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The Westminster Declaration: Just Say No! Dissenting Voices #hangem April 20, 2010

Posted by Phil Groom in Current Affairs.
Tags: , , , ,

Updated 22/04/2010

A note following on from my post a few days ago, Westminster 2010: Protecting freedom of conscience – but whose conscience?

Encouraging to see more dissenting voices emerging, specifically:

The beauty of it is we’re all coming at it from different directions: me, because I believe in marriage equality for gay and straight couples; Annie because she recognises the reality of our post-Christendom context and believes that attempting to legislate for Christian rights is wrong; and Jongudmund because he sees an outrageous hypocrisy in the stance taken against embryo-destructive research that fails to take the same stand against IVF — go read his post in full if you can’t get your head around my précis.

Good old dissenter and activist Steve Chalke got there before us, though, and his organisation Faithworks has issued a press release that lays out very clearly what is so utterly wrongheaded about this declaration:

Faithworks represents 22,000 Christians from a variety of theological and political backgrounds, our theology is inclusive and not imposing, and our purpose is to encourage people to express their faith through serving others without discrimination.  In contrast, the Westminster 2010 Declaration sets Christians up on a moral high ground and implicitly creates divisiveness. It does this at just the time when the church’s morality has been called into question across the world.

And top marks to Lee Moore who got there ahead of Chalke: Why I Won’t Sign Westminster 2010 & Why You Should Read it Carefully Before You Sign

As I said before: Westminster 2010: would Jesus sign it? I don’t think so.

Now, beautiful people (by which I mean you, beloved reader), enough of what not to do. What positive action can we take to sort out this dysfunctional government of ours? Hang ’em. That’s what I say: hang the lot of ’em. If you’d like to see parliamentary reform, vote strategically for a hung parliament.

Together, we can do it. Together, we can beat the system: join the campaign at hang-em.com, on facebook and on twitter.

Update, 22/04/2010: Thanks to @Jon_Bartley at Ekklesia who got there even earlier, it turns out: Conservative church leaders launch anti-war declaration for general election (April 4th). His concluding paragraphs sum up the problems with WmD (thanks t’other Jon) rather well:

What it does show is the extent to which those putting the Westminster Declaration together are dualistic in their thinking, selective in their focus, and ignore some of the most central aspects of their faith that have something to say to the world around them – despite their claim to be ‘representing’ Christianity.

In their zeal to combat the ‘marginalisation’ of Christianity, they are actually doing a great deal to marginalise the faith themselves.

What what shows, you ask? Go read Jon’s full analysis.


1. Jon - April 21, 2010

Hey thanks for mentioning my post.

I agree that an interesting aspect of dissent is that there are so many reasons to dissent. That’s got to be evidence of some serious flaws in the thinking behind WmD.

2. Lee Moore - April 21, 2010

Hi Phil – great post.

YES – I beat Steve Chalke to something. I can die fulfilled now…

3. Phil Groom - April 22, 2010

Thanks guys — and @Jon_Bartley at Ekklesia got there even earlier, it turns out: Conservative church leaders launch anti-war declaration for general election (April 4th)…

4. Karita - April 22, 2010

Shows where my brain is at, I read WmD as Weapons of Mass Destruction!

Excellent post, thanks for the rundown. 🙂

5. Gathered thoughts | Latentexistence - April 29, 2010
6. tall_and_skeptic - April 30, 2010

At the time of writing this post, 43,661 people have signed this declaration. Out of 42,079,000 UK Christians (2001 Census).
Harldy representative, is it?

7. Daniel Cooling - May 3, 2010

Hi Phil. I know I’m coming to the party late, but has there been any discussion about this at LST? I couldn’t see anything on the Intranet. Were staff and students consulted about the advertisment of the Principal’s being a signatory? It makes it look like ‘the LST position’.

What I find so disturbing about the declaration is the totally undefined notion of acting according to ‘Christian conscience’ that we’re supposed to be asking MPs to protect. The German Christians were no doubt acting in accordance to their Christian consciences when they supported Hitler. Likewise those that bomb abortion clinics, kill doctors, burn at the stake, deny public services to homosexuals, lynch black people etc.

How could something so uncritically written be produced by so many supposed luminaries of the UK Christian scene?

Phil Groom - May 3, 2010

Hi Daniel – as far as I know there’s been no discussion at LST —plenty of thought-provoking stuff in the latest LST InSight mag (pdf, 1.8mb) though…

8. Why Christians shouldn’t sign the Westminster 2010 Declaration « Theological Aesthetics - May 6, 2010

[…] My only consolation is that the Westminster 2010 Declaration may prove to be of no use either. Phil’s Boring Blog sums up some of the critical commentary out there, Faithworks have issued a statement against it, […]

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