Hey Ministers and Theologians: When it comes to the secular workplace, you just don’t get it

“The Israel Folau storm has exposed many things, and this is one of them: many ministry workers have little idea of the pressures people face in the modern workplace. They just don’t get it. Not that it stops them making big statements about it.

If you’re a Christian ministry worker and you’ve had a lot to say about Izzy (either for or against) the last few weeks on social media, then it might be time to get off Facebook and have a listen to the people in your congregation who hold down a job Monday to Friday. …”

Steve McAlpine’s latest article is published at the Gospel Coalition Australia.

Have all our changes been good ones?

“Perhaps it is an opportune time to ask ourselves about some of the changes that have occurred in church ministry in the last little while. It would be good to begin a conversation about whether those changes are all as good as we might have thought them to be.”

– Moore College Principal Dr Mark Thompson asks some questions about change, in order to provoke discussion.

See them, and consider your response, at Theological Theology.

How might Folau’s court case impact religious freedom?

“A victory in his case would be helpful as sending a message that believers have the freedom to speak in accordance with their faith, even when saying something that offends. And perhaps in persuading employers that they should not try to rely on over-broad “codes of conduct”. …

If he loses his case, it will in my view send a message to corporate Australia that they can require uniformity of opinion on controversial topics. It may lead to further restrictions on what Christians can say in public.”

The Gospel Coalition Australia speaks with Associate Professor Neil Foster about the decision by Israel Folau to begin legal proceedings against Rugby Australia.

Pentecost is this Sunday: Did you know?

Rick Phillips“The Christian calendar practiced by most evangelicals today is extremely illuminating. What it shows is our generally weak appreciation for the fullness of Christ’s saving work. Two big holidays occupy our minds completely: Christmas and Easter. So we focus on the birth, death, and resurrection of our Lord. So far as it goes, that is perfectly wholesome. But what a huge event Pentecost is in the life of the Christian church (not to mention the Ascension)!

There can be little doubt that while most of our churches faithfully observe Mother’s Day… most will completely ignore our Lord’s great redemptive-historical gift of the outpoured Holy Spirit. …”

– Back in 2008, Rick Phillips at Reformation21 wrote to challenge churches to take Pentecost seriously.

Folau’s faith compelled him to shout a warning: repent

“Folau’s employment looked so unfair to him that he bypassed their internal appeal process as pointless and announced his intention to test them in the courts. So Rugby Australia now will either lose the court battle or lose its major sponsor. It has already lost its best player.

This is no storm in a tea cup: this is central to Australia’s character as a nation and raises three questions:

Let’s tackle them. …

He is drawing attention to the fact that classical Christianity is certainly about judgment, but it is also about sacrifice and forgiveness. For 2000 years Christians have been calling it “good news” because the news that God loves you despite your behaviour and offers forgiveness can only count as very good news, indeed.”

– Kel Richards writes a very helpful article in The Weekend Australian. (Subscription.)

Stalin stalks the church school classrooms

“As a curate in the mid-1990s I used regularly to teach the Bible to the children at the Church of England primary school in the parish. I could not have imagined then that the spectre of Stalin would one day stalk the classrooms of church schools. …

If a future historian were to chronicle the destruction of British democracy, Mr Parker’s letter of resignation as a Church of England vicar to the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, would be an important historical document:…”

Julian Mann reflects on the experience of the Rev. John Parker with the transgender advocates.

(Image of John Parker from Christian Concern.)

4 Urgent Conversations Australians need to have after Folau

“The Israel Folau saga has uncovered an urgent need for Australians to have conversations about the sort of society we want to live in.

When Folau first posted his controversial Instagram post, there was an immediate reaction from many cultural commentators, demanding he step down. Rugby Australia, his employer, was only too happy to agree. But as time has passed and emotions have cooled, there seems to be a growing backlash against Rugby Australia’s actions toward Folau. And I don’t just mean from Christian or conservative voices. …”

– Akos Balogh writes at The Gospel Coalition Australia.

