Commercial and bureaucratic hindrances collided with an uncontrollable reality: the faith of many players.
While European nations, like ourselves, have largely abandoned Christianity as a guiding force, nevertheless, we have a great deal in common in terms of values. An opinion article sent by one of our readers.
On June 23rd 2016, the citizens of Britain will vote on whether to leave the European Union or to remain in it. Many Christians say they are going to vote to leave the union and they sometimes make this decision on spurious grounds relating to "prophecies", delivered as in the first person from God by certain evangelical groups who see Europe as an anti-Christian force that undermines Christian values, imposes alien laws on us and takes away from our national sovereignty.
I would like to outline a positive case for remaining "in" Europe which while not “prophetic” as such, is based on my own Christian knowledge of the Bible and the ethics and culture is promotes. I think this article will be relevant to Britain at the present time, but will also apply to Christians in other nations who find anti EU-feeling developing.
I believe that Europe has been historically the most important and influential bastion of Christian values in the world. Yes, we have a Christian heritage in Britain but so, and equally, have all the other nations of Europe. While European nations, like ourselves, have largely abandoned Christianity as a guiding force, nevertheless, we have a great deal in common in terms of values and culture with our European neighbours. Also, we share in treaties with Europe which have developed over the last 60 years and as an internationalist and diplomatic nations we should work within these to use our Christian influence for justice, equality and the common good.
The tragedy is that in recent years, Britain has abandoned any attempt to be at the heart of Europe and we have spent our time complaining negatively from the sidelines. I believe our British politicians should confidently and co-operatively take their place in the various institutions in Europe and at the same time promote the value of working with our European neighbours to the population back at home.
I believe that no good will come from Britain leaving the European Union and it will only bring shame on our once great nation and make us to draw in on ourselves. We are no longer a nation known for our Christian values, rather our reputation has been tarnished by greed, inequality, immorality and fecklessness. We would not be withdrawing from the European Union into a purified British community with Christian values, but rather, I think we would become introspective and full of foolish pride which would be belied by our rapidly deteriorating circumstances. Hard won workers rights will be compromised, banks will go unregulated and injustices will proliferate. Our precious "sovereignty" could well be compromised if Scotland rejoins the European Union as an independent nation.
Furthermore, it seems to be extremely un-Christian to add to the woes of this great Continent by destabilising the Union at exactly the time it needs the most support. We all need to work together to deal with the immense challenges of this great continent and opting out will do nobody any good.
Our links with Europe are a wonderful opportunity for evangelism and we should cease our judgementalism, recognise the plank in our own eye and thank God for the peace and prosperity our EU membership has brought us since we joined the Union in 1973.
Like Great Britain, the nations of Europe need a Christian revival. We all have a wonderful Christian history and during the time of the Reformation Luther, Calvin and many others inspired the British Church to purify and reform its faith, establishing the precious Reformation doctrines of sola scriptura (scripture alone), sola fide (faith alone) and sola gratia (grace alone).
The reformers rejoiced in their European links and there was a "free movement" of reformers across this continent as God led them to cleanse the Christian faith of errors. Incidentally, I am a Baptist and have read that the first Baptist Church was found in Holland in 1609 by English Separtist John Smyth who had left the Anglican Church and moved to Holland to find precious religious liberty.
I believe we now need to recommit to our neighbours across the Channel and pray for us all that Our Gracious Lord will once again make Europe a bulwark against false religion, a place where the indigenous population (as well as our many incoming migrants) are converted to Christianity by God's Holy Word and a continent from where the Gospel of the Kingdom of God goes out to all the nations.
Tom Cunliffe is member of the Seaford Baptist Church, in England.