Christian Life 

Who is God's choice to stand in the gap?


The recent introduction of Sunday sailings to Lewis has brought the issue of Christian input to public and political affairs into sharper focus, and affiliation and candidate selection are vital and unanswered questions.



Western IslesThe perceived need to establish some new form of representation in the Western Isles was expressed yesterday when journalist John Macleod wrote about his dismay regarding the Sunday sailings to Lewis, and his view that the Lord’s Day Observance Society’s should have had a stronger response to this development. And now Macleod is inviting any interested activists to be in touch with him.

As far as a Christian input to the political process is concerned, this was brought into sharp focus when Stornoway man Murdo Murray stood as a Scottish Christian Party candidate for the Highlands and Islands in the 2007 Scottish Parliament elections. Whilst Murray did not ultimately win a seat he obtained a most encouraging level of support in the process; and since then since then discussions have continued regarding the manner in which Christians should, and are able to input to public and political life in a democratic society.

Two big questions


Part of these discussions surrounded the issues of whether a future candidate should stand with a particular party (Christian or otherwise) or as an independent. And notwithstanding that important point, how a suitable candidate would be selected.

It is regarding the latter – for the mainly-presbyterian Western Isles – that things can be difficult. Presbyterianism is essentially collegiate in its decision-making, and an essential part of any such process is the divine unction of the Holy Spirit. This is the way it should be (Acts 15:22,25,28).

As far as candidate selection is concerned there is a parallel of sorts with the peculiar process involved in a local church congregation ‘calling’ a minister. In the mystical human-divine interaction that should take place, it needs the Spirit to affirm His choice to both the individual minister and the congregation before coming to a firm decision.
However if this principle was applied to a situation whereby a Christian candidate was being sought to stand for public office, the simile breaks down. Whilst two parts of the process would remain the same, one component would be lacking. The essential ingredients of the Holy Spirit speaking into the life of the individual would still apply. But what does not presently exist is any formal grouping which would be the equivalent of a local congregation, and which would – under the same Holy Spirit – ratify the ‘call’.

To party or not?


With regard to party affiliation it would be fairly safe to say that each and every one of the mainstream parties is a ‘mixed bag’ regarding what Christians would find acceptable, and the former have all – to one degree or another – been discredited by the recent scandals surrounding MP’s expenses. In this context the climate might favour aspiring politicians standing as independents. This option – while there are significant down-sides – would free the individual from the eternal dilemma of whether ultimate loyalty is collective and to the party, or individually and personally to God.

Answers required


Of course a much bigger question surrounds the extent to which – indeed if at all – God would want to work through the essentially-secular political system. But if a Christian were to feel called to stand (as an independent or not) the question still remains: how is the candidate selection process to be handled? If this issue is not addressed then the whole process is effectively stymied. And, in a country which is desperate for conviction-based, wholesome leadership that would be a pity indeed.

Christians Together, 23/07/2009

Feedback:
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Peter Carr (Guest) 24/08/2009 19:19
Fanciful or not, I think that a major evidence of God's Spirit moving would be consensus!
Penny Lee 24/08/2009 19:43
'Fanciful or not, I think that a major evidence of God's Spirit moving would be consensus!'

Do you really believe that every single Christian in the UK would put their support behind whoever stood for election, even if they were ideal from a Biblical point of view?

I personally have a very high regard for Billy Graham and can find no fault at all in the man all through his ministry yet I know others, even ministers, who feel quite differently. Although I don't accept their particular reasons for disliking him as being valid, I have to accept that he was never going to have complete consensus, and I'm sure he was every bit as aware of that as anyone else.
John Parker (Guest) 24/08/2009 21:16
Getting all Christians to sing off the one (political) hymn sheet would be (humanly-speaking anyway) impossible. This is why I don't think that a Christian party will work. (When we have one Christian denomination in Scotland it might....).

However I think that someone standing as an independent could work (and of course that person would need to have strong local support). In this context I would look for (expect) a consensus within the (local) Christian community as an indicator of God's approval.
Peter Carr (Guest) 24/08/2009 21:53
Andrea said, "Do you really believe that every single Christian in the UK would put their support behind whoever stood for election, even if they were ideal from a Biblical point of view?"

Yeah, you're right, it would take a miracle! I wonder, do we know anyone in divine terms who could produce such a miracle?
Rosemary Cameron 24/08/2009 21:53
I agree with you John. When I was still a member of the SCP the fault lines were becoming evident, particularly over the issue of whether Roman Catholics could join the party. That said, unity prevailed when there was a common purpose and goal, i.e. in the runup to the election.

I favour independents, as I think I've said elsewhere.

We might have an election sooner than we think if someone proposes a vote of no confidence in the Scottish Government over the Magrahi issue!
Peter Carr (Guest) 25/08/2009 08:06
If SCP as a party have failed to get a decent amount of votes in Scotland, what chance does an independant Christian have in a largely 2/3 party race?
Penny Lee 25/08/2009 10:45
'SCP as a party have failed to get a decent amount of votes in Scotland, what chance does an independant Christian have in a largely 2/3 party race?'

Yeah, you're right, it would take a miracle! I wonder, do we know anyone in divine terms who could produce such a miracle?
John Parker (Guest) 25/08/2009 13:29
Peter said: "If SCP as a party have failed to get a decent amount of votes in Scotland, what chance does an independant Christian have in a largely 2/3 party race?"

I believe an independent (known and respected in the local constituency) would have a MUCH BETTER chance than a Christian party (which would have to find consensus around policies etc. before anyone would vote for it.)

In any election, the electrate decides (principally) on the party policies OR respect for the candidate. An independent would stand on the latter grounds.

What chance does a Christian party have when there was (for instance) widespread disagreement on which translation of the Bible the SCP should use. Or whether or not its strapline should be overtly Christian. Or whether or not .... etc. etc. etc.?
Rosemary Cameron 25/08/2009 22:36
The SCP candidates who got the most votes in the 2007 election were Murdo Murray in Highland region and Tom Selfridge in Central region. Both were well known and respected in their community and would have got a substantial number of votes standing as independents. What the SCP gave them was financial backing which paid for posters and mailings and a party political broadcast, which they would not have had as independents. The disadvantage of them being in the SCP was that some people may have been put off voting for them by some of the party's policies.

There is no reason why an independent candidate could not do well, provided they are well-known and respected and have support, both financial and in terms of volunteers to help with their campaign. If anyone out there is seriously considering standing as an independent Christian candidate I would be happy to give them the benefit of my limited experience standing as an SCP candidate in the 2007 election.
Peter Carr (Guest) 25/08/2009 22:45
Rosemary,

Independant or not, I still believe that any Christian standing in todays post-modern, post-Christian society would have more success on a morality ticket, whats your thoughts?
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Christians Together in the Highlands and Islands > Christian Life > Christians and Politics > Who is God's choice to stand in the gap?