More on the Bishop of Rochester

Ruth Gledhill has reported that Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali and family have received death threats following his article about Muslim “no go areas” in parts of England (see blog below). Speaking about the empathy and support for his article which has resonated with evangelical concerns about the increasing threat which comes from Islamic teaching and the desire to introduce Shia law in English cities, he says:“The irony is that I had similar threats when I was a bishop in Pakistan, but I never thought I would have them here. My point in saying what I did was that Britain had lost its Christian vision, which would have provided the resources to offer hospitality to others.” Here in Oxford, the Vicar of the large student church St Aldate’s, Charlie Cleverly has joined opposition to the Muslim call to prayer: “When such an area is subject to such a call to prayer, it may force people to move out and encourage Muslim families to move in,” he said.  You do risk a kind of ghetto-isation of the city a few years down the line. I don’t think the people of Oxford want to hear a call to prayer to Allah in the same way people don’t want someone loud in their face asking them to buy coffee. Bells are just a signal and have been around for 1,500 years. They are a terribly English part of our culture. I do not believe in the imposition of another culture on our country.” (“Religions Collide Under the Dreaming Spires”, Daily Telegraph, 1st Feb 2008)These two incidents highlight the growing challenge for Evangelical Churches in our inner cities.  For decades, Christianity has been seen as a private and personal matter.  Christians have acquiesced in the view that it is not their job to change culture and society.  However, when we have been confronted with a proselytising Islamic faith on our doorsteps that sees societal transformation as integral to their message, Christians have struggled to apply their faith to the culture.  However as the Bishop of Rochester pointed out, we sell the Gospel of Jesus Christ short if we don’t assume that personal faith has societal and cultural implications.  But whenever we assume that will be the case we can expect to be at odds with our multicultural modern Britain.

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