Moderator's Comments - Posted 26 June 2015
In the 1970’s or early ‘80’s, the now defunct Bulletin magazine published a lead article on the infiltration by the political left of three major institutions in Australia, the ABC, the environmental movement and the Uniting Church of Australia. With hindsight we can now see how successful the left has been.
On any objective assessment, each of these institutions or movements has been successfully invaded and dominated to the detriment of each institutions’ founding principles.
Having recently visited the Presbyterian Assembly in Queensland, I have now visited each state assembly and we can thank God for our unity in Christ and our clear commitment to the broadcast of His authentic gospel to the nation. However, we may be sitting ducks for the infiltration by those with an agenda which may lead us from our founding principles.
Why has the left been so successful?
Our Old Testament lecturer at Moore College used to say that Israel’s failure was always due to a failure of her leadership. The left’s success can at least be partly attributed to moribund leadership and staffing which took too much for granted. The ministers and elders of our denomination need to be on guard. Moribund leadership leaves an institution exposed, an easy target for destructive infiltration, whether that be political or theological.
There are now fewer in our denomination who remember the way the church was pre 1977. I began to teach Sunday School at Waverley Presbyterian in 1968. The curriculum consisted of situational ethics. There was no gospel being taught, indeed, in the wider church, those who refused to use the imposed Sunday School material were hounded out of the church. Liberalism in the majority is always thoroughly intolerant! These were the days when our training institutions imposed a deadening liberalism by training clergy with no gospel to preach, no propitiatory sacrifice, no substitutionary atonement, no bodily resurrection, and no new life. I am thankful that there were some notable exceptions, but they were in the minority.
In his book, “The Land of the Long Weekend”, the late Ronald Conway says, “formerly tough minded Presbyterians capitulated rather mysteriously, in the late 1950’s, to a view of ministry as a kind of spiritual psychotherapy…the world was converting the church, rather than the church converting the world.”
The theological unity and commitment to the Biblical gospel, which we enjoy today, must not be taken for granted. Each of us need to be on guard. Our theological colleges must be acutely aware of the danger of infiltration by forces which would lead us from evangelical ministry. Those solemn words of Judges 2:10 sound as a warning to us today after the generation of Joshua. “Another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord, nor what He had done for Israel:
Edmund Burke is the source of two relevant quotes, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” And, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.” May God deliver us from moribund, sleepy leadership, which makes overly generous assumptions about the intentions of others.
The words the Spirit gave to Peter in 1 Peter 5:8-9, “Be self controlled and alert. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings”, are particularly apt for leaders of Christ’s church today.