UPDATED 7th November 2018

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AUDIO SERMONS BY TONY & PATRICIA HIGTON:

Tony and Patricia met at theological college and have spoken together in many places around the world for many years.

RECENT SERMONS:

We must crucify the old nature Gal 5:1, 16-25 (Tony 26.06.16, 18 mins)

 New birth, living hope, eternal inheritance 1 Peter 1:3-9 (Tony 03.07.16, 18 mins)

 Getting to know God better Col 1:15-20 (Patricia, 17.07.16, 15 mins)

 God is in Christ, Christ is in us Col 2:6-15 (Tony 24.07.16, 22 mins)

 Listen to God, Submit to God then God will provide Psalm 81:1, 15-16 (Tony 28.08.16, 20 mins)

 How to be a true disciple Luke 14:25-35 (Tony 04.09.16, 18 mins)

 The Bible 01 – Inspiration 2 Tim 3:16-17 (Tony 25.09.16, 14 mins)

 The Spirit of power, love and self-discipline 2 Tim 1:1-14 (Tony 02.10.16, 17 mins)

 The Bible 02 – How to interpret Scripture – Different types of literature (Tony 09.10.16, 19 mins)

 The Bible 03 – A glimpse at the first five books of the Bible (Tony 23,10.16, 21 mins)

The Bible 04 – A brief look at the historical books in the OT (Tony 12.11.16, 25 mins)

The Bible 05 – A glimpse of the prophetic books in the OT (Tony 27.11.16, 24 mins)

The Bible 06 – An overview of Paul’s epistles (Tony 08.01.17 25 mins)

EARLIER SERMONS

“The vital importance of prayer” 1 Thess 5:17 etc (Tony 16 mins 11.10.15): A church must pray together other than in services.

“God’s plan for the universal church” (Tony 18.10.15 19 mins): God wants a united church not a conglomeration of individuals.

“God’s plan for the local church” Acts 2:42-47 (Tony 01.11.15 13 mins): God wants the local church to be a deeply committed fellowship

“The church as the Body of Christ” John 17:11-23 etc (Tony 01.11.15 17 mins): Jesus prayed that each church would experience deep unity in diversity.

“Baptism is not enough” 1 John 5:9-15 (Tony 06.12.15 11 mins): We must also invite Jesus into our lives.

“The church is the bride of Christ” Rev 21:1-14 (Tony 13.12.15 17 mins): The church must constantly prepare for the ‘marriage supper of the Lamb

“Gentiles are heirs together with Jews” Eph 3:1-12 (Tony 03.01.16) 17 mins)

The gifts of the Spirit are important for the church” 1 Cor 12:1-11 (Tony 17.01.16 19 mins): The gifts of the Spirit are available today.

“We have a glorious Lord” Luke 9:28-36 (Tony 07.02.16 15 mins): The Transfiguration shows how awesome Jesus is.

“The many ways Satan tempts us” Luke 4:1-13 (Tony 14.02.16 22 mins).

“As God’s chosen people put on love” Col 3:12-17 (Tony 16.03.16 19 mins)

“Knowing Christ” Php 3:4b-14 (Tony Mar 13th 18 mins)

“Taking sin, the Cross and Resurrection seriously Acts 10:34-43 (Tony Mar 27th 20 mins).

“Overcoming fear” John 20:19-31 (Tony 03.04.16 19 mins).

“St John’s understanding of Jesus as God” John 21:1-4; Rev 5 (Patricia 10.04.16 15 mins).

“The new heaven and new earth” Rev 21:1-6 (Tony 17.04.16 18 mins).

“Overcoming fear” John 20:19-31 (Tony 03.04.16 19 mins).

 “St John’s understanding of Jesus as God” John 21:1-4; Rev 5 (Patricia 10.04.16 15 mins).

 “The new heaven and new earth” Rev 21:1-6 (Tony 17.04.16 18 mins).

 “Longing for more of God” Psa 63 (Tony 01.05.16 13 mins).

“Living by faith” Luke 7:1-10 (Patricia 18 mins 29.05.16)

“The priority of loving God” Gal 2:15-21 (Tony 16 mins 18.06.16) There is a lot of loving neighbour in society but little loving God.

 Go to http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/sermons.html and click the appropriate link.


