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Number 52, October 2014 ISSN 1837-8447
Brought to you by the Bible Society
4-page special: Ngarrindjeri celebrate
150 years of the Aboriginal Bible
Muslims need love and truth
George Brandis Michael on freedom and Jensen Christianity on time
News page 2-3 In Depth 5-9 Bible Society 19
John Lennox sells out
Infographic How did the members of your denomination vote in the last election? 75%
Culture 13-17 Opinion 21-28 75%
Obadiah Slope REALITY CHECK: That the world is a dangerous place for Christians has been made real to many of us by the rise of “Islamic State” in Syria and Iraq, and the “Boko Haram” in Nigeria. One question that has not been asked, and Obadiah is glad it hasn’t been, is what kind of Christians have we been seeking to help? The Christians in northern Iraq for example are mostly Chaldean Catholics and the independent Assyrian Church of the East, along with Orthodox. That Christians that are very different have been seeking to help is one of the bright spots in a dark situation. OTHERS: And what about the Yazidi and other groups? Bible Society helpers on the ground have been handing out aid to all groups – and we are sure that applies to other Christian agencies. Another bright spot. NO SLEDGING: Arriving in England, the captain of a Vatican cricket team, set to play a series against an Anglican team promised there would be no sledging. “Hopefully nothing will be picked up by the stump microphone”, Dr Eamonn O’Higgins LC, the team’s spiritual director told the Daily Telegraph. Obadiah could not find a reciprocal promise by the Anglicans. HIPSTERS: Obadiah is not sure he would recognise a “hipster” church plant if he saw one, but there have been a few ripples on Facebook about yet another church plant moving into a certain trendy suburb that your columnist once lived in. (Only it was full of dags back then.) The point is well made that there is a nearly inexhaustible supply of atheists in the inner city (any inner city). But is Obadiah the only one who senses that there are some places that are getting a lot of attention from church planting and other places not? So an Obadiah gold star to those who have moved deliberately to unfashionable suburbs.
75% in65% John Lennox at Cosmic Chemistry Brisbane 55%
75% 75% 75%
CITY BIBLE FORUM 25% 35%
15% 35% and thinkers are25% beginning 55% phers45% 65% to see that Darwin’s doubt 55% 5% 15% is valid 25% The question ”Do Science and God45% after35% all. If you knew that your 55% 0% 45% 5% Mix?” was answered by Oxford computer 15%the end product 25% was 35% University Professor of Matheof a mindless unguided process, 45% 35% 0% 15%you trust 5% it tomorrow? matics, John Lennox, at venues in 25% would But
LIBERAL / NATIONAL LABOR
CDP / FAMILY FIRST
GREEN / DEMOCRATS
Christian parents and locals are being encouraged to push to see SRI (Special Religious Instruction) reinstated in Victorian state schools that have dropped it this year. Ninety schools have dropped SRI according to the ABC and Eternity understands this has affected tens of thousands of students. A directive from the Education Minister that stated principals could choose not to offer SRI if there were “insufficient resources to meet their duty of care obligations to all students” has now been withdrawn. Asked whether Christian parents can apply to their schools to reoffer SRI now that the directive has been reworded, Victorian Education Minister Martin Dixon told a special gathering of Christian leaders it was an option for parents and said “I’d encourage families and parents to do that.” There have been schools where principals have used the rule to block SRI where sizeable numbers of parents have asked for it - up to 43 per cent in one case Eternity is aware of. Dawn Penney, acting CEO of Victoria’s largest SRI provider, Access Ministries, welcomed the Minister’s comments and has encouraged parents whose children go to schools where SRI has been
25% 15% 5%
LIBERAL / NATIONAL LABOR
LIBERAL / NATIONAL LABOR CDP / FAMILY FIRST
LIBERAL / NATIONAL LABOR
LIBERAL / NATIONAL LABOR CDP / FAMILY FIRST
CDP / FAMILY FIRST
GREEN / DEMOCRATS
GREEN / DEMOCRATS
OTHER / INDEPENDENTS
LIBERAL / NATIONAL OTHER / CDP / Baptist / Other / VOTED GREEN / Catholic Pentecostal LIBERAL / of Christ INDEPENDENTS Uniting FAMILY FIRST Lutheran DIFFERENTLY Church Protestant DEMOCRATS LABOR NATIONAL CDP / LABOR GREEN / LIBERAL / DIDN’T VOTED OTHER / FAMILY FIRST DEMOCRATS NATIONAL VOTE DIFFERENTLY INDEPENDENTS CDP / LABOR FAMILY FIRSTGREEN / OTHER / DIDN’T VOTED INDEPENDENTS DIFFERENTLY DEMOCRATS VOTE CDP / / FAMILY FIRST GREEN National Baptist Christian Life Survey: Church attender voting by denomination 2011. DEMOCRATS / Other / / VOTED Anglican Catholic OTHERLutheran Pentecostal DIDN’T Uniting of Christ The “didChurch not appear to be higher all groupsProtestant of Christians compared to INDEPENDENTS DIFFERENTLYforVOTE GREENvotes” / OTHER / DEMOCRATS the/ general community. The Coalition is ahead INDEPENDENTS Baptist Other /in all denominations. DIDN’T Catholic Lutheran VOTED Pentecostal Uniting Church of Christ Protestant VOTE OTHER / DIFFERENTLY INDEPENDENTS VOTED DIFFERENTLYDIDN’T Other / Catholic Lutheran Pentecostal Uniting Protestant VOTE VOTED DIFFERENTLY DIDN’T VOTE Other / Lutheran Pentecostal Uniting Protestant DIDN’T VOTE
35% August. five state capitals during the atheist is asking me to do that 25% 5% 0% 15% with my “Cosmic Chemistry” was held mind. You see ladiesBaptist and / Anglican 25% 15% Church of Christ during National Science Week and 5% gentlemen my biggest difficulty 0% Baptist / presented by the City 15% Bible Forum. Anglican worldview with the atheist isCatholic not 5% Church of Christ All those events were sold out 0% that I am a Christian, it’s that I’m a Baptist / Anglican Catholic Lutheran Pentecostal and Lennox addressed5% 5,800 0% scientist.” Church of Christ Baptist / Anglican Catholic Lutheran Uniting people. This was just part of his AUDIENCE RESPONSES: “I hadPentecostal a Church of Christ 0% tour of Australia, during which non-christian friend with me atUniting the Baptist / Other / Anglican Catholic Lutheran Pentecostal Church of Christ Protestant he spoke in front of over 20,000 Cosmic Chemistry talk. He really people. Lennox was brought to engaged with what John had to say, Australia by the Katoomba Chrisin particular, John’s explanation tian Convention. of the gospel of Jesus at the end The Lennox wit was on display of the night. I was able to go for a – “Let me tell you this little story: drink with my mate after the talk Stephen Hawking was asked if he and John’s talk was a catalyst for would sum up religion, ‘Oh’, he an amazing discussion that ranged said, ‘a fairy story for people afraid from the rationality of theism to a of the dark.’ And The Times asked very personal engagement with the me to comment so I said ‘OK, gospel of Jesus. He isn’t over the atheism is a fairy story for people line yet but last night was a huge afraid of the light.’” step in the right direction.” Or more seriously – “There are Chris, Adelaide two world views we’re thinking of “I thought this event was amazing. tonight...In the one mass-energy John has completely opened is primary and mind is derivative, my mind. Thank you so much.” in the other mind is primary and Jordan, Perth mass-energy is derivative. And Videos of Cosmic Chemistry: an increasing number of philosocosmicchemistry.org.au
Quotable Other / Uniting Protestant Other / Protestant
“The idea of autonomous moral agency...can be directly traced to Christian belief.”
George Brandis – Opinion page 21
“The fact that the Son of God would be so torn apart by the pain of this world that he would weep is very moving in itself.”
OTHER / INDEPENDENTS VOTED DIFFERENTLY DIDN’T VOTE
Parents need to push for religion lessons to start again in schools
dropped to ask for the decision to be reconsidered by their principals. “Definitely. And I know some who are doing that, who are saying, ‘how can we get this happening again?’ It comes down to the principal, because they have been given the power now, and it’s up to the parents to talk to them.” Dixon told the meeting of Christian leaders his department “well and truly over-reached” when it came to recent changes to religious education in state schools. At the meeting (at which Eternity was the only media invited) he said “I’m sure there are people in my department who are supportive of SRI, but they are certainly in the minority,” he said, describing himself as “a man in the middle” when it comes to balancing the interests of his Department, schools, parents and Christian organisations. A group of around 70 Christian leaders had the opportunity to put questions to Minister Dixon, Attorney-General Robert Clark and Liberal MP for the Eastern Region, Andrew Ronalds at Victoria’s Parliament House. The meeting was organised after more than 8,000 people reportedly emailed their MPs and the Education Minister concerned lunchtime prayer and Bible groups were being banned in schools. Minister Dixon began by sharing
his Catholic faith with those present, saying “Christian values and beliefs are central to my life,” before going on to explain how he’s been fighting to roll-back some of the unintended consequences of a ministerial directive published last month. The original Ministerial Directive was designed to clarify the restrictions surrounding the teaching of Christianity and other faiths as part of Special Religious Instruction (SRI) in schools, but caused headlines when the guidelines from the Department of Education accompanying the Directive appeared to ban any religious activity outside the 30 minute SRI class (like lunchtime groups), as well as the presence of Bibles in schools, and gave principals license to drop SRI under certain conditions. Minister Dixon said he’s ordered his Department to contact every school which has dropped SRI since the first ministerial directive to find out why, as well as to ensure the distribution of the consent forms and the communication surrounding them was done appropriately. Minister Dixon said there has been inconsistency in the distribution and communication surrounding the forms – in some cases whether they were given out at all, or
in others, whether parents were badgered about returning them - and says they’re looking at the wording of the forms. Access Ministries says they’re working with the Department through this process. Addressing the group quite candidly, Minister Dixon was at pains to express his support for SRI, stating, “I just wanted to double reassure you that I’m totally in support of SRI.”
In Brief FAIR TAX Micah Challenge, a global movement of Christian agencies concerned with social justice, has welcomed Treasurer Joe Hockey’s announcement that Australia will implement “Automatic Exchange of Information” on tax matters as part of a new global standard. “Highly conservative estimates show that poor nations lose more than $160 billion each year from just two forms of illegal tax evasion,” says Micah’s national director John Beckett. “This is more money than they receive in foreign aid.” NEW SHEEP Eternity understands 85 per cent of attendees at the newly-launched Hillsong Hobart church are new Christians from home groups set up in advance of the start of the new church. PLANS FOR NEW UNI Sydney’s Wesley Institute will become Excelsia College in January 2015 in a partnership with the US-based Indiana Wesleyan University. It will apply to become an Australian University College and later an Australian University, with plans to increase its student numbers, courses and staff on a new campus.
Dawn Penney, acting CEO of Access Ministries: “It’s up to the parents.”
WASHINGTON DC, BIBLE CAPITAL An $800 million Bible museum is set to open in Washington DC in 2017, thanks to one of America’s wealthiest Christians. The museum will feature the personal biblical artefact collection of Steve Green, President of US retailer Hobby Lobby. It happens to be one of the world’s largest private collections of rare biblical texts.
Tim Costello – Opinion page 25
A $100m debt was a way to survive GFC JOHN SANDEMAN
The Uniting Church in NSW and the ACT adopted a different strategy to get through the Global Financial Crisis than most church bodies. They kept on spending by maintaining distributions from their financial arm, Uniting Financial Services (UFS). The Sydney Anglican Diocese is an example of a body that cut back spending during the GFC because
of losses. The UCA Synod (region) of Victoria and Tasmania has gone through a painful season of selling property in 2013-2014 to make up for school losses. By the end of the GFC continuing to spend meant that the UFS’s capital was significantly reduced. In response The Property Trust, holder of UCA property in NSW and ACT, which amount to an insurable value of approximately $5bn, took out a loan of $100m
from a bank in 2013, and used it as immediate liquidity to invest capital in UFS. The loan was needed because a certain amount of capital is required to enable UFS to function prudently. “Based on our investing activities, it was considered as prudent to have capital of around $100m”, a Synod working paper states. This was needed to make sure the property and other investment risks of UFS met the
prudential risk-weighted capital adequacy standards that would apply if it were a comparable commercial entity. The interest bill of the Synod is well covered by the UFS earnings, leaving a surplus of approximately $4.5m to distribute. Having staved off a crisis during the GFC the UCA in NSW and ACT now has breathing space to work out how to repay the loan and adopt a new funding model.
