Christianity

Parliament votes no to same sex marriage

From time to time I have drawn attention to the advocacy by progressive clergy for same sex marriage.

It now appears certain that both houses of the Australian parliament will vote no to same sex marriage. This will not be the end of the matter but the beginning of a new stage in the campaign as advocates lobby for changes to the law on a state-by-state basis.

Paul Kelly in the Australian writes that at the heart of the campaign is a new ideology of marriage equality.

He argues that the campaign for same sex marriage is about changing the concept of marriage as the core institution of our civilisation.

The proposal is to strip from the law the idea of marriage as a union between "a man and a woman" and substitute "two people". This means the removal of concepts of motherhood and fatherhood from law, governance and administration in favour of parenthood. Once enshrined in law, the education systems from primary schools upwards will teach your children the ideology of marriage equality, namely equality of homosexual and heterosexual unions, as the foundation for cultural norms, and a philosophy of family that is dictated by constantly evolving social behaviour and fashions.

Kelly warns that,

Once the state authorises same-sex marriage then religions will come under intense pressure and another campaign based on the further application of marriage equality will begin. Looking at the passions of the same-sex movement, can this be doubted? At that point the ideology of marriage equality runs into direct conflict with the idea of religious freedom. Something will have to give.

Kelly is right. The campaign will continue to roll on. Same sex marriage is not the final goal. They want our hearts and minds as well.

The big surprise are the clergy who enthusiastically support this campaign, and the unwillingness of other Christian leaders to openly challenge them. When clergy are permitted to undermine the beliefs and practices of the faith they are meant to uphold, it's a sure sign that a movement is in decline and moving towards decay.

Meanwhile locally, another denomination decides it's time for a conversation about sexual orientation and gay marriage.

Parliament votes no to same sex marriage

From time to time I have drawn attention to the advocacy by progressive clergy for same sex marriage.

It now appears certain that both houses of the Australian parliament will vote no to same sex marriage. This will not be the end of the matter but the beginning of a new stage in the campaign as advocates lobby for changes to the law on a state-by-state basis.

Paul Kelly in the Australian writes that at the heart of the campaign is a new ideology of marriage equality.

He argues that the campaign for same sex marriage is about changing the concept of marriage as the core institution of our civilisation.

The proposal is to strip from the law the idea of marriage as a union between "a man and a woman" and substitute "two people". This means the removal of concepts of motherhood and fatherhood from law, governance and administration in favour of parenthood. Once enshrined in law, the education systems from primary schools upwards will teach your children the ideology of marriage equality, namely equality of homosexual and heterosexual unions, as the foundation for cultural norms, and a philosophy of family that is dictated by constantly evolving social behaviour and fashions.

Kelly warns that,

Once the state authorises same-sex marriage then religions will come under intense pressure and another campaign based on the further application of marriage equality will begin. Looking at the passions of the same-sex movement, can this be doubted? At that point the ideology of marriage equality runs into direct conflict with the idea of religious freedom. Something will have to give.

Kelly is right. The campaign will continue to roll on. Same sex marriage is not the final goal. They want our hearts and minds as well.

The big surprise are the clergy who enthusiastically support this campaign, and the unwillingness of other Christian leaders to openly challenge them. When clergy are permitted to undermine the beliefs and practices of the faith they are meant to uphold, it's a sure sign that a movement is in decline and moving towards decay.

Meanwhile locally, another denomination decides it's time for a conversation about sexual orientation and gay marriage.

The high cost of peace at any price

Yet another story of a group of clergy who have taken it upon themselves to reinvent marriage to fit our broken image.

I'm not sure of my denomination's position on homosexual marriage, if it has one. One of the campaigners is a regular contributor to the denominational newspaper—the Baptist Witness. The paper is happy to link to his website which promotes gay marriage.

We also have a theological college lecturer who teaches that God did not make man male or female, but male and female. Therefore humanity is a continuum between masculinity and femininity. Humanity can be ‘homosexual’, ‘intersexual’ and the ‘transsexual’ and that's ok. An amazing discovery after thousands of years of misinterpretation.

