This week, has been an interesting week. Here at Back to the Bible Canada, we have been delighted to host Anil Kumar. Anil is the director of Back to the Bible India. We are forming a partnership with them, allowing our programming to be heard in Hyderabad, and then hopefully in other places as well. While he was here, I asked him about the alarming rise of Hindu fundamentalism. Ever since Mahatma Gandhi, India has prided itself in tolerating various religious expressions. But some would want to turn the clock back, by punishing those who convert to the Christian faith. This is a reason for sustained prayer.
As I reflected upon the need to pray for India’s growing Christian population, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the results of Trinity Western University’s court case before the B.C. Court of Appeal. The 5 judge panel unanimously concluded that it was “unreasonable” to deny TWU accreditation because of its standard of conduct statement, disallowing its students from engaging in sexual relations outside of heterosexual marriage. The Court of Appeal ruled that in a pluralistic society, disparate beliefs cannot and need not be reconciled.
To put the ruling in a nutshell, it would seem that the British Columbia Court of Appeal was arguing that religiously diverse beliefs can be upheld in Canada, and that religiously diverse groups have the right to contribute to society without compromising their religious beliefs. Another way of saying it, is that the majority may not impose on the freedom of the university to act in a historically Christian ethical value base. The Court of Appeal said, “A society that does not admit of and accommodate differences cannot be a free and democratic society.”
Of course, the legal battles for TWU are hardly over. One suspects that the case will end up before the Supreme Court of Canada, as Ontario has taken the opposite side. But this week’s ruling is so very hopeful.
And that brings me back to the alarming rise of militant fundamentalism around the world. I am aware that the use of the term “fundamentalism” is grossly misused, but I use it here to speak of that view which would suppress the viewpoints of others, or exclude the viewpoints of others by the force of law and oppression. And once “fundamentalism” is understood this way, it is easy to see how “Secular Fundamentalism” (or SF) is as insidious as any religious form of Fundamentalism. SF would insist that no one ought to be allowed into a national dialogue unless they pass their own “acceptability” test.
But this last week, one court in Canada overwhelmingly disagreed. And that is exceedingly good news. And that brings me to 4 important conclusions.
1. Not everything that happens in politics or law is bad news. We need to celebrate and give thanks whenever we hear of our rights as Christians being defended.
2. We should not look for government or law to advance the gospel. This task of preaching the good news is entrusted to the church alone. All we ask, is that we are free from persecution.
3. There are countless cultures around the world in which the kind of ruling we saw this last week in British Columbia would never happen. Let’s pause and reflect on this truth.
4. Given that countless Christians are faithful to sharing their faith in cultures where they are oppressed, if we fail to use the opportunities protected by law in our culture, how shall we give an account before God?