Further towards a culture of death?

Posted on August 12, 2019 
Filed under Australia, Culture wars, Opinion

“Another tragic milestone in our country’s history was put in place on Thursday night as the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, by a vote of 59 to 31, passed legislation to decriminalise the late-term abortion of unborn children. The tragedy lies not just in the vote, but in the arguments put forward in support of the Bill and the reaction of politicians and other advocates once it had been passed.

Of course, this was simply one more step along a road that Australia and the Western world have been travelling for some time. …

While there is still an opportunity we should petition those in the New South Wales Legislative Council not to give their concurrence to this Bill. Yet even more, we need to speak of life and hope in this context of death and fear and extraordinary self-righteousness in which we find ourselves.”

– At Theological Theology, Moore College Principal Dr Mark Thompson writes plainly about the Reproductive Health Care Reform Act 2019.

Pass the link around, and be encouraged to make a submission before 5:00pm Tuesday 13th August 2019.

Getting know Foley Beach, the Anglican Church in North America, and GAFCON

Posted on August 12, 2019 
Filed under GAFCON, People

“The new Chair of the Gafcon Primate’s Council tells his story of relationship with Jesus, the Anglican Church of North America and the journey that Gafcon has been on and is on.”

This 32 minute video was recorded at Moore College in May 2019.

Watch Archbishop Foley Beach at GAFCON Australia, or direct link to video.

Norwich Cathedral erects 50 foot helter skelter in Nave

Posted on August 11, 2019 
Filed under Church of England

Not to be outdone by Rochester Cathedral’s indoor crazy golf course, Norwich Cathedral has built a 50 foot (15 metre) helter skelter in its Nave.

To be fair, the helter skelter is part of the Cathedral’s strategy to connect with the community and to open up conversations about the gospel:

“Could the playful presence of a helter skelter help to open up conversations about the building, help open up conversations about God? This unexpected presence in the Cathedral would act as a draw. Climbing to its top, the visitor will literally see the Cathedral differently. They will also come closer to the roof bosses and to the story they tell, the story of Salvation. …

in the South Transept will be a Bible Box, offering the opportunity to literally sit inside the Word of God. Surrounded by all the words of Scripture, and the story of Salvation …

And in the East end of the Cathedral will be displayed stories from individuals explaining how Jesus has helped them see life differently. …

The fun comes in the shape of a helter skelter. The serious comes in creating opportunities for reflective, God-shaped conversations. It is playful in its intent but also profoundly missional. It is the Cathedral doing what it has always done – encouraging conversations about God. By its sheer size and grandeur it speaks of the things of God; it points beyond itself. Its sheer presence helps to keep the rumour of God alive and plays its part in passing on the story of Salvation.”

Image: Norwich Cathedral.

Opportunity to make a submission concerning the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019

Posted on August 10, 2019 
Filed under Australia, Culture wars

The Standing Committee on Social Issues of the NSW Legislative Council has called for submissions concerning the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019, which passed the Legislative Assembly last week.

Submissions may be made until Close of Business on Tuesday 13 August 2019.

See the Standing Committee on Social Issues web page for the text of the amended bill which was passed, as well as a link to make your own submission.

The Australian Christian Lobby has some suggestions …

“This week, the draft law will be sent to a committee to look in detail at the bill.

The committee has called for written submissions from members of the public. They are due by 5pm on Tuesday 13 August.

Please act TODAY by making a brief, written submission to the Inquiry, calling for the bill to be rejected or failing that, amended.

Here are some points you might like to make …”

Living for Others

Posted on August 9, 2019 
Filed under Australia, Culture wars, Encouragement

Here is a photo of my son Noah, when he was about 25 weeks old.

My wife and I had just been told that Noah had a massive hole in his heart, and that he was likely to have Down Syndrome. (He did.)

Put yourself in our shoes. There are many heavy emotions flowing thick and fast through your heart. Your mind races ahead, drawing out a narrative of the next few weeks, months, & years ahead. …

Now, you’d be amazed just how quickly all of the above thoughts can flash before your eyes.

And you have the power to make it all go away.

– Thanks to The Gospel Coalition Australia for publishing a very personal reflection by Matt Dodd.

By way of contrast, this morning brought the news that the “‘Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019” passed in the Lower House last night, and now goes to the Upper House of NSW Parliament.

“Members of Parliament were granted a conscience vote on the bill, which aims to remove abortion from the Crimes Act and define it as a medical procedure in its own legislation.

