NEW

Letter to the Editor: Response to the Last Editorial

Letter to the Editor Response to Last Edition’s Editorial Dear Editor, Thank you very much for your Christian charity and spirited editorial, Friday 8th October 2021, ( E.C. No.8090).  Also thanks are due to you for reprinting so much excellent reformed evangelical...

Letter to the Editor: The Murder of Sir David Amess

Murder of Sir David Amess Dear Editor, I grieve at the loss of a friend and former Party colleague Sir David Amess, MP who was murdered in an increasingly dangerous world. In the 70s I worked with David in the Young Conservatives before he became an MP and he was...

Reformation Sunday Advert

LETTER TO THE EDITOR:                        15 October 2021. My ‘Advert’ titled “Reformation Sunday 31 October” said, “The Church of England should still celebrate this 500th year since Martin Luther declared at the ‘Diet of Worms’ in 1521, “Here I stand. God help...

Leicester Diocese Illogical

Letter to the Editor Leicester Diocese Illogical   Sir, Leicester Diocese’s decision on 9 October to replace its traditional Parishes with ‘Minsters' is both spiritually and financially illogical.  The Church of England’s own growth report ‘From Anecdote to...

Barnabas Fund Reports: Turkey Escalates Airstrikes Against Christians in Syria & Iraq

Barnabas Fund Reports Turkey Escalating Airstrikes Against Christians and other Minorities in Syria and Iraq Turkey has escalated a supposedly anti-terrorist military campaign in Syria and Iraq which appears to be targeting Christians and other minorities. A spate of...

Should I Stay or Should I Go? Gospel-Driven Anglicanism Part 4

Should I Stay or Should I Go? By the Revd Dr Mark Pickles Part 4 Gedaliah is appointed governor and we read that Jeremiah purposely chooses to live amongst “those of the poorest of the land who had not been taken into exile in Babylon” (40:7). Things have taken a turn...

466th Anniversary of the Martyrdoms of Latimer & Ridley

466th Anniversary of the Martyrdoms of Latimer & Ridley Saturday, 16 October marked the 466th anniversary of the martyrdoms of Bishops Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley.   They were burned at the stake after being found guilty of heresy due to their refusal to...

Clive West Memorial Trust Lecture: John Yates III to Speak

Clive West Memorial Trust Lecture  Revd Dr John Yates III to Speak The annual Clive West Memorial Lecture will be held on Thursday, 11 November at 19:30 at St Nicholas’ Church, Lisburn Road in Belfast.  This year’s speaker is the Revd Dr John Yates III, Rector of Holy...

Book Review: Bleeding for Jesus

Bleeding for Jesus John Smyth and the cult of the Iwerne Camps Andrew Graystone Darton, Longman and Todd, 2021 (ISBN: 9781913657123, 250pp, £12.99) This book is the latest instalment of a long-running tragedy. It comes six years after the author was first made aware...

School Pupils Across the Country Memorise Passages from BCP for £1,000 Prize

School Pupils Across the Country  Memorise Book of Common Prayer Passages  £1,000 Prize for Winner By Tim Stanley Hundreds of school pupils across the country are busy this term studying prayers and readings from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer in a bid to win a prize...

Interview with Tim Farron

EDITOR’s NOTE:

Over the next few editions of the English Churchman, we will feature interviews with a number of people in public life who are professing and practicing Christians.  You will read views with which you disagree.  Likewise, you will read views with which you are in complete support.  None of these will speak for this publication.

Our first interview is with the MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, Tim Farron.  Mr Farron is member of the Liberal Democrat Party.  He was first elected in 2005 and was the first non-Conservative to win that parliamentary constituency in over 95 years.  He and his family live in the village of Milnthorpe in south Cumbria

In 2010, he was elected President of the Liberal-Democrats and then re-elected in 2010.  The year 2015 saw Farron become the Leader of his party.  He stepped down in 2017 after a very public dispute with the most progressive wing over his lack of support for the Bible’s teaching on sex and sexuality

The statement he made when he resigned was very insightful. 

He said: 

“From the very first day of my leadership, I have faced questions about my Christian faith.  I’ve tried to answer with grace and patience.  Sometimes my answers could have been wiser. 

At the start of this election, I found myself under scrutiny again – asked about matters to do with my faith.  I felt guilty that this focus was distracting attention from our campaign, obscuring our message.

Journalists have every right to ask what they see fit.  The consequences of the focus on my faith is that I have found myself torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader. 

A better, wiser person than me may have been able to deal with this more successfully, to have remained faithful to Christ while leading a political party in the current environment.  

To be a political leader – especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 – and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching, has felt impossible for me. 

I’m a liberal to my finger tips, and that liberalism means that I am passionate about defending the rights and liberties of people who believe different things to me.  

There are Christians in politics who take the view that they should impose the tenets of faith on society, but I have not taken that approach because I disagree with it – it’s not liberal and it is counterproductive when it comes to advancing the gospel.

Even so, I seem to be the subject of suspicion because of what I believe and who my faith is in.

In which case we are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society.

That’s why I have chosen to step down as leader of the Liberal Democrats”.

When the EC spoke with Mr Farron, we found him to be a warm and clear-spoken man with a real sense of calling to serve as an MP.  His understanding of what he termed, “true Christianity” is tied to his understanding of the grace of God.

“True Christianity is counter-cultural—always has been—and it is all about grace—God’s unearned favour that you’ve not worked for means you’re not your own master’.  

He is of the conviction the Christian faith is very reasonable but that people take offence because they don’t like anything that disturbs them or tells them they are wrong.

Farron also believes that honesty and integrity in public office holders are key factors that have been largely missing in much of public life both in government and the church.  He said, “we’ve almost got to the point where there’s little accountability”.  He went on, “All lead by example—either good or bad”.

He thinks JKA Smith’s book, ‘Awaiting the King’  offers a pretty good explanation of the current situation.  Farron said in one portion, “King refers to ‘western liberal democracies bearing the crater marks of the gospel’ and agreeing explained; “even though we may not largely be a Christian country today, our values, norms and institutions are nevertheless based on a Christian world view: justice, grace, personal responsibility, care for the needy, the knowledge that if people are sinners then you don’t want power concentrated in the hands of too few of them!  The ‘crater marks’ point is more that as we move away from Christianity, then those marks will become fainter and fainter until such point that integrity may matter less and less”.

When asked about what he sees as the next big moral issues facing the nation he was quick and to the point:  1.) “the effort to decriminalise all abortion up to the point of birth”; and, 2.) “assisted dying”.  He does not believe that the former will find the support necessary to be approved by parliament and that assisted dying will be a big battle. 

He is of the persuasion there is tendency by opponents of assisted dying to talk and argue in the abstract about the question, rather than addressing the matter with Christian compassion.  In his view, part of the problem is the way people understand palliative care, the debate being over whether or not assisted dying and palliative care are one and the same.  He believes that Christians must engage in the debate over the matter and fears that without compassion, “we will lose the argument”.

Being a Liberal-Democrat, Farron sees the State being more involved in every day life more than those of other parties. He also believes that the government “has stepped into roles in a reactive way” rather than being proactive. He sees himself as being in the tradition of the original Liberal Party which he termed the “Evangelical Party” owing to its founders roots in the various non-conformist, evangelical churches.  

Farron is a regular attendee at his local church and participates in bible study groups made up of other Christian MPs when Parliament is in session.  

Previous

Next