Sunday, October 01, 2006


Dealing with religion can certainly mean entering "the danger zone", one way or another. So the generally fabulous St-Matthew-in-the-City in Auckland, New Zealand, have put up the notice you see before you at their front entrance. Writes vicar Glynn Cardy: "This is our new billboard, put up in conjunction with the annual SPCA service. There is of course a deeper truth here, for the God we preach does not promise security or safety." St Matthew's is in the forefront of transformational Christianity, with an emphasis on peacemaking, inclusion (welcome for all), social justice, community life, and challenging abusive thought and behaviour that uses the name of God to justify itself. It calls itself "a progressive Anglican church with a heart for the city and an eye to the world."

Way to go St M's... though [small aside] I do hate the word 'progressive' (yes, I know, we use it on Ekklesia, too, and I belong to a blogging network with that name). It is meant to indicate openness to engagement with the world, and a questioning of reactionary approaches. Which is good. But, to many, it so easily suggests a dubious attachment to the post-19th century doctrine of 'progress' or to a particular kind of centrist political agenda. Whereas the Gospel is actually about the future God gives us beyond manipulation, and the much more radical impact that can make on our present polity as church and as a community of people engaged in the public square - if we will allow it. 'Transformative' is the alternative word I'm pitching. I'm told it isn't as 'sexy' in communications terms. Too bad, I say. Let's challenge the inherited labels.

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