Was Queen Elizabeth II a true Christian?
Queen Elizabeth was the world’s most famous woman. She was depicted in award-winning films such as The Queen and the popular Netflix series The Crown.
One of the prayers at Queen Elizabeth’s funeral service began, “We give thanks to God for Queen Elizabeth’s loyalty to the faith she inherited through her baptism and confirmation, and affirmed at her coronation; for her unswerving devotion to the gospel; and for her steadfast service as Supreme Governor of the Church of England”. But are these indicators of a true Christian?
Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was born on 21st April 1926 and was baptised/christened 38 days later on 29 May 1926 at Buckingham Palace. But the baptism/christening of a child doesn’t make them a Christian.
In the Church of England, confirmation is when a person confirms the promises, which were made when they were baptised/christened. They say that they believe in God and are ready to live as a Christian. But confirmation doesn’t make someone a Christian.
The Supreme Governor of the Church of England is the highest position in the Church of England. But this doesn’t make someone a Christian. Also, being a member of a church doesn’t make someone a Christian. And church attendance doesn’t make someone a Christian.
According to others
In 2016 the Bible Society, HOPE, and the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity published a biography about the Queen’s Christian faith, titled: The Servant Queen and the King she serves. In it, the Queen’s own words described her faith in Christ, exploring the place of her Christian faith in her public role, family life, and in times of celebration and grief. In the foreword of a book she refers to her Christian faith, “I have been – and remain – very grateful to you for your prayers and to God for His steadfast love. I have indeed seen His faithfulness”.
The interim chief executive of the Bible Society, Paul Woolley, said: “This book bears witness to the Queen’s faith and the centrality of her Christian faith on her life and her reign. It goes into detail about her speeches and it often is drawing on her own words to give an account of how significant the Christian faith is to all that she represents.”
Queen Elizabeth’s Christian faith is also described in the book, “The Faith of Queen Elizabeth: The Poise, Grace, and Quiet Strength Behind the Crown” by Dudley Delffs (2019). Throughout all her trials and triumphs, she credited her personal faith in Jesus Christ as the steadying anchor to her life and reign.
Martyn Iles said: “There’s nobody in the world who would be more widely known and respected than the Queen. The world sang ‘God save the queen’ for many years, and He did! He not only gave her a long life, but she seems to have come to a spiritual awakening as well.”
“The thing that set her apart from other leaders and even from her family was her Christian faith and the duty that that compelled her to. She promised at 21 that she would serve her people all her life whether it be short or long and that’s exactly what she did. And she showed us what it is like not to live for ourselves not to live for our rights and to claim our due and to grasp after what we can get in this life and to live for ourselves. But she showed us what it mean to live out of duties not rights and to live for others and to live in service and to live sacrificially rather than for self. She was a wonderful model of service for us all. Jesus said your while life is about duty. To love God and love your neighbor.”
It has been reported that the Queen went to church every week. Although that doesn’t make her a Christian, it is being obedient to Scripture (Heb. 10:25). Likewise, her “loyalty to the faith” and “devotion to the gospel” doesn’t make her a Christian, but it is consistent with practicing the Christian faith.
According to Bill Muehlenberg, “She would often refer to her Christian faith in her annual addresses, and she seemed quite open about Christianity. It does seem that she had a deep personal faith, and that she was a good student of Scripture. She would often quote the Bible and speak about Jesus in a genuine fashion. Of course, at the end of the day only God knows for sure just where she was at in terms of her relationship to Christ, but it does seem that she was a real-deal believer.”
According to the Queen
The Queen’s personal Christian belief, that Jesus Christ was her Savior was evident in her Christmas messages.
In 1999 she stated:
“Today we are celebrating the fact that Jesus Christ was born 2,000 years ago; this is the true millennium anniversary…for me, the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life. I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ’s words and example.”
In 2000 she stated:
“To many of us, our beliefs are of fundamental importance. For me the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life. I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ’s words and example.”
In 2002 she stated:
“I know just how much I rely on my faith to guide me through the good times and tough times. Each day is a new beginning. I know that the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right; to take the long view, to give of my best in all that the day brings, and to put my trust in God. I draw strength from the message of hope in the Christian gospel.”
