The Jerusalem Declaration

The week-long Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) has just finished. The thousand-plus Anglicans met in Jerusalem as a protest to the July Lambeth Conference in the UK, and the failure of the Archbishop of Canterbury to strongly stand for Christian orthodoxy, especially on the issue of homosexuality.

The delegates at GAFCON – who represent more than 35 million Anglicans worldwide – reaffirmed the importance of the authority of Christ and the Word of God. They also reaffirmed God’s intention for human sexuality. As a closing resolution, they produced the 700-word document, “The Jerusalem Declaration”. It is a solid proclamation of orthodox Christian teachings, and a renewed affirmation of taking the Bible seriously on matters of sexuality.

The fourteen points lay out the basic Christian doctrinal positions. It reiterates historical Christian creeds and teachings. Point three says this: “We uphold the four Ecumenical Councils and the three historic Creeds as expressing the rule of faith of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.”

Of course as an Anglican declaration, it reaffirms the Thirty-nine Articles, the historic Anglican statement of faith laid out in 1563. It also upholds the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

Point 8 has special reference to the major source of friction in the Anglican Communion. It reads, “We acknowledge God’s creation of humankind as male and female and the unchangeable standard of Christian marriage between one man and one woman as the proper place for sexual intimacy and the basis of the family. We repent of our failures to maintain this standard and call for a renewed commitment to lifelong fidelity in marriage and abstinence for those who are not married.”

Of course Anglicans in 1563 and 1662 never would have imagined that such a statement would have been necessary. Indeed, Anglicans 100 years ago would also not have seen the need for such an assertion. But such has been the success of the militant homosexual lobby – both in the world at large, and in the Christian church – that now such basic beliefs have to be highlighted and reaffirmed.

Of equal importance is point 13: “We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed. We pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord.” That is a very bold and strong position. It is also a Biblical one, and a most necessary one. It takes seriously the issue of apostasy and heresy.

As the Rev Rod Thomas of the conservative Church of England group Reform put it, “The Anglican Church is being destroyed by false teaching of the Bible on issues such as homosexuality. We are going to stand against this trend, and spread the true message of the Bible with confidence.”

Another conservative, Bishop David Anderson, head of the American Anglican Counsel, put it this way: “Those attempting to revise Christian faith [are] leaving the box the same but changing the contents — making Jesus a way, a truth, a light, a savior, but there are others. You pick what works for you, which in fact is not monotheism. It’s polytheism. That is such a radical departure … not only from Anglicanism [but] from Christianity full-stop.”

A key player in this biblical reform group is the Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen. He knows the dangers of caving in on these vital issues. He said that the “revisionist agenda which we’ve seen in the same-sex agenda is a missionary one and will spread its views as much as it can. So the rest of us have to do missionary work to defend the gospel and to promulgate it.”

Many African Anglican leaders were present at the conference. Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda said that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, was a friend, and a godly and nice man. But he said this about the Church’s leader: “Sometimes it’s not enough to be nice. You ought to make some clear-cut decision where you stand… He doesn’t want to hurt anybody. He wants to be good to everybody. Then he ends up pleasing nobody. That’s a problem.”

One must applaud these Anglicans and this Declaration for affirming the time-honoured Christian teachings, and for refusing to bow to Political Correctness and the secular erosion of the churches. In a day in which morality is under attack, truth is rejected, and trendy social theories supplant Biblical absolutes, it is refreshing indeed to see this strong stance being taken.

Would that other denominations battling the same issues also muster some courage and take a strong stance. These issues are too important and the cause of the Gospel too great to allow the steady inroads of secularism, relativism and apathy. May there be many more such conferences and declarations in the dark days ahead.

www.gafcon.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=79&Itemid=12

[795 words]

42 Replies to “The Jerusalem Declaration”

  1. Hi Bill. Yes, ‘muster some courage’. This is what did not happen in the Uniting Church in Australia. It is dying for want of ‘backbone’, in spite of a very small number of extremely competent leaders who have courage.
    Stan Fishley

  2. This is indeed a commendable development. I find it strange though that Peter Jensen was heard on media reports claiming that this does not represent any kind of church split. Surely this is a split by any other name.

    I would prefer that the more orthodox African Anglican bishops were the spokesmen for this group rather than any of the Western Anglican leaders who still seem to be willing to compromise on other Christian doctrines.

