You’ve got to give it to Rev. Rod Bower, Rector of Gosford Anglican and denier of heaven and hell, he’s not shy about saying what he believes (or, more accurately, doesn’t believe). So, for example, there’s this page on his blog entitled “Jesus came to show us the “Kingdom” not to die for our sins!” (pdf copy available here):
Progressive Christians believe that Jesus came to manifest the Kingdom. That is to reveal the Sacred in our every day life. For far too long we have been obsessed about Jesus’ death being a payment to a wrathful god for the insult of human sin.
The gospels have Jesus mention the Kingdom 106 times; there are very few allusions, and they are only allusions, to Jesus dying for our sins.
Admittedly St Paul and other New Testament writers understand Jesus’ death as replacing the temple sacrifice, and that is understandable given their context. However there is no necessity for us to understand the death of Jesus in this way.
Why did Jesus have to die? For him to do anything else would have required him to compromise with violence rather than absorb it.
Sometimes Kingdom moments can feel a little bit like dying because it normally involves giving something of ourselves up for the good of another. But when this happens, that very part of us finds “salvation” or healing.
The Kingdom is bigger than the church, bigger than Christianity, it must be. There are Kingdom people who are Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and atheists. You don’t have to be a Christian to be a Kingdom person, but you do have to be a Kingdom person to be a Christian.
It’s got everything in it that an Anglican minister could want, doesn’t it?
Jesus doesn’t die for our sins.
Of the Word or Son of God, which was made very Man
The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took Man’s nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance: so that two whole and perfect Natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God, and very Man; who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile His Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men.
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.
1Cor. 15:1-3 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance : that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
We don’t need to accept the authority of the New Testament epistle writers
Of the Sufficiency of the holy Scriptures for salvation
Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the holy Scripture, we do understand those Canonical books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.
Of the Names and Number of the Canonical Books
All the Books of the New Testament, as they are commonly received, we do receive, and account them Canonical.
2Pet. 3:15-16 … our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
People are “Saved” by Good Works therefore Atheists can be “Kingdom People”
Of Works before Justification
Works done before the grace of Christ, and the Inspiration of his Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ, neither do they make men meet to receive grace, or (as the School-authors say) deserve grace of congruity: yea, rather, for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin.
Of obtaining eternal Salvation only by the Name of Christ
They also are to be had accursed that presume to say, That every man shall be saved by the Law or Sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that Law, and the light of Nature. For holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the Name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.
John 3:3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
These are not isolated things that Rev. Bowers writes. His blog is full of material promoting what he calls “progressive Christianity“. I trust it is abundantly clear that Rev. Bowers’ publicly stated position is entirely at odds with the Scriptures and the official doctrinal position of the Anglican Church of Australia. The matters on which he writes are not peripheral but central to our understanding of who Jesus is and what the Gospel is.
Our leaders have a solemn reponsibility to deal with this kind of thing. Whether they will or not is a different matter. Rev. Bowers is a rector and therefore has incumbency in his parish. It is difficult to remove him and yet it can be done, certainly on a charge of teaching that is utterly contrary to the teaching of the Anglican Church of Australia. Even if he is not removed it is entirely possible for his bishop to clearly and publicly repudiate his teaching and rebuke him for it. The bishop of Newcastle Diocese is the Right Rev Greg Thompson. In his answers to the election synod of the diocese [pdf] when asked “What should episcopal leadership in the Anglican Church of Australia look like today? “he stated,
The Bishop ought entrust to the body the mission of the Church, yet never abdicate the responsibilities entrusted in this office.
That responsibility includes those which every bishop promises to keep in their consecration vows (AAPB)
Are you ready to drive away all false and strange doctrine which is contrary to God’s word; and privately and publicly to call upon and encourage others to do likewise?
I am, the Lord being my helper
Let me be clear, I have absolutely no reason to doubt that Bishop Thompson is a man of his word and will take this matter seriously.
Just another important thing to note. All Rev. Bowers’ stuff is in the public domain on a blog which is, let’s not be under any misunderstanding, a means of having as many people know about it as possible. He and others cannot complain that his writing is being further publicised. I think it’s time as wide an audience as possible know exactly what Rev. Bower believes and, more importantly, whether our church leaders think it’s acceptable for an ordained minister in the Anglican Church of Australia. And not just Rev. Bower but any Anglican minister who teaches contrary to our doctrine on these key matters of salvation. And not just the ministers but also those in leadership who do nothing about it.
As Rev Bowers himself insists…