 

1. TO ENCOURAGE A SENSIBLE APPROACH TO ESCHATOLOGY (THE DOCTRINE OF THE END TIMES, THE RETURN OF CHRIST, ETC).

Many Christians (including Christian leaders) neglect this, either because they don’t feel competent to deal with it or because they are embarrassed by unbalanced extremists. I want to help rectify this by providing Christian teaching and also comment on current events and trends, with particular reference to anything relevant to Jesus’ teaching on the signs of the End Times. I try to take a constructively critical, extensively researched approach. I have completed the main (systematic) section with teaching on the subjects listed below. See http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/eschatology.html for both a Full (more detailed) Version and a Summary Version.

However you will find Updates on Eschatology on the blog below (which have also been incorporated into the main website above) and you are welcome to comment on them here.

2. TO INFORM PEOPLE ABOUT THE ISRAEL-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT

For a number of years I lived and ministered in Jerusalem, leading an international organisation whose aim is to share the gospel sensitively with Jewish people and leading Christ Church, Jerusalem. Since then I have been seeking to inform Christians about the need, pain and fear on BOTH sides in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, because God loves both sides. See http://www.prayerforpeace.org.uk/index.html. My recent newsletter on the Israel-Gaza conflict is at http://www.prayerforpeace.org.uk/newsletter.html.

3. TO MAKE CONSIDERED PROPHETIC COMMENT ON CURRENT EVENTS AND TRENDS.

See below on the blog.

4. TO PROVIDE FREE, PRACTICAL, USER-FRIENDLY RESOURCES FOR CHURCHES AND INDIVIDUALS

These include apologetics (defence of the faith), biblical material, church development, church issues, devotional articles, doctrinal resources, evangelistic, interfaith and pastoral issues. Additions will be made to these materials. See http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/

ESCHATOLOGY (END TIMES) SUBJECTS COVERED
The signs of the End
Will there be a sudden, secret “Rapture” of believers to heaven?
The ‘Great Tribulation’ and the Antichrist
Secular eschatology – What secular scholars are predicting about the future of the world
The Battle of Armageddon & Cosmic signs
Old Testament Eschatology
The return of Christ
Will there be a literal Millennium?
End times judgment
Approaching death
Resurrection
The destruction of world
The truth about Hell
The hope of Heaven
Appendix: Understanding the Book of Revelation
Appendix: The Place of Islam in the End Times

What about the Good News?

I am aware that, in focusing on eschatology and prophetic comment on the news, I frequently major on bad news rather than good news. Does that mean I’m only interesting in doom and gloom? No, not at all. However, there is a lot of doom and gloom in New Testament eschatology, and we must take it seriously alongside the love, joy, peace and eternal life which results from the gospel.

Jesus himself told us to watch for negative signs of the time: wars and rumours of wars, famine, disease, earthquakes, persecution, church decline and apostasy, false prophets and messiahs, great distress (tribulation) and worrying events in the heavens. The rest of the NT has a fair amount of doom and gloom about the End Times. After all, the Book of Revelation is hardly light-hearted

So I major on giving updates on some disturbing “signs of the times”: artificial intelligence, church decline, genetic engineering, global warming, Islam, oppression & persecution of Christians, secularisation & societal decline, matters of sexuality, significant political developments, terrorism and war, world poverty, etc.

We have to take note of such things if we are to obey Jesus who said: “Watch out that no one deceives you … keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matt 24:4, 42-44).

Having said all this, I do come across Christians who take eschatology seriously but read almost everything in society and the church negatively – it’s all doom and gloom. And I don’t believe that is correct. There is a huge amount of good in the world (theologically-speaking, it is the result of God’s “common grace” or the “general work of the Holy Spirit”). We need to maintain the balance and I do seek to share some good news amidst my main emphasis of keeping watch and noting the “signs of the times.”

What is on this site?

