Saturday, August 30, 2003


(Note: the expression Common Worship is now favoured also by the Liturgy & Music Commission of the ECUSA for its developing and forthcoming Collection of Liturgies.... Please send this advert on to your Anglican friends.)

from Edgeways Books of the UK

A Liturgical Journey Examined

Peter Toon

Common Worship is the name given by the Church of England to her replacement for The Alternative Service Book of 1980. It is a multi-volume, multi-media and open-ended series of publications and, being so vast, is not easily considered. In this, the first book-length discussion of Common Worship, Dr Toon makes a notable effort to do so.

The multi-volume collection of Liturgy is considered steadily and thoroughly in chapters on the Preface, the meaning of “Common” and “Worship”, the Eucharist, Daily Prayer, Baptism & Confirmation, Pastoral Services, Prayers & Collects, Doctrine & Style. A brief Epilogue draws conclusions, solidly based on the preceding argument, which may be surprising.

The present liturgists of the Church of England are in intention far less revolutionary than their predecessors a quarter of a century ago. But the drastic redefinition of “common” made necessary by the Common Worship project—so that what is common to the Church of England is not the sharing of one printed liturgy but the use of common shapes, the following of guidelines or the use of an incalculable number of permutations—amounts to a more revolutionary change than any since the Prayer Book of 1549.

Dr Toon demonstrates that such a huge outpouring of optional material has, not surprisingly, led to rather low standards of composition and of theological accuracy.

This moderate and well—argued book is written from the standpoint of an orthodox theologian and a faithful parish priest of the Church of England. Dr. Toon’s criteria are those that have always been accepted in the Church of England: the Bible, the three Creeds and the formularies printed within The Book of Common Prayer (1662). One upshot of the book is a further demonstration that The Book of Common Prayer is (in the title of another recent book of which Dr Toon is co—author) “neither archaic nor obsolete”.

160 pp. royal 8vo hard covers publishers recommended price £16.80.

ISBN 0 907839 78 9 publication September 2003

All Edgeways books can be ordered direct from the publisher and delivered post free anywhere in the world. Airmail delivery add £5.00.

Secure credit card orders –

By post: Edgeways Books, 6 Greencroft Avenue, Corbridge, Northumberland, England, NE45 5DW

The book, Neither Archaic nor Obsolete: The Language of Common Prayer & Public Worship, by Dr Toon and Dr Tarsitano (ISBN 0 907839 75 4) is paperback and available from the Prayer Book Society of the USA ( or Edgeways Books. For help in ordering in the USA call toll free 1 800 PBS 1928.
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Friday, August 29, 2003

Establishing a SURE foundation for PECUSA revived


A word for those with ears to hear (or with eyes to read!)

In the fall-out in American Episcopalianism, following the vote for the confirmation of Canon Gene Robinson, certain things are becoming clear. To attend to them will not be easy or painless. Yet they need to be done by those Americans who intend to stay within the Anglican Communion of Churches if major mistakes of the past are not to be continued or repeated.

If certain dioceses are to leave the ECUSA, and together with certain parishes from other dioceses form a kind of continuing Protestant Episcopal Church USA [restoring the proper and older name/title of the Episcopal Church] then they will have many things to do and to become. I bring attention to what I think is a primary rather than a secondary action.

The Protestant Episcopal Church of the USA was committed to the sacred Scriptures and the Creeds, and she was based upon Three Formularies - the classic Book of Common Prayer (edition of 1928), the Ordinal & the Articles (both the latter bound inside the Prayer Book) - and all this was set out in her Constitution and Canon Law.

If there is to be any genuine reform of parts of the present ECUSA then for it be Biblical, Orthodox and truly Anglican the foundation of the PECUSA must be restored as a first duty and necessity. The foundation established by the ECUSA in 1976/79 has to be set aside as one of the major causes of the present crisis. There has to be repentance by all who have lived within this arrangement and sphere.

Then what of the 1979 Prayer Book. Easy! Let it be what its equivalent is in Canada, A Book of Alternative Services, or what it was in England until 2000, Alternative Services Book. Let it be called "An American Prayer Book, 1979" or something similar and then it can be used, but used circumspectly not standing alone as it now does as its own authority, but standing under the doctrine that is set forth in the classic Formularies.

Not to do this and to regard the present 1979 book as a sure foundation and formulary will be to carry over into the reforming movement the major errors of that from which it is separating! The problem is not getting away from homosexuality as such; but, it is finding the living God and having a right relation with Him, a relation that has a proper doctrinal foundation and has right thinking on worship, morality and discipline.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

The Peace. What is it?


In response to those asking for more information on the Pax, I offer the following for consideration:

The Peace. What is it?

In the search for the meaning of the innovation of "The Peace", introduced into liturgies after the 1960s, one looks for authoritative statements from Anglican sources. One such is apparently provided in the Canadian "Book of Alternative Services" (BAS) of 1985 on page 177.

"The Peace is an encounter, a reconciliation and an anticipation."

As an encounter, we are told, it is a meeting of Christ through others for "without that encounter we cannot meet God".

As a reconciliation it dramatizes the injunction of Matthew 5:23-24 where we are told to leave our gift at the altar and first be reconciled with our brother before actually offering the gift.

As an anticipation it dramatizes the Eucharist as a foretaste of the banquet in heaven by expressing peace and unity.

Finally we are told that "the style of greeting encouraged should be consistent with the sensibilities of those present".


The first point about encounter is not true or at least it is an exaggeration. God can surely come to us and we can meet him without greeting others first.

On reconciliation - Certainly, as is urged in the Exhortations within the Holy Communion Service in the classic Book of Common Prayer one ought to be in a right relation with others before coming to the Table. Whether this can be achieved in public view in a short minute or two in a service is questionable, for one may not be physically near them and the church may be full. Better to see them beforehand or afterwards, and if afterwards forgo taking H C.

On anticipation, it is possible that a devoutly reverent method of expressing a sign of peace one to another will be felt to be an experience of the SHALOM of the kingdom of God. However, it is difficult to understand how the common walkabout and hugging speak of that future unity where our bodies will be spiritual and immortal, wholly reverent and perfectly joyful.

These three themes sound good, can be good, but hardly fit what is possible and what goes on in most parishes in Canada or the USA or the UK.

It is seemingly impossible to recreate today what the apostles intended when they wrote, "Greet the brethren with a holy kiss."

Best to make people feel welcome at the door and as they leave show appreciation of them and also invite them to fellowship meetings midweek or after the Divine Liturgy. Let the Holy Kiss be used (as in Greek Orthodoxy) where possible and desired by the Priest & deacon at the Holy Table and let them do it on behalf of all present!

(The explanation offered by Hatchett in his Commentary on the 1979 Prayer Book on page 345 does not really help us forward at all. Apparently this gesture was never fully explained when it was introduced as an innovation and it has got out of hand so that no one knows any more why it was so necessary to have introduced it at all from the 1970s in the West. Liturgists thought that they had discovered something that would be beneficial and so they put it into all the new services and there it remains being interpreted in a variety of ways and means around the world.)

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Thursday, August 28, 2003

The Interpretative Key to the 1979 Prayer Book & later ECUSA Liturgies

It is most significant that the first item in Common Worship, the new Directory of Services for the Church of England, is not a whole Liturgy as such, but rather a List of the items that should be within "A Service of the Word" and "A Service of the Word with a Celebration of Holy Communion". By this placement, the doctrine that in the Church of England "common worship" means a common structure with optional and varied content is proclaimed loud and clear.

As can be seen from a perusal of the actual content of The Book of Common Prayer (England 1662; USA 1928) and by noting of the use of "Common Prayer" in the English language since the sixteenth century, the phrase, Common Prayer, has referred, and truly refers, first and foremost to texts, whole texts, wherein there are only a limited number of occasions for choice between canticles and collects. For a time modern liturgists tried to pirate "Common Prayer" and use it of their varied collections of services [the most notorious is the actual title of the 1979 Prayer Book of the ECUSA]. Now it seems that "Common Worship" is the favored phrase in both the Church of England and in the ECUSA Commission on Liturgy & Music for all the materials that are authorized by the respective Churches.

Now the 1979 Prayer Book does not begin like Common Worship (2000) with a List (Structure) of items for the creation of a local Liturgy but it does contain such on pages 400 to 401, under the title, "An Order for Celebrating the Holy Eucharist." Here "the People and Priest":

Gather in the Lord's Name
Proclaim and Respond to the Word of God
Pray for the World and the Church
Exchange the Peace
Prepare the Table
Make Eucharist
Break the Bread
Share the Gifts of God

They choose from authorized material appropriate ingredients to place under these headings. This form of service created locally for local needs was not, however, in 1979 recommended for use as the principal service for Sunday. However, much has happened since 1979 and this "prophetic" inclusion in 1979 of this Structure or Shape has become the emerging norm in 2003. Lutherans who are now in "communion" with Episcopalians, and who have long had only a structure and not common texts, are delighted with this development.

Since the publication of the 1979 Prayer Book, there has been a steady stream of further optional services authorized by the General Convention for use with a bishop's permission. The latest are in the two booklets with the title of Enriching our Worship. Apart from being more obviously in expansive language, the emerging liturgies also work on the assumption that they belong to common worship (a phrase now commonly used in the Episcopal Church) and not common prayer, and that common worship includes in principle a vast assortment of services, which have in common (a) a shape and structure; (b) ingredients taken from a large amount of authorized material; (c) a grounding in a particular local situation, and (d) general authorization by the General Convention and local bishop.

So what is planned (though it is happening much more slowly than the Liturgy and Music Commission desire) as that which will hold the ECUSA together as a liturgical Church [apart from its excellent pension fund for clergy and employees] is Common Worship for a multi-racial and multi-lingual Church. This means common authorization of liturgy & music (by General Convention & bishop), common structures for basic services & common ingredients to put into the common structures according to local need and taken from a vast supply of multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-generational materials.

When this is completed (or rather when it is more advanced for it is in essence a never ending task) then the days of the use of standard texts in the ECUSA will be gone (but not forever because stubborn parishes here and there will stick to favored texts from the 1928 BCP).

But what a dramatic CHANGE has occurred in the mindset and ways of Anglicans!

