It could not have escaped the notice of a semi-sentient slow-worm that Nick Griffin, the leader of the British National Party, was one of the panel for last night’s Question Time programme on BBC One. Crowds of protesters mobbed Television Centre in London and it seemed that every political talking head in the UK was being interviewed to express a view on whether or not Mr Griffin should be given the air-time to express his views.
It is probably no surprise then that the programme itself became something of a “Let’s Bash Nick Griffin Show”, with all of the mainstream politicians present seeking to ensure that they put as much political distance between themselves and Mr Griffin as possible. It is probably fair to say that a typical Question Time audience does not represent Mr Griffin’s natural constituency, but last night’s lot certainly wanted to make sure that the nation understood the extent of their objection to the man!
Listening to some of the reaction to the programme this morning, I was surprised to hear one commentator say on the Today Programme that Mr Griffin only ‘laid a glove’ on Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, on one occasion and that was when he revealed that, while Mr Griffin’s father had been in the RAF, Mr Straw’s father had been a conscientious objector. Since when did the morality or otherwise of one’s progenitors become a reflection on one’s own moral standing? I suppose that such a position should not be surprising in a man who’s views on society in general are couched in terms of race but thankfully, the Bible is not so ungenerous. Away back in the earliest days of recorded history, when God delivered His law to Moses, he established a principle that, “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin” (Deuteronomy 24 v16). In effect, every individual must be judged for their own actions and not for those of their forebears.
Of course, this also means that we can derive no moral kudos from the actions of our parents either. For all I know, Mr Griffin’s father is a delightful man who regularly invites his Pakistani neighbours round for tea and is pleasant to children. If true, that would not reflect on Griffin Jr at all! In the same way, the fact that I have been born into what Mr Griffin referred to as a predominantly christian society does not confer on me any status as a christian.
The Bible makes it clear that each one of us stands before God as an individual. Whether born nominally ‘christian’, muslim or atheist I need to make my own choices. This is a blessing and a responsibility. I cannot devolve culpability for my spiritual status by saying that “I was born a christian”. Certainly, there are huge benefits to those who are brought up in a Christian environment. Paul could write to his friend Timothy and say, “from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures”. He did not conclude though that Timothy was therefore born a Christian for he goes on to say, “which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus”, 1 Timothy 3 v15.
Faith is individual and it is as an individual that you will stand before God. The Lord Jesus on one occasion used the niceties of Greek grammar to forcibly highlight the responsibility of the individual, “Do not marvel that I said to you (as an individual), ‘You (all, i.e. everyone) must be born again.’ John 3 v7.