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Paul, Naomi and family enjoy on-campus living as Paul studies for his Master of Divinity. families. Paul is working towards completing his Master of Divinity with a view to being trained for the ministry. Paul gives three main practical reasons why he would encourage people to come and live and study
at Morling College: 1. “Convenience. You’re close to class; you’re close to the local shops; and not too far from the city either.” 2. “Cost. You’re not going to ﬁnd a cheaper place anywhere in the
local area to live.” 3. “Community. It’s just awesome to do college and life with a bunch of other like-minded Christians.” Living at Morling College has been such a positive experience for Paul and his family.
They have loved “hanging out together in the backyard doing barbeques and coffees… and encouraging and supporting one another in this journey”. Whether you choose to live on campus like Paul, travel to campus for lectures, or study on-line in one of our popular, accredited distance courses, Morling College looks forward to having you join our easily accessible, vibrant and growing community. Here at Morling College we are committed to transformational discipleship; unity in diversity; our evangelical convictions; having a missional focus; and educational excellence. Regardless of whether you are studying full-time or part-time, on campus or by distance, in our free biblical overview course “The Lens”, in our gap-year program “Plunge”, or in our retirees program “Encore”, Morling College invites you to be part of a learning, welcoming, encouraging and supportive community of similarly minded students and staff. For more information go to our website www.morlingcollege.com or come along to our Open Night on Thursday October 23rd from 6:45pm. Open Night is a great experience for anyone interested in studying with Morling College. You can attend a lecture, tour the campus, meet students and faculty, and ask your questions in a relaxed environment. We would love to see you there.
FOUR PAGES ON INDIGENOUS SCRIPTURES with SHAYNE NEUMANN PAUL ECKERT KALEY PAYNE SOPHIE TIMOTHY John Sandeman
Morling College provides quality, biblically grounded education and training, with the aim of equipping the whole believer to take the whole gospel to the whole world. We believe a sound evangelical knowledge of God, through biblical, theological and historical study, is essential for sharing and living out the gospel of Jesus Christ. Morling College courses prepare students for pastoral ministry, evangelism and global mission, chaplaincy, counselling, youth and children’s ministry, postgraduate theological studies, and teacher education. Studying the Bible is at the heart of all of our courses. Morling College is more than just a college. It is a community of men and women, students and staff, from diverse backgrounds, cultures and churches, dedicated to knowing God and being equipped to serve. Studying at Morling College provides a balance between academic study, practical training and spiritual formation, knowing that such integration transforms people. But don’t just take our word for it, read what one of our students has to say. Paul Dennis is a current, full-time theology student who has experienced the welcoming Morling College community as a live-on resident. Paul, his wife Naomi, and their two small children Ryan and Abigail, live on campus in our accommodation for
Paul Eckert and Verna Koolmatrie celebrate 150 years of the Bible Society’s commitment to Indigenous scriptures in Adelaide.
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Aboriginal Bible is 150 JOHN SANDEMAN There is only one copy left of the first edition of the “Scripture selections in Ngarrindjeri” the first part of the Bible published in an Aboriginal language 150 years ago. That small book had pride of place at a celebration of 150 years of Aboriginal publishing in Adelaide last month. The Ngarrindjeri are the Aboriginal people of the lower lakes of the Murray River and their Bible has had a major role in preserving and now revitalising their language.
The celebration began with “The Old Rugged Cross” sung in English, Ngarrindjeri and Kaurna (the language of the traditional owners of Adelaide), led by Nelson Varcoe a Kaurna songwriter and singer, joined by Ngarrindjeri and Kaurna singers, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal. The song brought many of the elements of the celebration together. God, who sent his son Jesus to die on that old rugged cross, gospel-centred religion in the heart language of Aboriginal people, together with joy for the
If you teach me your words I will help your people to survive. work of the people who recorded the language. Tribal elders, Bible translators and their supporters gathered for the celebration at Adelaide’s Tabor College, which also marked 60 years of Wycliffe Bible Translators’ work in Australia, an organisation which greatly accelerated
translation work. Representatives of the Leipzig Lutheran Mission came bearing gifts, Kaurna documents from the 1840’s including pages written by children, on permanent loan to the Kaurna people and lodged in Adelaide University’s BarrSmith Library. The University is a centre for the revival of Aboriginal languages including Kaurna and Ngarrindjeri. Bible Society CEO Greg Clarke read from the 1864 minutes of the British and Foreign Bible Society, South Australian Auxiliary that
resolved to print the Bible in Aboriginal languages. Verna Koolmatrie, a Ngarrindjeri elder described how the Bible translation programme came as her people “were floundering and being dispossessed at the same time.” “Heinrich Meyer, (a Lutheran missionary) wrote the grammar of the Ngarrindjeri people. He went everyday and sat with the elders. He was a good student. They had to learn English first and then the language of the Aboriginal people.” “Then George Taplin (who was
Aboriginal Bible is 150
to translate the Bible selections) was appointed by the Aboriginal Friends Association to find a safe place for the Ngarrindjeri people.” “We feel blessed. We think it was a work of providence. “[Taplin] learned the language. Some of the Ngarrindjeri were amazed when he met them and he spoke their language.” Koolmatrie recounted the story of Taplin arriving at Raukkan by boat and asking what the name meant. She is sure that on learning that it meant “ancient meeting place” Taplin choose it for the site of the Ngarrindjeri people’s home. “The Ngarrindjeri people knew this and are very grateful. He continued with the language work and the Ngarrindjeri started a new life.” Of the early missionaries Koolmatrie says, “They felt they
were failures. People were not converted in great numbers. “I can imagine a conversation between Meyer and the Ngarrindjeri ‘If you teach me your words I will help your people to survive.’ I have never seen that written but I feel it in my heart.” Of Taplin the Bible translator, she says his journal is saturated in prayer, including “I pray these words will be used for the preservation of these peoples.” “It is not lost on us that the Ngarrindjeri language was one of the first (Aboriginal) languages to be translated,” said Koolmatrie. “We are very proud of that.” + Today, over 30 Aboriginal and Indigenous groups have at least some scripture in their own language. To see a timeline and full list of Indigenous scriptures, visit biblesociety.org.au/RIMS
In Perth’s grand Anglican Cathedral came the voices of a choir singing, “Ngala boorda yanganan Birdiyar” – “We praise the Lord”. It’s the first phrase of Luke 1:68 in the Nyoongar language, the beginning of the Benedictus or “Zechariah’s song”. The service last month was a celebration, an acknowledgement that, for the first time, the Nyoongar people of Australia’s southwest have part of the Bible in their own language. There were several milestones in the service of praise and thanksgiving. When the Gospel was read in Nyoongar, it was the first time that the Gospel had been read in an Aboriginal language in an Anglican Church in Western Australia. When the choir sang the Benedictus in Nyoongar, it was the first time ever anywhere in Australia that an Anglican canticle (chant) had been sung in an Aboriginal language. Nyoongar is an Aboriginal word originally meaning “man” or “male”. When white people first arrived in Western Australia, they quickly learned the word and used it generally to speak of the Aboriginal people they came across. Now, it is the name used for the Indigenous people of southwest Australia, some 30,000 strong. For 15 years a group of volunteer translators, initiated by Lorna Little and Vivienne Sahanna,
both Nyoongar women, have been translating the Gospel of Luke. On Sunday, the completed translation was celebrated in Perth’s St George’s Anglican Cathedral. “It was a fantastic celebration,” said Tom Little, one of the volunteer translators involved in the project since 2003. A Nyoongar man himself, Tom is the son of Lorna Little, who with her sister Vivienne approached Bible Society with an idea: they wanted the Scriptures in their own language. For Tom, the Nyoongar translation is very much a family affair. Parents, uncles, aunts and siblings have all worked as volunteer translators. With the help of Rev. Dr John Harris, a Bible Society translation consultant and Indigenous linguist, Tom’s family drove the Nyoongar Gospel of Luke project to completion. John, who has been involved in a dozen or more Indigenous Bible translations in his lifelong dedication to translation work, says the completion of the first scriptures in the Nyoongar language is hugely important. “Even though most of the Nyoongar people – or all – are probably capable of reading English, it’s not the language to which their emotions and their feelings and identity are attached. Even those who don’t speak Nyoongar very well will feel that they are Nyoongar people, not English-speaking people,” said John.
Tom Little plays the didjeridoo at the Nyoonygar dedication in Perth “And what you have to realise about the English Bible, even though the Nyoongar people can read and perhaps understand the text, that it’s in the language of the conqueror, the language of the invader.” Tom says having the Gospel of Luke in Nyoongar gives him a greater sense of ownership of the message of the gospel. “It’s in our language. I see it and I say, ‘That’s my language, and it’s the gospel.’ There’s a greater involvement in the gospel when you can learn and read it in your own language.”
Strengthening and developing leaders New courses in 2015 Doctor of Ministry Master of Leadership Master of Arts Graduate Certificate in Leadership “When you understand the entirety of what the Word of God is saying and who it’s painting a picture about – Jesus – it changes your perspective. I love the content that I’m learning. It’s been a brilliant experience.”
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AC September.indd 1
A drought of the Word of God A Bible translator makes a plea from his heart.
Nyoongar rejoice KALEY PAYNE
Last known surviving copy of the first Indigenous scripture - 150 years old.