In the 1640s it was the Presbyterian Puritans in England who produced a Directory for Public Worship. In this were provided structures and advice on content and delivery. The Church of England responded to the Puritan ways by The Book of Common Prayer of 1662, wherein common prayer and public worship meant the use of common texts from one authorized book. But things have changed! Today, Episcopalians/Anglicans are leaving their heritage and tradition and seeking to imitate (in an appropriately modern way) the Presbyterians and Lutherans of the seventeenth century!

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

PAX, THE PEACE, in Common Worship


Here are some thoughts on the Pax as it is presented in the most recent C of E Directory of Public Worship, Common Worship, volume. 1.

If you ask ten different people, “What is The [passing of] The Peace” you will probably get ten different answers. It is a part of modern Anglican worship that is still in search of an explanation and a theology.

The first volume of Common Worship, which provides for Sunday services in the Church of England when The Book of Common Prayer is not used, is the authoritative source for what is called “The Peace” and for its performance in the Sunday service.

For the authoritative text of The Peace one turns to page 175 (contemporary language) or to page 215 (traditional language).

Here is what is said on page 175.

The Peace

The president may introduce the Peace with a suitable sentence, and then says,

The peace of the Lord be always with you.

All. And also with you.

These words may be added

Let us offer one another a sign of peace.

All may exchange a sign of peace.


What is clear here is that the essence of the Peace is communication through Words – those of the Priest and those of the people in response to the priest. (The latter’s reply should be “and with your spirit” for that is how a reasonable person translates the original Latin & Greek!)

Everything apart from the spoken words is governed by the iussive subjunctive, “may”, which means it is optional.

There is nothing anywhere that suggests that bodily gestures or the use of further words (e.g. “peace be with you”) are necessary for The Peace. Certainly there is no suggestion that walking about and further talking are a necessary or even an appropriate part of the offering of a sign of peace.

The kind of introductory words that the Priest may use to introduce this brief part of the service are provided on page 290, where seven options are provided. For example the first is: “Christ is our Peace…We meet in his name and share his peace.”

Concerning the position of The Peace, we are told on page 333:

“The Peace follows naturally from the Prayers of Intercession and begins the Liturgy of the Sacrament. But this section maybe transposed to be the opening greeting or maybe used later in the service, as part of either the breaking of bread or the Dismissal.”

There is further information on page 335 with reference to the traditional service.

So while it is recommended by liturgists that The Peace be placed where it is in the Service as printed in Common Worship, it is not necessary that it be there at all, but can be used at the beginning, at the ending, or at the place that it had in the BCP of 1549 and in the classic Roman Mass (after the Lord’s Prayer and before the Agnus Dei).

The fact that in this explanation on page 333 we are told that the Peace can be transposed to be the opening greeting or the final dismissal tells us much about the confusion in liturgists minds as to what precisely is The Peace and what is its purpose in the modern Eucharist.

I note that genuine liturgical scholars are NOT confused about the Holy Kiss mentioned in the New Testament (Rom.16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:12; 1 Thess. 5:26 & 1 Peter 5:14.) and in the early Patristic Literature, for there are excellent academic studies thereof; but, they are confused as to how one imports the dynamic equivalent of this – a sign of peace as they say – into modern worship. Is it merely a greeting, is it the being reconciled one to another in the body of Christ before taking the sacramental Body of Christ, or is it a kind of nice to see you and goodbye till we meet again or it is all of these and more, a flexible activity? And this confusion as to what is appropriate today has been around since it was first introduced forty years ago.

It would appear that no parish can truly decide whether to have the Peace or not, where to place it in the Eucharist (or in Morning or Evening Prayer – see pages 26,27, 37, 159 of Common Worship), and what form to express it in, until it has decided what precisely the modern “The Peace” is and what it is intended to achieve. The pursuit of these questions in a parish will be fruitful for education but it will probably yield no results that are agreed upon. We must accept the fact that The Peace of modern liturgies is an innovation of modern liturgists (not necessarily liturgical scholars) and none of them has yet produced an authoritative and mutually agreed statement as to what it is!

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Monday, August 25, 2003



The crisis in the ECUSA offers us an opportunity to look again at familiar
but very recent church practices and rites. Please read on for reflections
on one of them, familiar to most of you.


In the mid-1990s when I was a guest preacher at St John's Church, Savannah, Georgia, and while I was addressing an adult Sunday School class, I said in answer to a question, "The modern Passing of the Peace is THE primary Sacrament of Panentheism" and immediately the distinguished (now deceased) Rector, the Revd Dr William Ralston, let out a great roar of approval.

Whatever did I mean? I meant that the several minutes, often five or more, spent at the middle of eucharistic services, when people walk about the church to greet each other by handshakes or by hugging or by kissing, is a ritual that expresses the doctrine that worshippers know God especially in the intentional, physical coming together and by words and body language the "peace of God" to one another. [Pan-en-theism is the popular modern doctrine in the liberal Churches, especially favored by the feminist movement, which states that the world (nature & humanity in particular) are in God and that God is not God without his/her creation being included within him/her. Thus it is neither Pantheism (God is the world) nor classic Theism (God is separated wholly from the world which he made).]

This practice of the walk-about with physical contacts, which is widespread in eucharistic services that use modern rites, is very NEW as far as the Church of God is concerned - beginning in the west in the 1970s. Likewise so is the lesser intensity of shaking hands and saying "the peace of God be with you".

