‘Men Have Forgotten God’: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Back in 2018, to mark the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The National Review republished an article adapted from his 1983 Templeton Address.

Among his remarks are these words which have great relevance today –

“Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, and at the heart of their psychology, hatred of God is the principal driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions.

Militant atheism is not merely incidental or marginal to Communist policy; it is not a side effect, but the central pivot. To achieve its diabolical ends, Communism needs to control a population devoid of religious and national feeling, and this entails the destruction of faith and nationhood. …”

– Read it all.

Photo: US Library of Congress, via The National Review.

The Greater Love Declaration

From the UK:

“The Greater Love Declaration is a statement by Ministers and Pastoral Workers from across the different Christian Denominations as a statement of classic, orthodox Christian teaching on marriage, sex and identity.

In it we affirm the essential and unchangeable place of this teaching in Christian theology, its foundation in Christ’s own example of self-giving love, and our duty and commitment as ministers of the gospel to uphold, teach and proclaim it.”

‘The Greater Love Declaration’ was launched last week by ministers from several denominations. The website states,

“It is our hope that this will be of use to Ministers, who wish to declare their loyalty to Biblical, and historic Christian teaching; to all Christians, who wish to understand their own beliefs better; and to anyone else who wants to understand standard, orthodox Christian teaching on Marriage, Sex and Identity.”

The initiative has been commended by a range of Christian leaders.

Global South Bishops ‘aggrieved’ by appointment of new Dean of Canterbury

“The Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GFSA) has expressed disappointment that the new Dean of Canterbury, the Very Rev Dr David Monteith, is in a same-sex civil partnership.

Rev David was appointed on 10th October. He currently chairs the College of Deans for the Church of England and is the former Dean of Leicester.

In a statement, the Archbishop of Canterbury praised Rev David’s service in the Church of England thus far.  ‘We will benefit greatly from David’s experience and perspective, not least from his work in helping diverse faiths and cultural communities to live well together,’ he said.”

– Report from Premier Christian News.

See also:

Statement from Global South Anglicans – via Anglican.Ink.

“We are deeply saddened, but not totally surprised.

The present ABC’s action is part of the direction he had set in the recently concluded Lambeth Conference. There, he indicated that he is not willing for the office of ABC to be used to discipline member provinces in keeping to the Church’s teaching.

He also indicated that he felt that the Communion should allow for ‘a plurality of views’ on what the Holy Scriptures teach.

Archbishop Welby’s first position is lamentable; his second is repugnant to our understanding of the authority and clarity of Holy Scripture. The notion of ‘pluriform’ truth is contrary to the Anglican Ordinal which binds duly consecrated bishops to be responsible for the guarding, teaching and imparting of divine truth in Holy Scripture.”

Photo: Canterbury Cathedral.

Perth Synod: Archbishop’s “breach of trust and failure of integrity” disappoint conservatives

“This past Saturday and Sunday has seen the annual synod of the Diocese of Perth on Australia’s west coast.

Over that weekend and since then many delegates who were present have contacted me to let me know of what happened. …”

– David Ould shares reports from last weekend’s Perth Synod.

Photo: Diocese of Perth.

John Howard condemns ‘disgraceful’ treatment of Andrew Thorburn

“Former prime minister John Howard has argued the treatment of Andrew Thorburn over his affiliation with the church group City on a Hill went against the ‘spirit of this country’. …”

– Interviewed on Sky News Australia, from about 10:00 into the video clip.

The Pastor, the CEO and the Victorian Premier — The Pastors Heart

From The Pastor’s Heart –

“Four Victorian Christian leaders on the controversy that has erupted in Australian National Politics – around the chair of the Victorian based City on a Hill church movement Andrew Thorburn, over his appointment as CEO of the Essendon Football Club and then almost immediate resignation.

When faced with an ultimatum to choose between his church and his new position at Essendon, Thorburn chose his church.

Melbourne’s Herald Sun started the controversy by publishing quotes from two ten year old sermons from City on a Hill on abortion and homosexuality.

Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews described City on a Hill’s mainstream Christian views as appalling, intolerant, bigoted, hatred and wrong.

Our guests:

Watch or listen here. Well worth watching.

Essendon-Thorburn: How to join the conversation

“What happens when a Christian’s values clash with workplace values? Andrew Thorburn decided to resign from his new job at a football club one day after starting work.

Kamal Weerakoon, a GS&C committee member, takes up the issue, provides the facts behind the Essendon Football Club-Andrew Thorburn imbroglio and offers some helpful conversation primers for you to consider.”

