In last week’s blog, we discovered what the Bible says about people’s inherent goodness. Following on from there, I thought it could be helpful to address another fallacy I frequently hear from preachers: “you are broken, and only God can fix you. But you’ll probably still be broken until you get to heaven.” Is that true? Let’s explore the possibilities.

The word “broken” is found 133 times in the Bible. In Scripture, brokenness refers to commands and covenants, babies being born, sacrifices, clay pots, and sinners that perish. Things that are broken include:

  • Pagan altars and weapons.
  • Idols and city walls.
  • Yokes and bread.
  • Cities and nations.

Not once does the Bible infer that people are fundamentally broken.

What About The Fall?

We Christians get the redemption story skewed when we start reading the Bible from Genesis chapter 3 and what is commonly called “The fall of man.”

But the Bible doesn’t begin with sin. It starts with a creation that God calls very good. Humans are made in God’s Image and are inherently good and not broken. Yes, we are all flawed and sometimes the imperfect world we live in causes “a state of strong emotional pain that stops someone from living a normal or healthy life.” But that is not every person’s experience all the time.

What About Job?

I am not suggesting that some people may not feel broken. In almost four decades of pastoral ministry, I have spoken to many people who have told me they are worn out by what life has dished up to them. I have had the privilege to journey and pray with these people as they seek God’s healing presence. I have watched God do wonders as he has rejuvenated these precious people.

Job is a classic example of brokenness. And no wonder after losing his children, livelihood, and health. Who wouldn’t feel completely devastated? “My spirit is broken, my days are cut short, the grave awaits me,” utters this shattered man.

The Broken Hearted

Many have experienced unfair treatment and its resulting pain and anguish. The Scriptures are full of comfort and reassurance to such people. Consider David’s song (Psalm 31), composed when his enemies conspired against him to take his life: “I am forgotten as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery.”

David’s ancient words nourish suffering souls: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” The Bible has much to say to those whose hearts are broken. God “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus quoted Isaiah as a foretaste of his mission: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”

A Broken Spirit

Maybe you’re thinking of David’s words when the prophet Nathan came to him after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba. Psalm 51 is David’s penitent prayer as he seeks God’s mercy and unfailing love. “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”

There is no doubt that David was broken by his adultery and the subsequent death of his son. I am so grateful that he wrote a song about his experiences and that the Holy Spirit has preserved it for successive generations. I have read this song numerous times as I have processed my failures and offences. David’s words are full of raw emotion and genuine remorse. His foolishness crushed his spirit, and he viewed God as the only one who could restore him. But this did not mean that David was forever broken any more than we are.

If you find yourself brokenhearted by the stuff life has served up to you or by your poor choices, I hope you will find consolation and reassurance in these words. The Father’s arms are open wide, ready to forgive and restore. I also hope you are encouraged by the realisation that you are not innately broken. You are created in God’s image. You are awesomely and wonderfully made.


Have you ever noticed how some people need to label you, to categorise you? Maybe it provides them with a sense of security to pigeonhole you, so they know “that’s where you fit. That’s where you belong.”

I’ve been fascinated by this in recent years as I’ve spoken out and written about various issues. A person I’ve known for well over two decades sent me a text several years ago referring to me as his “liberal left-leaning friend”. And no, it wasn’t a compliment. It struck me how little my friend really knew me, and no wonder. Every time we catch up, he talks about himself and what he’s doing for Jesus! He’s so far-right that, compared to him, everyone leans left!

The latest label I’ve been given is that of “progressive” Christian. And that wasn’t a compliment either. So, when I was asked about this recently, it set me on a journey to find out what a progressive Christian was. Here’s what I discovered.

Negatively, it’s a label that some conservative Christians use for anyone who, in their opinion, deviates from or questions their understanding of Christianity. Things like a literal reading of the Bible and engaging in the political process to protect Biblical values. Conservative Christians are generally against abortion, euthanasia, and gay rights. These are viewed as the most important Christian values of our day! Think Australian Christian Lobby (who would be better named the Australian Conservative Lobby – still ACL – because they only represent a small, very conservative section of the Christian church).

