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In the world study

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A Thematic Biblical Study Written by Phil Rogers 2 3

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Inside cover CHURCH A Biblical Study Written by Phil Rogers Terrigal Uniting Church 2021

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Inside cover CHURCH A Biblical Study Written by Phil Rogers Terrigal Uniting Church 2021

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CONTENTS Introduction 5 Study 1 2 Dual Citizenship 8 Study 2 Justice for the Poor 16 Study 3 Politics How involved should Christians be 24 Study 4 A window to a parallel Universe 30 Notes 36 3

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CONTENTS Introduction 5 Study 1 2 Dual Citizenship 8 Study 2 Justice for the Poor 16 Study 3 Politics How involved should Christians be 24 Study 4 A window to a parallel Universe 30 Notes 36 3

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INTRODUCTION Welcome to this study and thank you for taking part This study is different to the ones we have had in recent years It is called a thematic study where instead of studying a particular book of the Bible a biblical theme is looked at against the backdrop of different scripture passages The theme of this study is In The World Not Of It Many times Jesus used a similar phrase For example in John 17 14 16 Jesus is quoted as saying I have told them your message But the people of this world hate them because they don t belong to this world just as I don t Father I don t ask you to take my followers out of the world but keep them safe from the evil one They don t belong to this world and neither do I Again in John 8 Paul says Think about the things of heaven not the things of earth For you died to this life and your real life is hidden with Christ in God But what does it mean to be in the world but not of it The above passages clearly point to a tension that we feel as Christians living in a secular world Yet we are not called on to live separate lives cloistered away from the rest of humanity On the contrary we are called to remain in society but living in a way that pleases God not the culture More than this we are called to be God s salt and light in this world Matthew 5 13 The presence of Christians in the world must be like a light in the darkness We should live so that we are mirrors of God s grace and unconditional love to everyone Only by remaining focused on Christ and being obedient to Him can we expect to remain salt and light in the world As the study progresses you will be asked for your views on 4 5

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INTRODUCTION Welcome to this study and thank you for taking part This study is different to the ones we have had in recent years It is called a thematic study where instead of studying a particular book of the Bible a biblical theme is looked at against the backdrop of different scripture passages The theme of this study is In The World Not Of It Many times Jesus used a similar phrase For example in John 17 14 16 Jesus is quoted as saying I have told them your message But the people of this world hate them because they don t belong to this world just as I don t Father I don t ask you to take my followers out of the world but keep them safe from the evil one They don t belong to this world and neither do I Again in John 8 Paul says Think about the things of heaven not the things of earth For you died to this life and your real life is hidden with Christ in God But what does it mean to be in the world but not of it The above passages clearly point to a tension that we feel as Christians living in a secular world Yet we are not called on to live separate lives cloistered away from the rest of humanity On the contrary we are called to remain in society but living in a way that pleases God not the culture More than this we are called to be God s salt and light in this world Matthew 5 13 The presence of Christians in the world must be like a light in the darkness We should live so that we are mirrors of God s grace and unconditional love to everyone Only by remaining focused on Christ and being obedient to Him can we expect to remain salt and light in the world As the study progresses you will be asked for your views on 4 5

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a number of issues Please be as honest as you are able No one will ridicule or belittle you because of your sincerely held views But at the same time be respectful of others who have a different point of view from yours Here at Terrigal Uniting Church we are rightly proud of the way in which people with different theological views are able to live in harmony with each other united in their common love of Christ Let us treasure that unity and not do or say anything that might lessen it Before each session you may like to pray the following prayer Thank you Father God for the people in this study group their friendship and their wisdom We come before You now to learn more about You and about how we should live out our faith here on the Central Coast in the 21st century Give each of us an attitude of gentleness as we express our views and an attitude of respect and goodwill as we listen to the views of others We want nothing more God than to know more of Your will for our lives In the name of Jesus we pray Amen 6 7

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a number of issues Please be as honest as you are able No one will ridicule or belittle you because of your sincerely held views But at the same time be respectful of others who have a different point of view from yours Here at Terrigal Uniting Church we are rightly proud of the way in which people with different theological views are able to live in harmony with each other united in their common love of Christ Let us treasure that unity and not do or say anything that might lessen it Before each session you may like to pray the following prayer Thank you Father God for the people in this study group their friendship and their wisdom We come before You now to learn more about You and about how we should live out our faith here on the Central Coast in the 21st century Give each of us an attitude of gentleness as we express our views and an attitude of respect and goodwill as we listen to the views of others We want nothing more God than to know more of Your will for our lives In the name of Jesus we pray Amen 6 7

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STUDY ONE DUAL CITIZENSHIP Read John 17 14 19 Jesus said that His followers would be hated because they do not belong to this world Can you think of any examples of this happening In the world but not of it If you have spent any time around Christians then you will surely have heard this phrase more than once It is used to describe our relationship with the prevailing culture in which we live Very few of us are able to retreat from secular society and its pervasive influence over us Yet as Christians we are called to live out our lives according to the teachings of Jesus Christ We are dual citizens We owe allegiance to the laws of the country in which we live but at the same time we are citizens of the Kingdom of God owing our supreme allegiance to Christ In this study we want to look at two issues First where do our loyalties lie and secondly how do our beliefs as Christians put us at odds with the culture in which we live Many churches around the world have a national flag and other patriotic symbols in the sanctuary Do you think patriotic symbols have a place in church Why or why not Read 1 Peter 2 13 17 Here are two commentaries on this passage i Why must we submit to a government legitimate authorities even an evil one Because God set the governments up and placed people in places of authority He expects them to be responsible Prov 8 15 Dan 2 21 We are called to obey the will of God this as hard as it is to take is the will of God no matter what the qualifications or spirituality of the leadership Richard J Krejcir ii We are to obey kings and governors and magistrates even when they may not be all that we wish them to be True Christians give no trouble in the State they are not law breakers but they strive to do that which is honest and upright Where the laws are not righteous they may cause trouble to bad law givers and lawmakers but when rulers ordain that which is just and righteous they find that Christians are their best subjects Charles Spurgeon 8 9

