Paul Inglis is a long time member of the Uniting and Anglican Churches in Australia. He recently retired as the Community Minister for Dayboro and Mt Mee Uniting Churches, just north of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. He accepted an invitation to become the Queensland's first Uniting Church Community Minister and continued in that role for more than 10 years. Previously he had been a State primary school teacher, school principal for 11 years and then Lecturer in Education at the Queensland University of Technology for 25 years. He has served on UCA Assembly, Synod, Presbytery and Congregational Councils. In retirement he is actively involved in family, church, and community. His commitment to 'progressive' Christianity emerged from contact with the late Professor Rod Jensen who founded the Lay Forum in 2004 and from his experience in ministry with people seeking an authentic faith. Paul's PhD from the University of Queensland is in Adult Learning.
One of our very active members has been working with the team at Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation group. Wayne Sanderson has this to say about the ANTaR Q presentation:
This will be an exceptional night with over 300 people present. A great opportunity to meet ANTaR Q supporters and First Peoples Elders – particularly those integral to Youth Justice reform in Queensland. In particular, we are honoured to have Mr Mick Gooda as special guest. Mick is a Gangulu man from Central Queensland. He has worked as Social Justice Commissioner with the Australian Human Rights Commission; and more recently as Co-Commissioner in the Royal Commission into Youth Crime in the Northern Territory. In particular, Mick will address the movement towards constitutional recognition of First Peoples and the Makarrata (treaty) momentum.
We are happy to recommend this event to our subscribers. Enquiries to Wayne (click on his name above).
The Redcliffe Explorers will meet on Monday 6th May in the Azure Blue function room, Anzac Avenue Redcliffe, with tea/coffee and chat from 6:00 p.m. The night’s discussion, starting at 6:30, will be facilitated by Greg and Meryem Brown, who recently participated in two conferences in the US – The Universal Christ: another name for everything (conducted by the Center for Contemplation and Action) in New Mexico, and Conversations with Jesus (hosted by the Gospel Coalition) in Indiana. The focus of the evening’s conversation will be comparing and contrasting the presentations and theological underpinning of the two groups.
The CCA is led by Fr Richard Rohr, a Franciscan, who now has more than 300,000 on line subscribers.
The Gospel Coalition “helps people know God’s Word with their mind, love God fully with their heart, and engage the world with grace and truth.” It has a very strong Calvinist bent, with an emphasis on cultural transformation.
All are welcome; if you’re new to our Explorers meetings please call Ian on 3284 3688 or 0401 513 723 for details of how to access this venue or email Ian.
The media has recently been awash with stories about the hateful comments made online by Australian Rugby Union star, Israel Folau, about various classes of people being destined for hell unless they repent and conform to a set of beliefs (and related lifestyle choices) promoted by extremely conservative Christians.
His original Instamgram post then reinforces his threats of damnation in the fires of hell with a series of citations from the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible.
To be fair, similar claims can be heard at almost any Anglican Church in the Sydney area, as well as in many other congregations around the country where ultra-traditional religious views survive to this day.
Such views are abhorrent, no matter who makes them. They also reflect a profound ignorance of the Bible and of biblical hermeneutics.
Now we find Des Houghton—a Courier-Mail columnist and opinion writer—arguing that criticism of Folau for his hateful views is really an attack on Christianity, and perhaps on all forms of religious faith.
This is going too far.
Religion is neither an excuse for hate speech nor a protection for those who engage in it.
Condemning people to the fires of hell because of their beliefs or their lifestyle—like claiming divine approval for slavery, ethnic cleansing and patriarchy—is an element of Christian faith that progressive believers have long since laid aside as inappropriate; along with burning peoople at the stake and interrogating them under torture.
These are indeed among the darker elements of Judaism and Christianity, but are no longer practices that we can endorse or defend.
Just as polygamy and female gential mutilation are not permitted under Australian law despite their status as traditional religious practices, hate speech that threatens people with hell fire cannot be excused as ‘protected religious activity’.
