Well, Australia has their first diocesan woman bishop, and what a bishop she’s going to be…

With a real sense that she is answering God’s call, Sarah Macneil will next year be installed as the 11th bishop of Grafton and the first woman to head an Anglican diocese in Australia.

Dr Macneil is married, a grandmother and a former Australian diplomat.

She is a former dean of Adelaide and archdeacon in the diocese of Canberra-Goulburn.

Dr Macneil will give up her role as senior associate priest at Holy Covenant Church in Jamison, to lead a diocese with 28 parishes, taking in major centres such as Lismore, Ballina, Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie.

“This does feel right, this does have a sense of call to it,” she said.

“A part of me feels an enormous weight of responsibility. But another part of me feels excited and delighted.”

Dr Macneil accepted the position after she and the Grafton nomination board came to the mutual decision that her skills and interests would suit the direction the diocese wanted to take.

Dr Macneil praised the diocese for being willing to appoint a woman – a step that will not be universally celebrated within the Anglican Church.

“Grafton is a trailblazer,” she said.

Well that’s certainly true. But it’s not only Grafton since Macneil has blazed a bit of a trail herself. Just what  are the views held by the person that the Grafton nominations board unanimously selected?

Here’s a sermon that Macneil preached earlier this year in Lent on the parable of the Prodigal (cached copy here),

Although we tend to hear [the parable of the Prodigal] as a parable highlighting God’s welcome to all sinners, especially those who have had lurid pasts, like the younger son, its placement in the Gospel of Luke aims it straight at the religious authorities – the goody two shoes upholders of the faith. Will they join the party? Or will they stick to their rigid adherence to the Torah, tithing even the herbs in their cupboards, but neglecting mercy and compassion?

We can ask where it is that we are working within rules that neglect mercy and compassion.

Now some of us have been at this such a long time that we could tell you the next line without thinking. But just for the fun of it, let’s play a little game. What is the first issue that Macneil will raise as an example of this “rigid adherence to the Torah”? Take your time because there’s so many options…

Is it the Anglican Church of Australia’s reluctance to allow the ordination of gay people in same sex relationships?

I’m sorry, if you were looking for something else but you’re going to be disappointed. Right at the top of the list of examples that Mcneil gives is the ordination of gay people in same sex relationships.

At this point some may suggest that the Grafton nominators can’t be expected to dig around in websites hunting this sort of stuff out. Perhaps not, but given that this is now a major issue in the Anglican Church in Australia we can be pretty confident that it will have been discussed. At least it should have been discussed. And particularly since Macneil is alleged to have resigned over this very issue.

Macneil gave up her position as Dean of Adelaide cathedral in early June 2011 stating she could,

no longer work with integrity at diocesan level

What prompted this resignation after less than 2 years in the job? It’s believed by some in Adelaide that this resignation was related amongst other things to another one at the same time…

AN openly gay Anglican priest has quit her post, after ongoing “persecution” from the church over her sexuality.
The resignation of Semaphore’s St Bede’s Reverend Ali Wurm comes as the Dean of Adelaide, Sarah Macneil, also announced she would step down.

Tensions within the Diocese of Adelaide about how to respond to a global moratorium imposed by the church on same-sex unions and the ordination of clergy in same-sex relationships – as well as the handling of the turmoil by Archbishop Jeffrey Driver – are believed to be factors in the women’s departures.

All Souls of St Peters’ Reverend Andy Wurm, Ms Wurm’s brother, confirmed pressure over many years about her former same-sex relationship was a key factor.

“A major reason for her resignation was the persecution she felt as a result of her living arrangements and sexual orientation,” Rev Wurm said.

“It was made clear by some that her partner wasn’t welcome at clergy gatherings by some other clergy.

“People were also pressuring the Archbishop (Driver), trying to make him take action against her.”

If this was part of the reason that Macneil resigns it does, one should concede, present her to us as someone with great integrity.

There is, however, a question that Macneil now needs to answer.

Does Bishop-elect Macneil stand by the position expressed in her sermon of 10 March 2013 that mercy and compassion ought to lead to the ordination of gay people in same sex relationships or does she, instead, stand by the Australia House of Bishops’ Protocol of March 2012 which states

“As bishops in the Australian Church we accept the weight of 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10 and the 2004 General Synod resolutions 33, 59 and 61-64 as expressing the mind of this church on issues of human sexuality.

We undertake to uphold the position of our Church in regard to human sexuality as we ordain, license, authorise or appoint to ministries within our dioceses.”?

Now, this is not the only issue on which Macneil departs from the position of the Church itself. There is a far weightier matter on which she is also on record. Here is an extract from a sermon given in Sydney in October 2010:

It is clear from the gospel [Luke 10:1-9] and from Acts that Luke is not thinking of salvation and atonement in terms of what we now call penal substitution. This view uses the logic of retributive justice and argues that it was Jesus’ death on the cross that saved us from our sins and brought us into right relationship with God. A debt had to be paid for human sin and disobedience in order to satisfy God’s demands of justice. This is what made Christ’s death upon the cross necessary. In his great love for us, Christ is therefore said to have taken the punishment deserved by all humanity upon himself.

This rather mechanistic and grim understanding of atonement, prevalent not so very far from here, was not part of early Christian thought and clearly not part of Luke’s thought world. Nor does Luke regard Jesus’ death as a sacrifice or as an expiation for sin. His focus is more on Jesus’ life and on the wholeness that is brought to humanity through contact with the suffering Messiah.

There is no doubt in the gospel that Jesus is the Messiah, no doubt that he will suffer and die, but the wholeness that comes to people because of him, comes from their encounter with him.

Jesus’ presence is what brings life, peace, forgiveness of sins and right relation to God.

Now be very clear on what Macneil is arguing here. She sets a view of penal substitution (and to be fair to her she at least does a pretty good job of trying to describe it) against  a view that “Jesus’ presence is what brings [salvation]”. Of course, if it’s simply the incarnation and Jesus presence  that brings salvation then as inevitable as the Cross is, it doesn’t save.

This is an intriguing position for a bishop in the church (who is meant to be a source and symbol of unity) to hold. The official Anglican position is something very different,

XXXI. Of the one Oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross.
The Offering of Christ once made is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin, but that alone.

Now this is, let’s be clear, a far more important issue that the one already highlighted. Macneil is on record as stating that the official position of the Anglican Church of Australia on the central question of the gospel is wrong. (The 39 Articles are set out in the Constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia as doctrine which is “retained and approved” (Part I, s.4) [pdf]).

So here’s the second question for Macneil:

Does Bishop-elect Macneil stand by her position expressed in a sermon on St Luke’s Day, October 2010, that penal substitution is a incorrect view of the atonement and that rather than the Cross, “Jesus’ presence is what brings [salvation]” or does she affirm the doctrinal position of Article XXXI of the 39 Articles which states that “The Offering of Christ once made is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin, but that alone.” and which is position that the Anglican Church of Australia in it’s constitution (Part I, s.4) expressly retains and approves”?

I’ll put those questions to her new press officer and I’ll let you know when we get an answer.

In the meantime, take a good look at Grafton’s new diocesan. Their new bishop is on record as taking an opposing position to the Bishops’ Protocol after it was published and denies that the Cross is where Jesus saves us.

The fact that she is a woman ought to be way down your list of complaints.

