Stunning

Friday, February 29, 2008

Nuggets of Gold...



BLOOD BEFORE THE LORD

Note in the scriptures how many times the blood is said to be "before the Lord." Whether any man saw it or not was of small account, for it was offered for sin "before the Lord." When the passover lamb was slain in Egypt, where was the blood placed? It was on the OUTSIDE of the door "before the Lord." He said, "When I see the blood, I will pass over you."

The suffering and death of Christ on behalf of His people was "BEFORE the Lord," UNTO the Lord, to declare the Lord's righteousness, to satisfy the Lord's justice, to fulfill the Lord's purpose, to glorify the Lord's character, to enable the Lord to be both just and justifier.

The atonement does not change the NATURE and CHARACTER of God, but rather the atonement HONORS and MAGNIFIES the character of God. The death of Christ is NOT the cause of God's love, but the result of it. God is not merciful because Christ died; Christ died because God is merciful. In order that every attribute might be expressed, glorified, and honored, God gave His Son to be the Saviour of the chosen people! Thank God we have an atonement "before the Lord."

Nuggets of Gold...




IS GOD WILLING AND NOT ABLE?

I thoroughly detest that form of preaching which presents God in the Trinity of His Persons as being willing to save but unable to effect that which He wills. It is commonly heard in statements that begin with, "God wants to..." or "God has done all that He can do; now the rest is up to you." Any such statement that puts a question mark of the power and ability of God to accomplish His will in salvation (or anything else) is dishonoring to God, contrary to the Scriptures and of no comfort to poor, needy sinners. It must be regarded as "another gospel!" The message of the gospel that honors God is true to Scriptures and brings joy and hope to a sinner is the soul cheering truth "He is able." (Heb. 7:25).

Monday, February 25, 2008

Rick Warren's false gospel.

Don't get me started!
Incidentally, the previous post was about the misuse of separating the “heart and the will” or the intellect and the will, and Warren is most guilty of this false dichotomy in his preaching. Again, it comes from poor theology, in not grasping Law and Gospel, and then undermining scripture and ending up making scripture itself contradictory and confusing. The man is a false teacher/preacher and mishandles God's Word. Don’t say I have not warned you about him.

Mark

40 Days of Community = 100% Law, 0% Gospel (Chris Rosebrough)

2 Timothy 2:15 admonishes pastors to correctly handle God’s word of truth. This is a fundamental requirement for all Christian ministers. Notice I said ‘requirement’. The Bible is God’s word and His message to world. Pastors and ministers are called to preach THIS message and no other. That means that twisting the message, inventing your own message, or preaching any another other message are grounds for dismissal from the ministry.

Properly understanding the Bible’s message is not that difficult, but it does take some work. Below I’ve listed some simple disciplines or ‘rules of thumb’ that help in correctly interpreting God’s word.

Discipline One: Each passage of scripture is to be understood according to its original context. The reason for this is simple. Ripping verses out of context oftentimes causes scripture to say or support ideas that are misleading or incorrect.

A great illustration of the dangers of taking verses out of context is the story of a young Bible student who was earnestly praying for the Lord to speak to him. He decided that he’d close his eyes and randomly flip through the pages of his Bible and then put his finger down on a verse and thus give God the opportunity to give him a personal message. So he closed his eyes, flipped through his Bible and put his finger down on a verse. It read, “Judas hanged himself”. He closed his eyes again and repeated the process. The next verse his finger fell on read, “Go thou and do likewise.”

Obviously God never intended that the Bible be used to convince someone to kill himself. This interpretation is only possible when you rip verses out off context and put them together. That’s why ministers should be careful when quoting verses. All ministers should take the time to insure that the points he is drawing from a verse are in agreement with the original context.

Discipline Two: Make sure that you are reading a good translation of scripture. The Bible was not written in English. It was written in several languages including Hebrew, Koine Greek and Aramaic. Understanding the ‘original intent’ therefore, is only possible by reading the Bible in either the original languages or by reading a good translation. Currently, there is a whole group of Bibles available on the market that are paraphrases of God’s word. Their goal is to make God’s word easier to read and understand. Unfortunately, these paraphrases cannot be trusted to give us an accurate picture of the ‘original intent’ of God’s word. Sadly this fact hasn’t stopped many Christian ministers from dogmatically teaching a ‘Biblical Principle’ that can only be found in paraphrase.

