simply hatred of the idea that there are any givens of nature, and that the powerful are not able simply to make and re-make us as they desire. 

      • Do not steal…

      We have been taking from our people their identity and dignity. We have not allowed them to receive what previous generations intended for them, and so they have not received what is owing to them. Their inheritance has been withheld and so they have been robbed.

      Each generation rightly demands that the next should pass on the life they have received. We must take from past and give to the future. What we have received, we may pass on to those who come after us.

      Our parents want us to pass on what we have received and so serve the next generation. They intended that we have children just as they did, and that we bring them up to adulthood so that they can do the same too. Our parents want us to be the servants of our children just as they were servants to us all through our childhood.

      But this transmission of life is now being suppressed. Transmission of life is what culture is, and it requires the knowledge, the attitudes and skills which enable this transmission. But our children have not received the culture that would tell them what they are due from us, and what they have to hand on to those who come after them. This culture has been taken from them and concealed by the very institutions, in particular educational institutions, responsible for that transmission.  It has been hidden from them, and as a result they are bereft and exposed. They do not have the moral, emotional or intellectual resources that would allow them to defend themselves from the constant incursions of those who want to rob us of our decision-making powers, of responsibility and of our sovereignty. This is how the holders of power hold the present generation to ransom.

      Debt is the way we put off paying mode of our obligations to the past and the future. It is the form in which we repress and disguise our obligations to the generations before and after us. It is the form in which we hold and consume for ourselves what should go to them. It is usury, and it is theft.   

      Debt takes from those with little and left them with less. It has given most to those who already had most. It has taken all financial security from the middle class and turned them into an insecure and frightened people. It has made the poor destitute. All the fissures in the nation have opened so the gap between top and bottom has widened into a chasm. It has taken away that social mobility which gave each of us the hope of improvement, that hope which is the constant gift of the gospel and which gives us our motivation and confidence  

      Bank credit effectively brings future spending power into the present. Debt repayments to banks destroy money. This means that the credit which enables commerce is withdrawn and customers have neither credit or currency with which to make a purchase, so that they are unable to buy and none of us can make a living. Our entire economy is being plundered and emptied out by our financial class and the power-seekers who have only contempt for us because they do not fear God.

      • Do not give false testimony…

      Be true witnesses. Live not by lies. Reject the delusions that keep people fearful, and pass on the good tradition you have received.

      The gospel is the source of public speech. We may speak freely and so make whatever suggestions seem best for our nation. The gospel is source and guarantor of the public realm in which anyone may offer ideas, and in which we give a hearing to other people, and are prepared to consider their proposals. We do not set out to silence anyone. We do not regard anyone as beneath us, and do not consider ourselves beyond challenge.  We concede that the truth is sovereign, and the truth may make itself clearer to us through a multitude of voices, including those not we do not welcome. If we suppress them, and put ourselves forward as sole arbiters and possessors of the truth, we give lie. If the authorities are telling us lies, and we do not speak out, we are complicit because we share in testimony that is false.

      Our generation is being told a lie. We are told that we should lift ourselves above all other people. If you wanted to destroy the happiness of a people, follow our current formula: remove yourself as far as possible from the natural world; repudiate the continuity of your culture; believe you are wise enough to do whatever you happen to want and not only get away with it, but have a right to it and a right to silence those who disagree; minimise the role played by a common body of belief; actively attack and dismantle every social structure as a potential source of oppression; and reject the idea of a transcendent set of values.

      We give false testimony when we reduce education to indoctrination and homage to the state, which represents our determination to avoid responsibility and adulthood and freedom. We give false testimony when we bail people out and maintain their delusions, so they never have to face the consequences of their actions and so become morally mature. False testimony keeps them in immaturity, for it takes the power of judgment away from them. The whole discipline of modern economics is just about removing ethics and moral judgment, and acting as though we were in a mechanistic system and so under fate.

      The delusions of the current age are maintained by arrogance that does not allow truth to be uttered. These delusions allow the arrogant to remain unaccountable and secure themselves against risk, and express their contempt for those who withstand and defy them and testify to the truth against them. 

      The true testimony is that is truth, judgment, accountability and justice. There are long-developed codes which enable us to say what is good and just, and this code is given to us in Christian teaching and in the culture, morality and law that that have developed through each nation’s reception of that Christian teaching. The fundamental act that establishes our freedom is the gathering and worshipping of the Christian community shaped by this revelation and this teaching. In the fundamental act of free speech, the act that founds and sustains the public square, this community proclaims that only God is God, and that without the authority of God all claimants to power others are dangerous, delusory, parasitical, lordless powers. The God-worshipping community makes its stand, raises its voice and gives its witness to what is true, good and right.

      Do not covet

      Self-restraint must govern our desires. Desire without limit is idolatrous. Without self-control, with absolute surrender to our passions and to those who are able to manipulate them, there is only misery.

      We have been consuming the material resources that future generations may need. We have written ourselves promissory notes, and so created the debt that binds future generations. We have spent resources without understanding their limits, unconcerned about what we have left for those who come after us.  

      Our society has decided not to admit to its own mortality or acknowledge that we are under an obligation to pass life on to our children and successors. We have not decided which desires are good and pursued them only. We have pursued every desire without discrimination. The result has been resource exhaustion, loss of relationship to our own land and ecology, and deracination and dispossession. We have created an utterly dependent and vulnerable proletariat in cities, in countries that have to import their power, not fed by their own national agriculture but on food imported from continents away.

      We have to decide between desires, to give up some in order to purse others, in order to achieve self-control. A man seeks wisdom by being educated in the traditions and formed by the disciplines of his culture. He may demonstrate courage, justice and good judgment, wisdom and self-restraint. He may master his passions. He not just the helpless victim of his appetites for he intends to be a responsible being, not just a man out-of-control and endlessly manipulatable. A man is independent when he is able to provide for himself. A man whose needs are provided by others cannot claim he is independent. When the needs of a society are provided by populations of migrants, slaves, prisoners, underpaid factory workers, clients and colonies, that society is not independent. When everything is provided for us, we are helpless babes, and when our demands and desires are not met fast enough, and we are enraged, our helplessness becomes so embarrassingly obvious, that we are further enraged. We are that man so lacking in self-control that he is pitiable. But the man who hears the command of God, and understands that he is summoned to maturity and adulthood, will take up the discipline that can bring him self-mastery, and so he will grow up into the sovereignty that God intends to share with us. 

