Thursday, October 31, 2002

On Sacraments, Hooker & ourselves

A word to fellow evangelical Anglicans & reformed catholics of the Anglican Way
A discussion starter

One thing I think is certain. It is impossible in 2002 to work out a satisfactory doctrine of the two Sacraments, Baptism and the Lord's Supper [Eucharist], simply by reference to the Sacred Scripture. It was ALSO impossible in the 1590's when Richard Hooker penned his "Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity" (in debate with the Puritans who wanted to bring revolutionary change into the Church of England) to work out such a doctrine simply by recourse to the Bible.


Because the Bible has to be interpreted now, and because it has been interpreted in the past, and because from the past we receive Tradition and traditions which affect the way we read the Bible and receive its contents. This is so in all situations but is particularly so with reference to the establishing of the reality of Sacraments and then of their meaning and purpose. Further, insulated, privatised judgment in the reading and interpretation of the Bible is the origin of heresies!

The central Anglican [reformed catholic] method of approaching the doctrine of the Sacraments was identified and then given solidity by Hooker in Book V of the Laws. He taught that the Sacraments are related to the Incarnation of the Son of God, who gave them, and that only in the light of the Incarnation can they be understood, appreciated and received and become effectual.

Thus before he addresses the nature and purpose of the two Sacraments, Hooker engages in a most careful and engaging statement of the doctrine of the Incarnation of the Son of God as that doctrine was formulated (after much discussion and debate) by the early Fathers and in the dogma of ecumenical councils. Anyone who wishes to read a succinct & brilliant statement of the Church dogma of the Incarnation will find such in Bk V, 51-57.

Of course in going to the Early Church (which after all was the Church that collected the books of, and decided the content of, the Canon of the New Testament) Hooker was following the Anglican method, often summarised since then by the use of the 1,2,3,4,5. Anglicans base doctrine, worship and church order on One Canon of Scripture with Two Testaments, doctrine summarised in Three Creeds, the dogma of Four General Councils and the developments of Five centuries of growth & experience (1-500). They seek to teach nothing contrary to the central doctrines of this formative period.

In the light of the Patristic Evidence, Hooker was able to dismiss the Roman doctrine of transubstantiation & the Lutheran doctrine of consubstantiation as not faithful to Scripture as received in the Early Church, and to propose a doctrine to which, he believed, the early Fathers testified. He proposed that "this is my body" meant Christ saying to the faithful receivers:

"This hallowed food, through concurrence of divine power, is in verity and in truth, unto faithful receivers, instrumentally a cause of that mystical participation, whereby as I make myself wholly theirs, so I give them in hand an actual possession of all such saving grace as my sacrificed body can yield, and as their souls do presently need, this is to them and in them my body."

This became the central Anglican doctrine (cf. Article XXV) of the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It was the basis for the teaching on the Sacraments in the extension of the Catechism of the Prayer Book (done in 1604 and added to the BCP in 1662).

In historical terms, it is similar to that taught by John Calvin and the high Presbyterian divines and known as "Virtualism" - from virtus = strength/force/power (i.e., while the bread and wine continue to exist unchanged after consecration, the faithful communicant receives with the sacramental bread and wine the virtue/power/grace of the real Body and Blood of the crucified and exalted Saviour).

Another related approach to the presence of Christ in the Eucharist and developed by 17th century writers such as Jeremy Taylor is often termed "Receptionism" - that along with the actual bread and wine the faithful communicant receives the true Body of Blood of the crucified and now exalted Saviour.

These reformed Catholic or Anglican doctrines of the real presence were meant to avoid the literal identification of the bread and wine with the actual body and blood of Jesus and also to insist on the need for worthy, faithful reception. (In the 19th century Tractarians and then Anglo-Catholics adopted doctrines of the real presence that were derived not from the Reformed Catholic & Caroline traditions of the C of E but from Roman and Lutheran divines - see my Evangelical Theology, 1833-1856, A Response to Tractarianism, 1979.)

Hooker & the BCP Catechism do not deal with modern questions such as what kind of a sacrifice is offered at the Eucharist, but rather with what is received from Christ therein.

The point I am making is that there are TODAY no short cuts to the establishing of a sound doctrine of the Eucharist upon which we can create new liturgies and also officiate at and plan eucharistic liturgies today.

I would suggest that unless we are very familiar with the classic, patristic doctrine of the Incarnation and with the development of the structure & content of the Eucharist n the first five and more centuries, and thus in a position to judge the worth of the new shapes, contents and doctrines of the Anglican liturgies developed since the 1960s by appeal to the 3rd and 4th centuries, it is perhaps best for us to stay with the traditional BCP service in its 1662 C of E or its 1928 ECUSA form, whether we use the same in the traditional language of prayer (the "Thou-God") or the post 1960s attempts at "contemporary liturgical language" (the "You-God" as in the Common Worship, 2000, of the C of E). And further to stay with doctrines of "Virtualism" or "Receptionism" and to adjust our piety and communal sense of "Celebration" to fit these ends.

[Please note that at my church website the two latest recordings I made are available - in the Collects for Peace and on Advent. ]

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Preaching & Reading Scripture

On recovering the Anglican Way

Today in the worship of most evangelical & charismatic congregations (as well as in liberal and latitudinarian ones) the readings from the Bible are usually short, taking only a minute or two, while the sermon/homily/address is much longer, taking usually five or even ten times as much time. Yet it is believed that the Bible is the written Word of God (or the written witness to the Word of God [Jesus the Christ]) while the sermon/homily/address is [at least sociologically] the word of a man or woman speaking of God in relation to humankind.

But is the sermon merely a human word? Many preachers have claimed and do claim that what they say is nothing less than the declared or preached or explained Word of God, and that it is designed to be God's special (if not unique) means of saving and edifying God's assembled people. It possesses greater efficacy than the public reading of the written Word of God.

Certainly the Puritans of Elizabethan England [who wished to model the Church of England after the church in the Canton of Geneva] were totally committed to the act of preaching as central not only to the act of Christian worship but also to the receiving of the Word of God by the congregation. The reading of the Bible was seen as preparatory to and as included within the act of preaching, which was ex tempore, even though notes were usually used. Psalms were sung before and after the sermon and prayer was offered, but the Sermon was central and supreme. The public reading of Scripture did not exist in and of itself as a separate entity but only in service of the sermon.

In contrast, Christian worship for the regular Churchmen of the Church of England consisted of four services on the Lord's Day and a sermon or homily was only included in one of them. Public reading of the Bible was absolutely central. Morning Prayer contained a long OT and a long NT reading and the praying of biblical canticles and several biblical psalms. The Litany was wholly an act of prayer but filled with biblical phraseology. The Order for Holy Communion contained an Epistle and a Gospel, together with a required homily, which could be read or preached ex tempore. Then Evening Prayer had a long OT and a long NT reading and the praying of biblical canticles and several psalms. So the sermon at H C was the only one required for the Lord' s Day.

The Anglican position (as so well stated by Richard Hooker in his LAWS, book V) was that the public reading of the Word of God is proclamation and preaching and is a definite means of grace in the congregation of the faithful. Likewise the meditatory use of the Psalter in worship is a means of grace. Thus there was no need for a sermon in or at the end of Morning or Evening Prayer since the Word of God was clearly proclaimed therein by the clear and effectual and careful reading of the Word of God unto the people. A sermon or homily was delivered after the Creed in the Order for Holy Communion and Catechising was appointed to be done publicly in the congregation regularly on the Lord's Day after services.

Thus while the Anglican highly valued the sermon (and thus the C of E provided official written ones to be read by those who could not compose good ones themselves) he also highly valued the public reading of the Scripture, in and of itself, in and by itself, as a direct means of grace. In contrast the Puritan only valued the public reading of the Bible if, and only if, it was closely connected with an exposition or sermon by the pastor.

In 2002, we find that the Scripture Lessons for MP & EP in the new lectionaries are much shorter than they were a century and more ago. Further, a sermon is added to MP & EP if these stand alone.

What seems to have been lost within the Anglican ethos is that strong sense that the public reading of a [long] portion of Scripture is proclamation and preaching - the unedited, undiluted word of God to man - and that the meditatory praying of the psalter is the most apostolic form of prayer and praise. There is a tendency today to allow any volunteer to read the Bible even though the person is not a good reader and has little sense of the meaning of the sacred text.

Apparently we hear less Scripture today in public worship then in 1902, 1802, 1702, 1601 and in its place we sing more choruses & hear more talks/notices/sermons, which rarely rise to being genuine expositions of the sacred Scripture.

Do we need to recover the sense that the public reading of whole chapters of the Bible is a definite means of grace and a public form of proclamation of the Word of God?

Please note that there are two new Homilettes on the Web site of my little parish. One is on the two Collects for Peace in MP & EP and the other is on Advent. If you have speakers please make a visit...

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Bishops issue statement on blessing same-sex unions
A Message to the Church
MISSISSAUGA, ONT., Oct. 29, 2002 - In the name of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada, meeting in Mississauga on October 28, 2002, issues the following statement in response to the decision of the Synod of the Diocese of New Westminster to bless same-sex unions.

