The year 2009 marks the bi-centenary of Charles Darwin’s birth in 1809, and the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the publication of his best known work “On the Origin of Species”. Those whose sympathies lie with the theory of evolution might be expected to make much of these anniversaries. But it is disconcerting, though on reflection probably not so surprising after all, to find that the Church of England has seen fit to honour the memory of this man with a whole section on their official web-site. There is even an apology which reads in part: “Charles Darwin: 200 years from your birth, the Church of England owes you an apology for misunderstanding you, and, by getting our first reaction wrong, encouraging others to misunderstand you still.” The drafter of the apology contended that “Subsequent generations have built on Darwin’s work but have not undermined his fundamental theory of natural selection. There is nothing here that contradicts Christian teaching.”

Well, nothing perhaps except the statement of the Son of God: “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female… ?” (Matt19:4), or the words of Paul: “… by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin” (Rom 5:12).

The modern Western clergy who don’t believe the Bible, are embarrassed by the creation account, can’t accept that Christ actually rose from the dead and have sadly become little more than social workers in fancy dress. They remind us how far things can fall when the rot sets in. We should be stirred to stand fast to our firm foundations: an inspired Bible, God as Creator, and our Lord Jesus Christ as the risen redeemer, coming soon as judge and king.

A short term contract?

A recent article in the Adelaide Advertiser, while pointing to a significant number of marriages registered last year, the most since 1990, also highlighted the changing attitudes to marriage. Almost 63% of couples opted for a secular rather than a religious ceremony. Forty years ago, it was rare to hear of a secular ceremony, the vast majority of marriages involved some form of “church” service. Certainly this was often a hypocritical situation where the participants had no real religious commitment, but most saw this as the proper process for marriage – not so today.

The article continued: “Griffith University public policy lecturer Elizabeth van Acker, who has researched relationships and marriage, said many only stuck out their marriage while it met their needs. She said many marriages these days were more like a short term contract – “I do for now”, rather than “till death do us part”.

It is sad to note the alarming increase in marriage breakdown within the brotherhood, reflecting the pressures and philosophies of modern life. Husbands and wives in the Truth need to reflect on the solemn commitment they made before God in their marriage vows. Families and ecclesias must respond by giving support to struggling families and couples, though loving support and wise counsel may still be rejected.

“Have ye not read”, said Christ, “that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh. Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”

On a related theme, The Daily Mail in the UK reports that half the children of British born mothers are arriving outside marriage.

“Official figures indicate only a minority of children of long-standing British parents will grow up with a married mother and father. Most will be part of co-habiting or single parent families.”

These horrifying figures highlight the vast tragedy of a collapsing society, where a generation of lost children are being produced. How desperately our world needs the return of Christ.

“New Twist to Story of Christ”

This was the heading to a recent, brief newspaper article. An Adelaide teacher has written yet another fictionalised account of the last days of Christ. The sickening details include a childhood sweetheart in Nazareth and Judas Iscariot as the adolescent son of Mary Magdalene, “from a previous relationship.” The book apparently portrays Christ rising from the dead not once but twice, and incorporates the now common, and widely believed blasphemy of a relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene.

If such a travesty had been written about the Muslim “prophet Mohammed” the writer would now be fleeing for his life, but in a nominally “Christian” country, any blasphemy is permissible on the grounds of freedom of speech. He writes in blissful ignorance of the time soon to come when “the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess 1:7–8).

Bible publishers sued

Meanwhile, broadly on the same theme of contempt for the Scriptures, USA Today reports that a Michigan “gay man” is seeking $70 million “from two Christian publishers for emotional distress and mental instability he received during the past twenty years from versions of the Bible that refer to homosexuality as a sin.” The man says Zondervan Bibles published in the ‘80s used the word homosexuals among a list of those who are “wicked” or unrighteous “and won’t inherit the kingdom of heaven”.

The prophet Isaiah declared, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness” (Isa 5:20). Would he not make the same comment about today’s world?

Nightmare on Wall Street

“The fundamentals of the US economy are sound”, the citizens were told by their leaders as the months and years rolled by. But finally, collapsing housing prices, followed by collapsing banks gave the lie to that story. Now the world is beset by what has been called the greatest financial crisis since the great depression. The great Merchant Banks of Wall Street, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers etc have collapsed or been taken over at cents in the dollar. The huge lending institutions, Fanny Mae (Federal National Mortgage Association) and Freddie Mac (Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation), the so called GSEs or Government Supported Enterprises holding 5.4 trillion dollars worth of mortgage paper have been effectively nationalised. The US Government, already trillions of dollars in debt, has been racking up annual budget deficits in the hundreds of billions of dollars and now has taken on more hundreds of billions of dollars of risky liabilities to try to keep the credit markets functioning.

This we are told (by politicians) is all the fault of greedy Wall Street capitalists, conveniently forgetting the enormous pressure they placed on the banks to make loans for housing to people who plainly could not afford to pay them back. But the reasons no longer matter.

In the midst of all this, what American billionaire J Boone Pickens called the greatest wealth transfer in history has been taking place, as half a trillion US dollars a year head to the Middle East to buy oil. From these vast rivers of gold, flowing not only to the Middle East but to Russia and China as well, the so-called Sovereign Wealth Funds have been born. These are Government controlled cash reserves, growing at such an astonishing rate that it is said by the IMF that within four years these funds will hold $12 trillion. Meanwhile the US is technically insolvent, held together by hope and fear.

And fear is everywhere. Retirees who have seen 20% to 40% wiped off their savings are afraid. Financial Planners don’t know what to tell their clients. Bankers are afraid to lend, and businesses afraid to borrow. And in America and Australia, billions of dollars are coming out of the stock market and into cash, treasury bills and Government bonds, despised by the high flyers only months ago. And the greatest fear? Who knows if these “safe havens” are truly safe. Christ said of our day, that it would be a time of “men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth” (Luke 21:26).

The Psalmist declared: “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man” (Psa 118:8). And in Psalm 146:3, “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.” We do not suggest that brethren and sisters make no prudent savings for the future. Rather let us all remember that “here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come” (Heb 13:14). Isaiah the prophet declared, “Behold, Yahweh maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof. And it shall be… as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender [the bankers], so with the borrower; as with the taker of usury [creditors], so with the giver of usury [debtor] to him” (Isa 24:1–2). Could we cope in such turmoil? We follow Christ our king, who had no place to lay his head. He said, “take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or What shall we drink? Or Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek: for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Godliness with contentment is great gain!