This present darkness and the crisis of contemporary Anglicanism: Thesis 1

“The world of the 21st century is dominated by principalities and powers opposed to God and the biblical faith.

In much of the non-Western world, enmity and persecution has come from militant religions and totalitarian regimes.

In the West, postmodern ideologues have sought to overturn the biblical worldview of God as the Creator and Lord of life and death and of sexuality and marriage as His blessing for mankind and the sign of His love for the Church. In this quest, they have enjoyed apparent success (but cf. Psalm 2).

Many Anglican churches and their leaders in North America and the UK have succumbed to this false ideology and are promoting its agenda. …”

Dr Stephen Noll publishes the first of fourteen theses toward reviving, reforming and reordering the Anglican Communion.

Photo: GAFCON.

An Eton Mess: The Failure of English Bishops

“The Church of England has finally announced its proposals to their General Synod to deal with the vexed question of how to respond to same-sex marriage. The presentation was led by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Eton-educated Justin Welby and Stephen Cottrell, who together are seeking to lead the Church of England through these difficult times.

For the last six years the Church of England has been going through a process of discussion called “Living in Love and Faith” in order to get to this moment.

In a press release issued while Australia slept, the House of Bishops outlined the legislation they will propose to the upcoming General Synod.

So what are the plans, what do they mean, and what effect will they have on the wider Anglican Communion—especially here in Australia?…”

– David Ould writes at The Gospel Coalition Australia.

What’s an Eton mess?

“It’s a bowl full of broken bits of meringue, fruit and topped off with cream. If at this point you’re thinking that sounds awfully like what you did with your pavlova last year when you dropped it on the floor and rescued those bits not red-carded by the five second rule, then you would be absolutely correct. Eton Mess is, at it’s heart, a failed Pavlova dressed up in a fancy bowl and passed off as something worthy. It is the next generation of that other famous Anglican sweet; the fudge.

What else is the Church of England on about these days?

Archbishop of Canterbury FC lace up for green campaign alongside Premier League stars

“The Archbishop of Canterbury’s football team will host a ‘green’ football match as part of a national campaign to raise awareness of the Climate Crisis with football the focus for practical steps to reduce carbon.”

Dean of Sydney: ALP ‘can do better’ on Pokies

A media release from earlier this week:

“The Dean of Sydney, Sandy Grant, a long-time campaigner for poker machine reform in NSW, has responded to the NSW ALP’s launch of its gambling reform policy today.

He said:

Although I am pleased to see some helpful steps in the ALP’s proposals that will be helpful, the ALP can do better by committing to the principal of introducing a cashless gaming card, with mandatory pre-commitment, for poker machine use right across NSW.

With NSW losses on poker machines approaching $8 billion per annum – that’s over $20 million/day! – we urgently need ‘Airbags on Pokies’.…”

Read it all here.

Before you watch Harry & Meghan

“The age of the internet accelerates the pace of rumour spreading from the old school gossip magazines and water coolers. Twitter and Netflix are the latest machines for globalising gossip. My secret today can be the topic of public scrutiny tomorrow.

The thing is, by watching and reading and gossiping, we’re leaping into a carefully managed trap. We’re suckers for a good juicy story about a family imploding. And what’s bigger than that family being our King and Princes? …”

– Murray Campbell has some thoughts on the story almost everyone is discussing.

Why Religion will Return to the West

David Robertson writes:

This is an important article by Greg Sheridan – which we republish with permission. Please do read the whole article – but this quote stuck out for me –

“Christianity was just as weird to the sophisticated first-century Graeco-Roman civilisation of the Mediterranean as it is to the most disillusioned sophisticate of today.Happily for contemporary Christians, they have a readily accessible account of how the first Christians spread the gospel in a hostile, alien and comprehensively pagan culture. It’s a primary source, uniquely immediate and reliable, and still in print.It is found in the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament, and in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. It’s worth reading these two short books – only 50 pages between them – straight through, as they offer a gripping, vivid picture of the first Christians. …”

Read it all at ASK.