– Some helpful tips from the Presbyterian Church’s Gospel, Society and Culture Committee.

Photo; Christ College Sydney.

Introducing City on a Hill

Guy Mason, Pastor of City on a Hill, and also an Archdeacon in the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, introduces the church after they have had quite a bit of media coverage in the last few days. Also a good reminder to uphold them in prayer.

The Bad Guys are those who follow the Lord Jesus

Joshua Bovis at St John’s Tamworth shares this article written for his parish newsletter –

The Bad Guys are those who follow the Lord Jesus

Growing up as a child of the 70s and 80s, it was acceptable for us kids to play ‘armies’ and have toy guns and pretend to shoot each other. Before we began we would get together and decide who we were going to be…the good guys or the bad guys and we, when it came to being one of the good guys or one of the bad guys, we all knew the difference. 

The movies we watched, the tv shows we watched…there were the good guys and the bad guys. We all knew who was who. I grew up on a diet of Star Wars.

In the first Star Wars movie, (which I sadly never saw at the cinema as I was only three when it was released in 1977), the opening crawl makes it clear who the bad guys are –

And one does not have to be a Star Wars fan to know who the main bad guy is.

What made Darth Vader the bad guy? If you haven’t seen the movies, Darth Vader was once a Jedi Knight (who were guardians of peace and justice) named Anakin Skywalker, whose lust for power, fear, and jealousy turned to evil and his actions directly and indirectly contributed to the death of billions (including his fellow Jedi and his wife). He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader.

Now of course Darth Vader is not the only infamous bad guy. There have been bad girls (Joan Crawford, Mummy Dearest, Nurse Ratched – One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest), bad animals (the Shark, nicknamed ‘Bruce’ – Jaws). Viewers knew they were bad and how they were bad.

Growing up, Christians were never seen as the bad guys. God’s guys were the good guys. This was reflected on the big screen too.. Judah Ben Hur, Ben Hur, was a good guy, Moses, The Ten Commandments. The Christians in Quo Vadis, and The Robe were the good guys.

For much of the 20th century Christians were, generally speaking, seen to be the good guys in our society. A wee bit antiquated, dorky, out of touch maybe, more conservative than most, but essentially the good guys.

There are commentators and other Christian writers who have expressed their reasons for why Christians enjoyed this period of acceptance in our culture better than I can, but from my humble position, allow me to offer my reason for why this was the case in the past, and why it not the case now, and why it will not be the case in the future.

Western Culture, and of course this includes our great nation of Australia, has enjoyed the fruits of the Christian gospel centuries and up until the 60s, our Western culture ran on a parallel trajectory with the Christian faith. This period was also marked by a high level of church attendance. Not there were necessarily more Christians during this period, but because of this parallel trajectory, it was culturally advantageous to not only be a Christian but to appear to be a Christian. Thus going to church was advantageous.

The culture norms and morés of our culture were: divorce is sin, so was drunkenness, sex outside of marriage, the nature of marriage and homosexual activity. This does not mean that these things never happened, but generally speaking secular culture shared the Christian views on such matters.

However over the past twenty years (though I think the change has occurred gradually over a longer period of time), our culture now runs of a trajectory that is counter to the Christian faith. The upside of this us that nominal church attendance has almost died. Since there is no cultural advantage to be a church goer, what is the point of attending? In fact why attend when culturally is now disadvantageous?

While the orthodox Christian position has not changed on matters of human sexuality (sex outside of marriage, the nature of marriage and homosexual activity) our culture has done a 180 degree shift in regards to these issues. So if you are Christian and hold to the orthodox Christian ethic in regards to human sexuality, you are now one of the bad guys and furthermore if you disagree with secular, ‘sexular’ culture, you are intolerant, a bigot and a hater. Therefore you are bad guy, so

keep your mouth shut!

However in the recent case of a Christian man named Andrew Thorburn, this was no protection. He kept his mouth shut and this was no protection.

David Robertson (Scottish Presbyterian Minister now in Sydney) writes from the wee flea:

Essendon AFL is an Australian rules football team. Based in Melbourne it has a membership of over 80,000 and although having fallen on hard times recently, it is still considered to be one of the big four in Victoria. This week it appointed a local businessman, Andrew Thorburn as its chief executive. He lasted one day. The story is best summed up by the Herald Sun headline.

