Notes and Comments
Lord Runcie and his Legacy to the Church of England
The death in July of Lord Runcie, former Archbishop of Canterbury, has called forth many assessments of his time as leader
of the Church of England. "He was, in fact," says one obituary, "a moderate leader of a pragmatic disposition
. . . who liked to be liked." Many who closely observed him at work thought it no exaggeration that he was described
on one occasion as "a man who nailed his colours to the fence".
While Lord Runcie was a hard-working prelate, his energies were not circumscribed and directed by the Word of God. He
gave clear and sad evidence that the opinions of men were more to be heeded than the mind of God as revealed in Scripture.
A certain canon wrote of him, "His clear preference is for men of liberal disposition with a moderately Catholic style.
. . . Dr Runcie and his closest associates are men who have nothing to prevent them following what they think is the wish
of the majority at the moment."
It is indeed a God-dishonouring career which must be described, as was Lord Runcie’s: "His welcoming of Pope John
Paul to Canterbury in 1982, praying side by side at the site of Becket’s martyrdom, was among the high points of his Primacy".
There is no doubt that his leadership of the national church of England has led it deeper into the morass in which it is
Married Couple’s Tax Allowance
Mr William Hague, the leader of the Conservatives, has recently pledged that his party, if successful at the next election,
will restore the married couple’s tax allowance. This is a welcome step, for which our Church and other bodies have been
It remains to be seen, however, how much the allowance will amount to and whether or not it will significantly recognise
the importance of marriage and traditional family life. After all, the last Conservative government gradually diminished
the value of the allowance, until it was worth less than £4 a week, and paved the way for the present Chancellor of the
Exchequer to abolish it.
Of course, other factors, besides financial disincentives, contribute to the devaluing of marriage. The further away our
nation moves from the Word of God, the more marriage is rejected. It is true that the divorce rate in England and Wales
is falling, but that is because more couples are choosing to live together without marrying (from 1988 to 1998 the number
of marriages fell from 348 492 to 267 303).
However, it is high time that national fiscal policy did recognise in a practical way that family life founded upon the
divinely-appointed institution of marriage is unquestionably the best basis on which to build any society.
William Hague’s Drinking Claims
The Times of August 14 reports Mr Hague’s claims that he could drink up to 14 pints of beer a day when doing holiday
work for his father’s firm, and that he drank 32 rum and cokes on his eighteenth birthday – a truly disgraceful and shameful
We read in Scripture of those who glory in their shame. Instead of boasting of his drinking exploits, Mr Hague should
be expressing regret. To say the least, his irresponsible claim has sent out the wrong message. This is all the more regrettable
when alcohol abuse is increasing among young people in the UK, and when, according to Alcohol Concern, 1 in 25 adults in
the UK are dependent on alcohol.
Pandering to Prejudice?
Section 28 prevents local authorities from promoting homosexuality. The Scottish Parliament repealed this law, but thankfully
the House of Lords has voted for its retention in England and Wales. The Government has indicated that it will not seek
to overturn the Lords’ decision for the foreseeable future. With an election looming over the horizon, the Government is
concerned about its image on family issues. Yet they still plan to proceed with proposals to bring down to 16 "the
age of consent" for homosexuals.
A Home Office review of the law on sexual offences makes some welcome recommendations, but others are decidedly unsatisfactory,
among them the suggestion that the offence of indecent exposure be dropped.
It is reported that the Prime Minister accused those who oppose the repeal of Section 28 as "pandering to prejudice".
If prejudice is a preconceived opinion formed without just grounds, Mr Blair is quite simply wrong. God has spoken perfectly
clearly on the subject in the Bible. There we indeed find just grounds for opposing this sin. Opposition to sodomy was
necessary for the good order of society in the past, so it is not prejudice to say that it is still necessary. The longer
we follow the philosophies of spiritually blind counsellors, the further we will go from the good order of God’s Word and
the more likely the breakdown of orderly society will become.
Therapy Replacing Religion
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, stated recently that Western culture has fostered a society in which counselling
has replaced Christianity. "When therapy replaces faith," he said, "and when therapeutic techniques are
seen as the total answer to humanity’s deepest needs and longings, another idolatry is introduced." In many sermons
today, he added, this therapeutic approach is uppermost. "Missing is the appeal to a holy God and His call to us to
turn to Him in repentance and faith."
The Archbishop’s statements are right, but they are vitiated by his erroneous statements and his failure to act on other
occasions. For example, a few days prior to this, although present in the House of Lords at the debate on Section 28, he
neither spoke nor voted.
The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has announced that it is relaxing its standards to allow more explicitly
pornographic videos to be sold in the UK. This is the result of a ruling by the High Court. The Home Secretary, who is
responsible for legislation in this area, admits that children have to be safeguarded from the dangers these videos pose.
It is understood that he will not try to reverse the BBFC’s new rules but will make all regulators – including those covering
satellite television – have regard for the harm that can be done to children by pornography. This seems altogether inadequate.
Drastic tightening of the law is what is called for.
Obviously parents and others who allow children to view the appallingly wicked videos which are already on sale to the
public are fearfully guilty, especially in view of their responsibility before God and man to protect the young. In any
case, the depravity of anyone, young or old, who can enjoy such videos, or similar material in any medium, is unspeakable.
The power of such material to deprave is surely undeniable. People need to be protected from depraving themselves. In too
many cases, innocent people suffer from the assaults of those who have been thus depraved.
Increasing Crime in England and Wales
The latest set of crime figures for England and Wales show a 3.8% rise over the previous year. Offences of violence were
up by a massive 16%. Such increases are not surprising in a society which is more and more ignoring the authority of God’s
law. When the seeds of unbelief and irreligion have been sown with such enthusiasm in religious as well as secular quarters,
we ought not to be surprised when the nation has to reap the consequences.
It is significant that Government ministers blamed increased drinking by young people. It would be helpful if they applied
their comments to recent proposals to relax further the restrictions on the consumption of alcohol. Clearly, one sure way
to restrain crime is to do whatever is possible to reduce the consumption of alcohol. Much human misery would thus be averted.
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