CategoryChurch & Mission

No, Penal Substitutionary Atonement is Not the Heart of the Gospel.


I wrote a blog piece earlier this week in which I suggested that the good news of the gospel cannot and should not be reduced to the declaration that Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins. In the process I questioned whether the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement (PSA), which is a fairly detailed elaboration of how it is Christ’s death saves us from the consequences of sin, is...

Now This is Really Good News! Reframing the Gospel


When Jesus burst into the Galilee the Gospels tell us that he came with the news that “the reign of God was near” and called people to “repent and believe the good news”. The Old Testament prophets had spoken of a time when God would deliver humankind from those things that robbed them of life. The poor would be delivered from poverty; the hungry would have full bellies; the...

Does the church have a future?


The Australian church is not in good shape. Over the last century regular church attendance has declined from around 50% of the population to around 15% today and our younger generations are dropping out an alarming rate. The large decline suggests the issue is not lifestage (i.e. people leave as young adults and return to church when they have families) but generational (i.e. succeeding...

Memo to Australian Christians.


No Margaret you’re not being bullied This week former tennis great Margaret Court became the focus of media attention when she published an open letter in the West Australian newspaper declaring she would be boycotting Qantas because of statements by the company CEO in favour of gay marriage. The backlash was swift, from tweets by other tennis greats, to Tennis Australia distancing itself...

The Times They Are A-Changing…Being the Church in a Secular, Liberal, Pluralist Democracy.


(A longer article than normal) The centuries from the Enlightenment until the present have seen the decline of Christendom and the rise of liberal, secular, pluralist democracies. They are “liberal” in that individuals possess rights that their fellow citizens and the state are obligated to respect; “secular” in that no religion is preferred by government nor is legislation formed on the...

The end of Scripture classes in school


The Victorian State government this weekend announced that special religious instruction in state schools will no longer be taught during class time, effectively killing off scripture classes in Victoria. I assume it is only a matter of time until this is the case across the nation. Special religious instruction is one of the last vestiges of the era of Christendom. Although many religions now...

The Greek means… No it does not!


When I was at theological college I was at a gathering of young adults from my church when the discussion focused on the consumption of alcohol. This was a big taboo for Christians in my church tradition. One of the young adults had recently started attending a different church and confidently declared that when the Bible says Jesus turned water into wine it was non-alcoholic. “It’s...

I’m still here and loving It. Where did everyone else go? Why do so many drop out of church?


Belonging to church has always been and continues to be a really important part of my life. Yet according to the 2008-09 International Social Science Survey, seven out of every 10 Australians who attended church monthly or more when aged 11 drop out of church life once they become adults. Why is it that we retain so small a proportion of childhood attenders? The question is quite pointed for...

How to change the world


Sociologist turned historian Rodney Stark has written a number of volumes devoted to the rise of Christianity. He points out that Christianity took off not because we got people into churches and preached Jesus to them, but because we got out of our churches into the community and showed Jesus to them. In fact Stark notes that most churches were closed to non-believers in the first three...

Why Churches Should Be a Safe Place for LGBT Oriented People to Come Out


Young people who are same-sex attracted (SSA) experience victimisation, harassment and abuse because of their sexual identity. Those who are open about their sexuality frequently experience abuse and rejection by family and friends. Consequently they do not feel safe about ‘coming-out’ and instead prefer to keep their feelings hidden. This silence can lead to self-harming behaviours including...


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