This week we are continuing our current series looking at the 7 spheres of culture. Our guest blogger is Dr Rev. Ross Clifford. He is an Australian theologian, author and principal of Morling College here in Sydney. He is a prominent religious spokesperson so we wanted to see how he thought Christians could continue to impact the world around them.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for the church in Australia today?
The biggest challenge to the church today is apathy. The church has all the resources it needs, it is well positioned in the marketplace and its buildings are prominent. It has quality leadership and numerous people coming through being well trained. We have a lot of people who are very sincere which is great, but I am just not sure we have that sense of dying for our faith, the kind of passion that has been there historically. I believe that with all that God has given us, we can see great revival in the church if we can discover that passion again.
Do you think Christians can give a rational answer for their faith?
Absolutely, and of course the Bible does that itself. It says in 1 Pet 3:15 – ‘Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.’ The gospels were written for that purpose as well. John’s Gospel says these signs were recorded that you might believe, that you might make a rational decision. But it does not stop with that rational decision; people have to apply it to their hearts and to their whole being. But questions like does God exists, is Jesus the Lord God, is the Bible reliable are all good questions, fair questions and should be answered.
Should Christians get involved in social issues?
If they are kingdom people, yes, the Bible demands it. The kingdom of God is at hand, we are kingdom people and Jesus rose again in order that we would be part of the new day, a new order, a transformed society so yes, we must be involved in social issues.
Do you think Christians get misrepresented in the media?
Yes and no, in some sense everyone gets misrepresented in the media. If you are in the public arena, suck it up! To help yourself, always ask for fair media, make sure you are clear with what you are saying and I must say in my experience the media on the whole have been fair. They might not agree with me, but they have been fair. Be precise; be clear and on the whole, media will treat you well.
Have you received criticism as a Christian and how would you advise others to respond?
Yes I have had criticism, but the response depends on who is giving the criticism. If it is from an atheist, they expect you to come back to them, not personally, but they expect you to take the issue up. You are not honouring them if you just roll over, you come back in a good strong, but loving positive spirit. Criticism from other people might be on who you are and what you are doing. As far as you can, respond with gentleness and respect as the Bible says. Always remember your significance is in Christ and not in the critic.
Why do we still need Bible Colleges in Australia today?
We need an equipped generation! This is the marketplace generation where faith is alive but people are exploring outside the church. We need people who know their Bible, and know it well, know their theology, know their ethics and know what they believe and can take it beyond the walls of the church. We need places that can equip people to do that in their everyday lives.