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Dean’s Bulletin Board 12.17.2020

A worthwhile podcast on the unity of the Church with Chase Kuhn (a Beeson grad) and Archbishop Peter Jensen (a real friend to the Advent).

Take some time out to listen!

andrew

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Podcast episode 052: Are denominations a problem for church unity? with Peter Jensen

For centuries now, people have questioned whether or not the presence of denominations actually hurts the unity of the church. In the 20th century, there were many attempts to try to bring all Christians together. In some ways, this “worked”, either reconciling parties or smoothing over differences. But in many other ways, it only clarified the divide. As we think about what we should do as Christians, is it bad that we can’t agree on everything? Is unifying denominations a must? Should we?

Today on the podcast, our guest Dr Peter Jensen speaks with Chase about unity, considering much of his own journey in helping to set up the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) as well as current events closer to home in the Anglican Church of Australia. Many have seen GAFCON as a threat to unity, but Peter and many others claim that this is actually a way for contending for the gospel.

 

Runtime: 32:43 min.

 

Chase Kuhn: Is the church divided? There have been many efforts over the last century and more, really, to see unity amongst Christians around the world. This is done in the name of unifying the church. Many claim that this is a responsibility for Christians around the world—to see unity restored to the church. This is a huge task and one that’s left many Christians in despair. It’s also been a cause of great controversy as there have been critical moments in history when Christians have not stood with others on the basis of conviction.

Today on the podcast, I’m talking with Dr Peter Jensen about Christian unity and how that impacts the way that we think about denominations.

[Music]

CK: Hello and welcome to the Centre for Christian Living podcast. My name is Chase Kuhn and I’m coming to you from Moore Theological College in Sydney, Australia. Today, my guest on the podcast is Dr Peter Jensen. He previously served as the principal of Moore College, as well as the Archbishop of Sydney, and most recently has helped found the Global Anglican Future Conference. And I’m very pleased to have him on today to be talking on the matter of Christian unity. Peter, welcome.

PFJ: Thanks very much, Chase! And it’s good to be here.

CK: Well, thank you for coming! Peter, I want to start by asking a question of unity that I think is a big question that people often have about Christianity generally, and that is, “Is unity and denominations a problem?” Do we have a problem about unity with the existence of denominations? And maybe the best place we can start there is the Reformation: was it a mistake?

PFJ: [Laughter] Yes, it was a mistake by the Catholic church in not being true to the gospel, because, in the end, we must be faithful to the teaching of the Bible, because the Bible will shape the gospel and the gospel is the means by which people come to know the Lord and are saved from hell.

Now, no denomination is perfect in its teaching, by any means! But there are moments when, you know, denominational teaching, a boundary is crossed: the gospel becomes distorted and it then becomes very difficult for people to be saved, because they don’t hear the gospel as it ought to be. And so, in that moment, choices need to be made about how we fellowship with each other. And so, no, the Reformation was not a mistake. It was very unfortunate that it had to happen. But it arose, I believe, out of a lack of knowledge about the Bible.

CK: Yeah, and so at the Reformation, obviously, clarity about the Bible was emerging—gospel clarity, in particular: that’s what the Reformers were contending for. And after that, then, the emergence of a lot of denominations. For those that may be historically unaware, give us a brief snapshot about why that happened.

PFJ: [Laughter] Well, partly, geographical, of course.

CK: Yes.

PFJ: And partly to do with the rising up of great teachers like Martin Luther and John Calvin and others. So it was partly geographical, it was partly personal, and it was partly national as well, because the Church of England and the Church of Scotland, too, arise at that time.

None of these things is wrong in themselves.

CK: Yep.

PFJ: It was a pity, in a way, that Martin Luther and John Calvin disagreed with each other about some fairly crucial issues. They weren’t salvation issues, in my opinion, but they were crucial issues. And the good thing we can say about that is that they took truth seriously.

CK: Yes.

PFJ: And in that way, in an age where truth is not taken as seriously—when everyone has their own truth—Luther and Calvin, even in their disagreement, stand and look at us and say, “Don’t be foolish! Seek the truth. Make sure you know the truth, and the truth is available to you.” So even in their disagreement, they’re testifying to us about the importance of the truth.

