The Gospel Coalition Goes ‘Down Under’ to Enlarge Its Territory

It may be stating the obvious, but Australia is big. Very big. In fact, it is so big that developing and maintaining real gospel partnerships and unity across the nation is a significant challenge—and that is the primary reason why we believe now is the time to start The Gospel Coalition Australia.

Introducing TGC Australia

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=73334&picture=australie-mapa-klipart

Australia Map Clipart

The Gospel Coalition launched seven years ago here in North America, even though the groundwork had been laid years before.  It "officially" began with a conference attended by 500 reformed Christians.  That year (2007) the gathering was kept under wraps.  According to an article in Christianity Today:

In 2008, the conference was a by-invitation-only, off-the-record meeting of the nearly 50 men on the coalition's council. In 2009, 3,100 pre-registered and 223 walked in. 

The first few years there was no change in leadership. Then in early 2012 James MacDonald resigned from the Council of The Gospel Coalition because of The Elephant Room debacle involving T.D. Jakes.  A few months later, Mark Driscoll resigned from TGC's Council.  Then last March, just prior to the Together for the Gospel conference, C.J. Mahaney and Joshua Harris stepped down as TGC Council Members.  Earlier this week The Gospel Coalition announced it has elected four new council members — Sam Storms, Matt Carter, Danny Akin, and Dan Doriani.  There are now 52 Council Members, and all of them are men.  Why are women not allowed to serve on the Council?

A few days ago The Gospel Coalition announced that it is expanding into Australia.  Here is an excerpt from that announcement.

In recent years, as the religious and theological landscape has changed not just across Australia but the entire English-speaking world (and beyond), there have been encouraging signs of gospel unity, fellowship, and cooperation within Reformed evangelical circles. There has been an obvious willingness for people to gather together in large numbers to hear visiting speakers from the new Reformed movement (for example, Mark Driscoll, John Piper, and more recently, Tim Keller and Matt Chandler). Don Carson’s tireless visits to these shores have patiently built key relationships and drawn people together.

As demonstrated at the beginning of this post, there appear to have been some 'gospel unity' challenges here in North America.  Of course, we can just chalk it up to God's sovereignty.  It is interesting that former TGC Council Member Mark Driscoll is mentioned in the above excerpt.  As the bodies continue to pile up under the Mars Hill bus, we certainly wouldn't hail Driscoll as a proponent of 'gospel unity, fellowship, and cooperation within Reformed evangelical circles'. 

The Gospel Coalition article goes on to state:

Following the broad pattern of the original TGC, we have formed a Council drawn from across Australia. Building on existing relational networks, we have drawn together a group of 13 men committed to the TGC Foundation Documents and to one another. Whilst we haven’t tried to ensure that every possible constituency is represented, we have ended up with a real mixture of denominations, backgrounds, geographical locations, and experience.

The Bible Society published an article announcing TGC's expansion into Australia.  It states:

The group will meet for the first time in early August with the executive director of TGC to advise them on the road ahead.

On what to expect of TGC Australia, Tang writes: “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.”

TGC Australia will be self-governing and self-financing.

The members of the Gospel Coalition Australia Council are also listed in the Bible Society article.  They include:

Peter Adam – Vicar Emeritus at St Jude’s Carlton, Melbourne.
Alistair Bain – Senior minister at St John’s Presbyterian Church, Hobart.
Neil Chambers – Senior pastor of Bundoora Presbyterian Church, Melbourne.
Ray Galea – Senior Pastor of the Multicultural Bible Ministry (MBM) Rooty Hill, Sydney
Paul Harrington – rector at Holy Trinity, Adelaide.
David Jones – Senior pastor of Ann Street Presbyterian Church in Brisbane
Rick Lewers is bishop of the Armidale Anglican Diocese.
Gary Millar – Principal of Queensland Theological College
Andrew Reid – Lead Pastor of Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Doncaster, Melbourne.
Bill Salier – Vice Principal of Moore Theological College.
Rory Shiner – Senior Pastor of Providence Church in Perth.
David Starling – Lecturer in New Testament and Theology at Morling College, Sydney.
CS Tang – Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian, Sydney.

The Gospel Coalition website now features a list of churches in Australia.  There are approximately 125 congregations included; however, we were surprised by a number of duplications of churches.

Getting back to The Gospel Coalition article, here is an interesting excerpt:

Don Carson’s tireless visits to these shores have patiently built key relationships and drawn people together. The emergence of colleges like Queensland Theological College in Brisbane and Trinity Theological College in Perth, which have a clear TGC flavor, has added to this momentum, as has the foundation of the biennial Oxygen conference. It has also become increasingly obvious that for younger Australian Christians (and many who are much older), the TGC website has become the first port of call for information and stimulation, as Sydney contributes more pageviews than any other city in the world. Younger preachers like Matt Chandler, Kevin DeYoung, and David Platt gaining significant "virtual" followings. Given all these factors, it became obvious to us that we are living at a moment of significant opportunity here in Australia for visible fellowship and purposeful cooperation in the work of the gospel.

We thought we were up-to-date on the conference circuit, but the Oxygen conference has not been on our radar screen until now. According to Oxygen's Facebook account, the first one was held back in 2011.  It featured John Piper and Dr. John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University and Adjunct professor of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics.  Dr. Lennox is a world-renowned apologist who has debated a number of leading atheists including Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.

In March 2008, Dee and I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Lennox in person when he came to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary to deliver the Carver-Barnes Lectures.  We attended both of his lectures as well as the question and answer time afterwards.  What a privilege it was to speak with Dr. Lennox at the conclusion of the Q&A session.  He was such a delightful Brit, and we are a bit surprised that he is involved with The Gospel Coalition, which includes young earth creation proponents such as Al Mohler on its Council. 

You see, Dr. Lennox is an old earth creationist, who has written a book entitled Seven Days That Divide the World:  The Beginning According to Genesis and Science.  Not surprisingly, when this book was published back in 2011, Ken Ham took issue with it in a post entitled John Lennox and a Sad Divide

John Lennox is one of the speakers at the upcoming Oxygen conference that will take place August 4 – 7, 2014.  Other speakers includeDon Carson, Francis Chan, Bryan Chapell, Nancy Guthrie, Bob Kauflin, Kathleen Nielson, and Paul Tripp.

Beginning on June 4, 2013, this conference has been highly promoted on Facebook.  There have been so many updates that I totally lost track!  It appears that this upcoming conference is one of the primary ways The Gospel Coalition Australia is attempting to promote itself. There are YouTube videos of every speaker who will be addressing Oxygen attendees.  Here are a couple of them.

As the Gospel Coalition attempts to enlarge its territory, it will be interesting to observe how successful TGC leaders are in influencing Christians 'down under'.

Lydia's Corner:   Joel 1:1-3:21   Revelation 1:1-20   Psalm 128:1-6   Proverbs 29:18

Comments

The Gospel Coalition Goes ‘Down Under’ to Enlarge Its Territory — 174 Comments

  1. Perhaps one of the subordination of the Son types in TGC can debate Kevin Giles. I'd pay money to see that.

    Also, second?

  2. There are approximately 125 congregations included; however, we were surprised by a number of duplications of churches.

    While some look like multi-campus churches, others are probably typos made by people scrambling to get the site together by some deadline.

    Although I am amused by the idea of “Darwin Presbyterian Church” (yes, even though I know there is a city by that name in Australia)

  3. "Adam and Eve were made to complement each other in a one-flesh union that establishes the only normative pattern of sexual relations for men and women, such that marriage ultimately serves as a type of the union between Christ and his church"

    That's just creepy putting the relationship between Jesus and the church as the same as sexual relations between men and women. It's just not a nice mental picture. eThis is right before they go into their complimentinarianism spiel.

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/about/foundation-documents

    Actually, the whole "Confessional Statement" sounds like the person that wrote it is poking smot.

  4. "On what to expect of TGC Australia, Tang writes:“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.”

    This says to me that TGC sees themselves as down there doing something for the sake of Jesus. That is not something that someone who has a personal relationship with Jesus and is following Him daily would say. It sounds more like they are expending all their energies to do something great to remember and honor Him by.

    As they also keep mentioning how they are so into preaching teaching and singing about the gospel, it amazes me that they don't actually teach preach or sing about Jesus very much, or the beatitudes, or His commandments, or anything that one would find in the gospels. From what I have heard them say, they preach a distorted message of what Paul said about authority and leadership and submission.

    I don't think I'm being nit picky when I hear things from these pastors/teachers/whatevers, but rather I am starting to notice little things that don't sit right. I think that if I pay attention to these little nuances more often when I'm dealing with the complementarianisms down the street, I might be able to have a better dialogue. I might be able to figure out exactly what they mean when they say things that don't mean the same thing to me when I read them in the Bible.

    ,Also all the language in their statement of confession is still just bizarre. I knew this hippy once and when she got really high, she talked like that! A simple sentence became a wonderful flowery amazing paragraph, at least to her. 😆

  5. one more thing, I was checking the forest fires outside and I kept thinking about the way those people talk on the video clips above and in their statements on the link and I kept thinking of this scripture:

    For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. 2 Peter 2:18 (KJV)

    and I thought, wow, if those guys would start preaching something like soppys awesome sermon on yesterdays thread, the Lord could really use them!
    I loved that sermon and want to copy paste it to my webpage and facebook page. That’s preaching the gospel!

    p.s. my state, Washington, just got declared a emergency because of the many forest fires and I am in no danger but there is a lot of ash in my driveway and there are a lot of people in the area that are in dangerous areas and I would ask for prayer please. also prayers for my kids would be awesome, they have suffered a lot of church abuse inside and outside the church by a relative that is an elder and also another guy, physical abuse and one child was sexually abused and other abuse, and they currently are wanting nothing to do with anything related to the bible or Jesus or any church anywhere and they desperately need Jesus. thanks

  6. I’m in Australia, there are only a few denominations here, mainly Catholic, Uniting church, independent, Presbyterian , COC (christian out reach centre) and Assemblies of God. So not really duplication 🙂 That said, there are a lot of Churches.

  7. http://www.matthiasmedia.com

    I know the former 9Marks church I attended in Dubai pushed a lot of books and tracts from Matthias Media. If Folmar pushes it in Dubai it's a safe bet Dever is pushing it in his 9Marks business.

    Admittedly, they have some useful material; I am just a bit jaundiced towards any product 9Marks is hawking. if you go to the link above you will see they have the whole "gospel-centered" thingy down, so I am sure that earns them veneration amongst the 9Marks/TGC gospelly centered hucksters.

  8. I have come to the conclusion that “The Gospel Coalition” is not focused on the four Gospels, but rather on the Epistles, and then only on certain passages in the Epistles. So a more proper name for these organizations would be “The Proof-Texted Epistles Coalition”. They tend to ignore the teachings of Jesus and focus on very specific passages from the writings of Peter and Paul.

  9. srs wrote:

    Although I am amused by the idea of “Darwin Presbyterian Church” (yes, even though I know there is a city by that name in Australia)

    That one jumped out at me, too.

  10. sam h wrote:

    p.s. my state, Washington, just got declared a emergency because of the many forest fires and I am in no danger but there is a lot of ash in my driveway and there are a lot of people in the area that are in dangerous areas and I would ask for prayer please. also prayers for my kids would be awesome, they have suffered a lot of church abuse inside and outside the church by a relative that is an elder and also another guy, physical abuse and one child was sexually abused and other abuse, and they currently are wanting nothing to do with anything related to the bible or Jesus or any church anywhere and they desperately need Jesus. thanks

    Praying for your safety. Be careful!

  11. Praying for you, sam, and your kids too.

    So it seems TGC is trying to go international now. Why Australia and not somewhere closer, like Canada or even the UK? Does anyone think they will try to make a splash elsewhere after Australia?

  12. sam h wrote:

    That is not something that someone who has a personal relationship with Jesus and is following Him daily would say. It sounds more like they are expending all their energies to do something great to remember and honor Him by.

    I like this. God uses our mundane activities to further His glory and the greatest workers in the Kingdom guaranteed will be people you’ve never heard of.

  13. sam h wrote:

    As they also keep mentioning how they are so into preaching teaching and singing about the gospel, it amazes me that they don’t actually teach preach or sing about Jesus very much, or the beatitudes, or His commandments, or anything that one would find in the gospels. From what I have heard them say, they preach a distorted message of what Paul said about authority and leadership and submission.

