Archives For Truth

wedge-taled-eagle-aus-flagThe birth date for Australia as a nation is officially Federation Day, where on January 1st, 1901, the states and territories came together as one.

The 26th, “Australia Day”, marks the landing in Botany Bay of the first fleet, which arrived in 1788, filled with British convicts, their wardens and a few settlers. One year before the French Revolution. 14 years after the American war of independence.

They arrived not to fight an organised army or take siege of cities. When they arrived, they saw bushland that went on as far as the horizon. To this enlightenment age people, this land, although sparsely occupied by clans of indigenous Australians, was mostly empty.  Hostility fuelled by misunderstandings and racism, between Europeans and indigenous people came much later on and with it a history that is not as black and white as white vs. black.

There has been an official “sorry” given for wrongs committed towards indigenous Australians, plus a TON of aid and support in both education and other social programs to empower awareness and positive change within indigenous communities.

Today, Australia Day represents the ownership of those wrongs and the long effort to factually acknowledge and correct them. Australia Day also represents the celebration of freedom, God’s blessings, our rich heritage, the land, new citizenship for immigrants and the importance of  indigenous Australians to our nation’s future.img_0948

It’s also a day that reminds us, we are a people still need of THE saviour.

For reconciliation to mature beyond words and gestures, forgiveness must follow that genuine apology. This won’t happen, though, for as long as Leftist elites and their sycophantic allies are allowed to control a skewed narrative and direct the hearts of people through their often biased politics.

Yes, Australia Day does remind us of the negative side to our nation’s history. However, that’s not something to run from, it’s something to be acknowledged; something that leads to Australia Day bringing not just patriotism, but humility; something that should rightly trigger solidarity of suffering, respect and reconciliation.

We aren’t beyond being mature enough, as a people, to hold the right and the wrong in both hands, being able to learn from both, being humbled by its mistakes and using them to empower our future.

To move the date to, May, or make it ”Wattle Day” is to jettison all the benefits that can come from redeeming the past for the present and the future. Effectively taking the negative aspects of this nation’s history and burying it does nothing for progress, unity or reconciliation.

Moving the date or renaming the day will only unnecessarily divide us, ripping from our hands and hearts, the potential to fuse together and be fused together by a solidarity that the Australia Day, as an event, brings and can bring.

We aren’t beyond redeeming the day or the date, because we still stand under the God who redeems, has redeemed, and will redeem.

If you think the day is offensive, don’t reject it. Aim to redeem it.

 ‘…Transgression. Redemption. One island’ – Midnight Oil, One Country.

Happy Australia Day.


Notes:

Artwork credit: Artist TBC, otherwise unknown.

Image: Australian Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, Australia Day, 2017: “A great privilege to be welcomed as part of a traditional smoking ceremony at the National Flag Raising and Citizenship Ceremony” (source: Official FB page)

#truth

Visual Commentary

 

 

 

 

Image sourced 21st May 2014 from the:  Frontline Hobbies FB page

 

Answers According to …

October 28, 2013 — 3 Comments

This post is inspired by something which popped up on my news feed last week.The post in question included an image of the automated results someone got after typing ”Christians are” into Google’s search engine. For the purpose of simplicity throughout this post I will simply refer to Google’s automated search suggestions as G.A.S.S.

Applying some hard learnt academic vigour, I tried it out. As one does to critically certify whether or not this search engines mechanics did actually do what was implied.

Here are the results:

According to G.A.S.S, Bloggers are:

Bloggers according to Google

Hmmm…okay, potential food for thought there. Next I figured I’d try G.A.S.S’s thoughts on Google:

Google according to google

“Alrighty then”…moving on. Figuring that I’d be wasting my time trying to psychoanalyse the implications presented here, I decided on a lighter subject, TV Dinners:

TV Dinners are according to google

Enough said really. Next I entered into that universal debate between who is better: Cats or Dogs:

Cats are

Mmm.. I can understand evil, but cats are liquid? Jerks? (okay, so cats in the latter sense probably refers to a football team, but liquid?)

Dogsare

“Dogs are the best people“…Huh?. Given that this is a blog about theology, I  thought, hey why not investigate Google’s automated search suggestion (G.A.S.S) on what “faith is”:

Faith is according to google

GREAT! Love it! How theological can Google’s automated suggested search get? … Then I tried a variation of the very thing that inspired this experiment.