    Ewan McDonald.

  3. Ewan, What Christian doctrines do you think are compromised by Dr. Peter Jensen?

    Spencer Gear

  4. Hi Spencer, on the issue of origins mostly (e.g. theistic evolution) which may not be termed a “Christian doctrine” in itself but which nevertheless impacts on many specific doctrines.

    Paradoxically, even though Jensen has been very good in opposing much of the homosexual activist agenda in the church, he supports things like same-sex relationship registers and removing what he thinks is unfair discrimination against these same relationships.

    Ewan McDonald.

  5. Ewan, I agree that the Jensen brothers are fundamentally compromised because their appeal in issues such as gay marriage or the watered down form of same sex registers is based on faulty human knowledge and unbiblical notions of human origins and the God given origin and purpose of marriage.

    Jennifer Parfenovics

  6. Ewan, you state of Dr. Peter Jensen, “Paradoxically, even though Jensen has been very good in opposing much of the homosexual activist agenda in the church, he supports things like same-sex relationship registers and removing what he thinks is unfair discrimination against these same relationships.”

    My understanding is that Dr. Jensen is supporting justice for all Australians, which I consider is a biblical norm and a requirement in a democratic society such as ours. In one of the Anglican news bulletins I read:

    Dr Jensen said he remained “concerned about the impact of the gay lifestyle on our community and I don’t believe any of us should be forced to accept it.” However, a change in tax and benefit laws to address “injustices” was necessary. However, he argued that such arrangements should be granted to other types of relationships, which are non-sexual, so that the changes are “not just pro-gay but pro-people.”

    “Marriage is not a matter of government fiat,” Dr Jensen said. “We can’t simply say, because some people want it, that marriage is different now. Marriage is between a man and a woman and I’m pleased the Government seems determined to recognise that basic fact.” [9 May 2008, available from Anglican Mainstream at: http://www.anglican-mainstream.net/2008/05/10/churches-welcome-australia-gay-marriage-ruling/%5D

    What makes Dr. Jensen’s advocacy of justice for all, to be contradictory to orthodox Christian doctrine?

    Spencer Gear

  7. Here we go again – the right wing of conservative Bible believing Christianity attack those who, what? – prevent civil unions legislation getting through in the ACT to seep through to the States, who remain unconvinced of a 6,000 year old earth for good scientific and Biblical reasons. Give us a break!

    Thank you for your article Bill, on Gafcon. As an ex Sydney Anglican and interested onlooker this is a great develpment. Evangelicals have always done well as a church within a church and in this case in many places will be the Church. Peter Jensen is an outstanding evangelical leader in the reformed tradition. I pray God to give him and his diocese the time and energy to make Gafcon a success, and it won’t be easy because of opposition with Anglicanism and the disparate nature of the gathering in Jerusalem not just ethnic but also churchmanship.

    David Palmer

  8. Thanks Spencer

    Although it is not at all clear what you mean by “justice for all”. Individual homosexuals have the same rights as other Australians. What the discussion is about here is government recognition and blessing of same-sex relationships. I am not aware of a single biblical passage arguing for special rights for same-sex couples. But these issues I have written extensively about elsewhere on this site.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  9. Spencer, Bill has already dealt with the faulty thinking behind the compromise position on same-sex relationships advocated by various Christian groups including Jensen and David Palmer of the Victorian Presbyterian Church. You can find two of his most recent comments on this here and here.

    Ewan McDonald.

  10. As Christians we should be doing all we can to enlighten Homosexuals/lesbians of the consequences of their lifestyle. It is abnormal and they can be helped to readjust.
    As regards adopting/having children, same sex couples are committing the ultimate in child abuse. We are to love them, but what does christian love mean? We are to love the sinner, but not condone the sin!
    Tom Wise

  11. I attended the GAFCON briefing in All Souls Langham Place, yesterday, Tuesday 1st July

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2230266/Anglican-Church-'in-chaos'-say-rebel-leaders.html

    Though not an Anglican I had the privilege of being amongst hundreds of men (what singing !!), mostly clergy who wanted to stand for the truth with regard to homosexuality. Outside the building was Peter Tatchell, a celebrity homosexual, who maybe had designs on disrupting the proceedings. I managed to get him into conversation, not with a view to judging him but like the thief on the cross, with a view to get him to consider the he and I were both sinners who deserved condemnation. I managed, I believe to point out a few home truths that caused him to deflate his OUTRAGE and false moral high ground.
    http://www.petertatchell.net/

    However, though it was a truly inspiring event, I am concerned by Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen’s remark that homosexuality, though linked with feminism, was a first order issue, whilst that of women taking authority over men in the church was less serious and was a second order issue.

