Christians are regularly portrayed in the media as the ultimate conformists, dull, safe, dependable, always going along with safe establishment positions. Is there any truth in this? Apart from the supposed elites of the church, the denominational hierarchies and self-styled progressive Christians where are society’s conformists? They can’t be found in the ranks of evangelicals or traditional Catholics.
Who is the conformist today? I am not a Christian because that is how I was brought up, because I conformed to social pressures, or because it makes me feel good. Those are reasons why I was an atheist.
My childhood home was devoid of any meaningful mention of God, today as a Christian I am still the black sheep of the family. As someone who was born shortly after WWII I am a member of the UK’s first truly secular generation, to be an unbeliever amongst my peers is to be a social conformist. At one time I was a conformist, or as we termed it in the 60’s and 70’s ‘a rebel.’ Rejecting traditional social and sexual constructs did at the time feel liberating, and I admit I played my part in creating a new ethical establishment at odds with Christian ethics.
However, in today’s society it is the Christian who is the non-conformist, the social rebel upsetting society’s status quo. This is what the institutional church in its neo-Protestant form has failed to recognise and mobilise. The mainstream ecclesiastical hierarchies have been seduced by the proximity of power. Archbishops and Moderators are invited to No 10, Scottish Parliament committees take evidence from Church of Scotland committees, the powerful ‘listen’ to the church, and we fondly imagine that this equates to influencing the centres of power.
What we are involved in is merely the establishment’s way of humouring the church and keeping us quiet. Simply ask when was the last time a main-stream traditional Christian stance was taken into account in the development of government policy, when was the last time ecclesiastical involvement halted or radically altered proposed legislation? The Church is listened to when it agrees with the establishment and can be safely ignored on the rare occassions when it doesn’t.
The anti-establishment figures in today’s society are not middle class students rioting because they may have to pay a small proportion of their higher education costs, instead of having working class labourers do it for them through taxes. The anti-establishment figures in today’s society are not state employees angry because their advantageous pension deals are in danger. The anti-establishment figures in today’s society are not ‘edgy’ comedians pushing the boundaries of taste. The anti-establishment figures in today’s society are not sexual revolutionaries who wish to complete the destruction of the family. These are all supported or encouraged by large sections of our political and business establishment and the totality of our media establishment. They are all boringly, and dangerously, conformist.
The anti-establishment figures in today’s society are those Christians who, taking a stance on the Bible, speak out and say dangerous things, such as truth, virtue, beauty and justice actually exist and are worth protecting and promoting. We stand in the face of the business tycoon and the sexual revolutionary and say that human beings are to be respected and valued, and not to be exploited for the profit and pleasure of others. We stand against the dehumanising of society and proclaim that the aged and the unborn should be protected and not treated as ‘burdens’ or as having no accountable ‘quality of life’ when they get in the way of our desires. If the establishment wins humanity loses.
In my youth I was a Trotskyite, it’s only today, now that I am a Christian, that I am truly a revolutionary. The genuine revolutionaries of today are those Christians who still hold to the truths of Scripture and proclaim those truths in the face of a de-humanising establishment and culture which wishes to reduce Christian influence to the level of a privately indulged cultural eccentricity.
Christians must recover a vision of ourselves as those who have a message of hope which can change the world, a challenging revolutionary message. I dislike quoting him but Lenin said “It takes three to make a revolution, you, me and someone else.” That is not just evangelism, it is evangelism with a prupose.