Christianity is according to Google

Hmmm…righto.

google search

So here I’m thinking, hey, maybe this is how the world (according to G.A.S.S) really do see Christians. Then after experiencing a very fleeting moment of condemnation, regret and anger, I composed myself and expanded my search. Finding that:

Gamers are

It seems that no positive things can be said about gamers either…ironic really, since most gamers use the internet, pay big dollars which uphold the industry etc. Still, if we take this assessment seriously the results indicate that Gamers and Schools have, like Christians, a serious image problem in need of repair.

Schools are according to google

Finally,

Diets are according to google

Okay so my list is not that exhaustive and the acronym, G.A.S.S, is a loaded one. To be fair, Google is not the only search engine that allows the use of this function. However, it is the most popular and as such it is influential. As consumers we need to pay attention to some of what this represents, but we also need to read it critically for what it is and the context it is set in. This whole deal with Google’s automated search suggestions (G.A.S.S) is interesting, informative, even fun, but its usefulness is seriously limited. The lesson here really is “Caveat Emptor“.

The technology rocks. However it’s use as a census of consensus is fickle (if not trivial). For example: excluding “Faith is”, all the other search results included a large amount of negativity.

I got the point made by the person who pointed this out on FaceBook. It was interesting to note, but that is as far as it goes. Sure such results might reflect current “concerns” which are reflected by the engines indexing/ranking system sourcing data from ”reputation (links) & authority (popularity – relevance)”, but anyone with well-positioned common sense will understand that these ”suggestions” are variable. They change and can be different depending on your location. This suggests that, even though Google do their best to get it right, the results can be tainted and therefore not accurately reflect reality. For me, the truth to be found here is again echoed by Paul & Marguerite Shuster when they write:

‘Test everything, hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil’ (1. Thess.5:21, ESV)

 ‘those who Jesus confronted most directly were as likely to want to kill him as to follow him. He seemed to not have the slightest inclination to make hearing and following him pleasant and easy…Truthfulness, in other words, is not determined by customer satisfaction surveys’

(‘The truth and truthfulness’, 2008)

Sources:

Cutts, M : 2009 Talk on Google, WordPress & Blogging,  sourced 28th October 2013 from http://youtu.be/3P-m2cBCJSk
Shuster, M. 2008 Truth and truthfulness in Performance in preaching Childers & Schmidt, Baker Academic
Sullivan, D. 2011 How Google Instant’s Autocomplete Suggestions Work, sourced 28th October 2013 from http://searchengineland.com/how-google-instant-autocomplete-suggestions-work-62592

BonheofferThis past week I have been storming my way through the pages of Metaxas’ biography on Anti-Nazi theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

The word martyr [μάρτυς] means to ‘bear witness’, this is derived from the word marturion [μαρτύριον] which is understood to mean evidence testimony; witness; to be testified.

The word martyr is also connected to martyromai [μαρτύρομαι] I am urging; I am bearing witness; I am declaring; I am insisting (Goodrick & Kohlenberger, NIVAC 2009).

This afternoon I found myself reaching the middle of Metaxas’ retelling. Up to this point Metaxas has been unpacking the situation, circumstances, experiences and key historical figures who knew Bonhoeffer, were his colleagues, enemies, family and friends – of whom one was Karl Barth and the other Martin Niemöller, although not as  passionate as Bonhoeffer, both are Anti-Nazi theologians in their own right.

I use the words ‘are Anti-Nazi theologians’ because Nazi theory still exists, and as such the significance of Bonhoeffer, Barth and Niemöller’s resistance MUST not be overlooked. I am in agreement with Gene Veith who states that

…’fascism is a worldview….the defeat of Hitler and the Axis powers in World War II meant the military defeat of fascism, but an ideology cannot be defeated by military power alone. Ideas linger…despite the military victory over fascism, it will long continue to live’ (Veith, 1993)

Although we share different contexts with the German Church struggle; the Kirchenkampf,  there are parallels that connect with the struggle of the ecumenical church in the 21st Century. Although, I acknowledge that these parallels are only just becoming evident.

It is not difficult to see that similarities exist. For example: such similarities only exist as subtleties, the pretenders are in large part invisible to the majority, but are working hard at ‘gradually liquidating the [True] Church through intimidation’ (Bethge cited by Metaxas, 2010:294, italics mine).