CK: Yes.

PFJ: I agree.

CK: I agree as well. And they’re advocating for us to get back to the Bible—get into the Scriptures and—

PFJ: Yes.

CK: —listen as carefully as you can to the Bible.

PFJ: Yes. Definitely.

CK: Now, is there room for disagreement, then, as we listen to the Scriptures?

PFJ: Oh, plenty, because there are plenty of issues which, in a sense, are shaped by the Bible, but not determined by the Bible. So whether we baptise infants as well as adults is not determined by the Bible. Your answer will be shaped by the Bible. It depends, rather, what you think human sin is and what you think grace is. But it’s not determined by the Bible. And therefore, if people take one line and people take the other line, I believe we must be free to do so. And if it means that there are separate denominations, that’s good, not bad. It means that we can work together with the people with whom we agree on that point.

Now, that’s only one illustration. I think church government is another: whether we have bishops or don’t have bishops, I don’t think is determined by the Scriptures, though I think it’s shaped by the Scriptures. But there’s plenty of room for disagreement.

One of the lovely things about being an evangelical Christian in the Australian/British sense of the word “evangelical”, is that we cooperate with each other across denominational divides in doing the work of the gospel—in Scripture Union, for example, and other—Crusader Union and other wonderful organisations that have grown up, where we can work together for the cause of Christ. The InterVarsity, for example, and things like that—AFES. So that’s great. And it just shows that the underlying unity is there, even if we disagree on things that are not determined by the Scriptures.

CK: That’s very helpful. I remember going to Beeston Divinity School—I had come out of a Baptist heritage and when—

PFJ: Yeah!

CK: —Beeston Divinity School, which was intentional interdenominational.

PFJ: Yes indeed.

CK: It actually really encouraged denominational identity, but it actually encouraged gospel partnership across those denominations, and so, we had to learn to listen sympathetically to one another. I think Moore College actually embodies that bit of that as well: even though we’re an Anglican college, we still train people from other traditions and learn great deals from them. And then we send them out gladly to go back to their denominations and keep doing the work of the gospel there. It’s a great thing to participate in as Christians—a real privilege, isn’t it.

PFJ: It sure is.

CK: Yeah.

PFJ: One of the things that creates difficulties for people, of course, if you think “denomination” is the same as “church”—if you think that is the case—if you think your denomination—like, “That—the denomination I belong to is called the Anglican Church of Australia”, now, I’m not going to object to that; that’s one of those things. But I don’t think it really is a church as such; it’s a denomination—it’s a grouping of churches—a network of churches—and a very good one. I’m glad to belong to it. But if you think it’s the church, then you will begin to feel that there’s an imperative in the New Testament for us to merge denominations. I don’t feel that strong imperative myself, ’cause I don’t think the growth of denominations is inherently evil or bad, and I certainly don’t think—one of the key texts, Chase, as you know, is John 17, where the Lord prays that they may all be one. What do you make of that?

CK: Interesting question, Peter! I—I have a lot to say about that, actually. I think John 17 is one of the greatest passages for us participating in what Christ has won for us. So when Jesus says, “that they may be one as we are one”, he’s saying, “I in you, Father; you in me; and me in them”. So in other words, “Just as you and I share this deep relationship, may they be included in that wonderful knowing in relationship”. And so, I think there might be some tangential thoughts about unity or something like that. But really, I think, the unity in view there is us with God—that God is welcoming us in the nearest way possible there. What do you think? I mean, maybe I’m way off, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.

PFJ: I sit at your feet and am very interested in what you’ve just said. [Laughter] At a more trivial level, people often use the words as a command.

CK: Yes!

PFJ: “That they may be all be one” is taken out of context and the finger is waved, and people say, “You ought not to have all these denominations! They all ought to be one.”

CK: Yes.

PFJ: Well, is it a command? I’m going to test Chase to see if he’s reading the Bible properly.

CK: [Laughter] That’s not a command, no!

