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EFAC Australia

Essentials

Rhys Bezzant reviews the legacy of the 20th Century’s most prominent Protestant.


1959, the year Billy Graham visited Australia, was a high water mark for evangelical faith in this country, as well as a tumultuous turning point in Western culture. Castro’s revolutionaries took power in Cuba, and Berry Gordy borrowed $800 to set up a recording business to be called ‘Motown’. Texas Instruments announced the invention of the microchip, and the first military casualties were recorded in South Vietnam. The birth control pill was legalised, and the reform-minded John XXIII was elected Pope. JFK announced that he would run for President, and the film Ben Hur was released. An American Federal judge ordered the racial integration of buses and trams in Atlanta, and a Southern farm boy (and sometime brush salesman) from North Carolina filled the MCG (as it had never before or since been filled) to preach that old-time religion.
Graham explained how men and women might be born again, and appealed to the crowds at the ‘G’ to do just that, by placing their trust in Jesus Christ, and in his death for sins and resurrection to new life. And thousands were converted, perhaps the closest thing Australia has come to revival. Churches were filled, theological colleges (not just of evangelical persuasion) experienced increased enrolments, and a new generation of leadership for the churches was born. Some fifty years later, what do we make of Graham’s legacy? This article wants to suggest some lessons that we can draw from his successes as well as his shortcomings, as we examine the big picture of Graham’s ministry, and how it has impacted the world in which we live, and especially Christian culture, US politics and revivalist faith.

Seasoned preachers Peter Adam (Principal of Ridley  Melbourne), Glenn Davies (Bishop of North Sydney and Chairman of EFAC Australia) and Kanishka Raffel (Rector of St Matthew’s Shenton Park, Perth) talk about their preaching role models and methods of preparation with Wei-Han Kuan.

Most young preachers can readily identify their early role models, those preachers whose ministry greatly affected and inspired them. Novice preachers often consciously or unconsciously mimic the patterns of preaching in their heroes. John Stott reckoned that it takes about ten years of preaching before the preacher finds their own voice. I was interested in this dynamic and earlier this year asked three experienced preachers to talk about their role models and methods of preparation.
Thanks for agreeing to discuss this. Let’s start with role model preachers. Who were your’s?
Peter. Four bachelors!
John Stott, who came to Australia for the CMS Summer Schools in January 1965, and expounded 2 Corinthians. I had not heard a book of the Bible expounded before. It was my call to the ministry, and also provided the model of ministry I wanted to do.
Archdeacon John Moroney, who preached varied powerful, memorable, and convincing Biblical sermons, at Williamstown and Hawthorn, each
one perfectly suited to the text being expounded.
Dick Lucas, of St Helen’s Bishopsgate, for his marvelously incisive insights into the Bible, and into its application.
John Chapman, for his example of evangelism, human engagement of preacher and people, and for finding an Australian model of preaching.
Glenn. John Stott also! He was a model preacher for me in my youth, with his memorable three-point outlines and several subdivisions. I’ve never heard a better preacher for organising his material into a sermon.

Wei-Han Kuan catches up with Mike Raiter, out-going Principal of the Melbourne School of Theology.

