In recent weeks I have been writing some articles related to church life that I’m sure have been considered polarising by many. I am thankful for feedback from all sides of the camp; from organised church to organic church; from institutional church to emerging church. Some of the feedback has been very positive; some quite heated in opposition to the concepts I put forward. And while these articles may have indeed been polarising, at least they have had the desired effect: dialogue.

More than to create dialogue and to provoke thought, these articles were ultimately intended to make a point and Peter Christensen’s excellent prophetic word for 2006 published a couple of weeks ago on the Storm Harvest list has partly confirmed the point I am leading to.

For a couple of years at the end of the 1990’s, Graham Cooke was one of  my mentors. In fact, he and I would go as far as to agree that for a time he was my father in the prophetic. Graham is known for the profound depth in his teaching and, one of the more profound things he taught me privately was the simplicity of Jesus’ teaching. Bob Mumford used to joke that Jesus presented simple truth, but that you could always count on a seminary trained teacher to stuff it up by making it complex. Well, Graham taught me that “.. when everything gets complicated, remember that Jesus was a master at making things simple.” Think about it .. in the complexity of the Judaic religious system, riddled with more man-made tradition than God-inspired commandments, Jesus said that, like the first two commandments, all of life comes down to these two things: “love God with everything you’ve got and love people in just the same way.”

This is truly the point of this last series of articles .. church has become too complicated and God is extremely concerned that we “dumb it down”!

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Kerry Denten Comments 10/02

I was intrigued by a headline on the News Corporation website today .. it read “Publish and Perish”. The story went on to read ..

“Here at NEWS Corporation we know the business of publishing can be a tricky one. But cartoon violence has never been as real as the global reaction this week to the publication of images depicting the prophet Mohammed.”

As a result, this story became News Corporation’s second most important story of the week .. because of the violent backlash it brought.

You might recall that on Wednesday I spoke with Dr Helen Szoke of the Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission about how the Victorian position on the publication of the cartoons was seen as non-vilifying compared to the decision of the Tribunal that Catch the Fire Ministries seminar on Muslims was vilifying.

One of the things I didn’t get to discuss with her was the outcomes of each instance.

What I mean is this:

If the publication of these supposedly blashpemous cartoons does not constitute vilification on the grounds that they are simply an artistic presentation, and yet, their publication results in wide-spread riots around the world .. surely then, their publication MUST be considered vilifying because the outcome was to have stirred hatred and violence.

However, what Danny Nalliah taught in the seminar run by Catch the Fire Ministries has had no effect at all other than to bring insight and understanding to Christians about the ways that Muslims believe and operate. There has been no increased hatred, no increased ridicule, no acts of violence perpetrated on Muslims by those who attended the seminar.

If the Victorian Racial and Religious Vilification Act is intended to stop these very things, and none of them were clear and obvious outcomes from Catch the Fire Ministries seminar, then how on earth can the content of that seminar be considered vilifying?

Let’s continue to pray that this foolish and restrictive Act will be turned on its head at appeal or at the very least be turned back on those who have tried to test it at the potential expense of Danny Nalliah’s ministry.

Listen to the audio of this comment from the air program on Vision by clicking on the player below.



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Kerry Denten Interviews Dr Helen Szoke 08/02

Today I had the opportunity to interview Dr Helen Szoke, Chief Executive of the Equal Opportunity Commission in Victoria.

We spoke about Victoria’s Racial and Religious Tolerance Act as it relates to the publication of cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammed and, more specifically, as it relates to the case against Catch the Fire Ministries and Danny Nalliah.

Listen to the audio of this comment from the air program on Vision by clicking on the player below.



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Kerry Denten Comments 07/02

Now, yesterday I had something to say about the publication of the controversial cartoons of the Muslim prophet Mohammed which have caused outrage around the Islamic world.

Well, I am deeply encouraged today to note that they are unlikely to be found offensive under Victoria’s anti-vilification laws.

As you would remember, the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act is intended to deal with behaviour that incites hatred, serious contempt, revulsion and severe ridicule of others because of their race and religion.

But according to the Equal Opportunity Commission of Victoria’s chief executive, Dr Helen Szoke, she said today that there was a difference between causing offence and vilification.

According to her, “The behaviour has to be much more serious than causing offence, (it has to be) affronting someone’s sense of decency or hurting their feelings in order for it to be considered vilifying.”

She went on to say that “Incitement is more than just merely holding a view or expressing an opinion; it is the encouragement or promotion of hatred towards others” .. and that ..”The law is not designed to restrict freedom of speech, genuine debate or discussion, but to stamp out the most serious forms of racial and religious vilification.”

Dr Szoke said that a cartoon would need to be extremely serious in order to meet the benchmark for vilifying behaviour.

