The layout of Christchurch was designed in England before the four ships sailed for Canterbury. The focal point of the city is Cathedral Square. Although called the square, it actually has the shape of a cross. The cross at the centre of the city reminds us of the salvation of Jesus Christ and the victory that he established for God. It is a reminder that everything in Christchurch should be worked out in terms of his salvation and authority. It also reminds us that Jesus has won the right to be Lord and King of Christchurch. It is ironic that the centre of Sydney, (a place of crime and evil) is called Kings Cross, though it is not a cross. The true King's Cross is in Christchurch and is called a square.

The Cathedral is situated in the middle of the square, a place of worship at the centre of the city. This is a reminder that all things should honour Jesus. Everything in Christchurch should be done for his glory.

The central window at the front of the cathedral shows Christ enthroned. His right hand is raised in blessing (Rev 20:11). The rose window at the other end of the cathedral is twenty-five feet in diameter. It is a representation of cherubim, seraphim, virgins, virtues, powers, dominions, principalities and thrones adoring the Lamb of God. These two windows reflect the calling of Christchurch to bring all things into submission to Jesus, ie. to establish the Kingdom of God.

A closer examination of the square reveals that the Cathedral is not in the centre of the square. It is actually in the eastern half of the square. The western half of the square is nearly empty. There is a reason for this. In the original plan, the whole square was set aside for ecclesiastical and educational purposes, the idea being to form a Cathedral and a college in the same enclosure (like Christ Church). Due to concerns about traffic flows, the college was never built.

However, the original plan presents a powerful image. It points to the great commission of Matthew 28, which has two parts. The first part of our calling is to proclaim the gospel throughout the world so that all people will want to love Jesus and serve him. The second part is to teach the nations to do God's will, so that his Kingdom becomes a reality. The cathedral represents the "preaching of the gospel" and the college represents "teaching the nations to obey God's will". Preaching the gospel comes first, but the great commission is not complete until the nations have been taught to do his will. The church has tended to focus on the first and ignore the latter. God intends to remedy this in Christchurch.

It is interesting to look at the institutions that were situated in the buildings around the square. There were banks representing finances, retailers representing trade, the government buildings representing all aspects of government, theatres representing the arts, and the post office representing communications, newspapers representing the media, and various offices representing business. All these were to be in the cross shape surrounding the cathedral and the college.

This is a wonderful picture of the Kingdom of God. The word of God would be proclaimed in the cathedral. The college would apply the word of God to all aspects of life. The world of finance, the arts the media, communications, trade, business, government and business would submit to the word of God as taught by the college. This is a wonderful vision; but it has never been fulfilled.

The Empty Square

The college (university) was not built in the square. It was built over near Hagley Park (now the arts centre). This is appropriate, as the college never attempted to apply the Word of God to the issues of life. From its beginnings it was secular. It is interesting that as the university became even more humanistic in the 1960s, it moved out to Ilam, further away from the cross at the centre. Several other institutions never came close to the cross. The city council moved down to Tuam Street (It is now in Hereford Street). The Courthouse was in Durham Street, well away from the square (It has now moved to Lichfield Street). This is symbolic of these institutions not being part of the Kingdom of God. They have never really tried to operate according to the will of God.

The western half of the square is empty. This has been an enormous problem for the planners. They have spent millions on the square, but they cannot get it right. The western half still remains barren. All that is there is a few stalls and a false prophet in a black pointed hat. This is a stark reminder that the calling of Christchurch to be a city where the nations are taught to obey the word of God has not been fulfilled. The empty half of the square is a symbol of our unfulfilled calling.

The university is a key concern. Symbolically, it should be alongside the cathedral. A university is a place where every human activity is studied. However, to fulfil God's purpose, it should be applying the word of God to understanding that activity. A true university has a prophetic role. It teaches the nations to obey the word of God. It should take the word and apply it to all authority and all human activity.

The Oren window in the clock tower at the old university quotes Revelation 5:2: "Who is worthy to open the book and loose the seals". Underneath are the word's "sapere aude" which means, "dare to be wise". The seals in Revelation represent the events that lead up to the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth. The role of the university is to seek wisdom. It is to use that wisdom to bring in the Kingdom of God.

A goal of the Canterbury Association was stated as follows:

It will be possible to combine the blessing of religion and civilisation attachment to which have become second nature for the English.

The second part of the quote is very arrogant; the English were a long way from understanding the Kingdom of God. However, this first part represents a powerful vision (this mixture is typical of Christchurch). The combination of true Christianity and Christian civilisation is God's goal for Christchurch. Church and Kingdom together.


The university has failed to take up the prophetic role that God intended for it. It has not attempted to teach the nation to obey God's will, by applying the Bible to every activity and aspect of life, including education, business, justice and government. The creativity to accomplish this task also exists in Christchurch. The electronics industry is a good example of this creativity, although it has not been used to advance the Kingdom. Some other examples of this creativity are the Christian schools that are emerging, the Education Development Foundation and Kingdom Resources Trust. God has many more ministries like these to raise up. We need to see a much wider flowering of creative kingdom-building activity.

God's people in Christchurch are called to work together in developing an understanding of the principles of the Kingdom. We cannot establish the Kingdom of God, if we do not understand how he wants it to function. People with a knowledge of God's word will need to work together to apply his truth to education, business, politics, law, justice, government and economics. Kingdom principles must be developed for every area of life.

Christchurch needs people who understand the spirit of the age; who can pull down and expose the intellectual strongholds that men have created. The times require people who can enunciate a Christian philosophy of life and a Christian worldview. We need position papers outlining a Christian view on relevant political and economic issues will be prepared.

A key aspect of this ministry will be providing training for the next generation of Christian political leaders and business managers. The aim should be to develop a program for training potential political leaders, civil servants and business leaders. This is something that God has called Christchurch to do

The members of the Canterbury assumed that they already knew what the government of God in New Zealand would look like. They assumed it would be a replica of what they had in England, only better. This was arrogant and incorrect. There is still a lot of work to be done in learning how the word of God should be applied to economics, politics, law and justice, etc.

If religious groups want to have a short-term impact, they should concentrate on the practical; if they want long-term influence as well, they should invest resources in building centres for constructive intellectual life Intellectual centres without practical spirituality will be arid. However, without the intellectual centres, religious movements may burn brightly for a time, only to fade into obscurity. (George Marsden).

This is a long-term project. Christians are now a small minority in Christchurch and New Zealand. A Christian approach to civil government will not be taken seriously. However, the time will come when a large proportion of the population is following Jesus and will want Christian government. It will be too late to do this work when that time comes. We need to do this work now so we will be ready for this time when it comes. It may be a hidden work for many years. However, it must be done, ready for the time when the nation turns back to God. If we are not ready for this time, we may miss the opportunity.

When the Roman emperor Constantine was converted in the 4th century, no one had thought about how an emperor would exercise his enormous authority in a Christian way. The result was that many non-Christian principles and practices became an acceptable part of government in a Christian empire. We are still suffering from that today. If we get another chance, we must not let the opportunity slip by.


Evangelism is the first task. The Kingdom of God cannot be brought in by people who do not know God. People who are locked in the kingdom of darkness cannot receive the Kingdom of God. An organisation or institutions is brought into the Kingdom of God when a person with authority over it, establishes Gods will in that institution. However, people must be born again into the Kingdom. Before we can even start to establish God's government in Christchurch, the hearts and minds of its citizens must be won for Christ by powerful evangelism.

Next: Spiritual Mixture

Return to Christchurch and the Kingdom