Category Archives: prompts


The second in a series of short essays for a course in Ethics. 

How is a Christian to relate to the reality of war?

“…for his own glory and the public good… [God] has armed [civil magistrates] with the power of the sword, for defence and encouragement of them that do good, and for the punishment of evil doers.”[1]

“It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate when called thereunto… they may lawfully now, under the New Testament, wage war upon just and necessary occasions.”[2]

The reality of war is rooted in the nature of government as ordained by God and armed by Him with the power of the sword.  That God has done this is established in Romans 13:1-4.  While the Confession is perhaps referring to the exercise of capital punishment in both defensive situations (i.e. “for the defence of them that do good”) and offensive (i.e. “for the punishment of evil doers”), there is no reason to limit the exercise of the sword to the sphere of domestic relations.  Rather, “…this responsibility from God also provides justification for nations to engage in armed conflict (“to bear the sword”) in order to protect their citizens from evildoers who would attack them from outside the nation, including a defence against armies sent by other nations when those armies are “those who do evil (1 Pet 2:14) in the pursuit of such a war.”[3] The second paragraph of the same chapter of the Confession asserts that not only may Christians be involved in the exercise of the sword in domestic affairs, but may also “lawfully now, under the New Testament, wage war upon just and necessary occasions.”

While there is divergence with regard to a Christian view of war, it would appear that the Confession would support the Just War Theory. The concept of Just War is built on several presuppositions, namely[4]:

  • some evil cannot be avoided;
  • the just war position is normative for all, Christian and non-Christian alike;
  • this theory does not try to justify war, rather it attempts to bring war within the limits of justice so that if everyone were guided by these principles, many wars would be eliminated;
  • the theory assumes that private citizens have no right to use force.

This theory, from the outset, “sees war as evil” (Feinberg, 652) and must met several criteria in order to qualify as an ethically permissible “just war”.  Criteria has typically been considered under the categories of jus ad bellum (i.e conditions that must be met before war can be deemed just) and jus in bello (i.e. the conduct and aims of the war). 

Conditions that must be met before war can be deemed just include the following[5]:

  • There must be a proper or legitimate authority who has responsibility for judging whether the other criteria are met.
  • War must be the last resort.
  • Insofar as possible, a formal declaration of war is required.
  • There must be reasonable hope of success.
  • There must be some proportionality between the good objective hoped for and the destruction involved in achieving it.
  • There must be a just cause.
  • The war must be fought with the right intention.

Criteria for the right conduct of war are as follows[6]:

  • There must be a limited objective in waging the war, namely, the restoration of peace.
  • The immediate object is not to kill or even injure people, but to incapacitate or restrain them.
  • Direct attack on non-combatants is illegitimate.
  • One is obligated not to inflict unnecessary suffering.
  • Indirect effects upon civilians must be justified by the principle of proportionality, i.e., the evil averted or the good attained justifies the action.

With regard to those persons featured in the New Testament who were militant by profession, they are never told to resign from their positions, but are rather exhorted to abound in compassion (Luke 3:14).  Additionally, “The NT church included many soldiers on active duty and saw nothing morally inconsistent with Christians serving as military professionals.”[7] 

In sum, how ought the Christian relate to the reality of war?  For one, war is a last resort and as such, the church must insist that all other diplomatic means are employed.  Secondly, there is scope for members of the church to be involved in the military. Third, Christians may serve in active duty in combatant roles given the above criteria of a Just War (with both categories of criteria being substantially satisfied) though they would be compelled to advocate the extending of mercy and sparing of “innocents” such as those serving in non-combatant roles and civilians.

[1] LBC 24:1

[2] LBC 24:2

[3] ESV Study Bible, 2554

[4] Feinberg, 653

[5] Feinberg, 654-655

[6] Feinberg, 655

[7] ESV Study Bible, 2554


The first in a series of short essays for a course on Ethics.