    That’s because Jesus did stuff that doesn’t fit well with their pov.

    You can tell a lot about a church from their proportion of Gospel-to-Letters in preaching. My current church is going through Matthew, picking up all the aspects of Jesus that don’t seem to fit with a worldly view of power (aka all of them? all of them)

  14. @ Anna:

    Someone with a better understanding of Australian politics can answer this, but my impression from the news is that Australia is experiencing something of a backlash against progressive politicians, perhaps indicating a resurgence in “traditional” thinking and thus fertile fields for patriarchy?

    This is not to say that conservative ideology necessarily leads to Calvinism or that progressives are all Arminian, but I could see how they could see a connection.

    Disclaimer: I am an American and get my understanding of Australian politics 100th hand. Please, correct me.

  15. @ An Attorney:

    That’s because you’re mistaking the gospels for the Gospel (which is that men are better than women and pastors are best of all and also God hates us and makes us jump through hoops and some [most] of us won’t make it through the hoops at all and God knows this and puts the hoops up anyway because Caitlin is really funny when she tries to be athletic, but if you’re male and white and successful and can argue, you will. also don’t worry about compassion- latin root: suffering with- because that’s dumb)

    /sarcasm

  16. An Attorney wrote:

    I have come to the conclusion that “The Gospel Coalition” is not focused on the four Gospels, but rather on the Epistles, and then only on certain passages in the Epistles. So a more proper name for these organizations would be “The Proof-Texted Epistles Coalition”. They tend to ignore the teachings of Jesus and focus on very specific passages from the writings of Peter and Paul

    So true! I find it frightening that a giant organization that is straining with all its might and financial resources to entrench teaching that is so antithetical to the gospel of Jesus Christ is determined to keep pushing on internationally. What is it exactly that the churches in Australia are getting so wrong? Where in the bible are we commanded to re-evangelize the churches who have an accurate understanding of the gospel? This appears to be the “one-world government” movement, except its base is within the religious community. It is a bullying, frightening movement. powered by money, charisma, a message that appeals to those in power (men), against those who oppose or shame it (women, the weak, mentally ill who have failed to yield to nouthetic counseling and just acknowledge their “sins”, the LGBT population and anyone else not bearing the Aryan, I mean, Reformed, genome.

  17. @ An Attorney:

    That is a good observation. Here is one of the reasons I read Wright. Theoretically, under any sort of idea of scripture inspiration or any sort of idea of apostolic authority (at least during their lifetimes) then there ought not be some disconnect or disagreement between Jesus and the apostolic writings at least. Sooo, I am inclined to think that one explanation may be that we have certainly misunderstood Paul in some things (see: the New Perspective on Paul work) and quite probably misunderstood Jesus on some things (see: some but not all of the Jesus Seminar work.)

    Also, it seems apparent to me that Jesus and the boys said some things that some people just do not want to listen to. I hear something from some people some of the time (being cautious here) that sounds like what the children say to each other “you are not the boss of me.” So I am thinking that there is both an element of misunderstanding of what actually was being said, and also an element of stiff-necked (ness), to try to weasel in some biblical word there. Somebody used the word “me-ism.” I kind of get the feel that there is right much of that going on.

  18. And the term “pastoral authority” is an oxymoron. Ain’t no such thing in the Bible!!!!

  19. An Attorney wrote:

    I have come to the conclusion that “The Gospel Coalition” is not focused on the four Gospels, but rather on the Epistles, and then only on certain passages in the Epistles. So a more proper name for these organizations would be “The Proof-Texted Epistles Coalition”. They tend to ignore the teachings of Jesus and focus on very specific passages from the writings of Peter and Paul.

    I agree! It’s gotten to the point where they talk so much about Paul and so little about Jesus’ teachings that, in effect, they have ripped Jesus out of the Trinity and replaced him with Paul.

  20. An Attorney wrote:

    They tend to ignore the teachings of Jesus and focus on very specific passages from the writings of Peter and Paul.

    With the notable exception of Matthew 18. 🙁

  21. Anna wrote:

    PSo it seems TGC is trying to go international now. Why Australia and not somewhere closer, like Canada or even the UK? Does anyone think they will try to make a splash elsewhere after Australia?

    Well, there’s no official British TGC as far as I know, but their books and teachings are well promoted in churches that may be considered as Reformed, both within and outside the Church of England. Many well known names associated with TGC and other, similar, Reformed circles have come to the UK to speak at conferences such as New Word Alive. For example, since 2008 we’ve had Piper, Carson, Tripp, Dever, Anyabwile… They’re certainly quite well known over here. Additionally, we have some pretty vocal British pastors and speakers within the same stream of theology, so it’s possible that they don’t think it necessary to take similar steps over here.

  22. Anna wrote:

    Why Australia and not somewhere closer, like Canada or even the UK?

    The reformed movement is moving into Canada. As I have reported previously, the North American Mission Board of the SBC, in cooperation with or local SBC mega is launching a church planting movement in Calgary. They have outlined that the original church plant is to serve as a launching pad (my terminology) for further church plants. This that they are doing is not about one church, it is about a reformed church planting movement with a Calgary base. I do not know what else may or may not be going on in relation to Canada, but I do think this shows that at least SBC is looking in that direction. And I think the bigger picture would be what is the reformed movement doing, not just those who identify as TGC.

  23. John Lennox said that young earth creationism has been harmful to the Christian witness in Europe. He is no fan of Ken Ham who is adored by Al Mohler and Tim Challies. Lennox is a fine debater and is quite friendly, when not debating in the arena, with Richard Dawkins.

  24. sam h wrote:

    That’s just creepy putting the relationship between Jesus and the church as the same as sexual relations between men and women. It’s just not a nice mental picture. eThis is right before they go into their complimentinarianism spiel.

    1) Comps have sex on the brain like nymphomaniacs. Penetrate! Colonize! Conquer! Plant!
    2) Wasn’t sex with the god (usually by proxy) part of fertility cults? Baal! Baal!

  25. sam h wrote:

    “On what to expect of TGC Australia, Tang writes:“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.”

    BUZZWORD BINGO!
    (With overtones of weasel-talking shyster and the rhythm of Marxspeak.)

  26. TW wrote:

    If Australia can give Carl Lentz to the USA I guess it’s only fair that we give them TGC.

    Oz also gave us Ken Ham. That alone is reason enough.

  27. sam h wrote:

    This says to me that TGC sees themselves as down there doing something for the sake of Jesus. That is not something that someone who has a personal relationship with Jesus and is following Him daily would say. It sounds more like they are expending all their energies to do something great to remember and honor Him by.

    Like starting a Crusade or smelling out Witches or gargling lye with St Rose of Lima?

  28. Caitlin wrote:

    That’s because Jesus did stuff that doesn’t fit well with their pov.

    Jesus did stuff that doesn’t fit well with ANYONE’s POV.
    Was almost the guy’s trademark — throw everyone’s expectations for a loop.

  29. TW wrote:

    wrote:
    They tend to ignore the teachings of Jesus and focus on very specific passages from the writings of Peter and Paul.
    With the notable exception of Matthew 18.

    But only by terrible misinterpretation and misapplication.

  30. sam h wrote:

    Also all the language in their statement of confession is still just bizarre. I knew this hippy once and when she got really high, she talked like that! A simple sentence became a wonderful flowery amazing paragraph, at least to her.

    Maybe the writer was channeling John Piper? It’s a very popular thing to do these days 😉

  31. An Attorney wrote:

    TW wrote:
    wrote:
    They tend to ignore the teachings of Jesus and focus on very specific passages from the writings of Peter and Paul.
    With the notable exception of Matthew 18.

    But only by terrible misinterpretation and misapplication.

    I’ve seen Matt. 18 not used, between elders, when it should have been. The dispute went on for years, it was never brought to anyone outside of themselves, the church was led to believe everything was fine, the dispute slowly (like a cancer) caused massive disfunction in the entire church. At the end of many years, all the elders (aka pastors), left the church within months of each other. The congregation, which had no say in decisions, nor did they know of the private dispute until the very end, are left carrying the responsibility of a building lease and all the business of the church, which none of their names are on, etc, etc. It’s a travesty.

  32. An Attorney wrote:

    But only by terrible misinterpretation and misapplication.

    I think I can see a number of ways that reformed / calvinistic thinking would be very attractive to a lot of people, quite regardless of whether it is or is not scripturally correct.

    For one thing, they are offering something substantive (even if in error) to a generation which has had far too little actual substance for the last half century.

    The are offering something to people who want to maintain a marriage and a family in the face of horrid dissolution of marriage and the family in our culture. The fact that what they are offering may be a bad idea, would be beside the point. At least it would be something for people desperately searching for something and some would grab onto it with religious fervor.

    Old earth evidence seems to knock the foundations out from under some people, and they equate science with sin, missing the reality that they are dealing with their own fears. How nice for somebody to solve that for them by saying that all the scientists are wrong and probably without hope for all eternity.

    And emphasis on the sovereignty of God is tremendously comforting when living in a world that seems to be trying to destroy itself any way it can, economically and militarily if nothing else.

    Here is one thing I see: The “world” comes along and tells people that they have to change just about everything they ever thought or hoped or believed, and reformed / Calvinism comes along and says “no you don’t.” You do not have to listen to the scientists or the politicians or the educators or even the economists; your marriage does not have to disintegrate; you do not have to rearrange your thinking about sex or gender issues; you can protect your children from all these things; and in the end God is totally on your side in all this because you have been chosen, as opposed to the great unchosen out there.

    Two things: some of it is true. There have been some bad things develop in our culture and they need to be recognized for what they are. And God is sovereign, correctly understood.

    The other thing is, this movement looks to me like the religious equivalent of crack for those who need what these folks have to offer. Certainty. A feeling of security. A feeling that there is something the individual can actually do about their lives to make them better. And an opportunity to be a part of “the fellowship of kindred minds” so that one no longer has to continually say “am I the only one?”

    I am not a part of that movement. What I am trying to be here is objective. I want to make that clear.

  33. Please do not EVER put Dr. Lennox and Ken Ham in the same sentence. 🙂

  34. srs wrote:

    So… the coalition exists to get people to go to conferences?

    Well that is kind of the million dollar question (pun intended).

  35. 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

    Dear Tang: THIS DOESN”T MEAN ANYTHING. Please stop with the ridiculous adjectivalized “gospel”!!!

  36. “The are offering something to people who want to maintain a marriage and a family in the face of horrid dissolution of marriage and the family in our culture.”
    ++++++++++

    “horrid dissolution of marriage and the family”…. hmmm. could it be that marriage and family simply have a different look which in actuality has no bearing on love, nurturing, and commitment?

  37. Nancy wrote:

    I think I can see a number of ways that reformed / calvinistic thinking would be very attractive to a lot of people, quite regardless of whether it is or is not scripturally correct.

    Obviously in the end reformed theology stands or falls on how accurately it reflects the NT, rather than who happens to be preaching it.

    It became attractive to me as an antidote to the man-centered theology of so much modern evangelicalism, of which seeker-sensitivity was the most extreme, if I can use that word. It also seemed to be preached by those who took the bible more seriously, even where it went against our natural way of thinking.

    Believing (or not believing) something in reaction to those who espouse something different (or even the opposite) is never a good idea. This can lead you into overdoing verses that agree with your position and ignoring, watering down or even torturing verses that qualify what the first set of verses state. This is all too often seen in discussions of the reformed v Arminian type, but not confined to this. In addition, these issues are not helped when the other school of thought is caricatured rather than honestly represented.

  38. Nancy wrote:

    The other thing is, this movement looks to me like the religious equivalent of crack for those who need what these folks have to offer. Certainty. A feeling of security. A feeling that there is something the individual can actually do about their lives to make them better. And an opportunity to be a part of “the fellowship of kindred minds” so that one no longer has to continually say “am I the only one?”

    Don’t forget what C.S.Lewis called “The Lure of the Inner Ring”, belonging to The Special Elite Few who Have EVERYTHING Figured Out.

    Like Mohammed, Calvin seems to have been one of those hyper-detailed micro-manager types who HAS to have everything figured out and documented in a complex airtight Perfect System. Whether “IT IS WRITTEN!” in great detail in the Koran or Calvin’s Institutes. No need to think, just find the appropriate passage and rewordgitate. “IT IS WRITTEN!”

