Creeping secularization, cultural pluralism, and the aboriginal population are high on the agenda.

A well-known evangelical preacher in a well-known evangelical church in the United States, who was about to visit Australia to speak at a Christian convention, was being farewelled by his congregation. “Lord,” prayed a venerable deacon, his grey beard twitching with emotion, “protect our beloved pastor from those wild Australians.” His sentiment accorded well with the myth cherished by many Americans, that Australia is an untamed country of bush and billabong, inhabited by koalas and kangaroos, and jolly swagmen.

Although the present reality is vastly different, Australians are still coming to terms with their history. “One of the ghosts in our past which still haunts us,” said Manning Clark the historian in his 1976 Boyer Lectures, is “the bloody encounter between the white man and the black man,” while the other is “the use of cheap convict labor to plant civilization in Australia.”

Today at least three major challenges face Australian Christians. The first is secularism. Although the 1976 census reveals that 78 percent of the population still profess to be Christians, there was a “mass swing of the sixties and seventies away from God and church” (see Leon Morris, “Christians in Australia,” Jan. 19 issue). The weekly church attendance of Protestants is now less than 20 percent, while in the 21- to 24-year age group it is only 9 percent.

This creeping secularization is due less to an intellectual rejection of the gospel than to the apathy that materialism brings. Although there is some poverty—especially among working class migrants—the majority of Australians are very comfortably well off. It was Donald Horne who in 1976 coined ...

John R. W. Stott (1921 – 2011) is known worldwide as a preacher, evangelist, author, and theologian. For 66 years he served All Souls Church, Langham Place, in London, England, where he pioneered effective urban evangelistic and pastoral ministry. During these years he authored more than 50 books, and served as one of the original Contributing Editors for Christianity Today. Stott had a global vision and built strong relationships with church leaders outside the West in the Majority World. A hallmark of Stott's ministry was his vision for expository biblical preaching that addresses the hearts and minds of contemporary men and women. In 1969 he founded a trust that eventually became Langham Partnership International (www.langham.org), a ministry that continues his vision of partnership with the Majority World Church. Stott was honored by Time magazine in 2005 as one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World."

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.

Tags:
Issue: