Category Archives: William

Book review: A Place At His Table

A Place at His Table: A Biblical Exploration of Faith, Sexuality, and the Kingdom of God.

By Joel Hollier.

Genre: Christian living / Social Issues

Size: 232 pages, but didn’t feel dense.

What’s the big idea: A same-sex attracted pastor and fellow bible college graduate, having imbibed in the new wave of academic literature arguing that the Bible does not condemn “faithful, covenanted lesbian and gay relationships”, re-presents their arguments and calls for others to join the increasingly vocal movement of “affirming Christians” across the Western world.

Who I’d recommend it to: Joel addresses people and questions that are very important, and Christian leaders ought to take note of the arguments presented as they filter into church and denominational life. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend his book as a faithful exploration of the Bible’s teaching on faith, sexuality and the kingdom of God (though there are good alternatives – see below for suggestions).

Detailed thoughts: These days, the “I changed my mind” story seems to capture society’s attention, and within Christian circles it’s no different. Whether it’s Josh Harris, Rob Bell or someone else, in our social media-saturated world it’s become common in the Christian scene for a public figure to announce their change in direction before supporters and detractors alike.

Joel Hollier is no celebrity, but he is a mutual friend and fellow Bible College alumni (in Chinese parlance, my 學長). While I don’t yet know Joel personally, I read his book with a common interest and experience in sharing the hope of the risen Jesus with same-sex attracted friends and family – not as objects of scorn, but people to be loved. While space limits a detailed review that his volume deserves (though I trust other more gifted thinkers will share these in due course), I hope the following summary and thoughts serve as a helpful and civil first attempt.

“A Place At His Table” is divided into three uneven sections. Part 1 — largely autobiographical — recounts across four chapters Joel’s journey of growing up as same-sex attracted within the Sydney evangelical church scene. Already, Joel’s prose is warm, engaging, lucid and personal. It was heartwarming to hear of his parents and their gospel-shaped witness, and of studying theology in a space “surrounded by men and women who sharpened me and carried me” – a shared experience. It was heartbreaking to discover that it was during his time at college that he began to question and revisit his theological conclusions about the Bible’s teaching on sexuality – sex as God’s gift to be enjoyed in the context of marriage between a man and a woman. (As an aside, when sexual ethics appears once in class, and Romans 1 gets just an one hour of translation and exegesis time, perhaps we’ve missed the mark).

Part 2 (the bulk of the book) devotes a chapter to each of the six biblical passages usually brought to bear on the issue of same-sex relationships (Genesis 1-2, 19, Leviticus 18 and 20, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 1:10, Romans 1:18-32). I’ll try to explain and comment on each chapter individually with the caveat that there’s much more to say that I can’t for space and time.

Chapter 5 seems dull but is actually the most important chapter of the book as Joel explains his hermeneutic (method of working out what Scripture means). He wants readers to move past “what it says in ink to what it means in my life”, citing commands like Levirate marriage, greeting each other with a kiss and as examples that we already don’t apply all Biblical texts at face value. What Joel (and the authors he rephrases) propose readers do with the passages that plainly proscribe (forbid) certain sexual behaviours is to search for context (e.g. other erotic Ancient writings) that will narrow their applicability for today in place of an underlying “moral principle”. My main objection to utilising the hermeneutic Joel lays out is that by asking readers to make a bee line to an abstracted “moral principle” each time, we risk reducing the moral force of the Bible further than the author intended. While Joel rightly illustrates that some laws require cross-cultural application (e.g. the Levirate marriage system as care for widows), there are nevertheless plenty of biblical laws that communicate, in and of themselves, enduring and transcultural moral principles (the Ten Commandments as a case in point). Readers are also meant to assume the biblical authors have used words and phrases in line with other Ancient Near Eastern and Greco-Roman literature.

