The Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has made no secret of his Christian beliefs. Whether it be his 2007 address to Christians; his controversial decision in 2009 to receive Holy Communion at a Catholic Mass in honour of Mary MacKillop despite being an Anglican; or, more recently, change his view completely on marriage equality Kevin Rudd’s faith has always been public and yet difficult to pin down.
Last night’s episode of ABC’s Q&A program has thrown Kevin Rudd’s faith into sharp relief. To the whooping of an appreciative crowd Kevin Rudd, practicing Anglican, unmasked his beliefs about the infallibility of the Bible, i.e., the Bible is not the infallible Word of God.
When Pastor Matt Prater of New Hope Church, Brisbane challenged the Prime Minister about his change in views and why he did not believe the words of Jesus about marriage, the PM quickly fired back:
Well, mate, if I was going to have that view, the Bible also says that slavery is a natural condition. Because St Paul said in the New Testament, “Slaves be obedient to your masters.” … I mean, for goodness sake, the human condition and social conditions change. What is the fundamental principle of the New Testament? It is one of universal love. Loving your fellow man. And if we get obsessed with a particular definition of that through a form of sexuality, then I think we are missing the centrality of what the gospel, whether you call it a social gospel, a personal gospel or a spiritual gospel, is all about. [source]
It is fascinating to see the Prime Minister, a confessing Christian, attack the Bible in precisely the same way as Richard Dawkins. Moreover he uses a general “gut-feel” he has about the intention of the New Testament (“universal love”) to override Jesus’ and the apostles’ actual teaching on the subject of marriage and homosexuality. This is not the way a Christian handles the scriptures.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
2 Tim 3:16-17
The Christian way to handle the scriptures is not to dismiss them as the relics of ancient thinking but to submit to their teaching. If the Bible were to claim that to wear a hat was a moral obscenity, a sin for which Jesus died, then Christians would be obliged to not only believe it but to discourage hat-wearing wherever possible no matter how unpopular the opinion. If our Lord and Saviour died to redeem us from the sin of hat-wearing then how could we go on condoning its practice? Surely we must tell people about this grave sin!
Fortunately hat-wearing is not talked about in this way but homosexuality is and we don’t get to excise it from the Bible’s pages just because we don’t like it. Kevin Rudd dismisses scriptures with which he disagrees without any attempt at a theologically thoughtful explanation. He merely attacks the Bible as a product of its age so that he can believe whatever he chooses to believe.
Well, Mr Prime Minister, that argument cuts both ways. On what basis should Christians prevent adulterous men from becoming elders in the church? After all, the Bible condones slavery. On what basis should Christians say that rape is wrong? After all, the Bible condones slavery. Precisely which moral issue is not effected by this line of argument? Can the Bible be trusted to tell us anything about the way we should live and act? According to Kevin Rudd, it can not.
For all Kevin Rudd’s talk about being a committed believer he still has failed to answer Pastor Prater’s poignant question, “Kevin, if you call yourself a Christian, why don’t you believe the words of Jesus in the Bible?”