We are called to be one in the Body of Christ. (John 17:21) We know that on the issue of same-sex unions differing convictions are deeply held in the House of Bishops, throughout our church and beyond. The decision of New Westminster has caused pain for some and joy in others. Over the past four years this Diocese undertook an extensive process of study that led them to their decision. We recognize that members of the diocese on every side of the issue have suffered pain. Eight parishes of the Diocese of New Westminster have requested alternative Episcopal oversight for themselves. Before the fracture widens we urge all involved to engage in a process of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18) on the basis of the general principles passed by the Diocesan Synod in June 2002. Although the precise terms of the conversation will be established within the Diocese we propose that the following elements should be part of it.

The conversation should be enabled by a mutually agreed to facilitator. The process should provide 'safety' for all participants by setting at least these standards: Being respectful of each others' faith journey. Listening respectfully Asking 'inviting' questions Attempting to understand from the view points of others

We request that those outside the diocese respect the integrity of this process and allow it to proceed without intervention. In recent years some dioceses in the Anglican Church of Canada have made individual decisions to recognize or forbid, and in this one instance, to bless same-sex unions. We have spent much of our time at these meetings discussing our response to these situations. We are unable to speak with a unanimous voice on this issue of national concern especially with regard to the subject of homosexuality in the light of scripture. We are referring the matter of the blessing of same-sex unions to our national governing body, the General Synod (2004) for discussion and if possible, resolution.

We agree that we will not make individual decisions in any additional dioceses during the interim. Until the time of resolution all bishops are asked to uphold the 1997 Guidelines of the House of Bishops on Human Sexuality. We call the church to prayer in this difficult and demanding time in our life in Christ.

On the meaning and maintenance of COMMUNION in the Anglican Family

ACNS 3175 - ACO - 23 OCTOBER 2002

Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission Communiqué

The initial meeting of the Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission had been disrupted by the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, so this year's meeting was the first occasion for all members to come together. Assembled at Virginia Theological Seminary, and charged by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Consultative Council to articulate 'the meaning and maintenance of communion', the Commission was once again vividly aware of the volatility of human communities. Dramatic preparations were being made for the anniversary of September 11, rhetoric for regime change in Iraq was gathering force, and during the meeting news was received of the murder of a Congolese priest as he was travelling to a meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council.

The Commission, twenty-two theologians and teachers from all parts of the Anglican Communion under the Chairmanship of the Rt Revd Professor Stephen Sykes, was also acutely aware of conflict and potential divisions within the church. Papers commissioned for the meeting and extensive correspondence with dioceses and centres of theological education around the world were discussed. Over 100 replies were received to questions about the nature of communion, threats to its integrity, and the degree to which 'moral teachings' define, but also at times divide, Christian identity. What has become clear is that alongside well-publicised differences over attitudes to homosexuality, questions of gender and ministry or the possibility of lay-presidency at the Eucharist, most Anglicans are even more concerned about the way appropriate expressions of fellowship could provide mutual support for churches living under the threats of poverty, ethnic tensions, violence and enormous human need. An underlying theology of communion (koinonia) will need to engage all these issues.

The Commission is committed to continuing its task in conversation with the Anglican Communion as a whole, and especially with churches of the global South. In a second stage of consultation, responses are being sought to a series of propositions about the nature of conflict in the church; the role of Scripture; the proper integration of doctrine and ethics; the way in which local, contextual questions are addressed and how far the interdependence of Anglican provinces can be a source of strength in this responsibility, along with the need to find structures of 'testing, reconciliation and restraint' which are appropriate to an Anglican understanding of authority in the Church.

The Commission greatly appreciated the generous hospitality of Virginia Theological Seminary and expects to meet next from 4-9 September 2003. A review of responses to the first phase of the Commission's work, The Communion Study, 2002: Four key questions for Anglicans, will be sent to dioceses along with an outline of the future course of its study. Additional details will be shown on the IATDC pages of the Anglican Communion web-site:


The Rt Revd Prof Stephen Sykes, England, Chairman
Dr Jennie Te Paa, Aotearoa/NZ and Polynesia
The Revd Dr Stephen K Pickard, Australia
The Revd Dr Bruce Kaye, Australia
Dr Eileen Scully, Canada
The Rt Revd Dr Samuel Cutting, India (not able to attend)
The Rt Revd Paul Richardson, England
The Revd Prof Nicholas Sagovsky, England
The Revd Canon Dr Tom Wright, England
Dr Ester Mombo, Kenya
The Revd Joseph Denge Galgalo, Kenya
The Rt Revd Dr Matthew Owadayo, Nigeria
The Revd Canon Luke Pato, Southern Africa
The Rt Revd Héctor Zavala, Southern Cone
The Rt Revd Dr Lim Cheng Ean, South East Asia
The Revd Victor Atta-Bafoe, West Africa
The Very Revd Dr Paul Zahl, United States
The Revd Prof Kortwright Davis, United States
The Revd Dr Kathy Grieb, Observer, VTS
The Rt Revd Dr Mark Dyer, IASCER Cross Appointment
The Revd Dr Philip Thomas, England, Assistant to the Chairman
The Rt Revd John Baycroft, ACO, Secretary
Mrs Christine Codner, ACO, Administrative Assistant
Ms Frances Hiller, ACO, Administrative Assistant

Further information from:

The Rt Revd John Baycroft (Secretary)
Anglican Communion Office
Partnership House
157 Waterloo Rd

The Revd Dr Philip Thomas (Assistant to the Chairman)
The Vicarage
Co Durham

Saturday, October 26, 2002

All Saints’ Day, November 1st

Collect: O Almighty God, who has knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of thy Son, Christ our Lord: Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those unspeakable joys, which thou has prepared for them that unfeignedly love thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Epistle: Revelation 7:2-12 Gospel: St Matthew 5:1-12

Whatever may have been [historically] the origin of the festival, it has become one very dear to the hearts of Christians, and is made, both by the character of the Service for the day, and by the meaning of it, one of the most touching of all holydays; a day on which are gathered up the fragments of the “one bread” of Christ’s Mystical Body, that nothing be lost of the memory and example of His Saints.

First among the “cloud of witnesses” are they of the white-robed army of martyrs who are not otherwise commemorated, whose names are not noted in the diptychs of the Church, but are for ever written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Next are a multitude of those who were called to wait with St John, rather than to follow their Master with St Peter, but who are not less surely numbered among the children of God, and have their lot among the saints. Among that holy company are some who are dear to the memory of a whole Church; good bishops and priests, whose flocks are around them in the book of remembrance; saintly men and women, whose lives have been devoted to works of love, although not ministering at the altar; hidden saints of God, whose holiness was known within the narrowest circle on earth, but who will shine like stars in the firmament before the throne.

When the Church thanks God on this day for All Saints, many an one among them should be remembered by those who are left on earth. At the Holy Communion and in private devotions, their names should be used in memorial before God; and prayers should be offered by those to whom they are still dear, and with whom they are still in one fellowship, that all loved ones departed may have more and more the Light, Peace, and Refreshment which the Presence of Christ gives in Paradise.

[Comment by John Henry Blunt from his THE ANNOTATED BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER, 2nd edition, 1884, p.342 (lst edition 1866). Blunt was a moderate high churchman and his book was widely used both in Britain and in North America where it was printed and published. It is worthy of being reprinted in an edited & reduced form.]

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

All Souls' Day

If Anglican parishes are going to keep All Souls' Day at the present time then I suggest that they need to have a persuasive doctrine to support the celebration. This does not seem to be the case with modern Anglican Churches, if the content of the specially created, modern Collects are taken as evidence.

In the BCP 1662 there is no Collect for All Souls' for the day is not named for celebration, as the western doctrine of Purgatory, which undergirded it, was rejected. However, in the Common Worship (2000) of the Church of England, the Collect for All Souls' in the 'traditional language' form is as

"Everlasting God, our maker and redeemer, grant us with all the faithful departed, the sure benefits of thy Son's saving passion and glorious resurrection, that, in the last day, when thou dost gather up all things in Christ, we may with them enjoy the fullness of thy promises; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen."

And the Post Communion prayer is:

"O God of love, grant that the death and resurrection of Christ, which we have celebrated in this sacrament may bring us, with all the faithful departed, into the peace of thine eternal home; through Jesus Christ, our rock and our salvation, to whom be glory for time and eternity."

In these Prayers there is no specific presence of the crucial doctrine for the traditional keeping of All Souls' Day, the doctrine of the Church Expectant. That is of the souls of baptized Christians who are being purified, purged and sanctified by the grace of Christ in order that they can enter as perfected souls into the closer presence of Christ and for the redemption of their bodies [at the Last Day], and so that they have glorified souls and bodies for life everlasting and the enjoyment of the beatific vision.

In fact these Anglican prayers could be used on All Saints' Day, which celebrates both the numberless faithful Christians who have gone before us and the equally great number of faithful Christians now on earth as pilgrims and sojourners, and few would sense that they were inappropriate!

In the now discarded Alternative Service Book (1980) of the C of E the following is the appointed Collect:

"Merciful God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life of all the faithful: raise us from the death of sin to the life of righteousness, that at the last we, with our brother/sister. may come to thy eternal joy;."

If we now look at traditional Western Collects for All Souls' we shall see that they presuppose the doctrine of the Church Expectant in Purgation and of the duty of the Church Militant on earth to pray for those in Purgation so that they will move on by grace into the fullness of forgiveness & redemption, and into the company of the Saints in glory.

"O God, the Creator and Redeemer of all them that believe: grant unto the souls of thy servants and handmaidens the remission of their sins; that as they have desired thy merciful pardon, so by the supplications of their brethren they may receive the same.."

