EFAC Australia


A great sadness has overcome the Evangelical world as we mourn the loss of one God’s great ones.
Of course, John would never have said that, as he always remained a humble servant of Christ, despite the accolades that came his way over many years. Yet we may truly say so, as he has been used by God to teach and preach the supremacy and all-sufficiency of Christ for our salvation, and taught us to glory in the Lord and not in human achievement.
John was, in his own words, ‘an ordinary Christian who struggled in his desire to understand, to explain and to apply the Word of God’. We thank God for this ordinary Christian who had an extraordinary effect on the world wide church, and we who follow him have been richly blessed by the legacy of his struggles to understand, explain and apply that living Word of God. The effects are many but I mention four.
1. His passion for preaching the Bible as it comes to us by sequential exposition, without avoiding the difficult verses, so that he might teach the whole counsel of God. His founding of the Bible Speaks Today Series, with his landmark commentary on Galatians in 1968, based on his sermons at All Souls Langham Place, has made the Bible accessible to countless numbers of Christians throughout the world.
2. His concern that Evangelicals stand firm within the Church of England, following the assaults of liberalism from within, led him to play a founding role in EFAC in 1961. While Martin Lloyd-Jones was encouraging Evangelicals to come out of the established Church and form a new body, John Stott stood firm (a bold stance against the Doctor!) and thereby encouraged Evangelicals not only in England but around the Anglican Communion to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.
3. His passion for seeing Christian faith expressed in word and deed. Here his contribution to the Lausanne Congress in 1974, being the principal architect of the Lausanne Covenant, is incalculable. Not only did John clarify the primacy of evangelism as it is accompanied by social action, he was also instrumental in binding together Evangelicals of all persuasions in what is now known as the Lausanne Movement.
4. John was very aware of the privileges of his upbringing and his education and accordingly devoted much of his time (and royalties from his writings) supporting students and pastors in developing countries, the majority world. Langham Partnership International is the fruit of his endeavours to provide scholarships for young Evangelical leaders and to provide literature for pastors and theological libraries.
I thank God for John’s ministry to me as a teenager, not only through his many books which helped shape my Christian growth, but especially through his graciousness in taking the time to answer my no doubt irritating questions on one of his early visits to Australia. For those who had the pleasure of meeting him personally we share a rare privilege; and for those who did not, they still have the privilege of learning from this great one, through his many books and sermons. May God continue to bless this legacy for many years to come.
We thank God for this humble servant of Christ. May we all emulate his example of an ordinary Christian, seeking to know and apply the Word of God to all of life.
‘Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.’ (Psalm 116:15)

Glenn Davies is Bishop of North Sydney and Chairman of EFAC Australia.

Peter Jensen, Glenn Davies, Richard Trist, Stephen Hale, John Harrower, Heather Cetrangolo and Adrian Lane farewell the most influential protestant Christian of our time, an architect of 20th-century evangelicalism who shaped the faith of a generation.

