The following is taken from The Hon. John Anderson AC inaugural Tim Fischer Oration in Parliament House in Canberra, Australia on 18th August 2022, where he spoke on the factors behind Australia’s political division, cultural breakdown, and intergenerational inequality.
Jesus said, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4
“Any critical assessment of the West will be found profoundly inadequate without acknowledgment of the crucial influence of the Lord Jesus Christ.
History reveals the boons of the West – prosperity, democracy, science, mass literacy, modern freedom, commitment to humility, and service of others – emerged from Christianity. Indeed, our longest-serving Prime Minister of Australia in the 50’s and ’60s, said that “democracy is more than a machine; it is a spirit. It is based upon the Christian conception that there is in every human soul a spark of the divine.”
For Menzies, democracy could work only if we remember that “with all their inequalities of mind and body, the souls of men stand equal in the sight of God”.
And so we must ask: Can the best of Western civilization survive without its spiritual nourishment any more than a flower plucked from its soil?
In the case of the West, including Australia in particular, the God that inspired many of our great feats of architecture, the rise of modern human rights, and modern democracy, was no philosopher’s God.
He was the personal, redemptive God of Abraham, who became flesh in Jesus Christ.
Properly understood, the cross is the ultimate act of extraordinary love and service. Christianity demands of us the humility to use power only for the betterment of others, not for ourselves. Much as the demonstration of the cross was in stark contrast to the lust for domination that characterized the Roman Empire in the first century, it still stands in stark contrast to the grasping for power that so marks our modern life.
How many aspirants to our nation’s highest political office would even know that the term “Prime Minister” actually means “first servant”: ‘minister’ – from the Latin meaning ‘inferior’ or ‘servant’?
Tim Fischer rose to one of the highest offices in the land seeking to use power for the benefit of others rather than himself.
It was through millions of people turning to Jesus that Western civilization as we know it was achieved. And yet Jesus did not come to save civilizations, all of which he assured us would ultimately fade away, but to save individuals through faith in Him. May none of us miss this ultimate point.
It was in this Christian milieu that character and service prevailed to give us what we now so enjoy, but tend to take for granted. It was this civilization that blessed us with men of character like Tim Fischer. It is in this context that I stress the need for courage, truth, and engagement if we are to survive, as free people, the challenges of our age.”