Vol: 74 Issue: 26 Monday, November 26, 2007
When former Prime Minister Tony Blair and his communications director, Alastair Campbell were being interviewed for a British television program, the interviewer asked the PM about his personal faith.
Before Blair could respond, Campbell interrupted to warn the interviewer; “We don’t do God.”
In an interview with David Frost during the run-up to the Iraq War, Blair was asked point-blank if he ever prayed with President Bush. After several nervous ‘harrumphs’ Blair told Frost that he had not.
During his three terms in office, Blair refused to discuss his religious faith, or lack thereof, despite a number of attempts to draw him out on the subject. All that was known was that Blair regularly attended Church of England services, which by itself, suggests nothing.
In the UK, the Church of England is as much politics as it is religion. The head of the Church of England is the Queen. The Archbishop of Canterbury is a political appointee. There are twenty-six Anglican bishops among the British House of Lords.
For a British Prime Minister, attending Church of England services is more a demonstration of patriotism than an exercise in religious faith.
So, when now-former Prime Minister Tony Blair admitted in a BBC documentary entitled “The Blair Years” that he really DID ‘do God’ during his time at 10 Downing Street, a significant portion of the British Establishment was aghast at the news.
Evidently, for a British politician to ‘come out of the closet’ and admit to being a Christian is much worse than being ‘outed’ in the regular fashion. In the interview, Blair all but apologized for his Christian faith, saying;
“There is no point in me denying it. I happen to have religious conviction. I don’t actually think there is anything wrong in having religious conviction – on the contrary, I think it is a strength for people.”
Let’s leave any personal judgments regarding Blair’s former lack of Christian testimony to the Lord and focus instead on Blair’s ‘admission’ and the reaction it engendered in British political circles.
“There’s no point in me denying [that I believe in God],” Blair said, as if religious faith were a criminal indictment.
It is worth noting at this point that three years ago, after rescuing his two daughters from a fire at their dacha, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed to have undergone a religious conversion and now claims to be a Christian.
The point is not whether Tony Blair or Vladimir Putin became born-again Bible Christians or whether or not they are genuine believers. That, as I said earlier, is a judgment best left to God.
The point is that the leader of the godless atheist former Soviet Union felt more free to admit in a belief in God than did the Prime Minister of the traditionally Christian United Kingdom.
It was the British that gave the King James Bible. It was the British who sent out the early missionaries to evangelize the darkest corners of the world. Dr. David Livingstone, who was immortalized by explorer H.M. Stanley’s greeting, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”, was a British missionary believed lost in Africa.
Livingstone refused to be ‘rescued’ from his Christian missionary work and lived out his life in Africa spreading the Gospel. If one could somehow pluck Dr. Livingstone from his grave in Zambia, Africa, and play Tony Blair’s ‘confession’ of Jesus Christ, Livingstone would no doubt stroke out on the spot and die all over again.
But not so much for Blair’s wishy-washy confession, but for the national attitudes that necessitated it.
The reaction to Blair’s confession spawned a legion of editorials and commentaries that go a long way toward explaining why Blair felt the need to qualify his confession of faith by saying, “I don’t actually think there is anything wrong in having religious conviction.”
Judging by the editorial content, most of his countrymen disagree.
Wrote John Humphries in a scathing Telegraph editorial, “We Prefer Politicians Without a Hotline To God”;
“The vast majority of Americans believe in God and most of those fully expect him to return to Earth pretty soon – probably to Arkansas or thereabouts. Research I conducted for my latest book suggests that fewer than a third of people in this country believe in the sort of God worshipped by Tony Blair. About the same number believe in something, but they’re not sure what. And almost half think the influence of religion is harmful. Fewer than a fifth think it is beneficial.”
Menzies Campbell, the former leader of the Liberal Democrats, went so far as to suggest the British public might have been less willing to give Blair the triumph of three consecutive general election victories; “if they’d known the extent to which ethical values would overshadow pragmatism.”
Just think about that statement for a minute! British Leftist MP George Galloway’s ethical values were shaped by oil credits from Saddam Hussein and Galloway’s seat in parliament is in no jeopardy.
But Blair’s admission of Biblical ethics and values would have ended his political career.
Blair fared no better among the ‘third of Christians [who] “believe in the sort of God worshipped by Tony Blair” than he did among atheists like John Humphries:
In ANOTHER Telegraph editorial, Damien Thompson opined: “To Many of Us, He Isn’t a Nutter But a Hypocrite.” In it, Thompson complains;
“Tony Blair says that as prime minister he shied away from talking about religion for fear of being thought a ” nutter”. But in the eyes of many Roman Catholics, he is something worse: a hypocrite.”
Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. It seems that the only choices the British public gave Blair were to resign his career or be a religious hypocrite. It is less important which Blair is than it is that those were the only choices the British public would countenance.
I don’t want to make Tony Blair into a religious martyr, or go on record as either endorsing or questioning the validity of either his doctrine or confession.
Whether or not either Blair or Putin are sincere or sincerely saved is NOT the point — they are merely the object lessons illustrating the point I’m trying to make. In fact, two points.
First, Jesus Christ is more welcome in the Kremlin than He is at Number 10 Downing Street. The second is that Bible says that it is Christian Crusader Europe that embraces the antichrist, and not the godless Russians.
The Apostle Paul explains the process in his 2nd Letter to the Thessalonians. He begins by addressing a heresy that had crept into the Church in Thessolonika about the Rapture of the Church — (our gathering together unto Him) specifically, that it had already happened and they had been left behind to face the “Day of Christ” (or the Tribulation Period):
“Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.” (2nd Thessalonians 2:1-2)
Paul told the Thessalonians what must first precede the [Judgment], “Day of Christ” — beginning with the ‘great falling away’ (Gk apostasia or ‘apostasy’) which would be followed by the revelation of the ‘man of sin’ or the ‘son of perdition’ who declares himself to be God when he seats himself at the mercy seat on the Ark of the Covenant in the “Temple of God”. (2nd Thessalonians 2:3-4)
Obviously, we’re not there yet. The man of sin has not yet been revealed, the Ark not yet recovered, the Temple not yet rebuilt and the peace covenant has not yet been confirmed. But the apostasia in the heart of English-speaking Western Christianity is already well-advanced.
The apostasia comes first, Paul says. But before the revelation of the man of sin who sets all the rest in motion, Paul says there must first be one more event.
“And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time,” Paul writes. Follow along with me here, and keep in mind the context of today’s report:
“For the mystery of iniquity [apostasy] doth already work: only He who now letteth [restrains] will let [continue to restrain], until He be taken out of the way.” (2nd Thessalonians 2:7)
THIS is where we are at this moment in this prophecy. The Blair story perfectly exemplifies the ‘mystery of iniquity’ in which Blair’s faith is somehow a political liability to a society that has fallen away from the faith [apostasia] .
One can see the same creeping apostasia in the two remaining bastions of Western English-speaking Christianity, America and Australia, (where John Howard’s Conservatives were just bounced out of office on their ear. )
But as long as there remains a believing remnant, the antichrist is restrained. Now notice that Paul’s “Restrainer” is a personal pronoun and not an ‘it’.
“He will restrain until He is taken out of the way.” The Restrainer of evil in the Church Age can only be the Holy Spirit Who Personally indwells every believer. His Ministry is to comfort and guide believers in all truth and to impart spiritual gifts such as discernment and understanding. Jesus said He would remain with us until His Return.
Everybody with me so far?
But the Holy Spirit is God, and God cannot be ‘removed’ since nothing can exist apart from God. David wrote, “If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there.” (Psalms 139:8)
But before the antichrist can be revealed, the Restrainer must be ‘taken out of the way”. That means His restraining influence on me must ALSO be ‘taken out of the way’ or else the Bible does not mean what it says.
If we follow the premise as laid down in unambiguous terms by the Apostle Paul in these verses, that leaves us with two questions remaining to be answered. The first is this.
Is it possible for the Restrainer to be “taken out of the way” and still indwell me as a Christian, convicting me of sin, comforting me in times of spiritual peril, and guiding me in all truth?
The second question is similar to the first, but longer.
Is it possible that I could become, er, un-indwelt, bereft of the spiritual gifts afforded me by His indwelling Presence, through no specific fault of my own not shared by all redeemed Christians — and then left to face the greatest time of spiritual and physical peril known to the human race spiritually alone — after a lifetime of spiritual companionship?
It would almost seem so. First, the apostasy, then the revelation of antichrist, then the tribulation, but between the apostasy and the revelation, the Restrainer must be taken out of the way, while the remaining believers carry on without Him.
There is only one other logical explanation — that the believers are withdrawn together with the Restrainer — AFTER the apostasia, but BEFORE the revelation of the man of sin, (described by Paul in 1st Thessalonians 4:16-18).
We are already looking backward fondly to the days before the onset of the Great Apostasy that makes being a Christian a liability, and looking forward to the day that SOMEBODY confirms a peace deal between Israel and the Arabs that leaves Israel in control of Temple Mount.
Somewhere between Tony Blair whining, “I don’t think having faith is a bad thing”; and a news headline announcing, “Israel, Arabs Announce Lasting Peace Agreement” — comes the Rapture of the Church.
And that’s just about the point at which we find ourselves on the timeline right now.