This has got to be one of the worst examples of exegesis I've ever seen. Still, what would I know? I'm not a theologian charged with training the next generation of church leaders and thinkers.

What should a denomination do? The issues must be brought out into the open, discussed, debated and resolved under the authority of scripture.

Peace at any price is far too expensive.

The high cost of peace at any price

Yet another story of a group of clergy who have taken it upon themselves to reinvent marriage to fit our broken image.

I'm not sure of my denomination's position on homosexual marriage, if it has one. One of the campaigners is a regular contributor to the denominational newspaper—the Baptist Witness. The paper is happy to link to his website which promotes gay marriage.

We also have a theological college lecturer who teaches that God did not make man male or female, but male and female. Therefore humanity is a continuum between masculinity and femininity. Humanity can be ‘homosexual’, ‘intersexual’ and the ‘transsexual’ and that's ok. An amazing discovery after thousands of years of misinterpretation.

This has got to be one of the worst examples of exegesis I've ever seen. Still, what would I know? I'm not a theologian charged with training the next generation of church leaders and thinkers.

What should a denomination do? The issues must be brought out into the open, discussed, debated and resolved under the authority of scripture.

Peace at any price is far too expensive.

Philip Jenkins on the future of Christianity

Here's a nice sequel to the series on the rise and fall of Atheism in the modern world. Philip Jenkins on the future of Christianity. I read authors who change the way I see the world. So I've ordered it.

A review from Publishers Weekly:

In his highly acclaimed The Next Christendom (2002), Jenkins boldly proclaimed that the center of Christianity was moving slowly out of Europe and North America to Latin America, Africa and Asia. By 2025, he points out, Africa and Latin America will compete over which area is most Christian.

In this compelling sequel, Jenkins probes more deeply the differences between northern and southern Christianity, examining various elements that characterize Christian life, especially belief in the Bible. He argues that the mostly agrarian Christian communities in Latin America, Africa and Asia resemble early Christian communities, enabling southern-hemisphere Christians to read the Bible with fresh eyes.

Such communities read the Bible communally rather than individually, and they read it less critically and more literally than their North American and European counterparts. Explosive debates over the ordination of women and homosexuals and the authority of the Bible in various global denominations—such as the Anglican Communion—illustrate not only the stark theological differences between North and South but also the sheer size of the southern communions influencing the debate.

As part of a proposed trilogy (his book on Europe's coming religious struggle is scheduled for late 2007) Jenkins's prescient religious histories offer brilliant insights on the state of modern Christianity.

The future is not Western or white, it's global and it's African, Asian (including India), and South American. Christianity is on the rise where us white guys are in the minority and guess where the world's population is growing the fastest? We tend to miss it unless you've travelled or read authors like Philip Jenkins.

“The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South” (Philip Jenkins)

Philip Jenkins on the future of Christianity

Here's a nice sequel to the series on the rise and fall of Atheism in the modern world. Philip Jenkins on the future of Christianity. I read authors who change the way I see the world. So I've ordered it.

A review from Publishers Weekly:

In his highly acclaimed The Next Christendom (2002), Jenkins boldly proclaimed that the center of Christianity was moving slowly out of Europe and North America to Latin America, Africa and Asia. By 2025, he points out, Africa and Latin America will compete over which area is most Christian.

In this compelling sequel, Jenkins probes more deeply the differences between northern and southern Christianity, examining various elements that characterize Christian life, especially belief in the Bible. He argues that the mostly agrarian Christian communities in Latin America, Africa and Asia resemble early Christian communities, enabling southern-hemisphere Christians to read the Bible with fresh eyes.

Such communities read the Bible communally rather than individually, and they read it less critically and more literally than their North American and European counterparts. Explosive debates over the ordination of women and homosexuals and the authority of the Bible in various global denominations—such as the Anglican Communion—illustrate not only the stark theological differences between North and South but also the sheer size of the southern communions influencing the debate.

As part of a proposed trilogy (his book on Europe's coming religious struggle is scheduled for late 2007) Jenkins's prescient religious histories offer brilliant insights on the state of modern Christianity.

