Tuesday, November 25, 2003

How EXPERIENCE has changed doing theology in the ECUSA in 50 years.

A discussion starter

In 1950 most theologians and bishops of the Episcopal Church were content to state that the Anglican Way was based on Scripture, tradition and reason. (This formula is usually traced to Richard Hooker although he never actually stated it as such.) They claimed that this formula rightly summarized the theological method of the standard divines of the Anglican Way who treated the Bible as the Word of God, to be read and interpreted by godly reason informed by the best insights of the Church over the centuries and in the light of her Creeds and Formularies.

Then after the 1960s the formula became - Scripture, tradition, reason & experience.

After the social and cultural revolution of the 1960s, it was apparently difficult for broad-minded people to deny, for example, that the EXPERIENCE of struggle for liberation and human dignity/ equality by ethnic groups and by women was a source of human knowledge and even of divine revelation. Thus the ECUSA began to innovate in doctrine and discipline - and later in liturgy - to incorporate the insights and lessons from experience! Thus, the ordination of women, the equating of the kingdom of God with the search for justice and peace, the relaxing of marriage discipline and then the inclusive language for church services and bible readings. (The beginnings of all this are clearly to be seen in the 1979 prayer book of the ECUSA.)

Now, in 2003, within the more radical parts of the ECUSA, the formula has been turned inside out and is: Experience, scripture, tradition and reason.

What is selectively taken from the social, cultural scene and from the human sciences dominates the mindset of the new Episcopal religion. The Scripture is read in such a way as to conform to - not challenge - the latest revelation from EXPERIENCE, and reason is used to make sure that Scripture and tradition do not provide any substantial arguments against what is taken as prophetic and innovatory word of God from EXPERIENCE. The Gay Agenda in the churches is the most obvious but not the only example of the working out of the new formula, for serial monogamy with church blessing is close by it. In fact when Experience takes over as THE source of authority and doctrine then of course it is no longer The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who is worshipped but rather some idol of human creation.

The classic 1,2,3,4 & 5 of the Anglican Way were and remain : ONE Canon of Scripture; TWO Testaments within it; THREE Creeds to summarize its essential content; FOUR Ecumenical Councils to provide the essential dogma concerning the Holy Trinity and the Identity of Jesus Christ based on Scripture; and FIVE centuries of church life, liturgy, polity, canon law and Bible interpretation to learn from.

Here there is experience but it is experience within the doctrinal, ethical and liturgical framework and it is experience of God, grace, salvation and so on.

The new 1,2,3,4 & 5 is wholly innovatory and is probably:
  1. Contemporary experience as reported by the human & behavioral sciences;
  2. personal experience of self-worth, self-realization and self-expression;

  3. corporate experience in social and political activism;

  4. congregational & synodical experience in religious worship and fellowship;

  5. and individual meditation, prayer, reading of holy books and seeking after "God".

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

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Why BBC Was Wrong About AIDS Prevention

SPUC Director Says Science Backs Up Church's Emphasis on Chastity

LONDON, NOV. 21, 2003 (Zenit.org).- A recent television program on AIDS prevention failed to note that scientific evidence indicates the Catholic Church is right when it advocates abstinence and marital fidelity, says a pro-life observer.

John Smeaton, national director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said as much in an open letter to the director general of BBC in response to the network's program "Sex and the Holy City."

The program, which was screened to coincide with the recent 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II, claimed to investigate the Church's teachings on sexuality.

Smeaton shared with ZENIT the scientific and empirical evidence that contradicts the BBC's statements, which he thinks implied that the Pope's personal views on contraception and abortion are causing misery and death in the developing world.

Q: What inspired you to write this open letter to the BBC?

Smeaton: The BBC continues to command a great deal of influence and respect around the world, but it remains accountable to virtually no one. When it makes unsubstantiated and misleading allegations of this nature, the results are very damaging for all those who work to protect human life.

SPUC is not a religious organization, but the Panorama program attacked the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion and human sexuality that we share. We felt duty-bound as a Society to expose its one-sided and inaccurate coverage of this subject.

Q: What were your main points of contention with the BBC program?

Smeaton: From beginning to end, the program presupposed that the Church's prohibition of abortion and birth control was the major cause of poverty and suffering in the developing world. This view was never once challenged in the course of the program.

In the part of the program that dealt with Nicaragua, cheap pro-abortion tactics were used unashamedly, such as the use of unreferenced figures for maternal death through illegal abortion and the portrayal of pregnant child rape-victims as the norm.

In the section on Manila, outdated Malthusian arguments were used to present contraception as the magical answer to poverty and homelessness. In the part about Kenya, the program went so far as to suggest that the Church was condemning people to death from AIDS by "peddling rumor and superstition."

We are not saying that the issues do not warrant scrutiny. Our major complaint is that the BBC made no attempt at presenting a balanced, honest and accurate report.

Q: What are the problems with using condoms as the primary solution to stopping AIDS?

Smeaton: The major problem is that they are not safe. This is not even a contentious point. The condom manufacturers themselves point this out. The issue of viral leakage is certainly open to dispute but, even simply taking into account the danger of a condom's rupturing or slipping off, the risk of HIV transmission is very real.

Condom use may reduce the risk of transmission, but to spread the message that condom use prevents AIDS is a dangerous lie. It is no good saying that the risk is "only 15%," or "only 1 in 10" when we are talking about human lives.

We have to ask ourselves whether the decision-makers and birth control advocates would be quite so cavalier if we were talking about a terminal condition that was transmitted non-sexually. For example, would health care professionals advise a chain smoker at serious risk of lung cancer to smoke cigarettes with better filters rather than giving up smoking altogether?

Worse, would they advise him to give his wife and children masks to reduce the amount of smoke they breathed in so that he could smoke freely around the house rather than telling him to act responsibly and not expose them to any risk at all?

The second major problem is that condoms encourage irresponsible behavior because people believe themselves to be better protected than they actually are. A paper entitled "Condoms and Seat Belts: The Parallels and the Lessons," which was published in a UK medical journal called The Lancet, noted that "a vigorous condom promotion policy could increase rather than decrease unprotected sexual exposure if it has the unintended effect of encouraging a greater overall level of sexual activity."

The figures bear this out. Botswana has the highest distribution of condoms, but 39% of the population is infected with AIDS. However, when the archbishop of Nairobi made the same point in a reputable medical journal, he was accused of talking "scientific nonsense."

Q: Are there independent scientific studies that back up objections to condoms?

Smeaton: Yes there are. First, to reaffirm my previous point, there is not a single scientific study I have come across that promotes condoms as 100% effective.

All reputable studies admit a failure rate caused by a variety of factors. Besides the ones already mentioned, latex is a natural substance that can degrade if stored in unsuitable conditions, if exposed to extremes of temperature or if stored for an extended length of time.