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STUDY ONE DUAL CITIZENSHIP Read John 17 14 19 Jesus said that His followers would be hated because they do not belong to this world Can you think of any examples of this happening In the world but not of it If you have spent any time around Christians then you will surely have heard this phrase more than once It is used to describe our relationship with the prevailing culture in which we live Very few of us are able to retreat from secular society and its pervasive influence over us Yet as Christians we are called to live out our lives according to the teachings of Jesus Christ We are dual citizens We owe allegiance to the laws of the country in which we live but at the same time we are citizens of the Kingdom of God owing our supreme allegiance to Christ In this study we want to look at two issues First where do our loyalties lie and secondly how do our beliefs as Christians put us at odds with the culture in which we live Many churches around the world have a national flag and other patriotic symbols in the sanctuary Do you think patriotic symbols have a place in church Why or why not Read 1 Peter 2 13 17 Here are two commentaries on this passage i Why must we submit to a government legitimate authorities even an evil one Because God set the governments up and placed people in places of authority He expects them to be responsible Prov 8 15 Dan 2 21 We are called to obey the will of God this as hard as it is to take is the will of God no matter what the qualifications or spirituality of the leadership Richard J Krejcir ii We are to obey kings and governors and magistrates even when they may not be all that we wish them to be True Christians give no trouble in the State they are not law breakers but they strive to do that which is honest and upright Where the laws are not righteous they may cause trouble to bad law givers and lawmakers but when rulers ordain that which is just and righteous they find that Christians are their best subjects Charles Spurgeon 8 9

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What are your views on obedience resistance to bad laws of the state Assume that you are living in Germany in the 1930 s when Adolph Hitler comes to power You watch with horror as he begins exterminating the Jews Some of your Jewish neighbours are sent to concentration camps Then you hear about a plot to assassinate Hitler and you re invited to join the illegal conspiracy If Hitler is killed it might save the lives of millions of Jews But you re aware of Romans 13 which commands you to be subject to the governing authorities What do you do and why you may want to Google Dietrich Bonhoeffer a Lutheran Pastor who faced this dilemma In what areas is there potential for difference between the laws of the state and the teachings of Christ do not go into the merit of the issues involved Do Our Beliefs Put Us At Odds With Society In the case of difference the church Christians face a choice There are different approaches that the church Christians might adopt in this situation Can you identify three of them and what are the benefits and dangers of each 10 Read Matthew 5 13 16 Is it necessary or desirable for the church to try and fit in with the values of society in order to be seen to be culturally relevant 11

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What are your views on obedience resistance to bad laws of the state Assume that you are living in Germany in the 1930 s when Adolph Hitler comes to power You watch with horror as he begins exterminating the Jews Some of your Jewish neighbours are sent to concentration camps Then you hear about a plot to assassinate Hitler and you re invited to join the illegal conspiracy If Hitler is killed it might save the lives of millions of Jews But you re aware of Romans 13 which commands you to be subject to the governing authorities What do you do and why you may want to Google Dietrich Bonhoeffer a Lutheran Pastor who faced this dilemma In what areas is there potential for difference between the laws of the state and the teachings of Christ do not go into the merit of the issues involved Do Our Beliefs Put Us At Odds With Society In the case of difference the church Christians face a choice There are different approaches that the church Christians might adopt in this situation Can you identify three of them and what are the benefits and dangers of each 10 Read Matthew 5 13 16 Is it necessary or desirable for the church to try and fit in with the values of society in order to be seen to be culturally relevant 11

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In an attempt to fit in or to appear more culturally relevant there is a temptation to compromise or modify our beliefs to make them more attractive to outsiders However there are some beliefs that are so fundamental to the Christian faith that they can never be compromised For example a belief in the life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ To deny this would be incompatible with being a Christian In your opinion what other beliefs are non negotiable in this way Do you think that Terrigal Uniting Church is good at maintaining unity among members who hold different views on these secondary Christian beliefs Explain your response When if ever might it be acceptable for a Christian to compromise his her Christian beliefs Equally there are some beliefs that are sometimes called secondary Christian beliefs where Christians may disagree on issues The following quotation often attributed to St Augustine sums this up In essentials unity in non essentials liberty in all things charity In this case diversity need not lead to division For example the meaning and mode of baptism What other beliefs in your opinion are in this category 12 Consider the following statement What will draw people to church is always going to be what is different about us What is it that is different about us 13

