New message? Bring back the old one

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.3For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: (1 Corinthians 15:1-4 )

 

In Christianity, Jesus’ physical resurrection is central to the belief that Christ is who He says He is and has done what He was called to do. For the rest of the world the gospel with its Easter message is a fairy tale that just wouldn’t die.

In countries like Malaysia, the significance of Easter is suppressed. Easter is essentially a very powerful message of love :  God so loved the world that He sacrificed His only begotten Son to redeem all mankind. The resurrection? Confirmation that Christ is God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God. The Malaysian government fears Christians’ open confession of Christ’s identity may upset, confuse or even sway people of other faiths. Thus Easter is necessarily a non-event,  to be celebrated within the private confines of church buildings only.  This is quite understandable as Malaysia is a Muslim country.

It is therefore ironic that in western democracies like Australia where Christianity is supposed to be the dominant faith, Easter is controversial. Not all churches are on the same page as to how they see the event. Take for example, ‘liberal’ denominations which pride themselves on an enlightened , new age approach to the Faith. They see the Easter story as a hidden allegory of spiritual self-renewal. It is perhaps part of their denominational mission to ‘liberate’ minds, to explain away, often subtly, and align biblical events within the framework of a credible worldview. To do this plausibly, the gospel will have to be tweaked and Jesus must necessarily be relegated to the figure of another ‘very good man’, like Gautama Buddha or Prophet Mohammed. All very commendable, very intelligently rational.  But many people find it puzzling and often ask the relevant question: if they believe in what they are preaching, that what they preach is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth why preach under the mantle of the Church then?  Why not launch a different belief-system? Does not the oddity of approach here speaks overwhelmingly of the old-religion type of faith most Christians prefer?

To find out which version of the gospel message gets people’s hearts and minds, this Easter day you may wish to visit a church where Christian doctrine and beliefs have not changed for the past 2 millennia. It will be hard not to be struck by the feeling that you are witnessing a physical ’overflow of faith’, even though this is the 21st century.

In a world reeling from frequent and frighteningly random terrorist and terrorism-inspired attacks (this article was written in the aftermath of the attack in London), people need the stronghold and comfort of an unchanged and unchanging Faith. One built on rock. Anything else is sinking sand.

 

Kimmy Fam is a member of  the Skipton St UCA,  Ballarat and is currently studying for her LLM at the University of Melbourne.




5 thoughts on “New message? Bring back the old one

  1. R.A. Landbeck

    “you may wish to visit a church where Christian doctrine and beliefs have not changed for the past 2 millennia”

    No such church exists! Even the oldest, which is the RCC has been through theological ‘development’ over the centuries. Not to mention schism, reformation and a lot of spilled blood. With many questions that remains unanswered. One might conclude from history itself that there is as yet no “version of the gospel message gets people’s hearts and minds” whatever claims to the contrary may exist. The entire history of the ‘church’ is an all too human theological construct. And theology only exists because nothing has been revealed. It remains unknown whether the interpretations of mortal men have anything to do with God. And faith cannot change that.

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  2. Geoff Stevenson

    Interesting then that thecearliest discussion on resurrection in the New Testament was from Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 where he clearly differentiates between the body of flesh and the body that is spirit, the resurrection body. Even the stories in the gospels depicting Jesus’ resurrection are shrouded in mystery with elements that imply a spiritual body. Saul’s conversion in Acts clearly indicates that his witness of the resurrected Jesus was a light and voice but he is very clear about himself as one of the witnesses to resurrection. It is very, very clear that the followers of Jesus experienced the very real life-transforming presence of the resurrected Jesus but was it a physical resuscitation or the spiritual resurrection of which Paul speaks? How do we experience resurrection in our own lives – like that of Jesus’ earliest followers? Howcdo we live in the light of this? Are we really interested in a belief system and ‘saying the supposed right things’ or living a transformed in the experience of Divine mystery and wonder? That is far more relevant and important to me.

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  3. Trevor Kohlhagen

    The definition of liberal Christians is very narrow. I see myself as liberal because I do not believe you have to use an old King James Version of the bible with lots of Ye and thou in it so you sound righteous. I believe The Spirit led the church to reject slavery, even though it is condoned in scripture. I believe God calls women to leadership roles in the church. I believe that if we spread hate against gay people, migrants/refugees or single mothers we are breaking the second of the two commandments of the new covenant. I could go on, but you probably get my drift. If this is not Spirit based belief, then Jesus stated mission must have been wrong and He was seriously misled. I always was taught He came to seek the lost, not for the the righteous (or those who think they are righteous!). If the above labels me liberal, so be it. I find that less insulting than being accused of being bigotted, blind to the ongoing prompting of the Spirit and rooted in the past, which only looks good in distant hind sight.
    Of course people cling to set doctrines and practices in troubled times, but that does not make them right. If you had been there in the time of Jesus, I suspect your voice would have derided him as a liberal for what he said and did. After all, after a couple years of full time work his congregation was hardly demanding bigger buildings in which to meet were they.

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    1. Steven Ching

      Fulton Sheen has it pat down on the origins of ‘liberal’ Christianity when he said (The Life of Christ) :
      “The Western post-Christian civilization has picked up the Christ without His Cross. But a Christ without a sacrifice that reconciles the world to God is a cheap, feminized, colourless, itinerant preacher who deserves to be popular for His great Sermon on the Mount, but also merits unpopularity for what He said about His Divinity …This sentimental Christ is patched together with a thousand commonplaces, sustained sometimes by academic etymologists who cannot see the Word for the letters, or distorted beyond personal recognition by a dogmatic principle that anything which is Divine must necessarily be a myth. Without His Cross, He becomes nothing more than a sultry precursor of democracy or a humanitarian who taught brotherhood without tears.”

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      1. Raymond Lyons

        I like the new Christianity. It is underscored by a rather comforting doctrine – that we live in a world without sin, redeemed by a Saviour without sacrifice to lead us into the Kingdom of a God without anger. All that negative stuff just turns people away. Just preach love and ethics, it’s easier.

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