Sadly our religious leaders—bishops and moderators alike—have been strangely silent in reponse to the hateful social media posts by Israel Folau. For sure some will secretly agree with him although they mostly do not speak so openly about their views these days. Most have simply been silent, and perhaps thereby were mistakenly assumed to agree with his views.
The Bible does not justify hate speech even when the Scriptures themselves descend to the gutter in the heat of some particular conflict.
Our society has moved on and the views promoted by people such as Israel Folau serve best when they remind us of how far we have come. Theocracies are one of the most dangerous forms of human society, as we see daily in both Saudi Arabia and Iran.
The best response to such extremist nonsense is perhaps ridicule rather than prosecution. Laugh them off the stage and move your discretional spending to other recreational pursuits.
In two weeks time I will be in Sydney to speak at the Festival of Wild Ideas, an event sponsored by the Mosman/Neutral Bay Inter-Church Council. My topic for that address is: Reading the Bible to promote human flourishing.
The proposal at the core of my presentation is that the immense cultural and spiritual significance of the Scriptures lies precisely in their capacity to inspire us to move beyond earlier expressions of humanity and to reach new levels of awareness, courage and compassion; in short to be more fully human than ever before.
Needless to say I will use the Bible very differently from Mr Folau and I shall come to very different conclusions about God’s desire to bless us profoundly across all of our diversity as humans.
About the writer:
Anglican priest and religion scholar. Senior Lecturer in the School of Theology at Charles Sturt University. Dean, Cathedral Church of Christ the King, Grafton and Rector of the Anglican Parish of Grafton. Formerly Dean at St George’s College, Jerusalem. The opinions expressed in my publications, including my blog posts, are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Diocese of Grafton nor Christ Church Cathedral in Grafton.
The Once and Future Bible (Wipf & Stock, 2011), The Once and Future Scriptures (Polebridge Press, 2013), Jesus Then and Jesus Now (Morning Star Publishing, 2014) and Wisdom and Imagination (Morning Star Publishing, 2014).
By the number of registrations for our talk/conversation Can a Christian be a Politician? this seems to be in the minds of many people…..for many different reasons, I expect! It is a question that raises many more questions and challenges us to think about the very concept Christian.
It is not too late to come but please RSVP to Desley or Paul
10am Morning Tea for 10.30am start. Merthyr Rd Uniting Church, New Farm, Brisbane.
1 Corinthians! 5: 13-14 “If there is no resurrection of the dead then Christ has not been
raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain”
In responding to his UC Forum posting on 23rd
April 2019 I would state my admiration of Rod Bower from what I know of him and
congratulate him on his initiatives in bringing a relevant Christian gospel to
people of the 21st century.
I am left confused by his references to the place of the resurrection of Jesus
in our contemporary faith.
Rod notes: “Whether
the bodily resurrection of Jesus was an historical fact means little to me,
while I respect that it is central to the faith of many. That the bodily
resurrection is a theological fact is an essential element of my faith because
it affirms the incarnation and the material creation as the vehicle through
which the Divine Eternal life is expressed.”
So what are we talking about? What does this mean? Just about all liberal/orthodox
ministers and theologians over the past century or more seem to want to have it
Apostle Paul never claims to have met
Jesus in the flesh and yet he assures us that he has “seen” him. (As a
reminder, Paul’s letters were apparently written before any of the gospels). Clearly then when he talks about resurrection
Paul is not talking (in his case anyway) about a visible body which jumps out
of the grave and starts walking around the streets of Jerusalem or the villages
So, on the one hand, we 21st
century commentators take on board Paul’s vision of a spiritual form of Jesus.
But then we turn round and make it a big issue that Jesus’s fleshly body came
back to life.
Why do we still do this? It is now two thousand years on, with all the
scholarly study and scientific research which has gone on, particularly in the
past two hundred years or so.
But I would go even further than this
and pose the question. Was Paul wrong?
Is our faith in vain if we ignore the resurrection?
In a previous posting, Richard Smith
demonstrated that the pre-Easter Jesus made enough of a statement and lived
enough of a life to inspire and challenge us to nurture, the Kingdom of God –
making this world, here and now, a better place.
