Robert Menzies (1894 – 1978) prime minister
A Bible is for life. Robert Menzies understood this. Before he became Australia’s longest-serving Prime Minister, he was the President of the Melbourne University Students’ Christian Union in 1916. Not surprisingly, therefore, Menzies credited his religious education for many things – but his support for church schools and church-run colleges stands out.
One of Menzies’ favourite teachers, Frank Shann, encouraged the knowledge –hungry WASP to memorise thousands of lines of poetry, “chiefly Shakespeare,” writes the historian A. W. Martin. Still, it was the Bible that helped him make sense of it. Or to paraphrase the atheist Christopher Hitchens: You can’t read Shakespeare without a Bible!
The Bible was a significant part of Menzies’ life. As a former Wesley College boy, he had a good foundation although his family’s Protestant roots must also be acknowledged.
While at Melbourne University, studying law, Menzies heard a lecture given by C H Nash, who was to become Principal of the Melbourne Bible Institute in 1920. Menzies later testified to Nash and to Leyland Wang, a visiting Indonesian Christian, that Nash held high a copy of the New Testament (it happened to be a Greek New Testament) and proclaimed ‘In this book is all I know of Jesus Christ and all I need to know of what God has in store for me’. Menzies testified that in consequence of this dramatic scene, he never gave up reading the Bible.
The religious beliefs of Australia’s prime ministers
Menzies was notably Scots in his personal identification. His father James, though not by first choice a Methodist has been called ‘a dedicated and highly emotional Methodist lay preacher’. Growing up in Jeparit in country Victoria, where there was no Presbyterian church, Menzies lived in a largely Methodist world. Yet he maintained Presbyterian roots through his grandmother and from the time of his secondary school education in Melbourne attended a Presbyterian church. His wife Pattie was Presbyterian too and they married in a Presbyterian church. For the rest of his life he described himself as just ‘a simple Presbyterian’.
Complete article : http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=24159
Robert Menzies won a scholarship which took him to Wesley College in Melbourne, an independent school that the Wesleyan Methodist Church had founded in the nineteenth century in Victoria.
Complete article : http://www.science.org.au/fellows/memoirs/menzies.html
The Challenging but Glorious Heritage, Difficult but Joyful birth, and Troubled but Triumphant Childhood of the Melbourne University Evangelical Union, 1930 to 1940 (.pdf download)
James Menzies, Bob Menzies father : https://atributetoaustralianchristians.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/james-menzies/
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