14th July 2023

I was brought up in a very traditional middle-of-the-road Baptist Church. We had a quite lively “Young People’s Fellowship” – a Sunday evening meeting following the evening service. Discussions were good; hikes at Bank Holidays quite adventurous; it was fun.

When I went to University I found that each college had a branch of the Christian Union who were keen to recruit new students. For the first time I discovered that Roman Catholics, for instance, were not to be considered to be real Christians and that to be a member of the Christian Union I would have to sign up to a credal statement which required one, among other things, to believe that the Bible was literally true, word for word. The world was created in seven days. Noah had two of every species in the ark etc.

As it happened our Church group at home had been predominantly would-be scientists, engineers, medics, nurses and no-one had ever suggested to us that as Christians we were to believe the Bible in this way. It all came as a nasty shock.

It is thanks to Eric Sharpe and the Baptist Student Society that I did not abandon Christianity.

Since then, I have been against imposing a creed on people and judging them by their adherence to a form of words. Living a Christian life and trying by that to show Christ to others is a way of life that takes many forms, some familiar to me, some strange, but I do not feel I should decide whether other people are or are not ‘real Christians’.

Margaret Clements