There are a few, a very few, who deserve to be called a Prince among the people of God. John Stott was one such.
We all see other people partially. I am not therefore going to try to give a rounded picture of the man. I am only going to mention briefly the areas in which his impact was strongest in our part of the world. But the source and nature of that impact was at the very heart of his whole ministry. It had to do with his treatment of Scripture.
The thing for which we will mainly remember him was as one who expounded the Bible as God’s word.
All preaching worthy of the name Christian starts from the Bible. The biblical preaching of my youth would start characteristically from a verse, sometimes taken out of context and used as a starting point for an extended Christian homily with exhortation.
Our first hand experience of John Stott was different. He took passages rather than texts and gave rigorous attention to the context and the meaning of the passage taken as a whole. And he spoke with such spiritual vibrancy that you could immediately tell that the biblical text was shaping and informing his faith and his walk with God. Here was a man with something to say, precisely because he took it from Scripture.
The effects were profound. Not only did people come to know Christ through his preaching and not only were people built up in Christ. He modelled a preaching style which others could use as well. He was not the great orator who can only be admired but never emulated. He was a servant of the word who showed what can be done by faithful attention to the text of Scripture. Obviously few had his intellectual and theological skills; nonetheless we could all aspire to use his model.
His ministry had a multiplier effect.
First and foremost, he helped you to revere and love the Bible. His expositional commitment underscored the sufficiency of Scripture. His expositional method underscored the clarity of Scripture. His expositional habit underscored the authority of Scripture. You were more inclined to say, what a great passage, than what a great preacher.
There were two features of this preaching which I remember in particular. The first is to do with its simplicity. It was not that he strove for popularity and delivered trivia. On the contrary, it was the simplicity of the master craftsman, who could analyse the text of Scripture and by carefully tracing the development of its thought, help his hearers to be better readers. We could see what he could see, and we could be inspired to believe that we too could read the Bible for ourselves.
The second feature was the basis of the first—he was a scholar. I don’t mean that he had a PhD or taught in a university. He was beyond such measures. I mean that he had mastered the arts needed for biblical exposition and he gave the time and energy to make sure of his results. You can only achieve true simplicity by working very hard. That is what he did. Our debt to him, under God, flows from his willingness to give time, energy and thought to the study of Scripture in the light of modern thought and modern needs and to pastor us through his preaching. In this, as in much else besides, He was a Prince amongst God’s people.

Peter Jensen is Archbishop of Sydney and President of EFAC Australia.

Rhys Bezzant reviews Tom Frame’s latest on the Anglican Church.

A House Divided? The Quest for Unity within Anglicanism
Tom Frame
Acorn 2010
ISBN 9780908284924

I loved this book, or should I say books. Tom Frame’s interests range so widely. He guides us through discussions of ecclesiastical party politics, structural impediments to mission in Australia, contemporary forms of Christian mysticism, and the modernist atheist reaction to theologically anaemic expressions of faith. Each of the first three sections could have become a book in itself, and sometimes I was left hoping for more. Bringing these themes together sometimes felt a little contrived, especially the chapters on the Lucas–Tooth Scholars and the Moorhouse Lectures, with their appendices as lists of nominees, but two things made the book coherent: the thoughtful ecclesiology undergirding it, and the author’s life-story which framed the telling.

The book begins with an outline of positions held by evangelicals, Anglo-Catholics and liberal Anglicans within the Australian church, and the resulting tensions which can be seen not only in our country but across the Anglican Communion as well. Frame works hard at affirming what he can in each of these traditions, while pointing out their weaknesses and the ways in which they are culturally coloured. The section on evangelicalism was for me most stimulating. Frame takes as his launching pad the published views of Dean Phillip Jensen and his defence of Reformed Anglicanism. In response, Frame argues that Anglicanism has never seen itself as a confessional church, that the evangelical movement itself is more diverse than Jensen acknowledges, and that the wider church needs the contributions that evangelicals can provide.

I am not persuaded that Frame is entirely successful in his critique. We may not name the 39 Articles as a Confession, but approved by Convocations and Parliaments, they are indeed in Frame’s own words ‘Anglican formularies’ which prescribe ‘convictions and customs’ (page 26), and were subscribed not just by clergy but anyone wanting to graduate from a university (see also page 82). The idea that Evangelicals ought to remain within the Anglican church can also appear patronising: our tradition is seen as something valuable not on its own terms, but when it is used to slow down the church’s drift towards the ‘Liberal Protestant churches whose demise is only a matter of time’ (page 30). Of course the Evangelical movement is impacted by the culture in which it is housed, as missiologically committed movements get close to the ideas and practices of their neighbours, becoming like them to win some for Christ. We have often had our fingers burned by getting too close to the fire. Frame’s warning is timely, though naming evangelicals as a faction rather than a renewal movement, which its eighteenth century origins reflect and which is almost entirely neglected here, readies us for the model of ‘consensus Anglicanism’ which Frame himself espouses.

