Christian Group Backs the Statements
Martyn Iles, managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), says media outlets took Folau’s comments out of context, causing “some unnecessary angst.” Noting that “sermons don’t lend themselves to quick sound bites,” Iles points out that “Israel did not claim to know that the current bushfires are God’s direct judgment for same-sex marriage.”
Iles continues: “Nobody knows God’s mind, nor do they understand ultimately why bad things happen. We do know that the Bible says God is sovereign over everything, and he is ‘our ever-present help in times of trouble.’”
In his statement, Iles says, “Churches across Australia are not only offering practical support to victims, firefighters, and communities, but are also praying for rain, for repentance, and for God’s plan in people’s lives to be strengthened even through difficulty.”
The ACL raised more than $2 million for Folau’s legal battle with Rugby Australia, which fired the country’s highest-paid player for condemning homosexuality. On social media in April, Folau posted that homosexuals—along with a list of other sinners—are headed to hell. Amid an outcry, Rugby Australia terminated Folau’s four-year, $4 million contract. The court case is ongoing.
Father Rod Bower, a popular Anglican priest in Australia, has been vocal about Folau’s teachings on homosexuality, calling them “wrong.” After Folau’s sermon yesterday, Bower tweeted to him: “Your comments are devastatingly insensitive, psychologically damaging and theologically ill-informed. #Climatechange is the consequence of HUMAN not Divine activity.”
But the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies, struck a more congenial tone. “I urge all Christians to continue to show compassion for bushfire victims, pray that the threat will ease and be thankful to God where it does,” he tweeted. “We should not describe any tragic event as the direct judgment of God on individuals. Jesus declined to do so (in Luke 13) and so should we.”
The private church in Sydney led by Eni Folau, Israel’s father, has made headlines for its unorthodox beliefs. One Christian leader even called it a sect. The church practices Oneness Theology, or Modalism, teaching that God is one being, not three distinct entities; therefore, it conducts baptisms in Jesus’ name only.
The Truth of Jesus Christ Church also opposes female preachers and Catholicism. Folau, who’s Polynesian, says his church doesn’t belong to a particular denomination but is simply following “the truth of God from his reliable source the Bible.”