In Chapter 6, Joel argues that Genesis 1-2’s account of Adam and Eve, rather than establishing a normative mandate for monogamous, heterosexual marriage, presents the first “kinship” union, and “there is no indication that subsequent kinship unions must align with their heterosexual nature”. Others (e.g. Todd Wilson, Preston Sprinkle) have critiqued the Genesis 1-2 kinship argument so I won’t rehash them here. But missing from the discussion was whether being “male and female in the image of God” includes our biological differences. The Christian worldview maintains that embedded in each person’s anatomy and personality is a biological complementarity with the opposite sex. If “kinship” is the definitive prerequisite of a one-flesh union, does it not open the door for any relationship that one subjectively feels is deep kinship to be included (e.g. mother and child, three people)? Unlike Joel, I’m still convinced that Genesis 1-2 offers a normative framework of a male-female exclusive relationship (as I believe others like Jesus and Paul do when they cite this passage in the context of husbands and wives – not kin in general).

In Chapter 7, Joel recounts the Genesis 19 narrative of Sodom and Gomorrah. Here I’m with Joel that people are too quick to wield this narrative as a fiery condemnation of homosexual practice. When read with other OT narratives (e.g. Genesis 6:1-4, Judges 19-20), the sexual immorality illustrates the extent of Sodom and Gomorrah’s evil, which is also evidenced by their lack of hospitality for the sojourner, wanton violence and general wickedness (which the rest of the Bible and other early church Fathers delve into). The hermeneutical step Joel then takes though is to only focus on the “driving moral principle” of God taking seriously the treatment of the marginalised. While it’s a biblical principle Christians must do much better with, I’m not convinced that it’s therefore the only sin God has in view when the city is punished. Also, Joel’s argument here (and subsequently) that only non-consensual sexual assault is condemned here and not “loving, monogamous self-giving relationships” is ultimately one from silence (akin to replying to a recipe stating “don’t add sugar” with “but it didn’t say sweetener, did it?”).

Chapter 8 features Joel’s turn at being Old Testament lecturer, as he wrestles with Leviticus 18 and 20 and the surrounding context. His main argument is that where the text reads “you shall not lie with a male as with a woman”, we should read it either as a time-bound cultural worship practice, or patriarchal power-shame act. Again, Joel assumes the biblical author’s choice of case law is motivated by the exploitative practices of surrounding nations, when the text itself says no such thing. He appeals to context to soften the force and severity of what “abomination” means, then brings in a critique against the threefold use of the Law to conclude that “it is a stretch to apply the Levitical laws (Lev 18:22, 20:13) to faithful, mutually-giving, same-sex, monogamous relationships”. Ironically, while correctly summarising Leviticus’s timeless cross-cultural message that Yahweh is a protective, jealous God deeply concerned with the holiness of His people and their distinctiveness from the nations, Joel nevertheless wants readers to capitulate to our culture’s obsession of ascribing one’s personhood and worth to what our sexual desires and practices dictate. While well-intentioned, Joel is ultimately asking us to believe that we should we free to live according to our sexual desires. That, too, is idolatry.

Enter Chapters 9 and 10, and Joel tackles the appearance of same-sex prohibitions in the Apostle Paul’s writings: namely, the vice lists of 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10, and the opening chapter of Romans. Largely Joel appeals from extra-biblical literature to assert that malakos and arsenokoitai denote abusive sexual activity linked to temple prostitution, and argues that the “unnatural” (para physin) in Romans 1 refers to exploitative practices. Again, he asserts all these terms exclude those in monogamous relationships. There is a fair amount of conjecture that Paul could not have known of a consensual gay relationship (despite Romans 1:27 clearly stating that they burned with passion “for one another” (mutuality and consent implied there!) My objection is that ultimately, Joel’s argument seems to be that first-century Greco-Roman society had no concept of same-sex monogamous marriage; therefore, it’s not forbidden. But there remains no example of God blessing any same-sex practice, whether within Paul’s cultural milieu or ours. Rather, a plain reading of the New Testament sees all Christians — myself included — as sexual sinners, called to submit to God’s good design for each of His image-bearers: fidelity in marriage, celibacy in singleness, for His glory and our joy.

Chapter 12 is largely an apologetic for Joel (and others’) reframing and reinterpretations of Scripture. He argues that homosexuality falls in the same category as slavery and women’s rights. Others (e.g. Keller) have critiqued this kind of attempt at re-categorising same sex relations, but it betrays the assumption that permitting same-sex marriage has become a justice issue. I can understand a secularist to hold this view: I’m saddened that it’s a view increasingly promoted within Christian circles, and betrays our uncritical acceptance of the late-modern narrative that our identity is fundamentally ours to decide and shape (the “this is me” doctrine). At one point, Joel even commits reductio ad Hitlerum and infers that Christians holding a traditional sexual ethic is akin to the Nazis’ (mis)use of Scripture to justify the Holocaust, because both “breed death and perpetuates division”. For pastors and friends who have sympathised and struggled alongside LGBT friends for years, this kind of fallacious rhetoric is unhelpful and deeply concerning.