Its distant, and very distant, pedigree is the "Holy Kiss" (as St Paul calls it four times - Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; and see 1 Peter 5:14 where it is called "the kiss of love" and linked to peace).

The holy kiss was used in the very early period of the Church both as a greeting between full church members (the baptized who took Holy Communion) and by the Bishop to newly baptized believers. It was not allowed for use by catechumens, or between Christians and non-Christians, for it was "holy" and a sign of "God's peace or salvation". It involved a kiss on the cheeks or on the lips and was not offered between people of a different sex. This holy kiss was revolutionary for its time but like so many good things in the young Church was quickly open to abuse when a small society became a large assembly.

Not surprisingly this practice dropped away as the Church grew in numbers and became " a mixed multitude". It was open to easy and obvious abuse. It was transferred (in part) to a kiss between clergy and in the East to the kissing of icons and the like (which practice still continues) and in the West the rite entered the liturgy as words "The peace of the Lord be with you:/ and with thy spirit" spoken by the Celebrant to the assembled people (which is still to be heard in the old Latin Mass of the R Church and in the Holy Communion Service of the first BCP of 1549 and in the Missal Masses used by modern Anglo-Catholics in the USA). In the latter western services the idea is that before receiving the blessed Sacrament the baptized are to reconciled one to another and be filled with the peace of God so that they are worthy recipients of the body and blood of the exalted Saviour.

It is of special interest that NONE of the Protestant Reformers attempted to revive the holy kiss even though they were biblically motivated - for them it was a cultural expression of fellowship and it was the fellowship that mattered.

Significantly for its meaning and development, it was in the very physical, experiential and revolutionary late 1960s & early 1970s, that liturgists keen to restore ancient practices to their modern rewrites of Eucharistic Liturgy, followed ancient pre- 325 AD structures and placed the PAX at the center of the Eucharist, at the end of the Ministry of the Word and Prayer and before the Ministry of the Sacrament. They supplied only minimal explanations of it and it was usually accompanied by the rubric " a sign of peace may be exchanged". However in practice as the years went by the "may" became "shall be"! Because it was at the center it achieved a prominence in an extremely strong experientialist environment that the liturgists probably had not intended for it. For them it was one of a variety of ancient practices they tried to revive but for many people it became the center of their worship experience.

And there developed, according to local circumstances and clergy feelings, a variety of ways of "passing the peace" in the 1970s and 1980s. It certainly fitted the mood of many who appreciated the relaxing of the formal and the entrance of the casual and they naturally used forms of greetings that they already used at Gates in Airports to greet loved ones or friends (the frontal squeeze) or in social exchanges (shaking of hands etc.).

In some churches, where, for example, there has been in increase in temptation caused by the proximity of male and female flesh in frontal meetings, attempts have been made to control the forms of greeting - e.g., hugging only allowed sideways on, not by means of frontal encounter.

Other churches have sought to control the whole thing by having a dignified movement from the celebrant to the deacon and assistants, from them to the first row and thus through the church, with no movement from seats (except turning around) and with only the words "Peace" or "God's peace" as hands are touched or another form of simple communication is used.

Yet other churches have made sure that there is one service on the Lord's Day where there is NO actual physical passing of the peace at all, for there remain a minority in the Anglican and Roman Ways who do not appreciate the interruption of their concentration on the Lord and the Sacrament.

The question arises: If the practice (suitably controlled) is not the sacrament of Panentheism what is it? Well, if it is done in a dignified way and if it is accompanied by appropriate teaching, it can be a means of emphasising the importance of true fellowship and communion one with another in the local Body of Christ and that it is as the Body of Christ that we receive the sacramental Body and Blood of Christ. But it must be done in a dignified and reverent way to be such.

[There are some very useful books & learned essays on the Holy Kiss - see L. Edward Phillips, The Ritual Kiss in Early Christian Worship, Cambridge, 1996 who lists many such.]

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Forget about Gay Bishop; think upon the LORD

Adelphoi in the ECUSA,

Letus forget about the ECUSA & a gay bishop and think for a while about ECUSA & the LORD our God.

Where have we, who now roundly condemn the ECUSA's General Convention for its confirmation of the "gay" Canon Robinson been, for the last thirty years or so? Did we not see the "writing on the wall" often and with respect to a variety of changes, modifications, and additions made by the same General Convention since the 1960s? Do we not realise that the confirmation of Robinson, though wholly wrong, was only possible because of decades of changes in the mindset of the leadership of the ECUSA at diocesan and national level?

In fact, do we not see that it is radically changed thinking about and attitude to YHWH, the LORD, the Blessed Trinity of the Father, the Son & the Holy Ghost, that have been the root cause of the multiple changes made in the worship, doctrine, and discipline of the Episcopal Church since the 1960s

If this can be stated in one sentence it would something like this statement:

"From the holy, ordered and covenantal relation to the almighty, transcendent Father, through the Incarnate Son and by the omnipresent Holy Ghost, the ECUSA has moved to a convenient, experiential relationship with a God who is more immanent than transcendent and who is usually presented as One Person made known in three Modes and/or Names (old style Father, Son and Holy Ghost, new style Mother-Father, Child and Spirit, or Creator, Redeemer & Sanctifier)."

