Monday, January 30, 2012

Peter Jensen speaks of the anthropology of law and compares it to Biblical anthropology

Sydney Anglican Network Portal has published Archbishop Peter Jensen's, January 2012, address to the Law Service titled 'What are Human Beings?’ In a nutshell the talk is about Christians being different kind of human beings from the rest of society...privledged and allowed to discriminate. Jensen says... ‘What are human beings?’ Even if I am wrong to suggest that the law has an anthropology, I am sure that you personally have one. Here is what the Bible says about you: you are made uniquely in the image of God. Your life matters; whether you are in full strength and vigour, or old and decayed, or erudite and successful, or profoundly disabled, you are equally precious to the God who made you. You have not been made to stand alone, but to stand for others as neighbour and to worship God which will be your joy. You are called not merely to tolerate others but to love others, to create community; your work matters, for in it you are fulfilling your role as a guardian of the world; you are not perfect, but have much that stains your life and needs forgiveness; you can find a deep and abiding hope for you and your family in turning to Jesus Christ, the true image of God, for when death has been defeated, you will live in a new creation with Christ for ever.
And then here's the clanger... the real point of the address to the Law Service...
...talking about anti-discrimination legislation and how it may affect religious schools and indeed religious freedom. Thus, to take one case in point, why should a religious school have the right to appoint a religious gardener? Surely a person’s religion makes no difference to their capacity to carry out the function of a gardener? My colleague pointed to the difference in the way we answer the question ‘what are human beings?’ If you think of the job of the gardener in merely functional terms, as the work of an autonomous individual, earning a living among a lot of other autonomous human beings, there is no reason why it has to be a religious person. But if, following the idea of the image of God, you see the gardening as a vocation, a calling, the work of one who cultivates the earth as an image bearer, and if you connect the gardener with the very life of the community he or she serves, the outcome is different. The gardener is not merely an employee but a member of a body dedicated to the service of its members. I would want to employ a person who could pray for the students and who would model what it means to be made in the image of God. Even if you do not accept this vision of what it is to be human, I think you can at least see that it is noble and ennobling vision and that in the name of our religious freedom it is one that should be sustained, not diminished by a competing view posing as the only possible right one.

And I'd have thought that Christians like Peter Jensen who says biblical anthropology may lead to:
justice, fairness and responsibility, love, compassion, self-sacrifice and building community would welcome a lost soul into their wonderful Christian garden which is full of
spiritual nutrients.

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