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"These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own." G.K.Chesterton

"You cannot grow a beard in a moment of passion." G.K.Chesterton

"As you perhaps know, I haven't always been a Christian. I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that."C. S. Lewis

"I blog, therefore I am." Anon

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Easter guest commentary by Stephen Jones

[In]… an article from last Saturday's newspaper (which itself is a summary of a full page article in the middle lift-out section),… our local Anglican Dean, …claims that we don't need to believe in "Jesus' death on the Cross, the Resurrection and the Virgin

In the article "Sydney bishop Glenn Davies, a member of the Anglican General Synod's Doctrinal Panel" said that Shepherd's views were an "extreme form of the liberal Christianity that has been endemic in the churches for the last 200 years". However, in my humble opinion what Shepherd believes is in fact not even 'liberal Christianity": it is not Christianity at all but another religion, namely Gnosticism, which the Encyclopaedia Britannica described as "... the one heresy that continues to arise at various times in the history of Christianity." ("Gnosticism," Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1984, Vol. iv, pp.587-588) .

The Anglican church in Australia is on its last legs, except for the Sydney diocese which alone is conservative evangelical. If heretics like Shepherd and Carnley (the current Archbishop who himself denies the resurrection of Christ and who in the article approves of what Shepherd said) are not purged, the Anglican church will probably collapse either through Christian members leaving to join other churches that affirm "core Christian beliefs", and non-Christian members not even bothering to go to church any more.

I agree with bishop Davies that "if Dr Shepherd did not believe in the things the Anglican Church had taught for 400 years, it might be better if he started his own church." The problem would be that no one would join it! Thus Shepherd, Carnley (and their ilk) are just spiritual parasites living off the `body' that was built up in past centuries by those who believed the very things that Shepherd and Carney (et al.) despise and deride.

I might add … that according to my amillennial interpretation of Church (and world) history, this is evidence of the predicted Great Apostasy (2Thess. 2:3), which is one of the major signs of Christ's return.

The West Australian Saturday April 19 2003 p3

Tilt at Christian Beliefs

Perth Dean's radical view attacked by Anglican General Synod member

By Gavin Simpson

ON THE eve of Easter, Perth's Anglican Dean John Shepherd has
challenged core Christian beliefs, including the meaning of Jesus' death on
the Cross, the Resurrection and the Virgin Birth.

Dr Shepherd said such teachings were largely symbolic and need not be
taken literally.

"It is utterly pointless to try to reconstruct what happened on that first
Easter morning," Dr Shepherd wrote in The West Australian. The Church
was more concerned with irrelevant dogma than Christianity's original
message of freedom, he said.

Dr Shepherd's views will outrage many Christians and have been attacked
by prominent Sydney bishop Glenn Davies, a member of the Anglican
General Synod's Doctrinal Panel.

He said if Dr Shepherd did not believe in the things the Anglican Church
had taught for 400 years, it might be better if he started his own church.

Dr Shepherd described the notion of a vengeful God who needed Jesus to
die on the Cross before He would look favourably on the human race as a
"corrupted and repulsive idea".

"Christianity did not start with tablets of stone, or a miraculous book, or a
divinely given doctrine of the Church, or a ministry of sacraments," Dr
Shepherd said. "There is no hard core of essential beliefs and practices that
goes back to the beginning, and is always and every where to be believed."

He said many traditional teachings had been added to Christianity to
reinforce the message that Jesus was divine and to boost the Church's
authority. It was not necessary to believe the Gospel descriptions of Jesus
appearing to his disciples after his resurrection, as they were only symbolic

"Nor is it necessary to Christian faith to believe that Jesus physically and
literally ascended to heaven after 40 days," he said. It was delusional to
believe in a God who was so angry at human sin that someone had to pay a
fee, or a ransom, in order to restore God's personal and emotional
equilibrium. And there was no need for belief in a miraculous event such as
a virgin birth as though it were a literal occurrence.

Dr Shepherd, who runs a study group at St George's Cathedral titled
Heretics Anonymous, said the works of mystics, scholars, artists, poets and
musicians over many centuries gave us insights into the experience of the
divine that were as profound as those in the Scriptures.

Dr Davies said the problem with Dr Shepherd's views was that he was
trying to move the cornerstones of the Church's foundations. Christianity
would disappear if extreme views like his were taken seriously.

"In a way I am glad that John Shepherd has made his opinions so clearly
known," he said. "Of course, they are not new but they are an extreme
form of the liberal Christianity that has been endemic in the churches for
the last 200 years." Anglican Primate, Perth's Archbishop Peter Carnley,
said Dr Shepherd and Dr Davies were intent on "drawing attention to the
transcendent mystery of the presence of the raised Christ as the Spirit of
the Christian community".

"This is what we celebrate at Easter," he said.

12:32:00 pm