Rob Buckingham's Blog

There are no losers

We live in an age where political correctness has gone crazy and where everyone has to win or get a prize.  Having only one winner just wouldn’t be “fair”, and we might end up hurting people’s delicate feelings.  This was typified on a Disney sitcom I was watching a while ago with my kids where the one of the characters said, “There are no losers, only winners – and people who are not them!”

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Atheists are full of hot air

I love atheists!  I used to be one until I had a radical Christian conversion in my late teens and early 20s.  As a former atheist I still have a great deal of compassion towards those who describe themselves in this way.

What constantly amazes me with atheists however is their preoccupation with God.  Take John Dawkins as an example. Dawkins is constantly writing books and articles trying to prove the non-existence of God.  If God doesn’t exist then why waste all this time and energy?

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Leaders Behaving Badly

Yesterday, Melbourne radio announcer Steve Price was interviewing Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.  It was a typical political interview – short direct questions and longer-than-need-be indirect answers.  One question asked for Mr. Rudd’s comments on journalist David Marr's article in this month's Quarterly Essay, which described the Prime Minister as a "politician with rage at his core".  This is no surprise as our PM’s anger has been the subject of a number of reports during his term in office.  So, it was a fair question.  The answer was as follows:

“Your listeners, I think, are much less concerned about all of that …what they’re on about is: are we going to keep the economy strong?  What am I going to do to fix their hospital system? … When’s the new National Curriculum come in?  And, guess what, we have a strong record of achievement in all of those areas.”

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Capital Punishment

Capital punishment has been forever abolished in Australia by the recent passing of The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Torture Prohibition and Death Penalty Abolition) Bill. Even though no Australian State or Territory has the death penalty, this law ensures none can ever reintroduce it.  As a Christian I fully support this move by the Australian Parliament – even though some parts of the Bible endorse the use of the death penalty especially for first-degree murder (see Genesis 9:6; 6:5,6; Exodus 21:12-29; Romans 13:1-4).  

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Uganda’s Anti-Gay Legislation

The New York Times reports on the link between some anti-gay American Christians and a bill in Uganda that would make homosexuality punishable by death.

In March last year, Scott Lively, Caleb Lee Brundidge and Don Schmierer shared their "wisdom" on homosexuality with thousands at a conference in Kampala, Uganda. Specifically, the men told the audience how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how 'the gay movement is an evil institution' whose goal is “to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.”

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No Cost Environmental Care

“I care for the environment – as long as it doesn’t cost me anything.”  That seems to just about sum up what many Aussies currently feel about environmental care.

According to market research company Australia Scan, Australians are becoming increasingly disinterested in the environment.  This is for a number of reasons including the seemingly endless debate over emissions trading and the impact of the Black Saturday bushfires that resulted largely from a failure to systematically back burn large areas of bush land (trees are more important than people apparently).

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The Atheist Agenda

Well, they’ve come and gone from what was described as the world’s biggest atheist conference. Author Melanie Phillips described it as 2,500 hardcore believers in the absence of religion [giving] a hero's welcome to the high priest of belief in unbelief, Richard Dawkins.

It’s interesting to me that Richard Dawkins, who has made a career out of telling everyone how much more tolerant the world would be if only religion were obliterated, demonstrated huge intolerance in some of his remarks.  He referred to the Pope as a Nazi, and described Family First senator Steve Fielding as “more stupid than an earthworm.” Oh, I see, we are to be tolerant but only towards those who agree with us!

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The Atheists are Coming!

The Global Atheist Convention is coming to Melbourne in March.  The theme is “The Rise of Atheism” and amongst the long list of speakers is world-renowned author Richard Dawkins whose book The God Delusion has been an international best seller.

I read The God Delusion a year or two ago and Dawkins makes some very good points.  However, his stated purpose in writing the book did not work on me – “If this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down” (Page 5).  It didn’t work because I used to be an atheist and for the past 32 years, I have been a Christian.  I feel that I have a certain qualification to compare the two and Christianity comes up trumps every time!

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Let’s Just Ignore The Poor

Let’s just ignore the poor! Recently Sacred Heart Mission Chief Executive Michael Perusco asked Opposition Leader Tony Abbott whether a government under his direction would continue with the Rudd government's goal of halving homelessness by 2020. His answer was no.

In justifying his stance, Abbott quoted from the Gospel of Matthew: ''The poor will always be with us,'' and referred to the fact there is little a government can do for people who choose to be homeless.

