Coronavirus and your workplace: Four reflections from a month travelling Australia

“I have spent the past six weeks travelling around Australia, running City Bible Forum’s annual Life@Work conference—a conference for Christians in the workplace. The theme of the conference this year was “Unmasked”, exploring how we might reveal more of who we are in the workplace to our colleagues, and not just our strengths.

However as the weeks progressed the conference theme took an unexpected twist…”

Melbourne City Bible Forum’s Andrew Laird shares some observations, and encourages Christians to hold out the hope of the gospel.

Is the end of handshaking the start of real fellowship?

“The latest recommendations for limiting the spread of Coronavirus include no handshaking.

For churches, where the handshake may be an informal, or sometimes official, type of greeting it may seem like a loss. I think it may be a gain and will cause us to rethink just how close our fellowship can be. …”

– At SydneyAnglicans.net, Russell Powell has a great suggestion for an alternative to a handshake.

It pays to hold your nerve in the Transgender Debate

“As Douglas Murray observes in his book The Madness of Crowds, we’re making long term decisions about people’s sexual and mental health based on untested ideas that have been around for the past twenty minutes.  And now people are starting to take a reality check. …”

– Stephen McAlpine sees signs that the tide beginning to turn. Image: BBC.

What Future for the Anglican Church of Australia?

“We’re in the middle of what I think is best described as a tentative ceasefire. Of course, with any ceasefire there’s opportunities for both sides to position themselves for the conflict that is yet to come.

If you think all this language sounds combative then you’d be absolutely right. Both sides recognise that this is exactly what it is – a battle for the soul of the Anglican Church of Australia. There are clearly defined positions; one that seeks to uphold the orthodox view on human sexuality (but sees that as part of a wider issue – the authority of Jesus in the church through the Scriptures) and the other side that sees a liberalising of sexual ethics as a gospel imperative. …”

– David Ould shares his thoughts on what may happen in 2020 in the Anglican Church of Australia.

(Image adapted from the website of the Anglican Church of Australia.)

Progression or Regression?

David Cook writes:

On 1st December 2018, election night in Victoria, the victorious Premier, Daniel Andrews stated that ‘Victoria is the most progressive state in the nation.’

Having spent the month of February, 2020 in Victoria, progression is not the adjective l would have used.

How’s this for a ‘progressive list’:

All this in a State with some of our nation’s finest cultural icons, The MCG, The Rod Laver and Margaret Court Arenas, the finest collection of Australian art in the nation, more theatres per head of population than any other Australian city.

I am preaching in a Church in the central business district of Melbourne where my closest Protestant neighbouring Churches both unashamedly endorse the same sex marriage agenda of the state.

And the Premier, Daniel Andrews, who presides over all this, is a practicing Roman Catholic, one wonders when a Priest or Bishop will have the courage to place him under Christian discipline.

In Romans 1 the apostle Paul makes it clear that ‘the wrath of God is revealed from heaven’, he does not say it will be revealed in the future but it is being revealed now. (Rom 1: 18)

Why? Because humankind has exchanged the glory of God for idolatrous images, (Rom 1: 25) and worships and serves the creature rather than the Creator. (Rom 1: 25)

Idolatry is the lie (Rom 1:25) and God’s wrath is evidenced in that he gives mankind up to the fruit of that exchange.

Paul says, God gave them over

(Rom 1: 24) to uncleanness

(Rom 1: 26) to scrambled sexual expression

(Rom 1: 28) to debased mind

The mind, the attitudes, the worldview of humanity is thus under the judgement of God, the mind is counterfeit and incapable of making proper moral judgements. (Rom 1: 28-32)

Such a mind calls regression, progression!

The only hope is the new life, the new heart, which comes through the Christian gospel by the gift of God.

The moral man, Nicodemus, in John 3 must be converted to see or enter God’s  Kingdom and the same opportunity and need is offered to the immoral woman who is offered living water by Jesus in John 4.

Paul makes it clear that due to the mercies of God we are given new minds, from which the judgement of God has been lifted and by the renewing of these minds we are being transformed.

We are people of a new mind, minds which are able to ‘discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect’. (Rom 12: 2)

Pray that Daniel Andrews will experience God’s mercy.

In one of the mid-week services here l preached on John 3, ‘Jesus and Nicodemus’ under the heading, ‘Why Daniel Andrews is wrong’.

Thankfully l am still free to preach in the Commonwealth of Australia if not, it is a quick car trip of 3 hours back to the border, to good old regressive NSW!!

– Rev David Cook 18.02.2020

(David Cook has served as Principal of SMBC and also as Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia as well as in parish ministry. Inset photo courtesy St. Helen’s Bishopsgate.)

