TEC: Tearing the Fabric – 2012 Edition

A factually referenced and useful summary of current theological heresy and ungodly behaviour.

The Episcopal Church has been systematically destroying the foundations of Anglican Christianity within the United States and tearing the fabric of the Anglican Communion to shreds. In this report, we demonstrate, through the words of TEC leaders, their actions and their defiance of both the Bible and the instruments of Anglican unity, why orthodox Anglicans in North America were led to form the Anglican Church in North America in order to preserve and promote an Anglicanism that is truly biblical, missionary and united.

via TEC: Tearing the Fabric – 2012 Edition.

If We Believe All the Same Things, Why Do Our Churches Seem So Different? – Kevin DeYoung

This is a wonderfully wise and well put short piece by Kevin DeYoung. It speaks to the problems in my wider context also.

Liberalism is a problem, but squishy evangelicalism is the much bigger problem.

via If We Believe All the Same Things, Why Do Our Churches Seem So Different? – Kevin DeYoung.

Anglican Diocese of Melbourne respects and includes those who cannot accept the ordination of women

I welcome this statement by Roland Ashby expressing the respect and inclusion of those who cannot accept the ordination of women (to the priesthood or episcopate) in the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne.

I am often asked this question so it is good to hear such an affirmation.

By  Roland Ashby, Letter to the Editor of The Age

Contrary to Fr Christopher Seton’s reported comments “New world order as Anglican priests move to a Catholic environment”, The Age, 8/8, the Anglican Church respects those who cannot accept, in good conscience, the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate.

Even though the ordination of women has been joyfully embraced by the Melbourne Diocese and a majority of the Australian Dioceses, the Anglican Church has sought to be supportive of those who cannot accept the ordained ministry of women priests or bishops.

A protocol to ensure appropriate care and support for those who object to women’s ordination is well established.

Moreover, Fr Seton’s reported assertion “that you’ve got to believe in same-sex marriage” to remain in the Anglican Church is inaccurate and misplaced.

A new priest will be appointed to Fr Seton’s former Anglican parish of All Saints Kooyong and the parish will continue as a worshipping community in the Anglican tradition. We wish the four priests who have chosen to enter the Ordinariate every blessing for their future ministry.

We have a good relationship with the Roman Catholic Church in Melbourne, and hope to maintain this by avoiding the kind of commentary reported in this article.

Roland Ashby

Communications DirectorAnglican Diocese of Melbourne

via Anglicans respect decisions made in good conscience.

Packer on the 1662 Book of Common Prayer Liturgy

Amen, Amen:

I seek to be, not only humbled and thankful, but humbled in thankfulness, before my God and Savior continually. This is the religion that pervades the whole Liturgy, and particularly the Communion Service; and this makes the Liturgy inexpressibly sweet to me. The repeated cries for mercy to each Person of the ever-adorable Trinity for mercy, are not at all too frequent or too fervent for me; nor is the Confession in the Communion service too strong for me; nor the Te Deum, nor the ascriptions of glory after the Lord’s Supper, Glory be to God on high, etc. too exalted for me this shows what men of God the framers of our Liturgy were, and what I pant, and long, and strive to be. This makes the Liturgy as superior to all modern compositions, as the work of a Philosopher on any deep subject is to that of a schoolboy who understands scarcely anything about it.

From JI Packer, “The Gospel in the Prayer Book”, 1966.

The Ugley Vicar: 1662 and all that: How the Prayer Book changed the Church of England, and how the Church of England Changed the Prayer Book

Terrific article on the gospel heritage of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer:

The Book of Common Prayer should be something with which we are familiar enough for it to inform our theology, our liturgy and our spirituality. And that means putting it to regular, if not necessarily frequent use.

That way, it will be able to inform those parts of our own selves and the life of our church which no other resource today seems equipped to reach.

via The Ugley Vicar: 1662 and all that: How the Prayer Book changed the Church of England, and how the Church of England Changed the Prayer Book.

