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Richard Waugh: Christianity in New Zealand today – integral part of our society

Christianity has been an important part of Aotearoa New Zealand since the beginning of organised migration. Rev Samuel Marsden preached the first sermon on Christmas Day 1814 - at the invitation of local Maori – and helped establish the first European settlement in the Bay of Islands.

Churches have been integral to the development of our Kiwi way of life for more than 200 years. Today, almost 50% of the New Zealand population claims allegiance to the Christian faith.

Recent Church-attending statistics [from Professor Joe Bulbulia, Victoria University] show that 10.1% of the New Zealand population are in church weekly and 18.5% of the New Zealand population are in church monthly. Some parts of New Zealand are even stronger in church attendance

So that’s nearly one million people in New Zealand who have active involvement in churches.  I say let their voices be heard!

At General Election time, don’t be bashful about being a Christian. Be proud of our rich Christian heritage in Aotearoa; our influence within Maoridom, and in Pacific and Asian populations, and the massive amount of youth, children, education and social service work done by the churches in the name of Jesus Christ today.        

Richard Waugh: Being Salt & Light

 

 

In the Sermon-on-the-Mount (Matthew 5), Jesus tells Christians to be salt of the earth and light to the world. In other words, Christians are to be involved in the community and its activities, including voting and politics, because God created the world, loves the world, and his son Jesus died for its redemption.

It’s never a good idea for Christians to hide away, or be over-and-against the world.

To help individuals to be salt and light; talk to your local body election candidates; go to a meeting and ask questions; compare what the candidates are offering, evaluate their personal background, values, and stance on key issues like family, marriage, economy, business, and housing.

For churches; how about organizing a ‘Meet-the-Candidates’ meeting in early September and well before election-day on the 23rd? A church facility is often very suitable for a public meeting with auditorium, car parking and foyer for refreshments. In my experience organizing many such candidate forums, the public are open and accepting of a prayer for the candidates, and our nation, and together singing the National Anthem.  

Talking of prayer, the newly established Auckland Prayer Breakfast is becoming a wonderful opportunity for Christians, and others, to gather and pray for our nation and be supportive and encouraging of our politicians. How about working to establish a prayer breakfast in your city or town?  

Richard Waugh: Christian way to evaluate politicians and their policies

 

It can be challenging to know how to evaluate a political party’s policies, or a controversial topic, or the character and suitability of a candidate for public office.

John Wesley, the famous 18th Century evangelist, scholar and church planter can help us.  From his very balanced theology has been developed the ‘Wesleyan Quadrilateral’ – a Christian methodology - or yardstick - to help us evaluate a particular topic.

The Wesleyan Quadrilateral is; Scripture (first and foremost), Tradition, Reason, and Experience.

It’s not an equal quadrilateral with Scripture always the first and primary authority. So,

  • Scripture; what does the Bible say? 
  • Tradition; what has the Christian church said through the ages?
  • Reason; what do our minds and clear thinking tell us?
  • Experience; what does our own life experience, emotions, and culture have to say?

Discerning what makes for good government and good elected representatives?

Apply the Wesleyan Quadrilateral; Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience.    

Stephen Garner: Good leaders

 

 

What makes a good political leader or representative? For one person, it’s someone who encourages economic productivity. For another, it’s a leader who is passionate about social justice. Others want a MP who cares about ecological sustainability, who promotes personal fulfilment, or participation in vibrant local communities. When we come to vote we have to choose both the person who we think will be best for our local community, and the political party that will be good for our country. At a foundational level it’s a question of trust.
 
And trust is based on the integrity of the people and parties involved. It’s a question of character, and one which means that the leaders we need are not always the leaders we want. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus talks about the character of a good manager. A good manager, Jesus tells his listeners, is one who is faithful and trustworthy. If they are trustworthy with a little, then they can be trusted with a lot. If they are faithful with someone else’s money and property, then they can be trusted to do the same with yours.  
 
We need leaders who are faithful and trustworthy with both a little and a lot. As we come to vote, ask yourself which candidates and parties might best demonstrate that, and prayerfully consider that when you cast your vote.

Roshan Allpress: Every vote counts

 

Among the seven deadly sins is the often forgotten sin of acedia. Sometimes called sloth, the original Greek root of the word is much stronger than the idea of laziness. Acedia is the state of not caring enough about oneself, others or the world. To quote the Simpsons, it is to say “meh” to the world.

In elections, Christians are allowed to be uninspired by the choices. We are allowed to be confused by conflicting policies, and concerned by the difficulties we face in balancing the personalities and characters of politicians with their competencies and policies as leaders. But we are not allowed to say “meh”.

Roughly 40% of New Zealand’s GDP is spent by government. Government is ultimately responsible for the protection of justice and order in our society.

Christians are called to care about God’s world, his human creatures, and to pursue justice and mercy in the world.

Yes, this means extra work and thought. It may mean having conversations with friends about uncomfortable topics as we try to understand how best to use our votes. But, the one thing we cannot do when it comes to voting, is to fall into the sin of acedia: to say “we can’t be bothered.”

Tim Meadowcroft: Praying for our leaders and nation

 

The apostle Paul urges young Timothy to lead his church in praying for their leaders. And so should we pray for those who lead us. Specifically, Timothy and his church were to pray that their leaders would lead in such a way that their people know peace, are treated with dignity, and are enabled to express what Paul calls “godliness.” The old prayer book said it by praying that we “might be godly and quietly governed.” This is still a great guide to prayer as we think about our leaders this election cycle.

