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An Enigmatic Life: David Broughton Knox


A review of An Enigmatic Life: David Broughton Knox-Father of Contemporary Sydney Anglicanism by Marcia Cameron, (343 pages, published by Acorn Press, 2006) by Brian Edgar, Director of Public Theology, The Australian Evangelical Alliance.
The importance of this book is revealed in the subtitle, for Broughton Knox was indeed ‘the Father of Contemporary Sydney Anglicanism’. Consequently, his influence extends even further than that, for Sydney Anglicanism is now influencing Anglicanism and evangelicalism around Australia and the world. The diocese is one of the largest, and is the wealthiest Anglican diocese in the world and its theology and its ministry are spreading.
Knox was a scholar in the classical reformed tradition of theology, reading the Scriptures through the eyes of Augustine, the Reformers and other evangelical Anglican scholars. While his writings were not extensive, his influence on the formation of a generation of Anglican clergy through his teaching and then his leadership as Principal of Moore College for 29 years has been profound.
While others became bishops and archbishops and moved off into the Sydney diocese and beyond, Broughton Knox remained at Moore College and his influence is the result of a long period an effective work in one place. With Donald Robinson as vice principal for some years (before becoming Archbishop) ‘Knox and Robinson’ remain as the most authoritative of theological sources-even among recent college students.
Marcia Cameron’s excellent description of Knox’s life, relationships and ministry in a well produced volume from Acorn Press is a valuable resource for anyone wanting to understand contemporary Anglicanism. Her depiction of Knox demonstrates his strengths and his weaknesses, both as a leader and as an individual. His love of God was never in question, but his relationships with others were varied.
In 1954 Knox was appointed vice principal of Moore College, with Marcus Loane as principal, and he remained there until 1985 after becoming Principal in 1959. From very early on he established his intention to focus upon teaching the Bible, albeit at the expense of other subjects relating to practical ministry, pastoral training and the whole world situation. His response to one request from students ‘that the course of study in the College include the relation of the Bible and the Church to the whole world situation’ was simply, ‘Absurd. The idealism of the uninformed. Ignore it.’
This was, according to Cameron,


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