Part 3 closes with three chapters (13-15) where Joel the activist calls readers to action and walks through next steps. He wants Christians to accept and adopt the “affirming” view of same-sex relationships, to advocate for this position in their churches, and to join the “movement” for change – even including sample letters to parents, pastors, allies etc.

Some other observations I had while reading Joel’s book:

  • More than once, Joel relegated what I thought were strong counter-arguments to footnotes with summary-form dismissals. In a listicle age, this kind of special pleading can be a dangerous habit, and I’d have preferred all sides be given equal air time / font size.
  • I was surprised that there was just one mention of interaction with key Greek and Hebrew dictionaries (BDAG, HALOT) – perhaps too nerdy, but perhaps they’re not as conclusive as Joel would like?
  • This is a book that Christian leaders should expect those they care for will come across at some point. It’s particularly persuasive given that Joel uses the same language and jargon as conservative evangelicals, and cites broadly (Carson et al. all get a mention, though rarely about the arguments directly).

Conclusion: While I’m thankful for the time and care Joel has put in to present his story and arguments winsomely, I’m unconvinced that the “affirming” view comes from a responsible handling of Scripture. Other books I’d recommend wholeheartedly (also from same-sex attracted authors) include Sam Allberry’s “Is God Anti-Gay?” [my review] and Rosaria Butterfield’s “Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert”. I’m also working through Ed Shaw’s “The Plausibility Problem”, which Joel himself recommends.

In an age of mea culpas, perhaps it’s too much to hope for a change of change of mind from Joel (though that’s my sincere prayer). Yet perhaps an appeal for a change of heart towards biblical faithfulness is best expressed by Joel himself – as captured in his own words from an earlier piece (which I quote at length):

“…The call for a broader theology of sexuality and celibacy is vital for both the demythologizing and de-idolizing of marriage, and likewise for the reassertion of singleness as a divinely endorsed life. Within this, a strong stance against the sexual essentialism of the modern West must hold forth the distinction of sexuality and personhood, affirming the fundamental identity of the Christian as united with Christ.

With this theology as a firm grounding, the pastor must be prepared to engage with those struggling with same sex attraction from an informed understanding of the presence of loss and its subsequent grieving process. It is only once these are seen in conjunction with the young adult’s identity dissonance that rounded care can be given. And finally, in line with the Biblical understanding of God’s people as both the body of Christ and as a spiritual family, the church must be prepared to engage in intimate friendships with same-sex-attracted young people in new and creative ways.”

Joel Hollier, Will You Walk With Me? MDiv Thesis 2017, 30-31.

A 2020 Song List for Grudem’s Systematic Theology

One of my favourite things about Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (Zondervan, 1994) is that each one of his chapters ends with a hymn in response. It’s a great way to model that good theology leads to doxology; studying God leads to praising Him.

I decided to come up with my own updated list of songs for each chapter – not because I didn’t like those Dr Grudem suggested, but because since 1995 there have been a range of new worship songs written and hymns retuned that are worth adding to the mix. We can be grateful for a new generation of songwriters like the Gettys, Stuart Townend, Sovereign Grace Music, CityAlight, and artists who have taken timeless hymns and arranged them for the next generation.

You could use this list (compiled into a Spotify playlist here) for your own listening and edification, or in tandem with reading and studying each chapter. Even better, you could come up with your own song list to accompany Grudem, or another systematic theology!

Here’s a spotify playlist of new and retuned songs to accompany each chapter of Dr Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology”

#Grudem2020

Here’s a full list with links to either a video or words so you can listen and respond to theology with praise!

