Both nations are Christian and that should count for something

Prof Timothy Bradshaw, Oxford University theology department

Prof Timothy Bradshaw, Oxford University theology department

First published in News

Both nations are Christian and that should count for something

Prof Timothy Bradshaw, Oxford University theology department

The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow certainly went with a bang and provided a bonanza of athletic and sporting excitement. It reminded us of the Commonwealth, a unique family of nations across the globe, across cultures, races, languages and customs.

While no doubt recent criticisms of the British Empire have been well made, nevertheless it has left a legacy of goodwill and a desire to retain this important commonwealth bond, and the Queen is a very important figure in this with her devotion to duty and the good will across the nations.

The games also reminded us of the Scottish referendum soon to be held, and the possibility of the UK being profoundly changed if Scots vote to leave and form a new, independent foreign country.

The opening and closing ceremonies of the games reminded us that Scotland is a mono-cultural nation with its own kilted Celtic culture, whereas the Danny Boyle opening ceremony of the London Olympics emphasised the multi-cultural nature of the modern UK, as did the England team.

The two countries have different histories and traditions, but have intertwined in a very successful marriage, going back to King James VI of Scotland who also became James I of England in 1603.

He devised the Union Flag and the idea of Great Britain and worked hard at the marriage.

As the BBC TV programme The Stuarts showed, his successors destabilized this union a fair bit. 1706 saw the Act of Union, when Scotland was in dire financial crisis. And the bonding of the nations proved amazingly successful.

The English, Welsh and Northern Irish have been pretty quiet during the SNP campaign to end this marriage, although as David Bowie said, ‘we would miss you’ if you left. Can we think about the prospect of this split in terms of a spiritual or religious approach?

Well, democracy itself sprang from a Christian root, the idea that everyone is important and so should have a vote in a nation’s government: this was especially promoted by our Free Churches in the UK, and went to America with the Puritans so successfully.

So if most Scots want to leave, that is their right. But what of the wider role of a strong Great Britain on the world stage? That would be weakened by this split. The UK is thought to be ‘a good guy’ in world affairs – that is why Barack Obama wants us to stay united for example. Pope Francis said that unless separation was to gain freedom from oppression, then there is no really good reason to split, as in this case.

Historically Scotland and England were united by a shared Protestant faith, under a Christian monarchy.

This glue has melted away as society has become secularised. But still the two nations are officially Christian and that should count for something in terms of wanting to be as close as possible in order to implement fair and just social policies, ‘sharing risks and costs’, to quote Gordon Brown – and whatever the result of the referendum that must apply to everyone, not some more than others.

Christians believe that God is love, a complex rich life of mutuality and trusting acceptance, revealed in Jesus’s life. Maybe we should try to look at this political battle through his eyes?

  • Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone’s contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed

Our top stories

What have our brilliant columnists said this week - choose your favourite in our collage

Oxford Mail:

4:00pm Saturday 22nd November 2014

Just what have our thought-provoking columnists been writing about this week? Catch up with our interactive collage giving you a choice from 9 of the best

Our interactive spread of the week's best photos: but what are the stories behind the pictures

Oxford Mail:

3:00pm Saturday 22nd November 2014

We've had some wonderful pictures this week - here's our interactive spread with links to the stories behind the photos

Oxfordshire callers to police's 101 number urged to stay on line amid problems

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

11:19am Saturday 22nd November 2014

Callers to the police's non-emergency 101 number are being urged to stay on the line despite problems.

Brainpower is the key for Oxford United says head coach Michael Appleton

Oxford Mail:

9:30am Saturday 22nd November 2014

Michael Appleton says Oxford United will need to be intelligent if they are to keep heavyweight striker Adebayo Akinfenwa quiet for AFC Wimbledon today.

6 things you may not have known were happening in Oxfordshire this weekend

Oxford Mail: Terry Wogan at the fund raising reception

11:34am Friday 21st November 2014

Six things you may not have known were happening in Oxfordshire this weekend.

Hanborough primary school among region's best

Oxford Mail: Magdalen College School Antiques Roadshow

8:30am Saturday 22nd November 2014

A state primary school in Long Hanborough has been included in a list of the top schools in the South East.

 

Comments (3)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

10:39am Mon 11 Aug 14

chavster says...

What twaddle! Both nations are not Christian (only about 12% of the population are regular churchgoers). The fact that there is an established church does not alter the fact. "Democracy" is a Greek word, democracy having been developed in Athens around the fifth century BC (that's Before Christ, folks). I really don't think anyone with an ounce of discernment should base their views on devolution on what a two-thousand year old zombie is assumed to think!
What twaddle! Both nations are not Christian (only about 12% of the population are regular churchgoers). The fact that there is an established church does not alter the fact. "Democracy" is a Greek word, democracy having been developed in Athens around the fifth century BC (that's Before Christ, folks). I really don't think anyone with an ounce of discernment should base their views on devolution on what a two-thousand year old zombie is assumed to think! chavster
  • Score: 2

12:58pm Mon 11 Aug 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

chavster wrote:
What twaddle! Both nations are not Christian (only about 12% of the population are regular churchgoers). The fact that there is an established church does not alter the fact. "Democracy" is a Greek word, democracy having been developed in Athens around the fifth century BC (that's Before Christ, folks). I really don't think anyone with an ounce of discernment should base their views on devolution on what a two-thousand year old zombie is assumed to think!
Try working in Glasgow around the time of an "Old Firm" game...
[quote][p][bold]chavster[/bold] wrote: What twaddle! Both nations are not Christian (only about 12% of the population are regular churchgoers). The fact that there is an established church does not alter the fact. "Democracy" is a Greek word, democracy having been developed in Athens around the fifth century BC (that's Before Christ, folks). I really don't think anyone with an ounce of discernment should base their views on devolution on what a two-thousand year old zombie is assumed to think![/p][/quote]Try working in Glasgow around the time of an "Old Firm" game... Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 0

1:54pm Mon 11 Aug 14

Oxonian says...

Prof Bradshaw says "The UK is thought to be ‘a good guy’ in world affairs".

Not by many people in the Middle East, it isn't. Our ill-advised military interventions (and our support for Israel) have made us plenty of enemies there.
Prof Bradshaw says "The UK is thought to be ‘a good guy’ in world affairs". Not by many people in the Middle East, it isn't. Our ill-advised military interventions (and our support for Israel) have made us plenty of enemies there. Oxonian
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree