Friday, January 21, 2011

Christ for us today: in pluralism, colonisation, environmental degradation

The blog title is a reference to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor seeking to be a Jesus follower during Hitler’s reign in Germany. He found his theology must address the question: Who is Jesus Christ for us today?

The context today is not Nazi Germany.

Our context is one of pluralism, the challenge of how to name Jesus when my neighbours might be aetheist, Muslim or hedonist.

Our context is also one of colonisation, the challenge of the fact that the land I live on originally belonged to someone else, an indigenous community. It was pretty much taken by force, with the aid of gun and often by someone professing to follow Jesus. And the money that funds so much of the mission of the Anglo-church today is based on historic exploitation of indigenous land. To use the term of Chris Budden, how are we Following Jesus in Invaded Space: Doing Theology on Aboriginal Land.

Our context is also one growing environmental degradation. We live with growing talk of global warming, with acid rain and deforestation and decline of species and bio-diversity.

This is the Bonhoeffer challenge: who, what is Christ for us today.

All of this by way of saying that I am currently writing a distance course on the topic of Jesus. And I am looking for sermons. Have you preached a sermon that relates Jesus, or any part of the Gospels and New Testament, to the issue of either pluralism, colonisation or enviromental issues? Have you heard a sermon on this? Do you know of someone who might have preached on this?

Because I am looking for examples, with a view to inclusion (full acknowledgement will be given), to help students in the course think about how they will answer the the Bonhoeffer challenge: who, what is Christ for us today.

I am not looking for book chapters or readings, simply examples of how people are having such conversation in relation to the preaching life of the church.

Not am I hoping for a particular theological slant, simply examples of people having a thoughtful conversation between Jesus and the issues of pluralism, colonisation or environmental degradation.

Posted by steve at 04:23 PM


  1. Hi Steve,

    I really enjoyed this post of yours. I’m particularly interested in pluralism.

    Religiously motivated violence since 9/11 has raised to new heights the levels of fear and suspicion between religious groups. We must remember that Christianity itself is diverse. Preachers who advise us of the benefits and limits of plurality, may well be the voices most important to our age. Both in terms of instilling a personal commitment to pluralism, and of reshaping public policy because pluralism is the central concept of democracy, secularism, and church/state separation.

    I often wonder; Where are these important Christian voices? Not in the media spotlight. Of course, in churches and seminaries. At the grass-roots steadfastly helping local church-going Christians reconcile their modern life and world and religious identity.

    But church attendance is down. And media consumption is up.

    The pluralist Christians you discover will be deserving of a platform. I hope they are compelled to pointedly denounce the bigoted ideas of self-appointed media-savvy Christian spokesmen that are so evidently lacking in knowledge of the humane and the here and now.

    Cheers from Melbourne,
    – Blamer ..

    Comment by Blamer .. — January 28, 2011 @ 1:59 pm

  2. thanks Blamer. what I find intriguing about Jesus is the way he could say some very hard things – calling pharisees white-washed tombs – that could be considered intolerant and lacking in pluralist sensitivity, yet could also be outrageously compassionate. a fascinating mix that as you say, can be difficult to see in “self-appointed media-savvy Christian spokesmen.”


    Comment by steve — January 29, 2011 @ 2:57 pm

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