Condoms are also used incorrectly in many cases. Studies often refer to "ideal" or "consistent and proper" use compared with "typical" use, where the failure rate and associated risks are higher.

To give a couple of examples, the U.S. National Institute of Health study on condoms that was cited in the Panorama program gives a failure rate of between 1.6% and 3.6%. It also quotes an estimate from National Surveys of Family Growth that suggested that 14% of couples experienced an unintended pregnancy during the first year of "typical" condom use.

With any failure rate connected with pregnancy, one has to bear in mind that a woman can only become pregnant for between five and seven days of her cycle whereas a person can be infected with HIV at any time. Also, while a conception involves the creation of a new life regardless of how the couple considers the child, HIV infection can only ever be a tragedy.

Q: Could you explain why programs based on promoting abstinence and marital fidelity may be preferable to massive distributions of condoms?

Smeaton: Programs based on abstinence and marital fidelity are always preferable to condom distribution in the fight against AIDS -- and it is not just the Church that tells us this. The World Health Organization and the condom companies say so, too.

Now, condom companies are not exactly supporters of the "theology of the body," nor are they guardians of Christian marriage. However, even the makers of Durex condoms say quite clearly that "for complete protection from HIV and other [sexually transmitted infections], the only totally effective measure is sexual abstinence or limiting sexual intercourse to mutually faithful, uninfected partners."

The logic of abstinence and marital fidelity programs is beautifully simple and straightforward. If a person sleeps around and uses a condom, they run the risk, however reduced, of contracting HIV; yet no one has ever died as a direct result of virginity.

It is the same if a man and a woman are faithful to one another in marriage, having abstained beforehand. The Church's teaching on human sexuality is not the idealistic dream that the Panorama program claimed. It is the common-sense system by which billions of people have lived over generations.

Q: What is the success rate of AIDS prevention or reduction in areas that have abstinence and marital fidelity programs compared with areas where condoms are distributed?

Smeaton: Uganda is perhaps the biggest success story in the fight against AIDS and much of its achievement is because of changes in sexual behavior, particularly emphasis on abstinence and fidelity.

Condoms have been promoted as a last resort, but a report by USAID on Uganda found that condoms were not a major factor in the decrease in HIV transmission. In fact, the decline in transmission rates began before the widespread promotion of condoms.

Critics of abstinence claim that people are not strong enough to resist, but this is unsubstantiated propaganda. In one district of Uganda, it was noted that fewer than 5% of 13- to 16-year-olds were sexually active in 2001 compared with 60% in 1994, a significant change in sexual behavior achieved in just seven years.

Unlike some of its neighboring countries, Uganda has had a decline in HIV transmission for well over a decade and 98% of people with no education are aware of AIDS -- one of the highest awareness rates in the world.

Q: What are the best ways of changing public attitudes and the conventional wisdom about using condoms to fight AIDS?

Smeaton: We need to circulate honest, accurate information. The facts speak for themselves. Governments and aid agencies need to put aside their anti-family agendas and put their energies into programs that actually make a difference.

The public needs to be made aware that abstinence and monogamy are positive and beneficial choices for individuals and for society. No one should be condemned to die because of Western resistance to responsible sexual behavior based on a model of marital fidelity.

Distinguishing Truth from Heresy - Vincent of Lerins

Here is the famous "Vincentian Canon" much prized by genuine Anglicans over the centuries! Worth re-visiting!

Vincent of Lerins, "A Commonitory", Chapters 2-3, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 11, "A Select Library of the Christian Church", edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. Hendrickson, 1994. pages 132-133.

Chapter II.
A General Rule for distinguishing the Truth of the Catholic Faith from the Falsehood of Heretical Pravity.

[4.] I have often then inquired earnestly and attentively of very many men eminent for sanctity and learning, how and by what sure and so to speak universal rule I may be able to distinguish the truth of Catholic faith from the falsehood of heretical pravity; and I have always, and in almost every instance, received an answer to this effect: That whether I or any one else should wish to detect the frauds and avoid the snares of heretics as they rise, and to continue sound and complete in the Catholic faith, we must, the Lord helping, fortify our own belief in two ways; first, by the authority of the Divine Law, and then, by the Tradition of the Catholic Church.

[5.] But here some one perhaps will ask, Since the canon of Scripture is complete, and sufficient of itself for everything, and more than sufficient, what need is there to join with it the authority of the Church's interpretation? For this reason, - because, owing to the depth of Holy Scripture, all do not accept it in one and the same sense, but one understands its words in one way, another in another; so that it seems to be capable of as many interpretations as there are interpreters. For Novatian expounds it one way, Sabellius another, Donatus another, Arius, Eunomius, Macedonius, another, Photinus, Apollinaris, Priscillian, another, Iovinian, Pelagius, Celestius, another, lastly, Nestorius another. Therefore, it is very necessary, on account of so great intricacies of such various error, that the rule for the right understanding of the prophets and apostles should be framed in accordance with the standard of Ecclesiastical and Catholic interpretation.

[6.] Moreover, in the Catholic Church itself, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. For that is truly and in the strictest sense "Catholic," which, as the name itself and the reason of the thing declare, comprehends all universally. This rule we shall observe if we follow universality, antiquity, consent. We shall follow universality if we confess that one faith to be true, which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity, if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is manifest were notoriously held by our holy ancestors and fathers; consent, in like manner, if in antiquity itself we adhere to the consentient definitions and determinations of all, or at the least of almost all priests and doctors.

Chapter III.
What is to be done if one or more dissent from the rest.

[7.] What then will a Catholic Christian do, if a small portion of the Church have cut itself off from the communion of the universal faith? What, surely, but prefer the soundness of the whole body to the unsoundness of a pestilent and corrupt member? What, if some novel contagion seek to infect not merely an insignificant portion of the Church, but the whole? Then it will be his care to cleave to antiquity, which at this day cannot possibly be seduced by any fraud of novelty.

[8.] But what, if in antiquity itself there be found error on the part of two or three men, or at any rate of a city or even of a province? Then it will be his care by all means, to prefer the decrees, if such there be, of an ancient General Council to the rashness and ignorance of a few. But what, if some error should spring up on which no such decree is found to bear? Then he must collate and consult and interrogate the opinions of the ancients, of those, namely, who, though living in divers times and places, yet continuing in the communion and faith of the one Catholic Church, stand forth acknowledged and approved authorities: and whatsoever he shall ascertain to have been held, written, taught, not by one or two or these only, but by all, equally, with one consent, openly, frequently, persistently, that he must understand that he himself also is to believe without any doubt or hesitation.



What Toon & Tarsitano seek to achieve by their writings
This is an explanation and an apology produced as an expression of koinonia amongst orthodox-minded American Anglicans, who feel the pain and the strain of the present position and divisions of the American Anglican Family.