Michael Raiter moved to Melbourne from Moore College to become the Principal of the Bible College of Victoria in 2006. He has steered BCV through a number of significant changes, including moving to a new location and adopting a new name, Melbourne School of Theology (MST). It was announced earlier this year that he would not seek to renew his contract beyond the end of 2011. Essentials caught up with Michael recently.
Michael, why have you decided to leave MST?
On the positive side, I really want to spend more of my time in teaching and preaching—it’s a ministry that gives me great joy and encouragement.
There are joys and frustrations with every job, and I increasingly found the demands of administration and management wearing me down. There’s also the constant pressure to watch student numbers each year. It’s what I call ‘the tyranny of enrolments’. Of course, any college needs good enrolments or it simply can’t function, but enormous pressure is placed on the person at the top. I’m never asked about the calibre of the students who study at MST. I’m only ever asked, how many? There are ebbs and flows in enrolments, and I’ve seen both over the past 5 years. There’s been a modest increase this year and, hopefully, that trend will continue. But ultimately, I want us to keep on attracting godly, able students with a heart for the gospel and mission—and I believe we’re doing that.
You’ve certainly steered the college through a lot of change in the past few years. You’ll be remembered as the principal who sold Lilydale and changed the name of BCV to MST, won’t you?
You know, the reality is that there have been other, very significant, changes. We’ve combined the Chinese department on to the same site, which has been a big plus. And we’ve made the aviation department more independent, which was a logical move for us. The Centre for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths has the potential to make an enormous impact in the church and the world. There’s been an incredible amount of change.
One of the more controversial changes has been the loss of the residential model of training. But we’ve gained a wonderful, modern, functional facility. God has blessed us with this light, airy, welcoming place that people actually want to hang around in. The reality is that we’re living in an image-based culture, with more part-time rather than full-time students. So having an attractive facility closer to where many potential students live is a real blessing.
The college just celebrated turning ninety. Age is a mixed thing. On the one hand, it signals that we’re safe, reliable, trustworthy, unflinching in our commitment to world mission. These are things we have a responsibility to maintain. But on the other hand, it also means that we’ve been around a long time, and we can appear and feel weary. We all agreed the college needed rejuvenation.
That begs the question, which change are you most proud of?
In many ways the things I’ve already mentioned are externals. The real strength of a college is in its faculty. I’m proud of the men and women who are serving at MST. They take personal godliness seriously, love and submit to the Scriptures, and have the necessary clarity about the Gospel. Those are things that we can never take for granted.
What about those people who say that you’ve also made the college more Anglican?
I don’t think that’s true at all. I’ve worked hard to maintain the college’s interdenominational character. That’s part of its history. And it’s one of the things I personally enjoy most about the place. But two out of the three latest appointments to faculty have been Anglican. I would have preferred if they were Baptist, Church of Christ and Brethren, but the reality is that you have to go with the best qualified applicant, otherwise you’re not doing the college or the students any favours. Really, denominational affiliation plays no part in making appointments. And, finally, they were Council appointments—it’s not just up to me.
I mean the same thing could be said about our faculty’s gender balance. We esteem women in ministry and in leadership, but again, we have a duty to go with the most qualified applicants.
The other thing that we’ve tried to do is to lower the age profile of our faculty. So all three of our latest appointments are under 40, and have either recently completed or are completing their doctoral work.
It seems like you’re leaving MST in good shape. What sort of person do you think the college needs next?
Well, it’s not up to me to decide! You can have two basic types of principal: either the preaching, teaching type, who will give the college a wider profile; or you can have a manager who is gifted, and finds enjoyment in, the administration and many issues to do with just running a college well. They got the former when they appointed me. It would be ideal if you could get both in the one person, but I think they are pretty rare!
And what’s next for Mike Raiter?
I would like to focus more on preaching and teaching. As a family, we would prefer to stay in Melbourne. We’ve really come to love this city. We’ve made friends and formed good networks—including among the EFAC types. We have a daughter about to enter Year 11 (senior high) and so it would be good not to move, for her sake. But you know, we’re open to overseas work. I’d need a lot of persuading to pursue parish ministry in Sydney. I mean, they have large and full colleges there, and the Gospel needs in Melbourne and other cities seem so much greater. We’ll wait and see what God has in store for us.
Mike, thanks for talking with us. I’m sure you’ll have many friends in the wider EFAC family praying for a good next step for you, and for MST.

Update. The Revd Tim Meyers has been appointed Principal of MST commencing in 2012.

MINUTES

2011 AGM

Edited minutes of the 2011 EFAC Australia AGM held on 27 May 2011 at St Matthew’s, Wanniassa, ACT.

