It infuriated the atheist
secularists and heartened the religious conservatives but having read the full
text of David Cameron’s speech on Christian Britain I don’t think either camp
has much to be excited about. It was so full of contradictions that it made a
far weaker case than has been portrayed in the press. I’ll give you one
Mr Cameron loves the King
James Bible because of the effect it has had on the English language. He is
particularly enamoured by all the phrases it has bequeathed the language – like
‘how the mighty have fallen’ and ‘the salt of the earth’. He quotes a study
that has counted some 257 examples of phrases now commonly used that have come
from the KJV – though I’m hoping that a researcher found that little fact for
him and that he hasn’t spent too much time on the speech himself.
In lauding the KJV’s
language he points out how important it was for the translation to be available
to the common people (through its public reading) since at the time they only
had the Latin version which obviously they could not understand. This is a really
important point and ensuring that translations were available in the vernacular
was a key facet of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century.
Cameron does well in spotting this. But he rather contradicts his point when he
also criticises modern translations like the NIV and GNB. The ‘power’ of the
KJV is lost, he feels, in ‘some more literal translations’ – a phrase that not
only displays Cameron’s ignorance of the translations he has criticised but
also flatly contradicts the point about the need for the Bible to be in a
language people actually understand.
The Bible was never meant as
a work of art but as a living testimony to the Word of God, Jesus of Nazareth.
Grasping that point would have helped Cameron from making at least one of his
many contradictions. Secularists and conservatives should, therefore, calm down
for the prime minister is neither the former’s enemy nor the latter’s friend.
Tony Blair famously didn’t do God; on this evidence neither should David