Part of the Christian and his or her response to this new struggle may perhaps require applying Bonhoeffer’s admonishment to ‘not defend God’s word, but testify to it…’ (Metaxas citing Bonhoeffer, 2010:261). There is a chilling passage in the Bonhoeffer text that may be indicative of such an act:

…‘Although I am working with all my might for the church opposition, it is perfectly clear to me that this opposition is only a very temporary transition to an opposition of a very different kind, and that very few of those engaged in this preliminary skirmish will be part of the next struggle. And I believe that the whole of Christendom should pray with us that it will be a ‘resistance unto death’, and that the people will be found to suffer it’… (Metaxas citing Bonhoeffer 2010:195-196)…

It is worth noting that even Marxist Leon Trotsky had an opinion about the Church struggle in Germany. Whilst in exile he wrote that:

…’It is only necessary to find real and effective methods to intervene in the struggle, to stir up the religious-democratic opposition, to broaden it and to assist the young Catholics, especially the workers, in their struggle (and not, of course, the Nazi police, which wants to “destroy” these religious organizations). Thus, in Russia we always defended the struggle of the Armenian church for its autonomy…’ 19th August 1935

My homework for now is to try to define this new Church struggle.

Right from the start a few questions arise, for example:

                    • How does struggle connect with ‘bearing witness’?
              • Is ‘bearing witness’ found in the act of struggle as opposed to full subjugation to the powers with which the Church struggles against?
              • Who or what are those powers?

It is clear from Paul’s words to the Christian in Ephesians 1:3-23 that God wants to govern His people:

Clark Pinnock delineates four key aspects to the nature of God’s empowerment and grace

First: God can only have our love if we decide to give it. God made us to love Him, and the key issue is what we decide to do with that freedom.

Second: God does not overpower.

Third: Grace works mightily but does not override.

Fourth: God is a loving parent, not a tyrant.

Fifth: One can be saved by grace, but grace saves no one who does not respond’

  (‘Flame of love: A theology of the Holy Spirit’, 1996:157)

Pinnock rightly states that:

‘God does not control what happens. Rather, He is open to receiving input from His creatures…salvation then, is more than relief at not being condemned; it sweeps us up into the love of God for participation in the divine nature’ (Pinnock, 156).

This does not to suggest a watering down of God’s sovereignty, on the contrary, in God allowing contribution from us, he is exercising the great might of His rule; His sovereignty.

Human pride must have no place here. This is because pride limits genuine participation. It rejects wisdom, understanding, love and gratitude. It sets humanity in the place of God by ignorantly declaring allegiance to the Nietzschean worldview which unilaterally acts and in a fit of impatience, irrationally proclaims that ‘God is dead’. Today this is slowly being exemplified by the arrogance which attaches itself to the ‘truth is relative myth’ – evident in the act of dismissing the science behind Christian theology by wrongly assigning; and therefore interchanging such inquiry with the pejorative tag ”Christian ideology” – and the addiction to the ‘giddy euphoria associated with the breaking of taboos’ (Gene Veith ‘Modern Fascism’) that such a myth fuels.

Based on my observations of history, I suggest that ironically, progressive theory limits progress. Eventually revealing its true nature only when it appears too late to act against its enslavement of humanity.

Again in Ephesians 1:3-23 Paul tells the Christian that God desires his people:

to think
to love
to pray
to be holy and blameless
to act in wisdom and insight
to see
to understand
to engage
to acknowledge
to receive
to be thankful
to testify,

and to rely on the Holy Spirit; to believe & trust.

Socially, politically and historically pride has never been a friend of freedom.

It would not be a stretch to stand here in agreement with St. Francis of Assisi and view ‘pride as the enemy of grace’ (St. Francis of Assisi Little Flowers, paraphrased); theologically this would suggest that pride as an enemy of grace is also and can only exist as and enemy of freedom. Human pride is not easily designated to being simply an antithesis to grace – a balance to it. This is because pride can be nothing other than an aberration of freedom, the  grotesque distortion of free will that has been granted to us by the Free God, who runs after us in Christ alone, humiliated – humbled – desperate for us regain our true freedom. This is the outreaching of God which prideful humanity rejects and in doing so rejects authentic freedom. God desires to pull us back from our self-destructive pride towards a humility which is only truly grounded in a grateful response to Him, the ‘ultimate reality’ (Cone 1975:137).

It hasn’t taken me too long to figure out that the book I hold in my hands is holy, in the sense that the account before me is much more than just words on a page. They reflect the breath, existence, politics, faith, blood, decisions and thoughts of a very real Christian martyr.

