Responses to the Appellate Tribunal Opinion

Posted on November 12, 2020 
Filed under Australian dioceses, Culture wars

Essential reading on the 11 November 2020 Opinion issued by the Appellate Tribunal:

When to take a stand

Posted on December 4, 2020 
Filed under Anglican Communion, Culture wars, Theology

“From time to time, faithful Christians have been called on to take a stand for the gospel.

In the 1st century it was over circumcision and Gentile inclusion in the church.

In the 4th century it was over the nature of God and the divinity of Christ.

In the 16th century it was over the authority of Scripture and justification by faith.

In the 18th and 19th centuries it was over the possibility of miracles and the historical reliability of the Gospels.

And in the 21st century, it is over marriage, gender and sexuality. …”

– Tom Habib writes plainly at The Australian Church Record.

The Coming — a dramatic new Christmas video from Glen Scrivener and Speak Life.

Posted on December 3, 2020 
Filed under Apologetics & Evangelism, Resources

This year’s Christmas video from Glen Scrivener and Speak Life has just been released. This ambitious production, an animation based on “The Coming” by R. S. Thomas, is sure to generate discussion.

Be sure to watch.

Plus

You could pray about ways of using this video for Christmas.

Teaching and prayer: Banned in Victoria?

Posted on December 3, 2020 
Filed under Australia, Culture wars

From The Pastor’s Heart, a very important topic:

“This week on the Pastor’s Heart, we’re discussing upcoming legislation that is being pushed in Victoria. The Change of Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020 has consequences of 10 years imprisonment for anyone engaging in “change of suppression practices.” Expert reading of the bill suggest this threatens religious freedom and implicates Bible Studies, Church services and even one-to-one prayer.

This week – we talk with key Christian leaders from Victoria: Murray Campbell and Chris Duke along with Law Professor Neil Foster about the ramifications of this bill.

We’ll discuss the details of the bill, the implications for Christians in Victoria and wider implications for Churches across Australia and the Western world. We’ll also discuss how Christian leaders can respond and opportunities to clarify and limit the scope of the bill.”

Watch or listen here.

Related:

What Explains the Left’s Hostility to Religious Liberty? It’s All About the Sexual Revolution – Albert Mohler, 02 December 2020.

Further information about Victorian “Conversion Practices” Bill – Neil Foster, 03 December 2020.

Singing is back!

Posted on December 2, 2020 
Filed under COVID19, Sydney Diocese

“Pressure from churches has led to changes to COVID Public Health orders which will allow churchgoers to sing at Christmas services, but they have been advised to wear masks. …

The Health orders will be in force from Monday, 7th December.”

– Good news from SydneyAnglicans.net.

The Australian Church Record Journal, Summer 2020-21

Posted on December 2, 2020 
Filed under Resources

The latest Australian Church Record Journal is packed with helpful and informative features.

Be sure to download your copy – and let others know.

Here’s a taste of what’s in this issue:

Celebrate the great unmasking of God

Posted on December 1, 2020 
Filed under Resources, Sydney Diocese

“This has been the year of wearing masks.

Little did we know as we entered 2020 that Australia, and indeed the world, would suffer the effects of a pandemic from the Coronavirus – which first made its entrance into the world about 12 months ago in Wuhan, China. …”

– Archbishop Glenn Davies shares a very appropriate Christmas message in the December 2020 edition of Southern Cross.

Encouragement in the midst of a challenging year

Posted on December 1, 2020 
Filed under COVID19, Encouragement, Sydney Diocese

“It’s important to take moments to stop and reflect in order to see the ways God has worked in our lives. We want to celebrate how God has blessed churches, sustained and expanded ministries, and grown his kingdom this year. Join us in giving thanks for the year that has been!…”

– At SydneyAnglicans.net, Judy Adamson reminds us there is much for which we can be thankful.

