The Doctrine Commission of the Anglican Church of Australia exists to examine questions of doctrine referred to it by various church bodies, and to generally make recommendations on matters of doctrine which are of importance to the church. It consists of 11 members selected by the Primate, in consultation with the Standing Committee.
For more information, and for reports and documents published by the Doctrine Commission, please use the links below.
The Doctrine Commission (formerly known as the Doctrine Panel) was constituted under the Strategic Issues, Commissions, Task Forces and Networks Canon 1998 - 2007, with the following functions:
- To examine questions of doctrine referred to it by the Primate, the Standing Committee or the General Synod, and to report thereon to the referring party and the Standing Committee; and
- To make recommendations to the Standing Committee on matters of doctrine which are of importance to this church.
The chair & members of the Doctrine Commission are appointed by the Primate, in consultation with the Standing Committee. The term of the current Doctrine Commission commenced in March 2008, and runs for 5 years (concluding in February 2013).
Prior to 1998, the Doctrine Commission was constituted by the GENERAL SYNOD COMMISSIONS CANON 1969-1992 (Canon 8,1969, Canon 13, 1973, Canon 1, 1981, Canon 11, 1985, Canon 7, 1989, Canon 5, 1992):
Part V: The Doctrine Commission
- A commission is appointed to be known as the Doctrine Commission.
The functions of the Doctrine Commission are
to consider and to report to the referring body its findings on matters of Christian doctrine referred to it by Synod, the House of Bishops, or other agencies of the Church; and
- to examine matters of Christian doctrine that, in the opinion of the Doctrine Commission, concern this Church and should be examined by it; and
- to serve generally as a consultant body especially for other Commissions
- The Doctrine Commission shall consist of a chairperson and eleven other members who shall be selected by the Primate after consultation with the Standing Committee.
The current membership of the Doctrine Commission is:
- The Most Rev'd Jeffrey Driver (Adelaide) - Chair
- The Rt Rev'd Dr Michael Stead (Sydney) - Secretary
- The Rev'd Dr Mark Thompson (Sydney)
- Dr Clair Smith (Sydney)
- The Rev'd Prof Dorothy Lee (Melbourne)
- The Rev'd Canon Dr Matthew Anstey (Adelaide)
- The Rev'd Dr Gregory Seach (Perth)
Please click on the relevant report to download a full copy.
2010 Report to General Synod
Attachments to Report:
Anglican-Uniting Dialogue - 'For the Sake of the Gospel'
Comments on IASCER response
2007 Report to General Synod
Attachments to Report:
2005 DC Admission of Children to Holy Communion
2005 DC Report on Rochester Report
2006 DC Response to Agreed Statement on Christology
2006 DC Response to Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission
2007 DC Cohabitation Report
2007 DC Eucharistic Ministry in the Absence of a Priest
2007 DC Holy Matrimony Canon Amendment
2007 DC Theological Issues Surrounding Sexual Abuse
2004-03 Report to General Synod
2001 Report to General Synod
2001 Response to the Virginia Report
The Doctrine Commission provided a Response to Virginia Report (1997) in 2001. The report and the Church's response remain important and relevant to current debates which have focussed particular attention on the nature and significance of fellowship in the global Communion.
The Virginia Report raised these questions at a time of increasing diversity in the Anglican Communion. Not only has the communion grown and expanded sigificantly in Africa and Asia but significant re-evaluations of conventional thought and belief have created or exposed tensions and divisions within the church. Such tensions threaten the unity of member churches and individual Christians, so that we too often seem to hear in what we say to one another, "I have no need of you."
2010 Nurturing Nature - Essays on Ecological Theology
The Doctrine Commission has produced the following collection of essays, which were published in a special edition (#212) of the St Mark's Review, entitled "nurturing Nature".
