Derelict Christian Leadership and Churches Missing in Action

If the Lord should tarry, one day we will look back at the church in Australia in the 21st century and wonder if it really was any different than the Laodicean church which Jesus so strongly condemned in Revelation 3:14-22. Don’t get me wrong: there are many on-fire pastors, many dedicated churches, and many committed Christians.

But I would say they are in the minority. They are the biblical remnant. They are the few who are on the narrow road and have gone through the narrow gate. There are plenty of ways to measure this: gospel-less gospel messages, entertainment-based worship, a celebrity culture, money making ventures, the desire to please men, and so on.

I have written often about this. But another way to judge a church or a Christian leader is how they stand on the most pressing moral issues of the day. If they are silent about the things that matter most, that tells you heaps. When some of the most pressing social issues of the day are simply ignored by Christian leadership, then that is an indication of a dereliction of duty.

lukewarmWe had a perfect example of this back in the days of the abolitionist movement. Usually led by Christians, the fight against slavery was one of the most vital issues of the time. Yet it was only a minority of Christians, churches and leaders who took a stand on this.

Most said and did nothing, or even worse, they actually supported slavery! Many pastors and church leaders owned slaves back then! So Wilberforce and his supporters were always in a minority as they fought for what was right. And it is the same today with the battle to save unborn babies.

The right to life is a fundamental principle, and social justice must begin in the womb. While this is one of the most important moral issues of our day, regrettably the great majority of churches and Christian leaders are doing nothing about it.

The truth is, abortion is a gospel issue. The two great commandments given by Jesus should be enough here. If we are to fully love God we need to love what he loves and hate what he hates. And God hates the shedding of innocent blood. If he is greatly concerned about this, so should we be. And it is pretty hard to love your neighbour as yourself if he is dead. The first step to loving someone is to ensure they can live.

However our Christian voice here is almost completely silent. Consider something that just occurred in Victoria. For at least a year now the Infant Viability Bill put forward by Dr Rachel Carling-Jenkins MLC, Member for Western Metropolitan, has been a matter of public debate and discussion.

But where were the churches on all this? Rallies were held in support of the bill, social media campaigns were set up, videos were produced, and so on. But it is as if the churches did not know or did not care. And because of this we had a tragic outcome yesterday, as the bill was voted down. Rachel said this about the outcome:

It is with disappointment that I write to inform you that the Legislative Council has voted on my Infant Viability Bill, and has chosen to vote it down (with a division of 11 for, 27 against, and 2 abstained). Voting in favour of the bill were: 3 members of the Liberal Party (Richard Della-Riva, Bernie Finn & Gordon Rich-Phillips); 3 members of the ALP (Daniel Mulino, Adem Somyurek & Nazih Elasmar); 2 members of the Shooters & Fishers Party (Jeff Bourman & Daniel Young); 2 members of the National Party (Damien Drum & Melina Bath); and, of course, 1 member of the DLP (myself).
Unfortunately the parliament today decided to vote against the bill. This is disappointing for the thousands of supporters across Victoria and Australia. I have always believed that this bill was about doing what is right. It is right to stand up for mothers and their babies. One day we will look back on this bill as a starting point, in turning the tide on abortion here in Victoria. It is our first proactive stand. It is not our last.
My resolve does not waver in the face of this opposition. I pray that yours does not either. I want to thank you again for your contribution to this campaign, and to encourage you to continue this cause. Together, slowly, we are making a difference.

Many things can be said about this defeat. The same number of Labor politicians supported it as Liberal pollies? What in the world is wrong with the Liberal Party? What an immoral and callous bunch of men and women to not even give a rip about the unborn. Forget about calling this group a conservative party.

But my main concern, as mentioned, is the fact that the great majority of churches and pastors said and did absolutely nothing about all this. I have no idea how many churches there are in Victoria, but for the sake of argument, let’s say there are 5000 (and I will just include Protestant churches here, since I suspect Catholic churches might have been a bit better on this issue).

I would hazard a guess that probably 90 per cent of those 5000 churches knew nothing about the bill. And of the 500 left that did, I would again hazard a guess that 90 per cent of those did absolutely nothing about it. So that may mean just 50 churches spoke about it and/or encouraged people to support it.

