Sunday, 14 April 2013

Margaret Thatcher recognises the wisdom and goodness of Jesus Christ

Whatever one’s final verdict on Margaret Thatcher, even her harshest critics have conceded that she was at heart a ‘conviction politician’ who was driven by ideology and not swayed by public opinion.

One of her most famous quotes was that given to Conservatives at the party conference in Brighton in 1980 and underlining her determination to stick to tough economic policies:

To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say: You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning!’

In like manner Sir Malcolm Rifkind recalled this week a time when she was asked ‘Do you believe in consensus?’ and replied:

‘Yes, I do believe in consensus: There should be a consensus behind my convictions.’

However a touching letter she wrote to a schoolboy published this week in the Express and Daily Mail reveals that she felt she lived in the shadow of at least one person.

On 15 March, 1980, in the same year as Thatcher’s Brighton speech above, David Liddelow, the young son of a vicar, wrote to her, posing her a challenging question. The youngster, from Borehamwood, Herts, asked:

‘Last night when we were saying prayers my Daddy said everyone has done wrong things except Jesus. I said I don’t think you have done bad things because you are the Prime Minister. Am I right or is my Daddy?’

A few weeks later, David and his father, received a handwritten reply in fountain pen:

‘However good we try to be, we can never be as kind, gentle and wise as Jesus… There will be times when we say or do something we wish we hadn’t done and we shall be sorry and try not to do it again! We do our best, but our best is not as good as his daily life. If you and I were to paint a picture it wouldn’t be as good as the picture of great artists. No our lives can’t be as good as the life of Jesus.’

In a touching and candid final paragraph, Mrs Thatcher added:

‘As Prime Minister, I try very hard to do things right and because Jesus gave us a perfect example I try even harder. But your father is right in saying that we can never be as perfect as He was.’

Jesus himself was once called good by someone asking him a similarly tricky question and gave a surprising reply:

 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.’ (Mark 10:17,18)

The text is often misunderstood as implying that Jesus was denying his divinity, but as described in more detail here, he was actually doing the very opposite.

Jesus’ question to the man was designed not to deny His deity, but rather to draw the man to recognize Christ’s divine identity.

Such an interpretation is substantiated by passages such as John 10:11 wherein Jesus declares Himself to be ‘the good shepherd’. Similarly in John 8:46, Jesus asks, ‘Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?’

Of course the answer is ‘no’. Jesus was ‘without sin’ (Hebrews 4:15), holy and undefiled (Hebrews 7:26), the only One who ‘knew no sin’ (2 Corinthians 5:21).

The logic can thus be summarised as follows:

1: Jesus claims only God is good
2: Jesus claims to be good
3: Therefore, Jesus claims to be God

Such a claim makes perfect sense in light of the flow of Mark’s narrative with regards to the unfolding revelation of Jesus’ real identity. It is only before the high priest in Mark 14:62 when the question of Jesus’ identity is explicitly clarified.

I am not sure whether Margaret Thatcher followed the logic through to this conclusion, but she had certainly taken a step onto the first rung by recognising the goodness of Jesus.

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  1. She did have a good Methodist upbringing

  2. Yes indeed. This Catholic Herald interview with her from 1978 is also well worth a look -

  3. A bit of perspective is needed when it comes to Thatcher. In this respect she may not have got everything right but where clear comparisons have to be made with other prime ministers to see if she was good or bad for Britain. Taking no sides the following are the major changes to society that prime ministers from Wilson to Brown made - good and bad for the UK.

    1. He promised a new Britain forged in the white heat of a second industrial revolution – it failed miserably. 2. The Labour administration never escaped a cycle of economic crises vainly battling against a further devaluations of the £. 3. He failed in the UK’s application for membership of the EEC. 4. He was forced to devalue sterling.
    1. He took Britain into the EEC after two previously failed attempts. 2. He worked through an era where the UK was dogged by torrid industrial relations and where industry put UK on a 3-day week to conserve fuel due to dangerous low levels that was caused by a combination of domestic action (coal miners work-to-rule) and a quadrupling of fuel prices in the wake of Israel’s’ Yom Kippur War’. He called a general election on the question of, ‘who governs Britain – the unions or the elected members of the people?
    1. He oversaw a country that had continual economic and industrial unrest. 2. He presided over the referendum of the UK’s membership of the EEC. 3. He presided over the collapse in the value of the £ which prompted the humiliating rescue operation by the IMF
    1. He faced an increasing one-sided confrontation with organised labour in the form of rampant strike action that came to a head in the so-called ‘Winter of Discontent’; a phrase borrowed by Callaghan himself from Shakespeare. 2. He oversaw Britain being ‘strikebound’ with public servants staging mass walk outs, leaving food and fuel supplies undelivered, rubbish uncollected and bodied unburied. Indeed things became so bad that Hull was dubbed ‘the second Stalingrad’.
    1. She took on a country that was descending into industrial and economic chaos. No prime minister before her had taken to task the unions to create a balance in the power of government and unions and where it had become a one-sided affair with the unions calling wildcat strikes at will. 2. She adopted a style of self-confidence with no weakness. 3. She introduced an environment of free-market policies. 4. She introduced trade liberalisation. 5. She allowed deregulation. 6. She presided over the £ being forced out of the ERM and costing the UK £3.3 billion. 7. She instigated sweeping privatisation. 8. She undertook the breaking of the power of the unions. 9. She focused on the individual. 10. She created the enterprise culture.
    1. He adopted many of the policies of Thatcher as he never withdrew any of the ten elements that she had introduced. 2. He introduced the minimum wage. 3. He introduced student tuition fees. 4. He increased taxes but not for high-earners. 5. He introduced the Civil Partnership Act 2004. 6. From 2001 to 2005 he increased public spending on average by 4.8%, transport by 8.5%, health by 8.2% and education by 5.4%; all in real terms. 7. He introduced tax credits. 8. He oversaw an administration where the highest tax rate was 40%, making the rich richer than ever and it was only in the last month of Brown’s administration did the tax rate go up to 50%. 9. He allowed the banks to be more liberalised and deregulated because they were laying the ‘golden eggs’, but which eventually brought about the collapse of the UK economy and something that will affect the economic fortunes and their standards of living of the British people for decades; especially the working and middle class.

    Overall we all have to decide whether Baroness Thatcher’s was good for Britain or malevolent.

    Dr David Hill
    World Innovation Foundation

  4. I have no problem accepting that Mrs Thatcher, like Mr Blair, and Mr Brown, had a Christian faith. They are all good examples of the every day truth that we can't expect to agree with our fellow Christians on everything!

  5. Thank you for the article. A friend pointed me to the Thatcher Foundation website for more information on Baroness Thatcher's beliefs. I did a search for 'Christian faith' and a number of her speeches came up. On reading one of her keynote speeches I was astonished at the clarity of her statements of belief and now understand a little better why she stuck to her principles...and had friends across the political spectrum. They might cross swords in the House, but there was respect based on principles of belief. What I read in that and other speeches run quite contrary to beliefs that have been attributed to her in the past week. I began reading as a sceptic, but I now think that I understand where she was coming from a little better.


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