Monday, August 24, 2009

Two Must Read Articles on Social Welfare in Sydney

Firstly, Stephen Judd (CEO Hammond Health Care) and Anne Robinson (Chair, World Vision) spoke on "Christianity and Australia’s Social Services" at Australia’s Christian Heritage National Forum, Parliament House, 2006. Their paper reveals some surprising results about the nature of non-government welfare providers in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom. Less than a quarter of the top 25 US charities are Christian, in the UK there are only three such Christian agencies. In Australia by comparison, 23 of the top 25 non-profit organisations by income are Christian organisations - almost all focused on social services. Make sure you read this paper (h/t APK for drawing my attention to it).

Secondly, last Friday Peter Kell (CEO ANGLICARE Sydney) delivered the annual Richard Johnson Lecture at the University of Wollongong. It is well worth reading for what Kell says about 'social exclusion' and urban planning in Sydney. See also this.

Kell also sets out a rational for caring:
"For Christians, deeply aware of the nature of saving grace in their lives and the need to honestly question any personal motivation beyond a simple response to grace, the question of why we care is just as important as the question of how we care. And this is especially true also for an organisation like ANGLICARE, a Sydney Anglican
diocesan organisation charged with delivering care beyond the scope of individual Christians and the local church but, wherever possible, in partnership with them. ANGLICARE Sydney has always been committed to the reality that the gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. So it must first be said unequivocally, that for ANGLICARE the gospel is primary."
Kell goes onto quote Don Carson's sermon on 1 Cor. 15 at the 2007 Gospel Coalition Pastors’ Colloquium. According to Carson, the gospel is primary because it is:

  1. Christological: that is, that the gospel centres on the person and work (the life, death and resurrection) of Jesus Christ.
  2. Theological: The gospel tells us that sin is first and foremost an offence against God and that salvation is first to last the action of God, not our own.
  3. Biblical: The gospel is essentially the message of the whole Bible.
  4. Apostolic: The gospel is passed on to us by Jesus’ disciples as authoritative eyewitnesses.
  5. Historical: The gospel is not philosophy or advice on how to find God, but rather the news of what God has done in history to find and save us.
  6. Personal: The gospel must be personally believed and appropriated.
  7. Universal: The gospel is for every tongue, tribe, people and individual.
  8. Eschatological: The gospel includes the good news of the final transformation, not just the blessings we enjoy in this age.
I'm happy to say a hearty Amen! to this (although it is probably far too individualistic, and if you are going to talk about sin in the second point then I would also want to talk about evil). But I would add a ninth point: the gospel is primary because it is political. This has been touched on in several points, but I think it needs to be explicit. The gospel is primary because it is political: Jesus Christ is Lord. He is Lord over the evil powers, he is Lord over earthly powers, and he is Lord over my life. The gospel is political because it brings about the obedience of faith from among the nations and demands that I submit every aspect of my life to the Lordship of Christ. This makes the gospel primary and also provides a basis for caring - because Jesus isn't satisfied with just our souls, but demands also our heart, souls mind and strength in every part of our life.

2 comments:

richardrglover said...

Yes.

It is also political (as you've touched on) because being called from every nation to obedience to Christ Jesus, we are called out to form a new community. An alternative community such as the Christian Church is inherently political.

Matthew Moffitt said...

Yes! A new humanity has no choice to political.