A New Anglicanism

Just this past term I have had the great pleasure of co-teaching - with Professor Ashley Null, the renowned Cranmer scholar - a MA unit offered here at Moore College entitled 'Anglican Identity'. In it we made careful study of the development of the English reformation and the works of leading figures like Fisher, Cranmer and Hooker.

A highlight was reading the moving testimony of Catherine Parr, last wife of Henry VIII, to her conversion to the gospel of justification by faith.

I was curious, however, as to why so few Sydney clergy thought this was a subject that might interest them, or that the study of the founding documents of our denomination might be well worth their while.

This was confirmed by casual conversations with Moore students. I asked them 'how do you understand your identity as an Anglican?' - and was met with baffled looks and shrugs. The denomination is a 'good boat to fish from', mostly, but there is (it seems to me) no great passion for Anglicanism itself and no great commitment to study its formularies and its history.

Perhaps it is because the international controversies have become wearisome and even a source of embarrassment. Perhaps it is because the denomination changes at glacial speed - and we in our time are addicted to change, even for its own sake. Perhaps we are also in the grip of the 'lone ranger' vision of the brave church planter, unencumbered by denominational vagaries. Perhaps the baby-boomer generation have so scrubbed away any outward signs of Anglican distinctiveness that it is hard to see what it is anymore.

But I was surprised that even the GAFCON movement, with its bold and remarkable vision for an global Anglican movement, has not caught the local imagination. It has been perceived as a political rather than a spiritual movement.

More than ever, we need to renew our vision of what it means to be an evangelical Anglican. My conviction is that not only is being evangelical the most authentic way of being Anglican - we've been saying that for years - but also that being Anglican is a great way of being evangelical.

How come?

Firstly, because the Anglican formularies (the 39 Articles, the Prayer-Book and the Homilies) subject themselves at every turn to the authority of scripture. Though they provide an extraordinarily rich theological foundation, they also offer themselves to be tested against a scriptural norm.

Second, because Anglicanism has a great sense of what is of primary and what is of secondary importance. Other Protestant denominations have a tendency to make secondary issues - like the manner of baptism or church discipline or church government - a primary distinguishing mark. And they endlessly divide because of it. The Anglican formularies commit us to important things - and allow us freedom under Scripture on the secondaries. What a blessing!

Third, Anglicanism is a great mission strategy. From the beginning, Cranmer and the others knew that they were in a battle for hearts - hearts, like Catherine Parr's, that needed conversion. Today, the opportunities opening up for mission because of our Anglican networks - in Sydney and elsewhere - are extraordinary.
I am sure I could add more to this list. But I am not sure that the message is being heard.

The text of Ed Loane’s wonderful speech to the Anglican Church League is here. In it, Ed recounts the League’s century-long determination to defend the evangelical character of the diocese of Sydney from liberalism and tractarianism. It struck me however that for most of that century evangelical Anglicans knew what the Anglicanism they were defending was. There was a strong positive as a corollory to the negative. If today we have lost a sense of what that Anglicanism really is, then a determination to defend it becomes merely negativity for its own sake, or sectarianism. We need urgently to relocate the evangelically-beating heart of our Anglicanism. No amount of fighting off charismatics or New Perspectivists or Anglo-Catholics will seem meaningful if there is not this real sense that being Anglican is worth it for a dyed-in-the-wool evangelical.

[More interesting stuff on this theme from Anglican Church League President Mark Thompson and from the very astute John Richardson, a Moore graduate serving in England.]

Michael Jensen is rector of St Mark's Darling Point and is the author of the book My God, My God: Is it Possible to Believe Anymore? He's on twitter: @mpjensen

Comments (78)

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  • Jeremy Halcrow
    November 2, 09 - 10:02pm
    How much of this ahistorical attitude is cultural and how much theological?

    Is historical awareness/interest generally on the decline?

    After all the recent 'Jesus' poll found that Gen Y Australians were more likely to believe in Jesus' miracles than know what century he lived.
  • Michael Kellahan
    November 2, 09 - 11:49pm
    Well put Michael.
    Can you picture Latimer, Ridley, and Cranmer going to the flames saying 'Well, at least it was a good boat to fish from'
  • Tom Magill
    November 3, 09 - 12:32am
    "Perhaps the baby-boomer generation have so scrubbed away any outward signs of Anglican distinctiveness that it is hard to see what it is anymore."

    I think it's certainly true that - aside from Anglican oddities like insisting on Confirmation for those baptised as adults, often in consecutive services - our congregations see very little distinction between us and the other protestant churches many of them have come from.
  • Philip Griffin
    November 3, 09 - 1:18am
    You raise a good point Michael. There are other signs people are just not interested in Anglicanism as such. Very few people are interested in discussing liturgical reform and church practice- even though our archbishop highlighted the need for us to debate and discuss this in his presedential address. Many just don't see the need to worry about this. Being distinctively Anglican is not seen as important anymore.

    There may be a second reason as to why there is little interest in all this. Even within our own diocese there are some sometimes bizzare church activities that do not seem to be condemned. Only last Sunday a worried parishioner gave me a flyer from a church in Sydney advertising a halloween Gothic Mass, involving corpse candles, and where in the flyer one reads 'all human beings dead or alive are encouraged to express themselves creatively and joyfully.' This parishioner could not believe denominational authorities would not stop this.