"O God to whom alone belongeth the forgiveness of sins: grant, we pray thee, to the souls of thy servants and handmaidens, whose burial we now commemorate, to find a place of refreshing, and the blessedness of rest, and to enjoy the glory of everlasting light."

"O God, who desirest not the death of a sinner, but rather that all mankind should be saved, we beseech thee mercifully to grant that thy servants and handmaidens, who have passed out of this world, may ever by the intercession of the Blessed Mary ever Virgin and of all thy Saints come to enjoy with them everlasting blessedness.."

I am not here commending the use of these Collects; but, I am pointing out that if modern Anglicans are going to reject the doctrine of the classic BCP & Articles of Religion and treat All Souls' as a special day then they need to have some clear doctrine to support it. Mere sentimentality and/or vagueness will not do!

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon

Can the Media and Christian Faith Be Reconciled?

Author Speaks of "New Wines for New Cultures"

OTTAWA, OCT. 25, 2002 ( Guy Marchessault, director of the Social Communications Program of Saint Paul University, has just published a book on the relation between the media and the faith: "Médias et Foi Chrétienne: Deux Univers à Concilier" (Media and Christian Faith: Two Realms to Reconcile), Fides Editions.

He talked with ZENIT about the questions raised in the book.

Q: Does reconciliation between the media and the Church have a price?

Marchessault: I would say yes and no. Yes, it has a price, if one thinks that the relation between the Church and society means a loss of power over the right of the hierarchies to communicate the public word. From now on, this word is the privilege of the media, according to their own interests -- which are increasingly financial -- which does not always correspond to the interests of the Church. One can regret this, but it is a fact.

It seems to me that the challenge, here, is of another order. Since we know perfectly well that the information technology, which influences all the cultures and subcultures of the world, makes and unmakes reputations, creates an essential visibility for serious social actors, and has become the agora of all discussions and exchanges of ideas, the media being what it is, we must ask, How can the Christian faith be present there?

Not to be there, means to disappear from the map, to disappear from the culture, to disappear behind the closed doors of presbyteries or sacristies. The law of "perception" is fundamental to the culture of information technology.

Given the above, how can the Christian faith be present in the media? Pope John Paul II opens a door for us when he recognizes in the media the quality of being a new culture. That implies processes of acculturation and inculturation. Given the media, it is an imperative "missionary" process from which, henceforth, no one will escape.

Q: One understands here the importance of language.

Marchessault: Exactly. One of the first objectives is to be attuned to every culture, is to take the trouble to understand persuasive and symbolic language.

It is what I recommend should be done: to identify the privileged languages of the media, and then compare them to the privileged language of the Church over the last few centuries.

This comparison is instructive, in the sense that it enables one to understand how -- in the struggle against the Reformation, then against modernism -- special attention was given in education to apologetics, to demonstration, to notional explanations, when at the same time the popular expression of the faith in symbolic and artistic terms was disappearing or losing its meaning for the majority of mortals.

The media, which by its nature is the "popular" means of communication, calls for appropriate language in terms of expression of the faith -- not so much theological or dogmatic doctrine, or rituals, but above all witness, personal and collective witness.

Q: Why is there still this ecclesial fear of the media?

Marchessault: The Church was afraid, and some of its followers continue to be afraid of the media, fundamentally for three reasons:

One, the most frequently mentioned reason is the "immorality" of the media. One is aware of the importance of moralization, especially sexual, in the course of the two or three last centuries. The media gave support to a certain freedom of customs that played against it at the moral level, such as wearing apparel, dark movie halls, etc. That has always caused fear.

Second, one reason that is evoked less often was remembered higher up: The Church has lost the right to communicate the public word, hence she has lost the interpretative monopoly of the meaning of the world, because her vision of the world has become just one approach among others; which places her in concurrence with all other imaginable ideologies, on the same level, in the world fair of worldviews.

The third reason can only be formulated with difficulty: the need today for a totally new inculturation of the faith.

In losing her monopoly on the public symbolic word, the Church found herself suddenly without a tool to proclaim the faith. New wines for new cultures. The wonderful theological and catechetical terms that served previous generations suddenly lost their relevance. Those old expressions that came from the Christian humanist culture -- which originated in the Middle Ages -- were defended for too long.

To address new cultures is all together a new experience -- at least in the West, as opposed to the experience lived in countries known as "of mission."

To express the faith again in pertinent words and gestures for young people, today in the West, constitutes an incredibly difficult challenge. Grandparents use words that are rejected by their own children and totally incomprehensible to their grandchildren; parents no longer dare speak about the faith to their children, not having any adequate language tools with which to feel at ease; children are raised increasingly as unmitigated "unbelievers."

Hence, their feverish search for meaning in life, through all their physical
experiences: sexuality, drugs, strong sensations, etc.

Here, I think everything remains to be done; a new notional/symbolic language is yet to be created, thanks to which the faith will find the words to express itself today. Then, the media will be able to relay its messages with unheard-of savor.

Q: Will conflict always characterize the relation between faith and the media?

Marchessault: There will always be conflict between faith and the media. But, in my opinion, this conflict is not first expressed in situations which one thinks of spontaneously: immorality, aggressive treatment of religious institutions, distortions of the contents of officials' speeches, etc.

Rather, it resides in what I will call the danger of prophetic disquiet. What to say? To make more money, the media works according to market procedures, constantly adjusting its products to the expectations -- conscious or unconscious, real or supposed -- of the public to which it caters. Therefore, it never contradicts its public, under pain of losing its support and, therefore, its revenue.

The Church cannot play this game without danger. First, because she holds certain principles. But, even more so, because in the name of the Christian faith itself, she must examine herself and denounce unacceptable attitudes, even if widespread. It is the first step for any prophet.

The second is to identify the living forces that can give a positive sense to life.

Starting from these denunciations and living forces, the third step is to pass to transformative action.

Now, the greater part of people are not ready to receive this type of message -- including Christians who are tranquil in their faith. Hence, it will pass with greater difficulty in the media.

When the public is in dissonance, it cancels its subscription, or changes channel. A challenging and prophetic presence of the Church is at the same time a source of surprise, but also of fear with the popular public, which is that of the media.

This is why the relation between the media and the faith will always be problematic, in one way or another. ZE02102504

Friday, October 25, 2002

Feelings: A discussion starter

How helpful & appropriate is the contemporary use of "I feel?"

If one compares the language of the English Versions of the New Testament with that of contemporary expressions of Christian Faith, one notices the scarcity of the use of the verb "to feel" in the NT (and OT/Apocrypha) in contrast to the abundance of its use today.

If one listens to the way people speak today, even people who are renowned for their intellectual ability, one notices how often they use the word feel and they use it where other verbs (e.g., believe & think) would be obviously more appropriate and meaningful. Often an academic or scientist is asked. "What do you feel about [a scientific claim/ theory etc]?" What is being asked is a question about his intellectual judgment and he supplies this in reply but does so by beginning, " I feel that."

If one listens to the teaching, preaching, speaking, testimonies and popular ditties in churches (both evangelical and liberal, charismatic & formal) one notices how often faith, hope, conviction, commitment, consecration and service are introduced by and described through the verb " I feel."

In the NT of the KJV it occurs only 3 times and translates three different verbs - Acts 17:27; Ephesians 4:19 & Hebrews 4:15.

In the NT of the NRSV it occurs only 3 times and again translates different verbs - Romans 15:14; 2 Cor 11:2; 1 Thess 3:9.

I do not want to suggest that no account is taken of the feelings/emotions in the New Testament for such a statement is false. But it is significant that there is no clear use of "I feel" in the Bible.

What I think is significant is the basic psychology at work in the two different contexts.

In the Bible the whole person is one who thinks, feels, intends and acts. If there is a logic to this it is that truth (or error) enters the soul as knowledge, elevates or depraves the emotions/affections and guides or empowers the will to action. The Gospel does not primarily come to a person via his emotions or affections but is addressed to him as a thinking, responsible being who is being called to be obedient unto God his Lord. Thus the biblical Christian rarely says " I feel" but often says, " I believe, trust, receive, obey, think," and so on. Certainly deep feelings are aroused when the Gospel by the work of the Holy Ghost touches the affections and desire for God's glory and man's salvation are aroused and kindled, and of such feelings the Christian testifies. Such affections are important for true religion (as Jonathan Edwards magisterially pointed out) is in the affections - desire, love, joy, peace and so on. Yet these affections must be and are moulded and guided by right and true knowledge and faith.

Today, with the dominance in the West of the psychotherapeutical culture and of personal subjectivity in terms of self-understanding and definition, it is assumed that the feelings are central to what we are and that they are the initial meeting of the individual person with other persons and with the world around. Thus "I feel" functions in a comprehensive way to cover all motions of the mind and soul. If we ask a young college person "Who are you?" the answer will often be in terms of "I am the person with these unique feelings that are mine and no one else's." (50 years ago the answer would have been in terms of human relations - identity through belonging to family and tribe.)

When the feelings are elevated above the mind in logical, practical, and cultural priority and are not seen as powerful forces that need to be tamed & harnessed for good purposes (or else they will serve evil), then we are in great danger of having an highly experientialist religion which is merely that, wherein Truth, as being the Person of Jesus Christ and right statements concerning him, are secondary or even lost. And it is this Truth that saves!

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon

Are you prepared for All Saints' and All Souls' ?

