Blair's theology

International | Why I am a Christian

Issue: "Louisiana's Buy-You-Election," May 17, 1997

The following are excerpts from an interview Tony Blair gave at Easter 1996 to the Sunday Telegraph under the headline, "Why I am a Christian." I recognize that people can by their own volition exert themselves to become better, more decent people. Human beings have free will, the choice to act well or badly. What distinguishes me from Conservatives is that I believe people are more likely to act well and improve themselves in a society where opportunities are offered to them to do so; which strives to be cohesive and treats people as having equal worth. This I think is the crucial difference between my position and the Marxist or Tory extremes.... "Sin" as a word conjures up images of straight-laced piety and frowning disapproval. It seems old-fashioned today. I think the concept is simple and important. In theological terms it is alienation from God. In everyday terms it is the acknowledgment of right from wrong. It is the rejection of a purely libertarian ethos. This is an area that will become increasingly important in politics. I don't mean "sin" in the sense of personal morality, but there is a desire in the modern world to retrieve and reestablish a sense of values, of common norms of conduct. They have to be relevant to today's world, not reaching back to the past.... My view of Christian values led me to oppose what I perceived to be the narrow view of self-interest that Conservatism-particularly its modern, more right-wing form-represents. But Tories, I think, have too selfish a definition of self-interest. They fail to look beyond to the community and the individual's relationship with the community. The problem with Marxist ideology was that, in the end, it suppressed the individual by starting with society. But it is from a sense of individual duty that we connect the greater good and the interests of the community. c

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