Monday, January 28, 2008

Saying Sorry

It has been reported today that our new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, intends to make a public apology to Aboriginal people when federal parliament opens in a fortnight. Rudd's announcement is in stark contrast to the longstanding refusal by former Prime Minister, John Howard, to make a similar apology on behalf of the nation for wrongdoings committed against Australia's indigenous population.

The notion of corporate responsibility is deeply embedded in the Bible. Although most Evangelicals have tended to emphasise personal sin and repentance almost exclusively, the idea of communal sin and repentance comes through repeatedly, perhaps most noticeably in the historical memories of the Israelites. This idea is not lost in the New Testament where Jesus proclaims the Kingdom of God as a radically alternative community.

Recognition of personal responsibility for wrongdoing is important, but we must never lose sight of the fact that our lives exist in the context of a community - our actions (and sometimes inaction) affect others. We all have a responsibility when our community includes people who are living in poverty, homeless or suffering abuse. Salvation in this context also needs to include a communal aspect. The question "How are we saved?" is about more than just our collective individual salvation experiences. What would salvation look like in your community?

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