22/09/14 2:21 PM
In 2014 we celebrate 150 years since Bible Society published the first Australian Aboriginal scripture. It was in the Ngarrindjeri language of the lower lakes region of South Australia. Bible Society is preparing celebration events with Wycliffe Bible Translators who are celebrating 60 years of Bible translation work in Australia. A community day celebration will be held with the Ngarrindjeri people in Raukkan on the shores of Lake Albert. A joint publication called Coolamon Kids has been released as an aid in learning about Bible translation into Indigenous languages. Though it is important to acknowledge Bible Society’s role in publishing Indigenous scriptures over the last 150 years it is equally imperative to recognise that Bible translation in Australian has a chequered history. As a nation Australia has one of the highest rates of language extinction on the planet. Of the over 250 distinct Indigenous languages spoken before European invasion only 145 are still spoken and of these 110 are critically endangered . The very first scripture published by Bible Society Australia was not an Australian language but scripture selections in the Maori language of New Zealand printed in 1827. It wasn’t until 1837 that
an Aboriginal language had scripture translated. This was in the Awabakal language spoken around the Newcastle region of NSW. Rev. Lancelot Edward Threlkeld began missionary work among the Awabakal people on the shores of Lake Macquarie in 1824 and devoted many hours to learning and speaking the Awabakal language. With the assistance of Birabaan, his Awabakal tutor, he mastered the language and his revolutionary missionary strategy was, “First obtain the language, then preach the gospel” (Threlkeld to Bannister, 27 Sept 1825). In 1829 the first draft of St Luke’s Gospel was completed. However, it was not until 1892 that this translation was published, 33 years after Threlkeld’s death. Threlkeld believed himself a failure due to a lack of conversion by the Awabakal people and by 1840 few Awabakal people remained at the mission. Why Threlkeld and Birabaan’s work took nearly 60 years to publish could be due to a lack of understanding of the impact of translating the Bible into a person’s heart language. Curiously, as we celebrate the publication of the Ngarrindjeri scriptures in South Australia we see a similar despondency with missionaries Heinrich August Eduard Meyer and George Taplin . Lutheran missionary Meyer wrote to his supporters in Dresden in 1848, “I have nothing pleasing
to impart…I could not achieve anything among the blacks” (as quoted by Dr Mary-Anne Gale, “Nothing pleasing to impart? H.A.E Meyer at Encounter Bay,
First obtain the language - then preach the gospel. - Threlkeld 1825 1840-1848”). Yet their work with local Ramindjeri and Ngarrindjeri translators James Ngunaitponi (David Unaipon’s father) and Tinmani was a beginning of Bible translation in South Australia. The true success of the work of all these people was in their relationships of mutual respect which by default necessitated learning one another’s languages. There continues today a community of Christians at Raukkan who attribute their faith heritage to the work of Ngunaitponi, Tinmani, Meyer and Taplin. Ngarrindjeri Elder Verna Koolmatrie confirms this mutual respect, “You need to build trust with people before they will enter into a dialogue with you.” It is to our shame that, up until 1980, in the hundreds of languages in Australia, only two New Testaments were translated. Fortunately in the last 50 years there has been significant increase
in Indigenous Bible translation primarily through the Australian Society for Indigenous Languages (AuSIL) established by Wycliffe Bible Translators in 1961. In partnership with Wycliffe, the Uniting Church and CMS, Bible Society has now published 11 New Testaments since 1980 plus numerous Gospels portions and in 2007 published the Kriol Bible – the first complete Bible in an Australian Aboriginal language. The first Torres Strait Islander scripture portions were published in 1900 in the Kala Lagaw Ya language followed by the same four Gospels in the Meriam Mir language. For the past 27 years
Wycliffe Bible Translator’s Michael and Charlotte Corden have been labouring away with Torres Strait Islanders to complete the New Testament in Torres Strait Yumplatok. Bible Society published this volume in July this year. It also includes the books of Genesis, Ruth and Jonah. Still many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christians have access to only portions of the Bible in their heart language. Our prayer is that Bible Society Australia, along with our mission partners and local Indigenous translators, and with support from our donors, can continue to publish and distribute Indigenous language Bibles as translations become available. Enduring Voices, a National Geographic program to encourage language preservation states: “Studying various languages also increases our understanding of how humans communicate and store knowledge. Every time a language dies, we lose part of the picture of what our brains can do.” At Bible Society Australia we believe each time a language dies we lose a part of God’s complete design for humanity and creation – in the choir of Christians a voice is silenced and prevented from praising God our creator and the whole choir suffers its loss. For full references for this article, see biblesociety.org.au/languages
Just like 1967, it’s time for change
The Constitution of Australia contains racial references, which in the 21st century have no place in a modern Australia. Churches and those who adhere to the Christian faith should be at the forefront of constitutional change, like their predecessors prior to the 1967 Referendum. The Constitution is the nation’s foundational legal document and the legal framework between the levels of Government in the country. It is the “grand bargain” between the colonies and it forgot those who lived on the continent for millennia, except to tacitly permit their exclusion from voting (Section 25) and to exclude the new Commonwealth Government from having the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Section 51 (xxvi)). For nearly six decades after Federation Australia’s First Peoples were denied the right to vote, subjected to egregious discrimination and had their families and communities harmed by the dispossession of their land, the destruction of their languages and the separation of their children. In the post-Federation era, the call for constitutional change to Section 51 (xxvi) to empower the Commonwealth Government with the capacity to pass laws in respect of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, was about a demand to abandon assimilation and a plea for Commonwealth Government money and support to address disadvantage, permit self-determination, and recognise land rights. It took the High Court decision in Mabo and the subsequent Native Title legislation for Australia to abandon the notion of terra nullius, namely that Australia’s history did not begin when Captains Cook and Phillip started to show some interest in the place. Often with ignorance and sometimes with inadvertence, the Churches contributed to Australia’s conduct, shame and tragedy with respect to its Indigenous peoples. At the same time, Christians were amongst the early advocates for Indigenous justice in the decades following Federation. Their efforts contributed to the success of the 1967 referendum. The 1967 referendum successfully proposed to include Indigenous people in the census; and to allow the Commonwealth Government to make laws for Indigenous people. Contrary to
In the time it took the New Testament to be translated into Maratja Dhamarrandji’s heart language, the Berlin Wall had fallen, Princess Diana had died, 9/11 had shocked the world, and Barack Obama had begun his campaign for President. Two decades is a lifetime in politics, but for Bible translators, it’s the blink of an eye. Maratja has worked for 20 years in a group translating the New Testament into his language of Djambarrpuyngu, spoken by the people of Northeast Arnhem Land. It was completed in 2008. Not content with giving his people only part of the Scriptures, Maratja has now begun translating the Old Testament. The book of Ruth has been completed, as well as Psalm 23, which is popular at funerals. But Maratja has now turned his attention to Genesis. At the moment, he’s up to Abraham’s call. When I met him, Maratja spoke about his own “call” to translation work. “Many of us have been on the receiving end of the gospel for so long, but now it’s our turn to go and take the gospel to Australia and to the world. “Translation has helped me become who I am, because I am constantly in the Word of God. It’s in my heart, I can’t escape it. And I just have to release it. I have to share it with people, because it’s not just for myself, it’s for every
Maratja makes the Word live
Maratja is working on the Old Testament in his Djambarrpuyngu language family member, my whole tribe, and for the nation,” says Maratja. It would be easy to think that the Old Testament would present greater challenges to translators than the New, but a lot of Jewish customs can be compared to Maratja’s own traditional ceremonial culture. He speaks with excitement about the possibility of “redeeming” ceremonial word. “Doing the Old Testament, it helps for us to be able to redeem those words and make them for God rather than for our ceremonies. Sometimes the ceremonies involved idols, like totems and graven images that we paid homage to. God totally says no to that.
“Now people are starting to understand how God was speaking to us through the ceremonies and through our elders and our ancestral beings. God, somehow, in his manifold wisdom was using that as a platform. We turned it into worshipping the creation rather than the creator, but God’s word is coming to us now.” Biblical words like “altar” are hard to find a direct equivalent for, but by using traditional ceremonial language to describe the place where worship offerings happen, translation is possible. Maratja says a big part of his role is acting as a gatekeeper. “I’m in a position to understand and discern which traditional words we can use in the
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Bible, and those we can’t.” In many ways, Australian Indigenous culture is closer to Hebrew culture than the mainstream non-Indigenous culture. Many Biblical images resonate with Indigenous people, says Maratja. “In Ephesians it talks about the fullness of time (Eph 1:10). And we’ve got a word in our culture that talks about the fullness of time. The word has been there in our language the whole time. When we read that in Ephesians, in the spiritual sense that it’s coming, that God has already planned for his son Jesus Christ to be a ransom, we understand. It’s really mind-blowing.
“And what we learn is that the covenant he’s established in Christ Jesus is stronger than even the ceremonies that we practise in our traditional context. This is stronger; it surpasses even our ceremonies. This is for life. Our ceremonies had some downfalls, they didn’t meet the requirements, they fell short.” Hearing Maratja speak, you understand that when people read the Word in their heart language, it comes alive to them. Maratja tells me about the first time he heard Wesleyan hymns in Djambarrpuyngu. Pointing to his chest he says, “the words just came straight in here.” Sadly, young Indigenous people are encouraged to become literate in English at school, at the expense of their heart language, even though it’s what they speak at home. Maratja is worried for the future of translation and wants to see the next generation of translators raised up. “Translation has taken long years out of me,” he says. “I’d like to do the whole Bible. Having the two Testaments together you can learn connections, and see God at work and learn from some of the struggles, the injustice, the exiles that they experienced – what it’s like to lose your land, what it means, and as Christians, what we must do…God will make [the translation] happen. All things can happen with God, and he wants his word made known to our people.”
In 1967 Australia voted to allow the Commonwealth to make laws for Indigenous people
Shayne Neumann Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs writes on the need to change our Constitution. public misconceptions, it did not give Indigenous people the right to vote – this happened in 1962. While the 1967 referendum did not address equal rights, it did require the Commonwealth Government to enact legislation which would achieve better rights for Indigenous people. The role of the Church in this process is not always appreciated. Following Federation, churches and mission organisations lobbied federal and state governments to agree to a scheme giving responsibility for the human and civil rights of Indigenous people to the Commonwealth. While most of us recall the ground breaking moment when Prime Minister Kevin Rudd delivered the national apology to the stolen generation in 2008, churches had been calling for a national sentiment of sympathy and compassion for almost 100 years beforehand. The anti-slavery movement which sprang out of the rise of Protestant Evangelicalism
in Britain was represented in Australia by Christians of many denominations who advocated for the protection of Indigenous people facing the real risk of extermination during colonial days and thereafter. Christians were among the early advocates for constitutional reform, calling for the Commonwealth to take control of Indigenous affairs. Most notably Rev William Morley – the Secretary of the Protection of the Native Races and Archdeacon Charles Lefroy, from the AntiSlavery and Aborigines Protection Society in the 1920s and 30s. Christian campaigners continued to lobby for reform right up to the 1967 referendum. They spoke with moral authority and were helpful in delivering an overwhelming result, with 90 per cent of electors voting YES. At a similar time in the United States, Churches were at the forefront of the civil rights movement. Dr Rev Martin Luther King contributed to real
advancement for civil rights through non-violence, the power of his words and the conviction of his faith. Likewise, South African leader Nelson Mandela did much for national reconciliation by forgiving those who oppressed and punished him for standing up for equal rights. His motivation springing from his deeply held faith and conviction, which assisted in transforming South Africa. In Australia, the Churches’ role in reconciliation did not end in 1967. Since the 1990s, churches in Australia have made official statements of apology, sorrow and regret for their role in the injustices suffered by the stolen generation. Churches and Christian leaders have been at the forefront of the reconciliation movement, which was formalised by the national apology, and the recognition movement which now seeks constitutional change to acknowledge the First Peoples of Australia. For Christians, reconciliation of humanity with God and with one another is crucial to their understanding of faith and to the gospel itself. The words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount exhort his followers to hold fast to being peace makers (Matthew 5:9). His words in the temple conveying his presence and mission are all about helping the poor, the persecuted and the
less powerful (Luke 4:14-19). In this context reconciliation of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Australia must be integral to the expression of faith for Christians. This is often expressed individually in devotion and dedication. But this faith demands collective action also. So churches should be at the vanguard of reconciliation; not timid or shy about it, but in leadership and activism; as it was in 1967. Churches should see constitutional recognition as part of the reconciliation process – the next step if you will, along a pathway of national recognition. For Indigenous people, their land, language, culture and prior occupation must be recognised. And after 230 years of experience they yearn for a constitutional prohibition against discrimination. This is why Indigenous people were so vocal and outspoken against the Abbott Government’s attempts to water down protections against hate speech in section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Christians and their churches should be compelled by faith into action towards reconciliation through constitutional recognition. Just as faith without works is dead (James 2:26), so reconciliation through constitutional recognition must be real and substantive. Further, it must be politically bipartisan. Christians should assist in the process by pressuring politicians - both right and left - towards reconciliation. Bipartisanship is the only hope for constitutional recognition. Our record as a nation with only eight successful referenda out of 44 is not a good one. In a country where 70 per cent of people still believe in God, churches have a role to play through their experiences, their numbers and with some authority, in bringing all political parties together in the next step along the national journey towards reconciliation. In the words of the RECOGNISE movement: “It’s time to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia’s Constitution. It’s the right thing to do.” This is the first in a series of articles on changing the Australian Constitution to recognise Indigenous peoples. Former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson will be one of a number of prominent Australians writing for Eternity.
E RIDLEY COLLEGE SPONSORED PAGE 10
A dream team of Bible scholars online Most football codes have a ‘Dream team’ competition. You put together your fantasy team from the current competition, and the better they do the more points you score. Ridley has its own ‘dream team’, only it’s not a fantasy. We have brought together a ‘dream team’ of theological scholars from around the world to teach in Ridley Online. Dream team members come to Ridley and work with our Educational Designer to develop engaging learning activities which capitalise on the opportunities of online study. Members of our dream team include Craig Blomberg (Denver Seminary, Colorado), Darrell Bock (Dallas Theological Seminary), John Walton and Lynn Cohick (Wheaton College, Illinois) former Ridley Principal Graham Cole (Beeson Divinity School) and widely published Ridley Faculty members including Michael Bird and Brian Rosner. Any good dream team also includes emerging talent, and so we are excited that Mariam Kamell (Regent College, Vancouver) and Andy Abernethy (formerly Ridley, now at Wheaton) are both part of our team. “If Ridley is going to be develop a world-class online degree program, then it needs the world’s best scholars”, says Ridley Vice-Principal, Tim Foster. “We want our students to be exposed to the teaching of the same leading academics who write the textbooks”, he says. Ridley Online does not just feature some of the best scholars.
The online environment is completely diff erent to the classroom. It is no use recording a lecture in a classroom and putting it online.
Tim Foster and Darrell Bock in the Ridley Video Studio It represents a watershed in the development and delivery of online education and formation. Educational Designer, Diane Hockridge says, “The online environment is completely different from the classroom. It is no use recording a lecture in a classroom and putting it online. We need to design lessons from the ground up especially for this medium.
