Recently it’s been a pleasant change to hear an interview with a politician that doesn’t focus on Brexit or within a few minutes move from whatever they were invited to talk about on to their position on the latest twist and turn. So it should come as a bit of light relief when a senior member of the opposition is interviewed on a much lower profile programme. However, as you may have heard, John McDonnell (Shadow Chancellor) landed himself in controversy while speaking at a Politico website event. It was a light hearted bit at the end of the interview when he was presented quick fire questions with one word answers. To the question “Winston Churchill – hero or villain?” he hesitated before answering Toni Pandi – “villain.” He was referring to the time when Churchill as Home Secretary sent in the army to break a miners strike in 1910. Most would agree this probably wasn’t his finest hour but there is a lot more to his record than one event. The vast majority of people including those who did not vote for him after the Second World War acknowledged he was the man for the moment during that war.
It is not my intent in this article to make a case for him being a hero or a villain. He was responsible for some decisions and some behaviour before, during and after that war that were hardly virtuous but he did know how to manage the media and maintain the morale of the nation in crisis. If asked the same question Winston Churchill hero or villain my answer would be both if it had to be a one word answer and those the only options available. The truth is that each of us have the capacity for doing and saying the right thing as well as doing and saying the wrong thing. Writing to Christians in Rome the Godly man Paul writes, “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:19)
Christian theology holds that every saint is also a sinner but not all sinners become saints. Modern electronic media and interviews in particular have a habit of simplifying things into simple right/wrong, good/bad answers. It seems to me that very little in life is as simple as that. Earlier this week I read a Christian response to the debate regards the current understanding of marriage in Britain. The writers seem to think it’s very simple and straight forward. “In Matthew Jesus says …… in Genesis it says that ….. “ and the texts they quote are relevant and will inform the conversation but a simple application of a few proof texts will not satisfy the need to be relevant in modern society.
How we live together as sisters and brothers in the same church when we hold some very different opinions and understandings of God’s intent is a measure of our maturity and how much we live in the grace that He gives to us. In Luke 7 : 37 Jesus gives sound advice and insights as to how things can be, we should not judge others rather we should forgive just as we have and will be forgiven ourselves. Generosity of spirit will engender generosity in others and bring out the best in all of us.