Thursday, February 28, 2002

A Christian Funeral

(These observations are intended to assist in the creation of a mindset where we approach dying and Christian funerals in a way that is according to the Gospel and not according to the secularist tendencies of our time.)

Because the age in which we live is very much geared to what we may call the "horizontal" seeking to master space and time and everything therein, and has few thoughts about the relation of the cosmos to its Creator & Judge, or of souls to their Judge, the temptations for those arranging and taking funerals are powerful but somewhat hidden.

We recall that the Christian Funeral is in essence a proclamation of the Christian Hope of the resurrection of the dead unto eternal life with the Lord Jesus, together with the reverent committal of the body of the deceased, baptized believer to the grave in sure and certain hope of the resurrection of the dead. Comfort is conveyed to mourners by the message of Christian Hope, by the promise of the presence of the Spirit of the Lord who is the Comforter, and by effectual prayer.

The whole content of the Anglican Service in church and at the graveside (see the B.C.P. 1662 or 1928) is Christ-centred and thus primarily "vertical." The word of the Father concerning His Son and salvation in him is proclaimed and prayer is offered to the same Father through the Son in the Holy Ghost. As a result there is a movement from the vertical into the horizontal and from the horizontal into the vertical and thereby comfort is brought to the mourners from the Father through the Son and by the Holy Ghost.

In today's culture, when we attempt to keep people alive as long as possible and without pain to the end, the felt need to die in grace a right death (pardoned from sin and in a right relation to God) is minimized. Clergy visiting the dying are asked not to upset them for a good death is a painless death! And when it comes to the funeral, the tendency is to seek to make it a commemoration of the life, work and successes of the deceased and so it has more the character of a remembrance service than of a truly Christian funeral. Mourners are expected to be happy that he/she lived a successful life and "died peacefully"; they are not to be concerned whether he or she died in a state of grace and whether or not he/she has gone to be with the Lord. That they have gone to heaven is often assumed in a kind of sentimental way.

Of course, the modern use of funeral homes with all their commercial interests and psycho-therapeutical techniques, and the secular feeling (whatever the Bible and Creed declare) present amongst the mourners that this world is really the true and the primary world, do very much militate against the funeral as a proclamation of the Christian hope of the resurrection of the dead and life in Christ and the receiving of the comfort of the Gospel.

So the temptations unto mourners, arising particularly from the world in which we live [as aided and abetted by the devil and our own spiritual weaknesses], are powerful , and all to often we are not even aware of them and that we are submitting to them But they should be expected and resisted; further, we should seek to make sure wherever possible that believers have the opportunity to die in a right relation to the Lord and that their funerals are proclamation of the Christian hope and not of their (imperfect) successes. ==========================================

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon Lent 2002

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Hi Rev! (A discussion starter when there is nothing else to discuss)

"Hi Rev!" (boy to priest as he cycles by)

Is the word "Reverend" a word like Pastor, Minister, Doctor, Dean, Deacon, Presbyter, Father and Bishop?

If it is, then even as we can say "Pastor John Smith" and "Pastor Smith" so we can also say "Reverend [John] Smith"

Here Reverend or Revd or Rev. appears to be functioning as a noun.

It is common on the phone - moreso in the USA than in the UK - for clergy persons to be addressed as "Rev. Smith" or "Reverend Smith" and this has the functional advantage of addressing male and female clergypersons in the same way and making "Rev." into a noun like Pastor or Minister.

But what if "reverend" is not a noun and is an adjective and means "deserving reverence" ?

Because it is originally an adjective and because its original use is from the Latin form "reverendus dominus" [Reverend Sir] used of a priest, the older English way was to use "reverend" only with a title be it "dominus" or in English, Mr., Dr., Canon, Professor and so on. Thus "The Reverend Mr./Dr./Fr./Canon/ John Smith" or "the Revd Mr. John Smith" or "the Rev. Mr. John Smith". This was to insist that the person was deserving of reverence in view of ordination and of the church office that he held and not in his own personhood.

This older tradition of standard English has been modified in Great Britain and it is now common to leave out the "Mr./Fr." So the general practice in the Church of England in 2002 appears to be to write to "Rev. John Smith". Here the adjective (whose meaning appears to have been forgotten) is attached to a person with a name rather than to an ordained person with an office. Thus the person being addressed is declared to be in and of himself/herself deserving reverence.

In much of the Episcopal Church it has become commonplace to call male clergypersons "Father" and so they are often addressed as "Father John Smith" and the problem I highlight is avoided. But there is no common agreement yet on how to address a married woman, a single woman living alone, and a woman in a lesbian partnership who is also ordained. Some are using "Mother."

In modern American English it would seem that to speak of "Reverend Smith" is perfectly acceptable for Congress, the Law Courts, novelists, academic institutions and the media. "Reverend" has lost all its original meaning and is simply now a noun pointing to the occupation of a person in the religious sphere.

Personally speaking I shiver when people call me "Reverend Peter" (or the like) for I am very much aware that, as the Psalmist put it, "reverend and holy is thy Name", O Lord. I would much prefer that we recovered the original usage and referred to clergy as The Reverend Mr./Dr./Fr and so on (including I guess now, Reverend Miss/Ms/Mrs). This would highlight that they are set apart by ordination and for this reason only, and only for this reason, they are "reverendus."

Lent II 2002

The Revd Dr. Peter Toon



What I have to say will initially make more sense to my U.K. readers than to those in North America. The reason for this statement is that in North America Mothers’ Day has been totally separated from Lent and specifically from Lent IV, often called Mothering Sunday. In Great Britain the Greetings Card and Flowers industries have made use of the “mother” in “mothering” to call it “Mothers Day” and churches have joined in with the natural human desire to celebrate human motherhood. In so doing the meaning of “Mothering” and of Lent IV have got lost.

The last part of the Gospel reading for Lent III [Luke 11] in the traditional Eucharistic Lectionary contains the exclamation of an excited woman about the mother of Jesus and then the reply of Jesus to her. In this exchange is a word to the British about Lent IV.

“Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that you have sucked.”

“Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it.”

In his reply to the woman Jesus does not deny the blessedness of his mother. What he does is to accept what the woman declared and then invite her to see that there is a higher blessedness than the blessedness of a mother, even of Mary, delighting in her son’s success.

Human motherhood, however necessary and beautiful, belongs to the order of creation and not to the order of the kingdom of God and eternal redemption. In contrast, hearing and receiving the message of the Gospel of the kingdom of God and obeying the same is the means to eternal life and membership of the kingdom of God of the age to come. The happiness of the mother is pure and lovely but belongs to this age; the happiness of the true disciple is also pure and lovely but belongs to the age to come and is permanent.

Of course in Mary the mother of Jesus was the twofold happiness – that of the joy of motherhood (in her case a unique experience of motherhood) and that of the joy of discipleship for she was the disciple of the Son to whom she gave human birth.

What then is the message from Lent III to Lent IV? That the important celebration of human motherhood must not be put before the more important celebration of the Motherhood of the Church (see the Epistle for Lent IV, “The Jerusalem above is free and is our mother” Gal.4:26). “Mothering Sunday” was coined because of pilgrims going to the mother church of the diocese, the cathedral, on this day with gifts.

For clergy and laity who wish to be relevant (whatever that really means) it is much much easier to handle Mothers’ Day than Mothering Sunday. Human mothers are there and can be seen and blessed. In contrast the Church as our Mother is more elusive and moreso in cultures where individualism reigns. However, as the learned and enthusiastic Protestant, John Calvin said, “You cannot have God to be your Father, unless you have the Church as your Mother.”

It is in this Mother’s lap that we heard and hear the Word of God and receive the Sacraments. It is at this Mother’s breasts that we are fed the milk of eternal life. It is this Mother who yearns and prays for us and it is with this Mother in the company of the Blessed Trinity, the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the holy angels that we shall by grace spend eternity.

The Rev’d Dr. Peter Toon February 2002.

from a journalist...

As always, Dr. Toon writes with clarity, as he discusses the use of traditional language in our worship.

In reflecting upon his observations about cultural conservativism, I thought of the number of persons who have told me -- or who have written or spoken in public -- about "finding my true spiritual home in the Anglican/Episcopal church because of the beauty of its music and liturgy." [I've read similar expressions written by persons who have left other branches of the Body of Christ to become members of Orthodox congregations ... while reading complaints by US Roman Catholics that the "beauty of the music and liturgy" has been ruined in their local congregations.]

As one raised in a Methodist congregation in the Bible Belt, I was amazed at the language of the 1928 BCP: the biblical language in many places was sharper than what was in the Methodist "order of worship," and certainly would have provided a better platform for the preaching of the Gospel. "Goodness," I thought, "Episcopalians are much more God-fearing than I had assumed."

Over the next decade or so, it dawned on me that the desire to get rid of the 1928 BCP was motivated by the desire of a good many Episcopalians to get rid of (or at least make "optional") that language. The "beauty of the music and liturgy" must not be spoiled by making anyone think of their sins and fears.

Odessa Elliott

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Why people use the classic B.C.P.

