Tag Archives: liberal theology

Dead set legend?

I mentioned the ABC radio’s unique take on the stats released by the Centre for Public Christianity yesterday. Dan has helpfully shared a link to the ABC Radio transcript of the story I was listening to on the world today.

The reaction to the statistics has been somewhat amusing. On the one hand 55% of the “non born again” community don’t believe in the resurrection. Which should be comforting to atheists, Muslims and the liberal church.

The Uniting Church in New South Wales was one of the first organisations to put its own spin on the findings – claiming most of the 45% of (non “born again”) people who believe in the resurrection only believe it in a metaphorical sense.

Many Australians, although certainly not a majority, would see Jesus as metaphorically real, or his resurrection as metaphorically real, but would expect that the bones of Jesus would be found in Palestine.

And that’s my own position.

But I think that the resurrection of Jesus is principally about the continuing reality of Jesus of Nazareth in this world. – Ian Pearson from the Pitt Street Uniting Church…

Hmm, interesting take on things. You’ve got to wonder why this guy is still a “Christian” minister if this is what he thinks. If they found the bones of Jesus in Palestine I’d throw in the Christian towel. Immediately. If it’s all just a metaphor you’ve got to ask “why bother at all?” – Exactly the point Sydney Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen raised…

If he just rose metaphorically, well, it’s Alice in Wonderland sort of stuff, and is not worth worrying about.

I wouldn’t be a Christian if I thought that. Just wouldn’t be worth the trouble.

But that’s not what the New Testament says; that’s not what the evidence says.

The evidence is really talking about a real resurrection from the dead.

The atheists on the other hand. Well. They still kind of miss the point of serving God if you believe in him – which many clearly still do… talk about imposing your value judgments on others…

The world needs to get away from this dependence on an imaginary super person in the sky, and start looking at the problems that we’re encountering in real terms – David Nichols, the president of the Atheist Foundation of Australia

Targeted ads miss the mark

The amount of information stored about us online – through Google and Facebook and their ilk is incredible. It’s meant to lead to brilliantly targeted advertising with content so compelling that clicking links is irresistible. I haven’t been one to click these links too much. Sometimes I do it in order to penalise the company – they have to pay per click.

Today Facebook tried to lure me to a site for “Liberal theologians” a celebration of liberal theology where fundamentalists don’t belong. Needless to say, I clicked. I feel like I have more in common with atheists than liberals – at least the atheists are logically consistent in their beliefs. 

I hope the guy behind that site thinks it’s money well spent. I can’t help but wondering why this guy is paying to advertise his blog on Facebook. 

I wonder if my generic “religious belief” was instead set to “intolerant fundamentalist Christian” what sort of ads would pop up? Probably not all those Christian dating service advertisements I’m inundated with. Surely those advertisers on Facebook should be targeting people listed as “single”.

Liber(al)ating

There was a fair bit of conjecture during the Presidential campaign over what Obama actually believes – is he a Christian (one of his senate speeches)? Is he a Muslim (urban legends)? Is he the Messiah (slate.com)? Is he the antichrist (snopes.com)?

Back when Obama was just a senate nominee he conducted a lengthy interview on his beliefs which has just been republished here. Interesting reading – there’s a fair bit of extra-biblical doctrine in his thinking – but he’s certainly no Muslim. He also doesn’t really subscribe to a belief in hell, thinks all roads lead to God etc – and professes a personal faith in Jesus. He’s a classic liberal Christian – a bit wishy washy for my liking, and biblically wrong on a few issues. I don’t have time to go into the whole church v state issues regarding flashpoint topics like abortion and gay marriage – but this seems to be the dominant doctrine for Obama.

“Alongside my own deep personal faith, I am a follower, as well, of our civic religion. I am a big believer in the separation of church and state. I am a big believer in our constitutional structure. I mean, I’m a law professor at the University of Chicago teaching constitutional law. I am a great admirer of our founding charter, and its resolve to prevent theocracies from forming, and its resolve to prevent disruptive strains of fundamentalism from taking root ion this country.
As I said before, in my own public policy, I’m very suspicious of religious certainty expressing itself in politics.
Now, that’s different form a belief that values have to inform our public policy. I think it’s perfectly consistent to say that I want my government to be operating for all faiths and all peoples, including atheists and agnostics, while also insisting that there are values tha tinform my politics that are appropriate to talk about.”

So – I’ve had arguments with my Christian friends and non Christian friends over how people of faith should act when in office – and it’s a fundamental question that goes back to your views on what the “representative” means in representative government – is the individual elected to act as a representive of the views of their electorate – ie take all views into account and form a balanced position, or is the individual elected as an individual who best represents what people want (that’s a clumsy definition) – ie the person is elected and then should act in good conscience (which seems to be limited to, and by party lines).

I tend to think government as a whole should fall into the former category – and the best way for it to do that is through the diversity offered in the latter. Your thoughts?

Edit: I think the whole Messianic cult of Obama thing, perpetuated basically by his campaign team and the media is interesingly idolatorous. I think Obama, like many of us, is guilty of trying to craft God in his own image – not the other way around. Particularly these sections from that interview:

On Hell:

I find it hard to believe that my God would consign four-fifths of the world to hell.
I can’t imagine that my God would allow some little Hindu kid in India who never interacts with the Christian faith to somehow burn for all eternity.
That’s just not part of my religious makeup.
Part of the reason I think it’s always difficult for public figures to talk about this is that the nature of politics is that you want to have everybody like you and project the best possible traits onto you. Oftentimes that’s by being as vague as possible, or appealing to the lowest commong denominators. The more specific and detailed you are on issues as personal and fundamental as your faith, the more potentially dangerous it is.

On Heaven:

“What I believe in is that if I live my life as well as I can, that I will be rewarded. I don’t presume to have knowledge of what happens after I die. But I feel very strongly that whether the reward is in the here and now or in the hereafter, the aligning myself to my faith and my values is a good thing.
When I tuck in my daughters at night and I feel like I’ve been a good father to them, and I see in them that I am transferring values that I got from my mother and that they’re kind people and that they’re honest people, and they’re curious people, that’s a little piece of heaven.”

On Sin:

FALSANI:
Do you believe in sin?

OBAMA:
Yes.

FALSANI:
What is sin?

OBAMA:Being out of alignment with my values.

I think it’s the same thing as the question about heaven. In the same way that if I’m true to myself and my faith that that is its own reward, when I’m not true to it, it’s its own punishment.

None of those positions are consistent with what God actually says about himself in the Bible – they’re more pictures of how Obama would like God to be. Dangerous stuff really.