Now all of that is good, but if her comments hold true, then we need to be calling for the national print media to stop their cow-towing to intimidation and to stand up and exercise their rights for free-speech so long as they are simply “reporting a story” and not “attempting to purposefully offend” our Muslim brothers and sisters.

I just find it ridiculous that a cartoon which has insited such violent reaction around the world isn’t considered vilification .. but a seminar that quotes directly from the Koran to help Christians understand Muslims better and that also encourages Christians to love Muslims with the love of Christ can in turn BE considered as vilification. It’s madness.

I believe we need to be calling for Victoria’s Equal Opportunity Commission to get themselves involved in the court case against Catch the Fire Ministries and the two Pastors Danny and have their conviction for vilification according to the Victorian Racial and Religious Tolerance Act completely overturned and quashed.

Listen to the audio of this comment from the air program on Vision by clicking on the player below.



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Kerry Denten Comments 06/02

Fearing a local repeat of the weekend’s violent protests overseas, Australia’s main newspapers have announced that they will not re-publish cartoon depictions of the Muslim prophet Mohammed.

Frankly, I find that very sad. We live in a free society .. and while I may not agree with the things you say, I will fight for you to have the right to say them because that’s one of the hallmarks of both freedom and a peace-loving community.

For example, I hate it when someone blasphemes God, belittles Christ or makes fun of Christians .. but as someone who loves the liberty that gives me the right to freely express my religious preferences, I must likewise allow the free expression of another’s thinking so long as it does not violate our common freedoms nor encourage heinous acts against other members of the Australian community.

I find the fact that Australia’s print media feel to not re-publish these images of Mohammed, very sad indeed. Not because I want to see them published, not at all. These images are clearly offensive to some in our community. However, I am disappointed at the Australian print media’s response to all this. They have allowed themselves to be intimidated by the potential of the kinds of violent responses that have become so common among our Muslim brothers and sisters as a grounds for withdrawal.

Intimidation and the threat of violent repercussions unto death must never be allowed to silence our freedom of expression. I am both sad and sorry that the publication of these images is offensive to Muslims, but we must remember that Australia is NOT a Muslim nation and that the intimidation of violent Muslim acts must never be allowed to alter the laws and civil liberties upon which our nation was built.

With respect to my Muslim brothers and sisters, let me say that I am saddened that a religion that professes love and peace is more known for its incredible volitility, anger and atroscious acts of violence .. and whilever the threat of such acts remains our primary reason for not exercising our hard-won freedoms .. the freedoms that tens of thousands of Australians have lived and died for over the past 200 years .. we will ultimately see our nation descend into bowing and scraping to the very deliberate intent of some fundamentalist Muslims to turn Australia into an Islamic State governed by Shariah law.

If we’re happy to yield ourselves to that, then just get on with handing our nation over to those plans. If not, then may the media and Australians everywhere stand their ground to maintain the liberties of being able to demonstrate tolerance, grace, love, peace and inclusion to all who would call our shores home.

Y’know, the last time I looked, an act of anger and violence being committed against another because “I don’t like it .. and I didn’t get my own way” is not actually called a protest .. it’s usually called a “tantrum” .. and any Australian adult worth their salt ought to give that kind of response the dignity it deserves .. none at all.

Listen to the audio of this comment from the air program on Vision by clicking on the player below.



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A Case For and Against Cathedrals

I was getting ready yesterday to go out to my Grandmother’s 95th birthday celebrations. While I was in that “autopilot” mode you get into while showering and dressing, I found my mind wandering to considering some of the larger organised churches around Australia and other parts of the world and was surprised by what the Lord showed me.

I was considering Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas when my mind then meandered from the huge Minster (or Cathedral) in York, England to St Andrews Cathedral in Sydney. Then my thinking wandered to the Crystal Cathedral, then to Paradise Community Church in Adelaide, South Australia, to Christian City Church and Hillsong Church in Sydney .. and here is what the Lord said …

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Resurrection and Pandemonium

I came across this article today, written by an author named Ben Patterson, whose insights I have quietly followed for over a decade. His background is VERY mainline and yet his thinking is that of the Kingdom. He writes …

Imagine the mystery and delight of not just hearing, but seeing the story of Jesus for the first time, almost as an eyewitness.

That’s what happened to a primitive tribe in the jungles of East Asia, when missionaries showed them the Jesus film. Not only had these people never heard of Jesus, they had never seen a motion picture. Then, all at once, on one unforgettable evening, they saw it all—the gospel in their own language, visible and real.

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Come Aside ……….

Thomas Merton was a Trappist monk who was noted for his insights into the contemplative life. He died some years ago, the victim of a car crash.

Guy Chevreau first introduced me to Merton when I was discovering the classic by St John of the Cross, “Dark Night of the Soul”. (Thank you Guy for setting me on a journey of contemplative life.)

I stumbled across this quote from Merton today and felt to share it with you and then to ask you a question once you’ve read it …

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