Christian leaders don't want violence

This week Eternity carried an opinion piece by Nathan Campbell, about the need to avoid the culture war heating up. I added an editor’s note – expanded a little below, in response to concern expressed by some that he names in the story – and given the prominence of being a new story.

For the avoidance of doubt, Eternity – and  Nathan Campbell – do not believe that Martyn Iles and David Pellowe (or Caldron Pool writers, or anybody who did not storm the US Capitol and is mentioned in Campbell’s opinion piece)  advocate violence or revolution. However, the US Capitol incident does show that superheated rhetoric can have an effect on hot heads – so let’s all be mindful of that.

More on this topic

Instead, Iles and Pellowe engaged in silly and possibly callous banter at the recent Church and State conference that Campbell was responding to.

Campbell’s quote from The Sun-Herald makes this clear. “In a later panel discussion, Mr Iles joked that his father often said ‘we need a good war’ to sort this out and ‘there’s a little bit of truth in that’, because society would not be so concerned about climate change or gender identity if we were at war with China.”

“Mr Pellowe then interjected: ‘We’re not advocating violence or revolution … today.’ Mr Iles added: ‘Not yet, that’s down the line.’”

It was a joke. In poor taste. However, Campbell worries that in an unchecked culture war, some people could take things too far. Beyond what even passionate writers intend. We have seen this both on the left and the right in the US recently.

I recall as a student, a person who later was quite prominent foolishly joked about being “in charge of the Cheka, comrade.” I knew enough about Stalin’s show trials to know even in my extremely callow youth that this was a foolish thing to say.

I learned then that the left makes bad jokes. We learned on the weekend, so does the right. Actually, I already knew that.

We want to be a place where tribes of Christians can discuss the hot topics and cool ones and maybe even learn from each other.

In his story, Campbell returned to the image of Christians being involved in storming the US Capitol and suggested that some commentators need to be checked or responded to, in order that we don’t repeat the US situation. He named “Christian leaders such as Lyle Shelton, David Pellowe, Martyn Iles, Stephen Chavura, Mark Powell, George Christensen, and James MacPherson, or platforms like Caldron Pool” as people or groups that he felt need to be responded to.

None of these have advocated violence, at the Church and State Summit or elsewhere.

And here’s some further  comments about Eternity and the culture war.

Can a Christian vote for One Nation? Was the ABC re-defining pedophilia? Should Christians take part in a “culture war” to oppose a progressive takeover? Does the world neatly divide into progressives and conservatives anyway?

These and a host of other questions, are in the air and increasingly at Eternity – in our Opinion Section. Maybe it’s the (post) Trump era, which has certainly engendered social conflict here as well as in the country he preside over. We want Eternity to be a place where iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17), which we take to have been a noisy process.

We want to be a place where tribes of Christians can discuss the hot topics and cool ones and maybe even learn from each other.

Can we disagree in a helpful way? Sometimes we can, and we hope it becomes more and more common.

Some of the heat has come about because we have published some pieces by James MacPherson who, because he does not mince words, has been accused by some commentators of mincing people. Equally; we seem to be in a Newtonian moment where (relative) lefties are upset by strong or provocative comments by the right and (relative) righties are upset by strong or provocative comments by the left.

We’ll tamp down the fire. It gets a bit much for the readers.

And can I report an act of grace? David Pellowe of the Church and State Summit – which has captured a number of headlines since it was held in Brisbane in the last weekend in February – distanced himself from the Proud Boys group. He has made it clear he does not approve of their methods of cultural war.

We had hours of conversations, so it may be that I bored him into it. (Joke)


Some prayer points to help

Pray for Christians who disagree with you today!