For the purpose of this discussion, I shall include with those who use the classic B.C.P. of 1662 or 1928 those others who for necessity's sake use what are usually described as the traditional language texts from the American 1979 Prayer Book, the English Common Worship 2001 and similar books. That is, texts which use the older form of standard English and refer to the Deity in the second person singular as Thee, Thou, Thy and Thine, even if they are not identical with the texts in the historic Prayer Book.

It seems to be the case that many but not all people, who attend traditional language services by preference, have as their primary reason (usually in an undefined way) what we may describe as a social, cultural and political conservatism. They live in a world and in a church where many of the morals and values that they inherited and cherished have been set aside or radically revised. So the use of such language that recalls this inheritance is preferred for public worship. And its use brings a certain amount of inner satisfaction and contentment - much more than they get if they go to the "contemporary language" service later in the morning.

It is difficult to tell what proportion of those who are motivated by a conservative outlook also appreciate the fact that the traditional texts contain "strong" even "harsh" doctrines that are avoided or softened in the contemporary texts. These doctrines relate primary to the place and condition of man before God, Creator and Judge, and of what Jesus Christ achieved for man as the Redeemer of the world.

For example, man is portrayed as a guilty sinner in the most vivid of terms (e.g.,"miserable offenders") and his internal condition is described as being so diseased that "there is no health in us". There is no place in the historic B.C.P. for the modern emphases on self-worth, self-affirmation and self- actualisation, but, rather, man is exhorted to find his true worth in his relation to God as a forgiven, adopted child of the heavenly Father. And, the recognition and confession of his sinfulness and sins and his total dependence upon God's mercy are seen as the beginning of the praising of God, the righteous Judge. Thus there is great emphasis upon the once-for-all sacrifice and atonement of Christ at Calvary and of his Exaltation into heaven as the Victor over Satan, sin and death as the basis of a right relation of sinners to God the Father through Jesus Christ the Mediator.

What I am saying is that to take the basic services of the classic B.C.P. seriously (literally) is to be committed to much more than a cultural conservatism. It is to be committed to a Western, reformed Catholic way of understanding the Scriptures, of worshipping the LORD in spirit and in truth, of the Sacraments and of the devout and holy life. Thus with the conservatism of outlook there also naturally goes what used to be described as "the God-fearing man/woman."

As one who has ministered in congregations where there is a general social conservatism existing hand in hand with the use of traditional texts, I am deeply aware that the Christian message, the basic Christianity, the biblical truths, can easily be hidden behind or within the traditional language. That is, it is so easily possible to savour the words of a confession, an exhortation, a prayer and a collect and in so doing only to savour the words as words. Where this occurs one's mind and heart miss the probing power of the truths that the words contain and are intended to convey. If the devil has anything to do with it, I suspect that this scenario is chiefly the case where the words describe our true condition before God and what we are called to do to gain his favour and blessing. (Such mortify us and we do not like to be mortified in spirit!)

Let me add a couple of comments.

First, the fact that a traditional form of service can be used in such a way as to avoid its true content and message is no reason for not using such services! Rather it is a reason for the priest and officiants to be much in prayer and to conduct the service in such a manner that the spirit overcomes the letter in their presentation and delivery, and thereby the spirit of the text speaks to the spirit of the worshipper.

Second, of all services to use merely at the level of the letter (to cherish the words and not to feel their power working in the soul) that of the Order for Holy Communion is the most dangerous to us as we stand before God. My point here is well conveyed by the content of the Exhortations in the BCP which are appointed to be read to those who intend to receive. If only half of what they declare is true then to eat and drink without the right motivation or for the wrong reason (e.g., cherishing only the tradition and
words) or unworthily is one of the most dangerous things we can do in this life!

Let us use the classic B.C.P. on its own terms as a means to the worship of God in the beauty of holiness.



The Household of God has now completed sixteen days of fasting for Lent. And once more on this Lord’s Day, we celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus and seek the increase of faith, hope and love/charity.

The GOSPEL, Luke 11: 14-28, contains three items: an account of how Jesus successfully faced the accusation of his enemies that he cast out demons by the power of Satan; further teaching of Jesus as to what happens if the new, cleansed disciple of the kingdom does not pursue holiness (24-26), and the response of Jesus to an enthusiastic outburst concerning his mother (27-28).

The three are linked together by the theme of the blessedness of the obedient disciple of the kingdom of God for he is led by the Holy Spirit into holiness and is thus free from demonic influence or possession.

Beelzebul or Beelzebub may mean either “Lord of the heavenly habitation” or “Lord of the dung [i.e., of idolatrous abomination].” It is not certain whether the Jews identified Beelzebul with Satan or saw him as a subordinate evil angel. Whatever be the true meaning of the word, this evil power was for Jesus an enemy to be defeated not an ally with whom to cooperate!

From the second item we learn that, unless exorcisms “by the finger of God” [and we may add “conversions” and “decisions for Christ”] are followed by the entry of the Holy Spirit into the soul and commitment by the new disciple to holiness before the Lord, then the danger is that the latter state of the person will be worse than the original state. Instead of one demon there will be seven!

From the response of Jesus to the cry of a woman concerning the blessedness of his mother in having such an admirable son as Jesus, we learn that the human and understandable joy of a mother in her son’s success is before God nothing like the profound joy of those who hear, receive and obey the Gospel of the Kingdom.

Jesus does not say that Mary is not blessed – how could he (see Luke 1:42 & 48)? – but that her motherly joy, based upon what she sees him achieve as the travelling prophet, is not to be compared with the true and permanent joy of the genuine disciple of the kingdom. In fact, Mary also has that profound joy for she is both mother and disciple, but it is not necessary for Jesus to make that point here.

The EPISTLE, Ephesians 5:1-14 underscores the themes of being filled with the Holy Spirit and of the genuine blessedness of those who hear and obey the word of the Lord. It is an exhortation to baptized believers to live as those who truly are “in Christ Jesus.” They are to “walk in love” and to “walk in the light” and when they do though they will be tempted by Satan they will have the resources to resist temptation.

And the COLLECT puts into prayer much of what is gleaned from the biblical texts. The “hearty desires” of the Lenten people of God are desires for cleansing, holiness, love and the fullness of the Holy Spirit. And these desires will be the more effectually realised when the same Lenten people are protected “by the right hand of thy Majesty” from their enemies, the enemies whose presence and work cause not only demonic possession but evil and sin of all kinds.

So we go into the six fasting days of Lent III, looking forward to Mothering or Refreshment Sunday, knowing not only who is the enemy of our souls but also and more importantly who is the Victor of that enemy, and therefore we are fully prepared to serve the Lord in joy and consecration.

The Rev’d Dr. Peter Toon February 27, 2002.

Monday, February 25, 2002

Welcome to the new President of the Prayer Book Society of the USA

W.Denman Zirkle [chairman of the Board]

In the last issue of The Mandate [available on line at] I wrote about the six-year Presidency of Peter Toon, who has now become a Vice President and Emissary-at-Large of the Society.

Here I want to commend to all our members and friends the new President of the Society. He is the Rev'd Fr. Wayland Coe, Rector of St.Thomas Church [Episcopal] in Houston.

The Board voted with enthusiasm and in unison for his appointment and all the members feel happy that a young man is now leading the Society.

It is my privilege as Chairman of the Board to work with Fr Coe for the cause that we hold dear - the public AND private use with understanding of The Book of Common Prayer.

Fr. Coe is a cradle Episcopalian and thus has experienced personally what the Episcopal Church has been through over the last forty or so years. He grew up in Amarillo in the Texas panhandle. After graduating from the University of Texas (1983) he worked for a while in the oil and gas industry. Then he went to Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, near Pittsburgh, where he gained the Master of Divinity Degree.

His churchmanship may be described as evangelical high church or high-church evangelical; but he respects the genuine comprehensiveness of the Anglican Way and thus embraces persons of both low-church and anglo-catholic persuasion.

After ordination he worked for three years in the parish of Christ Church, Nacogdoches, in Texas, where he also served as chaplain to students at the Stephen F. Austin State University. Then he was called to St Thomas' Houston, first as assistant to the then Rector and then from 1995 as Rector.

St. Thomas' is an important parish for several reasons. First of all, it is a dynamic traditional parish which uses the classic Book of Common Prayer for all its services. In the second place, it has a large school (about 650
students) where excellence is pursued and where the same BCP is used daily for school worship. And, in the third place, it has within its membership gifted laity who are ready to use their talents for the kingdom of heaven and for the work of the Prayer Book Society.

Fr. Coe's wife, Janet Lynn, teaches at the School where also their two children, Andrew (13) and Abigail (11) attend.

Please pray daily for Fr.Coe, his family, the parish and school and for the prosperity of the Society under his leadership.


The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon
Minister of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor,
England & Vice-President and Emissary-at-Large of The Prayer Book Society of America

Sunday, February 24, 2002

SANCTIFICATION, the three tenses of the verb

The Epistle for the 2nd Sunday in Lent [in the classic BCP] is 1 Thessalonians 4:1ff. and within this reading we hear the words, “This is the will of God, even your sanctification.”

In thus speaking to the church members of Thessalonica the apostle Paul is emphasizing a present duty, the duty which our Lord stated as, “Be holy as God is holy” and “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.” And, of course, Lent is a time of the Church Year when such exhortations fully come into their own.