    I seen no distinctions or ladder of some sins being worse than others in the Bible (perhaps not with regard to immediate consequences (for clearly, as Paul says, sins done in the body do have a huge impact, like no others, on the whole person,) but certainly with regard to final judgment.

    The Bible says that those who break the least commandments, those who refuse to give succour to the homeless and hungry, those who lead children astray, the gossipers, slanderers and those who disobey their parents – all will face judgment.

    Women usurping the place of men in the home and church are rebelling against God’s created order for institutions and the authority structure that he has created; this must surely class as a first order issue.

    David Skinner, UK

  12. There are those within the Anglican Church, like the Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright who would give credit to the movers and shakers of GAFCON for initiatives that I am sure would be hotly disowned by them. Bishop Wright said: “Part of the genius of Anglicanism has been to be reformed by the gospel but always ready for fresh reformations by that same gospel: to recognise that God has more light to break out of his holy word, and that this may lead us to do things in new ways, sometimes setting us free from tired structures and sometimes creating new structures for new gospel purposes. That is precisely what Windsor is proposing, and what Lambeth will be pursuing.” I cannot help but cynically read insincerity in this praise from Bishop Tom. GAFCON are not trying to bring “fresh information“, “more light” or “to do things in new ways” ; they are merely trying to be faithful to what has already been revealed in God’s word.

    He then goes on to ask: “What authority will it have, and how will that work? Who is to ‘police’ the boundaries of this new body – not least to declare which Anglicans are ‘upholding orthodox faith and practice’ (Article 11 of the ‘Jerusalem Declaration’), and who have denied it (Article 13)?” The question I would ask Bishop Tom is by what authority have Archbishop Kate and Bishop Michael Ingham of the Diocese of New Westminster, British Columbia, to celebrate and promote homosexuality whilst hounding and persecuting godly Christians whose only crime is to uphold Biblical truths? In a state of anarchy, those who are still capable of exercising their God-given authority need to take the controls.

    He then asks: “Who will be able to decide (as in Article 12) which matters are ’secondary’ and which are primary, and by what means? (What, for instance, about Eucharistic vestments and practices? What about women priests and bishops?)” His question about women priests and bishops seems to assume that women being in spiritual authority over men is universally accepted in a progressive, tolerant, 21st century.

    He goes on to say: “But if GAFCON is to join up with the great majority of faithful, joyful Anglicans around the world, rather than to invite them to leave their present allegiance and sign up to a movement which is as yet – to put it mildly – strange in form and uncertain in destination … it needs to bring its rich experience and gospel-driven exuberance to the larger party where the rest of us are working day and night for the same gospel, the same biblical wisdom, the same Lord.”

    What Bishop Tom fails to say is that whilst it is true that GAFCON bishops represent a minority, a third, of world-wide, Anglican bishops, they actually represent three quarters of all communicants. and when he questions signing up to an uncertain destination, what destination, apart from hell, does he think Katie and the lovely Gene are leading their flocks?

    David Skinner, UK

  13. Bill,

    Your wrote, “Although it is not at all clear what you mean by “justice for all”. Individual homosexuals have the same rights as other Australians. What the discussion is about here is government recognition and blessing of same-sex relationships. I am not aware of a single biblical passage arguing for special rights for same-sex couples. But these issues I have written extensively about elsewhere on this site.”

    “Justice for all,” as I intended, means equity and fair treatment for all people in Australia no matter one’s race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.

    I do not support same-sex relationships. The Bible is opposed to such and makes it very clear from passages such as I Cor. 6:9ff that “the wicked” (NIV) will not inherit the kingdom of God. The wicked include “homosexual offenders” (NIV).

