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Letter to the Zadok editor: Redeeming Creation

Friday, 27 August 2021  | Don Thompson


Many thanks to you and the team for another excellent read. Unfortunately, ‘Financial Follies’ has highlighted a fundamental problem, but like the Royal Commission can only provide signposts not solutions. I believe nothing is likely to change until sufficient electors convince politicians to change the goals of our society from a growing economy to the wellbeing of all citizens. Can our churches cooperate effectively to present and model a convincing challenge, or will we be satisfied to achieve some religious freedom that allows us to practice our religion privately provided we do not interfere with the secular progressive journey to utopia without God?

Three years ago, when I read Zadok Perspective and Papers 135 (‘What Future for Church-based Welfare?’), I sensed some underlying feelings that the ‘church/gospel’ basis of welfare was being eroded. At the same time, I was aware of some small faith-based ministries that did not accept government funding because of the potential for constraints to be placed on ways in which clients were exposed to faith.

This led me to reflect on the ways in which cooperation with governments by Missions to Indigenous People, effectively acting as agents of the government, impacted the long-term attitudes of many Indigenous people to the Christian gospel.

Zadok 150 (‘Financial Follies’) provides some interesting snapshots of different ways in which life in modern free market economies may be experienced, and the negative impacts on services that clients receive when organisations make economic outcomes their primary focus. While several articles pointed to the need for change, and ‘Redeeming Capitalism: A Response’ raised the possibility of revolution, I was surprised that it concluded by suggesting that redemption of capitalism, and that of its human participants, may be too much to hope for.

It is difficult to align this suggestion with 2 Cor 5:19, which tells us that ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself … and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation’.

Rev. N. T. Wright reminds us that The Revolution began with Christ’s resurrection on the first Easter Sunday. At his ascension, Christ commissioned the Church to continue the mission he commenced, by partnering with God in establishing outposts of his Kingdom until he returns to rule in person and complete God’s mission of redeeming the whole creation.

Therefore, does redeeming capitalism being too much to hope for suggest that the Western Church is privatising the gospel, thus failing to ‘sting the national conscience, speak truth to power and be a prophetic witness for biblical values and obedience to Christ’, as Rev. Tim Costello once suggested we should, because it has become synergistically aligned with secular progressivism?

Alternatively, has this situation arisen because many Christians, having adopted a pre-millennial eschatology, are deciding that, if God has given up on ‘the fallen world’ and is abandoning it for some ‘unknown destination in the sky’, they should not spend time and energy addressing the current chaos and confusion?

The final answer to these questions might reveal many surprises! However, whatever our philosophy, our commission as disciples of Jesus is to seek out the places where God is currently working and partner with him in his ministry of redemption.


Don Thompson

Doncaster East, Victoria


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