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Nauru: A Response to Martyn Iles

Tuesday, 11 December 2018  | Matt Anslow



I offer the following in response to Martyn Iles’ recent Australian Christian Lobby
blog post about Nauru and the relationship of Christ’s commands to government policy. I do so because I think certain theological errors have been made that require ongoing discussion.

First, though, a brief note on Christian fellowship: I am aware that by writing this article I may inadvertently contribute to growing divisions among Christians, divisions that often stem from conflicting political commitments and perspectives. This is not my aim. Martyn and I, despite our different perspectives on the issue of refugees – and other issues, no doubt – are joined together in the Body of Christ. If we ever meet in person, I trust that we could share a drink or the Lord’s Table, whichever is appropriate in the situation.

I’m also aware that Iles’ article is merely a sketch – as is my response – and not intended to be exhaustive. It is, however, a public statement by a prominent group claiming to represent Christians, and so requires scrutiny.

Early on in his article, Iles makes the claim that Jesus, in his various commands, ‘wasn’t telling the government what to do’, but rather was merely commanding individuals: ‘His whole intent was to tell me that I am personally commanded to be the Good Samaritan’. In doing so, Iles expressed a version of what is known as Two Kingdoms theology, in which God’s rule is split between the worldly kingdom through government and the spiritual kingdom through gospel.

Iles’ statement, which is foundational to his overall argument, is problematic for at least two reasons. First, while Jesus obviously doesn’t command the Australian government in the Gospels, it is a vast oversimplification of the matter to suggest he makes no demands on governments whatsoever. Jesus’ various rebukes of the Sadducees and of Herod, as well as his testimony to Pilate regarding the primacy of his kingdom (John 18:28–40), all imply divine expectations on those wielding power, expectations well established throughout the Old Testament, especially the prophets, where even pagan nations incur the judgement of God for their ethical violations.

Remembering that Jesus lived in what was essentially an imperial dictatorship, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that such expectations are more pressing on governments in democratic contexts where they are, at least in theory, an extension of the people. Here we should recall Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 25:31–46 about the coming judgement of the nations (ethnos) and wonder what that might mean for democratic government.

None of this, of course, nullifies the expectation that followers of Jesus would individually ‘get their hands dirty’ loving their neighbours, as Iles says. But it does not mean that love is (only) personal, as he claims.

The Good Samaritan parable may, as Iles notes, be aimed at an individual, but only because it is a response to a question asked by an individual. Pointing to the fact that the Samaritan did not seek systemic change on the road to Jericho, as Iles does, is to stretch the application of the parable well beyond its intended purpose, namely to enlarge the identity of one’s neighbours beyond ethnic Israel. The parable is not an exhaustive, or even provisional, account of the scope of Christian ethics.

This leads us to the second reason Iles’ primary claim is problematic. Despite Iles’ assertion, it is untrue that Jesus’ commandments are directed only to individuals; Jesus’ commands are very often addressed to groups, most obviously the community we call ‘church’. This much is clear from the Greek grammar of many of Jesus’ commands, for example the Great Commission (Matt 28:19–20). In other words, we are not simply called to embody Jesus’ ethical commands alone, but also as a community.

This point is important since the church, a community, is the primary locus of Jesus’ ethical commands, having been called into being by Jesus to be his flesh and blood representative on earth after his Ascension. But Christian ethics is not limited to the church. Rather, Christian ethics is for everyone because, ultimately, it is for the flourishing of all people and all creation.

In other words, the church’s practice of embodying Jesus’ commands is meant to be a demonstration for the world of what the world could be if it too sought to follow Jesus.

It is clear that the world, including its governments, does not live up to this kingdom vocation – nor does the church, for that matter – but nonetheless the destiny of all creation is to be transfigured and conformed to the image of Christ. In the meantime, the church witnesses to this reality.

The implication of all this is that governments, as the organising systems of human communities, are indeed called to follow Jesus, even if they will not.

Iles suggests that, while Jesus did not direct his commandments toward governments, certain duties do flow toward them from the commands of God. These expectations are, according to Iles, different to the expectations placed on individuals, though he does not make clear what this distinction entails in practice except to reference Romans 13:1–7 (which I’ve written on previously) and Proverbs 14:34.

But this is to create a duality among God’s commands, such that while some of God’s commands are expressions of what is ultimately good, right or true, others are not. The reason for this distinction is unclear at best. In this view, God commands things that are not truly consistent with divine character and purpose, or with moral rightness. The result, then, is that at least some of God’s commands to government are arbitrary, even incompatible with the gospel, serving no eschatological (final) ends.