Photo: Greg Sheridan, Foreign Editor, The Australian.

King Charles’ Christmas Message Reflects a Post-Christian United Kingdom

“The New Testament commands us to pray for kings and all those in authority, so that we will be free to live quiet lives of godliness and to share the good news of the Savior who is the one mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:1–3). We can be thankful that in this regard our prayers are being answered.

British Christians should continue to pray for King Charles and his government that our long-established constitutional rights to freedom of worship will be upheld.

At the same time, the lack of gospel clarity and comprehension in his message will cause us to pray even more fervently, in the words of our national anthem, ‘God save the King!’…”

– John Stevens, National Director of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches in the UK, reacts to King Charles’ Christmas message. At The Gospel Coalition.

If you haven’t seen it, watch the message here.

Resistance and fidelity – Munro’s choice

“As the new conservative evangelical ‘flying’ Bishop of Ebbsfleet launches off, the Bishop of Rochester’s written answer to a question from a General Synod member shines a light on the Church of England’s direction of travel. …”

– At Anglican Ink, Julian Mann points out the difficulties facing an evangelical bishop in the Church of England. Also a good reminder to pray for wisdom for those in such positions.

(Photo: Church Society.)

Pastor, Don’t get cute this Christmas

“I know the feeling.

Christmas comes around every year. The same songs. The same texts. The same story. Most of the time I love the familiar rhythm of Advent and the comforting routine of tradition.

But as a pastor, I also know that sense of desperation: “How many more Christmas sermons and holiday homilies can I possibly come up with?” And I rarely do a full four-week Advent series. The poor brother who does an Advent series every year for 40 years is going to preach at least 160 sermons on Christmas. I sympathize with the temptation to novelty.

But don’t do it, pastor. …”

– At The Gospel Coalition, Kevin DeYoung has wise advice.

Time to Rethink your Church Website?

“Our website is our most easily accessed 24/7 communication face to the world. Are we being wise in our use of it?…”

– At The Gospel Coalition Australia, Peter Adam has some thoughts on the plusses and minuses of church websites. Worth pondering.

Totalitarianism vs. Human Dignity

In his The Briefing for Thursday 1st December 2022, Dr Albert Mohler looks at current examples of Totalitarianism. What do they have in common?

And he explores what makes modern totalitarian states more totalitarian than their predecessors.

Listen or read here.

Are We Really A Communion?

“Over the decades, and on many occasions, we Anglicans gave thanks to God for the ‘gift of the Anglican Communion’. Yes, we saw the Communion as ‘a gift’ because we enjoyed being a family of churches. A global family of Anglican churches of diverse nations, living in different countries, speaking a variety of languages and yet we are in full communion with each other.

I am deeply saddened to say that the Anglican Communion we have loved, though it has kept its name, yet has lost its heart; which is the interdependence. Provinces taking unilateral decisions without consideration ‘how it might harm the mission of other Provinces’, or how it might cause divisions, or disruption of fraternal relations with other provinces.

None of us forget the appeal made by the Anglican Primates during their meeting in 2003 in regard to the consecration of Gene Robinson in The Episcopal Church USA (TEC) [5]:

“If his consecration proceeds, we recognise that we have reached a crucial and critical point in the life of the Anglican Communion and we have had to conclude that the future of the Communion itself will be put in jeopardy. …. This will tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level and may lead to further division ….”

When TEC ignored that appeal and went ahead with its unilateral decision to consecrate the practicing gay Gene Robinson as bishop, our mission here in Egypt within the Islamic world was badly affected in the following way …”

The Global South Fellowship Of Anglican Churches has released this message from the Archbishop Emeritus Dr Mouneer Anis.