    I know I've used an extreme case, but when people observe the distinctives of Anglicanism, even within our own diocese, being flouted to the point that what is being done is blatantly heretical, and nothing is done about it, they are even less likely to be concerned about holding onto our valuable heritage.
  • Jeremy Halcrow
    November 3, 09 - 2:14am
    That's a pretty big allegation Philip, I should follow up - could you pm me with details.
  • Andrew Barry
    November 3, 09 - 4:57am
    From their facebook page

    RECLAIMING HALLOWEEN WITH THE GOTH n ROLL RECTOR AND THE FESTIVAL OF ALL THINGS DARKLY BEAUTIFUL

    As Halloween takes hold in Australia as a commercial celebration, there is one suburb where the authentic experience will take over the streets.

    Meet Gwilym, the renegade Rector of St Lukes, Enmore who brought the first ever Gothic Mass to Australia for last year's Under the Blue Moon Festival.

    This year Gwilym takes us back to the controversial tradition of All Hallows Eve, where the souls of those in limbo are said to be released through the prayers of their loved ones. Gwilym reignites this tradition, reclaiming Halloween as directly related to Christ's passion, death and resurrection bringing light to darkness and new life for the dead.

    http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=182059460694
  • Andrew Barry
    November 3, 09 - 4:59am
    cont'd...

    This will be a most unusual event with a gothic dj on decks playing Dead Can Dance, Sisters of Mercy and Nick Cave tracks, as well as the historic and one of a kind 1883 Wordsworth and Maskell organ getting a work out with gothic and dramatic pieces. The atmosphere will be gothick ambience with candlelit procession and service, and Soul Cakes. Soul Cakes hark back to medieval times and are the origin of the modern “Trick or Treat”.

    Corpse Candles will be given out for the finale candlelit procession as the 1883 organ heralds us out with soul stirring music.

    Like last year's Gothic Mass , The All Hallows Eve Mass will be intensely visual and evocative, the right kind of spooky with reverance. Fittingly it is in Enmore, the suburb of Sydney where all human beings dead or alive are encouraged to express themselves creatively and joyfully.



    The All Hallows Eve Mass will begin at 7.30pm on Saturday 31st October 2009 at St Luke's Anglican Church, 11 Stanmore Road, Enmore.
    Details from www.stlukesenmore.org.au or speak to the Goth n Roll Rector on 02 9557 4219
  • Jeremy Halcrow
    November 3, 09 - 5:03am
    thks Andrew.. but we should watch that this doesnt get derailed off topic from Michael's original article.
  • Brett Bovey
    November 3, 09 - 7:57am
    hmmm, hard to know what to say michael, but i wanted to respond.

    i find the call to denominational loyalty to be somewhat distracting to living my life in the fullness of christ, as too the debates about encroaching liberalism in the (anglican) church. i do not mean to be harsh, just a personal challenge.

    let me share something of my journey as an anglican. baptised and confirmed anglican, grew up in anglican fellowship group and evening prayer anglican service (as all were back then). part of a variety of denominational churches, though largely anglican. never considered myself as anglican, but my background and experience was. attended moore college and employed by a number of anglican churches. came to realise whilst i may not consider myself to be anglican, by training and experience i was. came into some sharp debate about calvinism, predestination and creationism and came to a point of being 'proud' to be anglican for the sake of those who have travelled before and explored some heights of theology. came to see how painfully harsh i had been treated by (people within) the rigid and authoritarian structures that is anglicanism. and so now ... a lapsed anglican.

    all this to say, like all denominations, good and bad in anglicanism. though for my mind, i am committed to my local gathering, committed to encouraging and supporting other believers i share fellowship with and respectful of those in christ who have walked and fought before.
  • Mike Doyle
    November 3, 09 - 9:41am
    @Kellahan it's way too simplistic to suggest Latimer, Ridley, and Cranmer were burnt for the sake of Anglicanism. I would suggest they were burnt for the sake of the gospel. They may have well been happy to fish from other protestant boats if that was an option (which it wasn't).
  • Benjamin George Sciberras
    November 3, 09 - 10:12am
    @ Halcrow
    Jesus lived in first century Anno Domini
    I'm Gen Y
    but I'm a statistical anomaly!
    :)
  • Roger Gallagher
    November 3, 09 - 10:49am
    Hi Mike,

    I think that part of the problem with "Anglican' are the non-theological ways of defining Anglican which are generally the ones which most evangelicals encounter first, i.e.
    1) Being Anglican means robes, strict prayer book liturgy, organ music & choirs, etc. I'm certain that I'm not the only one to have been told that I wasn't a genuine Anglican because of the informal style of service I attended. (In my case, ironically, by an Anglo-Catholic).
    2) Being Anglican means putting denominational loyalty ahead of theology, even when false teaching arises.

    In addition, the weakening of denominational loyalty seems to be part of a wider trend. The upside of this is when people choose a church based on what it teaches, not the denominational brand. The downside comes from Western individuality, when we choose a church because of what it gives us.
  • Mike Doyle
    November 3, 09 - 11:00am
    This has gotten me thinking....

    it's interesting that early Anglicanism is so much defined about what it isn't - in particular, it's not Roman Catholicism - which is bad (just read the 39 articles). Now - what do we define "Anglicanism" against? Other protestant denominations? Hillsong? Roman Catholicism? Of course - what *should* we define it against is also an important question.

    I note of course the Archbishop of Canterbury's positive statements regarding the possibilities of Anglican churches and priests returning to Roman Catholicism (link).

    This seems to have moved somewhat from the Anti-Roman feelings in the 39 articles.
  • Michael Canaris
    November 3, 09 - 11:33am

    I note of course the Archbishop of Canterbury's positive statements regarding the possibilities of Anglican churches and priests returning to Roman Catholicism (link).

    This seems to have moved somewhat from the Anti-Roman feelings in the 39 articles.