Discipline Three: The need to properly distinguishing between the message of God’s Law and the message of the Gospel. When it comes to good Christian preaching, this is where the whole game is either won or lost and people’s souls are either comforted or terrorized. How well a pastor does in this discipline will determine whether his sheep learn to trust in Christ for their salvation or to put their trust in their own good works and their ability to keep the law.

Scripture makes it clear that God’s Law cannot save us and that no one will be saved by keeping the law. Rom 3:20, 28, Gal 3:3-5, 10-11 In fact, scripture makes it clear that the purpose of the law is to point out our sin and to point us to Jesus. Rom 3:20, Gal 3:21-25

The Gospel on the other hand, teaches that salvation is a free gift of God’s grace that we receive through faith. Rom 3:21-26, Eph 2:8-10, In fact, scripture teaches that God does both the saving and the sanctifying Heb 12:2, Acts 26:17-18. The way the Protestant Reformers put it, “We are saved by Grace ALONE (sola gratia), through Faith alone (sola fide).”

Therefore, watch out for ministers who unlawfully confuse God’s law with the message of the Gospel. An easy way to spot this is to ask yourself, “What does my pastor or teacher say my problem is? Then ask, “Who does he say is responsible for fixing it?” If your pastor teaches that YOU have to solve your own problems, then chances are you are hearing a sermon or lesson that is misapplying God’s law.

Here’s how Warren violates this discipline in the 40 Days of Community. The question that Warren tries to answer in this series is “What are we here for?” He is talking about the church. So you could rephrase his question, “What is the church here for?” His answer is that, “The church is here to love.” So far so good, but then things take a bad turn. His solution to the problem of a church that isn’t "loving enough" is that each person in that church must learn how to love and choose to love because God commands it in his law.”

Listen Carefully to these sound bites.

Sound Bite 1 - Nothing I Believe Will Matter

Notice how Warren's emphasis on love undermines the Biblical teaching that Faith alone saves.

Sound Bite 2 - It Takes More Than Faith to Please God (Just in case you missed it)

Sound Bite 3 - Only Thing That Matters

Sound Bite 4 - What is Love?

Sound Bite 5 - Love is a Choice

Pay real close attention to Sound Bite 5! In this quote, Warren violates all three disciplines that I listed above. Warren quotes 1 Corinthians 14:1 out of context, using “The Message” paraphrase. "The Message" quotes this verse as saying, “Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it, because it does”. Based on how Warren uses this verse, I'd have to assume that my life and my salvation depend on how well I love.

However, when you read this verse in context using a good translation like the NIV you see that is NOT what the passage actually says. Here is how the NIV translates 1 Cor 14:1 “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.” The NIV translation makes it clear that this passage is about the 'loving practice of spiritual gifts'. Warren's misapplication of 1 Cor 14:1 demonstrates the fundamental flaw of his theology and the whole '40 Days of Community' program; it puts us back under God’s law and makes my salvation dependent on how well I keep it.

Notice that Warren makes it OUR responsibility to solve this problem, through OUR OWN efforts and OUR keeping of God’s commandments. Paul’s criticism of the Galatian church can rightly be applied to Rick Warren. In Gal 3:3-5 Paul says, “Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing — if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?”

If there is any doubt about how to answer Paul’s last question in verse five, in verses 10 and 11 he says, “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.”

Furthermore, Warren appears to have forgotten what scripture says about the source of Christian love. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us” and Galatians 5:22 teaches that “the fruit of the Spirit is love.”

Rather than putting us back under the law, Warren should have pointed us to Christ.

