Last year I received a hand-written letter from 'Patricia', responding to something I had written on changing Ausralia's marriage laws, in which I argued that society should support the norm of marriage as a couple raising their own biological children. I enjoyed reading Patricia's thoughtful letter, which was clear and well-expressed. Here is her letter and my reply.
Wednesday, February 7, 2018
It is a cliché of our times that churches are declining. Dwindling membership is a fact of life for many congregations. But not for all churches. Certainly not outside the West, where Christianity is rising in many nations. In Australia, some denominations are growing, such as the Pentecostals, whose youth-driven expansion began to take off in the 70’s. Their growth has lifted them from attendances of around 10,000 in the early 1970’s, to over a quarter of a million today. Australian Pentecostal overtook Anglicans in weekly attendances about a decade ago. At past growth rates, they will have four times the Anglicans’ attendance in 20-30 years.
What are the keys to church health? This question has been exercising some Australian Anglicans’ minds recently because of sustainability crisis in a number of Australia’s smaller dioceses. Growing awareness of the problem led to a Viability and Structures Task Force report, presented to the Australian General Synod in 2017.
Friday, December 22, 2017
In my devotional reading today I was reflecting on the career and fate of the sons of Eli. Hophni and Phinehas were religious leaders who were going very wrong, exploiting their priestly office for material gain and sexual favours. 1 Samuel 2: 25 reports that their hearts had become so hardened, they would not listen to their father's rebuke. This hardening was the Lord's doing because by this time he had decided to bring judgement upon them. This reminded me of Isaiah 6:9-10 which speaks of a people who are "ever hearing but never understanding, ever seeing, but never perceiving."
These are difficult times for the church in the West. There has been widespread exposure of abuses of power, including sexual abuse, and there is growing disbelief in the Christian faith once delivered to the saints, including in church leaders themselves.
Saturday, November 18, 2017
This week Australia received the very unsurprising news that a majority of those who voted in the postal-survey supported Same Sex Marriage. Four out of five people voted, and of those who voted, three out of five voted 'yes'. No-one could say Australians are united on the SSM marriage issue, but it is clear that parliament must soon modify our marriage laws to degender marriage. In Australia's political system even 55% support from voters is considered a landslide. The 61.6% is being hailed as a crushing victory.
Friday, September 29, 2017
The marriage survey keeps rolling on – Australians still have more than a month until the survey finished on November 7. I keep pondering the wondering which way Australia will go with marriage, and what difference it will make.