    In a secular society such as ours, my post was to affirm fairness to every sinner. We expect it in the law courts of our land and I expect it in places of employment so that no sinners are discriminated against. As long as sinful actions do not impinge on work performance, I expect equity for all.

    Spencer Gear

  14. Hi David,

    In respect of “first order” and “second order” issues, perhaps all that Jensen is saying is that issues identified in Scripture quite clearly as sin (i.e. homosexuality) ought to be regarded as a more serious ‘threat’ than issues of practice or preference. I am not aware of any scripture which says that women having a place of authority in the church is sin, although I am aware of Paul’s practices (not permitting it) and reasons for doing so (which are quite strong, in that he appeals to the very order of creation as based in the Genesis record). “Having authority” in the church is also not the same as “usurping authority” in the church (or home). Usurping of authority is quite another matter, and I don’t see that the bald fact of having been recognised as having authority would make one necessarily a usurper?

    Stephen Frost, Melbourne.

  15. David,

    You wrote:
    “Women usurping the place of men in the home and church are rebelling against God’s created order for institutions and the authority structure that he has created; this must surely class as a first order issue.”

    How do you deal with Judges 4:4, “Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time.” Deborah was a female prophetess with the same role as a male prophet.

    Huldah, the prophetess (2 Kings 22:14-15) spoke the words of the Lord to the King. She prophesied and this was the same kind of ministry as the male prophet.

    The very same NT book that tells women to be silent (I Cor. 14:34), also speaks of “every wife who prays or prophesies . . .” (I Cor. 11:5) – hardly a ministry of silence. Then add the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, “Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy” (Acts 2:17).

    I don’t think that this issue of women in ministry or not in ministry is all that simple. I can understand Peter Jensen saying that women in ministry is a second order issue (it does not keep people out of the kingdom) but the practice of homosexuality does.

    Spencer Gear

  16. The declaration is very welcome among most Anglicans as there has been a long silence from some churches on many of the social issues being persented by minority groups to political arenas, where the quiet majority opinion is rarely heard. Nevertheless, the battle must go on. And support for populist views will mistakenly be seen by some law makers as the way to generate electorate favour. The issue of women clergy is still being debated in the Anglican church and it seems the only answer is for male priests who don’t agree have the option of joining another religious order if they wish to continue to practice.
    Peter Rice

  17. Thanks Spencer

    But as I have already argued, homosexuals as individuals already have equality. What then are you arguing for? It seems you are perhaps arguing that homosexual relationships should be seen as identical to heterosexual marriages, and should be given special rights to ensure this “equality”. But I see no reason whatsoever, either from a Biblical or a secular point of view, as to why governments should head down this path. There is no good reason why governments should elevate homosexual relationships to a par with marriage, all in the name of some vague notions of “justice’ and “equality”.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  18. Bill, you wrote: “It seems you are perhaps arguing that homosexual relationships should be seen as identical to heterosexual marriages, and should be given special rights to ensure this ‘equality’.”

    I am most definitely NOT saying or inferring that. However, I see considerable discrimination against homosexuals in the market place and the workplace. I am against discrimination of Christians as you will appreciate. Rationally, how am I to justify anti-discrimination against Christians and still maintain discrimination against homosexuals? Advocating heterosexual marriage is upholding God’s order.

    All I’m arguing for is consistency and equality of personhood.

    I am most definitely not advocating for homosexual relationships being seen to be and acted upon as identical to heterosexual marriage.

    Spencer Gear, Hervey Bay, Qld.

  19. Thanks Spencer

    But then please inform us all how homosexuals as individuals are unjustly and unequally treated in Australia today. Remember, the issue here is homosexual relationships. What can an individual homosexual not do that anyone else can do?

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  20. Bill, perhaps you’re arguing that from a legal perspective, there is no discrimination, whereas Spencer is arguing that from a practical (social reality) perspective that there is discrimination.

    I think you’re probably both right.

    Some homosexuals are discriminated against, no matter what the law says. Then there is the issue that many religious organisations are (quite rightly) given an exemption from anti-discrimination legislation (though I note with considerable concern that some Labor politicians in Victoria propose to repeal those exemptions).

    So it would seem that there is legal discrimination AND illegal discrimination.

    The reality is that MANY groups of people are discriminated against, legally and illegally (including Christians who sometimes suffer religious discrimination). What I don’t see is why one should think that homosexuals should be treated with any special consideration when compared with any other group in society which also suffers discrimination.