The arrival in the Christian Year of All Saints' & All Souls' (November 1 & 2) not only causes the devout to think of the Christian Hope but also of how to relate to & keep these two days (and Hallow-een which is associated) and to examine the biblical and church use of the two key words "saint" and "soul."

Both All Saints & All Souls were fixed Days in the Western Calendar by AD 1000 and the fact that they were put together reveals that they were seen as being closely related.

All Saints with its Gospel as Matthew 5, the Beatitudes, emphasizes the presence of holy men and women in the Church of God on earth and presents them as Christians to emulate, and follow as pilgrims, in this world on their way to heaven. Also the multitude of departed faithful, holy Christians who have gone before us is presented as a source of inspiration & example - see the Epistle from Revelation 7 & the BCP Collect for the Day. Therefore a day of rejoicing, hope and consecration.

All Souls begins with the Introit, "Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord: and let light perpetual shine upon them." In the three Collects of the Day in the Western Church there is prayer for the remission of the sins of the departed and that they may enjoy eternal life with Christ in glory. The Gospel is from John 5:25ff which speaks of the hope of resurrection unto everlasting life. Therefore a day of intercession and hope.

While the BCP (1662 & 1928USA) requires the keeping of All Saints and provides Collect, Epistle & Gospel, it does not mention All Souls. The reason is because of the excessive abuse of masses for the dead in the late medieval period and the decision of the Reformers to cut them out completely from the life of the reformed Catholic Church of England (See Articles of Religion xxxi). Yet, what was removed in the 16th century, has officially returned in the 20th century for provision is made for All Souls' Day in the new Prayer Books (e.g., the Common Worship of the C of E ). Previously, the Day was kept especially by Anglo-Catholics and they used the Collect, Epistle and Gospel from the old Roman Mass.

How we evaluate these days and the way in which we relate to them and keep them is much dependent upon what provision is made in our parish, as well as what is our doctrine of the Christian Hope.

If we follow the central Protestant tradition and think of the Church as Militant here on earth and Triumphant in heaven, and view the death of the believer who is justified by faith as a promotion from the one to the other then we see no need for All Souls' Day. All the elect are at death perfected and cleansed so that they can be with Christ in glory awaiting the full redemption of their bodies at the Final Judgment. So All Saints Day is a celebration of those who are called to be saints on earth, living by grace holy lives of faithful obedience, and those who have been translated to higher life in and with Christ in heaven. Thus it is (from the evangelical
viewpoint) the celebration of All Souls' who are in Christ and are (in biblical terminology) his saints, first on earth and then in heaven.

If we follow the central, western Catholic tradition, and think of the Church as Militant here on earth, Expectant in the interim period before the Final Judgment and Resurrection of the Dead, and Triumphant in heaven, then we see the need to keep All Souls' or something like it. Here the focus is Expectancy and the belief is that baptized believers die as not yet pure & perfected for they are not yet fully obedient and fully loving, and their souls are still stained by their own sin. They need to be purged and cleansed by the grace of grace in order to enter into and enjoy the blessedness of heaven with Christ, their Lord and Saviour as purified souls. Thus the Church on earth, united to the Church expectant which is in the intermediate state of purgation, prays for her brothers and sisters that their period of cleansing and sanctification will be swift so that they enter quickly into the full fellowship of heaven by promotion to the Church Triumphant, where the true saints and martyrs already dwell by grace in glory everlasting.

What I have noticed in the Church of England is that where a Church (say a Cathedral or major City church) offers services on both November 1 & 2, the attendance on November 2nd is greater. And the reason seems to be that this is the Day when a lot of people feel a desire to remember their departed spouses & parents and family members, especially those who were killed in war or tragic circumstances. This higher attendance is not necessarily a statement of their belief in purgatory but is a means of keeping with solemnity, reverence and love the memory of the loved one. This suggests to me that even Protestant Evangelicals perhaps need to find a genuine pastoral use for All Souls' even if they do not subscribe to the doctrine of the Church Expectant and of Masses for the dead.

Hallow-een (= All-hallow-even) is the Eve of All Hallows (Saints), the last night of October. [In the old Celtic Calendar the last night of October was "old year's night", the night of all witches, and the Church sought to purify it by making it into the Eve of All Saints. Yet much of the former revelry and practices remained and they have been revived in modern dress by some people in our modern secular age.] It is best for Christians, I think, to avoid all association with the worldly celebration of Hallow-een and to gather in Church on the Eve of All Saints, for a time of rejoicing and preparation for All Saints' Day.

One sobering and challenging fact about the use of the word "saint" in the New Testament is that all baptized believers are here on earth both saints and called to be saints -- they are sanctified in and by Christ now through His Cross and they are called to be holy through the indwelling of the Holy Ghost.

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

Thursday, October 24, 2002

How common is "Common"?

One fascinating feature of the Anglican Communion of Churches in recent times is the hanging on to the word "common" even when the circumstances appeared to require a different word..

Let me explain.

Historically, first within the Church of England and then also within Churches founded from her, the word "Common" was always and intimately related to the word "Prayer" and to the further word "Book." And thus Common Prayer invariably referred to the Texts/Rites contained in The Book of Common Prayer, which was taken wherever Anglican churches were founded.

So it is not surprising that what eventually became known as The Anglican Communion of Churches was seen - at least until the 1960s - as Churches bound together by Common Formularies and having a commonly recognized Ministry. (Note: the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral was not an internal description of the Communion but its minimum basis for ecumenical relations & unions.)

At the very heart of the Common Formularies was The Book of Common Prayer (into which was bound The Ordinal & often also The Articles) which existed in various editions and in over 150 languages. Wherever one went in the world the local Anglican church had a service, the textual basis & structure of which, were readily recognized - whatever the local language and whatever the churchmanship.

In contrast to 1960, we find now in 2002 that the unity of the Anglican Communion is no longer seen as united through Common Formularies and a commonly recognized Ministry. World travellers do not know what to expect at an Anglican Church, not only in different countries but even in one country! There is much emphasis in 2002 upon the Instruments of Unity - the See of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference every ten years, the annual Primates Meeting and the regular Anglican Consultative Council's meeting. These have appeared in part to compensate for the loss of unity in how we worship together as pilgrim on the Anglican Way to the Beatific Vision.

The commonly recognized Ministry is no longer emphasised because not all Provinces recognize women bishops (or even women presbyters) and the Common Text for worship and the Common Text for Ordinations (= the BCP) are no longer mentioned because they have receded into the background.

Yet the Communion (especially in its Northern or Western part) seems to want to hang on to the word "Common" as though this word belonged to the essential memory of the Anglican Way. Thus our liturgists now speak much of Common Elements in the Liturgy (Lord's Prayer, Gloria, Sursum Corda etc.) and they insist on using the word "Common" for prayer books that do not conform to the logic and structure of the classic Book of Common Prayer.

In England the latest form of alternative services is entitled COMMON WORSHIP, available in print in many forms, on CD's and at Websites. Unlike the BCP 1662 (which remains the official prayer book of the National Church) Common Worship has no common texts but a large variety of texts/rites. And even what are known as the "Common" Elements do not appear in one uniform English version. So what is Common is also in alternatives.

Back in 1979 the Episcopal Church, USA, called its book of Alternative Services, by the name of The BCP, and thereby introduced dishonesty as acceptable into the Anglican Communion. The Province of the West Indies has since imitated the ECUSA in naming its new book, The BCP, when it manifestly is no such thing.

Having lost its unifying liturgical cement/glue from the 1960s, the Anglican Communion is in search of something to replace it. Whether the Instruments of Unity are sufficiently graceful (filled with grace) and sufficiently ordered (filled with divine order) to do this work, only time will tell.

It is interesting to speculate whether down the road the Anglican Communion (like the R C's and the Orthodox) will feel the need for a basic Common Text for the Eucharist, Baptism and Daily Prayer.

Happily, the center of the Communion, the Church of England, despite its Alternative Service Books (ASB, 1980, and Common Worship, 2000), still is bound by her official and traditional Formularies (BCP 1662, Ordinal & Articles) in terms of self-definition and canon law.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Modern Puritans & Reformed Catholics

(with a Proposal)

One of the major divisions in the Church of England in the late 16th and early 17th century was between those [Reformed Catholics/Anglicans] who were committed to the ordered form of Common Prayer as the basis and content of Public Worship and those [Puritans] who were committed to the centrality of the sermon and the extempore prayer of the preacher with a minimum of required forms for Public Worship. On the one side there is Reformed Catholicism and on the other is Genevan Presbyterianism.

Each side claimed that its method was best suited, with the aid of the Holy Ghost, to engage the congregation in the true, spiritual worship of God the Father through Jesus Christ the Mediator. After 1660 the two sides were represented in what was called Protestant Nonconformity and the national Church of England.

The most eloquent and sustained commendation in prose of Common Prayer came from Richard Hooker in his "Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity" (Book V) and in poetry from George Herbert in his "The Temple." The Presbyterian position is found in such works as "An Admonition to Parliament" and the "Marprelate Tracts."

Today, we have in modern Episcopalianism/Anglicanism something analogous, but without the great learning, intensity & fervour, evident in the period of English Reformation. I refer to the minimal commitment of modern charismatic Evangelicals to Common Prayer on the one side in contrast to the full commitment to Common Prayer of the modern classical Anglican [Reformed Catholic] on the other. And, today, since the liturgical minimalists are in the majority and are much more activist and vocal, their position is often taken as the norm, with that of the classical Anglicans often being perceived as being dead traditionalism or the like. Of course, perception is not always the same as reality!

