Cancel culture seems to hit the headlines every day. It appeared on Charisma News recently in the form of a story on the leader of the U.K.'s Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, who visited the Jesus House in northwest London in part to applaud its community ministry efforts. But when Starmer learned via a storm of social media posts from the LGBT community about the church's biblical stance on marriage—that God intends it to be between a man and a woman—he tweeted his regret and apologized for his visit.
"Yes, in the United Kingdom, we've got some challenges where if you want to believe the biblical model of marriage, then that is seen as not really fitting with a progressive culture," says Gavin Calver, head of the Evangelical Alliance, of which Jesus House is one of 3,500 member churches. In view of this increasing global cancel culture, Calver shares the word God gave him when he first took on his leadership role: that we need to be both braver and kinder than we've ever been, standing on an uncompromising faith and an unconditional love.
"So we're going to go out on a limb, but we're going to treat people well," Calver says. "In the U.K., there are ... all kinds of stories where it's getting increasingly hard to stand for biblical truth. The organization I lead is absolutely committed to an orthodox interpretation of Scripture. And as such, you—from time to time—find yourself as a sort of cultural leper.
"But in the middle of that we stand for truth; we stand firmly on God's Word," he adds. "And the challenge in the U.K. right now is not to change the Bible to fit your culture, but to believe that we can change our culture with the truth and the Word of God."
Calver says he has personally experienced the impact of cancel culture when he tweeted out a book review. "In 24 hours, I had 2,000 messages of hate from all kinds of people who would disagree with me, all kinds of horrible things, and praying that my kids have mental health issues ... and all kinds of horrible stuff." One message read, "You are the scum of the earth and are going to burn in hell. #love wins."
But even this hasn't changed Calver's "braver and kinder" approach. "In the middle of that, you simply say, 'You know, I am going to live for the approval of Jesus. And I would love my culture to love me. But right now in the United Kingdom, if you're going to stand for Jesus, then you're going to stand out, and the cost and the price tag are really high.'"
Calver adds that amidst what seems like a dire situation, the doors for the gospel have opened wider than ever. This is true, he says, "because the church does not grow from the mainstream; it tends to grow dramatically from the margins. And we're being pushed to the margins, from where you have no nominalism left—you simply have people on fire for Jesus. And my hope and prayer is that radical remnant will lead to a revival in my nation, that will transform it into something it's never been: fully, fully surrendered to Jesus. But it's going to take a while. And it's going to take some guts, no doubt about that."
For much more from Gavin Calver about how believers can stand in firm faith and love against a culture that seeks to cancel many of the values Christians embrace, listen to this entire episode of the Strang Report podcast here. And be sure to subscribe to the Strang Report on Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast platform.
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