      The Commandments express the sovereignty of man with God

      The first commandment is the foundation of human life. It alone enables man to grow towards maturity and self-mastery and so become civil and humane. This commandment, to worship the one God who reveals himself in Christ and in his people Israel. It has become fundamental for those societies shaped by the gospel, and which we came to call the West. That Christian culture enabled those societies to spread beyond Europe and around the world, briefly creating a global political culture and economy. But without the continuing, living witness of a faithful Church renewing that culture, that culture has become moribund and has not renewed those nations. As a result, they have lost their identity as living political nations, in which each individual is sovereign, responsible, and so accountable to his fellow countrymen. They have become part of a totalitarianism that is everywhere, a universal bullying and childishness, where no moral obligations, and no sources or limits are acknowledged. The ascent to maturity stalled, became bogged down and has been abandoned. But it lives and it continues wherever God is worshipped, wherever the first commandment is celebrated, and the creed is repeated.

      Christianity represents the possibility of human maturity, and sets out the conditions of its realisation.  Our self-mastery comes to us from God. It is the self-mastery of God, shared with us, so that it is really his and really ours. Let us turn to one another every new day and say ‘Let us begin with what we know to be true…’. Let every Christian all the faithful Church say together, ‘Our Father, which art in heaven….’ And ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord your God is the only God…’, and ‘I believe in one God, the Father almighty…’

      Catechism 2/6 The Lord’s Prayer

      2. The Lord’s Prayer

      Christians say what our Lord taught us to say. We use the words that he used. He stood in our place, and spoke these words, and as we repeat them, and make whatever petitions and requests occur to us, we stand behind him, and are members of his company. His identity becomes ours too. We are drawn into the conversation, of Father and Son, until we participate in their life and become the son who can say ‘Father’. 

      Our Father who art in heaven…     

      The Lord has us sons and heirs who can speak to you as to our father, using Father as your name. You respond to each of us as you child. What we have comes from you to us, personally and directly.  

      God is Father and Jesus Christ is the Son. He has now brought us into this sonship, so that we may stand with Jesus and call God, ‘Father.’ Our relationship to God is person to person and intimate. Since Christ has told us to use Father as his Name, we have Christ’s confidence to stand before God, and before all the powers and authorities in creation, and to speak. As the Lord speaks to us, we can hear and reply and make our wishes known to him, person to person. 

      The Lord tells us to make these seven requests: 

      Hallowed be thy name….

      Thy kingdom come…                                                                    

      Thy will be done, on earth as in heaven…

      Give us this day our daily bread…

      And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us….

      Lead us not into temptation

      And deliver us from evil

      In these seven requests we ask that Godmake known the holiness of his name, and so make it known that he is our lord; that he asserts his rule, his reign or kingdom, so we are not subject to the rule of others. We ask that he make clear the goodness of his intentions for us; that he enables us to provide for ourselves and one another; that he forgives and releases us from the consequences of our actions and so gives us a new start; that he does not allow us to be tested beyond what we can bear, and that he delivers us from evil and from evil men.

      Hallowed be thy name….

      We ask the Lord to make himself known to us. We ask him to show us who he is. He can make himself known to us, so that we are able to grasp his identity in its all uniqueness and distinctiveness. He hallows his name, that is, he makes his holiness evident, so we can acknowledge that there is no one like the Lord, that he is without peer and without parallel. He is the only Lord. Though there may be other authorities, none of them is holy. 

      The Lord has made his name known to us through all the patriarchs and prophets of Israel, and at last, in Jesus Christ, he has made it known fully and definitively. We ask him to reveal his holiness more and more so that we may increasingly grasp the claims he makes on us and live only in the light of the truth, so that we can learn for ourselves what is true, so we can explore and make discoveries, and so we can see what is right and good. To say that God is holy is to say that he is entirely himself, and also that he is so for our sake. The best favour he can do for us is to be himself, and aid us to acknowledge his holiness and so to hallow his name.

      Thy kingdom come…                                                                             

      We ask the Lord to establish his leadership, his rule, and his justice for us. We ask him to take power away those regimes and ideologies that intend to control us and to save us from the leaders that tyrannize us and which want us to obey them as though they were gods.  

      Thy will be done, on earth as in heaven…

      We ask the Lord to carry to completion his good will for us. His desire is for our good. The Lord has higher ambitions for us than we do for ourselves. He intends to redeem and perfect creation, by uniting earth to heaven, so that the glory and holiness of heaven comes to all creatures and fills creation. 

      Heaven is the company God surrounds himself with. He summons them, they come and take their place around him. This company is waiting to receive us. They point us to him, and they point us to our place in that company. Heaven is the company that lives in the truth. In this assembly all is revealed. Nothing is concealed. We cannot keep our past out of sight. Everyone will see everyone for who they are. All of them will share the goodness, the truth and the beauty of the whole company of heaven, which represent the good will of God for us

      Give us this day our daily bread…

      We ask the Lord to give us what we need. The Lord knows what our needs are, and he supplies them. He does not supply them to us all at once, but delivers them to us through time as we are able to receive and employ them. What he gives us are simply resources but also opportunities. He gives us openings through which, if we take them and act well, our agency increases. Good decisions make still better decisions possible. He has created this world in order to provide for us. We must ask him, and take what he gives us, confident of its goodness. 

      We want to be content with what we have. We ask for what is sufficient for this time. We do not want to accumulate or to consume more than is good either for us or for the world that provides us with these resources. 

      We give thanks for our place in this material creation, for the particular characteristics of our own country and its land. By our creation, we are given a place in this material creation. We have bodies, which must grow and work, and feed and rest. With our bodies we can live and work together, share what we have and enjoy life together. We give thanks for these bodies of ours, for the place that is home to us, and our ability to work and bear children who will continue what we have started when we are gone, and so we can give thanks for our place in a history and in the work of creation. 

      We do this in a world in which others are not confident about their bodies or their needs, and who are not able to trust or share with one another. They are in flight from materiality. They are afraid of labour. They are afraid that there will not be enough resources if they do not seize them for themselves and conceal them from us. They are afraid to go out into open air, to discover the healthy unpredictability of their natural environment. They are afraid to commit to the work by which they can support themselves and provide for others. They want to make themselves as disembodied as they can in order to evade one another. They seek to separate themselves from us, and want us to become as fearful of the materiality of creation as they are.

      Christians give thanks for our givenness to one another, made available to one another by our bodies and by the material means of life that sustain them. We accept that all resources come to us in time, and so daily, and come to us as gifts created by the work of many other people, and that all of them aspects of God’s gift to us of creation. So we ask for, and we give thanks for, our daily bread.

