This weekend traditionally marks the commemoration of the central act and doctrine of the Christian faith.
A penniless preacher was hung naked on a Roman gallows to die an appalling, agonising death.
It was a highly political act. It was typical of the treachery displayed in all ages by callous men in their obsession to control the agenda.
Jesus had done no wrong, only Good – he healed the sick and diseased, and asked nothing in return.
He lived selflessly, for the good of others.
But the men in control felt threatened, and when powerful men feel threatened they use lies, smears, and the mechanisms of the law to eliminate the threat. Sound familiar ?
Jesus was accused of Blasphemy, to which they added treason to ensure the death penalty was applied.
Such was the gross injustice, his example and teaching has had an unparalleled influence on this world in the 2000 years since.
His doctrine ?
LOVE GOD, and so LOVE OTHERS.
[The second injunction is, of course, impossible without the First. Adhering to the second, but rejecting the first is not Christianity; it is Humanism. A fundamental fact that too many learned Bishops and leading clerics have sadly failed to grasp.]
This example and this teaching were once the fundamental ethical reference point in the culture of our English speaking nations. Indeed in the nations of Europe. In fact the only basis for a common European identity is the Christian faith …
Christianity was the axiomatic reference point of all our morality. It infused our entire culture. It differentiated European culture from all other world cultures.
There have inevitably been abuses, even so. Governments and ecclesiastical organisations carried on the timeless game of political manipulation: the pursuit of power, title and gain, regardless of the human cost involved. A creed is always a useful cover for evil.
Men have at all times and in all places been subject to what the Christian worldview calls sin – inherited selfishness and evil. The fact that it happens demonstrates the Christian case for man’s sinfulness and the primordial need of a Saviour.
But Christ’s teaching and example permeated everyday culture and taught what we all need, the fundamentals of civilised behaviour. It taught there is a moral code and there is an Omnipotence who judges by his code.
How can any one fault or gainsay the example and teaching of Jesus Christ ?
Historically the rulers and officials of the United Kingdom and of its colonies were taught this ethic. This ethic permeated the culture in which they were born, grew up and operated. At the very least, men understood that the truth is fundamental and that justice can only be done by reference to objective truth – not personal prejudice, personal perception, personal ideology.
Fundamental to all else was a sense of individual responsibility for sin, and individual responsibility to tell the truth. Individual responsibility before the All knowing and Almighty God who will requite us according to our deeds.
Personal responsibility before an Objective, Moral God who determines our Ethics. He alone has the right to do that; he alone set the example of supreme condescension by dying like a traitor on a cross.
God our Creator abases himself; God himself shows respect for the totally unworthy – a love so sublime, God dies to save the utterly unworthy from their unworthiness.
But with what Superior Wisdom have we now replaced this transcendent example of moral conduct ?
There is no God who loves you
you are therefore alone
you are therefore your own god
you are therefore perfectly justified in whatever you think is right to do