I agree with Frame that evangelicals need to work harder on ecclesiology. We resort with too much haste to pragmatic strategies and a revivalist mindset. We too quickly denigrate the nurturing value of sacraments, and conduct services without ‘any sense of reverence and awe’ (page 28) for the sake of contemporary connections. We take our model of leadership from worldly examples, and are strangely hesitant to map out consistently a theological vision for leaders, though the chapter on the episcopate suggests that it is not only evangelicals who are wedded to models which have little theological underpinning (page 156). We must reflect on the fact that our Gospel convictions are sometimes rejected because we have not lived lives worthy of the Gospel which we preach. However I am just not sure that the Lambeth Conference of 1930, for which Frame makes his ‘fulsome apology,’ adequately encapsulates my understanding of the heartbeat of Anglican life and witness: ‘an open Bible, a pastoral priesthood, a common worship, a standard of conduct consistent with that worship and a fearless love of truth’ (pages 104–105). Where is justification? Where are hearts strangely warmed? Where is anticipation of the joy of glory?

Frame’s chapters on synods, episcopacy, and diocese should be compulsory reading for anyone responsible for the institutional features of our corporate life. They breathe an imaginative air and give concrete expression to new ways of organising our ministry. Abolishing electoral synods and replacing them with diocesan-national Episcopal selection panels may sound crazy, but we need ideas like this to cast new visions of what could be (page 123). Frame’s own desire to relinquish his title as bishop, now that he works at St Mark’s Theological Centre in Canberra and not in episcopal ministry, gives his reflections on episcopacy a sharpness which is bracing: he argues that ‘the powers and discretion of the bishops must be devolved’ (page 141). Frame also argues for a radical redrawing of diocesan boundaries, and an openness to ‘cultural episcopacy,’ or the development of targeted ministries in government, business, or ethnic groups (page 156). In all this, he does not despise the institution, nor imagine that the church and the Kingdom are synonymous (page 171). He does however want the church to be ‘recklessly selfless when mission demands it’ (page 174)—a clarion call.
The section entitled ‘Then and Now’ is the least coherent. While there is much here to learn from, and the individual chapters give personal insights into Frame’s own formation, I kept asking myself what this particular tree had to contribute to the forest of the book. I found myself nodding when Frame spoke of Anglican captivity to political correctness and its promotion of ‘liberal democratic statism’ (page 192), and shouting ‘Amen’ when he described how pitifully we support and finance the theological training of our leaders, and so often in Australia mock intellectual leadership more generally (page 232). The chapter on William Ralph Inge’s contribution to Christian mysticism seemed to me to be out of place. Frame praised Inge’s commitment to experiential faith, and appreciation of the immediacy of knowledge of God (page 248), without giving due place to these very values amongst Anglican evangelicals, for whom they are nevertheless Christologically defined.

The final chapters of the book, functioning as one part mid-life crisis and two parts appeal for courage to learn again what it means to be the church in an aggressively secular culture, were reassuring. Frame’s encouragement to get on with the work of evangelism and apologetics and disciple-making was heartening, for he is searingly honest about the critical state in which the Anglican church in Australia finds itself. Our enslavement to money and status is almost as alarming as the growing intolerance towards the Christian vision of human flourishing. Though I suspect Frame is a little naïve in assuming that Anglicans will be able to develop a ‘coherent doctrine of the Church that can attract the conviction and allegiance of all theological traditions’ (page 268), I agree with him that mid-life is a time for ‘taking stock, reassessing and reviewing one’s life’ (page 256). We are as a church a middle aged institution, grown just a little too flabby and suddenly aware that we have to become more intentional in maintaining the vigour which once seemed so effortless. This book is a great health check, and a timely word.

And by the way, I wonder why the photo on the back cover has Frame wearing episcopal purple and a pectoral cross? After all his appeal to change our thinking about ministry structures and visions, this picture seemed an odd choice. We have so far to go.