Comments

comments

112 comments on “Australia’s First Female Diocesan Bishop – we should ordain homosexuals and the Cross does not save

    • They don’t save the children either, North Coast Children’s Home where lots of kids got whipped, starved and sexually abused is getting like $5 million this year from the tax payers of NSW they have 10 children in the notorious children’s home and 7 fostered. The foster carers get paid less per day than it costs to put a well behaved 4 year in day care all day. Where does the money go? Please tell us Bishop.

      • hi Keith,

        We have to be fair to Bishop Macneil. She’s inherited a very difficult position and has the courage to at least have a go at leading the diocese through it.

  1. Very worrying. However is it not the case that her and so many other liberals in leadership positions in the Anglican Church continue to get away with this sort of thing because the evangelicals are a minority now? I attended an Anglican Church for about 3 years and this was certainly the case. We went back to being Presbyterians :). I knkw that the Diocese of Sydney is still theologically sound however not the rest?

    • Hi Lucy! We are an evangelical diocese over here in the Diocese of North West Australia (top half of WA)! There are a few Evangelical dioceses outside of Sydney… The pressie church is great though…!

    • Congratulations on finding a church where you feel you fit theologically – the fact you disagree with the theology of other diocese of the Anglican Church is not grounds for suggesting that they are not theologically sound. I attend a parish in the Newcastle Diocese, just north of Sydney, where we have a range of parishes with a range of theological positions – we have Moore College trained priests, we have SMBC trained priests, along with more Catholic priests, liberal priests, progressive priests, evangelical and charismatic priests!

      Our current Bishop was once a priest in Sydney – I believe we are a well rounded diocese theologically, and though there are other diocese more liberal than ours (perhaps that could be argued) I don’t believe they are theologically bereft of standing in our great tradition.

      Sarah Macneil is a Bishop of great dignity and integrity – who is teaching from the bible – not the 39 articles, which, when I last looked, were not part of the canon. Of course, were it up to Sydney Diocese, I’m certain they would become the 70th book of the bible.

      • Greg. Thanks for your comment. A couple of responses.
        You say “the fact you disagree with the theology of other diocese of the Anglican Church is not grounds for suggesting that they are not theologically sound.”
        Indeed, but then I never argued that because I disagreed it should be rejected. I pointed out that the position I am challenging is contrary to the official position of the Anglican Church of Australia.

        Sarah Macneil is a Bishop of great dignity and integrity – who is teaching from the bible – not the 39 articles, which, when I last looked, were not part of the canon. Of course, were it up to Sydney Diocese, I’m certain they would become the 70th book of the bible.
        To which I give much the same answer. The constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia says that they are our standard of doctrine. So not part of the canon but a very important part of our doctrinal standards, don’t you think?

  2. Thank you Lionel for posting this, I work for a Pressy church and have been thinking about church mission with the Anglican Church in our area (a grafton diocese church). What would be your advice looking forward, will this be a dividing factor within the diocese? Will churches be able to disagree with these views?

    • Dan, that’s something that you could fruitfully take up with the Anglicans in your patch. Grafton thinks of itself as a diverse diocese: our previous bishop said on one occasion that we had “all four streams” of Anglicanism here (Anglo-catholic, liberal, evangelical and charismatic, ISTM), and that that was a good thing. One parish will vary from the next, so it’s best to talk to your local Anglicans to work out if you can all work together with integrity. If you have a concern, talk it over with them – whatever you do don’t let it get in the way of telling people about the Lord, Jesus Christ.

      You can access webpages etc from this link:
      http://www.graftondiocese.org.au/#!parishes-of-the-diocese/c1ddm

  3. Thanks Dobby, a vintage piece of work by you. What a distressing development, thanks for bringing it to our attention and for sorting through the straw man stuff to the meat (of course, organically raised and compassionately slaughtered, with no harm to vegetables or animals).

    It’s too serious, even for me, to troll a response.

  4. All who follow Christ and attend/support that church need to walk/run away and leave it to wallow in it’s apostasy.

    Romans 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

    22Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

    23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things.

    24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves:

    25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

    26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

    27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

    28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

    29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

    30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

    31 Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

    32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

  5. I can understand holding a view that differs from the church you are a part of, and indeed going into leadership within that church whilst having differing views on certain things, but in the areas of salvation and the Cross it seems unthinkable that someone would remain in leadership whilst holding such a clearly opposing view to that of the organisation she is representing and soon (unless intelligence prevails) be leading and, theoretically at least, a focus for unity!
    I would suggest that her views are not the only issue, but those of the people on the nominations group!

    • Was not Jesus part of a ‘church’ that He did not totally believe in & did He not take steps to change. Look where that got Him, maybe we as Christian need to be a little bit careful in not becoming the Pharisees of the modern time.

      After all is it not God who knows our heart, and is our judge, etc

  6. Isn’t it interesting that you only look to church standards such as the constitution and articles, and base no arguments on theology…

    I find it to be the height of hypocrisy that an Anglican priest from SYDNEY diocese would dare start talking about things like the constitution of the Anglican Church in Australia. When you mob start abiding by tribunal decisions regarding lay and diaconal presidency you might start to gain back some integrity.

    You might also want to look through the prayer book (1662) and check out what it says about being appropriately vested when conducting services. The prayer book is after all the standard along with the articles which we are constantly referred to by Sydney – though I doubt most clergy in Sydney have picked up a prayer book since they were in college – if they even did then.

    If you are all so dead set on acting like Presbyterians then please do the rest of the Anglican church a favour and join them.

    • thanks for your comment “Fed up guy”. In future please do note that I don’t normally allow comments where the author can’t be identified.

      I’m not sure I’m persuaded by your argument. There are a number of points you make:

      1. To suggest that an argument from the Articles is not a theological argument doesn’t really hold water. The Articles set forth theological positions and any use of them is, by nature, a theological engagement.

      2. The Appellate Tribunal is an advisory body with no legislated power. There is no “abiding” by an opinion, there is simply agreement or disagreement. Of course, if you can demonstrate that the Tribunal does actually have the power you imply it does then I would happily concede this point.

      3. I look through the 1662 BCP regularly but I’m not at all sure what you mean by “being appropriately vested when conducting services”. I am in total agreement that the prayerbook is the standard for worship and love it dearly but I’m at a loss to find these instructions on vestments. Could you tell us where to find them please?

      I’d welcome your further response.

      • Whilst it is not to do with the blog article itself, I believe he is thinking of the rubric in the 1662 Prayer Book which states:

        And here it is to be noted that such ornaments of the church and of the ministers thereof, at all times of their ministration, shall be RETAINED and be in use, as were in this Church of England by the authority of Parliament in the second year of the reign of King Edward the Sixth.

        Those ornaments being, for the Eucharist as set out in the 1549 Prayer Book of Edward VI:

        Upon the day, and at the time appointed for the ministration of the Holy Communion, the Priest, that shall execute the Holy ministry, shall put upon him the vesture appointed for that ministration, that is to say: a white Albe, plain, with a vestment or Cope. And where there may be many Priests or Deacons,
        there so many shall be ready to help the Priest in the ministration, as shall be requisite; and shall have upon them likewise the vestures appointed for their ministry, that is to say, Albes with Tunicles.

      • The direction he is referring to are in the opening rubric of the Administration of the Lord’s Supper. For Australian Anglicans these have been replaced by the Canon on Vesture which has been adopted by the diocese of Sydney by Ordinance as required by the Constitution of both the national Church and the diocese. If my memory serves me correctly there are further conditions added in a Schedule to that Ordinance which regulate vesture in Sydney.