1. Present: Chris Appleby, Glenn Davies (Chair), Trevor Edwards, Paul Hunt, Lynda Johnson, Geoff Kyngdon, Phil Meulman, David Smith, Kim Smith, Peter Smith, Richard Trist.
2. Apologies: Peter Brain, Stephen Hale, John Harrower, Luke Isham, Peter Jensen, Wei-Han Kuan, David Mulready, Steven Tong.
3. The Chair led a study on Hebrews 10 and prayed for the meeting.
4. Minutes of 2010 AGM were received.
5. Branch Reports
a. NSW. Dave Mansfield has been appointed Chair.
b. Canberra. A small but enthusiastic group.
c. Victoria. Prayer was requested for a future strategy regarding the Training Officer.
d. Western Australia. A positive report on the recent clergy conference.
e. South Australia. Encouraging news.
f. Queensland. Some good recent appointments.
g. Tasmania. Victoria is continuing to oversee Tasmania.
h. Northern Territory. Michael O’Sullivan has been appointed Chair.
6. Chairman’s Report. Glenn reported on a successful lecture tour. He indicated that he will retire at the next AGM in 2012, after ten years in the position.
7. The NEAC 2012 Report was distributed and David and his committee were thanked for their preparations.
[See inside front cover for latest update on NEAC.]
8. Treasurer’s Report. Financial statement was received. The treasurer reported a balance of $12, 212.96 at the end of 2010. Subscriptions are up due to the growing use of the website. It was also agreed to provide up to $2000 to EFAC Victoria for management costs of the website and so that it will be constantly updated.
9. Essentials Report was accepted with thanks.
10. The following were elected for the next 12 months:
a. President: Peter Jensen
b. Vice-Presidents: Peter Brain, Trevor Edwards, John Harrower, David Mulready
c. Chairman: Glenn Davies
d. Deputy Chairman: Stephen Hale
e. Secretary: Richard Trist
f. Treasurer: Chris Appleby
g. Members of Executive:
Glenn Davies, Stephen Hale, Richard Trist, Chris Appleby, David Smith.
11. General Business
a. Kim Smith spoke on the proposed launch of an Anglican Relief and Development Fund in Australia in Adelaide at NEAC. The following motion was passed: “That the EFAC Executive welcomes the establishment of an Australian branch of the Anglican Relief and Development Fund and consents to the inclusion of the following clause in its governing by laws and constitution: ‘A person shall not be entitled to be a trustee or office bearer of the Association unless their nomination has received the written consent of the Federal Executive of the Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion Australia.”’ Kim Smith was commended for his initiative in this ministry. It was agreed that written consent will be given to the current trustees (Richard Condie, Glenn Davies, Stewart Gill, Lesley McGrath-Woodley, Kanishka Raffel, Kimberley Smith and Richard Trist) and Board of Management (Richard Condie, Glenn Davies, Kimberley Smith and Richard Trist).
b. Correspondence from Buninyong was considered.
c. Subscription fees will be reviewed next year.
d. EFAC Victoria Draft Statement on Gender and Ministry was noted.
12. The 2012 AGM will be held on Friday 27 July in Sydney.

Rhys Bezzant reviews Eric Metaxas’s biography of one of the twentieth century’s leading lights.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, martyr, prophet, spy
Eric Metaxas
Thomas Nelson 2010
ISBN 9781595551382