The bill was passed just before 11.00pm with 59 in favour and 31 against.…”

Donald Robinson on the Origins of the Anglican Church League

Posted on August 9, 2019 
Filed under History, Sydney Diocese

by Lionel Windsor

History matters. It makes us question things we take for granted, it helps us to understand who we are, and it gives us a broader perspective on the issues we face today. One example – relevant for evangelical Anglicans, especially in Sydney – is an essay in Donald Robinson Selected Works, volume 4 (recently published by the Australian Church Record and Moore College).

The essay is called “The Origins of the Anglican Church League” (pp. 125–52). It’s a republication of a paper given in 1976 by Donald Robinson (1922–2018), former Moore College Vice-Principal and later Archbishop of Sydney. In the paper, Robinson traces some of the currents and issues that led to the formation of the Anglican Church League in the early twentieth century. The essay is classic Donald Robinson: full of surprises, yet definitely still worth reading today to help us gain perspective on issues for evangelical Anglicans past and present.

One surprise in the essay is that Robinson doesn’t say very much about the Anglican Church League itself! That’s because he’s not too sure about how it started. About two thirds of the way through the paper, after describing in some detail several predecessors to the ACL, he notes:

You will be wondering what has happened to my subject, the Origins of the Anglican Church League. To tell the truth, I am at a loss to give a clear explanation of its origins, or to trace the steps by which it was organised. (144)

So if you’re looking for a detailed history of the ACL over the twentieth century, this essay is probably not for you.[1] But if you’re looking for some key insights into issues that evangelical Anglicans faced in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and some helpful perspectives on where we’re at today, this essay is certainly worth delving into!

1. Issues leading to the ACL’s Formation

At the turn of the twentieth century, evangelical Anglicans were deeply concerned by two issues: an alarming increase in “ritualism”, and a (related) alarming increase in the authority of bishops. This might seem surprising to us today. When we look around at worldwide Anglicanism, we can take for granted that there is a lot of ritual, and that bishops have quite a lot of power. But it wasn’t always so – and in the nineteenth century, these things weren’t a “given”. Nevertheless, they were on the rise, and evangelicals were trying to stop them. Robinson mentions, for example, the Churchman’s Alliance, which was formed in 1893 as a response to increasing “ritualism” and as a counterpoint to societies that had formed to promote Anglo-Catholicism (133–35). The purpose of the Church Alliance was “To maintain and diffuse abroad the principles Catholic and Protestant of our holy religion” (134).

Robinson devotes much of his paper to a group called the Protestant Church of England Union (PCEU), which owed much to the efforts of Canon Mervyn Archdall (135–39). Significant for the PCEU was promotion of Reformation preaching, and regular prayer meetings were a core of their work (139, 142). The key issues the PCEU faced and sought to address were (140):

As I mentioned above, we might feel these things are a “given” for today’s Anglican Communion. But at the time, Lambeth and the power of Canterbury weren’t so central for Anglicanism. And evangelicals saw the increasing power of Lambeth and Canterbury as a real problem. The object of the new PCEU (1898) was:

to maintain and extend the efficiency of the Church of England as the original representative of evangelical truth and apostolic order in our country, and as a witness to the principles of the Reformation. (141–42)

So the PCEU promoted constitutional government over against the authority of bishops (144).

2. The ACL’s Formation

What of the ACL itself? According to Robinson, it was founded at some point between 1909–1912, around the election of Archbishop Wright, though the exact circumstances weren’t easy for Robinson to discern (145).  Constitutionally, the ACL was affiliated with the English National Church League (NCL), who saw prayer book revision and ritualism as key issues that needed to be addressed (146). It appears that the ACL started as a group that was a little more “centrist” than the PCEU. Robinson writes:

In 1914 we find Canon Gerard D’Arcy Irvine saying that the ACL “stood for central churchmanship, which implied spiritual, strong, and scholarly churchmanship, and fought for the principles of the Reformation upon which the character of future generations depended”… His use of the term “central churchmanship”… reflected the view of the evangelicals that their position was not a partisan position, but was true to the central and authentic character of the Church of England as “catholic, apostolic, protestant, and reformed”. (148)

However, as time went on, conservative evangelicals realised the need for the ACL to be even stronger on Reformation principles against a growing trend of liberalism. Thus, by 1933 the ACL had come to a place where it was opposing not only ritualism, but also liberalism (149).

Even though the ACL was (and still is) constituted as a national body, Robinson notes that the ACL’s main influence has always been within Sydney:

It does not seem to have succeeded to any extent as a national body, though it promoted consultation and offered advice in connection with some elections of country bishops in NSW. Without doubt it consolidated the strength of evangelicals in Sydney, and almost all diocesan leaders have been associated with it at some time or other. (151)

3. What can we learn?

Robinson’s paper is not a comprehensive historical treatise, but it is a fascinating historical reflection. What can we learn from this history?

