Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Being evangelical in the Communion, being evangelistic in the Shaky Isles


Previously I have referred to an impressive and detailed survey of faith in our land. Our Anglican Taonga offers a report on it here.

Being evangelistic anywhere in the world today is challenging but for those of us living here (called the Shaky Isles today because there has been yet another significant earthquake, widely felt) we must embrace the specific challenges of our cultural contexts.

As a sign of the challenge, yesterday we had further confirmation that our representative parliament has no particular collective allegiance to Christianity as it was confirmed that "Jesus Christ" would disappear from the daily prayer which begins parliamentary sessions.

Is there "good news" in the report? Yes. I cite the Taonga reflection:

"The survey findings confirmed that the most effective form of evangelism in Aotearoa today comes from Christians who demonstrate Christian actions first, before sharing their faith in words.

59% of New Zealanders filling out the survey thought they would most likely be influenced to investigate faith by seeing others live out their faith. And if that faith was lived out while caring for people suffering from a personal trauma or life change, the impact of that Christian love and care went up. The survey also found that 54% of Kiwis were open to changing their religious views or exploring other beliefs."

The onus, in our practical Kiwi culture, is on people seeing our good works and glorifying our Father who is in heaven!


Being evangelical in ACANZP is, I think, measurably more challenging as we are now at the end of October 2018. Locally that means that from tomorrow, five new evangelical congregations will have been formed from Anglican parishes in the Diocese of Christchurch. I understand that in December, two more congregations will be added, and through these works an eighth is emerging and establishing itself. All of which means there are evangelical Anglicans who believe they must of necessity be evangelical and Anglican outside of the historical, well-established Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. The move to disaffiliate is driven - if I may say so - by evangelical convictions more than Anglican convictions.

In turn, that raises a question for evangelicals who remain in ACANZP. Are we now somewhat less than evangelical? Have we blunted the edge of our evangelical convictions in order to remain secure in our familiar environments?

Cue attention to a letter a group of evangelical Anglican bishops has written to GAFCON - bishops in the Church of England taking up a GAFCON challenge to explain what it means to be "faithful Anglicans".

I like what they say.

While not every phrase would be adopted by me (because some phrases are specific to the experience of being evangelical in the Church of England), I agree with much of what the letter says. In particular, the Jerusalem Declaration is a document I have never been happy about as a statement of Anglican conviction which somehow ought to be easy for "any evangelical" to sign; the affirmation of the Communion Partner bishops within TEC is welcome; and their commitment to a specific mission within the CofE is encouraging.

As an evangelical Anglican about to become a bishop, I am encouraged by this letter.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Diocese of Sydney votes to join ACANZP!

Criticism of ACANZP's GS 2018 decision re permitting same sex blessings has included:

- where is the prior theological agreement for this step?
- bishops shouldn't be the ones giving permission, not least because it creates different rules for different regions
- this means the church lives with opposing views which is dangerous in the long run - "two integrities" on such a matter is impossible
- it goes against Scripture's clear teaching about sexuality

Thus we have seen and are seeing separation by those who cannot live with this situation.

Being a logician, I assume that overnight news from the Diocese of Sydney means that they have effectively voted to side with ACANZP and not with those disaffiliating from our church.

On the matter of permitting the remarriage of divorcees after a separation occurs because of abuse, the Diocese of Sydney according to this article has:

- not waited for theological agreement on this step
- put it into the hands of bishops of the Diocese whether they give permission or not
- will live with opposing views on the matter (including opposition from the head of its theological college)
- gone against the clear teaching of Scripture (which never mentions a compassionate pathway through Jesus' and Paul's teaching such has now been taken), including the previous response of the Diocese which was consistent with that teaching.

To any disaffiliating Kiwi Anglicans reading this: come back!

Sydney and ACANZP have a common compassionate, pragmatic (or "personalist") approach to challenging matters of human sexuality and are charting the way forward for a realistic engagement with 21st century issues: all are welcome to share in it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Oh, dear

#fakenews which is, well, fake!?

Very expensive mistake!

My question here is whether a misconception of the part of evangelicals about the relationship between theological truth and historical evidence drives some of us to invest money in what is, effectively, a category mistake.


Monday, October 22, 2018

We need more Christianity

A colleague has pointed out an interesting item on The Project recently.

The video clip is here. Its byline is that a Christian, a Muslim and a Jew walk into a bar ...

But the interesting thing about the clip is the discussion by the panel members at the conclusion of the bar scene.

Monday, October 15, 2018

"I’ve been sensing for some time that sacred speech and spiritual conversation are in decline."

Jonathan Merritt makes a case here that I think could be readily transported across the Pacific Ocean, downwards.

What do you think?

I think that where sacred speech and spiritual conversation are in decline the language we use to share the gospel needs translating ....

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Further on Distinctive Co-existence

A thoughtful reflection in Distinctive Co-existence, published by The Living Church, here.

Your comments are welcome on this matter. Please note that I will not comment (these are matters of very direct import to my own Diocese) so please do not address comments or questions to me personally, as I won't be responding!)

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Ecumenical winter? The beginning of the end of ecumenism or the end of the beginning?

A very thoughtful article here here by Michael Root (H/T Bryden Black).

Are we making any actual progress towards the church being one? Do headline moves re agreements and conferences signal any change "on the ground"? Is change on the ground being reflected in decisions within the citadels of ecclesial power?

Winter canvases the global scene, offers some sobering analysis (for ever hopefuls such as myself) and charts some hopeful prospects, but not with great optimism.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Could we have a female York and change the Lord's Prayer?

Under no circumstances should anyone join the Anglican church in order to be in an unchanging church! (I know, I know, lots of aspects of Anglican churches seem unchanging ...).

On the one hand, today we learn that the present ABY will retire in June 2020 and immediately see strong arguments emerging that the next ABY will be female: here.

On the other hand, might we be saying the Lord's Prayer, that staple of all Anglican services, wrongly? See here.

Anyone for a sweepstake on York?
Might we change the Lord's Prayer?