More on Michael Jensen’s Apology for Sydney Anglicans

Michael Jensen’s Sydney Anglicans: An Apology has prompted some more reviews by insiders and outsiders.

Arthur Davis, a missionary in Tanzania, reviews it over at Jesus Creed.

Sydney Anglicanism’s shrillest detractors don’t seem to be conversant with real live Sydney Anglicans. For the non-Sydney, non-Anglican reader, the great value of An Apology is in hearing a Sydney Anglican respond to criticisms in his own terms. There are of course questions to be asked of Sydney Anglicans, but if these are to be of any use, they need to be connected with a Sydney Anglican voice. This is exactly what An Apology provides: an authentic and fruitful starting place for conversation.

Tony Payne also rips into it over at the The Briefing for being insufficiently Chappological.

Michael meets his opponents on the ground of their choosing—their unhappiness with Sydney’s supposed puritanism and fundamentalism; their distaste for how ‘un-Anglican’ Sydney is compared with the practice of most other Australian Anglicans; their abhorrence of our doctrine of church, our opposition to women’s ordination, or our advocacy of lay administration. This locates the discussion within a world view where the truly significant questions revolve around church structure and order, the sacraments, the debates of academic theology, the search for social justice for the oppressed (women, gays), the quest to influence society for the better, and the maintenance and reform of Anglican liturgy and tradition. But these issues are of less (and in some cases very little) significance for Sydney Anglicanism, because our worldview rests on different foundations. The abiding and central issue for us remains the gospel of Christ, including the repentance and faith that it calls forth and the disciple-making urgency that it motivates.

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  • unkleE

    As someone who has been within Sydney Anglicanism but not of it (to coin a phrase), there are definitely two sides to this story. What may seem to some as strong commitment to the historic gospel might seem to others to be arrogance, being hidebound and being closed to the Holy Spirit. What may seem to some to be faithful adherence to the Word of God may be viewed by others as selectively interpreting the Bible to suit one’s theological position. Strong leadership to some may be control bordering on manipulation to others. And an emphasis on evangelism may be seen as an unwillingness to follow Jesus in caring for the poor.

    Certainly there are many many wonderful people with very strong faith, commitment and good intentions, but dissent is often stifled and alternative thinking or action often not allowed. And with many congregations being in the more wealthy demographic, there is a danger that the ability to pay a number of staff leads to more control, a passive laity and a poor impression given to the very people we want to evangelise.

    An apologia is probably a good idea, but change may be more useful, provided it is Holy Spirit led change. Just one semi-insider’s view.

  • There seems to be a sort of elusive tightrope these days between trusting in spiritual/religious elites to resist the oppression that comes with the cultural zeitgeist (not ever a very likely scenario) and going into a counterproductive circling of the wagons. Maybe conservative Anglicans should borrow from Lutherans and make a case for a unified embrace of a sort of neo-Bonhoeffer-ism.

  • Win

    “Sydney Anglicanism’s shrillest detractors don’t seem to be conversant with real live Sydney Anglicans.”

    I will try not to be “shrill.” However, I or close family members have been under Sydney Anglican ministry for 21 years. Yes, I am a detractor and could easily explain why. However, since Sydney Anglicans don’t discuss or debate in a logical fashion but resort to pathetic strategies like calling people “shrill” or citing CBMW as if they were the great god in the sky, I won’t cite my dissatisfactions which are many. I have been sadly conversant with too many Sydney Anglicans.