In 2008 she stated:
“I hope that, like me, you will be comforted by the example of Jesus of Nazareth who, often in circumstances of great adversity, managed to live an outgoing, unselﬁsh and sacrificial life. Countless millions of people around the world continue to celebrate His birthday at Christmas, inspired by His teaching. He makes it clear that genuine human happiness and satisfaction lie more in giving than receiving; more in serving than in being served. We can surely be grateful that, two thousand years after the birth of Jesus, so many of us are able to draw in inspiration from His life and message, and to ﬁnd in Him a source of strength and courage.”
In 2011 she stated:
“Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves—from our recklessness or our greed. God sent into the world a unique person—neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Savior, with the power to forgive.
“Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families; it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God’s love.
“In the last verse of this beautiful carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem, there’s a prayer:
O Holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us we pray.
Cast out our sin
And enter in,
Be born in us today.
It is my prayer that on this Christmas Day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord.”
In 2014 she stated:
“For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life. A role-model of reconciliation and forgiveness, he stretched out his hands in love, acceptance and healing. Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people of whatever faith or none.”
In 2016 she stated:
“Billions of people now follow Christ’s teaching and find in Him the guiding light for their lives. I am one of them because Christ’s example helps me see the value in doing small things with great love…”
And in her final Christmas message in 2021 she stated:
“It is this simplicity of the Christmas story that makes it so universally appealing: simple happenings that formed the starting point of the life of Jesus — a man whose teachings have been handed down from generation to generation, and have been the bedrock of my faith. His birth marked a new beginning. As the carol says, ‘The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight’.”
The Bible contains three clear tests for determining whether a belief is true or false. A true Christian must pass each of the three tests.
The Jesus test
This test states that, “Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist … This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood” (1 Jn. 4:2-3, 6 NIV). And “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9NLT). The question to be answered in this test is: What does the belief say about Jesus Christ? Is the belief consistent with Christ’s unique birth, divine and human nature, sinless life, sacrificial death, resurrection, and second coming (1 Jn. 4:1-3)?
Queen Elizabeth said that Jesus Christ was “a Savior, with the power to forgive”. As only the God of the Bible can do that, she believed that Jesus was the divine Son of God. So she passed the Jesus test.
The gospel test
The Bible warns about those promoting a different gospel, “If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” (Gal.1:9). The question to be answered in this test is: What is its gospel? In other words: what is the core belief or hope? The Bible says that the root cause of all our problems is that everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s requirements—resulting in death. The only means of rescue is salvation by repentance of sin and faith in the work of Christ. ‘Different gospels’ are those that differ from this. They either add to it or take away from it. There is a warning against adding to or taking away from the words of the Bible (Rev. 22:18-19).
In her 2011 Christmas message the Queen said that we “need saving from ourselves—from our recklessness or our greed” (that is from our rebellion against God). And that God sent Jesus into the world as “a Savior, with the power to forgive.” This is the essence of the gospel. So she passed the gospel test.
The fruit test
Jesus Christ warned, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them” (Mt. 7:15-20). The question to be answered in this test is: What kind of fruit is evident? In other words, what type of attitudes and behavior does it encourage? Is the divine nature or the sinful nature most evident (Gal. 5:19-23)?
Queen Elizabeth is remembered for her devotion to duty and public service. She didn’t abuse her power and showed empathy towards others. In the final years of her reign, she continued many of her official duties and public appearances. Two days before her death, she officially installed a new prime minister, Liz Truss. Her behavior was more consistent with that of a follower of Jesus Christ than one who lived for themselves. One of the prayers at her funeral noted “her unswerving devotion to the gospel” and “her steadfast service as Supreme Governor of the Church of England”. So she also passed the fruit test.
Based on this evidence, Queen Elizabeth was a true Christian. She trusted that her sins were forgiven by Christ’s sacrificial death and His miraculous resurrection showed that He was divine. She left a spiritual legacy that we can emulate.
What about you? Where is your trust? Do you pass the three tests of a true Christian?
Written, September 2022