Christian Groups’ support for various political parties in Australia

The Australian federal election is about mid-way through the six weeks election process; and sadly, there are a number of Christian groups who are entering this process to endorse candidates who most closely align to the ‘Christian’ view.  I don’t have an issue at all, with Christians being involved in a political process. Yet, I think, Christian groups in general are naive about politics.

Here are two examples: First, the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL). The Canberra-based non-denominational group yesterday launched its election website, compiling party policies on issues ranging from gay marriages and abortion to homelessness.  [Link to article: Christians target Labor’s libertarians  by Siobhain Ryan | October 30, 2007 ]

In this article, we read: “It is using the responses to mobilise the Christian vote in 15 key marginal seats. ACL managing director Jim Wallace praised both Labor and the Coalition for engaging with Christians pre-election. But he said the ALP was “less clear” on where it stood on a recent Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission report. (The opposition leader)  Kevin Rudd needs to reject the “libertarian views” of his party colleagues if he is to pass a key test of faith, says the ACL.”

Mr Jim Wallace (and others), please understand this –  the Liberal or Labor Party will abandon Christian values if it means that by adopting them, they will lose votes – their advisers can count the difference between the votes for the Christian position and the vote for the ‘popular’ position! That’s why, they protect their Christian ‘identity’ for lost political positions by having a conscience vote – the ‘numbers’ people  know the outcome on the floor of the ‘house’ before any parliamentary vote. Hence, for example, an abortion drug debate may end up with a conscience vote because the leader of the prevailing Christian-supported party, will have been advised that it’s already a lost position.

In Australian politics, Prime Minister Howard has already demonstrated that he will spin mis-information to protect his Christian position (kids overboard); yet will disclose his reading of the voting population (the popular vote) by introducing bills on immigration, targeting West Papuans – an ethnic (and largely Christian) population suffering ‘political’ and cultural genocide. A federal Labor government will be no different – an issue that will cause Kevin Rudd many sleepless nights.

Mr Wallace, the Liberal government if re-elected will introduce legislation on such issues as: ‘homosexual rights’, etc.; and, whoever is leader will most likely – have a conscience vote – the legislation will pass. Is that clear! The ‘libertarian’ views of the general population – that is, the most votes – will prevail.

A second issue: represented by this article “Heat on PM to cut link to pastor.” by Misha Schubert, October 31, 2007 –  it’s my view that Pastor Nalliah should not address any League of Rights meeting, for any reason. If he feels led to minister to their members then he can invite them to his meetings.

In a general sense, all those who are against Jews, because of their race/culture – are not Christians. To clarify this issue – it’s appropriate to critise Israel, for example on their treatment of Palestinians in Gaza ( re with-holding of electricity / water) – but, it’s not alright to malign Jews because they are Jews.

Extract from the article, as follows: “PRIME Minister John Howard and Treasurer Peter Costello are under pressure to distance themselves from an evangelical church leader who has spoken at a meeting of the far right-wing League of Rights. Pastor Danny Nalliah, the head of Melbourne-based Catch the Fire Ministries, has confirmed he addressed the group, despite being warned that they were ‘anti-Jewish’. Pastor Nalliah has been given top-level access in recent months to the Howard Government, which he has endorsed enthusiastically.”

(He has actively lobbied against most other political parties.)

Pastor Nalliah has the same problem as the ACL – political parties are not homogeneous beasts – they play the lobby-group game – try to please all, and alienate none – what wins the most votes, count! Pastor Nalliah is a pawn in their game! A potentially happy pawn because he may get to share in the lime light, if Howard wins the election!

Catholics are vital to Australia’s democratic future

In today’s Sydney Morning Herald (October 30,2007) there is an article by the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell.

It is an edited extract from an address given at the Sydney Institute last night to mark the launch of his book God and Caesar: Selected Essays on Religion, Politics and Society

I think that whoever edited the address and extracted what was printed, either had a profound sense of humour or in a great hurry – perhaps both. (Please note: I’m not anti-Catholic, but some things are too important to be presented to the public in such an odd way.)

The strangest part of this story is perhaps its heading “Christianity vital to democracy’s future”, well Cardinal Pell I don’t think God worries a lot about whether a government is democratic or a roman republic or a theocracy – can you correct me, and demonstrate from Scripture the error of my thinking?