Rather than try to motivate us by threatening us with God’s law, he should have pointed out the clear passages of scripture that motivate Christians to greater love and service because of God’s great love for us. Rom. 12:1 is a beautiful example of this. It says “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship.: See also Rom 8:1-8, Col 2:20-3:4

The bottom line on the 40 Days of Community regarding the proper distinction of law and gospel is that Warren’s program is 100% Law. Warren’s program is all about motivating you to try harder to keep God’s law through your own efforts. The cross is missing, the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit is missing and Christ is missing. This program could easily be renamed, 40 Days Without Jesus.

Preaching to the heart.








The false dichotomy between doctrine and practice
— or doctrine being purely intellectual

I was reading the above article from the fine Mr Chew, and thought I would add some comments.
I have noticed that the separation of the intellect and the heart or emotions is a popular statement made today in many reformed contexts.

It grieves me no end.

Let me just say that Scripture never makes such an artificial distinction, and for sound reasons.
The errors coming from such an artificial distinction are many, and in fact, are utterly contradictory to real reformed thought and teaching.

Just briefly. In the Bible, man is treated as a whole being.
As a whole being, the intellect and the emotions or heart are not separated or made distinct in any sense.

Often we hear preachers talk about a head knowledge only, and then the claim is made that unless the heart is moved and the will engaged, such head knowledge is a bad thing, or is to be avoided.
Often the context involves the subject of "doctrine", and on most occasions, doctrine comes out of the whole situation with negative connotations attributed to it.

It is so frustrating to hear such statements.

Now just let me make a few brief comments and then I will just list some scriptures to ponder throughout.

First of all. If a person has indeed a great intellect and drinks in vast amounts of good doctrine from scripture, but somehow the knowledge gained does not travel that shortest distance to the heart and engage the will to action, then the failing is not in the good doctrine. Nor is the failing with the intellect.

The failing is with the whole person.

When we try to separate the intellect and the will etc, we do a great disservice to the whole person as scripture presents and we inadvertently side track, and make doctrine or knowledge the culprit!
Happens all the time.

Scripture teaches and presents the intellect, or our thinking as being dependant and even synonymous with the heart and will.
It does not separate these things artificially.

------------------------------

“preach to the heart.”

There has been a conspiracy of ignorance in which words and phrases have been uttered again and again as though the speakers and the listeners knew perfectly well what they were talking about, when all the while they did not. It is time the whole matter were cleared up. (Jay Adams)

The first Christian sermon, preached on the day of Pentecost by the apostle Peter, was preached to the heart. Luke wrote: “ Now when they heard this, they were stung to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers what should we do?’ “ (Acts 2:37). That crowd’s response was the fruit of effective preaching, empowered by the Holy Spirit. But effective, heart-penetrating preaching can also lead to the opposite response: “Now when they heard these things, they were pierced through to their hearts and gnashed their teeth at him” (Acts7: 54).

When Peter preached, great numbers repented and believed the Gospel; when Stephen preached, his listeners killed him. Yet both were filled with the Spirit and preached to the heart. This double and opposite response makes one thing clear at the outset: while preaching to the heart is a desirable effect brought about by the power of the Spirit, the exact nature of that effect on the listener may vary greatly and cannot be predicted beforehand. In either case, Spirit empowered, Biblical preaching strikes squarely at the heart. It elicits a response. No hearer can remain apathetic: He must respond. To speak of preaching to the heart, then, is to speak of preaching that brings a definitive response; it is preaching that evokes words and action from the listener.

What Is the Heart?

A clear idea of what the Bible means by heart is foundational to all else. Indeed, the widespread, careless use of that word is responsible for the confusion and vagueness that surround exhortations to preach to the heart.

”But,” you object, “everyone knows what heart means. I don’t see why you are making such a fuss over it. Surely it doesn’t take an entire chapter to define something so obvious, does it?” Yes. You see, that’s exactly what is wrong: everyone thinks he understands the terms, but very few do. Ask yourself, “Exactly what does the word heart mean in the Scriptures?” Can you give a precise definition?” Well, maybe not an exact one, but I know what it means, nevertheless.”

Do you?

Let’s test your understanding a bit, okay? What do you think of the often-quoted sentiment, “What we need is more heart knowledge and not just head knowledge”? Do you think it does or does not convey an acceptable idea of heart as the word is used in the Bible?