To see the full weight of the call by Jesus and Paul for holiness unto God, it will be useful to recall that the New Testament presents to us the great themes of holiness (sanctification), righteousness (justification) and salvation (redemption) in three basic tenses – past, present and future.

1. The past tense is used to declare the relation of baptized believers
to the Death, Resurrection and Exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Being reckoned by the Father to be with and in Christ Jesus, in his Body, and thus in these Events in Him, believers are said to be justified (rightwised), saved and sanctified in him.

We are/have been justified
We are/have been sanctified
We are/have been saved.

This past tense does not point to what we are in ourselves – we are guilty sinners – but to what we are in the accounting and reckoning of God the Father for the sake of and by the merits of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the basis of Christian assurance.

2. The present tense is used to declare the duty of believers to the
Father in the light of their being accounted by the Father as being in Christ Jesus. It is used to speak of the solemn and joyous responsibility to God of those in whom the Spirit of the Father and of the Son dwells.

We are being made holy -- Be holy
We are being made righteous - Be righteous
We are being saved – Work our your salvation with fear and trembling

The present tense assumes the truth conveyed by the past tense and calls us unto consecration, dedication and attention to the will of God for his people.

3. The future tense is used to state the Christian Hope, to state what,
as disciples of Christ and children of the heavenly Father, we are to understand God has in store for us.

We shall be sanctified/made holy
We shall be made righteous
We shall be saved

Obviously the future tense here assumes both the past and the present tenses. Only as those who are in Christ and persevering in our relation to him can we truly participate in the Christian hope.

A few observations upon the three tenses:
First of all, it was the vocation of the Protestant Reformers of the 16th century to see with great clarity the full meaning and import of the present tense and thus they taught “we are justified by faith” through the merits of Christ Jesus by the Father with great clarity and power. And the fruit of this is clearly seen in the classic B.C.P.

However, a latent danger in Protestantism of succeeding centuries was so to emphasise this meaning as to neglect the meaning within the present tense. Thus salvation has often been reduced to the past tense only. Thus one is asked by the fervent person, “Are you saved?” and preachers speak of “the eternal security of believers.”

At the same time, there has been a tendency within much popular Roman Catholic teaching to emphasise the meanings in the present and future tenses and not to pay sufficient attention to the foundational meaning within the past tense.

In the second place, certain times of the Christian Year have within them the tendency to emphasise one or other of the tenses. Good Friday, for example, is certainly a day when we proclaim that by the one, unique, perfect, atoning sacrifice of Christ Jesus upon the Cross God the Father brought redemption and salvation to the whole world. Thus the past tense is most appropriate for through Christ there is forgiveness, justification, sanctification and salvation. We may add that Lent is a period of forty days when the present tense is prominent – be holy, be righteous, and be perfect.

Thirdly, within modern forms of experiential (e.g. charismatic) Christianity because there is little attention to specifics there is little sound or clear teaching on the truths and their relation to each other, contained in the three tenses of the New Testament. Thus people tend to place their assurance of salvation in their feelings and not on the objective and extrinsic work of Christ and word of the Lord.

Finally, while the three tenses have an ordered relation to each other in putting before us our right relation to God the Father through Jesus Christ by the Holy Ghost, each one of them has its proper place and in a right ordered church and right ordered Christian life none of them is neglected.

The Rev’d Dr. Peter Toon, Second Sunday in Lent 2002.

Letter to the ABC from Bps Chuck Murphy and John Rodgers Of the AMiA

February 6, 2002

The Most Rev. and Honorable George Carey
The Archbishop of Canterbury
Lambeth Palace
London, SEI 7JU
United Kingdom

Dear Archbishop Carey,

We trust this letter finds you well. We want to thank you for meeting with our sponsoring Archbishops, Archbishop Kolini and Archbishop Yong, to explore a way forward.

Subsequent to your meeting, and after conversations with Archbishops Kolini and Yong, it became clear to us that you are laboring under a number of very serious misconceptions concerning both the Anglican Mission in America [AMiA], and the Episcopal Church in America. This, of course, concerns us, because these misconceptions have clearly influenced both your attitude and your behavior toward us. It is our hope that this letter will offer you more accurate information, and that it will serve to give you a more truthful and helpful perspective on our work and our objectives through this important Anglican Mission in America. Given the importance of these matters we dare to hope that you will read this letter personally. We will try to be brief and will not seek to cover all that could be said. Do be assured that we can document at length all of the assertions that we make and stand ready to do so should you wish further clarification.

Misconception # One: The most urgent problem facing the Communion, and threatening the life and unity of the Communion at this time, is the Anglican Mission in America, and not the state of the ECUSA and many of the other Provinces in the West. This would explain your concern for unity, and due respect for provincial boundaries, over what you see as the less urgent problems that exist surrounding matters of biblical truth and orthodoxy.

If there is, indeed, no serious -much less critical- "problem" in the ECUSA concerning its Faith and morals, and if, in fact, appropriate order within the Church is of far greater importance than any questions of Faith that numerous "orthodox voices" seem to be raising, then the Anglican Mission in America would, obviously, be the greater problem facing this Communion, for we are, indeed, ministering in a Province without being invited. It is, however, our position that we are not, in fact, the problem, but rather, one of the necessary ways that orthodox Anglican believers have responded to a pervasive and systemic crisis of Faith and Leadership in the ECUSA.

The creation of an Anglican missionary outreach within the United States has taken place only after exhausting every other avenue for Reform and Repentance in the ECUSA, after a long and sustained effort of at least a period of 25 years to bring about reform and repentance, and only after orthodox congregations were being harassed and persecuted by the revisionist leadership.

Since you have written that the Episcopal Church is "theologically sound" let us respectfully offer four ways in which this evaluation reveals a devastating misconception:

1: First, there is the inescapable fact that every conservative group in ECUSA has repeatedly told you that the Episcopal Church is well beyond all Biblical and Anglican theological and moral boundaries, and that it is beyond self correction. The American Anglican Council, Forward in Faith, North America, Episcopalians United, the Prayer Book Society, Ecclesia, First Promise and the Association of Anglican Congregations on Mission, which is now a part of the Anglican Mission in America, have all said the same thing. We have said this numerous times, and have sent you more documentation than needed to make matters clear. Can we all simply be wrong?

2: The Primates "Come and See" report, made by concerned Primates who came and visited in the USA over a lengthy period of time to assess these conclusions [point #1 above], has voiced the same concerns. Again, so did the Primates letter, following your meeting in Oporto, which asked the Presiding Bishop to address some of these issues within the Episcopal Church.

3: It is now being argued that a Church can continue to be defended as "fundamentally sound" unless and until the Faith of that Church is officially, objectively, and/or canonically changed. Many now hold that pervasive disobedience to the church's teaching and standards, while perhaps, on some level, both disappointing and troubling, is simply not enough to justify serious rebuke, correction, or discipline - much less the acceptance of an act of "outside intervention" by fellow-Primates such as the creation of the AMiA. The refusal to act, or to support some action, based on a flawed argument concerning what it finally takes to declare a Church "fundamentally unsound" is not the position found in the teaching of the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 5:9ff, or in Article 19 of the 39 Articles.

Apart from this, however, it is beyond dispute that both the Faith and morals of the Church itself are being objectively altered within the Episcopal Church, U.S.A. First and foremost, there has been a pervasive rejection of the authority of Holy Scripture, and a denial that they serve in the ECUSA as "the rule and ultimate standard of faith" [Resolution 11 / Lambeth Conference of 1888]. The revisionist Court in the Righter Trial ruled that, in the ECUSA, one cannot appeal to the clear teaching of Scripture to discipline a Bishop for violating them, but only to the Creeds and Canons. Of course, since neither the Creeds nor the Canons were ever intended to replace the Scriptures, but only to aid in their application, or in showing a clear and responsible reading of them, this now official, "reductionistic" decision has become an open door through which the secular culture has come to dominate the Episcopal Church, through its revisionist bishops who are now effectively removed from any likelihood of official sanction, discipline, or correction.

Add to this removal of Scriptural authority, and the appeal only to the Creeds and Canons, the fact that the 39 Articles are not held to be authoritative, nor is the Book of Common Prayer and its Catechism, and it becomes clear exactly why the ECUSA now has no effective authority upon which to exercise any discipline. This loss of Scriptural Authority, and the proper methods of interpretation mandated in the 39 Articles, has produced the primal error which rendered all the other errors inevitable. "Ye do err knowing neither the Scriptures nor the power of God". [Matt. 22:20]

Of course, the General Convention of the ECUSA could change this if it wished, but, as you know, that body has increasingly moved farther and farther away from the teaching of Scripture and tradition. At the very time in which strong action and leadership is most needed in the American church, one can begin to understand exactly why the vow to "drive out all strange and erroneous doctrines contrary to God's Word" dramatic expression in the person and voice of retired Episcopal bishop Jack Spong. Jack Spong has, as you know, denied every one of the tenets of the Creeds [12 Thesis], even as he remains in the House of Bishops with both voice and vote, and of course, was invited to be present as a bishop in good standing at the last Lambeth Conference. Although now retired, he continues to lecture throughout this country at prominent schools and universities such as Harvard - again, as a bishop in good standing!- without ever having been disciplined or defrocked by the House of Bishops. In short there is simply no will for, and no standard by which, any responsible ecclesiastical discipline on matters of Theology and Ethics can be exercised in the ECUSA, except a very narrow appeal to the Canons that are themselves so very limited as to be unable to serve that purpose. The deterioration is systemic.