  1. Introduction to Systematic Theology – “O For A Thousand Tongues”, Traditional arr. by David Crowder Band

    Part 1: The Doctrine of the Word of God
  2. The Word of God – “Speak O Lord” by Keith & Kristyn Getty
  3. The Canon of Scripture“The Gospel Was Promised” by Bob Kauflin, Joel Sczebel
  4. The Authority of Scripture“Standing On The Promises (Medley)”, Traditional arr. by Selah
  5. The Inerrancy of Scripture – “Psalm 19” by The Corner Room
  6. The Clarity of Scripture“Psalm 1” by Sons of Korah
  7. The Necessity of Scripture“Show Us Christ” by Bob Kauflin, Doug Plank
  8. The Sufficiency of Scripture“How Firm A Foundation”, Traditional arr. by Norton Hall Band

    Part 2: The Knowledge of God
  9. The Existence of God – “How Great Is Our God” by Chris Tomlin
  10. The Knowability of God“Greater Than We Can Imagine” by Mark Altrogge
  11. “Incommunicable” Attributes“Immortal Invisible”, Traditional arr. by Nathan Drake (Reawaken)
  12. “Communicable” Attributes (Part 1)“O Worship the King” by Passion/Chris Tomlin
  13. “Communicable” Attributes (Part 2)“O King (Psalm 45)” by Matt Searles
  14. The Trinity“Holy Holy Holy” by Reginald Heber
  15. Creation“God of Wonders” by Rebecca St. James
  16. God’s Providence“God Moves” by William Cowper, arr. by Bob Kauflin
  17. Miracles“A Mighty Fortress” by Martin Luther, arr. by HeartSong
  18. Prayer“Hear Our Prayer” by Greg Cooper & Andy Judd
  19. Angels – “Angels From the Realm of Glory” by James Montgomery, arr. by Lifeway Worship
  20. Satan and Demons“Lead On, O King Eternal”, Traditional arr. by Enfield

    Part 3: The Doctrine of Man
  21. The Creation of Man“Indescribable” by Laura Story
  22. Man as Male and Female“Just The Way God Wanted Us To Be” by Sovereign Grace Music
  23. The Essential Nature of Man“Be Still My Soul” by Page CXVI
  24. Sin“From the Depths of Woe (Psalm 130)” by Indelible Grace
  25. The Covenants Between God and Man“Song of Zechariah” by The Gospel Coalition
  26. The Person of Christ“Fairest Lord Jesus”, Traditional arr. by Garage Hymnal

    Part 4: The Doctrines of Christ and the Holy Spirit
  27. The Atonement“In Christ Alone” by Stuart Townend & Keith Getty
  28. Resurrection and Ascension“Christ is Risen” by Matt Maher
  29. The Offices of Christ“How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds” by Indelible Grace
  30. The Work of the Holy Spirit“God the Spirit” by Matt Boswell

    Part 5: The Doctrine of the Application of Redemption
  31. Common Grace“Generous King” by Sovereign Grace Music
  32. Election and Reprobation“It’s Your Grace” by Doug Plank & Bob Kauflin
  33. The Gospel Call and Effective Calling“I Heard The Voice of Jesus Say” by Horatius Bonar, arr. Emu Music
  34. Regeneration“Not In Me” by Eric Schumacher and David Ward
  35. Conversion“Just As I Am”, Traditional arr. by Travis Cottrell
  36. Justification“Before the Throne of God Above” by Charitie Lee Bancroft and Vikki Cook
  37. Adoption“The Father’s Love” by Joel Sczebel
  38. Sanctification“Undivided” by Rob Smith
  39. Baptism in and Filling With the Holy Spirit“Holy Spirit, Living Breath of God” by Keith and Kristyn Getty
  40. The Perseverance of the Saints“The Lord’s My Shepherd” by Stuart Townend
  41. Death and the Intermediate State“It Is Not Death to Die” by Sovereign Grace Music
  42. Glorification“Absent From Flesh” by Sojourn
  43. Union With Christ“Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me” by CityAlight

    Part 6: The Doctrine of the Church
  44. The Church: Its Nature, Its Marks, and Its Purposes“The Church’s One Foundation” by Brian Moss
  45. The Purity and Unity of the Church“This I Believe (The Creed)” by Hillsong Music
  46. The Power of the Church“O Church Arise (Arise, Shine)” by Keith and Kristyn Getty
  47. Church Government“Glorious Things Of You Are Spoken” by Emu Music
  48. Means of Grace Within the Church“Let Us Love And Sing And Wonder” by John Newton, arr. Indelible Grace
  49. Baptism“Christ Is Enough” by Hillsong Worship
  50. The Lord’s Supper“Jesus, Thank You” by Pat Sczebel
  51. Worship“Only A Holy God” by CityAlight
  52. Gifts of the Holy Spirit (1) “Come Now Almighty King” by Sovereign Grace Music
  53. Gifts of the Holy Spirit (2) “Oh How Good It Is” by Keith & Kristyn Getty

