Paul’s warning in Romans 12 verse 2 is clear – Do not be conformed to this world. If we’re honest however, it is hard not to be! Our age is so domineering. Our current world has many tools at its disposal to cause us to conform – social media, television, radio, our phones. Even if we were disciplined enough to minimise our use of these things, there are still the billboards that we can’t help but stumble across and the rest of humanity itself, who are on the whole, conformed to this world. I’m usually very hesitant to say that our age is any harder or more sin-filled than any other age. The world, the flesh, and the devil have always been powerfully at work in every age. However, I can’t help but think that the world, in our age, is particularly strong in causing us to conform with the tools at its disposal. Now of course, none of this should be a surprise to the Christian. We know we are in a spiritual battle. And we know that we have been given the spiritual tools for this battle. What I love about Romans 12 verse 2 is that God’s command isn’t simply Do not be conformed. If that was all that was said, I’d feel as though I’d need to become a hermit to have any chance whatsoever! What chance have we when the world is so domineering? However, verse 2 goes on to say, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. The Christian, therefore, is not one who conforms but one who is transformed by the renewing of their mind. This renewing is of course the work of God’s Holy Spirit in the believer by the Word of God. What an extraordinary grace of our God that he would transform us in this way to enable us to discern His will, and therefore not be conformed to this world.
It is in light of such a truth that the Australian Church Record exists. The articles that follow in this journal are written to help stimulate our thinking. They are written so that we might not be conformed to our world but have good discussion from the Word of God to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Of course, what follows is by no means the final word on the matters that are raised. Some may disagree with what’s being said. Others may agree wholeheartedly. Nevertheless, these are matters worthy of our conversation and thinking. If we are not to be conformed to our world, we must and need converse together on a whole range of topics.
In this Sydney synod edition of the ACR Journal, we begin with a piece by Lionel Windsor on remembering God’s truthfulness in all things. This is followed by three articles raising three distinct ways in which we can be conformed to the ways of our world: our safety obsession; cautions over materialism; and a warning about our guts! Mark Thompson then helpfully writes about our need to be biblical and theological during the upcoming Sydney synod debates. As those who desire to discern the will of God in all things, the debates and speeches during the synod should never follow the practices and techniques of our world. In what will no doubt be a more contentious topic at the synod this year, Jason Veitch shares his thoughts and principles when it comes to the question of mandating Pastoral Consultation. In the middle section of the journal, we hear from some of the lay representatives of the synod. Sydney synod has a rich history of involving lay people in decision making and discussions. How can we keep encouraging this legacy? This is followed by some encouraging pieces and testimonies from our sisters involved in the Equip ministries, for which we are particularly thankful to God. And finally, Mark Earngey gives us much to think about when it comes to the question of catechising. Given the domineering nature of our world upon our young, the question of catechising and the need to teach our children is of great importance. Of course, we also have our regular segments. The ‘From the vault’ article was written by an anonymous author (most likely the editor) from July 1961. And there are two book reviews for you to consider.
As always, our prayer as the ACR Editorial panel is that you might be edified, encouraged, and challenged in your reading of this Journal. May we not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of our minds.