Information needs to be clear, concise and direct. Other learning activities, such as discussion forums, problem solving exercises and quizzes create interactive experiences in which students are highly active in their learning.” Video lectures provide the backbone of the lessons, with studio-quality video ensuring that students are engaged and
can easily follow the content. Integration with a leading Bible software package will give students a customised bundle of Bible tools, original language resources and textbooks, so that many of the resources for learning are just a mouse click away. This software provides opportunities for active learning through exegetical exercises and original language
work, as well as reading and research. All this is delivered on a customised online learning platform that is interesting and simple to navigate and gives easy access to all these learning tools. However, development is only half the task. The quality of the delivery and support of the lessons are also important. Material is delivered by theologically qualiﬁed tutors, usually Ridley faculty, who have been trained in online learning. Tutors facilitate online forums and provide feedback as well as monitoring students’ progress and marking assessments. Additionally, the program seeks to capitalise on the students’ own ministry contexts. Many assessments require the students to apply their learning to their ministry situations, thus ensuring that their learning remains grounded. Guided Spiritual Formation provides a framework for spiritual growth through mentoring and pastoral experience, while Field Education uses students’ ministry contexts to build key practical ministry skills. One student taking a pilot program this semester commented on the new program, “I have done online subjects at [two other colleges]. This is so far by far the best experience, because you have the best online system. You can’t beat video, awesome enriched transcripts, and the wonderful forums.” For more information visit www.ridley.edu.au/online
My life protecting Mandela
Steyn with Madiba & Graca Oct 1998
SOPHIE TIMOTHY Sophie speaks to Rory Steyn - former chief of security to Nelson Mandela. Tell me about what you were like when you first met Mandela. I was cynical, I was a cop – I was more than a cop, I was a special branch cop – and we were trained in the ideology of the ANC (the African National Congress), which had a lot of its roots and its origins and its support even, especially in the later years, from communist regimes. So of course it was easy for the apartheid government to say, “You see? Those guys are just revolutionary organisations and you must have nothing to do with them.” I thought that all of what [Mandela] was espousing, such as “South Africa is for all people both black and white”, I thought yeah, yeah, whatever, that’s the party line, that’s rhetoric, of course you’re going to say that – it’s propaganda, it’s the ANC Freedom Charter based policy. It wasn’t until my very great privilege of serving Madiba [Mandela was also affectionately known by his clan name ‘Madiba’] brought me into contact with him was I able to study him up close and personal and realise I’d probably been wrong all my life. And that’s an extraordinary thing to do for another person: to be able to undo 30-something
years of social conditioning. He did that in my life in a matter of two or three months, so that by the end of those months I was completely convinced that I had been wrong and that this was a man we needed to give a chance to, to realise this goal or this dream of reuniting our country into one nation. How did your time with Mandela impact your faith? It certainly made me think about how I previously judged my fellow South Africans, purely on the basis of their skin colour when Jesus in fact died for them too: so who the heck am I to reject a bloke because he’s got a different skin colour to me when he’s acceptable to my Saviour? But that took quite a long time to sink into my thick skull. But when I did realise it, it was because of Madiba, and I was very grateful for that. There were 12 years between meeting Jesus and meeting Madiba, and I was still living with a lot of messed up stuff in my heart during those 12 years. That’s the great thing about God’s love and his mercy and grace, is that if I’d died in those intervening 12 years, I still would’ve been covered by Christ’s blood, even though I had this heart that was very far from being whole and perfect. And it’s not going to be whole or perfect until we get to the other side of eternity. When you spent time with him, did the way he treated you
personally affect you? What was he like to work for? He was one of the best principals you could ever have. He treated us exactly the same way he would treat anyone else, and I mean anybody else. The way he spoke to another head of state, a king, queen, prince, or the garden boy, or his family – he never treated anybody any differently. And I’ve never seen that before in anybody, because every politician has a private face and a public face… there was no such thing with Madiba at all. I’ve travelled all over the world and I can tell you that you see in the behaviour of a President’s bodyguard the President or Prime Minister’s personality. So if you go to Zimbabwe, you’re going to see a whole lot of little Mugabe’s protecting Mugabe and they all behave like dictators, pushing people around and shoving them, that kind of thing, which Mandela would never have allowed. We were very conscious of that, because the last thing we wanted was for him to reprimand us because we weren’t treating the people decently. He famously said once, “When I appear in public, people not only see me, they see my bodyguards and they need to respect my agenda”, which is why he insisted that there were all skin colours amongst our teams who were protecting him, as well as amongst the staff.
What’s the biggest thing Mandela taught you during your time with him? It would inevitably be something along the lines of: when you have all the power, it takes a great person not to crush a weak person, even if it’s your opponent who deserves it. To sit down with him [your opponent] and to talk about how to jointly move forward in finding a solution takes tremendous strength of character. What did you get to see of his faith? Not a great deal...In terms of speaking about his faith, Madiba knew that I was involved in the church, but he never told me where he stood personally, although I heard him say on many occasions that he was a Methodist…but he also didn’t ever put Christianity above the other three mainline religions in our country – Judaism, Islam and Hinduism – because he probably couldn’t afford to do that as a politician. After he died, a letter appeared in the press in South Africa written by a Dutch Reformed Afrikaans minister who wrote about a chance encounter in an airport terminal once with the President, where the President asked him what it was that he did and he said, well actually I’m a Dutch Reformed minister. And Madiba said to him, this guy wrote, “Well, I too gave my life to Jesus a long time ago, but I don’t always push that into
DISCOVER A DYNAMIC PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN YOUR PROFESSION & FAITH Choosing to study at CHC has given me the opportunity to grow my understanding and knowledge, strengthen my beliefs and reﬂect on what Godly leadership is all about. Perhaps there will never be a perfect time to start – but the journey is deﬁnitely worth the eﬀort.” – Felicity
the public domain because of my position in society.” And that was almost a vindication to me that the stuff that I thought after all those years was in fact so. So, if you ask me: do I think that Nelson Mandela was a Christian? I’d have to say yes, but at the end of the day only God knows the answer to that question. After all that, it must’ve been quite something to attend his funeral. Can you tell me what that was like and what thoughts crossed your mind at the time? I was there when they buried Madiba on the 12th of December last year in his home town. I saw that coffin come past me on the gun carriage, and I saw them lower it into the ground. I know exactly where he was buried as I’ve seen his grave. But what I contemplated was the big difference between Jesus and Madiba. The big difference is that Jesus’ tomb is empty, because he rose again from the grave and defeated death and won the victory for all who believe in him as their Saviour. The difference is massive, and it’s eternal. Although both men profoundly changed my life, the change that Jesus brings is an eternal one, and that’s how you bring reconciliation. Although Madiba was the great reconciler of our nation and in fact many other people, Jesus Christ is the reconciler of the entire world and his reconciliation is permanent.
E FEBC SPONSORED PAGE 12 12
OCTOBER OCTOBER 2014 2014
Sneaking into prison cells… speaking into lives.
In a world of iPhones and downloading, you might wonder whether radio is a thing of the past. But consider these incredible facts:
local languages, to 52 countries on earth. They get life-changing messages into places people could never reach – from dark prison cells in Nepal, to small villages in Asia and rural Africa.
1. Almost a quarter of our world can’t read. 2. Most people learn best aurally (by listening, not reading). 3. Over 2.7 billion people have never heard the name Jesus Christ.
Best of all, wherever the gospel goes, it multiplies…
It’s like the miracle of five loaves and two fish which ended up feeding a crowd of 5,000 people! Amazingly, when you give a family a basic wind-up radio, bringing with it the message of God’s love, the result is multiplication. The message spreads from family to family, cell to cell, hut to hut. One radio and one message can transform a village full of lives. Like Nelany, who grew up in a
Hindu family in India, and was married young to an abusive man. She became depressed, and thought her only way out was suicide. “I sat alone thinking, there is no true God and all my gods have forgotten me,” she remembers. “Then all of a sudden I heard a strange voice say, ‘I am the true God; I am Jesus’.” Nelany’s neighbour told her about FEBC. “Even though I could not go to church, I began growing
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Let me start with a confession: I am a full-blown women’s devotional Bible cynic. I can happily report to my fellow cynics out there: fear not! Against the odds, this Women’s Devotional Bible has won me over! Instead of encouraging me to ground my identity in womanhood, this devotional Bible has assisted me to ground my identity in my union with Christ, which, in turn, informs not only my womanhood,
but every other aspect of who I am. Confidence in the centrality of Christ to the Word of God shapes each of the 365 devotions. The gendered target audience does not distract the 50 different contributors, who are both men and women from around the globe, from letting the text speak for itself. As I journeyed through the key events in the narrative of salvation history, unpacked over the 365 devotions, I found myself delighting in the fulfilment of prophecy, grieved by the sin that so arduously characterises the people of God, driven to thanksgiving for the extraordinary grace that characterises God’s relations with his beloved people, and celebrating that in Christ, there is freedom from sin, guilt, and the hope of eternal life. Specific applications to women
Though you may be reading alone, you are also reading within a worldwide community of Christian women.
were mostly drawn only when the text itself invited it. Simplistic caricatures of the docile Christian woman and her activities are
not found in the pages of this devotional Bible. Rather, a robust image of a faithful, God-seeking, transformed Christian individual (who is also a woman) is developed and encouraged. There were no flowers or cupcakes (okay, maybe some subtle leaves) and no pink (just soothing green). A unique feature of this devotional Bible was an appendix which contained a number of thoughtful essays, addressing issues such as the importance of doctrine; how to share the gospel with unbelievers; the Christian community’s responsibility to care for orphans; raising children with disabilities; how to be a wife who submits to and honours her husband. So what is the benefit of calling this devotional Bible a Women’s Devotional Bible at all, if its greatest strength as a woman’s devotional Bible is that
its devotional content isn’t overly directed to women? Perhaps, for the reader of such a devotional Bible, it is the encouragement of knowing that your own personal Bible reading, though personal, is not individual – it is done in community. Though you may be reading alone, you are also reading within a worldwide community of Christian women. And as you study the Word of God as a member of this community, without being distracted by flowers and cupcakes, you may just delight all the more in those occasional moments when a writer addresses an aspect of your particularities as a woman in a way that you hadn’t considered before. So whether you’re a cynic like me, or if pink is your favourite colour, if you are a Christian woman, then I commend this devotional Bible to you – that as a child of God, you might delight ultimately in Christ!
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in the Lord by listening to FEBC’s broadcasts,” Nelany says. Since then, she has started a church in her home, “Now many Hindus come and worship Jesus every Sunday,” and her husband has also committed his life to the Lord!
As Christians we have the Great Commission, to share the gospel in every corner of the globe. We also have a heart to bring help to those in need. For more than 60 years, an organisation called FEBC has been working to do these two things – and you might already have guessed how. With the humble radio. FEBC broadcasts radio programs, in the
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by John MacArthur Paperback 9781400206117 Our Price John MacArthur illustrates how the men and women in the Bible are $17.95 rrp unnervingly real. They faltered. They struggled. And at times they fell short. Yet God worked through them in surprising and incredible ways to accomplish His purposes.
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What’s Your Worldview? by James Anderson 9781433538926 Crossway
What’s Best Next by Matt Perman 9780310494225 Zondervan
$12.95 Reviewed by John Sandeman
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Worldview is an elusive beast. As the underlying framework of beliefs, assumptions and philosophies that helps us navigate the world, it’s vitally important to think about for any Christian who relates to non-Christians in any way. However, it’s also difficult; how do you discern someone’s worldview? And more importantly, how can you change it? Here’s one interesting tool to help: What’s your Worldview? takes its format from an unlikely source, the Choose Your Own Adventure book. For example, one page asks: “Do you believe in objective truth? If yes, turn to page 22, if no, turn to page 91.” And then it asks you, “Is it possible to know the truth?” and diagnoses you with the “relativist” worldview, depending on your answer. Anderson writes from a Christian viewpoint, and as a professor of theology and philosophy he is adept at simplifying concepts without dumbing them down. It’s an innovative, playful book that is well worth a look, especially for teachers, but also for Christians who want a bit of help in tracking down and taming the elusive beast.
At first glance, a book on Christian productivity may seem like an odd duck. Do we need a book on productivity that’s distinctly Christian? Matt Perman’s answer is an unequivocal yes. He believes that behind a lot of modern productivity practices is a wrong worldview, centered on how I can be more productive, and achieve my goals. Instead, he argues, we need to first look to God as the centre of life, and thus, productivity. His aim is large: if we do this we can change the world by being more effective in the goal of loving one another and thus, transforming the world. His theology hews close to John Piper and Desiring God, with whom he shares a love for the works of the Puritans. This book is full of pithy chapters, summaries and interview excerpts. I found the acronym-heavy, blogready style slightly wearing in the long run, but I suspect this will also make it reference-ready long after first reading. As a book with a good theological foundation, a perspective of honouring God and loving others, and a literacy in modern productivity practice, this book is in a distinct field of its own.
