Thursday, October 30, 2003

A Comment on the Task of The Commission requested by the Primates, and appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury on October 29th..

(I shall print the text and then make a brief comment.)

The Archbishop of Canterbury requests the Commission:

1. To examine and report to him by 30th September 2004, in preparation for the ensuing meetings of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council, on the legal and theological implications flowing from the decisions of the Episcopal Church (USA) to appoint a priest in a committed same sex relationship as one of its bishops, and of the Diocese of New Westminster to authorize services for use in connection with same sex unions, and specifically on the canonical understandings of communion, impaired and broken communion, and the ways in which provinces of the Anglican Communion may relate to one another in situations where the ecclesiastical authorities of one province feel unable to maintain the fullness of communion with another part of the Anglican Communion.

[Regrettably the Archbishop has here succumbed to the propaganda of the LesBiGays and the Prioritization of the Homosexual issue by the Evangelicals in the way he has stated the issue before and the decision of the Episcopal Church. The issue before the General Convention was whether or not to confirm as bishop-elect a man who is divorced and who is not celibate. Whether his present sexual partner is a woman or man is secondary in terms of his basic status in canon law. The canonical and moral question is whether a divorced priest is a suitable candidate for Bishop, bearing in mind that the Bishop is to be an icon of Christ, the Bridegroom, of the chaste Church, the Bride. The issue in Vancouver, British Columbia, over same-sex blessings is rightly stated; but, the Commission needs to know, that there we have a situation where Archbishop Crawley of BC and the Yukon, now pursuing Bp. Buckle who is seeking to help the “orthodox” in New Westminster diocese, is himself at least twice married and thus ought not to be an active bishop.]

2. Within their report, to include practical recommendations (including reflection on emerging patterns of provision for episcopal oversight for those Anglicans within a particular jurisdiction, where full communion within a province is under threat) for maintaining the highest degree of communion that may be possible in the circumstances resulting from these decisions, both within and between the churches of the Anglican Communion.

[As yet there seems to be nothing in the Anglican Family to equal the C of E system of Provincial Episcopal Visitors – flying bishops. Further, the Commission should address the question of Communion with the Faithful Anglicans who are outside the official Anglican Family of Churches. For example, there are probably 75,000 or more such persons in North America, but also sizeable groups in places like South Africa.]

3. Thereafter, as soon as practicable, and with particular reference to the issues raised in Section IV of the Report of the Lambeth Conference 1998, to make recommendations to the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council, as to the exceptional circumstances and conditions under which, and the means by which, it would be appropriate for the Archbishop of Canterbury to exercise an extraordinary ministry of episcope (pastoral oversight), support and reconciliation with regard to the internal affairs of a province other than his own for the sake of maintaining communion with the said province and between the said province and the rest of the Anglican Communion.

[It is regrettable that herein there is no statement that intervention is also for the maintaining of the Reformed Catholic Faith, based on the Bible, the Creed and the Anglican Formularies. It is no good getting unity on false foundations!]

4. In its deliberations, to take due account of the work already undertaken on issues of communion by the Lambeth Conferences of 1988 and 1998, as well as the views expressed by the Primates of the Anglican Communion in the communiqués and pastoral letters arising from their meetings since 2000.

[Much of the work done on KOINONIA is flawed for it is based upon a doctrine of “the Social Trinity” and from this flawed foundation makes deductions that are false. The Biblical Doctrine of Koinonia, together with the Patristic Doctrine of the Trinity and the use by the Fathers of this word/concept has to be done afresh, if it is to be truly helpful (see my critique of the use of Koinonia in my essay/booklet, “Reforming Forwards? The Doctrine of Reception and the Consecration of Women as Bishops” from the Latimer Trust of London.) ]

The Revd Dr Peter Toon, October 30, 2003

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

(Please do not let the "consecration" of Gene R. on Sunday afternoon make you forget that this weekend, apart from having the Lord's Day, also has All Saints' Day etc.)

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 (1662 & 1928) Collect for the Day. Therefore a day of rejoicing, hope and consecration.

All Souls traditionally 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 in the western tradition a day of intercession and hope.

While the BCP (1662 & 1928) 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 God 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 and 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 seems to be a means of keeping with solemnity, reverence and love the memory of the loved one departed. 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 & Prayers 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.

Do visit

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

Anglican Communion - Commission announced


[ACNS source: Lambeth Palace] The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has announced the makeup and the terms of reference for a Commission to look at life in the Anglican Communion in the light of recent events. It is to be made up of members appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and will be chaired by the Most Revd Robin Eames, Archbishop of Armagh.

The Commission, which is expected to begin its work early in the New Year, was formed as a result of a request from the recent Primates meeting at Lambeth Palace to the Archbishop of Canterbury. It will take particular account of the decision to authorise a service for use in connection with same sex unions in the Diocese of New Westminster, Canada, and the expected Consecration of the Revd Canon V Gene Robinson as Bishop Co-adjutor of New Hampshire in the Episcopal Church (USA) on Sunday, November 2nd.

Membership of the Commission has been drawn up by Dr Williams in consultation and reflects the breadth and diversity of the Anglican Communion as well as providing substantial canonical, theological and ecclesiological expertise. The Commission was requested by the Primates to report within twelve months (that is, by October 2004) to the Archbishop of Canterbury in preparation for ensuing meetings of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council.

Dr Williams said that the Commission's main task would be to offer advice on finding a way through the situation which currently threatens to divide the Communion:

"The Primates were clear that the Anglican Communion could be approaching a crucial and critical point in its life. The responses of Provinces to developing events will determine the future life of our Communion in a profound way and we need to take time for careful prayer, reflection and consideration to discern God's will for the whole Communion. This Commission, under the Communion's longest serving Primate, is intended to contribute to our finding a way forward."

Dr Eames said he was deeply conscious of the challenge: "I am conscious of the importance and the delicacy of the work the Commission will have to undertake. It is important to see the whole of the task - we have not been charged with finding the answers to the questions of sexuality, but with assisting the Communion to respond to recent developments in our churches in North America in a way which is fully faithful to Christ's call for the Unity of his Church."

The full mandate and membership list follows:

The mandate

The Archbishop of Canterbury requests the Commission:

1. To examine and report to him by 30th September 2004, in preparation for the ensuing meetings of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council, on the legal and theological implications flowing from the decisions of the Episcopal Church (USA) to appoint a priest in a committed same sex relationship as one of its bishops, and of the Diocese of New Westminster to authorise services for use in connection with same sex unions, and specifically on the canonical understandings of communion, impaired and broken communion, and the ways in which provinces of the Anglican Communion may relate to one another in situations where the ecclesiastical authorities of one province feel unable to maintain the fullness of communion with another part of the Anglican Communion.

2. Within their report, to include practical recommendations (including reflection on emerging patterns of provision for episcopal oversight for those Anglicans within a particular jurisdiction, where full communion within a province is under threat) for maintaining the highest degree of communion that may be possible in the circumstances resulting from these decisions, both within and between the churches of the Anglican Communion.

3. Thereafter, as soon as practicable, and with particular reference to the issues raised in Section IV of the Report of the Lambeth Conference 1998, to make recommendations to the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council, as to the exceptional circumstances and conditions under which, and the means by which, it would be appropriate for the Archbishop of Canterbury to exercise an extraordinary ministry of episcope (pastoral oversight), support and reconciliation with regard to the internal affairs of a province other than his own for the sake of maintaining communion with the said province and between the said province and the rest of the Anglican Communion.

4. In its deliberations, to take due account of the work already undertaken on issues of communion by the Lambeth Conferences of 1988 and 1998, as well as the views expressed by the Primates of the Anglican Communion in the communiqués and pastoral letters arising from their meetings since 2000.

The members of the Commission are:

* Archbishop Robin Eames, Primate of All Ireland, Chairman,
* The Revd Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, Director of Faith, Worship and Ministry, the Anglican Church of Canada,
* Bishop David Beetge, Dean of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa,
* Professor Norman Doe, Director of the Centre for Law and Religion, Cardiff University, Wales,
* Bishop Mark Dyer, Director of Spiritual Formation, Virginia Theological Seminary, USA,
* Archbishop Drexel Gomez, Primate of the West Indies,
* Archbishop Josiah Iduwo-Fearon, Archbishop of Kaduna, the Anglican Church of Nigeria,
* The Revd Dorothy Lau, Director of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui Welfare Council,
* Ms Anne McGavin, Advocate, formerly Legal Adviser to the College of Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church,
* Archbishop Bernard Malango, Primate of Central Africa,
* Dr Esther Mombo, Academic Dean of St Paul's United Theological Seminary, Limuru, Kenya,
* Archbishop Barry Morgan, Primate of Wales,
* Chancellor Rubie Nottage, Chancellor of the West Indies,
* Bishop John Paterson, Primate of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, and Chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council,
* Dr Jenny Te Paa, Principal of College of Saint John the Evangelist, Auckland, New Zealand,
* Bishop James Terom, Moderator, the Church of North India,
* Bishop N Thomas Wright, Bishop of Durham, the Church of England.