The Story of Steve Jobs: An Inspiration or a Cautionary Tale? | Wired Business | Wired.com

A salutary warning to all work-idolatrous fathers from someone who worked closely with Steve Jobs:

“If you’re going to fail at building something,” he says, “fail at building the f***ing iPad. Don’t fail at building children.”

via The Story of Steve Jobs: An Inspiration or a Cautionary Tale? | Wired Business | Wired.com.

Archbishop’s letter ‘Redefining Marriage’ | Media Releases | Sydneyanglicans.net

An excellent and courageous letter. Thank you Archbishop Jensen.

The Lord Jesus quoted and affirmed the teaching Genesis 2, asking, ‘Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh”’ (Matt 19:4,5). The Apostle Paul points to the deeper significance of this in saying that the union of a male and a female models the union between Christ and his Church, in which the Church is the bride of Christ.

via Archbishop’s letter ‘Redefining Marriage’ | Media Releases | Sydneyanglicans.net.

Stylish same-sex campaign glosses over real issues

Excellent analysis of the marriage debate by Archbishop Jensen. We need more courageous voices like this!

We are in the midst of a sustained and brilliantly orchestrated campaign to radically alter the marriage laws of this country to allow same-sex marriage.

Three slogans carry the message: ”marriage equality”, ”marriage won’t change”, ”it’s inevitable”. Of course, the difficulty with slogans is that they are not arguments and, so, are hard to refute, except by slogans in return.

via Stylish same-sex campaign glosses over real issues.

Smartphones – the negatives

Here is what I see as unhelpful about smartphones (some of these points overlap):

  • They can cause you to be enslaved to every latest message/txt/facebook/tweet whatever.
  • They are addictive and hard to not glace at. Will your kids remember you as an absent  father playing with your phone all the time?
  • Your kids want to play on them all the time and suddenly you are no longer training children in patience and they are unable to ever sit still in worship or sit still anywhere. An awful curse of induced attention deficit disorder.
  • They give a false sense of control because you read messages quickly. However you can easily simply read messages then forget about processing them properly (according to a GTD style setup) or ever actioning them. They can make the non-urgent-and-non-important as significant as the urgent-and-important (and they do nothing to help with the non-urgent-and-important).
  • They distract you from reading real paper books and the Bible
  • They deceive you into thinking that an bible reading app or something else is going to help your spiritual disciplines – when all it is doing is making it easier to look at facebook.
  • They tempt you by making it easy to voyeur more into social media and what other people are saying about you.
  • It is very hard to install ad blocking and porn blocking software, and this creates a temptation. I cannot get opendns to work over the telstra mobile data network.
  • They make it easy to flood quick interactions with people when what is needed is a real phone call or a discussion over coffee.
  • The games and apps are a world of infinite distractions.
  • They make it hard for your brain to enjoy rest and meditation away from a screen of any sort.
  • They easily become a status symbol or an idol.
  • A minor quibble: They “app ecosystem” is not conducive to free software. Even though without linux and the rest of open source there wouldn’t be an Internet or Android phone. There are huge privacy problems and DRM dangers with such capable devices.


Smartphones – the positives

Here is what is good about smartphones (remember I’ve got Android in mind here):