    In fairness to ++s Cantuar and Westminster, they were both rather rushed before issuing that communique. Still, some nomenclature therein does strike me as unfortunately one-sided and question-begging (inter alia, I'd have added a "Roman" here and there.)
  • Michael Jensen
    November 3, 09 - 8:07pm
    @Michael Doyle - there was another Protestant boat: the anabaptists. And it is worth saying that the 39 Articles are aimed at the anabaptists as well as the RCs.

    Yes, early Anglicanism had a strong polemical tone. Fair nuff.
  • Michael Jensen
    November 3, 09 - 9:45pm
    Lest I am misheard: I am not advocating a kind of denominational triumphalism. But I am offering this thought in the context of a culture which tends to the dismantling of Anglican distinctives.
  • Mike Doyle
    November 3, 09 - 10:26pm
    @Michael However, the Anabaptists they were setting themselves against weren't just another protestant boat - they taught a false gospel!

    In our cultural context, there are few denominations we say are preaching a false gospel!

    This may be a good thing, this may not be. But part of a groups identity lies in how they define themselves over and against other groups. If we no longer define ourselves against various groups - we lose our distinctiveness.

    Of course - that's where (I hope) the FCA steps in - holding onto "true" and "historical" Anglicanism.
  • Ron Bennett
    November 4, 09 - 11:17am
    Hey All,

    I don't have any bible college background like you all but this conversation intrigues me.

    Why do we have to be infatuated with our denomination? I thought our lives where to be devoted to living like Christ and glorifying God. I agree with Roger G in his statement of "the weakening of denominational loyalty seems to be part of a wider trend. The upside of this is when people choose a church based on what it teaches, not the denominational brand". Isn't the biblical teaching more important than its denomination?

    I also agree with his statement that in western world we choose a church more for what it can do for us than what we can do for it.

    Maybe the solution is to drop all denominations and become one true body? All believers under the same name but no distinction between Anglican/Presbyterian/Uniting.

    Personally, I worry when I here more about how we are losing our denomination (and I have only heard this in Anglican circles so far) than how we are effective in our community.

    God bless
  • Michael Jensen
    November 4, 09 - 6:32pm
    @Ron - being Anglican, or whatever, is good insofar as it helps us to Christ-like living and glorifying God. And denying the wonderful heritage of our denomination makes doing that more, not less, difficult. Of course biblical teaching is more important than denomination - and I am Christian and evangelical first, Anglican third. But Anglicanism helps! Really!
  • Anthony Douglas
    November 4, 09 - 10:23pm
    I'm with you Michael, and would have loved to do the unit had it not been the wrong time for me. (Too often the case with MA subjects - I'd be very wary about assessing their popularity on the basis of just one offering).

    Seems to me that we Christians have progressed from individualism as it applies to me to individualism as it applies to my church. And so denomination doesn't matter.

    But surely we should be concerned for the progress of the gospel in places where we are not? Isn't this the knock-down argument for caring about denominations, presuming they're built on solid doctrinal positions?
  • Jeremy Halcrow
    November 4, 09 - 10:58pm
    Michael, if we are so turned off by the word 'Anglican', the idea of Anglicanism and the Anglican denomination, why is this the most popular article on the site at the moment! :)
  • John Reed
    November 4, 09 - 11:26pm
    Thanks for the thought-provoking article, Michael. There is something here that it's hard to put one's finger on. It's not about a call to denominational loyalty or triumphalism - Jesus didn't call us to be Anglican, he calls us to follow him; and I am committed to Christ, not Cranmer. However, I am an Anglican by conviction, not convenience. It is more than just a 'good boat to fish from' - I appreciate many of the structures of our church that I think work well, and have been worked out over many years of careful thought. Of course, they're not perfect, and can be frustrating, but often they are better than many of the alternatives. But it goes beyond that to our theology and practices. It's true that Latimer, Ridley and Cranmer were not burned for Anglicanism - but the issues they argued and died for were issues of how the gospel is taught and lived out in the practices of the Anglican church. We do not stand on their shoulders simply as a convenient fishing spot, but as the products and beneficiaries of their teachings and actions. As we work out (and sometimes have to argue over) how the gospel is to be taught and lived out in our church today, understanding the battles, mistakes, and lessons of the past surely makes us wiser and better equipped. We don't need to be constantly reinventing the wheel - although sometimes it does need a balance and realignment. Still not I've put my finger on it, but that's my ten cents worth ...
  • Michael Jensen
    November 4, 09 - 11:30pm
    Brilliant, thanks John.

    One of the areas we have to be most careful is the sacraments. While we want to protect against terrible distortions and abuses, it seems to me that quite alot of baby is being thrown out with the dirty bath water.
    Thoughts anyone?
  • Tom Magill
    November 4, 09 - 11:48pm
    Jeremy asked:
    Michael, if we are so turned off by the word 'Anglican', the idea of Anglicanism and the Anglican denomination, why is this the most popular article on the site at the moment! :)


    Schadenfreude?


    @Michael:
    What is the baby of which you speak, Michael?
  • Michael Jensen
    November 4, 09 - 11:50pm
    The baby: the sacrament itself. So afeard of misuse of the sacraments have we here become, that we sometimes begin to think the problem is with the notion of sacraments themselves... is this not a fair call?
  • John Reed
    November 5, 09 - 2:22am
    I think there is truth in what you say, Michael. We focus, quite rightly, on the central place of the Word in our gatherings (and I note that another forum has been discussing the apparent decline of the reading of the Bible in church), but seem to assume that that means that the sacrament is therefore superfluous. Calvin (Institutes IV, XIV, 5) argues strongly against this notion, and I wonder if we shouldn't check that bathwater for babies first?
  • Ron Bennett
    November 5, 09 - 9:21am
    Thanks for the input - with my background I don't hold onto a specific denomination because it is the biblical basics that matter more.