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In an attempt to fit in or to appear more culturally relevant there is a temptation to compromise or modify our beliefs to make them more attractive to outsiders However there are some beliefs that are so fundamental to the Christian faith that they can never be compromised For example a belief in the life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ To deny this would be incompatible with being a Christian In your opinion what other beliefs are non negotiable in this way Do you think that Terrigal Uniting Church is good at maintaining unity among members who hold different views on these secondary Christian beliefs Explain your response When if ever might it be acceptable for a Christian to compromise his her Christian beliefs Equally there are some beliefs that are sometimes called secondary Christian beliefs where Christians may disagree on issues The following quotation often attributed to St Augustine sums this up In essentials unity in non essentials liberty in all things charity In this case diversity need not lead to division For example the meaning and mode of baptism What other beliefs in your opinion are in this category 12 Consider the following statement What will draw people to church is always going to be what is different about us What is it that is different about us 13

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Read again Matthew 5 13 16 How do you feel knowing that you are like a city on a hill or a lamp on a stand 14 15

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Read again Matthew 5 13 16 How do you feel knowing that you are like a city on a hill or a lamp on a stand 14 15

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STUDY TWO Results from the 2016 NCLS JUSTICE FOR THE POOR By way of introduction read the Report pp 17 18 from the NCLS Justice A Christian Role in Society 2016 Does it surprise you that while 86 of 70 year olds agreed or strongly agreed that Christians should work towards a more just society this fell to 63 for those aged 15 29 years old with over 30 of this latter group being neutral or unsure Why may this be Justice A Christian Role in Society Working for change The notion of a just society where all have adequate access to resources opportunity and a say in decisions that affect their lives is not only a basic tenet of modern Western democracies but a notion that few Christians would disagree that the Gospels call for The question of how Christians should engage in this work is one which has long been debated and elicits a much wider variety of responses In 2016 the National Church Life Survey asked a sample of Catholic Anglican and Protestant attenders the following question Do you agree or disagree Christians should work to change the structures of society in order to create a more just society Overall findings Proverbs 29 7 NIV says The righteous care about justice for the poor but the wicked have no such concern How would you define poverty or the poor Is it just not having enough money to meet basic needs such as food clothing and shelter A large majority of attenders 80 agreed with the statement see Figure 1 including 34 who strongly agreed A small number 17 were neutral or unsure with only 3 disagreeing The views of the attenders suggest that there is underlying support within the Christian community for active attempts to work for change that establishes a more just society Figure 1 Christians should work to create a more just society overview Gender Female SA A Percentage N D SD 33 44 20 3 0 Male Age years 37 46 14 3 0 15 29 30 49 27 36 36 43 31 19 6 2 0 0 50 69 70 37 34 44 52 15 12 3 2 0 0 Education School 27 48 24 1 0 Trade cert diploma Degree 37 39 47 41 13 15 3 5 0 0 Country of birth Australia 34 45 18 3 0 Other English spkg Non English spkg 30 36 40 49 23 12 6 3 0 0 SA Strongly Agree A Agree N Neutral Unsure D Disagree SD Strongly Disagree Source 2016 NCLS Attender Sample Survey P n 1 241 1 252 Men were a little more likely than women to agree or strongly agree that Christians should work to change the structures of society to make it more just 83 and 77 respectively Stronger differences can be seen between age groups where 86 of 70 yearolds agreed or strongly agreed that Christians should work towards a more just society whereas this was only seen with 63 of those aged 15 29 years old Some 31 of this latter group were neutral or unsure When it came to country of birth attenders born in nonEnglish speaking countries were the most likely group to agree strongly agree 85 and the least likely to be neutral unsure 12 In comparison 70 of attenders born in other English speaking countries other than Australia agreed strongly agreed and 23 were unsure Source 2016 NCLS Attender Sample Survey P n 1 261 Demographic differences in view Whilst most church attenders agreed that Christians should work to change structures views differed to some extent by demographics shown in Table 1 16 Table 1 Just society by demographics NCLS Research E info ncls org au Tel 02 9701 4479 W www ncls org au P PO Box 968 North Sydney NSW 2059 Published December 2017 Some 75 of those whose highest level of education was school 85 of those with a trade qualification and 80 of degree holders either agreed or strongly agreed that Christians should work towards a more just society Some 24 of school leavers were neutral unsure compared with 13 of attenders with a trade education and 15 of those with a degree NCLS Research Fact Sheet 17003 Justice a Christian role in society Catalogue number 1 17003 Copyright 2017 NCLS Research

