There are many things we may be better off without: slow Internet and pineapple on pizza, but what about the Christian faith? In an honest conversation Simon Smart confronts the failings of the church and offers another possibly better story.
Our guest: Simon Smart is Executive Director of the Centre for Public Christianity. Simon has a Masters in Christian Studies, is a prolific writer and contributed to For God's Sake: An Atheist, a Jew, a Christian and a Muslim Debate Religion.
Check out the documentary For the Love of God: how the church is better and worse than you ever imagined.
This conversation was recorded live in the CBD of Melbourne in September 2018.
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Bigger Questions asked in the conversation
Your book, For God’s Sake - an atheist, Jew, a Christian and a Muslim walk into a bar....
Four different people debating religion - that sounds like an intriguing conversation. Was that a worthwhile experience?
How much you know about things we’d be better off with?
Worse elements of the Christian faith
Now Simon a similar result was found in a poll conducted on the Q&A TV program back in 2012 which asked the question “Does religious faith make the world a better place?” Seventy-six percent of the 20,000 respondents said “no”. So Simon, does it surprise you that such a high number of people think that the world would be better off without religion?
Why do you think so many people think that Christianity is a negative force in the world?
Now you addressed a number of these awful things in the recent Centre for Public Christianity documentary: For the Love of God: how the church is better and worse than you ever imagined.
What were you hoping to achieve by addressing them - to say that the bad things done in the name of Christianity weren’t really that bad?
Why did you include the bad parts of what the church has done?
Was there a particular story which captures the essence of the film?
How did the German church respond to this at the time?
Martin Luther King
As you investigated the best and worst of Christianity - was there a really positive story, or something that really uplifted you?
What role did the Bible play in motivating Martin Luther King?
The Bible’s answer - equality of humans
We’re asking Simon Smart today’s big question of whether we’d be better off without Christianity. In the New Testament book of Galatians, the Apostle Paul writes in Chapter 3 verse 28,
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
What is the significance of this?
How does this verse help help us understand human equality?
Can’t we get notions of equality without the Bible though?
Didn’t the French Revolution proclaim, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, as beacons of non-religious Enlightenment thinking?
After doing this film project with are you more encouraged or less to be a Christian and be an advocate for the church?
You confronted the verse worst of 2000 years of the church - surely the world would be better without those things - like Crusades, the German church supporting Nazi Germany, clerical abuse of children? So what persuades you to stay a Christian even though you’ve confronted some of its very worst?
Are you better off with Christianity? How so? What difference does it make to you?
The Big Question
So Simon, would we be better off without Christianity?