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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sydney Anglican Diocese - A State of Unbelief

How can it be? The largest conservative Diocese of the Anglican Church in the world, the Sydney Anglican Diocese, launches a huge initiative to connect with the unchurched (Connect 09) as part of an even greater plan to get 10% of the population within the diocesan boundary into bible believing churches. But, on the eve of Connect 09 there is a global financial crisis which, as the year 2009 unfolds, has a devastating effect on Diocesan investments. Severe cutbacks are anticipated, with Southern Cross, the Diocesan newspaper announcing a 50% reduction in staff and reducing by about half the pages of the August 2009 edition. Ministry in many areas will experience cutbacks.

Attempts to connect with the unchurched via Connect 09 produce no reports of substantial increase in church numbers let alone the vital cause of regeneration in Jesus Christ.

All this is not what the Diocese would have hoped for when first contemplating the Archbishop's charge to the Diocese to reach people in the Name of Jesus Christ some years ago.

Well, in this writer's view the problem can be found at the top and in many avenues flowing out from there. Archbishop Peter Jensen has made it known in the past that he is sympathetic to a Theistic Evolution view of the origin of life. In his time as Principal of Moore Theological College there would have been many graduates of the College who entered ministry, are now 'at the coal-face' and hold to Theistic Evolution as an explanation of the origin of life.

Theistic Evolution is untenable with the nature of God Incarnate and His written Word expressed.

In such a circumstance what does the Lord God do? How does He respond to the many prayers for involvement and blessing upon Connect 09?

By events thus far observed are we seeing how God has responded?

Perhaps we gain further insight through the musings of Anglican Bishop J. C. Ryle in the 19th Century when he considered the gospel writer Luke's account of the angelic announcement of a son for aged Zechariah and his barren wife, Elizabeth. (Luke 1:5-25)

"What a striking example we have here of the power of unbelief in a good man! Righteous and holy as Zacharias was, the announcement of the angel appears to him incredible.

A well-instructed Jew, like Zacharias, ought not to have raised this question. No doubt he was well acquainted with the Old Testament. He ought to have remembered the wonderful births recorded there (Gen. 18:11-14; Judg. 13:2-3, 1 Sam. 1:5,19) and that what God has done once He can do again. With Him nothing is impossible. But he forgot all this. He thought of nothing but the arguments of mere human reason and sense. And it often happens in religious matters that, where reason begins, faith ends.

How exceeding sinful the sin of unbelief is in the sight of God! (v.20) The doubts and questionings of Zacharias brought down upon him the heavy chastisement peculiarly suited to the offence. The tongue that was not ready to speak the the language of believing praise was struck dumb. For nine long months at least, Zacharias was condemned to silence, and was daily reminded that by unbelief he had offended God.

Few sins appear to be so peculiarly provoking to God as the sin of unbelief. It is a practical denial of God's almighty power to doubt whether He can do a thing when He undertakes to do it. It is giving the lie to God to doubt whether He means to do a thing when He has plainly promised it shall be done.

Let us watch and pray daily against this soul-ruining sin. Concessions to it rob believers of their inward peace, weaken their hands in the day of battle, bring clouds over their hopes. Unbelief is the true cause of a thousand spiritual diseases. In all that respects the pardon of our sins and the acceptance of our souls, the duties and trials of our daily lives, let it be a settled maxim in our religion, to trust every word of God implicitly, and to beware of unbelief."

How more simply could God have rendered His account of the creation of the world and everything in it? (Gen. 1) How more clearly could He have substantiated that account as He did? (Ex. 20:11 and 31:17-18) How more demonstrably could He affirm His nature and capacity to create in past, present and future than He did Incarnate?

To reject injunction such as this is no different to Zechariah's unbelief in the message of God delivered through the angel. As such, the 'mouths' that attempt to deliver the initiative of Connect 09 will seem, for a time at least, as 'dumb' to the intended audience.



Critias said...

I think you are right, pal!
We've got to ask, "why does Gd tell us about creation in Gen 1?" Is it to pass the time or really tell us something? I think that its to tell us something that is very important to us.

Eric said...

Of course its something very important. The argument that the TE-ers use is that it's importance is symbolic or pictorial, or idealistic. Not so, I think. The Holy Spirit uses the account to give us our bearings in our relationships with the world, each other and God. It provides the frame to inform our take on what really is and is not.

So there's a choice. The frame is either true or not. TE-ers must say that its not and that reality is framed otherwise than in the Bible and that our encounter with God, our whole relationship is founded on something other than what God tells us.

My mind goes in this context to Col 1:16: by him, through him and for him all things were created: the trough is the important bit. Things were not created through material, or process or some unfolding, but through Christ!

sam drucker said...

Of course, TE'ers won't apply the same shenanigans to other passages of Scripture such as N.T. Such is their inconsistency. Who would genuinely listen to someone as inconsistent as that?

Sam Drucker

Eric said...

To the average person, this apparent prevarication just sounds like a Mr. "having it both ways" with them having nothing credible to say to anyone.