Of course, the church has its fair share of failures. The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse highlights that. Yet these atrocities, no matter how deplorable, and they are, does not make all Christians dangerous or invalidate the good they do.
Christians long for a better world along with the rest of the community. We too look forward to a world where all are loved, where children grow up in safety, where all enjoy clean water and good food, where peace rules and there is justice for all. It’s just we have a different understanding of how to get there.
We believe the world is a wonderful life sustaining place, that didn’t emerge by chance, but through the actions of a loving, personal, creative genius. Despite this, however, we also believe the world is flawed and broken. Technically, we say it is ‘fallen’.
In contrast, another view, formed through the Enlightenment, takes the Creator out of the picture and no longer sees the world as ‘fallen’, – but ‘imperfect’. The difference between the two is quite significant.
What do you do with an imperfect world? You work to rid it of its imperfections and move towards that perfection. What do you do with a ‘fallen’ world? You work to bring improvements, for sure, but also you ensure things don’t get worse. Yet, you are aware that hard work alone will not bring utopia. What is needed is complete new start.
We all long for a better world, it’s just that some of us believe humanity itself can bring it about, while others believe we can’t do it and look elsewhere for help. And that’s why we pray.
Although humanity can and has and will do great and wonderful things, we also do horrible things. One just needs to reflect on the failure of 20th Century ideologies with the deaths of millions in concentration camps, gulags, and the killings fields to find reasons to doubt humanity’s ability to usher in a perfect world by itself.
Perhaps that’s one reason Christians are at times viewed as pariahs. We are not convinced by the dream. We haven’t bought into the vision. We have become the new unbelievers. Whether it is communism, fascism or capitalism, we are unconvinced that humanity can solve its problems by itself.
We humbly acknowledge that the problems facing our state of Tasmania, our nation, and our world will take more than the combined efforts of our moral, social, and political wills. And that’s why we pray and that’s why we are here.
Stephen L Baxter