    I have moved around with the military and found that staying with the same denomination will not always guarantee a biblical based church. So I would rather hold onto a more basic level of the bible and my fellow brothers and sisters to guide me on my path.

    Hopefully this topic will come to a resolution that all can be happy with :-)

    God bless
  • Timothy Harris
    November 5, 09 - 6:22pm
    Michael, I am glad to see you raising this and for the discussion it is stimulating. I must say, however, that I am disappointed that you have appeared to have adopted a specific phrase ('New Anglicanism') and couched it in very similar terms to a paper I sent you in very recent times. While I recognise you have been reflecting in this area yourself and are forming your article in your own context, some form of acknowledgement and recognition that others are seriously making proposals in this area.

    For the benefit of others (and as I advised Michael in my paper a month ago), the Diocese of Nelson (the one clearly evangelical diocese in NZ) will be launching 'The Institute for New Anglicanism' in February next year. Just this last week I have been speaking of this initiative to the Bishops' Conference in Aotearoa NZ and Polynesia, where it appears to have been well received. The Institute for New Anglicanism will be a research and training unit of Bishopdale Theological College, and focussed on providing theological frameworks (especially missiology) for explorations in new modes of Anglican missional ministry in the very different landscape of the 21st century. (I'll continue in another comment)
  • Timothy Harris
    November 5, 09 - 6:39pm
    (cont)
    Michael - I must say I am a little cross about this (and not just because it appears from our vantage point as another instance of Sydney carrying on as if no one else has an original idea). The launch of this initiative involves developing partners and support in our missional context (Aotearoa and Pacifica) - and developing the type of network you call for (and as I proposed to you) involves building relationships of mutual respect (and observing simple courtesies).

    The difficulty you have caused me (no doubt inadvertently, but somewhat thoughtlessly), is that our initiative in the Diocese of Nelson will now look as though we are climbing on a Sydney bandwagon and initiative and draw us into the types of suspicions that goes with that - in our part of the world, there is a strong perception in NZ that Aussies - including the Sydney diocese - barely know NZ exists, or the state of evangelical ministry in NZ (witness Robert Tong's ill-informed piece on the church in NZ a couple of months ago)

    We welcome discussions and partnership with others who share the same interest (such as yourself - which is why I sent you the paper on 'New Anglicanism'). But my goodness - relating to 'Sydney Anglicans' can be such a frustrating exercise. As someone who knows Sydney Anglicans well (Moore College trained and ministered in the Diocese for 10 years) - Sydney's blinkered approach to developing wider relationships is such a hindrance to gospel partnerships!
  • Michael Jensen
    November 5, 09 - 6:40pm
    @Tim - as you'll be quick to acknowledge, and as you can easily verify, the article above is almost 100% the piece I wrote on my blog BEFORE you contacted me about what you are doing in Nelson. The title I gave it there was almost the same: Á New Evangelical Anglican Vision'. As you'll note, I linked to two others who are doing some similar thinking in this area, so acknowlegdement and recognition that others are seriously making proposals in this area was also done.

    However, I forgot to link to, or mention, what looks like a really interesting development in NZ under your leadership, a diocese with which Sydney has had historic links. For which, apologies. You are ahead of us in developing such an Ínstitute'. Couching it in terms of mission is exactly on the money.

    I think you can safely report to anyone who wants to know that there is no bandwagon! This is, at the moment, simply an opinion piece.
  • Timothy Harris
    November 5, 09 - 6:51pm
    For the record: the 'Institute for New Anglicanism' will be launched by Bp John Harrower in Nelson on February 12 next year, and followed the next day with a conference 'The vision for a New Anglicanism: Contours and Context'.

    Further information and my paper are available on our website: www.bishopdale.ac.nz

    We welcome expressions of interest in participating in the conference, or in being part of a ongoing network looking to build both a research and praxis base in this area.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Harris
    Dean, Bishopdale Theological College
  • Michael Jensen
    November 5, 09 - 6:54pm
    I think talk a 'blinkered approach' is a bit wide of the mark... We could always do more, and what we are doing is not yet adequate... but this year we have had bishops from Mauritius, Myanmar, Nigeria, and Uganda visit us here at college, and we have sent people to teach in the diocese of Egypt. These ties are strengthening all the time.
  • Timothy Harris
    November 5, 09 - 7:59pm
    @Michael - I don't want to sidetrack this helpful focus on 'New Anglicanism', so just a brief clarification on my 'blinkered approach' comment, as it relates to the type of networks or wider relationships we both hope will develop. I well recognise and am thankful for Sydney's contributions further afield, as you note. However, it is the perception and experience of many of us now ministering outside Sydney that Sydney Anglicans appear to have 'blind spots' in how they come over in relating outside Sydney - and often unnecessarily so. There are cultural dimensions to such relationships that at its best Sydney respects and has shown great fruitfulness, but at other levels seems a little blinded to how they come over. No doubt I am sensitive in this regard - my paper to you was a courtesy and an invitation to further conversation - but the sense of being overlooked is not just shared by me alone - there are others in our region who will testify they have been treated similarly, at least in their experience. Enough said - let the focus be on what a New Anglicanism has to offer in aspiring to mission-focussed ministry at its best, with a clear gospel focus and denominational identity serving that much greater purpose.
  • Michael Jensen
    November 5, 09 - 8:11pm
    @Tim - I certainly appreciated the courtesy of you making contact, and repeat the apology for not making the link here. I would be very much interested in taking the conversation further for all the reasons you mention - so please keep me (and us!) in the loop, and suggest ways I/we can be involved perhaps.
  • Timothy Harris
    November 5, 09 - 10:26pm
    Michael - I appreciate your response. It is my belief that there is a significant (and most likely brief) window of opportunity to make a positive contribution in shaping an initiative such as this - in my view, Anglicanism at its best is clearly approaching ministry and 'being church' with a missional focus (our ecclesiology needs to be grounded in missio dei).

