Pet carers can leave lockdown to do their job, but not a priest to tend his flock

“I’m not the only person struggling through this pandemic. I’m also not the only person feeling anxious. But as a devout Maronite Catholic, I can’t help but notice that people of faith aren’t getting the spiritual support they need to get through this. And no, I’m not talking about packing churches with large congregations. …”

– Ann-Marie Boumerhe, lawyer and director of Maronites on Mission, writes this opinion piece in The Sydney Morning Herald.

The Swanson diocese

In October 2019, Joshua Bovis, Vicar of St John The Evangelist in Tamworth, wrote this opinion-piece for the Anglican Ink website.

It’s particularly relevant in the light of yesterday’s pastoral letter from the Bishop of Newcastle to clergy in that diocese.

Joshua shares something of his own experiences of the Newcastle Diocese from 2009 to 2013, the time during which he was a postulant, ordinand, deacon, and priest:

“At their recent Synod this weekend, the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle passed two bills to enable clergy to bless what God in His Word deems to be sinful, to bless what the Bible says is an expression of an anti-God state of mind (see Romans 1:18ff), to declare holy what God states keeps people out of the Kingdom of God, and redefined the doctrine of marriage. This move mirrors that of a similar proposal passed by Wangaratta diocese in Victoria. …

I am very saddened by this. For it was was in the Newcastle Diocese that I was ordained to the diaconate and to the priesthood. It was a very moving experience. (I am the man in the chasuble that is is almost all white).

It was very powerful hearing the exhortation to both in my public and private ministry oppose and set aside teaching that is contrary to God’s Word, to be told to encourage and build up the body of Christ, to preach the Word of God, lead God’s people in prayer, declare God’s forgiveness and blessing. Also the reminder to pastor after the pattern of Christ the great Shepherd, to lead the people of God as a servant of Christ; to love and serve the people with whom you work, caring alike for young and old, rich and poor, weak and strong; to studying the Scriptures wholeheartedly, reflecting with God’s people upon their meaning, so that my ministry and life may be shaped by Christ.

I was reminded of how great a treasure has been placed in my care and that I will be called to give an account before Jesus Christ.

It was in the Newcastle Diocese that I openly declared my conviction that the Holy Scriptures contains all doctrine necessary for eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, and declared by God’s grace determination and intention and desire to instruct from these Scriptures the people committed to my care, teaching nothing as essential to salvation which cannot be demonstrated from the Scriptures. …”

Read it all at Anglican Ink, and do note the questions asked. How might you answer if they were asked of you?

(As Albert Mohler has warned many times, “Every Christian and every Christian ministry will come to a reckoning – we must all decide here and now where we stand. Will we pivot or will we hold fast to faithfulness and the hope of the gospel?”)

Photos: Joshua Bovis.

Australian and English evangelicals show different approaches to Anglican institutional revisionism

“On the same day (19th July) that Gafcon Australia publicly unveiled their plans to establish an alternative Anglican jurisdiction in response to the trajectory of revisionism in the Church of Australia, the Church of England Evangelical Council issued a statement about the Bishop of Liverpool’s address to the MOSAIC campaign group, in which he called for same sex marriage in the Church of England. The difference in the two statements is symptomatic of more general differences between the way that orthodox Anglicans are engaging with the national church in both countries.

The CEEC statement begins with an appreciation of Bishop Bayes’ subsequent apology for his attack on those who believe the historic teaching of the church on sex and marriage …”

– At Anglican Mainstream, Andrew Symes makes some very interesting comparisons. He has a strong challenge to his UK readership.

Andrew’s sentiments would probably have been shared by the late John Richardson. Twenty-eight years ago, the ACL’s newsletter published his article “UK Evangelicalism: Optimistic?”. It was later posted on our (old) website. (for ease of reading, here is a PDF version). John consistently argued that evangelicals in the Church of England need to fight for the faith once for all delivered to the saints, rather than act like gentlemen playing cricket.

And, for good measure, here’s a brief clip of John speaking about the significance of his 1993 year at Moore College.

Image of Andrew Symes: Christian Concern.

‘The Marriage Madness in Methodism’

“The annual Conference of the Methodist Church of Great Britain is meeting in Birmingham this week and next, other things it will debate a report entitled ‘God in Love Unites Us’.

The report will be endorsed, unless something spectacular (or miraculous?) happens, as it has already been approved by 29 of the 30 Methodist synods.The report recommends that the Methodist Church approve of cohabitation and extend its understanding of marriage to ‘two people’ rather than ‘a man and a woman’. …

Rather than regard Scripture as authoritative, the report tells us that it relies for ‘authoritative commentary’ on sexuality from the World Health Organisation (WHO) which it naively describes as ‘independent’. And among other things, the report commends ‘queer theology’; tell us that sex is assigned at birth, based on ‘perceptions’ of biology; and that sexual desire is a part of the wider desire for just and loving relationships. …”

David Robertson writes about the Methodist Conference in the UK.

Related:

Albert Mohler speaks with Carl Trueman on ‘The Triumph of the Modern Self’

A conversation with Dr. Carl Trueman on the modern self and the sexual revolution.

Does the Church of England deserve to survive?

“Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, not so very long ago, a business enterprise decided to sponsor an educational establishment.

The business made widgets, and at the time everyone thought that widgets were just the bees knees. People bought the widgets; they learned about how widgets were made; they visited widget shops and even widget museums, dedicated to understanding all about the history of widgets. …”

– British theologian Ian Paul is bemused by the silence of Church of England bishops when a Church of England clergyman is attacked for teaching Church of England doctrine.

