Promoting Christ-centred Biblical Ministry

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EFAC (NSW) at the CMS Summer School

"EFAC's Passion and Vision gave solid foundations to Global South".

reprinted from the Autumn 2008 edition of Essentials



So claimed retired West Malaysian Bishop, Yong Chen Fah, speaking of the critical role played by Australian missionaries and others in the lives of the newly emerging evangelical leadership of the Global South. Chen Fah delivered the annual EFAC lecture at CMS Summer School at Katoomba in January this year. He has been appointed by Archbishop Peter Jensen to care for and advise the many Chinese Anglican Churches in Sydney over the next two years.

Deryck Howell is a long-time EFAC member and Archdeacon of South Sydney.

In a wide-ranging address before 150 EFAC members, supporters and interested friends, Chen Fah spoke of the history of EFAC with its genesis in the vision of John Stott to provide for theological education for young evangelical future church leaders from the developing nations. He spoke of the success of this work now seen in the significant number of such leaders, whose training was provided by EFAC and other support, giving direction to the Anglican Communion. "As a result of EFAC's passion and vision", he said," the Global South has taken the leadership of standing against TEC and the liberal agenda."


Bishop Yong says the crisis in the Anglican Communion has forced the Global South not only to assume international leadership responsibilities, but to re-examine the importance of developing home-grown evangelical theological education. "Will EFAC and other evangelical groups continue their support? And in what way will CMS prepare for that day?" he asked


"In honour of Abraham"


At the same meeting, EFAC (NSW) also had the honour of hosting the official launch of a long-awaited literary project being undertaken jointly by the Australian Theological Research Foundation, The Australian Church Record and Moore College. Edited by Peter Bolt and Mark Thompson, the project is in gratitude and celebration of the gift that Bishop Donald Robinson has been to the church and in particular his gifts of scholarship, teaching and preaching. It is fitting that two institutions which he loves and to which he has devoted so much of his life should join in publishing these volumes. Of course, many will know of his hugely influential post-Moore College ministries as Bishop in Parramatta (1973-1982) and as Archbishop of Sydney (1982-1993), but his influence as a scholar and teacher exceeds even these.


On that pleasant January afternoon at Katoomba, in the presence of family, friends, Moore College Faculty and Board members, and many former students, including Bishop Yong Chen Fah, and the present Principal, John Woodhouse, Archbishop Peter Jensen launched Vols I and II of "Donald Robinson – Selected Works". In launching the Works, Peter Jensen described Bishop Robinson as 'Abraham… a father of a multitude' because of 'those who have come to faith through those he taught'.


In addition, there was the surprise (for the author) launch of an "Appreciation" volume of articles both biographical, historical and biblical. This volume is a very interesting collection which illustrates better than in almost any other way the lasting nature of Donald Robinson's influence as a teacher, for they are mostly written by those whom Peter Jensen called the "second generation" – men and women taught in the main by those first taught by the Bishop. Dealing with many of the subjects Bishop Robinson himself wrestled with and wrote about, they are a testimony to his capacity to enthuse and inspire down the generations.


The late Dr Alan Cole was a contemporary of both Bishop Robinson and Dr Broughton Knox on the staff of Moore College. In the College magazine Alan described his colleagues thus: "Broughton: a celestial bulldog with his teeth firmly planted in the hindquarters of the enemies of God. Donald: a celestial flea hopping from one new theory to the next." Many have written of the very effective interplay, benefit and effectiveness seen in their partnership, but I've always thought "theory" was not what Donald Robinson was about. While his mind is eclectic, it is also extremely disciplined and careful, as was Broughton's, and nowhere more so than in the way he approaches the Bible. Nevertheless he was and is always persistent in asking the difficult questions of the text, never with the aim of standing over it, but always aiming to understand what it actually says so he and others might please the Father in obedience to His word. This is clear in all the writings in the collection, both from the Bishop's own pen and those of his descendants in the faith.


As I have read (and for some articles, re-read) Bishop Robinson, and as I have listened over the past 40 years to sermons and read everything from Bible study materials to children's tracts and Sunday School and Special Religious lesson material; watched DVDs of gospel proclamation, apologetics and Bible teaching (like Summer School Bible talks) and read theology; and as I have sat at the feet of many of his former students, it is clear that Bishop Robinson's influence has gone far beyond the Vice-Principal's study in Carillon Avenue, Newtown.


Because of his example and teaching, for example, many children in our churches now have a biblical and theological understanding undreamt of when I went to Moore College in the 1960's in my 20's; Moore College has an international reputation for rigorous biblical scholarship and determined application of the Word of God to all of life; and many many people all over the world have heard the voice of God clearly and been embraced by the Saviour.


EFAC (NSW) is delighted to have hosted the launch of this marvellous tribute to a generous servant of the Lord, and prays for an even greater effect, under God, of Donald Robinson's work through its circulation.





Donald Robinson autographs copies of his Works for Rev George Athas, lecturer at Moore College. Photograph courtesy of Southern Cross.


This photo courtesy of Anglican Church League



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