When Mother loses her mind

“Over the last two weeks, several bishops in the Church of England have publicly endorsed the Bishop of Oxford’s booklet, Together in Love and Faith, which he sets out his thinking about same-sex relationships. He proposes that the Church of England should provide public services for the blessing of same-sex civil partnerships and marriages but allow a conscience clause for those who dissent. Barbara Gauthier has done a superb job chronicling all of the statements and rebuttals by Vaughan Roberts, and others.

As one of the senior Bishops in the Church of England, Steven Croft (the Bishop of Oxford) has proposed nothing less than a sea-change in the teaching of the Church of England.  It will divide the Church of England and further harden the divisions within the Anglican Communion. …”

– At The American Anglican Council, Canon Phil Ashey asks, “When Mother loses her mind, what can we do?

Anglican Church Comes to Crossroads Over Teaching on Homosexuality — Will It Compromise in the Name of Unity?

In his The Briefing for Thursday 27 October 2022, Albert Mohler comments on what’s happening in the Anglican world. He responds to an article originating from New Zealand –

“…this takes us back to an article that also ran in the Times just a matter of a few weeks ago, and the headline tells you a lot about how the mainstream media messaged this kind of story.

The headline in the article by Pete McKenzie is this, ‘Anglican Church Delivers A Kick In The Guts To Gay Parishioners.’

… Pete McKenzie in this article, which was date-lined from Wellington in New Zealand basically is unabashed in arguing that it’s the conservative Anglicans who are holding the church back, and they are doing great harm.”

– Listen or read at AlbertMohler.com.

John Howard condemns ‘disgraceful’ treatment of Andrew Thorburn

“Former prime minister John Howard has argued the treatment of Andrew Thorburn over his affiliation with the church group City on a Hill went against the ‘spirit of this country’. …”

– Interviewed on Sky News Australia, from about 10:00 into the video clip.

The Bad Guys are those who follow the Lord Jesus

Joshua Bovis at St John’s Tamworth shares this article written for his parish newsletter –

The Bad Guys are those who follow the Lord Jesus

Growing up as a child of the 70s and 80s, it was acceptable for us kids to play ‘armies’ and have toy guns and pretend to shoot each other. Before we began we would get together and decide who we were going to be…the good guys or the bad guys and we, when it came to being one of the good guys or one of the bad guys, we all knew the difference. 

The movies we watched, the tv shows we watched…there were the good guys and the bad guys. We all knew who was who. I grew up on a diet of Star Wars.

In the first Star Wars movie, (which I sadly never saw at the cinema as I was only three when it was released in 1977), the opening crawl makes it clear who the bad guys are –

And one does not have to be a Star Wars fan to know who the main bad guy is.

What made Darth Vader the bad guy? If you haven’t seen the movies, Darth Vader was once a Jedi Knight (who were guardians of peace and justice) named Anakin Skywalker, whose lust for power, fear, and jealousy turned to evil and his actions directly and indirectly contributed to the death of billions (including his fellow Jedi and his wife). He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader.

Now of course Darth Vader is not the only infamous bad guy. There have been bad girls (Joan Crawford, Mummy Dearest, Nurse Ratched – One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest), bad animals (the Shark, nicknamed ‘Bruce’ – Jaws). Viewers knew they were bad and how they were bad.

Growing up, Christians were never seen as the bad guys. God’s guys were the good guys. This was reflected on the big screen too.. Judah Ben Hur, Ben Hur, was a good guy, Moses, The Ten Commandments. The Christians in Quo Vadis, and The Robe were the good guys.

For much of the 20th century Christians were, generally speaking, seen to be the good guys in our society. A wee bit antiquated, dorky, out of touch maybe, more conservative than most, but essentially the good guys.

There are commentators and other Christian writers who have expressed their reasons for why Christians enjoyed this period of acceptance in our culture better than I can, but from my humble position, allow me to offer my reason for why this was the case in the past, and why it not the case now, and why it will not be the case in the future.