There is in the ECUSA, a very real crisis of both Faith and Leadership that is both pervasive and unchecked. It is expressed rather forcefully in the person, and in the writings of, people like Jack Spong, but this crisis is also evident in the official actions of ECUSA's diocesan and national conventions. For example, over half of the dioceses of ECUSA rejected Lambeth Resolution 1:10 on human sexuality, either by public statements by the bishops, or by the resolutions of their diocesan conventions. At last count only 6 dioceses voted in convention to affirm that resolution. With all of these developments being so visible, so vocal, and so relentless, we find it difficult to understand how it is that you can write that the ECUSA is, in your estimation, "theologically fundamentally sound". Is there anything that you have not received in the way of documentation that you would like for us to send you?

When faithful Anglicans simply could not continue with this increasing secularization of the Church, and when faithful leaders and congregations began to be marginalized and persecuted simply because of their unwillingness to embrace the latest theological trends and innovations, a number of us began to appeal to the larger Communion for some kind of "intervention." It was only after voicing our concerns at several international gatherings that a few of the Primates, intervened, consecrated missionary bishops, and formed the Anglican Mission in America.

This Anglican Mission in America was created as an interim step until these serious matters of orthodoxy and accountability can finally be resolved at the highest levels of the Anglican Communion. It remains an interim step to extend pastoral care to those in this country who wish to remain within the Anglican family, but who simply can no longer remain within the ECUSA.

Misconception # Two: The Anglican Mission in America is schismatic and, in essence, a Church and not a mission.

We, of course, argue strongly that we are neither schismatic nor a Church. We maintain that we are not some new Church, but rather an interim, pastoral mission giving protection to congregations who seek us out, and planting congregations in areas where the Gospel and the Faith is not being faithfully represented by a given Diocese of the Episcopal Church. We do not recruit congregations in the ECUSA, but rather, a number have sought us out. Our concerns are chiefly pastoral and evangelistic. We do not have the structures of a Church or Province or Diocese. We have no House of Bishops, the bishops consecrated serve under the authority of our sponsoring Primates. They are, as stated, missionary bishops, and our congregations are missionary congregations. We have had no constitutional convention; we operate with ad hoc arrangements, and under the close supervision of our Archbishops, until such time as the Primates provide a way to deal with the crisis in ECUSA, and indeed in many of the Western Provinces for that matter. We are a new mission and not a new Church.

Nor are we schismatic. This is evident in a number of ways. First, we have not left the Anglican Communion. To transfer from one Province to another is not schism. It is simply that, a transfer from one part of the Communion to another. Second, schism is best defined as a separation on secondary matters. ECUSA's profound departure from Biblical teaching and morals as taught by Anglicans from the beginning is hardly a secondary matter. We may be in violation of ecclesiastical boundaries, for emergency purposes, and for only as long as the emergency exists, but we are not schismatic nor are we loose canons. These steps were taken only when we had Archiepiscopal authority to do so.

We are certain that you believe that you have given even-handed, and wise leadership to the Anglican Communion with respect to the state of the Episcopal Church and with respect to the Anglican Mission in America. We trust that you are acting out of your convictions. You have led many others who trust your orthodoxy and integrity, and because of your position as Primus Interpares among the Primates, to hold the same views as do you. We are aware that you have moved strongly against the two Primates and the Anglican Mission in America since the consecrations in January of 2000 in Singapore. Unfortunately you have not heard the cry of those whom we have listed above, nor the many whom they represent. You have publicly denied the depth of the Crisis and declared increasingly that it is the two Primates and the Anglican Mission that are the problem, implying that if we would just go away, all would be well. But, of course, the ongoing crisis of faith and leadership in the American Church would remain.

You have, so far, shaped the Primates' Meetings to limit discussion of the depth of this Crisis. You have declared that you have no authority to meddle in the affairs of a Province such as ECUSA while, at the same time, contacting all of the Bishops in the Provinces of South East Asia and Rwanda to get them to break affirmation of, and sponsorship of, the Anglican Mission in America, as well as the leadership of their Archbishops in this matter. We are not aware of any letters you have written to the bishops of the ECUSA leading them to question the leadership of Presiding Bishop Griswold, or urging the rejection of those denying the Faith and changing the morals of the Episcopal Church. It does not seem that you have taken a clear stand on the mandate given you in the Resolutions of Lambeth 1998. Instead you have placed the one resolution concerning the boundaries of dioceses above the importance of all of the resolutions concerning the Faith and morals of the Communion.

We do not mean to question your integrity, but only to indicate that because of the above misconceptions, from the beginning, you have taken one side in this matter, and that we believe the true dimensions of the crisis have never be addressed. As a result, the Anglican Mission in America has been unfairly characterized and treated.

We are saddened to learn that you will be retiring for we know of your orthodox faith and believe that in due time, better informed, you would offer the needed leadership. Now another must take the lead. However we are hopeful that since you have one more meeting of the Primates, that at that meeting you will take the way forward that Archbishops Kolini and Yong have suggested. We have appended a copy of that way to this letter.

Sincerely in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Charles H. Murphy, III
The Right Rev. John H. Rodgers

cc All Primates

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon
Minister of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor,
England & Vice-President and Emissary-at-Large of The Prayer Book Society of America

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Sydney Diocese releases new "liturgical resource"

From Australia:
20 February 2002 After several years in preparation, The Archbishop of Sydney's Liturgical Panel has released the much awaited "Sunday Services - a contemporary liturgical resource".

Containing three forms of services of Prayer, Praise and Proclamation as well as The Lord's Supper and a service of Baptism, the new book is sure to be welcomed in many churches.

Until 30th April, copies of the book are available at a very special price from the publisher for Sydney Anglican churches and schools. Contact Anglican Press Australia on 02 8268 3344.

In addition, the full text of the book is available for download from Please read the notes about copyright and use in Anglican churches in Sydney Diocese.

For more information, visit the site of the Anglican Church League of Sydney Australia (entry for 20 February 2002)

The Second Sunday in Lent: Reflections upon the Collect, Epistle & Gospel

The church of God has completed 10 days of fasting since Ash Wednesday. Today, the second Lord’s Day in the period of Lent, we relax the discipline as we celebrate with joy and in solemnity the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and prepare for another week of outward and inward fasting for him.

The content of the EPISTLE (1 Thess. 4:1-8) is both particularly applicable to the Lenten theme of self-examination and repentance (= inward fasting) and also generally applicable to the continual vocation of the Christian to be holy even as God himself is holy.

In verses 1-2, Paul the apostle writes to church members whom he had taught the basics of knowing the Father through the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Holy Ghost. His theme is the vocation of all Christian believers to be set apart from all sin in order rightly to serve the Lord in commitment and consecration.

His very deliberate emphasis upon Christian holiness as a solemn duty and calling for all is seen in (a) his use of the double injunction -- he “beseeches” and “exhorts” them “to walk and please God”; (b) his use of the moral imperative - “ye ought to…please God”; and (c) his use of “charge [commandments]” - a word more at home in a military context, being a command from a superior to an inferior.

In the rest of the verses Paul takes up an important aspect of holiness unto the Lord, that of chastity or purity of life. In the very loose sexual morality of the Greek cities, the apostle writes particularly to the male members of the congregation who faced severe temptations. This is because it was commonplace for married and unmarried men to have multiple sexual encounters with women who worked at the pagan temples and public baths. Generally speaking fornication was taken for granted by the majority as normal and was taught to be a sin only by the Jewish elders and then by the Christian apostles and evangelists.

The Christian vocation of both man and woman is to chastity, is the clear message of Jesus and of Paul. Instead of following the standards of the respected neighbours, the Christian believer is to follow the clear commands of Christ and the teaching of his apostles. The baptized are called to keep their bodies pure and undefiled for the Lord.

Chastity is rarely commended or exalted today even in the churches. And to add insult to injury, the commands of the Lord to chastity are said to be “ideals to aim at” by the majority rather than “commands to be kept by all”! By many different means we have been led to believe that we have a right to sexual fulfilment and we have the duty to get this in the best way we can – by fornication or by serial monogamy or by lesbigay partnerships or otherwise! To abstain for the Lord’s sake from all fornication and uncleanness as a gift to him is seen as very strange teaching indeed!

Thus in the third millennium, as in the first, we urgently need to hear the word of the apostle of the Lord – “this is the will of God even your sanctification” and “God hath called us not to uncleanness but to holiness” . And in Lent we need to apply this word to our lives not only in the realm of sexuality but also in terms of how we eat and drink, how we dress, how we keep our homes and so on. And let us remember that to be tempted is not sin, but to yield to temptation is sin.

