How Denominations Fall

The governing Australian Labor Party will introduce a private members bill to legalise marriage between same sex couples. The move is largely symbolic. The bill will most probably be defeated—this time.

Meanwhile some Australian denominations are tripping over themselves on this issue.

A number of pastors and leaders within my own denomination, the Baptist Union of Victoria (BUV) have for years supported the ordination of gay clergy, and same sex marriage. Their exegetical gymnastics are truly impressive.

There has been very little public discussion or debate on the issue.

Progressives, who tend to inhabit denomination headquarters and the college, don’t have the support of their constituency. Conservatives, who tend to lead the healthier growing churches, don’t want the publicity that conflict would bring.

The great irony is that the progressives can’t survive without the funds provided to the denomination, and it’s institutions, by the conservatives.

It reminds me of the quote attributed to Lenin, “The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we hang them.”

We’re one big happy dysfunctional family.

In contrast, the Baptist Union of NSW will have none of this foolishness. They are clear on what the scriptures teach on human sexuality and marriage. The get on with the job of making disciples and planting churches, in which they are making impressive progress.

Compare this to the division and distractions that will impede the mission of the Lilydale Baptist Church for years to come.

The BUV is a case study of a movement well into decline, headed for decay if it doesn’t do something. If you have any doubt, study the history of the Uniting Church in Australia and weep.

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Steve Addison is the author of Movements That Change the World, a calling to spark church planting around the world. He has been a life-long student of movements that renew and expand the Christian faith. Steve currently serves as director of Church Resource Ministries (CRM) Australia. He is married with four children and lives in Melbourne.