Following is a recording of our PEACEtalk discussion between Rev Dr Michael Jensen and Professor Vrasidas Karalis on the question of whether it is reasonable to place our hope in and believe in politics as a means of achieving a just society in an age of almost unprecedented cynicism. Facilitating the discussion was Julia Baird a well-known presenter and commentator on matters of faith in the public sphere.
Over the last several decades there has been a sharp decline in confidence in core public institutions. More and more society is coming to assume that at the core of our political system is a cynical self-interest or will to power. Concepts like ‘the common good’, for many, seem like quaint notions from a bygone era and to be ‘political’ is now often considered a slander.
Christians seem to have an added grounds for not placing faith in politics: is not a concern for politics a distraction from personal salvation? Ought not Christians be ‘all things to all people’ and as such put aside partisan politics to focus on evangelism? Furthermore, aren’t we to trust God to bring justice to the world rather than politicians?
Michael Jensen is an author, lecturer and Anglican priest. He is currently the rector of St Mark’s Anglican Church, Darling Point and formally a professor of theology at Moore College. Rev. Dr. Jensen is a prolific commentator in both religious and secular forums on a range of topics particularly the role of theology and Christian ethics in liberal democracy.
Vrasidas Karalis is the Sir Nicholas Laurantus Professor of Modern Greek at the University of Sydney. He has published widely on topics such as theology, New Testament studies, Byzantium, film, philosophy and cultural theory. Most recently he has been a regular commentator on contemporary Greek politics as well as Australian multi-culturalism.
Dr Julia Baird is a historian, journalist and broadcaster. Her writing has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Guardian, the Good Weekend, The Sydney Morning Herald, the Sun-Herald, The Monthly and Harper’s Bazaar. She is well known as the host of ABC’s The Drum as well as a regular public commentator on matters of faith.