Those who deviate from these conservative norms are invariably called liberals or progressives and aren’t really “true Christians”. They’re a bit lukewarm, you know! But is this correct? I think not.

What are Progressive Christians?

Progressive Christianity is defined by several characteristics: a willingness to question, acceptance of human diversity; a strong emphasis on social justice and care for the poor and the oppressed; and environmental stewardship of the earth.

In my early years in a conservative Christian church, questioning wasn’t encouraged. In fact, it was viewed as a sign of wavering faith. These days I see questioning as a vital way to develop our faith. Throughout Scripture, especially in Psalms, we see people asking questions, and God seems to be completely comfortable with it. Jesus invariably answered a question with a question.

Human Diversity

Progressive Christians accept human diversity. Christianity is sometimes seen as the white man’s religion. A fact that was supported by Walter E Sallman’s well-known painting Head of Christ, which pictured a blue-eyed Jesus with long dark blond hair.

And yet, the human race is incredibly diverse. People of different colours, creeds, and cultures tend to view Jesus and Scripture in myriad ways. Progressive Christians celebrate this fact. While there is so much that unites humanity, not least that we are all made in the image of God, unity does not equal uniformity. God is not looking for a bunch of cookie-cutter Christians. He created and commended diversity, and so should we.

The apostle Paul then takes the diversity of humanity – differences in gender, social status, and ethnicity – and unifies us all in Christ (Galatians 3:28).

Social Justice

Progressive Christianity has a strong emphasis on social justice and regard for the poor and oppressed. Again, I’ve heard this expressed as a negative slur. I’ve had people ask me, “why don’t you just preach the gospel instead of talking about social justice issues?” My answer is, “but social justice is part of the Gospel.” Consider Galatians 2 that records Paul’s trip to Jerusalem to visit the other apostles. The outcome of that meeting recognised that God’s grace was on Paul and Barnabas to take the Gospel to the gentiles. All Peter, James, and John asked: “was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.” Do you get that? Out of all the things they could have mentioned, they highlighted care for the disadvantaged. Social Justice isn’t “progressive.” Social justice IS the Gospel!

Environmental Care

Progressive Christianity also has a strong emphasis on environmental stewardship of the earth. As well as being a left-leaning hippie, apparently, I’m also a tree-hugging greenie because I encourage people to care for God’s creation. Why bother? God’s going to create a new heaven and a new earth one day. This one is old and temporary so why look after it?

Do we embrace this kind of “logic” anywhere else in life? What if you have an old car. One day you’ll get a new one, but do you trash the one you currently have? Of course not. You want it to last the distance, just like we want this planet to thrive. God created the heavens and the earth, and he has given charge of it to humanity. What are we doing to it? How are we caring for it? What about the animals God created that are now endangered? What about the pollution we pump into the atmosphere and the plastic we thrust into the oceans? Should Christians not be deeply concerned about human impact on creation?

All You Need is Love

Now you’ve got the Beatles song stuck in your head, let me explain. Progressive Christians have a deep belief in the centrality of the instruction to “love one another” (John 15:17) within the teachings of Jesus. This focuses on promoting values such as compassion, justice, mercy, and tolerance, sometimes through political activism. Love is the new and greatest commandment after all (consider John 13:34, Mark 12:31, Luke 6:31).

“Any interpretation of the Bible that causes you to be unkind or dismissive towards another person or that inflicts pain or damage is not the correct understanding of the Scripture!”

Values such as compassion, justice, mercy, and tolerance are Christian values as old as the Gospel itself. They should not be seen as progressive. Consider Romans 2:4, “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” Tolerance is “a holding back, or a restraint.” God holds back judgment to offer kindness. Are we not called to be like God?

Christianity should be progressive.

The Bible is not a static book. There are so many ways we see a progression of truth throughout its pages. Explore topics like slavery, child and animal sacrifices, women’s rights, interracial marriage and see how there’s a progressive revelation in Scripture. God’s people are to be “changed from glory to glory” (2 Cor, 3:18). We are to progress!

