My Theology of Children in a Nutshell

Often people want to know a quick answer for why I believe in baptising infants and what my theology of parenting and children’s ministry is.

Here is my short answer I wrote for a friend some years ago:

In terms of biblical theology, the Old Covenant clearly had a discipling model for children – children of believers were born into and included at every level of spiritual activity (not an evangelistic model). If you read the whole New Testament in light of this model, there is no repudiation, only an assumption that it continues which is made explicit at several key points (Acts 2, Eph 6, 1 Cor 7).
This theology was accepted across the board by all Reformation traditions (excluding the Anabaptists who were fairly fringe).  It is only in the rise of Enlightenment individualism and the experientialism of the Great Awakening do you start to see the Baptistic exclusion of children drift into Protestant Evangelical culture – to where it has become the default cultural assumption amongst Western Christians today.

Peter Brain on the Anglican Viability Task Force Report

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?

Thom S. Rainer Reflections on Church Leadership

I particularly enjoy the reflections on the life of a pastor by Thom S. Rainer. I don’t share everything in common with his models of local church life, but whenever I read him I feel a sense of the value and worth of the pastor. He honours our struggles and weaknesses.

Some of his posts have particular wisdom to my Melbourne Anglican context. For example, see Seven Ways Churches Should Die with Dignity:

Avoid merging with another struggling church. An unhealthy or dying church merging with a similar church does not equal a healthy church. At best, it prolongs the inevitability of death from taking place.

This observation is latent with wisdom.

His podcast is also particularly encouraging. A recent episode struck a number of chords with me: 10 Common Frustrations of Pastors – Rainer on Leadership #204

New publications on Anglican Clergy wellbeing and supply

Two very interesting research papers are published on the Diocese of Melbourne Bishop Perry Institute website:

A Rewarding Life
A research project undertaken by The Revd Dr David Powys and Lay Canon Colin Reilly, presented to the Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne in October 2015. The report presents findings from a survey of priests ordained in the Diocese of Melbourne between 1970 and 2013. It covers the sense of call, background and prior experience of priests, their ecclesial identity, the challenges they face, their hopes, fears, expectations and support in ministry, and indicators of their wellbeing. Questions are posed arising from the data, particularly in relation to the future supply of parish leaders in the diocese. The report is accompanied with a summary of data from the survey classified by gender, period of ordination as priest, age group when ordained, and age group now.

A Rewarding Life – project findings

Clergy supply, deployment and attrition in the Diocese of Melbourne
A comprehensive report by researcher and statistician Colin Reilly. This report provides data derived from an analysis of the the 1961, 1971, 1981, 1991, 2001, 2011 and 2014 national clergy lists, together with the diocesan Year Book, and other sources, to compile an historic picture of clergy supply and attrition over time.
Clergy supply, deployment and attrition in the Diocese of Melbourne

New recovered tracts from JC Ryle

When I was in England last year I was able to get and read the Church Society new publication entitled: “Distinctive Principles for Anglican Evangelicals” by JC Ryle.

It is a fantastic work, very motivating for evangelicals to work hard and long for ongoing renewal of historical Reformational Anglicanism. It is especially a call for non-clergy to fight the good fight for the gospel. I highly recommend it.











A Church for Exiles by Carl R. Trueman | Articles | First Things

This recognition of exile and the hope we find in the Psalms permeate historical Reformed worship and theology in a way that is not so obvious in other Christian traditions, even Protestant ones. For example, the worship of the American Evangelical Church of the last few decades has been marked by what one might call an aesthetic of power and triumph. Praise bands perform in churches often built to look more like concert venues than traditional places of worship. Rock riffs and power chords set the musical tone. Songs speak of tearing down enemy ­strongholds. Christianity does, of course, point to triumph, but it is the triumph of resurrection, and resurrection presupposes prior suffering and death. An emphasis on triumph, often to the exclusion of lament, will not prepare people for life this side of resurrection glory. It will not prepare us for a life of exile. I fear we are laying the foundations for disillusionment and despair.

via A Church for Exiles by Carl R. Trueman | Articles | First Things.

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.

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.

Media Release from Ridley Melbourne Board – Peter Adam Retirement

From the Ridley web site. Peter has done an outstanding job at Ridley and as a student I have seen first hand the wonderful impact he has had.

Media Release from the Ridley Melbourne Board

Canon Dr Peter Adam will resign as Principal of Ridley Melbourne at the end of study and long service leave in January 2012.

In announcing his decision, Board Chair, Claire Rogers, reflected on Dr Adam’s service to Ridley: “Peter has exercised significant biblical and theological leadership across Australia and internationally.  His distinguished service of the College over several decades includes Board Member, Adjunct Lecturer and most recently as Principal.”

“While tirelessly teaching, preaching, mentoring and writing, for a decade of students, he has also been instrumental in helping Ridley achieve financial stability, a skilful leadership team, strategic focus and an academic faculty of great strength”, Ms Rogers said.  “We acknowledge that this hasn’t been an easy decision for Peter, one that has been underpinned by much prayer, consultation and reflection.”

