Good Disagreement in the Church of England?

Bishop Wallace Benn“We live before a watching world.

Jesus did say: ‘By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another’ (John13.35). So there is no excuse for rudeness or cavalier attitudes to each other.

Paul, in the chapter that begins to work out the implications of the gospel for our daily living and relationships, writes: ‘Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour’ (Romans 12.10). So in that sense ‘good disagreement’ is a healthy and desirable thing to aim for.

But the concept of ‘good disagreement’ is becoming something that is applied in a much broader way. It is being used to promote a ‘live and let live’ approach to important doctrinal issues and sexual ethics in particular. Unity is appealed to in a way that trumps vital revealed truths. Is this helpful or right?…”

– Bishop Wallace Benn writes in Evangelicals Now. (Photo: GAFCON.)

Related: Reflections on a church that recently embraced egalitarianism – Denny Burk.

Bathrooms and discrimination

Assoc Prof Neil Foster“The use of public bathrooms has become a topic of fierce debate in recent days, in connection with the rights of transgender persons. I want to mention a few of the issues raised in the United States before discussing the situation in Australia…”

– In his latest informative post, Neil Foster, Associate Professor in Law at Newcastle, maps out some of the legal background for the controversy in the USA, as well giving a perspective on where the laws in Australia stand.

Insulting religion and legal consequences

Assoc Prof Neil Foster“Two recent news items raised interesting issues of free speech about religion and its legal consequences. One was a comment by Mr Peter Fitzsimmons; the other a report about an ‘anti-Muslim’ banner being flown at a football game…”

– Neil Foster, at Law and Religion Australia, looks at two very topical examples of speech relating to religion.

What is the Anglican Consultative Council meeting for?

chris-sugden3“The Archbishop of Canterbury has written to urge all Anglican primates to attend the Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka from April 8-19.

The primates of Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda have indicated that their representatives cannot attend because the spirit of the Primates Meeting in Canterbury, which introduced consequences for TEC and its participation in Communion decision-making on doctrine and polity, appears to be being overridden or ignored. …

Kenya and Nigeria were very gracious in trusting the conversations at Canterbury and the decisions made there. They now suspect that they were misled.

Lusaka is not the place to sort out church polity, unity, doctrine or matters of sexuality. Those are the callings of the primates meeting and the Lambeth conference of Bishops.”

– Chris Sugden writes for The Church of England Newspaper. Via Anglican Mainstream.

‘University of Sydney evangelical students vote to keep Jesus’

chappo-1980-sueu“An evangelical student group has refused to remove a vow to Jesus from its constitution despite being threatened with deregistration from the Sydney University student body.

The Sydney University Evangelical Union was issued an ultimatum by university’s student union last week to remove a requirement that new members sign ‘Jesus is Lord’ or be deregistered from the university…”

– Eryk Bashaw reports in The Sydney Morning Herald.

See also Enlightenment is just so yesterday at university by Brendan O’Neil, in The Australian –

“If there were a prize for the most Orwellian action of the year (there really should be), the USU would surely win.

The student union has given the EU until March 31 to overhaul its constitution. But the EU is fighting back: this week its members voted by a whopping 71 to 1 against changing its membership rules to suit the tastes of the interfering union.

… If ruling bodies, whether the state or a student union that wields power on campus, can use pressure or threats to make private associations rewrite their constitutions, which is the soul of all institutions, then we enter into very dark territory indeed.”

(Photo: Chappo – this photo of him was taken during the 1980 SUEU Mission – would be cheering the EU. Hear him speak at a 1979 SUEU lunchtime meeting on “Jesus claims to be the only way to God”.)

‘University of Sydney’s Evangelical Union shouldn’t have to give up its faith in fight against discrimation’

daily-bull-04-july-1977“Here is the new rule for student groups on campus at one of our leading universities: you can have any faith you like, as long as it’s not any faith in particular.

As of November last year, the bolshie student politicians running the University of Sydney student union have voted to stop clubs and societies from defining themselves by reference to a particular creed. Because, er, discrimination, or something.

And the union’s board has inaugurated this new reign of tolerance by deciding to kick one of its oldest and largest interdenominational faith based groups off campus. The Evangelical Union has been around doing its thing since the 1930s – my grandma was on the committee…”

– Andrew Judd has this sensible opinion-piece in The Sydney Morning Herald.

(This copy of the USU’s The Daily Bull is a snapshot of student activity at the university in July 1977. The SUEU had been active on campus for decades before most of the other societies mentioned.)

Religious Ethos and Open Membership at Sydney University

Assoc Prof Neil Foster“A report in the student newspaper from the University of Sydney (Honi Soit, March 13, 2016) records that

‘The University of Sydney Union (USU) has threatened to deregister the Sydney University Evangelical Union (EU) from the Clubs & Societies program over the latter’s requirement that all members must make a declaration of faith in Jesus Christ.’

In other words, a student religious group is being told that they may no longer be registered to use University facilities or receive the financial support other groups receive, because they make it a requirement of membership that someone support that religion. This is a very disturbing development for religious freedom at the University of Sydney, and especially if it presages similar developments around Australia. What is going on here? And is this move lawful, or not?…”

– Neil Foster at Law and Religion Australia takes a look.

The Withering of Vice and the Sexual Revolution

Albert Mohler“As already noted, the sexual revolution did not emerge in a vacuum. Modern societies created a context for moral revolution that had never been available in intellectual terms before. In other words, certain cultural conditions had to prevail in order for the revolution to get the traction it needed to succeed. One of the things we need to note is that we are looking at an explicitly cosmopolitan revolution…”

– Albert Mohler has posted the last in his four-part series on Secularisation and the Sexual Revolution.

To go Forward we must go Back

Archbishop Peter Jensen“Since the Primates gathering in January I have been trying to assess its significance for the Anglican Communion.

I am not alone in thinking that the GAFCON movement and its Primates played an important role in the outcome. But it is possible to lose clarity in the midst of all the talk and interpretations.  We need to go right back to basics to be sure of our identity, our purpose and our policies as a Communion.

We need to go back to basics to make sure that our witness is heard…”

– Dr Peter Jensen, GAFCON General Secretary, has released the first of six reflections on the fundamentals underpinning the Christian faith.

Headscarves and Hashtags — Other voices in the Same-God Debate

tim-keesee-bpc-2016“Many voices have weighed in on the debate as to whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Wheaton’s Professor Hawkins was only reflecting the sentiment of half the country — and perhaps a third of self-described evangelicals — when she declared that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

The ‘same God’ controversy is the kind of ‘debate’ that plays out mostly on social media and largely among Christians and secularists. So it’s really more of a political statement than a debate. But there are other voices that ought to be heard on the subject — stories of men and women who don’t have access to blogs or Facebook because they are being hunted like animals at this very moment…”

– At Desiring God, Tim Keesee adds some realism to the debate.

Islam, women’s seating and discrimination

Assoc Prof Neil Foster“In a very interesting recent decision, Bevege v Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia …, the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal has found that an Islamic group unlawfully discriminated against a female member of the audience for a seminar they were running, by requiring her to sit in a “women only” area.

In my view the decision is somewhat disturbing, and has the potential, if followed in the future, to undermine the appropriate recognition of religious freedom in NSW. The implications may extend beyond Muslim groups to a range of religious groups…”

– Assoc. Professor Neil Foster asks some thoughtful questions about a decision that’s been in the news.

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