The Revd Canon John Rees, Legal Adviser to the Anglican Consultative Council, will act as Legal Consultant to the Commission.

The Revd Canon Gregory Cameron, Director of Ecumenical Affairs and Studies, Anglican Communion Office, will act as Secretary to the Commission.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

North American Anglicanism Not in Communion with Canterbury

(this may help folks understand the complex Anglican situation in the USA and why moves to understanding & UNITY are needed NOW so that in the search for common roots and faith reform and renewal can occur for and in all -- P.T.)

North American Anglicanism Not in Communion with Canterbury
By Revd Chris Pierce

North American Anglican jurisdictions not in communion with Canterbury are a varied lot, and almost completely confined to the USA. What one finds in the USA, one finds in Canada, just on a smaller scale. Before the St. Louis Congress in 1977, Anglican jurisdictions not in communion with Canterbury were few in number. The Reformed Episcopal Church of the United States was the most prominent and largest. It broke with the mainline Protestant Episcopal Church, USA (now operating as ECUSA) in 1873 over issues stemming from the advance of the theological peculiarities of the Tractarian Movement.

Prior to the St. Louis Congress, keeping up with those jurisdictions not in communion with Canterbury was fairly simple. Since the St. Louis Congress it is anything but simple. Indeed, frustrations build quickly in trying to keep details straight...the easy thing would be to adopt a conspiracy theory approach and say the whole matter is a joint effort between Wippell’s and C.M. Almy to increase the sales of clerical haberdashery, but to do so would be a grave injustice to all involved. Various press reports put the number of “continuing” Anglican jurisdictions somewhere between 20 and 40.

Before going further, let’s define some terms. Many people call all Anglicans in North America, not in communion with Canterbury, Continuers, or Continuing Anglicans.... generically speaking they are referred to as belonging to the “Continuum.” Such an approach is incorrect. The “Continuing” jurisdictions are those that are outgrowths of the St. Louis Congress of 1977 convened after the first ordinations of women to the diaconate and presbyterate.

The Reformed Episcopal Church is in similar circumstances to that of the Free Church of England and the Church of England in South Africa and is rightly termed as a “separated” Anglican body. The REC doesn’t ordain women to either office but does have a lay order of deaconesses. Ironically, the REC, as a separated Anglican body, has identical theological commitments on paper (and historically) with the C of E. Its Prayer Book is the 1662 BCP with a few additions from the 1928 PECUSA Prayer Book although parishes may still use the previous REC liturgy. Its Articles of Religion are the XXXIX Articles of Religion of the C of E (subscription, not assent is required), adapted only to its non-established situation, yet the REC isn’t officially recognised by Canterbury.

An aside.... before the vote was taken on Vicki Gene Robinson’s election to the bishopric of New Hampshire, the last ECUSA General Convention passed a resolution acknowledging the work of the ECUSA House of Bishops in the early 1940s regarding the positive validity of REC orders. It called for further discussion and a final report to be brought to the next GC. After the consent was given to Robinson’s election, the bishops of the REC publicly suspended all discussions with ECUSA.

The much cussed and discussed Anglican Mission in America (AMiA) falls in an altogether different category.... physically located in the USA, but technically a mission, sponsored by and answerable to, the Archbishop and Anglican Province of Rwanda and the Archbishop of Southeast Asia.

The bishops of the AMiA have not ordained women as yet, and may never. AMiA has allowed for a couple of self professed evangelical ECUSA female clergy to come under its care pending the outcome of the group’s two year long theological study of the matter..... which should be made public before many more weeks. AMiA parishes may use any BCP so long as its teaching is in agreement with the 1662 book. AMiA also requires subscription to the XXXIX Articles of Religion. AMiA, although not recognised by Canterbury as an official work, still considers itself in Communion with Canterbury through its sponsoring archbishops and province. This author’s personal speculation is that AMiA will conclude that female ordination to the priesthood is beyond the pale of biblical orthodoxy.

According to Mrs. Auburn Traycik publisher of, “The Christian Challenge” (a four decade old periodical with wide circulation amongst the jurisdictions of the Continuum), the major bodies that were formed out of the St. Louis Congress were: the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC); the Anglican Province of Christ the King (APCK); and the Anglican Church in America (ACA). The Anglican Province in America (APA) was formed out of an early re-alignment from within the original “Continuing Movement.” In a recent story, Mrs. Traycik estimated that the APCK has membership of 7,000, and that the ACC and ACA have membership in the USA between 5,000 and 6,000 each.

The ACA is also part of the international, Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC). Internationally, the TAC claims over 100,000 members. Eighty thousand are found in India; 20,000 in South Africa; and Australia has a TAC membership of 5,000. An Australian, The Most Revd John Hepworth, is Primate of the TAC.

Almost all of the continuing jurisdictions point to the theological statement formulated at the St. Louis Congress of 1977, the Affirmation of St. Louis, as a point of common ground between themselves. (See Most use the 1928 BCP. There are however, some parishes that use the Anglican Missal (of Roman Catholic origin) for their liturgy...but this is also true of Anglo-Catholic parishes within the ECUSA.

The Revd Dr. Louis Tarsitano, Rector of St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Savannah, Georgia, is a self described Prayer Book evangelical. In addition to his pastoral responsibilities, he is or has been, an author (of several books), educator (seminary and college Prof.), and an associate editor of, “Touchstone” magazine. He was brought up in the Roman Catholic faith. While in RC minor seminary, his studies brought him to the scriptures and the BCP so he converted. He was ordained in the ECUSA, but was eventually driven out over the ordination of women and the forced adoption of the 1979 Prayer Book. Before leaving ECUSA, Tarsitano was the rector of a 1,200+-member parish in Denver, Colorado. Having been on both sides of the fence (in ECUSA and now out), he is a clear-eyed observer of North American Anglicanism.

Tarsitano, now canonically resident within the Anglican Church in America, had the following to say when asked for his take on Continuing Churches.

“One of the realities, and complicating factors, of the formation of the Continuing Churches after 1976, was that the greater number of the clergymen involved were Anglo-Catholics, rather than Evangelicals. Most American Evangelicals would not stick their necks out or lose their positions and benefits over an arguably heretical replacement Prayer Book or the "ordination" of women. Philip Edgecumbe Hughes was a notable exception, along with rectors like Houston's Robert Ingram. Thus, while perhaps a majority of the laity that joined the Continuing Churches were ordinary Prayer Book Churchmen, and likewise a minority of the members of the clergy, there was very little in the way of classical Evangelical or classical Prayer Book Anglicanism in the leadership of the new jurisdictions. This imbalance has been the major source of turmoil within and among the Continuing Churches.”

It would seem to any serious observer that the matter of women in ordained ministry is a major point of conflict between Continuing jurisdictions, the REC, and Evangelicals still left in ECUSA. The REC and the jurisdictions of the Continuum are firmly opposed to the practice. Evangelicals still in ECUSA generally support it.... and if they don’t support it, almost without exception they maintain a silent opposition. It is my experience that many Evangelicals remaining in ECUSA have no idea as to how strongly their “separated” and “continuing” Anglican (Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic alike) brethren oppose the ordination of women. They are flummoxed when the depth of opposition finds voice, and few can articulate it more clearly than Tarsitano.

“American Evangelicals in ECUSA have still not faced the fact that their acceptance of an unscriptural innovation such as the "ordination" of women was the necessary prelude to the unscriptural innovation of approving homosexual relations.”

He continued:

“American Evangelicals have generally not been able to cooperate with Continuing Churchmen or with the Reformed Episcopal Church because of the selectivity of their faithfulness to the Bible. Many ECUSA Evangelicals treat concerns about the lack of Scriptural warrants for the "ordination" of women as a trivial eccentricity, while demanding that all share their primarily emotional response to the current abomination of baptizing homosexuality.

“The insistence on the part of many ECUSA Evangelicals that any effort to address the current apostasy of the ECUSA must include women ministers is guaranteed to divide Anglican traditionalists and conservatives in America. They have, ironically, rediscovered the formula for creating a divided ‘continuing church,’ with the new dividing factor being the split between ‘progressive’ Evangelicals and the rest of the Anglican spectrum: traditional Evangelicals, Prayer Book Churchmen, High Churchmen, and Anglo-Catholics.”

As large an impediment to unity as female ordination happens to be…another, perhaps larger long-term impediment, is that of the widespread divorce and remarriage amongst clergy and laity. Sadly, neither clergy nor laity who divorce and remarry (in ECUSA or Continuing Churches) are an oddity.

In 1998, pollster George Barna found that 25% of all mainline Christian church members have been divorced and remarried (he found that only 21% of Atheists and Agnostics had been ). Further research in 2001 showed that 12% of all senior pastors have been divorced and all but 3% had remarried. I couldn’t find data on associate clergy. It would seem, at least statistically speaking, that the sins of divorce and remarriage of the clergy and laity are sins of larger numerical proportions within the life of the church than the sins of homosexual priests or couples.

