EFAC Australia


In this first edition of Essentials for which I have editorial responsibility I am glad for the quality and range of focus on the content that follows. If there is a thread that holds together each element of Essentials Spring 2019 it is the theme of ministry.
Simon Manchester, now approaching the conclusion of thirty years as Senior Minister at St Thomas’ North Sydney, reflects firstly on the importance of a pastoral approach fuelled and characterised by grace rather than frustration. Simon then steers us towards three books that focus on the weighty responsibility and matching joy of gospel ministry.
Adrian Lane reminds us of the wonderful work of BCA in this its centenary year, and in that light also gladly commends to us a new and expanded edition of Leon Morris’ autobiographical account of his time serving as a BCA minister during World War II.
On a sadder, but nonetheless vital, note Christopher Ash considers how we ought to respond in a wise and godly way when a Christian ministry is undermined by revelations of abuse.
In his review of the new book of essays from the Doctrine Commission of General Synod Marriage, Same Sex Marriage and the Anglican Church of Australia, Bishop Rick Lewers helpfully draws out the results of two contrasting approaches to ministry that flow from two contrasting attitudes to the nature and authority of Scripture. In the process we are drawn straight to the heart of this issue.
As I read through these contributions and others in this edition of Essentials I am reminded of the core truth that although ministry is not getting any easier or less complex, the gospel of repentance and faith for the forgiveness of sins is no less powerful or glorious. Even when we fail, or when those around us fail, God is good and Jesus is keeping his promise that “repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations” (Luke 24:47, NIV).
Gavin Perkins - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Gavin Perkins is Rector of St Jude’s Bowral, NSW

Although the debate between complementarians and egalitarians has not been revolutionised
lately, there are still real developments that the egalitarian Tim Foster wants to draw our
attention to. Tim Foster is Vice Principal of Ridley College, Melbourne. 

For many the gender debate is like Groundhog Day, playing out in predictable ways, retracing old steps and unable to move forward. And yet there have been some interesting developments that may not have decided the matter, but which served to move the discussion forward. There are two major developments that I will consider. The first concerns a shift in the biblical discussion away from the Pauline corpus to consideration of how women are understood in a broader range of NT texts. The other concerns the relationship of God the Father and God the Son, whether the Son is functionally subordinate to the Father and what bearing it has on the submission of women to male authority.

Becoming a better reader of the Bible:
An approach to Bible Study preparation

We have about 4 different names for small group Bible studies at my church. I mostly call them
growth groups, and I regard them as the backbone of the congregations. What follows is part of
training I ran focussed on the core of the activity of such groups: helping others engage with what
the Bible says. Ben Underwood is Associate Minister at St Matthew’s Shenton Park.

Pastoring through helping others read the Bible well.

Since pastors teach the Bible as a central act of leadership, the best resource we have to be pastors and teachers, is the word of God written in the Bible. Thus we read in 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Is complementarianism on the way out?
he Masculinist thinks so.
In an issue largely themed on the state of the Christian discussion on gender, it might be worth finishing by noticing emerging energy for critiques of complementarianism from quarters which are dissatisfied with the character and direction of the cultural take on gender, and dissatisfied with egalitarianism and complementarianism as faithful and viable roads to walk.

The basic positions may not have shifted in the ministry-and-gender conversation, but the cultural context around it has. Kara Hartley looks at it from the complementarian point of view. Kara is the Archdeacon for Women in the Diocese of Sydney.

 When it comes to the ongoing disagreements in evangelicalism about the Scriptural teaching on the roles of women in Christian leadership the phrase from Ecclesiastes 1:9 comes to mind, ‘There’s nothing new under the sun.’ That is not to say nothing has been written. On the contrary, over the last 20 years there have been numerous books, blogs, articles, and talks given to the topic. Commentators from both sides continue to advocate their position with passion and vigour. I have been asked to write about whether there have been any new developments in these debates, without necessarily repeating all that has gone before. My conclusion is that despite all the ink that’s been spilled (or keyboards that have been thumped) no real game-changing arguments have emerged. The disagreements so passionately debated are generally a rehash of what has been said already. Yet while the arguments haven’t necessarily changed, the context in which we have them has. Various conversations around sexuality and gender, movements like #metoo and issues relating to domestic violence have certainly placed a renewed spotlight on Scripture’s teaching on roles of men and women, in both the home and in the church.

Unveiling Paul’s Women: Making Sense of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16
Lucy Peppiatt, Wipf and Stock, 2018

her recent book, Unveiling Paul’s Women, Lucy Peppiatt writes with reference to 1 Corinthians 7-10, that ‘The only real application of these verses, if we think that Paul wrote them, and we think that he is an authoritative voice for the church, is that women should wear head coverings in church when they pray and prophesy’ (p. 55). She had just pointed out that ‘there are no cultural reasons given in these verses for the shame that an uncovered woman and a covered man causes … the disapproval comes from God and the angels’ (p. 54). To deal with this Peppiatt proposes a bold re-reading of the passage. By an act of interpretive judo, she flips everything around and finds that Paul is actually arguing against the practice of women’s head covering. She writes, ‘Paul was faced with a group of domineering, gifted, prophetic men who had implemented oppressive practices for women in Paul’s absence. They constructed a theology to support their practices that was a blend of Paul’s original thought and their own distorted view of the world’ (p. 86). Paul is presenting their thinking (not his own) in vv4-5 and 7-10, which Paul then opposes with his own corrective in vv11-16. Verse 13 expects the answer ‘yes’, and the uniform custom of the churches is to allow women to pray and prophesy without a head covering.