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Rudd on the phenomenon of resurrection

Kevin Rudd is one of the Prime Minister’s happy to discuss his faith. AAP/Dan Peled

Kevin Rudd, who has just experienced political resurrection, professes his strong faith in the supernatural variety in a book on the religious beliefs of Australian prime minister, launched today.

Rudd draws some of his conviction that Jesus Christ rose from the dead from his close personal study of Luke’s gospel and his deep confidence in the Evangelist’s reliability.

In an interview last November, Rudd told author Roy Williams that he had “just embarked on a project to study Luke’s Gospel in its original Greek, so as better to understand the nuances”. He was apparently getting help from an expert at the Australian National University.

Williams - a Christian writer and the son of well-known journalist Evan Williams, who worked for Gough Whitlam - probed Rudd’s theology for In God They Trust? The Religious Beliefs of Australia’s Prime Ministers 1901-2013.

Rudd said his view of the resurrection came partly from his own personal experience of a living God and partly from the mind of an historian.

“Whatever you say about this minor sect of Judaism as it was then, something explosive happened then demonstrably by virtue of it uniquely becoming a wildfire across the known world within, really, a generation”, Rudd said. “And it is difficult to conclude that all that was simply based on a flight of fancy”.

He said he was a “keen student of Luke and I read Luke a lot … his Greek is certainly better than everyone else’s who was in the New Testament. …

“And if you look at the first four verses of the first chapter of Luke, what you find is him using the expression that many accounts have been written but because I have been following these events from the beginning and because I have dealt with many of the eyewitnesses, and because the time has come to lay down a systematic and orderly account of those things. And he uses a quite defined Greek term to [say] that.”

Rudd said that it was arrogant for people in the 21st century “to assume that this guy [Luke] is simply going to be some first century supernaturalist. Remember the prevailing Greco-Roman order was not necessarily a deist or even a theist order. The orthodoxy is some form of pantheism: Greek or Roman”.

Rudd told Williams that he had all three volumes of Anglican bishop N.T. Wright’s magnum opus: The New Testament and the People of God; Jesus and the Victory of God; and The Resurrection of the Son of God.

“The Resurrection tome is a very good tome”, he said.

Rudd described the “whole Jesus revolution” as in many respects being “about the radical proposition of putting others first and yourself last. Not making yourself public but having yourself as a private human being who acts correctly but, like with the widow’s mite, is not wishing to be seen with a great flourish of grandeur and glory”. This was entirely revolutionary within the western tradition at the time, he said.

Williams argues that in 2007 Rudd brought to Labor hundreds of thousands of voters previous estranged on religious grounds.

“In my view, one of the key reasons for Labor’s electoral decline since June 2010 has been the re-alienation of this important demographic, especially in Rudd’s home state of Queensland”, Williams argues, writing just before Rudd won back the leadership.

Williams concludes that of 23 prime ministers (excluding four stopgap PMs) seven have been unbelievers. These include two lifelong agnostics (Edmund Barton and Harold Holt), as well as Chris Watson, Gough Whitlam, Bob Hawke and Julia Gillard. He describes Malcolm Fraser as “a more complicated study” but says that on the basis of his 2010 memoirs he must be classed as agnostic.

He labels 12 “sincere believers” - Alfred Deakin (a Deist rather than a Christian), Andrew Fisher, Joseph Cook, Billy Hughes, Jim Scullin, Joe Lyons, Ben Chifley, Robert Menzies, Billy McMahon, Paul Keating, John Howard and Rudd.

His four “trickiest cases” are George Reid, Stanley Melbourne Bruce, John Curtin and John Gorton. He believes Reid and Curtin were “late converts” and “on balance” he’s inclined to think each of Bruce and Gorton “would have called himself a Christian in his twilight years”.

If the four stopgap PMs are added in - Earle Page, Arthur Fadden, Frank Forde and John McEwen - the score for believers is 20 out of 27.

Join the conversation

38 Comments sorted by

  1. Stephen Ralph

    carer

    There is something of the evangelical in Rudd. Perhaps a slight manic zealousness.

    Original Greek? should be Hebrew I guess.

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    1. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Well if our PM is fluent in ancient Greek as well as Mandarin, we should all be proud. Our previous PM could barely speak English. Imagine what her reading material would have been? Who Weekly?

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    2. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to David Thompson

      Bit harsh and bitchy David - she is a lawyer after all.

      I doubt KR is fluent in ancient Greek, I'm guessing it might be more a word by word translation. And rather than come off as being intellectual, to me it is rather creepy.

      Now THAT'S bitchy.