    Part 7: The Doctrine of the Future
  54. The Return of Christ“How Long, O Lord” by Doug Plank
  55. The Millennium“We Belong to the Day” by Michael Morrow
  56. The Final Judgement and Eternal Punishment“Rise Up” by Ben Shive
  57. The New Heavens and New Earth“Behold Our God (World Edition)” by Sovereign Grace Music, arr. Badminton Road

Honourable mentions (either couldn’t find them on Spotify, they were so good they covered multiple chapters, or just had to pick one!)

Remember – Praise & Prayer 2019 – Set List

A few months ago, I had the privilege of putting together a college-wide prayer and praise night. In the midst of studies and essays and assignments, it was good to set aside an evening to pray, sing, read scripture, and enjoy God’s presence among His gathered people.

The theme of this year’s worship night was “Remember”. We split the night into two halves – in the first hour, we took time to remember God’s mercy to us in Christ. In the second hour, we shifted focus to remember God’s mission for the nations to know Christ.

I really enjoyed worshipping together during the first hour, which was led so well by Ellen, James, Chris and Kristy from the ReachOut 2019 band. It was a treat to move from praise to prayer so seamlessly and freely throughout the first half. We were served by contributions from students and lecturers as each helped us to remember and reflect on different aspects of God’s mercy to us in Jesus.

I led the Badminton Road band for the second hour – our first and last live performance together! A personal highlight was guitaring alongside Rob Smith and Jack Batchen, two incredibly gifted electric guitarists! Thanks to Jeremiah Liew, a friend of ours, we managed to capture some of the night on video as well.

If you’re interested, here’s the setlist from the night, including a Spotify playlist Ellen put together, and some video from the 2nd half.

Part 1 – Remember God’s mercy in Christ

  1. Welcome & Prayer: an invitation to prefer one another and “let all things be done for building up”
  2. Read Psalm 103
  3. Sing: Only A Holy God (CityAlight)
  4. Sing: How Deep the Father’s Love (arr. by The Dispatch)
  5. Pray: 1-sentence “popcorn” prayers praising God for His attributes
  6. Sing: Great Are You Lord (All Sons and Daughters)
  7. Pray: Self-directed prayer based on Ephesians 2:1-10
  8. Sing: All I Have Is Christ (Sovereign Grace Music)
  9. Pray: Thanksgiving for mercy in Christ
  10. Sing: Once For All (CityAlight)
  11. Listen: I Stand Amazed (How Wonderful) – Womens’ Vocal Group
  12. Sing: Be Thou My Vision (arr. Ascend the Hill)
  13. Sing: O Praise the Name / What A Beautiful Name mashup
  14. Pray: Close 1st Hour
Spotify Playlist of the songs we sang during Praise & Prayer 2019.

Part 2 – Remember God’s mission for Christ

  1. Sing: Yet Not I But Through Christ in Me (CityAlight)
  2. Welcome Back – recap 1st hour, read Psalm 67
  3. Sing: Behold our God (World Edition) – in multiple languages
  4. Pray: in 3-4’s, pray for unreached peoples on your heart, near or far
  5. Listen: Poem – a lament for the nations
  6. Listen: Remember (Matt Lo)
  7. Sing: You Are the God Who Saves Me (Psalm 88)
  8. Sing: Love, You Will Not Let Me Go
  9. Pray: over those who have given up their identity for Jesus to enter creative access nations
  10. Sing: Christ is Enough
  11. Sing: We Will Declare Your Glory
  12. Sing: Crown Him With Many Crowns

You can also see what we did in 2018 as well here. While I won’t be at college in 2020, I hope there’ll continue to be opportunities for the college community to gather and respond to everything they’ve learned in praise and prayer!

Thoughts on producing Badminton Road’s first EP

It was nearly a year ago when I had the privilege of leading the band for our College Graduation service. Most of us had sung and played before with each other during chapels and conferences. Apart from serving together at college, we’d have not much in common!

