Peter Corney, May 2004
” Glory – and a culture without weight.”
(Summery: The relationship between the Glory of God and culture. Once a culture looses its faith foundation it has a tendancy to hollow out and loose ‘weight’. Is this now the state of Western culture?)
Psalm 24 describes God as “The King of Glory”
Lift up your heads, O you gates;
lift them up, you ancient door
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is he, this King of glory?
The Lord Almighty –
He is the King of glory.
But what is the glory of God?
What is God’s glory?
- The word glory summons up for most of us the ideas of radiance, brilliance, shining splendor, and indeed that’s an aspect of God’s glory.
- In many of the encounters that people have with God that are recorded in Scripture this is one of the overpowering physical impressions.
Eg. In the Old Testament, On Mt Sinai, Exodus 24:15-17
When Moses went up on the mountain the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from within the cloud. To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain.
Eg. Ezekiel’s Vision of God : Ezekiel 1:27
I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown.
Eg. New Testament: The Transfiguration account in Luke 9:28
Jesus took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfilment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters – one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)
While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”
These experiences and encounters with God’s Glory in this very physical and visible form produce responses in people of :
- fear and awe
- it draws people to their knees in a deep sense of unworthiness
- it draws out adoration, praise and worship
- and the history of our culture shows that it inspires our aesthetic and creative dimension, music, poetry and art flow out of people. The Glory, its beauty once glimpsed ,triggers the most profound creativity in people.
But this does not exhaust the depth of meaning of the Glory of God.
In Exodus 33 when Moses makes his anxious, but audacious, request of God, “Show me your glory”? God says and does this:
Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. “But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”
Then early the next morning on the Mountain: Exodus 34:5-7
Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generations.”
Now do you notice what is surprising about God’s response?
Yes , the physical manifestation of Glory is given , the cloud envelopes Moses and God hides him in a crack in the rocks to protect him from the blazing purity of his radiance, but the primary emphasis in the encounter is what God says about his own character!
In answer to Moses’ question, “show me your glory!” God describes his own character. The substance of this revelation of his glory is relational! God says, my glory is that I am:
- slow to anger;
- abounding in love and faithfulness;
- maintaining love to thousands;
- forgiving sin;
- yet, he does not leave the guilty unpunished – there is accountability because sin is so destructive of all the things that compose goodness and loving relationships. It must be judged.
The fullness of the Glory of God is revealed in his actions towards us of love, grace and forgiveness. Ie. His saving actions, his actions towards us that rescue us from ourselves.
The other interesting thing about the concept of God’s glory in the O.T. is that the Hebrew word ‘Kabod’ literally means ‘weight’.
The glory of God is heavy with truth. It is the radiance of true reality, the way things really are. It is the solid reality of how God relates to us, and we to him, and so in turn we to others. It is the gravitas of real love.
Now when we come to the New Testament we find the revelation of God’s glory is perfectly consistent with the old except that it is concentrated and focussed on Jesus!
His birth is accompanied by glory: Luke 2:8-14
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks by night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified …
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
John’s Gospel begins with this description of Jesus : John 1:14
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
As John’s Gospel progresses, ‘glory’ becomes associated with Jesus’ death!
At the Last Supper, as Judas leaves to betray him, Jesus says, (John 13:31)
“Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him.”
And a little later in his prayer to the Father in the upper room, just hours before his arrest, he says (John 17:1):
“Father, the time has come. Glorify your son, that your son may glorify you.”
In the transfiguration account the topic of conversation between the two great figures of the O.T., Moses and Elijah, who appear in glorious splendor as Jesus is transfigured with brilliant light (Luke 9:30) is about Jesus’ ‘departure’, which he was about to fulfil at Jerusalem – ie his death, but the Greek word is Exodus! Jesus is about to accomplish another liberation from slavery, but this time for everyone.
And so God’s revelation of his glory in Jesus is also relational. ie. In his death and resurrection, Jesus acts to rescue us to reconcile us to God, to make forgiveness and restoration available to us. To bring us back to the Father.
Finally, in that mind-boggling, symbol-laden scene of the Throne of God in Revelation 4 and 5, the one at the centre of the stupendous praise is the Lamb, “looking as if it had been slain”, and the countless ranks of angelic beings, and every creature in heaven and on earth are singing:
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honour, and glory and power, for ever and ever.”
Now you might say – “that is all very interesting, but what does it have to do with politics and culture?” Well let me explain!
You may have heard of the 19th Century philosopher, Nietzsche. Nietzsche was a dark prophet, a promoter of the human quest for personal autonomy and power unrestricted by any divine authority.