The COLLECT is a prayer that fits well with the exhortation of the Epistle. It begins from the recognition before God our Father of the inability of man in his own strength to cause himself to become holy. So casting ourselves upon the mercy of God and the presence of the Holy Ghost we pray, “Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our soul” for we are a psychosomatic unity; and we ask that “we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body” (e.g., excessive pain and disease) and “from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul…”

The GOSPEL (Matt. 15:21ff.) is the story of the healing of a Gentile girl by our Lord in response to the persistent and profound faith in our Lord of the girl’s mother. It proclaims to us that while our Lord was sent as the Jewish Messiah “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” his grace and saving work is for all of us, Gentile women and men included.

Therefore, since his grace is offered to us we can pray the Collect and pursue the calling of holiness and sanctification and chastity not only in Lent but in the whole year.

The Rev’d Dr. Peter Toon February 19, 2002.

[Dr.Toon is the Minister of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor, Lichfield Diocese, and the Vice-President and Emissary-at-Large of The Prayer Book Society of the U.S.A.]

Sunday, February 17, 2002


Note what professor Ian Robinson, author of the most important book from CUP on the origins of modern English with respect to Cranmer et al says about Lent today:

Dear Peter,
Thanks very much for your exposition of the Lenten Collect. I discover to my surprise that there is a secular Lent as well as a secular Christmas. BBC Ceefax reports that more than half the women in England intend to give up chocolate for Lent and e.g. a large number of families intend to give up takeaway meals. (Whether the chocolate and takeaway industries suffer any actual loss of trade is not reported.) But this is entirely secular. One of the ex-building societies tells us we can save £300 during lent by cutting out expensive foods. But there is no suggestion of any spiritual intent, nor yet that the money saved should go anywhere but reducing credit-card debt. All the same, I am surprised that apparently so many people do still associate Lent with fasting. Opportunities to explain what it is really all about ... if we knew how to take them. What a pity your homilies can't be pinned up in the supermarkets ...

Saturday, February 16, 2002


Today is the Celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection and we are not required to fast from dawn to dusk on this festival day! However, to keep the discipline of Lent intact & on-going we would be wise to allow ourselves only a minimal relief from the rigors of the fasting and abstinence of the forty days. If we take maximum relief, then to get back into genuine fasting and abstinence will be difficult.

The Collect and the Gospel tell us in clear terms that Fasting was used by our Lord, the Man without sin, and ought to be used by us, as people of sin, as we live in union with him by the secret work of Holy Ghost. Fasting can be a good work acceptable to him and can become a means of grace and of communion with our Lord. Only those who are very old, sick, with child or feeding a child, can truly excuse themselves from making this offering of fasting to the Lord Jesus, when the Church asks for it.

The Gospel from St. Matthew (chapter 4) describes the testing of Jesus of Nazareth, who had received at his Baptism a very clear message from God the Father confirming what he already knew in the depths of his spirit, that he is the Messiah and that he is the Incarnate Son of God.

The testing took the form of temptations thrown at him by the enemy of our souls, that fallen angel, Satan, the devil. These temptations presumed that he is the Messiah and the Son of the Father and they offered him short-cuts and easy ways to accomplish his vocation as the Messiah of Israel and Saviour of the world.

The answers that Jesus gave to these temptations stand as words of grace from his lips to us, his brethren who are the adopted children of God his Father.

“Man shall not live by bread alone” is a message that in a consumer society does not easily penetrate to the inner ear! We think, live and pray as if only material things counted; and of this we need to repent this Lent. And we shall better hear this word if we fast and pray in union with the Lord Jesus.

“Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” is a message that in a society where holy order and reverence are discounted also falls on deaf ears. We live and even pray as if we have the right to manipulate God to fit into our pre-conceived ideas of what he should be and do. Of this we also need to repent this Lent. And we shall better hear this word if we fast and pray in union with the Lord Jesus.

“Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Here is the positive word and the heavenly command heard most clearly when we fast and pray. We are created to enjoy God and to glorify him forever. In public worship, in private devotion, by our daily vocations, and by the quality of our lives we are called to worship and serve the blessed, holy and undivided Trinity of the Father and his only begotten Son and the Holy Ghost. Only in so doing shall we be fulfilled as creatures with hearts, minds, wills and bodies.

The Epistle from St. Paul provides us with food for thought and meditation in terms of “serving the LORD” through the high privilege of being “fellow workers with him” (2 Cor.6:1ff.). Further, we hear the offer of grace from heaven – “Now is the day of salvation!” It is never too late to repent and believe the Gospel of the Father concerning his Son and salvation in him. And we shall better hear these words if we fast and pray.

In the Collect, that is actually addressed to the Lord Jesus himself and not to the Father, we celebrate the 40 days that our Lord spent for us and for our salvation in the wilderness. He who was without sin was tempted and tested for us who are with sin. He fasted so that his spirit was free to be in full communion with his Father so that as the new Israel and the new Adam he could truly represent us and save us. What Israel and the world had failed to do – to resist and overcame devilish temptation – he actually did, and he did it for us.

In contra to Jesus the sinless one, we as sinners fast in union with the Lord Jesus in LENT to subdue the power of our sinful human nature and to make space and freedom for the work of the Holy Ghost within us, that we may rightly see into our sinful hearts, confess our sins and serve the Lord with a clear conscience and in holiness of life.

The Collect describes inward fasting unto holiness of which bodily abstinence should be the outward and visible sign. We pray this Collect for the whole of Lent in order to be daily reminded that inward fasting led by the Holy Ghost is what fasting is all about.

The Rev’d Dr. Peter Toon February 14, 2002

Thursday, February 14, 2002

The Rev'd Wayland Coe Elected President of the Prayer Book Society of the USA

(February 14, 2002 A.D.) W. Denman Zirkle, Chairman of the Prayer Book Society, today announced that The Rev. Dr. Peter Toon, President of the Prayer Book Society for the past nearly ten years, has stepped down as President to return to his native Great Britain as a parish priest. At the meeting of the Society's Board of Directors in Houston on January 26 the Reverend Wayland N. Coe, Rector of St. Thomas' Church, Houston, was elected from, and by, the Board as the new President. A native of Austin, and married to the former Janet Gay of San Antonio, Wayland has been rector of St. Thomas' for the past six years.

St. Thomas' was founded by the Reverend T. Robert Ingram in 1954, and its formation was accompanied by the establishment of the St. Thomas' School, located on the church property. The school is recognized as the Kindergarten-High School church school of highest academic standing in the Houston area, and currently boasts an enrollment of some 675 students. St. Thomas' Church uses only the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, and provides daily services of Morning Prayer for the school students, who also use the 1928 Book. You will read more about Father Coe in our upcoming issue of Mandate.

Dr. Toon is now living in Stoke-on-Trent in the United Kingdom and is rector of Christ Church there. At the January meeting he was elected to the position of Vice President and Emissary-at-Large of the Prayer Book Society and will remain a Director. He will also continue as Editor of Mandate during this year, then assume the position of Editor-at-Large. Under this new structure, the Prayer Book Society will retain Dr. Toon's academic prominence and continue to benefit from his writings in Mandate, as well as his representation of the Society at significant meetings and conferences throughout the Anglican Communion.

Re-elected as Vice President was the Reverend David Kennedy, Rector of the Church of the Guardian Angels in Lantana, Florida.

Mrs. Miriam Stauff, an attorney in Milwaukee, was re-elected Secretary, and Mr. Michael Freeland, managing director of an investment firm in Bryn Mawr, Pa., was elected Treasurer.

Jesus Fasted – Yes, the Man Without Sin Really Fasted!

The Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent is the account of what is usually referred to as “The Temptations of Jesus in the wilderness” [Matthew 4]. From the fact that Jesus fasted for a very long period we can gather two important truths:

He was truly a man. Not only did he appear to be a man but also he was man, with a human digestive system. He felt hungry! That fasting has value apart from any relation to its use in mastering or overcoming the effects of sinful human nature. As the Man without sin, and as a man who lived in constant communion with his Father in heaven, Jesus fasted.

Jesus went into the solitude and loneliness of the wilderness not merely as the prophet from Nazareth but as the Messiah of Israel. This unique vocation rested heavily upon his shoulders. He knew that he had to recapitulate the historical experience of Israel before her God, the LORD, and thus where Israel had failed and sinned as the covenant people of God he had to be victorious over temptation in their place. As the new Israel, he had to offer to the God of the covenant a perfect obedience in childlike trust and humility for the whole people in the very area where they had failed.

Thus the testing through temptation which he faced at the end of the forty days can be seen as both a re-living the historical experience of the tribes of Israel, the people of God, in the wilderness of Sinai and his facing the major temptations that this people faced there, in order on their behalf to resist the tempter and to worship God, the LORD, alone.

In this spiritual journey and battle, Jesus as Man needed to be fully in control of himself and fully submitted to his heavenly Father. This is where the fasting with prayer and in meditation upon the Torah [Books of Moses, especially Deuteronomy it seems] had their special place. His body had to be totally in harmony with his mind/spirit and his mind/spirit had to be totally in harmony with the revealed will of the LORD. All that he faced were real temptations for Israel/the Jews and he had to overcome them in his own human nature, as representative and vicarious man, so that his victory could be appropriated by the people of the covenant and then by the people of the world.