Sooner or later every Christian needs to read a biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Even better, a couple of them. Pastors, no less, need to interact with his example and his ideas because he has become one of the most celebrated Christian leaders of the twentieth century. His image is engraved above the door of Westminster Abbey and in the stonework surrounding the altar of St John’s Cathedral in New York City. A recent documentary, produced by Martin Doblmeier and available on DVD, is a remarkable compilation of scenes from the Third Reich, a reconstruction of the events of Bonhoeffer’s dramatic life and interviews with surviving friends and family. Eric Metaxas’s biography of Bonhoeffer, published in 2010, is the latest English book to trace his story and summarise his ideas. It has been received with great fanfare, perhaps not least because it contains an introduction by Tim Keller, and reached number twenty-three on the New York Times Bestseller list. It appears that I am not the only person to be intrigued by Bonhoeffer’s life and untimely death.
His story may not be familiar to all. Growing up in a family of academics, diplomats, Prussian military elite, clergy and scientists, Bonhoeffer was destined for greatness. He was born in 1906 and was shaped by the tumultuous events of WWI, the humiliation of Germany and the collapse of the German monarchy, democratic instability in the Weimar Republic, and the rise of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, better known as the Nazis. Theologically, he was greatly influenced by Karl Barth, with whom he had a long correspondence, and by the ecumenical movement of the early twentieth century. His own doctorate was on the theology of the church.
Having spent time in pastoral work in London and Barcelona, and further study in New York at Union Seminary, he decided that his place during WWII was not to be found in the safety of America, but amidst the dangers and risks of ministry in Germany, resisting the anti-Semitism of the regime and training a new generation of pastors for service in a threatening world. He was later employed as an intelligence officer in the military secret service, and, despite his pacifism, was prepared to involve himself in plots to overthrow the government, in particular to assassinate Hitler. A remarkable step to take for a Lutheran pastor. For his connections to the conspirators, he was killed in the last few weeks of the war in a concentration camp in Bavaria. Some of his last words to a fellow inmate were: ‘This is the end. For me, the beginning of life.’
Metaxas’s biography traces this story with extraordinary pathos and is written in a most readable style. He does well to include material published for the first time in the 1990s, namely letters between Bonhoeffer and his fiancée, Maria von Wedemeyer, and recognises that the resistance to Hitler, once thought to include just a few lone military officers, was actually a broader movement. The biography is long (542 pages), but often includes substantial quotations from letters, sermons, speeches and treatises, which is a useful gift to those who have not met Bonhoeffer before. This is a great place to start to understand the Nazi dictatorship and Bonhoeffer’s Christian discipleship.
The twentieth century has so many examples of Christians living through great evil. I find it purging to read accounts of Christians who persevered in their faith under totalitarian regimes, whether that was in Germany, the Soviet Union, Rumania, or China. There is something bracing about peeling back the layers to get to the core of obedience: listening to the voice of Christ alone and blocking out the screeches of propaganda officers or the seductive words of collaborators, who pervert what is true and real and lasting. I read a biography like this one and ask myself if I would have found it within my power to stand up against horrific crimes, and I pray again that God would spare me from the time of trial.
Unfortunately, after reading this biography, I still have to say that I am waiting for a modern biography of Bonhoeffer that is really fair and doesn’t try to force him into an evangelical box. I fear this is what this book has attempted to do, wittingly or not. It appears to me to be written to make Bonhoeffer appear to be a conservative evangelical, who read his Bible every day, who hated preaching which was divorced from the Scriptural text, and who had a conversion experience in a Baptist Church in Harlem. Actually, he confessed to his closest friend that there were times when he found it too difficult to read the Bible and pray, he was no inerrantist, and had multiple turning-points on an erratic pathway to sanctification.
This book contains almost no interaction with the treatises of Bonhoeffer, the philosophical reasons for his high regard for Gandhi, nor theological reasons for his involvement in the ecumenical movement. I was left wondering if this was a Bonhoeffer deliberately shaped for right-wing Christian conservatives in the US, who would value the Bible-reading Bonhoeffer, but may be less appreciative of the Bonhoeffer who criticises Christians too closely aligned with power. There appears to be no interaction with recent scholarly debate, either in America or in the German-speaking world. Apart from these substantial concerns, my confidence was undermined through dozens of careless mistakes in the spelling of German words, the assertion that a text from Matthew 10 is part of the Sermon on the Mount (page 536), and turns of phrase which were glib and jocular at moments in the story where nothing but searing honesty and sober writing was called for. It was surely an error to have Barth say that the theological community led by Bonhoeffer on the Baltic Coast had a ‘monastic eros and pathos’ (page 269). Certainly ‘ethos’ was Barth’s phrasing!
We need more Bonhoeffer. The tragedy of his life, and of German history in the first half of the twentieth century, needs frequent retelling, to set before us the example of a man who was not scared to confess Christ before human opposition, and to warn us of the base potential of human evil. On a recent visit to Berlin, I was most moved when I sat in the chair at his writing desk from which he was led away by the Gestapo for his two years in jail. The great and the grotesque met there on that day in April 1943. Read this book by Metaxas by all means and give it to others to read too. But find other books on Bonhoeffer to read to fill out the story. We must be generous to recognise that he was indeed a hero of the faith, even when he doesn’t share all the assumptions and priorities of evangelical conviction.

Rhys Bezzant is Dean of Missional Leadership and a lecturer in Christian Thought at Ridley Melbourne.

The new EFAC Queensland Chair talks to Wei-Han Kuan.

Lynda Johnson is Assistant Minister at North Pine Anglican Church and the EFAC Queensland Chair.

Lynda, you and your husband Chris work together on the team at the North Pine Anglican Parish in Brisbane. Tell us what that’s like.
Chris and I met while we were both studying at Ridley in the 1980s. I guess you could say that our life together has always been about shared ministry. It seems to work well for us. We have complementary gifts, which means that as a clergy couple, we’re not duplicating each other. I have been ordained for eleven of our twenty-five years together. Apart from three years working in a different parish when I was first ordained, we have always shared in ministry. We bounce things off each other all the time, whether it’s about pastoral needs, or thinking strategically about a ministry issue. It’s hard to imagine life any other way. We feel very blessed.

Is North Pine typical of churches supporting EFAC in the Brisbane Diocese?

It is hard to describe a typical EFAC-supporting church. We are all different. However, here at North Pine we believe that under God our growth can be attributed to faithfully proclaiming the Bible and not watering down the message of salvation through repentance and grace. We are actively trying to empower every member of our church to grow in ministry and to know and exercise their spiritual gifts. And, we are committed to our vision—Bringing people to faith in Jesus Christ, and growing together in Him—and excited about our parish plan. We are so amazed at the people we’ve got in this church and feel privileged to be able to minister alongside them. They are very gifted and focussed and united about our goals. We are currently committed to adding to our staff team with the appointment of a youth minister, and are working to see that become a reality in the near future. It’s a very exciting time for North Pine.

What can you tell us about EFAC in Queensland?

Gordon Preece reviews this year’s Australian Christian Book of the Year.