NEW ON THE BLOG

The oppression of Christains in the West http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/biblical/oppression-of-christians-in-the-west/

The church desperately needs Revival http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/churchissues/the-church-desperately-needs-revival/

Issues of Morality (December 2017) http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/gender/issues-of-morality/

The Threat to the Family 1. The importance of the family (August 2017) http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/biblical/the-threat-to-the-family-part-1-the-importance-of-the-family/

The Threat to the Family 2. Attacks on marriage and the family (August 2017) http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/biblical/the-threat-to-the-family-part-2-attacks-on-marriage-and-the-family/

Update on Societal Decline (July 2017) http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/sexual-morality/update-on-societal-decline-july-2017/

Update on World Government and Political Oppression (July 2017) http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/justice/update-on-world-government-and-political-oppression-july-2017/

Update on Oppression of Christians (July 2017) http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/sexual-morality/update-on-oppression-of-christians-july-2017/

Update on Secularisation (January 2017) http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/interfaith/update-on-secularisation-january-2017/

Update on Persecution (December 2016) http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/eschatology/update-on-persecution-december-2016/

Update on Church Decline (Nov 2016) http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/church-decline/update-on-church-decline-nov-2016-2/

Update on Anti-Semitism http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/middle-east/update-on-anti-semitism/

Update on World Government and Oppression http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/oppression-of-christians/update-on-world-government-and-oppression/

Update on Global Warming  http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/disease/update-on-global-warming/

Update on war and terrorism. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/war/update-on-war-and-terrorism/

Is the UK more Christian than the rest of Europe? See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/european-union/is-the-uk-more-christian-than-the-rest-of-europe/

Is the UK more pro-Israel than the rest of Europe? See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/anti-semitism/is-the-uk-more-pro-israel-than-the-rest-of-europe/

Update on the decline of Christian Belief. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/church-decline/update-on-decline-of-christian-belief/

What should be our attitude to the European Union? See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/eschatology/what-should-be-our-attitude-to-the-european-union-2/ 

Update on Pandemics. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/uncategorized/update-on-the-danger-of-pandemics/

Update on Middle East tensions. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/middle-east/update-on-middle-east-tensions/

I agree with Peter Tatchell over Ashers Bakery! See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/oppression-of-christians/i-agree-with-peter-tatchell-over-ashers-bakery/

An update on social decline. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/justice/update-on-social-decline/

An update on Secularism. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/church-decline/update-on-secularism/

An update on anti-Semitism and some dangers in combatting it. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/evangelistic/an-update-on-anti-semitism-and-some-dangers-in-combatting-it/

World inequality. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/justice/world-inequality/

Richard Dawkins speaks positively about Christianity! See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/apologetics/richard-dawkins-speaks-favourably-about-christianity/

Update on the Oppression of Christians. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/oppression-of-christians/update-on-oppression-of-christians/

Further update on terrorism and war. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/eschatology/further-update-on-terrorism-and-war/

How do we recognise God’s judgment? See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/biblical/how-do-we-recognise-gods-judgement/

Update on the serious implications of terrorism. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/eschatology/update-on-the-serious-implications-of-terrorism/

Update on the Church of England. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/churchdevelopment/update-on-the-church-of-england/

Update on homosexual issues. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/churchissues/update-on-homosexual-issues/

Update on trends towards world government. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/eschatology/update-on-trends-towards-world-government/

Secularisation and non-religious spirituality. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/church-decline/secularisation-and-non-religious-spirituality/

Why the church fails to teach about eschatology. See
http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/eschatology/why-the-church-fails-to-teach-about-eschatology/

Chair of the Islamic Society of Great Britain says the next coronation should be Christian. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/interfaith/chair-of-the-islamic-society-of-great-britain-says-the-next-coronation-should-be-christian/

Good news: Palestinian rescues 5 Jewish students under attack in the West Bank. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/middle-east/good-news-palestinian-rescues-5-jewish-students-under-attack-in-the-west-bank/

“Jesus will return this month”. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/eschatology/jesus-may-return-this-month/

Jesus preached the present and coming Rule of God. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/biblical/jesus-preached-the-present-and-coming-rule-of-god/

“Street preachers must not preach about morality”! See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/eschatology/street-preachers-must-not-preach-about-morality/

Christians and others under antichrist rule. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/eschatology/christians-and-others-under-antichrist-rule/

John the Baptist said Jesus would baptise in the Spirit AND judge the impenitent. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/eschatology/john-the-baptist-said-jesus-would-baptise-in-the-spirit-and-judge-the-impenitent/

Update on war and the threat of war. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/eschatology/update-on-war-and-the-threat-of-war/