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STUDY TWO Results from the 2016 NCLS JUSTICE FOR THE POOR By way of introduction read the Report pp 17 18 from the NCLS Justice A Christian Role in Society 2016 Does it surprise you that while 86 of 70 year olds agreed or strongly agreed that Christians should work towards a more just society this fell to 63 for those aged 15 29 years old with over 30 of this latter group being neutral or unsure Why may this be Justice A Christian Role in Society Working for change The notion of a just society where all have adequate access to resources opportunity and a say in decisions that affect their lives is not only a basic tenet of modern Western democracies but a notion that few Christians would disagree that the Gospels call for The question of how Christians should engage in this work is one which has long been debated and elicits a much wider variety of responses In 2016 the National Church Life Survey asked a sample of Catholic Anglican and Protestant attenders the following question Do you agree or disagree Christians should work to change the structures of society in order to create a more just society Overall findings Proverbs 29 7 NIV says The righteous care about justice for the poor but the wicked have no such concern How would you define poverty or the poor Is it just not having enough money to meet basic needs such as food clothing and shelter A large majority of attenders 80 agreed with the statement see Figure 1 including 34 who strongly agreed A small number 17 were neutral or unsure with only 3 disagreeing The views of the attenders suggest that there is underlying support within the Christian community for active attempts to work for change that establishes a more just society Figure 1 Christians should work to create a more just society overview Gender Female SA A Percentage N D SD 33 44 20 3 0 Male Age years 37 46 14 3 0 15 29 30 49 27 36 36 43 31 19 6 2 0 0 50 69 70 37 34 44 52 15 12 3 2 0 0 Education School 27 48 24 1 0 Trade cert diploma Degree 37 39 47 41 13 15 3 5 0 0 Country of birth Australia 34 45 18 3 0 Other English spkg Non English spkg 30 36 40 49 23 12 6 3 0 0 SA Strongly Agree A Agree N Neutral Unsure D Disagree SD Strongly Disagree Source 2016 NCLS Attender Sample Survey P n 1 241 1 252 Men were a little more likely than women to agree or strongly agree that Christians should work to change the structures of society to make it more just 83 and 77 respectively Stronger differences can be seen between age groups where 86 of 70 yearolds agreed or strongly agreed that Christians should work towards a more just society whereas this was only seen with 63 of those aged 15 29 years old Some 31 of this latter group were neutral or unsure When it came to country of birth attenders born in nonEnglish speaking countries were the most likely group to agree strongly agree 85 and the least likely to be neutral unsure 12 In comparison 70 of attenders born in other English speaking countries other than Australia agreed strongly agreed and 23 were unsure Source 2016 NCLS Attender Sample Survey P n 1 261 Demographic differences in view Whilst most church attenders agreed that Christians should work to change structures views differed to some extent by demographics shown in Table 1 16 Table 1 Just society by demographics NCLS Research E info ncls org au Tel 02 9701 4479 W www ncls org au P PO Box 968 North Sydney NSW 2059 Published December 2017 Some 75 of those whose highest level of education was school 85 of those with a trade qualification and 80 of degree holders either agreed or strongly agreed that Christians should work towards a more just society Some 24 of school leavers were neutral unsure compared with 13 of attenders with a trade education and 15 of those with a degree NCLS Research Fact Sheet 17003 Justice a Christian role in society Catalogue number 1 17003 Copyright 2017 NCLS Research

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NCLS Research Fact Sheet Justice a Christian role in society Church life The overall support for Christians working for a more just society differed between denominations and other faith related variables such as the importance of God in attenders lives as well as attenders faith related activities see Table 2 Most attenders across the various denominations agreed that Christians should work to change the structures of society in order to create a more just society Pentecostals had the highest percentage of attenders strongly agreeing 47 however there was wider overall support from the Mainstream and Other Protestant cohorts 79 and 83 compared to 73 of Pentecostals structures of society in order to create a more just society in the 2011 and 2001 National Church Life Surveys As can be seen in Figure 2 below there is little difference between the results of the three surveys Here is a quotation from the Guardian Australia published in 2020 Figure 2 Christians should work to create a more just society 2001 2011 and 2016 Table 2 Just society by denomination importance of God and private devotion SA A N D Percentage SD Denomination Catholic 33 48 16 3 0 Mainstream 28 51 18 3 0 Pentecostal 47 26 22 5 0 Other Protestant 35 49 15 1 1 Importance of God Fairly not important 20 51 27 3 0 Almost most 30 49 17 3 0 Most important 41 42 13 3 0 Private Devotion Hardly ever never 21 44 33 3 0 Occasionally 24 52 22 2 0 Once few times a 35 42 17 5 0 week Everyday most days 40 45 13 2 0 SA Strongly Agree A Agree N Neutral Unsure D Disagree SD Strongly Disagree Source 2016 NCLS Attender Sample Survey P n 1 227 1 261 About seven in 10 71 of those for whom God had little or no importance believed Christians have the responsibility to work to change the structures of society whilst 84 of those for whom God was the most important reality believed this to be so Differences in view were also evident between various groups depending on their faith based activities Some 65 of those who did not or hardly engaged in private devotion e g prayer meditation Bible reading alone agreed or strongly agreed in contrast to 85 of those who undertook private devotion most days or every day Previous surveys A sample of church attenders was also asked if they agreed that Christians should work to change the NCLS Research E info ncls org au Tel 02 9701 4479 W www ncls org au P PO Box 968 North Sydney NSW 2059 Published December 2017 Under the particular combination of social and economic conservatism that took hold in Australia during the John Howard years and in many other western democracies over the period that basically began with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan a need for state assistance is treated less as an economic crisis than it is as a moral failure on the claimant s part Those who remain poor and or unemployed therefore must by definition not be trying hard enough And here is a quotation form an American Christian Source 2001 NCLS Attender Sample Survey N n 2 139 2011 NCLS Attender Sample Survey N v2 n 1 430 and 2016 NCLS Attender Sample Survey P n 1 261 Summary Whilst the majority of attenders agreed that Christians should work to change the structure of society to create a more just society some differences in views across the different age groups and levels of education were evident Differences were also evident from the attender s denomination importance of God and the level of private devotion undertaken There s a strong Christian impulse to understand poverty as deeply rooted in morality often as the Bible makes clear in unwillingness to work in bad financial decisions or in broken family structures Albert Mohler president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary What is your reaction to these quotations Data sources Castle K 2001 computer file 2001 NCLS Attender Sample Survey N Sydney NCLS Research Powell R 2014 computer file 2011 NCLS Attender Sample Survey N v2 Sydney NCLS Research Powell R Pepper M Hancock N Sterland S 2016 computer file 2016 NCLS Attender Sample Survey P Sydney NCLS Research Citation Powell R Gan C Pepper M Hancock N 2017 Justice a Christian role in society NCLS Research Fact Sheet 17003 Sydney NCLS Research NCLS Research Fact Sheet 17003 Justice a Christian role in society Catalogue number 1 17003 Copyright 2017 NCLS Research 19

