Last night Peter FtizSimons tweeted an article that was published in the Fairfax newspapers, written by Monash University’s, Associate Professor Luke Beck. With the headline, “Religious discrimination bill backfires on Christians”, Beck mounted a shallow and rather silly case in which he not only threw paper-thin arguments at Christians but also managed to insult everyone else.
I wrote a letter to the Editor, which was published in The Age yesterday (see below), and I tweeted my response to Fitz last night. He asked a couple of polite questions which I responded to with the brevity that Twitter only permits. But then, with a mountain of surprise as thick as thin a slice of toast, the retorts came thick and fast from twitter’s moral mob.
Following this brief exchange with the Fitz, I have been reminded of the following:
1. Ignorance of Christianity is sky high in Australia.
2. Churches failing to deal with sin in their midst have done enormous damage to the Gospel
3. Churches who protect bad theology and promote false versions of Christianity have caused huge social confusion and damage.
4. The sins of the past are not forgotten
5. Lots of people must be learning their history from the back of cereal boxes or from National Geographic rather than from, you know, actual history. (I speak as someone who studied history at university)
6. People are prepared to whitewash the historical record in order to sustain their point of view.
7. People are getting their information about the religious discrimination bill from the media outlets who propagate their already formed views. Responding to or challenging misconceptions is like trying to roll a boulder up a mountainside.
What should Christians do?
1. Own our sins, confess them and repent of them
2. Stop protecting and promoting garbage theology that comes from Marx’s cell in hell
3. Don’t whitewash history. Some people have done horrendous things in the name of Christ
4. Remember the Gospel is good news. It really is true and good and beautiful and life changing.
5. Become more like the Lord Jesus: Love God and love our neighbours
6. Do good to those who don’t like you
7. Twitter is a poor platform for exchanging ideas and having meaningful conversations
Finally, I’m reminded of these words spoken by the Lord Jesus,
“By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7)
My letter in The Age (Feb 21):
Luke Beck’s attempt to scare Christians away from the religious discrimination bill amounts to shooting blanks; noisy but harmless. Firstly, Christians are quite used to people insulting their faith. It’s been happening for 2,000 years and there’s little reason to think that will change.
Second, I suspect many unbelieving Australians will be surprised by Beck’s small opinion of them, suggesting that they would stoop so low that “Employers will be able to ridicule Christians in the workplace” and “Doctors will be able to humiliate Christian patients.”
If you’re mean to us, we’ll be mean to you! While Beck seems content to attribute that modus operandi to our society, I much prefer Jesus’ ethic, “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you”.
The Age published a response to my letter today (Feb 23):
“Pastor Murray Campbell knows his theology but perhaps not his history. Christians, over many centuries, have not merely insulted, but tried to obliterate the faiths of others. The Crusades, the Inquisition, the burning of witches, missionaries as agents of the colonial power in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Australia…the list goes on.
It’s difficult to reconcile the pastor’s words of love and tolerance with the history of the institutions he represents
All over the world, Christians have attempted to wipe out cultural and spiritual practices and even committed genocide in the name of their God. Take a look at the record. Christians are not the victims here
Susan Green, Castlemaine”
3 brief responses to Susan:
- Like I mention above, I studied history at university. In fact in both of my degrees I have studied lots of history.
- Your examples go some way to demonstrate the kinds of issues I have raised in this blog post about popular history telling.
- Perhaps you could have read something I’ve written before declaring my ignorance of history.