Donald Robinson (1922 – 2018) Archbishop of Sydney
Bishop Robinson, lectured at Moore Theological College for more than 30 years, influenced a generation of future ministers and scholars. His innovative approach to Biblical Theology is one of his many lasting legacies. While a scholar of great intellect, he was also a man of great humility and grace.
One of the towering figures of Anglicanism in the 20th century and former Archbishop of Sydney Bishop Donald Robinson died at the age of 95 years on 7th September 2018.
Donald William Bradley Robinson was born in Lithgow and educated at North Sydney Boys High School, Sydney Church of England Grammar School. He studied classics at Sydney University, graduating in 1946, and then theology at Queens College, Cambridge. He began his ordained ministry in 1950.
Donald Robinson was a lecturer and Vice-Principal at Moore College, before becoming Bishop in Parramatta and later Archbishop of Sydney and Metropolitan of New South Wales.
The first to pay tribute was the current Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies, who described the contribution of Bishop Robinson as ‘immeasurable’.
“We have lost a giant in the world of New Testament scholarship” Dr Davies said in a statement.
“Bishop Robinson, who lectured at Moore Theological College for more than 30 years, influenced a generation of future ministers and scholars. His innovative approach to Biblical Theology is one of his many lasting legacies.
While a scholar of great intellect, he was also a man of great humility and grace.” the Archbishop said.
“His influence in the Anglican Communion was also highly significant and his becoming Bishop in Parramatta and subsequently Archbishop of Sydney for more than a decade gave opportunity for him to declare the glories of Christ through his commitment to the truths of God’s word, which was exemplified in his godly personal leadership.”
The Principal of Moore College, Dr Mark Thompson, also paid tribute saying Bishop Robinson’s influence on the College and the Diocese ‘has been immense and it continues as strong as ever.’
“He taught us how to read the Bible as a whole, to understand its big picture of ‘biblical theology’. His insights have been shared around the world thanks to Graeme Goldsworthy’s `Gospel and Kingdom` and Vaughan Roberts’ `God’s Big Picture`. He taught us to think about church the way the Bible speaks about church rather than to impose our traditions on the Bible. He taught us to be courageous when our biblical convictions are not shared by others and to do so without personal animosity or venom.” Dr Thompson said.
In 1996, Donald gave some mature reflections on biblical theology in a paper presented at the Moore College School of Theology. Here he explained his approach to the Bible as a whole.
… we enunciated a biblical ‘typology’ using three stages in the outworking of God’s promise to Abraham, that is, (a) the historical experience of the [partial] fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham through the exodus to the kingdom of David’s son in the land of inheritance, (b) the projection of this fulfilment into the future day of the Lord by the prophets, during the period of decline, fall, exile and return, and (c) the true fulfilment in Christ and the Spirit in Jesus’ incarnation, death, resurrection, exaltation and his parousia as judge and saviour in a new heaven and new earth. (‘Origins and Unresolved Tensions’, in R.J. Gibson (ed), Interpreting God’s Plan: Biblical Theology and the Pastor (Carlisle: Paternoster, 1977), 9).
Dr Thompson said Donald Robinson “could capture the imagination of generations of students as, with a twinkle in the eye, he promised to take them to the moon but not necessarily to bring them back. We thank God for a faithful life as tutor, lecturer, Vice Principal, Bishop and Archbishop, but above all as a disciple of Christ and biblical scholar.”
“A Man of Words and a Man of his Word” – Donald Robinson’s Funeral Service held at St Andrew’s cathedral on 11th September 2018.
Remembering Donald Robinson
Photos of Bishop Donald Robinson by Ramon Williams
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