The founding of the New South Wales Auxiliary of the British and Foreign Bible Society on 7 March 1817 has been hailed as a visionary move by the Anglican Archbishop of the Sydney Diocese, Glenn Davies.
Noting that the same men who established Bible Society also formed the Bank of New South Wales a fortnight later, Davies said the move showed extraordinary foresight for a colony in its infancy.
“The men who established both institutions 200 years ago put their deposit in the heavenly realm before the treasures in earthly vessels,” he said. “The word that they treasured so much still speaks to men, women and children today because the word of God is living, active and a two-edged sword.”
He said he was grateful for the Bible Society’s ability to print Bibles in easy-to-read English so that the “living oracles of God” were accessible to today’s generation.
Davies will address a National Celebration of the Bible on Sunday, 5 March. It will be webcast from the Hillsong Convention Centre in Sydney, and will also feature Hillsong’s Brian Houston.
Any church can use the live stream of the webcast, or show a delayed stream. There are also “Lighthouse Churches” carrying the event live.
Bible Society has been operating longer in Australia than any other organisation. The only change is the name. In 2010, the Bible Societies in each state merged into a single organisation, Bible Society Australia. As it has been doing for 200 years, it’s still involved in the translation, publishing, and distribution of the Christian Bible. BSA also aims to engage people with what it calls the Good Book, using traditional and new media.
Two hundred years ago, the Bible was widely viewed as the bread of life and essential for spiritual sustenance. It was widely accepted, unlike today, that the Bible contributed to the private and public good. This is why, as Bible Society Australia marks its bicentenary, what it really wants to celebrate is the Bible – and to advocate for it in every possible way.
Bible Society’s CEO Greg Clarke reminds us that, 200 years on, “there is an enormous amount of work still to be done. We’re not content simply to hand out Bibles. We want to help people engage with the Bible and answer their questions about it,” he says.
“We’re celebrating our 200 years of sharing the Bible by doing more of what supporters want us to do – championing the Bible worldwide, from prisons in Australia to churches in China.”
The Bible remains the world’s best-selling book with more than five billion copies printed. Many Australian national values stem from the Bible. A common Anzac statement is from John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this – to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”.
Clarke says the work of Bible Society will continue both here and throughout the world, adding “the Good Book really is here for good.”
Story from Bible Society Australia, by Anne Lim