    And no matter what all the Calvinists say, from all the coverage of the Really Truly Reformed(TM) here and elsewhere, “Reformed(TM) = Who Needs Christ When We Have CALVIN! CALVIN! CALVIN!”

  39. elastigirl wrote:

    “horrid dissolution of marriage and the family”…. hmmm. could it be that marriage and family simply have a different look which in actuality has no bearing on love, nurturing, and commitment?

    No ma’am. That has to do with divorce stats and the psych people telling us of the effects of divorce on children. Then there are the stats on the percentage of births to unmarried women, and the relationship of that to poverty that the sociologists cite, not to mention the relationship to school performance and criminal behavior in that population. It has to do with the gang of folks in Divorce Care at the local churches, which people are struggling with some huge problems. It has to do with the disaster of job loss to said single mom with kids and the economic impact of this on her, the kids, and the tax payer. I could go on, but that will tell you where I am coming from.

    BTW: my daughter is divorced with kids. Had they not been able to move in with me, and had I not been able to get myself in a decent financial position to help them, their situation would have been disastrous.
    So I see this from both what I read (stats this and stats that) and also first hand and personal.

  40. i tend to think fear of change is what fuels things like TGC’s mission

    (but such individuals are too panicky to realize that it is merely cosmetic change.)

    (And too panicky to realize that really, the only change is that people who don’t fit their stereotype are in their field of vision with full-fledged status as viable & responsible human beings).

    (they’ve always been there… but TGC-type folks had the luxury of not having to see them.)

  41. Ken wrote:

    Shouldn’t you be asking why no Sheilas are allowed to serve on the Council?

    Cuz’ Paul sez wimminz are to keep quiet and rejoice in their lot as good breeders for the kingdumb.

  42. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Don’t forget what C.S.Lewis called “The Lure of the Inner Ring”, belonging to The Special Elite Few who Have EVERYTHING Figured Out.

    You have mentioned that before, and I think that is absolutely correct. The whole “I am special” thing.

  43. Nancy’s right. The sociological research consistently shows the children do better with two parents in the home (and this can be same sex parents). Not happy about the research findings given the number of children in single parent homes but there it is. Some cautions though. This is aggregate data, comparing one group on average to another group on average. There are many children doing fine in single parent homes. Also, it does not mean that children in those single parent homes who were not doing as well would be doing better if their parents had married or stayed married. If the relationships broke up because of addiction or abuse or other serious problems, then they likely would have even less desirable outcomes.

  44. An Attorney wrote:

    I have come to the conclusion that “The Gospel Coalition” is not focused on the four Gospels, but rather on the Epistles, and then only on certain passages in the Epistles. So a more proper name for these organizations would be “The Proof-Texted Epistles Coalition”. They tend to ignore the teachings of Jesus and focus on very specific passages from the writings of Peter and Paul.

    Comment of the week?

    I think I may start referring to TGC as TPTEC. It is a far more honest label than actually gets to the heart of their beliefs than TGC.

  45. @ Nancy:

    Yes. If you had the time to cite your sources i’m sure the data would be well-founded.

    i still wonder how Christian spin is making change out to be evil, when it is only different wrappings.

  46. Muff Potter wrote:

    their lot as good breeders

    You know, I have a modest string of academic letters after my name, and at one point earned an income worth being happy about, and I also have children and grandchildren. If I had to give up one or the other guess which it would be. In other words, if I had had to live my life without one or the other, degrees, money or kids, which would I have chosen to do without, given the choice.

    Several decades ago a study was done of women doctors regarding how they handled life when things got out of control. The question was, if something had to go: profession, marriage or children, which would take the brunt of the fallout. The answer was, sometimes the job and sometimes the marriage but overwhelmingly never the children. NEVER according to their results. There’s your answer.

    Maybe you did not mean it to sound like that, but I did want to take the opportunity to say this. I am thankful to God that I was able to “breed” and had the opportunity to do so. I am thankful for my grandkids, including the two little girls from China. And no, I do not think that our current family situation (all female and multi-generational) is nearly as good as what we had when we had a more “traditional” situation. Like I say from time to time, “so sue me.”

  47. @ Marsha:

    i really appreciate your comments. your expertise is in sociology, correct? (do you teach? how to do you practice?)

    marriage, or when boiled down ‘2-partner long-term commitment’, is ideal for stability (from a common sense perspective, which is all I have on the subject).

    But i would think that such a relationship where there is constant friction, tension, yelling, etc. would be more harmful for kids than if the parents were to separate.

  48. My observation about the gospel coalition, and the neo-cal/reformed movement in general is that the word "gospel" and "Jesus" never seem to be used in the same sentence. Am I wrong here? I'm the daughter of a pastor who had no such hang-ups. He was so incredibly comfortable with the entire Bible, no agenda other than to preach "The gospel of Jesus Christ". Gospel was a functional word, just add easily replaced by"The good news of Jesus Christ". But if Jesus wasn't in the sentence, gospel lost its meaning.

    And I don't mean to suggest we start saying the name of Jesus like Driscoll and Co. do, like they're forcing it out in an forcefully condescending sort of way. It's all about "Jjeesuss". It never sounds beautiful or gracious coming from his mouth.

    I don't know, I can just feel it so strongly when someone speaks His name with a pure heart.

  49. I get so gospel-confused and gospel-frustrated by the Neo-Cal’s use of “gospel” to gospel-describe everything. When you gospel-use a word in such a gospel-vague and gospel-ubiquitous manner, doesn’t it begin to gospel-lose its gospel-meaning?

    In the immortal words of Señor Montoya: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2y8Sx4B2Sk

  50. elastigirl wrote:

    But i would think that such a relationship where there is constant friction, tension, yelling, etc. would be more harmful for kids than if the parents were to separate.

    Wholeheartedly agree! Especially in the case of abuse.

  51. elastigirl wrote:

    @ Marsha:

    i really appreciate your comments. your expertise is in sociology, correct? (do you teach? how to do you practice?)

    marriage, or when boiled down ’2-partner long-term commitment’, is ideal for stability (from a common sense perspective, which is all I have on the subject).

    But i would think that such a relationship where there is constant friction, tension, yelling, etc. would be more harmful for kids than if the parents were to separate.

    I am a retired sociologist. I started out teaching and changed to doing evaluation research on a consulting basis. (On another note, it is not true that prisons can’t rehabilitate. All kinds of well designed programs will reduce recidism significantly. I think this is because we have cast our net wide and imprisoned a lot of people who are not hardened criminals but just don’t know how to act, as my grandmother would have put it.)

    You are right that you can’t take the research results and turn them around to say that couples who have broken up should have stayed together for the children. Good outcomes might be possible if the couple’s problem is that they don’t know how to deal with conflicts and disagreements and they are willing to go to a good marriage counselor. But if there’s abuse, addiction, and dysfunction, staying together is not going to help the children.

  52. I think you CAN draw some conclusions from the data although none of them is surprising, ie don’t have a child with an irresponsible teenager or young adult or with a married man who isn’t going to leave his wife or with an abuser or addict. It is also not a good idea to marry young and have a child right away. The economic and relationship stress is enormous and can break up couples who might have otherwise been able to make a success of their marriage. This later practice is making a significant contribution to the divorce rate among Christians.

  53. Well, it’s a free world, so they say.

    Anyone is entitled to try and do what they believe to be positive for the world and their religious convictions.

    The question was raised why Dr. Lennox, an Old Earth Creationist, would be in a group with people who disagreed with him on that issue.

    I have never been to a TGC event and don’t read their stuff, but my understanding is that they try to agree on the Gospel and avoid disagreements on non-essential matters.

    I agree that theories about the age of the earth is not an essential to cooperation in sharing the Gospel.

  54. Anonymous wrote:

    I have never been to a TGC event and don’t read their stuff, but my understanding is that they try to agree on the Gospel and avoid disagreements on non-essential matters.

    Unfortunately, a great number of circumstances, including the recent dismissal of Tullian Tchividjian, reveals that TGC is by no means united around the Gospel.

  55. Anonymous wrote:

    Well, it’s a free world, so they say.
    Anyone is entitled to try and do what they believe to be positive for the world and their religious convictions.
    The question was raised why Dr. Lennox, an Old Earth Creationist, would be in a group with people who disagreed with him on that issue.
    I have never been to a TGC event and don’t read their stuff, but my understanding is that they try to agree on the Gospel and avoid disagreements on non-essential matters.
    I agree that theories about the age of the earth is not an essential to cooperation in sharing the Gospel.

    But complementarianism is an essential?

  56. TW wrote:

    An Attorney wrote:
    They tend to ignore the teachings of Jesus and focus on very specific passages from the writings of Peter and Paul.

    With the notable exception of Matthew 18.

    True that.

  57. Well, well, well. So Mark Driscoll is still being hailed as a pioneer of the Reformed movement and accepted as a reasonable person to speak at good Reformed conferences around the globe. Glad we’re clear on that.

    Moving on: this whole need for the Gospel Coalition to take on Australia. It’s quite clear to me that there is quite another ‘Gospel’ here. Not the familiar Gospel which the good readers on this blog were taught, grew up with, understood and embraced (that is, many of us, not speaking for all). No, this is an entirely new Gospel. It is a Gospel that is fundamentally both Calvinist and Complementarian. Without those two tenets, in this movement’s view, the Gospel is not sound; it’s not the real Gospel at all in their eyes. Hence the need to re-evangelise the Christian world. No, these guys aren’t spreading the good news of Christ. They’re spreading their own Gospel agenda. And they’re being aggressive about it.

    It’s frightening. It’s horrific in fact. This trend is something I have recognised for years (I say this with real sadness) but cannot make others around me – such as my husband and pastor – see or understand.

  58. The Gospel Coalition Goes ‘Down Under’
    Where beer flows and men chunder?
    Can’t you hear can’t you hear the thunder?
    Better run — better take cover!

  59. May wrote:

    It is a Gospel that is fundamentally both Calvinist and Complementarian. Without those two tenets, in this movement’s view, the Gospel is not sound; it’s not the real Gospel at all in their eyes.

    Predestination and Male Supremacy.
    Omnipotent but NOT benevolent.
    Can you say “Al’lah’u Akbar”?

  60. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:

    Unfortunately, a great number of circumstances, including the recent dismissal of Tullian Tchividjian, reveals that TGC is by no means united around the Gospel.

    “Dismissal” or “Purged by The Party”?

  61. Mr.H wrote:

    I get so gospel-confused and gospel-frustrated by the Neo-Cal’s use of “gospel” to gospel-describe everything. When you gospel-use a word in such a gospel-vague and gospel-ubiquitous manner, doesn’t it begin to gospel-lose its gospel-meaning?

    “Oh what s Smurfy day! I Smurfed with the Smurf down the Smurf over to the Smurf and Smurfed all Smurf!”

    (I’m on a Smurfy roll today…)

  62. Caitlin wrote:

    @ Anna:

    Someone with a better understanding of Australian politics can answer this, but my impression from the news is that Australia is experiencing something of a backlash against progressive politicians, perhaps indicating a resurgence in “traditional” thinking and thus fertile fields for patriarchy?

    This is not to say that conservative ideology necessarily leads to Calvinism or that progressives are all Arminian, but I could see how they could see a connection.

    Disclaimer: I am an American and get my understanding of Australian politics 100th hand. Please, correct me.

    I will claim the same disclaimer lol, but I think this is a great point because the “The Proof-Texted Epistles Coalition” got its rise to power when we were in that kind of political environment here.

    thank you everyone for prayers

  63. @ Janet Varin:
    “This appears to be the “one-world government” movement, except its base is within the religious community. It is a bullying, frightening movement. powered by money, charisma, a message that appeals to those in power (men), against those who oppose or shame it… ”

    when I get a chance I want to do a little more research in this area, I have seen the same indications. especially a lot of groups with ‘friendships’ ‘ties’ to people that hold to the Aryan nations beliefs. Ihop got in trouble when what they were doing in Nigeria became public, ie not just calling sins out but calling for the death of sinners. I am very glad we have the internet because we get to see what people do when they are talking out the other side of their mouths in other countries and saying something different here.
    also I have heard that the following scripture describes evil masked as religion:
    And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. 12 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
    Rev 13:11-12 (KJV)

    its a huge topic as we see things unfolding these days, a huge topic that I don’t know enough about to discuss, probably.