First Cardinal Pell talks about the enduring nature of Christian belief – and, the anger of some well-known atheists because belief in God has lasted so long. In this introductory part of the discussion, while he dwells on these atheists – he says: “It is, after all, not unheard of for children to grow up angry at a father who is remote, absent, or unknown.” I though, was that a large, red herring that just swam past?

He then jumps into the fire of ‘how did we get here’: He goes on to say: “And the alternatives are creative intelligence – that is, God – or blind chance. It would be infuriating to concede that Christ, the Buddha, Aristotle, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Newton, Beethoven and Einstein are pointless froth in a heartless universe.” Well, Cardinal Pell, colourful language but what are you trying to say? Is it, that atheists find it infuriating to concede that various creative minds are pointless froth in a heartless universe? Perhaps they would have used different words to your frothy universe but in essence – yes, they do say intelligent people are the result of specific evolutionary processes! I don’t agree with their view but perhaps you meant something else; and, as I’m not in the same ball-bark as Shakespeare or Einstein. I’m really not sure what the point is, that you are trying to make, which will eventually tie in democracy and Christianity. One additional issue that I have with this last statement – is that including Christ in that list was, in one sense, a very poor inclusion – was it not?

So, I’m reading along holding the three key words; ‘Christianity’, ‘vital’, ‘democracy’; and waiting patiently for the various threads of the article to be drawn together so that I can go onto the next news item – and perhaps, being all the better – having learned something.

Cardinal Pell then launches out with the key statement: “Catholics remain the largest religious minority in the country.” Does that mean the Cardinal is really saying that Catholics are vital to democracy’s future?

He makes a number of statements which have no supporting evidence: one, ‘that Australians are pragmatic rather than ideological about the relationship between religion and democracy’; two, ‘the idea that religion is irrational and must be excluded from public affairs is not a native Australian plant’; and three, ‘it is important to have a critical mass of active religious believers in the community, partly because of the so-called social usefulness of religion, particularly in picking up the pieces of social and personal dysfunction.’

I’m starting to approach the end of the article but where’s the case for Catholics being vital for our future democracy.

Well here’s the start of it: “But more deeply than this, I also think many Australians appreciate that having a goodly number of active believers is essential to ensure that the values of a fair go and respect for others are promoted and passed on to the next generation. ” and ; “most Australians expect the churches to help pass on to young people the (essential) values.”

The core case for this view presented by the Cardinal is that most Australians expect the Catholic Church to help pass on our essential values to the next generation.

The problem is: “the fertility rates of every Western country are below replacement level“; and the solution is “Catholicism’s role in (democratic) Australia, is to help turn this situation around.” but the extracts in this article do not explicitly say what is meant here, which is, Catholics should have more kids, and that aligns well with Catholic tradition!

Now, don’t you feel enlightened – Christianity is vital to democracy’s future because of our higher birth rate. Which may mean that those atheist will soon become extinct because they don’t breed as much – this has its humous side, don’t you think?

Hidden in the last part of the article is this dangerous statement: “The key public task facing all Christians today is to make the case for Western civilisation and to replenish the sources from which it takes life and strength.”

Cardinal Pell – there is a whole lot wrong with our current Western civilisation – and I, for one, will not be making a case for it! There is nothing inherently Christian about any particular brand of civilisation – what makes any government entity, Christian, is the way they follow Jesus!

Homosexuality and the blessing of same-sex unions. (Anglican issue)

I’ve been busy for a few months and was wondering what sort of topic I should start with, once I had more time to write for this blog. Let me state from the start – I don’t have any more of an interest in homosexuality than any other sin. I’m equally at odds with those who promote: any form of idolatry or misdirected worship; misuse of God’s name; that no day of the week should be set aside for God and us; not honouring our mother or father; murder (and that includes those who do not control their anger, and war); adultery (likewise, anyone who looks at another lustfully); theft; false testimony; or the idea, that it’s okay to want, what is not ours. Does this list sound remotely familiar?

I do understand, and have some empathy for, the theories that homosexuality may have a genetic and/or environmental background. In a similar way, I understand that anger, theft and other forms of sexual or antisocial behaviour may be influenced by genetics or environmental factors.

