Exposing the pretense of Christian unity

By Ken Perrott 29/04/2011 12

Thanks to:  Nathan Lee

I sometimes think that moderate Christians are afraid to criticise their more extreme brethren. How many, for example, will openly criticise the large minority of Christians whe oppose evolutionary science. In New Zealand I estimate that about 40% of Christians oppose evolutionary science (see New Zealand supports evolution).

similarly, I often think Christians who accept the scientific picture of global climate change seem afraid to criticise those conservative Christians who actively campaign   against the science. And then there are issues such as women’s rights, gay and lesbian rights, and so on.

On these issues it often appears that conservative and extreme Christian groups will pretend to speak for Christians as a whole. And they get away with it because fellow Christians are hesitant to stand up and openly criticise them

So I was pleased to see this initiative in Australia where some Christians are coming out against the conservative and extreme Australian Christian Lobby. They have launched a petition to the Prime minister to making her aware that the Lobby does not have the support it pretends to.

The wording of the petition is:

We are Australian Christians, and we’d like you to know that the Australian Christian Lobby does not speak for us.

We believe that its endorsements and policy statements rarely represent a helpful contribution to political dialogue in Australia, and we urge you and your government to listen to a broader cross-section of the Australian Christian community.

We are much more diverse than the Australian Christian Lobby.

via Australian Christians against the ACL Petition.

See also:
Christians turn back on lobby
Australian Christian Lobby … I disown thee
Australian Christian Lobby’s prayer for prejudice in Victoria?

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12 Responses to “Exposing the pretense of Christian unity”

  • Good for you author, perhaps you could expose the pretense within yourself? We are, after all, all liars if we think we have the sole truth within us.

    Or perhaps you think Jesus was an idiot?

  • Obviously, not all those who claim to be Christians, are. (Matt.7v21).
    Christianity is a Faith, not an Ideology, and so there is room for differing opinions on minor issues.The Christian Right(a derogatory term) includes those who take a literal view of the Bible and Jesus Teachings. The Christian Left includes those who do not take the Bible literally, and who try to accommodate it to the current popular views of the day.

  • @Richard,

    No one takes the bible literally, every Christian picks and chooses which parts to believe. The religious right just picks more ideas which are wrong than the religious left.

    Show me a person on the religious right who still follows Exodus 21:15, Proverbs 20:20, Leviticus 20:9, Deuteronomy 17:12, 2 Chronicles 15:12-13, Deuteronomy 13:13-19, Deuteronomy 22:20-21, Leviticus 24:10-16, Exodus and 31:12-15? show me someone on the religious right who doesn’t wear cloth made of a blend of two fibres because “it is an abomination”? who believes eating shellfish is an abomination?

    The religious left is just willing to accept some facts about the world like climate change, and evolution, they are also a bit more liberal when it comes to giving gays and lesbians equal rights. The bible says twice to kill homosexuals, yet three times to kill followers of other religions, and four different ways to kill people who are non-religious. How can you claim that the religious right take the bible literally? I am still alive… the right only takes parts of it literally…

  • I would have to say that the given examples from the Bible do not hold any literal theological significance for Christians. Jesus has dissolved all the requirements of the OT laws and ritiuals by his passion work. As a result the Mosiac law has been superseded by Jesus which Paul clear relates in Galatians. I wonder if some better hermeneutical methods are required in order to have a better understanding of the issues involved in the texts and their broader context, the historical and cultural context also. The common arguments about strange laws like ‘not sowing different seeds in the same field’ and the above example of ‘blended cloth’ had important significance in within their proper cultural and theological understanding. One simple reason then behaved like this was it made the people of Isreal different because many of the religious practices of the nations around them had some of types of things as part of the cults practices. God wanted them to show who then belonged to by doing the opposite. Don’t NZ’rs like to wear certain coloured clothing to show where their loyalty resides? Why then can’t they wear unblended cloth for the same reasons? Also if I read it as a 21st century secular person then without any background then one can come up with a weaker interpretation of the text. Yet we read different types of genre for example and have different expectations and interpretations of them. Do I read the news paper in the same way a comic book? Of course not.

    The Bible is a challenging book and needs some homework being done when interpreting it. The issue of literalism needs to be addressed. It seems to be used because the culture has been conditioned to view it as something associated with ignorance and to be feared. The Bible does have literal statements, but the content and context will aid one with where the meaning lies. It is not full of literal statements, but this type of thinking seems to show the type of presupposition might need to be reevaluated.

  • Nick,
    Am I understanding you correctly,in that you are saying the meaning of the Bible is down to interpretation?

    “The Bible is a challenging book and needs some homework being done when interpreting it.”

    Given that many different people seem to interpret it differently how does one know which interpretation is correct?