  64. Nancy wrote:

    Maybe you did not mean it to sound like that,

    No way did I mean it to sound like I look down my nose at women who desire home and children. Anybody who knows me will attest to the fact that my comment was jib-jab aimed at theological patriarchy when it insists that all women conform to only one role regardless of gifting and talent.

  65. Nancy wrote:

    An Attorney wrote:

    But only by terrible misinterpretation and misapplication.

    I think I can see a number of ways that reformed / calvinistic thinking would be very attractive to a lot of people, quite regardless of whether it is or is not scripturally correct.

    For one thing, they are offering something substantive (even if in error) to a generation which has had far too little actual substance for the last half century.

    The are offering something to people who want to maintain a marriage and a family in the face of horrid dissolution of marriage and the family in our culture. The fact that what they are offering may be a bad idea, would be beside the point. At least it would be something for people desperately searching for something and some would grab onto it with religious fervor.

    Old earth evidence seems to knock the foundations out from under some people, and they equate science with sin, missing the reality that they are dealing with their own fears. How nice for somebody to solve that for them by saying that all the scientists are wrong and probably without hope for all eternity.

    And emphasis on the sovereignty of God is tremendously comforting when living in a world that seems to be trying to destroy itself any way it can, economically and militarily if nothing else.

    Here is one thing I see: The “world” comes along and tells people that they have to change just about everything they ever thought or hoped or believed, and reformed / Calvinism comes along and says “no you don’t.” You do not have to listen to the scientists or the politicians or the educators or even the economists; your marriage does not have to disintegrate; you do not have to rearrange your thinking about sex or gender issues; you can protect your children from all these things; and in the end God is totally on your side in all this because you have been chosen, as opposed to the great unchosen out there.

    Two things: some of it is true. There have been some bad things develop in our culture and they need to be recognized for what they are. And God is sovereign, correctly understood.

    The other thing is, this movement looks to me like the religious equivalent of crack for those who need what these folks have to offer. Certainty. A feeling of security. A feeling that there is something the individual can actually do about their lives to make them better. And an opportunity to be a part of “the fellowship of kindred minds” so that one no longer has to continually say “am I the only one?”

    I am not a part of that movement. What I am trying to be here is objective. I want to make that clear.

    this is a very good summation of what I have seen also. and to the point that some of it is true, the devil used some truth in the garden of eden, and in the temptation of Jesus. in one instance he used total truth but with wrong motives, that in “cast yourself down… angels will protect you” the quote there (mine is not the literal one) was absolutely true, and scriptural. the mixing of scripture and intent and whether we use the scripture ourselves to do our wants is I think a huge deceptive part of these current ministries. “A feeling that there is something the individual can actually do about their lives to make them better.” I think people are reaching out for knowledge and safety and seeking the Lord and then groups like this come and divert them from seeking Jesus into this kind of deception of safety and rightness with God, apart from Jesus. a set of rules and regulations is much easier than following Jesus in the Spirit. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. 5 For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.
    Romans 10:3-5 (KJV)

  66. Caitlin wrote:

    Disclaimer: I am an American and get my understanding of Australian politics 100th hand. Please, correct me.

    I’m wondering pretty much the same thing. It’s my understanding that Hill Song pretty much has the Australian fundagelical market cornered. If so, they probably won’t take too kindly to a gaggle of Yanks from the States trying to cut in on their action. Mayhap one of you Aussies who reads the blog here could chime in and straighten me out? True? Untrue? No simple binary answer?

  67. Muff Potter wrote:

    It’s my understanding that Hill Song pretty much has the Australian fundagelical market cornered.

    Actually, the Neo-Cal lot in Oz hate Hillsong with a passion. Read ‘The Briefing’.

    Neo-Calvinism is strong and healthy in Oz, especially in the Sydney area. TGC knows there are ripe pickings to be had from the fan boys over there drooling at the thought of TGC conferences to attend on home soil.

  68. Nancy wrote:

    elastigirl wrote:

    “horrid dissolution of marriage and the family”…. hmmm. could it be that marriage and family simply have a different look which in actuality has no bearing on love, nurturing, and commitment?

    No ma’am. That has to do with divorce stats and the psych people telling us of the effects of divorce on children. Then there are the stats on the percentage of births to unmarried women, and the relationship of that to poverty that the sociologists cite, not to mention the relationship to school performance and criminal behavior in that population. It has to do with the gang of folks in Divorce Care at the local churches, which people are struggling with some huge problems. It has to do with the disaster of job loss to said single mom with kids and the economic impact of this on her, the kids, and the tax payer. I could go on, but that will tell you where I am coming from.

    BTW: my daughter is divorced with kids. Had they not been able to move in with me, and had I not been able to get myself in a decent financial position to help them, their situation would have been disastrous.
    So I see this from both what I read (stats this and stats that) and also first hand and personal.

    my only comment on this is that I don’t think there is a recent “horrid dissolution of marriage and the family” I think we are just finally dealing with the truth. the recent public airing of molestations, in and out of the church, is voicing things that have gone on for centuries but the victims never had a voice that would be heard. marriages used to not divorce often only because of the public shunning of divorced women. I see the world from my view as the once ‘upper to lower middle class’ and now from the view of the drug addicted welfare supported ‘scurge’ of the lower class in America. a lot of people that I meet in treatment centers and dv orgs are kids who’s parents were upper class wealthy well known people who were praised by the world and abused their wife and kids in the privacy of their own castle. I don’t think things have changed, but I think they are finally being brought to the light. marriages were viewed as wonderful because the couple didn’t divorce, doesn’t mean the marriages weren’t destroyed already, but that people stayed in them for the public image, I think.

  69. May wrote:

    Well, well, well. So Mark Driscoll is still being hailed as a pioneer of the Reformed movement and accepted as a reasonable person to speak at good Reformed conferences around the globe. Glad we’re clear on that.

    Moving on: this whole need for the Gospel Coalition to take on Australia. It’s quite clear to me that there is quite another ‘Gospel’ here. Not the familiar Gospel which the good readers on this blog were taught, grew up with, understood and embraced (that is, many of us, not speaking for all). No, this is an entirely new Gospel. It is a Gospel that is fundamentally both Calvinist and Complementarian. Without those two tenets, in this movement’s view, the Gospel is not sound; it’s not the real Gospel at all in their eyes. Hence the need to re-evangelise the Christian world. No, these guys aren’t spreading the good news of Christ. They’re spreading their own Gospel agenda. And they’re being aggressive about it.

    It’s frightening. It’s horrific in fact. This trend is something I have recognised for years (I say this with real sadness) but cannot make others around me – such as my husband and pastor – see or understand.

    Absolutely agree!

  70. JeffT wrote:

    I agree! It’s gotten to the point where they talk so much about Paul and so little about Jesus’ teachings that, in effect, they have ripped Jesus out of the Trinity and replaced him with Paul

    …except the verses that make Him eternally subordinate… 🙁

  71. May wrote:

    Neo-Calvinism is strong and healthy in Oz, especially in the Sydney area. TGC knows there are ripe pickings to be had from the fan boys over there drooling at the thought of TGC conferences to attend on home soil.

    Again, “Who needs Christ when we can have CALVIN!”

  72. Deb wrote:

    @ Headless Unicorn Guy: Very clever!

    Like I said, I’m on a roll today!

    (In between three doctor’s appointments regarding my accident two weeks ago. GP referred me to Orthopedist who checked me out and said it’s healing well; in about an hour I’ll be seeing Opthamologist to check out my retinas for any possible damage after the blow to the head.)

  73. @ Anonymous:

    ” but my understanding is that they try to agree on the Gospel and avoid disagreements on non-essential matters.”
    ++++++++++++

    so what in the world is “the gospel”?

    is it not the relational gap between God and humans has been bridged by God himself in human form as Jesus who gave up all to pay the debt?

    from what I’ve observed, their raison d’etre is in fact those non-essential matters. Their mission is to go to the moon and back, making a hobby out of discussing them in minutiae. I suppose it seems they don’t argue about them, but that is because not a whole lot of dissent is tolerated.

  74. @ sam h:

    “I think we are just finally dealing with the truth. …voicing things that have gone on for centuries but the victims never had a voice that would be heard. …I don’t think things have changed, but I think they are finally being brought to the light.”
    ++++++++++++++++

    yes, this whole comment is what I’ve been thinking. An era of honesty, no more hiding or pretending (at least a trend in this direction).

  75. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s the gospel of Jesus Christ, or it’s no gospel at all.

    This means if it doesn’t look like Christ, walk like Christ or talk like Christ – *listener beware*.

  76. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:

    Quotefrom OP: “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.”

    The Dr. said: “Dear Tang: THIS DOESN”T MEAN ANYTHING. Please stop with the ridiculous adjectivalized “gospel”!!!”

    Hmm…let me give what I think might be the translation: We have the same agenda we always have – seek out those pastors/ministries that are already close to having the ‘correct’ doctrine and love bomb them unitl they are in lock-step with us. Then get them to help us find more like them and also turn those nearly like them to build our Gospel™ brand and empire and make more money and look Gospelly-Driven™ while doing it.”

  77. Liz.R wrote:

    I’m in Australia, there are only a few denominations here, mainly Catholic, Uniting church, independent, Presbyterian , COC (christian out reach centre) and Assemblies of God. So not really duplication That said, there are a lot of Churches.

    I think there are a lot of denominations actually, but it depends where you live. Probably the most common are Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, Uniting Church and the various Pentecostal denominations like AoG and CoC. But there’s also the Methodists and Presbyterians who didn’t merge into the Uniting Church, Salvation Army, Seventh Day Adventists, Bretheren (closed and open), Quakers. In larger urban centres there are Asian Christian churches, and other nationalities such as Greek Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox, etc etc, and the ‘rebadged’ churches like “Hope” and “New Life” etc (which I think may be Baptist). There’s also the ‘warehouse’ churches like Hillsong etc. Jehovah’s Witness and Latter Day Saints churches are also prevalent. As are numerous independent denominations. Australia also has a house-church movement which is popular in some areas more than others. In more remote areas, some coverage can include AIM, Aboriginal Inland Mission; Frontier Services, part of the Uniting Church; Church Army, part of the Anglican Church.

    For interest, a search of one suburb in north Sydney (Lindfield) reveals over 1,000 churches, temples and mosques in the surrounding areas, though this isn’t related to individual denominations. See http://www.yellowpages.com.au/find/churches-mosques-temples/lindfield-nsw

  78. And surprise surprise, all of the plenary speakers at Oxygen 2014 are men:

    “The 9 plenary sessions will bring together all delegates in the main hall, and include a time of worship in song and Bible talks on the ‘I Am’ statements of Jesus. The plenary speakers are John Lennox, Francis Chan, Don Carson, Bryan Chapell and Paul Tripp”.

    http://www.oxygen.kcc.org.au/sessions

  79. sam h wrote:

    I don’t think things have changed, but I think they are finally being brought to the light. marriages were viewed as wonderful because the couple didn’t divorce, doesn’t mean the marriages weren’t destroyed already, but that people stayed in them for the public image, I think.

    I don’t remember people necessarily viewing marriages themselves as wonderful because the couple did not divorce. I used to hear a lot about problems in people’s marriages and homes. I do think that people tended to think that it was wonderful that people tended to not divorce regardless of what was going on at home. To some extent staying in a bad situation was seen as heroic. “I don’t know how he puts up with that, but you have to give him credit.” That sort of thing was sometimes said.

    But also, there were economic necessities that came into play.

  80. Anonymous wrote:

    but my understanding is that they try to agree on the Gospel and avoid disagreements on non-essential matters.

    Well, I suppose that to TGC, “essential to the gospel” would have to include: complementarianism, Reformed theology, & nouthetic counseling.

  81. Nancy wrote:

    @ Liz.R:
    I am surprised. I was expecting Anglican to be on that list.

    They were big in the seventies, more independents now than anything.

  82. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Like I said, I’m on a roll today! (In between three doctor’s appointments regarding my accident two weeks ago. GP referred me to Orthopedist who checked me out and said it’s healing well; in about an hour I’ll be seeing Opthamologist to check out my retinas for any possible damage after the blow to the head.)

