While we are on the subject of Australia’s attitude to refugees arriving by boat, here is a telling sketch by Aussie satirists John Clarke and Bryan Dawe. (Actually John comes from New Zealand, but works in Australia.)
For those not familiar with Aussie politics, the sketch presents hardline Australian Government Minister for Immigration, Scott Morrison, who is a christian, as a schoolboy before the headmaster.
It is very galling when non-believers (I presume) have more christian standards than self-confessed christians do.
Last post (Justice and the gospel), we looked at how the ministry of Jesus included both evangelism and meeting physical needs. But in many western evangelical churches, the “gospel” has been narrowed down to mean little more than personal salvation.
If you are in a church like that, and you believe that justice and care for the poor and marginalised is part of the gospel, what can you do?
Let’s look at a few ideas and a little personal experience, and then (hopefully) others will share what they are doing.
When I was a young christian (a few decades ago now!), evangelical churches tended to focus on evangelism, and some viewed justice and social action with suspicion. Things have changed since then, with most christians and churches supportive of social welfare and overseas aid programs.
There is still a tendency to see these programs as of secondary importance compared to evangelism, but this too is changing.
I have been considering the implications of Peter Enns’ suggestion that, in the light of the evidence, we should understand the Old Testament differently than we have done in the past. In a comment on the post Interpreting the Old Testament, Brisancian has asked a number of questions about how we can know what’s true.
I thought the questions were important enough to answer in a new post. Quotes from Brisancian’s questions are shown as blockquotes.
Last post I looked at how some studies show that many christians are prejudiced towards groups such as gays, atheists and Muslims, and are less likely than other people to show love to members of these groups.
Jesus told his followers, quite definitely, to love their enemies, and warned them against hatred. Yet today, the public image of christians is somewhat tarnished – some christians are seen to be loving and caring, but others are seen to be prejudiced and intolerant, especially towards groups like gays and Muslims.
Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. …. in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.”
Understanding the Old Testament isn’t always easy. As well as Genesis-evolution, there are many apparent inconsistencies, within the Old Testament, and between the Old and New Testaments.
And those who have read a little about ancient Middle East archaeology, history and literature may have noted similarities between Biblical accounts of creation, the flood and the law, and earlier writings covering similar themes.
This 2005 book by a respected Old Testament scholar aims at addressing a few of these issues based on good scholarship, in a way that is helpful to christians.
I originally wrote this post shortly after bushfires near Sydney destroyed 200 homes and took 2 lives. But since then, Typhoon Haiyan has caused much havoc, hardship and loss of life in the Philippines, totally dwarfing the bushfires.
But whether it is the fires or the typhoon, their ferocity and the apparent randomness of the destruction lead us to ask questions about God …..