Western Culture, and of course this includes our great nation of Australia, has enjoyed the fruits of the Christian gospel centuries and up until the 60s, our Western culture ran on a parallel trajectory with the Christian faith. This period was also marked by a high level of church attendance. Not there were necessarily more Christians during this period, but because of this parallel trajectory, it was culturally advantageous to not only be a Christian but to appear to be a Christian. Thus going to church was advantageous.

The culture norms and morés of our culture were: divorce is sin, so was drunkenness, sex outside of marriage, the nature of marriage and homosexual activity. This does not mean that these things never happened, but generally speaking secular culture shared the Christian views on such matters.

However over the past twenty years (though I think the change has occurred gradually over a longer period of time), our culture now runs of a trajectory that is counter to the Christian faith. The upside of this us that nominal church attendance has almost died. Since there is no cultural advantage to be a church goer, what is the point of attending? In fact why attend when culturally is now disadvantageous?

While the orthodox Christian position has not changed on matters of human sexuality (sex outside of marriage, the nature of marriage and homosexual activity) our culture has done a 180 degree shift in regards to these issues. So if you are Christian and hold to the orthodox Christian ethic in regards to human sexuality, you are now one of the bad guys and furthermore if you disagree with secular, ‘sexular’ culture, you are intolerant, a bigot and a hater. Therefore you are bad guy, so

keep your mouth shut!

However in the recent case of a Christian man named Andrew Thorburn, this was no protection. He kept his mouth shut and this was no protection.

David Robertson (Scottish Presbyterian Minister now in Sydney) writes from the wee flea:

Essendon AFL is an Australian rules football team. Based in Melbourne it has a membership of over 80,000 and although having fallen on hard times recently, it is still considered to be one of the big four in Victoria. This week it appointed a local businessman, Andrew Thorburn as its chief executive. He lasted one day. The story is best summed up by the Herald Sun headline.

“Essendon’s chief executive Andrew Thorburn has stepped down after shock link to church was revealed”.

After 30 hours in the job, Thorburn had to resign, not because of anything he said or anything he did, but simply because he was linked to a mainstream orthodox Christian Church which teaches the Bible. The media labelled this church controversial, yet in reality they are no more controversial than the Lord Jesus and the Apostles and every faithful Christian Church since.  [Mr Thorburn’s church – City on a Hill – takes on the subjects of abortion and sexuality, are the same as that of the mainline Roman Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths.]

Not that long ago, Christians in the public sphere were told it was a case of “keep your personal religious beliefs private and it will be alright”. Andrew Thorburn kept his religious beliefs private and was not alright. He is a bad guy. You are the bad guy, I am the bad guy. Christians are the bad guys.

So how are Christians, those who hold to orthodox Christian beliefs to respond to this?

Again, there are many Christian commentators who have written some very good pieces on this issue:

David Robertson – Hypocrisy and Hate in Christian Victoria link

Steve McAlpine – Eight Short Lessons from the Essendon CEA Saga – link

Baptist Minister from Melbourne, Murray Campbell (with whom I was a student minister almost twenty years ago) writes:

(See article here)

I agree entirely, and I would only add one more point:

Christian, remember the words of the Lord Jesus, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. (John 15:18-20)

The time in our culture where God’s people were seen as the good guys is an historical anomaly, as far as our unbelieving world is concerned, we have always been the bad guys. Our Lord Jesus was deemed the bad guy. So keep praying, keep encouraging each other to be faithful to Christ, pray for opportunities to tell others about Jesus, encourage church ministers to keep on proclaiming the gospel , whether it be in an old movie theatre, pub or house to house, whether it be to 50 people or 500 people or 5 people, because that is what Jesus’ people do. This is what the Lord Jesus’ bad guys do.

May Christ’s glory always be our supreme concern – Joshua.

P.S. – Many hat tips to Murray Campbell, Steve McAlpine, David Robertson and Peter Barnes for their various pieces.

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