So we pray with an eye on situations where people are not treated with dignity, where the exercise of faith is threatened, where there is anger and strife. And in so doing pray for leaders to be set in place who will restore peace and dignity and quiet.

But there’s more. By means of elections, ordinary people in this country get to help decide who will govern them. This was a privilege unimaginable to Timothy’s people. But we can vote. So we can also pray for wisdom to exercise our vote in a way that helps to answer the prayer for dignity, peace and quiet – and helps to bring change where change is necessary.

Roshan Allpress: Governing Authorities

In one Timothy 2, Paul urges Christians to pray,

“for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”

As the election cycle continues, and parties make promises to attract votes, Paul’s picture of the purpose of authority offers a good starting point for us to orient ourselves in voting and prayer. Paul does not ask us to pray for leaders who will ensure national prosperity, for leaders who will drive economic growth and create jobs. He asks us to pray for our leaders, that we may live in a society in which we can live peacefully and pursue godliness. 

 

As Christians we hold to a vision for human flourishing that is much richer and fuller than a growing economy, but it starts with a society at peace with itself and others. In the midst of campaigning, when it is tempting for leaders and voters to stir up conflict and incivility, let us pray for the leaders that we get, that they be people of peace – under whose authority we will be freely able to pursue the callings of the Kingdom. 

Roshan Allpress: Good Government

 

 

In the creation stories of many cultures, the world comes into being out of violent conflict. Chaos serpents are slain. The children of gods turn on their parents. In these stories, violence and chaos are basic to the human world, and we are left looking for rulers who can impose order on the opposing classes of society.

The Bible begins with a very different picture. God creates not through conflict, but rather orders the world through his speaking. Later Biblical writers tell us that God’s wisdom, not chaos, underlies all things.

Human government is to be a reflection of this picture. As God’s image-bearers, we live in a world in which disorder is the unnatural state. We are not naïve about the reality of conflict and human failing, but Governments are not to be the victory of part of society over the rest, but rather a guiding, ordering, voice for justice for all. Laws are not to be one group acting against others, but reflect the reality that humans made in the image of our creator can speak order into the world. Above all, we can be confident that for all the uncertainty of economic shocks, there remains a good creator who is still speaking order into the world. 

Subcategories

For the two weeks leading up to the Election we will be publishing regular interviews from various party leaders. Please check back regularly to see new interviews.


 A Faith Perspective

 

Aimee Mai

CEO Christians Against Poverty NZ

 

http://www.capnz.org/

Articles

Aimee Mai: Motivations

Aimee Mai: Playing My Part

Aimee Mai: Speak Up

 

 

 
 

Dr George Wieland

Director of Mission Research and Training - Carey Baptist College

 

http://carey.ac.nz/

Articles

George Wieland: Every vote a Talent

George Wieland: Psalm 72 Good Leadership

 

 

 

Rev Dr Lyndon Drake

Theology, finance, & artificial intelligence. Anglican minister (Te Tai Tokerau) & research student. Former finance VP.

 

www.arotau.com

Articles

Lyndon Drake: Economy

Lyndon Drake: Good government - what should it look like

Lyndon Drake: Immigration

Lyndon Drake: Poverty

Lyndon Drake: Voting responsibly

Lyndon Drake: Work and Flourishing

 

 

 

 
 

Peter Jelleyman

Rhema Media Team member

 

www.RhemaMedia.co.nz

Articles

Peter Jelleyman: Every Vote Counts - Gratitude

Peter Jelleyman: The Kingdom of God

Peter Jelleyman: Babel

 

 

 

 

Rev Dr Richard Waugh

National Superintendent of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of New Zealand

 

http://www.wesleyan.org.nz/

Articles

Richard Waugh: Being Salt & Light

Richard Waugh: Christian way to evaluate politicians and their policies

Richard Waugh: Christianity in New Zealand today – integral part of our society

Richard Waugh: Key Issues in NZ identified by Christian Social Services

 

 

 

 

Dr Roshan Allpress

National Principal/CEO of Laidlaw College

 

https://www.laidlaw.ac.nz/#

Articles

Roshan Allpress: Good Government

Roshan Allpress: Governing Authorities

Roshan Allpress: Every vote counts

 

 

 

Dr Stephen Garner

Head of School – Theology - Laidlaw College

 

https://www.laidlaw.ac.nz/#

 

 

Articles

Stephen Garner: Good leaders

 

  

 

Susanna Barthow

Writer, Relationships Manager, Referee, Chauffeur, and Home Manager

Articles

Susanna Barthow: God establishes authority

Susanna Barthow: Love the Politician

 

 

 

Dr Tim Meadowcroft

Senior Lecturer – School of Theology - Laidlaw College

 

https://www.laidlaw.ac.nz/#

Articles

Tim Meadowcroft: Praying for our leaders and nation

 

 

 

Vic Francis

Senior Pastor Shore Vineyard Church

 

http://shorevineyards.org.nz/

Articles

Vic Francis: Seeing a bigger picture

Vic Francis: What i look for in a leader

 

 

 

Lisa Woolley

CEO  VisionWest Community Trust

 

http://www.visionwest.org.nz/

Articles

Lisa Woolley: Poverty & Housing