Israel Folau and Three Myths of a Changing Society

“As Australians celebrate Easter, I want to assert, as a Christian, that because of his love, Jesus died and rose again to bear the sin and judgement of we sinners who deserve his condemnation. So, with all Christians, in obedience to our Saviour, I would call on all to repent and find forgiveness while they may.

However, I write this article not as a Christian but as an Australian citizen and lifetime rugby supporter, who happens to be a Christian, seeking what I see as the good of society. Furthermore, I am writing simply on the basis of public media information, without knowing the full details of Israel Folau’s employment.

As a Christian, I don’t expect the Government or anybody to defend me, or my preaching of the gospel. They crucified my Lord and I am not to be surprised by any hostility towards his people. But as an Australian rugby supporter, I do think it is in the best interest of everybody to identify the issues behind this present imbroglio and do something about them, in order to protect our society and the game of rugby. …”

– Phillip Jensen, former Dean of Sydney, has published this opinion-piece on his website.

It’s time to break free from the Algorithm-Driven Life

“A recent story from Wired helpfully explains the latest batch of changes Facebook has made to its algorithm – the algorithm that sorts through the billions of available articles, photographs, and videos to determine the few we will actually see as we scroll our news feeds. …

Before we go any farther, we need to consider the fact that what we see on Facebook – and Twitter and Instagram and Google News and Apple News and …  – is determined by algorithms, formulas carefully coded to spread some content and to suppress others. We rarely have access to complete collections of information anymore. Rather, algorithms pre-sort it for us.”

– Tim Challies looks at the benefits and dangers of algorithms, and he suggests a solution.

Related:

Subscribe to the Anglican Church League’s RSS feed. (Your browser may ask you which news reader you want to use.)

ACL website links.

In support of Billy Vunipola

“Dear Sir,

I am not a Rugby fan, but I wish to protest at your treatment of Billy Vunipola. Mr Vunipola has done nothing wrong, other than express his Christian beliefs in support of another Christian believer. …”

– Anglican Mainstream has published this Letter from a South Yorkshire Rector to the Rugby Football Union and the Saracens Rugby Club.

Background:

Billy Vunipola: England number eight given formal warning by RFU – BBC News.

“The 26-year-old number eight liked the post by Folau and called for people to ‘live their lives how God intended’. Vunipola, who has also been warned by his club Saracens, has been ‘reminded of his responsibilities’ by the RFU. …”

See also:

Israel Folau to challenge Rugby Australia’s breach notice over social media post – ABC News.

When talking about hell… – Murray Campbell.

Reflections on the Israel Folau affair

“Celebrity rugby player Israel Folau is in a complicated legal position. He shared a ‘meme’ on social media site Instagram recently, the text of which was: ‘Warning: Drunks, Homosexuals, Adulterers, Liars, Fornicators, Thieves, Atheists, Idolators: Hell Awaits You – Repent! Only Jesus Saves.’

To this he added his own personal comment: ‘Those that are living in Sin will end up in Hell unless you repent. Jesus Christ loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and come to him.’ …

His remarks were not well-received by many members of the public, and in particular by the peak bodies in rugby. …”

– At Law and Religion Australia, Neil Foster offers some comments on the latest news relating to Israel Folau.

The Puzzle of Secularism

“…the funny thing is that I, and all my generation, could have sworn that puritanism was a church disease. With the decline of church influence, then the old stiff and bossy rectitude would collapse. And, indeed, it has, if we are talking about Christian concerns about alcohol, gambling, pornography, promiscuity and the like.

But the tolerant society we were promised by secularists has not emerged – far from it. It is just that a new set of commandments, inspired by autonomy and an optimistic individualistic anthropology, has arrived with a vengeance.”

– Church Society has published on its website an excerpt from Archbishop Peter Jensen’s editorial in the latest issue of Churchman. (Peter is now the Editor of Churchman.)

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