But when we ran through this arrangement of “Crown Him With Many Crowns” for the first time, I had a sense that there was something a bit special about this band. In His kindness, since then we’ve had a year of wonderful opportunities to glorify God’s name and encouraging His people as a college band (Badminton Road).

I’m happy to report that we’re releasing an EP next Friday, 22 November – six songs from our Croydon community. You can pre-order/pre-save on BandCamp, iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and other digital platforms soon. And once exams and our last days of College are over (yay!), we’ll get to work on charts, lyric videos, song stories, and other helpful resources.

There’s all kinds of stories we could share of God’s incredible provision to make this EP happen – from last-minute donations, perfectly timed schedules, grace to solve band disagreements, unexpected ability to sing difficult parts, and non-Christians who watched us depend on God again and again. But for now, I thought I’d share three ways working on this project has impacted me.

1. My heart for God’s glory to fill the earth has grown.

The EP title, Among the Nations, comes from Psalm 96:3 –

“Declare His glory among the nations,
   His marvellous deeds among the peoples,
   for great is the LORD and most worthy of praise…”

Week after week of meeting workers serving in difficult places, near and far, have shown us that others who live out this passion too. And we wanted to encourage them (and ourselves) to press on and persevere in the unfinished work of proclaiming the gospel.

So when Kim, our lead vocalist, suggested we try a multilingual version of Sovereign Grace Music’s “Behold Our God”, I thought it was a bit too hard! But she was right — it’s turned out to be such a great idea! The words are fantastic: you have the amazing truths of Isaiah 40:12-14, the good news of Christ “humbled to the grave” for our sins and “risen now to reign”, and a chorus inviting us to “behold our God, seated on His throne.” So what better way to celebrate that than to bring together friends from different countries and cultures, and to sing these truths in all of our heart languages!

Each of us have a favourite moment on the EP, but I have several from this song:

  • The first line in the bridge reminds me of our friends in Central Asia who sing praises to Jesus softly, for fear of neighbours turning them in to the police. It’s a small way of remembering our persecuted brothers and sisters.
  • We got to feature students from our international community. There’s something amazing about watching your friends praise God in their heart language – whether it’s Japanese, Korean, German, Irish, French Urdu, or even Nepali!
  • We included a duet in Mandarin and Cantonese. With all the unrest and tension tearing China and Hong Kong supporters apart (even in churches and our families), Veronica and I got to briefly display, in song, a taste unity and harmony that’s possible when we glory in Christ Jesus.
  • The final chorus, we just sing in our own languages – to remind one other that our future reality in Christ isn’t monolingual, but far better:

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.””

Revelation 7:9-10, NIV

There’s so many other magic moments throughout the EP – I’m so grateful for each singer and instrumentalist who poured their desire for God’s glory to fill the earth into each take, each strum, each line, each sample. May it move us to serve the Lord in whatever way we can to see His Kingdom advance!

2. My appreciation for working in intercultural teams has increased.

It quickly became apparent early on that we weren’t capable enough to do everything on our own. We so needed the Spirit’s help! Thankfully, we’ve had an amazing team of supporters praying for us and encouraging us since the project began. Whether it’s the team from Sovereign Grace (Bob, Bekah, Grace) who have reviewed translations, sorted licensing issues and shared words of encouragement, or the SMBC alumni musician community – Nick Freestone (whose song features on the album), Trevor Hodge, Brian Leung and others, we’ve seen first-hand how any work for Christ can’t happen on one person’s steam.

We saw God’s kindness in our team of contributors too. We were all different people – some introverted, some extroverted; with different communication styles, gifts and preferences. We like different food, have different upbringings. But with this project we got a chance to negotiate differences and serve with what we had in common in mind: our love for the gospel, God’s Word, and our brothers and sisters. We still had our distinctions and disagreements, but they weren’t as important.

3. I’m learning that we serve to be replaced.

It’s humbling and thrilling to think that we’re not the first musicians to have graced the steps of Benson Barnett House. From the barbershop quartets of the 50’s and 60’s, to the Music Conferences in the early 2000s, to worship songwriters such as Rob Smith, Trevor Hodge and Alanna Glover, there have been plenty of graduates singing and writing for the sake of His holy name.