        As to diaconal and lay administration at the Lord’s Supper – the BCP requires presbyterial administration, whether a diocese can alter this is a disputed point. Some Sydney lawyers think the Synod of a diocese in NSW has almost plenary authority. This has never been tested at law and Sydney has never been willing to pass an ordinance to test this point. Neither Bishop Robinson nor Bishop Goodhew would assent to such an ordinance and Bishop Jensen was never put in that situation.(By the way ‘bishop’ is the correct title as none, to my knowledge have been granted the status of ‘Archbishop Emeritus’. So I am not being disrespectful.)

        So the Appellate Tribunal has never been in a position to rule on the issue since no ‘canon’ or ‘ordinance’ has been put before it. My personal opinion is that Sydney is acting unlawfully and is unwilling to test this .

        As to the major issue to which you speak you are perfectly correct. I suspect that Dr Macneill uses a hermeneutic developed by the French ‘Immortal” Rene Gerard. This is gaining strength with some modern theologians, especially within the Diocese of canberra and Goulburn, which negates the ideas of ‘scapegoat’ and ‘sacrifice’. It sees these as human social controls progressively repudiated in Scripture.

        The person to whom questions of the orthodoxy of the candidate should be addressed is the Chief Consecrator! A shepherd should not ordain a wolf.

  7. @ Fed up Guy,

    From your post it seems that you have not really responded to Rev David’s post, but have merely reacted to it.

    I think the reason Rev David has referred to the Constitution and the Articles is that all ordained clergy within the Anglican Church of Australia affirm them at their ordination and also by signing stat declarations immediately prior to their ordinations. And for Rev David to refer to the Constitution and the Articles does not suggest lack of theological engagement as the theology of both are very clear; and it is to this theology that the Bishop elect is found wanting.

    It is right and appropriate to expect and require all clergy (be they Bishop, Priest, Deacon) to actually believe what they have affirmed. I heard a commentator on this election say something that is very apt:

    “As a lay person it seems very strange to me that any organisation would appoint someone to a leadership position who was in diametric opposition to the stated position of that organisation – this leaves me very confused…”

    I take your point about lay and diaconal presidency, though may I suggest that this issue is not a Biblical issue as such but is an issue of Anglican order (for the record I disagree with lay and diaconal presidency) but this is in no way the same issue. Also my understanding is that Sydney Diocese has not adopted the practice of lay presidency for the reason that it would cause an unhelpful stumbling block to other Anglican Christians.

    As for use of the BCP, not being a Sydney Anglican I cannot speak for them, though I would humbly suggest that their approach to the BCP is that they adopt the theology of Cranmner but do not adopt his language, they use the rubrics of the BCP, or for the want of a better description, conduct worship in the spirit of the BCP.

    I will finish up now Fed Up Guy, but I would like to ask you one question, (it is not a trick question, nor am I trying to be a smart alec, but if Sydney Anglican clergy wore vestments, used the 1662 BCP do you really think others would listen, others including yourself?

  8. I believe it is also important to be clear that the claim:
    “This rather mechanistic and grim understanding of atonement,
    prevalent not so very far from here, was not part of early Christian thought…”
    is simply unhistorical nonsense.

    For example, the relevant chapter in “Pierced for Our Transgressions” by Jeffery, Ovey and Sach
    lists numerous early Christian theologians/leaders (from the 2nd century onwards)
    who believed in penal substitutionary atonement.

    There are also other early Christian theologians/leaders from that period with the same belief, who didn’t even fit into that chapter.

  9. Also, to say that Jesus death in our place, bearing our sin, is not part of Luke’s thought world flies in the face of his recording of Jesus agonising prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane in Luke 22:39-42 (see also Matt.26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42). Particularly v.42. I think it is very clear from the OT that the cup is God’s wrath and there are many references (Isa 51:17, 22; Jer.25:15,17, 28; 49:12; Lam.4:21; Ezek.23:31-33, just to name some). Thus the cup that Jesus is referring to is the spiritual agony of bearing the sins of the world and the wrath which those sins deserved.
    The fact that Jesus went to the cross and that God’s will was for him to go to the cross reveals that God the Father knew that there was no other way. It was not (and is not) possible for God to saves sinners without the atoning sacrifice of Christ. It is not insignificant that Luke records this in his gospel.

  10. David, whatever anyone thinks of your own position, to anyone with any awareness of organisations, appointing someone with this attitude does appear completely nonsensical, as you have pointed out.

    How could you appoint a CEO of Cadbury’s who said publicly that s/he preferred Mars Bars?

  11. To be specific: does anybody understand why Luke 10.1-9 is cited as making clear Luke’s not thinking in penal substitution terms?

    • BUT I think it is important to differentiate between believing in ‘penal substitution’ and believe that Jesus death (and, according to St Paul, his resurrection) effective salvation for those who trust in him.

      I have big questions about the first—but mostly because of how biblical texts critique the idea as it is sometimes expressed.

      Believing the second seems to me to be required in Anglican churches which still retain the BCP and Articles (which of course ECUSA doesn’t).

      • but surely, on a more fundamental basis, no-one denying it (and therefore denying the Scriptural witness) can be considered to be propogating genuine Christianity, whether their province requires adherence to the Articles or not.

  12. In the late 1950’s a foreign young theol.student (who later as Professor at UNISAfrica became Barthian) heard his German Prof. deny the basics of the Good News especially the salvific value of Calvary. As a novice he stood up and asked the Prof. in broken and halting German whether the Prof was an associate clergyman at the City Cathedral and whether he had recently served communion and if, why he continued to do so in the light of his renouncing the efficacy of Calvary in his teachings. “That is the best avenue through which I can pursue theology” was the answer.
    In the closing days of Century II, anno Domini(!) I attended an anglican Easter Sunday service in one of the historic mission churches here in NZ. The lesson to a score or so of gray headed parishioners (plus 3 “aliens”) was from Shakespeare and I Cor on developing one’s gifts. At the end of the sermon the CBP was read with the intention of communion being served – the first reference to Easter or the sacrificial death of our LORD Jesus Christ. As a “conscientious objector” I left the beautiful edifice with its hollow message as I could only have communion with the blood-bought flock of the Great Shepherd of the Book of Hebrews!!

  13. Jude1:4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

  14. I want to question why the Rev Dr Macneil insists that it is the presence of Jesus that brings salvation, forgiveness etc, & claims that Luke 10:1-9 and Acts back her claim.

    Acts 2:38 “Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; & you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
    Acts 3:16 “And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong…”
    Acts 3:19-21 “Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah pointed for you, that is Jesus, who must remain in heaven until the time of…”
    Acts 15:7-8 …’Brothers, yrnacle among us, and it was necessary for him to die and rise again) that brings forgiveness, which then allows God’s presence to be with us. Forgiveness means we are made acceptable to God so he can be with us.

    There is a place for what Dr Macneil has stated especially as Jesus healed people, his presence did make a difference. But in Acts, and in the mission of the 70, it was the message of Jesus through the apostles & other believers that through faith brought life.