The Equality Act, other symbols of a new era, and the church’s response

“Phil Ashey of ACNA’s American Anglican Council has written with customary clarity about the implications of the Equality Act for Christian life and witness in the US.

Behind the (as many see them) apparently reasonable laws to prevent egregious and unjust discrimination are assumptions contained in the Act about belief and worldview.

It is not just actions which will now be policed (for example, refusing to bake a cake celebrating a same sex wedding,), but words. It seems that to express publicly a view derived from the bible about binary genders and a heterosexual norm might become ‘legally discriminatory’. Canon Ashey shows how the definition of ‘public space’ has been widened specifically to include churches. …”

– Andrew Symes writes at Anglican Mainstream.

Sydney’s almost unnoticed Archbishop-elect: The challenges facing Kanishka Raffel and the Anglican church

“Sydney’s Anglicans have just elected a new Archbishop — the current Dean of Sydney, Kanishka Raffel. You may not have noticed. Only two decades ago, the election of an Anglican Archbishop in Sydney was not just news, it was a matter for critical commentary in the opinion pages of the Sydney Morning Herald.

Earlier this year, the retirement of the previous holder of that office, Archbishop Glenn Davies, was not even mentioned in the secular press. The death of former Archbishop Donald Robinson, Archbishop from 1982 to 1993, likewise scarcely caused a ripple.

All this tells you something about the current cultural moment into which the new Archbishop of Sydney must step. …”

– In an opinion piece for ABC Religion and Ethics, Michael Jensen concludes,

“If Sydney Anglicans can catch something of the character of Christ as it has been refracted in their new leader, and imitate him as he continues to imitate and serve his Lord, then who knows what the Spirit of the living God may do?”

Sydney’s new Anglican Archbishop faces an enormous task

“Last week, Sydney’s Anglicans elected Kanishka Raffel to serve as Archbishop of Sydney.

Kanishka is currently serving as dean in Sydney’s St Andrew’s Cathedral. At a service there on May 28, he will be officially installed in the role, making him the spiritual leader of some half a million people who identify as Anglicans in Greater Sydney and Wollongong. …

Only about 60,000 people regularly attend Anglican churches in the Sydney diocese. … There is, however, a deep spiritual hunger in our community – a desire that has intensified during the pandemic.”

– Michael Jensen writes about the challenges facing the new Archbishop and Anglicans in Sydney – in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Image: Kanishka and Cailey Raffel were interviewed about their new roles during the Cathedral service this morning.

Wrong Paradigm, Wrong Diagnosis, Wrong Solution

“Our response to the world needs to embrace more than lament, but a deep malaise has descended upon contemporary Western society.

There is a hardness of heart, but a softness in the head; a trivialisation of life, yet a lack of humour; and a coarsened culture but a distorted sensitivity concerning giving offence.

Any example would do as an illustration, but the recent moral outrage at the sexual misbehaviour of parliamentary staffers in Canberra is clear enough. …”

– Dr Peter Barnes, Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, makes the case that if the diagnosis is wrong, the solution will evade you.

Dr. Stephen Chavura on the history of Western civilisation

In his latest Conversations video, John Anderson speaks with historian Dr. Stephen Chavura on the history of Western civilisation, Western thought and the historical roots of freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

Timings from the video on YouTube

00:00 – Intro
2:02 – Why history?
4:16 – Western civilisation
12:01 – Slavery & racism
23:32 – The American Revolution
26:25 – The Enlightenment
28:34 – Nietzsche
33:57 – Created equal
49:24 – Enlightened thinking?
52:15 – Australian history.

Martyn Iles, Q and A and what it tells us about Australia today

“The Sydney Morning Herald thought this week’s Q and A was a significant cultural moment – so who are we to disagree?!  They compared it with another one in 2008 where the shibboleth question for our culture, that of homosexuality, came up. It was indeed a revealing programme – telling us a great deal about where Australian culture, politics and religion are at – and where we are heading. …

It was the appearance of Martyn Iles that was too much for some people – even before he had been on the show. …”

– David Robertson writes at AP (the national Journal of the Presbyterian Church of Australia) and gives thanks for Martyn Iles.

Related:

Excerpts from the programme may be seen here. Or the whole thing on the Q and A website (9th April 2021).

Unprecedented times?

“About 10 years ago I was in the north of Nigeria, in a region dominated by the Islamic group, Boko Haram.

I was locked away in a church compound guarded by the army, training a group of local evangelists. Just down the road a bomb was set off outside another church.

These local Christians knew that by trying to share the gospel with their Muslim neighbours, they faced the very real threat of death.

Yet on my last day there they prayed for me, and for Christians in Australia.

They prayed that God would make us ready to face opposition because, they reasoned, we had never had to face any real opposition in the past and they were not at all sure that we would persevere in the faith now the tide was turning against us. It was a great and insightful prayer. …”

– At The Australian Church Record, Moore College Vice-Principal Simon Gillham helps put things in much-needed perspective.

When the Bible turns into Instagram

“Our daughter is in middle school, and recently she deleted the Bible app from her phone. I was glad.

She didn’t make this decision because she no longer wants to read the Bible. (In fact, she’s more engaged in Bible study now than before.) And she didn’t delete the app out of frustration with how poorly it works. …”

– At The Gospel Coalition, Trevin Wax has some thoughtful comments on how and where you read the Bible.

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