Archbishop Glenn Davies appeals for an easing of restrictions this Christmas

Posted on November 30, 2020 
Filed under Sydney Diocese

Archbishop Glenn Davies and other religious leaders are appealing for an easing of COVID-19 restrictions this Christmas.

Glenn speaks with 7News’ Chris Reason in this story aired today, 30th November 2020. (Youtube)

Sydney Diocese’s Unchanged Priority for over Eighty Years

Posted on November 29, 2020 
Filed under Apologetics & Evangelism, Encouragement, Sydney Diocese

“The world’s greatest need is evangelism. With all the earnestness and strength that are in me I urge upon you that fact. I urge it especially upon my brethren of the clergy. Study evangelism; preach evangelism; live evangelism.

Let us not, by neglecting it, betray the Lord that bought us; let us not, by neglecting it, betray the souls of men who look to us for light and leading; let us not, by neglecting it, betray our own souls on the day of judgment when God shall call us to give account of our stewardship.

‘Who is sufficient for these things?’ we cry. And our cry would be one of despair did all not remember that “our sufficiency is of God”. That sufficiency comes to us through the medium of prayer.”

– Archbishop H. W. K. Mowll, Presidential Address to the 3rd Ordinary Session of the Twenty-fourth Synod of the Diocese of Sydney (Monday 15 August, 1938) (Year Book of the Diocese of Sydney 1939, p. 247)

Picture: Archbishop Howard Mowll, painted by Alfred G. Reynolds, 1958. On display at Mowll Village, Castle Hill.

Unanimous resolution: The Sydney Standing Committee regarding References to the Appellate Tribunal (Same Sex Blessing) – Wangaratta and Newcastle

Posted on November 28, 2020 
Filed under Australian dioceses, Culture wars, Sydney Diocese, Theology

Essential reading:

Here is the text of a Motion passed unanimously by the Diocese of Sydney Standing Committee at its meeting on Monday 23 November 2020.

It concerns the Opinion released by the Appellate Tribunal relating to Same Sex Blessing:

_________________________

Diocese of Sydney Standing Committee – 23 November 2020
References to the Appellate Tribunal (Same Sex Blessing) – Wangaratta and Newcastle

Motion passed unanimously:

Standing Committee of the Diocese of Sydney entirely rejects the recently released majority opinion of the General Synod Appellate Tribunal. We stand with brothers and sisters all over the world who have resisted the attempt to bless what God does not bless and to ignore the teaching of Scripture on the extreme danger of the behaviour endorsed by the proposed services of blessing. We are deeply saddened that the delivery of this opinion further disturbs the hard-won unity of the church.

Moving speech (The Rev Dr Mark Thompson)

As we’ve heard, on Remembrance Day this year the Appellate Tribunal published its opinions, both a majority opinion and a minority opinion. The bottom line was a majority decision that the Diocese of Wangaratta’s proposed service for the blessing of same sex unions is authorised by the Canon Concerning Services and is not inconsistent with the Fundamental Declarations and Ruling Principles of the Constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia. This despite the fact that the Fundamental Declarations make clear that the canonical scriptures of the Old and New Testaments remain ‘the ultimate rule and standard of faith, given by inspiration of God and containing all things necessary for salvation’.

The long document which unfolds the reasons for this opinion makes very disappointing reading. That’s a mild way of saying it really. The handling of the Bible is irresponsible, regularly throwing dust in the air and suggesting either that the key biblical passages do not say what they appear to say, or that there is diverse and equally weighty opinion about the meaning of key terms or the passage as a whole, so we can’t be sure. That is just not true — on either count. As I’ve said in another place, the tactic of casting doubt on the meaning of a word or a statement in order to persuade a person to reject it, is an old debating tactic. It goes back to the Garden of Eden: ‘did God really say?’