Currently my thoughts lean towards the idea that there are never ”two sides to a story”, rather there is only one story with different perspectives. How Christians tell that story, live out that struggle or ‘bear witness’ in testifying to that story may require more than we in the West, at least currently, do not seem willing to accept. If this should eventuate in the way it did for Bonhoeffer then:

‘May the lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering’ (Moravian prayer)

Soli Deo Gloria

 

Sources:

Cone, J. 1975 God of the oppressed Orbis Books Maryknoll, NY
Crossway Publishers, ESV: English standard version
Goodrick,W.E & Kohlenberger.J.R 1999  NIVAC:The Strongest NIV exhaustive concordance Zondervan USA
Jobe, K. ‘Revelation Song’ available @ iTunes & Amazon
Metaxas, E. 2010 Bonheoffer, Pastor, Martyr, Prophet and Spy Thomas Nelson Publishers
Pinnock, C.H 1996 Flame of Love: A theology of the Holy Spirit Intervarsity Press Downers Grove IL.
The Church struggle under fascism, 1935 Leon Trotsky
St. Francis of Assisi in Ugolino, Brother circa 1300’s The Little flowers of St. Francis of Assisi CCEL.org
Veith, G.E.1993 Modern Fascism (Kindle Locations 179-181). Concordia Publishing House. Kindle Edition.

Copyright. Rod Lampard. 2013.

I saw the photos of Oklahoma on the news feed this morning. It is a world away from Australia, yet social media seems to reach beyond the Pacific pond and pull us towards a sense of the grief, urgency, frustration and bewilderment that so many people in the stories and pictures seem to be experiencing. A lot like the images and reports that continue to emerge from within Syria. In some small way, we Aussie’s are enabled to connect and sympathise in real-time.

What made the Oklahoma tragedy so pertinent to me this morning, is that it intensified how I understood the words Paul spoke to the church in Ephesus (Eph. 4:11-15):

‘’we will no longer be immature like children…tossed and blown away by every wind of new teaching..Influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like truth. Instead, like Christ, we speak the truth in love’… (NLT)

As I try to comprehend the next step on from my undergraduate academic journey, I cannot help but wonder where we as Christians really are at. It seems too easy to be blown away and tossed about by every wind of new teaching. The magnitude of consequences associated with being blown away and tossed are evident, painful and real. All visually expressed in what we see in Oklahoma at the moment.

I recently read a comment on one of my posts last week that lead to me this conclusion. I don’t have ‘it’ all figured out and that is okay. This is okay because I can see the relevance in Paul’s use of words like ‘immature’ ‘tossed and blown about’. We are not called to uncertainty, we are called to hope in the midst our uncertainity.

Uncertainty brings with it a sense of crushing powerlessness. It can also remind each of us of a deeper sense of meaninglessness, hopelessness or a lack of clear direction. An image that might reflect this is that uncertainty is like a lingering mischievous fog, tempting us to rush ahead into a darkness that has settled down around us.

My response to uncertainty cannot be panic, anxiety or rash decisions. Instead my response must be

   ‘grateful obedience to the God of promise who summons humanity to place our hope in Him alone’ (Barth Church Dogmatics.IV3.2, paraphrased).

This is what vocation means.

It means ‘not grasping God, but allowing ourselves to be grasped by Him’ (David McGregor, Tabor Adelaide).

If we, ‘like Christ, speak the truth in love’, we are, like Christ, keeping in step with the Spirit.

This means authentic proclamation, bearing witness to the fact that because of the Holy Spirit, ‘Jesus Christ is within us’ (2 Cor.13.5). We can do this confidently, knowing that ‘we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God’ (1 Thess.2:4).

This is an act where ‘deep gladness meets the world’s deep need’ (Palmer ‘Let your life speak’, 2000). It involves the graciousness of God as we enter into participation with the Spirit (2 Pet.), who is always a sure compass, reliably pointing those with ears to hear and eyes to see towards true North; towards fulfilling our vocation.

The theological imperative is this, when I speak truth in love, I must first speak truth to myself in both word and deed.

Choose to seek maturity,  by being ‘gentle and patient’ (Paul) in my responses (e.g.: think-before-I-post). Choose to walk in gratitude and hope (humility – Paul).

How do we do this? By deliberately being vulnerable by being open when we disagree with someone. We do this by choosing not to retreat into the passive aggressive  reaction of posting memes all over facebook, or lobbing ambiguous tweets, out from under an evangelical bomb shelter, loaded with subtle put downs . We choose to be a truth-teller and truth-seeker.

Like Jesus the Christ, when we choose to work on ‘speaking truth in love’, we ‘live a life worthy of our calling’ (Eph. 4:1-2).

Related reading:

‘Things to do today’, (mrsmendiola.wordpress.com)
‘Wolves in Christian clothing’ (lifeofafemalebiblewarrior.wordpress.com)
‘Momentum’ (walterbright.org)
‘Catering Churches – fearing of offending’  (realityofchrist.me)