Explain and demonstrate from Scripture a Christian understanding of gender (sex – male/female) and discuss the implications of this on our culture’s current “gender debate”.

Gender is established in God’s sovereign act of creating man in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:7, 21-23).  In this a male/female distinction is established.  Genesis 1:27 is a fundamental text because of the closeness of association between God creating man in his own image, and His creating them male and female.  The creating of man at the start of the verse need not be understood as being synonymous with male (i.e. it would not be right to translate it as “God created males in his own image”).  Rather, it is the collective humanity that God creates in His own image.  This collective humanity is created male and female.  The use of the word translated “them” means that man is neither androgynous nor hermaphrodite.  Rather, it is right to think that God creates human beings and that whether male or female, they bear His image.  There is no scope within the creation account to suggest non-binary gender distinctions.  As Kevin de Young has written “The Bible knows no other gender categories besides male and female. While men and women in Scripture may express their masculinity and femininity in a wonderful diversity of ways, Scripture still operates with the binary categories of men and women. You are one or the other.[1]” Jesus Himself affirms the origin of maleness and femaleness in God’s creative design (Matthew 19:4).

The fall of man into sin has obviously had a significant impact on creation in that through it, it is subject to futility (Romans 8:20).  Again, Kevin de Young asserts “The anomaly of intersex individuals does not undermine the creational design, but rather gives another example of creational “groaning” and the “not the way they are supposed to be” realities of a fallen world.” Though this is the case, and it must be taken into account, there is nothing in the biblical record that supports gender fluidity or non-binary gender distinctions. Granted, although Paul distinguishes a naturalness from an unnaturalness when it comes to the use of one’s body and human sexuality, there is nothing to suggest that naturalness/unnaturalness gives rise to a substantial change in the biological realities of binary gender.  

de Young is not so naïve as to suggest that there are not individuals who struggle at a profound level with the issues of whether what they think and feel accords with the biological gender assigned to them at birth.  Rather, he asserts “The question is whether the is of our emotional or mental state equals the ought of God’s design”.  In other words, he does not allow the existential or situational perspective to confuse the normative perspective on issues of gender. 

de Young concludes his article by saying “I have not begun to answer all the important questions about pastoral care, counsel, and compassion for the hurting and confused.”  In this, he acknowledges that though we stand on a solid foundation of God’s truth concerning gender, we have obligation to approach the issues is raises with Christ-like compassion, especially when acknowledging the hurt and confusion from which gender confusion can arise as well as result in.

[1] retrieved 18-10-2017


by Brendon Ward


Rich in mercy

Grace and love

Born again

From above


Once was dead

Now alive

Raised with Christ

At the Father’s side


Coming ages

He to show

His grace and kindness

To those who know


Saved by grace

Through faith alone

Gift of God

In His Son


Not of works

Lest I boast

His workmanship

To glory boast


Called to works

Which He ordained

Before the world

Was ever framed



Once was dead
Tresspass and sin
Without hope
Without Him

Once this world
It’s course I walked
It’s judgement judged
It’s talk talked

Once that prince
To obey
Now still seen
Now displayed

Once by passion
I was led
Stony heart
Stony head

Once desire
Carried out
By will of heart
By what I felt

Once like all
In Adam-head
To sin alive
To God, dead



Fix You

Fix You

Cover by Brendan Malone and Joe Zambon

When you try your best, but you don’t succeed
When you get what you want, but not what you need
When you feel so tired, but you can’t sleep
Stuck in reverse
And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can’t replace
When you love someone, but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

And high up above or down below
When you’re too in love to let it go
But if you never try you’ll never know
Just what you’re worth

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Tears stream down your face
When you lose something you cannot replace
Tears stream down your face and I
Tears stream down your face
I promise you I will learn from my mistakes
Tears stream down your face and I

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

The Church

In practical terms this means that the church is built on the New Testament Scriptures. They are the church’s foundation documents. And just as a foundation cannot be tampered with once it has been laid and the superstructure is being built upon it, so the New Testament foundation of the church is inviolable and cannot be changed by any additions, subtractions or modifications offered by teachers who claim to be apostles or prophets today. The church stands or falls by its loyal dependence on the foundation truths which God revealed to his apostles and prophets, and which are now preserved in the New Testament Scriptures.