      And forgive us our trespasses….

      We ask the Lord to release us from one another. We ask him to take away from us the excessive power that we have exercised over other people, and so release them from our grip, and let them forgive us the excess or the deficit that we have imposed on them.

      We trespass when we exceed our authority. For fear that we would not have enough, we have taken more than we needed. We have consumed in excess and have insisted on a standard of living that we are unable to sustain. 

      We may al confess and repent on behalf of the powers that be. They have trespassed against us, and we can help them to acknowledge this by saying what needs to be said, and by admitting the offence that has become too difficult for them to admit to. We can invite them to acknowledge that all our civic and national life and economic prosperity come from the culture that the gospel has brought into being. We can invite them to stop damaging our nation by their attack on that culture by ending their defiance of God.

      We have become used to having limitless power at our disposal and are reluctant to adjust to a lower and more sustainable use of power. When we acknowledge that we have exceeded our authority we may discover a more realistic way of life. We confess this, and bed that that our trespassers are forgiven, and the damage we have caused is made good. 

      Forgive us our debts….

      We live under various obligations. We have a commitment to our parents, grandparents and all the generations whose lives and work have contributed to the prosperity we now enjoy. They have a claim on us, and we are in debt to them. They want us to have children and work in order to bring those children up to adulthood. They are determined that we should pass on what we have received and so serve the next generation and the continuity of the nation. All previous generations want us to understand that we have to pass on the life we have received. Our obligation is moral and demographic. This is the debt we must pay, and for which we must be forgiven if we cannot pay it. We pray for forgiveness and a new start and a chance to do what we have not yet done.

      In this prayer we acknowledge this ongoing debt of service, that links us together in families and over generations, and through the world-wide supply of goods and services. This is debt is concealed. We may assume that it is fair and possible for our own children to service the debt obligations we have placed on them. But those debt obligations now far exceed the ability of the next generation to pay. We may assume that the workers in those countries that supply goods to us are adequately paid for them. But they may not be. They may never have the prosperity we have enjoyed.

      We need to give up the assumption that governments take care of the general welfare, and that they will provide for us what we do not provide for ourselves. We are under an obligation to care, first for our children and the next generation, and then for our own parents and those who once cared for us. We ask the Lord to give us the means to provide for those nearest to us and so pay our debt to them.  

      Our refusal to seek judgment and ask for forgiveness has allowed our generation, and our governments, to assure us that we are not in debt, that we have trespassed, that we have earned our riches, and we are not under obligation to anyone for them. They have led us to believe that we are rich, and are entitled to all we possess. They assure us that we don’t really have to work ourselves, that we do not have to pick up tools, go out into our fields and cultivate our own crops. Anyone who does not do so, believes that other people will always work for him, in ways disguised by long supply chains and the complex division of labour. They believe that the energy necessary for an industrial economy will always be there to power industry, even if that industry is now invisible to us on other continents. They believe that they will never have to do this themselves directly. All this is delusory. We have trespassed and we are in debt, and our dignity depends on us seeking judgment about the truth of our position. 

      Lead us not into temptation… 

      ‘Temptation’ means ‘testing’. Testing is what we undergo in hard times, when we are unable to control what is happening to us, and when our confidence and security are gone. We ask the Lord not to test us beyond what we can bear, not allow us to be pushed beyond our breaking point. 

      The Lord promises that we will not be tempted beyond what we can endure. We will not be broken, but we will be made stronger by all experience that God allows to come to us. By enduring, we become stronger.

      Christians are being tested, and must endure. We are undergoing a trial and persecution. Wedges are being forced in, dividing us and blinding us from the overwhelming number of ends and purposes that we as humans do actually share, such as respect and family, and the struggle to prevent our powers from being removed and the fruits of our work being taken away from us.  

      Some are in such a panic to secure their position, and refuse to accept any drop in their standard of living. They are turning away from the rest of the nation, ready to abandon the rule of law and our way of life. Many people are willing to fall into line with the latest emergency measures, perhaps believing that such measures will affect others but not them, or that the situation will change and the crisis disappear.

      The centralisers may mistakenly believe that they will survive any conflict. But they are betraying their own people, and breaking the rule of law that protects them as well as us, and the national cohesion that means that we do not regard one another as enemies.  We must go through these trials and can do so if the Lord gives us the means to withstand them.  

      We can ask the Lord to identify the temptations on us, and so show us how we are under attack. Temptations always present themselves as new and attractive, though they are always old, and they represent an attempt to take our decision-making away from us and so to disempower us.

      It took many generations of hard-lived Christian discipleship for our culture to emerge. This culture gave previous generations the qualities of self-restraint, public accountability and responsibility, and of the rule of law. But it will not take generations to destroy and lose this culture. It takes even less time to create economic chaos, suspend the rule of law, put in a state of emergency, suspend civil rights and end political stability. If we allow this to happen economic confidence, stability and prosperity will not come back in our lifetime.  We must therefore resist temptation. We are being tested. We must be ready to say, ‘We must obey God rather than man’ (Acts 5.29).

      But deliver us from evil

      We ask the Lord not to send us into the time of trial. We ask him to rescue us from the hostile powers that have a hold over us.

      Do not let us compromise or arbitrate between God and any other power. Do not let us test our strength against the Lord, or make him wait, or imagine we can hold out against him or defy him.  

      We ask the Lord to deliver us from evil men, and to prevent us from being so taken over by this evil that we ourselves become one of those evil men.

      How can we know what is good and what is evil? What is evil? Evil is whatever causes the destruction of man and creation. How can we know what is good? We can learn what is good by following the Commandments the Lord has given us.

      The governments and institutions of our time have overreached. They have too high view of their own authority. They do not acknowledge that they are not the source of their authority; they refuse to acknowledge the real source of their authority, or acknowledge the limits of their authority. They are unable to acknowledge or respect anything that they have not made. Those leaders, institutions and political classes that do acknowledge the source and limits of their authority are good: they understand that they are accountable, they underhold the rule of law, and will enable that settlement to continue for another generation. Those leaders, institutions and political class that do not acknowledge the source and limits of their authority are evil: they pursue power without reference to public well-being, evade responsibility, undermine the rule of law and make it unlikely that peace will continue for another generation. Their overreach will divide and destroy that nation.