Since the publication of the Statement of the Primates of the Anglican Communion on October 16, Peter Toon & Lou Tarsitano have written a series of short essays, articles and pieces on the general topic of REBUILDING THE AMERICAN ANGLICAN HOUSEHOLD.

They have not had in mind the creating of a new organization or society; in fact, to do such a thing has not even been discussed or contemplated by them. They have no money to create any cause: they simply write when they are free from parish duties, for both are parish ministers.

As two persons committed to the unity without uniformity of the Anglican Way in the USA, on sound and generous principles, they are seeking each week to offer theological insights to their brethren in order to encourage serious reflection on (a) the basis of the Anglican Way in terms of its doctrine & formularies; (b) the Polity of the Anglican Way as a fellowship of National Provinces; (c) how the divided but orthodox-minded members of that Way in their many groupings in America can be brought together into one reformed and renewed Household, and (d) where the concerned Primates’ fit into all this as external helpers and guides.

Much of their writing is posted at www.american-anglican.fsnet.co.uk to which you are encouraged to go for a sample!

Both have their own strong convictions and both have been treated less than kindly in the past by bishops of the erring ECUSA – which means that they can begin to understand the pain of others therein now. Yet they long to see the “faithful remnant” that is left within the ECUSA and the growing number of Extra-Mural Anglicans outside the ECUSA (and thus officially outside the present Anglican Communion) find substantial ways as quickly as possible to enter into full dialogue with each other.

They have proposed that this dialogue should lead on eventually to a full congress of representatives of all the parties (and they have suggested it be under a Convener from outside – a person of stature respected by all). They themselves do not wish to have any leadership or steering role in this development (or in another like unto it). They see their vocation as merely preliminary, that of putting positive ideas before Anglicans, and thus into the common “floating” fund of such ideas, so that in God’s good providence there will arise soon from within the Anglican Household the common leadership to provide the means necessary to organize the full dialogue & the full growing together of the now “separated brethren,” who have more in common than in what divides them. The longer this growing into unity takes the greater will be the obstacles to overcome.

Thus they are not in competition with others be they the Fellowship of Anglican Churchmen, Anglicans [Episcopalians] United, the American Anglican Council, the Ekklesia Society, the Forward in Faith, the Traditional Anglican Communion or any further societies. Rather, their ideas call for the members of these groupings to be expressions in their decisions and witness of the centripetal grace of God bringing separated brethren together from their present seeming centrifugal [and thus divisive] activities.

November 22, 2003.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Reconciliation in the Anglican Way?

see-- www.american-anglican.fsnet.co.uk

Perhaps impossible.

Perhaps it is not worth trying.

Perhaps the disorder will remain in the USA until the Parousia.

Or, perhaps soon those who are walking away from each other will begin to walk toward each other and to the One Christ to be together in the Anglican Way in the USA!

Let us remember a few things.

Before the revolutionary 1960s virtually all Anglicans/Episcopalians in the USA were within the comprehensive Protestant Episcopal Church. Those outside were not more than 1%.

After the 1960s, and the rush by the Episcopal Church into the adoption of innovations in liturgy, doctrine and order in the 1970s, the whole Anglican Family and the total Anglican Map in the USA were torn apart. Disorder, disorientation and dysfunctionality became the obvious external signs of this ancient Family. Internal controversy and division increased within the Episcopal Church itself, and there was soon also internal controversy and division amongst those who left the Episcopal Church (via the gate of St Louis)in 1977 with high ideals to form "the Continuing Anglican Church."

And, regrettably, controversy has continued unabated since the 1970s and the schisms, splits and divisions have multiplied, so that there is within the Episcopal Church not only different schools of thought but parties who are not in communion one with another; and, further, amongst the Extra-Mural Anglicans/Episcopalians the divisions have also continued to appear and create an every increasing number of Anglican groups, who are often not on talking terms with each other.

Yet, amazingly within all this turmoil some churches/parishes both inside and outside of the Episcopal Church have prospered both numerically & spiritually. God is good and does not always remember our sins!

But from the outside and with a bird's eye view the picture is grim - " by schisms rent asunder by heresies distressed."

Happily, there is a growing number who know in their hearts and minds that Anglicans, who claim to be biblically-based and true to their own tradition and polity, ought to be in fellowship and pulling together. But they seem to be fighting against the odds for the simple reason that every grouping/denomination/jurisdiction has its own internal reasons for perpetuating its own existence and independence, and the "freedom" which is the American ethos makes apartness so easy to maintain.

Do enough American Anglicans care sufficiently about the will of the Lord Jesus for the unity of his people to work to re-unite those who aspire to orthodoxy (from within the Episcopal Church and from the Extra-Mural Anglican diaspora) and who are now so tragically divided? It seems like an impossible task but, after all, with God all things are possible!

Let us pursue: Unity in Truth and Truth in Unity, but Unity without Uniformity!

The Revd Dr Peter Toon November 20 2003

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

"By Schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed"

The Call to Anglican Unity in the USA
A discussion starter


Jesus intended that his Church on earth be unified (unity without uniformity?) and prayed to his Father for this (John 17). His apostle, Paul, gave much teaching on the same duty and goal (see e.g., Romans 12:3-8).

The Anglican Polity (in the context of a divided Church in this world) requires that there be one Province in one geographical area, one National jurisdiction in one Nation, and usually one diocese in one specific area.

BUT in the USA there is not only the spectacle of the Church of God divided into a multitude of jurisdictions, denominations and groups, but also, in terms of Anglican Polity, there is the official Province (ECUSA) and then a great number of Extra-Mural Anglicans, Anglicans in Exile & Potential Anglicans outside the ECUSA in a variety of organized groups. FURTHER, the official Province has substantially departed from the worship, doctrine and discipline of the Anglican Way and has within it a "remnant" which is calling for intervention from outside to rescue it and to make it secure and safe.

There is to put it kindly a Great Mess which does not adorn the Gospel of Christ!

Within this situation there is obviously a divine requirement that those who claim to be of one persuasion - the Anglican Way - immediately find ways to unite in truth within the doctrinal & liturgical parameters of their heritage and vocation. This means that the "remnant" from within ECUSA together with the Extra-Mural Anglicans etc. (Continuing Anglican Churches, Anglican Mission in America, Reformed Episcopal Church and so on) need to form what can become the new Anglican Province for the USA [to replace the present one which has backslidden] so that they are true to Anglican Polity and begin to fulfill the desire of Jesus for unity without uniformity.

Easier said than done! I bring attention here to the seemingly insuperable obstacles in the way of bringing together even into real dialogue the varied groupings who claim to be and aspire to be genuine members of the Anglican Way of biblical & historical Christianity.

1.The context of America is one which encourages individualism, personal autonomy and the exercise of rights and so the cultural forces are always centrifugal, forcing people away from each other and making unity most difficult. Since 1976 the steady stream of people exiting from the ECUSA has led to between 30 & 40 independent groups using the name Anglican/Episcopal[ian]. The centripetal inspiration of the Holy Ghost competes with the centrifugal power of the Zeitgeist and on the surface the latter is winning daily.