It is transparently clear that the pro-homosexual lobby is correct in crying hypocrisy when self described “evangelicals”(publicly holding to a high view of scripture) use the Bible to point out their sexual errors, yet refuse to bend their knees to the clear biblical prohibitions against female ordination and divorce and remarriage. Pro-homosexual forces see little difference between their cultural contextualisation of their pet sins, and the contextualisation done by evangelical and continuing Anglicans with their own. They argue that Evangelicals and Continuers are only against homosexual sins, not those committed by heterosexuals.

The story of North American Anglicanism not in communion with Canterbury is just as was stated earlier, a varied one. Criticisms on some points are thus quite justified. Hopefully, there will be a successful move in the near future to re-establish the historic Anglican Formularies in their rightful....and needed positions of influence and authority.

As confusing and disorienting as all of this can be, Tarsitano offers a sage-like assessment:

“The Continuing Churches are not ends in themselves, but part of the recovery of traditional Anglicanism in America. Complaints that these people are disorderly, coming from members of today's ECUSA, are rather like complaints that, denied the use of the lifeboats, the steerage class passengers have tried to lash together a raft in the hope of eventually being rescued. So far, however, that rescue, which needs to come from other Anglican national churches, has never come.”

In spite of some of the problems, the Anglican expression of the Christian faith on this continent is a vibrant one. There are movements afoot to encourage greater unity. There are some signs that such efforts are gaining traction. For instance, a retired conservative ECUSA diocesan bishop participated in the ordination of a priest in the REC.

There are other churchmanship and theological issues that will have to be squarely faced if ever true unity is to occur. However, at the moment, all of N. American Anglicanism is abuzz over the recent actions of the ECUSA General Convention. Evangelicals still in ECUSA have scheduled a meeting in Plano, Texas, for early October to try to find a path forward. This might prove productive, coming as it does on the heels of the General Convention 2003 and the U.S. Anglican Congress from last December. That meeting was a trans-jurisdictional conference which saw episcopal, presbyteral, and lay leadership from most of the Anglican bodies in North America. Many of those in attendance believe that something great happened as a result.

Perhaps we're on the cusp of a true reformation within Anglicanism in North America....only time will tell.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

SACK-CLOTH & ASHES for November 2nd, 2003

Although November 2nd is the Lord's Day and thus not a day for fasting, it will be most appropriate in the afternoon of that day - 2.p.m. Eastern Seaboard Time, USA - for Evangelicals & Charsimatics (& others) to cover their heads in ashes and their bodies with sack-cloth.

The penance and mourning before God, the Lord, will be in part because at this time Gene Robinson, the "gay" activist, will be "set apart" and "consecrated" as bishop of the ECUSA diocese of New Hampshire.

The greater part of the penance should be by Evangelicals etc. because they have provided world-wide publicity for the "gay" cause within the liberal denominations and in western society. They fell for the LesBiGay way of describing the controversy in New Hampshire and in the General Convention of the ECUSA and, thereby, they aided and abetted in a massive way the publicity of this group. Further, they united the election of Robinson with the "gay" blessings in Vancouver Canada and again served the LesbiGay cause by this bringing together of different issues!

Consider this. Had the opposition to the election and the confirmation of Robinson been on the basis that he was disqualified by being a divorced man and that this disqualification is compounded by his not living a chaste life now, then the whole controversy and debate would have been different. It would have been on the biblical validity of the ancient canons concerning candidates for the Ministry that divorce is a barrier; on whether or not a divorced man can be a right icon for the Church wherein Jesus is described as the Bridegroom and the Church as his Bride; on whether a divorced man is the right person to give pastoral advice on Christian marriage within a dominant divorce culture..and so on. Thus it could have been a serious debate on whether or not the ECUSA had made a massive mistake by inviting so fully into its midst the divorce culture of the post 1960s and what can be done to recover the doctrine of Christian Marriage.

Yet the Evangelicals, the AAC, the FinF NA and so on chose to adopt the agenda favored by the LesBiGay movement and to make it all a debate as to whether a "gay" man in a "faithful" partnership is an appropriate person to be a bishop. And they got the Primates (who come from a different culture and hardly appreciate how deeply the divorce culture is accepted in the Churches of the West and how it is utilized by American and British Evangelicals etc.) also worked up about it. The Primates should have been rightly concerned about the "gay" issue in New Westminster, Canada and elsewhere - e.g. in many ECUSA dioceses -- but they should have seen this Robinson issue for what it really basically is, at least in terms of historic Christian moral theology and canon law. A divorced man ought not to be a bishop & a divorced man who is not chaste certainly ought not to be a bishop. But the modern evangelical doctrine seems to be that a divorced man can be a bishop if he is not "gay". Evangelicals could have said: we discuss only his being divorced for this is an insuperable barrier to his being a bishop if we are to keep to historic Christian standards within the Anglican Way.

Therefore the Evangelicals & Charismatics have yet to face the basic questions about Christian Sexuality and what is pleasing to the Lord Jesus for members of his Church. They all agree that "gay" stuff is sinful, but do they all agree that marriage discipline is virtually absent from the ECUSA and from their own ranks, and that until they face up to this there can be no genuine reform and renewal of the Anglican Household in the USA?


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

Monday, October 27, 2003


Proposal for initial Meeting of members of this Household.

The American Anglican Household in 2003 could be likened to an apartment complex where the inhabitants of the apartments hardly know each other and have little do with one another. They use the same address, the same electricity, water and gas supplies, but they have little else in common in a practical way.

The time has come, the time is ripe, and the external need is great, for them to begin a process of meeting together in the Lobby. This coming together to get to know one another cannot be rushed and it needs to start from small beginnings.

Thus instead of everyone who lives in the complex crowding into the Lobby there should be first of all a meeting of representatives from the various floors of the building. And when they have met, recognized how much they have in common and the pressing need for them to get to know each other better, then a larger meeting of more residents can be called and can meet in the hall next door.

We propose that the Anglican groups/societies/organizations/jurisdictions, that presently represent what may be called the faithful Anglican remnant in the U.S.A. (the ECUSA being generally apostate or nearly so), begin slowly and surely to get to know each other, to find common ground, and to move towards some kind of union, which can be the basis (God willing) for a new Province of the Anglican Communion in the USA. This process to run parallel to the Commission of the Primates which is looking into ways of bringing help and discipline to provinces that are in disorder right now.

To this end, we propose that there be a Fri/Sat Meeting in January in Atlanta (where bad weather should not be a problem) of two representatives from each of the following -- American Anglican Council, Forward in Faith North America, the Anglican Church in America, the Anglican Catholic Church, the Province of Christ the King, the Episcopal Missionary Church, the Anglican Mission in America, and the Reformed Episcopal Church.

Further, we propose that this Meeting:

•have as its Convener a person who is respected by all and is outside the American scene, but who has an understanding of it.
•begins on a Friday afternoon and lasts till Saturday afternoon.
•has no Eucharist but uses Morning and Evening Prayer.
•uses only a Prayer Book and a Bible for the services which were in existence before 1960 (thus classic BCP and KJV or ASV or RSV).

Also, we suggest that, if there be agreement that a further Meeting should occur, then that Meeting be in Philadelphia in the Spring, for Philadelphia has great symbolic importance -- it is where the PECUSA officially began in the 1780s. Further, we suggest that each participant pay for his own travel and hotel for the Atlanta meeting, and that a contribution be made by all groups involved to pay for the fare and hotel of the Convener and also of any consultant he cares to bring with him or to use.


There are probably 75,000 active Anglicans/Episcopalians outside the ECUSA. The recent publicity of the AAC does not seem to have made this fact clear either to the Primates or to the Anglican Communion generally or even to the American people.

Anglicans outside the ECUSA tend to think that the conservatives left within ECUSA have compromised too much and diluted the received Reformed Catholic Faith.

Anglicans inside the ECUSA tend to think that Anglicans outside have a tendency to schism, to making too many bishops and to lowering the standards of clergy education.

Misunderstandings increase when people do not talk and pray together. The time has come for the talking and praying in a responsible and devout way to begin!

The time has come under God for the re-forming, re-ordering, re-uniting and renewing of the American Anglican Household on sure foundations.

The Revd Dr Peter Toon & The Revd Dr Louis R Tarsitano (October 27, 03)

Sunday, October 26, 2003

A SAFE HAVEN: The American Anglican Council & Realignment of American Anglicanism

In a recent press statement by Bruce Mason for the AAC we were told that the AAC Board moved forward with the establishment of a "Network of Confessing Dioceses and Parishes" in the Episcopal Church as the first component of the new realignment planned by the AAC. He cites the President of the AAC, David Anderson, who said that: "This network is intended to be a safe haven for all those Episcopalians who are distressed by the direction that the Episcopal Church has taken over the past 30 years - actions that culminated in the grievous decisions of General Convention this past August."

A Safe Haven

There is general appreciation in the Anglican Communion that a group of concerned churchmen are taking most seriously - as a duty before the Lord - the search for right doctrine, order and unity, as well as seeking to help parishes which are persecuted by radically liberal bishops of the ECUSA.

There is also appreciation by those who have suffered at the hands of the bishops of ECUSA since the 1970s that the AAC President now publicly recognizes that the present "gay" issue is not an isolated matter but is related to at least thirty years of innovations by the General Convention & National Church, that is by the center of the ECUSA, and by the diocese in turn.