Firstly, we can gain some worthwhile historical perspective. Ritualism, the authority of bishops, and liberalism are not simply “givens” for Anglicanism! They do not define historic Anglicanism; in fact, not too long ago, they were innovations that needed to be protected against. This perspective can give us renewed courage to continue to defend, promote, and maintain historic, evangelical, reformed Anglicanism.

Secondly, this history reminds us that constitutional, rather than episcopal, government, is definitely worth maintaining and promoting. In our own situation in Sydney, where historically the bishops have by and large been friendly to the evangelical faith, we could feel we can relax and hand more power over to the bishops for the sake of efficiency. But bishops, like all of us, are fallible human beings. Increasing episcopal power is something to continue to watch, and we should be alert to the need to maintain constitutional government.

How do we do that? By all of us (clergy and laity) getting in there, doing the work of governance, finding people for committees to help make decisions for the good of the gospel in the Diocese, and not leaving it all up to the bishops. Robinson’s paper reminds us that the work of the ACL continues to be a significant one for the cause of the gospel and the salvation of men and women, in our own city and diocese, and beyond.

The Rev Dr Lionel Windsor
ACL Council Member and Moore College Lecturer.

Endnotes:

[1] Some further research on these matters has been done by others. For a general history of the ACL, see Ed Loane’s talk at the ACL Centenary dinner in 2009. See also Judd & Cable, Sydney Anglicans, Sydney: AIO, 2000 (Stephen Judd’s PhD was on the ACL).

Lawyers commenting on NSW Abortion Law changes

Posted on August 8, 2019 
Filed under Australia, Culture wars

Assoc. Professor Neil Foster writes, “I am a member of an informal coalition of practicing lawyers and legal academics which goes by the name of the ‘Wilberforce Foundation’. A number of us have signed off on a press release designed to make it clear that comments from the ‘Australian Lawyers Alliance’ supporting the proposed changes to abortion laws in NSW do not represent the views of all lawyers. The statement follows. …”

It’s worth reading in full. At Law and Religion Australia.

Annual Moore College Lectures 2019 – Gary Millar speaking

Posted on August 7, 2019 
Filed under Resources

The Annual Moore College Lectures 2019 start next week – 15th, and 19th – 23rd August.

Dr Gary Millar, Principal of Queensland Theological College.

Topic: ’Great Expectations? A Biblical Theology of Transformation’.

Chinese authorities remove words Bible, God and Christ from classic children’s stories

Posted on August 7, 2019 
Filed under World news

“Authorities in China have erased the words Bible, God and Christ from classic children’s stories including Robinson Crusoe and The Little Match Girl as part of moves to redact Christian references.…”

– Story from Barnabas Fund.

Berejiklian government risks alienating the west with abortion bill

Posted on August 6, 2019 
Filed under Culture wars, Opinion

“The Liberal Party should tread extremely carefully in dealing with the attempt to decriminalise abortion in NSW, lest it put off the conservative-leaning voters (particularly in western Sydney) that helped it retain both state and federal government earlier this year. …”

An opinion-piece in The Sydney Morning Herald, by Nepean Young Liberal Branch President. (via SydneyAnglicans.net.)

Bishop Rick Lewers on the proposed Abortion Bill

Posted on August 5, 2019 
Filed under Australia, Culture wars, Opinion

“It is a little staggering that after weeks of writing articles on family I have to write in the hope of saving our children from the poor decisions of our politicians.

There is before our State Government the ‘Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019.’  It is a Private Members Bill, but don’t let the title of the Bill deceive you. It would seem that those moving the Bill and those supporting it are too embarrassed to call it what it actually is.

This Bill, if it is passed by the NSW State Government, will significantly change the law on abortion. …”

– Bishop of Armidale, Rick Lewers, has written this column for his local newspaper. It’s also published on the diocesan website. Do read it all.

Unborn children need your help

Posted on August 5, 2019 
Filed under Australia, Culture wars, Resources

In an e-mail, the Australian Christian Lobby is encouraging people in NSW to contact their MPs to ask them to vote against a bill which is scheduled to come before the Lower House tomorrow (Tuesday 6th August 2019).

In his e-mail, NSW Director of the Australian Christian Lobby, Kieren Jackson, writes:

“What is in the bill?

See also:

The Australian Christian Lobby.

Public Statement from Archbishop Glenn Davies.

Contact details for Members of the Legislative Assembly.

 

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