Some say Nietzsche laid the philosophical groundwork for the rise of facism and the Nazi party’s pagan idea of the German Superman. He also predicted the gradual death of the belief in God in European culture. He was a brilliant but dark influence in modern European thought.
Nietzsche made this insightful observation. He said: “When cultures lose the decisive influence of God and God dies for a culture they become weightless.” (Remember the Hebrew idea of God’s glory as weight, gravitas.)
Cultures become weightless because they become hollow. And they become hollow when:
- their core ideas, their beliefs, their fundamental view of reality is sucked out;
- the thing that drove their aesthetic and creative passion is eroded away;
- the beliefs that undergirded their ethical and moral vision are drilled out;
- the ideas that gave energy to the culture are eaten away;
When this happens the culture becomes hollow, spiritually, ethically and philosophically empty – weightless!
Remember T.S. Elliot’s poem, “The Hollow Men” – it was written in 1925 as the first signs of Nietzsche’s predictions were revealing themselves in European culture.
In art – the French artist Marcel Duchamp in 1917 displayed a ceramic urinal as a work of art. It was his attempt, not just to shock, but to say that all norms for art, along with all our traditions are now absurd and meaningless.
At the same time in Zurich, the Dada movement was formed. An iconaclastic group of young artists using irony and black humour to show the state of emptiness, the weightlessness of western thought, art and morals.
This is the beginning of ‘the Junk’ installation. Strange juxtapositions of fragments of the consumer society randomly placed together.
Dada’s creed of meaningless disintegration was partly a reaction to the absurd and senseless slaughter of WW1 and the sense that the philosophical and moral foundations of European culture were exhausted. (A direct line of descent can be traced from Duchamp and Dada to Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol and Pop Art.)
This is the context in which T.S. Elliot wrote his poem, “The Hollow Men”
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar
Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;
Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us – if at all – not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men …
The poem concludes with these words:
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper
Once a culture hollows out or becomes weightless a process begins that can be described as generational value decline:
- The first generation has strong beliefs, out of which come a set of values. But if they fail to pass the beliefs on as vital faith then …
- The second generation retains the values but loses the beliefs. The culture is beginning to hollow out.
- The third generation actively rejects the values and their foundations.
- The fourth generation now find themselves stumbling around in the wreckage of their culture searching for a new foundation on which to live.
Douglas Copeland is the author who coined the phrase, “Gen X” and wrote an influential book called “Generation X”. He is a 4th generationer!
He also wrote another book called “life after God.” Here is a quotation, it the honest cry of a 4th generation lost in the wasteland that is now western culture.
“My secret is that I need God – that I am sick and can no longer make it alone. I need God to help me give, because I no longer seem capable of giving; to help me be kind, as I no longer seem capable of kindness; to help me love as I seem beyond being able to love.”
Copeland’s statement reflects one of the most devastating results of a weightless culture – it turns in on itself. Because there is now no splendid vision to focus on, because they have turned away from “the weight of Glory”, their focus is subjective, turned in upon themselves.
Robert Cole, the Harvard Professor of Psychiatry and Social Ethics made this telling observation, “A culture not dedicated to the sacred has only itself to take as object. The self becomes sovereign.” This leads to a culture of narcissism.
Narcissis you remember was the young man in the Greek myth who was so captivated by the reflection his own beauty in the water of a stream that he lay gazing at it till he died of starvation.
Anne Maun the Australian writer talks about the loss of the ‘obligated self’ that feels obligations to others and the growth of the ‘autonomous sovereign self’ that leads to a society full of self-interest and self-pity – ‘duty free!’.
These trends lead inevitably to:
- relational and family dysfunction;
- loss of community;
- insensitivity to injustice and inequality;
- The privatising and individualising of sexual morality;
- The obsession with personal rights and personal compensation by legal means.
- The culture becomes enslaved by the ideology of personal autonomy.
- Reality TV is emblematic of this, it’s a gross visual symbol of a hollowed out and weightless culture.
- A culture that has reached this point has only three ways to go:
- Continue its gradual decline to the point where it is overpowered by another culture that has weight.
- God may be pleased to bring revival to us so that we might renew our culture
- A new generation rises up that is so appalled by the cultural wasteland we have created that they rediscover “the rock from which we were hewn”.
Finally let me close by making this very personal!
Just as a whole culture can become weightless if it loses its vision of God’s glory, so the same can happen to an individual, to you, to me!
- Where is the actual rather than theoretical focus of your life?
