“In the face of the sexual revolution the Christian church in the West now faces a set of challenges that exceeds anything it has experienced, of a similar magnitude, in the past. This is a revolution of ideas—one that is transforming the entire moral structure of meaning and life…”
– In the first of a four-part series, Albert Mohler argues that the foundations of the sexual revolution were laid almost a century ago.
“Here is the main argument put forward by revisionists for the Church of England to change the historic doctrine of sexuality and marriage: ‘the majority of people believe this, so the church leadership should follow’. Leaving aside the interpretation of statistics, and the question of whether this societal change has happened by chance or as a result of sustained cultural re-education by a secular elite, we need to ask: should the Church accommodate itself to the culture as the revisionists demand, or should it be providing a lead in developing a counter-culture which influences and transforms the values of society?
Or perhaps the church should ignore the surrounding culture and be concerned only with the beliefs and actions of its own members and the small fringe of contacts which it hopes to draw in? This approach may have the strength of an authentically biblical foundation, but is it Anglican?…”
– At Anglican Mainstream, Andrew Symes looks at the way forward for the Church of England.
Speaking in a US context, Mohler says,
“…what professor Gelernter is arguing is that on the left, political ideas have taken the place of religious doctrines and religious truth claims, and have become ends in themselves and matters of absolute truth claims, and have become ends in themselves and matters of absolute truth claims. …
I think Professor Gelernter is absolutely right that for many on the left, politics is all that remains. It’s all they have left.”
Listen or read here. (Segment 3)
“We also thought, back then, that few abortions would ever be done. It’s a grim experience, going through an abortion, and we assumed a woman would choose one only as a last resort. We were fighting for that ‘last resort.’ We had no idea how common the procedure would become…”
– This long and disturbing article was written to coincide with the 43rd anniversary, this last weekend, of the Roe v. Wade decision in the US Supreme Court.
Since that time, 59 million babies in the USA have lost their lives through abortion. Image: National Review.
“‘Heartbreak and humiliation’ were the opening words of the current affairs show ‘The 7:30 Report’ on the national public broadcaster, the ABC, on Thursday Friday 21, 2016. The story? The tragic accidental death of David Bulmer-Rizzi, one member of a UK same sex couple who were visiting the country.
The tragedy was compounded, the report said, by the fact that the South Australian authorities were proposing to issue a death certificate which stated that the deceased was ‘never married’. But the couple had entered into a same sex marriage under UK law…”
– At Law and Religion Australia, Dr. Neil Foster provides the legal context behind some of the media reporting surrounding a tragic death.
“Extremism is not the problem. There is nothing wrong with extremism. It all depends on what cause you are extreme about, and how you implement it.
For people or societies that have no morality and no religion, ‘extremism’ is the worst of all behaviours. For Governments who believe in management over justice and truth, extremism is the chief ‘sin’ that has to be opposed and controlled. Western societies are trying to fight ‘extremism’ because we, in the West, refuse to even discuss religion, or religion based morality. So we are left opposing all religions as if they, and their extreme expressions, were the same thing. And we are paranoid about all extremism and only fight when something disturbs our peace.
But consider some extremists: A couple of successful, capable, health professionals leaving all the comforts, prosperity, security, and career advancements in Australia to help the desperately sick in an isolated, dangerous, impoverished, dysfunctional society. They have not done it as a short-term stint to help the needy in a crisis but starting in 1972 have continued for over 40 years. Here is a surgeon still working in his 80’s, for there is no other to replace him, amongst the thousands of well remunerated, western surgeons. He is the only surgeon for a couple of million people, building a hospital from nothing. He and his wife have not worked for money or fame but for their ultimate aim “to show the love of God”.
These people are extremists. Their whole life is anything but normal, average, usual or mainstream. They are extremists: Christian extremists. They are not alone. All over the world there are Christian extremists like this: People who have voluntarily given up the great Australian secularist life for something higher, grander, better. Extremists who have sacrificed the materialist dream to serve Christ by serving the poor, marginalised, endangered and sick.
When Muslim extremists kidnapped them, their life came into the public domain. At first they were called ‘humanitarian workers’, as were the other seven who were killed at that time elsewhere in Burkina Faso. But their motivation was not simply humanitarian, it was religion that made them extremists. And not simply religion but Christian religion – for each religion has its own ways of living extremely – and sacrificing your life for the benefit of others is profoundly Christian. We do not follow a warrior prophet but the crucified Christ. Our extremism is good for the world, which is why wise governments have supported and promoted it – for it is for the common good.
Sadly Christians don’t always get it right. But when we are wrong, call out what is wrong. Don’t blame extremism or religion. In 1963, some clergy opposed Rev. Martin Luther King’s campaign of non-violent protest. They were wrong. But they were right when they called him an extremist – for he was!
In his famous letter from the Birmingham gaol he wrote:
But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label.
Was not Jesus an extremist for love: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”
Was not Amos an extremist for justice: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.”
Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.”
Was not Martin Luther an extremist: “Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.”
And John Bunyan: “I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.”
And Abraham Lincoln: “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.”
And Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . .”
So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?
In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime–the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment.
Please stop attacking extremists; we need more of them not fewer. But we need extremists for the right causes not the wrong ones. And that means we need to face the hard issue of saying what is right and wrong and why it is right or wrong. Otherwise, we will simply end up making conformity the great good and extremism (of any form) the great evil. And that, in the end, is a recipe for tyranny.”
– Phillip Jensen.
First published at PhillipJensen.com. Formatting of the Martin Luther King quote adjusted for clarity.
“We live in a disturbing, unsettled world. This year we will face a Federal election in Australia and the possibility, if the Coalition is returned, of a national plebiscite on the nature of marriage…”
– Amid all the challenges 2016 will bring, Presbyterian Moderator-General David Cook calls Christians to prayer.
“The Western world is rapidly changing. And this brings with it many challenges, particularly for Christians. So to get a better handle on these changes, I’ve started interviewing a number of Christian leaders.
What follows is an edited version of an interview I did with the Reverend Dr Andrew Cameron, who is the Director of St Marks Theological Centre, in Canberra, Australia…”
– from Akos Balogh.
“Christians who lack biblical knowledge are the products of churches that marginalize biblical knowledge. Bible teaching now often accounts for only a diminishing fraction of the local congregation’s time and attention…”
– Albert Mohler addresses a scandal which is not confined to the USA.
“In the immediate aftermath of the gathering of Anglican Primates last week, what are we to make of it all? … Some of the initial headlines suggested that all will be well for the Church, but a closer analysis shows that there are some real concerns going forward, as well as some encouragements…”
– Anglican Mainstream’s Rev. Andrew Symes comments on the outcomes of the Primates’ Meeting.
Amidst some real encouragements, he turns to the apologies which have been voiced by some –
“While part of the Church’s role is to encourage love of neighbour and pastoral care of all people, its Gospel witness is compromised if it suggests that it is saying sorry to people whose feelings have been hurt by the clear teaching of the Bible and basic principles of Christian discipleship.”