    There is a lot of nuance that can be missed in the Bible (such as John’s Gospel & his 3 letters never tell us or anyone to repent, just believe). There are many facets in the diamond of the atonement. Various authors appeal to different ones. Some facets become favourites of some people. for example:

    There are valuable aspects of our faith in which the incarnational view give great insights. Even Acts 20:28 states God bought the church with his own blood. The ransom view of Mark 10:45 also has validity. Certainly Hebrews draws on the Old Testament sacrificial system, applying it to Jesus’ death, priesthood, and to our eternal benefit. I also have found that penal, substitutionary atonement has helped me to understand more of how his blood shed bringing forgiveness makes sense. But it is not the only acceptable Biblical understanding of the atonement, nor is it for me a grim nor a rather mechanistic understanding. To me it is grace exemplified. To me it is incarnation with saving purpose explaining why he had to die, in accordance with the Scriptures (apart from evil people rejecting God.. which doesn’t save me or them!) To me it gives a very satisfactory explanation (but not totally complete) explanation of the atonement.

  15. The author of this post seems to have misunderstood what Dr Macneil actually said about the cross as reparation, which in the quotes given she has not denied but merely pointed out that Luke has a broader understanding of salvation than only the sacrifice at Calvary. In the Catholic Church, we understand the salvific power of Christ in the forgiveness of sins as expressed through his “life, death, and resurrection”, the forumula used in the sacrament of confession and in the Legion of Mary daily prayers.

    Congratulations to Dr Macneil and the Australian Anglicans on the appointment of their first woman bishop.

    God Bless

    • Chris, I fear you’ve not gone back to the original sermon and read it fully. Macneil not only claims that Luke has no theology of a cross-atonement (which is, of course, incorrect) but she sets this in diametric opposition to PSA. So she categorically does deny it. She makes a setting one against the other.

      • While considered by many in Sydney to be ‘unsafe’ theologically let me support David in his understanding of the Anglican position. While penal substitutionary atonement is often ‘roughly communicated’ and given a simplistic form its more mature presentation is clear in the ‘Consecration Prayer’ in the BCP ‘who, by his one oblation of himself, once offered, a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world’. It writing thus the Anglican Church has defined a view of the atonement which the Articles confirm. It is not open to an Anglican priest to hold any other position! To espouse another position is to deny your own integrity; your word having been given in ordination both verbally and in writing. To knowingly ordain a person who held views contrary to the BCP and Articles is to enter into their sin.

  16. Just for those who may not have access to the book “Pierced for Our Transgressions”,
    its discussion of early Christian writers who affirmed Penal Substitutionary Atonement
    between the 2nd century and early 5th century includes:
    Justin Martyr, Eusebius of Caesarea, Hilary of Poitiers, Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianzus, Ambrose of Milan, John Chrysostom, Augustine of Hippo and Cyril of Alexandria (from Chapter 5 of the book).

    I could add others who did not make it into that book, however the book’s list already
    includes many of the most outstanding early Christian writers/theologians.
    (There are some others who did not cover this topic in their writings that have survived to us.)

    • I wonder if I can mention again: believing in PSA is not the same as believing in the atoning work of Christ. The book Pierced for Our Transgressions does not command a great deal of respect as a theological work outside quite a well-defined constituency who already believed its conclusions.

      I think this is really a side issue to David’s main point, which I think is well made.

  17. what I don’t really get is that this is an issue. So many Anglican ministers disagree with the churchs views and nothing is ever done unless they get too unruly. We have had leaders who do not believe in the resurrection yet did not get this kind of reaction. It makes me wonder if there is some hidden agenda. Lets assume for a moment that homosexuality is wrong (happens to be my view) why do we not think people who support other sins or actively engaged in other sins are acceptable for these positions but because this is homosexuality it is unacceptable. Or is it because she is a woman?

      • Carter you entirely missed the point of what I said. Fact is there are plenty of ministers out there who sin or have wrong views yet we are not condemning them so my question is what makes this so special that we must condemn them?

    • what I don’t really get is that this is an issue. So many Anglican ministers disagree with the churchs views and nothing is ever done unless they get too unruly.

      Andrew, can you name a Sydney Anglican minister that rejects the official position of the Anglican Church of Australia on a key issue?

      We have had leaders who do not believe in the resurrection yet did not get this kind of reaction.

      Not from me! I think I’m clearly on the record in challenging that heresy too.

      Or is it because she is a woman?

      No, but being the first proposed female diocesan in Australia she does draw a significant amount of attention. And, as I’ve said before, it is interesting that the majority of the women being proposed for this kind of role are on the liberal end of the spectrum.

      But you’re right – we ought to be challenging all heresy and false teaching amongst our leadership. Thanks for the support on that.

      • Hi David,
        At the time of my comment I did not have time to do a search to check consistency. I am glad you have spoken about it. I am not going to name names but ministers who have rejected resurrection have been at all levels of church leadership including leader of Australian Anglicans. In churches I have attended even though we were considered radical by many churches none ever denied the resurrection. We had an assistant minister who was warned while at Moore College was warned to stay away from our church! He searched us out when told why!
        Out of curiosity have you done any posts on Moore college?

        • hi Andrew. I entirely share your concern about the situation in Australian Anglicanism.

          I’ve written very little about Moore College. Was there a particular issue you thought should be raised? There’s a variety of theological opinion there (as there is anywhere) but the reality is that the mainstream position of the college and it’s leadership is solidly orthodox so from my point of view there’s little of interest when it comes to the question of theological consistency.

          • my main concern is its practices rather than theology. treatment of employees and things like that. Although they did once upon a time have a principal who was rather arrogant. He described something as unbiblical because he had not personally experienced it!

          • thanks Andrew. I suspect every place has it’s own problems. While there are a huge number of issues everywhere that deserve attention I prefer to concentrate on the theological issues.

            I can beat “unbiblical”. I was once told my entirely Biblical (indeed New Testament) position was “sub-Christian”.

  18. Thanks for this, A woman, a supporter of gay inclusiveness and does not believe in penal substitution. I continue to give grateful thanks to God for her elevation. There is some hope for Australian Anglicans.

  19. So we have a new Anglican Bishop.. One wonders if is she taking after that female Episcolopian Bishop in the US who holds the same views.. and if they aren’t in fact part of the new age movement sweeping most of the world, clergy that profess to hold the faith of Jesus Christ, but reject the Truth. It is called apostasy and is a global movement that denies the Word of God. It replaces Divine Revelations with finite and human reasoning…humanism as it’s very best !
    2 Thessalonians 2:3 says ; ” That Day shall not come unless the apostasy comes first”

    Which day ? The day of the Lord Jesus Christ…The one who was, and is, and is to come…soon.

  20. Andrew – If you have to ask that question you obviously do not believe the Bible is the WORD of God. You can’t pick and choose which of Paul’s writings you will follow. Any Pastor(s) in open sin should be remove from their positions of authority, if they refuse to repent. A gay female minister being ordained does not surprise me though. Satan will put his ministers in place, The apostasy of 2 Thes has begun. As it was in the day of Noah….

  21. Those who have been cocooned in “Sydney” need to realise that these two views Sarah McNeill represents (pro-‘gay’ marriage & rubbishing the Biblical view of the Atonement) are widely held around the Australian Church. We need to persevere in God’s revealed truth and be prepared to speak up. Many more liberal women (& male) Bishops will follow Sarah. Let’s continue to pray that Godly and Bible-believing men will be elected as Episcopal vacancies occur. Let’s give thanks for & pray for those few Australian Bible-believing Bishops that we have, that God might keep them strong in the truth.

