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.


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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.


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.)

Love for a full life

“Life in three words doesn’t sound like much of a life unless the words are faith, hope and love. Big words for a full life.

Woodstock was in 1969 and I was 11 and still sent to Sunday School by parents who prided themselves on being good rather than being thankful for being forgiven. It was one year off the 70’s and one year off my teenage rampages which were tame by comparison to those of teens today. It was the era of music and for so many of us, love.

Of course Woodstock was more than a concert on a farm hill. It proved to be a revolution for a world bent in on itself. …”

Bishop of Armidale Rick Lewers writes about love.

Jordan Peterson, Caroline Farrow and the death of free speech

“There are certain values which are so foundational to our society that we take them as a given and always assume that they will remain. But when the foundations are being destroyed perhaps we need to sit up and pay attention – and strengthen what remains before it dies.…

Three events this past week in the UK serve as warnings that these basic freedoms are under threat. This threat comes not from Muslim extremists, or far right terrorists or any external political ideology. No, this threat has arisen from within.“

– David Robertson writes at The Wee Flea.

On the Conviction of Cardinal Pell

“The recent conviction of Cardinal George Pell on five counts of child abuse has shaken the Roman Catholic Church in Australia and around the world.

Cardinal Pell was Australia’s most famous Roman Catholic leader – elevated to a position of high responsibility in the Vatican after a significant career in Australia, which including serving as Archbishop in Australia’s two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne. …”

– Assoc Professor Neil Foster reflects on Cardinal Pell’s case from a Biblical and legal perspective – at The Gospel Coalition Australia.

Tactics, not truth, over same-sex marriages

“It would seem that the response by the bishops of the Church of England to the latest attempt in the House of Lords to force clergy to conduct same-sex weddings was driven by tactical considerations rather than by transcendent truth.

Although the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft [pictured], resisted the amendment by Lords Faulkner and Collins to remove the CofE’s exemption from solemnising same-sex marriages, his remarks were notable for their political tone…”

The Rev. Julian Mann discerns an attempt by the Bishop of Oxford to placate the 100+ evangelical clergy in his diocese who signed a letter ‘of grave concern’ in January.

Making Bricks for Evangelical Pharaohs

“I worry that an awful lot of modern day ministry is about making bricks for evangelical pharaohs.  Whether those pharaohs are actual people, or whether they are systems and philosophies of ministry that have been put in place, doesn’t matter all that much; making bricks is the paradigm of much modern ministry.  And it’s leaving a trail of exhausted people in its wake. …”

Stephen McAlpine’s observations may resonate with many in ministry.

The Power of the Gospel and the Meltdown of Identity Politics

“American politics increasingly resembles a soap opera and, at least for now, Virginia has taken center stage. The drama in the state continues to unfold as the Commonwealth’s top three Democrats face pressure to resign. …

Virginia serves as a prime example of the self-destructive nature of identity politics – a political philosophy that expansively designates identity by race, social background, or gender at the expense of other identities.”

– Southern Seminary President Albert Mohler argues that “the biblical worldview is the only antidote to identity politics” in his latest column.

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