Gospel should challenge violence and fear, say Australian Christians

By staff writers
May 6, 2006

Gospel should challenge violence and fear, say Australian Christians

-06/05/06

Concerned about the growth of violence, fear and deception in political life, a group of senior Christian leaders have developed a public statement about what it means to believe in and follow Jesus Christ in Australia today.

Throughout Jesusí life, his witness to the God of compassion and justice brought him into conflict with the religious establishment and the ruling powers, they point out.

ìChristian faith has deep connections to social and political issuesî, says the Rev James Barr from Canberra Baptist Church, who has helped coordinate the document ñ which has also been reproduced on the website of the UK think tank Ekklesia.

Reflecting on the culture of Australian public life in a way that resonates with other Western contexts, the Christian leaders, who come from a wide range of backgrounds, conclude: ì[We] have good reason to be concerned about the lack of public accountability on the part of those exercising political and bureaucratic power.î

ìPutting a spin on things, rather than speaking the truth, has become the normî, the signatories ñ who include Most Rev Pat Power, Auxiliary Bishop, Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn ñ declare.

They add: ì[W]e do not accept that claims of national or ethnic identity, let alone concerns for ënational securityí, supersede our loyalty to God. Nor do they override our responsibility to make the moral vision of Jesus real in our world.î

The authors (Anabaptist, Anglican, Baptist, Catholic and Wesleyan, among others) say that their ëconfessioní is offered to the Australian church and others of good will for study and debate as they shape a response to the challenges of violence and pervasive fear.

ìJesus summoned those who follow him to work towards building communities of human wholeness, characterised by truth-telling, peacemaking and respect for the dignity of all, even perceived enemies,î says the document.

In Reformed and other Christian circles the word ëconfessioní denotes a concern to develop a concerted expression of Christian faith in response to major challenges. Perhaps the most dramatic recent example is the anti-Nazi Barmen Declaration of the Confession Church in wartime Germany.

The ecumenical Decade to Overcome Violence programme of the National Council of Churches in Australia and the work of the Anabaptist Association of Australia and New Zealand are commended as positive examples of Christian engagement in peacemaking.

The current signatories of the confession are the Rev James Barr, Senior Minister, Canberra Baptist Church; Dr Kevin Bray, Churches of Christ in the ACT; the Rev Jane Foulcher, Senior Priest, St John the Baptist Anglican Church, Reid; the Rev Dr Graeme Garrett, Canon Theologian, St Markís National Theological Centre; the Rev Mark Hurst and the Rev Mary Hurst, Anabaptist Association of Australia and New Zealand (AAANZ); Doug Hynd, Lecturer, St Markís National Theological Centre, and President, AAANZ; the Rev Professor Thorwald Lorenzen, St Markís National Theological Centre; the Rev Dr Elizabeth MacKinlay, Centre for Ageing and Pastoral Studies, Canberra; the Venerable Dr Sarah Macneil, All Saints Anglican Church, Ainslie; Dr David Neville, Senior Lecturer in Theology, St Markís National Theological Centre; Associate Professor Stephen Pickard, Director, St Markís National Theological Centre; the Most Rev Pat Power, Auxiliary Bishop, Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn; Dr Heather Thomson, Lecturer in Theology and Academic Dean, St Markís NTC; the Rev Peter Walker, Wesley Uniting Church, Forrest.

Read the Australian confession in full.

Gospel should challenge violence and fear, say Australian Christians

-06/05/06

Concerned about the growth of violence, fear and deception in political life, a group of senior Christian leaders have developed a public statement about what it means to believe in and follow Jesus Christ in Australia today.

Throughout Jesusí life, his witness to the God of compassion and justice brought him into conflict with the religious establishment and the ruling powers, they point out.

ìChristian faith has deep connections to social and political issuesî, says the Rev James Barr from Canberra Baptist Church, who has helped coordinate the document ñ which has also been reproduced on the website of the UK think tank Ekklesia.

Reflecting on the culture of Australian public life in a way that resonates with other Western contexts, the Christian leaders, who come from a wide range of backgrounds, conclude: ì[We] have good reason to be concerned about the lack of public accountability on the part of those exercising political and bureaucratic power.î

ìPutting a spin on things, rather than speaking the truth, has become the normî, the signatories ñ who include Most Rev Pat Power, Auxiliary Bishop, Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn ñ declare.

They add: ì[W]e do not accept that claims of national or ethnic identity, let alone concerns for ënational securityí, supersede our loyalty to God. Nor do they override our responsibility to make the moral vision of Jesus real in our world.î

The authors (Anabaptist, Anglican, Baptist, Catholic and Wesleyan, among others) say that their ëconfessioní is offered to the Australian church and others of good will for study and debate as they shape a response to the challenges of violence and pervasive fear.

ìJesus summoned those who follow him to work towards building communities of human wholeness, characterised by truth-telling, peacemaking and respect for the dignity of all, even perceived enemies,î says the document.

In Reformed and other Christian circles the word ëconfessioní denotes a concern to develop a concerted expression of Christian faith in response to major challenges. Perhaps the most dramatic recent example is the anti-Nazi Barmen Declaration of the Confession Church in wartime Germany.

The ecumenical Decade to Overcome Violence programme of the National Council of Churches in Australia and the work of the Anabaptist Association of Australia and New Zealand are commended as positive examples of Christian engagement in peacemaking.

The current signatories of the confession are the Rev James Barr, Senior Minister, Canberra Baptist Church; Dr Kevin Bray, Churches of Christ in the ACT; the Rev Jane Foulcher, Senior Priest, St John the Baptist Anglican Church, Reid; the Rev Dr Graeme Garrett, Canon Theologian, St Markís National Theological Centre; the Rev Mark Hurst and the Rev Mary Hurst, Anabaptist Association of Australia and New Zealand (AAANZ); Doug Hynd, Lecturer, St Markís National Theological Centre, and President, AAANZ; the Rev Professor Thorwald Lorenzen, St Markís National Theological Centre; the Rev Dr Elizabeth MacKinlay, Centre for Ageing and Pastoral Studies, Canberra; the Venerable Dr Sarah Macneil, All Saints Anglican Church, Ainslie; Dr David Neville, Senior Lecturer in Theology, St Markís National Theological Centre; Associate Professor Stephen Pickard, Director, St Markís National Theological Centre; the Most Rev Pat Power, Auxiliary Bishop, Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn; Dr Heather Thomson, Lecturer in Theology and Academic Dean, St Markís NTC; the Rev Peter Walker, Wesley Uniting Church, Forrest.

Read the Australian confession in full.

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