”Well, I guess so, but I’m not sure; anyhow, I know what the sentence is getting at.”

What?

”It is saying that it isn’t enough to merely know truth, that truth must grip you-it has to affect your emotions as well.”

You are probably correct about the way that sentence is used; but the fact is, it suggests an incorrect interpretation of the Biblical word heart.

If heart is used to refer to feelings or emotions as over against thought or intellect, that use is discordant with Scripture. Never in the Bible is the word heart set over against the head or the intellectual processes.

That is a modern, Western idea of heart, introduced into the Bible from the outside. One would never get that idea from the Bible itself. Indeed, that is a Roman rather that a Biblical view of the heart. The Valentine’s Day cupid, shooting arrows through little red or pink hearts, is the culprit behind this modern, unbiblical view. To Western origins may be attributed all of our romantic notions, which include the idea of heart-as-feeling. No such conception can be found in the Scriptures.

Consider instead what is contrasted with the word heart in the Bible.

In Matthew 15:8, for instance, we read that the people honor God “with their lips, but their heart is far from” him. That sort of contrast is regularly made in the Scriptures. You find the same thing in the well-known passage in Romans 10 in which we are told that it is not enough to confess Christ with the mouth; the one making the profession also must believe in his heart.

Notice the contrast: heart/lips, heart/mouth.

In the important passage 1 Samuel 16:7, we are assured that “man looks on the outward appearances but [in contrast] God looks on the heart.” Plainly, in all of these pivotal passages there is a contrast between the heart as something inner and the lips, mouth, and appearance as something outer. That is the true Biblical contrast, not a contrast between intellect and emotion.

The word heart has become a devalued currency in our culture. Preachers too often read the modern Western view of heart-as-emotional-commitment back into Scripture and thus mistake and distort what the Holy Spirit moved the writers of the Bible to say. It is time to restore the true Biblical content of the word so that we may profit from an understanding of those many passages in which it occurs.

If the heart of man in the Bible refers to the inner life, from which all else flows, what is the point of preaching to the heart?

In the light of this meaning, we may say that preaching that goes to the heart genuinely affects the person. He has been hit at the very source of his whole life (Proverbs 4:23).

He has been pierced by the preached Word where it counts.

This does not necessarily mean that he is converted or, in the case of a believer, that he will repent of his sin, but it does mean that the sermon has truly hit home. That is why, whether the response is favorable or unfavorable, preaching that pierces the heart is preaching that elicits a response. It could not do otherwise because, as we have just seen, the heart is the source of every response. It also may be said that preaching that penetrates or cuts through to the heart is preaching that elicits a genuine response-whether it be faith or fury.

Preaching that gets through to the heart does not leave the listener apathetic.

In contrast, preaching that does not go to the heart of a man is preaching without any genuine effect.

While the listener may express gratitude for the help he has received, the words on his lips do not flow from heartfelt conviction. In time, his speech and actions will reflect the true condition of his heart. “By their fruits shall you know them.” When the inner man is truly affected by the Word for good, that will lead to a positive, lasting change in his outward behavior. The outer and inner man will come into closer sync through discernible patterns of growth.

So, you can see how desirable it is to preach to the heart. Indeed, a strong Biblical case could be made that unless preaching penetrates deeply enough to affect the inner life, it is not preaching at all. True Biblical preaching changes people. It did in Bible times, and there is no reason why it will not do so today.

Boldness of Heart

If there is one characteristic that typifies modern preaching, it is its insipid, obsequious approach to speaking the truth.

So unlike the early preachers, the Reformers, and the great preachers of all time, many modern Bible-believing preachers seem afraid to tell it like it is. And yet, that modern phrase, “tell it like it is,” indicates that people generally appreciate hearing truth for what it is, even when what they hear isn’t altogether pleasant.

But it seems that in Christian circles, in particular, there is a pseudo-pious reserve or over sophistication in which hypersensitive listeners are horrified by anything frank in preaching.