Former imam who attacked churches converts to Christianity. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/evangelistic/former-imam-who-attacked-churches-converts-to-christianity/

Tory MP says use anti-terror laws against teachers who say gay marriage is sinful. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/eschatology/tory-mp-says-use-anti-terror-laws-against-teachers-who-say-gay-marriage-is-sinful/

The Bible predicts Jesus will rule over Israel. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/biblical/the-bible-predicts-jesus-will-rule-over-israel/

Update on Secular Eschatology. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/eschatology/update-on-secular-eschatology/

“Birth pangs of the Messiah”. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/eschatology/birth-pangs-of-the-messiah/

Iraqi Christian leader refused entry to US to advocate for persecuted Christians. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/interfaith/iraqi-christian-leader-refused-entry-to-us-to-advocate-for-persecuted-christians/

Homosexual baker strongly disapproves of homosexuals bullying Christian bakers. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/sexual-morality/homosexual-baker-strongly-disapproves-of-homosexuals-bullying-christian-bakers/

The Middle East situation and its effects on Christians and Israel. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/eschatology/the-middle-east-situation-and-its-effects-on-christians-and-israel/

So the government wants to relax Sunday Trading laws. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/secularisation/so-the-government-wants-to-relax-the-sunday-trading-laws/

You personally can combat ‘Islamic State’. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/evangelistic/you-personally-can-combat-islamic-state/

Persecution is coming in the West. See
http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/sexual-morality/persecution-is-coming-in-the-west/

Church growth and decline. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/churchdevelopment/church-growth-and-decline/

Anti-Christian attitudes in Britain: Tim Farron. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/oppression-of-christians/anti-christian-attitudes-in-britain-tim-farron/

Muslim imam raises money for church vandalised by young Muslim. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/interfaith/muslim-imam-raises-money-for-church-vandalised-by-young-muslim/

Former MI5 boss says Counter-Extremism Bill could be used against Christians. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/eschatology/ex-mi5-boss-warns-counter-extremism-bill-could-be-used-against-christians/

David Cameron doesn’t understand religion. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/secularisation/david-cameron-doesnt-understand-religion/

Thank God for this Muslim leader’s comment. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/interfaith/thank-god-for-this-muslim-leaders-comments/

Belfast Pastor to be prosecuted for saying Islam is Satanic. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/oppression-of-christians/belfast-pastor-to-be-prosecuted-for-saying-islam-is-satanic/

Bishop encouraged Osama bin Laden. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/uncategorized/bishop-encouraged-osama-bin-laden/

What about the Irish referendum on gay marriage? See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/uncategorized/what-about-the-irish-referendum-on-gay-marriage/

The Belfast “gay cake” controversy. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/uncategorized/the-belfast-gay-cake-controversy/

Serious trends in the present situation. See  http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/uncategorized/serious-trends-in-the-present-situation/

Will Artificial Intelligence be the end of the human race? See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/uncategorized/will-artificial-intelligence-be-the-end-of-the-human-race/

Why we should take note of wars, famines, earthquakes, pestilences? See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/uncategorized/why-we-should-take-note-of-wars-famines-earthquakes-pestilences/

Update on the Signs of the End: Anti-Semitism. See http://christianteaching.org.uk/blog/uncategorized/update-on-signs-of-the-end-anti-semitism/

Update on the Signs of the End: Pestilences. See http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=837

Update on the Signs of the End: Nuclear Terrorism & War.  See http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=842

Update on Signs of the End 03 – Persecution & Oppression. See http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=871

Update on the Signs of the End 04 – Preparation for the End: Movements towards World Government.See http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=875

Update on the Signs of the End 05 – Global Warming. See http://www.christianteaching.org.uk.blog/?p=883

Update on the Signs of the End 06 – Turning away from the Faith. See http://www.christianteaching.org.uk.blog/?p=886

INDEX OF RECENT ADDITIONS

ATHEISM (SCIENCE & RELIGION)

Why have atheists started their own church? (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=263)

A response to Stephen Hawking’s atheism (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=172)

Has science squeezed God out? (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=93)

Hawking finally disproves God – or does he? (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=70)

BIBLE

The Inspiration and Authority of Scripture (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/Inspiration&AuthorityOfScripture%2001.pdf)

The nature of God in the Old Testament (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/NatureOfGodInTheOldTestament.pdf)

