Beware of God, says radical New Zealand church

Dealing with religion can mean entering "the danger zone" That's the conclusion of St-Matthew-in-the-City church in Auckland, New Zealand - who have put up a notice outside their building proclaiming 'Beware of the God'.

Vicar Glynn Cardy told Ekklesia from Aotearoa: "This is our new billboard, put up in conjunction with the annual Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals service. There is of course a deeper truth here, for the God we preach does not promise security or safety."

St Matthew's is in the forefront of transformational Christianity, with a focus on peacemaking, inclusion (welcome for all), social justice and community life. It puts an emphasis on the ‘disarmed truth’ of Jesus, and its news and comment service counteracts abusive thought and behaviour that uses the name of God to justify itself.

Calling itself "a progressive Anglican church with a heart for the city and an eye to the world", St Matthews-in-the-City runs the SMACAA progressive Christian forum, which connects with people across the globe.

Glynn Cardy came to work in Britain on an exchange last year (2005), working in an Oxfordshire parish and gaining media attention for a service of blessing with teddy bears.

He has published on new metaphors for liturgy in The Guardian newspaper and probed the C. S. Lewis Narnia phenomenon for Ekklesia in Why the Lion isn’t safe

He wrote at the time: “In the Christian Scriptures Jesus, a hillbilly from Galilee, leads an itinerant band of misfits giving his version of the good news and upsetting a number of people in doing so. Jesus was no Narnian lion. He had no military prowess or great leadership skills, nor was he interested in either. He didn't have an army. His power was the antithesis of the regal pageantry so prevalent in Lewis' novels.”

He went on: “The regal bunch in the Bible was Caesar, his henchman Pilate, and his puppet Herod. They were the ones with the army. They were the ones with the language of Kings, Lords, Saviours and Masters. Might was right. Right ruled. And pacifist revolutionaries from Galilee were quashed and killed.

“The unconventional oddballs who followed Jesus had a different worldview. They understood poverty, politics and power very differently. They believed that love could overcome hate; little deeds could overcome big egos; and that love and those deeds could in time work the magic of justice for all.”

Concludes Cardy: “The question still remains today: Is God on the side of the right and strong, or on the side of the wrong and weak?”

[Also on Ekklesia: Redeeming Religion in the Public Square Simon Barrow proposes a ground-breaking new approach to faith and politics; Faith and Politics After Christendom: the Church as a movement for anarchy Jonathan Bartley says that Christianity needs to re-capture its originating subversive spirit and stop colluding with the powers-that-be and 'organised religion']