The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity by Barnabas Piper 9780781410359 $14.95 Reviewed by Karl Grice
The WonderWorking God by Jared C. Wilson, 9781433536724 Crossway
Pastors’ kids are normal kids. The problem, according to Barnabas Piper, is that we expect them to be mini-superheroes. Barnabas is a Pastor’s Kid (PK), John Piper’s son. He makes it clear that he is neither a social scientist nor an expert in pastoral care. He is a PK baring his soul. Barnabas reveals how easily we can know about someone without actually knowing them, especially PKs. The more false assumptions we make, the easier it is for a PK to project a self-image that meets our expectations while concealing their true identity. PKs quickly learn to give all the right answers while secretly wrestling with personal sins and doubts. This often leads to legalism and hypocrisy, or to PKs walking away from the faith. Pastors may try to be the expert on all matters in the home. Barnabas felt as though his father listened and gave advice, whereas he just wanted to know his struggles were normal, and that he would survive. In raising our awareness of the unique pressures faced by PKs, Barnabas is hoping we can ditch some of our false assumptions and offer PKs authentic grace-filled friendships.
Since the 18th Century, miracles have been thought of as an intellectual weakpoint in the Christian faith. Today, they are often a target of attacks of the New Atheists, with the result that we feel a bit awkward about defending a God who stopped the sun, or a Jesus who walked on water. However, in The WonderWorking God, Jared C. Wilson writes that the “weakness” of miracles should be a strength of our faith: “the miracles in the Bible never appear to serve God proving himself so much as God showing himself.” The book covers the categories of miracles performed by Jesus, finishing with a chapter on the greatest miracle: the fact of Jesus’s incarnation, death and resurrection. Wilson’s a great writer, somewhat reminiscent of C.S. Lewis in his knack for memorable phrasing, and his sheer joy about what he’s writing. Throughout it, he reminds us that miracles point us to the God of the universe, and that is the best part of the biblical miracles, and that is also the best point of this book.
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challenges all our deep insecurities. Furman points out that we are often tempted to consider our lack of time, and even our children as obstacles to our communion with God. We feel our spiritual lives languishing and assume that it is only when we have a quiet moment that we will be able to properly
connect with our heavenly Father. Yet in reality, he is with us in every moment, wanting to fellowship with us right where we are, even in the most hectic, frazzled meltdowns. This book is full of reminders of how wonderful our God is, how we can rest in him, find our joy in him, hand all our deepest struggles and fears to him and trust that as we do this his goodness abounds. It is full of truths we know intellectually but fail to really believe in our deepest being. I really appreciated the constant use of scripture that feeds a hungry mum’s soul and brings about a peace that all the parenting courses and self-help books in the world fail to give. This book did not make me feel as though I need to do more of x, y & z (insert your own personal struggles). Indeed our own strength will never be enough. But the joy of knowing Christ is that his strength is always sufficient and freely available. This book is a blessing for a busy, overwhelmed mum. Every page is a reminder of the biggest blessing – the glorious risen Lord Jesus who is ever with us, even to the very end of the age. Michelle is mum to dominofanatic Micah (4) and walking sandpit Evie (2).
The Story Telling God
by Douglas Connelly Paperpack 9780830831470
When Jesus was walking the earth, everyone had a theory about who he was--healer, revolutionary, king, friend, humble carpenter. But out of the vast complexity of characteristics and ideas there emerges one simple word that no one can deny: ‘Rabbi.’ These 36 Bible studies capture the heart of Jesus the Rabbi.
the gospel teaches us something radically different. That not only can we acknowledge but boast in our shortcomings and weaknesses. Because it is in these very things that Christ’s glory and power is revealed. And we are reminded of the permanent reality of our eternal security in Christ that
BOOKS & BIBLES FOR KIDS!
Lifeguide: The Twelve Disciples
Life Lessons from Jesus
FANTASTIC BIBLES FOR STUDENTS This Bible anchors younger Christians in the truths of Scripture by equipping them with thoughtful and practical responses for whenever the core issues of their faith and life are challenged.
Encouragement for those with a mountain of dirty washing
STUDY MUST HAVES
I’m a mum. I talk to a lot of mums. And I have to be honest: when first asked to read a book about Christ and motherhood, one of my first thoughts went along the lines of “Not another ‘supermum’ making me feel guilty about all the things I don’t do.” You see, many of us mums are very good at wallowing in guilt and self-criticism because we know that being a mother isn’t just about us. And we fail at times. All the should-have-done, is-this-theright-thing-for-my-child, how-doI-get-the-balance-right thoughts often sit at the back of our minds, weighing us down. Yet this book is about freeing yourself of these thoughts and embracing the wondrous grace freely available in Christ. It is about the lies we believe – that somehow, the way the
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Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full by Gloria Furman Crossway 9781433538889 $12.95 Reviewed by Michelle Parton
So Not Okay addresses the issue of pre-teen bullying within a school environment. It follows the story of a girl called Tori who overcomes bullying and learns to accept herself. This book is aimed at 10-13 year olds and is easy to relate to due to the age of the main characters. One of the issues the book raises is that parents do not comprehend the types of bullying their children may be exposed to. So, I think it would be valuable for parents to also read this book, to understand any potential bullying situations that their child may face. My first impressions of the book were that it was aimed at a young audience and simple to understand. This made the book engaging and easy to relate to. I would recommend this book to any pre-teen who wants to understand how to be empowered to overcome bullying. Hannah is in Year 10 at her school in the Central West of NSW. She is 15 and loves reading, playing sport and spending time with friends.
NIV Thinline Deluxe Bibles
These New International Version Thinline Bibles feature quality paper and bindings and at a great value price. A Thinline style that can be taken anywhere. Each edition contains over 100 pages of extra Bible study resources. 2011 Updated NIV Text. Tan/Brown
So Not Okay by Nancy Rue, 9781400323708 Thomas Nelson
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These were created to be a portable and child-friendly text Bible. ESV Kid’s Compact Bible (Pretty Pink) 9781433543937
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Pastor Jared Wilson dispels the widespread notion that Jesus’ parables are moralising fables, and highlights how they reveal profound spiritual truths about God, humanity, the world, and the future.
Taking God At His Word
Kevin DeYoung has written an introduction to the Bible that answers important questions and helps you understand what the Bible says about itself. This book will encourage you to read and believe the Bible— confident that it truly is God’s Word.
Dear Son by Dave Bruskas (Paperback) 9781414389714
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$2.50 Great value little paperbacks recounting Bible stories. Perfect for use in groups and classes or for award-giving. For ages 1-4.
Two decades ago, Dave lost his only infant son to a congenital heart defect. That devastating loss fuelled his desire to provide effective mentoring to young men. This book contains heartfelt wisdom for life’s journey, especially for guys—and for those who want to strengthen them.
by Randy Singer (Paperback) 9781414348605
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by Kevin DeYoung (Hardcover) 9781433542404
In The The Good Jesus & Beginning Samaritan The Storm 9780745963044 9780745963129 9780745963112 Written by Lois Rock & Alex Alyiffe
Randy Singer brings to life the biblical world with this fictionalised account of the biblical character Theophilus. This novel recounts what the life of Theophilus may have been, and paints a historically vivid picture of the trial of the apostle Paul in Nero’s deranged court. Can Theophilus mount a defence that will keep him innocent man from execution?
Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke (Paperback) 9781414383224
A dramatic World War II narrative following the life of Rachel Kramer, who strives to rescue Amelie, the deaf daughter of a Nazi officer. As she encounters the resistance and controversial theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, this novel depicts how Rachel’s every ideal is challenged as she risks her life for those she barely knows but comes to love.
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This study Bible sets issues of Spirit-filled living in the context of solid biblical scholarship. Includes detailed book introductions and verse-by-verse study notes.
NIV 2011 Womens Devotional & Study Bible
NIV 2011 Womens Devotional & Study Bible
This personal-size Bible includes a topical concordance with more than 80 topics. Size 38 x 139 x 212 mm.
Raspberry Blossom 9781612914299
Dark Blue 9780529112224
This Aussie published Bible includes a 228 page full colour Encyclopaedia along with the NIV 2011 text.
In this Bible, the print is easy to read and the art is fun and will help kids better understand the stories in the Bible. The reading plan of 150 famous Bible stories gives a great overview of God’s Word. For ages 6-10. 9780310743569
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This Bible was created to help you become the man God intended you to be. From devotionals to study helps, it has tons of features to get you into God’s Word. 9781433534713
ESV God Girl Bible
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Ideal for school, church, and home, this large print, easy-to-read Bible is perfect for kids receiving their first full-text Bible. 9780310743736
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This devotional Bible points girls to the Bible as the foundation for all of life, fostering a love for God’s Word and a desire to know him better. It is packed with great features, including special prayers and character profiles of women in the Bible. The God Girl Bible is the perfect Bible for young women wanting to dive deeper into God’s Word. 9781433534676
GREAT GIFTS TO GET READY FOR CHRISTMAS A fun-filled calendar with activities that will help children remember God’s Word.
The Big Bible Calendar 2015 9780647519141
A beautiful calendar with peaceful images and Bible verses for each day of 2015. Makes a wonderful gift.
Great Gifts for Christmas!
A great gift Bible! The Message paraphrase is in contemporary language that uses the words and phrases you might say when talking with a good friend.
BIBLES FOR KIDS TO DISCOVER NIrV Beginners Bible
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Hardcover Green/White 9780529112187
A devotional journal inviting women to be guided through pregnancy with Scripture devotions and questions for pondering deeper into their experiences. Includes journaling space for writing personal thoughts, prayers, dreams, even love letters to the growing baby.
INSPIRING BOOKS China, Pakistan, Egypt, Iraq...God is at work. Christians are testifying. The gospel is advancing. In this captivating travelogue, a veteran missions mobilizer leads readers to experience global Christianity, exploring the faith and lives of Christians living in some of the world’s most perilous countries.
Waiting in Wonder by Catherine Larson Hardcover Journal 9781400321070
r The Case fo y it n ia Christ
l by Lee Strobe Paperback 7 55 9780310339
Unpacking the book of Proverbs, Lydia Brownback shows how the Bible speaks to real life issues such as money, purity, marriage, and the day-to-day grind.
A great book for both newer and seasoned Christians alike. Lee Strobel offers biblically based answers to questions such as: Did God use evolution when He created the world? If God is loving, why is there so much suffering? Can you have doubts and still be a Christian?
A Woman’s Wisdom
HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS
Ben Affleck stars with Rosamund Pike and Neil Patrick Harris in Gone Girl.
Swimming with the tide Gone Girl Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris Directed by: David Fincher Written by: Gillian Flynn Reviewed by BEN MCEACHEN Sigh. Groan. Wail. Religiously, these are the only possible reactions to the latest news bulletin. War, sickness, crime, abuse, corruption, destruction. The news rarely has been a source of cheer. But the unstoppable assault of information that connects us all, means we have more ways, more often, of being steadily updated about how terrible things are. Sigh. Groan. Wail. Good news certainly exists and can’t be exterminated. Just return to the New Testament’s pages, or search online for “cancer research breakthrough”. But our media-saturated diet leaves the perpetual taste of despair. Adding further
woe is the unreliability of the digital delivery network that updates us. Not that it is going to splutter or drop-out, like dial-up modems. The reliability issue erupts from how easy it can be to manipulate the truth. Fight Club and The Social Network director David Fincher’s latest film, Gone Girl, tantalises with its manipulation of truth. At cinemas now and based on a recent bestseller by Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl sounds like a premonition of the Oscar Pistorius or Gerard Baden-Clay cases. In the fictional case of Gone Girl, Amy (played on-screen by Rosamund Pike) goes missing. Widespread interest in her disappearance increases, as the chief suspect becomes her husband, Nick (Ben Affleck). His impassive response fuels speculation. So too the profits he stands to gain and the marital dysfunction they had experienced. Flynn’s novel is alternatively
told from Amy and Nick’s perspectives. Amy’s journal entries, and Nick’s reflections, provide differing accounts of their life together. Located in a worldwide web of posts, updates, blogs, and feeds, Gone Girl’s depressing portrait of a marriage combines bad news with manipulation of truth. A perfect storm for intelligent drama, on the big screen? Should be, as most Fincher films - as well as the House of Cards TV series he produces – memorably fixate upon the deceptive distortion of fiction with fact. Whatever the outcome of Fincher’s Gone Girl, the highly contemporary morality tale taps into core concerns. Well, what deserve to be core concerns. But an alarming trend of this modern life is how accepting we are, of accepting manipulation of truth. Even Christians – yes, Christians – can swim with the tide of playing fast, loose and unashamed with whatever the truth actually is.