John StottStott, John. The Message of Ephesians: With Study Guide (The Bible Speaks Today) (Kindle Locations 1529-1533). Inter Varsity Press UK. Kindle Edition.


It’s been an irksome few weeks.

The BlackoutRegular readers of this blog will be aware that on 1 September 2016 I had an MVA: Motor Vehicle Accident.  This MVA resulted in the writing off of the vehicle in which it occurred.

The immediate impact that it had on me was that of whiplash, as per the agreement of multiple physicians that I have seen since the accident.

The Neurologist’s Opinion

Though this be the majority opinion, there have been some doctors (a General Practitioner and a Neurologist) that suspect it might  be worse than that.  Their suspicion is that I had a complex partial seizure.   The neurologist ordered a series of tests (some of which are yet to happen) and suggested I avoid driving for at least 6 months.

So the warring question has been:  What is it?

One of the reasons for the suspicion of seizure is that I sustained no head trauma, that is, I didn’t actually hit my head.  The question that arises from that is: Can I get a concussion without hitting my head?

Dr. Google seems to suggest that it is quite possible, especially given the initial diagnosis of a whiplash injury.

This is the direction Dr. Google pointed me in:

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI). It can occur after an impact to the head or after a whiplash-type injury that causes the head and brain to shake quickly back and forth. Concussions are usually not life-threatening, but they can cause serious symptoms that require medical treatment. (Healthline, 2016)

Concussion – Expected Recovery Time

It’s been 68 days since the MVA.  Expert medical opinion suggests that the effects of a concussion would last a few weeks, but its been 9 weeks and 5 days, and still the headache, and neck pain persists.

The doctor I saw yesterday isn’t alone in suggesting that I have something called Post-Concussion Syndrome.

Post-concussion syndrome is a complex disorder in which various symptoms — such as headaches and dizziness — last for weeks and sometimes months after the injury that caused the concussion. (Mayo Clinic, 2016)

This describes my experience with a great degree of precision.

It also provides a window of relief.  The prospect of having had a seizure, and the long-reaching consequences, has been a source of nagging fear and frustration.  If, however, the diagnosis of post-concussive syndrome sticks, then the fear and frustration are unsubstantiated, at least in part.


1 Peter 1:22-25

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.


Bludgeon is a ferocious warrior, skilled in the ancient Cybertronian martial art of Metallikato. He and his blade can cut through the battlefield as if everyone else is operating at a minimal speed setting. Bludgeon’s feats in battle seem nearly supernatural, which is probably the effect he’s going for, if he doesn’t believe his own hype. Utterly vicious and aloof, Bludgeon is also highly religious, adhering to an arcane code of honor. Though his beliefs fuel his single-minded bloodthirstiness with dogmatic precision, they also cause him to be rather superstitious.

Bludgeon’s confidence, skill, and grand words have often catapulted him to the upper ranks of the Decepticons. Who wouldn’t fall in line behind him? He’s charismatic! The Mayhem Attack Squad is his usual host of cronies, but he’s also been known to fill in as Decepticon leader if a power vacuum presents itself.

Bludgeon is (obviously) a Pretender who has adopted a shell which takes the appearance of a skeletal samurai. His signature weapon is an energo-sword, though he also carries a shield and a high-voltage electric cannon. In accordance with his martial arts motif, generators in his shell’s legs can create disorienting clouds of smoke, and he can generate electric fireballs from the torso of either his body or his shell.[1] It is unknown whether Bludgeon is any less agile or capable in his blocky robot mode, but it wouldn’t be surprising.