The loyalty to the new Deity lies behind (a) the continuing changes in liturgy and especially the fixation on expansive language and the multi-this and that concerns; (b) the continuing changes in moral standards and norms related to modern human rights and personal autonomy & self worth agendas; (c) the virtual disappearance from the ECUSA of commitment to classic patristic dogma and the teaching of the "standard" Anglican divines concerning the central verities held by the Anglican Way, and (d) the lip-service to the Bible which is now read wearing spectacles allowing only post 1960s "light" to pass through them.

Compare the doctrine of the 1928 edition of the classic Book of Common Prayer repudiated by the General Convention in 1976/79 with that in the recent volumes, this time authorized by General Convention, called "Enriching our Worship".

A relationship (as used today) is very much a post 1960s arrangement where you have two or more parties agreeing to some form of being together until such time as one of them decides to move on or quit. In contrast "relation" (note the use of "relatio" in classic dogma) points to permanency and to the divine initiative in creating the "relatio". May the LORD our God establish with us a "relatio" in which we see with new eyes and act with new vision and energy so that we pursue His glory whatever the cost to ourselves.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Friday, August 22, 2003

Reforming Forwards through Experiment in the ECUSA.

One of the characteristics of the Church in western nations since the 1960s has been the new way of calling for, and implementing, claimed reform and/or renewal of the Church.

In the past reformations looked to the past – the age of the Bible, of Jesus, of the apostles, of the Fathers etc. – and sought to change and renew the present by restoring what had been in place and was authorized by either clear biblical or patristic teaching. Historians of course will tell us to what extent their project was valid, their methods appropriate and their results justifiable. But the point is that all serious attempts at reformation or renewal did look back to the Scriptures and often to (assumed) pure tradition. This is true for example of the Protestant Reformation, Vatican II and the early Liturgical Movement of the 20th century.

In recent times, in the liberal Churches there has begun the process of introducing an innovation and then claiming that whether it is God’s perfect will or not can only be ascertained through allowing the innovation space and opportunity and then testing it and discerning what is its use and value. The open process of receiving and testing these innovations has been called, by Anglicans especially, “the doctrine of reception”. (But it is not the only doctrine of reception. In the old Anglican text-books “reception” is the receiving of the teaching or dogma of a council by the dioceses and parishes, the clergy and people so that it is a doctrine that has the consensus of the whole Church. And in the ecumenical movement “reception” is that process of one denomination receiving from outside itself, e.g., from an ecumenical consultation, a doctrine or practice.)

The three obvious examples of this modern method of reformation forwards (rather than backwards) in the ECUSA are the ordination of women; the blessing of marriages that are part of serial monogamy, and the blessing of same-sex couples (with the ordaining of persons in such). In none of these cases can any full appeal be made to Holy Scripture and sacred tradition. Any use of the Bible to justify these things is according to types of exegesis and interpretation that were unknown in earlier times and which to earlier times would be seen as wholly misguided.

The ordination of women has been said to be necessary for the Church in order for the Church to exhibit that humanity before God is female and male; but no such practice has ever existed before in any obvious way in the long history of the Church. Nevertheless it was introduced under pressure from the women’s movement and then it was said from within the churches that the Church was in the process of receiving it through testing and discernment (which open process appeared to many to be a cloak to cover its rapid advance which continues). It is clearly a case of Reformation forwards and is being very successful!

The marriage of divorcees in churches is said to be necessary to be loving and kind to all and to face a real pastoral emergency and need. Yet again there are no precedents in the Western Church for this; but, it was introduced and has been widely practiced on the basis that time will show that it was good and right. It is clearly a case of Reformation forwards and is being very successful, as the large proportion of remarried persons in ordained ministry and in the membership of so-called “orthodox” churches reveals.

And the same method is being used for the blessing or “marriage” of “gay couples” in the churches. There are no precedents for this; but, these people are said to be in FAITHFUL partnerships and God, it is claimed, loves faithfulness between couples; therefore they deserve God’s blessing and they should have it. Time will show, it is argued, that this is good and right. Again this is Reformation forwards! And it is already the majority view in the ECUSA.

Reformation forwards as a method seems to work in a modern secular culture where the innovation being brought in is regarded as good and wholesome by much of the surrounding society and is to the personal benefit of those who profit from it.

THEREFORE, as I have repeatedly said, the renewal of the ECUSA, or of dioceses within it, is much more than repudiating same-sex blessings and bishops who approve such and are in such. Renewal involves a change of a mindset, a change in the way we read and use the Bible, profound changes in our liturgy, doctrine and discipline. It includes recovering a proper understanding of “Reformation backwards” as guided by the Holy Ghost.

(I owe the expression “Reformation Forwards” to my learned friend, Louis Tarsitano of Savannah, Georgia.)

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Thursday, August 21, 2003



The Anglican Family is much concerned at this time with what kind of sexual relations are right before God.

The Bishops of the Church of England in the 1540s were also much concerned with sexual standards & relations in the nation.

Thus Archbishop Cranmer had specially written for the 1547 Book of Homilies (a part of the foundation of doctrine of the Church of England) A SERMON ON WHOREDOM AND ADULTERY.

I have recorded this sermon - it is in three parts - and in all it takes 40 mins to hear. It is as much a word to our permissive society and church as it was to the people of England in the 16th century.