      Christians are witnesses of the increasingly totalitarian response of our political class to the unmanageable systemic contradictions that they have created and concealed. Christians have to withstand the pressures such regimes put upon us. We must learn how to challenge and resist them and avoid getting caught up in their schemes. Through enduring whatever suffering they inflict on us, we can grow and develop the character of Christ. The nation will regrow once the Church has recovered its voice, and by offering our lives, given its true witness to the world.

      For thine is the kingdom…  

      ‘Kingdom’ means the rule. A country is rational, peaceful and prosperous when under the rule of law. The law is supreme when there is a consensus that justice is fundamental, and that justice depends on truth, and that the discovery of the truth depends on public examination and judgment, and so on courts with powers of enforcement. It depends on our understanding that the law is master, and so that the law is above the monarchy, the government, the party, the media and every other section and interest. The law is not whatever the present government decides. The law is the summarised accumulated experience of many generations about what makes life possible and so of what things have to be ruled out in order to keep life tolerable. The jurisdiction we have inherited has been formed by generations of Christian discipleship and learning. In this jurisdiction everyone is equal under the law; justice is performed in public and the powerful are held to account. God is acknowledged to be the source of true authority. He is the good judge, who can see through all deceit to uncover the truth, and release all who have been held captive by the falsehoods of powerful people and regimes. 

      …the power

      God starts, continues, endures and completes his work. All power comes from the Holy Spirit, and is to be used for good. God exercises his power with a patience that outlasts all resistance.

      …and the glory… 

      Glory is the revelation of the truth. It enables the proper recognition and acknowledgement of reality, that is unafraid and does not shun the whole truth in its fullest dimensions

      Christianity has given us the highest account of human being. Man is given his glory by God. God raises man. In particular he glorifies the poor, who have received no glory from any other source. Those who had none, are given glory. ‘He has put down the mighty their seat and has exalted the humble and meek. He hath filled the hungry with good things and the rich he hath sent empty away…’ 

      Jesus Christ has gathered around him a people, who are present and recognisable in every place as his Church. He regards his people as his glory. From this people come the Christian and discipleship and skills that form the culture which sustain any society that receives it. This culture brings peace in nations and between them, so that, precariously, a civilisation may emerge. This civilisation has a glory that comes from Christ.  The Christian people encourage us not to give in to fear and despair but to respond to the call of God, to discover the dignity intended for us, and to join them in prayer to God our Father.   

      As it was, is now and ever shall be, world without end…

      Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever. He is the source and founder of our humanity. Those who refuse to give glory to God despise our Christian forebears, conceal our history and attempts to destroy our national culture and memory. Driven by envy, they hold out against the gospel, belittle our people and want us to despair. Christians oppose them. We declare in public that authority, power and glory belong to God, that they come to us from God and that we must return them so that he can refresh and restore them for us. We say simply that the Lord is God, and that God is our Father. We give thanks to God. It is in acknowledging what we receive from him, and that it is indeed him that we receive it from, that we truly receive it.

      From the practice of saying this prayer the Christian community has learned to give thanks in all circumstances. Thankfulness is our fundamental characteristic. The people and nations that absorb this thankfulness also develop a fundamental contentedness that enables them to endure frustrations and stay at peace with one another. From the petitions of the Lord’s prayer, we learn that God is ready to give what we need and to take away what we cannot cope with. He will take us through difficult hard times and keep us company, so that we do not face them without him, whose self-mastery is constantly available to us to draw on, and that at last we will overcome and arrive with him at the perfect sonship. 

      For a second account of the Lord who makes this possible, and who is our Lord, we turn to the Ten Commandments and so to fundamental statement of the gospel, and fundamental proposition of all Christian teaching, that only God is God, and he is our God, God for us. This is the first commandment. The nine that follow are amplifications of the truth of the first, that God is the Lord. The Lord is God. The ten commandments orient us so that we are the people who know this and have authority to declare it. We are true recognisers of God, who has given his recognition to us. We have received glory from him and so we give glory to him. 

      Catechism 1/6 The Hope of Self-mastery

      The gospel in four short statements 

      This catechism sets out four brief statements that summarise the gospel. We will look at the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, the Creed and the Blessings of the Sermon on the Mount. Two of these are recited when Christians gather together in worship.

      We set out the gospel by saying both what it is, and what it is not. We say what it offers us and what it protects us from. We show how it different it is from its rivals and from all caricatures of it.

      The gospel is a greeting, sent to us by Christ, who introduces himself in it.  The gospel tells us that someone who we did not know, but who knew us, is introducing himself to us. From this moment we may know him, and through him we may know one another too, and so at last come we may also come to know ourselves.  

      The gospel introduces us to the particular person, Jesus Christ, the Son whom God has set before us. Everything Christians that have ever said, tells us about him, and tells us about ourselves in relation to him. He is the one person who is able to face us in complete truth. The gospel appears in a world full of rival messages, most of which are not honest about their claims about man or God. As we discover the gospel, we realise that none of these rivals is able to show us the very high dignity of man that Jesus Christ reveals to us, in which each person may become master of themselves. 

      1. Our Calling – Summoned to maturity
        1.  God is with us

      We have a companion. God is that companion. We are not on our own and do not wish to be. We want to find any person can give us some recognition. We ourselves cannot be that other person. That person someone else, someone who is not us. God is that person, distinct from ourselves, who is able to give us that recognition and who can acknowledge our own distinct identity. Only another person can confirm that we are truly an independent person. Only someone other than ourselves can establish that we that we exist not only in our own imagination, but in truth. We exist, and we inhabit a world, which exists independently of us, and which is comprised of other beings, who are freely able to acknowledge us. It is not us who decides on the existence of other beings, and we cannot deny their existence or withhold life from them. They are not a figment of our imagination, so we have to come to terms with them.

      God is with us. This is the truth about mankind. When we acknowledge this, we have made a good start. When we evade this truth, everything becomes problematic. God’s wish is to do good for us. He offers us company, a particular company of persons within which we can truly be ourselves. There are voices other than our own; they can respond to us and we to them. They can find us, make us welcome and we can be glad to be with them.  

      God sets before us a world full of persons who are able to be good company for us, and to supply us with what we desire. They are the generosity of God to us. Whoever turns away from this generosity not only turns himself away from God, but turns away from his own true self, and from everyone who could acknowledge him and be glad of him. Anyone who attempts to live without God will push away all very people who God presents to him. If persists in turning away everyone he meets and refusing the entire company that God has been sending him, he will never grow up to maturity and never become a person able to recognise and be glad of other persons. 

