Caulfield Evangelical Methodist Church
- Weekly Pastoral Message -

"Continuing steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine" Acts 2:42

Weekly Pastoral Message prepared by Rev. Murray Adamthwaite
for Sunday 29th June 1997

From the Pastor: Some Contemporary Buzzwords VI: Human Rights

In the lead-up to the hand-over of Hong Kong we hear much about China's "human rights record". This is but the latest in a long litany of issues on this theme. The crusade for human rights had its present origin with President Carter in the late 1970's who wanted to alleviate the plight of oppressed minorities, particularly Christians, in the Soviet Union. However, the latter counterattacked by alleging U.S. violations of human rights in Latin America. Since then human rights has become something of a cant phrase, with often a distinctly anti-Christian thrust: hence calls for homosexual rights, children's rights, to name a couple.

In response to all this hype I want to put two simple propositions:

    1. In Scripture the first and greatest commandment is not "love your neighbour", but, "love the Lord your God". This has been all but buried in the overt humanism of the human rights movement.

    2. The second will sound more radical: we have no rights at all, only duties. The Bible simply does not talk in terms of rights, but informs us of our duties: the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, the Pauline epistles. If we take these seriously we will inevitably be concerned about the needs and freedoms of others around us. Think about it!

Professor Cooray of Macquarie University wrote in "The Australian" some years ago on this theme, observing inter alia as follows: "A duty-conscious society gives rise to respect for rights .... A right-conscious society in effect recognizes a few rights (neglects many others) .... (i.e.) those demanded by the powerful, the aggressive, and the nasty." Let us then hear Christians pleading that everyone, under God, recognize and perform his duties, rather than merely join the secular bandwagon of human rights.


Caulfield Evangelical Methodist Church
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