AUSTRALIAN  PRAYER  NETWORK  NEWSLETTER – AUSTRALIAN NEWS 11th SEPTEMBER 2013

  • KEVIN RUDD SHOWS US HOW NOT TO READ THE BIBLE
  • WHY LABOUR LOST THE CHRISTIAN VOTE
  • PUSH TO END EXPULSION OF HOMOSEXUAL STUDENTS IN NSW
     

KEVIN RUDD SHOWS US HOW NOT TO READ THE BIBLE

Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies says Kevin Rudd was ‘profoundly wrong’ in his comments about slavery, same-sex marriage and the Bible when answering a question from Pastor Matt Prater on the ABC program Q and A last week. Mr Prater had asked Mr Rudd how his beliefs as a professing Christian on same sex marriage lined up with the Bible, Mr Rudd said “Well mate if I was going to have that view, the Bible also says that slavery is a natural condition.” He went on to outline his support for same sex marriage. In a statement Dr Davies said “Kevin Rudd misquoted the Bible and attributed to the Bible something that Aristotle said (that slavery is a natural condition). The Bible never says that. 

“The Bible sees slavery as the result of fallen and broken relationships in society and it is crystal clear in its condemnation of the slave trade.” (1 Tim 1:10) Dr Davies said.  Davies went on “I am disappointed by the latest comments from Mr Rudd in the same way that I was disappointed by the position he announced in May. In my view he has not been reflecting on the teaching of Scripture.  To sanction same-sex ‘marriage’ is not the teaching of the Anglican Church nor is it the teaching of the Bible. The Bible views marriage as an institution that God created. Jesus brings clarity to the nature of marriage by saying that it is an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman, for life. 

“To describe the relationship between two persons of the same sex as marriage is contrary to the Bible’s teaching” Davies said. “Proponents of same sex marriage should simply say they disagree with biblical teaching, rather than pretend their ill-informed reading is in line with the Bible. In recent days a number of claims have been made about slavery and shellfish in the Bible. The line normally goes something like this: although the Bible prohibits God’s people from eating shellfish and also endorses slavery, we can disregard these ethical instructions because we have come of age and can see things differently with our superior knowledge and wisdom concerning what is right and wrong. 

Therefore, when it comes to novel concepts such as redefining marriage to include two persons of the same sex, we can simply abandon the teaching of the Bible, and in particular, even the teaching of Jesus, on the grounds that the Bible has been superseded by the moral insights of the twenty-first century. This confused way of handling the Bible springs from an ignorance of the Bible’s own narrative. The Bible’s story is a progressive one, unfolding through the lives of Noah, Abraham and Moses (and the nation of Israel) and culminating in the arrival of Jesus, the long awaited Messiah, not only of the Jewish people, but of all people – from every tribe and nation.

In preparation for the coming of Jesus, God provided specific cultic commands for the nation of Israel as a visual teaching aid for understanding holiness of life through ceremonies of ritual cleanness, which specifically distinguished Israel from other nations. An obvious example is the system of sacrifices instituted under Mosaic law, and the corresponding distinctions between clean and unclean food – hence the prohibition of shellfish. Yet, these only applied when God’s people were co-extensive with the nation of Israel which identified them as being both morally and ceremonially distinct from all other nations.

Jesus came to fulfil the law of Moses (Matthew 5:17). A significant consequence of his coming is the fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham that all nations would be blessed, without needing to attach themselves to the Jewish nation. Consequently, the need for national identity markers, such as food laws and circumcision, are no longer valid under the new covenant established by Jesus. This is foretold by Jesus in Mark 7:19 and by Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:19. The teaching of ritual cleanness is thereby abolished, along with animal sacrifices and food laws, because these symbolic markers have found their fulfilment in the life and death of Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life.

That the Bible commands a diet of only ceremonially clean food at one stage of redemptive history and then abandons this requirement when Jesus comes to fulfil God’s purposes for humankind is not some form of contrariness, or worse, an inherent contradiction in the Bible’s teaching. Rather, it is part of God’s intended plan in preparing his people for the coming of the Messiah Jesus. The apostle Paul likens this transition to that of a minor coming of age (Galatians 4:1-7). It reflects the unfolding purposes of God’s plan through the distinctive ages of human existence.

Therefore, it is a shallow approach to the Bible to mock the prohibition on the eating of shellfish (Leviticus 11:9-12) as if it still applied today, without understanding this temporary command within redemptive history and the explicit teaching of Jesus who has come to liberate us from such ceremonial and cultic behaviour which distinguishes between clean and unclean foods. Moreover, it is also a misguided approach to the Bible’s teaching to infer that because the form of ceremonial activity has changed, that the ethical imperative undergirding the ceremony has also changed. Not so! Jesus’s words in Mark 7:18-23 are as instructive to us today as they were to his first century hearers.

Jesus said “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of their body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.) He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come. All evil that defiles a person comes from inside.” Jesus affirms the moral integrity of God’s laws expressed in the Old Testament, and their abiding character and application for us today, but re-establishes them for his disciples in a non-ceremonial and non-cultic manner, as befits the age of fulfilment that Jesus came to bring.

When Jesus taught his disciples about the sanctity of marriage, he reminded them that marriage was not a human invention but God’s idea: an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman for life. Yet he also recognised that in a fallen and broken world, some marriages may end in divorce, due to the unfaithfulness of one or both parties. While this was not the original intention, Moses’s law provided for divorce in certain circumstances, and so did Jesus. In similar manner, the Old Testament provided for the equitable treatment of slaves, but this was not part of God’s original design, where all men and women were created equal. 

