Tuesday, May 30, 2017

That blight

There it was again – the blight of Sydney Anglican reductionism. 


This week I attended a dinner to celebrate the activities of an interdenominational Christian mission group.  There were people from thirteen different churches in attendance.  All those people were linked to churches within the immediate proximity of my church.  God had placed me next to a woman, and her next to her husband.  I guessed that both the woman and the man were seven decades young.


Mr and Mr Seventy had recently had cause to leave an Anglican Diocese of Sydney church after many years of loyal attendance.  Mrs Seventy was particularly eager to share.  The changes wrought upon them were too much to bare.  Those changes included:

  • a shift away from support for the linked overseas missionaries,
  • a swing away from parishioner presentation of prayers and Bible readings (to the favour of staff), and,
  • a stiff reluctance of the Senior Minister for congregants to have any say in the style of the church service. 

The blight of Sydney Anglican reductionism was evident in Mrs Seventy's list. However, Mrs Seventy then let fly with the clincher.  That clincher came in the form of Mrs Seventy’s summary of the situation:


“All focus was upon the work of the local church [by which Mrs Seventy meant the corporate work], there was no interest in the church in the world, there was no interest
 on an individual’s one-to-one discipleship”.


Mrs Seventy then went on to tell that her Christian upbringing had been nurtured with many notions of how one-to-one discipleship was so important to the building of the church.  Mrs Seventy spoke of many past experiences were small group discipleship was promoted.  Mrs Seventy was troubled equating with the shift from one’s role for Christ and one’s role in the corporate local church.  I suspect that at a subconscious level Mrs Seventy was distressed that the local church was imposing itself in priority to Christ. Mrs Seventy knew her Bible well enough to know that the local church should not be a stumbling block in her life in Christ.

"I want my car mechanic to be a reductionist - you know,
 so that he finds the particular spark plug that needs to be replaced. 
I want car salesmen, and by extension of the illustration: clergymen, to be holistic."
Attributed to a bashful friend who does not wish to be named. 

Sydney Anglican reductionism is apparently a mantra that is drilled heavily into Moore Theological College student brains.  It apparently dates to the time of formation of the College.  Is there anyone who will save us from it?




Lest it be thought that I went beyond the immediate role of being a good listener to Mrs Seventy: the meal was superb, the keynote address bold and true to St Paul's letter and conversation with Mrs Seventy turned to the quality of her Christian walk in her new setting.  God is good.

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