    Praying for you HUG!

  83. elastigirl wrote:

    But i would think that such a relationship where there is constant friction, tension, yelling, etc. would be more harmful for kids than if the parents were to separate

    Couldn’t agree more, and have seen this first-hand where a certain picture of marriage was imprinted strongly in the children’s minds. As adults now, maintaining relationships for them has been a disaster.

  84. FYI, a bit of ‘TLDR’ posted below re some data on religious affiliation in Australia:

    http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/2071.0main+features902012-2013
    2071.0 Reflecting a nation: Stories from the 2011 Census, 2012–2013

    RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION (see link above for statistics & charts)

    Since the first Census, the majority of Australians have reported an affiliation with a Christian religion. However, there has been a long-term decrease in affiliation to Christianity from 96% in 1911 to 61% in 2011. Conversely, although Christian religions are still predominant in Australia, there have been increases in those reporting an affiliation to non-Christian religions, and those reporting ‘No Religion’.

    In the past decade, the proportion of the population reporting an affiliation to a Christian religion decreased from 68% in 2001 to 61% in 2011. This trend was also seen for the two most commonly reported denominations. In 2001, 27% of the population reported an affiliation to Catholicism. This decreased to 25% of the population in 2011. There was a slightly larger decrease for Anglicans from 21% of the population in 2001 to 17% in 2011. Some of the smaller Christian denominations increased over this period – there was an increase for those identifying with Pentecostal from 1.0% of the population in 2001 to 1.1% in 2011. However, the actual number of people reporting this religion increased by one-fifth.

    Between 2001 and 2011, the number of people reporting a non-Christian faith increased considerably, from around 0.9 million to 1.5 million, accounting for 7.2% of the total population in 2011 (up from 4.9% in 2001). The most common non-Christian religions in 2011 were Buddhism (accounting for 2.5% of the population), Islam (2.2%) and Hinduism (1.3%). Of these, Hinduism had experienced the fastest growth since 2001, increasing by 189% to 275,500, followed by Islam (increased by 69% to 476,300) and Buddhism (increased by 48% to 529,000 people).

    The number of people reporting ‘No Religion’ also increased strongly, from 15% of the population in 2001 to 22% in 2011. This is most evident amongst younger people, with 28% of people aged 15-34 reporting they had no religious affiliation.

    Over half of the overseas-born population (56%) reported a Christian denomination; the two most commonly reported were Catholicism (24%) and Anglicanism (12%). Non-Christian religions were reported by 19% of the overseas-born population, with Buddhism (6.8%), Islam (5.4%) and Hinduism (4.3%) being the most prevalent. The proportion of the overseas-born population who reported ‘No religion’ was 20%, slightly lower than the level for the Australian population as a whole (22%).

    Recent arrivals were less likely than longer-standing migrants to report an affiliation to Catholicism (18% and 26% respectively) and Anglicanism (7% and 13% respectively). In contrast, a higher proportion of recent arrivals reported Hinduism (10.0% compared to 3.0%), Islam (8.4% compared to 4.7%) and Buddhism (7.7% compared to 6.6%). These differences reflect the larger number of new arrivals from non-European countries. New arrivals were also more likely than longer-standing migrants to report ‘No Religion’ (24% compared to 19%).

    —————————————-

    Data from the 2006 Year Book Australia 1301.0

    http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/bb8db737e2af84b8ca2571780015701e/bfdda1ca506d6cfaca2570de0014496e!OpenDocument

    RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION

    Precise definition of the concept of religion, or of what generally constitutes ‘a religion’, is difficult, if not impossible, because of the intangible and wide-ranging nature of the topic. Generally, a religion is regarded as a set of beliefs and practices, usually involving acknowledgment of a divine or higher being or power, by which people order the conduct of their lives both practically and in a moral sense.

    At the time of European settlement, the Aboriginal inhabitants followed their own religions involving beliefs in spirits behind the forces of nature, and the influence of ancestral spirit beings.

    During the 1800s, European settlers brought their traditional churches to Australia. These included the Church of England (now the Anglican Church), and the Methodist, Catholic, Presbyterian, Congregationalist, Lutheran and Baptist churches.

    With the exception of a small but significant Lutheran population of Germanic descent, Australian society in 1901 was predominantly Anglo-Celtic, with 40% of the population being Anglican, 23% Catholic, 34% other Christian and about 1% professing non-Christian religions.

    Further waves of migration helped to reshape the profile of Australia’s religious affiliations over subsequent decades. The impact of migration from Europe in the aftermath of World War II led to increases in affiliates of the Orthodox Churches, the establishment of Reformed bodies, growth in the number of Catholics (largely from Italian migration), and the creation of ethnic parishes among many other denominations. More recently, immigration from South-East Asia and the Middle East has expanded Buddhist and Muslim numbers considerably, and increased the ethnic diversity of existing Christian denominations.

    In response to the 2001 Census of Population and Housing question, stated religious affiliations were: 27% Catholic; 21% Anglican; 21% other Christian denominations; and 5% non-Christian religions. Just over a quarter of all persons either stated they had no religion, or did not adequately respond to the question to enable classification of their religion.

    A question on religious affiliation has been asked in every census taken in Australia, with the voluntary nature of this question having been specifically stated since 1933. In 1971 the instruction ‘if no religion, write none’ was introduced. This saw a seven-fold increase from the previous census year in the percentage of persons stating they had no religion. Since 1971 this percentage has progressively increased to about 16% in 1996 and 2001. Table 12.26 provides a summary of the major religious affiliations at each census since 1901.

    Table 12.27 shows the number and percentage of affiliates for each religion at the 1996 and 2001 censuses, and the percentage change which occurred during the five-year period. Followers of religions other than Christianity have shown the largest proportional increases since the 1996 census. The number of persons affiliated with Buddhism increased by 79%, with Hinduism by 42%, Islam 40% and Judaism 5%.

    Growth in the numbers and proportions of persons of all ages affiliating with Buddhism, Islam and Hinduism are largely due to changes in the countries of origin of recent immigrants. Between 1996 and 2001 there were just over half a million new arrivals to Australia and, although the most common religious affiliation of immigrants is Christianity, affiliates of other religions are more highly represented among recent immigrants than in the total population.

    Of all people affiliating with Hinduism in 2001, 82% had been born overseas, with 34% born in India and 11% in Sri Lanka. Similarly, nearly three-quarters of all those affiliating with Buddhism had been born overseas – 26% in Vietnam and 8% in China. Of persons of all ages affiliating with Islam in 2001, 62% were overseas born, with almost 11% born in Lebanon and 9% in Turkey.

    Christian denominations had smaller proportional changes in the numbers of affiliates than the non-Christian religions. Between 1996 and 2001 Catholic affiliates increased by 4.2% and Baptist affiliates by 4.8%. However, as the total population grew by 6% during this period, the actual percentage of the population professing affiliation to these denominations remained virtually unchanged. The most notable decreases in Christian affiliation occurred for Churches of Christ (decreasing by 18%), the Uniting Church (decreasing by 7%), and Presbyterian and Reformed (decreasing by 6%). An 11% increase was seen for Pentecostal affiliation between 1996 and 2001 (from 174,720 to 194,592). A substantial increase, associated with immigration from South Eastern Europe, was also seen for the Orthodox Churches, with the number of Orthodox affiliates increasing by 7% (from 497,015 to 529,444).

    In 2001, 82% of persons aged 65 years and over identified themselves as Christian, compared with 60% of 18-24 year olds. In contrast, the other religions have a younger age profile. For example, 15% of all Christian affiliates were aged 65 years and over, compared with 6% of Buddhist affiliates; and 8% of Christian affiliates were aged between 18 and 24 years, compared with 13% of Buddhist affiliates. The largest group of Buddhist affiliates was 35-44 year olds. Similar trends were evident for Hindu and Muslim affiliates. In the 2001 census, people in the 18-24 years age group were the most likely to state that they had no religion (20%). Information about involvement in religious activities can be found in Employment and involvement in cultural activities.

  85. This is not surprising.

    A few months (possibly a year) back, TGC published an article showing where most of its internet hits were coming from.

    The top city, IIRC, was Sydney.

  86. @ Haitch:

    Interesting article. I particularly noticed one commenter who linked conservative US christianity as being counter cultural to the idea of the predominant culture as shown in the media, and liberal US christianity as being in line with the thinking of US elites. That does seem to be the case.

  87. Mr.H wrote:

    Well, I suppose that to TGC, “essential to the gospel” would have to include: complementarianism, Reformed theology, & nouthetic counseling.

    There are a few more products that they could market under their brand, and I am rather surprised that they have not done so. There is the ever popular quarrel over prophecy and end times concepts. Surely some of that would be within the range of what they could agree on. There is christian environmentalism and care for the earth. There are lots of health issues with do this and do not do that and there is the theology of the body. There is the scriptural attitude toward the dignity of work (that would be secular work–not “good works.” There are devotional practices which could be popularized and would surely be gospelly enough, like praying the psalms. They haven’t even scratched the surface of what they could be doing.

  88. @ Nancy:

    Nancy –

    Don’t givem so many ideas, girl. Do you really want to see all that marketing coming your way? 😉

  89. Original post:

    As the bodies continue to pile up under the Mars Hill bus, we certainly wouldn’t hail Driscoll as a proponent of ‘gospel unity, fellowship, and cooperation within Reformed evangelical circles’.

    Don’t forget that Mark Driscoll doesn’t want to only be known as a Reformed Ralph Kramden(*1), he also wants to be your airplane pilot:

    “Mark Driscoll has shifted transportation metaphors

    http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2012/11/mark-driscoll-has-shifted.html

    I hope, I am keeping my fingers crossed, that Driscoll next compares himself to a cruise ship captain, so that I can refer to him as the Christian Captain Stubing. (Though Isaac the bartender was the coolest person on that show) (*2).

    (*1) reference: The Honeymooners, 1950s American television series
    (*2) reference: The Love Boat, 1970s-1080s American television series

  90. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    2) Wasn’t sex with the god (usually by proxy) part of fertility cults? Baal! Baal!

    Yes. One Christian book I read that discussed Christian views of marriage, singleness, sex and so on, had a chapter reviewing Christian works about those same subjects.

    A handful of Christian authors who were quoted wrote that a married guy and woman having sex was akin to God’s Shekinah glory, which I find a ridiculous comparison.

    The gist of it was that Christian writings about marital sex, (especially more contemporary content), is exactly like ancient pagan fertility cultic views on the same topics.

    When Christians make much too much out of sex and marriage, they end up unwittingly repeating ancient pagan perspectives of writings (according to this book, which IIRC, had quotes from such pagan writings, or summaries thereof, and yes, it was quite unsettling how much the Christian stuff sounded like the pagan stuff).

    And of course this over-hyping of marriage and married sex by some Christians implies that celibate adults/ singles/ divorced, etc, cannot know God as well, or as intimately, as married couples who are fooling around.

    All of that type of thinking overlooks that people who are celibate adults in the here and now also reflect the church’s marriage to Christ, because in Heaven, as Christ said, you will not be married to your current partner (there will be no marriage or giving in marriage).

    You will be ‘married to Christ’ in the afterlife.

    Christians who have never married (or who may be widowed, I suppose) are supposed to be a reminder in the present life of this ultimate reality to Christians who are married.

    If you are currently “Mrs. Jones,” who is married now to Mr. Jones, when you get to Heaven, Mr. Jones will simply be a brother in Christ to you, he won’t be your husband – Christ will.

  91. Caitlin wrote:

    Someone with a better understanding of Australian politics can answer this, but my impression from the news is that Australia is experiencing something of a backlash against progressive politicians, perhaps indicating a resurgence in “traditional” thinking and thus fertile fields for patriarchy?

    This is not to say that conservative ideology necessarily leads to Calvinism or that progressives are all Arminian, but I could see how they could see a connection.

    Disclaimer: I am an American and get my understanding of Australian politics 100th hand. Please, correct me.