    Stephen Frost, Melbourne.

  21. One more thought, more-or-less in passing. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 says (NIV):

    9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders
    10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

    v9 gets a lot of focus. Not so much v10. There are many things which will disqualify one from God’s kingdom. Scripture says homosexuality is a sin. All sin separates from God.

    Perhaps we ought to be saying more about greed, slander and swindlers in the church and in the ministry. I would hazard a guess that such sins are far more prevalent than we’d like to think. Do we have a properly balanced view of such matters, or do we focus on the sexual sins and tend to ignore the others?

    Stephen Frost, Melbourne.

  22. As C.S. Lewis said, “The most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of your own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs. There is not one of them which will not make us into devils if we set it up as an absolute guide.” We might think the impulse to promote equal rights in general was safe, but it is not if we ignore the difference between what is a value and what is a category. A farmer may have paid the same price for a horse, tractor, lamp shade or chest of drawers, but clearly they are different entities, capable of performing different functions. There is nothing denied for which the homosexual lobby have demanded: the benefits, rights and status of marriage are extended to them; children are handed over into their tender keeping; television, the media, airlines and banks are falling over themselves to celebrate their sexual activities and the Stonewall awards ceremony was bestrewn with celebrities. Today every leading political party not only has gay MPs, those “outted” politicians are on every frontbench; but at the heart of power in Downing St. are non-elected advisers like Spencer Livermore who enjoys political power that most MPs could only dream of. He has worked with Gordon Brown for nearly ten years, and after strategy roles in the 2001 election and at the Treasury, in June, last year, he became one of the most powerful people in Britain as Director of Political Strategy at 10 Downing St. It was also the lesbian Angela Mason, working in the Women’s Equality Unit of the Department of Trade and Industry, who I believe was the main author of the SORs. It comes as no surprise that the European Commissioner for Trade and Industry is none other than Peter Mandelson.
    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-6417.html (Introducing Spencer Livermore)
    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-6416.html. (Who’s Who of homosexual influence and power in government
    David Skinner, UK

  23. Bill,

    You wrote: “But then please inform us all how homosexuals as individuals are unjustly and unequally treated in Australia today. Remember, the issue here is homosexual relationships.”

    Come to some secular workplaces in Australia and please observe the injustice in the way homosexuals are treated. I object to the injustice against Christians so I choose to also object to the unjust way those in homosexual relationships are treated in the workplace.

    Is that not a reasonable response by a compassionate evangelical Christian?

    Spencer Gear

  24. Thanks Spencer

    But I do work in secular workplaces and homosexuals all seem to be treated very well indeed there. And you of course still have not provided one case of systemic or legislative discrimination against individual homosexuals. Again, all you can do is provide vague words like “injustices” without any concrete examples.

    Now if you happen to mean sometimes they are made fun of or mocked or looked down upon, well that is true of every person on the planet. And I nowhere say we should do that anyway. All people need to be treated with respect. But we were talking about laws and legislation, and you were going on about injustice and inequality and discrimination. We still wait for clear examples of this from you.

    So you have yet to make your case. And I trust you are not implying that those who disagree with you are somehow unreasonable or uncompassionate! Thanks for your thoughts.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  25. It is not correct to say that all sins are equal. The unforgivable sin must be worse than a forgivable sin. Jesus talked about weightier and lesser matters of the law, and how it was especially bad to neglect the weightier ones although the lesser ones should not be neglected either. 1 John 5:16 clearly says that some sins are worse than others since some lead to death. Paul warns especially against sins of the flesh because they sin against the body, the temple of the Holy Spirit. Certainly, any sin is worthy of judgement, but Jesus said that there were different degrees of punishment: that some will be punished as if by many stripes, and others by few (Luke 12:47-48).
    Jonathan Sarfati, Briabane

  26. It’s far more common to see homonazis persecuting Christians these days. Already pastors have been fined (Canada) or even jailed (Sweden) for speaking the biblical truth against the sin of homosexual behaviour.
    Jonathan Sarfati, Briabane

  27. David,

    Your remarks about women “usurping” the place of men in the home and the church are quite offensive to women. What is the biblical justification for your views? If anything we need more women taking pastoral roles in the church at this time when Christianity is losing its influence. After all, more than half of the folk in the pews seem to be women.

