The Holy City of Brierfield


Brierfield in Lancashire was once known as the 'holy city' on account of its many churches. Until recently, it hosted the only Brethren assembly in the area, as well as a Pentecostal church (which now calls itself the Lighthouse Christian Centre) and a Baptist chapel, below, at which I preached some years ago. Most of the churches are now closed, as one has grown to expect in godless Britain, yet Brierfield is possibly one of the most religious places in the United Kingdom, for it has a large Muslim community. As I walked about one late summer’s evening, middled aged men in traditional Pakistani dress walked by and young men in souped-up cars with lowered suspensions kept cruising past; I suspected they had no particular destination in mind, but in 2020s Britain, filling a car with petroleum is status symbol enough.


The mosques, I suspect, are full to bursting; the churches emptying. As the ‘White British’ population imbibes from the poisonous waters of secularism, so their predominantly ‘Asian British’ neighbours faithfully drink from the wells of the scorched Arabian desert. The picture below shows a former chapel, now a shop, while behind it towers the minaret and dome of a masjid, sleek against the night sky. A town once known for gospel proclamation has a decreasing Christian presence. I suspect that as this grim century wears on, more churches will close as more mosques are built. These will likely accommodate converts from the native whites, and not just the large families of immigrants from afar. As secularism continues to create the moral vacuum in which we find ourselves (in which, for example, genders do not exist or can be determined at will), the defined and inflexible morality of Islam will prove to be an appealing alternative. Yet regular prayer, clean-living and sincere piety are not enough for the Living God. All our righteous acts are as filthy rags to Him. Allah may be suitably impressed by such sincere expressions, but YHWH of the Bible is yet more demanding. So demanding, in fact, that we are all excluded, for we are all corrupted and mired by sin. Yet He is the God of love, also, who took upon Himself the appalling penalty of sin, that ‘all who believe in Him might not perish, but have everlasting life’.

The brightness of Gospel light has always varied in this land. Alternative gospels, alternative religions and alternative theologies have always jostled with it to offer meaning and hope. Where once Christian missionaries planted churches on every isle and continent, today, the emissaries of the East build their mosques and temples in every town and city. Where people will not receive the gospel, God hands them over to the alternative. Those churches which fifty years ago doubted the Resurrection, denied scripture and even denigrated the deity of Jesus Christ, are now given over to be shops, garages, warehouses- and mosques.

…with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thess 2:10-12