The liturgical minimalists place great emphasis upon simplicity, creativity, accessibility, intelligibility, moving the affections/emotions, repetition, and even on dumbing-down so as to include everyone. Common Prayer is basically seen to be a structure in which are a few permanent elements (such as the Lord's Prayer and a Creed) and in which there is great space for local initiative in terms of content and style. The belief is that the Holy Spirit touches people to turn them to the Lord Jesus if their individualism and basic experientialism are respected and id all is conducted in the accessible language of the ordinary person. Thus there is little difference between the services of a charismatic Episcopal Church and those of other denominations which are also charismatic in basic orientation.

The Reformed Catholic or classical Anglican liturgical maximalists place great emphasis (whether they be high or low in churchmanship) upon the efficacy of the Common Prayer as a whole and undiluted (and said/sing reverently) to be the means whereby true religion enters the mind and from there drops into the heart and thus energises and directs the will to do the works of God. Thus here there is a desire to avoid idiosyncrasies, emotionalism, individualism and excessive didacticism and to allow the excellence of the words of common prayer to have their effect through the prevenient grace of God upon those in attendance. Here there is no quick-fix but a commitment to the long term effects of the excellence of the liturgy, along with godly pastoral work and sound teaching, to form a people in the image of Christ Jesus. And the language used is the traditional English idiom of public prayer according to the general rule, "We say 'Thou/Thee' to God and 'you' to man."

Even as it was difficult to bring these sides together between 1570 & 1660 so it is difficult now. All we can expect in the short term is charitable appreciation of the basic position of each side. Such does not exclude debate if conducted in a kindly spirit.

[In order to represent the position of the Reformed Catholics/Anglicans the better, I would like to prepare a careful paraphrase of the Contents of Book V of Ecclesiastical Polity of Hooker for modern people to read and ponder. I say a paraphrase for it would be written by me (as a paperback book of say 128 pages) as an attempt to put into modern standard English and in somewhat shorter form the arguments put forward by Hooker for the superiority of fixed Common Prayer over alternatives. Those with scholarly ability can of course read the original but I fear that for many of us the original may be perceived as too difficult. If any wish to write to me about this project with suggestions or financial help I would be glad to hear from them - )

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

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

How should we treat the children of believers in church?

I recall a study being done some years ago by the Scripture Union in Great Britain on the attitude of Pastors, Church members & Christian parents towards the children of believers in their midst.

One important finding was that there was a very different attitude towards children in (a) congregations that practised believers' Baptism and (b) those that practised the baptism of the children of believers.

In (a) there was a constant state of anxiety as they prayed and worked for their children "to be converted" or "to make a decision for Christ" or the like. Though the children were raised in a Christian home they were thought of and spoken to as unbelievers and non-Christians and thus there was great pressure to get to a conversion experience and then on to make a witness before being baptized. Many children felt excessive pressure to conform to expectations.

In contrast, in (b) there was no such anxiety for they treated their children as being already Christians, brought them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and thus encouraged them to believe and behave as such. They prayed that they would become in daily experience what in God's sight they were, his adopted children. Then at a suitable time they were confirmed (or admitted into full membership.) Unless they actually as adults rejected publicly Christ Jesus, they were always treated as Christians and as such in varying states of disobedience, obedience and consecration. The important point is that there was no anxiety of the kind found in the other church for the children belonged to the Lord and would in God's good time, even on their death bed perhaps, express the Faith to which they were already committed by the promises of their godparents and the action of the Holy Ghost.

Speaking generally, one can say that where children/ young people/adults, whether unbaptized or baptized (that is in situations where infant baptism is not taken seriously as a Sacrament) are in a congregation and perceived not to be really "born again" or "converted" then there is a pressure upon the Minister and elders to make every service or most services evangelistic. That is the worship content is lowered or dumbed down in order to make provision for evangelistic music and talk. The horizontal effort of evangelism takes pride of place before the vertical act of praise of God, because of this unfinished work of converting the youth and others.

In contrast, the congregation where infant baptism is taken for all that the Church has said that it is [and such are rare in the USA today in the charismatic/evangelical camp], has a greater potentiality for having and retaining an emphasis upon worship as truly addressed to God the Lord. For since the chief end of man is to enjoy and glorify God for ever, it is in true, godly worship that the baptized person not yet fully practising his faith is the more likely to begin to do so in such an ethos and atmosphere. True spiritual worship in the beauty of holiness wherein is the true ministry of the Word, of prayer and of Sacrament is the most likely to awaken the seed sown in the hearts of the baptized and thus raise their hearts to the throne of grace on high.

Evangelization is a vocation of the Church. Yet it is second unto the vocation to serve the Lord our God, the Holy Trinity, in the sacrifice of praise, prayer and consecration. The Church is to love God with all her being before she starts to love the neighbour in evangelism.

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

Monday, October 21, 2002

Evangelism, Dumbing-Down and Worship

I recall the days when the Salvation Army called the Sunday Morning Service the "Holiness Meeting" and the Evening Service "Evangelism Meeting." That is a careful and workable distinction was made between a service for believers of worship, edification and calls unto holiness and a service to which others were invited with a view to converting them to Jesus Christ.

Today I think that many churches, especially those who are much into "church growth," have conflated, confused and complicated the relation of evangelism to worship.

In the Early Church only the baptized who were in good standing (and not under church discipline) were allowed to stay for the second half of the Eucharistia [The Thanksgiving] on the Lord's Day. Visitors and certainly Catechumens were dismissed at the end of the Ministry of the Word. To be in preparation for church membership was not sufficient a basis for attendance at the Lord's Table.

The Sursum Corda, "Lift up your hearts!", was/is a call unto the baptized believers who are the assembly of the elect gathered before the Lord and his Table to be raised in the Spirit to the heavenly banquet. By its very nature and definition the Sacramental half of the Eucharistia cannot be open to any but those who are prepared in heart and mind to eat the body and drink the blood of the once crucified and now exalted Lord Jesus. To encourage people to attend who are not worthy participants in the heavenly celebration is to make a big mistake and to put their souls in spiritual danger.

It will be recalled that the classic BCP of the Anglican Way has several Exhortations to remind the baptized what a solemn and high privilege it is to receive the Body and Blood of the Saviour and thus right preparation is necessary before reception. Other churches have similar means to exhort the baptized.

Turning now to Non-Sacramental Services, the public services of Morning and Evening Prayer with the Litany [or the equivalent in Lutheran, Presbyterian and Methodist traditions] are by their very nature and contents services of thanksgiving, of hearing the Word and of petition, in the first place, for the baptized, repentant people of God.. Yet they are of such a kind that there is no need to expel unbelievers from them for they can truly benefit from the offering of Thanksgiving, hearing the Bible and engaging in public Prayer. Further, after the Office is completed they can benefit further and very specifically when the Sermon is on certain occasions addressed to unbelievers or seekers and afterwards there is opportunity for personal prayer and counsel.

Mission services on weeknights in Anglican churches were often in the past shortened forms of Evening Prayer (or the like) with special addresses, aimed at seekers, unbelievers, etc.

I realize that this is easier said than done, but if we are going to have specific Services for Evangelism we need to construct them in such a way that we do not have people who are not converted (who are seekers and backsliders and nominal Christians etc.) singing hymns, saying prayers and making statements that are truly only the language of the converted. For example, the "Our Father" is most specifically a prayer for the adopted Children of God. We should not be causing people to act and speak as if they were what we judge they are not but what we want to them to be through evangelism.

There is plenty of scope for words of thanksgiving and praise to God, for statements of the Gospel of God concerning His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, and so on, which can be uttered by a seeker or nominal Christian in a service for evangelism. Their utterance does not necessarily presume a faithful baptized Christian saying them and so they can be used.

But one type of mentality we must avoid - thinking that believers are edified by a constant hearing of a "simple" Gospel message when we dumb-down public worship!

When we do not provide for the baptized believers of the congregation the fullness of Christian worship, that is when we dumb it down continually to cater for seekers and backsliders and invited guests, then we do not edify the church of God. Only a proportion of services ought to be devoted to evangelism on a Sunday, because Sunday is the Lord's Day when the Lord's people meet with their Lord in Word, Sacrament and Fellowship to be blessed and edified and enriched by him. To miss out on the latter due to an erroneous judgment about the pressing need to evangelise is a very great loss for the people of God. You cannot edify the people of God by telling them every Sunday to make a decision for Christ. Having made that decision they need to be led on into the riches and mysteries of the Christian Faith!

Worship, especially at the Eucharistia, is only for the baptized elect people of God. But entry into the Catechumenate is for all who seek and wish to find.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon

Sunday, October 20, 2002

To whom are the Creeds addressed? And who says or sings them?

In Baptism, Morning and Evening Prayer, we use the Apostles' Creed and in the Order for Holy Communion we use the Nicene Creed. To whom are they addressed?

When we say, "I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth." (Apostles') and when we say, "I believe in one God, the Father almighty, Maker of heaven and earth." (Nicene) to whom are we speaking?

Let us first determine who is the "I" who here speaks in Baptism. It is obviously a new Christian, who is becoming a member of the Church of God, perhaps along with others, who states, "I believe." and is then baptized. He speaks to the Lord Jesus Christ, to the Minister, to the assembled congregation of the faithful and to anyone else who can hear as he confesses his faith in the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Here the "I" is one person, soon to be incorporated by grace into the one Church of God.

