The new edition of the Australian Church Record is out. [download pdf – full text below].

Lots of great stuff to read and discern, especially for Sydney Diocese readers.

The editorial is straight to the point:

WHY ARCHBISHOPS MUST LEAD THEOLOGICALLY

One of the Abiding memories of Archbishop Peter Jensen when he leaves his archepiscopate will be his 10 September performance-under-fire on Q&A. His
sensible, informed, and compassionate input into questions about Asylum seekers warmed viewers up. Then came his calm and considered responses to questions and statements hurled in his direction, that varied in tone from incredulous or neutral, through mocking and impolite, through to heated and even vociferous. Jensen explained biblical submission non-defensively; attracted further flack from tactfully supporting fellow Christian-in-the-public-eye, Jim Wallace, for comments about health statistics in the homosexual community; and constantly appealed for a reasoned discussion of the issues. When given the last word he shared a simple statement of the gospel of God’s love in Jesus Christ.

A constant mistake in Sydney is to assume that everyone holds the same theological positions. But of course, this is just not true. There is a very great difference, for example, between ‘justification by faith’ as understood in the Reformation tradition and its reconfiguration in the hands of ‘new perspective on Paul’ slash ‘Federal Vision’ proponents; grace is not legalism; gospel work is not community building; Protestantism is not sacramentalism etc.

The most important question in 2012–13 as we seek our next Archbishop will be, ‘what is the shape of his theology?’; the second: ‘how does that theology shape his life and ministry?’. The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney must provide firm, clear, and gracious theological leadership, for the sake of Sydney’s Anglicans. But also for the sake of the wider public, still so much in need of the gospel of Christ.

Alongside are a number of pieces dealing with a proposed piece of legislation for the imminent diocesan synod which would effectively reduce the protection a rector has to remain in his post and see out initial conflict and also place more of the decision about his position in the hands of the bishops. Another piece reminds us that it is the ArchBishop who grants the initial license for a rector – indeed, for any minister in Sydney!

The point is, hopefully, clear. Our choice of Archbishop next year has huge ramifications. Theology is everything for it not only provides leadership for the diocese as a whole (and wider afield, since Sydney has a vital part to play in the Anglican Communion) but also in the parishes individually. A new Archbishop is the man who appoints and licenses. Getting the right man, with the right theology, is crucial.

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