“Essendon’s chief executive Andrew Thorburn has stepped down after shock link to church was revealed”.

After 30 hours in the job, Thorburn had to resign, not because of anything he said or anything he did, but simply because he was linked to a mainstream orthodox Christian Church which teaches the Bible. The media labelled this church controversial, yet in reality they are no more controversial than the Lord Jesus and the Apostles and every faithful Christian Church since.  [Mr Thorburn’s church – City on a Hill – takes on the subjects of abortion and sexuality, are the same as that of the mainline Roman Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths.]

Not that long ago, Christians in the public sphere were told it was a case of “keep your personal religious beliefs private and it will be alright”. Andrew Thorburn kept his religious beliefs private and was not alright. He is a bad guy. You are the bad guy, I am the bad guy. Christians are the bad guys.

So how are Christians, those who hold to orthodox Christian beliefs to respond to this?

Again, there are many Christian commentators who have written some very good pieces on this issue:

David Robertson – Hypocrisy and Hate in Christian Victoria link

Steve McAlpine – Eight Short Lessons from the Essendon CEA Saga – link

Baptist Minister from Melbourne, Murray Campbell (with whom I was a student minister almost twenty years ago) writes:

(See article here)

I agree entirely, and I would only add one more point:

Christian, remember the words of the Lord Jesus, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. (John 15:18-20)

The time in our culture where God’s people were seen as the good guys is an historical anomaly, as far as our unbelieving world is concerned, we have always been the bad guys. Our Lord Jesus was deemed the bad guy. So keep praying, keep encouraging each other to be faithful to Christ, pray for opportunities to tell others about Jesus, encourage church ministers to keep on proclaiming the gospel , whether it be in an old movie theatre, pub or house to house, whether it be to 50 people or 500 people or 5 people, because that is what Jesus’ people do. This is what the Lord Jesus’ bad guys do.

May Christ’s glory always be our supreme concern – Joshua.

P.S. – Many hat tips to Murray Campbell, Steve McAlpine, David Robertson and Peter Barnes for their various pieces.

When society and faith collide

Rick Lewers encourages Christians to be faithful:

“Standing firm might cost you your job but you will keep your eternal life. Standing firm took Jesus to the cross but it ended in resurrection.”

“Who could have imagined that football would clarify where Christianity sits in this country.

One day Andrew Thorburn, one time CEO of the NAB, was appointed the CEO of the Essendon AFL Club. The next day he was forced to resign because he attends and is on the board of a church that believes abortion and any sex outside marriage is sin.

Just normal orthodox thinking in any of the Abrahamic religions, ie, Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

Clearly religious discrimination is not irrelevant and these events only heighten the importance of a return to ‘Freedom of Religion’ legislation.

What a clarifier for all Christians. …”

– Rick Lewers, former Bishop of Armidale, and now ministering in the Shoalhaven, has written this helpful piece at SydneyAnglicans.net.

Essendon — Thorburn resignation: Press Release from Presbyterian Church Leaders




7th October, 2022

The Presbyterian Church of Australia is deeply concerned at recent events surrounding the resignation of Andrew Thorburn as chief executive of the AFL’s Essendon Football Club. We believe that this marks a watershed moment in Australian history – the day we have departed from some well-established common law principles, where there was freedom of conscience and religion, to being a society where only certain views are permitted in public life. 

While Israel Folau was discriminated against for his own beliefs, we note that Mr Thorburn was forced to resign from his post merely because of the particular church he belongs to. There is apparently now a religious test for significant employment posts in Australia.   

We note that the ethical position Mr Thorburn’s church—City on a Hill—takes on the subjects of abortion and sexuality, are the same as that of the mainline Roman Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths.

Will the Essendon Football Club now no longer welcome people who have sincere religious convictions from being involved with the club, at either an administrative, coaching or playing level? GWS player Haneen Zreika has announced she will be opting out of the upcoming AFLW pride round. Will she be hounded out because of her faith?

Essendon Football Club says it supports “wholeheartedly the work of the AFL in continuing to stamp out any discrimination based on race, sex, ‘religion’, gender, sexual identity or orientation, or physical or mental disability”, whilst at the same time forcing Mr Thorburn to resign because of his religion. This looks rather like speaking out of both sides of one’s mouth. 

We are in a dangerous place as a nation when a premier can seek to impose his own personal ideologies on everyone else. Such behaviour is itself “appalling, hateful, bigoted, unkind and exclusive”.