    I find it difficult to electorally pick the Australian populace sometimes, but I think there’s a strong backlash against politicians per se. Both major parties have moved to the right (exit progressives) and appear indistinguishable from each other. Now that everyone’s expected to pull in their belts, and a greater burden has been imposed on the lower socio-economic groups in our society, there is more pushback against our political elites regarding their hypocrisy. Our current government could be considered Tory Teabaggers, and it’s a good question to ask – just how representative are they? Democratically (or undemocratically), I think we can be considered to be a plutocracy now. I see it as a testing time for Australians – are we going to look out for our fellow man/woman, or pursue our solitary wealth-enhancing interests at the expense of others? (ref. current asylum seeker debates and their demonisation as illegal criminals who should be housed and treated like export live cattle – I just can’t keep my opinion silent on this crucial human rights issue any longer)

  92. JP wrote:

    A few months (possibly a year) back, TGC published an article showing where most of its internet hits were coming from.

    The top city, IIRC, was Sydney.

    That’s really interesting JP. I’m wondering though, if an IP address can be routed through Sydney when you’re browsing elsewhere? Not my expertise at all, just curious. SGM also have a base in Sydney too I believe? Other Australian commenters like Lyn could add in some Sydney information, but I believe it has very conservative Anglican and Catholic dioceses (with other dioceses breathing a sigh of relief they’re not in the Sydney one).

  93. @ JP:

    “A few months (possibly a year) back, TGC published an article showing where most of its internet hits were coming from. The top city, IIRC, was Sydney.”
    +++++++++++

    …just like Spinal Tap jetting off to Tokyo upon discovering one of their songs was back on the charts there. gotta have those cheering audiences, now.

  94. Jeannette Altes wrote:

    Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:
    Quotefrom OP:”…love bomb them unitl they are in lock-step with us. Then get them to help us find more like them and also turn those nearly like them to build our Gospel™ brand and empire and make more money and look Gospelly-Driven™ while doing it.”

    Exactly!

  95. Mr.H wrote:

    I get so gospel-confused and gospel-frustrated by the Neo-Cal’s use of “gospel” to gospel-describe everything. When you gospel-use a word in such a gospel-vague and gospel-ubiquitous manner, doesn’t it begin to gospel-lose its gospel-meaning?

    I kept wondering why they used “gospel” as an adjective and find ways to slip into every sentence possible as if the more times one uses it the more spiritual they are?

  96. Katie wrote:

    I kept wondering why they used “gospel” as an adjective and find ways to slip into every sentence possible as if the more times one uses it the more spiritual they are?

    By using 'gospel' as an adjective, I believe they are claiming that they are the ones interpreting the 'gospel' correctly in everyday life.

    Actions speak louder than words…

  97. Deb wrote:

    By using ‘gospel’ as an adjective, I believe they are claiming that they are the ones interpreting the ‘gospel’ correctly in everyday life.
    Actions speak louder than words…

    Absolutely. And by repeating it so much they may be hoping that people latch on to that idea even against their will. I think I read something somewhere about the power of repetition.

  98. Nancy wrote:

    Absolutely. And by repeating it so much they may be hoping that people latch on to that idea even against their will. I think I read something somewhere about the power of repetition.

    “Effective Propaganda consists of Simplification and Repetition.”
    — Reichsminister Josef Goebbels

    “I reject your Reality and substitute my own!”
    — Mythbusters

  99. Daisy wrote:

    Don’t forget that Mark Driscoll doesn’t want to only be known as a Reformed Ralph Kramden(*1),

    Wasn’t Ralph Kramden always threatening to punch out his wife?
    “TO THE MOON, ALICE!”

  100. Nancy wrote:

    There is the ever popular quarrel over prophecy and end times concepts. Surely some of that would be within the range of what they could agree on. There is christian environmentalism and care for the earth.

    Those two are opposing memes.
    When The World Ends Tomorrow (at the latest), what’s the point of Creation Care? “It’s All Gonna Burn(TM)…”

  101. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:

    Great. You are a priceless source for this stuff. Did you get a good report from your medical re-checks?

    I also read in a slightly different context, where they were telling doctors something to watch out for. If you tell people the same thing several times in the context of telling them NOT to do such and such, they will remember that you mentioned the thing but will come to actually believe that you told them TO DO it. “I do think I recall that he mentioned that, so it must be OK.” They remember the mention but forget the context.

  102. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    When The World Ends Tomorrow (at the latest), what’s the point of Creation Care? “It’s All Gonna Burn(TM)…”

    They do think that. They seem to relish the thought.

  103. Nancy wrote:

    They do think that. They seem to relish the thought.

    What they forget is that ignoring Creation Care won’t make it burn any faster. It’ll just be a worse place to wait for God’s timing.

  104. Nancy wrote:

    praying the psalms

    Ahh, this brings me back to my days at Episcopal day school. Each week we’d have a chapel service (once a month was Eucharist instead), and we’d recite either Psalm 100 or…. some other Psalm that I vaguely recognize when I see it. A weird translation of it too. Good times.

    That was always my favorite part of my friends’ bar and bat mitzvahs. The reformed rabbi liked to chant psalms to the tune of “This is the day”. Very cheery.

  105. Caitlin wrote:

    What they forget is that ignoring Creation Care won’t make it burn any faster. It’ll just be a worse place to wait for God’s timing.

    Well, pooh on them. I need to get a Nature Conservancy decal to put on my truck as soon as I can. Better to light a candle…Besides, it will make my old and little truck look upscale for when I park it (instead of my “appropriate” vehicle) in some church parking lot for the protestant high holy hour. Or is that p******ing in the wind? Who cares. I am going to go for it. The truck and the sticker and the little old lady. I love the idea. All the way from the Home Depot to the Church of The Blessed Sanctified. You got to laugh or you will cry.

  106. Daisy wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    “Oh what s Smurfy day! I Smurfed with the Smurf down the Smurf over to the Smurf and Smurfed all Smurf!”
    “Meow Meow Mr. Rogers”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3r19oVkOHk

    Glad you like it!
    “On what to expect of MRN Australia, Rogers writes:“We have no fixed agenda other than to build neighbor partnerships and then do whatever we can to promote the same kind of neighbor-driven relationships across our nation as we work together for the sake of Henrietta Pussycat.”

  107. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:

    Remember that a Secretary of a Department in a previous federal Administration said that we should use up all of the resources before the Second Coming, including the abilities of the environment to contain waste and pollution.

  108. Daisy wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    “Oh what s Smurfy day! I Smurfed with the Smurf down the Smurf over to the Smurf and Smurfed all Smurf!”
    “Meow Meow Mr. Rogers”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3r19oVkOHk

    In Concourse C of Pittsburgh International Airport there’s a Mister Rogers exhibit. He was a local boy.

  109. Hey y’all! Coming up to breathe from moving stuff and such. Praying for you, sam.

    I don’t have much to add because y’all have said it all. The Gospel is more than just a thought process that needs to be kept in ivory towers. It moves through the Holy Spirit; it is not a safe or simple thing. I just got done reading Dune, and some of the concepts Herbert expressed are still on my mind. With all the control that the Bene Gesserit and the imperial powers tried to implement, certain things still happened that they could not predict or control. If I say anything more, I will spoil it all. 😛

    Sorry for hijacking the Mars Hill comments back there. I’d really like to discuss the uber-marketing technique Crossway’s using to sell their “women’s materials.”
    Context: http://thewartburgwatch.com/2014/07/11/did-a-mars-hill-pastor-attempt-to-enforce-the-cant-talk-rule-on-social-media/#comment-150931

  110. Nancy wrote:

    Great. You are a priceless source for this stuff. Did you get a good report from your medical re-checks?

    Orthopedist: Wrist healing normally, no need to change treatment. Keep arm brace tight and use lotion to offset irritation. Got some liner refills.

    Opthamologist: No visible retinal damage from blow to forehead. Keep an eye on any upsurge in floaters and/or flashers.

    Now comes the fight with Mercy Hospital and the labs to convince them I AM insured. They charged me the uninsured rates. I wonder if this has anything to do with all the Hot Investment Tips spam I got about “Health Care/Health Insurance!!!! Divine Right of Stockholders… The Money Will Come In in Buckets!!!! Invest Now or be forever Left Behind!!!!!”

  111. Nancy wrote:

    They do think that. They seem to relish the thought.

    As one guy who got banned from Internet Monk some years ago put it:
    “And I will be laughing as the world burns…”

  112. Caitlin wrote:

    Nancy wrote:
    They do think that. They seem to relish the thought.
    What they forget is that ignoring Creation Care won’t make it burn any faster. It’ll just be a worse place to wait for God’s timing.

    But they KNOW God’s timing down to the hour/minute/second!
    It’s Prophesied! It’s Prophesied!
    (How Dare God NOT follow their End Time Prophecy charts and checklists!!!!!)

    Can you tell I got burned BAD by the Gospel According to Hal Lindsay?

  113. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Can you tell I got burned BAD by the Gospel According to Hal Lindsay?

    Hal Lindsay, not burned in my case, but disillusioned on finding out how many times he has divorced and remarried. I’m glad that paperback era is over, pulp fiction comes to mind.

    In all shady.

  114. Daisy wrote:

    If you are currently “Mrs. Jones,” who is married now to Mr. Jones, when you get to Heaven, Mr. Jones will simply be a brother in Christ to you, he won’t be your husband – Christ will.

    Well, we are not going to file joint tax returns and everything that goes with the institution of marriage after we are in Heaven, and I don’t think we would have to stay together if we didn’t want to, but my husband and I have promised to love each other for eternity. We hope we can be together. As my retired former pastor, who has been in love with his wife for nearly seventy years now once said to me, “I cannot imagine Heaven without her.”

  115. @ May:

    May said: “Not the familiar Gospel which the good readers on this blog were taught, grew up with, understood and embraced (that is, many of us, not speaking for all).”

    androidninja said: “The Gospel is more than just a thought process that needs to be kept in ivory towers.”
    +++++++++++++++++

    so, i’m starting to feel like the subject of The Truman Show. if anyone is still reading, can you make a thesis statement on what you understand “The Gospel” to be?

  116. elastigirl wrote:

    so, i’m starting to feel like the subject of The Truman Show. if anyone is still reading, can you make a thesis statement on what you understand “The Gospel” to be?

    We need God and God wants us.

  117. elastigirl wrote:

    @ May:
    May said: “Not the familiar Gospel which the good readers on this blog were taught, grew up with, understood and embraced (that is, many of us, not speaking for all).”
    androidninja said: “The Gospel is more than just a thought process that needs to be kept in ivory towers.”
    +++++++++++++++++
    so, i’m starting to feel like the subject of The Truman Show. if anyone is still reading, can you make a thesis statement on what you understand “The Gospel” to be?

    LOL, elastigirl. Sorry for my random tangent.

    I’ll let NT Wright do the talking for me.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICHovRHJAYY

    The older I get, the harder it is for me to explain the good news without rambling on about it. But I’ve learned that the good news is that Jesus is the one and true Lord of the universe, and He is calling us to a bigger, better life. By that, I don’t mean Joel Osteen’s idea of a better life, or Oprah’s. It’s the life where He sits on the throne, and it affects how I act towards people, how I steward my time and money, and how I respond (if at all) to pain, and suffering and things not going my way.

    I don’t know how to explain it, but to me, the gospel has become less theological (a la Jesus died for my sins and I can go to heaven!) and more philosophical and thoughtful.

    If Jesus is Lord, then how does that influence how I take care of my pet? He is, after all, the God that takes care of his creation, and I should do the same. It doesn’t mean I deprive my pet of my presence, or ignore when he gets into stuff. At the same time, when I’m sick or depressed, I do my best to care for him without wearing myself thin, knowing that there’s God who cares for me (and his little hedgehog self!) too.

    Accepting Jesus as Lord prevents me from putting men and women into boxes, as complementarianism often does. I realize that God works in various ways, in various spaces and times, and is still Lord, even if women work outside the home, and men stay at home with their kids. This hits home for me, personally, as I’m an extremely introverted, goal-driven woman who can knit and cook, but likes to lift weights and do science, and doesn’t fit my parents’ West African standard of beauty and behavior. If Jesus is Lord, I recognize his creativity in creation, myself included. My personality is not evil or anti-Him, and as long as I submit myself (which is not easy, mind you) and trust that He is doing a good work in me (which I can barely see sometimes), why should I care that I’m not a cokebottle body shape, or that I can’t cook traditional West African foods for my future husband?