The media scrutiny centred upon Nick in Gone Girl offers an easy target. Easy to rage against false reporting, by large media organisations. But what about our own production, of multi-media reports? We photoshop images, edit our status and hide behind emoticons. Daily. No, hourly. Or more. As we massage the truth that we want displayed, do we question motives? There are stacks of Christian self-help books, talks, online resources and the like. Not many are dedicated to warning of the temptation to manipulate truth, built into digital communication. Gone Girl provides a sleek, mysterious challenge to consider how we know what we know. Participating in a never-ending conversation that says manipulating truth is something we all do, will Christians stand for truth? In all areas of life. Including that update you’re just about to send.
by Lydia Brownback Paperback 9781433528279
This Bible cover includes a carrying handle, cross-adorned zipper pull, and interior pen and pencil holders.
Inspiration Sparrow Large Bible Cover 978031052498
Order online at specials.biblesociety.org.au, call 1300 139 179 or mail to Locked Bag 7003 Minto NSW 2566 For mail order, please include the item numbers and titles of products requested, as well has your contact and payment details. Also add postage costs to your total order (Orders $0-$30 Postage $6.95; Orders $31-$60 Postage $7.95; Orders $61-$250 Postage $9.95).
This book promotion is valid until December 31st, 2014 or while stocks last. All items in this catalogue are included in good faith from our suppliers. Any delays in supplier delivery may result in product being delayed or unavailable. While we endeavour to use correct illustration in this catalogue, final product delivered may have changeddesign without our notice. All prices quoted are in Australian dollars and include GST.
British funny man Simon Pegg (The World’s End, Paul, Hot Fuzz) stars as Hector, a successful psychologist who is nagged by a troubled childhood and adult regrets. Before he settles down, he determines to set off on a worldwide trip with a single question in mind: “What makes you happy?” Pursuing the answer will bring him into the company of millionaires, drug lords, Doctors Without Borders and dying mothers – and the answers he uncovers will point him inescapably to a single conclusion. But will it be the right one? Hector And The Search For Happiness is pitch-perfect in the way it balances both Pegg’s dry comedy with the longing to discover the key to humanity’s most longed for state.
For the full reviews of these new release films, visit biblesociety.org.au/film-reviews
#1 CH R GAP Y ISTIAN SCHO EAR FOR OL L SINCE EAVERS 2006
Refreshing Words from The Psalms Calendar 2015
“Brothers, God may love you … but does He like you?” – and what follows is a dramatic silence as Sam’s audience (and the audience of Believe Me) consider a question which is in essence the same one the serpent asked Eve in the Garden of Eden. But where Satan urged the mother of humanity to take matters into her own hands, Sam goes on to suggest that there is a sure fire way of being sure of God’s good graces: giving. Believe Me is about a group of college graduates struggling under mountains of debt. When Sam is confronted with an unexpected tuition bill he convinces his friends that their salvation lies in fleecing the faithful via a fake Christian charity. The gullible church crowds swallow the scam hook line and sinker, leading to Sam’s “God Squad” gaining a national platform. Behind the curtain of Christian celebrity he discovers a world of fake enthusiasts and half-baked stars swimming in a sea of gullibility.
Enjoy a close-up view of the Scriptures without straining your eyes. This easy-to-read Bible invites you to explore God’s Word with clarity and comfort in a crystal-clear 16-point type.
NIV 2011 Encyclopedia Bible Updated
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This Bible Society edition includes a full year of daily devotions, and additional devotional features on life issues that women face today NIV all written by Australian Christian women. irit-filled New Sp le Text is the NIV 2011. ib B e if
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A life changing experience Counselling is regarded as one the most rewarding and fulﬁlling careers and the need for properly qualiﬁed counsellors has never been greater. aifc offers Nationally Accredited training including; • Diploma of Counselling (Christian) • Advanced Diploma of Counselling and Family Therapy (Christian) • and Graduate Certiﬁcate in Counselling and Family Therapy (Christian). Part time and full time study options are available. What sets aifc apart from other education providers, is that they incorporate theology, psychology and spirituality into every aspect of their courses and aifc’s team of dedicated staff and lecturers are there to support you from your ﬁrst day, through to graduation and beyond. Full time study requires just three days a term on campus in ten centres throughout Australia. This means minimal disruption to your work schedule and everyday life. The rest of the time, you can study from home, with regular contact and coaching from your tutor, who is personally committed to seeing you succeed. aifc is a not-for-proﬁt organisation, offering training at a relatively low cost. It’s also a VET FEE-HELP approved
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Brave Christian men and women still serve others in a world falling apart around them, like in this bomb-shaken Syrian neighbourhood.
Killed for the Bible SUZANNE SCHOKMAN “The explosion in Aleppo was worse than an earthquake,” recalls Emeel,* a Bible Society Syria staff member. “My wife and I were in a building close to the Bible House when the explosion occurred. We felt that we were actually lifted up in the air... and we didn’t know what to hang on to. It was an unreal feeling…something we’ve never experienced before,” he says. Bible Society staff, like other Christians in the Middle East, face a world that’s changing before their eyes. Civil strife in Syria and Iraq has churned the Bible lands where Christians have lived for centuries.
Bible Society UK’s James Catford recalls meeting with a colleague from the Middle East. “I can’t tell you the name of the country as our work there is so precarious,” Catford says on his blog. He was shown photos of Bible Society volunteers who were killed for their faith and commitment to the Bible. “Apparently. murdering Christians in this part of the Middle East has not been enough to deter followers of Christ from reading the Bible. And so believers are being killed in more and more barbaric ways.” Catford continues: “Across the region, Bible Society staff and volunteers are doing the same kind of work and ministry that we do
Some have been kidnapped, detained, and had death threats made against them. in the United Kingdom. Yet some have been kidnapped, detained by the authorities, and had death threats made against them.” Increasingly, Bible Society staff in the Middle East say they cannot
work in safety anymore. Yet, like Emeel and his wife in Syria, they have chosen to stay and serve in their homelands rather than flee like many of their countrymen. One of the things that keeps them going is the reports that reach them. They hear of whole families being transformed by children’s Bibles, touched by the simple truths of the Scriptures. Other reports speak of what a great comfort it is to be reminded of God’s promises. Teachers and parents strengthen their children with stories of the men and women of the Bible who stood their ground in times of adversity. These stories inspire the hearts and minds of
Thousands of Christians across the Middle East have been forced from their homes and are in desperate need of help and Scriptures.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46: 1
biblesociety.org.au/eternity-mideast 1300 BIBLES (1300 242 537)
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young Christians surrounded by violence and persecution. That’s why more Scripture resources are greatly needed. In such times, it’s only faith that keeps one going: faith in a God who answers, and faith in those he sends with the answer. By donating today, you can help to subsidise the cost of Scripture resources for the Middle East, and bring the words of the Prince of Peace to those who need it most. + Will you donate today to help strengthen our brothers and sisters in the Middle East? Visit biblesociety.org.au/eternitymideast or call 1300 242 537. * Not his real name
“We advance on our knees”
William Cameron Townsend, Wycliffe Founder*
MARK DURIE on WHAT MUSLIMS NEED
60 Days of Prayer
AL STEWART TAKES A REST
13 September to 11 November 2014
God is good! Over the last 60 years Wycliffe Bible Translators Australia helped to bring God’s Word to the farthest nations of the world - in the languages they understand best. So in celebration we’re holding “60 Days of Prayer”. Today almost 2 000 language groups still have no Scripture in their Heart Language, but every year new Wycliffe workers are responding to this call. Please join us during our 60 Days of Prayer, from 13 September to 11 November and bring this vital work before God.
yer 60 Days of Pra 13 Septem
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George Brandis on the Christian base for human rights GEORGE BRANDIS
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St Augustine is held to be responsible for the birth of the “individual”. St Augustine in a Tiffany Window, Lightner Museum, in St Augustine, Florida.
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*William Cameron Townsend founded Wycliffe Bible Translators in the USA in 1934. In 1954 Wycliffe Australia became the first Wycliffe organisation outside the USA. Today the Wycliffe Global Alliance consists of 45 Wycliffe organisations as well as 60 other partnering organisations.
Australia has, in recent years, had much debate – some would say too much debate – about human rights. Much of that debate has had an aggressive, almost hectoring tone. Too often, it has been one-sided: as if there were a received body of doctrine about human rights which was beyond challenge; to question which was the secular equivalent of heresy. One of the fundamental freedoms of which we have heard far too little when we speak about human rights is the right to religious freedom. In fact, not only has religious freedom been neglected; it has actually been the subject of open attack from those who domi-
nate much of our political discourse, particularly in the national broadcaster and the Fairfax media. Almost invariably, their targets have been the Christian churches and, in particular, the Catholic Church and people of Jewish faith. Associated with the critique of Christianity has been the presumption that human rights are a secular construct. It is this assertion that I want to challenge. In doing so, I wish to draw, in particular, upon the work of the great Oxford intellectual historian Larry Siedentop, and, more particularly, his magisterial new work Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism, which was published earlier this year. It is a long time since a work
of political philosophy has made such a profound impact on my thinking, and Siedentop’s conclusion – “that liberalism can be described as the child of Christianity” – forces us to rethink many of our most fundamental assumptions about the intellectual history of the West. Since at least the middle of the nineteenth century, and in particular under the influence of the Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt and his school, Western scholars have, in general, been content with the assumption that the origins of liberalism may be traced to the “discovery” (or the rediscovery) of the individual at about the time of the Italian Renaissance, and have drawn a line
from there, through the Reformation and the Enlightenment, to the emergence of our modern understanding of freedom. The preceding ages – even the glories of the High Middle Ages – were seen as a time of darkness and intellectual aridity, in which the dominance of the Catholic Church crushed intellectual inquiry in general, and freedom in particular. According to Siedentop, it is a profound error to regard the Renaissance “as making a decisive break with what had gone before in Europe.” “The view that the Renaissance and its aftermath marked the advent of the modern world... is mistaken. By the fifteenth century, canon lawyers and
philosophers had already asserted that ‘experience’ is essentially the experience of individuals, that a range of fundamental rights ought to protect individual agency, that the final authority of any association is to be found in its members…These elements began to spread from the clerical elite into university education and affect popular attitudes. In doing so, they shaped egalitarian moral intuitions…The foundation of modern Europe lay in the long, difficult process of converting a moral claim into a social status. It was pursuit of belief in the equality of souls that made the conversion possible. A commitment to individual liberty sprang from that.” Continued page 22
Human rights of divergent views even of those which we may disapprove. Some 17 years after the death of Constantine, there was born in Numidia the most important Christian theologian since St. Paul – indeed, arguably, the most important Christian theologian of all. He is known to us as Saint Augustine of Hippo. Augustine developed Pauline theology, in particular on the question of the individual conscience and the relationship of the individual soul with God. Siedentop also treats St. Augustine as decisive in the development of the moral notions which would, in later centuries, evolve into what we now recognize as liberalism. He notes that St. Augustine’s intense account of his own relationship with God in his autobiography, The Confessions, has led some to attribute to him with the birth of ‘the individual’. Inventing the individual, in the sense of acknowledging the equality of humans in the face of their maker, is not something that leads to isolation. Indeed, embracing or grasping the concept of the individual removes social class and status, clarifying the conditions that make true freedom possible. But, for St. Augustine, reason alone is not sufficient to motivate ethical behaviour; it must be accompanied, it must be invested with the grace of God. Siedentop outlines how St. Augustine understood this grace to motivate individuals to exercise their free
The idea of autonomous moral agency...can be directly traced to Christian belief.