2.There is a major division over the ordination of women - some do not allow it; some allow women deacons only; some allow both deacons and presbyters. And there is little knowledge of and appreciation for the Anglican doctrine of reception (publicized by the Eames Commission).

3.There is a major division over Formularies - the remnant from within ECUSA hold to the 1979 prayer book as a formulary whereas to many who have left the ECUSA that book is not a Book of Common Prayer at all; rather it is a book of alternative services and thus not a genuine BCP and so not a genuine Formulary. On the other side, some Continuing Anglicans have added to the traditional Anglican Formularies (classic BCP, Ordinal & Articles) that which was always seen as an option (e.g., mandating belief in the teaching of the Seventh Council in Nicaea which deals with icons).

4.There is a division over sexuality, in particular over marriage discipline and whether or not annulments should be given at all by bishops and whether or not second marriages involving divorcees be allowed in church. Within the "orthodox" constituency of Anglicanism there is a high proportion of divorced and remarried clergy & laity.

5.There is (to develop 1 above) a built-in desire by many of the leaders and supporters of the 30 - 40 groupings to preserve what they have created wherein their have authority, power and personal identity. There are over 100 bishops, with many other clergy claiming special titles and ecclesiastical privileges, and the desire to preserve these and thus the structure ( jurisdiction/denomination) in which they have meaning is very strong indeed.

6.Also there is within the "remnant" inside ECUSA a kind of superior feeling that IT is the real Anglican presence for it is in touch with the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Primates, that the Extra Mural Anglicans need to get on board and that all arrangements for unity should be around IT; and there is within the Extra-Mural Anglicans a sense of not trusting those who have remained within ECUSA and accepted most of its innovations since he 1970s.

7.One could continue to list areas of division such as the level of clergy education, the pedigree of the succession claimed by bishops, the overlapping of parishes at the local level, personal rivalries and personality clashes and so on.

8.Surely the CALL and PRAYER of the Lord and of his apostles and surely the reality of the known POLITY of the Anglican Way - the centripetal forces - ought to be of greater concern to biblically-minded Anglicans than the preservation of the status quo of division, confusion and the majoring on minors - the centrifugal forces.

At least there ought to be have begun already sustained and continuing DIALOGUE wherein those of One Name can explore what belonging to One Family is all about and involves in the multicultural and multiethnic reality of modern America.

The Revd Dr Peter Toon November 18, 2003

An anonymous response to the above:

Enough. For Peter+ to make the statement that continuing Anglicans, inter alia, do not “adorn the Gospel of Christ” is presumptuous drivel. From a man remaining in a church with transgendered priestesses comforting himself with the absurd notion of “impaired communion” it is even more outrageous.

On the “unity” theory Peter+ proposes, why are we not in the Roman Church? Indeed, even with its woes, it is far preferable to the Church of England.

Admit it. We appear to be growing and changing. While we have Anglican roots, why do we need a faked-up unity that posits that “the Anglican Way” (whatever that now means) is synonymous with “historical Christianity”.

We continuers have been here for 25 years. We have our divisions, yet we seem to be serving our people in ways Scriptural and Sacramental without need of the Archbishop of Canterbury and his druidical fantasies. It all won’t fit under one umbrella, and we are trusting in the Holy Spirit, and not the dying CofE to show us the direction to take. At least we are beyond questions of homosexual bishops, votes on the Nicene Creed and a claimed membership that never attends church.

Spare us the neo-colonialism and understand that many of us aren’t led to be in the big tent of a re-invented Episcopal Church in the “necessity” of a polity that is defined by Canterbury. Why not the East or Rome? They have a better historical claim.

Finally, statements such as “The context of America is one which encourages individualism, personal autonomy and the exercise of rights and so the cultural forces are always centrifugal, forcing people away from each other and making unity most difficult” really are tiresome Eurospeak. This smacks of a haughtiness that is ludicrous when one considers what is left of any consensus in Europe or England, in particular. It is true that there is denominationalism here, but (for the time being) at least we remain a Christian nation.

Ask the question, “What is unity?” That’s fair. But to define it as “the Anglican Way”, particularly under the notion that all strains of theology can dwell inside it, is nonsensical—that is unless you have an established Church to enforce it. Then, you just have empty churches.

Dr Toon responds:

I do not know who [this] anonymous correspondent is but I do not think it is good for him/her to hide behind anonymity ... This said, let me address a few of the points raised (his or her text is [above]).

I stand by my assertion that the presence of so many small Anglican groups or jurisdictions or denominations in the American supermarket of religions is a scandal and does not adorn the Gospel of redemption & reconciliation. We all know that in the reasons for so many being there in the USA is a lot of majoring on minors and of exalting this or that person(ality). Pragmatism & utilitarianism & capitalism & competition may be able to justify the existence and set up of each group and also of so many competing groups in the one territory, but the Lord of the Church prays that we be one - and Anglican unity is surely a starter towards a greater unity of the Body of Christ, to which we are all committed as believers in the one Lord, One Church, One Faith, One Baptism etc.

I can see NO justification for the existence of any small Anglican denomination/jurisdiction in the USA unless it sees itself as in a holding position and its goal for the immediate future is to unite with others of like mind & practice. To set up shop as though the group/denomination is in this until the Parousia is wholly wrong to my mind and is a denial of the very content of the Prayer Book that is used (the 1928 BCP).

If one or other of these Anglican bodies does not want to be united to the international Anglican family of circa 75 millions then let it/them immediately seek to be taken in by the Church of Rome or the Orthodox Church or whoever. To stand alone as on a desert island and not to want to be in fellowship with the greater part of the Body is unnatural and unacceptable in the realm of grace.

To claim to be Anglican and not to desire the reform of the Anglican Way and its unity is to my mind a strange position which before God & right reason is wholly untenable.

Let the Anglicans in Exile, the Extra Mural Anglicans, come together and let them form a Province and let them then by the grace of God be as the salt of the earth and even the light of the world in the Anglican Communion of Churches, and let this Communion be a means to the greater unity of the Church of God militant here on earth. Let the genuine Anglicans, who have suffered because of the apostasy of the ECUSA, now shine as the stars of heaven in their magnanimity and centripetal activity!

Thank you.


Reforming Forwards


Much of the activity of the liberal denominations since the 1960s has been that of attempting to "Reform Forwards;" that is, of introducing innovations in the hope that they will work out well in the near and distant future!

Innovation is often the means by which the human race improves its physical
well- being. New forms of housing, clothing, medical care, transport, machinery, tools and educational apparatus contribute to the making of people secure and well cared for.