Sometimes Bludgeon combines with some of the members of the Mayhem Attack Squad to form Thunder Mayhem.

Prattling fool! Your warrior heart is tainted by an idiot’s tongue! Perhaps I shall remove both for you!Bludgeon takes on Jazz, The Primal Scream

Suicidal Sinner Meets All Sufficient Saviour

He tried to burn the house down

I grew up in a family of multiple gods.  Sex, money, power, drugs, and drink.  Most of these idols demanded devotion as my dad attempted to burn the house down, desiring an insurance payout.  Mum was at work and three children, all under 10 years old, were evacuated from a lightly smoldering house.  The house didn’t burn to the ground, but there was enough of an insurance implication to provide dad with a couple weeks work in his trade as a builder.

Though christened into the Catholic Church, and while for some reason the attendance of midnight mass was a feature of the Christmas season, there was no church attendance as a family.  There was the additional absence of the Word of God or prayer (or instructions on those things).  Whatever my parents may have believed, it was evident that in practice they were atheists.  I recall going to Sunday School on a handful of occasions – one season with a neighbor, and another where a local church constituted the neighbor.  Interestingly, both were Presbyterian churches.

The atheistic idolatry of my parents was augmented by a history of mental illness.  This history has not left me uninfected and so my teenage years were wrought with visits to counsellors and vague diagnoses by psychologists.  The trauma of my parent’s divorce certainly didn’t help the sense of neglect I already felt.  Beyond their divorce, there was an entrenched sense of abandonment – physically by dad; emotionally by mum.  I was being told more and more that I wasn’t wanted.

Atheist, Agitator, and Addict

At the age of sixteen, a self-professed atheist and anti-religious agitator, depression gained a foothold in my life and suicidal ideations began forming.  By that stage I was also abusing solvents, huffing petrol and inhaling the propellants of aerosol cans, and smoking marijuana on a regular basis.  I had lost interest in school and so my attendance was irregular and characterized by time in the Student Services area.  By this stage I was also addicted to pornography in whatever form I could access it.

With all these factors in play, I had few if any friends, a less than ideal relationship with my family, and as a very lonely and very angry young man, it’s no wonder I attempted suicide.  My chosen method was self-strangulation.  No sooner had I tightened my grip around my neck, did I realise the impossibility of my method.  I would not be able to maintain my grip and so this attempt was unsuccessful.

God, if You’re real…

I was smoking dope every day and feeding my addiction to pornography when the next memorable suicidal contemplation became a daily fascination.  I was essentially failing at life and felt more and more that I had nothing to live for.  I half-hearted wanted help with the one slender thread that represented my hope.

I do not know whether it was the casual visits to Sunday School, the nostalgic attendance at midnight mass, the silent witness of a network marketing guru, or having read (and subsequently defaced) a Gideon’s bible in a Brisbane hotel room – but I was tempted to pray, perhaps for the first time.  It was the prayer of a self-professed atheist with borderline-agnostic-disorder… “God, if you are real…”

Whatever petition my prayer contained, it was answered.  Now I was in trouble.  The God I had militantly and publicly denounced had caused me to doubt my unbelief.  It was the 25th of November 2002 but I cannot say with confidence that this was I had become a Christian.  The main reason for this lack of confidence has to do with the absence of conviction.  At that stage of my life, the inward turmoil always seemed to have an explanation in a social evil – whether it be the influence of religion or capitalism – but never my fault, never something defective within my self or my works.