And even that figure could be quite high. So where does that leave us? A church that is at best asleep, and at worst, dead, at least when it comes to this vital issue. And I am fully aware that most churches and most pastors will never touch this issue because they don’t want to rock the boat, they don’t want to upset anyone, and above all they don’t want to see a drop in the weekly offering.

I say this to their shame. One day these Christian leaders will stand before our Lord and they will have to give an account for this damnable silence about this absolutely vital issue. I would not want to be in their shoes on that day. And I know I am not alone in thinking this way.

One terrific young Christian and committed pro-lifer that I know was at Parliament House in Melbourne yesterday and witnessed this bitter defeat of the bill. He went to the social media just afterward and said this:

Will be moving on from the Church I’ve served for almost a decade. It’s time that all did likewise in congregations that refuse to engage the culture in some small way outside their own programs. A morally simple piece of legislation like banning late term abortion fails to pass, meanwhile the homosexual pride flag flaps over the roof of The Parliament that is meant to represent me.

I feel his pain and I feel his righteous indignation. And I agree with his advice. If you are attending a church that never speaks out on the crucial moral issues of the day, such as the attack on the unborn or the attack on marriage and family, then you may be in the wrong church.

In my books such churches are well on the road to apostasy. If they refuse to speak out on issues as important as this, then they will never speak out on anything of importance when crunch time comes. Time to get up and leave, wiping the dust off your feet on the way. Find a church that is serious about biblical truth and is serious about what really matters.

Let me conclude with a short piece I recently found from a Christian satire website. Sometimes satire can be a great vehicle for expressing serious truth. The piece is entitled, “Mainline Protestantism declared a safe space for those offended by the gospel”. While it deals with a slightly broader topic, it is quite relevant here:

While some college campuses have established safe spaces where the disenfranchised can avoid the pressures, biases, and judgement of the world, mainline Protestant denominations are taking it one step further. The entire umbrella group has now been designated a safe space for those who would otherwise be offended by the gospel, sources confirmed Wednesday.
Speaking on behalf of a plethora of denominations including the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the United Methodist Church, a spokesperson issued the following statement: “We are in agreement that there is a great need for churches to rise up and create spaces that are safe for questioning and accepting our identities, doubts, fears, failures, and blatant sins. Effective immediately, we are declaring all mainline Protestant churches safe spaces, where there are no judgments, conviction, repentance, or gospel presentations whatsoever.”
The statement listed elements that safe space churches should remove from their premises, including “crosses, Bibles, pulpits, organs, hymnals, systematic theologies, and sermons exhibiting any form of triggering micro-aggression. Be considerate.” Words like “sin,” “hell,” “death,” “wrath,” “propitiation,” and “substitutionary atonement” are also on the ban list.
On behalf of all of mainline Protestantism, the spokesperson expressed heartfelt joy that they were able to make such a major step toward accepting—and not judging—anyone who may be on a path toward God’s judgment. “Our congregations are now spaces that are safe from the freeing power of God in the gospel, where each person is free to construct their own narrative. That’s worthy of celebration.”

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24 Replies to “Derelict Christian Leadership and Churches Missing in Action”

  1. That is very sad. The church I currently attend (St. Lukes, Frankston) was actively involved, as was I personally. I was able to get two pages of signatures from both the church and in my local area. Granted, a lot of the elderly folk in Mt. Eliza were completely unaware of Victoria’s current stance on abortion (in fact, this has been the case since 2008), and one family were in deep shock when I presented the details to them. It seemed to me that among the general population there was very little awareness that abortion in Victoria is allowed right up to the point of birth. For someone who used to be a Catholic, Daniel Andrews seems committed to opposing Christianity at every level: His deplorable and stubborn stance on the Safe Schools Program, his closure of Religious Education in government schools, and his complete denial of the sanctity of life are just three examples of how far he has fallen.

  2. Amen! As someone who is involved in fighting against many of these moral issues, it is very hard to find church leaders of valour and courage any more. I consistently find them outside the church not inside. I was recently told ‘it is political’ by a pastor ‘to be involved in the abortion debate.’ How convenient! It is moral not political.The glory is departing in my observation. Where are the men of valour? Where are the men of courage? Where are the shepherds? Who will rise up and lead the Australian Christian church as it’s darkest hours approach?

