This is odd to say the least as Pentecostalism has taken root throughout the Christian community in Australia and within many Australian Baptist churches. It seems that the Baptist World Alliance is simply unaware of the international planting of new churches around the world by Australian Pentecostal groups - Hillsong and the 3C church.
Reverend Callam stated that dialogue team members have been drawn from the six regions of the BWA:
Henry Mugabe from Zimbabwe (Africa);
Miyon Chung from South Korea (Asia);
Burchell Taylor from Jamaica (Caribbean);
Nigel Wright from the United Kingdom (Europe);
Richard Serrano of Venezuela (Latin America); and
William Brackney from Canada and David Goatley from the United States (North America).
Chairman of Well-Being Australia and a Baptist Minister of 35 years (Ret), Reverend Doctor Mark Tronson says that no one doubts these esteemed Baptist representatives and their professional pedigrees are without guile:
For example, Nigel Wright is principal of Spurgeon's College; Richard Serrano is president of the Baptist Theological Seminary in Venezuela.
William Brackney is director of the Acadia Center for Baptist and Anabaptist Studies at Acadia Divinity College, a member of the BWA Commission on Christian Ethics and the Commission on Doctrine and Christian Unity, among other BWA appointments; and
David Goatley is executive secretary-treasurer of the Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention and, among other BWA appointments, sits on the General Council and is chair of the METR Advisory Committee.
However, no Australian representative on such an international team of Baptists seems a strange anomaly for the following three key reasons, says Dr Tronson.
1. Many Australian Baptist Churches have moved from Renewal, and from Charismatic, into Pentecostal idealism: meaning the form of worship, and how they reflect theologically on healing and prophecy.
2. The many Australian Baptist Churches who have not moved in such Penetcostal directions are faced each day with neighbouring Pentecostal churches who challenge orthodox main-stream Protestant theology and in their presentation from solid Bible teaching to an emphasis on "life-style" (a ready illustration are the nature of the books the Pentecostal's recommend).
3. Many Australian Baptist Churches have a different emphasis on healing and prophecy whereby their Pentecostal neighbours happily lay their hands on anyone despite the subsequent possible consequences to those individuals and their families. More so, where a prophetic words turn into psychological forms of manipulation for control over individuals and that of raising money.
Every day issues for Australian Baptist Churches
These are every day issues for every Australian Baptist Church throughout the nation and a voice at this international dialogue table would have been of great value to the discussions. It seems that the Baptist World Alliance have firmly closed their eyes and moreover, seem oddly unaware of Hillsong and 3C Churches international expansion.
Mark Tronson says that in his personal situation, earning two doctorates and vast international experience having served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years and Olympic ministry since 1984, nonetheless, his Baptist credential is light-weight compared to the Reverend Dr Ross Clifford AC, a BWA Vice President, the distinguished Principal of Morling Seminar in Sydney, author of numerous books, and in Dr Tronson's view, should be a member of that consult group.
Even Australian World Vision CEO, Baptist Minister, the Reverend Tim Costello AO elected by the National Trust as a "National Living Treasure" should have been invited, offering his vast experience.
Both have been elected as Presidents of the Baptist Union of Australia and these are just two of a number of internationally acclaimed Australian Baptist personages.
This is simply another example, of an "antipodean whitewash" where those of us living and ministering with these major issues "day-by-day" get sidelined by the northern hemisphere.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html