I ask:

Does the AAC realize that there are up to 75,000 faithful Anglicans outside the ECUSA and the majority of them left It because of the innovations of the 1970s - the innovation of women priests (then later of bishops) and the innovation of new formularies (including the rejection of the classic formularies of the PECUSA and the Church of England). These Anglicans are committed to that which was the general commitment of the Episcopal Church before the 1970s.

Does the AAC realize that the present doctrinal basis of the AAC commits that organization to the very thing that caused the exodus of these 75,000 or so people and the formation of the Continuing Anglican jurisdictions (which, I accept, regrettably have been too prone to internal division and need to be recalled to unity). Unless I am mistaken, the AAC's foundation recognizes that the 1979 Prayer Book is a genuine Book of Common Prayer and is THE Formulary on which it stands. Further, there is a general commitment in the AAC to the innovation of women priests and this is something that the Continuing Anglicans find difficult to accept as of the Lord.

Does the AAC Board have any sense of vocation for the unity of all Anglicans -- to meet with representatives of the Continuing Anglican Jurisdictions, the Reformed Episcopal Church, the AMiA and other groups in order to find a way together to unite the faithful Anglican household of America on a sure, biblical and classical foundation for the glory of God, the edification of all concerned and the positioning for help from the Primates after their Commission reports in 2004? I submit that the 1979 Prayer Book and its Catechism are not sound formularies on which to build a reform movement!

There is much that the AAC can do. It has made a good beginning but has given the appearance of acting as if the only faithful Anglicans are in the ECUSA and, further, that the foundation on which these Episcopalians now stand is a firm and good one! Let the AAC broaden its vision and change its foundation from one of sand to one of rock (the Sacred Scriptures, the Creeds, the classic Formularies [BCP 1662/1928, Ordinal and Articles and Canon Law as it was in the 1950s/1960s].

The American Anglican Household is called to unity in truth and truth in unity.


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

Thinking of Gene Robinson as a divorced man


Along with my learned friend, Lou Tarsitano, and a few others who have communicated with me, I feel as though we must be the only people in Christendom who think that the primary reason why Gene Robinson should not be in ordained Ministry and certainly not made a Bishop on Nov 2 is because he is a divorced man -- and not only a divorced man but one who is not chaste, for he is living with another person (who happens to be a man but could be a woman).

In simple terms, I believe that he is not eligible to be a Bishop because he is divorced and this is compounded by the fact that he is not a chaste, divorced person. That his fornicating is with a man and not with a woman is secondary here - he was disqualified by traditional canon law and before God by being divorced.

If one sees the matter in these terms then there is no prioritizing of the homosexual issue as such and one can condemn the action of the ECUSA in blessing homosexual unions within the context of a holistic view of sexuality, which view also condemns the lax attitude to divorce with remarriage in the ECUSA.

How different would have been the Primates' Meeting if the whole matter had been seen in these terms! Perhaps I should rewrite their Statement on this basis as an exercise in pastoral theology! Evangelicals may have served the Lesbigay cause in ways they were not aware of by making the issue that of homosexuality instead of divorce and fornication -- think of the massive friendly publicity given to the "gay" cause by the media all over the western world.

Of course homosexual activity is sinful before God but so is the fact of divorce and so is adultery; by God's mercy most sins can both be forgiven and healed. But sometimes, even when forgiveness is granted by heaven, a person is barred by God and his Church from certain positions of pastoral responsibility & care. So it always was with divorce in the Anglican Way until very recent times in the Provinces of the West/North, especially in the ECUSA.

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

Friday, October 24, 2003

The Vocation of faithful Americans of the Anglican Way for the year beginning October 03

At present, faithful Americans of the Anglican Way, whatever their jurisdiction, have before them a double task. The first part of this task is to interpret with both a charitable and a discerning spirit the statement issued by the Anglican Primates on October 16, after their recent emergency meeting at Lambeth. Did the Primates respond adequately to the crisis of authority provoked by the General Convention’s approval of the election of a divorced, non-celibate man, living with a same-sex “partner,” to be the Bishop of New Hampshire? Was it clear enough that the Diocese of New Westminster has left both Christian and Anglican ground by adopting the formal blessing of same-sex relationships, despite the Scriptural teaching that absolutely forbids such arrangements? Did the Primates leave an opening for the American faithful themselves to address these matters and to act in support of traditional Christian doctrine and morality?

We believe that they did (please see our earlier paper, “Rebuilding the Anglican Household in America – a task for 2004: A response to the Primates’ Statement of October 16, 2003, and a vocation for faithful Anglicans”). Thus, the second part of the task that confronts the faithful in America is to determine for themselves whether or not they are capable of organizing an actual province-in-being of the Church, as a traditional canonical basis for seeking fellowship with the Anglican Communion or the several Provinces that make up that communion.

Can the currently dispersed elements of the faithful Americans of the Anglican Way, whether Anglicans in ECUSA, Anglican exiles from ECUSA for conscience’ sake, members of the Anglican Mission in America, or the Anglicans of the Continuing Churches and of the Reformed Episcopal Church, find a center of faith and practice that will hold them together as one household of Christ? Can the Americans accept the hard work of cleaning their own house?

We believe that they can, but only when action comes from clarity of thought, rather than from reaction to the errors of others. We offer the following propositions and observations to foster further discussion and to pursue that clarity of thought.

1. The secular political model of “winners and losers” does not fit ecclesiastical circumstances, and should not be applied to the issuance of the Primates’ statement of October 16. No spiritual problem has a political solution, and thus, the more godly a primate, the less likely he is to be an effective politician or to produce documents of a political nature. Jesus Christ has won the only victory that matters, and it is our calling to witness, preach, and manifest that one victory, until the Lord returns in glory.

2. Ecclesiastical reality, however, does not exclude the possibility of there being genuine opponents of the Gospel or self-conscious defectors from the Lordship of Jesus Christ in our midst. As St. Paul warns, “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us” (2 Thessalonians 3:6). Since St. Paul concludes this discussion with the words “And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15), we know, as a matter of fact, that every form and method of resistance to error is available to us, except hatred and enmity.

3. The pastoral and parental vocations contain within them a duty to protect the flock of Christ, and children in particular, from exposure to uncorrected error and sin—from “every brother that walketh disorderly.” While the conduct of major reformations and renewals of the local churches on earth, including the disposition of their temporalities, may be a slow process, the pastoral and parental duties of protection are immediate and incapable of postponement. The flocks must be protected now, if necessary at the expense of their corporate temporal property, since the gain of the whole world is not worth the price of their souls.

4. No governing body of a local church in need of reformation, of whatever size and scale, has ever given the faithful permission to engage in reformation. If the governors were orthodox and promoting Scriptural orthodoxy, there would be no need for reformation.

5. The English Reformation of the 16th and 17th centuries was premised on the claim that national churches, such as the Church of England, have an inherent right and obligation to reform themselves, regardless of their other ecclesiastical associations, past or present.

6. It follows, then, that the Church in the United States or the Church in Canada has the same right and obligation of reform, regardless of what any other national church or communion of national churches has to say. Furthermore, even if the various other Anglican national churches of the present day have forgotten the historical and theological basis of their self-government under Christ, as opposed to their obligatory submission to a centralized ecclesiastical polity, the American and Canadian churches can lose their innate authority to reform, and if necessary to reorganize themselves, only if they repudiate the Anglican Reformation itself.

7. If, therefore, we insist that the bishops and primates of other national churches take on the duty of reforming the American churches, we also ask them to deny basic Anglican principle. It is the duty of the faithful people in the United States and Canada to present themselves to Christ and to the world as faithful churches, and not the duty of the churches in other nations. We may certainly ask them for help, and we ought always to seek their fellowship in the true faith of Jesus Christ, but we cannot demand that they protect us absolutely from the sacrifices and labors of our own national duty to Christ.

8. Those who believe that their calling is to be Anglicans must persist in the Anglican Way, as epitomized by the historic formularies that are our basic statements of self-definition as servants of Jesus Christ in the Anglican Way.

9. Without rancor, if only because as Anglicans we do not believe that membership in a particular sect is necessary for salvation, we plead with those faithful people who cannot in conscience follow the Anglican Way to seek the peace of their consciences in some other household of Christ’s Church. Those whose consciences affirm the central government and authority of Rome should embrace Rome. Those who wish to live the life of the Orthodox should find a place in one of the Orthodox churches. Those who desire to live under a Presbyterian polity or according to the beliefs of modern Open Evangelicalism should join with their brethren in faith, rather than wearying their souls by fighting both the opponents of historic Anglicanism and historic Anglicanism itself at one and the same time.

10. The Anglican Way is a reformed catholic faith and discipline. Even allowing for different emphases, we must come to see that one cannot be an Anglican without embracing both the Reformation and the catholic faith of the undivided Church of Jesus Christ.

11. It is time to notice how much of current practice, even among those who would call themselves “low church” or “evangelical” is derived from Vatican II and its aftermath in the Roman Church. The various innovations that proceed from this source ought to be evaluated for their consistency with a reformed catholic faith and discipline.