PFJ: Well, what is it?

CK: I think this is why—I think this is why I wanted to ask this question today on the podcast, is because we feel—

PFJ: You didn’t hear my follow-up. What is it, if it’s not a command?

CK: It’s a prayer from Jesus to the Father.

PFJ: And was it answered?

CK: Yes, it was answered.

PFJ: So it’s already happened!

CK: [Laughter] It has! I think it’s answered in the sending of the Spirit, personally.

PFJ: Yeah, yeah, yes, so do I.

CK: So—

PFJ: Yes.

CK: —I think in the context of John 17 following John 14 to 16—

PFJ: Yeah.

CK: —Jesus is praying for a unity with him and the Father—

PFJ: Yes.

CK: —that, I think, comes as the Spirit dwells in us—

PFJ: Yes.

CK: —and brings us into that intimate fellowship with God.

PFJ: Yeah, yeah.

CK: And obviously, then, intimate fellowship with one another—

PFJ: With one another!

CK: Yeah!

PFJ: All one in Christ Jesus—

CK: Yes.

PFJ: —is—so it’s not as if the Lord prayed the prayer and then—oh, he prayed three major things in that prayer, and only two of them happened. No, they all happened!

CK: Yeah.

PFJ: We are one!

CK: Yeah.

PFJ: Now—

CK: That’s a very important for today!

PFJ: Oh, I think it is! Yeah, yeah.

CK: Yeah. Because there are so many people in the world that are saying, “We are failing Jesus right now”—almost as if he’s weeping and waiting for us to get our act together, when actually we are cheapening something God has already done so wonderfully for us and in us. And we’re overlooking that, in some ways, at the expense of those things by trying to pursue something else. And I think that’s—

PFJ: Yes.

CK: —very problematic.

PFJ: So what about people—outsiders—or people on the edge, who say, “Well, you know, how can this gospel be true with all these different denominations? There are 13 or 14,000 different denominations in the world!” I understand; I’ve not counted them. But what would you say to that?

CK: [Laughter] I’d probably go back to what you said about the Reformation: these things were growing up in different places and with different personalities, but each of them was seeking to submit themselves to the Scriptures. And just because we might have a different reading of the Scripture doesn’t mean that the Scriptures change—they definitely don’t change. But actually, it’s on us to actually keep reading and working hard at listening. And that’s a promise that’s given to us as well, though—that as we do these things, God’s Spirit is leading us in these truths.

PFJ: Yeah.

CK: I think the gospel is very clear in the Scriptures, and so I think there’s broad agreement about the gospel across most denominations.

PFJ: I think there is too. You see, there’s a difference, isn’t there, between, say, the Orthodox, the Catholics and the Protestants, and the Mormons. That is to say, I always think in regard to our friends in the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox churches that we can cooperate in many levels, and I have certainly prayed with folk from the Roman Catholic [Laughter] church: I don’t say I don’t pray. We do! And together, we’ve cooperated together, because there’s a fundamental agreement on the Trinity—

CK: Yes!

PFJ: —and the deity and humanity of Christ that, within those denomination, the truths of the gospel are there. Now, I would be critical of the way in which some things have been added and so forth and so on, and I remain critical, and I think they are important matters. But it’s not the same when you’re talking about a Mormon or a Jehovah’s Witness: they have fallen outside the main—I won’t say “tradition”, but the main teaching of the Bible in such fundamental matters that we must try to win them for the Lord.

CK: Yeah. And that’s actually one of the helpful things about identifying with traditions—that actually by belonging to historic traditions, we know certain boundaries of orthodoxy. So even as people have read the Bible through the ages, we’ve received clarity about “Who is Jesus?”

PFJ: Yes indeed.

CK: But that’s a great question that we have to answer.

PFJ: Yes indeed.

CK: If we say anything less than, “God in the flesh”—

PFJ: Yeah.

CK: —we’re really in trouble. If he’s anything less than fully man and fully divine—

PFJ: Yes.

CK: —we fall off the wagon.

PFJ: Yes.