There is, therefore, something wrong with modern preaching and in many of those who have been brought up on it that must be corrected. It is basically a willingness to compromise-even God’s truth-which stems from a lack of boldness.

I am not commending rudeness or crudeness.

These unnecessary characteristics are often assumed to be synonymous with boldness.

But there is nothing rude or crude about the preaching in the book of Acts. The preaching found there is straightforward, clear, explicit, hard-hitting, and-in short-bold. In fact, the only feature of apostolic preaching described in Acts is its boldness.

It was said that when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, they recognized that “they had been with Jesus.”

The way some prissy Christians today look aghast at any boldness in preaching, you would think instead that a bold preacher had been with the devil! Most people, however, recognize a truly bold preacher as an unusual man and are interested in him and often in what he has to say. One reason why much contemporary preaching not only fails to reach the heart, but is so uninteresting, is that it is timid and pale. Bold preaching is never dull.

What is boldness?

The Greek word parresia means freedom in speaking, openness, willingness to be frank; it is plain speech that is unencumbered by fear.

A bold preacher is one who has no fear of speaking the truth-even when it hurts.

Many ministries are hampered today simply because of the fear of men. “Will Mrs. Jones take offense if I preach this?” “What will happen if I teach this to the congregation?” and similar thoughts go through the minds of far too many preachers, even when what they ought to be asking themselves is, “What will God think of me if I don’t teach his truth?”

There is far too little teaching about judgment, hell, and the other doctrines on the dark side of the scriptural spectrum. There is too little reproving of sin. There is too little church discipline and confronting error, even when it is seriously affecting the membership of the church.

There is a fear of controversy.

In some circles, the fear of controversy is so great that preachers and congregations following after them will settle for peace at any cost-even at the cost of truth, God’s truth.

The idea is that peace is all-important.

Peace is a Biblical ideal (Romans 12:18 makes that clear: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with everybody”), but so is purity. The peace of the church may never be bought at the cost of the purity of the church. That price is too dear.

But why do we think that we can get along in this world-or for that matter, even in the church-without conflict and controversy? Jesus didn’t. Paul didn’t. None of the preachers of the apostolic age who faithfully served their Lord were spared controversy.

Who are we to escape controversy when they did not?

The story of the advance of the church across the Mediterranean world from Jerusalem to Rome is a story of controversy. When the Gospel is preached boldly, there will be controversy. Most of the Epistles themselves were called forth to counter error of doctrine and sinfulness of life. In them there is controversy. The life of Paul is a life of controversy. Tradition tells us that every apostle except John, who was exiled for his faith, died a violent death.

What is this hypersensitivity that is so often found among a particular brand of evangelicals today?

Children around us grow up on TV and movies that feature not only conflict, but violence and crudity. Who in our age is so allergic to frankness that the open preaching of God’s Word will cause him to break out in horror?

Pale, insipid preaching is what drives people from Christ and the church, not bold preaching.

It seems to me that the problem with hypersensitive evangelicals is not really the one stated up front-offending those to whom we preach-but, more often than not, simply a lack of boldness. And that lack of boldness boils down to a simple fear of men-fear of the consequences of telling it like it is.

Boldness characterized the preaching of the apostles and other early preachers, Luke says. Let’s take just a brief glimpse at a bit of their preaching. When the 3,000 were stung in their hearts, what sort of preaching was it that led to that? First of all, we see that it was preaching that did not hesitate to contradict the expressed ideas of men. Some said that the 120 who were speaking in foreign languages were drunk. But when Peter got up to preach, the very first words out of his mouth contradicted this foolish accusation: “Certainly these people aren’t drunk, as you imagine; it’s only nine o’clock in the morning!” (Acts 2:15).

Well-meaning and fearful preachers will tell you that to openly contradict the audience is a poor preaching tactic-especially at the beginning of a sermon!

But Peter had not read the experts; he simply relied on the Holy Spirit and went ahead speaking the truth. To win friends and influence people, you are supposed to begin by gaining agreement. But Peter was more interested in the truth than in manipulating people by selling techniques.

Not only did Peter begin all wrong, according to the experts, but he was far too frank when he discussed his congregation’s behavior.

