It Must be Easter

You can always tell when Easter rolls around – just keep an eye out for all the fruit loop commentary that passes for Easter reflections. Secularists and Christians alike come out in force, mangling the heart of the Christian message in general and Resurrection Sunday in particular.

Consider just two examples which appeared in today’s press. Surely this year’s winner in Easter message mangling must go to a Uniting Church minister in NSW. This is how a newspaper headline runs: “Church leader likens inaction on climate to crucifying Christ”. The press account tells the story this way:

“The Moderator of the Uniting Church Synod of NSW and ACT, the Reverend Niall Reid, said in his Easter message that climate change was the result of ‘unsustainable, unfettered and unthinking addiction to economic growth’, and those who could not entertain a less destructive path were like those who sent Jesus to the Cross for expediency’s sake. Rising sea levels and more ferocious storms, floods and fires caused by climate change had the potential to threaten food security, exacerbate poverty and create an environment ripe for war, he said.

“‘God is found in the lives of those who seek remedies and work towards God’s vision of a reconciled and renewed creation,’ he said. ‘Surely in our time [God’s] vision is most threatened by climate change, which the science seems to be telling us is caused by human activity’.”

There you have it folks. The Easter message has now been turned into yet another bit of climate change fear mongering, with some trendy anti-capitalism thrown in to boot. And those who push this new green religion are in fact the ones in whom “God is found”.

Gee, and there I thought all along that God was found in those who have repented of their sin, turned from their selfishness, and embraced Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. Oh foolish me, how could I have gotten this so wrong for so long, and billions of others as well?

According to this minister, Al Gore must be the greatest Christian preacher out there, and our own alarmist, Tim Flannery, must be one of God’s most holy prophets. And God must be dwelling in people like Paul Ehrlich, Peter Singer, Bob Brown, Penny Wong and Michael Moore big time. Let us now all bow down and worship – Gaia that is. And socialism too.

And we are obviously all wrong to have thought that it was our sin that sent Jesus to the cross. According to this minister, it sounds like the real culprits are those who dare to question the global warming hysteria and anthropogenic causes of it. They are the real Christ-killers it appears.

Of course other candidates for message mauling can be mentioned. One Melbourne Age writer also took a stab at what Easter is all about. While he did somewhat better than the minister, he still managed to miss the point big time. In his piece, Peter Craven was all over the place.

Of course having relatively secular writers in relatively secular newspapers seeking to tell us about the message of Easter is always going to be a precarious affair. This guy does much of the usual routine which is offered in such cases. He tells us that whether we believe in the Easter event or not, we all should still ‘keep alive the Easter story’.

What? It does not matter if we in fact believe what the Easter message is all about, but we should nonetheless keep promoting it and celebrating it? That is about as helpful as saying it does not matter if you actually believe that freedom and democracy are superior to tyranny and oppression, but we should try to keep the story alive anyway.

In his telling of the story, he draws upon the wit and wisdom of Hinduism and Buddhism and other traditions as he seeks to enlighten us about the Easter message. Indeed, in his version of events we should simply rejoice in the fact that we all belong to one big happy religious family. Consider for example this ecumenical gem:

“In practice, Christians who ponder the trinity can find themselves fascinated by the parallels between this mystery of their own theology and the idea of the Atman and the Brahmin in Hinduism. No one who knows the storm and the fury, the evocation of the grandeur of the wrath of the Most High, in the Old Testament will rush to judgment in condemning some of the ferocities in the Koran. It can also be handy to remember the Christian monastic tradition of prayer and contemplation in the light of Buddhist meditation or the ravishing beauties of the Sufi tradition of mysticism in Islam.”

There you go folks: moral equivalence in action. One religion is as good as another. Yet he still wants us to “keep alive the stories of the Bible and the beauty of the language in which they speak.” Yes, that is all very nice and everything, but it is not exactly the reason why Christ came, or what the Easter story is in fact all about.