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Joyce Dumps Aid – At What Cost?

I usually like what the Shadow Finance Minister Barnaby Joyce has to say.  I find him refreshingly different, honestand ready to speak out on issues that don’t always tow the party line.

I guess his comments last week about Australia’s foreign aid certainly fit that description.  The only difference is that this time I find myself disagreeing with him in a big way. Speaking at the National Press Club in Canberra, Senator Joyce suggested that aid to the third world should instead be spent on reducing food costs in Australia.

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The Problem of Suffering (2)

If God is all-powerful why doesn’t he stop evil and suffering in the world?  This question is best answered by one of Jesus’ famous stories:

"The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?' 'An enemy did this,' he replied.The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' 'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'"

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The Problem of Suffering

The problem of suffering is the subject of the most frequently raised question concerning the Christian faith: “If there’s a loving God why is there so much suffering in the world?”

Suffering is something that touches everyone.  From large-scale events such as wars and natural disasters, to suffering on an individual level like bereavement, sickness, broken relationships, involuntary singleness, depression, loneliness, poverty, persecution, rejection, and disappointment.  Suffering can come in an endless variety of forms and no human being is immune from it – not even Christians.

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Judgmental Christians

Ever met a judgmental Christian?  You probably have, there are plenty around – people who are ready to point out something that is wrong in someone else’s life, making the person feel put down, excluded, and marginalized.  It baffles me as to why some people feel that they have a right to judge others when Jesus taught on several occasions “Do not judge” (Luke 6:37; Matthew 7:1).  It doesn’t get any clearer than that does it?

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Christianity and Politics – Far from Right

In the book Unchristian, David Kinnaman states:

“Many outsiders … believe Christians have a right (even an obligation) to pursue political involvement, but they disagree with our methods and our attitudes.  They say we seem to be pursuing an agenda that benefits only ourselves; they assert that we expect too much out of politics; they question whether we are motivated by our economic status rather than faith perspectives when we support conservative politics; they claim we act and say things in an unchristian manner; they wonder whether Jesus would use political power as we do; and they are concerned that we overpower the voices of other groups.”

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The Church: Boring, Sheltered And Out Of Touch

It’s time for the church to face facts.  The fact that many people’s perception of the church is that it's too sheltered, boring, unintelligent and out of touch with reality.

This perception has come because of an unnecessary and unbiblical separation of the church from the world.  The perception is that the church is like a club that only certain people – good people – can join. How wrong this is.

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Sinners! We’re out to get ya!

Christians are accused of being too focused on getting converts and likened to telemarketers according to research conducted by David Kinnaman for the Barna Foundation.

While it horrifies me to think that Christians are seen to pester, in response to this criticism I would say, “Yes, I am out to convert people to Jesus because I believe He is the way and the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him” (See John 14:6). 

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Hypocrisy in the Church (2)

One reason for the “hypocrite” tag is the way in which the Christian message has been promoted and taught over the years – predominantly as a religion of rules and regulations that even Christians can’t live up to.  People then measure us by our own standards – which we don’t fully keep – and then label us as hypocrites.  Jesus spoke about this: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat.  So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.” (Matthew 23:2-3)

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Hypocrisy in the Church

“Why are there so many hypocrites in the church?”  This is an often-heard question and impression that people outside the church have of Christians.  So, what is a hypocrite?

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Compassion Fatigue

According to Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper (Saturday October 3) “Australians are in danger of succumbing to “compassion fatigue” with multiple disasters leaving charities in critical need.”  The paper went on to quote UNICEF Australia spokesman Martin Thomas who said “there is certainly always a great danger of compassion fatigue … when we have seen disaster after disaster.”

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Love The Sinner; Hate The Sin

If I hear someone say one more time, “Well, we’ve just got to love the sinner and hate the sin” – I’m gonna scream! Christians quote this like it’s a Bible verse – right next to “God helps those who help themselves” and “cleanliness is next to godliness!”  But where is it in the Bible?  The Book of Hezekiah?  Paul’s letter to the Deuteronomy’s? Each section of this statement is true – God does love sinners and hates sin. But here’s the problem, as a collective statement it’s not true.  
 
The real problem with “Love the sinner; hate the sin” is that it is rarely meant. It is really just a Christian-sounding platitude aimed at people whose behaviour we really struggle with; people whose sin we really hate and people that, if we were brutally honest, we don’t really love. This statement just salves our conscience and makes us feel like we’re being Christian when we are really displaying unchristian attitudes towards others.

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