We Need a New Renaissance of Faith. These Three Commitments Can Help
Five hundred years ago the Renaissance brought an explosion of art, science, geographical discovery and religious ideas into the world. What would it take to see a new renaissance (rebirth) of wisdom, creativity, community and faith in this coming decade? That was the theme I was given to speak on at this year’s Christian Media and Arts Australia conference in May. Usually held on the Gold Coast, a Covid pivot took the event online and to an even wider audience (you can access the whole conference replay here).
While my message is focussed on Australian broadcasters and church leaders, I believe there’s something in it for all people of faith. As you’ll see, I get a bit passionate. The world is in a mess. Many Christians are falling for conspiracy theories. We need a new renaissance and these commitments can help deliver it.
The Three Commitments
The first Renaissance was a ‘rebirth’ of human ability and creativity. At its peak, Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael produced their artworks, Columbus made his discoveries, Copernicus set off the Scientific Revolution, and Luther started the Reformation. What kind of commitments will help us see a new renaissance of faith today? Here are some key points from the video.
We Will Be Wise
The first Renaissance was a time of new truth and discovery. Reason and reflection was its heartbeat. In an age of hype, spin, conspiracy theories and global confusion, Christians need to be people of Holy Spirit-inspired wisdom too.
Wise people pursue truth
- They check facts and sources, refusing to pass on what can’t be verified
- They are humble enough to admit when they don’t know, or are wrong
- They are discerning about ideologies of both Right and Left shaping discourse
Wise people pursue balanced spirituality
- They are people of passion and reason, prayer and study, zeal and knowledge
- They respect scientific and other expertise
Wise people are curious
- They dream new ideas, ponder possibilities, paint, create, invent and explore
- They reflect on the big ideas of the day with the mind of Christ
- They take us to new places and expand our abilities
A note on Christians and conspiracy theories
With surveys suggesting some Christians are more prone to sharing conspiracy theories, we have a role to play in combatting disinformation—both exposing fake claims and helping people discern verifiable from unverifiable stories:
- Does the source have direct contact with the people involved?
- Can the facts be verified by others closely involved?
- Is the source accountable for what they’re saying?
We Will Be Hospitable
In the first Renaissance the individual stepped out of the crowds and onto the stage, with human ability, potential and genius celebrated. While this brought some good things, it also set in motion forces we’re living with today like secularism and hyper individualism, with their crises of meaning and ‘deaths of despair’. In an age of alienation we are called to be hospitable.
Hospitable people make space
- Thirty-five percent of Americans over the age of 45 are chronically lonely
- One-in-three Brits and Australians have no friends
- How can you make space for the disconnected?
Hospitable people model civility
The ‘age of outrage’ is driving people into extreme political, religious and social groups. Instead we will model civility:
- Treating others with respect, not contempt
- Treating other viewpoints fairly, not maliciously
- Disagreeing thoughtfully, not defensively
Hospitable people remember the ‘least of these’
Jesus showed us who is on God’s heart: the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, merciful, and persecuted.
We Will Be Faithful
The Reformation was triggered by Catholic Church corruptions. It wouldn’t be the last time reform would be needed. As Os Guinness has said, secularism is the exorbitant price the church is paying for the sins of its past. Every generation of Christians faces temptations to compromise with the world. We must be faithful.
Faithful people place Christian identity above others
- When we become Christians we become citizens of the City of God
- No political party, ideology, economic system or nationality claim our primary allegiance anymore
Faithful people embrace their calling to be different
- We will be wary of enmeshing with any political or ideological movement
- We will recognise that our successes in popularity, resources and funding make us vulnerable to compromise
Faithful people nurture the next generation
- We will do what can to nurture our staff spiritually
- We will make sure a biblically-based missional philosophy is passed on to emerging generations
- We will stay intimate with God and his purposes