Why White, Middle Class Guys Like Me Struggle to Hear God

Many years ago I was a regular attender at the “Baptists Today” conferences, held annually in Canberra. The rather unimaginatively titled conferences were focused on social justice issues, which at that time were commonly neglected by the wider Baptist movement. I was a young pastor, eager to do justice, love mercy & walk humbly with my God (Micah 6:8). At these conferences, under the...

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If the Bible is so clear, why do we keep getting it so wrong? Evangelicals & the Bible #1

I recently read Mark Noll’s book, The Civil War as a Theological Crisis. It was something of a shock to discover that in the mid 1800’s the majority of North American evangelicals opposed the abolition of slavery. Noll describes the crisis that the war created, Debates over Scripture and slavery, which combined passionate moral reasoning, careful attention to the particulars of exegesis, and...

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It is not about my view of sexual morality.

The marriage equality debate is underway and I find that the no case is being most zealously prosecuted by the evangelical wing of the church. This also happens to be the part of the church I belong to. Sometimes the ways of this group of believers thrills me, sometimes inspires me, sometimes infuriates me and and sometimes disappoints me (and I no doubt do the same to some of my evangelical...

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What my straight Christian friends need to know about my gay Christian friends.

I want to tell you about my Christian LGBT friends. Almost all of them have had an agonising journey as they have sought to reconcile their sexuality with their faith. They have cried themselves to sleep each night begging God to change them; they have been to counselling; some have sought conversion therapies; they have hated themselves; hated God for hating them; some have teetered on the...

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Don’t fall for the fear-mongering. Freedom of religion is an important issue for a pluralist society, but it’s not a crisis created by marriage equality

One of the fears of many religious people have around marriage equality is that it will erode their freedom to practice their religion. So how valid is this concern? My thesis is this: marriage equality will throw up questions about religious freedom, but they will not be new questions. As a society we have become more pluralist and are now working through how we protect...

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The Meaning of Marriage

What does marriage mean? The debate over marriage equality has forced us to ask this question. It is a good question to ask. In a 2011 article for the Sydney Anglicans website, which was later abbreviated to appear on the Drum website, Anglican Rector Michael Jensen argued that to recognise same-sex relationships as marriage would fundamentally change the meaning of marriage. Marriage, he...

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Why Parliament & Not a Plebiscite Should Resolve the Question of Same-Sex Marriage

The modern world has been distinguished by what David Bentley Hart calls a "tilt to freedom." Beginning with the demand that kings be subject to the law, there has been a steady process of enlarging people's freedoms and a consequent diminishing of the coercive power of the State and of one human over another. The fundamental principle underlying this is the equality of human beings, by which...

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Julia Baird, Complementarian Theology, Domestic Violence & the Church

Journalist Julia Baird has conducted research on domestic violence in the church that is being released as a series of reports on the ABC. It has already sparked intense discussion and people are getting defensive. Surely this is a moment for deep introspection, a time for us to talk about the culture of our churches, and not to make this just another stage in the Complementarian v...

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An anniversary I’d rather not be celebrating

This week marks the fourth anniversary of the decision by the Rudd-Gillard government to detain unauthorised asylum seekers in offshore detention centres and never permit them entry to our county. Today the system is on the verge of collapse, with the Manus centre declared illegal by the PNG Supreme Court, the government of Nauru refusing to keep people detained, and the deal with the US to...

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The Decline of Religion in Australia.

The census data is out and one of the headlines has been the rise of people indicating they have "no religion" and the corresponding decline in those who indicate an affiliation with Christianity. The census data, of course, only tells us about people's nominal affiliation with a religious tradition. It doesn't tell us much about people's practise of religion. The sharp rise in people saying...

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The King, Sheep, Goats & Salvation.

One of the most confronting parables Jesus told was his account of the sheep and goats (found in Matthew 25). The end of the age has come and humanity is gathered before Christ for judgement. Humankind is sorted into two groups: sheep, who the king claims fed him when he was hungry, gave him a drink when he was thirsty, provided hospitality when he was a stranger, clothed him when he needed...

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There’s so much we can do if we work together

Do you remember that amazing scene in Perth in 2014 when a commuter fell into the gap between a train and the station platform?  The commuter was stuck, and then something incredible happened. Hundreds of people put their shoulders against the train, took up the strain, and pushed. They managed to shift the train just enough for the trapped commuter to  get free. It was an exhibition of our...

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A Prayer for Syria and Syrian Refugees

Civil war broke out in Syria in 2011 after the Assad regime resisted the regional movement towards democracy known as "the Arab Spring”. Initially a war between the government and a rebel movement, the rise of ISIS has added a third major party to the conflict. The situation is made more complex by the presence of outside interests, with Russia supporting the Syrian government, the United...

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The Difference Faith Can Make.

Two weeks ago I attended the funeral of an old friend. I hadn’t seen Bazza for many years, but my memories were fond. I met Barry when I was the youth pastor at Caringbah Baptist Church and he starting seeing one of the women whose daughters were in the youth group. I had long had a soft spot for Lyn and her three daughters. For many years Lyn had been a single mother who knew some tough...

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my first citizenship ceremony

Last Friday I attended the citizenship ceremony for a friend from my church. It was a profoundly moving experience. Just on 100 people were becoming citizens and what a marvellously diverse bunch they were. They came from 30 countries and every inhabited continent. They aged from the young to the old. They included a buddhist monk, a Catholic nun, at least one Muslim, and two Sikhs. The...

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