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Monday, October 26, 2009

Sydney Archbishop Jensen Avoids Conviction

The Sydney Episcopalian Diocese is holding its Annual Synod and I was interested in some comments from Archbishop Peter Jensen in his Presidential Address. An audio version of it can be downloaded from the Diocesan website.

It is common knowledge that the Diocese has shed about $100M of the value of its investments. The Archbishop referred to this in his Presidential Address and indicated he has reflected for a while on why it happened. Was it a judgment from God or a testing from God?

The Archbishop seems to have come down on the side of the latter because nowhere in his address does he call for repentance from a known sin. He is obviously ignorant of the singular and loud charge against the Diocese emanating from the Sydney Anglican Heretics blogspot or he rejects our charge. Instead, Archbishop Jensen defers to the experience of a Bible study involving leaders of the Diocese and their wives some months back where Deut. 11 was considered with Moses offer to Israel at the verge of the Promised Land of "blessing or curse" according to the nation's obedience or rejection of the commands of God. Apparently conversation at the Bible study quickly turned to innocent Joseph being punished with imprisonment for rejecting an adulterous relationship with Potiphar's wife and then mention was made of innocent Jesus Christ being punished for sins he did not commit.

Notice what happened in that Bible study to encourage the Archbishop that the Diocese under his leadership was not under judgment from God? Participants immediately shook off any question of guilt and looked to the suffering of innocents for explanation of the plight of the Diocese. It is, in effect, a repeat of "This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD " cries of Judah when rejecting any notion they were out of step with the word of God - all the while doing that very thing (Jer. 7:4).

Archbishop Jensen gives the game away as to his readiness to reject the word of God when he makes the following statement about climate change:

"Every time the weather behaves erratically, we are reminded of climate change and its likely consequences. The authoritative scientific consensus to the fact of change is so strong that it would be folly to ignore it."

The opinion of a noisy and, seemingly, surrounding scientific view is enough to influence the Archbishop as to what he and the Diocese should think about climate change. In other places and in other times Archbishop Jensen has made it clear the same is true for the question of origins even though that opinion runs up against the express word of God. However, in his address to Synod Archbishop Jensen somewhat schizophrenically says: "It would not be right, for example simply to express our own prejudices and guesses and to confuse them with the word of God" and "Our access to the mind of the Lord is through his word and we must look there for our answers, not to speculation." While the Archbishop is not discussing the question of origins here he is, nevertheless, pointing to the word of God for direction in understanding the difficulties facing the Diocese. He goes on to say "Their [Israel's] enjoyment of the fruit of the land depended on their continual obedience to the word of God."

That latter statement we can agree with. If only the Archbishop would back up the rhetoric with obedience.

Further comment warranting mention is "Our reading of God’s word, our preaching, prayers, singing, and fellowship, including our sacramental fellowship, must be honoring to God and edifying to his people." How is it honoring to God to massage, twist, smother or reject God's word when it clearly indicates a creative process and duration in stark contrast to the current world view synthesized by Archbishop Jensen to allow some involvement of God? How is such a 'dog's breakfast' edifying to the people of God?

Archbishop Jensen goes on to ask a question and proffer an answer as follows:

"Where will we be fifty years from now? We are up against a large challenge and there is no guarantee whatever that we will survive except as a small but wealthy cult. The cultural mood is not flowing with us, and immigrant numbers are also not in our favor. I realize that for many, Pentecostal Christianity is the answer and they will extol its attractions and its capacity to attract some of the very people who are missing from our churches. My problem with that suggestion is in the nature of Pentecostalism. I judge that its love-affair with modern culture will leave it insufficiently tied to historic Christianity, and that there is a chance that it will not be recognizably Christian in fifty years. That is a harsh judgment and I hope that I am wrong; but there are already signs of diversion from the fundamentals.

I do not doubt, therefore, that our commitment to conservative theology and to a high view of scripture is entirely correct. Only this will carry Christianity forward in a culture such as Australia in the next fifty years."

The stone thown at Pentecostal Christianity is thrown from within a glass house. While Pentecostal Christianity does have aspects of a "love-affair with modern culture" it is not as complete as Archbishop Jensen would have us believe. It is my observation that, on the subject of origins there is, in Pentecostalism, a broad and healthy adherence to the word of God. In contrast, the Sydney Episcopalian Diocese is far more inclined to have its own "love-affair with modern culture" which "will leave it insufficiently tied to historic Christianity, and that there is a chance that it will not be recognizably Christian in fifty years."