12. It is also time to notice that the so-called “doctrine of reception,” which has been used thus far to justify the innovation of ordaining women, is inconsistent with Biblical Christianity because its essential premise is a trial usage of what is perceived by large numbers of the faithful as a departure from Scriptural authority, on the dubious basis that in the indefinite future agreement among members of the Church will be reached and that agreement will obligate God’s acceptance of the new practice.

13. It is useless to propose new, self-governing provinces of the Church in North America, if those provinces are expected to begin with an internally impaired communion among their own members.

14. When the American and Canadian households are in order, there will be plenty of time and opportunity to pursue fellowship and communion with either the Anglican Communion or its faithful remnant. Just as civil governments cannot recognize nations that have yet to come into existence, so, too, other national churches cannot recognize or enter into formal communion with the Americans or Canadians until they constitute existing and coherent national churches themselves.

The Rev’d Dr Louis R Tarsitano & the Rev’d Dr Peter Toon October 21, 2003


A new website A RESPONSE TO THE PRIMATES STATEMENT of October 16th
by Lou Tarsitano & Peter Toon is now open

please pay a visit

Here we post our writings on the Reforming of the American Anglican Household towards a new Province in America
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Primate Griswold to the World

(Here, Frank Griswold tells the world that the consecration at which he will preside will go ahead in 9 days. Let us all be clear that this event is but the PRESENTING problem in the ECUSA where the spirit of the age, personal rights and individual autonomy have come to determine the nature and content of morality, and where God is a fuzzy God of love who exercises justice only in order to achieve in humankind, individual rights and autonomy! Thus merely to oppose Robinson and his consecrators is to miss the mark - even though what they do is against the will of God for His Church. Reform is needed root and branch!)

ACNS 3646 | USA | 24 OCTOBER 2003

For the Primates of the Anglican Communion

by the Most Revd Frank T. Griswold

[ACNS source: Episcopal News Service]

My dear brothers in Christ,

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I returned home from our meeting at Lambeth grateful for the spirit of candor in which we shared our thoughts and feelings. I thank God for the opportunity to come together in Christ's name and for the strong bonds and mutual affection that exist between us. I pray that our common commitment to mission and God's ongoing work of reconciliation will continue to bind us together in Christ in the days and years ahead. I remind myself that the church is not our possession but the risen body of Christ of which each one of us is a limb and member in virtue of our baptism.

As I tried to make plain in the course of our meeting, we in the Episcopal Church have been dealing openly with the place of homosexual persons in the life of our church for at least thirty years. Though the question still remains unresolved, the presence among us of deeply faithful men and women whose lives reveal the fruit of the Spirit, and whose primary affections are ordered to persons of the same sex, has brought us to this difficult, and very public, moment. I recognize that while many in our church give thanks for where we have come, many others are deeply pained and distressed. I further recognize how our decisions have also affected you and I hope you know how profoundly I regret the pain our Province's action has caused many of you.

One of you once said in the context of our Bible study: "The Holy Spirit can be up to different things in different places." As hard as it might be for sisters and brothers in Christ in other contexts to understand and accept, please know that broadly across the Episcopal Church the New Hampshire election is thought to be the work of the Spirit. This does not mean everyone in our church is of that mind. There are also those who honor the decision of New Hampshire but are not sure it is of the Spirit. As well, I am keenly aware that there are faithful Episcopalians who are deeply unsettled and believe what we have done is contrary to God's will. However, for the greatest part, these persons are committed to remaining within the Episcopal Church and, in a spirit that is truly Anglican, believe that those with divergent points of view can live and pray together within the same household of faith.

As I promised you, upon my return to the United States I spoke with Canon Robinson and shared with him the deep concern that so many of you expressed and the gravity of what may lie ahead. In my conversation with him, and in public comments, he has expressed both his anguish and his continuing sense that he is called to go forward.

I must tell you that at this point there is every reason to believe the consecration will take place on November 2 as scheduled. I appreciate that when the consecration takes place, as we said in our statement: "We will have reached a crucial and critical point in the life of the Anglican Communion." As much as this is true, the prediction made in the statement that the Communion's future "will be put in jeopardy" will not, I pray, come to pass. I believe it is for us to live into this unknown future in faith knowing that, as we declared in our statement, "What we hold in common is much greater than that which divides us." It is my hope and my prayer that the Spirit of truth, who makes known to us the mind of Christ, will be our guide as each of us in our own context seeks to embody and proclaim the gospel of the One who is our Truth.

I much valued Archbishop Rowan's comments about the nature of communion. I agree that communion is not primarily about structures. Communion is a gift from God manifested in the various webs of relationship among and between us. Our communion strengthens us so that we can carry out God's mission on earth. Though we affirm our allegiance to the Scriptures and the Creeds, our unity in the body of Christ does not mean we have only one way of reading the Bible, nor do we need to be in agreement about all of the contemporary issues with which we are called to struggle. Concerns of sexuality present themselves differently in our various contexts. I believe that as we continue to struggle deeply and honestly with matters of sexuality we will have much to learn from one another and we will become more mutually responsible and interdependent in the Body of Christ. Being in communion, however, does not in any way mean that you as Primate or your Province necessarily agree with the actions taken by the Diocese of New Hampshire or the General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

Please be assured of my prayers for each one of you. Please pray for me as I try to oversee the life and witness of this Province and as I seek in these difficult days to advance God's ministry of reconciliation.

Yours ever in Christ's love,

The Most Revd Frank T. Griswold
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church, USA

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

Difficulties many and Problems galore - give up? No!

(October 24)

Dr Tarsitano & Dr Toon have proposed that the vocation of faithful Anglicans & Episcopalians in the USA (whether they are inside or outside of the ECUSA - and there are as many outside as inside)following the message of the Primates on October 16th is this. Together to rebuild the Anglican Household in order to become together by God's good ordering a new province in the Anglican Communion with the special help of the Primates in a year's time.

Many have sent messages of encouragement but others have rehearsed all the difficulties and problems that this Vocation contains. (In comparison, the AAC congress of October 7 from which a majority of faithful Anglicans were excluded, was relatively easy to pull off; but what it achieved was in many ways an avoidance of the Problem for it dealt only with one of the presenting problems of ECUSA by majoring on the homosexual issue.) We are aware of a multitude of things that make this Vocation difficult, even impossible. Never before have the representatives of ALL the "faithful Anglicans" of the USA even attempted to meet for prayer and dialogue with a view to serving the Lord together. The dynamics of the American supermarket of religions are such that centrifugal forces usually triumph over centripetal ones. But the Lord prays for the unity of his people.

We think that what people of good and ill will are missing in making negative comments on this Vocation is that in the sort of real world presented in the Scriptures, and seen in Christian history and experience, one does not know the outcome of an event or activity until God gives it conclusion. Recall David, who fasts before the death of his first child by Bathsheba, but once God renders his judgment in this world, David goes on to other business, admittedly in sorrow.

If God should tell Anglicans "no," in terms of their becoming one comprehensive province on a sure doctrinal basis, then we will live with that "no" and seek his further will. But until we have together asked him, and at least met together for prayer and dialogue, it is arrogance and presumption to answer for him, no matter how tender our feelings, hurts, aspirations, and experiences.

In order to facilitate the first meeting of ALL the representatives or delegates who believe that they are faithful Anglicans, the Lord must provide through his people the means to accomplish it. Neither Toon nor Tarsitano has money & have only very limited, voluntary secretarial help - we merely have prayers, thoughts, computers and e mail!

Let us pray for eyes to see the provision of the Lord for this Vocation.

Tarsitano & Toon

Dr Philip Turner -- wise words to ponder


(This is part of the paper circulated in the Jacksonville Diocese recently. I worked with Dr Turner on the Primates' project that produced "To Mend the Net". Here he speaks words that we can all can benefit from, I believe. The full paper is available from the diocese.)

Dr Philip Turner on the real background to the Gene Robinson election:

The Robinson election in fact serves to highlight the primary challenge all the churches in America face; be they Catholic, Orthodox, "mainstream" Protestant, Evangelical, or Charismatic. I speak of the subversion of Christian belief and practice by the logic of autonomous individualism, and their transformation into simulacra. For one should make no mistake! What has happened in ECUSA is not the particular problem of a once (overly) proud denomination. Rather, it provides an exemplary case of the sort of subversion and transformation that, in one way or another, threatens all American's denominations.

To display this point with some clarity, I will freely borrow from the account Alasdair MacIntyre has given of the tradition of liberalism in Whose Justice? Which Rationality? The present economic and political cultures of America plainly stem from this tradition, and it is this tradition that currently is bringing all its force to bear (in a hostile way) on more traditional forms of Christian belief and practice. MacIntyre notes that the tradition of liberalism cannot allow for a single notion of good to possess "the public square." Liberal society must remain neutral in respect to the good. What one can express in public are not notions of good but preferences. Of course, some way must be found to order preferences both in respect to individual life and to social policy. No rational way can be found to achieve this goal, however, because there is no common notion of good to which appeal can be made when it comes to sorting out conflicting claims. Thus, the way in which one establishes preference in the public arena, if it cannot be done by force, is by bargaining. Everything, both in respect to private and public life becomes a "trade off." Social life becomes a sort of free trade zone for preferences. All one needs to be able to play the game is the ability to bargain.