      We diminish ourselves when we regard other persons as unworthy of us or acknowledge only those who reflect our own claims. We diminish ourselves when we decide that other men are too unacceptably different from ourselves, and see them only as the poor, whom we can disregard or despise. We diminish ourselves when we try to make ourselves master and oblige other people to become our servants. 

      Without God, man is a threat to all others around him. If he is not willing to accept his place in the society of men, he reaches for power over them. He attempts to make others into his creatures who must serve and fawn over him, and so makes himself a tyrant. To build his power, he makes ever stronger claims about himself until, for those around him, he is claiming an absolute power. Over time every unchallenged political ideology becomes a religious cult. By attempting to put himself above all others, so that he is no longer accountable to them, that man is attempting to make himself godlike. But he only succeeds in turning truth to fakery for those who have surrendered themselves to him. His claims are fraudulent, his power is only the power of the delusion.  

      If we try to rub away the image of himself that his creator, the true God, has placed in us, we turn ourselves into a monster. This snatching and stealing of what has not yet been given to him is how we turn ourselves into that most miserable being, a god who is fake. Then we are the plaything of all desires, emotions and forces that roar around us and in the world of our creation. The self-exaltation over all others, our rejection of those whom we might have received as companions, the trampling of the powerless and making them hostages to our dictatorship, all this is the way we abase ourselves and bring ourselves to ruin. Without God, we are not ourselves, but only the creature of the many forces that manipulate us. Yet despite all our efforts to separate ourselves from one another and from him, God does not abandon us so we are not utterly on our own.

      1.2 The one true master

      The gospel reveals that the one true master of himself is Jesus Christ. He has reached complete self-mastery, so he is able to withstand all powers and pressures. No one put him under any obligation or compel him to do anything. Whatever he does, he does freely for himself. Freely, Christ has turned to us and put himself into our service. He offers us this hope of self-mastery, and he proposes to accompany us through the course by which self-mastery is gained. Together with him, we can stop being the helpless victims of forces outside our control, pushed around first by our own passions and then by the passions of all those others who want to direct and control us. They intend to overcome our self-control, and take control of us. But with Christ, who has perfected self-mastery, we can hope to become free, and remain free, of them all. With Christ, we can be freely with other people. We can be their companions, and allow them to become our companions, not because we are under any compulsion, but because we are glad to do so. We can decide for ourselves to give them our recognition and to serve them. We can love them, and we can allow ourselves to be loved by them, without fear and without reserve. This hope, of companionship with love and freedom, comes to us from God. We may receive it through Jesus Christ and so through the gospel by which he presents himself to us, and the one person who can in complete freedom, give us the recognition and affirmation we are looking for. 

      1.3 Self-mastery

      We want to be independent persons, mature and socially competent. We want to be able to establish relationships, and sustain them, and not become trapped by them. We want to control our emotions, overcome our fears, be confident and open to new experience.

      We want to love and to be loved. We do not want to be deceived, betrayed or pushed around. We want to know the truth. We want to explore and discover the world around us and understand every relationship in it.

      We want to learn how to develop this competence and maturity, so we are looking for the culture which will teach us these skills. We want to know how to manage our emotions and develop self-control. We want to be able to endure the aggression directed against us without becoming provoked. We want to remain constant whatever the pressures on us, so we are not simply pushed along by the changes going on around us. We are looking for an apprenticeship that will enable us to become prudent, humane and civil. It will develop in us the strengths we need, which will become second nature to us. We want this apprenticeship because we want to become fully independent and competent, and so fully adult at last.  

      1.4 The Gospel gives us self-mastery

      The Gospel makes adulthood possible. It states that it is possible to live well by living in relationship with other people, without limit. We live well by acting for the good of all those we encounter. We can work for them, and we can decide to do so freely, not under compulsion. We can find our freedom by following this vocation to serve whoever is willing to accept our service. We can make ourselves their servants, and as far as is right within each relationship, we can say and do what seems to us to be best for them. They may regard us as their servants by right, as though we are obliged to do this, but we need not feel any resentment. We know we are well-served by Christ, and his service to us powerful and limitless, so our identity is never threatened by the obligations that others attempt to place on us. We have no reason to feel envy or resentment. They may treat us poorly, but Christ treats us richly. There is no ultimate threat to us. Freedom comes through finding our contentment in this service, and as Christ gives us the strength for such service, we also go through all those challenging experiences which build in us the self-control, the patience, and all that is part of the adulthood we need. Our independence and self-mastery grow through difficult encounters and trials, not through trying to avoid them.

      The gospel tells us that the various strengths and social competence of which life consists, are offered to us. The people who have these gifts are ready to share them with us, and we can receive them as they are given to us, freely. We can learn them from the witnesses that Christ sends us, the people whom he has called and trained through the suffering that they have been through with him, through which they have acquired his holiness. Christ has prepared them to be witnesses to us. They are his holy ones, and their fellowship is the communion of saints.  

      Christ has perfected self-mastery. He has not been mastered by hatred. He has endured the fury of the world and yet not given way to that fury, and not given up on the world. His love for us has not been overcome by our hatred of him. He has mastered all the passions, so that his passion for us is his sole passion. He has become the true measure of man; he is the criterion of maturity and independence, and so of humanity. Christ offers to share his self-mastery with us by accompanying us through the training by which we may overcome our own passions, and so become masters of ourselves.

      All strengths and competence are aspects of one life, and this life comes to us through the person who wants to share them with us. When we take what he gives, we gain life from him, and so we participate in the life that is his. We gather from him the virtues that we learn through living, so his life can become our life.

      All the people we come across are presented to us by Christ. They are given to us as a gift, and as a puzzle and a challenge. Coming to terms with them involves us in a passion in which we have to control our own envy and resentment, leave behind our whatever is immature and unholy and, through pain and embarrassment, discover what is mature.  Each of them is the means by which Christ intends us to discover what is holy, develop new self-control, and so grow towards the true freedom and maturity. Through each encounter, Christ holds out to us the qualities that are his, and which would make us adequate to serve and remain free and content in this service. Each new relationship he opens present us with painful decisions. Doing what is right within each relationship is sometimes so fiercely resisted that it becomes an agony. We have to endure this passion so that our own desires may turn towards what is holy. We are being sanctified.  

      Through following him we may come to realise that all these persons are all sent to us by him, and so are his gift to us. Our interaction with them is the way his strengths transfer themselves to us and may become internalised within us.