Further, I would ask. What is it to us if Jesus’s body did come
back to fleshly life for a few months? I
presume this is because we can then accept that supernatural life resuscitation
is a reality (there could be some Nobel Prize winning research for those who
work out how this happens). This means,
as the Nicene Creed implies, that all people who die and accept the creed will
come back to life. This means that our parents, grandparents, great
grandparents and further back may come back to live with us.
Is this what our ministers and theologians believe, in their inner selves? I suspect not. I was told of one instance where a minister had been queried as to whether he really believed that dead bodies come back to life again, The minister’s reply was, “No, but you can’t say that.
May I plead that we take the magnificent and powerful Jesus story and express it in terms which can transform our whole secular world. Let us not only be prepared to think it but also to say it.
Whether the bodily resurrection of Jesus was an historical fact means little to me, while I respect that it is central to the faith of many. That the bodily resurrection is a theological fact is an essential element of my faith because it affirms the incarnation and the material creation as the vehicle through which the Divine Eternal life is expressed. . To Proclaim Christ is Risen is to proclaim that the living one is here and now, not a future hope, but a present reality. That the Creator is in creation calling us to be respectful, reminding us that this planet and this life are unique and that we must value every atom of it. So let us proclaim with every fiber of our being, with heart soul mind and strength and let all creation resound with us. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
My Son asked: Why did you go to Church this Easter?
Good Friday from God’s Friday was a reminder about the
Domination Systems of political power that amass wealth at the expense of the
poor causing social distress, extreme environmental damage and climate chaos.
Jesus is remembered because he pushed back against the Domination System of the
Roman Empire which responded by having him publically tortured and killed, a
warning to others, do not mess with the system.
Modern Domination systems continue with modern weapons and cyber
techniques as the normalcy of civilisation where violence in its many evolving
forms is the human choice of resolving difference.
Jesus advocated for the Kingdom of God where everything to
be shared, is shared equitably. Gospel or Good News for the poor, but warning
to the rich to share their wealth and knowledge. This kingdom was named after
God’s image because at Creation it was shared equally among all of humankind
(Genesis 1:26), to be experienced as “God is Love” (1 John 4:8).
On Easter Sunday, the Resurrection is the metaphor that
despite his untimely death Jesus’ advocacy of the Kingdom of God would live on
and be vindicated. St Paul (AD
53-54) used the evolutionary concept of
a seed being planted and dyeing before new life could emerge to offer the
opportunity of an evolutionary step forward or alternatively extinction by a
process of self-destruction (1 Cor. 15). The choice is ours to make or ignore,
to live or to die, to plant and to harvest or create a dry desert.
Jesus’ advocacy has weaved its evolutionary way through history
reducing violence and bringing the peace many enjoy today. The sharing of
political power through representative democracy has brought peace and
universal systems of welfare, education, health, child care and human rights.
But the normalcy of civilisation continues with all the modern forms of
rhetoric and force, to reassert its desire for Domination leaving many is
The cycle of such violence in Jesus’ prayer is broken by
practising justice, mutual forgiveness and resisting the use of violence (Matt
6 11-13). Violence creates more violence in an escalatory process which is the
bible’s the earliest definition of Sin (Genesis 4.6-7). Thus Jesus dies not for
our sins, but by dying for his advocacy he exposed the sin of humankind and
revealed an alternative way of living for peace through non-violence.
Why then Church? Religion derives from the Latin word religo “Conscious concern for that which matters” for which the people have regularly gathered as the Synagogue, Ecclesia or Church. One concern of contemporary human consciousness is the social, environmental and economic sustainability of our world and our diminishing ability to hand it on to the next generation in a better condition than we found it.
The growing climate emergency means that we must ensure that climate concerns be given top priority during this Australian election. Australia needs to elect a government whose members recognise the reality of a changing climate and who can develop credible policies, plans and actions to address this emergency. The Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea encourages you to email and write to politicians, candidates, and newspapers, and to meet your local representatives.