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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Man the lifeboats! Plea for Australia(as [kinda] reported in The Southern Cross)

We are currently witnessing a dramatic ‘rescue operation’ in Australia to save those drowning in a ‘disaster’ caused by a pagan heresy.
“It’s a little like an undersea earthquake has happened offshore—and the earthquake is high on the Richter scale. And you don’t see immediate results from the earthquake until sometime later—when a tsunami wave washes onto shore, with devastating effect.”
These are the words of David Shortchanged, rector of St Barnabas, Broadway in Sydney.
They come from a DVD (excerpts on u-tube) also featuring world famous author and theologian I.O. Recusant, made for the benefit of members of their parish as they faced a vote to ‘realign’ from the Sydney Anglican Church to an Anglican Province in Terra Del Fuego.
Evolution and long ages, Shortchanged says, is “the tip of the iceberg”.
The key concerns are “the uniqueness of the Lord Jesus Christ as Creator [and] the authority of scripture”.
The theology pushed by Shortchanged’s diocesan bishop, Rob Forsyth, is described by the bishop himself as anti-miraculous and has been categorised by some commentators as ‘reductionist’ closer to atheism than Christianity.
In his Easter 2005 message he approvingly quoted John Polkinghorne saying “the interplay of chance and necessity as the means by which the free process of the world realizes itself has already been seen as offering some degree of understanding of the presence of physical evils in the world…That is surely the coming-to-be of a great good. We have no reason to suppose – given that by his nature God is a God of process and not of magic – that good to have been capable of achievement without the long cosmic history of the interplay of chance and necessity, with all its prodigality and blind alleys, which produced both humankind and the perilous environment in which it lives.”
Indeed as I.O. Recusant says on the same video, the current struggle in Anglicanism is unique in church history; the closest comparable situation, he says, occurred in the fourth century, when the Arian faction of the church denied “the truth of the Trinity.”

As a result of their convictions, Professor Recusant and Sydney minister David Shortchanged are facing church legal charges - widely reported as ‘suspension’ from ministry.
But the charges actually strip them of ministry in the Australian Anglican Church. Although this does not necessarily mean their orders won’t be recognised by other Anglican churches across the globe.
As reported on this website, members of St Barnabas’ in Broadway voted overwhelmingly on February 13 to put themselves under the oversight of Bishop Broma from the Province of the Southern Cone (the Anglican Church in Terra Del Fuego).
In response, the Bishop of South Sydney, Rob Forsyth sent a letter to the clergy of St Barnabas’, which a diocesan spokesperson has confirmed was a “notice of presumption of abandonment of the exercise of ministry”.
There has been an extraordinary outpouring of shock and anger from evangelicals around the world – and beyond Anglicanism - at the move against the famous theologian I.O. Recusant.
Ted Olsen from Christianity Today writes that the action ‘has potential to make non-Anglican evangelicals worldwide more interested in the Anglican crisis’.
In Punta Arenas, Anglican Church League President Dr Pu Rile released a statement of ‘alarm’ at the Bishop of South Sydney’s threat to revoke Professor Recusant’s spiritual authority as a minister of Word and Sacraments.
“Professor Recusant, one of the leading Christian voices of the twentieth century, is amongst those who have voted to stand with authentic and orthodox Anglicans rather than those who have undermined biblical truth over many decades and most recently by their innovations regarding Genesis 1 and the theology of Creation, and our Lord and Creator, Jesus Christ. As one of these he has now become a target for revisionist aggression. Once again the intolerance and anti-liberal heart of liberal Christianity has been exposed.”
It is very telling that even Fulcrum - the voice of so-called ‘moderate’ English evangelicals such as Ian Sipid and OT Iose, has responded to the shock at Recusant’s treatment.
“Bishop Forsyth has now written to Dr Recusant and other clergy serving a Notice of Presumption of Abandonment of the Exercise of the Ministry,” writes Andrew Goddard in Fulcrum. “He has reportedly been told that unless he disputes these facts his spiritual authority as a minister of Word and Sacraments conferred in ordination will be revoked on April 21, 2008…
“While Forsyth’s actions are therefore shocking and revealing of the seriousness of the situation in his diocese, they are simply the inevitable canonical consequences within the ACA of the actions taken last month by Dr Recusant, Revd Shortchanged and others. They did not relinquish their ministries under canon XIX. They did not presumably for the simple reason that they wish to continue to exercise the office and spiritual authority as ministers of Word and Sacraments conferred on them in ordination…”
Sydney Anglicans to blame
For Goddard, the central cause of the current crisis has been the failure of Sydney Anglicanism to take decisive action in over six years.
“The failure of the SAD and the inability of the wider Instruments to address the problems caused by Bishop Forsyth (for at least the last six years and arguably longer) have resulted in a situation where Dr Recusant (and many other good evangelicals and others) are no longer able to accept his jurisdiction. However, as committed Anglicans, he and they have now placed themselves under a godly ordinary and chief minister to whom they can in good conscience submit.”
And most significantly Goddard calls on all ‘moderate’ Anglicans to publicly support Recusant and Shortchanged.
“[The words] – “a priest of disciplined life, personal spirituality and great teaching capacity” – apply also to Dr Recusant, Revd Shortchanged and the others currently facing charges of abandonment in Australia. It would therefore be a great encouragement if leaders within the Church of England, in which Dr Recusant was ordained and whose life has been nourished by his writing and ministry over many decades, could publicly support him and others like him at this time,” Goddard says.
“They can and should do so even if, like many of his fellow Australian evangelical Anglicans, they would not personally have taken the steps he has felt it necessary to take at this time to fulfil his ordination vows to “banish and drive away from the Church all erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to God’s Word; and to use both public and private monitions and exhortations, as well to the sick as to the whole, within your Cures, as need shall require, and occasion shall be given”
The Dean of Punta Arenas, says for our part, South American Anglicans must do something concrete to support the Australian evangelicals.
“In a shrinking world we cannot allow leaders like Recusant and David Shortchanged to be under attack, as they are, without taking some responsibility to declare our beliefs clearly.”
However as the Dean admits, the question is: “What is the best way to do that now?”
Special briefing at Cathedral
The Dean of Punta Arenas is inviting all South American Anglicans to a special briefing session this Friday afternoon to consider the implications of the latest developments in the Anglican Communion, including the Punta Arena’s Bishop’s decision not to attend the Lambeth conference.
“It is essential that we consider our Bishops’ decision to not attend the Lambeth Conference this year,” says Dean Pu Rile. “This briefing will not only provide us with biblical insight but will also give historical and legal background to their decision.”
The Dean says it’s important that all South American Anglicans take an interest in the current crisis.
“This is a defining moment in the history of our denomination. It calls upon us to stand up for what we believe. As Evangelical Anglicans we need to be clear on how to apply our commitments to the authority of Scripture to the future of world Anglicanism,” he says.
The briefing is aimed at ‘anyone who can get Friday afternoon free’.
“This is for people who do not know a lot about Lambeth and who want to understand why our Bishops, backed by Standing Committee, have acted as they have. But it is also for people who already have an understanding of Lambeth and want to think through the implications of our bishops not going,” says the Dean.
“It is easy for us to hide behind or to criticize the decisions of our bishops. But it is a moment when those of us who agree with them stand with them, and those of us who are uncertain where to stand find out the facts.”