There are two things in particular to be noted about this form of social economy. The first is that theories of justice abound. They must for the following reason. To have one's preferences excluded is to have one's rights denied. Then the question arises of how one person's right to his or her preference is to be balanced against a contrary right claimed by someone else. At this point, some theory of justice must be invoked, but in a liberal social economy of preferences, no one theory can establish itself. Theories of justice simply multiply exponentially and interminably. Given this social reality, one can see easily why supporters of Gay rights hold ordination and the blessing of Gay unions to be matters of justice. One can see also why supporters of Gene Robinson hold that his election was above all "a justice issue."

The dominance in America of a liberal social economy also provides another reason for regarding the Robinson election and the permission given for Gay blessings to be more than an Episcopalian anomaly. Within a liberal social economy there comes to be a view of moral agency that gives special significance to sexual preference and sexual satisfaction. The denizens of a social order based upon competing preferences think of themselves not as inhabitants of a pre-established moral order but as individuals who are utterly unique, as selves that have particular personal histories and needs, and as persons who have rights that allow them to express their individuality and pursue their personal well-being within the social world they inhabit. For moral agents who think of themselves as individuals, selves, and persons, sexuality becomes, along with money, both a marker of identity and a primary way of expressing the preferences that define identity.

It is precisely this notion of moral agency and personal identity that makes the Robinson election so understandable. Here is a unique individual, who is a self with a particular history and a person with a right to express his preferences and put his talents to work in the social world he inhabits. To deny him that right on the basis of sexual preference is, at one and the same time, to deny his personal identity. This notion of moral agency also makes understandable why the issues of abortion and euthanasia take their place alongside self-chosen sexual expression as centers of moral controversy both within the churches and without. At the basis of each of these arguments lies the characterization of moral agents as individuals, selves, and persons who have the right to pursue the preferences that provide them with personal identity. In the culture wars that rage over abortion, euthanasia, and sexuality defenders of more traditional Christian teaching and practice often miss the fact that they must confront American culture on a deeper level than any of these specific issues. If they are to be effective, they must take on the very way in which Americans think of themselves as moral agents. The "socio-logic" that stands behind ECUSA's recent action beckons thinking to an even deeper level than the sad history of this Church's search for a distinctive place on the spectrum of America's denominations. It calls Christian thought to confront a perception of moral and social life that runs counter to the very foundations of Christian thought and practice. It raises the question of whether we inhabit a moral universe with an order we are called upon to understand and to which we are required to conform, or whether the moral universe we inhabit is properly the creation of preference pursuing individuals, selves, and persons who create a social world suited to their self-defined goals through an elaborate process of moral bargaining.

The Robinson election in fact manifests the social forces that at present erode the ability of America's denominations to act like churches: that is to say, to form people in a pattern of belief and a way of life which may run against preference but nonetheless accords with what Christians have, through the ages, held to be the truth about God and his intentions for human life.

It is important to recognize these social forces, but it is important as well not to conclude that the recent actions of ECUSA can be adequately explained by the play of these forces alone. Christians through the ages have faced social forces that threaten to compromise the truth they have been given to live and proclaim, but they have not always succumbed to them. To think well about what is happening in ECUSA one must ask why the sirens of modernity have sung so sweetly in ECUSA's ears.

My belief is that a religious rather than historical or sociological answer must, in the end, be given to this question. The English theologian P. T. Forsythe once wrote, "If within us we have nothing above us we soon succumb to what is around us." The history recounted above suggests that the internal life of ECUSA may well lack a transcendent point of reference-one that can serve as a counter balance to the social forces that play upon it. A certain vacuity at the center is suggested also by an analysis of the theology that currently dominates ECUSA's pulpits. The standard sermon in outline runs something like this: "God is love, God's love is inclusive, God acts in justice to see that everyone is included, we therefore ought to be co-actors and co-creators with God to make the world over in the way he wishes."

Here is the theological projection of a society built upon preference-one in which the inclusion of preference within common life is the be all and end all of the social system. ECUSA's God has become the image of this society. Gone is the notion of divine judgment (save upon those who may wish to exclude someone), gone is the notion of radical conversion, gone is the notion of a way of life that requires dying to self and rising to newness of life in conformity with God's will. In place of the complex God revealed in Christ Jesus, a God of both judgment and mercy, a God whose law is meant to govern human life, we now have a God who is love and inclusion without remainder. The projected God of the liberal tradition is, in the end, no more than an affirmer of preferences. This view of God is, furthermore, acted upon by an increasing number of ECUSA's clergy who now regularly invite non-baptized people to share in the Holy Eucharist. It's just a matter of hospitality-of welcoming difference. An inclusive God, it would seem, requires an inclusive sacramental system.

[Note: if Turner is right - and I think he is so - then we are all at fault and not least those who think that the only real thing wrong with the ECUSA is its adoption of the gay agenda. Its various innovations of the last fifty years all together are examples of the spirit that Turner so well explains. Reform and renewal are needed root and branch in American Anglicanism, and one branch is the gay issue - but there are a lot of others as well!]
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon)

Bringing into order & unity the American Anglican Household - a first step

If the American Anglican Household is to be brought together in an ordered unity for the sake of its Lord and Master, and for the edification of all involved, a meeting of the representatives of the bodies who claim to be orthodox Anglicans must occur soon.

To make it possible that this meeting actually occurs, there is needed a respected convener, one who would be perceived - at least by the majority -- as having prestige, impartiality, and a lack of ambition.

He will need to be acceptable to the majority of the folks from the ECUSA, the AAC, the REC, the major Continuing Churches, the AMiA, the Fin FNA, and so on.

His task will be to assist these representative persons (at least two from each group) to find common ground in their Christian & Anglican commitment and discover whether they have sufficient in common to move to the next stage. This would probably be that of a longer meeting with prayer and fasting to plan the first stages of bringing the Anglican Household in America from its present disorder and division into the beginnings of order and unified witness -- and thus into that which will eventually, by God's providence and the help of Primates, lead to an orthodox Province/National Church, and full membership of the Anglican Communion.

Where shall we find such a Convener?

1. Retired Anglican bishops (a missionary bishop would perhaps be especially desirable).

2. A respected scholar, professor, or physician.

3. A layman who has been a senior civil official, such as a governor, a mayor, or a cabinet officer.

4. A war hero of some sort.

The hard part is figuring out who we know in any of these categories and whether we could recruit him.

If the omniscient and omnipotent Lord is guiding these attempts towards unity of a part of his universal Household, then he has a man ready and being prepared for the vocation of convener.

When the Lord reveals his identity, then we can move ahead!

Please pray with us and in your charity for us,

Louis R Tarsitano & Peter Toon

P.S. We hope to announce on the 27th October the address of a website where all the papers and proposals written by us for the reforming and renewing of the whole Anglican Household in America can be read and downloaded.

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

ECUSA - Bridge-Church & Liberal, Liturgical Denomination

Philip Turner, the former Dean of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, has recently written:

"From the point at which this history has placed me, it seems most clarifying to say that, by its action [in confirming the election of Gene Robinson as Bishop-elect of New Hampshire], ECUSA has confirmed a decision taken unconsciously some time ago to find its primary identity as a liberal but liturgical option within the spectrum of Protestant denominations that make up America's religious kaleidoscope. In making this decision, ECUSA has at one and the same time (perhaps again unconsciously) made marginal for its self-understanding the significance of its membership in a worldwide communion of churches that jointly claim to be a part of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. In fact, it has placed its membership in the Anglican Communion under threat, and, rather recklessly, brought that communion itself to the verge of a split between the churches of the global South and those of the North."

Dr Turner is surely right to identify the recent, innovatory decisions of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church as having their roots in earlier decisions, by which the nature and character of this American denomination were determined.

What is now called the Episcopal Church is called in its constitution "The Protestant Episcopal Church", a title which was intended in the 18th century to distinguish it from the Roman Episcopal system but to tie it to the Reformed Catholicism of the English Protestant Reformation. In the 20th century the word "Protestant" was dropped in order to satisfy (a) anglo-catholic or high churchmen who wanted this denomination to be seen as distinct from popular American Protestantism and also (b) ecumenical churchmen, who saw the Episcopal Church as a bridge-church between Rome and Geneva/Wittenberg.

In the 1960s and 1970s when the liberal theology, especially from German, had permeated much Episcopal teaching & preaching, the leadership of the Episcopal Church proudly presented it as a denomination that was unique in the American religious supermarket -- it was liberal in doctrine and social theory, but had catholic ceremonial and liturgical forms, claimed an apostolic ministry, and was also a kind of bridge-church between the old and the new, the Catholic and the Protestant. (Not a few at that time and a little later went on "the Canterbury trail" as it was called.)