  • they have beautiful typography (on anything with pixel density greater than 300 pixels per inch)
  • they make it easy to process emails that require a quick response
  • they make it easy to send short text messages
  • they make it easy to process emails that simply need to be read and archived. This helps significantly in keeping inboxes to zero – you can keep up with prayer letters while standing in a queue etc.
  • Google Maps is amazing and the navigation is very useful. Up to date, takes traffic congestion into account, accurate time estimates, all good. Google maps is great for holidays also.
  • Google Contacts (part of Gmail) is amazing, once you have gathered all the right data into it. Makes it very easy to get directions between someone’s house and a hospital for example. Great for a pastor doing alot of visiting.
  • They make it pleasant to make calls. I’m putting numbers for everyone I ever see into my Gmail contacts. As a pastor it makes it easier to use the phone quickly and effectively (especially combined with in-car bluetooth – see below).
  • The Android Gmail client is very nice. Works well for me because I use gmail and labels for my todo lists.
  • (Google calendar on the desktop and Android seems pretty awful – I’m still on an A4 week to a page paper diary.)
  • The instant messaging apps are a great alternative to SMS. I’m often using Android google chat to my wife on her gmail desktop (she is not a mobile phone user at all!).
  • Mobile data speeds are fantastic these days – I get 5-10Mbits on Telstra in Melbourne in most places.
  • Tethering via usb or wifi to my netbook helps to redeem time very well when stuck somewhere
  • They replace ipods and mp3 players – they make it really easy to listen to sermons and music.
  • Bluetooth is wonderful if you have it in your car – jump in, keep listening to the sermon, phone rings – sermon fades out – take the call – sermon fades in etc. Get bluetooth in your actual car stereo, don’t just buy a bluetooth unit as an add-on.
  • Battery life is no issue because you can get micro-usb (for Android) dongles in everyplace you are – home, car, work.
  • Smartphone camera and video are pretty good and the convenience is outstanding. Especially combined with dropbox auto upload.
  • Dropbox is a killer app – I can see all my files, all my photos any time from my phone – incredible.

Tomorrow I will post what is wrong with smartphones.

I’ve changed my mind on smartphones

For many years I’ve been a cynic about whether smartphones actually aid productivity. I was proud of my cheapie “phone only” phones. I lugged a little netbook everywhere.

However I’ve repented. I’ve been using using the latest and greatest Galaxy Nexus with Android ICS 4.0. Feels good to be on the top of the gadget hierarchy for five minutes.

My previous criticisms about smartphones have not gone away. They are over-hyped and they give a false sense of security and productivity. However I think if used very carefully they can give a modest productivity boost.

What’s in a name? | Ministry Thinking | Sydneyanglicans.net

Wise and astute reflections from the principal of the most influential theological college in Australian evangelicalism. Great stuff.

This is where Moore College’s reputation for what is (a bit misleadingly) called “academic rigor” comes from. We take thinking seriously. That is not because we are “academic”, but because thinking is an important part of being Christian. God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4). “The truth” is the reality of God’s grace in Jesus Christ, the one mediator between God and men (1 Tim 2:5). He is the truth. By understanding something of God’s grace towards us in Jesus, we are humbled. By learning something of what Christ has done, we begin to take life seriously. By comprehending that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, we are turned away from our sinfulness. By grasping the faithfulness of God, faithfulness matters to us. And so on. The heart of such godliness is thinking – because the power that produces such godliness is the truth.

That is why Moore College is a Bible College and a Theological College.

via What’s in a name? | Ministry Thinking | Sydneyanglicans.net.

Bonhoeffer’s “Life Together” and Small Groups

Here are some Bonhoeffer quotes and questions I wrote for our Growth Group (Small Group) leaders to discuss at BAC:

Reflecting on “Life Together” by Bonhoeffer

This wonderful short book is full of great theological reflections on what it means to be part of a Christian church gathered under the Word of God.

Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor who suffered imprisonment and was martyred under the Nazi regime of WW2.

Our Growth Groups are a wonderful expression of ‘life together’ under the Word of God.

How reading and studying Scripture helps us forget ourselves:

Consecutive reading of biblical books forces everyone who wants to hear to put himself, or to allow himself to be found, where God has acted once and for all for the salvation of men. We become part of what once took place for our salvation. Forgetting and losing ourselves, we, too, pass through the Red Sea, through the desert, across the Jordan into the promised land. With Israel we fall into doubt and unbelief and through punishment and repentance experience again God’s help and faithfulness. All this is not mere reverie but holy, godly reality. We are torn out of our own existence and set down in the midst of the holy history of God on earth. ‘ p38.

