Showing posts from April, 2019

Our Confusion About Christianity

Recent events in Australasia show how confused we are about religion and Christianity. First, the terror attack in Christchurch caused an outpouring of compassion. Rightly, we cried, we prayed, we laid flowers, we reached out. And so we should have. We even put on hijabs and joined in Muslim calls to prayer (although some Christians were uncomfortable with this).
Then, Israel Folau dared to say on social media what Christianity has always believed, even if clumsily and inappropriately in my view: that those who are sinners who refuse to repent will not be included in God’s world to come. This is indeed what Islam believes, through the lens of faith in Allah and Mohamad as his prophet. This is what Christians believe based on our view that Jesus is Savior and Lord. Yet, our society turns from approval to condemnation. We cry foul! Much umbrage is taken. Then, Notre Dame burned down. It is a tragedy, absolutely. We should be grieved. Yet, remember that this is a building built by peop…

Is Israel Folau Right?

Israel Folau claims that a range of sinners will go to hell unless they do not repent. How does this stack up in terms of what the Bible teaches? This is not an easy question to answer in a few words, but in my capacity as a Biblical scholar, let me have a go.
It is true that the teaching of Jesus and the authors of the NT reject a range of sins as less than God’s ideal. This includes any sexual activity outside of monogamous, heterosexual, marriage. So this would include masturbation (this is debated, forgive the pun), sex before marriage, sex with someone other than your marital partner, sex with another being (e.g. an animal), and so on. These fall short of God’s ideal.
It is equally true that Jesus and the NT writers rejected a whole raft of other attitudes and behaviors, especially those that cause injustice and oppression. Materialistic greed was especially singled out. Similarly, bad attitudes like envy, arrogance, hatred, destructive speech, anger, violence, are all rejected…

Should Israel Folau Lose His Job?

The previous two blogs have asked whether Israel Folau is a homophobe and guilty of hate speech. Of course he is not. This misrepresents him and his views completely.
Should he lose his job? On the face of it, he has brought his sport into disrepute. He has gone public saying that God is going to send a whole range of people, including homosexuals, to hell, unless they repent.

Yet, if we stop and think about it, should he lose his job for this? Really. Imagine if he had tweeted that God loves everyone and they are all going to heaven. Or, he had tweeted that he is praying for people that they enjoy wealth, health, and fruitfulness. Or more daringly, he tweeted that God loves all people and all those who have done anything wrong will face God in judgment after death. Should he lose his job for these comments?
These comments would barely raise a whimper and would likely go unnoticed. Yet, they are all religious comments involving what happens to people when they die.
Imagine if he ha…

Israel Folau, Hate Speech, and Religious Persecution

In my previous blog, I argued that Israel Folau is not a homophobe. Such a term is not appropriate to describe a Christian who holds his views. He advocates the love of all people, not fear of them, as the term homophobe implies. He is a homophile, even if his words are not received this way when abstracted from context.
Now I want to ask these questions. Is Israel Folau guilty of hate-speech? Then again, is he now the victim of hate-speech? Do we have a case of religious persecution in the way some people are responding to Israel?
First, is what Israel Folau has said “hate-speech?” The answer to me is clearly “no.” According to Google, hate speech is defined as “abusive or threatening speech or writing that expresses prejudice against a particular group, especially on the basis of race, religion, or sexual orientation.”
Did Israel Folau abuse or threaten people on the basis of race? No. Did he abuse or threaten people on the basis of religion? No. Did he abuse or threaten people on …
Israel Folau: Is he homophobic?
As is now well known, Israel Folau is in the news for his recent post as per below.

This comes after his earlier statements concerning this.

What to make of all this as a Christian? 
First, in this blog, is Israel Folau homophobic? I argue to call him homophobic is incorrect for a range of reasons.
First, homophobia combines two Greek terms: homo which means “same;” and phobos, “fear.” Rightly used, homophobia would be “fear of the same,” or if we locate it in a sexual arena, “fear of people of the same sexuality,” or as it is used today, “fear of people in same-sex relationships.”
Aside from extremists like those who disgustingly stand outside church’s with placards repudiating homosexuality and those who want the death penalty (which Christ did not endorse and so no follower of Christ would advocate), no Christian is afraid of people in same-sex relationships. Rather, the opposite is the case. The command of Christ is not to be afraid of people who …