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    3. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Sorry, Stephen, the former PM struck me as vacuous. A top bird, and my first choice of team mate in drinking games, but no intellectual, that's for bloody sure. Strewth!

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    4. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Has anyone mentioned yet that the New Testament was written in Greek?

      Do we get a video of Krudd preparing a welcome message for Jesus Christ in classical Greek or possibly he is polishing up his old Aramaic?

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    5. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to David Thompson

      Thanks David..............

      have we had an intellectual PM?

      I don't think politics lends itself to intellectualism.

      KR seems to value learning in order impress others.
      I tend to think it may be an insecurity thing.

      As Bill Clinton said of him - "he seems to know more about American history than I do", And it was said rather cheekily.

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    6. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Stephen, I'd say Bill was talking about Bob Carr. Rudd's no historian.

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    7. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to David Thompson

      No it was Rudd ...... they met when KR was in the US some time ago (perhaps when he was PM). It was at Clinton's home.

      Not being an historian would not stop KR from blathering on.

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  2. Roger Simpson

    logged in via LinkedIn

    The article tends to illuminate us as to why our leaders don't listen to the science/evidence behind issues and rather absorb what they want to hear. Example; "I go out into the world and the world will look like this according to my anthropocentric book of meanings". Increasingly however the world looks like it doesn't care what we think.

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    1. Luke Barrett

      Ecologist

      In reply to Roger Simpson

      I hope he's just playing for the religious swing voters and doesn't genuinely believe it.

      Demonstrable truth or virtue was not one of the reasons why Christianity succeeded!

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    2. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Roger Simpson

      Roger, I think you'll find that learning New Testament Greek counts as very much listening to the evidence behind Luke's gospel

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    3. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Luke Barrett

      Luke, sorry, but it's well known that Rudd has been a strong Christian at least since his uni days.

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  3. Daniel Verberne

    logged in via Facebook

    I guess I can respect the Rudd is clearly thoughtful and inquiring within the framework of his chosen religion, but as a non-believer myself I still can't see how an intelligent, rational person decides any religion is 'true' in the first place!

    I would describe myself as ever-curious about the world and trying to understand it.

    For that reason, I'm a huge fan of the scientific method, its emphasis on experiment, theory, hypothesis, the importance of evidence and falsification.

    If the only reason people like Rudd have for adopting a specific religion is "Because I have faith" then I guess I have no real qualms - but then nor do I have any substance with which to argue against.

    I'm sure Rudd's faith means a lot to him - but I see nothing in religion in terms of its teachings and morals that cannot equally be applied to any human who possesses the qualities of empathy.

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    1. Byron Smith
      Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

      PhD candidate in Christian Ethics at University of Edinburgh

      In reply to Daniel Verberne

      Interestingly, Rudd's answer as to why he adopted a specific religion majored on history:

      “Whatever you say about this minor sect of Judaism as it was then, something explosive happened then demonstrably by virtue of it uniquely becoming a wildfire across the known world within, really, a generation”, Rudd said. “And it is difficult to conclude that all that was simply based on a flight of fancy”.

      The extraordinary rise of early Christianity is a fascinating historical phenomenon, and one that many historians have spent a good deal of time pondering. Not everyone comes to the same answer, but there is a good deal of thought behind these debates. The one historian specifically mentioned by Rudd (Prof N. T. Wright) is a highly respected and influential scholar

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  4. Henry Verberne

    Former IT Professional

    I refer very little to Luke for my view on religion and more to Richard, Dawkins.

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    1. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      Richard Dawkins has a tin ear when it comes to religion. He sounds just like Pauline Hanson on lesbianism: "I don't like it".

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  5. Joseph Bernard

    Director

    “about the radical proposition of putting others first"

    this is not so radical an idea. This sharing, giving economy has changed our world and is continuing to break all records. Whether it is Linux, open source software, lending club, crowd funding, kick starter and more.

    here is a great presentation on the sharing economy

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYvVDXOARWM

    lets face it "Love and peace and giving" are not dirty words.. they are a phenomenon.

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    1. Daniel Verberne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      Hi Joseph,

      The idea of 'putting others first' is also a trait that is exhibited in other animals besides humans and may well have evolutionary advantages, i.e. sharing of food helps individuals within a family of genetically-related individuals, increases group cohesion, reduces inter-group conflict = good for ongoing propagation of those genes.

      In short, definitely not a recent innovation, nor uniquely a human one.

      Cheers.

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    2. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Daniel Verberne

      i agree,

      Yet sharing does not seem to be well practiced especially as we a see a world where the concentration of wealth has become ever more acute. And i agree sharing and collaboration has demonstrated evolutionary advantages, so it must be to our advantage.