We hope Badminton Road follows this rich heritage by providing a new avenue for creating and sharing music that glorifies God, and encourages our family in Christ in Croydon, Catalonia and beyond. But we don’t want to presume our longevity – God determines when our contributions are helpful, and when it’s time for us to fade away and others to do a better job than us. (Besides, it’s hard to stay together as a band when we’re all leaving for different countries in a few weeks’ time!)

We’ve come to go – and so our College’s Centenary Song, written by Rob Smith, reminds us of our main purpose:

We will declare your glory among the nations
We will proclaim your greatness in every land
Until the trumpet sounds and all the earth resounds
With the praises of the Lamb!
We will declare your glory among the nations
We will proclaim your mercy from shore to shore
‘Til every knee shall bow and every tongue confess
That Jesus Christ is Lord
Jesus Christ is Lord

We Will Declare Your Glory” by Rob Smith

I’m thankful to God for this opportunity to make this album with Rob Smith, Kim Patterson, Jack Batchen, Matt Williams, Jacob Oh, Jotham Booker, Luke Padgett and the many, many others near and far who have contributed their time and treasures. And I’m excited that you’ll all get to hear it in just a week’s time!

Until 22 November, you can pre-order Among the Nations on Bandcamp for $7 or more and download 2 songs now – with all proceeds going towards the College’s 100-for-100 Scholarship Fund.

Soli Deo Gloria – may His glory fill the earth!

Our Submission to the NZ Government regarding the Abortion Legislation Bill

Today (19 September 2019) is the LAST day for Kiwis to make a submission regarding the Abortion Legislation Bill currently undergoing Select Committee review. Please consider writing your own submission here – it’s free, you can even just say one sentence, and it’s a great way to be involved in the discussion of what’s literally a life-and-death issue.

Cheryl and I both know and sympathise with the difficulties women (and men) on both sides of the debate face. Our differences centre around balancing care for pregnant women, yet disagreeing on the status and of, and duty of care for the young life inside her.

Our submission is below. We tried not to restate what others have already done so well, but rather just shared some of our personal concerns. I hope it’s a helpful contribution to the discussion.


Select committee:Abortion Legislation Committee
Item of business:Abortion Legislation Bill 2019
Submission date:2019-09-19

Concerns about the proposed Bill

Thank you for the opportunity to make a submission. 

My wife, Cheryl, and I, do not support the proposed Bill for several reasons:

  • Removing abortion from the Crimes Act fails to uphold the human rights of the unborn child and protect her or him from harm, whether they are 7 weeks old or 37 weeks old.
  • The proposed Bill restricts the ability for healthcare professionals to meaningfully express their conscientious objection to performing or providing assistance for women seeking abortion services
  • No provision is made to protect the unborn child from a coerced abortion, or being the victim of sex-selective or disability-specific abortion.

We agree in substance with the detailed submissions from Family First NZ, ProLife NZ and Voice for Life NZ regarding the harm this Bill will enable, and urge Members of Parliament to vote against this Bill.

Finally, I have attached an ultrasound scan of our unborn child at 7 weeks old. Despite his or her small size and stage of development, she or he has a steady fetal heart beat (147bpm), a unique DNA, and all the characteristics of a person. As we seek ways to better support women, it is also children like ours whom we wish to protect from harm.

Some suggestions

A well-known Māori proverb states:

He aha te mea nui o te ao. He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata.
(What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people , it is people.)

In light of this:

  • We suggest keeping abortion under the Crimes Act, to reflect the reality that abortion involves the killing of an unborn child
  • We suggest adding a clause to the Bill that women seeking an abortion be first offered a free ultrasound to confirm the presence of the unborn child, and counselling services to allow the mother time for reflection in order to make an informed choice
  • We suggest adding a clause to the Bill that, once a fetal heart rate is detectable, any decision regarding offering abortion services must take into account the human rights of the unborn child
  • We suggest the Government take urgent steps to make open or closed adoption more available for pregnant women who are unable to raise their child, including an national adoption register that makes it easier for mothers to find a long-term caregiver for their unborn child
  • We suggest that increased Government assistance and funding be offered to mothers who choose to keep their child and deliver them.

Sincerely,

William and Cheryl Chong