Will the King have a multifaith coronation?
Will he reinvent the ancient ceremony to appeal to today’s multicultural Britain, or embrace the traditions of our Christian heritage, asks Catherine Pepinster
Defenders of the Faith: The British Monarchy, Religion and the Next Coronation
By Catherine Pepinster
As the United Kingdom moves towards the coronation of King Charles III on 6 May, this book will become increasingly important.
Catherine Pepinster has researched all the coronations and writes about their historical context. A respected commentator, Pepinster was formerly editor of the Catholic magazine The Tablet, and regularly appears on Radio 4’s ‘Thought for the Day’.
She asks: “In an increasingly secular nation, with a diversity of religious beliefs, what part should the Christian faith play in the monarchy of the nation?
“In the coronation oaths, British monarchs pledge to preserve the true Protestant religion and the Church of England.”
Is that still relevant? When the time comes, will we reinvent the ancient ceremony to appeal to today’s multicultural Britain, or embrace the traditions of our Christian heritage, as expressed in the national anthem, ‘God save the King’?
Chapter 2 starts in 1519. The Pope of the time, Leo X, awarded young Henry VIII the title of ‘Fidei Defensor’ – Defender of the Faith. Two years later, Henry had fallen out with Rome. The Parliament of the English Church recognised him as sole protector with the title of ‘Supreme Head’ of the Church in England. In November 1534, that title was formalised in the Act of Supremacy, which recognised the king as “the only Supreme Head on earth of the Church of England.” It is still law today.
Henry was succeeded by his nine-year-old son Edward, from his third wife, Jane Seymour. Edward’s reign was marked by a fierce turn towards Protestantism. The book follows through the infighting that followed Edward: Lady Jane Grey, then Mary, who wanted a return to Catholicism, then Elizabeth I, who was not happy to be called Supreme Head, arguing that only Christ could hold that position. In 1559, the wording was altered to the ‘Supreme Governor’ – a title that has continued until this day.
The book then takes us through the Civil War, the Victorian era, the crisis of the abdication and royal divorces. There are some wonderful chapters on Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, and the way she demonstrated her personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
As things stand, King Charles III is expected to affirm two ascension oaths – to uphold the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, the Protestant religion and the Church of England. Will he?
Are US evangelicals getting derailed by politics?
Post-Trump, US evangelicals are more concerned about winning elections than winning the lost, claims Dr Michael Brown
The Political Seduction of the Church: How Millions of American Christians Have Confused Politics with the Gospel
By Dr Michael L Brown
This book is like Marmite. You will love it or hate it.
With Donald Trump announcing his leadership bid for the 2024 US presidential election, this book is a timely read, whatever your political views.
In his inimitable and convincing style, Dr Brown urges the Church to learn lessons from Trump’s tumultuous presidency. What happens in America affects the world, so although the author writes from an American perspective, the principles apply anywhere.
Dr Brown voted for Donald Trump in both 2016 and 2020 and starts by emphasising that Christians should be actively involved in politics. However, he is concerned that the American Church has become so consumed by political personalities that they have lost sight of Christ’s instructions and their overall purpose as his Body here on earth.
He is damning in how he sees the Church – particularly the evangelical Church – in America today. He sees a Church which:
- Is more concerned with winning elections than winning the lost.
- Compromises its ethics to keep one party (or person) in power.
- Puts more trust in earthly methods than spiritual methods.
- Makes one political party the party of God and the other the party of Satan.
- Made a human being into a political saviour.
Many Trump loyalists “describe themselves as participants in a kind of holy war”
The author discusses whether Trump won the 2020 presidential election. He devotes two whole chapters to the deluge of prophecies predicting a Trump victory, and also details events just before Biden’s inauguration.
“How could so many prophets get it wrong?” he asks. Did they get it wrong? Brown quotes respected evangelical Ed Setzer, a dean at Wheaton College, who condemned the violence during the Capitol Hill riots on 6 January 2021.
Noting the large number of evangelical Christians present that day, Brown writes: “They had come to DC to pray for a reverse of the election, believing that Trump was divinely appointed to serve a second term. Some had arrived days earlier, calling out to God for his anointed servant, Donald Trump, whilst others had been singing hymns and worshipping with raised hands.”
The author also cites an article by Ruth Graham and Elizabeth Dias: “A potent mix of grievance and religious fervour has turbocharged the support among Trump loyalists, many of whom describe themselves as participants in a kind of holy war.”
Brown writes as an unashamed, Bible-believing follower of Jesus who believes that the Church should be changing the world with the Gospel, rather than the world changing the Church.
How slave owners’ wicked behaviour still affects millions today
Shades of Black: The Origins of Colour Consciousness in the Caribbean
By Clifford Hill, Alton Bell and Nigel Pocock
I thought I knew all there was to know about race relations in the UK until I read this book.
The three authors – Clifford Hill, Alton Bell and Nigel Pocock – write about slavery, immigration, colour, social problems and the formation of specific Christian denominations to cater for the immigrants because the established churches did not make them welcome.
Alton Bell, who chairs the Movement or Justice and Reconciliation in the UK, is himself a Caribbean immigrant, and has written a gripping chapter of his own transition from rural village life in Jamaica to that of a schoolboy in an inner-city part of London.
Clifford Hill, with his wife Monica at his side, pastored churches in London’s East End in the 1950s and 60s. He shares their experiences of welcoming immigrants from the Caribbean – known as the Windrush Generation – and helping them find employment. For a time his home became known as the ‘Jamaican labour exchange’.
The book is so current that it talks about George Floyd’s murder, the Black Lives Matter campaign, the role of the Commonwealth, and even the repercussions from the Oprah Winfrey interview that Harry and Megan gave when they said a member of the royal household had speculated on the colour of their first child.
We read Britain’s history of colonial slavery; although finally abolished in 1807, it took another 26 years before the final emancipation of all enslaved persons throughout the British Empire.
When the emancipation of slaves took place, so did an incredible injustice. British taxpayers granted £20million to the OWNERS of slaves in compensation for the loss of their “property” (the slaves). They did not pay a penny to the freed SLAVES for suffering years of cruelty and suddenly losing their homes and livelihoods.
The book’s title highlights an area of race relations that I knew little about – ‘Shades of Black’.
The authors write: “In everything white was might and white was right. The black man was bottom of the social ladder”.
But the white slave owners’ loose sexual behaviour produced offspring of mixed colours. Over time it became advantageous to have lighter skin because more privileges accompanied it.
Children were given names according to their colour. For instance, a child of a black woman by a white man is called a ‘mulatto’.
Thus ‘shades of black’ became part of the Caribbean culture. The writers trace that characteristic right through to today’s culture and its effect upon the lives of millions of people today.
The final chapter brings all the strands together, and looks at the words and actions of Jesus that we need to learn from.
This is definitely a book for those who want to study and learn, but also one that could help us all grasp why racism is still so real in our midst, even today.
Gordon, along with his wife Lorna, is part of the leadership team of Revelation TV, a 24/7 Christian television station that broadcasts in the UK on Sky 581 and Freesat TV 692, and throughout the world via the Roku Box and Apple TV. Gordon’s passion is writing and he is the author of eight books.