Response to unsubstantiated rumours about UCCF: The Christian Unions (issued 21st Dec).
There seems to be a number of wild and unsubstantiated rumours regarding Christian Unions and Students Unions. The following is an attempt to address some of these. Please e-mail the office at firstname.lastname@example.org should you have any questions at all relating to the following.
1. That disputes between Students’ Unions (SUs) and Christian Unions (CUs) have a long history which spans decades.
Traditionally, CUs have always enjoyed good relationships with Students Unions. This has been (and continues to be) the normative state of affairs. However, there are some rogue SUs causing problems at the moment, but on the whole, CUs enjoy, and have enjoyed, good healthy relationships with SUs. There have been disagreements in the past, but this has not been “the norm”.
2. That a considerable number of mainstream Christians would have a problem agreeing with/ signing up to the Christian Union declaration of faith. That these beliefs would be characterised by academics, both within and beyond the churches as theologically ‘conservative evangelical’
Christians have been meeting over a set of creedal statements since the dawn of Christianity and the Declaration of Belief IS simply a summary of what all mainstream orthodox Christians believe. The purpose of a DB is to allow ourselves to unite with all Christians of all denominations who confess the core truths of orthodox, historic Christianity. This is why (unlike denominational chaplaincies) we have committee members from all the mainstream denominations in the UK and many from abroad.
3. That the penal substitution theory is rejected by much of mainstream Christianity.
This is simply not true! The orthodox position of the church today remains to be one where the death of Christ is understood to be one of Christ dying our death in place of us to take the punishment that we deserve in our place.
4. UCCF Staff Workers have discouraged students from getting involved with or joining their SUs in the past.
This is clearly not true, hence the disputes in Exeter and Birmingham to get the CUs reinstated.
5. CUs have been accused of being anti-intellectual and intolerant.
UCCF Christian Unions might not agree with all ideas but we tolerate all ideas. All CUs are encouraged to apply their God-given minds, intellect and wisdom to engage with the complex issues that students face today. CUs are often known on campus for robust engagement with a variety of idea’s and worldviews. For example, by holding debates on issues such as “Science v Faith”, “Is the Bible trustworthy”, “What about other religions?”
6. CUs are operated by an external organisation, UCCF
UCCF Christian Unions are 100% committed to student leadership as a principle. It is our philosophy that training, trusting and supporting student leaders empowers students now and develops leaders for the future. Student societies must be led by students. Student leaders have a right to be on campus and a place in the university or college community. UCCF do however provide help and support to CUs through Christian Union Staff Workers (CUSWs). CUSWs encourage CU members to get involved with a local church, provide training and other such resources.
7. CUs have been used to facilitate a wider, negative radicalisation
There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support this claim.
8. CUs may end up being used as pawns in the battle being raged by other Christian campaign groups
Again, there is no evidence to suggest this.
9. Conservative evangelical campaign groups should end their attempts to use coercive pressure in this situation.
This is not about conservative evangelicalism! Mainstream Christians and even non-Christians are outraged by the SUs actions at Exeter, Birmingham and Edinburgh. This is about freedom of expression, association and belief and the issues have raised widespread public concern. Both within the Christian community and beyond.
10. Greater efforts should be made towards practical mediation and conflict transformation.
UCCF Christian Unions would always look for constructive ways forward through negotiation and mediation where that is possible. However, this isn’t always possible.
11. CUs should think long and hard about how important they feel it is to belong to Students’ Unions
It is vitally important that CUs remain fully integrated and at the heart of Students’ Unions and campus life. University is a place that is characterised by folks who hold different views on many different things. It’s a marketplace of free ideas in which the CU has much to contribute and have absolutely every right to be part of. Why should CUs be removed from taking part in SU life simply because others don’t agree with their views?
12. Those who wish to belong to SUs should offer to open themselves up to free, fair and democratic elections.
CUs appoint their leaders in a way that is both democratic and fair, but we insist that it should be Christians who appoint their leaders, just as it would be appropriate for the Classical Music Society to insist that it’s leaders be able to play a classical instrument in order to lead the society well, maintain it’s integrity, vision and values.
13. If the Christian Unions continue to hold on to their doctrinal statement, they should consider changing their names.
It’s not appropriate for any group of individuals to tell another society or club to change its name just because they don’t like it.