All of this raises the question as to why governments ought to follow these seemingly arbitrary commands, rather than those Christological commands that Iles is so insistent do not apply to them.

Governments may indeed fail to follow Jesus – in a corrupted world, this is what we should expect – but this does not mean we can use the inevitability of government failure to justify brazen ethical violations.

Indeed, the ACL’s very existence seems predicated on the idea that government ought to legislate Christian ethics, and it remains unclear to me why the government should adopt the ACL’s perspective on, say, marriage, while flouting Christian practice in relation to the refugee.

This brings us to the content of the issue at hand, namely Australia’s treatment of refugees. Iles follows others in perpetuating certain myths. The first is that refugee advocates ‘oppose passports and borders’, which is simply false.

Second, Iles suggests that people on Nauru (and Manus Island) are security risks, which is also untrue. Indeed, this is the purpose of processing, which refugee advocates support, so long as it is timely and fair. Indeed, the vast majority of maritime arrivals are found to have a legitimate asylum claim.

Third, Iles suggests that compassionate policy (namely, bringing refugees on Nauru and Manus to Australia) might cause a worse humanitarian problem. But there is no evidence of this and, more importantly, this is to justify the ongoing abuse of innocent people for the sake of achieving some political end. This is detestable whether or not the government is expected to fulfil Christian ethical demands.

Claiming that this policy area is complicated is neither novel nor insightful – all refugee advocates know this, and it is disingenuous to suggest that they do not take these matters seriously. But justifying Australia’s policies regarding Nauru and Manus Island is to suggest that governments can evade not only the high bar of Christian ethics, but also the lower bars of human rights and international law.

Iles claims that the ACL has sought to ‘strike a balance’, but I’d want to suggest that, especially for an organisation that purports to be a Christian lobby group, there can be no balance that involves the documented abuse of vulnerable persons.

Matthew Anslow is a co-founder and organiser for Love Makes a Way, a Christian refugee advocacy organisation. He has a PhD in Theology from Charles Sturt University.


Comments

Shirley Timmins
December 11, 2018, 7:20PM
Thank God for such an intelligent gracious response to the critical negativity of ACL.

May the voice of such groups as Love makes a Way, Common Grace, and others, be clearly heard.
Neil
December 11, 2018, 10:45PM
Wow... it is amazing the way using sound theological interpretation techniques so quickly dissolves when someone doesn’t agree with your world view!
Mark Bohr
December 14, 2018, 12:03AM
Your diplomatic way of starting this discussion was brilliant.

I agree that ACL promoting Christian ethics and values to the government and Australian society around same sex marriage but not bringing the government into account around its treatment of refugees crisis is totally inconsistent. Those promoting same sex marriage see this issue as a human rights violation and they see the church as also violating human rights.

You mentioned Matt the high bar of Christian ethics and the low bar of human rights and from Australian societies point of view that image you are communication could be seen as opposite.

I agree the refuge issue is a violation of human rights but many Australians would see the church as violating human rights when rejecting the rights of same sex attracted couples to officially marry.

The church has also been guilty of protecting abusers of innocent children and defending those who have been the worst form of violators against human rights that have sexually molested for their own sick gratification and have used the cloak of religion and ministry to hide their wicked deeds.

I agreed with your article Matt but my only issues is stating that Christian ethics is a higher bar than human rights when Human rights are rights to all people regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more.

I suggest that the human rights bar is seen as much higher than the bar the church has shown our nation.

The way the church changes that is simply saying we are sorry and getting off our high hoarse of Christian ethics and just being real. ACL would quickly build a lot of credibility if it just started apologising for the way the church has handled itself over the last 50 years.

Your friend in Christ

Mark Bohr
Vivien Johnson
December 14, 2018, 11:17PM
I cannot see anything in your article which establishes that Jesus was concerned with any earthly authorities. He said " my kingdom is not of this world". There is nothing wrong, obviously, with organisations dedicating themselves to his work. This is part of what the church is. But he still speaks to individuals first.

It is hair splitting to claim that Iles got it wrong . There is nothing obviously Christian about refugee advocacy, givef the vast, criminal misuse of this impulse of charity in today's world. You do your work and you face God as an individual, not an organisation.
Andrew Kulikovsky
December 17, 2018, 10:03PM
Matt Anslow's response seems overly reductionistic and a prime example of straw-manning.