- Is it on the glory of God?
- Do you detect a drift in the focus of your vision?
- Remember a core aspect of God’s glory is his desire to be in relationship with us and what he has been willing to do in Christ to accomplish that.
- Are you paying enough attention to your relationship with God?
- Are difficulties and troubles deflecting you?
Listen to the words of Paul (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Where we fix the attention of our lives is crucial if we are to be part of the eternal glory that far outweighs every transient trouble and difficulty.
The politics of God Part 2.
“ Grace– the foundation for a free society”
(Summery: How the Christian idea of grace is a strong foundation for a free and democratic society. Can Western democracy survive without a renewal of one of its key formative influnces ?)
The idea of Grace is at the heart and core of the Christian faith. It is a key foundational idea. In fact it would not be going too far to say that if someone has not understood Grace then they have not understood the Christian faith.
In fact you could go further and say that if they have not accepted and experienced God’s grace to us in Christ they are not yet a Christian.
Grace is the free unmerited favour and forgiveness of God to us. It comes to us, not because we deserve it, but because God loves us and has mercy on us.
The New Testament tells us that God took the initiative, came into our world – the world of immensely destructive selfishness and evil. He came, and instead of us, in our place, he bore our guilt and punishment so that we could be acquitted before the bar of God’s holiness and set free.
That’s the amazing grace of God and that is the glory of God – His love and compassion and mercy towards us, inspite of us.
As U2 express it in their song: ‘Grace’
“Grace she takes the blame
She covers the shame, removes the stain …
What once was hurt, what cone was friction,
what left a mark no longer stings, because
grace makes beauty out of ugly things.”
Paul’s words in Ephesians 2 make it crystal clear how the New Testament understands the way grace works. Ephesians 2:8-10:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God – not by works, so no-one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works that God prepared in advance for us to do.
Note that Paul describes the new person that emerges from the experience of being touched by grace as “God’s handiwork” recreated by God in Christ. The Holy Spirit flows from God into our hearts and minds to renew us at the very core of our being. This is not something we can do, it is done for us and to us.
Now this Grace once experienced and understood and lived by, not only restores our relationship with God, but it has another wonderful spin-off – it provides the strongest and most profound foundation for a free and democratic society, the way we can live together justly and fairly and caringly.
There are compelling reasons why grace is a key foundation for a healthy, democratic and free society:
1. Because grace makes us all equal
It transcends race, gender, tribe and class. In Ephesians 2, immediately following his classic statement on grace that we read earlier, Paul goes straight on to draw out one of its radical implications that Jew and Gentile are now one. (2:14-21).
“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.”
Christianity of all faiths is the most culturally pluralist. (Not philosophically pluralist but culturally pluralist.) Christianity attacks tribalism, racism and xenophobia at its roots. In Christ we have a radically new identity that transcends all the other communities of identity that we have been shaped by: ethnicity, family, gender, employment, class, etc,. Paul expresses it this way in Galatians 3:26-28.
“You are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you all one in Christ Jesus.”
People who understand grace do not feel superior or inferior. This is a great foundation for free and democratic society.
2. Grace produces the inner attitude of gratefulness and humility. Before God’s mercy we are all the unworthy but grateful recipients of grace. Deep in the hearts of those who have experienced grace is the awareness of the brokenness, darkness and dysfunction that lurks below the surface in all of us. We know deep down that “there but for the grace of God go I.”
eg. I have a friend who is a recovered alcoholic. He lost his marriage and his children through alcoholism, but AA rescued him.He is now very honest about his life and weaknesses. Recovered alcoholics (or sober alcoholics) are some of the most honest , unpretentious and humble people I know. And that’s because they have been to the bottom. They know how low we humans can stoop and yet they found grace and came back and now live everyday by grace. They are frank and tough but very slow to judge others, very humble.
3. Because forgiveness is at the heart of grace and the experience of grace it produces people who realise the crucial importance of forgiveness and reconciliation in all our relationships. Forgiveness and reconciliation are crucial values for a free and harmonious society
4. Because grace proceeds from love – Grace is God’s love in action towards us, when experienced it produces people committed to the ethic of love in all our social relationships. Because we know we were loved by God even when we ignored or rejected him we realise we must love even those who reject us, even our enemies. This is a powerful and positive value for a healthy society.
5. Grace places an enormously high value on the individual’s life. People are of supreme value because each one has been redeemed by Christ’s death. The cost of grace – the price – was incalculably high. So the weakest most powerless individual is precious.
