14th September 2018
A little known trial; a well-known leader and the widening divide between two interpretations of the Faith. What is there in common between the trial of Dr Patrick Sookhdeo in the United Kingdom last month and the weird destabilising of the UCA here? The jury of twelve at Snaresbrook Crown Court, after deliberating for less than two hours, unanimously found Dr Sookhdeo not guilty on Tuesday 31 July of a charge of indecent assault dating back to the 1970’s.
The prosecution’s case fell into a disarray of contradictions and absurdities. And what happened next is why I am putting this piece together in the climate of our own UCA disarray. Unable to make anything relevant stick, the prosecution began on their real animus, describing this godly servant as a conservative traditional evangelical! One who rejected inter-faith dialogue and held to the Bible’s plain teaching on marriage and sexuality. In a leaflet he even dared to encourage Christians to love Muslims and hopefully lead them to faith in our Lord Jesus. Cries of manipulation and offence!
Failing to get this Christian leader on facts that might be relevant to the case, the liberal establishment set out to destroy him by casting him as being part of a dangerously anti-social enclave called ‘conservative evangelical Christians.’ Apparently, a member of a ‘sect’ that believes Holy Scripture is divine revelation!
Is the UCA Assembly tracking in a similar way as that religious establishment? If federal and state laws fail to protect freedom of religion will our evangelical pastors be vulnerable? Is the idea of following the clear direct meaning of Scripture and claiming it is real and relevant for today to be parodied as conservative junk? Believing the Scriptures have hope for a shamed and bereft humanity seems to threaten the progressive status quo. In the UK, liberal deconstructionist philosophy is becoming mainstream ‘church’, while Evangelical (so-called conservative) Christianity is marginalised, dubbed extremist and increasingly regarded as legally dangerous.
Yet Scripture believed and proclaimed demonstrates its authenticity and reality. Christ is risen flesh and Lord of all. The Holy Spirit is here. Repentance works, conversion happens. God’s way blesses individuals and nations. We shall not, dare not relinquish this saving gospel.
Rev Ian Clarkson is a Minister of the Word in South Australia.
This article was originally published in the September 2018 edition of ACCatalyst.