However, the identity of the "I" in the Daily Offices and more particularly in the Eucharist, is related but different.

In Daily Prayer, and in the Eucharist on the Lord's Day, the assembled people of God as the Household of God the Father, the Temple of the Holy Ghost and the Body of Christ the Lord say "I believe." in unison with one voice as one person. Obviously each and every member is speaking for himself in confessing his faith, but what we have to bear in mind is that the "I" who speaks is, before it is the individual ego of the members, the "I" of the one Church of God, that is, the "I" of the Bride of Christ. She [the Church] is telling her Bridegroom [the Lord Christ] through saying it or singing it, that she wholeheartedly believes the Creed and thus the Revelation given to her from above summarized in it. She is re-echoing in her words what she has heard from him via the Sacred Oracles of God.

In the Creed the Church is primarily addressing her Lord and thus each member also addresses his Lord. The lesser "I" is contained within the corporate "I." At the same time the members in mutual encouragement and edification are addressing one another, "This is what I believe, my brother." Further, when the world is able to hear then the Creed is also a statement of faith, a proclamation of the Gospel, addressed to all comers.

[To maintain this traditional and classical interpretation of the corporate "I" it is all important that the Nicene Creed be translated correctly. Credo = I believe [not "we"] & Pistueo = I believe [not "we"]. From the fifth century when the Creed entered into the Eucharistic Liturgy it did so as the Baptismal Creed and thus in the first person singular. (It is true that the Fathers at Nicea and later Councils had spoken in unison saying "We believe in one God.," but this Conciliar Creed immediately went into the lst person singular when it was used by the Churches for Baptism and Liturgy. ALL the classical Liturgies use the lst person singular and it is only since the 1970s that "we believe" has been introduced into some English paraphrases and into certain prayer books in order, it appears, to emphasise "community" and apparently justified by the claim that the Fathers said "we" at Nicea in 325.)]

It is important to remember that the Creed in the Church creates a mental paradigm by which the Church as a whole and her members individually read, hear and appropriate the content of Holy Scripture.

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

Saturday, October 19, 2002


Good and patient friends,

There is now posted on my small parish website a Homilette of 17 mins or so on THE USE OF THE PSALMS IN DIVINE WORSHIP

I have made use of a 19th century source in order to show HOW the Church, and the Anglican branch in particular, has used the Psalter in Divine Worship until relatively recent times.

There are other uses but I address the use in worship through, in and with Jesus Christ in His Church.

If you have a speaker you can hear it by clicking on to October Homilette No 2.

thank you

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

Pope Proclaims "Year of the Rosary" and Publishes Apostolic Letter On 24th Anniversary of His Election

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 16, 2002 ( John Paul II marked the 24th anniversary of his pontificate with the proclamation of the Year of the Rosary, and the publication of an apostolic letter on the Marian prayer.

The Pope signed the document in the open air, during today's weekly audience in St. Peter's Square, which gathered some 17,000 pilgrims, including 4,000 Poles.

John Paul II used the occasion to reiterate his determination to continue as Pope for as long as God wills, and he entrusted to Mary's hands "the life of the Church and that of sorely tried humanity."

"To her I also entrust my future. I place everything in her hands, so that with a Mother's love, she will present it to her Son," he added.

In his new apostolic letter, entitled "Rosarium Virginis Mariae" (The Rosary of the Virgin Mary), the Pope presents the Marian prayer -- if prayed "with devotion and not mechanically" -- as a "meditation on the mysteries of the life and work of Christ."

"By repeating the invocation of the Hail Mary, we can reflect profoundly on the essential events of the mission of the Son of God on earth, which have been transmitted to us by the Gospel and by Tradition," the Pope explained.

And, given that in the 15 mysteries of the rosary prayed up until now, the great events of Christ's public life were not contemplated, in the new apostolic letter the Pontiff adds five mysteries, which he calls the "mysteries of light."

They include moments in Christ's public life, beginning with his baptism in the Jordan and ending with the passion.

"Is there, perhaps, a better instrument than the prayer of the rosary for the demanding but extraordinarily rich endeavor to contemplate the face of Christ together with Mary? To do so, however, we must rediscover the mystical profundity enclosed in the simplicity of this prayer, so dear to popular tradition," the Pope continued.

In the second place, and by way of reinforcing his proposal, the Pope proclaimed the "Year of the Rosary," which extends from this month to October 2003.

The Holy Father explained that the proclamation celebrates three significant
moments: the start of his 25th year in the papacy; the 120th anniversary of Leo XIII's encyclical "Supremi Apostolatus Officio," which initiated a series of documents on the rosary; and the appendix to the Holy Year 2000.

In "the history of the Great Jubilees the good custom existed that, after the Jubilee Year dedicated to Christ and to the work of the Redemption, one was proclaimed in honor of Mary, as if imploring her help for the fruition of the graces received," the Pope explained.

In bidding the pilgrims farewell, he said that the "Year of the Holy Rosary, which we will live together, will certainly produce beneficial fruits in the hearts of all, it will renew and intensify the action of grace of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, and will become a source of peace for the world." ZE02101606

Theological Panel Rules Out Ordination of Women as Deacons Defers to Magisterium for a Definitive Decision

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 17, 2002 ( .- The International Theological Commission announced that one of its recent documents excludes the possibility of the ordination of women to the diaconate.

In the statement issued through the Vatican Press Office today, the general secretary of the International Theological Commission, Dominican Father Georges Cottier, responded to questions about the commission's five-year study of the diaconate raised by the French newspaper La Croix.

Father Cottier stated that the commission's study "tends to support the exclusion" of ordaining women to the diaconate. La Croix on Oct. 8 reported that the commission's study left the issue open.

The commission, which includes renowned theologians, voted to approve its document during its Sept. 30-Oct. 4 plenary assembly in the Vatican. The commission is coordinated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Today's press statement noted that the commission does not have "the role of pronouncing with the authority which is characteristic of the magisterium." Yet, the panel "presented two important indications which emerge from study of the matter."

"In the first place, the commission observed that the deaconesses mentioned in the tradition of the early Church cannot simply be assimilated to ordained deacons," the statement said.

"In support of this conclusion, Father Cottier noted that both the rite of institution and the functions exercised by deaconesses distinguished them from ordained deacons," the statement continued.

It added: "Furthermore, Father Cottier noted that the commission's study reaffirmed the unity of the sacrament of holy orders. The distinction between the ministry of bishops and priests, on the one hand, and that of deacons, on the other hand, is nonetheless embraced within the unity of the sacrament of holy orders."

In his 1994 apostolic letter " Ordinatio Sacerdotalis ," John Paul II concluded "that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful."

The Vatican statement released today said: "The commission's reaffirmation of this teaching arose from a careful study of the ecclesial tradition, of the documents of the Second Vatican Council, and of the postconciliar magisterium of the Church."

It added: "Father Cottier said that 'it belongs to the magisterium to pronounce with authority on the question, taking into account the historical and theological research presented by the study of the International Theological Commission.'"

The theological commission devoted over five years of research to the topic of the history and theology of the diaconate before approving the text of its study. The study was carried out at the request of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

The Performance of Public Prayer Today

& Papist, Anglican & Puritan Performance in the Sixteenth Century (A MEDITATION UPON THE NATURE OF PUBLIC WORSHIP)

Within the one Church of England in the 16th century there were displayed three very different approaches to the relation of the clergy to the congregation in divine worship. To understand these and to reflect upon them can give one a perspective in evaluating modern approaches to public worship. Here I merely OPEN up the subject.

First of all, consider the traditional, late medieval relation of clergy and people, which may be termed PARALLELISM. Here especially at the Mass but also at Matins on Sundays the clergy did its holy work while the laity engaged in its own different holy work.. In the Mass the laity came into direct rather than parallel relation to the priest only at one supreme point, the elevation of the host when the bell was rung to gain their attention.

The priest faced East and went through the Latin Rite addressing God on his own behalf and in the stead of the congregation, doing his own holy thing. The laity had their own little books of devotion and/or their rosaries and they said their own private prayers as they waited for the Elevation and the saying aloud of the Pater Noster. They received Communion rarely and only after making their confession to the priest. By being there, by watching and by engaging in private devotions they were blessed because the Sacrament was by divine grace seen to be all powerful.

Secondly, consider the totally new relation of clergy and people created by the use of the English Book of Common Prayer, which may be termed, COMMONALITY. Here the intention was that both the basic thoughts and the expression in words of clergy and congregation were identical. There was to be no private performance of the priest in the chancel and no private prayers of the people in the nave. The whole Rite and text belonged to all and this was signified by the requirement that certain parts of the service were said/sung together and that where the clergy read the service aloud the people should say a hearty "Amen" to what had been said on its behalf. The philosophy here is that people are formed in right thinking, right praying and right action by the repetition prayerfully and together of a sound text in the vernacular which they understand. Thus it is, and becomes more through practice and usage, truly common prayer.

In the third place, the relation of clergy to congregation created by the type of services created by the Puritans (Presbyterians) which may be termed FOLLOW THE LEADER. Here there was a minimal or no set liturgy. The pastor/preacher was pivotal and his proclamation of the whole counsel of God in his lengthy sermon was central. He preached and the people listened. Then in the lengthy pulpit/pastoral ex tempore prayer he prayed aloud and the people listened, giving their "Amen" at the end. Everything hinged on the ability & holiness & rhetoric of the pastor who was to be a godly and learned man. Only in the singing of Psalms in metre together did the people actively participate in the service. The primary duty of the pastor was to preach, teach, pray and lead and that of the people was to listen and receive and sing.

