Greg Sheridan, God is Good For You: A defence of Christianity in troubled times, Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 2017.
$24 paperback (online), $14.85 Kindle Book.
Reviewed by Ted Witham.
Greg Sheridan is a foreign affairs journalist at The Australian. From the few pieces I have read I have the impression that he takes a conservative political line in his journalism and that his style can be heavy-handed.
Sheridan’s new book God is God for You was recommended, and for that reason alone I added it to my Kindle as holiday reading. I was pleasantly surprised in every way.
God is Good for You is certainly, as the sub-title says, a defence of Christianity. It is a well-argued, highly informed piece of apologetics. Sheridan’s voice is quiet, reasonable and forceful. He engages the so-called new atheists with strong evidence that belief is more reasonable than non-belief. He shows that many of the benefits of Western democracy come directly from Christianity, and he invites us to explore Christian responses to evil and suffering.
In Part 2, he interviews Christian politicians and national leaders from the major parties, and insists that many politicians are motivated by their faith. As one politician says, ‘You find more Christians in Parliament than in the general population.’ He explores new expressions of Christianity, including Pentecostal churches like Planetshakers in Melbourne and the counter-cultural movements of traditional and new monasticism.
He confesses himself surprised by the pervasive reach of the Focolare movement and interviews its Australian leader, Lucia Compostella. In Perth, he visits Providence City Church with its steady gaze on the new place of Christianity in Australian society – not persecuted, but a minority in exile from the old paradigm of Christendom.
He critiques limited understandings of leadership in the mainline churches and their weak use of traditional and social media.
I was pleasantly surprised at the catholicity of Sheridan’s gaze across the whole church scene, and at the open tone of his writing. There were points of disagreement for me. While I agreed with his statement that Christian faith makes radical claims of transcendence, he made too easy an equation between transcendence and the supernatural, a concept I wanted him to at least qualify. However, points of disagreement were actually few.
This book could safely be offered to any thinking citizen, Christian or not, for its reasonableness, and to any optimistic Christian for its clear-eyed analysis of where we are in modern society and its remedies for the future.