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NCLS Research Fact Sheet Justice a Christian role in society Church life The overall support for Christians working for a more just society differed between denominations and other faith related variables such as the importance of God in attenders lives as well as attenders faith related activities see Table 2 Most attenders across the various denominations agreed that Christians should work to change the structures of society in order to create a more just society Pentecostals had the highest percentage of attenders strongly agreeing 47 however there was wider overall support from the Mainstream and Other Protestant cohorts 79 and 83 compared to 73 of Pentecostals structures of society in order to create a more just society in the 2011 and 2001 National Church Life Surveys As can be seen in Figure 2 below there is little difference between the results of the three surveys Here is a quotation from the Guardian Australia published in 2020 Figure 2 Christians should work to create a more just society 2001 2011 and 2016 Table 2 Just society by denomination importance of God and private devotion SA A N D Percentage SD Denomination Catholic 33 48 16 3 0 Mainstream 28 51 18 3 0 Pentecostal 47 26 22 5 0 Other Protestant 35 49 15 1 1 Importance of God Fairly not important 20 51 27 3 0 Almost most 30 49 17 3 0 Most important 41 42 13 3 0 Private Devotion Hardly ever never 21 44 33 3 0 Occasionally 24 52 22 2 0 Once few times a 35 42 17 5 0 week Everyday most days 40 45 13 2 0 SA Strongly Agree A Agree N Neutral Unsure D Disagree SD Strongly Disagree Source 2016 NCLS Attender Sample Survey P n 1 227 1 261 About seven in 10 71 of those for whom God had little or no importance believed Christians have the responsibility to work to change the structures of society whilst 84 of those for whom God was the most important reality believed this to be so Differences in view were also evident between various groups depending on their faith based activities Some 65 of those who did not or hardly engaged in private devotion e g prayer meditation Bible reading alone agreed or strongly agreed in contrast to 85 of those who undertook private devotion most days or every day Previous surveys A sample of church attenders was also asked if they agreed that Christians should work to change the NCLS Research E info ncls org au Tel 02 9701 4479 W www ncls org au P PO Box 968 North Sydney NSW 2059 Published December 2017 Under the particular combination of social and economic conservatism that took hold in Australia during the John Howard years and in many other western democracies over the period that basically began with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan a need for state assistance is treated less as an economic crisis than it is as a moral failure on the claimant s part Those who remain poor and or unemployed therefore must by definition not be trying hard enough And here is a quotation form an American Christian Source 2001 NCLS Attender Sample Survey N n 2 139 2011 NCLS Attender Sample Survey N v2 n 1 430 and 2016 NCLS Attender Sample Survey P n 1 261 Summary Whilst the majority of attenders agreed that Christians should work to change the structure of society to create a more just society some differences in views across the different age groups and levels of education were evident Differences were also evident from the attender s denomination importance of God and the level of private devotion undertaken There s a strong Christian impulse to understand poverty as deeply rooted in morality often as the Bible makes clear in unwillingness to work in bad financial decisions or in broken family structures Albert Mohler president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary What is your reaction to these quotations Data sources Castle K 2001 computer file 2001 NCLS Attender Sample Survey N Sydney NCLS Research Powell R 2014 computer file 2011 NCLS Attender Sample Survey N v2 Sydney NCLS Research Powell R Pepper M Hancock N Sterland S 2016 computer file 2016 NCLS Attender Sample Survey P Sydney NCLS Research Citation Powell R Gan C Pepper M Hancock N 2017 Justice a Christian role in society NCLS Research Fact Sheet 17003 Sydney NCLS Research NCLS Research Fact Sheet 17003 Justice a Christian role in society Catalogue number 1 17003 Copyright 2017 NCLS Research 19

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Whatever our political position might be God doesn t lessen our obligation We all carry a responsibility for the poor and needy around us As we look closely at the Bible we can sense God s heart for people in need Mother Teresa asked the question Do we really know our poor Who are the poor on the Central Coast and what do they need Read Matthew 22 36 40 God requires us to worship him as he describes himself We don t have the right to construct our own picture of him We must take him as he is And he clearly wants us to know that a central irreducible component of his self identity is his love for the poor Amy Sherman Sharing God s Heart for the Poor Since its beginning the Uniting Church has believed that working for social justice peace and the environment is part of our response to the gospel of Jesus and integral to Christian discipleship The Uniting Church is committed to valuing the inherent dignity of all people This is part of the Church s response to the Bible s call to care for and protect the marginalised and vulnerable in our society Thinking of the Parable of the Good Samaritan i Look at the characters involved the priest the Levite the Samaritan the man who was beaten In our everyday lives here on the Central Coast who might these people be What can we do this week to change our view of neighbours Read Psalm 68 4 5 Proverbs 14 31 Matthew 22 34 40 Luke 10 25 37 The Centre for Christianity and Society states Right now in Australia 3 million people are living in poverty Critically 739 000 of these are children Each of these children do not have the same opportunities as other kids their age they are beginning life on the back foot The reality is right now on your street sitting next to you at church behind you in the coffee queue someone is struggling 2019 20 ii Would you say Terrigal Uniting Church is a good Samaritan to its neighbours Give reasons 21

