Christian preaching should be radical and life transforming, but it leads us into love and good works not hatred and violence.
An Eastbourne headmaster complained last week about ‘stifling’ health and safety rules and red tape that oblige him to vet, among others, a visiting Church of England bishop for extremism.
Apparently, he has had to ask respected senior clergy for advance texts of the sermons they were due to preach at the school in order to comply with Government anti-terrorism measures. He was also unhappy about other administrative burdens placed on the school by the Prevent strategy – a series of initiatives aimed at countering extremism that may lead to acts of terror.
Whether or not vetting sermons is an actual requirement under Prevent is debatable but this report does raise serious questions about the attitude our society has to Christianity.
Why would a Christian sermon ever be considered as a possible source of extremism? What is there in the explanation of the Bible’s teaching that could incite acts of violence or murder? Do people in the UK today genuinely think orthodox Christianity is dangerous? Or is the problem just that we have become paranoid about being exposed as someone who holds or tolerates views that break anti-terror or equalities law?
Christian preaching should be a faithful explanation of the message of the Bible, applied carefully to life. It is radical in that it challenges our assumptions and behaviour and calls us to repent and to believe in Jesus Christ. It does say things that are hard to accept at first and that change our way of thinking and living but never calls us to anything that will endanger our fellow citizens.
Jesus Christ calls his followers to extreme love for God, his word of truth in Christ, his gospel, his people and his world and we need to keep preaching that message despite attempts to censor us.
See a full version of this article on Premier Christianity