It is in this general context that one has to place the new prayer book produced by the Episcopal Church in the 1970s and called "The Book of Common Prayer, 1979", although strictly speaking it is not Common Prayer at all. It is a mixture of the old and the new in language, doctrine and liturgical structure & content and it has options so that the uniformity of the past gives way to the pluriformity and variety of the present. It presents the prayer of the denomination that has emerged in new dress in the post-World War II era and is now intent on providing a liberal yet liturgical religious option to America. And this 1979 book and the supplements that followed it, reveal that this denomination is open wide to the winds of modernity that blew through America so strongly in the 1960s and into the 1970s.

What the new prayer book reveals as to the emerging nature and character of this liberal, liturgical and well-heeled Church is confirmed by the rush by this denomination into the ordaining of women, the use of inclusive language for human beings and then for God, the giving permission for the re-marriage in church of divorcees and the gradual granting of full church rights to "gay" people. In this rush into the absorbing of innovations, there is revealed a deeper commitment - to a view of human beings that sees them as having basic rights before the God of love and justice to self-fulfillment, included in which is the central right of self-autonomy. Thus Gene Robinson has in 2003 the right to be what he is, to do what he feels is right for him, and to be promoted to any church position open to him. To deny him this right is to deny what God stands for! And likewise the evangelical Episcopalian who is divorced has the right to remarriage in church as part of his self-realization and fulfillment.

If there is to be ever any genuine reform of the Episcopal Church, or even of parts of it, then there must surely be first of all a search for the root causes of its recent commitment to innovation upon innovation and its departure therein from the classic, historic, biblical and orthodox Anglican Way. Prioritizing the homosexual issue may be good for instant publicity, but it does not truly help the cause of genuine reform, for this involves much more than merely removing the innovation of blessing "gay" unions. The Episcopal Church has strayed far from the narrow way that leads to Life and this means that all within this denomination partake to some degree in this straying. To return home, to reform the household, to reclaim the heritage, to recover the Anglican Way of Christianity, is a task for people of commitment, consecration and humility. It ought to begin right now!

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

Where all reformed Episcopalians can all agree

My dear Fr Kim,

Greetings. May I take forward the discussion about what to do in the USA after the Primates' Meeting, whose Statement has disappointed many but pleased others? I ask that this be read alongside the longer Paper written by Dr Tarsitano and Dr Toon and recently distributed by you, a paper which set out various propositions for consideration about how to move forward.

The Supermarket of Religions which is the American religious scene is an amazing testimony to the freedom of religion in the USA as well as to the exercise of private judgment in the reading of the Bible. In the Anglican section of this Supermarket there are many varieties, some of which are not really far from each other -- I mean the churches of the American Anglican Council, those of the Forward in Faith, those of the AMiA, those of the major Continuing Anglican jurisdictions, and also of the Reformed Episcopal Church are near enough to each other so as to begin to find common ground upon which they can be united and possibly form a new Province of the Anglican Communion for the USA. They are so different to the religion of the so-called "National Church."

To find common ground means not going forwards at first but rather looking back and finding our common roots and foundations. There is little doubt what these are -- they are the very foundations of the Reformed Catholic Faith which is the Anglican Way. They are the Canon of Scripture, with its Two Testaments, the Two [or Three] Creeds, the dogma of at least the first Four Councils and the classic, historic Formularies from the 16th century (the Book of Common Prayer, the Ordinal for the ordaining and consecrating of Ministers, and the Articles of Religion). In other words, let us return to the foundation of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the USA before it was overwhelmed with modernism from the 1960s onwards.

If representatives of the bodies I have mentioned (and others I have not
mentioned) could send representatives to a series of preliminary meetings to discuss this vital possibility & vocation, then it is possible that they will all find (in contrast to what divides them) that there is much that unites them as Christians and as Anglicans. They will see the possibility of creating together an American renewed household of Anglicanism and the producing (for the Primates to encourage and support) a new united and comprehensive Province of the Anglican Way in the USA, which proclaims the Gospel and edifies its members.

There is a Year to make a substantial start and progress in this vocation as the Primates work out how they can act within an autonomous province.

The problem with earlier calls for congresses and the like by the AAC etc. is that they appealed to a far too narrow base and to a foundation of sand. Centripetal forces of grace are now needed to unite those who really belong together. The present Centrifugal forces, of which American society has many varied and powerful examples, do not bring glory to God or unity to the people of the Anglican Way but simply make us all glory in minors and in our separation.

Let brethren of the same Family dwell together in peace in their own land and be also in fellowship with their brethren in others lands in that expression of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church we call "Anglican" (after Ecclesia Anglicana).

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

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

The Lady Bishop & the Gay Issue


If it were required by divine appointment to have a female bishop my choice would be Victoria Matthews of Edmonton, Alberta. Here is her Letter on the "Gay" issue. -- P.T.

October 14, 2003


My dear Friends,

The present controversy about the blessing of same-sex unions and the dispute over episcopal jurisdiction in the Anglican Church of Canada and the wider Communion are most disturbing. The events of the past few weeks have led me to have this pastoral letter read in all parishes of the Diocese.

As many of you are aware I have repeatedly said that the teaching and position of the Anglican Church of Canada is clear. We do not accept the blessing of same-sex unions and the General Synod canon on marriage does not permit same-sex marriage. However the actions of the Synod of New Westminster and its bishop, the Right Reverend Michael Ingham, and the support of this unilateral action by his Metropolitan, Archbishop David Crawley, in spite of the requests of the House of Bishops to not proceed, have led me to make a further statement. In a recent letter signed by our Primate and the Metropolitans of the four Canadian ecclesiastical provinces, this most painful matter of New Westminster proceeding to permit the blessing of same-gender unions is judged to not be a church dividing issue. Many disagree. I can only say that the action of Bishop Ingham and the Diocese of New Westminster, in proceeding with the blessing of same-gender unions, is church defining. The letter from the Metropolitans states that the real crisis is one of jurisdiction and not of sexual ethics. I beg to differ. While no one can tell where the conversation at General Synod will lead, when we yet again engage the topic of same-gender unions, I do not believe there will be unanimous affirmation of New Westminster's actions. Furthermore, I believe the pertinent debate is doctrinal as well as pastoral. The question concerns what the Anglican Church is prepared to call "holy", and how we reach that discernment. Both the content of the question (which involves Biblical teaching, the tradition of the Church and the exercise of human reason), and the process by which we engage the question are important and demand patience and care. When a Canadian diocese refuses to wait upon the direction of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, it is not surprising that some members of our Communion take strong exception. While I can not approve of any bishop acting beyond his or her jurisdiction, I do recognize there is deep frustration at play. The stated intention of Archbishop Crawley to discipline Bishop Terrence Buckle of the Diocese of Yukon is not out of order but it highlights our church's inability to resolve difficulties and disagreements in a healing manner. Dare I say that repentance is in order on all sides?

In the months remaining before General Synod, 2004, I ask this Diocese to be clear about two aspects of the present dilemma. First, I uphold, and expect the Diocese to uphold, the present teaching of our church about same-gender relationships. This means no clergy of this Diocese may bless such a union or marriage. Secondly, I am asking the membership of the Diocese to engage in repentance and prayer. I call for repentance because I believe emotions are running so high that we have lost the ability to listen to one another, and quite possibly also to the Holy Spirit. Repentance means recognizing that in every position in the debate there is a desire to win so others may lose. Indeed, I am convinced we have worked ourselves into a situation where there are only losers, with enormous pain on all sides. This does not give glory to God nor does it further the work of the Kingdom. Thus I ask for our church the grace of repentance and a renewed commitment to prayer. Let us pray that our church may discern the mind of Christ; that we might have the grace to see the way forward; and that we might have the will to obey what we are called by Christ to do. I ask your prayers that future conversations about these difficult matters might have great integrity, avoiding the enormous anger and disappointment presently being expressed by all. Hearing the call of the Gospel, let us conduct ourselves in a way worthy of the communion that is ours in Christ.


The Rt. Rev. Victoria Matthews

Bishop of Edmonton

cc: The Metropolitans

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

Monday, October 20, 2003

Not receiving Discipline, nothing new for the ECUSA

Modern ECUSA evangelicals and charismatics - not to mention some anglo-catholics - have been and perhaps remain hopeful that the majority of the Primates of the Anglican Communion will "discipline" the Province known as ECUSA and declare that it has placed itself outside of the Anglican Communion. And the reason for the petition for immediate discipline is, as we all know, because of majority votes in the General Convention of 2003 for innovation in terms of blessing "gay" couples and ordaining a "gay" priest as a bishop. In fact, many of this persuasion ( that is, those who have prioritized the homosexual issue) seem to want their own ranks to be declared to be the orthodox remnant in the ECUSA with whom alone the [majority of the] churches of the Anglican Communion should be in full communion.

But the Anglican Family as a Communion of churches has (at least as of now) no central authority or means to declare such a thing. However, it is true that individual provinces or churches, which are autonomous, have that power of declaring the anathema against the ECUSA; but, if they do so, they only speak and act for themselves, not on behalf of the whole or even part of the whole.

This kind of situation is not new! Let us recall the 1970s when the ECUSA deserved the anathema and did not receive it!

