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A Bellwether For Australian Christians

Forced resignation of Andrew Thorburn because he attends a 'bigot' church shows futility of Christian winsomeness
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Here's a very important piece from Mere Orthodoxy by Simon Kennedy, writing about a terrible sign for non-conforming Christians in Australia. It's about the forced resignation of Andrew Thorburn (pictured above) from his new position as head of an Australian football team. Kennedy said this vindicates the analysis of US Evangelical thinkers Aaron Renn and James Wood, who say Bible-believing Christians (as opposed to those who have made their peace with wokeness) are now living in "Negative World" -- that is, in a cultural milieu in which it is damaging to be a traditional Christian. Excerpts:

In case anyone was unconvinced about either Wood’s or Renn’s analysis, one of Australia’s biggest football clubs, the Melbourne-based Essendon Bombers, has served up a lesson in Negative World cultural dynamics. One day, they were announcing the appointment of a new Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Thorburn. The appointment was a high-profile one, with Thorburn having led one of Australia’s biggest banks for many years. He was an accomplished and credible appointment.

The very next day, Thorburn resigned. Why? He was found guilty of involvement in a church whose minister preached a sermon in 2013 arguing that abortion is evil and, in a further sermon, homosexuality is a sin. The Essendon board were made aware of these unsavory utterances, and one thing rapidly led to another.

The Essendon Board Chairman said that once they found out about this apparently sordid connection between Thorburn and a bible-believing church, they “acted.” The train of events, as it was made public, suggests that Thorburn was asked to choose between his new job or his church affiliation. Thorburn chose his church and resigned.

This was a watershed cultural moment for Australia, and possibly for the West. A man with outstanding credentials was told that, because of some sermons preached by someone else from almost a decade ago, he needed to reconsider his fit for the role he had just been appointed to. For all we know, Thorburn may disagree with these sermons. He may never have been aware of them or listened to them.

The bottom line here was guilt-by-association. In Australia, things have reached a point where someone can be pressured to leave their job because of their association with a group that is out of step with the moral orthodoxy of the day. Conservative Christians are evidently no longer welcome in positions of public prominence.


Kennedy reports that Thorburn attends a hipster urban church whose teachings are what we would call "conservative" on abortion and homosexuality, but which presents itself as easygoing and seeker-friendly. Guy Mason, the pastor, went on national TV to talk about the controversy, and was mauled by his hostile interviewer. Watch the five minute interview below. True, the interviewer was aggressive, but Mason was a winsome marshmallow who thought he could deal with these harsh questions by leaning hard into "love" and "diversity." Watch it here for an object lesson in the reality of Negative World. Seriously, take the time to watch it. This is where winsomeness goes to die:

Kennedy concludes:

Thorburn’s resignation and Mason’s interview demonstrate that the church needs to face this hard truth: the world has shifted and therefore the age of conciliatory cultural engagement is over. No longer will being nice and relevant cut it. No amount of “life and love” will change the fact that, in Australia at least, we’ve entered Negative World proper.

Read it all. It's important. To learn more about Renn's "Three Worlds Of Evangelicalism" framework, read this.

See, this is why I wrote The Benedict Option and Live Not By Lies: to prepare Christians for this kind of thing. The woke elites in Australia drove this man out of his job in a single day, because he attends a church where a decade ago, the pastor criticized homosexuality and abortion. That's all it took. To his very great credit, Andrew Thorburn chose to stand by his faith, and resign his position. Are you prepared to do the same? Will your children be? Will you have a strong community standing by you to pick you up after the culture throws you out of the window onto the street? Can you say where the line is, beyond which you cannot be pushed, for the sake of the Gospel?

If not, you're going to get flattened at best, and will apostatize at worst. If you're not preparing yourself, your family, and your community for this test now, you're going to fail it badly when they come for you. And they will come for you.