6. Grace also heightens the importance of community. It is to the Christian Community that God gives his ‘graces’/ ‘charisms’ or gifts of ministry to strengthen and grow us to reach out beyond ourselves to others. We understand ourselves as a mutually interdependent ‘body’ where each part or limb needs and depends on the other.
Our understanding of Christian community makes us people who value and see the importance of community and mutual responsibility throughout the whole society. It is no accident that many of the great social reforms that we now enjoy in western society had their origin in the Christian social reformers of the 18th and 19th Centuries in England. English society went through a tremendous social upheaval with the Industrial Revolution. As well as producing wealth, it also created enormous social problems with the growth of the vast new industrial suburbs. England changed from an agrarian village society to an industrial urban one in a relatively short period of time. The social challenges were great. A group of Christians, motivated by God’s grace to them tackled the social challenges of this period.
- John Howard pioneered prison reform.
- Elizabeth Fry and Anthony Ashley Cooper tackled factory reform and worked to abolish child labour.
- William Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson led the long battle to abolish slavery in the UK and its colonies.
- John Ludlow pioneered the Friendly Societies, out of which came modern insurance and medical benefits schemes.
- George Cadbury turned his factories into model workplaces. He introduced labour reforms and the forerunners of workplace accident insurance, superannuation and decent housing for workers. He created model villages around his factories.
- James Kier Hardie created the modern labour movement. He had a strong influence on the first Australian Labor Prime Minister.
These were all deeply committed Christians.
Listen to this prayer by John Howard the prison reformer. His life work began with his conversion at 45 years of age. This is the prayer of commitment he recorded in his journal. It reveals the motivation of deep gratitude to God.
“Oh compassionate and divine Redeemer, save me from the dreadful guilt and power of sin and accept my solemn, free unreserved surrender of my soul, my spirit, all I am and have into your hands, unworthy of thy acceptance.”
His experience of God’s grace motivated him to travel 42,000 miles by horse during his life in the pursuit of the reform of prisons.
The experience of grace heightens the importance of community , an incredibly important value for a free and democratic society.
7. Experiencing and receiving of the generous grace of God produces generosity in us and the whole idea of sharing our wealth and abundance.
In 2 Corinthians 8 & 9 Paul is writing to the Corinthian church about their giving to the struggling Christians in Jerusalem. In 8:9 he sets up the generosity of God’s grace as the basis for our generosity.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
This is “the Christian generosity principle”. Our generosity is motivated by Christ’s generosity to us.
Then at the end of chapter 9 he tells the Corinthian Christians that their giving will produce great thanksgiving to God – and the reason for that is not just their financial generosity but the source of it – the surprising grace of God given to them. 2 Cor 9:12-15:
This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, people will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
Notice verse 14: “the hearts” of those receiving the Corinthian church’s gifts “will go out to them” because they realise how powerfully God’s grace has worked in them. They realise that the origin of the Corinthian’s generosity was the generous grace of God to the Corinthian Christians.
This example of generosity from God flows over into our role in society. The willing sharing of our wealth by reasonable taxation is something that “grace receivers” support as necessary for a fair and caring society.
The weak, the frail, the poor, the disabled must be cared for by generously sharing our resources through taxation.
8. Grace is more morally powerful than legalism. P.T. Forsyth, a great Christian thinker and writer from earlier times said, “Public liberty rests on inward freedom.”
Forsyth’s point was that those enslaved by fear or prejudice or anger or resentment or selfishness or greed are much more likely to enslave others than those who have found the inner freedom that comes from experiencing grace and forgiveness.
Nothing can ever be totally guaranteed but the modern liberal democratic state will rest far more safely on this inner freedom than anything else. The experience of grace is always more morally powerful and personally transforming than laws or legislation.
There is a world of difference between someone who keeps the law because they have to, or are afraid, and those who keep the law because they want to, whose hearts tell them it’s good and right.
The author of “Amazing grace” was John Newton a sea captain and slave trader. After his conversion he not only gave up his terrible trade but worked tirelessly with William Wilberforce for the abolition of the slave trade.
Grace is not opposed to law, but it is opposed to legalism. Legalism assumes that you can develop a good society with laws. Good laws are important but they do not change the heart or form inner values. Good laws can express and help support good values and be a signpost to good and fair behaviour, they can protect the weak and restrain self interest and evil but they cannot provide inner motivation or change the heart.
