An interesting article in The Australian Financial Review on 21/10/97 under the title “The Anxiety Backlash”, highlighted the sense of insecurity felt by many people today. In the article, political commentator Malcom McGregor quotes from a recent publication, Democracy’s Discontent, in which the author Michael Sandel, Professor of Government at Harvard University, argues that political parties world-wide are unable to provide answers to the two major concerns that lie at the heart of democracy’s discontent.

“One is the fear that, individually and collectively, we are losing control of the forces that govern our lives. The other is the sense that, from family to neighbourhood to nation, the moral fabric of community is unravelling around us. These two fears—for the loss of self-government and the erosion of community—together define the anxiety of the age. It is an anxiety that the prevailing political agenda has failed to answer or even address.”

Such fears and concerns, argues Malcolm Mc- Gregor, find expression in the ballot box where the general public punishes the government of the day for their inability to provide solutions. As Malcolm McGregor points out:

“Despite nearly unanimous media avowals of their invincibility, Premiers Nick Greiner, John Fahey, Wayne Goss and now John Olsen comprise a political casualty list that looks certain to grow.”

There is no question that society at large is becoming more and more disillusioned because of the inability of governments to solve their problems and hence in Biblical terminology, their hearts are “failing them for fear” about the future (Luke 21:26). Our Lord spoke of the last days as times of “distress of nations with perplexity” or “no way of escape” (verse 25), and hence the deep-seated anxiety now prevalent in many sections of our society.

It is sad that the solution to such anxiety is largely ignored by the populace. Malcolm McGregor has observed “the rootless desperation of an electorate in search of a messiah who can set things aright”, but very few are interested in the Bible’s solution to be provided by Israel’s Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead they continue to wishfully hope and think that somewhere, somehow, and at some time, a politician will arrive on the world’s stage who will put all things right.

In the words of another political analyst, Hugh Mackay, writing in The Weekend Australian, 1–2 November 1997:

“Leadership is about inspiration. What we need urgently is a politician who can tell us the story of where we’re going, how we’re going to get there and why that’s the right path for us to take. Such people used to be called prophets. I suspect the voters are hoping to hear from one, preferably before the next election.”

The only prophet who will give such leadership is the Son of God. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev 22:20).

 Rumblings in the Catholic Church

 A report in The Advertiser 25/10/97 stated that “a senior Catholic priest is challenging the Church to go farther in its teachings on homosexuality”. The priest, Maurice Shinnick, chaplain for “Acceptance”, a special group for gay and lesbian Catholics, has written a book, “This Remarkable Gift”, in which he describes the devaluing of “the gift” of homosexuality as one of the most profound moral crises of our time. The Advertiser reported on these comments from the priest:

“The Vatican arrogates to itself the position of sole authority in possession of the truth about homosexuality” Father Shinnick writes. “It has hijacked the debate about gayness and constricted public discussion. But the discussion does take place, too often in the form of heated exchanges in which no party listens to the other. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that it is the Vatican that is the problem”.

The Advertiser stated that: “Father Shinnick cannot speculate on whether the Catholic Church will move to condone homosexual relationships. But while it continues to condemn it, there are things to stop and think about along the way”.

It is incredible to read of such comments from a leading spokesman of the church which is supposed to uphold the morality of the Bible and whose leader is considered infallible.

The Bible out-rightly condemns homosexuality and it is amazing that a priest of the Catholic Church is now falling in with the spirit of the age by cutting right across the clear teaching of scripture. Consider these opposing statements:

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 6: 9, 10).

“One of the things we are confronted with is there are many same-sex couples that are in stable, faithful, committed, loving relationships. That confronts us with a real question: Can we say God is not there? Do we have to say that is a wicked situation because we are confronted with some gay relationships that would run rings around a lot of marriages? So these are things that make us stop and think and make us be a little bit careful about being quick to judge” (priest Maurice Shinnick, The Advertiser).

