Tag Archives: Women

An Enduring Voice

There is still an hour or two before the day ends: enough time to recall with gratitude, the life and legacy of Jane Austen – who died two hundred years ago on this date. Not that I can say much more than to what extent I appreciate her work. I am a fan and an admirer, not an expert.

Austen died on July 18 1817 at just forty-one years of age, after a year or more during which her health had been deteriorating. Her books, published anonymously during her lifetime, became amongst the most loved in English literature, and have enjoyed continual publication from the time they were first presented to the reading public until the present. They have also stimulated a raft of film adaptations, as well as a whole genre of Austen-knock-offs.

In some respects, Jane Austen has been viewed as writing simple romances, stories that tell a happy tale that ends with the heroine securing her husband and living happily ever after. More recent scholarship, however, insists that Austen’s novels

… are strategic critical analyses of the moral values and modes of behaviour through which a section of the ruling class was redefining itself … She writes, therefore, about femininity and about class: about forms of identity and about marriage as a political institution which reproduces – symbolically as well as literally – the social order. … So the power to motivate and reward change, both personal and social, lies with the woman. (See my post on Austen’s Pride and Prejudice)

Austen is very aware of the social, cultural and political factors at work in her world, as well as the hopes and sorrows, triumphs and pains, that attend daily affairs. She too, like her sister Cassandra, knew what it was to love and be loved, though neither ever married. Cassandra’s fiancé died in the West Indies when she was twenty-four. Her family said that Jane loved a young clergyman who also had died.

A couple of months ago I read Persuasion in part to recall this author whose legacy we honour. Toward the end of the book there is a spirited discussion between Anne Elliott and Captain Harville about whether men or women have the deeper feelings, more constant and faithful:

“Well, Miss Elliott, as I was saying, we shall never agree I suppose upon this point. No man and woman would, probably. But let me observe that all histories are against you, all stories, prose and verse. If I had such a memory as Benwick, I could bring you fifty quotations in a moment on my side the argument, and I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon woman’s inconstancy. Songs and proverbs, all talk of woman’s fickleness. But perhaps you will say, these were all written by men.”

“Perhaps I shall.—Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands…”

This telling line provides a little window, perhaps, into what Jane Austen was about, when she took up the pen. And we are immeasurably the richer for it.

Tales of Infidelity (2): Paul Coelho

Paul Coelho, Adultery (Melbourne: Hamish Hamilton, 2014)
ISBN: 978-1-926428-64-2

adultery CoelhoI did not know anything about Paul Coelho when I bought this book, other than that he was the celebrated author of The Alchemist, which I had also just bought but not yet read. In place of dedication and acknowledgements there is a prayer (“O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for those who turn to you. Amen”) and a verse from the Bible (Luke 5:4: “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch”). Despite the religious overtones of such a beginning, the book doesn’t preach. Indeed, those of a religious persuasion might find both the title and the major drama of the book off-putting. No doubt the seventh commandment lurks in the background unseen and unheard but nevertheless there. Or is it?

The story concerns Linda, a Swiss woman upon whom fortune has smiled. She has it all: looks, a loving husband, well-behaved children, a satisfying job, wealth, possessions and comfort. Yet she is unhappy and deeply discontent. Her inner turmoil leads to a fling with an old high-school flame, which subsequently escalates into an obsession. The main action of the book traces Linda’s mental world as she engages with the affair, wrestles with her conscience, and struggles to understand her own mind, feelings and actions, and those of others around her. In the end she does have an epiphany of sorts, and manages to find equilibrium once more.

The book reads easily, told from Linda’s point of view. Just how effective Coelho is at portraying the mind of a woman I will have to leave to female readers. For me, a male, it was a believable read. I did, however, find Linda’s husband to be less than believable, and under-developed. This weakness allows an ending that for me seemed unreal, unlikely. At several points Coelho dwells on the differences between male and female via his major character, as here, where he reflects on an old double standard:

Men cheat because it’s in their genetic code. A woman does it because she doesn’t have enough dignity; in addition to handing over her body, she always ends up handing over a bit of heart. A true crime. A theft. It’s worse than robbing a bank, because if one day she is discovered (and she always is), she will cause irreparable damage to her family. For men it is just a “stupid mistake.” For women, it feels like a spiritual crime against all those who surround her with affection and support her as a mother and wife (187).