Anslow asserts that Iles is adopting a 'two kingdoms theology.' That is eisegesis of Iles' words. Iles is merely pointing out that Jesus spoke to his disciples and followers individually not as a community. Indeed, individuals receive salvation, not the community. Christians receive salvation and then become part of the Christian community, not the other way round. Moreover, each Christian must individually give a final account to God (Matt 12:36; Rom 14:10-12; Her 4:13; 1 Pet 4:5).

In any case, Anslow's elevation of the community seems a moot point. Yes, the Church should be an example to the world and to government, but Iles does not disagree with this. Indeed, this is very reason for the existence of the ACL - to influence government!

It appears the real point of disagreement is that Anslow believes the Australian Government's asylum seeker policies are abusive and based on lies and political expediency, and are therefore unethical and immoral.

But does Anslow seriously believe that Martyn Iles (and other Christians including PM Scott Morrison) is in favour of such abuse and immorality?

Like so many political, social and economic debates today, the point of disagreement is not moral but factual! Anslow apparently believes that his assertions about the Government's policies are factually true. Iles apparently disagrees--as do I...

Anslow asserts that Iles is being less than honest by pointing out that many asylum seekers pose a security risk. In Anslow’s view this is untrue. Yet, the US has refused to accept a number of asylum seekers currently on Nauru because in their assessment they pose a security risk:
https://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/immigration/security-concerns-set-to-keep-children-in-nauru-limbo/news-story/0afb0a6c5b8e3a8fc78925a94ea2e6ef.

It should also be noted that there have been a number of recent terrorist attacks in Australia (not to mention numerous incidents overseas) where the perpetrators were refugees:
- A KNIFE-wielding man launched a deadly attack in Bourke St on Friday.
- Somali-born Mohamed Khalif and Hassan Shire, stabbed a man to death and injured two other men after his Holden Rodeo exploded in Bourke St Melbourne recently.
- Somali-born Yacqub Khayre [in June, 2017] murdered a worker at a Melbourne apartment block, held a woman hostage and shot three police after telling Channel 7: “This is for IS, this is for al-Qaeda.”...
- Farhad Jabour, an Iranian "refugee", killed police accountant Curtis Cheng while shouting "Allah is the greatest".
- Man Monis, an Iranian “refugee” and Islamist, staged the deadly Lindt cafe siege while professing support for the Islamic State..
- Numan Haider, an Afghan “refugee” and IS recruit, stabbed two police in Melbourne.
- Mohammad Ali Baryalei, an Afghan “refugee”, became a recruiter and fighter for IS.
- Saney Edow Aweys, a Somalian “refugee”, plotted to attack the Holsworthy Army base.

There are also several other cases that are presently before the courts so I will not elaborate at this time.

This is not to say that all asylum seekers are security threats. Neither I nor Iles are suggest that, but there is a high probability that asylum seekers do pose security risks and it is disingenuous to suggest the possibility is exaggerated or that only a “timely” (ie. superficial) security assessment is warranted.

Anslow asserts that “the vast majority of maritime arrivals are found to have a legitimate asylum claim.” Of course, this in large part depends on who is making the assessment. The UNHCR is a lot more liberal in their assessments than Australian officials. Most asylum seekers who arrive by boat have destroyed their travel papers so officials have very little information to work with in regard to who they are, where they came from, and what their ages are.

These issues have been well documented here:
https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1213/13rp02

In any case, even if Anslow is correct and most asylum seekers are found to be genuine refugees does not mean that Australia has any obligation to grant them asylum and ultimately residency and/or citizenship. Australia is a sovereign nation and has a right to accept or reject any and all asylum seekers. There are literally millions of asylum seekers around the world but neither Australia nor any other nation has an unlimited capacity to accept all.

Anslow also rejects Iles’ argument that a supposedly more compassionate policy might cause a worse humanitarian problem. According to Anslow, “there is no evidence of this...”

This is an extraordinary denial on Anslow’s part. We know for a fact that at least 1200 people have drowned while attempting to make the boat trip to Australia. Indeed, we saw it first hand at Christmas Island. To assert that there is no evidence is just plain ridiculous!

Anslow goes on to assert that the Australian Government’s policies amount to “the ongoing abuse of innocent people for the sake of achieving some political end". This is an extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary evidence but Anslow does not provide any.