The Presbyterian Church of Australia will continue to uphold the Bible’s teaching, that marriage should only ever be between a man and a woman, and that the lives of unborn babies must always be protected. This is for both the flourishing of families and all of human life. There is nothing loving about killing unborn children and promoting an anti-life view of marriage.

We pray for our political leaders and remind them that they, like us all, will one day have to give account before Almighty God. We also urge our people to pray, stand firm for the faith, and not give into the opposition from those who reject our Lord Jesus Christ and His Word. Finally, we ask those whom God has placed in authority over us in this world, for the freedom to live out our faith, without intolerant bullying.   


Rev Dr Peter Barnes
Presbyterian Church of Australia

Rev David Maher
Moderator, Presbyterian Church NSW

Rev Peter Phillips
Moderator, Presbyterian Church Victoria

Download the Press Release PDF file.

Hezekiah, the early church, and learning how to live in the State of Victoria

“The story surrounding the new and now former Essendon football club CEO, Andrew Thorburn, has entered the fourth day. The saga continues to dominate the news with a collation of new articles and opinion pieces in the newspapers and with interviews on radio and TV.  …

As all of this is going on, I’m reading through the Old Testament book of 2 Chronicles. I was struck by some key moments in this Bible reading, including how ‘right now’ the story feels. Let me share with you 2 encouragements and a warning.”

– Murray Campbell in Melbourne sees much encouragement in Scripture.

What will it profit a man to retain his job but forfeit his soul?

“How long will it be before they come for your job?

How long will it be before they come for your your church?

These questions have come very much to the fore with headline news coming to us from the nation of Australia.”

Albert Mohler in the US weighs in on Essendon – in his The Briefing for 05 October 2022.

See also:

Your soul or your job? You choose – Albert Mohler writing in World Opinions.

Football CEO dismissed for religious beliefs

“The recently appointed new CEO of the Essendon Football Club in Victoria, Andrew Thorburn, has been pushed out of his job on account of views expressed by the church he belongs to and on whose board of management he sits.

Those views, which even the club itself accepts were not stated personally by Mr Thorburn and which had to be found by scouring a database of sermons back to 2013, represent views on moral issues that have been shared by Christians, Muslims, Jews and many other religious believers for a long time. They are not “radical” or “hateful” or “bigoted”.

It is arguable that the Club has breached Victorian anti-discrimination law. …”

– Associate Professor Neil Foster writes about the latest controversy – at Law and Religion Australia.

See also:

Well They Got Their Man: And It Only Took One Day – Stephen McAlpine.

“There is no amount of winsomeness that you can exhibit. You will be labelled the equivalent of a smiling racist if you even hint that you attend a church that holds to an orthodox position on sexuality.”

Christian Football CEO Forced to Resign from Essendon – Murray Campbell.

“It doesn’t require any imagination to realise more pressure will be heaped on Christians, bullying us into silence or into giving up precious God given truths for the sake of keeping our jobs. Are we ready to make that choice between God and employment?

That’s why we need to settle in our hearts and be convinced with our minds, the question of whom we will worship. Will we choose God and worship him or will we choose Baal?”

Andrew Thorburn Statement re. Essendon Football Club CEO

“Yesterday was one of the proudest days of my life. To be offered the role of CEO of the Essendon Football Club – who I have followed since I was a boy – was a profound honour. …

However, today it became clear to me that my personal Christian faith is not tolerated or permitted in the public square, at least by some and perhaps by many. I was being required to compromise beyond a level that my conscience allowed. …

Despite my own leadership record, within hours of my appointment being announced, the media and leaders of our community had spoken. They made it clear that my Christian faith and my association with a Church are unacceptable in our culture if you wish to hold a leadership position in society.”

– Andrew Thorburn, CEO of Essendon for a day, has released this statement.


New Essendon CEO Andrew Thorburn steps down – ABC News.

“The new chief executive of the Essendon Football Club, Andrew Thorburn, has resigned just one day after being appointed to the role.

Mr Thorburn’s resignation comes after it emerged the church he leads has published a series of articles critical of homosexuality and abortion. …

Mr Thorburn is chair of the City on a Hill church…”

Conversations: Featuring Douglas Murray, Author and Journalist – John Anderson.

Pivoting to Surrender: A Warning for All Christians – Albert Mohler, 4th March 2021.

“Every Christian and every Christian ministry will come to a reckoning – we must all decide here and now where we stand.

Will we pivot or will we hold fast to faithfulness and the hope of the gospel?”

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