Indeed, what these secular or nominal Christian writers do time and time again is miss the very heart of the Christian story. They are happy to take something like Easter and turn it into a nice moralistic tale, or a feel good story about new beginnings, or about some therapeutic lesson in good and evil, and so on.

But the story of Easter, of Resurrection Sunday, is not at all about such sentimental sap. It is about the coming of Christ who had an important life and death mission to carry out. It is about a world soaked in sin and headed for eternal torment. It is about men and women who are chained to sin and self, and are without hope in the world.

It is about the coming of a Saviour – someone who took our place on the cross, taking the punishment that we deserve for our sin upon himself, thereby making a way in which we can find forgiveness, be set free, and obtain a restored relationship with a holy and just God.

That is the very heart of the Christian message. It is not about the latest trendy greenie campaign, and it is not about our rich and colourful literary heritage. The Gospel message as reflected in Easter may well impact on all those matters, and much more, but at its core it is a simple message, one which both of these individuals have completely lost sight of.

Paul said it very simply, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15). That is the Easter message. That is the gospel. That is what Christians are to proclaim. This Uniting Church fellow missed it completely, as did the Age writer.

But if there is only one message given to us whereby we might be saved, then we should not at all be surprised that a zillion and one counterfeit versions of this message should be in circulation. If there is indeed a devil who hates the Christian message, then we can expect that he would be working overtime, helping people come up with all sorts of pseudo-gospels and false gospels.

That is his full time job. And it seems like he is being quite successful, if these two examples are anything to go by. And given that there would be plenty of other examples one could mention here, he seems to be on a roll. The good news is however that God is on a roll as well, and in the end his message will prevail.

The truth of what Resurrection Sunday is all about will never disappear. All the phony baloney gospel substitutes will disappear, but the Easter message will abide forever. So let us do our best to proclaim it fearlessly, loudly, boldly and resolutely.

[1325 words]

12 Replies to “It Must be Easter”

  1. And I can’t even lodge a comment on the Age article to say what a hodge-podge of fragmented half-truths Mr Craven has put together.
    John Angelico

  2. Bill

    Easter edition of Australian Spectator arrived the other day and there is an article that exhibits scepticism towards the gospel account’s portrayal of Pilate. It says that there is no way that a Roman governor could have shown such indecisiveness and vacillation.

    Have you heard of this objection?

    Damien Spillane

  3. I forever get so frustrated when I hear comments by so-called Christians speaking on behalf of the Church at times such as Christmas or Easter, as I wonder how they can read scripture and just totally miss the clear message contained therein … but then I realize they are not “born again” & therefore they are as totally blind as I was before the Lord so wonderfully opened my eyes, heart and understanding. It seems to be as simple as that.
    June Westbury

  4. I heard a priest speak about Easter on channel 10’s “7pm Project” on Friday night. I knew I shouldn’t get my hopes up, but he missed the point as well. Know how I knew? He didn’t mention ‘Jesus’ once.
    Christie Ewens

  5. Thanks again Bill
    I was disgusted with Rev Niall Reid’s comments.

    Niall’s perversion of the message of the Easter “Christ on the Cross” is a pointless and ugly attempt to be relevant. I wonder if he bows towards the earth every night and worships the earth and Greens leader Bob Brown.

    Rev Niall is talking about Climate change and states “This is a world where the powers that be are no more willing to contemplate a different way than they were when, for expediency’s sake, they sent Jesus to the cross and did everything in their power to cajole, scare off and divide his supporters. The way of the cross was about a sacrifice made out of love for the world. In our world, sacrifices have to be made if we love the world and want to be part of creating God’s vision for it.”

    So how does Niall actually define Sacrifice? It is talking about endorsing a Carbon Tax and paying more for electricity bills in some vain hope that in solving climate change we bring about God’s vision and purposes for planet Earth and secondly does he mean that anyone who actually disagrees with this position does not have the Holy Spirit within them. Are they Godless non-Christians who once again hammer nails in Jesus body.

