Friday, 4 April 2008

Nominalism and Peter Jensen

Archbishop Peter Jensen's hour long chat with Richard Fidler on the ABC is worth listening to.

Plenty of personal snippets (Peter once worked for a year in the same law office as former PM John Howard), along with some reflections on nominalism as it was practised back then in the 1950s. PFJ hints that a part of the high church attendance figures had to do with parents sending their children along to Sunday School and then going off to play golf, as his parents did at the time.

I can well believe his theory of how nominalism looked, and confirm it from my experience of the tail-end of nominalism back in the 1970s. Fast forward to the present. When we were involved in Little Athletics for most of last year, you could go along to the sports oval in Lane Cove and see a thousand people (including adults) giving up a minimum of three hours to worship in the cathedral of track and field. Although it was the little kids that were doing the hard work, while the grown-ups stood around drinking coffee and chatting, or heading off to buy a nice greasy bacon and egg roll or some form of junk food.

A generation ago, the analogous scenario was being played out in our churches. A similar group of a thousand people would've been at some local church on a Sunday; mainly because they thought it was doing the kids some good and because everyone else did it.


John H said...

The other issue is what the church did when it had all those children in its Sunday schools. As one Church of England evangelist put it, we had the nation's children in our churches, and did we take the opportunity to teach them the gospel? No, we taught them to memorise the names of the kings of Judah and Israel...

portable people said...

Thanks Gordon for the link to this interview. Loved in particular how he kept bringing Richard back to the Bible. The last 5 minutes especially helpful in answering the curly questions we get, and what drives us to evangelize.