In 1976/79 the ECUSA did something which was far more serious and deadly than its actions for innovation in 2003. In fact the innovations of 2003 can be traced back to the door that was opened wide in 1976 & 1979.

At those Conventions in the late 1970s the ECUSA knowingly, deliberately and carefully set aside the very basis of its claim to be genuinely Anglican and a sharer in the Tradition of the authentic Anglican Way. It set aside the classic Book of Common Prayer (1662-1928) and the Ordinal (1662-1928) and the Articles of Religion and replaced the first two with modern creations designed in the1960s and early 1970s. And the Articles became a historic document.

What was called "The Book of Common Prayer, 1979" was not such, but was rather a "Book of Alternative Services" like those so-called in Canada and England. Inside this Book were multiple services and also new rites for ordination and they made possible the ordination of women. (Contrast England & Canada where the new book existed alongside the classic BCP - and still does so.)

The Anglican Communion had NO power to intervene in 1979 in an autonomous and wealthy province as was the ECUSA, and so it quietly allowed this major innovation in the foundations of the American Church to be made without more than a murmur.

The same Communion did the same with respect to the changing of the doctrine of marriage in the 1970s by the ECUSA. Again this was a foundational change!

Is there a way out of all this?

I suggest that the way forward for the "remnant" is to prioritize the fundamentals and the basics - the relation to the Holy Trinity through the Scriptures with the classic Anglican Formularies as the necessary foundation of the Anglican Way as Reformed Catholicism; and to see the homosexual issue as the means that God is using to bring his Episcopal children (i.e., genuine Episcopalians) back to himself and back together in true koinonia. This way forward will of course mean repenting for the commitment to the 1979 formularies for all these past years.

If the faithful remnant of the ECUSA could join with the faithful in the Continuing Anglican Churches, the Reformed Episcopal Church & the AMiA etc to recover together the best Biblical & Patristic and Reformed Tradition of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the USA in a genuinely comprehensive Church based on the Scriptures and the Formularies, then the Episcopal Household could be recovered and rebuilt in the USA, and this the Primates could genuinely support! A genuine province could be created by the grace and providence of the Holy Trinity that would be "worthy" for full inclusion within the Communion of churches.
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Primates' Meeting - Lambeth Palace, an evaluation

Before this Meeting occurred on October 15-16, it may be recalled that I was constantly warning evangelicals and charismatics from both the USA and the UK not to expect too much. I did so on the basis of my knowledge of Anglican Polity, not on any prophetic knowledge.

When I was given the Statement at the Press Conference at Church House on Thursday Evening I was pleased with what I read. Here is why.

The Meeting does not constitute an Ecclesiastical Court, or Synod of Bishops, or a House of Bishops. It is a meeting of senior bishops from 38 autonomous churches and the presence of each one there (except the host) is on a voluntary basis. Further, when an individual Primate arrives he does not usually come with the authority of his province to agree to whatever is decided; but, when present, he expresses his opinion and then takes back to his province that which the Meeting has agreed. It is usually for the Synod of his Province to declare any official response to outstanding issues.

Thus the Meeting only has a Moral Authority, but such is very important authority for truly Christian people. If this Meeting clearly states that something is very wrong, and that something else is truly wholesome and good, then that is a sure word to genuine Anglicans, who must respect the mind of such an august gathering of leaders and be ready to examine their own positions in the light of it.

We need to bear in mind that at least half of the Primates came to the Meeting having declared themselves already in impaired communion with the Diocese of New Hampshire and other dioceses (perhaps in some cases with the whole of the ECUSA). As individual Primates & Provinces they can do this, but the whole Meeting as such cannot do any such thing for it is not an Ecclesial entity as such (that is, it is unlike the House of Bishops of a Province).

So what did they achieve?

1. They expressed in very strong words their total disagreement with the sexual innovations and aberrations of the American and Canadian Churches. This has gone forth loudly and clearly to the whole world. It is a powerful moral word.

2. They recognized that there was not any suitable way for there to be intervention on behalf of the Gospel and good order by the whole or the majority within the erring provinces of the USA & Canada; and so they insisted on setting up a Commission to look into this whole area, and to report back within 12 months, so that an Anglican Way of helping erring provinces can be formulated & agreed upon and put into practice. (This, I accept, ought to have been done already and it is Dr Carey's fault that such an agreed procedure was not in place for this Meeting to be there for use.)

3. They recognized that the ongoing work of writing into the Constitutions of each Province a relation to Canterbury and to other Anglican Provinces needed to be speeded up, for, with such in place in Canon Law it would make easier, and more obviously right, any actual intervention to dispel error and heresy and to propagate the Gospel.

4.They agreed not to act precipitately but rather to work together in the difficult process of helping erring provinces. But this is based upon the one year of careful investigation and study and preparation of a plan/procedure.

Commenting on these gains, I would say that Dr Rowan Williams, into whose eyes I looked intently (I was only 8 feet away) for the duration of the Press Conference, gave me the strong impression that he will do all in his power to make these commitments work. I believe him.

BEARING all this in mind, I see the duty of the American household of the Anglican Way as being that of beginning now the painful task of putting its own house in order so that, in a year's time, when it is possible for there to be intervention, which is according to general agreement of the Primates, the internal USA situation will be such that there will be the possibility of fruitful encounters and also the emergence of a reformed national Anglican Province/Church in the USA.

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

Saturday, October 18, 2003

ECUSA -- four basic Schools of Thought

In explaining to those outside the Episcopal Church of the USA what are the different parties or schools of thought within It, I state that there are four. However, not a few dioceses, parishes and persons have each leg (or part therof) in a different camp. So this a general not a precise map!

The FOUR are (a) the radical liberal; (b) the affirming catholic; (c) the affirming evangelical or charismatic; and (d) the traditionalist who may be high or low church. [Presiding Bishop Griswold could be said to have a leg in both (a) and (b).]

What unites all schools of thought and expression are (a) a common history;
(b) a common pension fund for clergy; (c) one General Convention; (d) a desire to be part of the world family, the Anglican Communion; (e) a desire to see the Episcopal Church grow in size and quality; (f) a use of the Bible as the basis for doctrinal and ethical guidance; (g) a respect for tradition; and (h) the positive use of religious "experience" or "experience of God".

However, the way in which each school interprets the common history, the Bible, tradition and religious experience is different from the others and the differences are sometimes great.

Schools (a) & (b) & (c) agree amongst themselves that (1) the ordination of women is acceptable, that (2) the Prayer Book of 1979 is a genuine "Book of Common Prayer" in the Anglican tradition of Common Prayer, that (3) divorce followed by marriage is acceptable in most circumstances for clergy and church members, and that (4) there is no need whatsoever to recover the classic Anglican Formularies [the 1662-1928 BCP, the Ordinal & the Articles of Religion] which were discarded by the Episcopal Church in the 1970s.

Further, schools (a) & (b) and (c) are not in agreement amongst themselves over such matters as whether stable, same-sex relations between consenting adults are approved by God and can be therefore blessed by his Ministers. School (a) and perhaps (b) are generally in favor, while School (c) seems to be universally against any acceptance of homosexual practices. On this matter the evangelical/charismatic School reads and interprets the Bible as the Church has done throughout history, while in the areas where it agrees with Schools (a) and (b) on divorce & women's ordination it arrives at its position by using the Bible in a thoroughly modern way.

School (d), which is not defined by churchmanship, should not really still be within the Episcopal Church if the will of General Convention determined the providence of God! This minority School, which hangs on by the skin of its teeth, sees itself as expressing the Reformed Catholic approach of the mature English Reformation. Thus it holds to the final authority of the Scriptures, interpreted in the light of the Creeds and the classic Anglican Formularies. It does not believe that the innovation of women priests is right and neither does it think that the 1979 Prayer Book is actually "The Book of Common Prayer" (rather it is a "Book of Alternative Services"). So it uses either the BCP of 1662 or that later edition of 1928. Further, it accepts that the classic, traditional, Anglican approach to marriage does not allow for remarriage in church except in rare instances and it certainly does not allow for divorced persons to function as parish priests. As the evangelical/charismatic School, it is opposed to all forms of active homosexuality amongst Christians because of the teaching of Scripture and holy tradition.

One major question for the future (bearing in mind the recent Meetings in Dallas - October 7-9 - and in London - October 15-16) is whether or not those (schools c & d) who are opposed to the homosexual agenda of school (a) and of many in (b) have sufficient in common to cooperate seriously and devoutly and create the basis for a new Anglican Province for America, which can then petition the Archbishop of Canterbury for admittance to the Anglican Communion of Churches.

(Note that the schools of thought in the Protestant Episcopal Church, as in the C of E, of the period up to the 1960s were all basically united in a common center and differed on secondary matters such as ceremonial and historical interpretation. Put simply the schools were -- the anglo-catholic, the broad church and the conservative evangelical. All schools accepted the Scriptures, Creeds and Formularies as the basis of the Anglican Way. BUT, since the 1970s the common center has become smaller and smaller until now in 2003 it hardly exists in a meaningful way. Thus the four schools in 2003 are held together by what they have in common in the institutional ECUSA.)

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