Here’s the blurb:
Sydney’s evangelical Anglicans have been the focus of a great deal of controversy and criticism in the Anglican world. Their blend of conservatism towards doctrine and radicalism towards the institutional church has made them something of an enigma to other Anglicans. But what makes them really tick? Michael Jensen provides a unique insider’s view into the convictional world of Sydney Anglicanism. He responds to a number of the common misunderstandings about Sydney Anglicanism and challenges Sydney Anglicans to see themselves as making a positive contribution to the wider church and to the city they inhabit.
The Sydney Anglicans are, nationally and internationally, among the most influential and despised group of Anglicans in the world. I’ve seen TV documentaries about them, read scathing critiques about them on-line and in print, and even be privy to several in-house debates that they have with each other! In this book, Dr. Michael P. Jensen, lecturer in doctrine at Moore Theological College and son of the out-going Archbishop of Sydney Peter Jensen, gives us a view from one who has grown up and works in the very epicenter of Sydney Anglicanism. He attempts to give an accurate depiction of Sydney Anglicans (SA), away from the pro-SA propaganda that the Anglo-Catholic Liberals are about to over run the Emerald City, and away from the vehement rhetoric of Anglo-Catholic Liberals who caricature them as raving fundies who hate women and gays. Jensen’s book has two parts: SAs in relation to the Bible and the Church.
In part one, Jensen attempts to dispel the rumour that SAs are fundamentalists. He notes that “‘Fundamentalist’ is a playground bully among words” (13) He observes that SAs do not generally believe things normally attributed to fundamentalists like six day creation, pre-millennial eschatology, and right-wing approaches to politics. Simply believing in the primacy of scripture as SAs do does not make one a fundamentalist, but it is a good way of immunizing against fundamentalism. Jensen further points out that SAs have been at the forefront of a resurgent biblical theology movement in evangelicalism, led principally by Donald Robinson and Graham Goldsworthy. This is a particular Reformed emphasis, reading the OT and NT as a unity. In fact, Jensen states that, “The strong critiques of some aspects of [N.T.] Wright’s work offered by some Sydney Anglican scholars masks the great similarities between the approaches they share as a matter of fact” (39). On propositional revelation, Jensen discusses Broughton Knox’s infamous article on the topic that appeared in a 1960 issue of Reformed Theological Review. He claims that Knox’s views have been partly misunderstood and the notion of propositional truth simply means that God speaks the truth. Of course, that does not mean that revelation cannot be personal at the same time, something argued persuasively by Jensen’s father Peter Jensen in his book The Revelation of God. It is this doctrine of scripture as revelation that has also led to the centrality of preaching in SA circles.
Jensen’s book is worth reading because it addresses one of the most controversial diocese in worldwide Anglicanism. Jensen’s book is valuable as an insider’s perspective that gives clarity beyond hostile caricatures, it provides a historical explanation and theological defence as to why SAs believe and act as they do, but it also includes some healthy in-house critiques and recommendations as to how SAs can avoid being overly sectarian and contribute to both world Anglicanism and international evangelicalism.