Journalists Chris Kenny and Caroline Marcus have both visited Nauru, observed the conditions and talked with asylum seekers. Both have categorically rejected all claims that asylum seekers are being abused or mistreated. On the contrary, they are not “detained” or imprisoned in any way. They are free to roam; are housed; get free healthcare and education; and a number have started their own businesses, and several have travelled to Fiji on holidays!
https://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/immigration/refugees-pick-nauru-over-us/news-story/550fb2615fe376fe99af195ec5f27749

Asylum seekers on Nauru have rejected offer to resettle in USA:
- https://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/immigration/families-from-nauru-will-go-to-australian-cities-with-psychiatric-beds-for-children/news-story/221cde2c50603bbb4b91d4e1ff7a4a4d

Some refugees that have resettled in USA want to return to Nauru!
- https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/pm/reports-some-refugees-resettled-in-us-want-to-return-to-nauru/10506426
- https://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/immigration/refugees-pick-nauru-over-us/news-story/550fb2615fe376fe99af195ec5f27749

Anslow claims that all refugees advocates understand the complexity of this policy area. However, I cannot see an evidence of this. For Anslow and other refugee advocates, it appears this issue should be the primary issue that must capture the government’s attention. They do not appear to give much thought to them pact on the social welfare system, on infrastructure, on employment opportunities, on social cohesion, on crime, on the courts, and on other asylum seekers that we have no doubt have a genuine and urgent need for assistance. The Australian Government must take all these factors into account.
Bruce Wearne
January 4, 2019, 2:35PM
Thank,you Matthew for helpfully opening up discussion, not only about the political orientation of ACL but also of all of us as followers of Christ in this country. I guess we should be grateful to Martyn Iles for doing the same thing even if he is putting forward a view that is, as I believe, seriously wrong.

And therefore, as you have rightly said, you and he and the rest of us are in this discussion together, advancing, albeit in 'baby steps', as we consider our Christian political responsibility.

The calling to 'do justice and be merciful and walk humbly' does not mean churches should pretend humility by binding themselves to Government's legislative and policy mistakes.

As I read the parable, Martyn has got it completely wrong. A careful examination of Luke's account will note that it is part of a discussion with a lawyer, coming hot on the heels of Jesus' stern rebuke of James and John who got angry with the lack of Samaritan hospitality on the way 'up' to Jerusalem.

I take Martyn's comments are given in good faith, but his 'thing', his interpretation, self-destructs. Is he willing to be the 'outsider', as the Samaritan was, and as Samaritans were, to the lawyer and the lawyer's Jewish community The lawyer, having got his brain around a story that commended the 'un-commendable' was told 'on your way and do likewise'?

We shouldn't under-estimate Luke's 'thing' in fact. Consider what he says - presumably as a Gentile - in Acts 9:31 as he experienced the consequences of the proclamation of the crucifixion of Israel's Messiah (as part of a Jewish-Gentile political conspiracy) and of Jesus' resurrection and ascension as God's elect prince of all Princes. And that is how the believers throughout all Judaea, Galilee and Samaria found peace [among themselves] and [as a result] thrived. (Acts 9:31) That was historical; that was also about serving neighbours in public life and so politics was part of it.
Andrew Kulikovsky
January 9, 2019, 1:47AM
I must confess that I really do not understand Bruce Wearne's objections to Martyn's passing explanation of the parable of the good Samaritan.

Wearne asserts that "Martyn has got it completely wrong" because, according to Wearne, he ignores the historical and literary context.

Firstly, although Martyn did not discuss the context in his post that does not mean he did not consider it. He merely pointed out that Jesus was speaking to an individual--a lawyer who was trying to justify himself. Jesus was explaining to the lawyer who the lawyer's neighbour was. After doing so, Jesus told him: "Go and do likewise" (Luke 10:37).

The greek reads: "POREUOU KAI SU POIEI hOMOIWS"

Note that POREUOU is 2nd person SINGULAR imperative in the middle voice: "You yourself go..."

The presence of the explicit 2nd person SINGULAR pronoun SU in addition to the 2nd person SINGULAR verb POIEI indicates an intensification of the command to the individual lawyer: "You yourself go and YOU do likewise!"

So in what way does Martyn Iles' interpretation "self-destruct"??

Wearne asks: "Is he [Martyn] willing to be the 'outsider', as the Samaritan was, and as Samaritans were, to the lawyer and the lawyer's Jewish community"?

The answer seems to be clear in Martyn's blog post: "He directed His commandments to me...As a citizen, duties flow to me from the commands of Christ. I must fulfil them. And yes, I should vote in the best interests of my neighbour."

The question Bruce should be asking is whether HE - Bruce Wearne (and indeed, all other Christians) - is willing to be a neighbour? Or would he rather shirk his responsibility and pass it onto the government...?