Coelho’s use of Luke 5 is ambiguous. Linda has launched out into the deep and let down her nets for a catch. In the biblical story the unlikely result is a miraculous catch of fish, and the occasion for revelation and repentance. In this story, there is revelation but little sense of repentance, despite the opening prayer. The seventh commandment has been violated but bypassed; Linda emerges if not unscathed, unburnt. Yet it is also clear that the adultery is not without cost:

I feel disgusted. I waited so long to act like a tigress and ended up being used like a mare. But that’s life; reality never comes close to our teenage romantic fantasies (184). 

In the end the reader will have to decide whether or not adultery is worth it. This book suggests that one might just get away with it, and with a better grasp on life for having indulged. The Bible which Coelho cites would warn us to take a different path. “Who can take fire to his breast and not be burned?” (Proverbs 6:27).

Is Feminism Finished?

germaine-greerThere has been an interesting (disconnected) series of articles over at The Spectator (UK) on whether or not feminism is “finished.” One young feminist, Emily Hill, does not bother asking the question, but simply asserts: Feminism is over, the battle is won. Time to move on:

Most self-styled feminists argue that we still struggle in the workplace. On close inspection this isn’t borne out either. Women in their twenties have out-earned men for the last few years; now the under-40s are doing so as well. The speed of our trajectory is startling. Across Europe and America, and particularly in Scandinavia, women are pushing their way on to executive boards and into the seats of power. The French government has passed a law which will require that two in five executive board members of the largest public companies are women. Feminists argue we need quotas in this country, too, but isn’t there a sweeter triumph in the sisters doing it for themselves?

In a second article, another commentator asserts that Women’s issues are for everyone now, not just feminists. In this article (written by a man) we hear that,

That protest was exactly the kind of women-only activism that makes headlines and noise and achieves nothing of substance. It shows that the label ‘feminist’ and the world view of feminism has served its historical function. Feminism has much to be proud of. But now it’s an impediment to progress.

Finally, archetypal  feminist Germaine Greer is in the headlines again, this time accused of “having no place in feminism!”

Alarmingly, Cardiff’s feminist students are running the campaign to shut Greer down. The petition for her lecture to be cancelled was started by the student union women’s officer, who says Greer’s views have ‘no place in feminism’. What a spoilt, ungrateful generation, hilariously unaware that their very ability to speak their minds and rouse some rabble is down to decades of intellectual and social agitation by people like Greer. She helped give them a voice; they try to silence hers. (See: Germaine Greer can say whatever she likes about trans politics.)

So, is feminism “finished”?

Perhaps in some ways the historic movement of feminism has achieved its primary objectives in western societies, or will, as increasingly educated and accomplished women move into more and more influential positions in all sectors of western society.

Still, in my view, more work remains to be done, and not simply by women. The dreadful and ongoing scourge of domestic violence here in Australia is testimony to the continuing difficulty men and women have in establishing mutually respectful and equitable relationships.

Further, women and girls in western and non-western countries are sometimes – too often – subject to the most terrible abuses. Much of this abuse is centred around destructive sexual practices, and in some cases, is largely ignored by western feminists. A female columnist in The Australian last week (sorry, I cannot remember or access the article) blasted her feminist counterparts in this country for their celebration of the sex industry as a sign of female empowerment, and for their apparent lack of concern for women and girls caught in prostitution and sex-trafficking both here and abroad.

The issues are difficult, contentious, and very, very important. Globally, terrible abuses continue to be meted out to women and girls. Vigilance by both men and women are required to ensure that some of these same abuses do not take root in western countries. If western feminists ignore the very real plight of women globally, and the equally real threat toward women in their own cultures; if they seek refuge instead in what a feminist friend labels “outrage at micro-aggressions,” then perhaps feminism is finished after all.

Scripture on Sunday – Proverbs 5

Couple in Fountain

Drink water from your own cistern and fresh water from your own well. Should your springs be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be yours alone and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving hind and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; be exhilarated always with her love. For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress and embrace the bosom of a foreigner? For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord and he watches all his paths. His own iniquities will capture the wicked, and he will be held with the cords of his sin. He will die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he will go astray.

