Today’s guest post is by Ciaran Thompson. Ciaran has done both local and central London-based work in politics. It has involved media reporting for a Christian group which tries to bridge the gap between the Church and the Government. This piece is Ciaran’s personal view.
Back in 1603, Queen Elizabeth I died with no heir to inherit the throne of England. It was decided that King James VI of Scotland would come down to London and become King James I of England and Scotland. He was the most likely heir. In fact he was the first monarch to reign over England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland. He was known as the ‘King of Great Britain and Ireland’. His accession to this new throne and His desire to have a new English translation of the Bible which would be accessible to everyone from the ploughboy to the Prince were unifying and revolutionary. After the turmoil and division created by the Reformation, here was a new King and a new Bible named after him, which would eventually bring unity.
What followed were wars between the nations of this new Kingdom, the English civil war and then the Glorious Revolution which all involved warring parties who each based their arguments on the Bible. The debate changed and finally everyone was able to talk to each about what God meant, because they could read His Word for themselves. They heard it in their language – the language of the people.
The Empire began to take shape, the Parliament of today was formed and Britain began to prosper like no other nation. Then in 1707, the Acts of Union established the United Kingdom and later in 1801, Ireland was also formally and officially recognised as part of this Kingdom. Though there were countless abuses caused by the Empire, the Gospel was spread, which influenced the peoples, parliaments and politics of many nations throughout this world. Its far-reaching ripple can be seen to this day at home and abroad.
It seems that God had a hand in bringing together four great nations under one King, who further unified the nation of nations with God’s Word – and then we prospered. From that it can be seen that together we are stronger. United – we stand, divided – we fall. Therefore, I do not believe that the desire the split apart is in line with God’s will for our nation. Think of the troubles in Ireland leading and resulting from the 1922 split. Yes the religious elements played their usual role, which is not so with the Scotland debate, but still, we could be feeling the effects of this new split for many decades to come – just as Ireland and Northern Ireland have for over 90 years.
It is interesting that the first king over all of Great Britain and Ireland was a Scot who unified Scotland with the rest of us – something hardly mentioned in the press. Now it is the First Minister of Scotland – Alex Salmond who wants to remove Scotland from that union. I am amazed at how quick the whole debate leading up to this week’s referendum has taken place which has included so many unanswered questions from both sides of the argument. Surely, such a humungous thing as deciding whether a group of five million people should leave a nation to form their own should be debated and decided on much more carefully.
I wholehearted believe that God brought us all together as four nations under one, and most importantly – under Him. I think this is seen most obviously in the aforesaid development which resulted from King James of Scotland’s accession to the new throne along with the publication and spreading of the King James Bible. We enjoyed the blessings which God promises to a nation whose God is the Lord (See: Deut. 28 and Psalm 33). As we have turned more and more away from God in the last few decades, I believe that is why there is a desire to split apart. That is not to say that the ‘yes’ campaigners are the bunch of ungodly rebels, but in fact represent a dissatisfaction with a Government which is not strong enough. They are weak because they have mainly moved away from God and His ways. However, I still ally myself with the ‘no’ campaigners because they at least know we are better together, even if they and the ‘yes’ campaigners do not understand the spiritual elements at work.
This possible Scottish separation feels like a divorce. As quoted in traditional British wedding ceremonies, I would say “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Mark 10.9. KJV). Those are the words of Jesus and in His Word it also says “…that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:1-4).
In 1706, just prior to the Acts of Union, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland called on the people of Scotland to not only pray and fast for the Scottish government of that time, but also for the government in London and for the March – Queen Anne. They made the following statement as their main prayer request: ‘That all may be done to the glory of God and the good of Christ’s Church.’
Now in 2014, The Church of Scotland in union with other denominations have encouraged people of Scotland to pray and fast as part of two national days of prayer. The first was on Sunday 14th and the second is today (Wednesday 17th). I would say let’s all pray and fast for Scotland wherever we are in the UK and pray for the nation, the leaders and the Queen that again that the glory will go to God and will be for the good of Christ’s church and the whole Union.
Unfortunately God and Politics has been unable to find a guest blogger supporting the Yes campaign, despite that being preferable in the name of balance. If you want to read an article in favour of independence from a Christian perspective, I recommend Doug Gay’s on the Theos website. – Gillan