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Jason Harris

Jason loves to communicate God's word both in the local church and at conferences and retreats. Jason has been involved with Worship Music since 1996 and InFocus since 2005. Jason has degrees in theology, music, accounting, and research and is currently a PhD candidate and lecturer in the College of Business, Law, and Governance at James Cook University, Cairns. Jason is also a pastor at CrossPoint Church. You can contact Jason at jason@teaminfocus.com.au.

9 Comments

  1. avatar

    Greg Gorton

    This article was very encouraging for me. In fact, without exaggeration, it is the closest anything has ever come for quite some time to restoring my faith in Christians even slightly. Thank you for it.
    Greg

    Reply
  2. avatar

    PJ

    Jason, I do think you have hit upon a ‘sub-species’ of church in Australia, and in assisting our understanding of those churches I agree with your analysis.

    However, you do make some sweeping generalisations and you’re only evidence is “declining enrolment in our colleges, the declining interest in our fellowships, and the explosion of conservative evangelical influence among our young men.” While I can’t speak for the third of these, how do you know attendances in fundamental churches are declining and how do you know that enrolments at fundamental colleges are declining? (If you have such statistics please share them with us).

    (You do cover yourself in footnote 1 – “These are my observations of Fundamentalism in general. Some apply more in the United States and others more in Australia.” So in fairness, you are putting this forward as personal opinion.)

    The reality among churches (and Christians) in Australia who would identify as ‘fundamentalists’ is far more complex than your article suggests and I really think it is unfair (and rather pompous) for you to call for fundamentalists to repent from “our idolatrous traditionalism.”

    Do you really think there are pastors in doctrinally sound churches out there, giving their all to the Lord, living holy lives as best they can, who need to repent of idolatry? That’s the implication of what you’re saying – and that’s a very big call to make.

    I agree that there are some individual fundamental churches and maybe some groupings of fundamental churches that have an “excessive commitment to cultural manifestations of Christianity,” but it is rather a sweeping statement to say that this characterises the movement as a whole, or much of the movement in the Australian context.

    For example, where would you place the large conservative independent baptist churches in QLD that have congregations into the hundreds, are actively reaching the lost in their communities and are supporting many missionaries. These churches don’t seem to be in decline at all. Are they guilty of “excessive commitment to cultural manifestations of Christianity” – Do their pastors need “repent of their idolatrous traditionalism and re-establish a firm commitment to the truth?”

    The problem is not that ‘fundamentalism’ has a ‘credibility problem’, it’s that the term itself is well past its used by date and arguments over what constitutes ‘fundamentalism’ are really pointless. (That was the overwhelming impression I got when reading the Bixby article on the ’emergent middle’ – what’s the point?)

    Individual, independent local churches will make up their own minds about what they believe, what they emphasise, what standards they hold to, what version of the Bible they use and what other churches they fellowship with. If people who don’t like where their church stands on these things they can kick out the pastor, change the constitution or go somewhere else! If we really believe in the primacy of the local church then we should afford churches the freedom be whatever they want to be, be that libertarian or legalist in our opinion!

    As I said, I think it is a bit rich calling for fundamentalists to “repent of their idolatrous traditionalism”. You are actually making a very serious charge against many pastors and godly people. We ought not cast aspersions on the legitimacy of people’s love for the Lord or zeal for His church.

    [If you were aiming for a reaction I guess you just got it :)!]

    Reply
  3. avatar

    Jason Harris

    @Greg, Good to see you reading! Glad it was encouraging.

    @PJ,

    I appreciate the comment. I think you’ve raised enough solid questions and issues to warrant another post today. So I’ll try to get that up within a few minutes. Thanks for the challenge.

    Reply
  4. Pingback: Answering Questions on the Current Crisis » InFocus

  5. avatar

    cecil

    Thanks Jason. Especially for footnote three. I would add the kjv only movement and separate first mentality as contributing factors as well.

    Reply
  6. avatar

    MarkO

    why is the defense of a label so important to some?

    Reply
  7. avatar

    Jason Harris

    @Mark,

    I’ve addressed your question already in the follow-up to this post here.

    Reply
  8. avatar

    kenn woods

    Hey Guys, Im from South Carolina, my wife is from Australia. We’re forty’ish with children. We’ve been back in Australia a year and a half, having lived here 7 years ago for 3 years. We’re familiar with the complacency of The Church, but that doesnt make it any easier to accept. Attending a Baptist church of all places and seeing boys dressed in gothic and body-piercings and girls in short-shorts and tube-tops is not right. We have visited several churches and find that no-matter what the denomination, they’ve all accepted the same worldly standard. Is there a reputable Fundamentalist church on the south coast.

    Reply
  9. avatar

    Jason Harris

    Hello Kenn. Thanks for the comment. By the South Coast, I assume you are referring to the Wollongong/Nowra/Ulladulla region?

    To be honest, I’m mostly familiar with the Independent Baptist churches in that region. In Nowra there is Shoalhaven Baptist Church (Pastor Richard Shellabear) and in Wollongong there is Illawarra Community Baptist Church (Pastor Kevin Harris). I’m also familiar with a Presbyterian church in Wollongong that seems to be solid. Each of these would be conservative. Inbox me for details on any of these: tojasonharris @ gmail . com.

    Grace to you.

    Reply

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