    I don’t know. I’m rambling, and hungry. For all I know, I could be spouting heresy. But I believe Jesus is King, and it’s more freeing than what the TGC is spouting.

  118. Muff Potter wrote:

    If so, they probably won’t take too kindly to a gaggle of Yanks from the States trying to cut in on their action.

    Sincere apologies to any of y’all who reside below the Mason Dixon line. ‘Yanks’ is probably too close to ‘Yankees’.

  119. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    I wonder if this has anything to do with all the Hot Investment Tips spam I got about “Health Care/Health Insurance!!!! Divine Right of Stockholders… The Money Will Come In in Buckets!!!! Invest Now or be forever Left Behind!!!!!”

    Do you think we’ll ever go to a single-payer system like most of the civilized nations in the Western world?

  120. These guys want to help, or really do what Jesus might do, they need to get to South Texas and help out.
    It is a mess down there. I know some church organizations are down there helping, but you know, rather than going to ” Lilly White” portions of the world to make conversions, they need to spend their money where help is really needed…

  121. Deb wrote:

    By using ‘gospel’ as an adjective, I believe they are claiming that they are the ones interpreting the ‘gospel’ correctly in everyday life.

    I agree!

    I think it is also a sign of the Neo-Cal penchant for abstract philosophizing. I remember asking a pastor at our old Acts 29 church what he meant by “gospel relationship” (one of his favorite terms). He said that it was “a relationship founded in and informed by the gospel.” I responded with, “Sounds great, but what does that actually mean?” He said that it would be a whole other conversation to discuss it. Unfortunately he never got around to having that conversation with me.

    At some point I began to feel like “gospel-____” was just a generic phrase used to sound spiritual and fit in with the Neo-Cal crowd, and that the people who used it mostly didn’t have any idea what they meant by it.

  122. Haitch wrote:

    , I think we can be considered to be a plutocracy now. I see it as a testing time for Australians – are we going to look out for our fellow man/woman, or pursue our solitary wealth-enhancing interests at the expense of others?

    Much Agreement here Haitch. Chris Hedges’ book Death of the Liberal Class is a solid analysis of how the U.S. got to the pinnacle of plutocracy, and sadly, how you Aussies are headed there too.

  123. Daisy wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Where beer flows and men chunder?

    I think they’re known for Foster’s, as far as beer goes.

    It’s an export beer – I would hazard a guess that it’s never drunk here. ps HUG – haaaaaaaa

  124. Caitlin wrote:

    Gee. Are you sure you didn’t just mistake Australia for the US? Sounds awful familiar.

    It’s a ‘Western-world thang’ – could probably say the same for Canada & the UK also. I’m guessing New Zealand is in lock-step also. Cue music & tap dancing to “we’re all in this together”…

  125. On the topic of the ubiquity of ‘gospel’: The Gospel Coalition have hijacked and re-defined this word.

    It may be that Christians will need to start using another term to mean the good news of Jesus Christ. Because that is not at all what TGC crowd mean by it.

  126. Muff Potter wrote:

    Chris Hedges’ book Death of the Liberal Class is a solid analysis of how the U.S. got to the pinnacle of plutocracy,

    Just ordered it on Book Depository – thanks for the recommendation (PS Chris Hedges has a enviable educational and experience background!) I spotted also the new book out by Barbara Ehrenreich, “Living with a wild God” and this bit clicked with me from an Amazon review, “Ehrenreich tells us why she wrote Living with a Wild God. Middle aged, with her second marriage crumbling and progressive politics rapidly diminishing as a force in American political life, she sank into depression. (How many of us followed that trajectory?)”

  127. An Attorney wrote:

    I have come to the conclusion that “The Gospel Coalition” is not focused on the four Gospels, but rather on the Epistles, and then only on certain passages in the Epistles. So a more proper name for these organizations would be “The Proof-Texted Epistles Coalition”. They tend to ignore the teachings of Jesus and focus on very specific passages from the writings of Peter and Paul.

    Wow, I never even thought it could be about the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I thought it was named after the 4 charter members in this video promotion http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3984wyqJIcQ

  128. May wrote:

    Actually, the Neo-Cal lot in Oz hate Hillsong with a passion. Read ‘The Briefing’.

    Neo-Calvinism is strong and healthy in Oz, especially in the Sydney area. TGC knows there are ripe pickings to be had from the fan boys over there drooling at the thought of TGC conferences to attend on home soil.

    Finds this link http://matthiasmedia.com/briefing/?s=hillsong&submit=Search and says a big “ahhhhhhh”

  129. Patti wrote:

    Wow, I never even thought it could be about the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

    Only the book of Calvin, Calvin, Calvin, and Calvin?

  130. Haitch wrote:

    I see it as a testing time for Australians – are we going to look out for our fellow man/woman, or pursue our solitary wealth-enhancing interests at the expense of others? (ref. current asylum seeker debates and their demonisation as illegal criminals who should be housed and treated like export live cattle – I just can’t keep my opinion silent on this crucial human rights issue any longer)

    I see those issues at the forefront of America now also. churches pursuing wealth enhancing interests at the expense of others and our border illegal immigration issue is about not criminals but little children and the loudest protest I hear is from ‘religious right’ members saying basicly send them back like cattle, house them in jails till you can get the busses loaded. that is not all US, but on the west coast its a very loud voice.

  131. sam h wrote:

    one more thing, I was checking the forest fires outside and I kept thinking about the way those people talk on the video clips above and in their statements on the link and I kept thinking of this scripture:

    For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. 2 Peter 2:18 (KJV)

    and I thought, wow, if those guys would start preaching something like soppys awesome sermon on yesterdays thread, the Lord could really use them!
    I loved that sermon and want to copy paste it to my webpage and facebook page. That’s preaching the gospel!

    p.s. my state, Washington, just got declared a emergency because of the many forest fires and I am in no danger but there is a lot of ash in my driveway and there are a lot of people in the area that are in dangerous areas and I would ask for prayer please. also prayers for my kids would be awesome, they have suffered a lot of church abuse inside and outside the church by a relative that is an elder and also another guy, physical abuse and one child was sexually abused and other abuse, and they currently are wanting nothing to do with anything related to the bible or Jesus or any church anywhere and they desperately need Jesus. thanks

    Prayers from here.

  132. Janet Varin wrote:

    This appears to be the “one-world government” movement, except its base is within the religious community. It is a bullying, frightening movement. powered by money, charisma, a message that appeals to those in power (men), against those who oppose or shame it (women, the weak, mentally ill who have failed to yield to nouthetic counseling and just acknowledge their “sins”, the LGBT population and anyone else not bearing the Aryan, I mean, Reformed, genome.

    Gosh. I think you just nailed it. With the “one-world government” movement. Scary.

  133. Nancy wrote:

    The reformed movement is moving into Canada. .

    Aaaaaaarrrrrrrggggggggghhhhhhhhhh!!! (She shrieked, tearing her hair). What bluidy eejit declared CANADA a “mission field”? I mean, really, some of these people need to go read up on the Jesuits in North America.
    Oh wait. That’s probably what they did do, & they said: “?????????Jesuits???????? It’s the End Of The World, it’s the End Of The World, I tell you!!” (Because we all know what the Newly Deformed, I mean Reformed, think about Jesuits).

    OK, I’ll be back after I pour myslef a wee drop of the crayture. I’ll be calmer then………

  134. zooey111 wrote:

    (Because we all know what the Newly Deformed, I mean Reformed, think about Jesuits).

    You have the feeling correct, but I don’t think it is the Jesuits that they especially target. Using the concept of the “other” as in talking and thinking about “us” vs “them” there has been a shift in who “they” are since my childhood. Time was growing up baptist in an urban upper south church setting that “they” were the catholics in general. But at the time pre-vatican II catholicism was a different thing from now. And “they” had a lot of kids in catholic schools and had more involvement in hospitals and orphanages and such and people talked a lot about “the catholic vote” impact on politics. (Note: involvement in socio/political aspects of society including education and health care and social work and voting power.) At the same time baptist fundamentalism was a relatively small group who stayed “separated” from other people. The fundamentalists did not look like a threat to anybody but themselves to SBC, as far as I can tell.

    Then along comes the political and social shift of the sixties and seventies with changes in the public face of catholics after Vatican II and the idea of who “they” are changes. “They” become the liberals with the liberal ideas pushing into politics and education and health care and social work areas increasingly, and with “liberal” voting power, especially right now at this very time. The catholics meantime have come to be seen as allies in some contexts, and the “liberal” main line protestants have come to be seen as basically traitors to the political/religious cause. The fundamentalists came to represent people with some ideas which might be useful to the cause. Might even have “committed” people who could be incorporated in the cause. Think Piper’s background. Now “liberal” applies not just to groups or denominations or political parties but to individual beliefs of individual persons and individual churches of whatever denomination. To disagree, especially on some issues, is to put oneself in the spotlight as a potential traitor to the cause. This is the strong feeling I get on this issue. And the special issues on which one must not disagree are sex/gender, education, health care, economics and any “power to the people” ideas (including within the church); all of these current political causes in the secular sphere. Not all of these are equally important at the same time. The basic question is: are you with us or against us, and here are the badges you can wear that identify yourself as to which side you are on. It is really easy to have an opinion is any one of multiple area which identify one as “not really one of us.” Including, in conversation, who you “like” (preachers) who you read and opinions on minor issues which might look harmless but which signal that one is “soft” on certain issues.

    This is mostly (IMO) about politics and secular power, and it looks to me like it always was. Checking out history (and I am not a historian so somebody can correct me here) a lot of religion has always been about politics and power.

  135. Mr.H wrote:

    I get so gospel-confused and gospel-frustrated by the Neo-Cal’s use of “gospel” to gospel-describe everything. When you gospel-use a word in such a gospel-vague and gospel-ubiquitous manner, doesn’t it begin to gospel-lose its gospel-meaning?
    In the immortal words of Señor Montoya: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

    Exactly. So what does it mean? If it is good news then then it cannot stop at the cross which is where these types need for you to stay in order to control you. An interesting fact for me was to learn that many young Jewish men were crucified before and after Jesus the Christ. Only HE was resurrected. What is the Cross without the resurrection?

    And if we really go down the resurrection road and what that really means for us they lose control/power over us. They must convince us they have “special knowledge/understanding” (Gnosticism) we can only have through them to keep this game going.

  136. The connection Dr John Lennox has with the TGC is that his niece is Kristyn Getty married to Keith Getty. They led the worship at the TGC women’s coalition. Her father Gilbert Lennox is brother of Dr Lennox and was Pastor of a church in Northern Ireland called Glenabbey Church

  137. Irish lass wrote:

    The connection Dr John Lennox has with the TGC is that his niece is Kristyn Getty married to Keith Getty. They led the worship at the TGC women’s coalition. Her father Gilbert Lennox is brother of Dr Lennox and was Pastor of a church in Northern Ireland called Glenabbey Church

    Alliance by Blood, Marriage, and Dynasty.

    Just like in Game of Thrones.

  138. Lydia wrote:

    They must convince us they have “special knowledge/understanding” (Gnosticism) we can only have through them to keep this game going.

    Make that Speshul Sekrit (Occult) Knowledge (Gnosis).

    And the Occult Gnosis is only available to a Speshul Inner Ring of Illuminati.

  139. zooey111 wrote:

    Aaaaaaarrrrrrrggggggggghhhhhhhhhh!!! (She shrieked, tearing her hair). What bluidy eejit declared CANADA a “mission field”? I mean, really, some of these people need to go read up on the Jesuits in North America.

    Because Canadian “Christians” are not Real True REFORMED Christians, but Apostates and Heretics. They must be converted to Calvin by Fire and Sword and ruled by God’s Elect just like Geneva.

    Hooray, Hooray for the One True Way…

  140. sam h wrote:

    that is not all US, but on the west coast its a very loud voice.

    I’m in SoCal. You would not believe just how high passions run over immigration in the states that border Mexico. You hear both White and Brown Supremacist rants all the time. Anglos see themselves being pushed out of their own country, Raza Boys strut around yakking about Reconquista and Mexican Supremacy, Anglos start pushing back, the race card gets played, talk radio screams, and things just keep getting ugly and uglier.

  141. zooey111 wrote:

    Gosh. I think you just nailed it. With the “one-world government” movement. Scary.

