William Temple was one of the great Archbishops of the Church of England, who said wisely, ‘If you have a wrong idea of God, then the more religious you become the more dangerous you are’. That was said long time before Islamic fundamentalism came onto the scene. We could take this further, ‘If you have no belief in God, then…’. Indeed! Once we remove God from any equation then anything can happen, Hitler, and those like him did precisely that as they threw away the moral compass. On a very ordinary level it means human beings become the centre of everything, with no solid principles, founded upon truth, to guide in dark times. The Christian view is different, for in the act of love and worship we say to God, ‘I am – Thou Art. Saint Francis would repeat as he walked around Italy, ‘My God and my All’ and that shaped his life and vocation. With this simple understanding, expressed and affirmed in worship, we have a solid foundation upon which we build our values and our principles – but also how we can assess wisely what is on offer, and how we can build upon it. If Christ has become our Brother, then all people are potentially my brothers and sisters in Him. We are in the image and likeness if God, and Christ is the perfect revelation of that Image and Likeness. On this we base our system of justice and give value to all laws that have that principle – but we can reject all that goes against it. The Aussie ‘Fair Go’ is, funny enough, a religious principle stated in a larrikin way. It is about that equality and dignity. On this understanding, we all bear a mutual and personal responsibility in Christ. What tears away at this is the pagan individualism of our day, in which there is no responsibility to society, to fellow human beings and no sense of accountability to God. We see this in corrupt leaders of banks, ministers of state, politicians, leaders of corporations, drug distributors and all the way down to some grubby crook. The crime for them is in being caught.
The other aspect of our love and worship of God is that it assumes the act of creation by the Creator. That does not mean you must sign up to the details of one of the three versions of creation in the Old Testament – but all equally agree that creation is an act of God. That is not inconsistent with evolution or the big bang theory. However, an act of creation means that creation was no cosmic accident, but began with a will and an intention that set things upon their course. The event of Christ is a part of that creative process, for we say of Him in the Creed ‘by whom all things were made’, Once we grasp that, then we can understand that Salvation in Christ is God’s creation being represented and made available to all who can say, ’My God and my All’.
If creation is an act of God, then it also means it has an order, direction and a purpose. All that goes against this is a disorder of creation. We see that disorder every night on our television. So, tying bombs to a 12 year old child to kill is illogical and a disorder (‘If you have a wrong idea about God…’) But what about shifts in moral values and everyday events, like a plebiscite? Our first principle states we should accept all people as being in the image and likeness of God, who are our potential brothers and sisters in Christ, so there is no room for any form of discrimination. But then what about marriage equality? Difficult one. However, based on our Sacramental understanding, Sacred Scripture, and even the orders of service we use, it assumes that marriage is a vocation that participates in the order of God’s creation. This does not mean that men and women who cannot love another of the opposite gender are malicious, perverted or evil people. They deserve our respect and courtesy. But it also a means we need a way in which their relationships can be valued in law and society, without undermining our love and worship of God and neighbour, and the order of creation. I have no delusions that any of what I have written will make a change, as it requires more than forty seconds read and, according to the census, a diminishing number of people who would base their philosophy upon the nature of God.