I had not been a Christian very long, before I stumbled across this passage in Proverbs. Still unmarried, a young man, all it took was the word “breasts,” and my attention was captured! Over thirty years have passed since then, and I am still pretty much the same.

This passage is both a celebration and warning, though the note of warning captures the function of the chapter as a whole. As is often the case in the early chapters of Proverbs, the passage is addressed to “my son,” and may be conceived as parental instruction (cf. Proverbs 1:8; 4:1-3; 6:20). In many cases the instruction might just as easily be addressed to “my daughter.” Though that might go against the cultural grain of the text in the period when it was written, it is certainly appropriate today to recognise the equal value and blessing of both daughters and sons, and to affirm their equivalent need for instruction. Having affirmed that, however, it may also be noted that the particular theme of this chapter is appropriately addressed to “sons” (5:7). The recent Ashley Madison hacking scandal indicates once again, the relative disparity between men and women with respect to sexual promiscuity. Although the owners of the website claimed the client gender split was 60% male – 40% female, the hackers claimed the true figure was probably higher than 90% male.

The first fourteen verses warn the son against the “adulteress” (v. 3), who lies in wait for his life (cf. 6:26; 7:23). In the early centuries of the church, it is clear that women were often and unfairly seen as the source of sexual temptation, as sexually dangerous, and perhaps even as predatory and inherently immoral. If we are not careful, we might read these chapters in Proverbs as affirming a similar—unjust—perspective. It is easy to blame the woman involved for sexual sins and failings which are just as much if not more, those of the men involved, just as it is easy to overlook the socio-economic factors which often lure or drive a woman into using her sexuality as a means of survival, or as the ground of her value as a person.

Roland Murphy notes that the

Translations and understanding of the … “a foreign woman” and the … “a strange woman” vary considerably. The literal sense of the terms includes: stranger, outsider (outside of what? family, tribe, nation?), foreign, alien, another. A secondary meaning that may be derived from some contexts is adulteress. It is better to keep to the literal meaning wherever possible, and let other levels of meaning, if any, emerge in the course of chaps. 1-9 (Murphy, Proverbs (WBC), 13-14.

It may be that in ancient Israel, the foreign woman had no other means of survival than the sale of her body. Or perhaps she was alluring because different, and so perceived as a threat, especially if she also brought other gods and foreign worship with her. There may be xenophobic as well as sexual elements at work in this passage. In any case, the woman is portrayed in very negative terms: she is deceitful, uncaring and unstable (vv. 4-6), and the sons are warned in very strong language to have nothing to do with her.

The warnings in this passage have to do with consequences. Those who frequent the door of this woman will give their “strength” to strangers, their years to “the cruel one.” Strangers and aliens will receive their hard-earned wealth, their flesh and their body will be consumed, and their final years will be filled with isolation, regret and reproach (5:7-14). Poverty, bitterness, shame, and perhaps even disease will await those who indulge in her pleasures.

Old couple embraceIn this context, then, the positive marital-sexual vision of verses 15-20 is set forth. Here the language is that of abundance, of a well-watered garden—a very rich and evocative image in a desert landscape. Not simply evocative, the language is overtly erotic, “wells” and “fountains” imaging the female and the male sexual partners. It seems likely that the partners have been married for some time since the passage refers to the husband’s wife as “the wife of your youth” (v. 18; Cf. Ecclesiastes 9:9). As already noted, the addressee of the passage is especially the man, who is admonished to be satisfied in her love, with her breasts, to view her in terms of the grace and vigour of a doe. He is to drink water from his own cistern—not that of others—and likewise, keep his streams “out of the streets.” He is to rejoice in his wife, and she evidently, in her husband. Their congress is a joyful meeting, unrestrained and, one hopes, mutually exhilarating. She remains the only object of his sexual desire through the years, the only well from which he draws water, the only guest to visit his fountain.
The possibility of such an idyll seems remote in the present. The prevalence of divorce, adultery, and promiscuity, the existence of Ashley Madison (“Life is short; have an affair”), the globalisation of the sex trade, and the pervasive sexualisation of our media all demonstrate a culture in thrall to disordered sexuality, as well as the loss of a positive marital vision. “I sex, therefore I am” may capture the contemporary western vision of what it means to be human. Such a terribly oppressive philosophy can only multiply the number of victims in a brutal world of dog-eats-dog, where winners are few and the disenfranchised are discarded.

