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Seismic shifts

"In the LORD’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him." Proverbs 21.1

As we enter this season of celebrating the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, it is appropriate to note that one aspect of the Reformation evangelicalism which swept through England in the 16th century was a fresh appreciation of obedience, as a virtue which binds society together under God and works through legitimate levels of authority. Within this structure the monarch deserves the loyalty of their subjects, not for their personal aggrandisement but for their own faithful contribution the fulfilment of God's will for creation.

In contrast, the zeitgeist was less affirming of the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. Access to the Bible, which a combination of the printing press and contemporary scholarship had brought about, exposed the many ways in which the medieval church had corrupted its teaching and led people astray. Now the written word was in the public domain, lay believers had the opportunity for a truer and more direct encounter with the Living Word - Jesus Christ - of whom it bears witness.

There remained at least one area of life where new and old attitudes to Christian faith overlapped and that was in the concern for a "good death". The death-bed continued to be regarded as the place where the devil made his last stand in a person's life. However, rather than surround it with religious symbols and rituals, evangelicals advocated fervent praying and recourse to the assurances of scripture. Do not all three of the aforementioned shifts in behaviour challenge our own attitudes - to authority, to scripture and to our own mortality - today?



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