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The silencing of Christian believers is chilling but true

Unsplash/Bermix Studio
Unsplash/Bermix Studio

Sir Winston Churchill, the “old British Bulldog,” once famously quipped, “Everyone is in favor of free speech. Hardly a day passes without it being extolled, but some people's idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone else says anything back, that is an outrage.” 

It’s been more than six decades since the late prime minister’s observation, but the inconsistency he identified in his country is as present today as it was back then.  

I say that because this past March Dr. Aaron Edwards was fired from his theology teaching position at Cliff College in Derbyshire, England, for simply communicating his perspective on long-held biblical doctrine. Now, Edwards is suing Cliff College for that termination.

“Homosexuality is invading the Church,” Dr. Edwards posted Feb. 19 on X, before being fired. “Evangelicals no longer see the severity of this b/c they’re busy apologizing for their apparently barbaric homophobia, whether or not it’s true. This is a 'Gospel issue', by the way. If sin is no longer sin, we no longer need a Saviour.” 

Such a statement was apparently too much for administrators of the Methodist Bible university, who called his comments “unacceptable” and “inappropriate.” The professor was subsequently investigated, suspended — and summarily dismissed from his position. 

At the core of Dr. Edwards’ termination is a blatant desire to silence anyone who dares contradict the growing spirit of the age. Never mind that the beliefs framing and informing his point of view are older than Europe itself. It’s one thing to disagree with what he said — but making one’s religious views a fireable offense is a chilling turn in an escalating and ongoing assault on people of the Christian faith. 
I empathize with Dr. Edwards, who refused to delete his post, claiming it was neither hateful nor mean-spirited. As a professor in a supposedly Christian school, he rightly believes he has an obligation to present the Gospel as written and communicated in God’s sacred Word. 

At the same time, the professor recognizes that Scripture may inevitably offend.  
“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God,” wrote the Apostle Paul (1 Cor. 1:18). Jesus Himself was blunt concerning the consequences of adhering to His teachings, noting, “You will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:22). 

“I think many Christians have not been willing to say things that will offend people,” Professor Edwards said. “The British people especially find it hard to offend people in ways that other cultures don't because they're more willing to say, ‘This is what I believe, and you need to kind of get over it. And I'm free to say that.’ I think in Britain for many years, we've tolerated a kind of self-silencing,” he said. 

Critics of the Christian faith are eager for us to silence or censor ourselves, to sit down and basically shut up. There is no need nor place for the obnoxious Christian, but when we express our deeply held biblical beliefs, we must be clear and unwavering. This isn’t borne out of a desire to unload, flex our muscle,s or stroke our own ego, but instead to lift up and minister the power of God’s truth and message to a world desperately in need of it. 

I’ve long warned the day is coming when all Christians will be called to account for their faith and publicly express it. That such a day is already here in a Christian European university, of all places, might be a bit startling but undeniably the case. The consequences of our Christian expression are becoming clear — and not always comfortable. Yet the very best news is that, as believers, we’re assured He will “neither leave us nor forsake us” — a powerful promise that we can claim and take ultimate comfort in.  

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Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family and host of the daily "Focus on the Family" broadcast heard by more than 6.3 million listeners per week on more than 1,000 radio stations across the U.S.

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