Australian Christian Lobby Surrenders in Culture War: Sacks Martyn Iles
Martyn Iles, Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby announced on Friday that his employment has been terminated by the board. I was taken by surprise because the ACL has become hugely popular across the Australian Christian landscape since Martyn took over the reins.
According to Martyn’s resignation post, over the last five years:
“ACL’s annual income, supporter numbers, donors, and staff numbers have all roughly tripled.”
Based on this one might think he would be considered a glowing success. Revenue is up and the supporter base is bigger than ever. We will get to why that is in a moment. But the question remains why is the board unhappy?
According to Martyn the board doesn’t like the direction of the organisation and wants someone else to take charge of a new strategy focused on political lobbying and less on explaining the gospel and applying it to socio-political affairs and the Christian life - which has been the hallmark of Martyn’s career at the ACL.
A number of pundits have already weighed in on the news. Stephen Mcalpine threw support behind Martyn Iles saying without his gospel focused tactics the organisation risks becoming the “Australian Christendom Lobby.”
QNews, a news site for all things queer, declared “Happy Gay Christmas” after the news of Martyn’s firing. Quoting former Senator Brian Greig, who appears to be known for his gay activism stated: “Truth is [Martyn Iles] was sacked for turning the ACL into a personality cult around him, cutting other ppl out, stealing the limelight and hyper-controlling all communications.”
Pseudo-Presbyterian lefty Nathan Campbell on a blog post believes, “Under Martyn’s leadership the ACL has become massively more popular with the Christian constituency they represent but massively less popular (by reports I’ve heard from those engaged in other lobbying work in Canberra) with the politicians whose doors are now closed to the ACL.”
However, Campbell’s main problem with Martyn is that he engages in the culture war as part and parcel of his gospel and political ministry. His bone is no surprise since Pastor Campbell was an advocate for the “Yes” vote in the Australian gay mirage campaign despite him claiming to believe in a traditional sexual ethic. Apparently, God only created marriage for us Jesus types - Why foist it on anybody else?
So which of these opinions represents the reality of the situation facing Martyn Iles and the ACL? I have no inside knowledge of the inner workings of the ACL but from observing the state of Christian activism in Australia this past decade (or lack thereof) I would suggest there is some truth in all of these ideas and a whole lot more beside.
Firstly, has a personality cult arisen around Martyn Iles in his work for the ACL? I would say yes to some large degree. But the real question is this: Why has this happened and is it a bad thing?
Martyn has become popular because he filled a vacuum in the Church. He fulfills a role in Christian activism that has not dared been filled by any other public apologist for Christianity in many years. That is, Martyn dared educate the Christian Church, on politics and socio-political affairs by applying biblical principles and an application of the gospel of Jesus. In short he became an evangelical Christian apologist against Cultural Marxism.
I have often commented on Martyn’s sell out tours that the Church must be in a very sorry state when it requires a gospel preacher from a para-church organisation to travel the country and explain to every day Christians why the narratives behind trans-genderism, same sex attraction, identity politics and many other aspects of the cultural Marxist revolution are all completely mistaken according to the worldview presented in the bible.
So why aren’t our church leaders doing it? If Pastors were doing their job there would be no hunger among the masses to drive a personality cult around a man like Martyn Iles who openly discusses the impacts of neo-Marxism in our society and helps Christians think through the implications.
Yes pastors, the fact is Martyn is only doing your job because you have failed to do it! And so cultural Marxism has crept into your church. It has redefined the message, redefined priorities and made many a church leader too afraid to speak out on any of these important issues with any sort of clarity!
The onslaught of cultural Marxist activism has seen many churches and their leaders embrace a new seeker sensitive form of Gospel based on a pseudo-Christian ethic driven primarily by a concern for categories taken from the philosophy of identity politics.
Under this revisionist ethic having same-sex-attracted folks in your church is a virtue. They are a better class of sinner, a protected class. White Christians married to a person of colour celebrate their marrying into an oppressed class! Is your newly appointed pastor a migrant? Advertise that fact on Facebook. Never mind his character or spirituality. Extra diversity points for you!
And so, the Australian churches are taken “captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition…” (Col 2:8). And Martyn Iles with the support of the ACL dared to try free her. Is it any wonder those starved for understanding by weak and cowardly shepherds flocked to one of the only public voices making clear gospel implications in an age of false-progressivism. An era that heralds debauchery and rebellion against God as a way forward for humanity.
Now is it true that doors are closed to the ACL in Canberra? I have no doubt. But again, why has this happened and is it a bad thing? The fact is the Australian Christian Lobby exists, at least in practice so far, to prop up the politics of the Liberal Party here in Australia. And indeed it even tried to do so under the leadership of Iles whereby last election I wrote a critical article of Martyn’s strategy entitled The Australian Christian Lobby: Propping Up a Corrupt Liberal Party Establishment.