CK: And that’s really important for us.

PFJ: Yeah.

CK: And we get more specific each tradition we get down. But there are some traditions, like you said, the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses—these cults that have grown up, really, outside the bounds of orthodoxy.

PFJ: Yes, I fear so. One of the differences between us and some other Christians is the attitude to tradition you’ve just spelled out. The Protestant Reformers were very much aware of the importance of submitting their understanding to the early Fathers of the church—the Patristic period. The Anglicans were, Calvin was, and Luther. Why? Not because they regarded them as revelatory, but rather, they saw that they were the beneficiaries of 1,500 years of Bible reading.

CK: Yeah.

PFJ: And we’re the beneficiaries of 2,000 years of Bible reading. And although the reading of the Bible by uninspired people may have proved to be wrong, yet nonetheless, you need to be very cautious about moving away from the tradition in that sense, lest you come up with an entirely wrong reading of Scripture.

CK: Yeah.

PFJ: So Scripture is boss: no doubt about it. The Bible alone: no doubt about that. And there are moments when the Bible has to critique tradition. But we need to listen to tradition, and this is a thoroughly Protestant view: you need to listen to tradition as a way of bringing in the whole host of Bible readers—living and dead—to aid you in understanding the Scriptures.

CK: Yes, amen! And I think one of the things we’ve lost—I mean, the Articles themselves say the three creeds—

PFJ: Yeah.

CK: —ought to be upheld and kept as true testimonies to the teaching of Scriptures. So we look at the Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed, Athanasian Creed. We need to hear these things again. We need to pay attention to them to really anchor in historic orthodoxy.

PFJ: Amen!

CK: Amen.

[Music]

CK: As we take a break from our program, I’d like to encourage you to plan to be part of our live events program for 2021. Next year, the major theme for all of our events will be community. Under this umbrella, we’ll think about how community can be good for so many different people, how we can deal with sin together, what it means to forgive, and how we can raise the next generation.

These events are designed to be engaged in community. Our hope is that you will be part of the conversation we’re facilitating, that you’ll consider these events with others from your church, and that the topics will benefit the communities that you are a part of.

Our first event, “Can Christian community be good for you, me and everyone else?” will be held on March 3rd in 2021. I hope that you’ll go online and register for these events, or better yet, that you’ll encourage your church to participate in these events together. All the information that you need can be found at ccl.moore.edu.au/events/.

Now let’s get back to our program.

CK: Well, thinking about, then—moving into a more specific denominational tradition, denominations don’t always agree, and Peter, I’m really interested in your story, because about 2008, you and a whole lot of other Anglicans made a move away from another major gathering that was happening in the world to host an alternative gathering of sorts. Can you tell us a little bit about the story of the creation of GAFCON, the Global Anglican Future Conference?

PFJ: Sure, Chase. And I’m going to assume that a number of listeners to this know not much at all about the Anglican Church—

CK: I think that’s a fair assumption, sure.

PFJ: —so that—because it’s a story with its complexities, and I’ll try to simplify it, but I will go back to some basics. The Anglican Church—the Anglican communion—that is to say, all the churches that call themselves “Anglican” worldwide—consists of about 40 different churches called “provinces” and each with a Primate or a senior archbishop, and then each diocese has bishops. The leadership—the bishops of the church—have been meeting every 10 years for, I don’t know, 140 years or so in England, invited by the senior archbishop—namely, the Archbishop of Canterbury. He doesn’t have control—he’s not the Pope—but he has a seniority in his office. And he invites them all to meet.

In 1998, they met—seven or eight hundred of them—and the issue of the practice of homosexuality came up. It was, I think, mainly the Americans—I may be wrong; when I say the “Americans”, I mean the people from the US who were suggesting that the tradition of the church and the teaching of the Scriptures should be altered in this area. But overwhelmingly, the bishops from all around the world—a multiplicity, of course, from Africa and Asia—stood against this. And they passed a motion, which was very balanced, but saying, “No, this is the teaching of Scripture”.

