Living next to the fire station has provided an interesting commentary on life since I notice every time the siren sounds; every second dog in the neighbourhood - from the biggest Alsatian to the smallest Jack Russell - feels the need to mimic the sound.

Thankfully our kelpie doesn't feel the need to follow suit. He is an independent thinker.

We are lacking independent thinkers these days. It takes one Israel Folau to express an unsurprising view for a fundamentalist Christian (or fundamentalist Muslim, or fundamentalist Jew or homophobe) for a chorus of views supportive to sound off.

Regardless of their right to say what they really think, I wonder how reflective the comments were of the principles of Mr Folau's faith.


I can't see how it adds to the world for views to be expressed boldly and coldly in the way they were.

I wonder what he could have drawn in the sand with his finger given the opportunity and had he taken the time to think before reacting.

Does he really think the gospels would record a different response had the Pharisees brought a gay man to Christ instead of a woman caught in adultery? (I always thought it was odd that the man, who must also have been caught in the act, escaped - what had he had on his would-be captors that allowed him to be let go). The woman always pays twice.

The same response seems to go with the explosion of hostilities between Palestine and Israel on the 70th anniversary of the formation of that country and the opening of the United States embassy in Jerusalem.

I have seen Christians posting Old Testament scriptures seeking to justify killing of innocent bystanders and those who legally protest, supposedly on the basis of the currency of prophesy several thousand years old.

To suggest that their supposedly loving God was happy for the slaughter of innocent people is ridiculous.

It seems amazing to me that Christians can simultaneously put ancient text into a modern context but cannot put the ancient text into its historic context and leave it there.

It doesn't mean there is no relevance for today or that lessons cannot still be learned. We discard the lessons of history at our own contemporary peril.

But those who think that there is no room to grow one's faith into a modern context are limiting their faith in their God surely, no matter what faith they adhere to.

It certainly doesn't grow the mission, relevance or applicability of that faith. It doesn't attract people to consider it, or to turn to it in a moment of need.

In fact, the message of the gospels - and the whole New Testament - seems to be founded on putting then-contemporary context around ancient teachings.

Jesus confronted some of the gravest of sins against the Jewish religion back in the day with the most novel of approaches, which is what got him offside with the establishment.

Applying that same insight and concern in 2018 gets some of us liberal Christians offside with the conservative established defenders of the faith.

I have changed my mind on a lot of things over the past 60 years - some from insight, some from the recognition of my previous ignorance, some from research and a new understanding of a hoary old chestnut.

I think changing ideas and renewed understanding are indications that there is life in the old dog yet.

Being dead to new ideas is a sure sign of a closed mind, and vice versa.

To hear hateful comments emanate from those professing to speak on behalf of all Christians makes me cringe for fear of being tarred with the same brush – guilt by association.

I hope those judging the commentators are more informed than those making the stupid statements. Let's hope they are just howling to the siren of bigotry and boastfulness.

Here endeth the lesson.

*Chester Borrows served as Whanganui MP for 12 years and as a minister in the National Government.