    • Amen, David. But it would also be good if godly shepherds were a bit more bold in refusing to engage in consecrations and saying why

  22. Homosexuality is clearly described as a sin in Scripture, although some well-meaning but misguided church leaders feel we must not judge others (because it’s not very loving).
    Instead we must accept them and even promote them to positions of leadership while they actively continue in their sin.
    If a person actively continued in another sin (let’s substitute rape, or adultery, or theft for example) would those same misguided church leaders be making the same excuses to justify the new appointee? Some how, I think not.
    So is this the new theology? Some sins are wrong, and some sins are right. Right?

  23. I’m the first to admit that I’m not familiar with Rt Rev Dr Macneil’s work but after some reading and Googling it seems that her positions on these issues are not only insignificant to the fundamental mission of Christ, but also reflect modern opinion in a way that simply cannot be overlooked. I address your chosen issues directly: homosexuality and substitutionary atonement; and my own issues with your articles: fundamental mission of the church, and modern opinion.

    Substitutionary atonement:
    Your consideration of what entails penal substitution strikes me as very narrow. My reading of the sermon involved in your two articles is not asking us to reject the idea that Jesus died for our sins and that that’s enough, but instead to expand the concept of God’s forgiveness. This isn’t just a nice way to interpret scripture, either, this position is what very many in the Anglican church truly believe. This, just like every other reading of the scripture, is something that is formed by the opinion of those who read the scriptures and the commentary of the previous generations.

    Homosexuality:
    +Macneil’s statements on homosexuality certainly haven’t been ground-breaking. An enormous number (and increasingly, the majority) of Australian Anglicans believe that homosexuality is not the outrageous sin that more conservative Anglicans suggest it is. Let us not forget that your concern is raised around the fact that +Macneil will have to subscribe to the words of the 1998 Lambeth Resolution and the 2004 General Synod resolutions. These anti-homosexual pieces of legislation are not scripture: they are aren’t even as old as you or me. They are fundamentally rooted in public opinion.

    Fundamental mission of the Church:
    Where did the ‘Christian love and charity’ bit go so awry? To deny the LGBTQI community the right to be ordained and to suggest that only one very narrow reading of penal substation can be accepted in a Bishop is to lose love and forget mission. Exclusionary conservatism is a form of hatred. A very polite hatred, but nonetheless, it does not fit the very main aim Jesus wanted us to consider: be a nice person. The community at large now accepts homosexuality as normal, and doesn’t give a flying **** about penal substitution, but they do care about the Church telling people they’re living in sin and can’t be admitted to the communion of God.

    Public opinion:
    I’m sure by now you’ve seen where this is headed: public opinion. No form of Christianity is totally defined by the scripture in the Bible, and by extension, no form of Christianity is totally defined by any particular texts or conventions. What defines what we as Anglicans believe is a forever evolving and organic process. To deny that Anglicanism changes is to deny that public opinion changes. To refuse and deny these changes is to exclude people, an act that is very un-Christian.

    Should we reverse some public opinion and deny homosexuality is OK? How about we go back a bit and not even let women get ordained? You know what, let’s take it further and just admit that Martin Luther was wrong and go back to 1515!

    Opinion changes, religion changes. I welcome +Macneil’s different opinions and hope she (and more like her) can shake up some of the conservatism of the old white men.

    • Thanks for your comments, Brian. I admit to being confused by much of it. Can I suggest that if all you’re really looking for is a place for people to be nice to each other and do good things (as you might understand them) then the Lions Club might actually better suit you. In particular, the Lions Club doesn’t claim that the Bible is it’s authority and so they are more than free to make up their own position as they go along – that appears to be something you’d be far more comfortable with than trying to press your own position into Anglican, let alone Christian and Biblical strait-jackets.

  24. David, thank you for your ongoing comments. As you can see from my comments above, I do not think Sydney is innocent in the issue of constitutional behaviour. Yet the issues concerning the Bishop designate of Grafton are important. The fact that she is female is a second order issue. I, as I am on record saying, think this is contrariety to the Apostolic discipline of the Church. The more important First Order issue is that of the Atonement viv-a-vis Anglican Creedal belief. For an an Anglican priest to hold such views is to repudiate there oath on ordination and declare themselves to be unable to use our liturgy. (This is not solved for them by the AAPB nor the APBA as the BCP is THE standard and all other ‘less clear; statements are to be viewed in its clarity. I don’t think they are unclear, by the way.)

    What is needed is for some one to test her theological position in a tribunal. Then, maybe we could see what the limits of ‘Anglican comprehensiveness’ should be. I am not saying that a lay person should be so subject but as Bishop Samuel Wilberforce said to one cleric in his diocese who wished to express a contrary idea, ‘you must teach the church’s teaching since you eat the church’s bread’. A charge of heresy preferred, perhaps?

  25. Thanks Ray – I suspect that if someone were to test her in a tribunal, then maybe there should be a mechanism to test all Bishops in Australia to see where they stand today? Not where they may have stood once upon a time.

  26. Don’t know what other Diocesan ordinances say, but the Parishes Ordinance in Sydney says that…. “The wardens are to report to the Archbishop any grave irregularities in the conduct of services of public worship and any willful neglect of duty or any flagrant misconduct on the part of the minister.”
    One would think that this would include false doctrine and the promoting of immoral life-styles?
    Wardens are to protect the flock too.

  27. Jesus never claimed that his death would bring salvation. We are all familiar with what he did say: He invited us to say “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those that trespass against us”. If we will forgive all who have offended us we too shall be forgiven. This is the true path to salvation.

    Jesus did not “go to his death”. That implies that the crucifixion was voluntary, something he chose for himself. In fact he did not have a choice – once he had been condemned by the State crucifixion was inevitable. There was no way to avoid it.

    There is no evidence that Jesus “sacrificed himself”. The crucifixion is something that was done to him. Martin Luther declaimed “Let us therefore repudiate everything that smacks of sacrifice, together with the entire canon, and retain only that which is pure and holy, and thus order our mass.”

    However it is easy to see how the doctrine of penal substitution gave the second century church enormous temporal power – making all their adherents guilty for the suffering of Jesus. I remember from my own childhood being told that every time I did something wrong I drove another nail into Jesus’ hand – a hand he extended to me in love and friendship. It took a lot of therapy to get over that.

    • I would suggest that the structure of Mark’s Gospel as well as the exegesis of the Greek text does not support your argument. An analysis of Mark 10.45 in the greek clearly show that Jesus anticipated his death and saw it as substitutionary. The change from active to passive voice concerning Jesus from the arrest reinforces the three predictions of it. Even if Mark is as late as AD70 he reflects the earliest written traditions of the Apostle to the gentiles. They clearly speak of a forensic death and a substitutionary death. This does not encompass all of the idea of the Death-resurrection-ascension teaching in Paul but it is crucial to his argument.

      Your supposition on the 2nd century ‘power play’ is not supported by the primary documents of the period. Where they speak of it they are referencing 1st century material.

      One must also reference the death narrative in its canonical context.

      The only material about Jesus’ self understanding id the fourfold Gospel and a few saying which are in Paul’s writings. Any other portrait is simply supposition, at best.