  • Hi Michael you are right that people come to different conclusions from their interpretative method. I myself would think that some training is involved as one would do if they were to take studying Shakespeare seriously. If one really wanted to get a better grasp of the unique writings of the poet then study would be necessary. Unfortunately from a Christian point of view some believing people don’t always fill their tool box with useful tools to help them find the intended meaning of the author, and their role as the reader. Meaning is grounded in the authors intention, as it is with all authors, whether it is a magazine article or scientific text book. There is more than enough information about various Biblical issues to study. There are centuries of data and literature to read. It is import to note that because of the authors intention there are no private interpretations, but there can be several meanings if one reads their own historical situation into the text. The statement “flying a plane can be dangerous” would mean different things if you are a new student pilot from that of King Kong. The goal is to find the intended meaning or meanings and what would this mean to it’s audience. All literature has various components that makes it possible to interpret it with a good degree of accuracy. Each part of a literary work needs to be evaluated for itself. Some interpretive controls need to be activated if we seek the primary goal which is to find the original meaning of the author and readers, this will allow some limitations where the readers response lies. We should not limit all interpretive processes all great literature has the capacity to illuminate successive generations in their own unique social contexts. The Bible has this feature. The Bible also does not speak about all things. It does not mention Dinosaurs or Dark Matter. As a work it is not focused on such things and these things are relitively new discoveries in the history of humanity.

    One thing as mentioned above like reader-oriented meaning can create meanings because it pays more attention on the role of the modern reader and allows more of their own presuppositions to be involved in finding the meaning which I believe a lot of people do. They read without appreciating the necessary task of hermeneutics. This of course is not an exhaustive list. But if I was to read Shakespeare and did not know anything about Elizabethan English, the culture, historical setting, syntax etc I could miss the real purpose of the literary work. It seems to me that people appreciate for instant the Shakespearean sonnet rhyme scheme a,a,b,c,d,c,d,e,f,e,f,g,g. The parables of Jesus often have near perfect chiastic structures especially in Luke ie. a,b,c,c2,b2,a2 perhaps more care is needed when reading any ancient literature, and more openness.

  • What’s missing in this discussion is the Christian part of Christianity. That is, that Jesus Christ is God who became a man to die to pay for our sins. Without Christ there is no forgiveness.

    But I read through http://australianchristianlobby.org.au/ a little and found them to be reasonable, not firebrands at all. In fact, it looks like religious freedom is a big concern of theirs. They seem to want people to have the freedom to worship as they please without government oppression. Who could argue with that?

    • Ken, I guess that’s what the divisions are about – what the hell does the “Christian part if Christianity” mean?

  • I wonder what these divisions are about exactly? This would help one try to see what the pretense of unity might be. However, it seem to me that in the previously mentioned material with regard to climate change the scientific world itself is in a real dilemma privately and publicly. Does the lack of a concise unified voice within scientific world about this issue, bring into question it’s value? What might one think of last years climate summit? Do the results diminish the credibility of the whole task? Perhaps, if one wants to see it that way.

    As with the church diversity within the church does not mean lack of unity. There will always be areas of greater influence within different churches groups. However as a graduate student have I met many different types of Christians and denominations where their commitment to Christ and their commitment to each other is plainly obvious. The Christian part of Christianity would probably depend on the individual. From an orthodox theological position those know are known by Christ through faith. Most divisions are doctrinally focused, that is why people have the idea in these blogs that interpretation is causing it,it is only part of the issue. Perhaps more importantly are the theological implications behind them. Just as the climate change issue has more import implication behind the disagreements, namely our survival. The environment does not need us to continue but we need it. Doctrinal debates and these types of issues have been around from the time of the apostles. A Christian may come to different conclusions, say a Catholic will lean towards the church as the authority for it’s focal points. A protestant will side with Luther and be “sola scripta” having the Bible is the authority from which to develop a world view from. Knowledge can help one perseude another in any field towards a better understanding.

    There have been division within the church that is true. Unfortunately there have been some real wallies in the church but also very influential people whom history praises. As mentioned above science is experiencing the same within itself. Can I judge the divisions I see as a reflection of the whole based on one part, I don’t think so. The cartoon seems to show some extreme examples, hey, that is why satire works.

    • Nick, I really don’t understand a lot of this theological waffle. And I am not interested in debating whether or not Christians are divided. I just hope they are. I hope that many Christians will oppose the attacks on science and the purile morality advanced by extremists.

      But I want them to do so publicly. Not behind a viel of “unity.” That only encourages the extremist.

  • I am not interested in debating whether or not Christians are divided. I just hope they are. I hope that many Christians will oppose the attacks on science and the purile morality advanced by extremists.
    And what about the scientology chruch ?

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