Considering a church response to the spending cuts

On a Q&A panel at All Souls Langham Place

I'm just back from an evening service at All Souls Langham Place, which focused on a response to the spending cuts.  It was a really good service, which looked at what is happening and how Christians should respond.  It was very challenging too about what each of us should do and also on how the Church should act.  It was political (by definition) but quite rightly not taking a party view: the starting point was that the cuts are happening (whatever the debates about whether or not they are appropriate). Archbishop William Temple would have approved.

I was on a panel alongside the rector, Hugh Palmer, for questions and answers after the service.  We had quite a range of questions.  People had clearly been thinking deeply about the issue.  I was there both as a Christian who thinks about things politically (with the Christian Socialist Movement) but also as someone who is an economist and so to provide some economic context.

There are Christians in all the mainstream political parties who are doing their best to apply their faith in politics with intergrity, even if they disagree with each other.  In the same way, there are Christians who have different professional views about how the economy works and what economic policy should be (including those not politically involved). For example, some will emphasise a need for deep cuts now; others will focus on investment.  The Q&A included questions on how high earners should respond (during the discussion I mentioned the work on executive pay done for the Church Investors Group), the financial situation in the European Union, how we focus on the needs of future generations, and the need for government finances to be sustainable.

I came away thinking we'd covered a lot and yet there was still much to get into.  Christians need to think through what's happening a lot further - and we need to take action.  For any Christians thinking about how to engage on the issue, I recommend reading the first three chapters of John Stott's classic Issues Facing Christians Today.

Stephen Beer, 28/11/2010

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