After all, Peter, it isn’t polite to say such things as “this Man, delivered up by God’s predetermined plan and foreknowledge, you killed by crucifixion!” (Acts 2:23).

That sounds like a direct accusation, if not an attack on the audience

never get anywhere that way, Peter. But Peter isn’t finished. Listen to the conclusion:

“So then, let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.”

Now there you’ve done it, Peter! Just when it looked as if you might have pulled your sermon out of the fire after that opening blunder, you went ahead and spoiled everything by adding that last dig, “whom you crucified.”

And, while I’m at it, let me tell you something else, Peter. You will never get anywhere using the second person in preaching; it’s too personal. It is possible that you might have gotten away with saying everything you said-even those all-too-frank accusations-if you had only phrased then in the third person, in a more abstract way.

Preaching from God’s Heart

The preachers God uses are men who are after (literally, “as”) his heart.

That is to say, they understand God’s purposes and his ways, they are in harmony with them, and they are anxious to tell others about them. The concerns they have were first God’s concerns. Such shepherds feed God’s flock what he wants them to: “knowledge and understanding.” Where do they get it? From his Word. Men who preach to the heart, then, are men who know God’s Word, who personally accept and are molded by God’s Word, and who, as a result, are capable of feeding others on that life-giving and nourishing Word. So, the preacher must be capable of understanding God’s Word and feeding others on it.

The source of heart-reaching messages is the Bible.

“Faith” comes from hearing the Word (Romans 10:17).

Prophets and apostles had direct revelation from God; today we have that same revelation in an inscripturated form. The idea of the written Word of God is not recent; it is Biblical. The Bible calls itself God’s Word (compare especially Psalm 119), despite what liberals confidently say to the contrary. So, if preachers wish not only to preach to the heart, but to preach in ways that are pleasing to God, they must preach “after [as] his heart.” To do that, they must learn his thoughts and intents (heart) and become attuned to them in their own lives. They may learn from the Bible all that is necessary to preach (compare 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Indeed, there is only one way to preach to hearts: to preach from God’s heart; but God has revealed his heart only in his written Word.

How tragic, therefore, that men in the pulpit prattle on about the ideas of other men, share their own opinions, and feed God’s sheep on diets of everything else. All the while, food provided by God-available, nourishing, life-giving-is almost totally neglected. Preacher, you will preach to the heart only when you preach from God’s heart. You will preach from God’s heart only when you know what is in his heart. And you will know what is in his heart only when you know his Word. You must dedicate yourself, therefore, to a thorough study of that Word so that you will truly become a workman in the Word who does not need to be ashamed, because you have accurately handled the Word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15) in your preaching.

A Heart-adapted Form

In Colossians 4:3, 4, Paul wrote: “... praying at the same time also about us, that God may open for us a door for the Word, to speak about the secret of Christ, because of which I am in bonds, so that I may proclaim it clearly, as I ought to.” To “proclaim it clearly, as I ought to”-those words have to do with form.

Paul’s one goal was to avoid anything that might obscure God’s truth and to do everything that he could to present it as clearly as possible. There is no contradiction between that desire and an unwillingness to have his listeners’ faith depend upon something other than the Gospel of Christ. In fact, the two concerns dovetail: if anything obscures the Gospel, it isn’t possible for people to understand and believe it. Preacher, that means that you must not seek to become a Demosthenes, calling attention to your rhetorical powers, but you must do whatever is necessary to be sure that your proclamation of the convicting, nourishing Word is clear. You must aim not at the applause of men, but at reaching their hearts.

Clarity is one prerequisite pertaining to form that is essential to preaching to the heart. How sad it is that preachers do not work more on this matter of clarity. How important it must be if the apostle Paul himself was concerned enough about it to ask for prayer. Have you ever asked your congregation to pray for clarity in your preaching? Have you ever asked them to pray about your preaching at all? Clarity is the thing. Paul was right-that is how he was to speak; preacher, it is also how you ought to speak.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My thoughts on "two wills" in God discussed by Arminians.