You can hear it at the website of Christ Church -- - if you have speakers on your

If you want a CD of it to play to a group or in your car, we can make one for you for £3.00 plus the postage.

Thank you,

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.),
Christ Church, Biddulph Moor

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Midwest Conservative Journal

Dear Friends,
Here is the web link to the "Midwest Conservative Journal" (which in turn has lots of links to other useful sites), followed by commentary by Fr. Geoffrey Kirk of FiF in England on the failure of so-called "conservatives" in the PECUSA.

From the Midwest Conservative Journal:

PIPE DREAM II - Those of us who hope that the October meetings of conservative Episcopalians and Anglican primates will figure out a way for us to remain Episcopalians, should, according to the Rev. Dr. Geoffrey Kirk, Anglican Vicar of St Stephen's, Lewisham in the diocese of Southwark in Britain, stop wasting our time and start looking for new churches immediately:
Will a separate province emerge for Anglican traditionalists in America? It does not appear so. The reasons are many, and the time has come to list them. ECUSA traditionalists are, to put it succinctly, few, divided and, in the strictest sense, unprincipled.

Isn't that a bit harsh? Not really, says Dr. Kirk. The unfortunate truth is that conservative and evangelical Anglican numbers in the United States are small and are only going to get smaller:

American traditionalists are, self-evidently, a small group in a declining church. It is true that the confirmation of Gene Robinson as Coadjutor Bishop in New Hampshire passed by only nine votes in the House of Bishops, and that over forty voted against it. But that state of affairs will not long persist. Just as the number of bishops opposed to women's ordination dwindled rapidly to the present three, so will opposition to gay bishops quickly wither. And, like those opposed to women priests, once gone they will not be replaceable.

And let's just say that conservative Episcopal relations with other conservative Christian denominations have been considerably less than cordial:

ECUSA traditionalists are, if that were possible, even more attached than the liberals to this overweening institution. They are simultaneously afflicted by Anglophilia, and Tudoritis. They have, until very recently, viewed their co-belligerents who left the Episcopal church in the late seventies to form 'continuing' Anglican bodies, as second class citizens. They have conspicuously failed to make common cause with the small but robust Polish National Catholic Church. They share the scarcely veiled contempt with which WASP Anglicans generally view the Roman Catholic Church. And they find the Orthodox inexcusably ethnic. In short, they are an embattled minority simply because they have consistently refused to make common cause with the majority.
The same can be said for their relations with each other:

All this would not be so bad were the traditionalists not also fatally divided amongst themselves. The epitome of that division is the tiny but significant Anglican Mission in America. This group of (mainly evangelical) parishes has grown into an ecclesial entity which claims oversight from the Primates of Rwanda and South East Asia. But structural and ecclesiological problems dog AMiA at every step. Rwanda is a province which ordains women to the priesthood; SE Asia is a province which does not. What should be the attitude of AMiA (which has from its inception included both women priests and their opponents) to the innovation?

A wide-ranging process of consultation has begun, at the end of which it is envisaged that a binding decision will be taken. It is significant that hardly anyone (even those in FiF/NA who have soldiered on for twenty years and borne the heat of the day) has had the courage to explain to the leadership of AMiA the manifest absurdity of a splinter of a splinter, depending for its authority and authenticity on the good will of two other splinters, deciding the nature of orders in the Universal Church. Nor, it appears, has either Primate explained what must undoubtedly be the case - that whatever decision is reached one or other of them will be obliged to withdraw, since neither is competent to act contrary to the canons of his own province.

Then Dr. Kirk slides in the stiletto:

Finally the ECUSA traditionalists are unprincipled. That is to say that they have never defined the basis of their rejection of the authority of the 'National Church'.

Is it scriptural? In which case why was the confirmation of a Gay Bishop, rather than the continuation in office of an heresiarch like Spong, the defining issue? And why have so many 'traditionalists' in ECUSA accepted with little or no question the divorce culture which is now normative for Episcopalians?

Is it ecclesial? In which case why has the demand for alternative oversight of those opposed to women's ordination been so muted and so ineffective? And why has repudiation of the authority of the diocesan, when it has come (as in the leafy Philadelphia suburb of Rosemont), been complicated by so many other attendant issues?

There is almost nothing to argue with here. Rev. Kirk has brilliantly described the Achilles heel of conservative Episcopalians. What, an Episcopal liberal might justifiably ask, is all the fuss about? The Episcopal Church has tolerated bishops who have explicitly denied the faith for forty years, refusing to take any action against them. What is the difference between the church refusing to excommunicate John Shelby Spong and confirming Gene Robinson?

One is forced to admit that there is none. We Episcopal conservatives have a great deal to answer for. We stayed in the Episcopal Church, tolerating heretics rather than demanding that the church expel them. We stayed while the Book of Common Prayer was ground into gruel and forced down our throats. We stayed through the politically-correct rape of the Hymnal. We stayed as the church's imprimatur was granted to one secular liberal political stance after another.

Given that track record, why in the name of common sense should Gene Robinson surprise anyone? And why should American conservatives be granted their own province? I will still wait and see what emerges from the October meetings; with God, all things are possible. But I am looking around. And I put my chances of remaining an Episcopalian after October at no better than 10%.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

urgent : William Rusch on Reception


Is any kind person able to help me.