    From my days with The Gospel According to Hal Lindsay, “One World” anything is Christianese for “The Antichrist!!!!!”

    Some years ago, a guy gave me a book titled “Antichrist” which explored and traced the history of the idea of The Antichrist. And I noticed something about it.

    Historically, there have been two archetypes of Antichrist, based on the two meanings of “Anti-” in Greek: the Fanatic Persecutor (“Anti-” as in “Against”) and the Slick Deceiver (“Anti-” as in “Imitation of”).

    And these two Antichrists (Beast and False Prophet) work very well as a tag team: In fleeing the Fanatic Persecutor, you run for protection to (and take the Mark of) the Slick Deceiver. (I’m not the only one to notice this, so did the game designers of the tabletop RPG Rapture: The Second Coming.)

    Today, Antichrist the Slick Deceiver is all but forgotten (especially in those circles) and only Antichrist the Fanatic Persecutor (i.e. the Outside Other) is emphasized. Comment I got on this observation was “maybe the Slick Deceiver hits a little too close to home for all these preachers”.

  142. Is it just me or is Evangelicalism run its course? I read with interest Tullian Tchidvijian “sorrow” at leaving the Gospel Coalition. Was he as sorry as that when Coral Ridge Presbyterian split and the former pastor’s daughter was thrown out? Was he as sorry as all that about his money from book deals? writing while pastoring? Was he as sorry when he penned some interview with Glenn Beck’s “The Blaze” in which he castigated Evangelical Conservative Christians for their “political” involvement when all Tullain Tchidvijian does is get involved in political matters through the Presbyterian Church like same sex marriage, and divestment of the political state of Israel, and other political matters? I mean what a hypocrite. What wolf. How duplicitous. These types of “star” pastors have run their course. People are sick of them. Billy Graham he is not. He doesn’t have the character, integrity, honesty of Billy Graham. He flounced around as a teenager, got arrested at 16, drugs, girls, booze. Then CBN/700 Club reported the Prodigal Son came home? Really? He went to Columbia U-Commit U. Then to M-Div school. Then to the Liberal Presbyterian church system splitting a congregation of Coral Ridge. And this guy is a good guy? Well I don’t see it. Just don’t see it. These types of pastors are a dime a dozen.

  143. Mr.H wrote:

    I get so gospel-confused and gospel-frustrated by the Neo-Cal’s use of “gospel” to gospel-describe everything. When you gospel-use a word in such a gospel-vague and gospel-ubiquitous manner, doesn’t it begin to gospel-lose its gospel-meaning?

    In the immortal words of Señor Montoya: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2y8Sx4B2Sk

    I spotted this article (see the third paragraph): http://paulspassingthoughts.com/2010/10/06/what-really-happened-at-coral-ridge-heavy-handed-leadership-is-part-of-the-gospel-sanctification-mystique/
    It links to Liz Levesque’s comments above.

  144.   __

    “Blind Religious Man’s Bluff’: ‘Abuse_Gospel’ 4 Export, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    Making merchandise of the ‘gospel’, yet again ?

    -snicker-

      TGC apparently is rocking  their own proverbial boat here in da U.S. these days, why should the ‘Down Under’ “franchise” be any different?

    call it what you like…

      Yet, be on the alert, and stand firm in the ‘faith’, act like Jesus showed you in the four Gospels ; be strong, and let all that you ‘do’ be done in love…remember, you have a ‘comforter’ who will never leave you, 

    Skreeeeeeeeeeeetch!

    Jesus promised.

    (bump)

      These ‘professional religion expert’ individuals who profess to be working on behalf of the gospel, are ‘in essence’ actually apparently acting wickedly against Jesus’ “New Covenant”, and have been  compromised and  corrupted thereby. Yes. It is obvious that, in their proverbial greed, they have simply made merchandise of Christ’s gospel, – as Jesus’Apostles so aptly warned us in their new testament letters. 

    This we know. 

      The question is how do we sufficiently guard ourselves against these proverbial mischievously toxic religion peddlers? How do we sufficiently warn others of their ‘end justifies the means’ approach to presenting the soul-saving, Christ redeeming message of the new testament pages, – albeit with nefarious manipulation and greatly augmented profusely patent’d ‘peter piper people control’, seeking their own a-g-e-n-d-a-(s) and not Jesus’?

    *

    Jesus Delivers…

    30 minutes or less…

    (just kidding )

    huh?

    Call upon the ‘real’ Jesus…

    …you’ll be pleasantly surprised…

    Be strong, Wartburg Watch Readers! Be secure in Christ Jesus’ words, OR you will  possibly be subject to these faux religion peddler’s ‘tactics’ & ‘antics’…

    (gump)

    Be faithful to Jesus, and He will do the rest…keeping in the for-front of our keen minds that ‘the battle’ is not ours, but the Lord’s, –and that He is ‘forever faithful’ towards all those who place their trust in “Him”.

    ‘Rock da Gospel’? 

    hmmm…

    Yeah $ure.

    Don’t accept doze ‘cheap’ imitations…

    ATB

    Sopy
    __
    Exit music: BB King – “There Must Be A Better World Somewhere?”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVgY7shSxWc

    ;~)

  145. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Today, Antichrist the Slick Deceiver is all but forgotten (especially in those circles) and only Antichrist the Fanatic Persecutor (i.e. the Outside Other) is emphasized. Comment I got on this observation was “maybe the Slick Deceiver hits a little too close to home for all these preachers”.

    Like, maybe, a LOT too close,hmmmmmm??????

  146. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    I never thought of it that way. I’ve always heard that the antichrist would rise from among us though. Your comment made me think about the scripture saying no one will be able to buy or sell lest they have the mark. Which side is it that refuses to sell and buy from people they don’t agree with their personal lives ??? And which side actually uses words like 9 ‘marks’? Hmmmm.

  147. Haitch wrote:

    JP wrote:

    A few months (possibly a year) back, TGC published an article showing where most of its internet hits were coming from.

    The top city, IIRC, was Sydney.

    That’s really interesting JP. I’m wondering though, if an IP address can be routed through Sydney when you’re browsing elsewhere? Not my expertise at all, just curious. SGM also have a base in Sydney too I believe? Other Australian commenters like Lyn could add in some Sydney information, but I believe it has very conservative Anglican and Catholic dioceses (with other dioceses breathing a sigh of relief they’re not in the Sydney one).

    Another Aussie here. IMHO, Sydney is the most “evangelical” major city in Australia. The Anglican Diocese of Sydney is quite simply “evangelical” central (to the point where they have somewhat forgotten what it means to be Anglican, which is where they differ from a lot of their GAFCON partners who still maintain their “Anglican-ness” in doctrine, e.g. Lay Presidency for Communion which is a no-no in every other Anglican jurisdiction around the world, liberal or conservative). It’s the most Reformed church body in the country (even more reformed than Presbys IMHO). And the most conservative when it comes to gender issues. Especially in the context of church leadership as they will not ordain women to the priesthood, scratch that, they will not ordain women to be presbyters and there is no chance of women being consecrated as bishops though strangely, ordaining them to the order of deacons is fine and if a female priest/bishop comes to the Sydney diocese, at best they will be allowed to function as a deacon as far as I know. Interestingly, one Sydney Anglican minister (John Dickson) has recently published a book where he does seem to argue that it is possibly right to allow women to preach and teach. Not sure whether he’s been censured or not for publishing that view.

    Conversely, the Catholic Archdiocese in Sydney is probably the most “Catholic” diocese there (though whether it will continue as the most “Catholic” diocese depends on whether the next Archbishop will follow in the same was as the former Archbishop, Cardinal George Pell).

    Melbourne probably is the next most “evangelical” city in both Anglican and Catholic fronts (though the Anglican Diocese there has a significant Anglo-Catholic wing in it [whether it be of the conservative or liberal fronts] that is also present in a lot of its dependent bishoprics, i.e. other Anglican dioceses that fall under the metropolitan authority of the Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne). The majority of other places in the country (including Brisbane which is where I am) are generally speaking quite laissez-faire. Anglicans elsewhere in the country are usually of the liberal Anglo-Catholic wing (i.e. their bishops are near replicas of the majority of bishops in the Episcopal Church). Catholics elsewhere around the country are generally more conservative in doctrine than Anglicans (though whether they follow Catholic moral teachings is another story) and their bishops are usually of the conservative mould.

    There however is an explosion of “evangelical” churches (usually either in the Baptist tradition, non-denoms and charismatic). Most attempt to try and replicate the Hillsong experience along with Saddleback Church style seeker services (which I am personally not very keen on, theologically and musically).

    Most Presbyterian, Congregationalist and Methodist churches formed a union back in the mid 1970s into the Uniting Church of Australia which is usually progressive in its theology and social concern (though there are some evangelical congregations still in it). There are still some Presbys and Methodist congregations that still retain something of the old denominations that they used to be a constituent part of or are new creations (like the congregation that I attend with my wife which is part of the Chinese Methodist Church in Australia, a plant of the Malaysian Methodist Church).

    Neo-Reformed/Neo-Cal theology has been a major influence of late. One case in point, the main Christian bookstore chain here in Australia (Koorong) heavily promotes stuff by a lot of Neo-Cal authors (in particular Mark Driscoll based on the last few catalogues I get in the mail from them) but perspectives from other Protestant traditions are usually few and far between. Usually I notice a small smattering of Anglican, Methodist and Lutheran titles instore (some published by SPCK, Fortress Press, Concordia Publishing House, Abingdon Press, etc) while there is a crapload of titles that come from Reformed and Baptist publishing houses (P&R Publishing, a lot from Crossway, Broadman&Holman/Holman), Charismatic publications (e.g. Harvest House, etc) and the usual suspects of Christian publishing (Zondervan, Thomas Nelson, Tyndale and IVP, though I find IVP publications to be far superior in content than the other publishing houses). The academic stuff they stock however is far better than the other chain, Word Bookstores, which is usually of the fundagelical persuasion. Usually stuff from IVP, SPCK, Fortress, Concordia, Abingdon, etc ends up in the clearance/remainder bins quicksmart as it doesn’t sell well (which is a bargain for me). On the other hand, Driscoll, Osteen, TD Jakes, Piper, Francis Chan sell like hotcakes and are always on sale at full price (not to mention always advertised in each catalogue). I wonder why…

  148. @ Brandon F:
    Great analysis. Re: Christian bookstores – it’s always fascinating to find out what’s on the ‘banned’ (do not stock) list if possible. If you are in West End, please have a chai latte in a bowl on my behalf at the Three Monkeys…

    Also – there’s a discussion happening on another thread ( 9 Marks’ Deeply Disturbing Remarks Aimed at Roman Catholics and InterVarsity )about the use of the use of ‘Allah’ in language. Perhaps you may wish to comment in the light of this media item:

    http://edition.cnn.com/2014/06/24/world/asia/malaysia-allah-ban/

  149. Haitch wrote:

    @ Brandon F:
    Great analysis. Re: Christian bookstores – it’s always fascinating to find out what’s on the ‘banned’ (do not stock) list if possible. If you are in West End, please have a chai latte in a bowl on my behalf at the Three Monkeys…

    Also – there’s a discussion happening on another thread ( 9 Marks’ Deeply Disturbing Remarks Aimed at Roman Catholics and InterVarsity )about the use of the use of ‘Allah’ in language. Perhaps you may wish to comment in the light of this media item:

    http://edition.cnn.com/2014/06/24/world/asia/malaysia-allah-ban/

    Haitch, sounds like you’ve been in Australia a few times (as well as Asia going by what I’ve read in your comments).

    Given that I live in Brisbane, rocking up to Three Monkeys to grab a chai latte is very easy. Seeing as my wife has mentioned that we should go there a few times already, in light of your request maybe it’s the right time now. 🙂

  150. @Brandon F, I’m jealous – Three Monkeys is an institution ! Enjoy. I’m Australian, live a bit further south than you. I try to keep informed on greater Pacific themes, and love Pacific and Indonesian peoples. PS You might like this movie I watched last night, “Next Goal Wins” on the American Samoan soccer team (Malcolm Tucker from ‘The Thick of It’ has a rival – ie language alert!). It’s in the overnight section of DVD rental at the moment. Review is here: http://www.theguardian.com/film/video/2014/feb/19/next-goal-wins-trailer-documentary-video