The monogamous vision of this proverb is oft decried today, viewed as quaint, unrealistic and sometimes as oppressive. It is also true that it is an ideal many fail to live up to, despite their best intents, for monogamy is difficult, especially in a sexualised world. Still, the vision must be upheld, otherwise we will lose sight of the biblical wisdom it proclaims: that sex is God’s good gift to men and women, that sex is a means and never an end, that sex belongs and ultimately can only thrive in a covenantal context, that sexual union images the fruitful and faithful union of Christ and his church, and of God and his people.

Removed from this context and vision sex becomes a destructive and enslaving power: his own iniquities will capture the wicked, and he will be held with the cords of his sin. Sex, like other creational goods, can become an idol, an obsession and an addiction. This proverb would have us retain our strength and avoid the personal, familial and cultural dissolution that results from unrestrained sexual practice. It honours the marriage bed and keeps it a private garden of delight for husband and wife alone. It calls men, especially, to restrain their sexual proclivities and remain faithful and satisfied with the wife of their youth. And it calls husbands and wives to an idyllic vision, and so to a mutual intention and commitment toward the realisation of that one-flesh vision in their own lives.

Scripture on Sunday – Proverbs 31:1-9

King-DrinksProverbs 31:1-9
The words of King Lemuel, the oracle which his mother taught him:                

What, O my son?       
And what, O son of my womb?          
And what, O son of my vows?

Do not give your strength to women, or your ways to that which destroys kings. 
It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine,          
Or for rulers to desire strong drink, for they will drink and forget what is decreed, and pervert the rights of the afflicted.          

Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to him whose life is bitter. Let him drink and forget his poverty and remember his trouble no more.

Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy (NASB).

Although we cannot be sure whether any women authored books or passages of Scripture, there are a number of texts in Scripture attributed to women, including this one. King Lemuel is otherwise unknown to us, although Murphy suggests that he was king of “Massa,” understood as an area in northern Arabia (Murphy, Proverbs (WBC), 239). He bases this conjecture on a possible translation of the word “oracle” as Massa. The name itself, however, is a Hebrew word meaning “belonging to God” (Kidner, Proverbs (TOTC), 182). The passage has a number of similarities with other wisdom texts from the Ancient Near East, and even includes Aramaic words and idioms. Nevertheless, Murphy (240) notes that this is the only instance in such literature where the king is instructed by his mother. In the end he considers the oracle to be a Hebrew composition.

It is tempting to suggest that the passage is about “wine, women, and song,” although there is no mention of indulging in the pleasures of music. Nevertheless, the king is instructed to “open his mouth!” Of wine and women, however, there is firm, blunt instruction, though the order is reversed. The mother offers this counsel on the basis of her maternal authority: he has come forth from her womb, having received his life from her. Further, he is the “son of my vows,” perhaps reminiscent of the promise Hannah made with respect to Samuel (cf. 1 Samuel 1:11, 28).

“Give not your strength to women, or your ways to that which destroys kings!” The admonition is more a warning against promiscuity than an assertion of the supposed wickedness of women. Kings often have the resources to indulge their desires in ways not available to poorer, less powerful folk. Nor is it for the king to indulge in wine and other strong drink lest he forgets the decrees and perverts the rights of the afflicted. Whereas the king is not to drink and forget, he should give strong drink to the afflicted that they may drink and forget – their afflictions and poverty. This, too, is unusual advice, especially in light of a text like Proverbs 20:1, a strident repudiation of strong drink and drunkenness (cf. 23:20-21, 29-35). Perhaps it is best to let verse 6 set the scenario: “Give strong drink to him who is perishing,” and so see the advice in terms of administering a palliative or an analgesic.

Finally, the mother counsels her son to open his mouth for the mute, for the rights of the dispossessed, afflicted, vulnerable and needy. Rather than forget their rights, he is to enter the fray on their behalf, defending their rights and upholding their cause.

A number of themes in this short passage deserve reflection.

