This is John Dickson’s third documentary. But you get to understand why he can do things like this – rustle up a doco for instance.
He’s done some pretty amazing things. After all when you list what John has done, you’d sum him up as the typical consummate all-rounder media type of guy.
Just take the first couple of sentences from his bio. And remember this is the condensed version of John’s expansive resume, otherwise you might be reading this article all day.
Better and worse at the same time
John was once upon a time a professional singer-songwriter, who now works as an author, speaker, historian, senior pastor, and media presenter.
He’s also published 15 books, two of which have become television documentaries, with a third, For the Love of God: How the Church is Better and Worse Than you Ever Imagined, released in Australian cinemas in June 2018.
How the church is better and worse, all at the same time, is his latest effort.
What’s it about? Perhaps that’s the wrong question. Where do you start might be better.
John Dickson said the documentary highlights some of the terrible things that have been done in the name of Christ, but also the beautiful things that have been done in Christ’s name.
Making a documentary
“Witch trials, crusades, inquisitions, terrible stuff, but also the beautiful influence of Christianity, giving us hospitals, schools, and charities, and shaping Western culture in a profound way,” John mentioned, and with these being on his doco shopping list.
When you’re covering a number of wide-ranging topics the cameras could be rolling in any number of countries across the world.
John drilled it down to 15. After all, you can rack up quite a bill making docos.
“It’s shot in I think 15 countries. There are three of us who present the documentary.”
“And the overall theme is, look, the church has done terrible things and beautiful things.”
“But we hope audiences will ask the question; ‘Which of those two things is true to the Founder, Jesus Christ Himself?”
The centre of Christianity
John reckons anyone can tell, if they really want to, that Jesus not only taught us to love one another including our enemies but He actually died in a display of that love.
“To bear into Himself the judgment of those who were opposed to Him should deserve. That’s the meaning of His Cross,” John explained.
Anyone who understands that, that being the centre of Christianity, knows how to interpret Christian history.
In other words, when Christians are doing violent hateful things they’re not following Jesus, they’re disobeying Him.
“When they’re setting up hospitals and charities and seeking to love the world they’re obviously inspired by that beautiful tune, that is what Christians call the Gospel,” declared John.
But, in the same breath, John wanted to warn Christians about not retaliating when non-believers payout on Christianity, as they do.
The church has done beautiful things
“It’s easy to overreact as a Christian. To hear people criticising Christians and Christian behaviour. And we exaggerate our reply, ‘No No No No. You don’t understand..we do great things!’’
“But actually the truth is, the church has done terrible things. In the past and today. Yet the truth is the church has done beautiful things.”
The key question is, ‘Which is truer to Jesus Christ Himself?
“Which was what Jesus actually asked us to do and I think the answer to that is super clear,” John clarified.
To make the point, who better to ask than the Hillsong church in Australia given its meteoric growth and expansion to international status.
John Dickson’s request to the high profile church has elevated to a Trump tweet level of recognition.
The Apostles Creed
“Hillsong would be doing world Christianity a favour if they produced a song based on the most used, ancient, summary of the Christian faith known in the world today.”
“And that’s the Apostles Creed.”
I said, if you could turn that into a song that would be awesome.”
Hillsong tweeted back and said they’d give it a go. Then a couple of months later John got a phone call. It was Hillsong.
We’ve got a demo of it (The Apostles Creed). Do you want to come and have a listen?
John had a listen, made some comments, until a further couple of months went by before the song was released.
‘I just love them!’
“It was hugely successful and a beautiful song, ‘This I Believe’. Many churches around the world sing it in multiple languages.”
John believes it’s helped elevate the status of the Apostles Creed in churches that don’t actually say the Apostles Creed anymore.
That said, you can understand why John’s got a thing for Hillsong now.
The guys at Hillsong, I just love them. I know they get some criticism.
“But having come to know them, they love Christ. They really do want to understand what His Word is. And they want to reach the world. I count them as dear friends.”
Dr John Dickson (PhD)
John’s story is eclectic. Starting out as a professional singer-songwriter, he now works as an author, speaker, historian, senior pastor, and media presenter.
He has published 15 books, two of which have become television documentaries, with a third, For the Love of God: How the Church is Better and Worse Than you Ever Imagined, released in Australian cinemas in June 2018.
John teaches a course on the Historical Jesus at the University of Sydney, Australia, and researches the origins of Christianity in the Roman empire. For 2017-19 he is also a Visiting Academic in the Faculty of Classics at Oxford University in the UK.
In all that he does, whether in the media or the church, creative or academic, he strives to be a public advocate for the Christian faith in secularising times.
Having lost his father in an air disaster at 9, John is mindful of the sorrows and doubts of our world, and values his wife and three children above all other gifts of this life.
For more about John Dickson, click on http://www.johndickson.org/bio/