Does Religion Cause Wars? The short answer is: “Yes and No”. Consider the type of person who rhetorically asks this question and who answers passionately in the affirmative. Such zealots nearly always focus on Christianity rather than religion in general, and ignore their own religion. What is meant by “Religion”? It needs careful definition.
People who claim to be Christian have caused wars. So have people of other religions, e.g. Islam, Buddhism. People who claim to have no religion have also caused wars. Is there an identifier of all the people who have caused wars? And, if there is, what can we do about it?
The real question is: What can be done to eliminate wars? Is it even possible?
Geoff Russell was a professional electrical engineer. He has a Bachelor of Engineering with Honours from the University of Adelaide, a post-graduate Diploma in Engineering & Computer Applications and an Associate in Theology from the Bible College of South Australia. Geoff now lives in Warrnambool and is now an Associate Pastor at a local Baptist Church and the Chaplain at the Warrnambool Campus of Deakin University.
Many of the churches across the ‘western world’ are in crisis. Their congregations are ageing, and in some cases, they are vanishing to zero. Entire denominations are well on the way to extinction. This is most obvious in the age structure of congregations. There is an entire missing generation comprising teens, twenties and young families. In many cases children were brought up in a Christian environment, went to Sunday school, and were prayed for by their parents, but then fell off a demographic cliff, never to be seen in church again. We will look at who they are, the reasons why they left, and possible approaches to bringing them back.
Then there is the rise of ‘nones’, who are those who have never had any religious affiliation or interest of any kind. Their view of Christianity is woeful. Most have never had any spiritual conversation in their entire life! The passive easy-going feel-good church has failed these ‘nones’, and failed to seriously ‘go fishing’ as Jesus repeatedly taught his disciples. Jude so graphically put it:
“Have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire”.
The ‘missing generation’ is our mission field. Many of these missing youngsters were driven away by the church itself, whose attitudes, false preoccupations and blunders have sometimes been less than Christ-like! Today’s missing generation has grown into a culture which is dramatically different from those of their parents. They have moved on, but the church has not (with few laudable exceptions). This crisis in Western Christianity MUST be addressed as a matter of great urgency. It is the first call upon the 21st century church. It will be hard for those traditionalists who are much older; and probably impossible for those locked into extremes of either liberalism or inflexible fundamentalism. We need love, and the Holy Spirit’s guidance to find the way forward.
Dr Gordon Stanger is a geologist, hydrologist, water resources specialist, and a climate-change impact analyst. He is an RFA committee member and is semi-retired.
In 1971 John Lennon and the Beatles released “Imagine”.
Here are some of the lyrics:
Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today …
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
living life in peace,
you You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one.
Sounds seductive, doesn’t it? Is this what we should be aiming for? Should we join him? Irreligion is gaining traction within western society, including Australia. It promises happiness and freedom of expression, but does it deliver? Is it good for society or our mental health, and can it provide any ultimate meaning?
While Christianity is growing in non-Western countries, regular church attendance in Western countries has experienced steady decline over the last 100 years. Not only this, but Western social values have diverged from traditional Christian positions and Christianity is often scorned and ridiculed. Many are so prejudiced that they assume that Christianity is not worth considering. Any caring Christian should be concerned. What are the causes of this? Is it inevitable or what can we do about it?
The format of this meeting is slightly different. We have 2 speakers who provide complementary perspectives.
Gordon obtained his geology degree in University College London, and a PhD on ‘The Hydrology of the Oman Mountains. Since then he has worked for the Institute of Hydrology (UK), Flinders Uni (8 years), as a ‘Chief Technical Advisor’ (for the United Nations Development Program in Yemen), a stint as a visiting Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (Taiwan), and as a water resources and/or climate-change consultant in about 30 other countries.
Kevin Rogers is the director of Reasonable Faith Adelaide. He is also a researcher, lecturer and research supervisor at the University of South Australia.
Gordon and Kevin’s combined presentation is available on YouTube.
Where is Christianity at today?
On one level, it is impossible to answer that, given we’re discussing a phenomenon that includes 2 billion people from an astonishing array of backgrounds, cultures, denominations, and with varying levels of devotion.
Still, Church historian Dr Matthew James Gray from Tabor gives it a shot.
The answer is that the Church is the same as it always has been, and also completely different to what it’s ever been before. This is because the Christ that is its Head, it is always the same, yet is also incarnating into the shifting cultures and situations that humanity experience. Exploring this, in light of its past, as well as peering into the future a little, is an exciting and fascinating topic to dive into.
This is a summary of David Turnbull’s presentation on Australian Spirituality on the 25th February 2016. A video of his presentation will be available from our You Tube site.
My personal cross-cultural journey over five decades has established my belief that evangelism and apologetics are influenced by the context and require a cross-cultural communication framework. The goal is twofold –
Reduce the noise that prevents the hearing of the message, and
Present the message in a manner (verbal and non-verbal) that enables the audience/hearers/respondents to decode what was encoded rather than block the message through the heavy use of filters.