Fasting – as a basic abstaining from food -- was a duty, required by the Law and called for by the prophets, that a pious Israelite offered to the God of the covenant and its primary purpose was to make the relation with God more accessible and possible, through the mastery of the appetites and desires of the soul and body. Fasting for Jesus was not a means for the overcoming of the power of sin in his own soul, but it did certainly include a reaching out to God his Father, as he, the new Adam and the new Israel, carried the burden of the sins of his people on his own soul and as he overcame temptations in their place.

Human nature even when it does not include the principle of sin [original sin] needs the active determination of the will in order to be committed to the highest good. And the determination of the will to the highest good is enhanced and energized by the practice of fasting with prayer. For by fasting the mind gains greater control over the natural desires, appetites and affections of the human body and nature; and by prayer the mind enters into the contemplation of God and his will.

Temptation for sinners goes through three basic stages – by suggestion, by delight and by consent. The first stage is external to us but the second and third occur within our souls. Wherever the suggestion to sin comes from --- the world or the devil --- we find some pleasure in it and we soon consent. There is usually some resistance within our souls but all too often moved by pleasure we consent.

In contrast, Jesus faced temptation only at the first stage. Certainly the suggestion was powerful, clear and attractive but since he was without sin there was no delighting within his soul.

Yet, if Jesus as the new and second Adam needed to fast to come to clarity of the meaning of his vocation and to accomplish the work of our salvation, then we need to fast in union with him for the sake of our salvation and sanctification.

Thus the Collect for the First Sunday of Lent, which is addressed to the Lord Jesus himself, sees reliance on and union with him as the basis for our fasting in order that we shall by grace overcome temptation and obey and trust the Father as he did :

“O Lord, who for our sake didst fast forty days and forty night; Give us grace to use such abstinence that our flesh being subdued to the Spirit, we may ever obey thy godly motions in righteousness and true holiness….”

The Rev’d Dr Peter Toon, Vice-President & Emissary at Large of The Prayer Book Society of the USA.
St Valentine’s Day 2002

Tuesday, February 12, 2002


There are various ways of ascertaining the attitude and teaching of the English Reformers of the sixteenth & centuries to ABSTINENCE & FASTING.

One way is to look at The Book of Common Prayer (1662) and note (a) the "Table of the Vigils, Fasts and Days of Abstinence" where the days and periods of fasting are listed; (b) the references to fasting in the Collects, Epistles & Gospels for Ash Wednesday and the First Sunday in Lent, and (c) the reference to fasting as preparation for Baptism in 'The Order of Baptism for those of Riper Years'.

Another way is to read the various Acts of Parliament and Episcopal directions in the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Elizabeth I on this subject, where abstinence from meat is enjoined and fasting is required during Lent and at other times.

Yet another way is to read chapter 72 of Book V in the classic text, The Ecclesiastical Polity, of Richard Hooker where the duty of fasting is explained and the common agreements between Anglicans and Puritans on the duty of fasting are noted.

Here we shall take the simple method of noting the contents of the Homily on Good Works & Fasting, which is number 4 in the Second Book of Homilies that is attached to The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of the Church of England. It comes from the early part of the reign of Elizabeth 1 and has the advantage of being part of the public doctrine of the Church of England.

If it has a primary purpose that is to provide a biblical foundation for the supporting of public fasts called by the Sovereign or by the Church in the face of a national emergency or tragedy. These were over and above the specific days recommended for fasting by the Formularies and Canon Law of the Church of England. Thus the Homily is not specifically addressed to fasting within the Church Year - for that we have to look to The Book of Common Prayer. However, it does deal with individual fasting and thus obviously relates indirectly to the fasts within the Church Year in terms of how they are to be approached.

Fasting is presented in the Homily as a good work before God. Yet it is not a good work that earns or achieves God's salvation, but a good work that is the fruit of salvation, a sign of a soul that is conscious of its great sin, is repentant and desires to love God and seek his will and glory.

There are two kinds of fasts, the public fast when a whole people are called by public authority to join together to seek the face of the LORD for his blessing upon a nation, and a private fast when an individual person chooses to wait upon the LORD for a particular purpose as he works out his own salvation in fear and trembling. Examples of such are provided from both the Old and the New Testaments.

It is important to note that there is both an outward and an inward dimension to all fasting.

The outward fast relates to the body and is "an abstinence from meat, drink, and all natural food, yea from all delicious pleasures and worldly delectations." A normal day's fast is said to be an abstaining from all food and drink from dawn until after Evening Prayer.

The inward fast relates to the heart, mind and will and pertains to their sanctification.

Of the two the inward is the most important for God looks upon and into the heart of man where the truth about him resides.

Fasting to be profitable to those who fast and to be accepted of God. must be directed to three basic ends.

"The first is to chastise the flesh that it be not too wanton, but tamed and brought into subjection to the spirit.The second that the spirit be more fervent and earnest in prayer.The third that our fast be a testimony and witness with us before God of our humble submission to his high Majesty, when we confess and acknowledge our sins unto him, and are inwardly touched with sorrowfulness of heart, bewailing the same in the affliction of our bodies."

We may add that in healthy people when the stomach is empty the blood system is the more able to provide oxygen and thus energy to the rest of the body, especially to the brain and nervous system. Thus the person who fasts is able to think clearer and to pray the more earnestly. And in the subduing of the desires of the flesh for food and drink there is a spiritual victory which assists the commitment to meditation, self-examination and prayer.

Let us all begin holy Lent on Ash Wednesday with a true fast, both outward and inward in scope, for the glory of God and the salvation of our souls.


The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon
Vice-President and Emissary at Large of The Prayer Book Society of the U.S.A.
Shrove Monday [ a day for shriving and being shriven by the faithful people of God] 2002.



The requests for definitions of terms and for clarifications that followed my previous post about "denominations" were excellent, and I thank the various writers for their thoughtfulness.

Part of the confusion of terms follows from the fact that Anglicans in America have to use the word "denomination" in two very different ways. Since our civil constitution forbids the establishment of a church, all churches in this country are, in a civil sense, "denominations," since none can claim to be the "national church of the United States of America." In this civil sense, the Romans, the Orthodox, the Anglicans, the Methodists, the Presbyterians, etc. are all "denominations": named Christian societies or churches. It is in this sense that the Preface to the 1789 Book of Common Prayer uses the term.

On the other hand, the Creeds that we profess assert that there is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. The understanding of the Church that follows from this statement cannot really sustain the civil sense of denominations as essentially competing groups. The Roman and Orthodox way of dealing with this problem (to oversimplify a bit for the sake of brevity) is to say, "We are the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church." The most common American Protestant ways of dealing with the conflict between our civil and ecclesiastical constitutions are either to ignore the matter completely or to translate it to a realm of complete invisibility where the Church, despite appearances, is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.

The Anglican Way is distinctly different from all of these approaches since, historically, Anglicans have never claimed either to be "the Church" or that the Church on earth is so invisible as to be unknowable. Anglicans have tried to preserve a biblical and patristic understanding of the local church as a representative of the whole Church, and we have maintained that the completeness of that representation can be determined by standards such as the Four Notes of the Church (one, holy, catholic, and apostolic) and the continuity of doctrine, discipline, and worship of any particular local church with the undivided Church of the Apostles and Fathers.

Thus, Anglicans have not argued that anybody needs to be an Anglican for the sake of his salvation or that all churches ought to conform themselves to the Anglican Way (as opposed, for example, to my local Roman and Baptist churches, which believe that all men ought to be Romans or Baptists). Anglicans have, however, claimed that by God's grace they have received a vocation to be a complete representation (saving only their own human
sinfulness) of the one Church of Jesus Christ.

Our 16th century Reformation, for example, was a reformation of the Church of England, and not an effort to reform the Church in the whole world (except, perhaps, through the desire to be a good example). The basic (if not sole) ecclesiastical claim of the English Reformation was that the Church of England, as a coherent national church, had both the right and the duty to reform itself upon the principles of Scripture and the undivided Church. The Church of England did not deny the right and duty of other national churches to do the same, but it did ultimately reserve to itself the pastoral authority to determine sacramental communion and the transferability of ministers with those other churches based on their conformity to the objective standards listed above (the Notes of the Church, etc.).

While God's grace was abundant during the Reformation, so also was the sinfulness and fallibility of man. Various Christian groups, in England and on the Continent, departed for one reason or another from one or more of the objective standards of the Church on earth. The Anglican Way has not been to dismiss the members of these groups as "not Christian" or "bereft of God's grace and love," but to consider their societies as incomplete representations of the fullness of Christ's Church, not by virtue of the actions of their individual members, but on the basis of the incomplete intentions expressed in their ecclesiastical constitutions.

One of the shorthand ways of describing this situation has been to refer to those groups with incomplete ecclesiastical constitutions as "denominations" and to refer to those that possess a complete ecclesiastical constitution as "churches," "communions," or "jurisdictions" (that is, self-governing households, local or national, with a complete constitution, within the one Church). This differentiation does not necessarily imply approval or disapproval of a Christian society's life, but only the reality of its express intentions in its constitution.

Some people have tried to simplify Church history into a "branch theory," which is really only a conceptual device for visualizing continuity. As is true of all conceptual devices, the branch theory breaks down if it is treated as the reality that it is only attempting to describe in simple terms. One can't, for example, eat a piece of pie from a pie chart. I've used the branch diagram myself, for certain limited purposes, but I prefer the language of jurisdictions, since it is more faithful to the Anglican understanding of the local church, national church, etc. as a representation or exhibit of the whole Church.