Finally, Archbishop Jensen urges "a commitment both to biblical theology and purity of doctrine, also to our neighbours." He cites four things to be done to achieve this. It is the first of these four things that catches in our throat like rancid meat.

He says: "First we must continue to cherish and support our College. But this is as long as, and only as long as, it embraces the heart of the theology of the Bible as expressed in the English Reformation. I wish you could all see the powerful effect which Moore College is having all around Australia and the world. Its teaching is the guardian of our theology and hence our life as a network of churches. More than that, the College has recognized as never before its duty to contend in the world of ideas, to speak for Christ and his word in the sphere of academic theology, of secular humanism and of world religion."

Whew! What can you say in dealing with those points one by one? I have to be brief.

1) The Diocese must immediately spurn or reform Moore College because the College has rejected Reformation principle of "Sola Scriptura" on origins and has departed from Luther and Calvin on origins.

2) The asserted "powerful effect" Moore College is having around all around the world on origins will only be destructive.

3) In its present doctrinal position on origins Moore College is as much a guardian of Diocesan theology as King Zedekiah was guardian of the future of Judah (Jer. 52)

4) Moore College does not contend with but absorbs academic theology, secular humanism and world religion on the subject of origins.

Throughout the history of pre-exile Israel and Judah there was a recurring theme of practicing ritual of belief in the word of God while often synchretising with the beliefs of the nations around them. Moses had warned against this before they entered the Promised Land. God sent prophets in warning once synchretism had commenced. Israel and Judah scorned the prophets because they believed they were right with God. As such, the word of God was treated with disdain.

The Archbishop of Sydney and the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney must learn from the error of Israel and Judah. Cast off the notion that you are innocent. Examine your behaviour. See where you have departed from the way. Repent and believe in the word of God otherwise doom awaits.
It is not just that the word of God is cast down in this sin. It is the unmistakable corrupting of the attributes of God revealed in the Person of Jesus Christ that offends most. One only need look upon Jesus Christ in all he said and all he did to see that Theistic Evolution removes one so remotely from our Lord.

Surely our Lord will, in no wise, endure indefinitely an offence like the threefold corrupted representation of his Person by his people as occurred with the golden calf at the base of Sinai, at Bethel and at Dan.

Sam Drucker


neil moore said...

Sam, it's astonishing the Archbishop makes all those statements about trusting the Word of God but rejects it in Genesis and Exodus where it speaks decisively about creation which excludes the possibility of evolution.

As someone said "There are none so blind as those who WILL NOT see".

I here from a source that the Angicans in Sydney are extending Connect 09 beyond 2009 to whenever. Sounds like an escape mechanism to overcome lack of worthwhile connection.


neil moore said...

One thing is for certain. If Richard Dawkins ever came to Sydney and debated Archbishop Jensen he would only need to look at the Sydney Anglican Heretics blogspot beforehand to get all the arguments he'd need to leave Arshbishop Jensen without an argument.


John said...

Maybe I was right...who said it was Connect 2009. They may be forced to call it 3009.

Eric said...

It amazes me that PJ does not see: (a) that he is buying into a religious belief system when he supports materialist contentions about the nature of the real;
(b) the Bible's structuring of the real from the revelation of God in Gen 1, etc, and the words of the Bible elsewhere that clearly eliminate both long ages and evolutionary ideas...both of course being long standing pagan notions anyway!

(c) that he's got any credibility at all with GAFCON.

sam drucker said...

I doubt that he lets on what he believes about Genesis 1 when he moves in those circles such as GAFCON.

BTW, Neil, hear is spelt h-e-a-r not h-e-r-e.

I have contact who was at Synod and he says that goal posts are being moved for Connect 09.

Sam Drucker

Eric said...

I've seen waves of these 'outreach' efforts over the decades: they've never worked. Did the Welsh revival use slogans? Did the British revival, Did the reformation (opps, I guess Calvin had a T-shift with TULIP on it)? I can imagine Luther dreaming up a banner slogan to slip on your cart's rear bumper, or your horses tail...

Nuff said!

neil moore said...

Yeah, thanks Sam. I tend to rush at times and need to read what I have typed before publishing it.

Let's see, hmmm, yes I'm happy with what I've just typed.

The goalposts are certainly being pushed back. Results just not matching the push.

Eric, they must have been exciting times of revival. It's so much more demonstrable when the Lord is with the activity. But if you aren't faithful to His Word then things are a bit ordinary.

Hmmm, yes I'm happy with that too.