The sad news came last Friday. Prince Philip, the Queen’s husband for 73 years, had died peacefully at Windsor Castle, aged 99.
Like many marriages, theirs “had its moments”. But overwhelmingly, the good outweighed the bad.
The Queen gave a speech on their golden wedding anniversary in 2007. She said Philip was her “strength and stay all these years”. She added: “I, and his whole family and this and many other countries owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know.”
Aged nearly 95, Her Majesty is still healthy and active. But the loss of her helpmate, guide and sounding board will be a body blow. She and her family are very much in our prayers.
For Philip’s passing is the beginning of the end of an era. The next tragedy to strike the royal family could be the death of the Queen herself.
Her long reign, noted for her quiet diplomacy and the fostering of peace and unity between a diverse and numerous Commonwealth of Nations, has been exceptional. Her faith in God has been a constant throughout her life. In her messages each Christmas, she often mentions her faith in Jesus who inspires her and keeps her going.
But some Australians are almost eager for the Queen to die so they can push for another republic referendum. It is therefore worth pondering why our current system of government – our constitutional monarchy – has been so successful.
Her Majesty is Queen of the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and many other smaller nations. But she does not tell the governments of those countries what to do.
For Australia, she appoints a respected, experienced person as Governor-General to act as her representative. By convention, this appointment is on the advice of the Prime Minister of the day. Once appointed, the Governor-General (not the Queen) exercises all the responsibilities of a Head of State, including representing our country on official visits to other countries.
UK constitutional authority Walter Bagehot has noted that the Queen and her representatives are far more than ceremonial figureheads who cut ribbons, promote charities, review troops and open parliaments. They have three limited but very important rights: “to be consulted, to encourage, and to warn”.
The regular meetings of the Prime Minister with the Governor-General are private and confidential. The value of these meetings is enormous, as sometimes the Governor-General is the only person the elected leader can trust to provide confidential, independent advice.
Governor-General David Hurley has the right to be consulted by PM Scott Morrison, and to encourage or warn him.
The Governor-General presides over meetings of the Federal Executive Council – comprising current ministers and assistant ministers. The Executive Council provides formal advice on matters requiring action by the Governor-General.
All this is very different from the various republican systems operating around the world. And as some commentators have noted, constitutional monarchies tend to be significantly more peaceful and stable as a result.
Long live the Queen!
Peter Downie - National Director
Melbourne schools are under pressure to stop using the terms “mum” and “dad”.
Schools are instead being urged to use the word “parent” as part of an LGBT campaign claimed to improve “inclusivity” around “gendered” words.
Unisex bathrooms, non-gendered sporting teams and the flying of rainbow flags are also being pushed as part of the LGBT agenda.
The Daily Mail reports:
Some schools are even being encouraged to stop teachers and pupils from using words including mum, dad and boyfriend in a controversial bid to banish gendered words.
Instead, 'parent' and 'partner' is preferred.
The suggestions come as the North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network launched its #SpeakingUpSpeaksVolumes campaign to support LGBTQI+ students in schools.
The campaign used material from Proud2Play and VicHealth which included strategies for schools and sports - including non-gendered teams and the use of rainbow flags.
Parents were also being asked to question others about what pronouns they used.
Earlier this year staff at Australian National University were asked to use the terms “gestational parent” instead of “mother”, “non-birthing parent” rather than “father” and “chestfeeding” in lieu of “breastfeeding”.
Andrew Bolt says he’s not a believer. He calls himself a “rationalist”.
He writes for Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Brisbane’s Courier Mail and Adelaide’s Advertiser.
He also hosts a TV current affairs program on Sky News. His daily blog is one of the most popular in Australia. He “tells it like it is” – sometimes getting in trouble as a result.
But last Thursday, on his program and his blog, Andrew made a startling admission:
“As you probably know, I’m not a Christian. But there is a man who made me think that maybe I’ve been a little too arrogant about that.”
He was talking about Paul Barnett, a retired Anglican bishop of North Sydney (who incidentally has been a great encouragement to FamilyVoice).
Paul Barnett has written A Short Book About Jesus – the Man from Heaven. A year ago he sent a copy to Andrew Bolt.
And Andrew – who almost never reads the stuff people send him – was deeply impressed.
Paul’s book uses evidence, from ancient non-Christian writers, to show the remarkable growth of the Christian faith. After their leader was executed in a most degrading way, a few dispirited followers became the dominant religion in the Roman empire just three centuries later.
Listen to Andrew Bolt’s video yourself. But in the meantime, here is his amazing introduction (slightly edited):
Tomorrow is Easter Friday. That's the day when Christians mark the death in Jerusalem, 2000 years ago, of Jesus Christ.
Now we know from other historical sources that there was a Jesus, and he was executed. We also know that the Romans used crucifixion back then, not just because it was such a ghastly way to die – it was also such a humiliating way to die.
Who could respect a man who claimed to be a leader – nailed up there for days, gasping his last, soiling himself?
So that crucifixion, back then – when to be God was to be powerful and weakness something to be despised – that should have been it for Christ and for his tiny bunch of followers.
But the amazing thing is that it wasn't.
Those followers, who thought Christ was God, ended up believing him all the more. And some wrote that they’d actually seen this man three days later come back alive, transfigured.
Many of us rationalists today find this absolutely incredible and laughable.
But this resurrection, celebrated on Easter Sunday, was believed so much by Christ’s disciples that every single one of them, bar one, and St Paul later, themselves risked their lives and were killed, trying to convert the world into believing in Christ too.
And the miracle is that these people won. At least until now.
There are around two and a half billion Christians. Personally, I'm very glad of that. Because what you tend to find in survey after survey is that they do tend to be people who give more to charity or work more for others. They tend to be better neighbours. Of course, not all – but the data is pretty consistent.
And the more free and democratic societies that we have, where rights are most respected, are essentially Christian societies, or at least founded by Christians.
And that's one reason I worry about the frantic attacks on Christianity in the West, often by people who seem to lack one thing that Christ preached particularly: “Show mercy. Show forgiveness. Be humble. You who are without sin cast the first stone.”
Andrew continues, asking Paul Barnett for more details.
Is this non-believing journalist very far from God’s kingdom?
I’m praying for him.
Peter Downie - National Director
In these special days leading up to Easter, I’ve been struck by a blog post by US Christian apologist and evangelist, Josh McDowell.
Josh has written over 150 books, and they’re still selling well. One that many parents have found particularly useful is Straight Talk with Your Kids about Sex.
And here is what he said on his blog (edited):
I don’t know why the Easter Bunny gets so much press at Easter.
I’m pretty sure he’s not real.🙂
Okay, I’m kidding! But I do want to make this point: Easter isn’t about chocolate and coloured egg hunts.
Easter, friends, is about the personal, life-changing relationship God wants to have with each of us. No chocolate treat that you and I can receive or give this Easter has a smidgen of the sweetness of that amazing gift.
You may not know this about me, but I once totally doubted God and the truthfulness of Christ’s deity. In fact, right after college, I set out to prove that the Bible is nothing more than a collection of distorted and unreliable records of historical and mythical events. Simply put, if I could prove that the Bible wasn’t a reliable document of history, then I could show that everything it says about God and the Christian faith is in question.
I really wanted to do that. Because God’s existence did not fit with how I saw the world. Having absolutely no doubts that my worldview was correct, I assumed that discrediting God and the Bible was going to be delightfully easy. So I travelled all over Europe, seeking out historical manuscripts and knowledgeable scholars to not only validate my view — but to do so beyond any shadow of doubt.
Here’s the egg-on-my-face: eventually I had to admit that the evidence for Christ being exactly who He said He is, was overwhelming. I couldn’t deny or ignore it. I had to adjust my worldview to align with this truth.
I fully get that each of us views life through the lens of our personally constructed worldview. Some of us acquire our perspective through secular influences such as Darwinism, Postmodernism, or even Enlightenment philosophy. Some of us simply accept as truth whatever we’re taught by our parents, friends or educators (not to mention social media)!
But I will say, boldly, that a true worldview explains the world as it actually is. Not as we choose to see it.
A delightful young man I met at a conference is attached to the idea that “God” is simply a massive energy force. So a “personal” relationship, he insists, is neither possible nor intended.
Hmmm… I’ll agree that God is supernatural energy. But impersonal? No way. An “energy force” can’t compare to the very personal, hands-on God I’ve come to know over the last 50 years.
My friend can’t yet see the value of Jesus’ sacrifice, nor the sweet joy we Christians have because of Jesus’ resurrection. So I asked him to do me a favour: to at least question the validity of his worldview.
“Who knows,” he conceded, as we warmly shook hands in parting. “I might change my mind one day. In part because you were willing to discuss this so amicably with me.”
The resurrection story is the most amazing story ever. But if we don’t share the Good News with an attitude of love and respect and grace — we lose the opportunity to have influence. This Easter, let’s model the sweetness of Jesus!
Wise words. And they apply equally well to our dealings with civic leaders like MPs. No matter how upset we feel about their actions, we need to remember: “love, respect and grace”.
Peter Downie - National Director
FamilyVoice Australia upholds Christian values and the family: permanence of marriage, sanctity of human life, primacy of parenthood and limited government.
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