The future is not Western or white, it's global and it's African, Asian (including India), and South American. Christianity is on the rise where us white guys are in the minority and guess where the world's population is growing the fastest? We tend to miss it unless you've travelled or read authors like Philip Jenkins.

“The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South” (Philip Jenkins)

Christianity moves South

Christianity moves

“As I travel, I have observed a pattern, a strange historical phenomenon of God ‘moving’ geographically from the Middle East, to Europe to North America to the developing world. My theory is this: God goes where he is wanted.”

Philip Yancey

For the last five hundred years the story of Christianity has been bound up with Europe and European derived cultures. According to Philip Jenkins, over the past century the centre of gravity in the Christian world has shifted southward to Africa, Asia and Latin America. These are the regions in which the largest and fastest growing Christian communities on the planet are to be found. They are also the regions of fastest population growth. Combined with decreasing fertility rates in the West the result is that, “By 2050, only about one-fifth of the world’s 3 billion Christians will be non-Hispanic Whites.” While Western Christianity is may be in decline, a new era of Southern Christianity is dawning.

1. A biblical-supernatural worldview

Southern Christians, whether they are Catholic, Evangelical or Pentecostal, are far more conservative in terms of both beliefs and moral teaching than the mainline churches in the prosperous North. “Southern Christians retain a very strong supernatural orientation, and are by and large far more interested in personal salvation than in radical politics.” This may explain the neglect of Western experts who do not find these churches to their taste.

Christians in the developing world take the Bible very seriously. They believe that what they read in the Gospels is happening in their midst. They believe that the world of the apostles is a present reality. “If there is a single area of faith and practice that divides Northern and Southern Christians, it is the matter of spiritual forces and their effects on the everyday human world.”

2. Home grown

The vibrancy of the church in the global South confounds the myth that Christianity is a European-American religion exported to a passive Third World. “Over the past two centuries, at least, it might have been the European empires that first kindled Christianity around the world, but the movement soon enough turned into an uncontrollable bushfire.”

In Africa the end of the colonial period marked the beginning of the explosive growth of the Christian movement on that continent. In China, since the beginning of communist rule and the subsequent expulsion of foreign missionaries, the church has grown at least ten fold to between 60-100 million participants.

“Whatever their image in popular culture, Christian missionaries of the colonial era succeeded remarkably.” Their success was not due to the imposition of a foreign faith backed with political and economic power. They succeeded because the church that was planted in fresh soil adapted to local circumstances and took on a life of its own. Christianity became even more appealing when it no longer implied submission to a foreign power.

Leadership roles, especially in the Pentecostal and independent churches, are not restricted to those who have been formally trained in Western oriented academic institutions. Local leaders are chosen who demonstrate the required spiritual gifts and qualities.

3. Communities of Faith

As the developing world modernizes rural societies are becoming more urbanized as millions join the drift to the burgeoning mega-cities. They find in those places a desperate lack of resources and infrastructure. The old support systems of extended family and village are replaced with the anonymity and alienation of the city.

In these cities religious communities act as an alternative social system providing health, welfare and education. Congregations often replace distant family networks. It was Christianity’s “radical sense of community” that made it so appealing in the days of the Roman Empire. Likewise the appeal of the early Methodists “at once providing material support, mutual cooperation, spiritual comfort, and emotional release in the bleak wastes of the expanding industrial society.”

The astonishing growth of the world’s mega cities will continue. There is every indication that the churches in those cities will continue to grow with them.

Conclusion

Christianity is flourishing wonderfully among the poor and persecuted, while it atrophies among the rich and secure…. [T]he distribution of modern Christians might well show that the religion does succeed best when it takes very seriously the profound pessimism about the secular world that characterizes the New Testament. If it is not exactly a faith based on the experience of poverty and persecution, then at least it regards these things as normal and expected elements of life. That view is not derived from complex theological reasoning, but is rather a lesson drawn from lived experience. Christianity certainly can succeed in other settings, even amid peace and prosperity, but perhaps it does become harder, as hard as passing through the eye of a needle.


“The Next Christendom : The Coming of Global Christianity ” (Philip Jenkins)