Crime

From the Dean

A regular article written by Phillip Jensen in his role as Dean of Sydney at St Andrew's Cathedral.

Originally Published:
3rd August 2007

Tagged: education sin

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Crime is hateful. But when committed by people entrusted with caring for society it is twice as bad.

When people responsible for children: fathers, teachers or ministers, interfere with the children the crime is dreadful. For not only is the child hurt but also the fundamental trust is broken. Broken trust white ants the ability to relate to other people.

It is very sad to see lawyers, and doctors convicted of criminal or terrorist activities. We allow these people a greater level of intimacy by virtue of their profession. We trust them with our private information. We believe that they are acting in our best interests. It is distressing to see them as untrustworthy. There is something dissonant or discordant about a doctor who seeks to kill or a prosecutor who participates in crime.

But a bigger problem for our society is the terrorist doctor. It is more than the dissonance of a doctor who seeks to kill. It is the dissonance of the educated terrorist or the educated criminal.

I am making not suggesting that any particular doctor is guilty of terrorism. But the very idea that a doctor could be a terrorist has jolted the normal expectations of our community. Doctors should be above such behaviour.

As one man wrote to a Sydney paper: “Now that we have been told the terrorists arrested in Britain are doctors, we are faced with something which can only lead sane people to despair. We always hoped that through education (and exposure to a free society) the motivation of Islamic terrorism would dissipate. Of all professions, surely a doctor would be expected to be above the nature of this mind-set.”

The false hope that is expressed in this letter is that education will change human heart.

Education is wonderful privilege that Christianity has brought to the populace. Bible believers are committed to education. Not just education in the Bible but also in what the Bible teaches—that the entire world is created for humans to rule over. Unlike animists or spiritualists, Bible believers see the world itself as worthy of study, understanding and teaching. With acceptance of the message of the Bible there has always been increase in literacy and education.

However education does not change human hearts. Sinfulness is not a matter of ignorance or lack of intelligence. Hatred is not limited to the uneducated. The nineteenth century Fabian dream that a well educated, housed, and fed populace would dissipate crime has failed. Today we have well fed, housed and educated criminals. It is right to educate, feed and house the populace. Right because we should care for all humans. But these goals are not a means to—nor are they able to deliver—a reduction in crime.

Of course doctors, lawyers, dentists, accountants and academics are sinners. Clever and educated people practice evil with greater skill than other people. What we all need more than education of the mind is regeneration of the heart. Only the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ gives this heart transplant. The forgiveness of sin through the death of Jesus and the rebirth by the Spirit of the risen Lord Jesus—will change the behaviour of people.

It is for this reason that our Diocese has declared a “no tolerance” policy for moral failures in Christian leaders. Being sinners we expect failures. Preaching the gospel of forgiveness we accept into membership people who fail. But preaching the gospel of repentance, regeneration and change we cannot accept moral failures in our leaders. Regeneration is more important than education—especially in our Christian leaders.