  3. I agree that it was frustrating that there was not more awareness and support for this bill by the churches. However, what I did find heartening was that churchgoers were much, much more likely to sign the petition than others. Every churchgoer I asked, signed (except one, but his wife signed for him). Most leapt at the chance. This included people from catholic and anglican churches, and others. I was very grateful for the support at my local catholic church in particular. But when petitioning in secular society (at a festival) the success rate was more like 20% or even less. I discovered quickly that my time was best spent petitioning outside churches.

  4. Everyone is running scared Bill!
    Wish I could show pictures of late term babies aborted & being placed into buckets of formaldehyde at the Women’s hospital in Melbourne not long after the amended Abortion Law Reform Act was passed in the Victorian Parliament in 2008.
    A young nurse spoke out & said she was forced to be involved in this abortion & then told by the Doctor to place the baby in the bucket. She was so distressed that she went to the media the next day the gruesome article appeared in the Herald Sun also articles written on social media but & all accounts of this were wiped off the internet within an hour.

  5. Self determination is the issue of the day with feminism, same sex marriage and trans gender identity grabbing attention first: it’s all about selfishness – what adults want or don’t want and a baby is seen as an expendable commodity. Thus we see angry, embittered harridans defending their right to control what happens to their own bodies and people are wary of contradicting that. A mother and selfishness don’t go together. Feminists and Men Going Their Own Way need to reconcile and together take care of their babies.

  6. I was talking with my wife earlier this week as a reminder for both of us that we are living during the greatest holocaust in history right now. I said at the time there is nothing that we can do about it which, on reflection, is not accurate .

    Even as I stood for our Parliament in NZ (for the Conservative Party) I wanted to talk about this but was told that it is too controversial an issue and we had to keep what we communicated around abortion limited. At the public debates we had, abortion never came up until we had a debate at a church. I delivered what I believed (abortion is a tragedy for everyone concerned). Our party failed to get elected to Parliament and since then has gone through a difficult time. Not that politics is the only answer though.

    I do want to finish on a positive note. We were watching the Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday celebrations when Andrea Bocelli sang Nelle Tui Mani. He is truly a world class Tenor so I read more about him. It turns out that he is a Catholic and was born in 1958 after his parents refused to abort him on the advice of Doctors because they said he would have defects of some sort. He did – his eyesight was poor – and after an accident at the age of 12 he lost all sight. In an interview he made it very clear that he was for life and against abortion.

    I think you can call him pro-life but the strength of his witness, the amazing power of his voice as a singer, and the humility he displays as a blind person, means that the term ‘pro-life’ somehow doesn’t do full justice of what he has achieved. He is another living example to the world of “where would we be” if he had been killed in the womb?

    God will never be left without witnesses to His Glory and as we all play our part, I would encourage us all to listen to some of his music, to remain resolute, to keep our witness for Jesus to be strong and to never, ever give up. His Scriptures guarantee it!

  7. I total agree. My wife and I campaigned hard up in Northern Victoria for the bill. Out of 100 churches only 20 agreed to support the petition. We got about 200 signatures returned. Even so called bible believing churches we scared to make a stand.
    We have been so discouraged by the churches response we have be considering our attendance. People see our stand for the unborn as a hobby on par with support of a footy team. It frustrates me.
    Pastors hung up on my wife and promised us face to face that they would support it then went silent and stopped returning calls. Shame on them.
    The Victorian government is spending $1 billion on road safety to save lives but you can kill an unborn baby up until the day it is born!!!!!! Can someone work out this logic for me?

  8. There is something seriously wrong with Victoria. The abortion laws there a clearly and obviously some of the most draconian on the entire planet yet Victorians are happy to go along with them.

    Despite the lack of action I think scriptures such as Daniel 9:27 do imply that the majority of people who consider themselves Christian will be saved (only a corner or wing is overshadowed) although this and other scriptures do clearly point to end-times apostasy.

  9. You mentioned Wilberforce.
    If I recall correctly, it took him years before he was successful and in the meantime suffered many defeats. So pro-lifers may have to be in this for the long haul.

  10. Thank you Bill and Dr. Carling-Jenkins. This issue, so important and yet so neglected by the wider church, not to mention the community at large, cannot be allowed to sink into some file named “forgotten” because we must continue to stand up for both the unborn and the mothers who are, on many occasions, so misinformed. The message that these unborn children are not potential life but life with potential must be consistently driven home to the church and wider community. We continue to pray for you Bill as you courageously front this and so many other necessary battles.