Now, that is not a binding. It’s not a parliament; it’s not a binding thing. It was not long after that—2001, 2003—when people—particularly in North America, including Canada, began to agitate for the blessing of same-sex marriage or unions. And this happened in Canada, first of all—particularly in the diocese which has Vancouver as its main city—and then also in 2003, the American Episcopal church—the Anglicans in the United States—they consecrated a man who was living in an active homosexual relationship with another man, and later on, they married.

Now, those actions were perfectly legitimate, at one level: the mere passing of a motion at the Lambeth Conference in 1998 of bishops were—did not harm—bind anyone. But it was rather offensive—

CK: Yes.

PFJ: —to the rest of the Anglican Communion, who had overwhelmingly said, “Don’t do this!”

Now, that’s okay in a way: we’re all grown-ups. Each church has its own way of doing things, and there are things that are happening in Sydney, which other people ’round the world certainly don’t agree with. There are many differences within Anglican church worldwide—many differences.

But the problem with this difference was, first of all, that statement in 1998 from the Lambeth Conference. But, secondly, because in the eyes of so many of us, it was a breach of Scripture—not just a different judgement as to how Scripture is leading, but a breach of Scripture, and one that imperilled the souls of those involved. The Scriptures take this with such seriousness that it says that if you practise these things, you are outside the kingdom of God. So it was a life and death matter.

CK: That’s very heavy.

PFJ: It is heavy. In Vancouver in 2001, it led to eight churches withdrawing from that diocese—one of them led by a Moore College graduate: the Reverend David Short—Canon David Short. In 2003, it created a great stir in the Episcopal church, and people began to consider the cost of leaving. And it is a considerable cost.

At the same time, around the Anglican Communion, there were people very agitated, and different meetings were held of the senior people in the Anglican Communion—particularly the Primates, the chief leaders of each of the Anglican churches. And attempts were made to stop this happening or to call them back or whatever.

But in the end, the North Americans stayed very firm in their beliefs and what they’d done. Very firm. And nothing anyone could do could call them back. And the Archbishop of Canterbury did not feel himself able to take any sort of disciplinary action about this. And so, at the next Lambeth meeting, when all the bishops are going to come together again, and despite our many, many differences, able to come together and able to share at the Lord’s Table together, we were now in a position where people had just really disregarded what the Lambeth bishops had said and done so in a way which endangered the souls of many, many, many people, and broke with Scripture on a key subject.

And so, a number of us had a meeting in Nairobi, led by the Archbishop or the Primate of Nigeria, which is the biggest Anglican church in the world—20 million people. We met in the Hilton hotel in Nairobi—Room 216, if I remember—for two days. And we decided that we could not go to the next conference. We could not sit at table with the ones who had taken this action. And therefore, we would need to make this clear by having our own conference. And we thought, “Well, where can we go?” And Jerusalem came to mind. It’s been the place where certain things happened!

And so we met in Jerusalem. And those who did not think they could go to Lambeth gathered: there must have been 300 of the bishops gathered. A number of people went to both conferences. That was their choice. But most of us who went to the conference in Jerusalem were not able to go to the Lambeth Conference.

We were not trying to break the Anglican Communion; we were trying to keep it together by making this statement. Many of the people in the room in Jerusalem were from the United States of America, and in the end, about 100,000 of those people in the Episcopal church in the United States, and then something like 80,000, I think, in Canada over the years have left their church and set up a new denomination called the Anglican Church of North America. And GAFCON is not just a moment; it’s a movement. And it’s a movement in which it says, “We recognise you guys as authentic Anglicans. Canterbury doesn’t, but we do.” And so, it’s a way—it’s not a movement for schism; it’s a movement to keep people in the family who are making a stand on the Scriptures and, hence, the gospel.

Now, Chase, I’m—forgive me for making this long speech—

CK: I’m grateful for it, Peter, but—

PFJ: —but it’s a—

CK: Yeah, this is great. I want to reflect on—

PFJ: It’s only—it’s only an outline.

