Commoners, Lords and Ladies image

Commoners, Lords and Ladies

A few months ago, as far as I know, nobody from a Newfrontiers church sat in the British Houses of Parliament. There is nothing especially odd about that: there are only 1440 parliamentarians in the UK (790 in the House of Lords and 650 in the House of Commons), and somewhere in the region of 40,000 people in Newfrontiers churches. Now, however, there are two: Caroline Ansell, who is my local MP in Eastbourne, and Philippa Stroud, who was recently made Baroness Stroud, and about whom Tim Montgomerie has written some very nice things here. This is a cause for huge congratulations to both of them - which is really the main point of writing this - and also, for a few musings of mine.

1. Both of them have shown huge courage in the face of criticism for their Christian beliefs. Many readers will know Philippa’s story, but I was also hugely impressed with the way Caroline articulated her Christian convictions during her campaign in the Spring, and has since faced a lot of heat for her views on assisted suicide. I take my hat off to both of them.
2. Both of them are women. So perhaps complementarian theology and practice isn’t necessarily as oppressive and stifling as all that.
3. Both of them are Tories. I very much doubt we can draw any conclusions about the political tendencies of an entire network of churches from two examples, but given the predominantly leftish flavour of most (though not all) public policy statements from evangelicals in recent years, it is at least interesting.
4. They attend churches with very different approaches to making public statements on controversial topics. Few churches I know have been more careful on this point than Christchurch London; few church leaders have been more direct about it than I have. Our contexts vary a great deal, but it’s intriguing that neither approach seems to have suppressed aspiring politicians. (Not that this is the only important consideration, of course.)
5. Both attend churches with a number of other politically active members. I don’t know for sure, but I would imagine the number of parliamentary candidates, mayors, councillors, aides, speechwriters and think tank employees in both churches runs into the dozens.
6. Both attend larger churches (700+), which also happen to be multisite churches. This is probably connected to #5.
7. Both attend churches alongside members of my immediate family. This has nothing to do with anything, but I’m just throwing it out there.
8. Both are inordinately nice people. Disraeli’s remarks about greasy poles could not be further from the way both women conduct themselves (at least as far as I know them). In politics, as in life, that statement does not go without saying.
9. Both have been raised up by God into positions of influence, much as were biblical women like Deborah and Esther (although hopefully with happier tasks to fulfil in their daily lives). As such, they need our prayers (1 Timothy 2:1-4), that they may use their influence with wisdom and justice.

Congratulations to both of them!

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