- Introduction - Philip Freier
- 'To Rule' and 'To Subdue' in Genesis 1 - Michael Stead
- Sabbath and Ecology - Glenn Davie
- Ecology and the Johannine Literature - Dorothy Lee
- Groan But Not As Those Who Have No Hope - Mark Thompson
- Fallen Images and Redeemed Dust: Being Human in God's Creation - Heather Thomson
- Creation, Worship and the Body - John Dunnill
- To Use and Enjoy: Augustine and Ecology - Andrew McGowan
- Christ and Creation - Peter Adam
- Trinitarian Experience and the Ecological Imperative - Duncan Reid
Parishes can purchase copies of these essays through the General Synod Office, or from St Mark's National Theological Centre, Barton ACT (www.stmarksntc.org.au).
2008 Sex Abuse and The Church
The Doctrine Commission produced the following collection of essays, which were published in a special edition (#205) of the St Mark's Review, entitled "Sex Abuse and the Church".
2006 Mission Shaped Church
The Doctrine Commission produced the following collection of essays which were published in a special edition of St Mark's Review on the "Mission Shaped Church".
2004 Lost in Translation?
How do we read Scripture? Is there an agreed 'Anglican' way of interpreting the Bible? Are there any established principles that guide us in how we may understand the meaning of texts that currently divide Anglicans, especially in areas of sexuality and authority? And how may we respond to those who accuse the churches of frustrating the proclamation of the good news by the contradictions in their teaching about the Bible?
The papers collected under the sub-title Perspectives from the Doctrine Commission of the Anglican Church of Australia are written by members of that Commission. The writers do not claim to have all the answers to these questions. They do seek, however, to encourage the continuing exploration of some basic relevant questions from a variety of different perspectives.
Porter, Muriel, & Cowdell, Scott. & Anglican Church of Australia. Doctrine Commission. 2004, Lost in Translation? : Anglicans, Controversy and the Bible : Perspectives from the Doctrine Commission of the Anglican Church of Australia/ edited by Scott Cowdell & Muriel Porter Desbooks, Thornbury, [Vic.].
2001 Faithfulness in Fellowship
The Doctrine Commission has been engaged with examining the issue of human sexuality, a task that begun in 1998 following a General Synod Resolution (70/98) concerning the Kuala Lumpur Statement
The Commission developed a report and study guide examining the various aspects of Scripture, theology, science, etc that bear on discussion of human sexuality called Faithfulness in Fellowship. (Mulgrave, Vic. : John Garratt Publishing, 2001.)
The papers developed in the report were not only the result of the personal study, reflection and prayer of the individual authors, but also of discussion, debate, and criticism from the entire Commission. The report shows briefly the points of agreement and divergence amongst members of the panel particularly over the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of gay and lesbian people who are involved in committed, sexual relationships.
Although no consensus emerged amongst its members, the Commission indicated that no legislative action in the Church should be taken and so recommended that further study and prayer be undertaken on the issue.
Is confirmation necessary in Anglican theology? : a study paper prepared by John Dunnill for the Doctrine Commission of the General Synod (Standing Committee of General Synod, 1997).
Confirmation Paper - John Dunnill (interim copy)
1996 Who May Celebrate
Who May Celebrate? : Boundaries of Anglican Order/a second publication by the Doctrine Commission of the General Synod on the Identity of the Eucharistic President or Administrant of Holy Communion; edited by Ivan Head.
[Sydney]: Standing Committee of General Synod, 1996.
Robert Doyle 'Word and Sacrament in Catholic and Evangelical Theology' - pages 8-19.
Scott Cowdell 'Word and Sacrament: A Reformed Catholic Reflection' - pages 20-26.
Scott Cowdell 'Priestly Leadership, Eucharistic Presidency and Lay Vocation' - pages 59-65.
FROM THE RESOLUTIONS OF THE 1998 GENERAL SYNOD
23/98 Doctrine Commission
That this Synod receives the Report of the Doctrine Commission, commends the following publications to the Church for study, and invites comments upon them to be made to the Commission:
'Who May Celebrate: Boundaries of Anglican Order'
'Is Confirmation necessary in Anglican Theology?'
[Bishop G.H. Walden - 15/2/98]
1985 What We Believe
What we believe: a catechism of the Anglican Church of Australia
by Anglican Church of Australia