New Assistant Bishop of Brisbane is "happy to abandon the Creed"
By David W. Virtue, DD
November 30, 2016
The Archbishop of Brisbane and former Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, Phillip Aspinall, has announced in an ad clerum that he has appointed Archdeacon Jeremy Greaves as an assistant bishop in the Diocese.
"Greaves' appointment will be viewed by many as controversial and even provocative. He gained notoriety for himself when Dean of Darwin Cathedral, as a proponent of "progressive Christianity", most recently being lead organizer of the 2016 "Common Dreams" conference in Brisbane. He is an outspoken supporter of same-sex marriage, but perhaps even more troubling, he rejects key understandings of Christianity that he will be required to reaffirm at his consecration (having already promised at his ordination to teach them), writes Australian cleric, David Ould.
The deeper question is why anyone should be surprised! I remember Aspinall when he was the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Australia, and he would turn up, by invitation, to general conventions of the Episcopal Church, where he was greeted with great enthusiasm. No such invitation was ever extended to an orthodox archbishop. Aspinall reveled in the bosom of fellow liberals and revisionists in TEC.
In 2014, I wrote that under Aspinall's leadership, the Australian church showed numerical and financial decline, subsisted on bad theology, sex scandals, aging congregations and poor governance issues with nine of the 23 dioceses facing an uncertain future. Philip Aspinall was at the center of the degeneration. The whole business was described as being in a "parlous state."
Aspinall bowed out as titular head of the church after nine years bookended by bitter rows over child sexual abuse. As one observer noted, even though the sexual abuse stuff obviously had to be dealt with, Aspinall seems to have used it - as he does in his speech - to transform the Primate from a mere chairman among equals into a president wielding power!
The 54-year-old stayed on as the Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane, his appointment as Archbishop was made when Peter Hollingworth was named governor-general in 2001. Hollingsworth, the disgraced, shamed and justifiably maligned, former Archbishop of Brisbane, was exposed as grossly negligent on Aspinall's watch, on allegations that amounted to paedophilic priests and school teachers working in Anglican schools in the Brisbane diocese being protected. Aspinall confronted allegations that the Brisbane diocese had failed to act against predatory priests and teachers employed by church schools.
"I recall that in the Diocese of Brisbane, even those who are theologically the same stripe as Aspinall regard him as pretty ruthless when it comes to his own authority. And he micro-manages . . . he MUST be 'in charge' right to the smallest detail," said a source.
The ultra-liberal leader not only supported the pansexual agenda of The Episcopal Church, he personally invited the most heretical bishop - John Shelby Spong of The Episcopal Church - into his diocese, befriending and defending the Newark bishop. Spong had nothing but praise for the ultra-liberal Anglican primate. Aspinall, in turn, came to admire TEC's leadership in changing the faith and was an occasional visitor to Episcopal Church General Conventions. Ironically, former Anglican Archbishop Peter Hollingworth banned Spong from Brisbane Anglican churches in 2001. But two years on from his ban, Spong, who stayed with Aspinall, was invited to preach at St John's Cathedral. as well as two other Anglican churches, even though Spong had denied most of the essential doctrines of the Christian Faith. An organizer of the visit, the Rev. Greg Jenks, said Bishop Spong would be more welcome this time because of the change in leadership. That turned out to be true.
Conservative evangelical leaders in Brisbane tried to reach out to Aspinall when he was elected Archbishop; however, he used his knowledge of what the liberals in Brisbane regarded as their "power base" to basically divide the "moderates" in each case from what he considered the "hard liners". It is only the Diocese of Sydney that prevented Australian Anglicanism becoming a clone of TEC.
Addressing the subject of homosexuality, Aspinall stated, "On the face of it a small number of biblical texts seem to condemn homosexual sexual activity. However, we must also recognize that, though there is still much to learn, we do know now more than the biblical authors knew in their age about homosexuality. That must be taken into account as must the experience of homosexual people who are committed to Christ and the Church and who do not believe they are called to celibacy."
In his presidential address, Aspinall talked at length about Child Protection and the Royal Commission on child sex abuse, but bewailed that neither the General Synod, nor the Standing Committee, nor the Primate, nor the General Secretary has any power to compel compliance.
Is it any wonder that he would appoint a man who is happy to abandon the creed!
Ould reports that in a 2010 ABC Radio National interview with Rachael Kohn he took part in a discussion of Progressive Christianity. The interview includes this exchange:
Rachael Kohn: Do you specifically then have difficulties with the Apostles' Creed that you might like to rewrite it or ditch it?
Jeremy Greaves: I'd be happy to abandon the Creed.
As Ould observes, "a bishop in the Anglican Church of Australia, Greaves may struggle to represent the church with integrity. The Constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia opens with these words:
Chapter I. -- FUNDAMENTAL DECLARATIONS
1. The Anglican Church of Australia, being a part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ, holds the Christian Faith as professed by the Church of Christ from primitive times and in particular as set forth in the creeds known as the Nicene Creed and the Apostles' Creed.
It will be his role to uphold and teach that faith which is in particular set forth in statements that he has publicly stated he would "be happy to abandon".
As the interview concludes, we hear this as he discusses the tension being speaking clearly about what he actually believes and the need to continue to draw a salary from his position:
Rachael Kohn: When you said the gut, it reminded me of what Gretta Vosper said, she was quoting Carter Haywood, who named the lurch in her stomach as God. What was your response to Gretta's charge to the conference here to leave behind a lot of what has been traditional about Christianity, and even abandon some of the terminology?
Jeremy Greaves: I feel very conflicted about some of those things because -- and she talked about that chasm between what so many of us believe and what we feel we have permission to say in our churches. And for so many of us in ministry, we're locked into a model where the people who sit in the pews pay our salaries, pay our way. I have a wife and three small children to support, and so the challenge of being too prophetic and changing too many things too quickly is that there won't be enough people left in the short term to help me survive financially, and that's a brutal and very difficult challenge.
"And for so many of my colleagues in their 60s, which the majority, certainly in the Anglican church clergy are, they can probably get away with doing the same thing for another three or four years, and I have probably 30 years of ministry ahead, and that won't work. And so the real challenge, from what Gretta has said, is knowing that we need to be somewhere else, but for me it's the fear that comes with that and perhaps lacking the courage sometimes to go quite as far as we perhaps need to go.
It does seem now that fear of loss of income or worry about permission to speak is no longer a problem when the Archbishop is happy to appoint as bishop a man who publicly stated he would abandon the Apostles' Creed."
In the last few weeks, three former Anglican leaders in Tasmania, Perth and New South Wales have been embroiled in sexual misconduct with young boys with charges of pedophilia aimed at least two of the Anglican leaders.
This is the legacy of Aspinall's liberalism and it continues to play out with the appointment of a man who is happy to abandon the creed!
On the Mainline
Worship with us:
Sundays at 4:00pm.
210 S. Wayne Ave, Wayne, PA