will in order to ascend from everyday base desires to higher realms of thought and action. Now, one would rarely hear mention of St. Paul or St. Augustine in the political philosophy classes of a modern Australian university – except, perhaps, at this university – or, I daresay, in any Western university. One would be unlikely to find a professor of human rights law who acknowledged that human rights owed more to the Christian church than they did to the United Nations. Yet, the authors of the greatest affirmation of human rights ever penned – the Declaration of Independence – suffered no such limitation of their vision. “We hold these truths to be selfevident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just
powers from the consent of the governed.” Thomas Jefferson was, of course, in every sense a man of the Enlightenment – indeed, some would argue, he was the Enlightenment’s most famous son. Yet Jefferson had no difficulty in accepting that the ultimate source of human rights is not any secular authority, but that they are an endowment of the creator. I do not say, of course, that human rights may not have a secular derivation. My concern is that, to an extent that is so frequent as to be almost universal, the discourse of human rights is conducted purely in secular terms. As I have argued in this lecture, that is partly due to the prevailing historical assumption that human rights, and the liberal premises which underlie them, are a product of the modern world alone. Yet, as the scholars to whom I have referred this evening demonstrate – and as Larry Siedentop, in particular, in his important
new book powerfully argues, the governing ethical principle which underlies our modern understanding of human rights – the moral equality of every human person and the right to liberty that follows from that, is a notion which had its origins in the Gospels, as developed and explained by the early Christian fathers, theologians and canon lawyers. If that be so, those who actually attack Christianity in the name of some personal view of human rights commit an egregious travesty. Religious belief is central to the human condition. Faith provides a means to help people that cannot be explained, even though it might be apprehended. It can also enable us to see ourselves as part of something larger, and thereby free ourselves from our base, everyday selfish concerns. Faith also has a unique ability to provide consolation in the face of life’s vicissitudes and to help us cope with its hardships. The Australia we know today is home to a diversity of faiths, united by tolerance, mutual respect and a commitment to democracy. Australians are free to choose their religion, and are able to express and practise their beliefs without intimidation and without interference, within the framework of Australian law and any attempt to interfere with that freedom is a profound outrage against our nation. + Senator George Brandis QC is Attorney-General of Australia. Full version of this speech is at biblesociety.org.au/brandis
$272 can teach
Q. What do Muslims need? A. Love and truth MARK DURIE The past few weeks have been hard ones for Australians, not least for Australian Muslims. Various alleged plots by Islamic State supporters to slaughter Australians has Islam in the news. Even as I write, five out of ten of the “most popular” articles on The Australian’s website are about Islamic jihad and national security. What are ordinary Australians to make of conspiracy theories aired by Muslims on the ABC’s Q&A program, implying that recent police raids were staged as a cynical act to manipulate public opinion? Are Muslims being unfairly victimised by all these security measures? How are we to evaluate Senator Jacqui Lambie’s claim that sharia law “obviously involves terrorism”? Or the Prime Minister’s decision to mobilise Australian troops against the Islamic State? What about the Islamic State’s grandiose claim that “We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women.” Or Mr Abbott’s declaration that the balance between freedom and security needs to be adjusted in favour of greater security and less freedom?
Earlier this month, an 18-year-old Melbourne man, Numan Haider, was shot dead by police after he stabbed two officers outside a suburban police station. At the time of writing, news was breaking that authorities believed he intended to behead a police officer and post the photos online. Prison officers in Goulburn jail have struggled to contain the worst riot in ten years, during which rampaging prisoners were heard to be crying “Allahu Akbar.” A Christian woman who works in a church close by an Islamic centre has asked her employer to install security measures to protect her and others at the church. Someone else, a convert from Islam to Christianity, reports that his personal sense of being under threat has risen, because he feels that people he knew from his earlier life as a radical Muslim are more likely to be activated to violence after the successes of the Islamic State and their global call to arms. Are such responses reasonable? Or are they Islamophobic? Many young Muslims have been using the hashtag #NotInMyName on social media. Many are insisting that IS does not speak for them: as Anne Aly put it “This isn’t in my name, this isn’t what Islam is about,
Mark asks: are Muslims being unfairly victimised? #notinmyname thinks so. I am against it and they don’t have my allegiance, they don’t have my support.” How then can we know the truth about Islam? What is a Christian response to all this? How can we find our way through these crises: does protecting national security mean
we risk losing some part of our soul? A truly Christian response to the multi-faceted challenge of “Muslims behaving badly” must embrace both truth and love in equal measure. Truth will acknowledge that the Islamic State ideologues do claim to speak for Islam, and that
they justify their actions from the Koran and Muhammad’s example. Truth will acknowledge that IS has recruited tens of thousands of Muslims to fight for their cause, but apparently not a single Christian, Jew or Buddhist. As Brother [continued on pg 24]
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According to this view, the idea of autonomous moral agency – the essential pre-requisite of the liberal view of society – can be directly traced to the Christian belief in the moral equality of every human soul. In St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, he writes: “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself ’” (Gal 5:13-14) In his time, St. Paul encountered diverse belief systems amongst Jews, pagans and Christians. And he recognised that conflicts could arise when persons of different consciences interacted. Joyce Shin, of the University of Chicago, in her paper “Accommodating the Other’s Conscience: Saint Paul’s approach to Religious Tolerance”, points out that, in St. Paul’s 1st Letter to the Corinthians, he provides guidance on how to accommodate those differences of belief. St. Paul’s view was that, at times, it is necessary to behave in a way which accords with the beliefs of the person with whom one is interacting, even if one does not share those beliefs. For St. Paul, that adaptability, that capacity to accommodate was an ethical value. This is, in effect, an approach to religious difference that emphasises the importance of being accommodating or tolerant. That aspect of Pauline theology is an obvious precursor of modern liberalism’s injunction to tolerance
is genuine and heartfelt. But this begs the question: “What is the real Islam?” Love on the other hand, will reject stereotyping Muslims or denigrating them with labels of hatred and suspicion. Love will reach out a hand of friendship. It will show grace instead of fear, kindness instead of rejection or indifference. Love demands that we emphatically reject speech which dehumanises Muslims or pins labels on them. It will honour those Muslims who reject the Islamic State’s ideology. Love will find new friends even on the blackest of days. It can be tempting at times such as this to chose between love and truth. Love without truth can be gullible, opening the door to many threats. I am reminded of a Persian fable. A Fox met a Heron and said “My, what lovely feathers you have, dear Heron. May I have one?” The Heron obliged. The next day they met again. Day after day the Fox’s question was repeated, and day after the day the Heron’s response was the same. One day they met for the last time. The Heron had
been plucked bare, so the Fox said “Heron, you look delicious. Now I will eat you. And he did.” Love without boundaries, at the cost of truth, can wreak incredible havoc on innocent lives. In the end, such love is false, and will prove profoundly unloving. Genuine love does not fear the truth. True love will not deny or obscure the
Love on the other hand, will reject stereotyping Muslims.
damaging effect of sharia law upon Christians living in Islamic societies, or the atrocities being perpetrated in the name of Islam against Christians and others by the “caliphate”. It will be mindful of the words in Proverbs 24:11-12: “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering towards slaughter. If you say ‘But we
knew nothing about this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it.” On the other hand, truth without love can become merciless, excluding and cruel. Love counts the cost of aggressive argument and rejects rhetoric. It takes pains to understand the other; it seeks to see the world through another’s eyes and to hear words through another’s ears. Love nurtures life-giving relationships. It reaches out to enmity and answers it with grace. It does not jump to conclusions, but is patient and careful. It delights to partner with and nurture truth and does not fear it. Professor Peter Leahy, former Army Chief and leading defence strategist has warned Australians that we face a war that is “likely to last for the rest of the century”. If he is right, then the troubles we are facing now as a nation are only the beginning, and dealing with the potential horrors ahead will stretch our humanity to its limits. As Christians we are called to be salt and light in the world. If this means anything, it means staying true to Jesus’ two great statements “the truth shall set you free” and
“love your enemies, and do good to those who hate you”. This is no time for circling the wagons and cowering behind them in fear. This is a time for Australians to reach out to our Muslim neighbours, to show and receive grace. In the present difficulties many Muslims will agree with Melbourne lawyer Shabnum Cassim who stated that “the everyday Muslim just wants to get on with their day.” As a nation the fact that we need to respond realistically to genuine threats to our peace, and seek a true understanding of the religious beliefs that generate these threats, should not deflect us from the everyday task of getting on with our lives together, graciously, inclusively and generously. Mark Durie is the pastor of an Anglican church, a ShillmanGinsburg Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and Founder of the Institute for Spiritual Awareness. His book The Third Choice explains the implications for Christians of living under Islamic rule.
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if you didn’t work so hard? Or maybe you’ve fallen in love with being indispensable – you can’t rest because they couldn’t do without you? A harder man than me might label those reasons Greed, Anxiety and a Messiah Complex. But the reason I’d never say that is because I see them all in myself. It’s interesting that Jesus talks about spiritual rest (Matt 11:28-30). “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I’d always thought Jesus was just talking about rest from religious rituals or trying to impress God through our good works. But once you understand that he is able to freely give us peace with God (that we don’t have to strive, or work or earn it; that we can simply accept it), then we can truly enjoy spiritual rest with our creator. Once we truly understand spiritual rest, then confidence and peace with our creator will flow out into all of our life. We’ll be set free to rest physically as well, because that realisation is the perfect antidote to greed, anxiety and a messiah complex. So, if you’re not resting, do you have a little “realising” to do?
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Everywhere we look right now there is a humanitarian crisis demanding our attention. With humanitarian emergencies in Syria, South Sudan, Gaza and now Iraq, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of human suffering in our world. And that’s not to mention the ongoing poverty and injustice that millions throughout the developing world face each day just trying to eke out a living. When I think about the scale of need and suffering I am often drawn to John 11:35 – “Jesus wept.” Within just these two words is a profound statement about Jesus’ humanity and his solidarity with mankind. When you understand the context of this verse – Jesus is visiting with close friends Mary and Martha, and their brother Lazarus who has just died – you see that sickness, suffering and friendship are so important to Jesus that it causes him to weep. The fact that the Son of God would be so torn apart by the pain of this world that he would weep is very moving in itself. This simple statement reminds me that when the people God so carefully created – knitting them together in their mother’s womb – fight and inflict pain on each
other, it causes him pain. Beyond the sorrow represented in “Jesus wept”, we also see a choice that Jesus made to simply be present in that moment of grief. He did not turn away from suffering but chose to stare it right in the face and allow himself to be moved by it. Sometimes as Christians, it’s easier to talk about a God of strength and power and neglect the other faces of God. Yet right at the heart of the Christian faith is someone who dies – who loses their life – for solidarity; just to be there with mankind. When I look at the humanitarian crises currently taking place I find myself thinking that one of the most important things we can do is to be present. That means being there to deliver emergency assistance and meet physical needs, but also just to be able to say to people, “you matter, we care, and you are not alone.” For Christians everywhere, it means upholding our brothers and sisters in prayer and responding financially where we can; taking an example from Jesus to allow ourselves to be moved by their suffering and to commit to standing with them.
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And 25 per cent of our workers are on call or standby, as technology contaminates leisure time with messages from the boss. Over the past 30 years the average hours worked across Australia haven’t changed much. However that steady bottom line hides trends in two directions. We’ve seen growth in part time work rise to around 30 per cent of the workforce, and a larger number of people are now working more than 50 hours per week. Those two developments are eating away at the weekend, reducing our ability to switch off. Are you one of those feeling increasingly tied up? There are many links in that chain, some of which we forge for ourselves. Maybe you have to work those hours in order to afford your lifestyle. Maybe you’re worried what might happen to your job
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Recently I was asked to speak on a topic that set my wife laughing. “You can’t do that yourself!” she said, and as usual she’s right. The topic was “rest”, and my challenge is the same as that faced by many. Are you able to enjoy rest? I use the word “enjoy” deliberately because many of us struggle to enjoy or even experience real rest. Rest in the Bible is more than collapsing exhausted and sleeping for a few hours. Rest is being able to pause and take pleasure in the good things and relationships in life, the gifts of our creator. Work in the Bible is also a positive thing, but it’s not the ultimate thing. God reached his goal in creation on the seventh day, when he rested and enjoyed the good things he’d made. Likewise, God wants us to be able to rest and enjoy time with him, with others and his creation. However we live in a nation that is busily dismantling the time we’ve traditionally had that sort of rest: the weekend. Weekend work has nearly trebled over the past 20 years, rising from 12 per cent of workers in 1993 to 33 per cent today, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Half of all business owners, 42 per cent of contractors and 30 per cent of employees now spend their weekends in the workplace.
