In response to the news story in The West Australian a few days ago (see my previous post) a Facebook page called Help Scarborough Baptist Church Protect Freedom of Religious Practice has now been set up. 631 “Likes” and counting.!
Well I’m gonna be the fly in the ointment and say that this has the potential to garner a whole bunch of attention that may not be that helpful. The more attention it raises the more chance that a whole flotilla of ideologues, people with barrows to push and various hangers on with agendas will attach to it. To begin with it was about compliance. It will eventually be about complaints! Why do I get the feeling it will be used to fuel disgruntled Christians who feel the culture is short-changing them compared with the good old days?
Okay, okay, so this is a grumpy post, but my observation is that much of the resentment that invariably builds in these campaigns is due to the realisation that Christianity is no longer “at the centre”. I for one think that is our strength. Being at the centre is over-rated, because invariably it leads to a much smaller, less effective gospel witness (apologies to Oliver O’Donovan – Anabaptistesque Ed) Let’s not end up being the Christianised version of the Cronulla riots for goodness sake!
I unlike where this may end up. I unlike it very much.
Interesting points that you make! I am from Scarborough Baptist Church and I am aware that we must be careful not to take up a position either of power or of the sad victim. While we cannot always control what people say we do try and react to the messages to focus on Christ’s love that we all should seek to manifest in this world. This may be a point of ministry as we strive to move away from a cultural Christianity to faith based living. Please pray with us that we will not fall victim to the scenario you envisage. We are all tempted at times to be ideologues rather than instruments of God’s grace. Your prayers are sorely needed – not to change the council but to maintain us as God’s people in this context.
We realise that the way of the Kingdom sometimes go through the cross and thus do not think that we are assured of any victory in this matter or a triumphant place in society. However, while we do not want to take up the center position in the secular world, we also do not want the secular world to prescribe to us what does or does not constitute a religious activity. To blindly bow down before this form of encroachment, while we are able to make a public case against it, would be irresponsible , I believe. I agree that any number of ideologues can strive to take over this debate- as Luther had to find out to his peril, but this does not mean that we should not be able to make our case against the form of compliance that is demanded of us by the secular authority to determine what constitutes true worship.
There is always danger in all we do. To do nothing is also a risk. Please pray for us as we do so.
Good to hear from you. Yes I think that you are right – we need to walk that fine line between ideology and caving in. Scarbs has the reputation of being a great gospel deeds church so we wouldn’t want to lose that. And yes – there is a danger in all we do! My primary concern is that people may hijack your issue for their own agenda, so we will be praying for wisdom for you all.
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