The famous Asterix the Gaul comic books that I read when I was a kid begin in this way.
“The year is 50 B.C. Gaul is entirely occupied by the Romans. Well, not entirely … One small village of indomitable Gauls still holds out against the invaders. And life is not easy for the Roman legionaries who garrison the fortified camps of Totorum, Aquarium, Laudanam and Compendium …”
The Gauls gain their fabulous strength from a magic potion brewed by their druid, Getafix. But the secret of their ability to defy the odds, and the Romans, comes from somewhere else. They are possessed of a remarkable inner fortitude. They have an almost casual confidence about them that drives their opponents to distraction. They have a clear sense of shared identity in the face of what seems like insurmountable opposition. They love to eat wild boar.
The way the story of the Anglican diocese of Sydney has been told by her supporters and critics alike often sounds like the opening to Asterix. In the view of Melbourne journalist and Anglican laywoman Muriel Porter, for example, the evangelical variety of Anglicanism that in general characterizes the diocese of Sydney is defiantly peculiar.
As Porter reads it, an Anglicanism that is Catholic in liturgy and liberal in theology has triumphed everywhere. It is the dominant form, and reigns unchecked and unchallenged across Australia and even across the globe. This one small diocese of indomitable, very conservative and (to be frank) completely unhinged evangelical Anglicans holds out against the onward march of liberal Catholic Anglicanism. And life is, as a result, not easy for those who surround it and have to deal with it. Sydney’s commitment to lay presidency at the Lord’s Supper and its objection to the ordination of women to the priesthood are symptoms of the baffling and stubborn irrationality that characterizes the diocese. They simply get in the way of what would be a normal development in other places.
The same story can be told from within the gates of the Sydney Anglican village as well. While all around, Anglicanism has capitulated almost totally to the liberal, broad-church paradigm – with the exception a few parishes in each diocese that are allowed to remain traditional Anglo-Catholic or conservative evangelical – Sydney is the only diocese in which an evangelical form of Anglicanism holds sway. Alone it holds the torch against the onslaught of darkness. Alone it defies the complete capitulation of Anglican Christianity to Western cultural mores. Alone it holds to priority of Scripture over culture as authoritative for church belief and practice. Splendidly, nobly alone.
The uniqueness of Sydney Anglicanism…
Do read on here.