Issues of belonging

indigenousReview by John Rickard

Book | Why Indigenous Sovereignty Should Matter To Christians | Chris Budden

Chris Budden is profoundly qualified to write this book that examines the issue of Indigenous sovereignty for the church. He has a passionate heart and a willingness to sit and listen to the concerns and desires of the First Peoples of this land.

Chris understands the importance of sovereignty for Indigenous people and argues that a negotiated settlement or treaty is critical for the future of all Australians.

In this country we usually understand sovereignty as belonging to a state, as “the exercise of absolute power by governments or parliaments over certain territories”. It is a “power over” sovereignty that protects property and land.

First People have a different understanding of sovereignty; it is about identity, relationship with land, and belonging.

This book also examines sovereignty theologically. How do we understand God’s sovereignty, and how does that affect the way we approach sovereignty exercised by the state?

Here also, Chris is well qualified. He has the words to express what he hears and an ability to shape this retelling in a way that addresses the Christian community.

He has the theology. Central to this theology is a God that Chris depicts as the “swirling, dancing life of the Trinity”.

Chris develops the concept of the sovereignty of God, which he believes is relational. In the act of creation, God established sovereignty over the created order, offering an ongoing relationship of providential care. It is about creativity and sustenance rather than ownership or possession.

In the coming of Jesus, God reasserted sovereignty in Jesus’ message of the Kingdom or reign of God. This message deeply challenged the authority and sovereignty of the then-state, the Roman Empire.

This book is required reading for the church. But more than that we need to ensure our governments respond appropriately. The current Prime Minister’s response to the Uluru Statement of the Heart was shameful.

Jesus’ message of the Kingdom and its challenge of empire just might be an important model for us.

Available from RRP: $22.45

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