Straw Men in the Religious Discrimination debate

An article in the Sydney Morning Herald (“Religious discrimination bill gives Australians ‘right to be a bigot’”, J Ireland, SMH 30 Jan 2020) sets up a number of “straw man” arguments so that it can knock them down and claim that the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill is harmful. I disagree.

The first paragraph offers some examples of things that the Bill ‘could make it legal’ to say…”

– Neil Foster at Law and Religion Australia looks at the arguments used in an article published in The Sydney Morning Herald. Is it actually “an argument against free speech, and for authoritarianism”?

New concerns over Victoria’s proposed banning of ‘conversion practices’

“As a Victorian, I have a moral obligation to report to authorities personal knowledge of alleged child abuse. As a pastor of a church, I have both a moral and legal duty to report knowledge of or suspicions of child abuse. Mandatory reporting is a social good. Even without the legal requirement, one’s natural concerns for a child’s wellbeing would automate contacting the police.

In Victoria, under new laws being proposed by the Andrews Government, I can be imprisoned for 12-18 months, for speaking up against the psychological and physical trauma inflicted upon children by gender warriors and dangerous medicos who work to change a child’s gender or sex. …”

– Murray Campbell in Melbourne warns of proposed legislation in Victoria.

Sporting brain snaps

“When you read this I will be winging my way to Melbourne for part of a holiday.

Why Melbourne? Well we don’t have the Australian Open Tennis in Armidale.  We don’t have the rich celebrity temper tantrum, racket smashers from around the world in Armidale. We just have the normal temper tantrum racket smashers and club throwers of our local region. I think it will be interesting to see how the great ones of the sporting world do it. I am not planning to take any tips from them, however I might just be embarrassed and perversely entertained by them…”

– Diocese of Armidale’s Bishop Rick Lewers shares some challenges about anger.

Sound an Alarm: Gender Activism is about to silence us

“The Victorian government intends to pass a law very soon that may see ordinary citizens imprisoned if they speak up against the chemical, psychological and physical mutilation of confused adolescents. …”

– Retired Judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia Stuart Lindsay, writes this opinion piece in Quadrant.

The Recruitment Problem

“While I was training at Moore Theological College (2012- 2015) the constant rhetoric was that the Sydney Anglican Diocese was oversupplied with full-time gospel workers. We were warned from the very beginning of the need to be creative in funding our own Sydney Anglican positions if we were to stay in Sydney.

From one perspective, this was a great win for the Kingdom! It forced many people to consider full-time gospel ministry outside Sydney and caused those who wanted to stay in Sydney to consider the cost of staying. …”

The Australian Church Record has republished this article by Mike Leite in the ACR’s Journal for Summer 2019.

Photo: Moore College, 1956.

Patient leadership required

“What has become of our culture that we, who are sown into the fabric of the culture, have become so impatient? The computer, by comparison with the old typewriter, is quick. But when I turned it on just now, the time this piece of genius took to awake from its slumber had me impatiently complaining. …”

– Bishop Rick Lewers of the Diocese of Armidale writes his regular column. Very timely.

‘The Anglican Church of Canada extinction event’

“Recent attendance statistics from the Anglican Church of Canada predict that it will cease to exist by 2040. …

The new Primate, Linda Nicholls, sees this as a ‘wake-up call’ and asks, ‘what might need to be tried’ to reverse the decline? I would be tempted to suggest ‘Christianity’ if I thought it would fall on any but deaf ears. …”

– In Canada, The Anglican Samizdat comments on responses to the Anglican Church of Canada’s attendance forecast. It’s no laughing matter.

Conversation between former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson and Journalist Melanie Phillips removed from YouTube

[Update, Tuesday 17 December: The video appears to have been reinstated.]

Former Australian Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson has been continuing to post his Conversations series on his website, johnanderson.net.au.

There, he explains his motivation. In part, he says:

“Increasingly in Australia our famous commitment to a fair go for all, mateship, and rubbing along with people who have different views, seem to be under threat.

It often seems to me that the old adage, ‘I may disagree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,’ is giving way to a notion which says, ‘if you dare disagree with me I’ll do whatever it takes to silence you.’

The good policy that Australia desperately needs now will not come out of a bad or silenced debate, which is the inevitable outcome of a loss of respect for other people and the views that they hold.“ (emphasis added)

On Friday (13 December), he published his latest Conversation, this one with Melanie Phillips, Journalist, Author and Broadcaster. Today (Monday 16 December), the video of the conversation has been “removed for violating YouTube’s Terms of Service”.

In a message to subscribers, John Anderson says,

“We are currently trying to determine if taking down the video was an honest mistake and are working to have it reinstated as soon as possible. We’ll let you know if and when it is available to view again.

In the meantime you can listen to the discussion on podcast at these links: iTunesSpotify.“

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