So, am I a progressive Christian? Well, yes. That’s one label I’ll gladly wear!

I’m frequently asked my opinion about the firmly held view amongst some Christians in a young earth. Invariably, the question includes confusion about how dinosaurs fit into the picture and why they are absent from the Bible? After all, the Bible starts at creation (Genesis 1), right?

Origins of a young earth

The Young Earth theory came into prominence with the 1611 publishing of the King James Bible. The original KJV printed creation’s date as 4004 BC.

In the 17th-century, Archbishop James Ussher published his chronology of the world’s history, formulated from a literal reading of the Old Testament. Many scholars agreed with Ussher that Earth was about 5,650 years old. He believed the creation had happened in 3952 BC; Isaac Newton thought it was in 3998 BC.

Other creation views

Today, Christians from conservative evangelical and fundamentalist backgrounds invariably believe the Earth is relatively young. But this is only one of several views Christians hold:

Young earth creation: Genesis presents a factual account of how the Universe and the Earth came into being some 6000 to 10,000 years ago. People who believe this invariably disagree with science saying science has it wrong because it is anti-God.

Old earth creation: God specifically created billions of years ago. This theory agrees with science that the Universe is 13.8 billion years old and the Earth is 4.5 billion years old.

Theistic evolution: God initiated and directed evolution.

Intelligent design: God is the creator, but the creation has changed and adapted over time. Those who hold to intelligent design believe the world is ancient and is progressing or getting better. Genesis 1-3 is seen as truth as meaning rather than truth as fact.

Truth as Meaning

As an example of truth as meaning, let me tell you about Christie’s parents living with us at present. They’re in their 80s, so I could say that my father-in-law is “as old as the hills.” The statement isn’t the truth as fact. The fact is hills are much older than grandad, but you know what I mean. The truth is he’s an old man. The Bible is full of truth as meaning. Genesis is an excellent example of this.

Ultimately, it’s up to you which view of Genesis you most resonate with. It’s not a matter connected to our salvation, so it’s negotiable truth upon which we can discuss and disagree. Personally, I resound with intelligent design as I don’t see science and theology disagreeing with each other.

Science and Theology

Hebraically, science and theology are asking two different questions, both of which are valid and important:

Science asks and answers ‘what’ and ‘how’ questions such as:

  • How was the Universe created?
  • How old is the Earth?
  • What happened to the dinosaurs?
  • Science is all about being correct about the facts.

Theology, on the other hand, asks and answers (sometimes) ‘why’ questions like:

  • Why did God create the world?
  • Why did God make people in his image?
  • Why am I here?

Theology is about truth as meaning, wonder, and awe and is at peace with the unanswerable. Because of faith in God, people are more comfortable with living with mystery. Theology is about enjoying the journey as much as the destination. Hopefully, it’s the same for scientists too, who are constantly testing theories and discovering new things in God’s divine treasure hunt! Science and theology can find common ground when we allow each to be what they are intended to be.

A Jewish Perspective

2021 is the Jewish Year 5781. Literalist Jews, like young-earth creationists, view this as the date of the creation of the Universe. The majority of religious Jews, however, believe 5781 approximated when their scriptures started.

The first chapters of Genesis give us the “why” of what we see in the world. Explaining why the Universe and the Earth were made and our part in God’s creation. Genesis includes stories that are meant to convey meaning, not just fact. As an example, consider Cain and Abel. If this is pure truth as fact, we immediately strike difficulties. Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain kills Abel, which should pretty well have ended the human race. But read on. Suddenly there are all these other people on Earth. Where did they come from? How did Cain get a wife? I’d tell you if I were able!

The story of Cain and Abel is so much more than a factual account. Literalists can get hung up on questions like, were they real people? The Hebraic mind will ask, what do we learn from the story? We grasp things like, yes, I am my brother’s (and sister’s) keeper. Murder is wrong, God is both just and kind, and blood has a voice. Now, we know blood doesn’t really speak. But God said to Cain, “Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground’” (Gen. 4:10). This is not truth as fact; it’s truth as meaning. When we get into the New Testament, we find that the blood of Jesus “speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (Hebrews 12:24). Cain’s blood cried out for vengeance, but the blood of Jesus speaks of grace, kindness, and forgiveness.