I need to read as soon as possible a book published in the USA to complete a study I am doing on The Doctrine of Reception within the C of E and anglican communion.

William Rusch, Reception an Ecumenical Opportunity (1988, Fortress, Philadelphia).

I am happy to pay for its photocopying and postage to me here in the UK if any can help.


The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Monday, August 11, 2003

General Convention, ECUSA, 1976 & 2003 & The Ecumenical Doctrine of Reception

In 1976 the General Convention as the Synod of the Episcopal Church made the decision to ordain women as presbyters. This should have brought into operation within the ECUSA, as well as in related provinces of the Anglican Communion of Churches, what was called (in ecumenical circles since the 1960s) "the doctrine of reception" - i.e. the dynamic process of testing the acceptance of women in orders which begins with a synodical majority decision and is finally accepted when everyone ( or say 90 per cent) in the Church accepts it [or is finally rejected when it is clear that a large majority of the faithful do not accept the innovation].

Regrettably, this decision was never treated by a majority of bishops of ECUSA as being a process to be tested and its nature and fruits discerned. It was rammed down throats and eventually the General Convention. in 2000 made it a mandatory belief for office holders. Thus those engaged in what they believed to be the process of reception who had not been able to receive it were sidelined and treated as enemies of the new order.

In 2003 the General Convention made the decision to confirm the election of a bishop elect, Gene Robinson, and because of his personal circumstances, thereby also declared that stable "gay" relationships are acceptable as the dynamic equivalent of holy matrimony. Other decisions about blessing "gay" partnerships confirmed this innovatory doctrine.

Again, according to the doctrine of reception, an innovation passed by a Synod goes out for the process of testing and discernment in the province that passed it and also into other provinces that are prepared to test it. This innovation of same-sex "marriage" is being definitely tested already in Canada (Vancouver area) and apparently in parts of Great Britain and Australia in an unofficial way.

The question facing the ECUSA is this: Is its General Convention prepared to undo this decision about "gay" marriage if it becomes clear that there is an overwhelming majority against it in the Anglican Communion as well as in the ECUSA itself? Reception as a process is NOT completed until it is very generally accepted by the faithful. OR Will the ECUSA, as it did with the ordination of women, exercise its autonomy selfishly (shaking a fist as it were both to God and to the universal Church) to mandate belief in same-sex blessings?

With the meeting of the 38 Primates in mid-October in London, it is possible that they will declare there and then by a vast majority ( say 36-2) that this process of reception is invalid for same-sex marriage because the synodical decisions in Vancouver and in the ECUSA were totally wrong. So there is no basis on which the doctrine of reception can be based and function! The innovation is banned and should cease forthwith!

Let us pray daily and fervently for Rowan Williams and the 37 other primates.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Sunday, August 10, 2003


One thing has become clear to those within the ECUSA to whom God has given eyes to see.

A jurisdiction of the Church that has for decades allowed and encouraged divorce and remarriage - serial monogamy, and has further regularly accepted that this is contrary to the plain words of Jesus and the intent of historic canon law, should not be surprised when there is a call (on the basis of human rights as for the divorced) for the blessing of same-sex couples who claim to be faithful to one partner at a time.

To say this does not mean that every divorce is wrong or that remarriage is not possible in some cases by the permission of the Ordinary, but it is to state that the existence of a large divorce culture within the ECUSA is at least the context in which the call for same-sex blessings makes sense to human reason, guided by human rights and modern views of individual autonomy, and aided by novel ways of reading the Bible.

Those who are protesting against the election of Gene Robinson and who are calling for a new alignment of "orthodox" parishes/dioceses need to bear in mind that unless they first address the marriage question they will not morally improve upon the position of the General Convention of 2003.

I offer this radical suggestion to those critical of the Gene R decision.

Let all divorced and remarried priests step down from office as the first sign of a new attempt to recover divine order and as the firstfruits of a major attempt by the "orthodox" to begin to recover some biblical standards! Let lay leaders in the same position do so also. Let bishops begin to be graciously strict on this matter from now on! Let us all repent and seek the face of the Lord!
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)
(Presiding Bishop Griswold voted for Gene Robinson's confirmation as a bishop even though he knew that all the Primates had agreed that a gay bishop was not appropriate or right!)<hr>

ACNS 3547 | USA | 9 AUGUST 2003

Text of Presiding Bishop Frank T Griswold's Friday sermon

Reiterating themes of 'receive, repent, reconcile, restore'

74th General Convention

Friday 8 August 2003

Readings: Romans 10:13-17; Psalm 96:1-7; John 7:16-18

[ACNS source: Episcopal News Service] On this, the last day of this General Convention, the Church invites us to call to mind St. Dominic, who in the early years of the 13th century founded the Order of Preachers, a brotherhood whose whole purpose was to proclaim, by word and example, the good news of God in Christ, to speak not of themselves, as today's gospel tells us, but of the One who sent them. Evangelization was the bent of their being, and every spiritual and intellectual tool available was to be pressed into service.

One of Dominic's biographers describes his sense of purpose thus:

"Wherever he went he showed himself in word and deed to be a follower of the Gospel. ... Frequently Dominic made a special personal petition that God would deign to grant him a genuine charity, effective in caring for and in obtaining the salvation of humankind. For he believed that only then would he be truly a member of Christ, when he had given himself totally for the salvation of all, just as the Lord Jesus, the Savior of all, had offered himself completely for our salvation."

