Why this deafening silence?

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It was not a marriage but a "sacred union".

But the intent of the same-sex ''sacred union ceremony'' at Brunswick Uniting Church was fairly clear: vows and rings were exchanged, there were prayers and blessings, and a multi-tiered white cake to aid post-service celebrations.

The Uniting Church of Australia has come a long way in the last 30 years since it was formed out of the union of Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational churches. John Wesley and John Calvin—founders of two of those denominations—disagreed about some important issues. They would agree today that they can no longer recognise any relationship between the movements they founded and the Uniting Church.

How is it that virtually every movement in history eventually drifts from a commitment to the truths upon which it was founded? A key is the deafening silence in the early stages of decline.

With few exceptions the drift begins with the professional clergy, the academic institutions and the denominational bureaucracy. In these early stages they remain silent about their changing beliefs lest they offend their more conservative constituency. Eventually, they become bolder in their pronouncements. By then it's too late.

As the denomination loses spiritual vitality it dwindles in numbers and its members grow old and die without being replaced.

Property sales from church closures and mergers are a gold mine for religious bureaucracies. They can survive on this artificial life support for generations to come.

Meanwhile somewhere out on the fringe God is up something new . . .