    The purpose of the Christ’s sacrifice was for the personal redemption of mankind. God operated in history through His Son Jesus Christ to solve a significant problem mankind faces. It’s called sin, and the wages of Sin is Death. End result without Christ and a relationship with him we will have to face Eternal separation from a loving God.

    God is not talking about the Environment or about the Climate Change by sacrificing his Son for the people of the World present and future. That’s a twist and perversion of the Biblical truth by Rev Niall to suit his depraved twisted reality. The earth is actually passing away. God states in Isaiah 65v 17 that He will create a new heaven and a new earth so why is Niall worshiping the creation instead of the Creator. What has saving the planet at Easter got to do with a personal relationship that God wants with all humankind. This is apostasy and false Christianity.

    The Leaders of the Uniting Church have become a complete joke. They are becoming so far removed from Biblical Truth it’s tragic .

    One message at Blacktown CCC church today. Don’t expect the Christian leaders of today to tell the truth about Easter. Normal Christian folk have to do it now and If we don’t, many in Australia will not hear the GOOD NEWS of JESUS and be saved from their sins. They will instead hear rubbish from the mouths of Wolfs in Sheep’s clothing that would rather please the World than God

    Phil Browne

  6. Rev Niall Reid of the Uniting Church confirmed something which I’ve always believed, that their denomination is not so much a part of Christianity, but rather a weary old branch of The Australian Democrats, struggling and gurgling along, trying to keep their heads above water. Their equating of alleged anthropogenic Climate Change nee Global Warming, with the messages in the scriptures would be highly insulting to Christians, it it were not such unadulterated unintended humour of the split-your-sides, wet your pants (if you like) variety. Christ proved he was God by raising himself from the dead. In his ministry, he spent a little over 3 years spreading his message, which may have faded somewhat, but certainly not completely, in parts of the western hemisphere but it is making remarkable headway in Asia and Africa. Never the less it wasn’t so long ago that it was claimed that more people in Australia and America go to church on Sunday than go to the races and football on the weekend. It’s probably still true. Now sport is not on life support. It is thought to be thriving. Does anyone believe that in 2000 years time anyone will even know who Al Gore was or what he was on about? I don’t wish to make this message too lengthy, but at another time I’ll give you some background on the people with whom the top echelon of warming alarmists mix. More alarming than their phony message is their genuine background.
    Frank Bellet, Petrie Qld

  7. I lament the Uniting ‘church’ every day of my life. Not only because of the bogus quotes of bogus men, but more particularly because these ‘big-shots’ stand upon the shoulders of the blood sweat and tears of old-time Methodists, Congregationalists, and Presbyterians – and in amalgamating the three, they annihilated the three, and the one became a void of doctrinal nothingness, with no more left but the polishing of modernist ego’s with wicked political agenda’s. Oh how I await the day God breaks the jaw of that movement with a mighty Holy Ghost revival, or a reformation with a thousand Aussie Luthers would do us good too!
    Forbes Morrison

  8. Speaking of side-splitting humour it’s grimly amusing to observe how an orator can use a familiar bible story e.g. the crucifixion, to obscure an essential biblical theme e.g. that Jesus referred to Himself as God’s Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.
    Terry Darmody

  9. Thank you so much, Bill, for highlighting more hypocrisy and deception!! Shame on Niall Reid – he obviously doesn’t read his Bible. There are many scriptures where Jesus highlights in public settings, of how much more importance man is than animals or the environment. Just one example is Matthew 10:20 regarding the man with the withered hand – Jesus turned the potential ambush into a victorious statement of the importance of saving / healing a man over the rescue of an animal!!!
    Barb Hoc

  10. On the positive side, not all the Uniting Church is in apostasy, so let’s support those there who are fighting for gospel truth. By the way, Cardinal Pell had a very good article in the Australian on Saturday.
    Jon Newton

  11. Thanks for the tip Jon and the link Daniel. Good to see a church leader actually telling us what Easter is really all about, and even have it printed in a national newspaper.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

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