  11. The public are lulled and anesthetized by Marxist and socialist god-hating ideas so that they simply accept it is OK to murder innocent babies. As a Pastor I am saddened too. So much of the church would be silent or unconcerned. Is this a symptom of our depth of commitment to Christ? Or does this show that the world, the flesh and the Devil are more controlling within the church than we may like to think? Australian Presbyterians do speak up on various issues but we don’t constitute a majority. We had a call sent around for signing a petition. The need of the hour now is not despair but action. William Wilberforce persevered so should we. So thanks Bill for the blowing the trumpet. A trumpet for the multitudes in the valley of decision. cf Joel 3:14.

  12. Not a word at my church either. But quite a few Catholic parishes near me made sure people knew about the bill.
    Andrews is a Catholic – perhaps someone should see if he could be excommunicated. But try and get the Archbishop to do that.

  13. We are going down in a quicksand of confusion, revisionism, misinformation, propaganda and lies. If the language we use, the means of our human interaction is counterfeit and does not have the integrity of the refined gold standard, we will be unable to get out of the mire. I can imagine militant secular humanists and sceptical clergy who waged war on the truth surveying the human wreckage they have wreaked saying “We were looking for the God particle in space but we turned our backs on the God particle here on earth.” That’s how I see it.

  14. If people don’t believe in God they will probably believe in abortion to birth. Not 100% of them but 90%. The Liberals probably thought that if they voted for the DLP bill they would lose the election or their own particular seat. I suspect that Liberal Party chiefs advised MPs not to vote for it and from their perspective they were right. But if that is how it is going to be from now on we will have abortion for a long time.

  15. Bill in 2008 when Andrews introduced the original bill I was appalled that my church said and did nothing. I have decided to support your work accordingly to help sound a warning to the sleepers in the pews.

  16. Bill it appears there are no more churches left that are safe to fellowship in for me.

    I’ve had it with lukewarm churches and lukewarm pastors, and christians who only use judgment when they are telling biblical christians to stop caring so much about gospel issues.

    I dont know what to do?

  17. Thanks Sarah. Yes it is getting increasingly difficult to find a sold Bible-based church. They exist, but often they are the much smaller ones – often even home churches or fellowships.

  18. Bill, The Catholic Church is a mess. It is incapable of fighting evil. It is the direct result of Bishops and priests who refuse to do the job Christ gave them namely to form and instruct and the Laity.

  19. Thanks for a great article Bill. The cowardice of many Catholic bishops and priests is beyond belief. Cowardice is a sin – courage is a gift. But not only are they cowards, they also don’t think. Have they ever reflected on what actually happens at an abortion? Have they any idea of the Divine mind on sexuality? Their silence could well be construed as consenting to these aberrations or at the least to blindness – wilful blindness. These church leaders have a responsibility to warn and guard against the attacks of the evil one; they have a responsibility to teach biblical morality, and if they don’t do their duty, they will have plenty of time for reflection in hell because God is righteous. Then they will believe in God!

  20. Try to get the Archbishop to do anything Wayne Pelling. It used to be the case that certain behaviors attracted automatic excommunication – Archbishop not being required. Whether this is still the case and if so what matters are included is a question for a church lawyer. You could ask the Archbishop but I suggest you not stand and wait for a straight answer – or indeed any answer for that matter. Of course, these days and in the light of recent events, any suggestion of applying church discipline to a situation would understandably be met with ‘two fingers’. I note Paul Connelly’s comment above and wonder how the Catholic church is ever going to recover its credibility or how so many Catholic broken hearts are going to be healed.

  21. Very timely article. I think I remember hundreds of Christian faces that I’ve met over the years, and didn’t see one at the bill launching rally on the 21st of May. Where were they?
    And why do we vote for politicians like these? I know the vote for this was in the upper house, but it’s interesting Daniel Andrews, in the lower house in 2008 voted for no pain relief for the foetus – that’s unbelievable! As were his other votes unbelievable:
    I do wonder, since the politicians don’t even represent main-stream society on this issue (at least average Joe has a problem with late term abortion), if there is another way we can get the law changed. Is it possible to have a state referendum for instance? Our lawmakers seem to be a law to themselves.

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