The majority opinion cannot seem to grasp that the seriousness of this matter, which takes it beyond previous disagreements between us, is indicated by Scripture itself: ‘those who do these things will not inherit the kingdom of God’. That is actually said twice in 1 Corinthians 6:9–10. Not inheriting the kingdom of God — that makes it a salvation issue. And yes, that is true of sexual immorality, idolatry, adultery, theft, greed, drunkenness, reviling and swindling too — and we need to beef up our warnings about those things too if we take this passage seriously — but that list does include ‘anyone practicing homosexuality’ as the Holman Christian Standard Bible puts it, or ‘men who have sex with men’ as the NIV (2011) puts it.

It is an extremely serious matter, which is why we consider the embrace of this behaviour, or the attempt to pronounce God’s blessing on behaviour that is spoken about in these terms in 1 Corinthians 6, as a line in the sand that we must not cross. We cannot bless what God refuses to bless but instead warns us to avoid at all costs.

The other Bible passage that is mishandled is Matthew 19, where in answer to the Pharisees’ question about divorce, Jesus appeals to God’s creational intention: ‘Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”.’ The reason why Jesus answers the Pharisees on divorce the way he does, is because this creational purpose of God, bringing a man and a woman together as one flesh, as a new family unit, still stands. But the Opinion dismisses this as ‘an inference not a command’.

There is more that could be said at this point, including the way an illustrative legal maxim is misquoted in order to make it say the very opposite of what it means in the general construction of legal statutes. The principle that ‘the expression of one is the exclusion of the other’ points to the significance of Jesus speaking first of male and female (echoing Genesis 1:27) and then of ‘a man and his wife’ (quoting Genesis 2:24) and not of any other kind of ‘marriage’. However, once again attempts are made to avoid the straightforward reading of the biblical text in the service of a predetermined conclusion.

But not only is the Bible irresponsibly handled, a series of theological assertions are made which are simply insupportable. First, the constituent elements of marriage as understood in Scripture and in the Anglican formularies are listed as ‘maturity, an intention of permanency, and consent’, neatly ignoring the biblical and BCP language of ‘man and woman’ and ‘forsaking all others’. Second, when the Book of Common Prayer is cited, and its three purposes of marriage quoted — the procreation of children, living a chaste and holy life, and mutual companionship — it is asserted that same sex marriages are capable of meeting all these three desiderata and the scriptural teaching on which they are based. The procreation of children, though, is not the natural outcome of a same sex sexual union. It requires of necessity—in every case—intervention from outside of the marriage, which is a massive difference to the conception of a child through the sexual union of a man and a woman in marriage. Third, an almost absurdly narrow definition of ‘doctrine’, itself a minority opinion of a previous iteration of the Tribunal, allows this Opinion to insist that the statements of Scripture and the Prayer Book about marriage do not fit the definition and so the proposed service and all that is involved in it, does not constitute a breach of doctrine.

There is a great deal of intricate legal argument in the majority opinion which is neatly and persuasively unravelled in the minority opinion of Ms Gillian Davidson. In many ways, given the gravity of the situation and the potential consequences of the their decision, the majority opinion really reads like shoddy work at points. It is very obviously a preconceived conclusion in search of an argument, which it attempts, unsuccessfully, to manufacture. It reveals a fundamentally different doctrine of Scripture and of Christian discipleship.

For these reasons we need to voice the strongest possible rejection of this majority opinion of the Appellate Tribunal. Already, as we have seen, some of the Australian bishops are preparing to act upon it. We need to make clear that we have not moved from where we have always stood. We stand on the authority of Scripture and the teaching of Christ, given to us during his earthly ministry, and through the subsequent ministry of his commissioned spokesmen, the apostles. We are not moving away from the rest of the Anglican church. We haven’t moved at all. Instead, this opinion and the actions proposed to be taken on the basis of it, constitute a walking away from us and the majority of Anglicans worldwide who have risked everything to take their stand on the teaching of Scripture on this issue.