  28. Every so often the sheer paucity of a liberal approach becomes apparent and Gerald’s comment is a classic example.

    Jesus never claimed that his death would bring salvation. We are all familiar with what he did say: He invited us to say “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those that trespass against us”. If we will forgive all who have offended us we too shall be forgiven. This is the true path to salvation.
    Jesus did not “go to his death”. That implies that the crucifixion was voluntary, something he chose for himself. In fact he did not have a choice – once he had been condemned by the State crucifixion was inevitable. There was no way to avoid it.

    As just one example of the nonsense that this is consider Jesus’ words in John 12,

    John 12:23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

    27   “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.

    Now consider carefully what Jesus says compared to Gerald’s claims. First, Jesus describes his death as one that “bears much fruit” and “will draw all people to myself”. Quite obviously in John this is a salvific event.
    Next, note that Jesus goes deliberately to His death saying “for this purpose I have come to this hour”. Rather than being a duped victim of the State, He is portrayed here (and, of course, in the other gospels) as going deliberately and purposefully to His death.

    Gerald goes on,

    There is no evidence that Jesus “sacrificed himself”. The crucifixion is something that was done to him.

    Whereas Jesus says,

    John 10:11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

    Next, Gerald follows this up with one of the most egregious examples of miscitation that I have ever seen:

    Martin Luther declaimed “Let us therefore repudiate everything that smacks of sacrifice, together with the entire canon, and retain only that which is pure and holy, and thus order our mass.”

    Anybody with even the faintest understanding of Luther will immediately see that what he is speaking about is not an understanding of the Cross but of the Roman Mass. Indeed, when the citation is traced (Robin Leaver gives the citation as Luther’s Works, 54 vols (Fortress Press and Concordia, Philadelphia and St Louis 1955, 53, p.26. and it comes from a piece entitled ““An Order of Mass and Communion for the Church at Wittenberg) it becomes quite clear how bad a reader Gerald really is. Actually, let me be stronger than that – since Gerald is quite clearly intelligent one has no other conclusion than that has deliberately miscited Luther. See what you think:

    In the eighth place, there follows that complete abomination, into the service of which all that precedes in the Mass has been forced, whence it is called Offerforium, and on account of which nearly everything sounds and reeks of oblation. In the midst of these things those words of life and salvation have been placed, just like in times past the ark of the Lord was placed in the temple of idols next to Dagon. And there is no Israelite there who is able either to approach or lead back the ark, until it has made its enemies infamous, smiting them on the back with eternal shame, and has compelled them to send it away, which is a parable for the present time. Therefore repudiating all those things which smack of sacrifice and of the Offertory, together with the entire Canon, let us retain those things which are pure and holy, and then we will order our Mass in this fashion.

    I only hope that the buildings that Gerald designs have an infinitely more robust foundation and structure than his theological “argument”.

    • Now consider carefully what Jesus says compared to Gerald’s claims. First, Jesus describes his death as one that “bears much fruit” and “will draw all people to myself”. Quite obviously in John this is a salvific event.

      You appear there Rev Ould to be reading into the text you presupposition of the truth of PSA…if read without that supposition “drawing all people to myself” and :”bearing much fruit” do not naturally describe PSA.

      • I’m afraid I fail to understand your objection. Gerald argued that Jesus never claimed His death was salvific. All I did is give a number of places where Jesus does make that claim.

        No-one said anything about Penal Substitution.

  29. Mr. Ould, my ten sentences seem to have invoked an enormous response from you. If the anger and personal disdain in your post result from being Saved by the Cross I think I’ll pass.

    You appear to base your position on an uncorroborated quotation attributed by an unknown author to a person who had died 60 years previously. I would say that is a pretty shakey foundation on which to base an argument. However you are free to believe it. We choose our beliefs, but that does not make them rational or true. So it is a complete waste of time to argue from a standpoint of belief. All you are saying is “My beliefs are better than your beliefs”, which is in itself a belief. So it makes little sense for you to be outraged with your new Bishop-elect, who appears to be a sincere and decent person, just because your beliefs do not coincide. I think you should give her a chance.

    To deal with your other quotation, I have known a few shepherds, and not one of them would be prepared to give up his life for his sheep. Bad for the shepherd and bad for the sheep.

    I wish you comfort and joy this Christmas.

    • I’m afraid your mindreading skills have failed you. I have no anger and no personal disdain, but I do have contempt for the view that you hold. And it doesn’t come from “being Saved by the Cross”, it comes from the paucity of your answer.

      You may view John’s gospel as “uncorroborated quotation”s from an “unknown author” but that’s not the mainstream view of John’s gospel. On the contrary from the very earliest days the church was confident in John’s authorship. So, for example, Iranaeus, the Muratonian Canon, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria and Origen all ascribe authorship to John the Apostle. This is, of course, the position that the gospel itself takes, the author referring to himself as “the disciple that Jesus loved”. So I’m not saying “my beliefs are better than your beliefs”, I’m pointing out that your beliefs are inconsistent with the text itself and the overwhelming consensus of those far closer to the event than you or I. That you would continue however to insist that I’m wrong does speak volumes.

      I’m sorry that, by your own admission, you do not know the Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep. Given that that is the case I think you would be far better off not acting as though you can speak on His behalf.

      • I can see where Gerald drew the conclusion he did. Perhaps a more careful phrasing would avoid those conclusions from being drawn. The conclusions I am talking about were the comments about anger and personal disdain. Not sure showing contempt is appropiate

        • Hi Andrew,

          Appreciate you writing but I fear we will disagree on this one. I don’t know Gerald at all personally and so can offer no opinion upon him, let alone muster up enough of a response to have personal disdain for him.

          But I am quite open about having clear contempt for his position which is heretical and in straight opposition to the Gospel. I don’t think it’s wrong to express contempt for such a position, for Gerald and others like him put forward a theology that sends people straight to Hell and so if we do not respond with some form of anger I fear we don’t really understand the gravity of what is being discussed.

          I appreciate you may differ on this.

  30. Wow – I can’t believe your last post (and a few earlier ones where you encourage someone obviously sincere in their faith to join the Lion’s club!). You are right and everyone else is wrong. That must be very self-satisfying for you and your co-horts. However, for the rest of us who increasingly feeling alienated by such narrow-minded views, this is not much comfort!

    I find it very sad that you are using these bully-boy tactics against Sarah’s ordination and I can’t believe you would have done such a forensic examination of the sermons of a male bishop-elect. Well – you’ve made your mischief and have obviously enjoyed the notoriety it has bought you. You will have a fine career leading a group of like minded people, but in the long term you will drive the church into disrepute. I would happily go to the Lion’s club or even the local atheist group or a gay bar in preference to your church. I suspect I would find more compassion and Christ-like people there as well.

    • Thanks for your comment Fiona – sorry for the delay in moderation; took a few days off. I realise this has obviously touched a nerve; you serve as musical director in Dr Macneil’s own parish and clearly have a personal allegiance. I fear that what I will write will sadly only serve to upset you more.

      Let me address your comments in turn.

      First, I’m surprised you can’t believe my comment earlier in this thread. I was merely observing to Brian Webbly that since he (in his own words) understood Jesus’ main purpose to teach us all to be “a nice person” that the Lions’ Club would suit him better since it has none of that distracting “come to die for our sins and rise again” nonsense that us weird Bible Anglicans seem to be so insistent upon.