However, innovation is not always for the improvement and well-being of human beings. For example, what may be an innovation in design (say of an apartment complex or of a senior citizens' residence) may have disastrous effects socially on the residents and on their common life together. What may be an innovation in the design of a major traffic junction may turn out to be much more dangerous for most vehicles than the junction it replaced. Innovations in the technology of war can both ensure that only specific targets are hit but also that greater destruction occurs. And so on.

And when we turn to religion, its worship (both rites and ceremonial), its doctrine and discipline, its rules and its ethos, its symbolism and its language, the great danger faced at any point in history, and anywhere in the world, is that any innovation may destroy something that has always been regarded as precious & important within the tradition. So whenever an attempt is being made to make a religion relevant to a changed social and cultural setting great care has to be taken in making sure that any changes or innovations do not have the effect of destroying or perverting a part of the received religion.

In terms of Christianity and the Church of God there have been major innovations from time to time but the ones which have gained universal acceptance have been those that were truly part of the essence of the Faith and were waiting as it were to come to full expression. For example, the admittance of the Gentiles into the Church had been prophesied not only in the Old Testament but also by the Lord Jesus who sent his apostles into all the world to preach the Gospel. Nevertheless, for what was at first a wholly Jewish Christian Church the admittance of Gentiles without circumcision was revolutionary when it occurred!

In comparison with what was the religion in the late Medieval Church, the Protestant Reformers can be seen both as iconoclasts and innovators for they brushed away much of what had been and they introduced what seemed to be novelties. Yet, what characterized their mindset and their approach was a diligent study of the Bible and especially of the New Testament to ascertain what was taught therein, what was commended and allowed therein and what was forbidden therein. They had no desire at all to add anything to Christianity or to the Church. They simply wanted to restore the Church to its pristine condition and they sought blueprints in the Bible. Whether they got it right is another matter; but the point is that they did not see themselves as innovating but rather as reforming the Church, according to what it had been in earlier times and what it is called to be by God in sacred Scripture.

So there are different forms of innovation - there is the accepting and making real in the present that which is truly part of the real Faith & there is the attempt to recover a state or condition which has been lost.

Yet there is more to tell - there is another form of innovation and this has become increasingly part of contemporary Christianity in the modern world. Here something which has never been before, and which may have been excluded previously, is introduced into the Church as a way of making the Faith relevant. It is introduced as something that general culture has deemed to be good and right and something which can be justified by appealing to certain principles lifted out of the Bible. It differs from the other forms of innovation in that those who propagate it do not do so because of what they have discovered through intense biblical study. Rather, it is received as a good thing from outside the Bible and then the Bible is studied to find support for it there.

1.In the churches of the West in the last fifty or so years all the major and obvious innovations have had the character of coming into the church from the world and then being sanctified as it were by the church by attaching the name of God to them and of finding justification for them in the Bible and/or tradition.

2.The acceptance of remarriage after divorce, and then the granting of a church ceremony for the same, was a major innovation beginning in the 1950s and gaining much ground in the next two decades, especially in the USA.

3.The ordaining of women to the Three Orders was the result of the pressure of the feminist movement in society being felt in the church and given practical embodiment there.

4.The publication of an ever increasing number of Bible translations and paraphrases designed for different types of people, giving the impression that the Bible can be made to say whatever any group needs to hear and that anyone's opinion about its meaning is as good as anyone else's. Instead of "the Bible" we now have "my Bible" and "our Bible."

5.The changing of the language of the Bible and of divine worship/liturgy to create the "You-God" was the result of pressures generated in the 1960s to be relevant, up-to-date, and to make God-talk like humanity-talk, so that worship was not removed from social reality.

6.The adoption of inclusive language as demanded by the feminists and by female clergy was an attempt to make religious language follow the rules of the new secular language of educational and government establishments and politically-correct culture.

7.The acceptance of the view that some persons are born homosexually inclined led to the doctrine that God makes some persons heterosexual and others homosexual and thus the ordaining of such persons and of the blessing of same sex couples is wholly reasonable and fair, approved by God.

Modern innovations (and we could add more from Liturgy, Polity, role of Bishops etc.) have the effect of bringing the ethos & morality of the Church nearer to that of the "enlightened educated liberal middle classes" of western society - except that God-language is used in the church. And the knock- on- effect of the adoption of these innovations is great - major adjustments in the doctrine of God, of Christ, of the Holy Spirit, of the Bible, of the Commandments, of sin & wickedness, of holiness, of sanctification and so on. In fact the innovations since the 1960s have had the effect of creating slowly and surely a form of Christianity which is unlike anything that has existed before. ALL who have lived through it have been affected by it in one way or another!

Having said this, it must be added that the LORD God often turns that which is evil in his sight into means of helping and blessing to his faithful people. Thus within the implementation of these innovations, God has been gracious and kind to his baptized people and so he has withheld from the churches the full effects of their follies and he has used imperfect means to heal the broken-hearted and to propagate his message.

The Revd Dr Peter Toon Nov 18 2004

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

The Anglican Oriental Orthodox International Commission

The meeting of the Anglican Oriental Orthodox International Commission, which was to have taken place at Walsingham from Tuesday 28 October to Sunday 2 November 2003, has been postponed at the suggestion of the Heads of the Coptic Orthodox Church (His Holiness Pope Shenouda III), the Syrian Orthodox Church (His Holiness Patriarch Zakka I) and the Armenian Orthodox Church, Catholicosate of Cilicia (His Holiness Catholicos Aram I), who met in Antelias, Lebanon, on 17 and 18 October 2003.

The present time is clearly a moment of uncertainty in the life of the Anglican Communion, with the consecration of a homosexual person in a committed, same-sex relationship as a Bishop within the Episcopal Church (USA). The developments facing the Communion were addressed in the Statement of the Primates of the Anglican Communion who met together with the Moderators of the United Churches at Lambeth Palace, London, on 15 and 16 October, to consider their reactions and the way forward for the Communion. In the light of that meeting, the Archbishop of Canterbury has set up a Commission which will look at the future structures of the Communion in the light of decisions taken in the Episcopal Church (USA) and in the Anglican Church of Canada.

It was felt by the Heads of the Oriental Churches who met in Antelias, that the on-going dialogue between the Anglicans and the family of Oriental Churches would be better served by waiting, at present, for the Anglican Communion to have time to take proper account of, and reflect upon, the consecration which has taken place. It is very much hoped by all participants that the work of the Commission will be resumed at a time convenient to all.

The Commission, which has been in existence since 2002 and which built on a long-standing history of dialogue and co-operation, has already produced an Agreed Statement on Christology. The Statement is currently being considered by the member churches of the Anglican Communion and the family of Oriental Orthodox Churches. The Commission plans to undertake work on the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit in its next round of talks, and asks for prayers for the future of Anglican-Oriental Orthodox dialogue at this present time.

