This issue of Essentials seems to be dominated by Bishops and Academics. And it is very encouraging on that account. Bishops are called on to teach the scriptures and exhort with wholesome doctrine. Christian academics ought to be students of God's word who in turn can teach others, clarifying, explaining, exhorting others to be hearers and doers of God's word.

Such encouragement is always needed, not least in the present. Conflict is part of our lives. Unfortunately often within the life of the church. Many are confused by disputes within the church. And increasingly by debates in the wider community. Some have abandoned their loyalty to the scriptures in the face of friends who live in ways they once would have seen as inconsistent with the Bible.

Confusion and conflict sometimes make retreat attractive. Which is a pity since there are many pressing issues in our society to which Christians can make important contributions: indigenous issues; the environment; refugees; family life; economics; politics even.

Confusion and conflict sometimes expose our insecurity and lead to ungracious and unhelpful ways of responding. We have much to be thankful for in the examples of brothers and sisters who speak winsomely and clearly about many of these matters. Not least the bishops, academics, and ordinary folk who keep on speaking the gospel in the sure and certain hope that God's gospel is still the way people come to know the living God.

With an election and possible plebiscite ahead, we should pray for those who have opportunities to speak (all of us in fact) that we will do so graciously, clearly and boldly.