Skip to content

With gratitude for a rich (and ongoing) biblical and theological legacy – Moore College

A short quiz:

  1. Which seminary lecturer described his course this way (and when)?

    the course quickly developed into an introduction to the theology of the Bible as a whole … ‘the church’ as such was subsumed under the wider theme of God’s creative purpose for Adam, his promise to Abraham and his seed, the elect people of Israel and the promise to the nations beyond and through Israel

  2. Which seminary lecturer insisted that the doctrine of the church must be understood in the following terms:

    God is ultimate reality and God is Trinity, three persons in one. The Son is in the Father and the Father is in the Son and the Spirit is in both. Ultimate reality, God, is persons in relationship. Thus there is no experience more ultimate than personal relationship, nor more blissful, for this is how God’s being is, and God is ultimate blissfulness.

The answers:

  1. Donald Robinson, former lecturer at Moore College in Sydney, describing a biblical theology course with its roots in a 1954 lecture series.
  2. Broughton Knox, principal of Moore College in Sydney, 1959-1985.

If you’re not familiar with Moore College, you might be surprised by these answers. In the wider world of biblical and theological studies, statements like these have become fashionable only within the last few decades. These statements sound like exemplars of more recent trends: the author of the first quote sounds like a representative of the New Perspective on Paul; the author of the second quote sounds like an advocate of social Trinitarianism. But they’re not. Donald Robinson taught a biblical theological framework which is still highly influential at Moore College, but it’s a framework which is very different from that of the New Perspective, and at a number of key points is diametrically opposed to it. Broughton Knox emphasised (constantly, repeatedly) the ontological primacy of the concept of “relationship”, but he was by no means an advocate of modern social trinitarianism.

As somebody who trained at seminary level at Moore College and is now studying theology in the UK, I’m becoming more and more grateful for the rich theological legacy of people like Knox and Robinson. They were, in certain key aspects of theological education, ahead of their time. In many ways, they still are.

The quotations come from an excellent article by Mark Thompson on the Knox / Robinson understanding of the doctrine of church. In this article, Mark looks at the history, character and theological rationale for this articulation of ecclesiology. Mark urges us to learn from the legacy of Knox/Robinson without adopting it uncritically. He also shoots down some of the shallow caricatures that have sprung up around the doctrine (e.g. that it’s simply “platonic”, or “individualist”, or “congregationalist”). I recommend Mark’s article for those outside Sydney who want to understand this influential aspect of Sydney evangelicalism’s theological heritage. I also recommend it for those who have been trained in Sydney, but who want to gain a greater self-understanding – and, of course, to practise a bit of self-criticism.

Published inBible historyBiblical theologyChurchChurch HistoryTrinity

House of Windsor Editing Services

Bronwyn Windsor - House of Windsor Editing and Proofreading Services

Are you writing a thesis, book, academic article, resource, theological monograph, or anything else?

Bronwyn Windsor offers professional editing and proofreading services for writers. Press here to find out more: House of Windsor Editing Services

Publications by Lionel Windsor:

  • Lift Your Eyes: Reflections on Ephesians

All posts

Recent blog posts

  • Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on UnsplashWhat’s wrong with the world? Is there hope? (Ephesians)
    Guilt, weakness, spiritual slavery, prejudice, arrogance, tribalism, conflict, war, victimhood, persecution, pain, suffering, futility, ignorance, lying, deceit, anger, theft, greed, pornography, sexual sin, darkness, fear, drunkenness, substance abuse, domestic abuse, workplace abuse, spiritual powers... In Paul's letter to the Ephesians, he says many things about the problems we face in this world. He also gives us wonderful reasons to find life, hope and healing in Jesus Christ. Along the way, he provides practical teachings about how to respond and live together.
  • What does Ephesians say about reconciliation?
    We humans are not very good at living up close with others. This is especially true when we have a history of conflict with those others. Reconciliation isn't easy. No matter how much you might want healing, it’s hardly ever a matter of just everybody getting on and pretending the hurts didn’t happen. In Paul's letter to the Ephesians, he says some very important, fundamental things about peace and reconciliation, and gives many other very practical teachings about how to live together in light of these truths.
  • Lift Your Eyes: Reflections on EphesiansLift Your Eyes – How it works
    Lift Your Eyes: Reflections on Ephesians. Here's a video where I explain how the free online resource works.
  • Review: The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self by Carl Trueman
    I need to understand the people around me, so I can live for the gospel among them and speak the gospel to them. To do that, I need to understand the people around me. That's where Carl Trueman's book is so incredibly valuable.
  • What does Ephesians say about church?
    There are so many ideas about what the church is should be. How do we navigate them all? Here are ten key reflections from Ephesians.
  • Reading Ephesians & Colossians After Supersessionism (Cover image)Supersessionism and the New Perspective
    Here are my views on the issue of the New Perspective and Supersessionism, in light of a debate in the Harvard Theological Review.
  • The powerful Christian life: according to Ephesians
    What do we do when we feel weak in the face of powerful people? Here are seven key reflections on power from Ephesians.
  • Liturgy Song – Moore College Revue 2020
    Here's a tribute to our online chapel experience in mid-2020 at Moore College, in the full spirit of parody. I wrote it for our Moore College Revue, and had much fun performing it with Jordan Smith and Monique New.
  • My grandfather’s part in a WWII mission over Modane
    A journey of discovery of some of my family history. My maternal grandfather, Allan Fisher DFC, flew a mission over a rail yard in Modane.
  • Youth praying, Finchale PrioryWhat can we learn about prayer from Ephesians?
    Prayer: What are you doing when you pray? Who are you praying to? Why does it matter? Here are three reflections on prayer from my series on Paul's letter to the Ephesians. #liftyoureyes

On this site

All content copyright Lionel Windsor