    In times past this has largely been an academic discussion over who has claim on essential/definitive/classic Anglicanism, depending on which historic era you take as your point of reference. In our present day and age, I believe there is something of the culturally radical 'considered innovation' in Anglican DNA (I'm thinking in terms of the wisdom and insights of Cranmer's 'Prefaces' as an example) that offers a significant framework as we consider where a 'New Anglicanism' might lead us in the very different missional frontiers and contexts.

    We would be interested in exploring some form of Australasian consultation along such lines if others are similarly interested.

    Thanks for raising this issue in your opinion piece - I hope it gets due consideration in various Sydney quarters...
  • Robert Forsyth
    November 5, 09 - 11:23pm
    On the question of Enmore Church's controversial attempt at Connect 09 to a particular subculture, have a look at the Inner West Courier report before coming to a definite judgment.
    Source
  • Robert Forsyth
    November 6, 09 - 12:51am
    I have received this statement from the Rev Gwilym Henry-Edwards who is upset at the wild inaccuracy of the report on the Under The Blue Moon Festival website. "Persons unknown to me have attributed to me words and actions I do not acknowledge." he wrote to me.

    Gwilym has asked me to post this statement which I put in the next post
  • Robert Forsyth
    November 6, 09 - 12:52am
    Statement by Gwilym Henry-Edwards 06 November 2009
    Opinions within the church vary concerning Halloween, some feel that it is wholly un-Christian and should be completely ignored and condemned, others feel that it is harmless but should not be encouraged, while others see Halloween as an opportunity to reclaim this ancient spiritual tradition as a Christian festival.
    I belong to the third group because I believe in the power of God, which, through Jesus Christ, conquers all the powers of darkness. My intention is to bring to the light those who walk in darkness, to rebuke sin by exposing it to the light of Christ and the Gospel.
    At St Luke’s we have used the Under The Blue Moon Festival as an opportunity to reach a group who would not normally have anything to do with the church. The event is part of our Connect 09 strategy; a once-a-year opportunity to speak words of truth to young people of a particular group. It is a sincere invitation to people who may be flirting with the darker side of life to come to the light of Christ. It is an invitation to set aside the foolishness of superstition and embrace the reality of Christ and His gospel.
    I am a Christian who believes in the inclusive love of God, salvation through Christ crucified and risen, and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. I believe in the truth brought to us in the Bible and the historic Creeds. I adhere to and obey the formularies of the Anglican Church of Australia.
  • Robert Forsyth
    November 6, 09 - 12:55am
    A last thought. You still might not agree with what Enmore were trying to do. (Though it is very Connect09)

    But this episode is a warning about jumping to conclusions on what looked like solid evidence. I wonder how many other times this happens (especially on reports from overseas) when it can't be checked.
  • Michael Jensen
    November 6, 09 - 1:07am
    Thanks Rob, and Gwilym.
  • Mike Doyle
    November 6, 09 - 1:16am
    @Robert - could you clarify what facts have been wildly inaccurately reported? It isn't clear in your post - or Gwilym's statement.

    From looking at the St Luke's website, the festival's web page and facebook page, and this forum, it does (at first glance) look like the facts were more of less accurate. Though perhaps wrong conclusions were drawn from them.

    Or have there been other reports elsewhere?
  • Jeremy Halcrow
    November 6, 09 - 2:00am
    Discussing Enmore's Halloween ministry is off topic.

    Given what was posted earlier it is reasonable to allow the Bishop and the rector of Enmore a right of reply. Let's leave it at that please.

    This is a public forum and is read widely, including by secular journalists.
  • Braden James Compton
    November 6, 09 - 7:38am
    Michael, you've once again raised a subject of timely relevance to me. I've very recently decided to jump the Sydney Anglican ship precisely because (sorry mate) I disagree with you on this. I am no longer convinced "that being Anglican is a great way of being evangelical." Or even that this is a "good boat to fish from."

    Some of my reasons follow:

    1. No matter how you cut the cake, Anglican polity is not biblical (making it tough to call ourselves evangelical). Pragmatically useful? Perhaps. But I grow weary trying to convince my church to implement an Anglican equivalent of biblical eldership or biblical deaconate (lack of which, IMHO, stands in the way of effective local witness and mission). And I’m tired of trotting out Hooker's latitudinarian argument to inquisitive new believers when, truth be told, I don't buy it anyway (which stands in the way of integrity with respect to our position on biblical authority, inerrancy and perspicuity). Is church government a primary issue? Of course not. But does the Anglican position make us evangelical? Not one bit.