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Whatever our political position might be God doesn t lessen our obligation We all carry a responsibility for the poor and needy around us As we look closely at the Bible we can sense God s heart for people in need Mother Teresa asked the question Do we really know our poor Who are the poor on the Central Coast and what do they need Read Matthew 22 36 40 God requires us to worship him as he describes himself We don t have the right to construct our own picture of him We must take him as he is And he clearly wants us to know that a central irreducible component of his self identity is his love for the poor Amy Sherman Sharing God s Heart for the Poor Since its beginning the Uniting Church has believed that working for social justice peace and the environment is part of our response to the gospel of Jesus and integral to Christian discipleship The Uniting Church is committed to valuing the inherent dignity of all people This is part of the Church s response to the Bible s call to care for and protect the marginalised and vulnerable in our society Thinking of the Parable of the Good Samaritan i Look at the characters involved the priest the Levite the Samaritan the man who was beaten In our everyday lives here on the Central Coast who might these people be What can we do this week to change our view of neighbours Read Psalm 68 4 5 Proverbs 14 31 Matthew 22 34 40 Luke 10 25 37 The Centre for Christianity and Society states Right now in Australia 3 million people are living in poverty Critically 739 000 of these are children Each of these children do not have the same opportunities as other kids their age they are beginning life on the back foot The reality is right now on your street sitting next to you at church behind you in the coffee queue someone is struggling 2019 20 ii Would you say Terrigal Uniting Church is a good Samaritan to its neighbours Give reasons 21

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iii How might the parable apply to nations as well as individuals intention of its truth s stirring us to obedience with the aid of the Holy Spirit Having a heart for the poor is not enough We have inspiring examples in our church of people who have put into action their concern for the poor be it here in Australia or overseas through agencies like Impact Nations Read Micah 6 8 Read Psalm 146 6 10 But aren t we saved through grace alone regardless of our good works or lack of them List the ways the Lord is described here What is His attitude toward the poor Read Ephesians 2 8 9 Looking back to the question about the needy and marginalised people of the Central Coast Why would an all powerful God value the needy The poor don t need another Bible Study There is a very real danger that we pursue knowledge at the expense of practice Bible studies show a healthy thirst to know more about God but all too easily a quest for knowledge can become an end in itself This is not what God wants This is not what the poor need We should continue to study the Bible both individually and corporately however we must study the Bible with the 22 i what could you do to be God s hands and feet to them ii what could our church or your small group be doing to help them 23

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iii How might the parable apply to nations as well as individuals intention of its truth s stirring us to obedience with the aid of the Holy Spirit Having a heart for the poor is not enough We have inspiring examples in our church of people who have put into action their concern for the poor be it here in Australia or overseas through agencies like Impact Nations Read Micah 6 8 Read Psalm 146 6 10 But aren t we saved through grace alone regardless of our good works or lack of them List the ways the Lord is described here What is His attitude toward the poor Read Ephesians 2 8 9 Looking back to the question about the needy and marginalised people of the Central Coast Why would an all powerful God value the needy The poor don t need another Bible Study There is a very real danger that we pursue knowledge at the expense of practice Bible studies show a healthy thirst to know more about God but all too easily a quest for knowledge can become an end in itself This is not what God wants This is not what the poor need We should continue to study the Bible both individually and corporately however we must study the Bible with the 22 i what could you do to be God s hands and feet to them ii what could our church or your small group be doing to help them 23

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STUDY THREE POLITICS HOW INVOLVED SHOULD CHRISTIANS BE What does Scripture say about a Christian s role in politics If there is anything likely to spark debate if not argument it is a discussion about politics Even among Christians not everyone agrees on what should be our attitude and our involvement with politics Some believe that religion and politics don t mix Is that right Can we really look at the issues of government without taking into consideration our Christian faith Christians are not called to shun the world and its problems by going into the desert to live a separate and untainted existence Instead Jesus invites His followers to be part of His community of disciples who are instructed to be salt and light in the world Read Matthew 5 13 16 13 33 and 20 24 28 What does being salt and light in the world look like to you How is this different to the ways of the world How does federal or state politics affect your everyday life What role do Christians play in politics in Australia 24 Some would argue that the church should concentrate on teaching and preaching the Bible and that involvement with politics is a distraction from the mission and ministry of the church Theologian Wayne Grudem calls this the Do Evangelism Not Politics approach to civic engagement Others believe that the church should be engaged in good works in all spheres of life and that includes being part of the political process What is your view 25

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STUDY THREE POLITICS HOW INVOLVED SHOULD CHRISTIANS BE What does Scripture say about a Christian s role in politics If there is anything likely to spark debate if not argument it is a discussion about politics Even among Christians not everyone agrees on what should be our attitude and our involvement with politics Some believe that religion and politics don t mix Is that right Can we really look at the issues of government without taking into consideration our Christian faith Christians are not called to shun the world and its problems by going into the desert to live a separate and untainted existence Instead Jesus invites His followers to be part of His community of disciples who are instructed to be salt and light in the world Read Matthew 5 13 16 13 33 and 20 24 28 What does being salt and light in the world look like to you How is this different to the ways of the world How does federal or state politics affect your everyday life What role do Christians play in politics in Australia 24 Some would argue that the church should concentrate on teaching and preaching the Bible and that involvement with politics is a distraction from the mission and ministry of the church Theologian Wayne Grudem calls this the Do Evangelism Not Politics approach to civic engagement Others believe that the church should be engaged in good works in all spheres of life and that includes being part of the political process What is your view 25