However, as it turned out the campaign led by Iles ended up hurting the Liberal Party by destroying conservative support in a number of seats occupied by pseudo-liberal degressives who were known for their support of neo-pagan sexual ethics. In other words, Martyn’s gospel approach to politics meant support for the Liberal party was limited to those individuals he believed still stood for classical libertarian and Christian values. Regardless of whether you agree with his political strategy (I didn’t) you must admit Martyn attempted to apply the biblical standard on an individual candidate basis.
For the ACL’s help in losing the election a number of Liberal party doors are no doubt closed to the ACL. Why? Because under Martyn Iles the usefulness of the ACL as a cuck for Liberal Party politics waned.
The other reason doors are closed to the ACL is because Martyn Iles has become a daring public apologist for evangelic Christianity. He filters news (aka propaganda), the cultural Marxist muck and other worthless celebrity talking points through a gospel framework presenting fairly well reasoned ways to think biblically about each topic.
Now that should make the establishment nervous! It has all the beginnings of a populist movement. In our neo-pagan society rule depends on the dumbing down of the population through constant indoctrination in our schools and institutions. And here is the ACL led by Iles under taking a re-education campaign! A re-education campaign no longer rooted in political alliances but rather allegiance to Jesus Christ! So, you better believe doors have closed inside the fake halls of democracy in Canberra!
But it is a great thing! Because it means Martyn has been speaking biblical truth, finally! And some in politics don’t like it. Whether because of corruption or because their natural allegiances are worldly, Martyn’s presentation of the biblical Jesus as one who requires repentance is an obvious stumbling block for them in a world of contrary narratives.
The fact is, faithful gospel ministry is as much about closing doors as it is about opening them. As the Gospel of John says:
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. -John 3:19-21
So what about the ACL’s “new” strategy? Will it work? Well that depends. How much of the legacy of Martyn Iles does the organisation plan to keep? Who will be running it now and will they continue to maintain the support of the Australian evangelical Christian landscape?
If this strategy, as some have suggested, represents a return to the old days of the ACL under the style of campaigns we saw during the gay mirage debate, then no! I believe it will be an abject failure that will see the organisation splinter and evaporate into irrelevancy.
Bolstering attempts to kiss the feet of those in service to the establishment and propping up the Liberal Party will continue to be a foolhardy enterprise. Indeed, this aspect of Martyn’s job proved to be the least effective from my accounting.
Take for example the Religious Discrimination Bill and lobbying for protection of schools. This embarrassing example of sucking up to parliament until they recognise Christians as victims hasn’t worked. Why? Because the establishment is well aware that its neo-pagan policies destroy Christian culture - that is by design!
The establishment is never going to be interested in protecting Christian interests because that is presently contrary to the agenda. As we move further into technocratic authoritarianism one needs to understand that the pathway for it has been cleared by the cultural Marxist carpet bombing of society so as to remove the old order of things - that includes Christianity!
The ACL board does not appear to understand that this political trajectory has been set by people far higher up than they will ever gain any influence over. Canberra are merely servants to the cause. Indeed, democracy in Australia is largely an enterprise in fakery, the illusion of choice in a world of top down corporate fascism. To play that game is to buy into the illusion that vying for power in politics grants power for change. But as the old saying goes, if voting changed anything they wouldn’t let you do it!
Even if there are some in Canberra with sympathy toward Christian doctrine they yet remain powerless without significant populist support. Martyn Iles appears to have somewhat understood this, which is why I suspect he focused the ACL’s efforts on the pre-political, to re-educate and realign and unify the church around biblical truth.
The famous dissident Vaclav Havel once wrote, “living within the truth becomes the one natural point of departure for all activities that work against the automatism of the system.”In other words, lasting political pressure is born chiefly from cultural change - that happens when a society begins to again embrace and live out the truth rather than the lie. This is why it is important to fight the culture war as Christians! Because our Lord Jesus, his sacrifice and his way of life are the only way - and judgement day will prove it! And so, we fight with the only weapon that any Christian has to change the hearts of people - the sword of the Spirit - the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12-13).
So my hope for Martyn Iles in his letting go by the ACL is that he will continue to do what he has been doing, if not with the ACL then with another organisation. This organisation should ramp up re-education efforts aimed and recovering a Christian worldview, firstly in the Church and then for the purposes of outreach. And in all this, Christian activism and political engagement driven by gospel priorities and allegiance to Christ must not be neglected.
Therefore pray for Martyn and the ACL in the fashion of the Apostle Paul:
“Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. (Ephesians 6:19-20)
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The Power of the Powerless - https://hac.bard.edu/amor-mundi/the-power-of-the-powerless-vaclav-havel-2011-12-23