Monthly Archives: January 2011

holistic community engagement

The following is a post I wrote for The Greenhouse Effect, a church-planting blog run by Churches of Christ in NSW. It’s fairly general compared to my regular posts, but hopefully you get something meaningful out of it.

The Church is meant to engage with the community that it finds itself in – most would not doubt such a statement. But how are we meant to go about such engagement?

Many church planters begin with a desire to ‘grow’ a church. Such church’s community engagement becomes necessarily characterised by a need to convince people to attend a program. Not only do people in a community tend to see through such shallow motives and relationships, but also this is not how God calls the Church to engage culture. Keep Reading

what is the gospel?

At the end of last year I was criticised by the organiser of an event I was asked to speak at because of the gospel that I preached.

“We believe the gospel is the good news about the death and resurrection of Jesus,” he said.

On the surface this assertion sounds good to many Christians. But is that really what the gospel is? Is the gospel really just the stating of a doctrinal belief (albeit one based in history) whereby voluntary assent leads to post mortem safety?

Such a caricature does not seem to make sense of the biblical narrative for me. In the Old Testament the phrase “good news” was used to describe the announcement of the people of God concerning the fact that God would bring them back from Exile in a manner similar to that of the Exodus, and that he would be king over them (e.g. Isaiah 40 esp. vv.9-11; 52 esp. vv.7-10). Such kingship obviously implies a kingdom, and so the ‘good news’ (gospel) was essentially an announcement of the coming kingdom of God, that is, God’s reign/rule over his people who are formed into an alternative society to those surrounding them in accordance with the Mosaic Law.

In this way the gospel was intricately linked to the narrative of the Old Testament; God had redeemed and rescued Israel to become an alternative society to empires like Egypt, though throughout their history Israel had eventually become like such empires. For this reason God would cleanse them through fire in the Exile, and the good news (gospel) was that they would be restored as the originally intended alternative kingdom.

In the New Testament the meaning of ‘gospel’ does not really change. By the time of Jesus two things will largely affect the definition of the Greek word euangelion; Keep Reading…

happy invasion day

Many people nowadays replace the term “Australia Day” with “Invasion Day” for our January 26 holiday. This is of course grossly politically incorrect, but alas that is the point!

What do you think? Do you think this is a fair description of the day?

I suppose we all need to reflect today on what Australia Day “celebrates” from all perspectives. For White Australia it does mark the colonisation of yet another land and thus the beginning of a society for us. However for Indigenous Australians it is the day marking the stealing of their land and the resulting slide into statistical poverty.

Such poverty of course did not exist before the colonisation of Australia – Aboriginal people lived in harmony with the bio-web of the land and did not take more than they needed (see my last post on economics).

Australia Day might be a great opportunity for most Australians to wear boardshorts, have a BBQ, listen to the Hottest 100 and drink plenty of beer. However it should also be an opportunity to reflect on the history of our young nation and contemplate the injustices that have occurred on this land.

Aboriginal Australians really were the original owners of this land, and in actual fact our ancestors stole it from them. For Christians this should be a rude awakening to the current needs of the Aboriginal population, as stealing is obviously outrightly condemned in our Scriptures:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

What should we do now? Accept the way things have worked out? Or should we work actively for reconciliation and restitution to the greatest degree possible? The kingdom of God certainly cannot be built on the kind unredeemed history such as that of Australia, wouldn’t you agree?


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