An outline of the Old Testament (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/AnOutlineOftheOldTestament.pdf)

The wind could have parted Red Sea for Moses (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=79)

CHRISTIAN LIFE

·         BIBLE READING

Why read the Bible? (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=46)

·          FEAR OF GOD

There is no fear of God http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=333

Miserable Sinners? (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=36)

·         FORGIVENESS

God won’t forgive us if we don’t forgive everyone (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=156)

·         LOVE

Love is complicated – but good for you! (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=91)

·         PRAYER
·         RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST

What does it mean to “know” Christ? (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=154)

CHURCH GENERAL

What is the best form of worship? (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=60)

Why join a prayer group? (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=40)

CHURCH OF ENGLAND

Is the Church of England in terminal decline? (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=164)

Should we have women bishops? (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=56)

CREATION & EVOLUTION (GENESIS)

How does the Genesis account of the Fall of Man relate to Evolution? (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=186)

Recent Tweets/Facebook messages on Creation & Evolution (Genesis) http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=307

ESCHATOLOGY (END TIMES)

Should we be thinking frequently about the Return of Christ? (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=224)

Hastening the return of Christ (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=222)

Can we ignore what the New Testament says about signs of Jesus’ return? (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/CanWeIgnoreSingsOfJesusReturn.pdf))

Some thoughts on the Book of Revelation (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/SomeThoughtsOnTheBookOfRevelation.pdf)

The meteor/asteroid coincidence – what does it mean? (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=256)

GOD & THE WORLD

How God operates in the world (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=181)

HOMOSEXUALITY

What about ‘gay marriage’? (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=237)

Church of Scotland approves Ministers in homosexual relationships (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=168)

ISRAEL & MIDDLE EAST

Is it right to divide the Promised Land? http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=284

My attitude towards Israel and the Palestinians http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=277

The decline of Christianity in the Middle East (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=88)

World Council of Churches statement on the Middle East http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=398

Recent Tweets/Facebook messages on Israel (and the Palestinians) http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=309

 

JUSTICE

Innocent until proved guilty (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=158)

OTHER FAITHS

Respecting Muslims (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=73)

Christian Unity and Other Faiths (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=34)

My attitude towards Islam and Muslims http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=389

RECONCILIATION

Listen to both sides (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=43)

SCIENCE & RELIGION (SEE ATHEISM)

SECULARISATION OF SOCIETY

Is Britain anti-Christian? (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=95)

·         DISCRIMINATION v CHRISTIANS

Discrimination against British Christians (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/DiscriminationAgainstBritishChristians.pdf)

Discrimination against British Christians: Update 1 (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=179)

GENERAL TOPICS

 “Watching violent videos encourages violence” – fancy that! (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=86)

Recent Tweets/Facebook messages on General Religious Topics http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=305

 

I use the word “Oppression” rather than “Persecution” about the ways Christians are maltreated in the western world because Christians elsewhere are suffering in far worse ways. Nevertheless the trend in the west is a cause of real concern.

 

Good news

 

Of course, there is some good news. The police have apologised to a street preacher in Bath who was threatened with arrest in May 2018. Another Christian street preacher has been cleared of all charges after being falsely accused of making abusive comments towards a homosexual couple. A nurse in Kent who was dismissed for offering to pray with patients has been officially allowed to return to her job by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. The Government has ruled that employers must allow staff to wear religious symbols at work as long as it does not interfere with their job. After widespread public opposition, Ofsted (the government’s the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) has abandoned plans to inspect Sunday Schools and other religious groups as to whether they promote extremism.

 

Then, of course, there is the Supreme Court’s reversal of the High Court’s conviction of the Christian Asher’s Baking Company for not making a cake with a pro-homosexual slogan. However we need to take note of the Equality Commission’s response: “There is a concern that this judgment may raise uncertainty about the application of equality law in the commercial sphere, both about what businesses can do and what customers may expect; and that the beliefs of business owners may take precedence over a customer’s equality rights, which in our view is contrary to what the legislature intended.” This case may be finished but that attitude shows there can be pressure for a different approach in the future.

 

Discrimination against Christians

 

However, the situation and trends are still serious. Tim Farron, who recently resigned as leader of the Liberal Democrats, said recently “If you actively hold a faith that is more than an expression of cultural identity … you are deemed to be far worse than eccentric. You are dangerous. You are offensive.” A recent study by ComRes found that up to a million workers in Britain may have faced harassment, discrimination or bullying because of their religion or belief.

 

In the United States US a report, entitled ‘Undeniable: The Survey of Hostility to Religion in America’, indicated a 15% rise in cases threatening religious liberty between 2015 and 2016. It was based on research by the First Liberty Institute, a legal organisation dedicated to protecting religious liberty. Following complaints by residents, a US apartment complex implemented a zero-tolerance policy over any Bible studies being held in its community space, and sent letters to residents stating the faith-based meetings weren’t permitted there. First Liberty commented: “It’s frightening that a management company would use the threat of eviction to stop residents from meeting together to discuss any issue, let alone their faith.”

 

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said: “In recent years, the cultural climate in this country-and in the West more generally-has become less hospitable to people of faith. Many Americans have felt that their freedom to practice their faith has been under attack.”

 

In Australia an Elim church in New South Wales paid for digital Easter signs to be displayed at the local shopping centre. But the authorities asked them to remove the word “Jesus” from the signs because it had been causing offence.

 

Discrimination and intolerance of Christianity in Europe was debated for the first time in the European Parliament in June 2018. Speakers, highlighted recent instances of violence, marginalisation, and discrimination against Christians across Europe. Nathan Gill, MEP, who hosted the debate, said: “It’s the first time that Christianophobia within Europe has been discussed in the EU Parliament. There has often been a focus on Christian persecution around the world, but seldom do we look at what is happening on our doorstep. It’s important to raise awareness that our rights as Christians are being eroded. We need to stand together as practising Christians to oppose religious intolerance.” Hendrik Storm, Chief Executive of the Barnabas Fund (which assists persecuted Christians), stated, “It’s easy to sit back and ignore the damage because like erosion, it’s not always immediately visible on the surface. But look a little closer and you can begin to see the cracks. You can’t pick and choose which types of freedom you want to defend. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, academic freedom or freedom of religion. You must defend all of them. Those freedoms are only one generation away from being lost.”

 

Undermining freedom of speech

 

South Yorkshire Police recently used Twitter to urge citizens to “put a stop” to hate, by reporting what it called “non-crime hate incidents.” They acknowledged that “police can only prosecute when the law is broken” but added that non-crime hate incidents like an insulting comment “can feel like a crime to those affected.” Someone responded

“Just to be clear: you want me to phone the police when there hasn’t been a crime but someone’s feelings have been hurt?”

 

Then reports are emerging from universities about speakers with what are considered as minority (but legal) views (e.g. pro-life) being banned because their views were considered insulting. In 2017 the Junior Common Room of Balliol College, Oxford banned the college Christian Union from attending its freshers’ (new students’) fair over concerns at the “potential for harm to freshers.” The vice-president said: “Christianity’s influence on many marginalised communities has been damaging in its methods of conversion and rules of practice, and is still used in many places as an excuse for homophobia and certain forms of neo-colonialism.” Eventually the CU was told that a single multi-faith stall would be allowed to display leaflets, though no representatives would be allowed to staff it.  Later a motion was passed unanimously at the college accusing the JCR committee of “a violation of free speech [and] a violation of religious freedom”. The motion prohibited the barring of official religious societies from future freshers’ fairs.

 

Christian MP Fiona Bruce commented: “University should a place where ideas can be explored and free speech is so important, it’s important from my perspective as a parliamentarian, to protect and preserve democracy, so we need to ensure students, very importantly, honour and respect the freedom of others … There is no legal right not to be offended, people can say things which might offend others but if they don’t, for example, go as far as to incite violence or terrorism under the Prevent legislation then that speech is lawful.”

 

One of the most worrying trends in western society is the extreme application of laws against extremism! This can easily lead to Christians being legally prevented from appropriately expressing some of the Bible’s more challenging truths.

 

Freedom of speech over sexuality

 

It is quite obvious that freedom to express biblical views on sexuality, including homosexual practice, are seriously threatened. There have been many examples of this trend. Here is a recent one.