1. Is your growth group a place where people can ‘forget themselves’ as they become engaged in the story of God and the lives of others?

The danger of Christian isolation:

In confession the break-through to community takes place. Sin demands to have a man by himself. It withdraws him from the community. The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him, and the more deeply he becomes involved in it, the more disastrous is his isolation. Sin wants to remain unknown. It shuns the light. In the darkness of the unexpressed it poisons the whole being of a person’, p88.

2. Is your group a place where a community welcomes people out of isolation and temptation?


On the loving nature of a ‘severe rebuke’:

Nothing can be more cruel than the tenderness that consigns another to his sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe rebuke that calls a brother back from the path of sin. It is a ministry of mercy, an ultimate offer of genuine fellowship, when we allow nothing but God’s Word to stand between us, judging and succouring. Then it is not we who are judging; God alone judges, and God’s judgement is helpful and healing’, p84.

3. Is your Growth Group a safe place for people to be rebuked in love? How often does this happen?


How God uses difficult Christian fellowship to grow all of us:

A [Christian leader] should not complain about his congregation, certainly never to other people, but also not to God. A congregation has not been entrusted to him in order that he should become its accuser before God and men. When a person becomes alienated from a Christian community in which he has been placed and begins to raise complaints about it, he had better examine himself first to see whether the trouble is not due to his wish dream that should be shattered by God; and if this be the case, let him thank God for leading him into this predicament’, pp17-18.

4. Do you grumble about your group? Does your group grumble about others at BAC outside your group?

Exercise: In groups of 2-3 discuss one or more of the above questions for a few minutes.

Autumn Ministers Conference 2011 Proc Trust

I’ve been listening to these excellent talks from the ever reliable and useful Proclamation Trust.

Dick Lucas’ reflections on 2 Peter were great. Whenever he makes observations on theology and church life we ought to sit up and listen. He notes that Richard Backham has written that form criticism is academically defunct, and Lucas sagely comments on what a waste of a hundred years of scholarship, essay writing and lecturing has gone into liberal form criticism.

What was really interesting were two talks on raising children in ministry households by Charles and Tricia Marnham:



Full list of talks: Autumn Ministers Conference 2011 | The Proclamation Trust.

Sliding not Deciding

Historical marriage has a proven track record. Don’t cut corners!

I’ve had other clients who also wish they hadn’t sunk years of their 20s into relationships that would have lasted only months had they not been living together. Others want to feel committed to their partners, yet they are confused about whether they have consciously chosen their mates. Founding relationships on convenience or ambiguity can interfere with the process of claiming the people we love. A life built on top of “maybe you’ll do” simply may not feel as dedicated as a life built on top of the “we do” of commitment or marriage.

via The Downside of Cohabiting Before Marriage – NYTimes.com.

We Need Hell

Terrific letter from Murray Campbell in The Age:

We need hell

GEOFF Strong uses Cardinal Pells comments to find that 1 per cent of reason to doubt hells reality, but on the basis of last weeks Q&A the cardinal proved he is as reliable in articulating Christian beliefs as a politician facing re-election.

I believe in hell for two reasons: First, Jesus affirmed its reality, and did so more than anyone else in the Bible. I trust Jesuss view of heaven and hell more than I do Cardinal Pells off-the-cuff deconstruction.

Second, I believe in hell because we require it. We need hell so that all the evil that goes unpunished in this world will be punished one day. Without hell we are surely faced with the appalling reality that countless millions of victims will never be vindicated and their abusers escape justice. Where human justice falls down, the doctrine of hell suggests God will bring final and complete justice.

And hell isnt just a place for atheists. Jesus assures us that religious folk will be there also, including those who hide behind their clerical collars.Pastor Murray Campbell, Mentone

via Lanes offer false sense of security.

Ridley Preaching Conference 2012

This will be a terrific preaching conference in Melbourne this coming August. I am on the organizing committee for it.

We have John Dickson, Paul Windsor, Brian Rosner and a great line up.