We have long been accustomed to the Church making a travesty of Bible truth as far as doctrines are concerned, but now even Bible morality is also being questioned. But even traditional Church doctrine is now under attack as well. In the wake of the Catholic Church’s desire to appeal to all men and all religions as “The Mother of all”, her previous strong stance is being modernised. A report from The Times reprinted in The Australian 19/6/97 stated:

“Atheists who secretly worry there might be an afterlife after all have been offered comfort by a leading Jesuit theologian who declared that non-believers would also enter Paradise after death ‘provided they live and die with a clear conscience’. Father Giovanni Marchesi, resident  theologian on the Italian Jesuit magazine Civilta Cattolica (Catholic Civilisation), said members of the other great world religions, such as Buddhists, Muslims and Jews, could also hope for eternal salvation.

“‘I prefer to describe atheists as those who believe that they do not believe’, he said. ‘Both they and those who adhere to non-Christian religions may still hope for salvation, as long as they have earned it by the way they lived their lives’.”

It seems as though nothing is sacred any more— not even error!!!

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Tim 4: 3, 4).

 Violence in Schools

 One of the factors in deciding to establish Heritage College was concern about undesirable influences affecting the lives of our children. In recent months there have been a number of reports in the media of students being caught with drugs, in both public and private schools, and now comes the report of gangs assaulting students. The Advertiser 21/10/97 reported that “a private security company has been employed at a western suburbs high school following two violent attacks on students. The new measure—at the Woodville High School—is the first time a private guard has been employed to patrol during school hours”.

Most of us have become accustomed to after hours security patrols at schools and business premises, but it is a sad reflection on the state of our society that such patrols are now necessary during school hours.

Overseas, particularly in the USA, assaults and even murders of students and teachers have been a feature of school life for some time and one wonders where the latest developments in Adelaide will lead to. The days of Noah and Lot were noted for gross evil and violence (Gen 6:11, Jer 23:14), and the recent violence in schools is but a symptom of a very sick society. It would not be surprising if such violence is not in some way related to drugs. The drug problem in Australia has reached epidemic proportions with the media reporting every day of drug-related assaults, murders, and suicides.  The Prime Minister John Howard has launched a new Government initiative to combat the problem, promising to spend millions of dollars to educate youth on the dangers of drugs. But for too long society has “sown the wind” of pleasure-seeking and now alas they are “reaping the whirlwind” of effects (Hosea 8:7). The $78 million over three years pledged by Mr Howard to combat the drug problem pales into insignificance against the $90 million spent in three minutes at the TAB for the Melbourne Cup! One cannot but applaud the efforts of the Prime Minister to combat a serious problem, but there will be no solution for a society that has long since discarded the best education program— the Word of God.

In the meantime, we can be very thankful for the initiative shown by many brothers and sisters across Australia in striving to make available a Scriptural environment for the school education of our youth.

 Britain’s Euro Entry Definitely Delayed

 Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer in the ruling UK Labour Government, announced in October that the Government had ruled out UK entry to the European Union’s euro single currency until after the 2002 UK elections.

This decision came after many months of deliberations. Factors which influenced the Government’s decision were the UK’s current greater financial strength compared to mainland Europe, and feeling in the nation which indicates that an early British euro entry is still highly unpopular. The first wave of euro entry by eleven of the EU nations is expected to take place in 1999 and in Brussels the President of the European Commission warned Britain that it risked paying a price in  lost prosperity if it stayed outside monetary union at its launch in 1999.

The President, Mr Santer told the European Parliament the single currency project was invincible and went on to say the following:

“Those States which have chosen not to be there at the start should ask themselves what is likely to be… the cost of not being on a winning team”, he said. Asked later to explain, he said the euro would cement the single market by binding the economies of the EU ever closer. “It’s not a shaky project, as the UK has suggested”, he said (The Australian 24/10/97).

The question of whether to become more involved in European Monetary and inevitable political union in Europe is still a very divisive subject in the UK and the Prime Minister Tony Blair is fully aware that there are some very strong anti-Europe forces in the country.

The Conservatives have already moved to tap popular opposition to the euro by ruling out British entry for ten years. In fact, reports in the UK International Express 21/10/97 indicated that Tony Blair forced the Chancellor of the Exchequer to back down from his plan to join the single currency because he feared it would otherwise wreck his dream of ten years of power.

And so, whilst the forces of greater European integration move inexorably onwards, Britain stands to one side yet to make up her mind.

At the time of the end, the merchants of Tarshish with all the young lions will not be siding with Gog and the Beast. We look with continuing keen interest at the development of Yahweh’s plan with the nations of Europe.