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

John Stott Memorial Edition

Twenty years ago, as a teenage boy discovering Christian books for the first time, I picked up what I thought was the most useful and interesting book on the shop shelves. It was a cheap Asian edition of Understanding the Bible. I didn’t know it then, but I had just been introduced to one of the truly great men of twentieth-century evangelicalism, John Robert Walmsley Stott.
Stott of course played a leading role in the founding of EFAC in 1961, and steered its international development. So it is fitting that we mark his passing with this commemorative edition. EFAC Australia leaders from across the country offer their reflections on Stott’s life and ministry. Peter Jensen and Stephen Hale focus on the influence of this Prince of Preachers. Glenn Davies and John Harrower reflect on the wider impact of his leadership. Richard Trist and Heather Cetrangolo share something of the personal effect he had on them. Many of these important themes are brought together in Adrian Lane’s tribute at the EFAC Queensland memorial service. My hope is that this issue of Essentials will help Stott’s legacy live on strongly through EFAC. May his example, his priorities in ministry, his personal godliness, graciousness and famous humility, continue to inspire us towards Christ the Saviour and Lord whom he lived to serve. You can read more tributes and leave your own reflections at: www.johnstottmemorial.org

Wei-Han Kuan is Senior Associate Minister at St Alfred’s, North Blackburn, and is the editor of Essentia

Julie-Anne Laird offers us her first-timers’ impressions of a global evangelical gathering.

An eighteen-year-old girl got up the front to tell us all that her father had decided to go back to North Korea to tell all his friends and family about Jesus. She hadn’t heard from him for four years. She presumes that he is dead. She has that same burden for her country knowing it could cost her life. There was not a dry eye in the place.
A woman spoke of how her husband, a doctor, had been killed when trying to help the Afghani people with medical aid. Instead of being bitter or angry, she did nothing but praise Jesus.
A guy on my table had been imprisoned for his faith in a country I can’t mention. He had been separated from his family for four years, had lost his home and all his money, and was desperate to be united with his wife and four children. At the end of the week we discovered that while he was in prison all fifteen in the jail cell came to know Jesus through him!
A Muslim guy became a Christian and was a humiliation to his family. He kept on trying to love them and show them what God was like. His father, at this death bed,
said to him ‘I love the God you love, because he is a kind and generous God. But I cannot believe in your religion.’ And then he died.
You could not sit at Lausanne and not change. To see 4000 from all over the world, living for Jesus and worshipping Him together was just amazing. All week I kept on thinking about how if this was what heaven was like, then I cannot wait to get there! But more importantly I long for everyone to be there!
Being at Lausanne was an ­encouragement as well as a ­challenge. I felt more and more dissatisfied with where the Church is at in Australia and the West in general and wondered if fear has totally consumed us when it comes to talking about our faith to those around us. Admittedly it is socially not the right thing to talk about Jesus and people will slowly back away if you’re too enthusiastic (I’ve discovered!) but we do have the freedom to share the gospel. So the question for me was: Why are we so afraid to talk about our faith when we really don’t have anything to lose? Where has our passion and zeal gone for Jesus? Have we lost our first love or are we focused on other things or distracted by life? Have we given over to apathy and don’t have perseverance for the relationships around us? Or are we just so discouraged and have tried and tried to talk about our faith that we end up thinking that God doesn’t really work in people’s lives and have given up praying?
So for me, I came back from Lausanne with a renewed passion for prayer, a renewed passion to talk about my faith with everyone, and a passion to train up evangelists.
If you want an impressive evaluation of Lausanne have a read of Ian Langham’s blog. (http://ianlangham.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/15-things-worth-taking-home/)

Julie-Anne Laird is an evangelist extraordinaire with the Melbourne University Christian Union.

Jill Firth peels back the layers of the fourth commandment.