    I am not an Anglican, but I am dismayed that the Gafcon meeting was apparently an all-male affair. This says a lot about the clerics who attended, or were they the only ones invited?

    As for the role of women in marriage, I can vouch that in my own marriage we each regard the relationship as an equal partnership. Certainly there are male and female characteristics, but there is certainly no suggestion that I am subservient to my husband. I have seen too many marriages where the female submission idea is enforced on allegedly biblical grounds, but sadly and perhaps inevitably they often seem to end in domestic violence and ultimately divorce.

    The future of Anglicanism is certainly doubtful, and I don’t know what the rebels hope to achieve by their actions. Christianity is divided enough already, and every time there is a conflict over the meaning of scripture we give our enemies more ammunition to ridicule us.

    There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. – Gal 3:28

    Juliana Simbroski, Darwin

  28. Thanks Juliana

    If I may, I just want to pick up on one phrase of yours: “I don’t know what the rebels hope to achieve by their actions. Christianity is divided enough already”. But clearly in this case the rebels and divisive ones are Gene Robinson and his supporters in the Anglican Church. They are without question the real rebels here, by rebelling against the clear teaching of Scripture. And they are obviously the ones causing division here, by pushing their radical homosexual agenda in the face of two thousands years of church agreement on this matter.

    Peter Jensen, writing in today’s Age, is right to argue that “we should not be naive about the slow and steady influence of revisionist teaching and why the seven men who lead some of the largest Anglican churches in the world have decided to stand up and be counted”.

    Standing up for biblical truth and seeking to be faithful to Christ and his commands is not rebellion. And failing to take a stand will only result in a further weakened and divided church. And may I remind readers here that wherever Jesus went, he caused division.

    True Christianity will always divide. While we should seek for unity where possible, it is never to be at the expense of sound biblical teaching and practice. To accuse the Gafcon crowd of rebellion and division is a bit like calling someone seeking to prevent a rape a meddler and troublemaker.

    But such is the age that we live in that the good guys are called troublemakers while the bad guys are exonerated and excused.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  29. Jonathan forgive me if I am not understanding you properly but when you say Jesus talked about weightier and lesser matters of the law, are you referring to his dispute with the Pharisees whom he accused of straining at gnats whilst swallowing camels? He was not, by this, saying that the keeping of the “lesser” laws was less important than the “larger” ones, for he had said previously in Matt. 5:19, “Whoever relaxes the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Admittedly none one can keep 1% of the laws, let alone 100%. For the non-Christians all sins, no matter how small will keep that person out of the kingdom of God. The pass mark for justification has to be 100%.

    For the believer it is different. Jesus Christ has paid once and for all, the penalty for our past, present and future sins. But we are expected to confess our sins and strive for holiness. It is also true, however, that for the believer there are sins which may result in premature death, as with Ananias and Sapphira and even a loss of salvation. Hebrews 6:4 says “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.”

    My point is that since no one is sure which sins might lead a believer to premature death and the fact that committing trivial sins is often the gateway to more serious sins, we should not be considering how much we can get away with, but rather be willing to do as Christ did, which was to want to do his Father‘s will.

    Allowing a women to usurp a man’s spiritual authority both in the home and the church (a woman priest preaching down to her husband who is sitting in the congregation) opens the door to all kinds of evils, just as it did in the garden of Eden when Eve usurped Adam’s authority and got him to eat from the forbidden fruit. Eating an apple can hardly be called a mortal can it? It was after all, only an apple!

    Juliana Galatians 3:28 must be one of the most grossly abused, mistranslated and misinterpreted verses in this present age. The whole context of Galatians is to do with our status in the sight of God, not our role or function. If we were all equal, then we might as well have children acting as pastors. Your interpretation would cut right across whole sections of the Bible, including Ephesians 5:21ff, let alone 1 Peter 3. Why didn’t Christ include women amongst his disciples? Why was Judas replaced by a man? Where in the whole of the new testament do we get a description of what a female pastor, or even elder should be.

    I was there on Tuesday and I can tell you that being with 800 men, praising God was an experiencing I would not have missed for anything.

