Broad church: Diverse Christian voices worth listening to


Perceptions of Christianity in New Zealand get shaped by the most extreme voices. So who else could the media go to for comment?

Quick, name the most prominent New Zealander you can think of who is a Christian.

Chances are if you follow the news at all, that the first name that comes to mind is probably Brian Tamaki.

The leader of Destiny Church absolutely dominates media coverage of Christianity in this country.

It doesn’t matter that his version of Christianity is an extreme form, with relatively few adherents.

During the absolute peak of its powers Destiny Church had around 10,000 members.

At the time of the last census, there were close to two million Christians in New Zealand. The share is tiny, and the attention is wildly disproportionate.

We’ve seen this time and again with Islam.

The voices of the most hardline extremists get amplified, while the vast, overwhelming majority of Muslims get next to no coverage.

It’s not excusable, but it is explainable by the fact that ‘ordinary person who happens to be Muslim does something’ isn’t much of a story.

What needs to be stressed a lot more is that there isn’t one Christian perspective, and that the loudest voices don’t necessarily speak for many people at all.

With that in mind, we at The Spinoff have put together a list of Christians with completely different points of view to those of Destiny Church.

It’s not meant to be a comprehensive list of all strands of Christian thought in New Zealand.

There are dozens more that could be included.

Nor are these people necessarily spokespeople for anyone over and above themselves.

Some of them are media commentators, some are elected officials, some are figures within church hierarchies, some are activists, and some are a combination of all four.

All this list is meant to do is show clearly and easily that there are far more points of view within Christianity than typical media coverage would indicate.

Some of the people here are more liberal, others are more conservative. Some would be considered to be on the left, others to the right.

The point is, the extremists are in the minority.

So when the question comes up about what Christians think about an issue, perhaps asking one of these people would elicit a more representative position than that of Destiny Church’s leaders. Continue reading

  • Alex Braae is a staff writer for The Spinoff.
  • Image: YouTube
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