    ...
  • Braden James Compton
    November 6, 09 - 7:38am
    2. I (personally) have some serious misgivings about SydAng theological perspectives. I can’t argue biblically for our pseudo-Amyraldian mode of justification (which at its logical end destroys the doctrine of election, undermines a believer’s assurance and ultimately leads to practical Pelagianism – all of which I have heard and seen in many of our churches). I can’t argue biblically for intellectual primacy (which leads to an endorsement of emotional sinfulness and hypocrisy). I can’t argue biblically for the bizarre view that because we are saved by grace we should be deeply suspicious of – and avoid at all costs – those who desire to do things well (which my non-Christian friends cite as proof positive that we don’t really care about Jesus at all). I weep at the dishonour brought to God’s name by our rampant materialism and lack of communal care; I weep when we insist on firing broadside after broadside at secularists, or charismatics or anglo-catholics while the log in our own eye remains firmly lodged and unattended; I lament that we define ourselves by what we are not rather than the gospel ; and I truly die inwardly when we look at all of these things and pat ourselves on the back – and go in to argue for them a second time – as markers of our evangelical orthodoxy. These things all stem from serious theological deficits which hurt our witness.

    ...
  • Braden James Compton
    November 6, 09 - 7:38am
    3. While many of these things are slowly changing (for the better), the change is simply too slow. Why would we wait for change – or spend inordinate amounts of time trying to affect it – when people are going to hell? Why would we waste time and energy when there are other church/denominational platforms unencumbered by these problems where we can simply get on with the job?

    This list could go on, but I trust by now most Anglican readers will be protesting far too much to make the exercise profitable. Whether or not you agree with my assessment; whether or not these things are true of your local church (admittedly I may have had a very, very bad run); whether or not you live on my side of the theological fence (discussion of which would be way off topic) – rest assured that there are many, many reasons why young men like me have lost confidence in Anglicanism. Both as representative of reformed evangelical theology (seriously, why do we even argue that we are reformed anyway?!) or as a useful platform to fish from.

    Sorry guys, as much as I honesty love the Anglican church (and have prayerfully poured so much of my heart and soul into its defence), I’m taking my tackle and pole and heading elsewhere.
  • David Palmer
    November 6, 09 - 7:41am
    Hi Michael and others,

    As you might guess I applaud Michael’s article – spot on. I'm all for denominational loyalty if only because I think the tradition is so important.

    Being Calvin's 500th anniversary this year I've read my way through The Institutes (incredibly blessed) and half a dozen Calvin books including Bruce Gordon's new biography, Witt and Kingdon's Sex, Courtship and Marriage in Geneva and just started Philip Benedict's Christ's Churches Purely Reformed: A social history of Calvinism.

    Yes I understand we live in different times, different challenges requiring different approaches but NEVERTHELESS I do believe we need to reconnect with the past in order to make sure we remain within authentic biblical Christianity stream of consciousness as explicated through the tradition of the church (whether Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Anabaptist.

    One of my current projects is to dig into the reformed tradition regarding freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, because what we have been taking for granted for so long, we can no longer do so. The reformed tradition had much to do with securing freedom of conscience and religion in the first place. Why not become reacquainted with the tradition? Likewise we could learn a lot from observing and cogitating on the pattern secured in Geneva for sex, courtship and marriage during Calvin and Beza’s time.
  • Braden James Compton
    November 6, 09 - 7:45am
    BTW Michael - I just wanted to say a big "thank you" for having a crack at that MA course. While I couldn't attend, I do think that for those who are staying aboard the good ship Anglican such are excellent and invaluable topics to be exploring. Against my previous protestations, I confess a deep gratitude and a serious debt to the likes of Fisher, Cranmer and Hooker in my theological formation. Without them I would be so much the poorer.
  • Michael Jensen
    November 6, 09 - 7:49am
    @Braden - I would take issue with almost all of your posts other than the personal experience parts (which are your experience of course). As you know, I differ with you on how the 'reformed' heritage ought to be received.

    The beauty of Anglican polity is that it doesn't pretend to be biblical - whereas those denominational structures that do claim a biblical patter over-reach and overemphasise, no?
  • Braden James Compton
    November 6, 09 - 7:52am
    Hey Michael,

    I would take issue with almost all of your posts other than the personal experience parts (which are your experience of course). As you know, I differ with you on how the 'reformed' heritage ought to be received.


    That's more than fair. And no doubt why you stay and I go! I have no problem with that. We both love Jesus, we both want to see his name adored, so I can live with this kind of disagreement.

    The beauty of Anglican polity is that it doesn't pretend to be biblical - whereas those denominational structures that do claim a biblical patter over-reach and overemphasise, no?


    Agreed. But would you argue that this is reason not to try? Especially when it hurts our ability to reach out (eg. organised diaconal ministry)?
  • Braden James Compton
    November 6, 09 - 8:09am
    On reflection, I should probably make something explicit which I unhelpfully left implicit in previous posts: my arguement is that while there may be great value in historically connecting with what Anglicanism really is, there are some of us who find ourselves at such theological and practical variance today (with our contemporary experience of being Anglican in Sydney) that remaining Anglican seems no viable option. Whether or not the issues I've mentioned resonate with you, I'm simply trying to show that some of us believe there is more work to be done here than reviewing the formularies.

    Perhaps it might be helpful, Michael, if you would flesh out what it could mean to "renew our vision of what it means to be an evangelical Anglican."
  • Michael Jensen
    November 6, 09 - 8:28am
    @Braden - I am more than a little disinclined to respond. How can I?

    However:

    1 - I don't see that our polity restricts our mission at all. Not the case in case after case.

    2 - remember that Anglicanism through the parish system doesn't just plant a church in a relatively easy-to-reach part of the city. It has to deal with the whole lot, even if it means inefficiency. We still run churches in demographically tough places. The much-derided parish system is still the best springboard for effective, local mission that I know of. Not that it is everything.

    3 - the theological heritage of Anglicanism is Reformed without being scholastic (for want of a better term). It actually subjects its theology to scripture and not scripture to its theology.