Do you treat yourself like a 24/7 sweatshop worker? Many of us live as if we have no need of relief and refreshment, as prescribed for everyone including slaves, strangers and even donkeys in the sabbath rules given to Israel (Exodus 23.12). According to the Christian psychiatrist, Arch Hart, failing to rest leads to stress-related diseases and burnout. Hart advocates taking a day every 7 days, as well as some relaxation time every day, as essential to physical and mental well being.
The Hebrew word for sabbath, shabbat, literally means ‘ceasing’ or ‘resting’, as God ceased or rested on the seventh day of creation (Genesis 2.3). On the first Sabbath, before the Fall, the man and the woman rested with God in the garden of Eden. Outside Eden, Israel was called to imitate God who rested on the first sabbath (Exodus 20.10–11). On the way to the Promised Land, the sabbath reminded God’s people to live in trustful dependence on God the provider (Exodus 16.22–33). The sabbath was a time for giving rest to others in the community and caring for the needy (Deuteronomy 5.12–14; Isaiah 58). The ‘sabbath year’ reminded Israel not to overwork the planet (Leviticus 25.1–7). The year of Jubilee, a ‘sabbath of sabbaths’, called them to a just and redemptive lifestyle (Leviticus 25.8–12). In the New Testament, the promise of sabbath rest is fulfilled in salvation in Christ (Hebrews 4.1–11). The sabbath looks forward to the eternal reign of Christ and the creation’s release from decay and death (Romans 8.18–25, Revelation 21.1–4).
Some Christians consider the sabbath to be a part of the moral law, binding on all. Others believe that Jesus’ claim to be Lord of the sabbath signals that a day of rest is no longer required for Christians (Matthew 12.8). A study group chaired by the Biblical scholar, Don Carson, concludes that while neither Saturday nor Sunday is obligatory as a day of rest, one day of rest and refreshment each week is appropriate for human functioning.
A sabbath is not just a day without work. Eugene Peterson critiques the ‘secularized’ or ‘bastard’ sabbath—a day off for resting only so as to work more efficiently on the other six days. Peterson, a busy pastor, takes a Monday sabbath with his wife, Janice. After reading a psalm together, they walk in silence in the woods for several hours, revelling in God’s creation. On the way back they share their thoughts and experiences. A true sabbath is a day for praying and for playing, says Peterson, ‘a time to quit our work and contemplate his’.
Ceasing, resting, embracing and feasting are four aspects of the sabbath experience, according to theologian Marva Dawn. Dawn chooses Sunday as her sabbath. She sets aside her weekly work and completes her preparations on Saturday evening, then begins her sabbath in the literal physical rest of sleep. Even in the final stages of her doctoral thesis and on the day before final exams, Dawn ceased from work on Sundays. On her sabbath, she teaches the Scriptures and offers hospitality, but she completes all her preparations on Saturday. For Dawn, sabbath is a time of reflecting on our values in the light of Scripture so that we can embrace God’s values ‘to the hilt’, delighting in God, not pursuing our own affairs apart from him (Isaiah 58.13–14). Feasting in worship, music, beauty, food and the company of others becomes a weekly ‘eschatological party’ as we look forward to the marriage feast of the Lamb in the eternal sabbath rest of God. On Sunday, Dawn eats different food, makes time for creativity and friendship, celebrates and worships in community. To mark the beginning and end of her sabbath, she lights candles and uses traditional prayers drawn from Jewish practice. Dawn delights in her sabbath, eagerly looking forward to it through the week and looking back with joy when it is over.
I was intrigued by the unfolding dynamic of ceasing, resting, embracing and feasting. I had a few days’ break coming up, which seemed like a good opportunity to road test these ideas. Driving up to the beach house, I switched off all technology, aiming to cease not only from active work but also from mental preoccupation with work and daily issues. After a long walk on the beach, I?took a nap then enjoyed some Scripture reading. Hours just watching the waves helped me find a place of resting in God. Eventually, I felt ready to ‘embrace’, reflecting on God’s providence in Psalm 104 and his loving care in Psalm 139. I spent a morning walking, journaling and praying, reviewing the past year. In the afternoon, I offered the coming year to God, and prayerfully considered changes to my lifestyle which would allow more time for the activities and relationships that God was bringing to my attention. On?the final glorious sunny day, I?clambered in rock pools and enjoyed a special meal, feasting on the love of God in creation.
Recent leadership theory emphasises the connection between who we are and how we lead. ‘Leadership has little to do with making lots of decisions, with getting a great deal done. It is about getting the right things done’, says Simon Walker who teaches leadership at Oxford University. ‘As leaders, the crucial quality we need is the courage to stop. The courage to wait and be still.’ He continues, ‘While everyone around us is clamouring for a decision, the leader waits until she is confident and clear’. Robert Fryling is a senior IVP publisher who developed new weekly patterns after reflecting on the sabbath. He benefits from a complete break from his weekday thoughts and activities by taking a technology-free day without his computer, mobile phone or even television. His sabbath includes Sunday worship, small group, walking, resting, praying, reflecting and journaling.
Sabbath time is a gift from God. We can joyfully set aside our daily work, putting our trust in God the provider. We can rest in God’s presence as we look back to Eden, and as we look forward to the new heavens and the new earth. We can embrace God’s Kingdom values, reaching out with the gospel and with justice, and caring for his creation. We can taste the eschatological feast as we worship God, rejoice in salvation, and have fellowship with his people. Ceasing, resting, embracing and feasting help us to move from living like sweatshop workers, or unredeemed donkeys, to finding sabbath rest as the beloved children of God.