Israelites could not be kept in slavery for more than six years (Exodus 21:2) which demonstrates that God saw slavery as temporary, and the redemption of the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt bears ample testimony to God’s purposes for bringing freedom from bondage for all humankind and his condemnation of the slave trade (1 Timothy 1:10). It would be much more honest if proponents of same sex marriage did not misuse the Bible in mounting their arguments but simply declared their disagreement with biblical teaching. Jesus’s words are instructive: “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

Source: By Rev Glenn Davies Anglican Archbishop of Sydney

 

WHY LABOUR LOST THE CHRISTIAN VOTE

For many, the Prime Minister’s spirited defence of same-sex marriage on the ABC last week was a watershed moment. Kerryn Phelps hailed it as a “historical moment in Australian politics” and penned a 475-word article of thanks to Rudd. For Phelps and so many other LGBTIQ (lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/intersexed/questioning) voters, this was the “sweetest victory of all”. Yet for so many Christian voters, this was the moment that the sheep’s clothing came off the wolf’s back. At 7.30pm last Monday, more than 35,000 Christians gathered across 339 churches in every state and territory of Australia to watch Rudd and Tony Abbott address the Christian constituency.

Not yet knowing what was to come, many may have sympathised with Rudd’s apparently genuine admission that: “Many in the Christian churches may be disappointed with some of the decisions that I have taken as Prime Minister or as a person. I have also undertaken those decisions in good and prayerful conscience, even though people in equal prayerful conscience may disagree with some of those conclusions.” If the night had ended there, many would have been disappointed but at least sympathetic towards Rudd’s clumsy attempt to navigate through a complex moral minefield. What came next, no one could have foreseen.

Not more than three hours later, Rudd publicly crucified a mainstream Christian pastor for questioning the PM’s backflip on marriage policy. Instead of the “gentle Kevin meek and mild” we’d seen earlier that night, Rudd now not only failed to directly answer the question but mercilessly lambasted the pastor, whose personal views were irrelevant to his response.  While Rudd’s gross distortion of biblical truth was deeply concerning, it was his modus operandi and treatment of the Christian church that was offensive. In retrospect, the Prime Minister’s apparently gracious words of 7.30pm were akin to Judas’s kiss before his 10.30pm betrayal. 

Voters can forgive a prime minister for changing his or her mind on even an important policy issue. On Monday night, however, Rudd treated Christian voters in Australia with absolute contempt.  Far from being some moment of great integrity and strong leadership, the Prime Minister’s visceral attack on the Christian church was nothing more than cheap political opportunism. It was this Prime Minister’s attempt at creating his own “misogyny speech”, with the same confected moral outrage against a fictitious straw man. It was political desperation on steroids.

Rudd’s attempt at leveraging the same-sex marriage debate as a Hail Mary pass was always doomed to fail. It irreparably damaged his once close relationship with the Christian constituency across Australia. In fact, across the course of the election campaign, Rudd has gradually severed ties with the people with whom he identified so closely in 2009. According to former ALP senator John Black, Rudd has neglected the “young working-class families in the outer suburbs, many of whom go to church and believe in God”. “Frankly, I haven’t seen Kevin Rudd talking to those people a lot during the course of this campaign,” Black said.

In June 2010, Rudd was torn down by his own party over his mismanagement of the emissions trading scheme and resource super-profits tax. The same gross lack of political judgment which cost him the confidence of his caucus, appears now to have motivated his neglect of vast swaths of the electorate who were supporters of Kevin07. Joe de Bruyn, national secretary of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association, cautioned prior to the election that “Labor runs the risk that people will not vote Labor because they don’t like the same-sex marriage issue.”  On Monday, the Prime Minister ran that risk and crashed through. On Saturday he paid the ultimate price when much of the conservative Christian constituency turned their backs on him at the ballot box.”

Source: by Adam Ch’ng Melbourne lawyer and Government policy advisor

 

PUSH TO END EXPULSION OF HOMOSEXUAL STUDENTS IN NSW

Laws that allow private schools to expel students because they are homosexual could be abolished if NSW MP’S are allowed a conscience vote on the issue. Under the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act, it is unlawful for public schools and educational institutions to discriminate against or expel students on the basis of homosexuality, transgender status and other traits, but private schools and colleges are explicitly exempt from these provisions. Independent MP for Sydney Alex Greenwich (a professing homosexual) who is seeking to overturn the laws said he hoped a conscience vote would be granted if the two main parties did not back the bill outright. 

”I have spoken to a number of government members and opposition members who are keen on it,” Greenwich said. Though few, if any, cases of students actually being expelled under the laws are known, students at religious schools say their complaints about homophobic bullying are sometimes ignored by staff and have been told they should convert to heterosexuality, according to a recent senate submission by Dr Tiffany Jones from the University of New England’s School of Education.  Mr Greenwich said schoolchildren should be free from harassment and discrimination.

”Students bullied by their peers because of their sexual preferences are less likely to report the matter to teachers if they know they could be expelled,” Greenwich said. ”A school that can by law discriminate is less likely to have processes in place to deal with this type of bullying if reported.” Both the Coalition and Labor said they would examine the details of the bill before taking a position. Labor’s education spokeswoman, Carmel Tebbutt, said she had ‘”sympathy” for what Mr Greenwich was trying to achieve. ”I respect the religious beliefs of faith-based schools, but it is important that all students are treated fairly and not subject to discrimination,” Tebbutt said. 

Private and religious schools have already voiced opposition to removing the exemptions. Ian Baker, from the NSW Catholic Education Commission, said that the fact that so few, if any, cases of students being expelled were known, was testament to the fact schools tended to treat such students with sensitivity. ‘‘It speaks for itself,’’ he said.  “The objective is not to punish, but to protect the rights of those families who send their child to a school based on a religious faith.’’  Independent Schools NSW spokesman, Geoff Newcombe, also defended the right of schools to decide who they enrolled, provided they operated within the law.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports