Sydney Prayer Breakfast 2018: Reclaiming Freedom
A record 1400 people from across the business and not-for-profit sectors gathered at the yearly Sydney Prayer Breakfast on 30 May. The event — held at the International Convention Centre in Darling Harbour — demonstrates Christianity’s reach across the Sydney business community.
As Chairman of the Sydney Prayer Breakfast noted in the program “we are reminded that we are created to live in community, not in isolation. In Hebrews 10: 24-25 we read about the importance of connectivity,” and this is never more evident than at this impressive networking event.
And prayer is its focus, so a large part of the morning is given over to both personal and corporate prayer. This year prayers were offered for the marginalised, young people, students, teachers and learning, media, the arts and culture, the business community and civic and church leaders.
This year the keynote speaker was Os Guinness, renowned author of over 30 books and social critic.
Guinness was a former freelance reporter with the BBC, Guest Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Studies, a Guest Scholar and Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Senior Fellow at the Trinity Forum and the EastWest Institute in New York. He is currently a senior fellow at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics in Oxford.
In his keynote Guinness spoke about the notion of freedom and the decline of Western civilisation – heavy topics over breakfast — but topics that inform the very fabric of society. In particular he noted the secular versus the biblical notion of freedom. In a political landscape where the notion of religious freedom is on the agenda, Guinness seems to be on point.
We need to talk about the nature of freedom
“As we look towards the future grand challenges like singularity and transhumanism, clearly there are unprecedented challenges on the human agenda,” said Guinness. “We can look at the notion of history, of human dignity, of justice community and convenant and the whole idea of transmission. I want to look at one today which is so crucial which is distinctly a gift of the Bible. Which is our western view of freedom. ‘Let my people go’…
“If we look down through history, Exodus is the master story of English speaking freedom.”
“Much modern freedom in much of the Western world is negative usually a libertarian freedom. Which for some people it is freedom from government control of their bodies and others freedom from government control of bank balances.”
Guinness went on to explain the nature of both secular and biblical freedom and examined that it is our Christian understanding of the truth that sets us free.
“The truth you believe will affect the freedom you pursue.”
“We have a freedom that makes us different from the animals and the rest of creation,” Guinness clarified. “You can see that human freedom is distinctively a gift of the scriptures and a gift of God.”
“CS Lewis says … ‘Freedom is the gift of God through which we most resemble our great creator’. Make no mistake, outside the scriptures there is no grounding solidly for human freedom. And we have a task to defend it today against many who are assaulting it either in direct attacks on the faith or indirect attacks through curtailing religious freedom.
“Listening to many of the discussions in Canberra over the last few days. Various words were used about faith and religious freedom. The issue for Australia is not will you leave an appropriate space for faith and religious freedom in the Australian future? The issue for Australia is unless you guide and restore the true place of faith in Australia. Will there be a future? Will there be an extraordinary moment in the West.”
Os Guinness will be speaking at a number of other engagements across Sydney.
For more details visit the Sydney City Bible Forum website.