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Archbishop Peter Jensen's Halifax-Portal Lecture

Posted on: May 10, 2002 2:27 PM
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'Speaking the truth in Love'

In a strongly worded address Dr Peter Jensen, Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, has argued that the Christian Churches have lost confidence in their message to the community, and that they face a major crisis of confidence that may see the loss of Christian faith itself.

"We [the Churches] are frightened of not being relevant or persuasive. We sing our songs to the world's tunes. As a result the memory of faith is attenuated, and we sound like those who have lost confidence in the truth for which we stand," Archbishop Peter Jensen said. "This is a major intellectual and spiritual crisis for the churches, since if we continue thus the faith itself will disappear. Then we will have no contribution to make to Australian society that is our own."

He argued that the churches have failed to speak the truth in love effectively, but that on their so doing depends the future of the church and the good health of our Australian society.

"I am going to claim this so baldly because the need is desperate," Dr Jensen said. "We can no longer afford to assume the truth to suit our hearers; we must speak the truth or perish and leave our beloved nation to the gods of this world."

Archbishop Peter Jensen was delivering the first lecture in the 2002 Halifax-Portal series on Tuesday 7th May. The lecture series is sponsored by the Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops of NSW. The theme of the series is 'The Role of the Churches in Australia Today'. In his Lecture Dr Jensen was speaking on the topic 'Speaking the Truth in Love.'

"The truth of which I speak is not merely truth in the sense of genuine communication, or conformity to reality, or even prophetic criticism of the government; it is first and foremost to be defined as the truth, the truth of God's word, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners," the Archbishop said. "It is this truth which it is the role of the churches to witness to in this country, here and now."

Dr Jensen explored his thesis through 'four connected essays', that is, On Being Domesticated, On the Need for Truth, On Speaking the Truth in Love, On Being Crucified with Christ.

In the latter section of the address Dr Jensen said one of the chief reasons why Christians have ceased to speak the truth of the gospel to the community is fear of the reaction to this message.

"We are fearful of the reaction of those around us," he said. "We have courted popularity; we have not been prepared to suffer the scorn of those who can use the pages of the newspaper to pillory us. Even when we have adopted a profoundly Christian stance on some issue, we have not explained how it is an application of the word of God. We have even fallen into the trap of justifying our moral stances by a secularist theory of ethics. We have contributed towards the gagging of God."

"What is truly alarming is that we are not alarmed," Dr Jensen said. "We have accepted the secular world's view that we have nothing of importance to say, and we have adjusted ourselves to this reality. We have become domesticated. It has all the sadness of seeing the great cat of Christian theology turned into a house pet. We have become the sort of Christian movement which you would want to have if you never wanted to be troubled by it, if you wanted to control it."

The full text of the Archbishop Jensen's lecture may be read at:

Article from: Anglican Media Sydney by Margaret Rodgers