It will be observed that the new "Anglican" method created by Archbishop Cranmer et al in the 1540s and set forth in the two editions of The Book of Common Prayer (and of course supported by government statutes and royal proclamations) is very different from the other two, which have likenesses. The ANGLICAN aim is not in the first place to get total doctrinal unity but to get unity of practice in a comprehensive way so that by the learning by heart and by the regular doing of the liturgy a people can be formed in the habit of prayer and worship and hearing God's word in the vernacular. Thus individual piety and family prayers can then flow from the public liturgy as water from a spring.

In modern times, not only have these three primary models been modified in various directions to suit modern taste & conditions, but other models have been popularised.

One such model is based on the theatre and has as its setting an auditorium wherein there is a stage. The performance occurs on the stage from where everything is directed by the performers, and the folks in the auditorium sing and shout, stand and sit, as directed. Here there is little distinction between worship of God , popular evangelism and entertainment. The aim is to keep people happy and at the same time help them to find God in some ways. (And God works in marvellous ways his wonders to perform!)

This theatre model (which is often married to the "community" model) has also influenced changes in the three primary models. In terms of the Anglican model this has usually occured through there being given a kind of theological basis by developing such themes as "shared ministry", by introducing worship committees, music groups & the "Peace," by lowering the talk about sin and judgment, and by catering very clearly to the modern sense of subjectivity and the need for self-affirmation and self-worth. At the same time the clergy have given more time and attention to being therapists and managers and to finding ways to preach, teach and lead without causing offence.

Thus Common Prayer as a Common Rite and Common Text to be used and known by all by heart has given way in many places to Common Prayer as being a common structure with a few common elements, leaving space for local variations and adaptations, wherein the psychotherapeutical and entertainment models are influential.

What has happend to R C's, Baptists/Congregationalists etc is a related story.

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

The Early Church and the 1979 ECUSA Prayer Book

The Early Church and the 1979 ECUSA Prayer Book

Not all may know or remember the intellectual justification offered for the changes in the Shape and Content and Style of Anglican Liturgy which began to appear from the late 1960s. In the ECUSA the prominent advocate of this position was Massey Shepherd and he claims it is the very basis of the mindset behind and in the 1979 prayer book.

The emphasis was particularly upon the [historical reconstruction of the] Eucharist as it was celebrated in the early Church around A D 300, before the time when Christianity became an official or the official religion of the Roman Empire.

The major source was the recovered and edited texts of Hippolytus of Rome whose works were edited by Gregory Dix and others.

As to Shape, the new Liturgy was in two halves, Word and Sacrament, and these were separated by "the Peace." Then there was the "fourfold action" within the Sacrament itself as proposed by Dix and others.

In terms of Content, the emphasis was upon Celebration of creation and redemption but with little emphasis upon human depravity and sin. There were also attempts to introduce an Epiclesis, an invoking of the Holy Spirit to descend.

In terms of Style, there was an emphasis upon Standing to Pray, and upon No congregational Confession of Sins in the Easter or the Christmas season for these were times of celebration.

Further it was said that the Church must speak in the supposed language of the people - not in a quaint or specialized way.

It was also said that the Church circa 300 was in a multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society as it is today in the West.

What in fact the modern liturgists took from the past (as if in archaeological digs for treasure) has turned out in many circumstances to be only external form and it has been used in general (not by all but by many) as a means to aid the dumbing down and the secularising of Liturgy, especially in the ECUSA.

It was one way to get rid of the doctrine, discipline and worship of the classic Anglican Way and to do so with apparently high motives - restoring the primitive.

However, in terms of the primitive, little of it was actually sought after or restored! No specific mention was made - for the purposes of imitation by the ECUSA - of the facts that in the Church of 300 there was vibrant, evangelistic faith; readiness to die as martyrs, strict morality in life and sexual relations (including no remarriage of divorcees and especially no second marriage for clergy); strict discipline in the Church over all immorality; catechumens dismissed from the Liturgy at the end of the Service of the Word; NO musical instruments of any kind but hearty congregational singing; daily morning and evening prayer; and so on and so forth.

What the ECUSA recovered via this imaginary model of 3rd & 4th century Church life was in fact not recovery at all but innovation, an innovation based on archaeological remains, that has increased in intensity as the years since 1979 have gone by.

This hypothesis here advanced is I think worth pondering for the ECUSA is now engaged in another massive re-doing of its Liturgy and we need to know what is the intellectual basis for it!

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, October 13, 2002

Criteria of entertainment applied to the Liturgy, with bad results.

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 10, 2002 ( Here is the address of professor Gerhard Ludwig Müller of the University of Munich delivered during a videoconference organized Sept. 28 by the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy. On Oct. 1 John Paul II appointed him bishop of Regensburg.

* * *

After almost 40 years of a renewed liturgy, in many countries the euphoria of the liturgical movement has been replaced by disillusionment. This disappointment and frustration is becoming even deeper. Some take refuge in exasperated activism. The constant creation of new prayers should awaken the attention of the participants.

The members of the clergy often try to attract the interest of a bored generation with entertaining initiatives, for example, inviting the children to come to Mass wearing their carnival clothes or attracting people who have little to do with faith and with the Church through rock and pop concerts, for which the liturgy is only the exterior setting.

A profound discrepancy can be found between the official liturgy and the lack of reception of its deeper meaning. In [Middle] European countries participation in the Sunday eucharistic celebrations is drastically reduced. Many appear unaware that this is an encounter with Jesus Christ, who has offered us the gift of the Eucharist so that we may reach God in communion with the crucified and resurrected Lord, who is the reason for our lives and makes sense of them.

Many forms of devotion have also been lost to the extent that the liturgy is no longer based on a profound life of faith and hence cannot provide results. The "table of the Word of God" ("Sacrosanctum Concilium," No. 51; "Dei Verbum," No. 21) has never been so richly laid out for the faithful as it is today. But knowledge of the Bible, not to speak of a lively knowledge of the Scriptures, has reached a terrifyingly low level even in Protestant circles.

It is with reason that there are complaints concerning increased uncontrolled liturgy. The judgment of so-called spontaneous liturgy, altered and with a reduced meaning, even denies a number of truths of the faith, this due to a lack of understanding of the essence of the ecclesial liturgy.

Omissions and mistakes in the doctrine of God, in Christology and in ecclesiology cause both a crisis and the defeat of the liturgy, from the moment that interior law is no longer decisive, but the criteria of entertainment are instead applied.

The liturgy in the Christian sense should not provoke romantic feelings, setting off social and political actions nor should it involve people in a pseudo-religious sense, but rather strengthen the faithful. The point of the liturgy is not to make us feel good, causing us to feel happy and allowing us to forget daily matters for a moment.

The liturgy derives from faith in the living God and in his Son Jesus Christ, instrument of redemption, who gives us eternal life (see John 17:3). The liturgy is the sacramental synthesis of the Church, instrument of the intimate union with God and of the unity of all mankind ("Lumen Gentium," No. 1).

Although in many places serious efforts are made to provide the liturgy with a meaningful form, one certainly cannot neglect the need for responsible people to take care of the transmission of the theological and spiritual contents of the sacraments and in particular of the eucharistic celebration.

So as to understand the difference between the initial dynamics of the liturgical movement, especially after the First World War with its successes and until the Vatican Council, and the liturgy's crisis at the end of the 20th Century, there are two books with almost identical titles, by Romano Guardini and by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, which might be useful.

While Guardini's book "Of the Spirit of the Liturgy," which on the occasion of Easter 1918 inaugurated the famous "Ecclesia orans" series by the Abbot Ildefons Herwegen, describes a wonderful initial atmosphere, J. Ratzinger, who often refers to Guardini in his work "Introduction to the Spirit of the Liturgy," attempts to make the essence of the liturgy understood in its profound spirituality and essential and real expressive forms including the kneeling, the joining of the hands, and also the forms of silent adoration and the spiritual dimension of verbal and mental communion.

Both these authors have confronted the problem from different points of view, a problem that has become increasingly serious in the course of the 20th century, including "modern man's liturgical capacity," of which Guardini spoke so much at the Mains Liturgical Conference in 1946. In an important conference held in 1965, during the university week in Salzburg, Joseph Ratzinger, in the happy atmosphere of the post-council liturgical reforms, confronted the problem of liturgical incapacity, speaking of the "crisis of the sacramental idea in the modern conscience."

Modern man, formed by secularism and an immanentist and technical environment, no longer understands the individual rites and gestures of the liturgy. The crisis cannot be solved with aesthetic changes and pedagogical pastimes. Liturgical scholars during the first half of the 20th century worked in an excellent manner for the renewal of the liturgy, because they were theologians. These new narrow-minded characters instead, who consider the liturgy a playground for their fixations, simply consolidate the liturgical crisis, because they create a liturgy which is aimed at exterior effects and not at transmitting the contents of the faith.

A "Sanatio in radice" is needed. The problem is profound and concerns the understanding that modern man has of himself and of the world and of his twisted relationship with God. It is difficult for the fundamental ideas of the liturgy to penetrate the average secularist and immanentist mentality.

The real idea of the liturgy derives from the embodied reality of the relation between God and mankind and this means that the symbolism that belongs to the completeness of this world should be the mediation in the immediateness with God. In the sacraments God's unity with mankind is accomplished in a way that corresponds to human nature. This idea is not only a nice thought, but reality in Jesus Christ, the human presence of God among men.

