Observations on Theology, Culture and the Hosier family

Tuesday, 9 August 2011


Honestly, I go away on holiday for a couple of weeks and the country falls apart. Never mind Dave Cameron having to hurry back from Italy, clearly it was my defection to France that led to riots on the streets, double-digit increases in energy bills, and massive turbulence on the financial markets. I can only apologise for taking my hands off the reins. 

Even more depressing was coming home to find the football season had started again.

August has a long established track record of civil unrest, and there is good evidence that this is at least in part due to the temperature. Warm things up to 27C and young men just can’t stop themselves from throwing things at the police – “It wasn’t me gov, it was the heat wot made me do it.”

Looking at some of the footage of the disturbances I can understand something of the mentality behind it. There must be a tremendous sense of power in ruling the streets like that – a hot summers night, the police on the back foot and free shopping options, are all reasons why it is unsurprising that the anarchy is spreading like randomly lobbed Molotov cocktails.

Rather than being shocked by the events of recent nights, a good Calvinist with an appreciation of the doctrine of total depravity will wonder that such things do not happen more often. This isn’t the end of the world, or even of civilisation as we know it, but the expected fruits of those who have been “given up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” (Rom 1:28)

The natural tendency of sinful man is to do what ought not to be done, and a society that sows the corrupt seed of playing football during the cricket season has only itself to blame for the more corrupt fruit of “unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice, envy, murder, strife, deceit.” (Rom 1:29)

There is nothing profound about this anarchy. There is nothing profound about looting. It is simple covetousness and unrestrained unrighteousness. As well as identifying the problem, the book of Romans also offers a simple solution – that the government “is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” (Rom 13:4) So more power to the police’s elbow, and baton.

And of course (as any good Calvinist will tell you) there is an even more glorious solution than simply the power of civil authority to coerce civilised behaviour. Gloriously, ultimate violence has been enacted against the Son himself, in order that the corrupt hearts of man might be changed. That is, “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” (Rom 3:22-25)