I'm an orthodox evangelical believer. I watched the Christmas Eve service 2011 which the Dean of the Cathedral, Phillip Jensen, led from St. Andrews Cathedral, Sydney, telecast on ABC1 in Australia. It was a magnificent Christ-centred service led by Dr Jensen. I know his church is a member of the evangelical Anglican diocese of Sydney which has been an orthodox stalwart in the midst of an Anglican church that has become theologically liberal in many states.
Anglicans in Australia
What is happening to the liberal Anglicans in Australia? The Rev. Dr. Mark Thompson, at the Sydney 'Lambeth Decision Briefing', St. Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney, Friday 14th March 2008, wrote of 'The Anglican Debacle'. Here he stated the obvious for that denomination in Australia that biblical Christianity has struggled under the Anglican umbrella. There was never a time when it was uniformly accepted by the church hierarchy.
He pointed out that early Anglicans such as Latimer, Ridley and Cranmer were burnt at the stake with the consent of most of the rest of the bishops in Mary's church.
According to The Melbourne Anglican (2017), the 2016 census revealed the 'number of Australian Anglicans fell by 580,000 in five years.'
Primate of Australia, Archbishop Dr Philip Freier, attributed the decline in the Anglican Church to a number of factors, singling out a culture 'that no longer "carries" Christianity.'
A Sydney Anglicans news' release about the event in 2011 stated it was the first time in many years ABC Television screened an evangelical Christmas Eve service. It was chosen by the ABC for a 6pm Christmas Eve service. It featured Dean Phillip Jensen, the Cathedral choir, guest musicians and orchestra. Jensen said: 'This broadcast provides a great opportunity to express the message of the birth of our Lord in a genuinely modern and Australian fashion.'
What's at the heart of the Anglican problem?
Senior Associate Minister at St John's Anglican Cathedral, Parramatta, Sydney, is David Ould, becoming a minister in 2013. His beef with the undermining of Anglicanism is very different from the liberal wing of the denomination. He considers one of the main problems is with integrity of the ministers.
What? He is crystal clear on what he means. He used an illustration from the world of advertising: If you were a marketing director for a major drinks' company who drank the opposition's leading brand of milk at a press conference, you would expect to lose your job if the company had any integrity.
However, what has happened with the Anglicans? They discuss an aging population, schisms over sexuality issues, young people preferring experiential over traditional worship, etc. However, Ould does not see this at the core of the problem. For him the nucleus of the issue is over promises made by bishops which states: 'I firmly and sincerely believe the Catholic faith and I give my assent to the doctrine of the Anglican Church of Australia as expressed in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, The Book of Common Prayer and the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons; I believe that doctrine to be agreeable to the Word of God.… I do solemnly and sincerely declare my assent to be bound by the Constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia.'
Then the bishops set about rejecting the standards set by Scripture, refusing to support the content of the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds, fail to accept the 39 Articles as the 'standard of doctrine', not using the Book of Common Prayer as the worship standard, and rejecting some of the Constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia.
What then should these prodigal bishops and ministers do, since they deny fundamentals of biblical Christianity and of the Anglican requirements for ordination? C S Lewis got straight to the point of what should happen:
It is your duty to fix the lines (of doctrine) clearly in your minds: and if you wish to go beyond them you must change your profession. This is your duty not specially as Christians or as priests but as honest men.… We never doubted that the unorthodox opinions were honestly held: what we complain of is your continuing in your ministry after you have come to hold them ('Christian Apologetics', 1945:1).
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