  1. Some things are wrong, bad and evil for anyone, but especially for those charged with leadership or who hold the reins of power, justice or influence. Self-indulgence eviscerates moral awareness, courage and determination. Drunkenness, sexual laxity and other self-indulgent pursuits cause one to centre in on themselves and to forget their responsibilities, and sometimes, all else. These things destroy leaders, cause them to become oppressors, and tear at the very fabric of trust that binds the relationship of leader and followers.
  2. Murphy translates verse three as “Do not give your strength to women, or your power to those who destroy kings.” Many of us have been granted a measure of strength or power, often in different spheres of endeavour or responsibility, and we can use that power to indulge ourselves and satisfy our own desires, or we can use it to help, benefit and bless others around us. Instead of spending it on himself, the king is admonished to preserve and direct his strength for the sake of the mute and the vulnerable. He is to remember the “decrees,” the sacred trust granted to him as king, as a leader, as one given power and influence. He is to serve others rather than himself, and not simply any others, but the poor and defenceless, those who have no other helper, and those who cannot repay him with favours.
  3. The primary service the king is to render is to “open his mouth” for the mute (vv. 8, 9). According to Murphy, “the ‘mute’ are not so much physically as they are socially weak, without a voice among those who administer justice” (241). I find this one particularly challenging. Too often, I think, I have not spoken up when I could and should have done so. Larry Crabb entitled one of his books “The Silence of Adam,” arguing that Adam stayed silent when he should have spoken up. He suggests this a sin that befalls many men particularly. It is true there is a time to be silent, but there are also times where to be silent is to add affliction to those already suffering. I must remember to “open my mouth for the mute.”
  4. It is not uncommon to hear that the language of “rights” emerged in western culture with the Enlightenment. Although there may be some truth in that, this passage is a clear biblical example of rights language, though in Scripture it applies to the “rights” of the vulnerable, afflicted and needy. It is not at all unusual in our culture for the powerful to stand up for their rights. Again, this passage calls us to stand up for others’ rights.
  5. Finally, I have sometimes tried to imagine a world in which women held the offices and reins of power instead of men. Would such a world be different to what it often is now? Certainly women are sinful just as men are. But would a world ordered by women be as given to violence as it is now? Would abuse and oppression be so widespread? Perhaps. Lord Acton’s famous dictum probably applies to women as much as it does to men although it seems he had men specifically in mind: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” But the words of this passage originated as the counsel of a woman, a mother using her power and influence to train her son who one day would be king. May her tribe increase.

Women Apologists

Image: Jeremy Cowart
Image: Jeremy Cowart

The April issue of Christianity Today has two interesting articles on women engaged in teaching and practicing apologetics. Apparently this is somewhat unusual since apologetics has often or even usually been a male domain. The first article, “The Unexpected Defenders” tells the story of five women, all associated with the Master of Arts (Apologetics) degree at Houston Baptist University. Part of the interest in the article concerns the unique approach to apologetics adopted by these women (cultural apologetics),  as well as exploring what these women bring to the practice of apologetics as women.

Ultimately, apologetics is driven by love. You have to love people enough to listen to their questions and do the hard work of finding answers for them (Nancy Pearcey).

The second article, “The Oxford Revivalist,” shifts attention to the UK and to the work of Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics program director, Amy Orr-Ewing. Her story is quite amazing and well worth reading.

“Without women we wouldn’t know what happened at the Cross,” says Orr-Ewing. “John’s there, but all the other witnesses to the words from the cross are female. And women are the first witnesses to the Resurrection. If you’re a Christian, you believe the Lord arranged for that. That’s not unintentional. That’s amazing.”

Two Articles on Sexual Ethics

gay_liberation_monument_manhattan - Sculpture by George Segal
gay_liberation_monument_manhattan – Sculpture by George Segal

Two interesting articles over at First Things. What is of interest to me in both articles is the question of what constitutes marriage, and more fundamentally, what the “good” of marriage is.

The first article (“Sex and Danger at UVA”) is a response by two senior academics to the University of Virginia’s response to the now discredited Rolling Stone article of December 2014 which reported on a supposed gang rape and rape culture at the University. The article argues that the University is complicit in the development of a destructive culture of sexual practice that is harmful, especially to women. The article navigates the difficult relationship between women’s choice, which the authors want to affirm, and the (quaint-sounding?) idea that women must be protected from rapacious attitudes, practices and environments which is the main burden of the essay. Their argument hangs on the implicit idea that the political culture based on rights and freedom is insufficient to secure the kinds of relationships between the sexes which are mutually beneficial and honouring. Habits, practices and structures which help form virtuous patterns of character and interaction are required.