      Christ is able to make us fully adult, fully ourselves, fully independent, and yet fully social, confident and competent among all other people. His life communicates itself to us, so that it becomes ours, and then, through us, transfers itself again onwards to others. He makes all relationships possible for us. Christ is what it is to be fully a person, independent and mature. He extends his own personhood to us in order that we may become as self-controlled and therefore free as he is. The adulthood we seek is available to us from him, and through the challenge of every demanding relationship, we may learn to take to take it from him.

      1.5   The Christian apprenticeship

      Christian discipleship is the route to maturity. The route is a steep climb, it is winding and it never appears to end. Christianity is the glory of that mature human being who, in perfect self-mastery, is limitlessly able to love and serve whomever he encounters. The gospel is the voice of the Lord who accompanies you on that route, and on each step waits for you, until you finally stand with him at the top. The Christian community is the reinforcements of the saints that he puts around you to keep you company and keep you strong and single-minded on the way. They will pop the bubbles of delusion that might otherwise mislead and divert you off your path. 

      Christianity is the route to follow; it is the sequence of exercises that will make you strong; it is the strengths and the skills that develop through those exercises, and it is the good company of those who accompany you through those tests along that route. They are there to encourage you so you see that every difficulty, all resistance, and every opponent who seems to block you, are part of those exercises that, when you stick with them, will develop that self-mastery in you. The people who follow this route, and endure the opposition of those who want to block them, will become a robust people. Their presence will encourage that society away from the viciousness of pagan life, trapped in cycles of retribution and violence, and make it a society that understands how to seek reconciliation, limit damage, and create peace.

      Maturity comes as you learn the skills of self-control. By mastering your passions, you become master of yourself. As you become master of yourself, you no longer submit to the power claims of those you are afraid of, and you stop trying to make yourself master of others. You are not so easily pushed around by the forces around you or unsettled by your own responses to them.

      With Christ, we learn how to separate ourselves from the regimes and ideologies that intend to belittle us and control us. Their agenda is to prevent us from growing up into greater self-mastery.  Our sin is to attempt to prevent other people from growing up and becoming masters of themselves; we sin when we frustrate their desire to make their own discoveries, to take initiatives, work for themselves and become publicly vocal and articulate. We sin when we conceal from them the apprenticeship in human dignity that is taught by the great Christian tradition, by which all previous generations have learned their various degrees of self-mastery, through which they have raised their aspirations, and demanded to know the truth.

      When this Christian experience is not publicly voiced, the regime of the day imposes its own agenda. It wants to keep people down. It belittles people and prevents them from growing to personal and political maturity. It makes a living out of them. It is always extracting an income from them by confiscating what they have worked for and they do this while claiming that their own services to the nation are indispensable. 

      Those who reject the apprenticeship do not want to learn self-mastery. They do not intend to control themselves. They want mastery and dominion. We may want to escape our present childishness, but they want to preserve our childishness, our naivety and helplessness. They want to hold us back whilst they climb over us, and extract whatever they can from us. They don’t feel any affection for us but only want keep us at a safe distance. They want to use some of us to control the rest. They want to divide us, so that some of us act as their police force. They want us to become bullies just as they are bullies, so we respond to the bullying we receive by bullying those beneath us. They want us to identify with them, copy them, and wish to please the persecutor who despises us. This is our sin, the ruinous tangle of falsified relationship and power-claims that have enveloped the world in delusion. We have done this to ourselves and to one another. Only God can save us. The gospel that is Christ’s first word of greeting comes to us just as we are bound and made powerless by these conflicting claims on one another. With him, and by his power, we can participate in his mastery of himself. The true master of himself can redeem us from our proliferating false claims to mastery of one another. He can make us social beings, able to face one another without submission or domination. This master has come to us, and has taken us on. The gospel that announces and accomplishes this salvation comes to us as good news. He saves us and so we are saved.

      1.6  The Gospel creates the open society

      A mature society emerges as its members exercise enough self-mastery, who are willing to work, to wait, to endure delays and set-backs, snubs, who can live with unsatisfactory compromises and a shared understanding level of shared humane and civil behaviour emerges

      The gospel offers a society the skills and practices that bring about reconciliation. Reconciliation allows damage to our social fabric to be repaired and losses to our social capital to be made up. If a society knows how to restore what has been damaged, it will continue, and can prosper. It responds to each offence and injury by taking steps to achieve reconciliation. The gospel gives a society the means of reconciliation, and those societies that have been shaped by the gospel are constantly restored and renewed by these practices. In these societies trust remains high so economic activity continues, and with no need for resort to revenge and violence, there is peace, and consequently prosperity.

      Those who are self-controlled and courteous are examples to the rest of us. We want to learn to rise above our passions as they do. Since they know how to govern themselves, they help other people do the same. Those who can govern themselves can be trusted with positions of leadership. If they understand the dignity that comes from service, we can expect them to serve the nation as a whole, and not fear that they will simply serve themselves. From individual self-government emerges the idea of public service, the rule of law, and national identity. All government originates in the individual self-government that develops into individual public service. 

      The Christian gospel gives rise to the secular public sphere and the practices of public speech. These include good counsel, individual conscience, record-keeping and the public administration of justice. These create trust and confidence, and respect for the individual, his privacy, his work and property. Individuals are not the property of the state. This confidence makes it possible to take risks, to explore and discover, and develop the culture which pursues knowledge and science, and from which industry and prosperity come.

      Love aspires to permanence, and so seeks the correction and discipleship that will make it permanent. When we exercise self-restraint that we can act generously and for other people. The Church teaches self-control and the ability to wait. Christian discipleship sustains our self-giving permanently.

      It is the Gospel that keeps a society open. It makes available the skills and practices of reconciliation which prevents the build-up of resentment that would otherwise lead to rage and vendettas. Over generations the presence of Christians creates a slow and gentle social mobility in that society. People can lose status without regarding it as a disaster, and can gain status without attracting envy. People can be moved out of public office without loss of face. Those who lose their position are not publicly shamed. Loss of status does not demand retaliation. The pressures that might push people to take revenge for humiliations is continually released by the gospel teaching on the dignity of service and servanthood.