One famous expression of the Anglican perspective on how one jurisdiction recognizes another as complete is the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral (1886-1888). This was not a list of "minimums" to be Anglican, but a list of the basic standards for the recognition of a Christian society as complete in its constitution: 1. the Holy Scriptures as the Word of God; the Nicene Creed as a sufficient statement of the Christian Faith (based on the Scriptures); the Dominical Sacraments of Baptism and the Holy Communion, ministered with Christ's words of institution and the elements given in Scripture; and 4. the historic episcopate, adapted as necessary to the local circumstances. This Quadrilateral was merely a reiteration of the belief that a complete exhibit of the Church ought to be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic in a visible way.

It is worth noting that no one is "unchurched" by this statement, since it does not discuss the Christianity of individual persons, but only the completeness of a Christian society. It does not suggest that any other Christian society adopt the canons of any Anglican jurisdiction, and it certainly allows those societies to choose their own bishops however they wish, and they need not have any temporal, coercive power at all. (It is worth observing here that the original constitution of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America granted bishops only sacramental and pastoral authority, depriving them of any temporal power. The current chaos and tyranny in ECUSA are not representative of the history of the Anglican church in America or any place else).

In regards to bishops, the question has been raised (rather too dismissively, I think) of the "hands on heads view of apostolic succession." I would point out, first of all, that the outward sign of the laying on of hands by the chosen men of God of one generation upon the chosen men of God of the following generation is Biblical and antedates Christianity itself. I would also like to suggest that the issue of apostolic succession is too often described by a false dichotomy between the outward sign of the laying on of hands and the inward graces of a true faith and the authority to administer that faith to others. One or the other, on its own, is incomplete, and that incompleteness is magnified if the constitution of a particular Christian society denies one or the other. The outward signs of authority and continuity do matter, unless one adopts a completely invisible understanding of the Church, and the Preface to the Anglican Ordinal (in the traditional BCP) puts the matter as clearly and as generously as it is possible to do. No one is asked there to adopt an Anglican polity, but only to be apostolic-"continu[ing] in the Apostles' teaching and fellowship" (2nd Office of Instruction, BCP 1928, p. 291).

Lastly, the word "Protestant" appears in these discussions in a sometimes confusing way. Originally in English, "Protestant" more or less meant "Lutheran." The English reformers tended to use, in regards to the Church of England, terms like "the reformed church" and "the reformed catholic faith." Eventually, the meaning of the word "Protestant" was broadened to mean "Western Christians not Roman Catholic," and it was in this sense that it appeared in the title "Protestant Episcopal Church." Today, in the United States, the word "Protestant" still sometimes means "Western Christian, not Roman Catholic," but it also can take on a sense of a self-conscious discontinuity with the Christian past and, at times, a fierce denominationalism. I thank God for the grace of being a Protestant in the former sense, but I cannot be a Protestant in the latter.

Thank you for your patience, but you asked big questions that required serious answers.

Louis Tarsitano,, St. Andrew's, Savannah Please note that as of Feb. 28, my e-mail address will become

Saturday, February 09, 2002

Fasting --- is it relevant and necessary in Lent in the 21st Century?

The answer is YES and here is why!

First a word of explanation.

The long-standing tradition in all the jurisdictions and branches of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church is that (a) Ash Wednesday, the first day of the 40 days of preparation for Easter, is a day of complete FASTING, as also is Good Friday, and, (b) that each of the following 39 days [which do not include Sundays] is also a day of abstinence, in the sense of not consuming meat and dairy products and of eating moderately such food as vegetables, grain, nuts and fruit.

Thus it is not surprising that the Collect for the First Sunday in Lent in The Book of Common Prayer (1662, 1928) in referring to the 40 day fast of the Lord Jesus prays: "Give us grace to use such abstinence, that our flesh being subdued to the Spirit, we may ever obey thy godly motions in righteousness and true holiness."

The purpose of the fasting can be expressed simply in terms of (a) consciously uniting ourselves with the Lord Jesus who himself fasted for forty days; (b) humbling ourselves before the face of Almighty God our heavenly Father to repent of sins and seek his blessing; (c) clearing our minds and focusing our bodies for self-examination, prayer and communion with God; (d) uniting with other believers in the one Body of Christ and household of God through space and time in this act of devotion to our Lord, and (e) preparing ourselves before God rightly and devoutly to celebrate the Atoning Death and Glorious Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Fasting is not done to earn our salvation before God or to show God what depths of self-discipline we are capable of. Our Lord met such errors in the Pharisees and responded with teaching on Fasting in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6). Fasting is done as is praying, meditating, contemplating, reading and singing as a spiritual discipline and as a means of grace for those who are members of the new covenant of grace. It is a way of making space in our souls for the operation of the Spirit of God to do his work of sanctification.

The apostles fasted and prayed (see e.g., Acts 13:3; 14:23 & cf. 2 Corinthians 6:5 & 11:27) and so did the leaders and members of the Early Church (see e.g., The Didache). Converts to Christ and Christianity were required to engage in fasting before they were baptized on Easter Eve and thus the tradition of fasting was part of the Christian life even before church membership was fully granted.

Along with the discipline of fasting and thus not eating, there is also the ancient Lenten discipline of almsgiving. That is we give the value of the meat and dairy products not eaten to needy persons inside and outside the membership of the Church of God.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon, Vice President and Emissary at Large of the Prayer Book Society of the U.S.A.
February 2002

Friday, February 08, 2002

"Mere Christianity" and full Christian commitment [e.g., during Lent].

[I offer this meditation before the beginning of Lent in order to show why for some the godly discipline of the Church Year (which includes the keeping of Lent) has great importance.]

Each and every regenerated and believing Christian, whatever jurisdiction of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church or denominational group to which he belongs, confesses Christ Jesus as Lord and prays "Our Father" to the Father of the same Lord Jesus Christ. Further, he accepts and submits to the sacred Scriptures as the Word of God written and accepts it as the authoritative basis in the Church for Faith and Morality.

The central or essential Christian confession and commitment - it if can be extracted from the whole Christian vocation and consecration - may be called with C.S.Lewis "Mere Christianity" and or with others "Basic Christianity." This core or common denominator can be expressed in terms of believing and trusting God in terms of the doctrines of the Apostles' Creed, praying to God in the way taught by the Lord's Prayer, and obeying God as given in the Ten Commandments (and their fulfillment by the Lord Jesus).

The popular "Alpha" course is intended to teach "Mere Christianity" and so are other similar things.

Obviously this core commitment and consecration of Basic Christianity has to exist in a real context of church membership, church worship, church doctrine, church discipline and church style/churchmanship. Thus there is an Orthodox Way, a Roman Catholic Way, an Anglican Way, a Lutheran Way, a Methodist Way and so on. And then within these large categories there are subdivisions or differing emphases and styles.

Within a large world of many cultures and languages; within a Church that experienced in the middle Ages the great division of East and West; then within the West the divisions of the sixteenth century caused by the Protestant Reformation; and then again within the West in the nineteenth century and since the proliferation of denominations that now cover the world, we should expect to see a variety of styles and ways of being Christian. Likewise we should expect to see a vast array of opinions! And we do, and it is confusing even to those of us who have studied Church history in depth and detail!

The most obvious place to see this vast ocean of opinions is in what I have dubbed the American supermarket of religions - see the Yellow Pages of the Phone Directory of any large city under "religions" and "churches" as a starter!

In this context, be it in the USA or in South Africa or the Punjab each of us has to find a home in God's household within one of these jurisdictions or churches or denominations and then allow "Mere Christianity" to reach a fuller expression in a discipline of worship, doctrine, devotion and lifestyle. In some place in the world our choice of "church home" is overwhelming while in others it is down to one or two choices!

For me, such a home would need to be one where (a) there was a deep sense of belonging in a tangible way to God's Church which has existed through space and time as a divine society in history since the apostolic age, and one which (b) accepted not merely the authority of the Scriptures, which is foundational, but also the godly example and teaching of the Church (i.e., the church of the Fathers, the patristic church of the first four or five
centuries) which actually collected the Scriptures and accepted them as Canon (rule). This of course limits me to a small group of the long-standing Churches of the world; and since, by the providence of God, I was born in England and not in Germany I see no absolute reason not to find that home in the ancient church of England, now the Church of England, but for many centuries known as the Ecclesia Anglicana.

From this home I can and should cooperate with fellow Christian believers in the other churches and groups, I can and should attempt to feel with Christ the pain of the existence of much of these divisions and schisms, and I can wait in hope for the end of the age and the fullness of redemption when by grace alone we shall all be one in Christ.

Meanwhile, my vocation as an Anglican (be it as a clergyman or a layman) has to be a filling out of, or a development of, the "Basic Christianity" that I share by the grace of God with others.

So I have to shed some/most of my opinions (remembering that the Greek word for opinion is the word meaning heresy!) and submit to an authentic expression of the "Anglican Way" and style of worship, doctrine, discipline, and order. Others who are Lutherans or Methodists have a similar but different duty which may be described as complementary in the greater view of things.

