By Charles Gardner —
I have already referred in my previous posting to the timeliness of the approaching Hanukkah festival – not only for Jews, especially in Israel, but also for Gentile Christians around the world.
Hanukkah celebrates the second century BC victory over a cruel tyrant’s efforts to impose his worldly (Greek) culture on the Jewish people. But now the entire Judeo-Christian world is under unprecedented attack from all sides.
The Church of England, which once influenced much of the globe with the glorious gospel of Jesus, is now threatened with collapse from within.
A leading Anglican vicar has been severely reprimanded by a church disciplinary hearing for his comments on Israel, and the denomination as a whole appears to be on the brink of formally approving sin by welcoming same-sex relationships. All of which follows the pattern of the ancient Jewish Hellenists in being seduced by woke Western culture.
However, some of Israel’s new lawmakers seem to be swimming against the tide with Knesset (parliament) member Avi Maoz proclaiming “We have come to drive out the darkness,” citing a popular Hanukkah song that commemorates the religious Jews of the Maccabean Revolt expelling the Greeks and their influence from the land of Israel. As of old, a godly remnant is taking a stand. For even in Israel, LGBT ideology is being taught in schools.
In the Gentile Church, meanwhile, the move away from Scriptural authority is manifesting itself on two main fronts – Israel and sexual morality.
The Methodists, for example, began passing resolutions in favour of boycotting Israel some years ago, and has since succumbed lock, stock and barrel to the LGBT agenda.
Church of England bishops will now meet on Monday to decide the next steps in the church’s process for considering changing its teaching on LGBT issues. Six bishops have already called for same-sex approval.
Campaign group Christian Concern said: “There is a real danger that the church will soon officially sanction sexual immorality. This matters to all of us, not just those at C of E churches,” they added. “The C of E is the established church in England with a unique opportunity to shape Christian understanding in the UK. If it begins to formally approve of sin, it will make true mission more difficult and it will become even easier to label faithful Christians as extreme.”
Although South Africa’s Anglicans have already shown their antisemitic colours by urging members to support the Palestinian cause – effectively Israel’s extinction – the C of E, to their credit, have not followed this line.
They even held a service of repentance for historic antisemitism committed by the church at Oxford Cathedral earlier this year. And their lengthy judgment in the case of Rev Dr Stephen Sizer adds credence to their goodwill.
Vicar of a well-to-do parish in Surrey for 20 years, Sizer was judged to have engaged in conduct which “provoked and offended the Jewish community” and in one “serious allegation” was found to have “engaged in antisemitic activity”.
In a complaint brought by the Jewish Board of Deputies, the now retired Anglican priest had denied antisemitism in relation to eleven allegations about his conduct between 2005 and 2018.
The tribunal, which will now determine a penalty, said the most serious allegation against Sizer related to posting a link on Facebook to an article blaming Israel for the 9/11 attacks on America. He repeated his apology for the latter and “accepted” the criticisms of his conduct.
Having welcomed the church’s handling of this case, it has to be said that the denomination’s overall grasp of God’s great purposes for Israel, clearly stated throughout Scripture, is sadly lacking and there is little real support and concern for their welfare, with the notable exception of the Church’s Ministry among the Jewish people, an Anglican society committed to Jewish mission for over 200 years.
There is, nevertheless, a genuine awakening of interest in the Jewish roots of the Christian faith among believers in Britain.
But whether in Israel or the British Isles, only the light of Christ can expel the ever-encroaching darkness surrounding us. And we thrill at the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy, that “the people walking in darkness have seen a great light”. (Isaiah 9:2)
May the festive lights of Hanukkah and Christmas bring joy and peace to our lives!