Listen to the 10 min audio
Read the transcript:
BRITISH GOVERNMENT RESIGNATIONS SIGNAL PROBLEMS
TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, World Magazine is reporting that British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, who served as the key campaigner for Brexit, Britain’s departure from the European Union, resigned last Monday. His resignation is the latest move threatening Prime Minister Theresa May’s government and comes after Brexit secretary David Davis resigned on Sunday night. Steve Baker, a minister in Britain’s Brexit Department followed with his resignation almost immediately.
Harry, it was about two years ago that the citizens of Great Britain voted to leave the EU. It appears that Theresa May might be slow-walking that process and she’s running into some roadblocks.
DR. REEDER: Yeah, it’s really been interesting to watch this implementation of the popular vote in Britain to exit the European Union, the EU, and to watch its implementation under the administration of Prime Minister Theresa May.
And, of course, the sideshow — and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way — has also been the relationship between Prime Minister Theresa May and our own President Trump, which all coincides, by the way, because while all of this is happening, President Trump is on his way to Britain and the reports were that Prime Minister May — it may have contributed to this — had given strict directives that he was not to meet with Brexit supporters, even those that reside within her administration.
PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY SEEMS TO BE SLOW-WALKING BREXIT
As you and I were considering this and I was doing some research, it seems to be pretty undeniable, for whatever reason, that the prime minister is not fully supportive of the vote of the British people to exit the European Union. On the one hand, she’s tapping the brakes — she’s pumping the brakes — to slow everything down as much as possible and perhaps, in a year to two years, maybe see if a movement to reverse the vote could take place. Now within her own administration are those who campaigned for and are supportive of Brexit and they’re calling attention to it by their resignation, which has put her entire government in a precarious position and a possible vote of no confidence may just be right around the corner.
Let’s look at the overall issue of Brexit — that is, Britain exiting the European Union — and why. Tom, as you know, in the last century, we had two world wars that originated in Europe and originated out of national conflict so there were a couple of efforts to try to put in place an organization that would forestall any future conflict — a way to settle issues without the entire world being embroiled in a way.
IS EXITING THE EUROPEAN UNIT A GOOD IDEA?
First was the League of Nations after World War I and it didn’t work. Then came the United Nations and, while it’s not been as effective as many would like and has become an instrument in which people are using it to advance their own national interest instead of being a place to settle national issues, the greater fear always is that it becomes a world government and, by so becoming a world government, then national sovereignty is lost.
That looming specter out of the United Nations has an even compelling emotional response in Europe because what has developed in the last 25 years is the European Union and, what was meant to be an alliance of cooperation, well, it has become almost a settled fact that the European Union and its directives supersede national directives. And that’s what happened in Britain — “We don’t want the European Union telling us what kind of light bulbs we can use, how we recycle our trash,” all of the things that the European Union was now giving directives to nations, and they said, “No, we want our national sovereignty back,” which is understandable.
NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY IS IMPORTANT AS LONG AS IT DOESN’T TURN INTO NATIONALISM
Now, here is where, from a Christian world and life view, we recognize that God has ordained the ethos — that is, the nations of the world — and, as these nations exist, should their sovereignty be superseded by imperial movements of one nation or by imperial structures that dominate the nations and I think that’s what the pushback was in Britain.
As I listened to the debate in England, it seemed as if everyone was saying, “We’re fine with defense alliances and trade alliances such as NATO. We are not fine with losing our national sovereignty to the European Union.”
What readily raises its head in a fallen world are two dynamics concerning nations. One is nationalism. As you know, the populist presidency that we are now under in President Trump has tapped into this notion of “America First.” Now, President Trump has said, “I am not saying America First and only. What I am saying is what I think every nation should do — whenever you make a decision, it’s not in disregard to other nations, but it is in regard to we’ve got to do what’s best for our own nation. I was elected to be president of this nation and then the well-being of this nation will position us to be of benefit to other nations.”
CARE AND PRECEDENCE OF ONE’S OWN NATION IS BIBLICAL
I compare it to that emotionally jarring moment where, every time I get on an airplane and come those words, “In the unlikely event of an emergency, your oxygen mask will come down. Please secure your own mask before you assist someone else.” Well, you know, in my heart, that jars me emotionally because what I want to do is assist the other person in the virtue of sacrifice and helping them but, when you stop and think about it, that kind of emergency where you’re losing oxygen, you can’t help the other person without having oxygen.
That’s why, in the law of God, it says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” In light of God’s love for you and your love for the Lord, you need to secure that intimacy with the Lord and that’s what enables you to love your neighbor thoughtfully, Biblically and effectively.
You understand, in a true approach to this, we have to handle our nation’s well-being first but you can’t let it slip into nationalism because, if you have nationalism, then you’re going to have imperialism, which is the robbing and domination of other nations in order to take from them what is theirs and add to your own coffers. National sovereignty cannot become an occasion for nationalism. On the other hand, national sovereignty is crucial for nations to be in position to rightly help other nations.
THERE IS HOPE FOR ENGLAND TO REBOUND WITH GOOD LEADERSHIP AND A GOSPEL AWAKENING
From a Christian world and life view, my ancestry comes from there — I’m one-fourth Scot, one-fourth Irish, one-fourth Scots-Irish, and one-fourth English — so I look to that nation with some interest and I would hope and pray, for the well-being of England politically and economically, that she would carry out the vote of the people and do it in such a way that nationalism doesn’t come to the forefront which would lead to another imperialistic movement or to an isolationist position. Nations, like people, need to hear the commandment of the Lord — we want to be in the world but not of the world.
And then, finally, what I would say for this is I am the beneficiary of a great Gospel awakening in our nation. It didn’t start in our nation; it started in England. I long for the day when, like the Oxford 12 — men like Charles Wesley, John Wesley, George Whitefield, Daniel Rowland, Ronald Sennick, and others — I am praying for God to raise up a Gospel awakening within England. It is in desperate need of the gospel to move forward. The answer is not found in nationalism, the answer is not found in isolationism and the answer is not found in imperialism. The answer is found in the movement of the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the population and may the Lord raise up great gospel preachers in England.
I look with interest in this political conundrum that Prime Minister Theresa May faces. I look with interest in how it’s going to affect the NATO summit and the side discussions that she and her government were having with Donald Trump concerning a trade alliance between England and America and how that’s going to affect that discussion.
While I look for all of that, I look to the heavens and pray, God, open the heavens up and pour down a gospel-saturating movement upon England and upon my own nation and may it go to the whole world. I pray may the grace of God cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.
Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.
This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.