Even though I am not an Anglican I have been watching the race for the archbishop of Sydney with a bit of interest. Why I hear you ask? Because whoever my Anglican brothers and sisters to nominate to be the next the Archbishop of Sydney will invariably be one of the most influential men in the Australian church if not the world. I have been praying daily for my Anglican brothers and sisters and their monumental decision.

The two early candidates have been Rick Smith the Rector of Naremburn Cammeray and Glenn Davies the current bishop of north Sydney. I really don’t know either of these men very well. I have chatted with Glenn a bit and I have spoken on camps where Rick’s eldest daughter (who is a very impressive young lady!) has been one if the participants but that is all.
If I had to vote I am not sure who I would be voting for in this two horse race but some already do and this is a good thing. However there has been the type of talk over social media that has been disconcerting to this outsider. It seems people have been saying “Glenn/Rick would be a good Archbishop of Sydney but….” After the but the well meaning brother in Christ ( I have only noticed men getting into this) will offer up the reasons why Rick or Glenn shouldn’t be the next Archbishop of Sydney. What concerns me is that for political expediency some of us are dragging a brother in Christ through the mud. I am left wondering if Jesus would condone this kind of mud slinging.

I think my Anglican brothers need to take a leaf out of Ronald Reagan’s book. Reagan held to what was know as the the 11th commandment which stated “Thou shalt not speak ill of any Republican.” Why should Reagan not speak ill of any Republican? Because Reagan was a Republican and he knew that to publicly attack a fellow republican was to some extent publicly attack the Republican party. Reagan wrote in the autobiography “An American Life: The Autobiography“:

“The personal attacks against me during the primary finally became so heavy that the state Republican chairman, Gaylord Parkinson, postulated what he called the Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican. It’s a rule I followed during that campaign and have ever since.”

When Reagan challenged President Gerald Ford for the Republican nomination in 1976, he declined to attack his opponent. “I will not put aside the 11th commandment for anyone,” Reagan said in announcing his candidacy.

Whether you are in Glenn’s camp or you are Rick’s fanboy doesn’t matter to me in the slightest. What matters to me is that in attacking Rick or Glenn publicly you are attacking your (and my) own team. You are attacking another Christian and in some sense you are attacking  Christianity.

Guys the world is watching. I can only shudder to think of the news stories that would come about if the media got a hold of some Facebook conversations on this topic.

If you want Glenn to win tell us about what a great theologian he is and the wonders he has done for the gospel in Australian and global Anglicanism. If you want Rick to win tell us about how under his brilliant leadership he has taken his church from a small church plant to a multi-site and multi-ethnic church boasting many congregations and hundreds of members. But let us not attack the brother we are not in favour of having as your next Archbishop of Sydney. Lets have a new 11th commandment.

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