Jesus confronted this very issue in his own society – a society with a deep respect for the Law, but one that constantly descended into legalism and casuistry with the Law. eg. The pedantic resistance to healing on the Sabbath because it could be defined as work! Jesus lashed the teachers of the Law who justified this. He described them as blind guides, who ‘strained at gnats and swallowed camels!’ Who laid burdens on people too great to bear, hypocrites who kept the letter but missed the Spirit of the Law. He constantly went for the heart, the motive. ‘The Law says, do not murder but I say watch out for anger and hatred.’ The Pharisees were constantly on about the purification rules and hand washing. ‘I’ll tell you what makes someone unclean, it’s what’s in his heart and what’s in his heart will spill out of his mouth.’
Jesus was of course just continuing the tradition of the great Hebrew prophets – they understood and expressed with the clarity of desert light that the heart must be changed. No amount of observance , if your attitude or reasons were wrong, was acceptable to God.
They thundered out: “Rend your hearts and not your garments”. In other words truly repent don’t just observe the outward sign. “Circumcise your hearts, not just your bodies” Bear the sign of separation from God in your heart not just your bodies.
Because our legislators today have lost touch with these foundation ideas of our culture they have fallen into the legalism trap. We have more legislation than we have ever had and yet a moral and ethical vacuum continues to grow at the heart of our society. We have legislation enacted with good intentions like the Victorian Racial and Religious Vilification Act that in its enthusiastic political correctness is poorly drafted and has the potential to undermine the fundamental democratic value of freedom of speech, particularly in relation to freedom of religious expression and debate. It’s intention may have been good but the result is a flawed piece of legislation.
Grace changes hearts, not Law!
9. Grace produces hope
When a person experiences the grace and forgiveness of God they know they have a new start, a fresh future. When someone is at a point of emotional, spiritual and moral despair and they find that God loves them, is still extending his hand to them, and is saying to them – “Come on, lift your head, stand up, you can be forgiven, I can give you the strength to go on” – at that moment hope springs alive again. Societies must have hope to be healthy, to have energy and creativity. Grace produces hope!
The following is a list of the core values of a modern democratic society like Australia.
- The separation of powers, church and state, parliament and courts.
- Universal suffrage – one person, one vote
- Representative democracy elected by the people
- Equality of men and women
- Equality before the law
- The freedom of the individual to choose who they will marry, where they will live, work etc
- Trial by jury
- Freedom of speech
- Freedom of religion
- Freedom of assembly and association
- Equal rights to own property
- The protection of and care for the poor, unemployment, vulnerable, sick and aged.
- The sharing of wealth via taxation as well as voluntary charity
- Protection of the rights of lawful minorities
- The provision of non-sectarian education by the State
- The freedom of people to also provide independent education for their children.
A cohesive society can only be constructed out of culturally diverse groups if there is a core of shared values to which everyone is committed.
It is a matter of historic fact that these values have evolved and developed primarily within and out of those nations who were most influenced by the Christian faith and the gospel of grace. Subsequently they have been adopted by others like India, now the world’s largest democracy, but they were nurtured in cultures influenced deeply by grace.
Classical Greece receives far too much credit for democracy! In fact they were slave states. Democracy was only for a small aristocratic elite, quite unlike a modern liberal democracy. If modern democratic principles they are to be protected, then the message of grace must be maintained at the heart of our society.
So if grace is a key foundation stone for building and sustaining a free democratic society, how can we and how should we promote grace?
Well, not by law or power or force, but by:
- promoting the message of grace – i.e. Spreading and sharing the Gospel
- living graciously among others in our society
- not being apologetic in our culture about our Christian faith, but being very confident and positive about its value to our society. Promote grace – argue its case as I have done here.
- By promoting politically and legally the core values of the modern democratic state like freedom of religion and freedom of speech.
Grace is a far better basis for a free and good society than secularism or paganism or a relativistic pluralism – the three current boys on the ideas block these days! Secularism is such a closed circle that shuts out so much that the human heart longs for. Paganism has a nasty history and has been the seed-bed for facism’s many forms in the past. Relativistic Pluralism is so anti-foundational that it produces a confused and ethically empty culture focussed on the individual’s self fulfilment and their subjective interior world with no objective moral compass point.
Remember P.T. Forsyth’s statement: “Public liberty rests on inward freedom” and that freedom is found in the experience of grace.
Australia was first discovered by a European explorer in 1606, Pedro Ferdandez de Quiros – he named his discovery “Terra Australis del Espiritu Santo” – the Southland of the Holy Spirit. Let us pray that we will indeed be a nation guided and influenced by the Holy Spirit, the one who leads hearts to the grace of God. Amen