dead tree

Root Not Fruit

The news that the prominent Atheist Richard Dawkins is now claiming to be a cultural Christian, should not surprise.

Many of us know parents who send children to Christian schools because they like the product of such schools, yet insist they don’t want their children to be religious.

In my first parish I would meet C.E. Christians. I was told I could only expect to see them at Christmas (C) and Easter (E). So called ‘cultural Christians’ see no need to believe the supernatural elements of the Faith, they are Christians without the C and the E.

Retired radio commentator Alan Jones, when asked if he was a Christian, would reply, ‘I’m trying’. The vast majority of our fellow Australians are just trying to be good and hope that in the end their goodness outweighs their badness. There is no place in such thinking for the cross of Jesus apart from it being an example of sacrifice. And the resurrection, well, that’s a complete mystery.

Since the Bondi Junction massacre I have listened to commentary and analysis of the event.

I feel for people who feel they must provide some comment, much as I do for the secular celebrant at a funeral, trying to say something reasonable and substantial. And yet there is nothing substantial to say about death and tragedy if God is divorced from consideration.

We are facing huge problems in Australia at the moment: youth crime, domestic violence, social media abuse, a society that is divided economically, politically and socially, the multi-cultural edifice is cracking.

Much analysis is being written, but where are the solutions?

Why are we so stubbornly ignoring history?

Look at the state of England before the Wesleyan revivals of the 18th century, Scotland and Wales before the revivals of the 19th and 20th centuries, the deplorable state of society in the American west before the gospel impact of the 18 -19th centuries. You can Google it, try ‘1st, 2nd and 3rd Great Awakenings’.

On YouTube watch the late Dr. J. Edwin Orr speak about the social impact of the Welsh revival of 1904-1905, how policemen with no crimes to solve formed themselves into music groups to sing at revival meetings.

Then look at our own history; the Melbourne meetings of R.A. Torrey in 1902 and the social impact of the Graham crusades, especially 1959. They put Taylor Swift in the shade!

We set up reviews and commissions, looking for solutions everywhere but where they are to be found.

God’s word is always invitational. ‘Come to me’, Jesus said, ‘I have come to bring you life as it ought to be lived’.

But you can’t have the fruit of a relationship with Jesus, without Jesus.

The product of the Christian school only begins with the pupil being, ‘made alive together with Christ’. As long as we turn our back on God, things will only go from bad to worse, and why not, we divorce God from our thoughts and everyone ends up doing their own thing.

In Know and Tell the Gospel the author John Chapman tells of a conversation with a neighbour following the vandalism of shrubs in a nearby park (p.131).

The neighbour was angry but Chapman said, ‘We had better get used to it; things will get worse.

When you say goodbye to God its difficult to teach people not to give full expression to anything they want to do. It is just a matter of your opinion and my opinion versus the vandal’s opinion, I can’t see why ours is right and his is wrong. Only God is able to make statements about what is ultimately right and wrong.’

Pray that God will do what only He can do, send a great awakening and convert people.

And we must go on preaching the Word. That is the instrument He will use to bring about renewal. That is our most valuable contribution to the wellbeing of the land.

David Cook