Practical Takeaways

I’ll finish this blog with a few practical takeaways:

  1. If you want to have a healthy discussion about Genesis, resist fruitless arguments about dates and times and focus on truth. Ask how you can learn and benefit from what the stories teach? How will this truth impact your life now?
  2. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how old creation is. None of us was there, not even grandad! The only way we know what it was like before we were born is by listening, reading, and learning from stories taught by people. That’s our dream time. Genesis is Hebrew dream time. It is truth as meaning.
  3. Ask, does what I believe make me more compassionate? Does what I believe close down imagination and questions? If we’re to have any kind of enriching dialogue, we need to use our imagination and move beyond dogmatic arguments. Reimagine old perceptions. Reimagine ancient texts.
  4. The Bible isn’t a science book. It’s a love story about God and people, about redemption and reconciliation. Refuse to make it anything it was never intended to be.

And, what happened to dinosaurs? The Bible doesn’t mention them because they were extinct long before the Bible was written!

I have enormous respect for Stephen Hawking. He was one of the greatest minds of the last century, a genius with an IQ of 160. His contribution to science and our understanding of the Universe and our place in it has been immense.

In 1962 Hawking was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease and given two years to live. He passed away two years ago at the age of 76! His quirky humour and cheeky attitude were beautifully captured by Eddie Redmayne in the movie, The Theory of Everything. His humour is displayed in his comments about computer viruses, “I think computer viruses should count as life. Maybe it says something about human nature that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive. Talk about creating life in our own image.”

Although Hawking’s body may have weakened, his intellect stayed sharp. He said, “I don’t have much positive to say about motor neuron disease. But it taught me not to pity myself, because others were worse off and to get on with what I still could do. I’m happier now than before I developed the condition. I am lucky to be working in theoretical physics, one of the few areas in which disability is not a serious handicap.” He advised that other people suffering from serious illnesses to not “be disabled in spirit.”

I’ve recently read Hawking’s final book, Brief Answers to the Big Questions. I like to read widely, and some of the topics in this book intrigued me. I wanted to find out what Stephen Hawking thought about time travel, black holes, artificial intelligence, and life on other planets. I was particularly interested in what he had to say about the existence of God and how the Universe began.

The Universe Coming into Being

Stephen Hawking believes “the universe was spontaneously created out of nothing, according to the laws of science.” No argument there. In times past, many scientists would ask the question, “what was before the Big Bang?” Hawking finally concluded that there was nothing. That’s where we part ways.

He writes, “You can’t get to a time before the Big Bang because there was no time before the Big Bang. We have finally found something that doesn’t have a cause, because there was no time for a cause to exist in. For me this means that there is no possibility of a creator, because there is no time for a creator to have existed in.”

While I affirm that time, space and matter began with the start of the Universe, I don’t agree that “there is no possibility of a creator because there is no time for a creator to have existed in.” If God is truly as remarkable as many people believe God to be, then dwelling outside of time would be no problem. Hawking stated elsewhere, “One can’t prove that there wasn’t a creator.” So, like Richard Dawkins and other atheists, Stephen Hawking was probably more agnostic than atheist.

Big Creator, Small Creatures

I don’t believe the human mind can fully grasp the concept of an eternal God. We are limited by time, space, and matter. It’s our frame of reference. To consider a being that has no beginning and no end, who chooses to dwell in the eternal now, but is outside of time itself, is totally beyond our comprehension. Outside of time, there is no duration, no beginning, no end, no space, and no matter. The finite human mind cannot begin to grasp this concept

When I was young, my dad and I discussed the Universe. I was fascinated by the fact that the Universe had no end. I asked him what if there was a brick wall at the edge of the Universe. He answered by asking me how wide the brick wall was and what was on the other side. Try and meditate on that for any length of time, and your head will do a double backflip!

