Monday 30 January 2006

Pluralism's problems

I'm a fan of pluralism, when it is administered properly. It seems to me that religious freedom is an essential aspect of an earthly society. Christianity teaches as much when in 2 Corinthians 4 and 5, the apostle Paul describes Christian ministry as 'free persuasion', not secretive or coercive but yet still clear in its own position. The situation at the University of Birmingham suggests that some institutions are struggling to generate real pluralism. They've kicked out the Christian Union. Here's the story: what do you think should have happened in order to have a campus where people can believe what they wish, freely?

This article from the CASE archives might interest you, too.

Just in CASE


Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading the archived CASE article. As a PhD student at the ANU, it certainly does feel at times that people have the freedom and right to express any view, except if you are a Christian.

It sometimes seems to me that Christians (especialy evangelicals) here in Australia are assumed to have the same political and ideological views as the ‘religious right’ in the USA. Hence we are summarily dismissed before we even have a chance to speak. Would you agree?

Greg Clarke said...

Hi James. I agree that it is very easy to lose your audience by saying you are a Christian and having that interpreted variously as a middle-class moralizer, gun-owner, sexual prude or non-smoker! Someone recently described the kind of dialogue I have been promoting as 'apologetics of surprise'. I see value in shocking those whom we are talking to: "You think that, and you're a Christian?!". They will assume we are religious, when in fact we are followers of Christ.

Anonymous said...

James what would you say were the main differences between Australian Evangelicals and the US religious right and at least amongst those who are particularly vocal on behalf of Australian "Christians" do you think they are moving more towards the US right eg this whole Family First movement smacks of Americanism to me.

Drew said...

What would you mean by 'Australian Evangelicals' though? I don't want to get all tied up in semantics, but there is a considerable breadth to that term.

There may be a 'religious right' in Australia, but based on the material I've seen lately around the place - for example, the boyer lectures, it's not made up of evangelicals that I know of.

But whatever you call it, to give it a label or try and group into some sub-section, it loses something. As Greg said, we are followers of Christ, but sometimes people load up cultural baggage along with it that makes it difficult to see what's what...

Greg, you didn't actually say whether or not you agreed with the 'apologetics of surprise' comment. Do you?

Greg Clarke said...

Yes, I think surprise is amongst my weaponry (comic allusion for old school readers...), and that it is important today because in general discussion the term 'Christian' rarely means anything like what a Christian wants it to mean. So we need to surprise people into an understanding of the nature of Christian faith.