EFAC Australia


Peter Corney builds on some of the insights in Peter Sutton’s book (reviewed last issue by Joy Sandefur), critiques the cultural relativism of our society, and suggests ways in which Christianity challenges it.

A couple of years ago I read the most profoundly disturbing book that I have read for a long time: ThePolitics of Suffering:Indigenous Australia and the end of the Liberal Consensus, written by Peter Sutton, one of Australia’s leading anthropologists and an expert on Aboriginal culture. I recommend it to anyone who wants to try and understand why the results of our public policy on indigenous affairs have become such a tragic mess.

Peter Sutton speaks from the inside and he cares passionately about Aboriginal people, but he is deeply critical of the failure of many of our policies since the 1970s. One of the reasons he states has been the unwillingness to name and tackle a number of very negative practices and values embedded in Aboriginal culture that have been exacerbated by colonial conquest. One of the reasons for this is the influence of a romantic view of indigenous cultures that took hold in the early 1970s and the pressure of political correctness that protected it from any critique and has allowed it to go unchallenged until recently. This view is an example of ‘cultural relativism’.1

This raised a bigger issue for me and that is the wider influence of ‘cultural relativism’ today on Western culture generally.

Allan Bate comes to grips with the ongoing debate about the atonement.

After 15 years in fulltime stipendiary ministry within the Anglican Church in Australia I decided to enrol myself in a MA(Min) with the Australian College of Theology so as to receive some much needed professional development.

This year I enrolled in a theological subject which looked at the Meanings of the Atonement. One of the reasons I enrolled in this subject was to assist me in my discussions with my liberal colleagues who argue against, and even strongly oppose my views, on penal substitutionary atonement (PSA). The other reason I chose to enrol was because of the rise in evangelicals who are choosing to leave this doctrine behind, which probably includes even some members of EFAC Australia.

As an isolated evangelical working in a non-metropolitan diocese issues like this sometimes fail to come up on my radar and so it was for this reason that I thought that I would take the opportunity to share some of my insights with you. (I would love someone to do a similar article on Tom Wright and The New Perspective in another issue of Essentials). (In the meantime here is a link to a paper by Tom Wright on the New Perspective)

Ben Underwood asks how Christians will respond to the way our society is thinking about homosexuality.
The youth minister at my church invited me to talk to the youth group about homosexuality from a Christian perspec­tive. I think this is a serious topic, and since it is difficult to turn on the TV or read the paper without encountering some­thing to do with homosexuality at the moment, it also seems to me that we should be thinking and talking about it in our churches. So, having done some renewed reading in the area, I went along to then youth group and talked for just under an hour about homosexuality to the upper high schoolers. Appar­ently they had never been so attentive. The following article is a (grown-up) version of that talk.

What is homosexuality?

Bishop Peter Brain proposes friendship as the challenge to our idolatrous exaltation of sex.

‘Friends will go anywhere with you, friends share the good and the bad,’ is a truth that resonates with us all.
Kenny Marks’s song squares with God’s intention, ‘It is not good for man to be alone’ (Gen 2:18), the proverbial wisdom ‘there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother’ (Prov 18:24), and the longing of every human heart for a ‘kindred spirit’.

My reason for writing this article on friendship is the long held conviction that friendships are the antidote to loneliness and the means by which God would meet our deep longings for intimacy and by so doing keep us from adopting the wrong strategy of seeking this intimacy in sexual relationships prior to or outside of marriage.

If we are to win the battle of encouraging sexual fidelity, we must demonstrate the wonderfully positive benefits of a whole range of friendships given to us by our loving Creator. In so doing we will understand the God given purpose of our sexuality, and the restraints he has put on it.

It should have been a simple enough task: Go to the Christian book and buy John Chapman’s book “Know and tell the Gospel” and John Stott’s book “Issues facing Christians today”. Walking into the Christian book shop I glance along the long avenue of books on my left displaying the Top 20 Best selling books. I wonder if there is something wrong with me. I’ve only read two of them and have no desire to read the other 18. I randomly pick up one, “The author of this book is the pastor of the fastest growing church in the United States.” I wonder why every pastor in America claims to be the pastor of the fastest growing or biggest or second biggest….? Who buys this stuff anyway? I-”

“Excuse me, can I help you at all?”

I’m rescued by a fresh faced smiling sales assistant.

“I’m looking for 2 books. The first one is by John Chapman.”