Charismatic Anglicanism: David Jones

Since returning from England, I’ve been pondering what it means to be a charismatic Anglican here in Australia. I felt my identity as a charismatic Anglican being affirmed and stretched while living in London, but in Melbourne it’s still seen as a little odd! But there’s a lot of us around, coming out of the woodwork so I thought it would be interesting to interview some people on the topic. I have started with Rev. Dr. David Jones, as he’s able to offer a more historical background. He’s worked as a Priest in Tasmania, Adelaide, Bendigo, Sydney, Perth, Grafton and Melbourne, which has given him an Australia-wide perspective. However, having studied at Ridley Hall at Cambridge, UK and Fuller Seminary USA, he is also able to see the bigger picture. David and his wife Gretta attended New Wine Conference last year and when they returned we got chatting about the charismatic movement in Australia.

David Jones, Melbourne
Interview via email, July 2019

What is New Wine Conference, and what led you to attend in 2011 and 2018? 
New Wine began as a parish ministry with Bishop David Pytches 40 years ago. It grew into a national conference. Now there are three such conferences, each with 10,000 people, camping in a showground, with keynote speakers and many seminars to choose from. 

In 2011 I was working as a minister in St James Yeovil in England and that parish went annually to New Wine. In 2018 I happily accepted an invitation to attend.

In 2018 I heard excellent speakers including the Oxford academic Alister McGrath ‘Reformation is still relevant’; Emma Ineson (Principal, Trinity College Bristol) teaching on Ephesians; and Archbishop Justin Welby ‘Re-imagining the church’. The New Wine conference is charismatic, which reflects the evangelical church in England.

Have you experienced any conferences similar in Australia?
The charismatic conferences I attended in Australia between 1977 and 1994, were more centred on a visiting team from overseas, with just keynote speakers.

When I returned to Australia I became involved and recall a very good Anglican Renewal National conference in 1985 at Adelaide with Derek Hong and Bishop Banit Chu, from Singapore.

Researchers tend to categorise charismatic Christianity in three waves
1st wave: Pentecostalism beginning in the late 1800’s, early 1900’s
2nd wave: Charismatic Movement from the 1960’s and 70s
3rd wave: Neo-Charismatic movement from the 1980’s (i.e. John Wimber)

What do you believe was the effect of these movements on Evangelicals in Australia, especially in the Anglican Church?

Each has had an influence. And certain parishes saw local revival with many conversions to Christ. However overall there was not great Australian leadership as I recall. I resisted the Charismatic movement back then, in Australia. 

Whilst at Cambridge an Australian friend invited me to the 1975 Fountain Trust conference in London where I heard speakers like David Watson, Gavin Reid, Thomas Smail, Banit Chu (Bishop of Singapore), Bill Burnett (Archbishop of Capetown), Michael Harper and Francis McNutt. 

Perhaps most significantly John Stott, who never identified as charismatic, and initially was negative, had come out publicly to repent of his earlier opposition, and say he believed the movement was biblical and honouring to God. That was when I did pray for a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit.

When I returned to Australia I became involved and recall a very good Anglican Renewal National conference in 1985 at Adelaide with Derek Hong and Bishop Banit Chu, from Singapore.

Why do you think there has been such a resistance to the charismatic in Australia, from both the evangelical and sacramental traditions? 
That is a good question. Sydney is the leading evangelical Anglican diocese in Australia. There has been a strong lead in Australia since the 1960s opposing the charismatic movement and the ‘Third Wave’ (John Wimber). I recall the English evangelical leader Michael Green, invited to speak in the Diocese of Sydney, having the invitation withdrawn when it was discovered he was both evangelical and charismatic.

When I served as the rector of Parramatta North 1987-1996, it took some years before many of my colleagues would take me seriously! And I recall a neighbouring Sydney rector visiting me after he had experienced healing at a Pentecostal/charismatic service nearby. He wanted to tell someone and although we were not close friends, he knew I would rejoice with him! He declared he could not share this with other Anglican ministers. Such fear seemed widespread.

I have observed that evangelical/Reformed churches generally, across Australia, with few exceptions, are not keen to publicly identify with charismatic things. This despite biblical scholars who are world leaders in the church of the calibre of Jim Packer, C.F.D. Moule, F.F. Bruce and Alister McGrath recognising clear evidence of God in the charismatic movement.

One reason could be that at first glance, the charismatic phenomena might appear fairly odd, and we might not want to be identified with them, as quite rightly, we value being in our right mind. C.S. Lewis, when preaching on “speaking with tongues” admitted that “glossolalia has often been a stumbling-block to me. It is, to be  frank, an embarrassing phenomenon.” (‘Transposition’ in Weight of Glory Eerdmans 1949). He also then gave a good explanation of the gift because he saw the need. It is, after all, there in the Bible.

What have your personally found valuable in the charismatic expression of faith?
I have found an increase in the emotional content of my relationship with Jesus, and I find more joy as I join with others in the praise and worship of God.

I have also found a deeper love for the Scriptures. It seems to bring the whole of the Bible to life for me. I had always loved the Scriptures since reading them using Scripture union notes when I was a teenager. 

It also encourages me to make sense of the spiritual or supernatural elements of our faith (such as angels and demons). E.g. At Cambridge, after 1975, I wrote a paper on the exorcisms of Jesus. At that time the Church of England was being urged by some academics to ban the practice of exorcism in the modern church. That got me thinking about the matter. As we read especially Mark’s gospel and its account of Jesus’ ministry, what indeed was he doing? The earliest non-Christian reference to Jesus in Jewish literature, says that he was executed as a magician. 

Do you see signs of things shifting here in Australia?
Yes I think there may be some signs of a shift here in Australia.

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