I can't really say that Bruce Wearne has it got it "completely wrong" because I simply don't understand his objection.
Bruce Wearne
January 13, 2019, 1:03PM
Dear Andrew:

Thankyou for your comments.

In these matters there is lots of discussion that lay before us if we are to find a genuine Christian political option. Therefore thank you for your probing question.

I'd like to think my response was indeed "as a neighbour", as much of Martyn as of the detainees or even the tragic parliamentary representatives on "both sides" who seem to know not how to extract our polity from this mess. It is big and as a Christian citizen I have my part just as you have in public governance even if we are not elected members of parliament (and even if accountability to us electors seems to be lost in our parliamentary system our responsibility remains because it is clearly God-given).

The ACL viewpoint, as set forth seems to want to remain in the shadow of the current Government's policy, and this viewpoint self-destructs because Martyn is using his individualistic interpretation (Jesus is here speaking to me) in a political way. He seems to suggest that there is no Biblical way to call Government to justice in this complex issue. In effect, despite denials, he is saying that since he interprets this part of the Bible is this way, and since both Jesus and the lawyer qualify for the status of "individual persons" then It is invalid to appeal to the Good Samaritan parable on behalf of the Nauruan detainees. He is thereby saying publicly that reading the Bible should be kept private, between Jesus and "the individual reading the Bible".

This is plainly incoherent in terms of developing public policy and it is also incoherent in terms of a Christian understanding of how we should go about appealing to the Bible in public.

I have taken it that this was Martyn, writing from his public position as ACL spokesperson. Moreover, Luke doesn't simply name this fellow Jacob ben-Somewhere but says he is a lawyer, which I take it was, and is, a public office. That too is part of the context Luke describes.

Andrew, I also suspect that my view of "context" may cause confusion if not conflict with your view of "context". I was drawing attention to Luke's inclusion of the parable at this point in his narrative i.e. after Jesus' prayer of gratitude to His heavenly father (21-24) after the 70 returned full of wonder and praise. BTW unlike Matthew 10:5-6 where the twelve are instructed not to go to Gentiles or Samaritans, such restriction was not included in Luke's account of Jesus' instruction to the 70.

Is it not also relevant that this comes hot on the heals of Jesus' rebuke of James and John (one who was to be a leader in the church - his brother being martyred) for their thunderous condemnation of the Samaritans. And the context for Luke I have also suggested is indicated by Acts 9:31 let alone the Great Commission (Acts 1:7-8). And then, of course, there is John's account of how there was a female prophet of God's King in the Samaritan town of Sychar with whom Jesus had drunk water and introduced himself as Israel's Messiah on a (presumably) earlier occasion .... (4:26). This latter writer is the brother, who in Luke's account was disciplined by Jesus for his block-headed misunderstanding of the Messiah's coming. And both Peter and John - Luke tells us - went to the Samaritan town (Acts 8:14-25) after Phillip's proclamation of the Messiah had been heeded - great things were afoot.

Many thanks. I just hope this exchange can help Christians in this barren land discuss these interpretative issues so vital to our discipleship.
Andrew Kulikovsky
January 14, 2019, 5:20PM
Bruce, thanks for the clarifying comments. They certainly help me to understand where you are coming from.

Your comments still, however, indicate a misunderstanding of Martyn’s key points, and so I still think your criticism is a straw man.

I can’t speak for Martyn, so I’ll just explain my take on the issue (though I’m pretty certain Martyn would agree). I don’t disagree at all that we have a responsibility to keep our government and elected officials accountable.

As I pointed out in my comments, it is simply not true to call the asylum seekers on Nauru “detainees”. They are not ‘detained’ in any way. They are free to move about the island, work, start/run their own businesses, travel to other places on holidays, and even return to their country of origin if they so desire (with a generous payment from the Australian taxpayer). The only thing they are forbidden to do is travel to Australia because they will not be issued a visa. Note that this requirement—to obtain a correct visa—applies to EVERY non-citizen who wishes to come to Australia, not just asylum seekers.

You assert that Martyn’s interpretation of the Good Samaritan self-destructs because you claim he is using an individualistic interpretation (it’s actually an application) in a political way, and that he appears to be suggesting there is no way to call the government to account, and thus one’s reading of the Bible should be kept private.

