Moderator's Comments - Posted 31 December 2016

What can we be sure of for 2017?

I can send you a New Year’s card with the most sincere expression of goodwill: wishing you the happiest year, seeking better outcomes for you and hoping for improved health. But can we, in any way, be sure of such things? Can we be sure that this year will be any better than last? Can we be sure of anything?

It’s the uncertainties of life that are certain. What remains true is that in terms of happiness, better outcomes and good health: 2017 is a complete unknown. BUT, what we can be sure of is that the Apostle Paul is right when he says: “God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” What remains absolutely true is Paul’s testimony in Philippians 4:19.

Moderator's Comments - Posted 1 December 2016

Everywhere around us, in shopping centres, on city streets and lavishly decorated private homes, it’s unmistakably Christmas. It’s a season that brings change to our routine, sounds of summer sport, family meals and holidays.

When Christmas fatigue sets in – remember the King. When we begin to slip too easily into thinking it’s Groundhog Day – remember the King who came to stay.

During this last month, have we ever spoken so much about American politics as we have? Whether President-elect Trump will make good on any of his promises remains to be seen. We certainly pray that he will do good, and not harm. But I reflect a moment on how certain past-Presidents do good in the world.

Moderator's Comments - Posted 29 October 2016

Light trumps darkness

Reformation trumps Halloween. In fact it’s no contest.

For reasons unclear to me we’re being enticed by a dark festival of American origins that brings stocks of evil and bizarre to shelves where weeks before fresh food or other cheery merchandise sat. In supermarkets and $2 shops throughout Australia, the dark, the gruesome, the macabre and the scary hold sway.

Why witches hats, ghoulish masks and spider webs? As if swinging with the breeze, parents bend to accommodate this strange festival, children are attracted to it and society is the worse for it.

By strange coincidence, the same weekend as Halloween, the Presbyterian Church of Australia celebrates light.

The triennial meeting of the General Assembly of Australia testified to our fundamental unity around the truth of God’s Word and the power of Christ’s gospel. It’s time to reflect and review a most excellent week. A flood of memories rise – highlights being:

  • We engaged in theological debate as to the merit of retaining the words “contained in” within PCA ordination vows. Currently, the first question is: “Do you believe the Word of God which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the only rule of faith and practice?” It was argued that omitting these two words would save having to explain to others what we mean by “contained in”. Historically, the words have meant “bounded by” – that if a person wants to find the Word of God written, they must look to the Old and New Testaments and not to any other sources. Some, however, have argued that “contained in” means that the Bible also contains things that are not the Word of God. The debate now passes down to state assemblies and presbyteries under the Barrier Act.

Moderator's Comments - Posted 17 September 2016

Wednesday evening saw the reaffirmation of the Presbyterian Church of Australia’s resolute commitment to uphold the biblical and traditional view of marriage. The Presbyterian Church has always believed and still believes that marriage is the lifelong union of one man with one woman, voluntarily entered into, excluding all others.

Through informed and thorough theological debate, the Church demonstrated that it has not moved from its historic position or the commitments expressed in 2013.

This week, the church strengthened its position by declaring that it cannot allow its ministers to conduct celebrations of same sex marriage.

The church went even further this time. It debated the point at which it should withdraw as a denomination from cooperating with the state in celebrating and registering marriages under the Marriage Act. The major alternatives were: at the moment the Marriage Act is redefined to include same-sex marriages (if it is changed), OR, at a later point – yet to be determined – when we are forced by legislation to conduct same-sex marriage. The church chose the second option.

The Presbyterian Church has been at the forefront of the spiritual battle in Australia to uphold and preserve the biblical and traditional view of marriage. It has been resolute in its opposition to same-sex marriage. The church maintains that while God provides forgiveness of, and redemption from, all sin through Christ, he condemns homosexual behaviour, along with all other forms of sin.

For the sake of transparency, we held the debate in public. We took the risk that our debate might be disrupted or our decisions misreported. Sadly, an online article was published without consultation by Eternity News on Thursday morning that placed our position in a different light.


Rev John P Wilson
Presbyterian Church of Australia