      So, whether God told you to share or you worked it out for yourself the result is the same for me..

      peace

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    3. Byron Smith
      Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

      PhD candidate in Christian Ethics at University of Edinburgh

      In reply to Daniel Verberne

      Less common is the idea of putting one's enemies, or complete strangers from distant/hostile social groups, first. This was Jesus' real innovation. He acknowledges that loving one's friends and family is pretty much universal, but extends the sphere of unilateral benevolence to include even those who are actively persecuting you.

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  6. James Hill

    Industrial Designer

    The Greeks had son of "god", born of a mortal woman, who was a saviour of humanity, andwho performed super-human tasks, in order to be raised up to the realm of his father.
    Rudd, if he is going to go Greek, might read the Prometheus Trilogy of Aeschylus, written half a millenium Before Christ.
    Aeschylus' third play, Prometheus Unchained, where Heracles releases "Forethought" and humanity's dependency on the "old god" ends, does not seem to have survived the ascendancy of Christianity, leaving…

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    1. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to James Hill

      James, you are conflating classical demotic Greek with Hellenistic Koine Greek. ;)

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    2. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to David Thompson

      In my ignorance I must yield to your greater knowledge of the subject, David, can I ask you for a partial elaboration?

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  7. Robert Crew

    logged in via email @gmail.com

    It's not clear whether the theological errors in this article are the author's or KRudd's, because some of them aren't in quotes, but Theism is the concept that there is no less than one god, while Deism is the concept that there is no more than one God. By definition, the Roman and Greek pantheons were a form of Theism.

    The quoted line that Christianity is "about the radical proposition of putting others first and yourself last" is a bowdlerisation of "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart…

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    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Robert Crew

      Again may I venture that the "fluency" in ancient Greek is a con.
      It sounds good, but I'm thinking his tutor is doing most of the work.

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  8. Lee Emmett

    Guest House Manager

    It's a pity that Kevin Rudd seems so little to emulate ' ... the radical proposition of putting others first and yourself last. Not making yourself public but having yourself as a private human being who acts correctly but, like with the widow’s mite, is not wishing to be seen with a great flourish of grandeur and glory'.

    I guess today's outcome at Labor's get-together reinforces his preferred position?

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  9. Stephanus Cecil Barnard

    Town planner and freelance writer at Kalahariozzie

    Very interesting piece.

    I had to grab my dusty 1979 Afrikaans translation of the New Testament and read The Gospel according to Luke, Cahpter 1 verses 1- 4. It is about writing down the story, the life of Christ, so that it is recorded truthfully and in the correct order.

    Like Luke, the PM is a man with a mission. He rolled the stone away from Labor's tomb, resurrecting it, put himself up there and is embarking on a few other magic tricks. Perhaps this is what Rudd wants to achieve? To write his own story truthfully and save Labor, in the correct order, all according to himself?

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  10. John Pollard

    Casual Observer

    Rudd might wish for god on his side, but Rupert Murdoch would be better!

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  11. Sean M Vincent

    logged in via Facebook

    I agree with Stephen John Ralph's comments. After doing an Advanced Diploma in Biblical Studies I "know" Greek like Rudd does. But I don't know Greek. I do think he tries too hard to seem smart. He should talk less I think. I'm also amazed at how civil these comments have been considering the topic!

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  12. John Pollard

    Casual Observer

    And god parted the waters of the Red Sea to deliver his chosen people from the evil Egyptians.......sure! About as likely as a resurrection.

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  13. Ian Porter

    CEO

    I was convinced of the historical truth of Jesus' resurrection before I was saved.

    Just because KR says he believes Jesus rose, doesn't mean much - Satan believes it too. Each of us needs to be born again / from above - that's the new life that makes all the difference.

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    1. John Pollard

      Casual Observer

      In reply to Ian Porter

      Ian, when you say "Satan believes it too", are you referring to Tony Abbott?
      Ressurection is a different thing to rebirth, which describes a personal decision to change one's attitude to living It doesn't necessarily have anything to do with religion.

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  14. Christopher Zodrow

    logged in via Facebook

    His Greek is better than anyone else's in the NT…" (eye roll). If he means "a good demonstration of the then popular revival of Attic," sure. But "better" is a relative idea. Paul was no green-horn at language. Rudd sounds like a sophomore attempting seniority. The guy seems to suffer from some kind of inferiority thing, always attempting to impress. Grow up Kevin.

    Besides, if he is really looking to love God, he would start applying Scripture to public policy. THAT would be Christian, not some kid of two-tiered faith: one private, one public. God is sovereign, He doesn't live in a box of Kevin's or anyone else's making. Real Christian faith is total, worldview stuff. Any one up for that?

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