CK: No, it’s a really fascinating window into a recent historical event of great importance, and one, as you mentioned, has been identified as schismatic. So here’s people trying to break away from the church, is what it looks like. Actually, you just said, people trying to keep the church together: we’re trying to keep true Anglicans in fellowship together—

PFJ: Yes, yes.

CK: —on the thing that we believe in most—that is, the authority of the Scriptures.

PFJ: Yes.

CK: Interesting parallel there with the Reformation: why did the Protestant Reformers break free from Rome? Because they thought people’s salvation was jeopardised—

PFJ: Yes.

CK: —by staying with the Church of Rome. That is—

PFJ: Yes.

CK: —their eternal destiny was imperilled by the church. Likewise now, the teaching of the church had become so rotten, in one sense, that it was going to cost people their own soul.

PFJ: Yes, exactly. It’s about the authority of Scripture and the fruit of the gospel in eternal salvation. And it’s not schismatic either for this sense, and I think the same is true in the Reformation: GAFCON has always said to the Episcopal Church in North America and the Canadian church, and now the Scottish church has gone the same way—GAFCON has always said, “Come back. Repent. Return. We want to welcome you back. We’re not against you, but we think you’ve made a big mistake. And we want you to repent. We’re not casting you out. But we think we cannot have that fellowship with you—not for our sake, but for your sake.” So I don’t believe it’s schismatic; I think it’s an act of love: blessing the fragments of the church that are staying true to the gospel—

CK: Yes.

PFJ: —but also calling upon those who have wavered in our opinion to return.

CK: It’s interesting, because you’ve mentioned before, too, just how broad the spectrum of Anglicans worldwide is.

PFJ: Oh yes!

CK: So you can show—[Laughter] I mean, there—yeah. And if anyone is—

PFJ: Yeah, yeah.

CK: —familiar with the Anglican church—the Anglican Communion worldwide, they’re familiar with just how diverse it can be.

PFJ: Indeed!

CK: But this a real issue of salvation—that you believe—

PFJ: Yes, so—

CK: —is of utmost importance.

PFJ: —to take another another issue known as the ordination of women to the priesthood: famously, the diocese of Sydney, and famously, I myself, have never agreed that this is a good thing to do, and we’ve always regarded this as being, actually, unscriptural, and that’s our reasoning: it’s not because we’re anti-women or something like that. It’s a question of the Bible and the authority of the Bible.

But on the other hand, I don’t regard it as a salvation issue. That is to say, I have dear friends who [Laughter] have been ordained priests—women friends who were ordained—okay, I don’t say to them, “Repent: you must return, otherwise your salvation is in peril”. I think they’re wrong, but I don’t think they have imperilled their own salvation. And so, in the GAFCON movement, there are people—there are women priests, there are extreme Anglo-Catholics, there are people who will have nothing to do with women priests, there are evangelicals, there are charismatics, there are people who may regard themselves as moderates—the whole gang is there, because we can get on with each other, despite our differences—until you reach that boundary, which is the boundary of the authority of Scripture and the salvation of human beings. That’s where we have to say, “Please come back to us”.

CK: Yes.

PFJ: “But we cannot go with you”.

CK: So bringing this even closer now to where we are today in Sydney, the Anglican church in Australia is facing a very interesting moment in history. I’d love to know if it’s unprecedented in the Anglican church in Australia, but recently at the Appellate Tribunal, they have had said that it is lawful for dioceses to admit the blessing of same-sex unions. This is very controversial, obviously, in our context—something that we stand very strongly against, as you’ve already said, with GAFCON and the reason why GAFCON didn’t attend Lambeth in 2008 or subsequently. So where are we up to now? What are the prospects? And what does this mean for the fellowship of churches in Australia?

PFJ: Yeah. Now, it may be thought that in speaking of denominations in the way I have, that I don’t think that denominational unity within and even beyond is a good thing. No, but I do. The different denominational churches standing together on key issues is significant, and has had a very powerful impact on a nation like Australia, and elsewhere as well. And I’m a believer in that, and I believe that as Archbishop, I tried to reach out the right hand of fellowship to many people in other denominations and to get us together—praying together, working together, thinking together and standing together within the nation.

