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A Christian church

By Peter Bowden - posted Wednesday, 22 February 2017


The dictionaries will tell you that the word Christian has two meanings: One is a follower of the Christian Church, the second is having qualities usually associated with Christians, especially those of decency, kindness, and fairness. This is an article about the second type of Christian. Or at least a second type of Christian Church

A long term friend sent me recently two copies of the Uniting Church's magazine "Insights". He mentioned the article by David Palmer that was worth reading. But the article that impressed me the most was the one by the President of the Uniting Church of Australia on the marriage debate. He said: "We are committed to being an inclusive church that embraces LBGTIQ people." And added: "And to culturally appropriate discussions about relationships and marriage across our diversity."

It is a far cry from the other churches. The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney has issued a call to arms for true believers to oppose same-sex marriage. The Catholic Church goes even further. In an address to a right wing think tank recently, Anthony Fisher, Archbishop of Sydney, suggested that Australia's democracy is at a turning point, that our democracy hinges on an upcoming plebiscite on gay nuptials.

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All churches claim to be listening the word God. But it does seem that there are different Gods. The Catholic Church article even shows Anthony Fisher communicating with God. The Anglican Archbishop Glenn has also communicated with God. He has observed "The antagonism of the world to the word of God"

Quite unbelievable – This writer has not yet found any evidence on whether there is a God; let alone where to address questions to the almighty. Although it does appear from Anthony Fisher that they are addressed towards the sky.

There are church people who are more "Christian" than our two archbishops .a new ecumenical group called Equal Voices, which, as reported by Buzzfeed, ultimately aims to present their apology to Parliament. They are calling Christians across Australia to apologise to LGBTIQ people for the ways the churches have treated LGBTIQ people. The group says its mission is to ensure that the church is one "which acknowledges, respects and utilises the gifts of all, regardless of sex, sexuality or gender".

The David Palmer article "A matter of belief" was indeed worth reading. And quite incisive. Palmer stated that he does not need a supernatural presence to explain the amazing complexity of the universe; that he finds some of the record of the life and death of Jesus Christ implausible. He accepts that there may not be an afterlife and that God does not need to perform miracles to engage him. He respects most of the great faiths; including the teachings of the Buddha and Muhammed. And finally rather than we being made in God's image, Palmer believes humans have made God in our image. That when he dies he "may not have a continued life. Yet, he finds worship in a church "to be restorative". He then asks if he is a Christian, finally concluding that he would not be accepted into the faith. Except that Palmer apparently believes in a God. I have great difficulty with this concept.

His readers responded well. One discussion in the subsequent issue, argued that the decline in church attendance was due to the failure of the churches to come to grips with the issues that Palmer mentioned. Another also disagreed with Palmer's statement that he would not be accepted into the Christian Community , pointing out that that all are welcome, even those who are not baptised or a confirmed member of the denomination.

The Uniting Church also opposes repeal of 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act . Another blog attacks it for this position. Yet that blogger is apparently unaware that the Moderator of the Uniting Church is a woman, and a Korean, brought up in a Buddhist family. It is Buddhism's Dalai Lama, we must remember, along with the Sikhs and Jains, who gave us what must be the overriding moral rule: Ahimsa: "If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them."

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The Uniting Church's beliefs are impressive. They confirm that religion will be an everlasting aspect of human life on earth, for in its kindness and fairness incarnations it meets many of our human needs. If I ever feel the need to turn to the formal practice of religion, it will be to the Uniting Church that I will turn.

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About the Author

Peter Bowden is an author, researcher and ethicist. He was formerly Coordinator of the MBA Program at Monash University and Professor of Administrative Studies at Manchester University. He is currently a member of the Australian Business Ethics Network , working on business, institutional, and personal ethics.

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