Australians to the civil courts?
Grasping the central facts can sometimes be quite tricky.
The disputes are often legally complex, often further muddied by media spin.
An article published by AustralianChristianity.com last week appear to confirm that the Diocese of Sydney will claim it had a legitimate right to the St Barnabas’ parish property.
The acting bishop of Sydney, Ima Clueless, says diocesan officials have “a duty to protect the assets of the diocese. The parish was set up as part of the ACA (Anglican Church of Australia); the heritage of St. Barnabas’ is to be a parish of the ACA. The Diocese of Sydney is the local manifestation of the ACA; parishes of the diocese are within this structure.”
However he added: “The question of property is speculative at this point.”
A spokesperson for St Barnabas, Con Promise, also told AustralianChristianity.com, that while the parish has access to a legal fund of $1 million, they remain hopeful it won’t be needed and they will avoid the civil courts.
“No diocesan money was used to build the church. Our legal team is convinced we will be able to keep the building,” Ms Promise says.
She added: “[The ACA] has shrunk across Australia by 30 percent over the last 40 years. They don’t need our space.”
But it looks like a long, hard fight.
Bishop Rob Forsyth says the Diocese of Sydney is sticking to its guns.
“General Synod of the ACA supported a resolution saying the blessing of evolution was not against the core doctrine of the church. It is considered a secondary issue.”
Larger perspective on events
As the Dean of Punta Arenas says, the Friday briefing is also a welcome opportunity to gain some perspective on the unfolding events in Australia.
It’s absurdly difficult to keep abreast of the latest twist and turn in the unfolding saga, let alone fully grasp the implications of each event.
What does it mean for evangelical Anglicans to so closely align with traditionalist Anglo-Catholics? How will the ongoing realignment impact Anglican church life here in Sydney?
Indeed, just as I was putting the finishing touches to this article, I read that the Bishop of San Joaquin (California), John-David Schofield, formally resigned from The Episcopal Church on March 7.
Bishop Schofield had been charged with the ‘abandonment’ of the communion by presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, after his whole diocese voted to align itself with the Province of the Southern Cone.
Are these ‘realignments’ permanent? Will there ever be reconciliation?
In his resignation letter to Bishop Schori and the other American bishops, Bishop Schofield argues that the decision to find a ‘safe harbour’ with the South Americans was made on an ‘emergency, temporary and pastoral basis’.
He concludes:
“Immediately after the Diocese of San Joaquin voted to accept the invitation of the Southern Cone, the Annual Convention was greeted by these words of Archbishop Venables: “Welcome home. And welcome back into full fellowship in the Anglican Communion.” It is my hope and prayer that one day The Episcopal Church will hear these same words…The Episcopal Church and Bishop Schori will remain in my prayers and the prayers of all parishes and missions in the Diocese of San Joaquin. The door of reconciliation will always be open.”

4 comments:

neil moore said...

I think it was Jack Nicholson in one of his movie roles who said "What goes around comes around!"

Neil Moore

John said...

I forgot to include the decyphering tool, as though it needed it.

1. Evolution (& long ages) - SADS here had their usual gospel-distracting and obsessive rants against homosexuality (the last word should be said with an accent akin to the southern jail boss out of Cool Hand Luke!)

2. Some names have been changed to inculpate the heretically guilty (that's you Bishop Rob Forsyth who believes, for example, that the crossing of the Red Sea was not a miracle). Other names require a sense of humour to appreciate.

Critias said...

I like it: a retro parable!

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