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Sometimes it is argued that it is appropriate for a church Christian to become involved in politics in general but not party politics Here is a definition of party politics Party politics refer to actions or political behaviours motivated by what is best or right for a particular political party rather than for the people Read Matthew 6 33 Isaiah 33 22 These passages reminds us that we must always remember who our ultimate leader is God God takes precedence over everything and everyone How do you reconcile this with the previous two passages What is your view Read Romans 13 1 3 1 Peter 2 13 16 What do these passages mean As followers of Christ we are called upon to love and serve our neighbours Luke 10 30 37 Given that government has power to make laws affecting the welfare and well being of our neighbours for better or worse doesn t this place an obligation on Christians to become involved in the business of government In light of these passages is it true to say that no government exists that is not established by God 26 27

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Sometimes it is argued that it is appropriate for a church Christian to become involved in politics in general but not party politics Here is a definition of party politics Party politics refer to actions or political behaviours motivated by what is best or right for a particular political party rather than for the people Read Matthew 6 33 Isaiah 33 22 These passages reminds us that we must always remember who our ultimate leader is God God takes precedence over everything and everyone How do you reconcile this with the previous two passages What is your view Read Romans 13 1 3 1 Peter 2 13 16 What do these passages mean As followers of Christ we are called upon to love and serve our neighbours Luke 10 30 37 Given that government has power to make laws affecting the welfare and well being of our neighbours for better or worse doesn t this place an obligation on Christians to become involved in the business of government In light of these passages is it true to say that no government exists that is not established by God 26 27

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Read 2 Timothy 2 23 Titus 3 9 It is very important to guard against a heart of pride that thinks our political views are the only correct ones We belong to a large church with a wide range of different political views We must not let those differences sow division and disharmony How should we argue for what we believe to be politically right while at the same time demonstrating love and respect for those with whom we disagree On Thursday December 1 1955 42 year old Rosa Parks a member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church was traveling home by bus from a long day of work in Montgomery Alabama By law the front of a Montgomery bus was reserved for white citizens and the seats behind them for Black citizens Rosa Parks was black At one point on the journey a white man had no seat because all the seats in the designated white section were taken The driver told the passengers in the four seats of the first row of the black section to stand in effect adding another row to the white section The three others obeyed Rosa Parks did not and was arrested On November 13 1956 the Supreme Court of America ruled that bus segregation was unconstitutional Rosa Park s political activism changed the law of the United States In light of Romans 13 1 6 was she right to disobey the law The Bible calls on Christians to respect our leaders and one way we can do so is by praying for them 1 Timothy 2 14 tells us First of all then I urge that supplications prayers intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all people for kings and all who are in high positions that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life godly and dignified in every way This is good and pleases God our Savior who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth Spend a few minutes in your group praying for those in authority 28 29

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Read 2 Timothy 2 23 Titus 3 9 It is very important to guard against a heart of pride that thinks our political views are the only correct ones We belong to a large church with a wide range of different political views We must not let those differences sow division and disharmony How should we argue for what we believe to be politically right while at the same time demonstrating love and respect for those with whom we disagree On Thursday December 1 1955 42 year old Rosa Parks a member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church was traveling home by bus from a long day of work in Montgomery Alabama By law the front of a Montgomery bus was reserved for white citizens and the seats behind them for Black citizens Rosa Parks was black At one point on the journey a white man had no seat because all the seats in the designated white section were taken The driver told the passengers in the four seats of the first row of the black section to stand in effect adding another row to the white section The three others obeyed Rosa Parks did not and was arrested On November 13 1956 the Supreme Court of America ruled that bus segregation was unconstitutional Rosa Park s political activism changed the law of the United States In light of Romans 13 1 6 was she right to disobey the law The Bible calls on Christians to respect our leaders and one way we can do so is by praying for them 1 Timothy 2 14 tells us First of all then I urge that supplications prayers intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all people for kings and all who are in high positions that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life godly and dignified in every way This is good and pleases God our Savior who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth Spend a few minutes in your group praying for those in authority 28 29

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STUDY FOUR A WINDOW TO A PARALLEL UNIVERSE In your conversations with non Christians about your faith what are their perceptions of Christians We live in a secular society very different to the one even a generation ago it is often described as post Christian Here is a good definition of post Christianity from Wikipedia The situation in which Christianity is no longer the dominant civil religion of a society but has gradually assumed values culture and worldviews that are not necessarily Christian Post Christian tends to refer to the loss of Christianity s monopoly in historically Christian societies Although the 2005 Eurobarometer survey indicated that the majority of Europeans hold some form of belief in a higher power fewer point explicitly to the Christian God For better or worse this is the world in which we live How then are we to fulfill the Great Commission laid out in Matthew 28 16 20 to make disciples of all the nations Clearly we no longer have a special place in society to advance our beliefs and many people are openly skeptical and or dismissive of the claims of Christianity How are we to bring the Good News of the Gospel to them 30 The author Philip Yancey writing in Christianity Today says that his non Christian friends view him as a window to a parallel universe Is that how your non Christian friends see you Is that how we should aim to be seen How would you describe the Good News about Jesus Christ in just a few words without using church jargon 31

