Essentials

Book Review: Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Scepticism

Tim Keller
Hodder, 2015

The best synopsis of Preaching, actually comes from Timothy Keller himself, tucked away in the book’s appendix:

‘This volume is far from a complete textbook on preaching. You will have noticed I’ve spent most of my time on why a certain kind of preaching is needed and what that preaching looks like in principle and in example but relatively little time on how to prepare a good sermon. A manifesto, not a manual, as I told myself many times in the writing of this book’ (p. 213)

That is exactly right. In Preaching, Keller is articulating his preaching philosophy rather than giving a step-by-step guide. The result is a highly stimulating book that reflects the distinctive strengths and weaknesses of Keller’s own preaching.

The book is divided into three sections. Part one: Serving the word; Part two: Reaching the people; and Part three: In demonstration of the spirit and power.

Book Review: After Saturday Comes Sunday

Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East
Elizabeth Kendal,
Wipf and Stock, 2016

The post-Christian West is in decline. Revived Islam is on the rise. The Middle East has become ground zero in a battle for civilisation. Indigenous Christians- Arabs, Armenian, Assyrian and Copts who lived in this cradle of civilization long before the Islamic conquests, are targeted by jihadists for subjugation, exploitation and liquidation. Millions have been driven out of their homeland or slaughtered, their fate ignored by the West’s “progressive” elites who are increasingly hostile to Christianity and delusional about Islam.

Elizabeth Kendall not only exposes the extent of this genocide in the ancient Christian heartland, but also provides a cogent and readable explanation of the context, history and ideologies that underlie the crisis. Of particular interest for this reader, is her lengthy citation of President Putin’s speech of September 28 2015, which gives a lucid account of the state of the Middle East and a moral justification for Russia’s stance, in contrast with the folly of US policies and the duplicitous role of Turkey (pages 220-226).
Bishop Tony Nichols, WA


Kindness to the Wicked - Luke 6:27-49

David Seccombe returns to Jesus’ great sermon as we read it in Luke 6:27-49.
David is currently locum tenens at St Alban’s, Highgate ,WA.BIBLE STUDY

But to you who are listening I say: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who ill-treat you.’ Luke 6:27-28

In the first section of Luke’s Sermon on the Mount (6.20-26) we see Jesus preaching his gospel and dividing the people (laos) into a true and false Israel. Here, early in his ministry, he sees himself a rejected sufferer; to identify with him will bring opposition. It will also bring us enemies. In the next part of the Sermon Jesus instructs disciples (‘I say to you who hear’) how to deal with their opponents, and the message is clear: love them!

Book Review: The Subversion of Christianity

Jacques Ellul. Trans. Geoffery W. Bromiley
Wipf & Stock, 2011

Jacques Ellul’s book is driven by the question of, 'How has it come about that Christianity and the Church has given birth to a society, a civilization, a culture, that are completely opposite to what we read in the Bible?' Ellul’s answer to his question is that Christian practice has constantly been a subversion of the truth in Christ. Then Ellul sets out his understanding of how this came about.

For Ellul the first Christians were attacked by the political power of the Roman Empire as dangerous. They were rejecting and questioning all power, desiring a transparency in human dealings that manifests itself in bonds of family and social relationships of a completely new kind. Then the change as Christians move to obey the ruling powers and actively support those powers against all that threatens them in the political, economic and social areas.

Beginning to see how much I don’t know about the Reformation

Paul Bartley reflects on his recent encounters with the tumultuous world of Martin Luther and the Reformation he sparked.
Paul is in the formation programme for ordinands in the Diocese of Perth.

My wife Peggy and I had the privilege of being supported to attend the Ridley College Reformation study tour in June to Germany, France and Switzerland. It was a special year to go, as 2017 marks five hundred years since Luther is credited with sparking the Reformation. Family and friends took care of our four small children and we flew to Germany- a first time overseas for my wife. We had both been preparing as much as the general busyness of life allowed, reading Alister McGrath1 and Bruce Gordon2 and watching Carl Trueman’s lectures. This piece meanders through my reflections of Reformation study, with a focus on Luther.

Having the trip coming up certainly helped our enjoyment of our pre-trip learning. The potentially mundane watching of Trueman’s lectures on Luther while washing dishes at home in Perth in the weeks beforehand was as much part of the rich experience as the lofty heights of singing ‘Amazing Grace’ in the monastery, standing on the very same tiles as Luther would have. What a wealth of resources we enjoy here in Australia — in our well stocked theological libraries, on the internet and in documentaries! But we loved having this time together without the kids, travelling in such stunning countryside and at locations so central to the Reformation as Luther’s house in Wittenberg and St Peter's church in Calvin's Geneva.

Book Review: Excellence In Leadership

Essays in Honour of Peter and Merrill Corney
Denise Cooper-Clarke and Stephen Hale (Eds)
Acorn Press, 2017.

Peter and Merrill Corney have had remarkable ministries from the late 1960’s until today. There are very few ministers who one could genuinely say shaped the nature of church life as we know it. I don’t think it is going too far to say that that is true of Peter and Merrill!

The 1960’s and 1970’s were times of social ferment and significant change. Church life was largely denominational and uniform in that era and many churches saw the collapse of their once very large Sunday Schools and Youth Groups. Peter and Merrill were great readers of culture and social trends. They somehow sensed what was going on and forged new models of doing church that pioneered a way to respond to those changes. Those responses were innovative in their era and then became the norm in many, many churches in the years that followed. Some of those churches probably have no idea where the ideas originated from but that doesn’t really matter.

Ministries to New Arrivals

Katrina and Jonathan Holgate share how they have seen ministry grow up among refugees in Perth, WA. Katrina and Jonathan were formerly at St Alban’s, Highgate, and are now at St Matthew’s, Guildford.

Imagine: You can’t quite hear, you don’t know the geography of where you are living, the rules are all different and seem to be harsh. Living here in Australia, we live with much tacit knowledge. We know how the school system works, how public transport works, where (generally) places are within your city or region. Refugees (and often backpackers) don’t have this tacit knowledge that we all live with not realising what seems obvious.
Jesus taught us the parable of the good Samaritan; Deuteronomy 29:11 says that we can only have a relationship with God if we treat the alien in our camp well; Leviticus 24:22 says we must have the same laws for the alien as we have for ourselves. It seems to us that we are living outside of God’s ordinances when it comes to the way we treat asylum seekers and refugees here in Australia.

In this context, we have been ministering to refugees for several years. God gave us plenty of opportunity to welcome the alien whilst we were at the Parish of St Alban’s Highgate. During ‘mission week’ one of the younger members of the congregation suggested an outreach to some of our local backpackers. We soon discovered the local backpacker hostels were largely populated with refugees. Their most desperate need was to learn and practice English, to develop an understanding of Australian culture and, believe it or not, our colloquialisms.

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