For many years I taught Religious Education to Grade 6 primary kids. Every year one bright spark would ask me, “who made God?” I loved answering that question. I’d say, well, if God had a maker, then God’s maker is God, but who made God’s maker? And if God’s maker had a maker, then who created God’s maker’s maker? I’d keep going for a while until all the kids were laughing.

Case in point, either the Universe, galaxies, solar system, and Earth are all the product of a spontaneous explosion 13 plus billion years ago, or they are the result of an incredibly intelligent divine mind with an IQ far higher than 160.

Creating Out of Nothing

I believe God “spontaneously created out of nothing” and that the creation works according to the laws humans have discovered ever since and chronicled in the discipline known as science.

In his final book, Stephen Hawking writes, “We do not know how DNA molecules first appeared. As the chances against a DNA molecule arising by random fluctuations are very small, some people have suggested that life came to Earth from elsewhere – for instance, brought here on rocks breaking off from Mars while the planets were still unstable – and that there are seeds of life floating round in the galaxy. However, it seems unlikely that DNA could survive for long in the radiation in space.” And so, we still don’t know how the most basic structure of life came into being unless we attribute it to divine intelligence.

While I understand people being agonistic, I have come to strongly believe that we are here on this planet for a purpose. We are not some random chance mishaps floating around in the Universe on a planet called Earth. We are not the product of a monkey who got lucky.

I am grateful that, at the age of 19, this God, who I wasn’t looking for, looked for me. I have progressively come to know and love this God who is expressed so beautifully in the man, Jesus. God is not an impersonal divine force but rather a profoundly personal being who knows, loves, and cares for all, for you.



Ah, the eternal question – Is there a God or isn’t there? And, if there is, how do we know that he (or she or it or they) exists? Of course there are those who categorically say there is no God. We call them atheists (a = without; theos = god). In my teen years I called myself an atheist until I realised that to do so was to say that I knew everything. How did I know that God didn’t exist outside of my knowledge? Atheists, if they are honest with themselves, will realise this flaw in their logic and upgrade themselves to agnostics – those who are not sure if there is a God or not (a = without; gnosis = knowledge).

At the age of 19, through a number of dramatic incidences, I realised that I had been wrong. God did in fact exist – and that he was not just real but loving, caring and personal. Now, 32 years later – and a whole lot wiser – I am living my life to help others know this loving, caring, personal God. It is my hope that this blog will help you in this discovery. I believe there are four basic ways we can know that God exists:

“Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities … have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made” (Romans 1:20).

The internet features a number of sites that instruct you on how to make a model of the Solar System. Imagine that you made such a model and then invited a friend around to watch it in action. Of course your friend would be amazed at this phenomenal working model of the real thing – planets rotating on an axis and all revolving around the sun. He may ask, “Who made this?”  You answer: “No one made it!”  Would he believe you? Of course not! Someone had to make it. How is it that we can look at the real thing and believe that it’s a random-chance accident with no designer or creator

“Since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness.” (Romans 2:15)

Human beings are set apart from the animal and plant kingdoms in many ways – not least by the existence of the human conscience. We are not just aware of our existence but we are also very aware of what is right and what is wrong.  On the basis of this we have established an entire system of justice, reward and punishment.

“In these last days he (God) has spoken to us by his Son…”(Hebrews 1:2)
“Jesus answered: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”(John 14:9)

How easy it would have been for God to remain aloof and distant from His creation.  But God came to earth as a human being … Jesus! Jesus’ existence is a historical fact reported not just by the Bible but also by secular historians like Josephus. Jesus not only claimed that God existed but that He was in fact God in human form!

“We…are being transformed into his likeness.” (2 Corinthians 3:18) When I became a Christian at the age of 19 a radical transformation took place in my life – and that transformation process is still happening. Right now on planet earth there are billions of people who call themselves Christian.  Many of these people have experienced this same transformation.  No, we’re not perfect, but our lives have been changed for the better and, through us, this world is a better place.

God really exists.  He really loves you. Why not love Him back!

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