Does God’s will obliterate mine? Who owns CCLI?Clocks ticking for Israel in Gaza.

An Obadiah Slope column

It makes sense everywhere but here: Obadiah can’t believe this Bible is for sale in Australia. he’s not happy with gendered Bibles which just seem to be a commercial idea anyway.


A gap in the CCLI: Taking a deep dive into song licenses, Obadiah in nerd mode took a look at the CCLI (Christian Copyright Licensing International) copyright license most churches use. Most of you won’t know (well Obadiah did not know) there’s a streaming license, actually two versions, available as an add-on to the Church Copyright Licence that lets you project the words and perform songs.

The basic streaming license that allows you to stream a worship service starts at $72 for a church of 45 people, and would be $300 for a church of 300. Obadiah wonders how many churches that streamed services during Covid got a license.

CCLI update: Peter Ko Facebooked on what Jon Here of Selling Jesus has revealed distressing news.

Ko wrote, “CCLI, which manages copyright and receives payment for almost all of the Christian music (and videos) most of our churches use, is owned by a for-profit secular company, SESAC.

“In 2017, SESAC was bought by the secular investment firm Blackstone Inc.

“Blackstone Inc. has been guilty of child labour, deforestation, and even condemned by the U.N. for exploiting and profiting from the 2008 GFC.”

Obadiah’s response?

Can Christianity take itself outside of global capitalism? Most Bible versions are produced – as you know by companies like Newscorp (NIV, NKJV, KJV via their subsidiary Zonservan and Thomas Nelson). And they are printed in China.

Here’s a story from decades ago. During the Vietnam protests, I had a conversation with someone supporting Direct Action, the Trotskyist newspaper that became Green Left Weekly. I pointed out that their newspaper was printed on a Goss Community press, produced by Rockwell, who also manufactured Napalm.

(Nerdy detail) They were printed at spot press the old Communist Party Printery – but they had replaced their non-Capitalist East German Press after the Soviet Union stopped selling them parts.

I support the spirit of what you say, but I am unsure that we can keep ourselves pure and unspotted from the world of late modern capitalism. I believe Christians should protest – but know we can’t actually distance ourselves from our social system, the same way the apostles could not separate themselves from Rome.


Great Stats on talking about Jesus. Dave Jensen, who is about to take on a new job for Sydney Anglicans’ Evangelism and New Churches (ENC) to encourage evangelism, laid out some helpful stats in this month’s Moore College Magazine.  
“We need to view the harvest field in front of us the same way as Jesus does. Not with exasperation but with expectation. …

‘Whilst yes, 8% of people don’t know a single Christian, 79% of Aussies know at least two people who say they are Christian. This group was asked which words describe the Christians they know. The top three answers were caring, loving and kind. The media might dislike us, but our mates? They like us?
‘But here’s what I really want you to notice: the answers to the question, “How open would you be to changing your current religious view?”

‘Non-Christians open to change – from “Extremely open” to “Slightly open” – numbered 26%.

‘To put that in real terms, that’s 6.8 million people. One out of four Aussies! Of course, the issue is that we don’t know who these people are! Three out of four people are not interested.

‘The question is: Are you willing to go through the rejection of the three to find the one?


Israel’s multiple clocks: Michael Oren, senior advisor to Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu, on what might happen next in Sapir Journal: “There is the clock of ammunition, certain stocks of which are already depleted, and the need to preserve sufficient reserves for a possible second front with Hezbollah. There is the humanitarian-disaster clock of the more than 1 million Palestinian refugees who, at Israel’s urging, fled to the southern part of Gaza, who are now exposed to the privations of winter and serving as shields for the terrorists hiding among them. There is the clock of a White House labouring under mounting pressure to mediate further cease-fires and hostage exchanges, and that, in turn, pressures Israeli leaders to accept them. There is the financial clock of an Israeli economy: Shorn of tourism and almost all foreign investment, it cannot keep hundreds of thousands of some of its most productive citizens indefinitely mobilized.

“The IDF can beat out those clocks by advancing swiftly yet surgically while reducing as much as possible the casualties on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides. Israel can ultimately achieve its goal. The process, however, is likely to stretch over many months, perhaps even a year. And while the world will press its demands, what, if anything, is Israel’s endgame?”


God’s will and my will: Does being a Christian obliterate my will in favour of God’s will? A voice from the ancient church might help.As a writer in the Notre Dame Journal, Catholic Academic Anthony Marco outlines, it is a topic that fascinated Maximus the Confessor. (Obadiah takes it as practical commentary on Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved meand gave himself for me.”)

But let the saint speak.

“Saint Maximus the Confessor offers a curious reassurance to the reader of his Ambigua to John. In his description, deification, the “state [when] nothing will appear apart from God,” is the eschatological unity we hope for in Christ. The Confessor addresses the reader directly: “Let not these words disturb you, for I am not implying the destruction of our power of self-determination (αὐτεξουσίου).”[1] Maximus holds in tension obedience and freedom—of conforming our lives to Christ and retaining our own identity.

“The Confessor’s thought addresses an underlying problem that vexes our secularized age: the disconnect between faith and life in the world. Two themes are central to this issue: freedom and meaning. First, how does human freedom interact with God’s will? Second, does human creativity and meaning-making add to God’s plan for creation or are these faculties mere temptations that cause us to stray from the divine will?

“Maximus’ answer can be found in Christ, the Logos, who wills to unite all things in his one person. On account of this union, the Confessor extends what we say about Christ in the hypostatic union to the Christian who is joined to Christ. He masterfully unites human self-determination with the divine in Christ and in the life of every Christian by participation. Maximus envisions the relationship between God and humanity drawn from the hypostatic union as an endless exchange of loving communion without assimilation or separation. By a close analysis of this dynamic, we will see that human freedom is not simply tolerated as a permissible reality but is a willed part of this ongoing exchange of love.”


  1. I’m a bit chary of the above evangelism stats and angle. 26% like to describe themselves as open to change does not mean that they are open to change. If you are hamfisted in your evangelism (eg because you do not have that specific spiritual gift and very few do) you risk alienating the ‘three to reach the one’, not simply being rejected. This approach might be scoring goals for the Devil. Christians are good at own goals.

  2. re: CCLI
    it is indeed sad that they are (ultimately) owned by non-Christians. however, as long as they continue to distribute fair and equitable royalties to the artists involved, then there is not a lot of issue.
    It is when they begin to carve out more than the “cost” of supplying the service – people in the office answering questions, people entering new songs in the database, office rental, equipment, electricity, and all the other costs of doing business – as long as it’s “just” that being taken off the top, and not excessive profits to their ‘masters’, then that should be ok.
    if they cross that line, then who knows? there are other licensing organisations – ccli is just the best known.

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