For those who do not know Jesus Christ, God's existence and actions remain an unsolvable enigma, faced with which they capitulate. God is punished with indifference to the extent that he suspects that he is dealing with what is only a projection or a mark of the inexplicability of human existence.

The modern religiosity of the New Age movement, the syncretism of religious pluralism and the penetration of the monistic conceptions of the world that are typical of Asian religious traditions follow the idea of a personal reality and the personal understanding that man has of himself, reaching the supremacy of the "all" over the individual.

There is no searching for a sacramental topical presentation of redemption in a dialogical and communicative manner, but a religious experience in which the subject can dissolve. The biblical religion of the self-revelation of God One and Triune is based on the fact that the Word of God is addressed to mankind who meets him in his act of grace in the Spirit. Mankind is called by name and in any situation must turn to God, who confirms him as a person in the act of fulfillment.

The purpose of the encounter with God is love, which does not dissolve or generalize, but affirms and personalizes, in which God says "you" to each of us. People who are personal creatures do not dissolve in the divine numinous or in a personal manner. They obviously become "sons in the Son." In Christ they can, through the Holy Spirit, say to God: Abba, Father. The liturgy and therefore also the Mass have an essential and structural Trinitarian form (see Galatians 4:4-6; Romans 8).

Immanuel Kant, in his work "Religion within the Boundaries of Reason Alone" (1793), has already emptied confessions of faith of their real content and consequently also the Christian sacraments of their means for achieving grace, and he considered them to be only the symbols of the moral needs of the conscience. ... In a number of orientations of modern psychology and sociology, the sacraments, regardless of their theological contents, were reduced to a stabilizing function for the psychic and social equilibrium.

They are considered the symbolic expression of the numinous nostalgia, linked to the mythological dimension of the conscience, rather than real means for communicating between God and mankind, established by the personal God himself through Jesus Christ and entrusted to the Church for celebration. Therefore there is not only the question of the anthropological basis of mankind's symbolic capacity, but also the even more important issue of his transcendental capacity which is expressed and achieved in the symbolism of the words and the gestures.

The only ones who can understand the liturgical language are those who understand the principal concepts of the words and the gestures in their nature of the Word of God who acts in those who believe.

One of the main reasons for which the theological in-depth study of the Eucharist and its liturgical reform have been so unfruitful, is the general situation of the faith and the difficulty in identifying the relationship between the world and God in the intervention of the history of redemption, which achieves its eschatological summit in Christ. It is in fact from him that the ecclesial and sacramental enacting of communion of life with God begins, molded by the Incarnation.

All catechistic activities related to baptism, confirmation and first Communion are devoid of meaning and disappointing to parents, priests, [ecclesiastics] and scholars alike, because they do not manage to transmit a relationship with a living God deeply rooted within the person and in the person's ethicality, rationality and spirituality. Tensions and incurable contrasts between the ecclesial magisterium and their image of the world, presumably molded by science, are thereby generated in many adults.

Only that which appears possible to a rationality reduced to natural fortuitousness seems credible to them. The current death of a man who died 2,000 years ago appears, however, as the symbolic topical presentation of the moral image of Jesus. The Real Presence can only mean the firm intention to follow his example when eating a piece of bread as an oblation and an experience of communion that is merely of a sentimental nature.

The Eucharist appears as the realization of Christ Crucified. Committing a well-known interpretive mistake, contemporary man, educated in the Freudian school, assesses Jesus' death using the category of sacrifice or even that of the victim who represents us and expiates our sins.

In contrast with the New Testament and also with the great conceptions of the doctrine of liberation, the interpretation of the death of Jesus as a sacrificed wanted by an angry and terrible God, which destroys him, is an alteration that is changed in a superficial and cynical manner, and the resulting caricature is refused in disdain.

The interpretation of Christ's sacrifice linked to an image of God, which the general Christian tradition refuses as contrary to the Revelation, is nothing but the proof of misleading interpretative methods, adopted by people who transform the Christian faith into its opposite so as to mock its hostility to reason.

The cross is in reality a bloody sacrifice not in the ritual sense of a pagan human or animal offering, but because the sacrificial act consists in the gift of Self for the redemption of mankind, which includes Jesus' gift of his own human life (see Hebrews 5:8 and following). In accordance with this, eating and drinking "of his flesh and His blood" is not a initiatory banquet or a "feeding oneself on the body of a God" in the real or metaphorical sense of some mystery religions, but the real human communion with the "word of God Incarnate" (John 1:14), in Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, who makes a gift of his flesh, hence of his life, for the life of the world.

Those who are part of this bread, meaning that they are familiar with the historical and paschal Jesus, remain in Christ and Christ remains in them: "As the living Father has sent me and I live by the Father, so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me" (John 6:57). Jesus reveals himself this way: "I am the bread of life" (John 6:48). The sacramental acceptance of the gifts of bread and wine transmit an authentic "koninis" with the Word Incarnate and gives to those who believe in his name, "the power to be made the sons of God" (John 1:12).

In the preface of the aforementioned book by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, "The Spirit of the Liturgy," the author confronts the issue of the possibilities and the risks of a renewed liturgy and promotes in-depth understanding and a dynamic realization of the liturgical forms by the Spirit of Christ, establishing the foundations of faith in the Church and in this manner animating its liturgical body and filling it with life:

"One could therefore state that at the time, in 1918, the liturgy, from a certain point of view, appeared as a perfectly preserved fresco, although covered by a thick layer of plaster. It was present in the Missal, with which the priest celebrated the liturgical form, which had evolved from its origins, but for the faithful it was hidden by private forms and trends of prayer. Thanks to the liturgical movement and then in a definite manner with the Second Vatican Council, this fresco was returned to the light and for a moment we were all fascinated by the beauty of its colors and its figures. In the meantime, however, due to climatic conditions and various mistaken attempts to restore and rebuild it, that fresco became endangered and there was a threat that it might go to ruin unless the necessary measures were quickly taken to put an end to these damaging influences. Obviously there is no question that it should be covered with new plaster, but a renewed respect and a new understanding of its message and its reality is indispensable, so that having brought it back to light does not represent the first step for its definite downfall" (see pages 7-8).

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Saturday, October 12, 2002

Postures for Prayer & Worship

Why don't we kneel to pray any longer?

Anglicans once were very clear as to their posture in services of worship. They stood as the Clergy entered and departed, to hear the Gospel in the Order for Holy Communion, to say the Creed, and to sing the lesser Gloria, Psalms, Hymns and Canticles. They sat to hear the Lessons read, the notices given and the homily preached. They knelt down to pray and to receive the Blessing.

The clergy had similar but not identical rules for at times they stood as they faced the seated people to speak to them.

These basic rules which became habits did have a theory behind them. A bodily posture united with an interior disposition expressed the relation of the whole person to God in the act of worship. Standing implied respect and reverence; sitting reflective hearing and meditation, and kneeling, humility and reverence.

Since the 1960s the old rules have seemingly gone and local churches make their own rules. It is somewhat confusing to many of us! our interior dispositions sometimes are all churned up and confused!

If we examine the Bible and survey the history of the Church we note that there are four basic postures for worship - standing, sitting, kneeling and lying prostrate. Then also there are relational positions and gestures - e.g., facing East by the Celebrant and by all for the Creed & facing the congregation by the Minister when speaking to it, and making the sign of the Cross & laying on of hands.

STANDING implies respect and can also imply attentiveness and readiness. In the Bible and in the life of the primitive Church there are many examples of people standing to hear the Word of God and to pray. In particular, the early Christians stood to pray in the Easter season as a joyful sign of celebration of the Resurrection.

KNEELING implies humility before the Adored One by the adoring. There are examples of kneeling to pray in the OT & NT (Jesus knelt - Lk 22:41f). In the early Church kneeling was closely associated with penitence and fasting and thus was not permitted or recommended in the Easter season.

SITTING was uncommon in synagogue and church except for the case of the leaders - e.g. the seat of the bishop and other seats for the presbyters. Yet sitting in worship by the whole assembly (a late development in the history of the Church) can be seen as listening with attention and meditating with intention (cf. Lk 10:39).

PROSTRATION implies total submission to One who has complete authority and has been used for specific purposes - e.g., the submission of candidates for Baptism and candidates for Ordination and on Good Friday by the faithful.

The biggest change that Anglicans & Roman Catholics have faced since the 1960s is the removal of the kneelers (hassocks) and the call from the clergy to stand for prayer - or for most prayer. The basic reason for this is a change in perception of what is happening in the Eucharist.

Now the sense is that we are the joyful people of God who stand in his presence as his forgiven and adopted children and we celebrate who we are by his grace and what he is to us. Thus we are respectful of him but not over conscious of our sins for we are a Resurrection people. So we stand!

The older, pre-1970s sense (inculcated by the old Roman Mass and the classic BCP service of HC), is of a congregation of forgiven sinners approaching the Lord's Table in penitence and humility, celebrating the fact of Redemption and of their union with the crucified and now exalted Saviour. So we kneel.

Of course the main thing is that we are there to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth and in the beauty of holiness. Interior disposition and bodily action must be united. We assemble as the people of God, who are pilgrims and sojourners in this world and age, who are being saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and who look for the redemption of body and soul and full attendance at the heavenly Banquet of the kingdom of God of the age to come.

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