Author: Jason Harris

What’s So Good About Being Nice?

Nice isn’t good; mean isn’t bad. There. I said it. You’ve long suspected my heresy. Now you have proof in black and white. But it’s true. Nice isn’t good and our unshakeable conviction that it is, is making us bad. Let me explain what I mean. Imagine you’re walking down the street and you see a guy manhandling a woman. You have several options. One of your options is to be nice. Nice might do a number of things under these circumstances. It might look away awkwardly and tell itself that the matter is between them. It might offer...

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The #1 Issue for Christians this Election: Religious freedom

Discrimination exemption for churches? No thanks. I’ll have religious freedom please. It seems to me the number one issue for Christians in this election has hardly been addressed by the major candidates. Namely, religious freedom. My assumption is that within the next decade—more likely the next term of government—same-sex marriage will be legalised in Australia. For better or for worse, that is probably going to happen. And it will mark a crucial moment in this debate. For the first time, Christians will stop being the mainstream on this issue. We will become the minority and we will soon find...

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Self-image and “a wretch like me”: Is John Newton’s view of mankind biblical?

“We hear much in the present day of the dignity of human nature.” These words, written over two hundred years ago, could have been written in this morning’s paper. In fact, the speaker is former slave-trader, turned pastor, John Newton. Yes, that John Newton. The guy who wrote “Amazing grace (how sweet the sound) that saved a wretch like me.” A wretch. That’s fairly negative terminology. Though not quite as negative as his other favourite self-descriptor: a worm. And this raises the question, was Newton an old fogey complaining about such newfangled ideas as “self-esteem”? Did he have an...

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To Die is Gain: Paul’s logic and the suicidal Christian

It’s a moment rich in pathos as the wizened apostle pours his heart out to the Philippian believers. The words flow simply from his pen: “To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” It is doubtful Shakespeare himself wrote anything so poetic. Yet beneath the poetry rests a profound reality. To live is Christ; to die is gain. What believer can read these words without feeling the tug of eternity, the longing for home? And while to die is a notion rich in hope and comfort for the believer, to live is a notion even more...

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His Gospel is Peace

It’s been a rough Christmas season for Australia so far. As I write, I’m sitting at my desk in Cairns less than 10km from where eight children were slaughtered yesterday morning. The mother’s arrest overnight leaves us at a loss to comprehend. How could this be done to children? With such brutality? At Christmas? Just a few days earlier, Australia watched as more than a dozen civilians were caught up in the twisted fantasies of a crazed terrorist—two of them fatally. So much for peace and good will at Christmas. As I wrote the above paragraphs, a Muslim friend...

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