The members of the Commission are:

Oriental Orthodox

• His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy (Co-Chairman), Coptic Orthodox Church
• His Grace Bishop Nareg Alemezian (Co-Secretary), Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia
• His Grace Bishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Church
• His Eminence Metropolitan Mor Eustathius Matta Roham, Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch
• His Grace Bishop Yeznik Petrossian, Armenian Catholicosate of All Armenians
• His Grace Bishop Mikael Ajapahyan, Armenian Catholicosate of All Armenians
• His Grace Bishop Kegham Khatcherian, Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia
• His Grace Bishop Geevarghese Mar Coorilos, Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church
• The Revd Dr K M George, Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church
• His Eminence Metropolitan Mor Gregorios Youhanna Ibrahim, Syrian Orthodox Church
• The Revd Seife-Sellassie Yohannes, Ethiopian Orthodox Church
• The Revd Kaleab Ghebreslassie, Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church


• The Rt Revd Dr Geoffrey Rowell (Co-Chairman), Church of England
• The Revd Canon Gregory K Cameron (Co-Secretary), Director of Ecumenical Affairs and Studies, Anglican Communion Office
• The Most Revd George Clive Handford, Anglican Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East
• The Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera, Bishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka
• The Rt Revd Michael Jackson, Bishop of Clogher, Church of Ireland
• The Revd Canon Harold J. Nahabedian, Anglican Church of Canada
• The Revd William Taylor, Church of England
• The Revd Canon Jonathan Gough, Archbishop of Canterbury's Representative
• The Rt Revd John Craig Stewart, Anglican Church in Australia
• The Revd Canon Professor J. Robert Wright, Episcopal Church, USA

Administrative Staff

• The Revd Terrie Robinson, Anglican Communion Office

For information please contact:

The Revd Canon Gregory K Cameron (Anglican Co-Secretary)
Anglican Communion Office
157 Waterloo Road
London SE1 8UT, UK

Tel: +44 20 7620 1110
Fax: +44 20 7620 1070
Email: gregory.cameron@anglicancommunion.org


His Grace Bishop Nareg Alemezian (Oriental Orthodox Co-Secretary) The Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia
P.O. Box 70 317

Tel: +961 4 410001
Fax: +961 4 417971
E-mail: nareg@inco.com.lb

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Women in holy orders and God's salvation

(Talking Points)

If the Church "ordains" women into any of the Three Orders of the Ministry, does this Act in any way affect the salvation of souls? No and Yes, depending on how you look at it! Read on, in 1. & 2. below.

1. For most evangelically-minded western Christians the answer is a resounding No! This is because they see the primary relation within Christianity to be between the Lord Jesus Christ and the individual person who repents, believes and is saved from the prospect of hell and into the sure hope of heaven. From now on, they say, he has the eternal security of the true believer for he is in the (invisible) Church of God, one of the elect. And he can only fall totally from this state by the most wicked kind of sin, such as blasphemy against the Holy Ghost.

So on earth in anticipation of heaven he joins an [Episcopal] church where he shares in its common life and witness, knowing that his salvation is assured by grace. If this church proclaims heresy he is hurt and protests; but, it does not affect his personal salvation. If this church is disordered through the bad behavior of the clergy, he is hurt and protests but his individual salvation is assured. And so on. If the church goes ahead and appoints women deacons or presbyters, which he thinks is against God's plan in Scripture, he is hurt and protests, but since he holds that it does not affect his secured salvation, he tolerates it and may even come to appreciate the gifts and sweetness of the women ministers.

2. For a person born in a society and culture, where individualism [related to theories of human rights and personal autonomy] is not present as we have known it in the West in recent times, the answer is a clear Yes! Here anything that is contrary to the declared mind and will of the Lord Christ for his Church must affect the proclamation of, and the experience of, salvation in the church.

In this patristic (and some modern non-western) contexts salvation is seen first of all as that which God provides for his elect people, what Christ the Savior provides for his Church, for those who believe on his Name and are his disciples - His Body, the Household of God. And Salvation comes in three tenses - By his death and exaltation Christ has once and for ever purchased for God a new people bound to him by a new covenant and thus salvation has been provided - God has saved his people; by the presence of the Spirit working in human beings God's covenant people is now being called out of the world & is being saved in this world - saved from the power of sin, the world and the flesh as a forgiven, faithful people in hope of that which God will grant in the future; by the Second Advent of the Lord there will be full and complete salvation for the Body of Christ, the people of God, at the End time after the resurrection of the dead and the entering into the fullness of the life of the kingdom of God.

Here everything that the Church does in the present is aimed at edifying those who are "being saved by God" for they are those who in Christ are saved and who will be in Christ fully saved and redeemed at the Last Day. The ordering of the Church and her sacraments, the teaching of the baptized and the evangelization of the outsiders, and the nature of her liturgy and doctrine - ALL these are part of the being saved experience of the Church, which in Christ has been saved and in Christ will be saved by grace.

Thus for the Church that is being saved to do that which is contrary to the will of the Lord is sinful and it affects the work of salvation, of sanctification and of deification. To ordain and deploy women as clergy in any of the Three Orders is contrary to the will of the Lord and therefore must affect the work of the Lord in his saving of his covenant people. Just how it does affect we cannot always tell, but it most surely does have an affect and it is one that is not for edification toward salvation but is in both the short & long term toward the contrary.

In the One Body are many members, in the Household that are many members, and all - each and everyone therein -- are affected together by the state of the Body and the Household. Especially when a major organ of the body is sick so the whole Body with all the members is sick - likewise in the Body of Christ. If the Ministry is disordered then eventually the whole Body will be.

The fact that God is the God of abundant mercy and that he is full of loving kindness and love towards sinners must not blind our eyes to the fact that he has made known his will and that his will is one will in which are many parts. To disobey any part is to sin and to affect the receiving of salvation. To repent, make amends and be obedient is to enjoy the receiving of salvation by grace through faith.

visit www.american-anglican.fsnet.co.uk

The Revd Dr Peter Toon & the Revd Dr Louis Tarsitano November 16 2003

The See of Canterbury and Rowan Williams, the man


a discussion starter for American Anglicans

Anglicans have often said in recent years that “The Archbishop of Canterbury is the primary ‘instrument of unity’ of the Anglican Communion of Churches.” (The others are the Anglican Consultative Council, the Primates’ Meeting & the Lambeth Conference of Bishops.) I suggest that it is better – though perhaps more cumbersome – to speak of “the See of Canterbury” in order to avoid equating this Instrument with any particular person who sits on the cathedra of Canterbury.

The ancient archbishopric of Canterbury is the first bishopric of the Church of England and thus of the Anglican Communion of Churches [which was born from the C of E and which is made up of self-governing churches] and therefore it has the duty and privilege of being the historical focus and center of the same Communion. Thus from this See originally went the call for the Lambeth Conference of Bishops which is a meeting of equals is in no way whatsoever a synod or church council. [The authority is moral & spiritual and sometime prophetic but not legal.]