The second article by Peter Leithart (“The Failure of Gay Marriage”) questions what gay marriage will do to marriage itself, and suggests that its impact will be negative. However, he does not assign the blame for this to the gay community. Rather, it is the result of heterosexual attitudes adopted decades ago which value marriage primarily as a romantic attachment.

“The whole set of fundamental, irrational assumptions that make marriage such a burden and such a civilizing force can easily be undone.” This is a powerful argument, but doesn’t give sufficient weight to a point that Schulman acknowledges early on: The fact that “romantic marriage” was invented by heterosexuals, and the detachment of sex from marriage and marriage from kinship was accomplished long before anyone began seriously proposing gay marriage. Gay marriage may further damage marriage; but heterosexuals damaged marriage nearly beyond recognition all on our own.

The Gospel Coalition in Australia

TGC11-PanelThe Gospel Coalition have started an Australian chapter and appointed a founding Council which will conduct its first meeting in early August. According to their website,

We have no fixed agenda other than to build gospel partnerships and then do whatever we can to promote the same kind of gospel-driven relationships across our nation as we work together for the sake of Jesus Christ.

Hurray, I can applaud that! Would any Evangelical Christian not support the development of gospel partnerships to work together for the sake of Jesus Christ?

However, it is not quite that simple, for TGC – as they are often known – are not simply concerned about the gospel per se, but a particular understanding of what constitutes the gospel, and what the gospel entails.

I actually welcome much of what TGC stands for: I too affirm the centrality of the gospel, the necessity of proclaiming it faithfully, fervently, prayerfully, trusting the Holy Spirit to work a miracle of grace in the hearts and lives of men, women and children; I appreciate the scholarship of D.A. Carson even if I do not agree with all his positions; I value and admire the pastoral ministry, preaching and leadership of Tim Keller; I also hold a broadly Reformed approach to doctrine including the undiminished sovereignty of God, the uniqueness, supremacy and sole-sufficiency of Jesus Christ for salvation, the priority of grace in salvation, etc.

But still I have concerns. I am concerned at the shrill voices of some in TGC against those who may have a different understanding of the gospel, doctrine or Scripture. I have been concerned by the way some of their high-profile leaders have misused their platform and power, and hope that these things have now been corrected. I am concerned that their posture is sometimes more reactionary than biblically faithful, though I am sure they would disagree with me on this.

But it does highlight my central concern: that TGC is unnecessarily narrow and prescriptive in their definition of the gospel, to the point of including as part of the gospel aspects of teaching which are clearly not part of the gospel in the New Testament sense. This is especially apparent with respect to their commitment to complementarianism, which they extrapolate from biological complementarity in their statement of faith.

As a Baptist I gladly extend to them the freedom to interpret Scripture and practice their faith in accordance with their conscience and their conscientious examination and explication of Scripture. I also acknowledge the reality that formal Confessions of faith express the faith of the group that makes them, and are not in that sense binding on others. Thus TGC have every right under Christ to organise themselves around their firmly held beliefs.

But it seems odd to elevate particular interpretations of Scripture to canonical status. It seems at odds with their stated purpose to use a clarion call to faithful gospel ministry to exclude other Christians seeking to practise a God-glorifying, gospel-centred, Bible-believing, Evangelical form of faith. And, of course, I think it is a great shame that they have sought to appoint a somewhat representative Council, but without a single woman. I understand that they are being consistent in the application of their principle; it is just that I am convinced – on the grounds of Scripture – that their principle is wrong.

I wish TGC Australia a fruitful and effective ministry in the gospel, and sincerely hope that their activity serves, in this country, to further the cause of the gospel and the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. I worry that their intention to build “the same kind of gospel relationships across our country” may in fact “proclaim Christ out of partisanship” and so increase division and fractiousness, unless there is an equally strong intention to practise a gracious theological hospitality to those who differ from them in matters not central to the gospel. Still: “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in that I rejoice.”