This post caused a slight stir as I was rather dismissive of Dyson Heydon’s “The New Struggle for Religious Freedom”, recycled in the current number of Quadrant. However, that lecture has prompted some interesting further reading, including Civilising a colony? Sir Richard Bourke and the Church Act, NSW, 1836 ~ Siobhan Whelan. Must explore that blog further!
I also was reminded what treasures exist in our various universities in the form of Ph.D. theses, often readily available for free download. Such a treasure is this from the University of Newcastle (1991).
Dr Patrick, who passed away in 2013, was a treasure of the Adventist Church — hence one strand of that thesis. And a great thesis it is, remarkably clear-eyed and objective.
The adherents of an ideology usually possess common ideas and values, and tend to cluster together as a subculture. Consequently they often experience difficulty in relating to the wider society which exists in the same time and place. Early in its history, Christianity encountered relational problems with Jews and pagans; controversies also developed amongst rival Christian groups. The persistence of this
conflict caused H. Richard Niebuhr to call it ‘the enduring problem’; he also identified a range of typical responses, particularly in Western civilisation. On the two extremes are those Christians who withdraw and accommodate; occupying the middle ground are dualists, synthesists and conversionists. These solutions may be held in their pure form or in a variety of combinations. They may be influenced by a range of ideas about salvation, the church, eschatology, the relations of church and state, Christian history and patterns of thought in society.
The Christianity which was transplanted into colonial Australia was derived from Northern Hemisphere denominations, and experienced the persistent effects of distance, dependence and sectarianism. Divided by national and religious loyalties and antipathies, and challenged by a desacralised society, the churches . tended to develop a conservative ethos which failed to address crucial religious and social questions. Denominational attitudes toward educational, economic and political issues may be used to identify the various stances which were present in New South Wales near the end of the colonial period. Selected Roman Catholic, Church of England, Wesleyan Methodist and Seventh-day Adventists perspectives are explored in the light of Niebuhr’s typologies….