CHRIST, CULTURE AND POLITICS - Part 1

A BRIEF SURVEY Of PUBLIC CHRISTIANITY in OZ.

This Sunday in Geelong, less than 5% of the population of Greater Geelong will be in a Church, that's around 10,000 people. The other 200,000+ won't be. Let that sink in.

Public Christianity (any place Christians can assemble where we can tell our story or make our case, church, public talks, digital media, TV, radio etc.) has been in decline since the 60's. Having said that, this Sunday there will still be well over 1 million Australians who go to church. That's twice as many Australians attending worship services than AFL and NRL games over the same weekend (around 500,000).

What we are witnessing is the post-Christian cultural push to remove Christianity from the public square. British missionary Lesslie Newbigin argued - the "decisive feature of our culture" is the "division of human life into public and private" along with the "separation of fact and value." Increasingly, people in the West today tend to divide the world into two broad categories - a public domain and a private domain. The public domain is supposed to be for the sciences and reason, while faith and values belong to the private domain.

Now, this has real-world implications. If you accept that faith and values only belong to the private domain, not the public, then a corollary of that is freedom of religion is weakened to freedom of worship. The desired result is for religion to be pushed out of the public square into the private sanctuaries of church and home. In other words, while no one is been forced into a monastery, there is a cultural pressure to take a vow of silence - at least in the public square.

If you are interested in public Christianity consider attending the biennialcolloquium held on Oct. 20-21 at Scots Church. Details of all the speakers and topics can be found at: 
religioninthepublicsquare.org

By Darren Middleton