Economics for Life
Ian Harper
Acorn Press 2011
ISBN 9780908284955

Ian Harper is a well-known economist and perhaps one of our most public Christians. It was fitting that the launch of his book Economics for Life was hosted by the new merged entity of Deloitte-Access Economics and the launch was conducted wittily by Ian’s friend and fellow-believing economist, Glenn Stevens, Governor of the Reserve Bank. Ian has never hidden his faith, nor imposed it. As both an economist and Christian he respects choice, despite the Sunday Age’s headline ‘God to set minimum wage’, upon Ian’s appointment as Chairman of the Australian Fair Pay Commission (AFPC). It decontextualised Ian’s guiless theological throwaway line about praying before accepting the appointment. And its implication of some Taliban like theocratic takeover, was grossly unfair. Likewise the ABC’s quote from an anonymous professional colleague or jealous rival, describing him as a ‘conservative, right-wing, religious zealot’. Similarly shallow, adding a religious gloss to an ABC and Age bias, was the then Australian Uniting Church moderator’s view that a Christian couldn’t in good conscience serve in such a role. Ian is a controversial figure for secularists and Christians alike. Here is a chance to hear from the man himself.
The book is partly a personal apologetic addressed to two groups, economists suspicious of society, particularly church critics, and church critics suspicious of reductionist economists. But its style is more testimony than apologetic. It is first hand-testimony from a knowledgeable insider of some of the epochal economic moments in Australian life, and of how an economist, one of the high priests who’d fallen prey to some of that reductionist view that economics has ‘got it all’, found a more encompassing faith and a larger life in Christ. ‘Economics is for life, … but not for all of life’ (page vi).
The book falls neatly into three parts. Part 1 asks ‘What is economics, anyway?’It provides a user-friendly explanation in simple, clear prose, of the science and morality of economics. These seem to be neatly separated into descriptive and prescriptive (normative) economics, facts and values. Those educated in the humanities or with a Reformed theological view that nothing is value neutral will find the distinction too neat and simple, but they will not find an economist for whom morality does not matter.
An enlightening survey of Australian economic history in Part 2 ‘Economics at Work ‘illustrates Harper’s distinction between prescriptive and descriptive economics. It puts many of our contemporary issues as a resource-rich nation in helpful long-term context. Next comes an inside account of Ian‘s short time at the AFPC and their surprising determination of a major catch-up rise for minimum wage earners. I was particularly impressed by the empirical-meet-the-public methodology used. Ian’s agony over those who may lose their jobs in a time of economic downturn, especially if he and his colleagues raised the minimum wage too high, is palpable. It reminded me of my father’s agonising over having to sack people from his business. This is followed by an excellent explanation of the Global Financial Crisis, in the context of the 1890s and 1930s depressions, the former of which Ian thinks was closer to the GFC. The chapters on Financial System Reform and The Future of Banks reflect his time on the Wallis Committee whose reforms largely saved Australia from the worst effects of the GFC. Their prophecies of the demise of banks in favour of financial markets proved to be, Ian admits with characteristic honesty and humility, cracks in their crystal ball. He advocates a new banking enquiry to hedge against future finance crises.
Part 3 ‘Beyond Economics’ begins by arguing that while there’s nothing wrong with affluence, there’s more to the abundant and truly happy life. This chapter seems more moderate and appreciate of the happiness literature questioning capitalism than Ian’s ‘Treating Affluenza’ in Ian and Sam Gregg’s Christian Theology and Market Economics. In fact, in general, the GFC’s capitalist excesses seems to have had a moderating effect on Ian’s tone. The final chapter, ‘There’s More to Life than Economics’ is for me the highlight of this economist’s testimony. It is a moving story of how Ian came to Christ from a nominal church-school educated background, through his wife Roslyn’s influence after her conversion at Princeton University chapel, and through the timely influence of a visiting Christian economist colleague and the genuine friendship evangelism and apologetics of once economist, now Bishop John Harrower. Oh please God that our churches would encourage more of such thoughtful and unapologetic marketplace mission, and thank God, even when we disagree with some of his economics, as I do, for an economist evangelist and man of integrity like Ian Harper.
So for a model of marketplace ministry with integrity and excellence, for a user-friendly understanding of a major area of modern life, for an interesting look behind the news of industrial relations and the GFC, buy this book, or if none of those work, to see what it takes to win the Australian Christian Book of the Year Award.

Gordon Preece is the Senior Minister at Yarraville Anglican Church, Director of Ethos: Evangelical Alliance Centre for Christianity and Society (www.ethos.org.au) and author of the forthcoming book Moth and Rust Consume: Christ, Wealth and Ongoing Financial Crises.

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