Brothers and sisters, many of our brothers and sisters, Anglicans in other parts of the world, are looking to see how we will respond to what has been done and is about to be done as a result of this Appellate Tribunal opinion. David Short, who, with the congregation of St John’s Shaughnessy, lost their church campus and the house he and his family lived in, who had his license to minister withdrawn — we made him an honorary canon of St Andrews Cathedral in the wake of it all — David is watching. And we want to be able to look David in the eye and say ‘we are with you, we stand with you’. Jay Behan, David Clancey and hundreds of others in Christchurch New Zealand, were compelled to leave their church buildings behind and eventually to form a new diocese because they could not turn a blind eye to their General Synod’s decision to bless same sex unions. Jay, David, Costa and all the rest — they are watching too. And we need to be able to look them in the eyes and say: ‘the test came, and we stood firm with you’.

So I am asking you to pass this motion. It needs to be strong and it needs to be clear.

But one last thing: it is important, as a friend reminded me last night, that we distinguish between those in responsible positions of authority who teach and promote these things, and those who are broken and hurting and need to hear of the possibility of forgiveness, restoration and new life. To those who teach these things and overturn the teaching of Scripture in doing so, we need to speak in the strongest possible terms, as this motion does, as Jesus did to the religious leaders of his day. But without ever backing away from that, we need to keep reaching out in love, compassion and grace to those trapped by the devil’s lies and who live in the midst of a broken world. To people like that Jesus came — to call them to faith and repentance, but also to healing and new life. So remember to whom this motion is addressed: those who published this Opinion and synods of the Anglican Church who will respond to it. For that reason it needs to be strong and clear.

Once again, I commend this motion to you.

A Day of Reckoning: Victorian Government pushes to ban Christian practices with threat of 10 years in prison

Posted on November 27, 2020 
Filed under Australia, Culture wars

“The day has come in Victoria where Christians and Churches need to decide whether to obey God or the Government. Such a decision should never be forced onto believers but the current Victorian Government insists that it must be so.

There are times when we use hyperbole and exaggerate the significance of words or decisions, but I do not think this is one of those occasions.

The Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020 has been tabled in the Victorian Parliament. This is the most significant threat to religious freedom in Victoria in living memory. The current Government has been slowly removing religious freedoms for a number of years, but nothing quite like this.

Anyone found engaging in ‘change or suppression practices’ may face 10 years imprisonment. …

Take note of the following details:

  1. The Bill will ban consensual practices. If a person invites a pastor or person to pray for them in relation to their sexual orientation or gender identity, the pastor or person can be charged according to the Act.
  2. Section 5.3 provides examples of what constitutes ‘practices’.  Prayer is banned. For example, if a person asks for prayer that they would live a godly life and refrain from sexual activity that they believe is inconsistent with follow Jesus Christ, the person praying can be charge[d] according to this Act.
  3. Section 5.3 specifies that practice is not limited to the examples that are provided. …”

Murray Campbell in Melbourne issues a stark warning.

Do take the time to read it all.

The North Australian Lectionary

Posted on November 27, 2020 
Filed under Australian dioceses, Resources

With Advent Sunday kicking off the church year this weekend, the Diocese of the Northern Territory has unveiled a new lectionary designed especially for the Top End.

The North Australian Lectionary tells the Bible story as the weather seasons change.

“During Wet season, from Christmas to Easter time, we read the Gospel story of Jesus Christ.

During Dry season, we read about God’s people in the Old Testament and the New Testament.

During Build-Up season, we read God’s word to encourage us, to help us to keep going in hot weather time.

This lectionary helps us to think about God’s story as the country we live in changes.

We also tell the Bible story every year using the church seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter. These church seasons help us to remember the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus. Christians have been using church seasons for a long time to help them grow in Jesus.” (emphasis added)

The lectionary includes readings in several languages. A wonderful resource.

 

Reflections on Thanksgiving

Posted on November 26, 2020 
Filed under Theology

As Americans come to celebrate Thanksgiving, Albert Mohler looks at –

At The Briefing for 25 November 2020. Relevant even if you don’t celebrate “Thanksgiving”.

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