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AUSTRALIA: Christological Dispute Leads to Writer's Banishment

AUSTRALIA: Christological Dispute Leads to Writer's Banishment

By Douglas LeBlanc
November 28, 2023

Susanna J. Carlyon faced a doctrinal puzzle about Jesus' death on the cross, and it led her to write a self-published book arguing that Jesus was not God incarnate upon his death.

"If God had died on the cross at Calvary, the world would have ended because of the fact that God is the ultimate source of life, and life is only sustained because of God," the retired nurse wrote. "It is understood that Jesus died once He surrendered His spirit to God, His Father."

Carlyon sent a copy of her book to her bishop, Richard Condie, and sought his views. He invited her to a meeting on November 2 and informed Condie that she would be banished from churches in the diocese if she did not recant the teaching in her book and destroy her copies of it.

In remarks she made to Matthew Denholm of The Australian, who broke the news that she has been banished, Carlyon implied that Jesus was not God incarnate during the rest of his life.

"If we're true to the Scriptures in the New Testament, there's nothing in it that says Jesus was God, so it's an interpretation by church elders that, as Richard Condie said, took them 300 years to work out," she said. "They have over-intellectualized and theorized it and come out with a dogma that doesn't align with the Scriptures."

Such assertions echo the heresy known as Arianism, which argued that Jesus was not God but a created being. The Council of Nicea rejected the teachings of Aries as heretical, and codified what has prevailed as orthodox doctrine in the Nicene Creed.

Carlyon, 72, has written nine books that are listed by the National Library of Australia. She shows a frequent concern for mental health, including the personal account in The Seduction of Suicide: Healing Power of the Spirit -- My Story.

Many of the links from her website, BlitztheBlues, direct people to groups offering counseling or education, including the Salvation Army Careline, GROW, and Duke University's Center for Spirituality, Theology, and Health.

Carlyon told The Australian that the banishment left her feeling "truly devastated."

"He was using bullyboy tactics -- he was like a dog with a bone," she said of her meeting with the bishop. "He wanted me to cave in and apologize and be submissive and repentive. But it wouldn't be true if I had given in.

"As one of my sons said, 'It's just as well they can't burn you at the stake.'"

Bishop Condie has been an outspoken conservative in the mostly liberal Anglican Church of Australia. He offered supportive words for GAFCON's newly launched Diocese of the Southern Cross in August 2022.

"The Diocese of the Southern Cross is a new structure for Anglicans in Australia who can no longer sit under the authority of their bishop," he said then.

"The issue for us is the authority of the Bible," he added. "The decisions at the recent General Synod, the 2020 Appellate Tribunal opinion that opens the way to blessings for same-sex marriages, and the watering down of standards of behavior in changes to Faithfulness in Service are examples of this. The Diocese of the Southern Cross provides an Anglican home for those who feel they need to leave their current Dioceses."

Doctrine was the primary concern in Condie's written communication with Carlyon.

"To claim Jesus was not God when he died on the cross does not accord with orthodox teaching in any Christian tradition, undermines the doctrine of the Trinity and the efficacy of Jesus' death for sin," he wrote to her.

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