      The gospel creates a social consensus that truth is supreme, and that free speech and public challenge and discussion that leads to agreement about the terms of a change of personnel and policy, and so creates an understanding that the functions and institutions of government are not the freehold of particular holders of power. Powerful men have only a leasehold on public positions, and their leasehold may not be renewed. The miracle of the modern West is made by the very confidence and level of trust achieved by those societies. These are the result of the Christian teaching on the high dignity of man, the sovereignty of each individual, and of Christian practices of reconciliation, that involve making public challenge, understanding that truth is fundamental, that truth is discovered through judgement and debate, and that peace is maintained through judgment and forgiveness, through consensus about what steps are sufficient to bring about an interim reconciliation, so that revenge is avoided and trust and confidence are restored in order that public life can continue. 

      What is the basis of this reconciliation? Jesus Christ has gathered around him a people, who are present and recognisable in every place as his Church. From the life of this people come the gifts and discipleship that form a Christian culture which sustain any society that receives that culture, and brings peace in nations and between them, and so, precariously, a civilisation emerges. The Christian people encourage us not to give in to fear and despair but to respond to the call of God, to discover the dignity intended for us, and to join them in prayer to God our Father. We will look next at the Lord’s Prayer and Ten Commandments.

      Energy and independence

      There are just two issues, one material, the other moral.

      The material issue is energy. There isn’t enough energy to power the economy we want. Our energy supply has not been meeting our expectations for economic growth. Energy is there, but is not so easily available to us as it was. It is energy that determines how much making and buying and selling we can do. There is no economic activity whatsoever that is not use some form of energy. The economy simply is energy consumption.

      But this supply has not been growing fast enough to keep up with the larger economy that we have all been banking on. We have been compensating for this missing energy by promising one another that it will be there in the future. We have declared that future energy will create future economic growth which will compensate for the energy and growth that is missing at the moment. The economy of the future will be so much bigger that it will allow us to catch up after the smaller economy we are presently putting up with. The future will be bigger than the present, guaranteed. On the basis of that promise we have issued IOUs on this future growth. Those IOUs are debt, personal, commercial and governmental debt. Central Banks then turn some of that debt into money. Simply by saying so, they convert debt into money in the hope that this will grow the economy. But it is not more money, and it is not more debt, that creates more economic activity. Only more energy creates economic activity. Only the arrival of more energy makes an economy grow, because the economy simply is the supply and consumption of energy.

      (2) The second issue is about our independence. It is about our belief that we are dependent, or are not, on the state and corporations. If we think that we cannot let go of our present standard of living we will believe that the present corporates-dominated global economy is necessary and inevitable. Globalism is the cost of convenience and prosperity. If we want to make ourselves more independent, and so less dependent on international corporations, this will mean doing without some of what the global supply chains have been providing for us. We will lose the convenience and security, and our standard of living may suffer, but we will be a little more independent as a result. It is a trade-off, between dependence with greater prosperity, versus less prosperity but greater independence. Ultimately, there might just be less prosperity anyway.

      The question is to what extent people are willing to take responsibility for themselves and live with whatever standard of living results. Is this a nation of feisty independent people, or a nation of helpless powerless people? Perhaps the helpless and dependent are even going to resist the more independent and prevent them from providing for themselves. Perhaps government action will be taken to prevent independent economic initiatives and revival of local economies. Perhaps the farmers will go to prison for ‘hoarding.’

      Do people really want to take power back into their own hands? If they do, they are going to have to wrest it back from all those who are happy to remain dependent, and all those in public sector jobs, who want to go on providing services centrally and don’t want people to take matters into their own hands. They want to remain indispensable, and so will insist that the rest of us remain dependent on them.

      This second issue is whether people prefer maturity or childishness, whether they insist on being treated as adults or whether they are content to be treated as children. Is the government our universal sugar daddy? Is the state our true provider? Is it the government who is the real parent of every child, and every woman’s real husband? In other times, men were providers and protectors. Now perhaps we don’t need them, and they should be happy to be honourary women and come to terms with it. Soft times make soft men. It was a growing energy supply that made a single global economy, in which all the most basic functions, iron and steel and manufacturing, are carried out many thousands of miles away from consumers, with the result that recent generations of Europeans have never had to learn how to make things. Soft times are paradoxically hard for men who want to provide and protect. Of course, soft times can’t last. The energy is not available to sustain this global form of economy, or least, we don’t have enough energy to remain customers and valued members of that global economy. But can soft men toughen up? Can they do it when less energy is available to revive some of the basic economic functions in this nation? Or perhaps they can they only do it when there is so much less energy is available. We shall see.

      Naming the Powers

      Our contemporaries have an addiction to power. They have isolated power from the question of for whom and for what purpose is it exercised? We can help by naming for them the powers that they have placed themselves under.

      Our contemporaries say that they place themselves above all other relationships and forces. They are each of them entirely sovereign in their isolation. They establish themselves simply by asserting and defending their superiority to and isolation from all other beings. They establish themselves simply by rhetoric (to the extent that this persuades those around them) and by their own gullibility. We have to identify the forces that our contemporaries – moderns – put themselves under. They swap the truth of autonomy for a lie. They swap autonomy with relationship (with God, and through God with all other creatures), for autonomy without relationship (which is to say, with a relationship only to power, fear, emptiness and death). They worship the void. The void has entered them and is now hollowing them out.

      Christians must expose our contemporaries as intensely religious people. We must blow open our contemporaries’ claim that they are immune to status anxiety, are above all forms of compulsion or commitment, of public acknowledgement of duty, of public declarations of obligations owed, or acknowledgement of superiority and inferiority. They are adamant that for them no relationship is mandatory, no acknowledge of relationship is obligatory. In fact, they are afraid of powers that they are aware of but cannot name and cannot come to terms with.  Their god is Power. In the cult, they give an unconstrained worship to this god of Power. They insist on what is not true, which is that Power is the god above all gods, that Power is above goodness and above relationship, and so it above all constraint, and that Power without restraint, must be followed and emulated, and so each other them turns themselves into an asocial being, renounced their own intrinsically social nature, and takes on the solipsistic character of someone used to being unchallenged, the autist behaviour of the man who can only scream, cringe and clutch himself when anything happens outside his own control. Because they are narcissistic, they are hysterical, panicked and superstitious.

      Our contemporaries revere other gods. They are in hock to other powers. They acknowledge many lords and obey many masters. And they do indeed worship and venerate these powers. They are first puzzled then incensed when we do not join them. They regard it as blasphemy or treason when we do not the same public gestures of obedience. They adulation and loyalty to their gods turn to hatred of us who refuse to join them or to make the obeisance demanded by their cult. Because they refuse to acknowledge any ties, and so refuse to acknowledge any duty or any do any homage, they are involuntarily and unwittingly doing homage to the most vicious of forces, which are Power itself, and the worship of Power results in their bondage to Destruction and Death.  