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Love and truth Rachid, a Moroccan convert to Christianity put it in a widely distributed letter to President Obama “ISIL’s 10,000 members are all Muslims. None of them are from any other religion. They come from different countries and have one common denominator: Islam.” Truth will recognise that the self-declared “caliph” of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi has a PhD in Islamic studies: he is not ignorant of Islam. It will also acknowledge that the very idea of a caliphate – a supra-national Islamic state – is a religious ideal widely shared by many Muslims. However this ideal bodes ill for any non-Muslims who fall under its power. Truth will accept that there is a price to pay for increased security. Since 9/11 we wait in queues at airports because of the actions of jihadis. As the level of threat increases, it is inevitable that our need for increased security measures will only grow. Truth will also acknowledge that many Muslims vehemently reject the methods and goals of the Islamic state, and that the #NotInMyName hashtag campaign
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A time for every season death and decay: “Frail as summer’s flower we flourish,” says the old hymn, “blows the wind and we are gone.” This is what Isaiah says, too: “All flesh is like grass.” And one response to the press of time is to – in the sadly nowironic words of Robin William’s Mr Keating from Dead Poet’s Society – to “seize the day”. You are a long time dead, and death comes sooner than you think. So: enjoy it while it lasts. As the 17th century poet Andrew Marvell put it (he was seducing a lady at the time!) “Always at my back I hear/Time’s wing’d chariot draws near.” It is no accident that the religions of agricultural societies emphasise the cyclical nature of time. Farming communities are dependent on nature, and nature is not always dependable. You are vulnerable to drought, famine, fire, locusts and flood – and so you pray earnestly to whatever god controls these. The Jewish calendar, and then to some degree the Christian one, recognises this exposure to the vagaries of nature. The key difference was the identity of the God being worshipped – the creator God, the Lord of heaven and earth. But the Bible is not simply a book about the time of the seasons. It is a different kind of time – namely, history. “History” is the name for time not as repeated seasons, but as successive epochs, eras or centuries. History is measured not by crop yields but by the births and deaths of kings. History is not simply local, but national and global. History asks questions such as “who are we as a people?” and “where did we come from?” And just as it asks about origins, history demands that we inquire about destiny. Now, history can be thought of as progressing to a particular high point, or as advancing by a series of stages. Marxism, for example, imagined that history would progress until a socialist utopia was attained. Or perhaps it could be seen as declining towards chaos and disaster. Are things getting worse, or better?
The Bible’s version of history names God as the one who brought Israel out of Egypt with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. This was an event to be recalled and rehearsed, because this event was the basis for life in the land. Without that past, there would be no present, and certainly no future. When Israel gathered together, they were to tell of God’s mighty acts so that they would be able to remember who they were. But history unravelled for Israel when she was conquered and exiled. What would happen now? The function of the memory of the Exodus now served as the basis for a future hope – a hope for the day of the coming of the Lord to redeem them as he had done in the past. The prophets had something to say about time, because they could see a time when God would come to restore his people. The faith of Israel, then, meant remembering in order to hope. You needed a memory, but not simply for the purposes of nostalgia – you needed your memory, so that you could look forward, in the midst of your disappointment and bewilderment, to a better day. This is what we now find in the New Testament with Jesus, who proclaims when he appears that “the time is fulfilled”. That is
to say: Jesus himself is history’s conclusion, because in him we find that God has come. The promise of God to return to his people has arrived. And yet, history does not conclude with Jesus, not quite. That is what is confusing to the disciples at the beginning of the book of Acts. They were still expecting Jesus to bring in the time of Israel’s deliverance. But what they missed was that the Bible’s version of history was not just Israel’s history but the history of the entire world. The promise to Israel, to be brought to pass in the generations of Abraham, was for the blessing of all the nations of the earth. The risen Jesus kicks off the new age of the preaching of the gospel to the ends of the earth. Theologians speak of this as the “now/not-yet” tension. Time has accomplished its purposes in Jesus; but time is still left while the gospel goes into the world. As Peter says (in 2 Peter 3:9): “The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.” The message for Christians as they gather together each week? Watch the time. We should rightly remember that we worship the God
Back to Nauru please, Greg
Michael Jensen For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.
Mostly when we think of time in relation to our church meetings we think of the time at which it meets and its duration – or perhaps the duration of the sermon. A gathering of Christians is about time. To be Christian is to look at time in a very distinctive way. When we meet together, then, we should be aware of the time: not whether it is 10am or 7:30pm, and not whether the sermon has yet again exceeded the regular length, but something much more profound than that. What do I mean? As human beings we learnt time from the rhythm of the seasons and the hours of the day. We live with several repeated cycles of time, and these enable us to develop communal and individual habits that serve us. We know how to work and to rest (or, we used to); when to put away the cricket whites and put on the football boots; when to plant and when to sow. That is the great insight of the wonderful passage from Ecclesiastes: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted…” As creatures under the sun we’re bound by nature’s timing because we are part of nature ourselves. An agricultural society of course knows this more intimately. One of the striking effects of urban living is the determination of human beings to try to counteract the times of nature: we lighten up the dark sky and drink coffee and stay awake till the wee hours, we demand food at any time of the year, we air-condition our homes and public spaces to a constant temperature all year round. Technological people want every day to be the same. But we are bound in time in another way: we are mortal. Nature’s cycle is like a forwardmoving wheel. We cannot stop the growth of our bodies towards
of the Sabbath day. The Sabbath was designed to help us remember our dependence on the creator God, so that we would delight in the world as he did. But it was also created as a way to remember the way in which God has designed history to bring about his purposes for the world. It looks forward to the final rest of God, when all that corrupts the good creation will be excluded, and when things on earth and heaven will be reconciled to him, by the blood of the cross (Colossians 1). The time is short, not because we are mortal, but because we expect Jesus’ return. That’s why Jesus castigates his disciples for their inattention, and why he tells the parable of the foolish bridesmaids, who miss the coming of the bridegroom. Watching the character of the time, Christians need to be ready for the return of Christ to end time. How to be ready? Remember what God has done. That’s what we are doing when we open the Scriptures and read once more a story we’ve heard a million times. That’s why we sing again and again of the acts of God, and especially of the cross of Jesus Christ. Repetition and routine are our great friends here; we want to have the acts and the character of God embedded deep in us. But this looking back is for the purpose of looking forward, in hope. In speaking of the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11, Paul shows how it helps us to have this distinctive double vision – back, and forward. Jesus himself said “Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” It looks backwards. But it also looks forwards: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” We look, in other words, back to the cross as the great act of redemption that makes us what we are. But we look forward to the final return of Jesus to complete God’s plan for history.
Greg Lake’s article “How [Francis] Chan Changed my Life” made fascinating reading. But I was astounded that Chan’s inspirational teaching to commit all to the Lord led to Greg’s giving up his job as Director of the Nauru Detention Centre. Surely, a renewed awakening of his spiritual duty should have led to Greg’s doubling his efforts on behalf of the imprisoned? He was uniquely placed to bring hope and vitality to the languishing Christians and merciful support to all the incarcerated. What an opportunity passed up because of a tender conscience not turned to steel by the injustice of the system over which he was presiding. Hotfoot it back to Nauru, Greg. They need you there more than ever. Roderick West Manly
If Mr Houston does not preach what is termed a prosperity gospel but his gospel is a gospel of God’s grace and blessing as he terms it, then I am inclined to think that his theology of blessing has to do with riches as would be pretty evident if anyone were to read the aforementioned You Need More Money? If he sees blessings as coming in the form of wealth or money does that mean that my starving brothers and sisters in North Korea or Africa are not blessed? He states “God blesses us to be a blessing”. Is he referring to God gives us money so we can give money to others? If so that’s cheapening what it means to be a blessing we don’t need money to be a blessing to others. We need love and the true gospel of Jesus. Christopher Earl, Student Melbourne School of Theology.
Whether the editor gives me two bites at the cherry remains to be seen, but two letters (August) prompt me to write. Alison Watts appears to defend the teaching: “Jesus hates sin but loves the sinner.” But as William Temple pointed out when Archbishop of Canterbury, “That is a shallow psychology which regards the sin as something merely separate from the sinner, which he
I would like to respond to the article from the Eternity in August by John Sandeman featuring Hillsong pastor Brian Houston. Houston states in the article that “he has never believed in the prosperity gospel”. I find this hard to believe in light of the fact he has a book being sold on Amazon entitled – You Need More Money.
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can lay aside like a suit of clothes… there is a wrath of God against me as sinning; God’s will is set one way and mine is set against it…though he longs to forgive, he cannot do so unless either my will is turned from a sinful direction into conformity with his, or there is at work some power which is capable of effecting that change in me.” My second point is on Marshall Smither’s disagreement on the claim that “God suspends or changes natural laws at his
pleasure in miracles.” That’s surely the best definition of ‘miracle’ there is.” God extended the length of the day to enable Joshua to defeat the Lord’s enemies. There is ample evidence for this in the records of three ancient civilizations which studied astronomy: Egypt, Greece and the Indians of the Central Americas. As for the Resurrection...! Donald Howard Elderslie NSW
Eternity is unashamedly a Bible paper. The word of God is a great gift to us, and a great gift we can share with other human beings. In this new-look edition we are pleased to bring the story of the Bible in Aboriginal languages to you from the Ngarrindjeri Bible selections of 150 years ago to the Nyoongar scriptures published this year. It is a very significant anniversary, possibly the most important anniversary this year for Australian Christians. Translation has been hard as well as rewarding work, and we have tried to capture both the sweat and the joy. From this edition onwards we are combining the Bible Society book catalogues with Eternity. It will cost us less to print and distribute the catalogue to all Eternity readers and through local independent Christian bookstores than it did before. We hope you enjoy this new Eternity. John Sandeman
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Emma Watson and the half-hearted Christians Greg Clarke asks when will public Christians get to be heard like actors do?
heartfelt and clear. But why should an actor speak with authority? Sorry to all the actors out there, but your views on gender (or refugees, or war, or the economy, or even coffee, George Clooney) should be proportionate to your expertise and experience. Just because you speak impressively and present well doesn’t mean we should all be listening to you. But in this case, Watson had plenty of authority: the authority of female experience. Women report almost universally a sense of being devalued, discredited, sexualised and ignored from an early age. Almost without exception, they tell tales of how their view of themselves became worse and worse as adolescence set in. How their self-image is shaped by male negative opinion. And how most of life is a struggle just to keep your head above water in a maledominated world. It is a deeply male sin: the disparagement of the woman. It is also a female sin: women are often their own worst critics. But men must face the fact that we have by and large failed to love
Christians are too slow. Slow off the mark in getting things done, slow to speak the truth in love, and slow to point out injustice and try to address it. I came to this sweeping judgement recently while listening to actor Emma Watson make such a splash with her address to the United Nations to launch the #HeForShe campaign for gender equality. The speech has had a stunning impact around the globe. It focused on an important issue, but it wasn’t in fact earthshatteringly new. It asked for gender equality, without focusing on women and girls only; men and boys were part of the story too. Watson pointed out that men suffer from stereotyping of gender roles as much as women do. The “macho” type has left many men feeling unacknowledged, victimised and unsure of their identity. There’s a bit of a macho movement going on in Christian circles here and there too. I have no time for it; it will end in tears, and already is in some places. Broken men do cry. Watson’s speech was genuine,
Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Emma Watson women as they need to be loved. Controversially, Watson argued that when men are better looked after, women benefit: “…when they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence”. This freedom should come from a genuine understanding of oneself as a man before God. The gospel of Jesus means that the old ways must not prevail, and unity, love, care
and kindness must. In Christ, the old divisions are repaired, including any divisions between men and women. We are “all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). As a forgiven sinner, a new creation in Christ, a man is spiritually “free”. That spiritual freedom must play out in more humble, loving, compassionate and gentle relationships. But why are we listening to
an actor tell us this, entitled as she is? Why do entertainers have more clout at present than church leaders and other public Christians? It is because we haven’t stepped up and spoken as we should. We have stayed in our safe houses; we haven’t even headed out onto the verandah. We have kept to ourselves, arguing about in-house issues of church management, or musical styles, or which English Bible translation should receive the gold stamp. We should have been leading the way, Wilberforce-style, on issues such as violence against women. Why have we let the “pagans” show us how it should be done? Christians no longer have a moral high ground from which to speak on issues of sexuality and gender. It’s pretty depressing, to be honest, because in each of these areas we have a great deal of good to offer a needy world. We will have to earn back our voice, and it will take us years. Perhaps the successful implementations of the Christian vision of gender are a little difficult to detect in contrast with a globally televised speech at the United Nations. Let’s hope they can become more visible, and quickly, because when our conduct in public view is honorable, when people speak against Christians as wicked, they will in fact “see our good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12).
For whatever God has in store for you... pastor
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