One of the good things about the Anglican church of Australia up to this point has been that we have been able, with considerable difficulty, for geographical and theological reasons, to actually get together: we have a constitution. Very hard to achieve, but we did achieve it, despite our differences. That constitutional settlement was threatened by the ordination of women, and even now, tragically, there are some people—and this is one of the marks of unity—but—but tragically, some people who are our ordained priest or consecrated bishop are not welcome to exercise that ministry in some other dioceses. This is a tragedy, because they are women, in this case. But even so, we’ve managed to hold together—and I’m a great believer in that—for the cause of Christ, and also because it gives us, at various points, a united voice.

With this particular issue, however, and I believe the people keen to see a change here know this: this is not an issue on which it is going to be possible to offer that sort of compromise. Now, they ought to know this, because they’ve seen it in the United States, they’ve seen it in Canada, they’ve seen it in Scotland and they’ve seen it in New Zealand—where, in each of those cases, the local Anglican church has decided to bless same-sex unions, and it has meant that some cannot continue as members of that particular church, but have to be Anglicans outside the church, recognised by the majority of Anglicans ’round the world via GAFCON. Now, this is the fire with which people are playing here in Australia.

Now, I have been impressed, I have to say, by the bishops in the other dioceses of the Australian church, and this goes back 20 years—I’ve always been impressed by their desire to remain united; their desire to walk together, despite our differences; their willingness to pray with one another. And I have always felt that there has been a desire to at least [Laughter] put up with each other and to work together. And even over an issue like this, where, I know, the House of Bishops has people with strongly different views on it in it, but there has been a willingness to see that the traditional view has got to be respected. And that’s what makes it so sad—to see the Appellate Tribunal come to this decision, which unleashes the very disunity which it professes to honour. I’m sorry, I think it’s a mistaken decision. I am hoping that all the Anglicans ’round Australia are going to be mature enough to keep together on this. Even though we may disagree with each other, I’m hoping we can put that aside and disagree with each other, and I’m hoping we do so by keeping to what the tradition of the church has always been, because I believe that’s what Scripture teaches. Now, let’s pray that it happens.

CK: Yeah.

PFJ: If that doesn’t happen, what it does is it seriously weakens—it seriously weakens—the witness of our denomination in the nation as a whole. And I’m not happy with that.

CK: Yeah. So to the average listener of this, then, how do you encourage them in view of denominational unity? Just as we conclude. How do you keep them from being discouraged when these kinds of threats are mounting?

PFJ: [Laughter] Well, as someone who does get discouraged—

CK: [Laughter] Me too, by the way!

PFJ: —I’m—I’m not sure. But we must be very prayerful. We must reach out the right hand of fellowship. We must be very careful not to allow secondary issues to become the issue. But we must be very clear indeed—very clear—about where the boundaries are, so that no one is deceived for a moment and that everyone can understand why we regard that as a boundary—that we have to be able to explain that.

And I might add, when we are explaining ourselves to others, it’s very important to be able to explain the others to ourselves. That is to say, in a sense, we’ve got to put both cases—everyone’s got to be able to put both cases persuasively, if we really are to understand each other. And I’m hoping—I have seen things like this happen at the bishops’ conference—and I’m hoping that God will overrule and enable us to bring good out of what is a very dangerous moment.

CK: Indeed. May he do so.

PFJ: Amen.

CK: Amen. Thanks very much for the time, Peter.

PFJ: My pleasure.

[Music]

CK: To benefit from more resources from the Centre for Christian Living, please subscribe to our podcast and also be sure to visit ccl.moore.edu.au, where you can discover many articles, past podcasts and video materials.

You might also like to stay current with what’s happening through the Centre by signing up for our monthly enewsletter. We always benefit from receiving questions and feedback from our listeners, and if you’d like to get in touch, you can email us at ccl@moore.edu.au.

As always, I’d like to thank Moore College for making the ministry of the Centre for Christian Living possible, and to extend thanks to my assistant, Karen Beilharz, for audio editing and transcribing. Music provided by James West.

[Music]

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