But your charge appears to be a complete inversion of what Martyn is saying. I certainly did not read his comments that way. Martyn’s point, as I understood it, was that although many Christian asylum-seeker advocates cite the Good Samaritan parable as Biblical support for their ‘let’s show compassion and let all asylum-seekers in’ policies, they are wrong to do so because Jesus told the parable to demonstrate who the lawyer’s neighbour is ie, Jesus was speaking to an individual and sought an individual response. No, the lawyer did not hold a public office. Judea was part of the Roman Empire at this time and public lawyers were all elected Roman citizens. The term “lawyer” or “expert in the law” is also used in 7:30, 11:45-46, 52, and 14:3. It appears to be synonymous with “scribe” (cf. 11:52-53, NASB, NRSV, ESV), and they are usually associated with the Pharisees. ie, they were Jewish religious leaders not government officials.

This is not to say that I (or Martyn) thinks our use of Scripture should remain private or that it provides no basis for keeping the government and elected officials accountable. We are just saying that this particular parable, the parable of the Good Samaritan, is not applicable on this point. Where it is applicable, is when identifying our neighbours and how to treat them. It does not provide a basis, as you assert, to be a model for, or to critique, government policy. Using the parable in this way would be a bit like a Christian saying "I don’t need to give money to charity because I pay my taxes and the government gives”… (this, incidentally, is precisely the way Swedes think!)

Nevertheless, let me give a possible personal application of the Good Samaritan in reference to asylum seeker policy: I wouldn’t mind if the government had a much more generous refugee intake provided the responsibility for settling and integrating those accepted refugees fell not on the government (ie. not on other people) but on individuals, churches, community groups, etc. In other words, these individuals/families or members of non-government groups must individually commit to sponsoring the newly settled family for up to 5 years. In that 5 year period, they will be unable to access Australia’s social welfare system, so the individuals/families or non-government group must pay for all their food, rent, medical expenses, educational expenses, transport and other living expenses. This gives new migrants (and their sponsors) an incentive to find work and become self-sufficient.

Would you and/or your family be prepared to make this commitment Bruce? It is, after all, what the Good Samaritan did...
Bruce Wearne
January 14, 2019, 10:00PM
Hi Andrew:

You have already asked:

The question Bruce should be asking is whether HE - Bruce Wearne (and indeed, all other Christians) - is willing to be a neighbour? Or would he rather shirk his responsibility and pass it onto the government...?

and now you ask it again in another form in terms of whether :

In that 5 year period, they will be unable to access Australia’s social welfare system, so the individuals/families or non-government group must pay for all their food, rent, medical expenses, educational expenses, transport and other living expenses. This gives new migrants (and their sponsors) an incentive to find work and become self-sufficient.

Would you and/or your family be prepared to make this commitment Bruce? It is, after all, what the Good Samaritan did.

In times past Australia did have a "much more generous refugee intake" and the record of myself and family will indicate that we do not read the story of the Good Samaritan as you suggest, i.e. as a means of avoiding personal responsibility or trying to pass off refugee resettlement as merely a Government responsibility or something to be transacted via taxes or ballot box. If you are going to commend us as "Good Samaritans" well thankyou but really that is at best somewhat tangential to what I was talking about. But in giving such support I do not mute my criticism of policies that treat vulnerable people as part of a Government approved behaviouristic engineering experiment that has arisen from a complacent self-sufficiency.

My posts have argued that it is wrong to suggest that the Good Samaritan parable is recorded in Luke's Gospel to teach us that Jesus was concerned to teach us personally rather than governments ... Matthew Anslow is right to point to the Christian responsibility to work corporately on these political matters. I have also suggested that in public policy terms we are some way from what I would call a coherent "Christian political option" particularly on migration issues.

Our task is not going to get simpler with predictions of further failed states in the decades ahead in our allegedly "post-colonial world" in which untold millions are already "on the move". My fear, as a colleague opined recently, is that infra-structure, let alone the "social capital"/ goodwill among Australian people, is not sufficient to address the problems as they now confront us. THAT's the issue we need to think about... If that is what Martyn and yourself are trying to say then I could agree with that.

I'd put it this way: Martyn is doing the right thing to encourage Christians to re-consider how to read and interpret the parable of the Good Samaritan as part of the entire Biblical message and not simply try to use it to justify one's view of the public policy status quo.

I also assume that Jesus taught it so his disciples then, and us now, could attend to its true meaning. The parable has everything to do with Jesus' recognition of what Psalm 2 says about himself as the elect Son of God, the Prince of princes, and what it tells of the consequential wisdom of kings and rulers - I also take it that Jesus was also aware, as He unfolded that parable, of his office IRT the Samaritan people who were looking out for "the prophet".

Thanks for the stimulus.

Bruce

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