Back to basics for Anglican church

A Hamilton vicar wants to take the Anglican Church back to basics and get leaders preaching from the same song sheet.

Vicar of West Hamilton Anglican Parish, the Rev Michael Hewat, is "concerned" at the fact some church leaders say they do not believe in the resurrection and the virgin birth.

"That saps confidence," he said.

There's been doubt, even in the Anglican Church, for years over whether or not Jesus was actually the son of God - with the English Bishop of Durham Dr David Jenkins famously questioning the Bible in a 1984 television interview.

Dr Jenkins doubted God arranged a virgin birth, Jesus walked on the water, and thought congregations who didn't believe Jesus was the son of God could still consider themselves Christians.

Billboards at the Anglican St Matthews in the City church in Auckland have also offered alternative takes on the Bible at Christmas and Easter, suggesting Jesus's mother, Mary, may not have been a virgin and asking whether Jesus was gay.

"The fact is that if the church is not preaching the Gospel then people are not going to come along," Mr Hewat said.

He hopes to take the church back to basics today with a day-long seminar Restoring Confidence in the Gospel.

"What we are doing is not at all radical, we are just being concerned with what the church has always said it believed concerning Jesus," Mr Hewat said.

The Apostles' Creed, which outlines the basics of the four Gospels, is recited in churches around the world every Sunday morning.

"We do very well caring for people and social justice but we are not teaching about Jesus. We are not wanting to be critical, but we are trying to affirm the Bible."

Mr Hewat has split his time between his parish and Anglicans For Faith Intercession, Renewal and Mission (AFFIRM) since February and it is as chief executive of AFFIRM that he is speaking today.

He has conducted several seminars around the country, drawing people mostly from within the church but also from outside.

Mr Hewat, Hamilton-based Bible college lecturer Don Moffat and AFFIRM chairman the Rev Max Scott will present on confidence in the Bible as God's word, Jesus as saviour and lord and the church as Christ's body on Earth and will leave time at the end of the day for questions and discussion.

Mr Scott, vicar of St Margaret's Anglican Church in Hillsborough, Auckland, said there was a "lack of confidence in the Bible" and that the church was moving away from it's own teaching.

"Let's have a look at what we really do believe . . . Jesus has been the most influential person to have lived in the world's history."

The seminar, at West Hamilton Anglican Parish church in Rifle Range Rd, starts at 9.30am and costs $15.

WHAT IS AFFIRM

The Anglican For Faith Intercession Renewal and Mission is a partnership of voluntary societies and groupsin the New Zealand Anglican Church that seeks to recall the church to biblical faith, the life of prayer, spiritual renewal and effective mission.

AFFIRM upholds the creedal beliefs of the Anglican Church, and affirm especially: The love of God as the source and motive of our life and mission; The Lordship of Jesus Christ over the church and the world; The authority of the Bible as God's living word to individuals and communities; The Holy Spirit's gifting of all Christian women and men for their varied ministries; The centrality of evangelism within the whole mission of the church; The need for continuing renewal of local congregations as living communities of faith and love; The priority of prayer and worship as under girding all Christian life and action.

Waikato Times