    4 - Anglicanism has a view of the sacraments which is modest but biblical. It doesn't do away with them (what a completely ludicrous suggestion that would be!) and it doesn't overlay them with hocus pocus or import a covenantal theology to describe them.

    5 - What a blessing the normative principle is over the regulative principle!!

    6 - it changes slowly, because young men don't know everything.
  • Braden James Compton
    November 6, 09 - 8:32am
    Point six especially taken, Michael ;-)
  • Allan Patterson
    November 6, 09 - 9:04pm
    Braden, where will you go? I have had experience with a number of churches, but none compare to my local SydAnglican parish church. It's not perfect because it has me there. And the Diocese frustrates me because of its low position on Holy Communion and its non-allowance of women to take their rightful place in the life of the church, but I always ask myself, where would I go. We have a great group of people who love Jesus and want to connect with the community. And we have a great pastor. What more could you ask for?
  • Michael Jensen
    November 6, 09 - 9:58pm
    Thanks Allan. I'd hasten to add at this point that it isn't the diocese that has a "low position" on Holy Communion (whatever that might mean) but certain individuals within it. In the overwhelming majority of parishes as far as I can see, you still get a Communion service monthly.

    I'd say the same about my parish church. Not perfect - but growing, connecting, seeing people saved, well pastored and a pleasure to be at.
  • Braden James Compton
    November 6, 09 - 11:34pm
    Hi Allan,

    Given the endorsement, perhaps I should be checking out your parish!

    In all seriousness, I understand the difficulty you're expressing. There are many, many good little parishes out there which far from being a perfect fit (your point on the perfect church is well received) are nevertheless difficult to fault without appearing horribly shallow, mean-spirited or consumerist.

    Nevertheless, I think I can answer your question. Here is a short list of “more” that I think can be reasonably asked for:
  • Braden James Compton
    November 6, 09 - 11:34pm
    1. A commitment to and strong desire to change, wherever necessary and whenever beneficial, for the gospel. Given that, under the influence of the Spirit, the desire of every individual believer is to be increasingly more like Jesus (and to bring him increasing glory) – and given that this process of sanctification never stops – I am determined never again to be part of a church which operates in any other way. I do not ask that decisions go my way (on the contrary, how would I ever grow in areas of weakness of which I am unaware?). But I think we should all expect our communities to want to grow (directed, of course, by scripture; informed by cultural awareness; motivated by a love of Christ and passion to see the lost turn to him in repentance and faith). And when I say “want to grow” I don’t mean “be willing to grow in theory” (after all, who isn’t?). I mean be passionate enough to actually make it happen. If Jesus died and gave us his Spirit so that we might get some runs on the board, why would I want to be part of a community that has abandoned the game?
  • Braden James Compton
    November 6, 09 - 11:35pm
    2. A culture of service. Given that we believe in the ‘priesthood of all believers’, we should reasonably expect our churches to encourage service. Meaning leaders should actively seek out and positively encourage their people in ministering to each other and their local communities (more than simply printing out ‘sign up sheets’ for bible study leaders, I mean). And, at a minimum, this would require:

    3. Leadership with a vision. Leaders by definition lead. Churches where the push for change, the ideas for outreach, and the passion for ministry consistently come from the congregation against unwilling leaders are, in my opinion, communities without biblical leadership. In a similar vein:

    4. Leaders who we want to follow, and to whose authority we can submit. At a minimum, I think we should desire to emulate our pastor’s life and doctrine (life and doctrine I say...). And we need to be confident to submit to his authority, knowing that it is granted by God, and directed by scripture for our good. Godly man, gifted teacher, loving enough to discipline. Anything less is a no-go. I don’t know if it’s fair to list this one Allan, given what you’ve said about your pastor. In my experience, such men are hard to find (praise God if you’re lead by one!).
  • Braden James Compton
    November 6, 09 - 11:35pm
    I could go on, I suppose, but I’m running out of time! Perhaps someone else would care to add to this list. I might come back to it later.

    Note that I’m speaking here of things that go beyond the general theological norms we see in most SydAng churches (ie. preaches the gospel; sacraments; loves the lost of the city; Christian community...). I’m speaking of how these things apply to church practice – and specifically what they must mean at absolute minimum.

    I would argue that if after much prayer and conversation you feel your local church is missing any of these, then it has probably ceased to be (functionally) a biblically obedient, god-honouring place. And if you’re 0/4 with no change on its way, then it’s probably time to look elsewhere.

    As to where I’m going – given your theological concerns, you probably wouldn’t be much interested (although I’m with Michael here: this Diocese has a very biblical view of Holy Communion; this has been my experience in parish as well). Suffice to say it’s a non-Anglican church plant.
  • Braden James Compton
    November 6, 09 - 11:35pm
    Lest I seem jaded and myopic, I hasten to add that I have experienced some individual parishes in Sydney that I would be overjoyed to fellowship with (where my broad theological difficulties are not present, and my specific practical worries are invalid). For anyone who can afford to live in and minister to the CBD, I can highly recommend St. Phillip’s York St (with Justin Moffatt). Justin: if you’re reading this, the invoice is in the mail ;-)
  • David Palmer
    November 7, 09 - 12:39am
    you still get a Communion service monthly.

    But this isn’t the point is it?

    Someone objecting to the Diocese’s low position on Holy Communion is not commenting on frequency but doctrine and I suspect Zwinglian doctrine to be precise.

    What a blessing the normative principle is over the regulative principle!!

    Who says and on what basis?
  • Tom Magill
    November 7, 09 - 1:08am
    Who says and on what basis?


