Last year Bishop Peter Brain wrote an excellent article in the EFAC Essentials Spring 2015 journal.
Brain is commenting on the 2014 Anglican General Synod Report that indicated woeful decline in attendances around most of the nation.
Brain laments the lack of theological reflection in the report. In particular he exposes the proverbial elephant in the room – why is the Sydney diocese (+ Armidale) reflective of such high relative health in comparison to the other dioceses around Australia?
He rightly suggests that it is worth considering that the theology and ecclesiology of these two dominantly evangelical Anglican dioceses needs to be considered:
The emphasis of these two dioceses on the authority of
the Bible gives to their pastors and members a confidence in
God and the content of the gospel. The fact that Jesus is Lord
and that repentance towards God and trust in Jesus form
both the content and call of the gospel means that false
hopes (like you are saved because you are baptised, good,
spiritual, sincere) are consistently exposed and the sure hope
based on God’s grace to us through the uniqueness of Christ,
his substitutionary atonement and bodily resurrection, confidently held out to all. The emphasis on the life of the local
church, where converts and seekers are drawn into its fellowship, provides a context for these gospel realities to be
observed, tested, proved and learnt. The diocese can nurture
and encourage this ministry (and must do so) but the diocese
will never be a viable substitute for the local church.
This is a wonderful call to gospel and biblical authority within the Anglican Church of Australia. Will we repent and return to our evangelical and gospel formularies? Will we return to confidence in the authority of the Word of God?
At the very least, we will try to learn something from our evangelical brothers and sisters faithfully serving in the Diocese of Sydney?