Obviously the incumbent of the See is the one who at any specific time calls the bishops together and thus his personal identity is that which is readily focused upon by people around the world. Yet it is most important that – at least conceptually – we keep separate the actual See and the person occupying it. If we do not do so, then we can never understand the Anglican Communion and how it functions.

Dr Rowan Williams will from time to time speak and act from the cathedra, the See, of Canterbury in terms of the Communion and as such he acts as the See and specifically as the first Instrument of Unity (e.g., when he calls a Meeting of bishops, chairs a Meeting; writes on behalf of the assembled bishops and so on); but, at other times, he will express views and opinions that he freely accepts are his own and are not in any way offered as from the See itself.

This line is a fine one. However, it is important to try to hold it clear in the mind when evaluating what is said and done by any Archbishop and particularly by this present one who happens to be occupying the See in a major crisis. For example, when the See speaks as the Instrument of Unity on sexual relations it speaks in accord with the mind of the Communion as expressed in major statements by the Lambeth Conference; but, when Dr Williams as an individual theologian speaks he may say that his own personal view is slightly different to the view of the See as such.

Further, one has to hold in mind that the See speaks and acts from time to time also as the Primate of all England. In this capacity the See is not an Instrument of Unity but is the head of the hierarchy of the Church of England. To act in this capacity, the See must of course act with the agreement of the other English primate, the Archbishop of York, and with the House of Bishops (and in come cases with the General Synod of the C of E).

Now if the Church of England were to declare that it was out of communion with the Episcopal Church of the USA and with the Anglican Church of Canada (or dioceses therein) it would be stated by the See of Canterbury in his capacity as the Primate of all England, speaking for the C of E. (Note that as the Instrument of Unity he is not empowered to declare himself or the C of E out of communion with any group. And the Bishops whom he invites to the Lambeth Conference are those whose names are agreed with the other Instruments of Unity.)

Thus we must see the Archbishop of Canterbury functioning in at least three ways – as the First among equals of the English hierarchy; as the First among equals of the Anglican Communion’ Bishops; and as a bishop with a real diocese and with his own opinions. Conceptually we must keep these apart if we are to make sense of the relation of the Archbishop to the Anglican Communion and if we are to evaluate what he can & cannot do in the present crisis of impaired & broken communion in the Family of 38 Churches.

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

Thursday, November 13, 2003

ALIGNMENT & RE-ALIGNMENT in American Episcopalianism.

There is much talk amongst conservative Episcopalians of re-alignment. Let us consider it briefly.

To align is to bring into line with another/others; or it is to be in a precise adjustment or correct relative position to another/others. Therefore to re-align is to conform to a different line or to be in a precise adjustment to that different line.

Right now within the Episcopal Church those of radical liberal, liberal, liberal evangelical and conservative views in parishes and dioceses are lined up together in one Province, one Denomination with one Presiding Bishop, one Formulary (1979 Prayer Book), one Canon Law, one General Convention & one Pension Fund. However, some of those who are conservative want to withdraw from this bond and arrangement and line-up. They want to re-align as “the remnant of the ECUSA” with conservative Anglican Provinces overseas and perhaps also with extra-mural Anglicans [i.e., non-ECUSA Anglicans such as “Continuing Anglicans” and “Reformed Episcopalians”] in the USA. So talk of Re-alignment is in the air. Yet these conservative Episcopalians (who tend to support the American Anglican Council) have been told by the leaders of the ECUSA that if they wish to leave the ECUSA line, and get into line with others, they must not expect to take their church property with them. So if and when they get into the new line, it will be only with the clothing on their bodies and cash in their pockets, not with their properties in tow.

I make a suggestion. What the conservative Episcopalians who are planning on re-alignment must be careful about – indeed very careful about – is thinking that they can get into the new line, that they can realign, taking with them the Episcopal Church as they know it, but minus the LesBiGay agenda and its successes. That is, they will make a very major mistake unless they decide with clarity and firmness of mind that it is only worthwhile to take with them the Episcopal Church as it was prior to 1976, the year when the innovations seriously began. That is, they need to form the new line, the re-alignment, bringing with them the Faith, Order and Worship of the ECUSA as they were before the radical changes of the late 1970s. If they move away carrying with them as part of their heritage the radical innovations adopted by the radical ECUSA Convention since 1976, then they will soon discover that they are very little different from the ECUSA that they have sought to get out of line with. That is, they need to be prepared to get into line with the Classic Formularies of the Anglican Way (as they are found in the 1662, 1789, 1892 and 1928 Prayer Books), with versions of the Bible that are not infected with inclusive language, without women priests and bishops, and with a belief in heaven and hell – that is in the Gospel of Christ Jesus. If they must bring the 1979 Prayer Book into the new line let it be as “The Book of Alternative Services” of 1979. No doubt such re-alignment will be extremely painful -- as others who have already left the ECUSA since 1976 can testify.

To summaries. It seems pointless to talk of re-alignment unless (a) the new line is going to be substantially different from the one that is discarded, and (b) the new line is in harmony with the basis and essentials of the classic, historic Anglican Way.


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

Women in Orders & the Re-alignment of American Anglicanism

(before reading this it may help to read the earlier piece, “Alignment and Re-Alignment in American Episcopalianism” posted above or at www.american-anglican.fsnet.co.uk )

Here I want to make the point that even if it were the case, and all agreed to it, that the ordination of women as deacon, priest and bishop is consonant with Holy Scripture (as the Bible is interpreted according to modern Evangelical, scientific methodology) yet such ordination would not be appropriate or wise for the Church in the West today.

That is, I want to advance an argument that is pragmatic and relates to the Church being placed in the Western society where She is called to be in the world and for the world but NOT of the world.

First of all, I must make the point as clearly and forcibly as possible that in the reckoning of God and in the Body of Christ men and women are equal, both loved with an everlasting love and made his children by adoption and grace. Secondly, I need to emphasize that the ministry of godly women in the local church is absolutely indispensable for its well-being and its missionary task.

This said and accepted, I move on to claim that any new alignment of the American Anglican Way needs to get off to as good a start as possible. It needs to be as free as possible from anything that has the potential to put it into instant trouble and problems. The new body does not want to repeat the post 1970s history of the ECUSA! Therefore, any innovation introduced by the ECUSA General Convention from the 1960s onwards needs to be examined thoroughly before being retained in the new emerging entity/body/province.

There is no doubt but that the ordination of women was/is an innovation (see the Eames Commission Reports and my new booklet, “Reforming Forwards? The Doctrine of Reception & the Consecration of Women”, Jan 2004, Latimer House Trust, London).

I submit that if this innovation of women in orders is retained within the new emerging Province/National Church in the USA, then many people will see it as the recognition by the new Entity of the place of human rights and of equal work opportunities for women in this new Church. It will be a clear message that this Church is all for modern approaches to human rights and this proclamation will remain the case even if all the women clergy are of the highest godliness and good learning and themselves deny that they have actually pressed for their rights as women.