    My drum kit says! :D
  • Anthony Herbert
    November 7, 09 - 1:38am
    An exciting development in Brisbane is the appointment of a Warden at the Matthew Hale Public Library (Rev Adrian Lane from Ridley College). Matthew Hale was the 2nd Bishop of Brisbane and an evangelical. Evangelical Anglicans in Brisbane are blessed by both Ridley College and Moore College (with the weekend conference every year). The CMS Summer School is als a highlight on the calender year. This is a home grown event and stems from the work of evangelical ministers who worked in the Diocese in earlier years such as Canon Jeff Roper (who died last year) - Jeff was the first full-time General Secretary of CMS in Queensland in the 1960s. There are lots of interesting downloads on the website: http://www.mathewhalepubliclibrary.com/
  • David Palmer
    November 7, 09 - 1:40am
    Who says and on what basis?

    My drum kit says! :D


    Yes, I suspect this might be the argument.....
  • Allan Patterson
    November 7, 09 - 2:02am
    I know I am thick, but what are you Tom and David trying to say?
  • Michael Jensen
    November 7, 09 - 2:07am
    Braden - we are just going to clash with our contradictory experiences here. I would say my experience is that many many pastors in the Sydney diocese lead in exactly this way - points 1,2,3,4. Certainly, my students - the rectors of five years in the future - are like this.

    Leave the nest by all means - we are not perfect or sufficient. But don't soil it before you go. It leaves a bad smell.
  • David Palmer
    November 7, 09 - 2:31am
    Hi Allan,

    Tom is saying the normative principle allows him to play his drums whereas the regulative principle won't.

    Historically speaking, it is a Anglican v Presbyterian (Calvinistic) argument.

    PS I will sustain the Calvinistic argument for the Lord's Supper over the Zwinglian argument that has become so endemic in Protestant worship, including I suspect SydAngs, which is precisely what I think you are objecting too. But maybe not...?
  • Allan Patterson
    November 7, 09 - 3:24am
    My position on the Lord's Supper is per article 29 which in part says "The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is Faith." My objection is that it is just not a rememberance meal and it should be part of each service when we meet together.
  • David Palmer
    November 7, 09 - 3:38am
    Allan,

    I think we are on the same page on this issue.

    Article 29 is Calvin's teaching though in truth he says a lot more about the matter.

    The remembrance meal understanding of LS is the Zwinglian understanding.

    Cheers
  • Michael Jensen
    November 7, 09 - 3:39am
    There is no reason it should be a part of each service when we meet together, either in the Scriptures or in the Anglican formularies. In fact, Anglicans have had different practices in this regard. Interestingly, the evangelicals of the eighteenth century were in favour of a more regular Holy Communion than was the normal practice of the time.

    As for the Zwinglian interpretation? There are certainly those who argue that a memorialist position is validly Anglican. That is, they say they are not setting aside the formularies by casting the Supper in memorialist terms.

    I am not of them.
  • Mike Doyle
    November 7, 09 - 4:07am
    And those who argue that Calvin & Zwingli were actually agreed on a lot more then what we give them credit for. It is important to note that Zwingli, whilst saying it was a remembrance meal, certainly didn't say it was "just" a remembrance meal. If I remember rightly (and I admit some fuzziness in my memory), said explicitly said it wasn't "just" a remembrance meal.
  • Dianne Howard
    November 7, 09 - 5:13am
    I’ve been labelled a Zwinglian but my husband tells me I’m really an undercover Calvinist on the issue. So as a ‘Zwingli’-‘vin’ I have no trouble agreeing with you Mike (Doyle).

    Di
  • Mike Doyle
    November 7, 09 - 5:26am
    I should point out that Calvin & Zwingli certainly thought they had a significant disagreement, so whilst those who argue Calvin & Zwingli agreed may be right, they themselves would disagree with that assessment.
  • David Palmer
    November 7, 09 - 6:08am
    If only we could rewrite history....

    If only Luther and Zwingli had butted out allowing Calvin and Melanchthon to define the doctrine....

    (Yes, I know we would have just found more reasons to disagree. Come Lord Jesus!)
  • Michael Jensen
    November 7, 09 - 6:46am
    Careful Michael - Zwingli died in 1531, almost before Calvin even converted from Rome. So he can't have disagreed with Calvin!

    And Calvin hoped that his position would be acceptable as a mediating position between Zurich and Wittenberg.
  • Mike Doyle
    November 7, 09 - 7:04am
    ahhh....yes....thanks Michael - that explains my fuzziness!

    The disagreement was between Luther and Zwingli, and Calvin sought a mediating position, which was found to be acceptable by the Zwingli Camp (and since Zwingli was now dead, killed in battle, Zurich was now lead more or less by Bullinger). It was less acceptable to the Luther camp though right? Does any of that make sense?

    So it could be said that Calvin & Zwingli may not have been so diametrically opposed as some suggest (and in fact, as I have suggested). A question that comes to my mind - did Zwingli & Bullinger hold different positions on the Lord's Supper?

    Though I suspect I am further pulling this thread off it's main point...as interesting as it may be (for some at least ;-)
  • David Palmer
    November 7, 09 - 8:42am
    Calvin & Zwingli may not have been so diametrically opposed

    Mike, if you could get hold a copy of Bruce Gordon's recent Calvin biography it would help clarify the issue for you - the index p 386, 393 gets you into the subject.

    Cheers
  • Mike Doyle
    November 7, 09 - 11:32am
    oh man - more books to read. *sigh* I'll put it on my list.
  • Robin Grant Jordan
    November 9, 09 - 6:00pm
    Michael,

    I thought you might be interested in reading the American response to "A New Anglicanism". There is a thread on Stand Firm at: http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/24947