 

Matthew Grech, a contestant in a Maltese talent show, described on TV how he left a homosexual lifestyle and became a Christian. He said: “I stopped following my passions to follow Jesus. There can be love between two men and two women, yes – but only friendship love. Everything else is a sin.”  Helena Dalli, The Maltese Equality Minister, commented: “That interview should never have been aired in the first place. It did untold damage to our efforts to change social attitudes towards minorities, including LGBTQ youths. Gay youths don’t need forgiveness or healing, they need understanding.”

 

One of the sad things is that some of the oppression of Christians in the West comes from fellow Christians. One example is about “gay conversion therapy.” This is, of course, a highly controversial practice and even the Church of England General Synod voted recently to disapprove of it as an insensitive, harmful, practice which should be avoided. But, as is often the case with such action against harmful extremism, it can be taken too far and hinder helpful action. Basically the effect of what the synod did was to vote to ban anyone praying for a homosexual to be transformed by the power of God into a heterosexual. Who does the synod think it is, voting to ban prayer for a healing miracle! There are claims that homosexuals have been transformed in this way. Other people will have been prayed for and not changed – but that is the case for all healing. Of course, people must be handled with great sensitivity and loving care. They must not be pressurised. But to say that no one is allowed to pray for a miracle for a homosexual person is extremely serious. Homosexual orientation is not a sin, and it shouldn’t be implied that it is. But the Bible teaches that God created humans “male and female.” He did not intend people to have a homosexual orientation. So why can’t Christians pray for it to be changed? The church is selling out to our secular society in this respect.

 

I have had a good deal to do with homosexuals and have always treated them with respect. They can be subject to major traumas which should be met with real compassion. But to allow the emotional pressure of such traumas to cause us to take the wrong approach to helping them is a serious error.

 

However, this trend is going further. There is a strong move against what is called “Spiritual Abuse.” Jayne Ozanne is an evangelical on the Church of England General Synod who recently ‘came out’ as a lesbian. She has become a campaigner against ‘spiritual abuse.’

 

Ozanne writes: “The most typical incidents involve those in leadership who have frequently achieved a ‘cult-like’ or ‘guru’ status due to their charismatic personality and strong leadership style. This is most evident in large

evangelical churches, particularly those with a Charismatic or Pentecostal background, where leaders exercise ‘gifts of the Holy Spirit’ and are therefore recognised by their congregations as being ‘chosen and anointed by God’. As a result, their word can become infallible and their authority unquestioned. For the purposes of this document this type of abuse will be called the ‘Individual Leader Model of Spiritual Abuse’” She goes on to speak of unhelpful pressure from charismatic worship and prayer ministry sessions, including teaching on the Baptism of the Spirit in contexts such as the Alpha Course, New Wine, Spring Harvest, Soul Survivor, healing ministries and even the Lydia Prayer Movement, etc. My comment is that obviously there can be unhelpful extremes in anything, but such a blanket condemnation is appalling, set against the amount of good achieved.

 

She then begins to speak of the damage these experiences can (allegedly) do to homosexuals and says “It is imperative that professional organisations external to the religious institutions call for better safeguarding measures against spiritual abuse. Indeed, they should look to recognise it as a key form of abuse at a national level so as to ensure that some of the most vulnerable in our society are afforded the same protection as those facing other forms of abuse.”

 

She is calling on the government to recognise the alleged spiritual harm some churches can do to people and claims current church safeguarding procedures do not go far enough to protect them. Since she wrote a major article on the issue in the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Journal the government is likely to take her seriously despite the fact that she has no professional qualifications or experience in either psychiatry or statistical research

 

The potential serious damage this campaign could do is very clear. I’m not saying it is Jayne Ozanne’s intention but it could lead to real oppression of especially charismatic evangelicals in their worship, prayer ministry, etc. In fact, experience suggests it is highly likely to do so. The church is rightly concerned about safeguarding but it has become OTT in its procedures. The Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service is accepting the sort of opinions Jane Ozanne is expressing so the denominations are likely to follow suit. It is another case of the modern practice: Take proper action against genuine extremism/abuse then go too far and restrict good practices.

 

Conclusion

 

We need to be alert to dangerous trends both outside and inside the church which are leading to serious oppression of Christians in the West and particularly to those who still believe the teaching of Scripture on what have become controversial issues. We should take whatever action is appropriate but also remember that these trends show how urgently we need to pray for and to see God bring Revival.