“When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one’s feet.
I recently read a book! That is not really an earth-shattering announcement I know. Most people read a book or two at various times and in fact I read lots. However, it is not so much the fact that I read A book but that it was a Particular book. The book is called ‘Australia Tomorrow’, and it is an excellent book which I would encourage people to read, one which contains some very pertinent and important observations in regard to the current state of our society.
The book is actually a collection of essays written by a wide variety of contributors ranging through politicians (Senators and Members of the House of Representatives), through former Prime Ministers, Government Ministers, CEOs of multi-billion dollar corporations, Political commentators, representatives of Indigenous Australians, Economists, Chairmen of media corporations, historians, former Australian Defence Force senior officers, Newspaper Editors and others.
It argues for such values as altruism in politics, freedom of speech, for the rejection of Cancel Culture, personal liberty and freedom of people from Government over-reach, for the wholesome education of children rather than indoctrination, for not treating people on the basis their ‘tribe’ (ethnicity, race, gender etc) but on the basis of the equality of all people.
In one reference to a biblical world view, one of the book’s contributors quotes the statement by the American abolitionists (of slavery) that-
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Such a statement could only come out of a society shaped by a biblical world view. It is in regard to this issue that I think that, while it is distantly touched on by a few of the essayists, the underlying thesis of the book (that society can by improved by political means) misses a very important point, despite the fact that many of the contributors are avowed Christians. This is, that the values which the writers wish to promote are Christian values that developed in a society which for many centuries had been shaped by the biblical world view, even if subconsciously for many, of those who lived in and governed that society.
It is a Christian, bible shaped western society that birthed modern science; that allowed technological advance; industrial enterprise; dragged millions out of poverty around the world; and that ultimately enabled Australia to become the blessed country it is.
Fundamentally, the degradation of society that the essays reflect, and about which many people are concerned particularly for their children and grandchildren, is the result of the loss of the Biblical ‘Built In Operating System’ (BIOS) that is, to use a computer analogy, society’s spiritual Windows 11. It is the catastrophic reduction of the SALT (Matthew 5:13), the Biblical influence on society, that has allowed the descent into neo-paganism. This is the result of the dismal fact that active, as opposed to nominal census-measured box-ticking, Christians now amount to a declining single digit percentage of the population. Note the ongoing catastrophic decline of even the ‘box-tickers’ in the just released results in the 2021 national census.
What I have called ‘The Degradation’ is the fulfilment of this statement by my ‘favourite’ atheist Nietzsche. Even he understood that-
“When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one’s feet. This morality is by no means self-evident… Christianity is a system, a whole view of things thought out together. By breaking one main concept out of it, the faith in God, one breaks the whole.”
The belief that the Bible, in particular Jesus’ teaching, expresses God’s will for the operation of human society, and human relationships within that society, is one such ‘main concept’, the ignoring of which ‘breaks the whole’. The general rejection of the One who is ‘Truth’ that is the current trajectory in schools, parliaments, our institutions, the media and society in general, pulls the right to all aspects of ‘Christian morality’ from under the nation’s feet, so precipitating a socio-spiritual cultural disintegration of Hiroshimic magnitude, one flashed across the news or tweeted in 280-character packets each and every day. This is the looming future that has raised the concerns of many, and which perhaps is no longer just awaiting our children and grandchildren but in reality has already arrived.
My point is, that the values and ways of doing things the book’s contributors seek to promote can only be the product of a Christianized society which Australia no longer is. So, the priority in order to bring about the laudable aims of the essayists must be the re-Christianization of society. That should be the main aim of the churches, but they are now so weak and impotent; their leaderships (with some wonderful exceptions) generally lacking in the required skills or disinterested or both, and failing to ‘read the times’, that it is difficult to see any restoration of the Biblical BIOS in society. It could be that the latest disastrous census data might function as a wake up call to church leaderships, however on the basis of the past I don’t hold out much hope!
I have commented on the book in question, worthy though it is in it’s own right, because it is an example of a broader and much deeper problem. That is, that the fundamental problem with society is a Spiritual one. The analyses, values, desires, proposals of the contributors are largely those which would result from a Biblical mindset and morality, the very thing that our society has rejected. In so doing it has proved the truth of Nietzsche’s statement that-
Christianity is a system, a whole view of things thought out together. By breaking one main concept out of it, the faith in God, one breaks the whole.”
So we see that, as Australian society rejects God, the whole is indeed broken. The primary response to that can only be for the Christian body (now just a Remnant) to engage in a new era of energetic mission to the 21st century neo-pagan tribes into which our society has descended. To do that requires a radical mind-shift by all committed Christians as to how they ‘do church’ and a revolution in how they use their God-given resources for local mission.
The book of essays is basically a call for a political revival in order to resurrect society. However, that is not dealing with the primary issue which is the need for a Spiritual revival.
Yes, some may say, great reforms have been achieved by politicians, for example William Wilberforce and the campaign to end the Atlantic slave trade. Yes, that is a reasonable comment. However, that was by Christian Politicians in a Parliament where most members were at least nominally Christian and in which it was still possible to argue from the Bible. Not so today!
Yes, while many of the aims canvassed in the book are laudable, overall, it misses the point that the primary need is a spiritual one, that is the resurrection of Christianity, without which those praiseworthy aims cannot be achieved. As the Australian author and journalist Greg Sheridan has written-
“The West cannot survive without a re-energised belief in Christianity”
That is most certainly true, and while a reformed Politics can have a part to play, it cannot reverse the socio-cultural decline because the Malaise is fundamentally a Spiritual one.
So, for churches and their Christian members, the message is ‘Over to you!’