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STUDY FOUR A WINDOW TO A PARALLEL UNIVERSE In your conversations with non Christians about your faith what are their perceptions of Christians We live in a secular society very different to the one even a generation ago it is often described as post Christian Here is a good definition of post Christianity from Wikipedia The situation in which Christianity is no longer the dominant civil religion of a society but has gradually assumed values culture and worldviews that are not necessarily Christian Post Christian tends to refer to the loss of Christianity s monopoly in historically Christian societies Although the 2005 Eurobarometer survey indicated that the majority of Europeans hold some form of belief in a higher power fewer point explicitly to the Christian God For better or worse this is the world in which we live How then are we to fulfill the Great Commission laid out in Matthew 28 16 20 to make disciples of all the nations Clearly we no longer have a special place in society to advance our beliefs and many people are openly skeptical and or dismissive of the claims of Christianity How are we to bring the Good News of the Gospel to them 30 The author Philip Yancey writing in Christianity Today says that his non Christian friends view him as a window to a parallel universe Is that how your non Christian friends see you Is that how we should aim to be seen How would you describe the Good News about Jesus Christ in just a few words without using church jargon 31

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At some point you will find yourself having a conversation about your faith with a non Christian How are we meant to handle such encounters Do we tell people the truth as we see it on a sort of take it or leave it basis Do we modify our views to make them more palatable Or do we become over defensive and argumentative If you Google how to engage non Christians you will come up with approx 180 000 000 results and many many tips some helpful others not Spend sometime in your group devising 5 10 top tips for having a faith discussion with a non Christian In summary the biggest blocker that stops Australians from engaging with Christianity is the Church s stance and teaching on homosexuality 47 block completely significantly This is followed by How could a loving God allow people to go to hell 43 For two in five Australians 39 supernatural elements miracles angels and demons resurrection are also blockers Does this research surprise you A recent research survey into the reasons why Australians don t accept the Christian faith has been released by Olive Tree Media It was carried out by McCrindle Research Faith and Belief in Australia 2017 Here are the results of a question of about what blocks peoples engagement with Christianity 32 33

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At some point you will find yourself having a conversation about your faith with a non Christian How are we meant to handle such encounters Do we tell people the truth as we see it on a sort of take it or leave it basis Do we modify our views to make them more palatable Or do we become over defensive and argumentative If you Google how to engage non Christians you will come up with approx 180 000 000 results and many many tips some helpful others not Spend sometime in your group devising 5 10 top tips for having a faith discussion with a non Christian In summary the biggest blocker that stops Australians from engaging with Christianity is the Church s stance and teaching on homosexuality 47 block completely significantly This is followed by How could a loving God allow people to go to hell 43 For two in five Australians 39 supernatural elements miracles angels and demons resurrection are also blockers Does this research surprise you A recent research survey into the reasons why Australians don t accept the Christian faith has been released by Olive Tree Media It was carried out by McCrindle Research Faith and Belief in Australia 2017 Here are the results of a question of about what blocks peoples engagement with Christianity 32 33

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Read Luke 5 27 32 Acts 8 26 35 1 Peter 3 15 16 What lessons can be learned from these passages Do you think it is important to be honest with people about some of the differing views held by Christians people and to convince them to join It is when the church gives itself away in radical acts of service and compassion expecting nothing in return that the way of Jesus is most vividly put on display To do this the church must stop thinking about everybody primarily in categories of in or out saved or not believer or nonbeliever Besides the fact that these terms are offensive to those who are the un and non they work against Jesus teachings about how we are to treat each other Jesus commanded us to love our neighbour and our neighbour can be anybody This is an echo of earlier quotation often attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi Preach the Gospel at all times If necessary use words Is it OK to say I don t know to a particular question Is that helpful or unhelpful What do you think of Bell s statement How can you put what he says into action In his book Velvet Elvis Repainting the Christian Faith Rob Bell writes If the gospel isn t good news for everybody then it isn t good news for anybody And this is because the most powerful things happen when the church surrenders its desire to convert 34 35

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Read Luke 5 27 32 Acts 8 26 35 1 Peter 3 15 16 What lessons can be learned from these passages Do you think it is important to be honest with people about some of the differing views held by Christians people and to convince them to join It is when the church gives itself away in radical acts of service and compassion expecting nothing in return that the way of Jesus is most vividly put on display To do this the church must stop thinking about everybody primarily in categories of in or out saved or not believer or nonbeliever Besides the fact that these terms are offensive to those who are the un and non they work against Jesus teachings about how we are to treat each other Jesus commanded us to love our neighbour and our neighbour can be anybody This is an echo of earlier quotation often attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi Preach the Gospel at all times If necessary use words Is it OK to say I don t know to a particular question Is that helpful or unhelpful What do you think of Bell s statement How can you put what he says into action In his book Velvet Elvis Repainting the Christian Faith Rob Bell writes If the gospel isn t good news for everybody then it isn t good news for anybody And this is because the most powerful things happen when the church surrenders its desire to convert 34 35

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NOTES 36 37

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NOTES 36 37

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A Thematic Biblical Study Written by Phil Rogers 2 3