“We would be eaten and could not enjoy the South Pacific if it wasn’t for the work of Christian missionaries,” a New Zealand diplomat said to me during a group bike ride in Fiji. Although not a Christian, the diplomat was sharing his appreciation for the work of the churches in the South Pacific. It’s hard to imagine that, only a few generations ago, many cultures in the Pacific were cannibalistic. Today, they are some of the world’s most hospitable.
However, in Australia and New Zealand Christianity is almost a minority.1 Groups in these countries are trying to silence Christians in the name of equality, illustrated by recent news reports that children may be banned from sharing about Jesus or giving out Christmas cards in Queensland public schools.2 What is our defence? How should Seventh-day Adventist Christians respond?
A member of the SPD executive committee suggested I check out the book Civilization: Is the West History? by Niall Ferguson. From the summaries I have read, Western Europe from the 15th century flourished because of competition, science, property, medicine, consumerism and work. What Ferguson does not highlight is that the change came because of the Protestant Reformation, which began 500 years ago.
It was the gospel of grace that gave value to all (not just the ruling elite). Grace gave the freedom to explore and learn. Grace gave people rights.
Western values were based on the Bible and rooted in the gospel. Western countries are considered the safest, most prosperous and free in the world. These values came about because the West was transformed by the gospel of Jesus. Now the values are just traditions. But if we cut the roots from the tree we know what happens to the tree. It is time for Adventists to speak and live out our values for the benefit of others.