      He may very well be right about Jesus, but if he is then the Lions Club would therefore be the better hangout for him. They do lots of good work and would more than excel in allowing him to “be nice”. For my part, I think Jesus came with a far greater main purpose – that which He Himself outlined so clearly in the Gospels; that He should perfectly reveal the Father to us and save us from our sins by dying in our place on the Cross.. Yours and Brian’s opinion may sadly differ on this matter.

      There are no “bully-boy” tactics being used, or if there are perhaps you could be more specific about what they are. Texts of Dr Macneil’s sermons were sent to me by someone else out of concern and I thought they were of sufficient interest given her recent appointment. The texts were publicly available, Dr Macneil is now a public figure of much interest and her stated position in those sermons (which she herself chose to have published on your and her church’s website) is contrary to official positions she will be expected to uphold as a bishop in the Anglican Church. It’s not “bullying” to point this out. It’s simply journalism. If Dr Macneil does not wish to have her writing and preaching scrutinised then she ought not to make then publicly available nor accept appointment to such a public position.

      Your assumption that I am simply raising these issues because Dr Macneil is a woman are unfounded. In the very piece that you are responding to I note that her gender is the least of the issues here and I believe I am on the record as casting a far wider net on the issue of those who oppose official Anglican teaching than women. In fact I think Dr Macneil is the first woman who’s teaching I have dealt with in any level of detail on this site in quite a while.

      Your claim that I enjoy the notoriety is also simply untrue. I sat on this story for over a week because I actually feared the notoriety that it would bring. You may not believe me on that matter but then you would be calling me a liar. That’s your call.

      As for “bringing the church into disrepute”- others will have to judge. Dr Macneil is on public record as opposiing the official position of the Anglican Church on matters of fundamental important and controversy. There are others that would claim it is she who will bring us into disrepute. Ultimately that will be for the bishops who consecrate her to decide.

      • Yes I do know Sarah McNeil but am not a close friend. I left Holy Covenant well before she joined – perhaps you should check your facts.

        But looking through your blog its seems others also find your approach unpalatable – “witch hunt” is a term I saw elsewhere.

        I saw an excellent letter in Anglican News which referred you to an Anglican publication that discusses various interpretations of the atonement. As I understand it there are a variety of views in the Anglican communion. What I and others question is why you are so focused on Sarah and not other clergy/bishops – or indeed why it should be such an issue if others have different interpretations.

        My concern is that you seem to be see yourself as the person who sets the standard that Sarah should meet when quite frankly I don’t think it is any of your business. There is a proper process that has and is being followed. You of course are free to disagree but she’s not been elected as your bishop!

        • Apologies Fiona. I took the information from your own zoom info profile and a couple of other sites that still listed you as Director of Music there. I’m grateful for the clarification.

          But looking through your blog its seems others also find your approach unpalatable – “witch hunt” is a term I saw elsewhere.

          Yes, people always disagree on a number of things. I’ve been called far worse names than that in the past. The accusation there, just as you make it, is that I’ve singled Dr Macneil out for sinister motives. I can’t stop you thinking that of me – I’ve made my reasons quite clear but if you want to ascribe to me alternate motives then I’ll just have to let you call me a liar.

          I saw an excellent letter in Anglican News which referred you to an Anglican publication that discusses various interpretations of the atonement. As I understand it there are a variety of views in the Anglican communion.

          Yes indeed. The General Synod authorised a book on this particular topic and the essays therein are of varying quality. The most helpful is the dialogue chapter which demonstrates, I think, the way that those deny that penal substitution can’t ultimately answer the challenges put to them.

          The question before us is not whether there are a variety of views (which there certainly are) but what the official position of the Anglican Church of Australia is (defined by our constitution) and whether our senior leaders are at liberty to deny that position. I think this piece makes an entirely reasonable case that the position is clear and that Dr Macneil denies it. As Bishop Lewers of Armidale notes, Dr Macneil’s position is one that denies the clear teaching of Scripture. More than that she is also on the public record as being set directly against our official position on human sexuality. Those positions are clearly documented in public.

          Of course this then means that your charge that “you seem to be see yourself as the person who sets the standard that Sarah should meet” is actually nonsense. I haven’t said “I set the standard” but, quite clearly, “the Anglican Church of Australia has a clearly documented standard”. Having a go at me won’t change the official position of our denomination. As for it not being any of my business – on the contrary. It is all our business when our leaders speak in public. She may not have been elected in this diocese but she is still elected to the position of bishop in the Anglican Church of Australia. Last time I checked we were all in relationship one with another and what happens in one diocese affects each and every one of us. We are a national denomination of dioceses bound together not utterly independent dioceses. If we did not care about other dioceses and our very important relationships with them then we would not have a General Synod.

          • I don’t know anything about any zoom in profile – I have no website, blog or zoom profile so whatever you have found about me on the web is either old via a 3rd party or taken out of context.

            Despite this you had no hesitation in judging me or my motivations. Perhaps this highlights the whole problem with your methodology! And no – I think you have a particular INTERPRETATION of what the Anglican church believes – that’s the problem!

          • well others will have to decide whether it’s out of context. I’ve provided the link so they can judge for themselves.

            I’m not sure that I “judged you or your motivations”. I wrote that you have a “personal allegiance” and I don’t think that’s an unfair comment. Dr Macneil serves at the same parish you once served at. You say that you know her and I think it is reasonable to assume that you are still in contact with people there. There is enough of a relationship there to spur you to come and write on this site.

            As for my “INTERPRETATION” [sic], again I’ll leave others to decide. The original piece has links to all the necessary primary documentation from the Anglican Church (ie constitution and Articles). If you think I have misunderstood either the authority of the constitution or what it actually says (and likewise with the Articles) then please feel free to set out your case. As it stands all we have at the moment is your assertion and without any actual argument you’ll understand that I suspect others will not be convinced.

          • Your reductionist approach has led you to an entirely erroneous conclusion about me. I fear you have a similarly narrow perspective on the theology and doctrine of the Anglican Church. While some can allow others to have a different view you don’t seem able to do this. That is very unfortunate. It was just this lack of compassion and empathy regarding the views of others that prompted my initial post. Rather than credit this as my motivation you have sought to discredit my views because I have a passing acquaintance with Dr McNeil.

            Your dogmatic approach makes it very difficult for anyone of a different persuasion to have a satisfactory and respectful discussion with you on these issues. Your technique is similar to those employed by, among others, the Spanish Inquisition and the USA’s Senator Jo McCarthy. I would have thought the church should be ruled by different values—instead you take pride in your “journalistic” approach. Would you be seeking to emulate Bob Woodward, the paparazzi or Alan Jones? I will leave this for others to decide.

            • Oh well played, Fiona.

              No actual answer to the substance of the issue at hand and a beautiful pairing up of The Inquisition and Macarthy.

              You forgot the Taliban, though. My experience is that when critics have no actual answer to the substantive point and, instead, just want to call me names then the Taliban is the most effective analogy to draw. That way you can infer all sorts of evil to me in one broad brushstroke.

              Torquemada feels quite disappointing now. If you’re going to ignore the substantive point and just resort to the name calling then would you like another go to really do it well?

          • I thought it well played as well. But there is a substantive point there – I have carefully avoided responding to the issues you raise as you have your own debating rules based on very fixed and clearly unchangeable views about doctrine, the role of scripture etc.