Sin, Sex, and the Holy Spirit

The drug use continued, the exposure to pornography increased.  It was around this time that pornographic fantasy lead to real sex.  For years I had thought that sexual activity, not just with a computer screen or magazine, would be the key to fulfilment.  It wasn’t.  I had performed terribly, and for reasons beyond that, felt terrible for it.  My previous concept of sin and forgiveness was limited to the idea that you could willingly sin and ask for forgiveness after the fact.  But this act of sin carried with it a real sense of guilt.  I knew for the first time the sin-convicting power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

This lead me to discover Jesus as more than just the central figure in a book about the God to whom I had prayed and from whom I had received an answer.  My sin and the overwhelm of its guilt brought me beyond the mere “confess and be forgiven” mantra – rather, it forced me to consider the significance of my sin, my inability to rid myself of the guilt, and the need for something bigger than me to take away that guilt.  I came to realise the significance of the stated fact of Jesus death – that though my sin had a temporal and eternal consequence, what Jesus had done dealt with both – and not just in some abstract way, but for me.

The Good Shepherd

Amidst all of this, I was still struggling with the idea of being not only acceptable, but fought for and pursued.  I remember an episode of particularly powerful depression wherein I was crying out to God for deliverance.  No matter how much I prayed or read the Bible or even fasted, the depression would not lift.  In angry resignation I told God to leave me alone, to get out of my life, to stop interfering, that I wanted nothing more to do with Him.  Within moments of handing in my notice as a Christian, I found myself worshipping Him again.  I had wanted Him to flee from me, to depart from me – but He did the opposite.  I know James said “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” but what happens when you resign to the fact that you have nothing left with which to draw near?  It was in this moment that I began to comprehend the love of God.  His love would be expressed in such terms as “I will never leave you nor forsake you” and “No one will snatch them out of my hand/out of the Fathers hand”.  That last phrase, spoke to me about security in both the Son and the Father – that went so far as to preventing me from snatching myself out of a divine double grip.

I would later reflect on the doctrine of perseverance, citing that occasion as an attempt to run away from God and in the process finding it to be an exercise in futility.  It wasn’t in a sense of a prisoner unable to escape a dungeon of oppression, but a little lamb, secure in the protective custody of the Good Shepherd.

When Strivings Cease

Whether we know it or not, humanity seems to work and strive in an attempt to be acceptable, accepted, loved, cherished, and worthy.  But what happens when, as a result of having been thoroughly converted, one realizes that he is all these things and more, and this without his own work and striving?

Continued striving would come mostly as a failure to apprehend the reality of God’s unmerited love.  But apart from this, what was I living for?

A couple verses have become personal mission statements over the years.

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness… (Matthew 6:33)

…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death (Philippians 3:10)

My driving passion was to be characterized by an increasingly wholehearted pursuit of God in Christ, His Kingdom, His resurrection, His suffering, and ultimately, His death.  While always conscious of the need to work so as to provide for my own and my families physical needs, a desire to know Him has been at the back of some of the major decisions I have made in my life.  Where to live, who to marry, the kind of job to pursue.  Back of these questions has been the consideration of whether these choices would allow me to continue my pursuit of the King, would they afford me opportunity to pursue the power of the resurrection and the fellowship of the sufferings of Jesus Christ?

The struggle to seek my own kingdom, my own sense of importance and power – this is a daily one.  Though born again, there seems to remain in me something that unchecked would drive me back to self-gratifying addiction and abuse.  But by the grace of God, it is in check.  By the grace of God there is a more compelling vision, a more satisfying pursuit – to know Jesus Christ, and pursue the reality of His Kingdom.

The Ancient of Days

132px-europe_a_prophecy_copy_d_1794_british_museum_object_1“As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened. “I looked then because of the sound of the great words that the horn was speaking. And as I looked, the beast was killed, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire. As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time. “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. “As for me, Daniel, my spirit within me was anxious, and the visions of my head alarmed me. I approached one of those who stood there and asked him the truth concerning all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of the things. ‘These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever.’ “Then I desired to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the rest, exceedingly terrifying, with its teeth of iron and claws of bronze, and which devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet, and about the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn that came up and before which three of them fell, the horn that had eyes and a mouth that spoke great things, and that seemed greater than its companions. As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them, until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom.
(Daniel 7:9-22)