Jill Firth is an ordained Anglican minister, a trained spiritual director and an Adjunct Lecturer at Ridley Melbourne. Jill is part of an EFAC Victoria planning group for quiet days and retreats. Regular 24 hour retreats are offered by EFAC in the Melbourne area.

Don Carson (ed), From Sabbath Day to Lord’s Day: A Biblical, Historical and Theological Investigation (Zondervan, 1982).
Eugene Peterson, Working the Angles: the Shape of Pastoral Integrity (Eerdmans, 1987).

Marva Dawn, Keeping the Sabbath Wholly: Ceasing, Resting, Embracing, Feasting (Eerdmans, 1989).

Archibald Hart, The Anxiety Cure: You Can Find Tranquillity and Wholeness (Word, 1999).

Simon P Walker, Leading out of Who You Are: Discovering the Secret of Undefended Leadership (Piquant, 2007), page 125.

Robert A Fryling, The Leadership Ellipse: Shaping how we lead by who we are (IVP, 2010)

Glenn Davies, ‘Sabbath and Ecology’, St Mark’s Review 212, May 2010, pages 25–38.

Peter Adam reports on lessons learned from Don Carson’s mission in Melbourne.

Ridley Melbourne was founded in 1910
. As one of our Centenary Celebrations, we decided to run an evangelistic mission to Melbourne from 23–27 August.
We booked Don Carson four years ago. We brought together a loose coalition of churches and ministries to support the mission, to be run over five week night evenings, in one central city location, close to public transport and easy parking.
Each night Don spoke, and expounded a passage from John’s Gospel. Each talk stood alone, but the five talks also progressed through the Gospel.
Each evening we began with live music at 7:00 pm. People were welcomed at 7:30. Don was briefly interviewed, then we presented a pre-recorded interview with a believer. The musos sang, then there was a dramatised performance reading of the Bible passage.
Don spoke for 45 minutes, with the Bible passage on the screen behind him. People texted in questions during the talk, which were answered by Don afterwards.
Then we explained the response process and people filled in their cards. There was a final, familiar hymn like Amazing Grace, and the evening ended with advisors ready to talk with enquirers at 9:00 pm.
People from many churches—not just Anglican—came and brought friends. Here are the numbers from each night: