That we live surrounded by political chaos might be dispiriting, but should not surprise us.
Societies that turn their back on believing in God and reject Judeao-Christian morality, exchange a moral foundation that has worked astonishingly powerfully to create a stability and a creativity for the world of the mind, heart and spirit, for alternative values that often dehumanise, destabilise and disorientate.
The same is true of political parties. The chaos the Conservative party have fallen into is tragic and the cost will have to be borne by the whole of society.
All organisations go bad. It is the effect of unrestrained sin in the human heart. The Church goes bad like any other group of people, but it is capable of being renewed simply by acts of self-knowledge, repentance and the generosity of the Holy Spirit who has promised that this is the metaphysical deal.
Indeed when it comes to judging the Church in history the dynamic that should astonish and take people aback should not be the corruption of the Church – why on earth should that be a surprise since it consist of unstable people? – but the miraculous restitution and renewal, time after time after time.
But if a political party has a lesson to learn from the Church, the Christian community has a lesson to learn from politics.
The first is to watch with “there but for the grace of God go I”.
Without repentance and metanoia, the collapse of an institution is a dreadful and destructive thing to watch. Perhaps the party will get to rebuild itself in humility and self-knowledge, but nothing is guaranteed. Look what happened to the Liberal Party.
The second is to remember that not even democracy is guaranteed to survive. In fact, the political forces that are seeping through our culture are both avowedly anti-Christian and increasingly determinedly anti-democratic.
Whether you believe in the great reset or not, the neo-Marxist and eco-utopians have no love of – and even some contempt for – democracy. The fact that they also seem to hate the Church should cause us to stop and think, and be the cause of some alarm.
Bearing witness to Christ is a great deal more manageable in a democracy than in a totalitarian state. Those of us who smuggled Bibles into the Soviet Union – and particularly those of us who got caught, were interrogated, and seriously threatened – are understandably hyper-aware of the precariousness of democracy and the dangers of the alternatives. Just ask the Protestants and Catholics in China what it costs for them to evangelise and bear witness.
If we are to learn a further lesson from the pathological infighting of the Conservative party, it is that there is no way more likely to ensure your own destruction. Failing to understand the importance of unity and achieving a consensus sufficient to function is likely to destroy the party.
But what is true for the Conservatives is even more true for the Church.
Perhaps the greatest danger facing the Church in the West comes not from its opponents, but from those within who have adopted a progressive view of anthropology and sexuality.
The progressive view is a sympathetic capitulation to a different world view in which sexual identity and sexual self-expression move from a place of disciplined and functional self-restraint to centre stage and primary importance.
The sexual revolution that is taking place at the centre of woke-ism should have rung alarm bells since it is such a radical departure from the consistencies found in Scripture and tradition, and the by-product of wokery ought to have given pause to think.
In politics, education, arts, the law, the universities and even in medicine, there is a requirement to repudiate Christian belief relating to sexuality and marriage just to enter and function. To simply suggest that one is committed to, or even sympathetic to the idea that marriage consists of two heterosexual people wanting to play their part in building society by having children is to face or cause social and financial excommunication. Shouldn’t that ring alarm bells even for progressive Christians?
What is in the minds of progressive Christians that they are so enamoured by the prospect of expressing oneself sexually, both existentially and in practice, that it becomes more important not only than the unity of the Church, but even the survival of the Church?
Where in the teaching of Jesus (and the apostles) is there anything remotely concerned with sexual identity and self-expression? And alongside that, does it not matter that the very secular ideologies that promote this variegated and erotically charged new understanding of the practice of sexuality, seem to hate and despise the Church and the Christian faith?
It’s not dissimilar to progressives in the Conservative party finding that they have more in common with the Liberal Democrats with their passion for multiculturalism, the big state, anti-Brexit and untrammelled immigration, than they do with right wing conservative colleagues. Whatever one’s own personal preference, these different views are not compatible within the same party, and it looks as though there are very few real Conservatives left in the Conservative party.
The shift to the cultural Left has been swift and dramatic. One might ask if they can really be called Conservatives any more, since the best of the past is not something they choose to conserve. And in such numbers, they may tear apart and destroy the Conservative party forever. This cultural and ideological split seems to be at the heart of the civil war within the party that looks likely to remove it from power, and perhaps destroy it.
And the same dynamic is true in the Church in the West. One can’t even argue for the progressive ideology from the point of view of liberal inclusivism since the progressive position on sexuality, despite misusing the term ‘inclusivity’, has no intention of including orthodox Christianity. Why if one was a Christian would one want to identify with an ideology that was so dramatically antithetic to other Christians (even if one disagreed with them) whilst at the same time being so antithetic to freedom of speech and democracy?
It must be clear now to progressive Christians that the progressive package is a seamless whole. You don’t get to choose bits of it you like. If you choose to alter your faith to promote pansexuality of practice and ideology, you buy into a movement that is increasingly anti-Church, anti-Jesus, anti-heterosexual, anti-inclusive, anti-Bible, anti-free speech, anti-democratic. What does that leave you with apart from ‘sex’?
The Conservatives are watching their own demise with all the horror and fixated despair that a slow train crash would bring on. The Church should, as Jesus often suggested, learn to read the signs of the times with the intention of avoiding the same fate.
Yet all the mainline Protestant historic churches have taken that route. And to the surprise of many, with its clumsy foray into the so-called Synodal Way, even the Roman Catholic Church is fidgeting its way in that direction.
The siren call of secularism, wokery and the wholly misplaced belief that human nature can be improved and the earth made a better place just by trying harder, has overcome so many parts of the Church.
The Church in the West ought not only to have more sense than the Conservative party, but to make use of the unique safety mechanism that has saved it from destruction time after time after time down the decades and centuries.
It can choose metanoia, and consider the option of repentance rather than oblivion. For many, the Gospel of last Sunday contained the chilling words of Jesus that some of us may have understood for the first time: “However when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18,8).