It was interesting to read my article being raised at a predominantly Arminian forum run by Steve Gregg.
A place I was personally banned by him.

http://www.wvss.com/forumc/viewtopic.php?t=563&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

The original article which was a response to John Piper, can be found here...

Mark

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Wrath of God being poured out in the former "Great" Britain!

Gay Christian wins £47k pay-out

A gay Christian who won a discrimination claim against the Church of England was awarded more than £47,000 in compensation today, the organisation backing him said.

John Reaney, a 42-year-old from North Wales, took the Hereford Diocesan Board of Finance to an employment tribunal after his appointment to the role of youth worker was blocked on the grounds of his sexuality by the Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Rev Anthony Priddis.

Stonewall, the gay equality organisation which funded the claim, said the Diocese of Hereford was today ordered to pay Mr Reaney £47,345.

A spokesman for Stonewall said this included £33,000 for loss of future earnings and £7,000 damages specifically awarded for "psychiatric injury".

Mr Reaney said: "I’m delighted that this case is finally over. Lesbian and gay Christians working within the Church of England are entitled to be treated with humanity. I’m very grateful to Stonewall for supporting this case throughout."

Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill said: "We’re delighted that the tribunal has sent such a robust signal, both to the bishop and other employers.

"The substantial level of compensation sends out a very clear message. Not even a bishop is above this law."

According to Stonewall the Bishop's costs are estimated to be a further #50,000.

Stonewall added that the tribunal had also said it expects the Bishop to undergo equal opportunities training.

The tribunal, sitting in Cardiff, ruled in July that: "The respondents discriminated against the claimant on the grounds of sexual orientation."

Mr Reaney, of Abergele Road, Colwyn Bay, claimed unlawful discrimination under the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003.

He told the tribunal in April that he was questioned by Bishop Priddis on his previous gay relationship during a two-hour meeting on July 19 last year after emerging as the outstanding candidate for the job during the interview process.

He said the encounter was embarrassing and humiliating and described how he had to pull over during his drive home from the Bishop’s residence to break down in tears.

Three days after the meeting, the Bishop telephoned Mr Reaney to say his application had not been successful.

During his evidence, Bishop Priddis said he had made clear to Mr Reaney that a person in a committed sexual relationship outside of marriage, whether they were heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or transgender, would be turned down for the role, which he said was a key appointment within the diocese.

The Bishop added: "Such sexuality in itself was not an issue but Mr Reaney’s lifestyle had the potential to impact on the spiritual, moral and ethical leadership within the diocese."

During four days of evidence, Mr Reaney’s legal team argued that a heterosexual person would not have been subject to the same level of "intrusive questioning" as he was.

Following last summer’s ruling, the Bishop told a press conference that he was disappointed.

He said at the time: "The tribunal accepted that I did not ’interrogate’ Mr Reaney and that I had acted in accordance with the teachings of the Church of England.

"It also recognised that the post of diocesan youth officer falls within the small number of posts outside of the clergy which are within the religious exemptions of the Sexual Discrimination Act."

He said: "I still think that the decision I made was the right one.

"I regret lots of aspects of what happened, naturally. I regret the polarisation of view that tends to take place when these things happen.

"I took the decision after a great deal of thought and prayer and anguish."

Anni Holden, spokeswoman for the Diocese of Hereford, said the legal costs of the case to the diocese were being met by an anonymous donation.

She said: "We are glad we can draw a line under this unhappy situation. It has been a difficult time for all of us involved in the tribunal.

"It has been a long drawn-out process and we are pleased that it is finally complete.

"We are now aware that when making such an appointment we must make it clear if it is a genuine occupational requirement that the post-holder should believe in and uphold the Christian belief and ideal of marriage, and that sexual relationships are confined to marriage.

"This is the crux of the matter, not sexual orientation."

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Back in the saddle!


Had a great two week vacation with my lovely wife and kids on Australias Gold Coast in Queensland.
I am all holidayed out and glad to be home on the beautiful Central Coast of NSW.

I now need to catch up on the blogs, mp3's to download etc and then try and start posting again.

Mark