I’m at the ‘conferenced-out’ stage of being not quite sure what day it is. If not for the fact that Shabbat is very visibly coming into force around me, I otherwise would be hard pressed to tell that it is in fact Friday evening, and that GAFCON is accelerating towards a close.
What is a true blue Anglican? And what is the positive basis for Anglican unity and identity?
The workshop I’ve been attending on ‘Anglican Identity’ has been very stimulating on this crucial question, especially the addresses by Ashley Null and Andrew Shead on the common authority that Anglicanism rests upon.
What is GAFCON in reality? A new alignment, a pressure group, or the beginnings of a breakaway church? What will happen as a result? Is there going to be a split? Are we about to witness the end of the Anglican Communion?
The buses left early for our trip (or pilgrimage, as it was styled) to the Mount of Olives. It offered a strange mix of experiences: joy at the extraordinary singing of the African choir, who led us in a brief prayer service on the mountain; fascination at seeing the places where Jesus walked and talked and prayed and was betrayed; eye-rolling distaste for how it all has been turned into a site for religious tourism and idolatry (the Franciscan church at Gethsemane being an extraordinary example of both); and above all, a strange blankness at not feeling even one little bit closer to Jesus through the whole experience.
It’s the Africans. Cascading down the hotel staircase in a riot of colour and noise and smiles, the bishops in vivid purple and their wives in even more gorgeous dresses, laughing and greeting each other, hugging, flowing on, in a joyful Christian river.
“Tell me again: why are you going to GAFCON?”
I guess I should have a stock answer by now, given how often the question has been put to me in the last month, including by my wife as we chatted at the airport.
The story of the Bible can be summarized in two words: death and resurrection. Ultimately, the story of the Bible is about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. This is the core of the story we call the ‘gospel’. But this basic story also finds its expression in many different and complementary ways throughout the Scriptures. To take just a few examples:
Like many churches around Sydney, we are about to preach a series on the Reformation solas, because Roman Catholic World Youth Day is arriving next month. One of the things I was thinking about was how to ensure that the sermons on grace and faith reinforce and complement each other, rather than simply repeating each other. That is, it’s not always easy to say what the ‘grace alone’ slogan means to distinguish it from the ‘faith alone’ slogan. Another little issue is that I think the ‘alone’ part of each slogan has a somewhat different sense in each phrase.
We shouldn’t be shocked when non-Christians find Christian virtues out of date, incomprehensible or just plain hateful. The natural person, Paul reminds us, “does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him” (1 Cor 2:14).
Recently at my church we’ve concluded preaching through Nehemiah. My Sola Panellist colleague, Lionel, preached the last sermon from chapter 13. This details Nehemiah’s disappointment at the failure of his reforms to be effectively ‘bedded in’. In chapter 9:38, the people of Israel had made a solemn ‘binding agreement’ expressing their repentance from sin. We find the details in chapter 10 where
People who are on slippery slopes don’t like slippery slope arguments.
The slippery slope argument says that once you allow ‘A’, you are at the top of a slippery slope which will sloppily and slippily carry you down the slidy thing you are on to ‘Z’. The people who are heading in the direction of ‘Z’ tend not to like being told they’re heading that way, presumably because they are ‘A’-type people.
Recently, Sandy Grant wrote to Anglican Archbishop Roger Herft of Perth, trying to discover what view the Archbishop took in response to one of his senior clergymen apparently denying the bodily resurrection of Christ. The response at the time was ambiguous. (Sandy commented on the topic here and here.)
I’m leading the Lord’s Supper this morning at church.
For no other reason than because Sandy alluded to it in his post, I brought down from the bookshelf Broughton Knox’s discussion of the coming of Jesus, referred to in Matthew 24, 25 and 26. It comes from a chapter cheekily entitled ‘The Five Comings of Jesus’ which you can read for yourself if you have Broughton’s book. If you haven’t got it, here’s what he says:
In my last post, I said there were three options for Matthew 24:1-35: it could refer to Christ’s final return, it could be talking about the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD, or it could be discussing the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ. I said I swung between option 2 and 3: the temple destruction and Christ’s death. But even as I was preaching, I was conscious that I had dismissed the connection of earlier sections of the chapter with the second coming of Christ too easily.