Monday, 31 August 2009

Opportunities for multicultural evangelism

Australia is becoming increasingly diverse in ethnicity, language and religion. According to the 2006 census, 45 percent of the national population were either born overseas or had at least one parent born overseas. Of those born overseas, 32.3 percent came from either the United Kingdom or New Zealand. The remaining 67.7 percent came mainly from non-Western nations such as China (4.7 percent), Italy (4.5 percent), Vietnam (3.6 percent), India (3.3 percent), and the Philippines (2.7 percent). 3,208,900 people – 16.2 percent of the population – spoke a language other than English at home. Between the 2001 and 2006 censuses, non-Christian religions demonstrated the following increases:
  • Buddhism increased by 17 percent to 2.1 percent of the total population;
  • Islam increased 20.9 percent to 1.7 percent;
  • Hinduism increased 55.2 percent to 0.7 per cent.

The Australian government is committed to a policy of multiculturalism, which “recognises, accepts, respects and celebrates cultural diversity”, within the bounds of “mutual civic obligations”. Christianity is not necessarily theocratic, and flourishes under a broadly tolerant secular government. Ethnic church planting makes the most of these social opportunities.
Data culled from the foll. govt publications, all available from the Dept. of Immigration & Citizenship: Population Flows: Immigration aspects, 2007–08 edition; Multicultural Australia: United In Diversity; Australian Multiculturalism for a New Century: Towards Inclusiveness

Some thoughts on church planting among recent immigrants

Last week I submitted an essay on church planting among first & second-generation immigrants to Australia. I'll be popping up some posts based on this essay. Feedback appreciated.

Friday, 7 August 2009

This Sunday: Isaiah 2:6 – 5:30 - The Problem with Pride and Prejudice

This Sunday at MEPC, I'm going to be speaking on Isaiah 2:6 – 5:30. I think it's about the problem with Pride and Prejudice.
What on earth...?
Come along and find out! 12pm, Merrylands East Presbyterian Church, corner of Kimberley and Excelsior Sts, Merrylands.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Isaiah chapter 6: Problem and solution

Last Sunday, I got convicted by my own sermon. :)
I preached at MEPC’s quarterly bi-lingual meeting, on Isaiah chapter 6 (I’m doing a series on Isaiah for the rest of this year). One thing really struck me. Well, actually lots of things struck me – the Bible tends to do that – but one thing in particular.
In most of his book, the prophet Isaiah speaks against God’s people. He tells them they’re rebels & God’s angry with them and he’s going to judge them. Most of the time, Isaiah does not see himself as the problem. He sees himself as part of the solution.
But not in chapter 6! Listen to what Isaiah says in verse 5:
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
Here, Isaiah sees himself as part of the problem. The people have unclean lips – Isaiah has unclean lips – so he is just like them!
I’m sure if we compared Isaiah with the rest of the people he lived with, Isaiah would have been a good, upright, moral man. But in the light of God’s holiness, none of that mattered. God’s holiness lit up Isaiah’s filth – the filth of his own rebellion against God, his own rejection of God – just like the people. And so he is just as much in need of atonement – which he receives in verses 6-7 – as the rest of them.
As a professional preacher and Bible teacher, I can subconsciously distance myself from the people I am speaking to. I could end up talking to them rather than with them. But I can’t do that, if I remember my status before the most holy God! Before him, we’re all the same – rebels, in need of his merciful atonement in Christ.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

The Evangelical Purpose of Christ's Incarnation

"Not that this [human] dignity stems from the incarnation. It is right at the beginning that 'God created man in his own image...' (Genesis 1:27). The very possibility of the incarnation of the Son of God itself rests on our possession of the image. It is because man fundamentally reflects the personal character of God that God himself can take on flesh and blood. We can make sense of incarnation only in the light of what we know already about the constitution of man as the highest of all the creatures of God, whom God has made for fellowship with himself. The high dignity which this confers upon human existence is radically underscored by the union of divine and human natures in Jesus Christ... in our human state apart from sin - that human experience into which Jesus entered - we are the glory of the entire creation. We are made like him... we are made for him, for fellowship with him to all eternity. The real marvel of the incarnation is not that God should become man, but that he should do so for us men and for our salvation."
From pages 26-27 of Nigel M. de S. Cameron, Complete in Christ: Rediscovering Jesus and Ourselves, Paternoster 1997 [Marshal Pickering, 1989]. Emphasis and gender-specific language in original.

Monday, 3 August 2009

The Evangelical Necessity of Christ's Full Humanity

"Jesus was not incidentally human, but deliberately, necessarily, thoroughly [human]. And by taking our nature to himself he has set a divine seal upon human life. If we seek to understand our humanity we must do so henceforth with one eye upon his [humanity]. He it is who had led the normative human life, the single life that has resisted sin; and offered to God the perfect sacrifice - which we never can - of a life obedient to the Father at every point. Not only so. By taking human life into the very godhead, he has hallowed human existence and asserted afresh and forever the worth and the dignity of bearing the image of God... God's purpose in the incarnation is precisely to take upon himself the gamut of human experience, sin alone apart. His identification with our human condition is total."
From pages 26-27 of Nigel M. de S. Cameron, Complete in Christ: Rediscovering Jesus and Ourselves, Paternoster 1997 [Marshal Pickering, 1989]