Is this not the call God extends to each one of us? The Holy Spirit has poured the love of God into our hearts, a "genuine charity" that makes it possible for us to overleap all the boundaries of self-interest and self-protection and embrace the whole creation with the arms of compassion - a compassion not our own, but a compassion worked in us by grace.

As you are all well aware, we have been carefully watched over these past two weeks by the media. And what has been remarked upon, again and again, is our civility. I think, however, that our civility is not the point. It is not civility that has been at work among us, but love. To be sure there has been a certain amount of sinfulness on all sides, but there has also been a tremendous amount of grace at work as well.

Love is not just a feeling: it is a matter of the will. And the willingness of many of you who are deeply distressed by certain actions of the convention to stay, quite literally, at the table, is a profound act of love for which the community can be grateful. Some have felt obliged to leave the table. While we must respect their freedom to do so, it is very much my prayer - and I am sure yours as well - that they will find themselves able to return. Their leaving diminishes us all.

Love takes other forms as well. It is love that gives us the desire to enter into the pain of the other and to bear it as one's own. It is love that gives us the desire to exercise restraint and forbearance for the sake of one's brother or sister.

What has this convention been about and what do I take away? This 74th General Convention has been about love. It has been about love at work in a community that heretofore had been able to live with both/and realities and now was forced to make an either/or decision. And yet, in doing so, something has happened that is larger than any one perspective or even the decisions this Convention has made. Paradoxically, our differences writ large have stripped us of our facile civility and plunged us into the vast sea of the divine agape. That is not to say one position is right and the other wrong. It is to say that God in Christ is with us.

"Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing there is a field. I'll meet you there," said the Sufi poet Rumi. The field is the field of the divine compassion where all things are reconciled in ways that we can only dimly comprehend.

"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved," Paul tells us in today's first reading. What does it mean to be saved, but to be drawn out of our little worlds of self-preoccupation and placed in the open space of God's transfiguring and all transforming love? And how does this happen? It happens because life accosts us; circumstances force themselves upon us and we are obliged to leave the security of our various Egypts, our states of certitude that are often forms of bondage - and launch out into the wilderness with no clear sense of destination.

All we know is that we are being led by a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day. And yet, in the wilderness, manna appears, a gift is given, love descends - supplying hope and giving courage, as well as the strength to journey on.

I know many of you are asking: what is going to happen when I get home to my congregation, my diocese? What is going to happen to the Anglican Communion? I don't know. But, what I do know is that love has been at work among us.

"In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself," and we, in our struggle to be faithful - personally, as a community of faith, and as global citizens open to the world, are caught up through baptism into the costly work of giving flesh and blood to all that God has brought about through the blood of the cross. As a church, we are called to live the mystery of God's reconciling love for the sake of the world.

Receive, repent, reconcile, restore: such is God's mission, God's project, God's work, and ours as well. We have been engaging in that work during these days in many forms: in our prayer, in seeking the mind of Christ, in bearing one another's burdens, in opening ourselves to the suffering of the world, and especially the suffering borne by our brothers and sisters in Liberia and other places wracked by violence, poverty and disease. We have opened ourselves more fully to the suffering of the world, and through our actions here we have committed ourselves to a stance of global partnership. One example of this commitment is that we have embraced the Millennium Development Goals.

Love does indeed take many forms. Some are intimate and personal, some take us across the globe to feed the starving and stem the spread of disease. Some involve words. Some involve actions. Yet all is part of that vast articulation of Christ's deathless love which is God's mission and ours as well.

"Preach always," said a contemporary of Dominic, St. Francis of Assisi, "and if necessary use words." Francis' life, as well as that of Dominic, was a sermon in itself, a living exposition of love. Can the same be said of us personally and as a household of faith? At its deepest level this is what we have been discovering during our General Convention. This is what has captured public attention beyond the presenting issues. Can we be a living exposition of God's reconciling love?

There is still much to receive, much to repent of, much to be reconciled, much to be restored. With Jesus, we must go up to Jerusalem with the sober yet confident awareness that we only can know the power of his resurrection by sharing his sufferings. So we move into the future knowing with St. Paul that "suffering produces endurance (patient endurance), and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us because the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us" (Romans 5:4).

My dear brothers and sisters, may this deep and tenacious love be with us all as we go forth and return home. May its reconciling force heal us and whole us for the sake of God's world.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

A wise move from Archbishop Rowan

Rowan Williams moves quickly to seek to keep the Communion together


Archbishop to convene primates meeting

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is to convene an extraordinary meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion this autumn. The meeting will take place in London in mid-October and it is expected that invitations will be sent out in the next week.

Dr Williams said that the effects of recent developments at the ECUSA General Convention were being felt throughout the Communion and there was a need for the Primates to meet to consider them.

"I am clear that the anxieties caused by recent developments have reached the point where we will need to sit down and discuss their consequences. I hope that in our deliberations we will find that there are ways forward in this situation which can preserve our respect for one another and for the bonds that unite us.

"I hope we can use the time between now and then to reflect, to pray, to consult and to take counsel."

The original release from Lambeth Palace is available from

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)