    David Skinner, UK

  30. Stephen Frost, Isobel Kuhn, one of the great missionaries of the last century, who worked tirelessly planting churches amongst the Lisu people of the south-west China, said that as soon as she could train up a man to take over the church she would and did. She did this in recognition of what the Bible said about men having headship in family and home. The Church should be training men to become spiritual leaders in the home and not just leave it to youth pastors to bring up their kids. If a church were to announce that it was going to run such a course, all hell would break out! Elisabeth Elliot in her forward to David Pawson’s book, “Leadership is Male” said,“ The issue of so-called equality of men and women touches the very foundation of Christian faith, for it goes deep into the nature of God and the great mystery of which the much- aligned apostle Paul writes his letter to the Ephesians.

    Stephen Gear, as David Pawson says in his book, “Deborah was no Boadicea or Joan of Arc, in spite of the apparent shortage of strong men.” The bible does not bar women from being prophets, engaging in missionary work or a whole raft of ministries but being a leader in the home and the church is not one of them. Show me one example from the Bible.

    David Skinner, UK

  31. Bill,

    Originally you asked, “But then please inform us all how homosexuals as individuals are unjustly and unequally treated in Australia today. Remember, the issue here is homosexual relationships. What can an individual homosexual not do that anyone else can do?”

    I responded to that topic.

    Now you change the topic by creating a straw man: “You of course still have not provided one case of systemic or legislative discrimination against individual homosexuals. Again, all you can do is provide vague words like “injustices” without any concrete examples.”

    I have never made any of statements of “systemic or legislative discrimination against individual homosexuals” and I don’t plan to fall in with your change of topic.

    Stephen Frost has stated well the differences between you and me on our emphases: “Bill, perhaps you’re arguing that from a legal perspective, there is no discrimination, whereas Spencer is arguing that from a practical (social reality) perspective that there is discrimination. I think you’re probably both right.”

    Thank you, Stephen, for observing the legal/social differences in our conversation.

    Spencer Gear, Hervey Bay

  32. Juliana,

    You are a breath of fresh air here. I commend you for your courageous and timely words in these areas:

    1. Your opposition to the notion of women usurping the role of men in the home. Your words, “If anything we need more women taking pastoral roles in the church,” have a ring of truth for me. I also observe that God has gifted women such as Joyce G. Baldwin to be biblical scholars in the Christian community. Joyce has written a number of volumes in the OT Tyndale Commentary Series, including Daniel, “Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi,” Esther, and 1 & 2 Samuel. I am aware that she also has written a commentary on Genesis.

    2. The imbalance of the all-male Anglican Gafcon meeting. What message does this send to the women in our churches?

    3. “I have seen too many marriages where the female submission idea is enforced on allegedly biblical grounds, but sadly and perhaps inevitably they often seem to end in domestic violence and ultimately divorce.”

    As a long-term family counsellor, I see this situation over and over in my work. I co-facilitate a group for men who are perpetrators of domestic violence (87% of DV is by men) and in a recent group was a husband who has had DVOs against him because of his DV against his wife. He came from an evangelical church and attends weekly.

    My observation is that I have heard a lot of teaching about a wife’s submission to her husband but not enough emphasis and practical application on the husband’s role, “Love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy . . .” (Eph. 5:25-25 NIV). What does it mean in practice for a man to love his wife this way?

    My wife and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary this month. Like your marriage, ours also has been one of “equal partnership” with no sense of subservience for my wife. Sadly, this is not the case in many Christian marriages.

    I have arrived at a non-traditional view to answer the question, “Must women never teach in the church?” http://gear.dyndns.org/~spencer/HotTopics/mustwomenneverteachmeninchurch.html

    Spencer Gear, Hervey Bay, Qld.

  33. Jonathan,

    I disagree with you when you say “It is not correct to say all sins are equal.” The passage from Luke is not about sin, as much as it is about Christians who disobey God when they should know better. No specific sins are talked about. The verses from 1 John you have cited are interesting though…

    It is clear, though, from Romans 14:23, and 1 Peter 4:11, that everything not done to the glory of God is sin. If you then take what James 2:10-11 says, we can conclude that all sin is equal.