There are workshops for both veteran and beginner preachers.

Highly recommended!

2012 Annual Preachers’ Conference

Preaching from Pauls post

How Pauls letters impact the discipleship of Jesus church todayTuesday 28 to Thursday 30 August

Palotti College

McNamaras Road, Millgrove

via Ridley Melbourne, Theological College –.

New Principal for Ridley Melbourne

Give thanks to God for this appointment of Dr Brian Rosner.

A few years ago I blogged a review of his book “Beyond Greed”.  I’m also a fan of the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology which he co-edited.

The Board of Ridley Melbourne is delighted to announce the appointment of New Testament scholar and author, Dr Brian Rosner to the position of Principal. Dr Rosner will take up the role at the beginning of second semester, July 2012.

via Ridley Melbourne, Theological College –.

Type and anti-type in the New Testament

The use of tupos and antitupos are the clearest examples of typology in the New Testament. They are a good starting point for developing typology as an approach for reading Scripture.

Type (tupos):

Adam a type of Christ:

Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type (tupos) of the one who was to come.  Romans 5:14

Tabernacle a type of Heaven:

They serve a copy (upodeigmati) and shadow (skia) of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern (tupos) that was shown you on the mountain.Hebrews 8:5 (see also Acts 7:44)

Wilderness generation experiences a type of warnings for the Church:

 “Now these things took place as examples (tupoi) for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.1 Corinthians 10:6

Anti-type (antitupos):

The flood a type of baptism:

Baptism, which corresponds to this (antitupon), now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ1 Peter 3:21

Tabernacle a type of Heaven:

For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies (antitupa) of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.” Hebrews 9:24

This last example is slightly strange as we would expect the holy places to be described as type, not anti-type.

These uses of type and antitype are explicit examples in understanding how to read the Old Testament in light of the New. There are many examples that don’t use the terms but use the methodology. For example, the comparison between the sacrificial system and the sacrifice of Jesus is conceptually typological in Hebrews 5-10, without formally using the term.

Drawn together, such examples set a framework and trajectory for interpreting the whole Bible as Christian Scripture.

Short review and thoughts on Driscoll’s “Real Marriage”

While not agreeing with everything in Driscoll’s book, it is generally helpful and I enjoyed the openness of Mark and his wife sharing their struggles and overcoming them to have a godly and happy marriage.

The book is not nearly as controversial as many are claiming. From the Reformation onwards, Protestant Christians have always had a very high and unembarrassed view of the God-given blessing of sex within marriage, for pleasure as well as procreation.

The past few decades have seen a wealth of evangelical books dealing explicitly with sex. This has not gone on unnoticed – for example, secular on-line culture magazine Slate carried an article in 1999 on the “booming Christian sex-advice industry“. That article refers to the book “Intended for Pleasure” by Ed and Gaye Wheate, which I would still recommend as more helpful and more basic than Driscoll’s practical sections.

The strength of “Real Marriage” is helping Christians recover from the mind-poison of pornography and the widespread sexual assault and abuse which clouds so many marriages. Not only does the gospel of Jesus Christ bring full forgiveness, but it has power to heal and reshape even the most struggling marriages. The book models this very well, it does not come quickly or easily but via the gospel there is hope for every marriage.

Leaving aside the obviously distracting “Can We ___?” chapter, the book is full of biblical and practical wisdom on male servant leadership and wifely respect, on mutual friendship and understanding, working against bitterness and developing real forgiveness. It’s advocacy of ‘full disclosure’ between spouses as a path to healing and growth is to be commended. The discussion on contraception is very helpful.

This book is not bad and also not great, but it is a good book. I doubt it will become a Christian classic. I think there is more benefit to listening or watching Mark’s excellent preaching online where he deals with marriage topics.

In my view the best conservative evangelical theological and biblical primer on Christian marriage is still Douglas Wilson’s “Reforming Marriage” (published by Canon Press in 1995).