‘By What Authority’

In Townsville recently, the TGS team of Trevor, Cameron, James, and Rod joined with representatives from more than 50 other churches, from as far afield as the Torres Strait, Mount Isa and Sarina for the 2016 Synod (meeting) of the Anglican Diocese (region) of North Queensland. We met from Friday evening through to Sunday morning to discuss ministry and finances, to modify church regulations and make other decisions through debate and voting.

The undoubted highlight was the tribute to the retired Bishop Arthur Malcolm, the first Aboriginal Bishop in the Anglican Church of Australia, and his wife Colleen. The wonderful impact of their ministry in telling the good news of Jesus was demonstrated by testimonies of lives transformed, as given by Reverends Wayne and Valmai Connolly, whose love for the Lord and others is similarly inspiring.

One disappointment for us at TGS was that the Synod actually voted ‘not to vote’ on our motion advocating the Diocese to support the rights of churches to proclaim, with gentleness and respect, the teaching found in the Bible, in the event of legislative changes to the marriage laws. We proposed the motion as there are many examples showing that both freedom of religion and freedom of speech are increasingly under threat in Australia today.

In terms of what God’s churches should do, it boils down to what Christians take as our final authority in matters of life and faith. Although there are four commonly described options which all have some part to play (human reason, personal experience, church tradition and the Bible), we at TGS are clear: It is ‘Scripture [that] is God-breathed’; it makes us both ‘wise for salvation’ and ‘is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness’ (2 Timothy 3:15-16).

Our Lord Jesus was given ‘all authority’ by his heavenly Father, and he gave his followers the Great Commission to: ‘make disciples of all nations…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you’ (Matthew 28:18-20). May we too, never stop teaching and obeying!

James Sartain


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September 13, 2020