      It is for Christians to reverse this blindness to the other forces which have slipped in to our political culture and made themselves at home in the mindset of our contemporaries. They are incapable of seeing that these are powers with an agenda to reduce our dignity, to make us malleable, to turn us into deracinated individuals, stripped of all relationships, separable and interchangeable, so that we can be put in or taken out of whatever functions our power-brokers decide. These agents and mediators, our managerial class, all wrongly assume that the regime will reward their loyalty. They have the copy and simulacrum of individual autonomy, and they sustain it only by their refusal to see that they are bound by it to obedience to the powers and to their fear of Death, and thus their autonomy is sham.

      They are having a breakdown. Their revolt is aimed at everything that they have inherited, every cultural and political accomplishment and institution that was there before them, and which they cannot take credit for. Their uprising against the world they find themselves in, which the goodness or even the objectivity of which they do not want to acknowledge, is a kind of grief that wants to tear down and smashes up and everything apart until it is exhausted and sits alone in the ruins. Their breakdown is bringing about a universal demolition. It is spiritual and psychological, and consequently it is cultural, political and economic. This is the result of our failure to see the goodness of what we have as good, as good enough, and to be content with it and so to express our contentment and even find a basic thankfulness. If we cannot make this basic attitude of thankfulness, we will finally be left only with this anger that will rage until it has broken everything and is left with nothing.

      Christians must point out that the worldview of our contemporaries is characterised by powers that acknowledge no limits or restraint. They are powers without definition and so without any control. These powers have gone wild. There is no restraint. There is no modesty and no self-knowledge. This is an attempt to break all the restraints that make for a civil society, in which we acknowledge under one law, and instead set upon one another in a dog fight.

      We must say that these claims are false and dangerous. They are extreme, unwarranted and destructive. They will bring about the unravelling of the mutual respect and civility, the rule of law and political culture laboriously built up over many generations to create a complex society and an unparalleled standard of living. All these are being thrown out, and we will all be poorer, culturally and in terms of security, life expectancy, and prosperity. They can all be broken and lost by a generation that, unable to acknowledge the goodness of what it has received, refuses to pass it on, and instead trashes it.  

      So, we always need to give our answer in three parts, one in which we are individuals, each of us an agent responsible for themselves, in another of which there are powers and forces (such as the movement of crowds). These are partly identifiable in economic, political, psychological and other terms for which the social sciences can offer us descriptions. In the third account, a simply malignant force is pushing us towards ruin. It runs over all positive human achievement, apparently unable to distinguish good from bad. This force is sheer power, that is, power decoupled from goodness and therefore from all considerations of purpose, and rationality. It rolls forward like an automaton over all human achievement, and so it is a sheerly inhuman and anti-human force, that squanders and crushes everything that might become good, and it conceals and deceives, so that increasingly no one is able to say what is good. This is nothingness become an active force, it is motivated only by envy resentment and fury, and it wants to see every human come to an end, so that we vanish along with our culture and all our hopes, and are replaced by nothing. Its goal is emptiness. Christians sometimes refer to this as Death, towards which sin draws us, deflecting all that is good into its opposite. The individual, the self, that sees itself in enmity which sees itself threatened by every relationship and attempts to withdraw from them. So, we have first the individual, second, the forces that press around him and, third, sheer power, that results in the destruction of whatever it touches. In the Christian account this sheer destructive power is termed ‘Satan’ and these three forces together are referred to as ‘the World, the Flesh and the Devil’.  

      What is going to happen next?

      Our society is in the dark about one great issue. Its own continuance. It fears that if its standard of living falls, society itself will fall. This is the publicly unsayable thought which paralyses all public debate. It is not true of course. It is possible that we could undergo economic collapse and yet still remain an intact society. That is a matter of moral strength, which we can’t assess until we need it and then either do or don’t discover it. Perhaps we will find the courage on the day to hold together as a united national community under the rule of law.   

      Since our standard of living depends on consumption of energy, and that means on coal, oil and gas, and (despite the rise of solar and wind power) at greater levels than ever before, it is imperative that energy continue to be cheap and available. That is our problem. Our energy is becoming more expensive because it is becoming more difficult to extract. We consumed first the energy that was easy to reach and so cheapest. The question is, is there enough productivity in our economy to afford to pay the price of getting this more expensive oil out of the ground? If we are unable to pay the energy extraction industries what they require for this increasingly difficult oil and gas extraction, that oil and gas will stay in the ground. The oil price has to go much higher if oil companies are going to be able to drill and pump oil. But if the oil price goes higher, our economy goes into recession and demand for oil falls back. There is then a loss of enterprises, of employment and of infrastructure and so a drop in demand. If enough economic damage is done, demand for oil may not recover. Then oil companies stop investing, exploring, drilling and soon after, pumping. Perhaps this is the moment we have arrived at. Our economies are now at stalling point. Every single transaction requires energy, but available energy has become too expensive for us, and now every single part of the economy has become vulnerable to a never-before experienced volatility.   

      For a long while our society has faked its standard of living. Our long-term drop in productivity has been masked by debt, which has been the principal source of growth, for the last forty years. There is scarcely any home-produced energy, any industry, and certainly none of the industrial sectors that we rely on for transport and communications that could make our debt burden plausible. We are no longer able to procure the energy to maintain the productivity that supports the public sector and service industries which employ most people. There is not enough productivity to support our present standard of living.

      Our leaders have, wittingly or not, responded by cutting a large proportion of the population out of economic participation. Bizarrely, governments have decided that the only essential workers are public sector workers, while the private sector, the small and medium businesses are expendable. Governments must serve their clients first, and buy off short-term trouble even though this means making things worse long-term. They have shut large parts of our population out of economic participation, as consumers and producers. It has been decided that these are unneeded and superfluous. They have effectively been made redundant. They are no longer able to travel and commute or even gather in groups. Measures have discouraged them from congregating in city and town centres, either in the pubs, clubs, gyms and stadiums and festivals of the sports and entertainment industries, which was previously how numbers of people came together and were able to exchange views face-to-face. Governments are dealing with our energy crisis by dramatically reducing our freedom to travel and meet, o work and support ourselves, and to discuss and oppose this power grab. Perhaps they have decided that it is imperative that there be no panic and no opportunity for protests and violence as this great economic slide becomes obvious. What is going to happen next? Here’s hoping we all find our courage.