            You are welcome to your views. My point is that you have judged me and Sarah on the basis of web searches. I at least have a passing acquaintance with Sarah but you are the one who feels you should pass judgement on her despite a church ordained process leading to her election as bishop. As I understand it you don’t question that process. I therefore don’t understand why you don’t leave it to those who know her and are ordained by the church to make the appropriate decisions.

          • Sorry Fiona, there was no “judging”. I drew conclusions from publicly available evidence. The link between yourself and Holy Covenant is clear. You have worked there in the past, you know Dr Macneil. There is an obvious allegiance at work. Now there’s nothing wrong with that, but I think your suggestion that really you’re just an interested third party doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

            As for “judging” Dr Macneil, all I’ve done is refer people to her published sermons. If you feel I have cited her inaccurately then, again, please do clarify. But the reality is that nobody doubts the citations – they’re all very easy to understand. To Dr Macneil’s credit she writes clearly and is not hard to comprehend. Nobody has “judged” her. But plenty of people are taking her seriously at her own word.

            …your own debating rules based on very fixed and clearly unchangeable views about doctrine, the role of scripture etc….

            Um no, on this matter I have simply pointed out the fixed position of the constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia and a protocol set out by our house of bishops. Up till this point i don’t see anybody saying “but the constitution/protocol says something else”. Rather the facts appear to be quite clear.
            The constitution/protocol points to a received doctrine and position.
            Dr Macneil’s position is opposed to this.

            The doctrine of the Anglican Church of Australia is clearly defined in our constitution. To that extent it is “unchangeable” unless you want to argue that the constitution is incorrect. The role of scripture is also set out in the 39 Articles which the constitution affirm. So while you may keep repeatedly trying to portray this as me and others operating according to our “own rules” the reality is that we’re simply asking that the rules of the constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia be applied. If you don’t like those rules then fair enough, but it’s hardly accurate to suggest that those of us taking this position are imposing some alien set of standards.

            The facts of what our official position is and what Dr Macneil has preached appear to be without dispute, not least from you since you have not challenged them with any substantial alternative understanding of them.

            So your real complaint is that someone is pointing out these facts and asking if the process ought to be looked at in greater detail. Again, that’s something we do regularly in other matters. And, of course, if a selection panel make a decision that is contrary to the received position of the Anglican Church of Australia then people ought to question the process itself as I am confident many in Grafton and elsewhere are doing.

          • Lawyers all make good livings interpreting supposedly fixed constitutions and laws – the point is that none of this is free of interpretation and not all agree with your interpretation.

            • as you keep insisting and yet I don’t see anyone providing an alternative “reading”. Instead you imply I am twisting the meaning of the words of our constitution. Perhaps you would like to put some flesh on the bones of that accusation? Or will it have to be listed alongside all the other ones as being asserted but not even the first attempt made to actually demonstrate the case?

          • And as I keep insisting there is no case to answer here. There ALREADY is a process. It’s ridiculous that you feel you should second guess the existing process on your blog.

            • Well, we’ll let the bishops of the province and the members of the diocese decide quite whether there is a case to answer or not. In the meantime I’m an advocate for free speech and public debate, not shutting down challenges because they might be embarassing for all concerned.

          • [comment deleted]

            When I get called a liar and a tyrant I think it’s time to very reluctantly moderate comments again. Sad that we have to do this.

  31. I’d just say there is a difference between giving your life (donai in Greek shares a root with donation) and giving up your life, as in John 15:13. The one dedicates a continuity, the other foresees an ending.

    • Gerald, I’m afraid I have no idea what you’re talking about. The verb in John 15:13 is τιφημι.
      The word for gift is δοσις (so Phil 4:15, James 1:17) or perhaps δωρον (cognate of διδωμι) in Eph 2:8.
      This also gets used in the form δωρεομαι but this has quite a wide semantic range.

      This is no “donai” in the New Testament or the LXX

      So now I’m wondering where you got this “donai” idea from. Care to enlighten us all?

    • As far as I can tell the recapitulation theory (as espoused in the Eastern church) and Athanasius are not opposed to a penal substitutionary understanding of the atonement – when rightly understood at least.

      You see Jesus even in the recapitulation theory of atonement suffers the consequence of our sins – death. By coming to earth as a human being, the all creating Word of God takes upon himself the punishment due for sin which has stained us from the fall – death and corruption. For Athanasius it was unthinkable to God that He should allow His creation which bears His own image to suffer death and corruption – but it was also equally unthinkable that God’s word could not be fulfilled – if you eat of that tree you will surely die…

      As the creating Word, Jesus is above all things, and thus his death is sufficient to satisfy the consequences of sin (if you eat of that tree you will surely die, the wages of sin is death… ) – and as he is eternal, the satisfaction he offers is eternal. So Jesus death is rightly understood in terms of recapitulation – i.e. the re-establishing of a relationship between humanity and God, but recapitulation does not preclude a penal substitutionary understanding.

      Sorry I haven’t provided links or references… I can do that later if people want them, just a bit pressed for time at the moment.

  32. the issue is not what the Eastern Fathers may have believed. It is that the Anglican Church of Australia is a creedal Church. Its doctrine is contained in the 39 Articles and the BCP which clearly espouse inter alia the penal substitutionary atonement of Christ. If once is ordained or consecrated one swears to uphold the teaching of ‘this Church’. As a matter of general principal, as well, if one is going to each the church’s bread one should teach the church’s teaching (The Rt Rev Samuel Wilberforce),

  33. She might not be Bishop for long. The Grafton Bishops office says the Anglican children’s home situated in the Lismore Church of England is nothing to do with the Anglican Church. The head of the board is listed as an Anglican priest. I was one of their foster carers and are now being sued by them. In affidavits the wife of the head of the home Rebecca Yourell states her husband has suffered from long term depression, was currently depressed and was NEGLECTING his own children. Would you want your kids looked after by a depressed person? Also in another affadavit it states the manager of the fostering service a former nanny applied for a job looking after children is the children’s home but was appointed manager of fostering a task she had no experience doing. The home have a turnover of nearly $5 million tax payers funded, 10 residential children, 7 fostered. I once fostered one of the boys in the residential home, I saw him there he was bored not in school he and another kid had stolen a car and taken the Police on a hundred mile high risk chase..
    The church seem to be getting several hundred thousand dollars a year to look after this very intelligent boy but he sits in a rural farm house doing nothing all day. The church has plenty of money to pay for a tutor for him but are fleecing the tax payers and ruining this kids life. Child abuse 2014 style.
    The case is being heard on July 25th in Sydney. The papers will be available to the media who will likely jump on the story. The scandal is massive. Kids neglected, lies and more lies. What appears to be massive laundering of money it seems to me the church are using the poor little children’s home beg beg to raise millions and laundering the money into Church revenue. I was brought up in the C of E thought that they would be decent Christian people. They seem to be low life who abused kids for decades and are still doing it today.

  34. As a 60 something year old let me tell you this ……..40 years ago you would not have heard gay this that and the other. This, along with so many other things thrust into the faces of our children and the unscriptural lay educated masses is a disgrace.
    The way l see things is:
    1. Jesus in his first coming did not come to condemn, hence we have this period of grace to repent of ungodliness.
    2. Homosexuality is ungodly – the Bible tells us so.
    3. If you say different you are saying God is a liar.
    4. Woe betide when Jesus comes again – this time in judgement of the ungodly.
    5. Those teachers who teach anything different are not feeding the sheep.

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