Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Voting remain for a new European reformation.

Back in March of this year I drafted these brief notes to consider why I intended to vote 'no' to a Brexit. On the eve of the referendum, my view hasn't changed. 

My decision should be defined by a gospel paradigm more than personal preference or political sensibilities. We have a higher governance and a more important consequence than just fears over the economy, sovereignty, trade or migration.

History shows us missionary movements always push outward more readily with open borders. The gospel spread rapidly in the Roman Empire. It was possible to travel freely and relatively safely to modern day Iraq from the north of England. That's certainly not the case today. Neither was multicultural Britain a new phenomenon either. An inscription from the 2nd century at the eastern end of Hadrian's Wall attests to the tender affection between a Syrian and his British wife Regina.

Open borders are always better for the gospel. The spreading flame of the Reformation was fuelled by the printing press, old borders of slow communication overwhelmed with rapid reproduction of pamphlets, tracts and books, the speeding proliferation of ideas and freedom of thinking an important ally to freedom of movement.

Again, we see movement within the British Empire and our former colonies and faster sea crossings bringing momentum to the emergent missionary movement. From George Whitefield's multiple trips to New England, to the exponential growth of missionaries into India and China in the two centuries which followed. Trade routes over huge distances being freely travelled in both directions, cultural exchange. The same was true within other old European empires and their colonies.

Later, the train, the spread of Christianity to the western states of America. Then even faster sea crossings, planes and the rapid rise of Pentecostalism in the global south. 
To the present day, we now recognise the internet era and the immediate exchange of ideas, is developing an increasingly shared word culture. 

Closing borders will slow the free movement of people, ideas, trade and refugees. We can't go back, we can't shut ourselves in. History shows we have never been a little England, and thank God for that for the gospel's sake! 
This brief span of history demonstrates that ideas, trade and refugees are three of the primary ways that the gospel spreads, grows and takes root in new territories most readily, from The Acts 8 persecution which unsettled the comfortable Jerusalem church onwards.

Europe needs a new reformation. We are part of a church planting movement. Why would we vote for anything which makes this harder, introduces restrictions on travel, work, rights to stay, problems of currency? 

Our current united European rights are a boon to church planters. Inevitably there are good people making a good case to leave, there are genuine concerns for reform that need to be addressed from our seat at the table. My contention from history though is that broader fears of multiculturalism, immigration and open borders are not proven, and cannot trump the need for the gospel to take root more freely and deeply in modern, multicultural old and new Europe. That's why I'm voting to remain on June 23rd.