Dr Adam, reflecting on his time at Ridley, said “I thank God for the great privilege of serving as Principal of Ridley over the last ten years.  It has been a great pleasure to work with faculty, staff, students, supporters, and the Board, to grow and develop this vital and strategic ministry. I pray that God will provide for Ridley, and continue his rich blessing on the training of men and women for gospel ministry throughout the world.”

via Ridley Melbourne, Theological College –.

Ridley Annual Preachers’ Conference 2011 – Preaching that Sings and Stings

The Ridley Annual Preaching Conference is on Tuesday 30th August – 1st September 2011.

This is a great conference, our third year of encouraging passionate and challenging Aussie expository preaching.

Our speakers are both Aussies: Ed Vaughan and Murray Capill.

The emphasis this year is on application in preaching – preaching that sings and stings. Too often expository preaching is criticised as lacking relevance. We aim to address this head on.

Yes it is on at the same time as the John Piper Oxygen conference in Sydney. I’ll post later as to why I think the Ridley one is a better choice!

Ridley Melbourne, Theological College – Annual Preachers’ Conference.

Don Carson Definition of Expository Preaching

There must be an updated version of this. These notes are from Don Carson preaching at a Melbourne conference, at Ridley, on 10th August 1998.

Definition of expository preaching:

  1. Preaching subject matter that emerges directly and demonstrably from a passage of Scripture. Anchored in the Biblical text.
  2. Not simply running commentary on the text, expository preaching has packaging and application.
  3. Not necessarily preaching through one book… e.g.: ‘visions of God’ series organised thematically, but each sermon is an exposition (Isaiah 6, Rev 5 etc).
  4. The length of the Scripture text is variable. Could be a verse, paragraph or chapter etc.
  5. At it’s best, expository preaching draws attention to inner canonical connections that move to Jesus Christ, despite being based truly in a single Biblical text.

Have You Heard of the Priscilla & Aquila Centre?

Looks interesting – I wonder if this will help improve complementarian wisdom and persuasion of others?

Jane Tooher has joined the faculty of Moore College to become the founding director of the Priscilla and Aquila Centre.  This Centre, a new initiative for the college, aims to encourage the ministries of women in partnership with men and has a number of connected aims:1.  to encourage and strengthen the training of women for ministry2.  to encourage and promote a wide range of ministries by women, in genuine complementary partnership with the ministries of men3.  to encourage and support women to pursue postgraduate theological study at Moore and to write and publish at both a popular and academic levelThe first major public event arranged by the Centre is a conference to be held on 7 February 2011.  A range of men and women will address the topic of ‘Male and Female He Created Them’.  More details will be available on the website in coming weeks.

via Have You Heard of the Priscilla & Aquila Centre?.

Ridley Melbourne Mars Hill Debate

Just watched these videos of the Ridley debate. Lots of fun – what a great college and great bunch of students!
Found on this blog.

Will the real Mars Hill please stand up? 1/3 from Arthur Davis on Vimeo.

Will the real Mars Hill please stand up? 2/3 from Arthur Davis on Vimeo.

Will the real Mars Hill please stand up? 3/3 from Tamie Davis on Vimeo.

Mission to Melbourne: Casey Growth Corridor

Berwick Anglican Church is located in the heart of the Casey growth corridor.

Friends will know that this area is significant to me, as my first curacy (Anglican assistant minister’s position) was in Cranbourne which is also in the Casey growth corridor.

This south east part of outer Melbourne is one of the fastest growing areas in Australia.

The population of the shire is 247,000 people, but that is projected to grow to 380,000 over the next 25 years. That will make it bigger than our country’s capital city Canberra (assuming little growth there!).

Victoria MTS Challenge Conference 2010 – October 2

This years MTS Challenge Conference is going to be outstanding.

It is a new format – a one day conference in the city – on October 2nd this year.

This will be a full day of challenging people to consider full-time gospel ministry here or abroad.

We have some very very good speakers lined up.

If you are interested in going into full time ministry mark this in your diary now…

MTS are an excellent network of Melbourne (+ Victorian) evangelicals passionate about evangelism, training and ministry of the Word and prayer.

EDIT: removed all uses of the word ‘great’

Port Hedland Mission Trip

I’m taking my family and a group from HTD on a mission trip tomorrow to the far north west – Port Hedland. We also have an adventure to Broome + other places planned as well. Our goal is to share the good news about Jesus and promote the work of the local Anglican churches. It is also a time of training and spiritual growth for the team members.

I’m going to try and tweet how we go each day. (you don’t need a Twitter account to watch, just go to this link)

Phillip Jensen talks to Mark Dever about long pastorates

Mikey Lynch blogged this great interview of Dever talking to Phillip Jensen about long pastorates. This is very timely as these are the exact issues I have been trying to raise on this blog recently.

PJ says it’s horses for courses, but also says that NCLS data shows the denominations with the longest pastorates are the ones with the greatest steady growth, and the ones with the shortest pastorates have more decline. To sustain a long ministry you need to be a person who is growing and developing as a leader. He also talks about his own 28 year pastorate at St Matthias. He generally advises avoiding the 7 year itch.

He talks about the typical growth, plateau, decline phases. He says of the third stage that the parish needs to be ‘reinvented’, so to speak, rather than hark back to the old growth phase. He also talks about the need to do more than just teach, also to implement the changes that should come as a result of teaching.

Mark Dever interviews Phillip Jensen – short version from Audio Advice on Vimeo.