    “For whoever keeps the whole law, yet is stubles at just one point is guilty of breaking it all. For he who said “Do not commit adultery” also said “Do not commit murder.” (James 2:10-11 NIV)

    I’m not sure, but I think this implies all-pervasive sin, all leading to the same result. We cannot see Christ without God’s grace; we’re all sinners of the same degree. 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 describes those who will be punished: those who do not know Christ. Not those who have sinned – that is a given. Everyone has sinned.

    Ranking sins is not biblical, or helpful. However, I must admit that this is my humble opinion. You have raised an interesting point, Jonathan.

    Simon Kennedy, VIC

  34. Thanks guys

    The discussion on the role of women in the church and at home is an important one, and there are differing views on all this. But since this is really getting off the original topic, I may wind it up, even though more comments are waiting to be posted on this. Perhaps a future article will directly deal with this, and the debate can continue.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  35. Simon

    The James passage is teaching that the Mosaic Law is a unity, not that all laws are equal. Scripture must not be interpreted to contradict other Scripture, e.g. unforgivable > forgivable, weightier > lesser matters of the law, punishment with many > few stripes, mortal sins > non-mortal sins (as per John’s letter), sins against the flesh > than many sins tht don’t defy the temple of the Holy Spirit.

    Even the “take the log out of your own eye” implies a weighting of sin.

    I did quote Jesus as saying that even the lesser matters of the law should not be neglected. Certainly, all sin makes us far short of the glory of God.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  36. Spencer, “87% of DV is by men” sounds like a feminist urban myth. Kathleen Parker writes in Politically Incorrect Domestic Violence

    The words “domestic violence” typically invite images of bruised women and children — and male perpetrators.

    But the real picture of domestic violence isn’t so clear-cut.

    Linda Mills — attorney, social worker, survivor of a violent relationship, as well as professor and senior vice provost at New York University — whose new book, Violent Partners, tackles the myths of domestic violence and suggests new ways of dealing with the problem.

    One of the primary myths — and the one that meets with the most resistance — is that only men are violent. As I point out in my own book, “Save the Males,” women and children indeed suffer the worst injuries and more often die as a result of those injuries. But women initiate violence as often as men.

    Ignoring or downplaying that fact both obscures the real problem of intimate violence and makes solutions less likely. Yet even people who know better are afraid of speaking up lest they be accused of undermining feminist efforts to help women and children in danger.

    According to Mills, studies now confirm that women initiate violence in 24 percent of cases in which the husbands don’t fight back, while men initiate violence in 27 percent of cases in which women don’t fight back. In the other 49 percent of cases, both partners actively participate in the violence.

    What this tells us is that violent partners frequently have a relationship problem that is never addressed under our system of arrest-and-punish. Moreover, says Mills, a majority of families with violence issues don’t want to shatter the family, as our criminal system often encourages. They just want the violence to stop.

    Yet many states have a “must-arrest” policy if a call to police is made. Many also take a “primary aggressor” approach in determining who should be arrested. Even if the man calls the police, says Mills, he’s often the one hauled off and charged, based on the assumption that he, the physically stronger, is more dangerous.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  37. The Jensen brothers are correct on the issue of homosexuality however, what concerns me is how they seem to be unembarassed about siding with the Puritans of the UK from Cromwell, Cecil and so forth. They really do need to learn history; real history.
    Also as a Catholic I really do feel bemused by how they maintain Catholic titles like ‘archbishop’, ‘bishop’ and ‘dean’ whilst having a more ‘evangelical’ outlook compared to the real history of the Anglicans which is that of a compromise between the ‘high’/’catholic’ party which is closer to the real Catholics as far as many beliefs and sacramental and liturgical forms.
    Young Anglicans, especially in Sydney, are not provided with any historical knowledge or memory from within that ‘diocese’ ( there I go again using those Catholic words ! haha) about say Cardinal Newman and the Anglo-Catholics part of the Anglicans that did NOT go fully along with the Lutherans or Calvinists.
    Michael Webb

  38. Re women in ministry. It is my experience that husband-wife teams provide the best ministry. It provides balance, it provides protection for the man against sexual tempations, and women tend to be more discerning than men. I have found that most women want their husbands to listen, but to be the leader and to take responsibility for final decisions. All of which appears to be very Biblical. After all, it was Eve who was the first to be deceived, and Adam did not exercise his authority. For which we have all suffered.
    Tom Wise

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