Moderator's Comments - Posted 1 March 2018

I love our political process and I love the freedom we have in Australia to engage in it. There are many places in the world where old men cling to power without regard to the people. By comparison, Australia’s democratic governance is transparent, consultative and accountable.

Mind you, it’s not always easy to understand what’s going on: is it debate or charade, argument or theatre? Last month I represented the Presbyterian Church of Australia in Canberra, pleased at how our MPs make themselves available to speak with us when we press them (admittedly, through minders at first). It’s a privilege to exchange ideas with MPs, to raise our concerns, to engage debate. The conundrum, though, is the theatre of the “bear pit”, heightened by the daily ritual of Question Time. Reasoned argument and meaningful debate are excluded from this hour and a half spectacle.

Moderator's Comments - Posted 1 February 2018

I engage in the strangest pursuits. On tour through Germany last year, in the old-town section of Worms, I counted roof-tiles, wondering how many I could see. 

Back in 1521, Martin Luther was on his way to Worms to be tried by the Emperor and the Catholic bishops. Luther had been called to answer for his so-called heresies, and he’d been promised safe conduct on the long journey across the German states. Despite the promise, Luther’s friends feared for his life. 

As Luther approached the city, a messenger arrived with a warning from his friends: “You are in peril, do not enter Worms!” Luther replied: “Tell my friends that even if there should be as many devils in Worms as tiles upon the housetops, still I will come.” Later, Luther said of this moment: “I was then undaunted. I feared nothing.”

And we say: “Oh, to feel undaunted, fearing nothing”. Where does such courage come from? Why did Luther feel so strong? Was it just Luther feeling good about himself, or was it based on something more reliable than feelings? 

Moderator's Comments - Posted 1 January 2018

“One faith, one Lord, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4).

My diary entry for 27 August …
Words cannot adequately describe the exquisite experience of worshipping God with PCA’s partner church in central Africa – alongside beautiful, warm-hearted, faithful Malawian Christians at CCAP Mawira (on the Shire River at Liwonde). My Malawian brothers and sisters ministered to me in a powerful way. 

The first (English) service began at 7am, so the 4.30am rise at my Zomba lodgings was invigorating. Every element of the service was done attendant to purpose (to glorify God). Everything from the sincere welcome speeches in the vestry with the elders, through the singing, Bible reading, prayer, announcements, preaching and even the closing prayer, formal thank-you, handshakes and singing of amazing grace in the vestry post-service was done with reverence and dignity.

Moderator's Comments - Posted 1 December 2017 

There’s never been a better time than now to be a Christian, and to offer to our world the way of hope. God encourages us to shine like stars in the universe as we hold out the word of life (Philippians 2). And it’s never more timely than now.

  1. It’s official: the trifecta is in.The unborn child has no protection - it’s legal to take his or her life up to 24 weeks gestation and beyond that if two doctors agree (in Victoria). Though fearfully and wonderfully created in the image of God (Psalm 139), the unborn child is not safe even in the womb.
  2. The national same-sex marriage poll will soon deliver a fundamentally different view of what a marriage can be. In rebellion against God’s creational design and purpose for man and woman, sinful desires and unnatural relationships between persons of the same sex (Romans 1) are now given dignity through the redefinition of marriage.
  3. With Victoria leading the way, it will become legal to allow and assist people facing the prospect of a painful end, to take their own life. No longer content to rest in providence that God gives life and God takes away (Job 1), the state has become God.

15 November 2017
Pastoral letter in response to the Yes vote on legalising Same Sex Marriage
While we respect the result of the postal poll in which, of those Australians who voted, 61.6% have voted to support provision for same sex marriage, we are very disappointed in this. We believe that provision for same sex marriage is not in the best interests of Australian society, and especially so in the case of children.
The Presbyterian Church of Australia continues to hold to the biblical definition of marriage as between one man and one woman as we believe it best reflects the Lord’s creational design for human flourishing.  We reserve our right to hold and express that view.
At a denominational level, we will closely watch the subsequent political and legal processes and will make representations within them. We pray that secure provision is made for freedom of expression and freedom of action for those Australians who have conscientious objections to recognition of same sex marriage.
Should the Marriage Act be changed to permit same sex marriage, we will consider any further institutional response through our state and general assemblies in due time.
We are aware that within our own congregations and the broader community people voted in different ways and for different reasons. We urge sensitivity towards people with different opinions, and that we offer them a listening ear, a tempered tongue and an ability to explain our opposition to same sex marriage in a way that combines love and truth and which points to Jesus Christ.
The same sex marriage issue highlights a need for clear thinking about how we as Christian believers relate to wider Australian society in an increasingly post-Christian age. This is an important task at all levels of the church and we commit ourselves to it as a denomination.
Finally, although disappointed, we bow before God’s providence in this matter.
Please God, keep us from the folly in which we bring your just judgment on ourselves by trying to live in your world our way. Save us from ourselves we pray.

Issued by:
John Wilson, Moderator General, Presbyterian Church of Australia.
David Burke, Moderator, Presbyterian Church in NSW
Bill MacRae, Moderator, Presbyterian Church of Western Australia
Dan Shepheard, Moderator Presbyterian Church of Tasmania
Greg Watt, Moderator, Presbyterian Church of Queensland
Robert White, Presbyterian Church of Victoria