The traditional and authentic style for Anglicans is the living within the discipline of The Book of Common Prayer. Herein are services to cover the whole of my life from the cradle to the grave; herein is a daily service for mornings and evenings that I can/should use; herein is a Daily lectionary of readings from the Bible to follow; herein are Bible readings for each Sunday and holy day; herein is the Church Year wherein I walk with Christ as a child, to the Jordan river, into the wilderness, around Galilee and Judea, to Jerusalem, to Calvary and to the heights of heaven; herein are the traditional periods of fasting (e.g. Lent) of Ember days (special prayers) of festivals and so on. With my Bible and my Prayer Book I am set to live within the discipline of the Anglican Way. All other Christian books, be they commentaries on the Bible or aids to devotion and piety, are there to enrich my living within the discipline of The Book of Common Prayer. I am a person under authority and my opinions are restricted and my options are few! And such is good for godly habits are part of the foundation of sanctification.

Thus the devout Anglican keeps Lent not to earn God's salvation but as a member of the household of God, in union with saints (from many centuries and places of yesterday and today) and in union with the Lord, in order to worship and love the Lord or God and to prepare the better to celebrate the Atonement and the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. An Anglican fasts in union with Jesus and at his command and seeks to give what he saves on food as alms.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon Rector of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor,
Diocese of Lichfield & Vice-President and Emissary-at-Large of the Prayer Book Society of the USA.

Wednesday, February 06, 2002


The focal point and center of the Church Year is the period from Good Friday to Easter Sunday - the PASCH, Easter. On Quinquagesima we are fifty days from it, and we are three days before the beginning of the 40 days that in English we call LENT.

In the classic prayer book of the Anglican Communion, THE BOOK OFCOMMON PRAYER, the Eucharistic Lectionary for this day follows the ancient Latin tradition of having as the Epistle, Paul' great "Psalm in praise of Love" [1 Cor.13] on the central virtue of LOVE, charity (Caritas, Agape), and for the Gospel, Luke 18:31ff., which presents Jesus going ahead towards His Cross.

However, the English Reformers in 1549 chose not to use the ancient Latin Collect but to create a new one based upon the content of the Epistle. They would have rendered the ancient one something like this: "We beseech thee, O Lord, mercifully to hear our prayers; that we, being absolved from the chain of our sins, may be defended from all adversity.." The theme here fits in of course with the old English name for this Sunday - Shrove Sunday - which points to the confession and absolution of sin (see "to shrive" in a good Dictionary) as the right attitude and activity for the beginning of the Lent Fast, as we join with our Lord in his forty days of fasting and prayer.

Archbishop Cranmer wrote the new Collect for a good purpose --- in order to put a positive emphasis into the preparation for the beginning of Lent. Not that the English Reformers wanted to take away the emphasis upon self-examination, confession of sins and absolution (see the Service of Commination for Ash Wednesday for proof of this) but that they wanted to make it clear, as does the Epistle from 1 Corinthians 13, that all activities [Lenten discipline, all fastings, all mortifications, all self-denials, all piety and devotion] WITHOUT love do not truly please God or sanctify the soul. That is, all good works and self-discipline that are not in their innermost center guided by charity (agape, caritas)] are worth nothing before the brilliant and pure holiness of the righteous God and also do nothing for the salvation and sanctification of the person doing them.


It has always been assumed from the 16th century in the Reformed Catholicism that is the Anglican Way that the essentials of Lent, whose origin reaches back into the fasting of the Catechumens before Easter in the ancient Church, would be kept by English Christians (now Anglicans worldwide). For example, that Ash Wednesday is a day of abstinence and of special self-examination and prayer, and likewise is Good Friday. Unless one is sick or with child or feeding a child, abstinence means no food, but can mean drinking fluids, according to need.

On the other 38 days of Lent fasting means eating less and especially abstaining from meats and animal products so as to make space and time for more devotion and almsgiving, in union with our Lord in his 40 days. Sundays, being the Lord's Day and festivals of the Resurrection are not part of Lent and the discipline of the 40 days is relaxed on them, especially on the mid-Sunday in Lent, known by various names - e.g., Mothering Sunday or Laetare Sunday.

The old custom of the minor feast on Shrove Tuesday in northern Europe was to use up from the larder the eggs and oil (thus pancakes or donuts) because in Lent only vegetables, fruit and non-dairy food would be used. No one ever went out to buy special food for Shrove Tuesday, rather they used up what was there (having no freezers to put it in for use after Easter!). Regrettably, in the secularization of Christianity and of the Church, the minor feasting has become for some a big meal with entertainment - as the carnival scenes in Rio de Janeiro and in New Orleans and as the Shrove Tuesday feasts of Protestants illustrate.

In union with our Lord, and in preparation for the true celebration of EASTER, let us keep a holy Lent seeking to please God and to sanctify our hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon, February 6, 2002 Vice President of the American Prayer Book Society

Monday, February 04, 2002

Shrove Sunday = Quinquagesima

On the Lord's Day, Sunday February 10th, it will be only three days to the beginning of Lent and 50 days [thus Quinquagesima, 50th] to the end of Lent. The countdown to the start of the season of fasting and almsgiving, which began on Septuagesima, will be nearly over.

Lent, the praising of God through the confession of our sins in preparation for a godly celebration of the Atonement and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, is thus soon to begin.

If we find the long Latin name for the Sunday next before Lent somewhat hard to pronounce or to remember, we can revert to the old English name for this day, Shrove Sunday. Then we can also speak of Shrove Monday and Shrove Tuesday.

And if we use the word "Shrove" then we can be reminded of the appropriate preparation for Lent as well as of a major theme of Lent. "Shrove" is from "Shrive" and this verb was used in late medieval times of the confessing of sins and the receiving of absolution in the days immediately before Ash Wednesday. [for use note this example: "Give me leave to shrive her, lest she should die without absolution" - 1633] Then of course on Ash Wednesday it was the medieval custom to place ashes upon penitent believers and remind them that "from dust thou art and to dust thou shall return" so that they would take seriously the need to receive the grace of God for the redemption of their souls and bodies. If we have heard the Gospel, we all know that only those who are penitent of heart are in the position to receive the grace of the Lord Jesus from God the Father Almighty.

For those who wisely still use "The Book of Common Prayer" in one of its classic editions (e.g., England 1662, USA 1928) the services prescribed for use on Ash Wednesday are a Commination Service (or Pentitential Office) together with the Order for Holy Communion. To these may be added according to local custom and the Bishop's permission, the imposition of ashes. (This latter cermony was discarded at the Reformation because it was judged in its received medieval form not to be sufficiently declarative of the grace of

One of the real problems of some of the post-1960s new prayer books of the Anglican Communion, and indeed of some modern translations of the Bible, is that they have endeavoured to remove a major aspect of sin from Christian doctrine and thus they have removed something to be recognized and confessed by the humble heart. So they have reduced the meaning of Lent and the general confession of sins in divine worship.

Let us note Psalm 51 in the Psalter in 1979 USA prayer book. (I leave my friends in other places than the USA to check their own local prayer books.)

Note first the RSV. Psalm 51:6 "Indeed I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me." (see also the NRSV, REB,NAB and NJB for similar translations, and cf. Gen 8:21; I Kgs 8:46; Job 4:17; 14:4; 15:14; 25:4 & Prov. 20:9)

In contrast, Psalm 51:6 in the 1979 Psalter is deliberately translated so as to avoid what the Church has called for centuries, original sin. "Indeed, I have been wicked from my birth, a sinner from my mother's womb." This supposes that I do not inherit the principle of sin as a human being but that sin only occurs when I am alive outside the womb.

The avoidance of original sin ("the bondage of the will" according to
Luther) is also in the "Outline of the Faith" on pp.845ff. of the USA prayer book and is presupposed right through the Rite II material of the 1979 prayer book.

We may comment that if there is no original sin then the salvation offered in the new episcopal religion is less than that offered to the psalmist, King David, to Israel and to all who hear the Gospel of the New Covenant. For it is a salvation from only a part of the reality of sin. There remains in us the bondage of the will to the principle of sin when the new Episcopal religion has saved us!

Let our sin to be confessed in Lent follow the historic teaching of the Anglican Way, the best of the old USA episcopal religion - see the Psalter (Ps 51) in the BCP 1662/1928 and note the confession of sins in the Daily Office of this authentic Prayer Book. Let it be the confession of the totality of our sin and thus let it be the praise of the God who delivers us from all our sin through Jesus Christ.

The confession of our sins is not something to get over quickly so that we can move on (in modern mood) to "celebration". Rather the genuine confession of sins in reverence and awe is an act of praise to Almighty God, the Judge and the Redeemer. For the true confession of sins is the praise of His justice and righteousness and also the magnifying of his sovereign grace and mercy which blots out all our sins.

Shrove Tuesday

There has developed over the centuries the custom of having a feast on Shrove Tuesday and thus getting one's belly full before the strict Fast of Ash Wednesday begins. This custom needs to be seen as a concession to human weakness adopted in the period of Christian civilization or Christendom when there were many nominal Christians in the Church. To have a feast on the day before a major day of penitence and fasting is not what the Early Church taught and not what faithful believers today ought to engage in!

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon
Vice President of the Prayer Book Society of the USA.
Feb 4 2002.