None, of any existing predispositions, change the sinful nature of the human condition regarding our response to any actions arising out of the way we live and relate to others, The factors which make us ‘who we are’, are taken into account, but do not change the need to test our actions against what God wants, as defined by what has been clearly articulated in Scripture! God knows our heart, our background and our genetics; consequently – our culpability regarding our sinful acts will be perfectly judged by Him.

We live with the characteristics which God has allowed us to inherit or develop. That’s a good starting point, don’t you agree?

Background

Scripture (Old Testament and Paul’s letters) clearly tells us that active homosexuality is wrong – can there be there any debate on this statement? I answer: Yes, but only by those who deny that the spiritual truths of Scripture apply to all generations (past and present). As if God was ignorant of how the human race would ‘evolve’, and we would end up to be totally different to what He expected – you may live in hope that God is indeed, so powerless and lacking in foresight! I prefer to live my life knowing that He is all powerful and all knowing – He exists outside of time (Jesus created time.) and knows exactly how, where and when all things start and end.

Another plea, in support of active homosexual relationships, is that Jesus never spoke about homosexuality. Let’s look at the context: at the time of Jesus. Israel was an ‘island’ of a nationalistic culture which was very religious and strongly anti-homosexual. We know this from the writings of Joseph ben Matthias (better known as Flavius Josephus (AD 37-c.100), and other Roman historians of the time – these historians recorded the strict religious views of this State. Josephus records; that even, the self-centred and murderous ruler, Herrod the Great, was well aware of the anti-homosexual views of the religious rulers of this time. In addition, there was a national response, after the Maccobean rebellion, which increased the anti-Greek and anti-hedonistic rhetoric of the Jewish Rabbinic teaching of the time; which included their strong condemnation, in general, of all types of sexual sin. Did Jesus say, at any time, that this strong anti-homosexual response was wrong? Did he add anything to His criticism of their teaching; on purity, wealth, and religious traditions regarding their ‘extreme’ position on homosexuality – the resounding answer is: No! In summary, the fact that Jesus did not condemn their stance on homosexuality is more of a problem for the pro-gay group then it is for people who hold similar views to me.

In a way – the attack on the view that homosexuality is wrong – is an attack on God. My reasoning for saying this is because the ‘liberal’ church’s position on homosexuality can only be sustained if the relevance of Scripture is questioned. Once we question this aspect of scriptural teaching then any part of what we call the essential elements of Christian creed can also be questioned – and, if we use the Jesus Seminar reports or John Spong’s writings as an example, this is certainly the case. Taking the current line of testing Scripture’s alignment to cultural relevance where does the logical extreme of this argument take us to – again, if current literature is a guide, to the conclusion that Jesus was human and did not die to save us – and; who benefits from that false conclusion – our old enemy – the prowling lion.

Current Issue

What initiated my thoughts on this topic was the report that “Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, paid a traditional call on Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on Oct. 16. … (you can read more about it at this site. During their two-hour meeting, Archbishop Hiltz described the current state of the Anglican Church of Canada, particularly after the national meeting, General Synod, this past June. He spoke about the issue of human sexuality, and explained the diocese of Ottawa’s decision to approve blessings of same-sex unions. (The diocese of Montreal, which later passed a similar motion, had not yet met). Archbishop Williams appeared receptive to the Canadian church’s actions. “He described our approach to handling the whole matter as ‘coherent,'” said Archbishop Hiltz. “We also, in that conversation, focused on the pastoral statement of the bishops and the kind of value that has for the church.” In another report on their Synod meeting, I read this: “ … many people want more opportunity to study and listen to determine whether this change (blessing of same-sex unions) is a theologically appropriate and Spirit-led development of doctrine. … “

My view is that it is NOT theological appropriate and it is NOT led by God. God, is the same God, of the Old and New Testaments – He has not changed – He has always known about our cultural changes over the centuries. The Bible was written with us in mind.

So, Archbishop Hiltz, remember this (Luke 17:1-3a): “Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourself.”

In conclusion, I’m more than happy to sit down with any homosexual, murderer, or thief and discuss what Scripture has to say about sin. I’m also more than prepared to talk about the love of Jesus for them and His death which paid the penalty for all our sins, for which I’m especially, eternally grateful. Keep in mind that while Jesus loves you with all His life – He is not always nice – sometimes if you want to go against God’s will, He will turn around and say: “Get behind me, Satan.” – He only says such harsh words, to shock you into the reality of your sin, with the view of saving your life. Such is His love!