Further, it will be seen to have, and will actually have, the effect of making the norm, within the new entity, that of the modern Evangelical “critical” way of reading & interpreting the Bible, especially the New Testament – for it is only by this method that justification can be made from the Bible for the making of women into elders and bishops (as also for the re-marriage of divorcees and even, in its extreme form, of same-sex relationships). In other words, what has seemed to be the plain sense of Scripture and what has been the approach of the Church in history will be rejected because of a new way of interpretation that sees the ancient supposed cultural and patriarchalist context as determining what the apparently plain sense of the Bible actually states, and of the need, therefore, to find the true principle behind the apparently clear text.

Let us be honest with ourselves. The power of the Zeitgeist in the West is so powerful that the Church has to be most careful how she opens her windows and doors, because this secularized wind will blow into the sanctuary and cause changes which will seem reasonable and even fine – i.e., as seen from the vantage point of the human rights and self-worth culture. However these changes in the long term will be seen to be important moves that caused the Church to be in the world and for the world but sadly also OF the world. Allowing the innovation of women in orders will be the means by which (as it was in the ECUSA) of the admission of further innovations and of conforming to the world.

Women in orders now in the ECUSA who move to the new Anglican Entity must of course be treated fairly and generously and their gifts and graces used fully for the common good but in non-clergy ways. This way forward is not harsh for it is implicit in the Doctrine of Reception adopted in the 1980s & 1990s within world Anglicanism. The experiment it has often been said can lead in either direction!

The Rev’d Dr Peter Toon, Nov 13th 2003

The Anglican Communion of Churches, 2003 – Twelve Propositions


In order to help anyone gain clarity as to the Nature of what is called The Anglican Communion of Churches, I offer the following Propositions, as the basis for reflection/discussion.

  1. The original Church is the Ecclesia Anglicana (so named in the Magna Carta), known in English as The Church of England (which remains the National & Established Church of England) and having the Threefold Ministry.

  2. Each of the other 37 Churches/Provinces originated either directly or indirectly from the Church of England, from the 17th to the 21st centuries.

  3. The name “Anglican” originally referred to the ethnic make-up of the Church of England; now it has no racial connotations but refers to a commitment to a specific form of doctrine, liturgy, morality, church-polity and discipline.

  4. Each member of this “Communion” is a Church/Province within a Nation or within a specific geographical region and is self-governing and autonomous, proclaiming the Gospel within the local culture and language(s).

  5. The actual “Communion” (Gk, Koinonia, Lt, Communio) does not exist until each Church specifically, voluntarily and prayerfully chooses to be in fellowship with another/others. The “communion” shared by the Anglican churches is a spiritual and sacramental fellowship, rather than an institutional connection defined by some body of internal institutional law.

  6. Since each Church/Province is self-governing, no other single Church or Province and no group of Churches or Provinces may interfere by direct intervention in its internal government and discipline. What it may do is to offer brotherly advice and if necessary declare that “communion” no longer exists until certain remedial actions are taken.

  7. What have recently been called “Instruments of Unity” (the See of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting) possess neither authority to intervene within any of the member Churches/Provinces nor the right to declare a Church to be out of the Communion, but they have the duty encourage unity, to offer advice on doctrinal, liturgical, ethical, disciplinary and polity matters and to apply when needed moral suasion and exhortation.

  8. The Archbishop of Canterbury is not a Patriarch as is the Bishop of Constantinople and he is certainly not a Pope as is the Bishop of Rome. He is the first amongst equals amongst the Bishops of the Anglican Churches and for all kinds of pragmatic reasons he is regarded as “the leader” and “the spokesman” for the whole Anglican Communion. Yet he has no authority in any other Province than that of England (plus any legal dependencies going back to colonial days – e.g. Bermuda).

  9. The Anglican Communion of Churches is much nearer to the long-term, historic fellowship of [national & regional] Orthodox Churches in terms of Polity and discipline than it is to the Church of Rome; and it may reasonably claim to be following the general polity of the Early Church of the first four centuries, of which the Orthodox system is a modern, developed expression.

  10. It is the duty of each National Church/Province to reform, renew and keep in good spiritual health its own Household, but it may, as occasion requires, ask for the help of sister Provinces, which ought to come alongside to help.

  11. Outside the Anglican Communion of national Churches and geographic Provinces there are what may be called “Extra-Mural Anglicans” who exist as small jurisdictions, denominations and groupings. Their presence and identity ought to be taken seriously and ways found to incorporate them into the international Family.

  12. When a national Church or Province deliberately forsakes its historic, classic and biblical heritage as Anglican, and when that Church has refused to listen to the godly advice and moral suasion of other Churches as well as of the Instruments of Unity, then the way is open for there to be the formation of a new Province in that country/geographic region by local, displaced & dispossessed Anglicans.

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

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

HERESY – on its prevalence & intensity


Over the centuries the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church has distinguished – at least for practical purposes – between the prevalence & the intensity of heresy. In general, the prevalence has been addressed by preaching, teaching, writings & pastoral care; but, the intensity has been addressed by the further addition of special synods, councils, and meetings, usually accompanied by major controversy and dislodgement.

No doubt many Christians in the early Church had an imperfect and often wrong understanding of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, Three Persons one God, and also of the Lord Jesus Christ, One Person made known in two natures, divine & human. These general deficiencies were addressed through consistent, week by week liturgical, catechetical & pastoral means.

However, when a person or group began to major on the erroneous doctrine, to make it prominent and to claim it to be the Truth (e.g., when Arius in A.D. 320 taught in Alexandria his doctrine of three “Gods” of descending order of divinity and of importance) then there was a major crisis in the Church; and there arose major debate, controversy, church synods and councils, followed by confessions of faith and of mutual excommunications. The Arian controversy in its various forms lasted for two centuries or so in the Church within the Roman Empire, but eventually the dogma of the East and the West in the Church made it very clear that Arianism is heresy and to hold it means that one is not a Christian.

The profound attraction of Arianism to so many people was that it was in harmony with semi-popular philosophical views of the nature and character of the universe and of the relation of the universe to Deity. So the biblical message & teaching was set in the context of a widely-held philosophical-religious world-view and the result was Heresy.

In modern times – and through the centuries – there have been homosexually active persons in the Church. Most of the time they have been “closet homosexuals” who have kept quiet about their sexual attractions and activity. Often a blind eye has been turned to them as, in some cases, quiet, unseen pastoral care has been offered.

However, since the 1960s in a new cultural environment, where human rights, human autonomy and human self-worth & fulfillment are prominent themes, homosexual persons have banded together (LesBiGay) to claim their perceived rights and their chance to experience self-realization – much the same as divorced persons have claimed their right to re-marriage in state and church since the 1950s.

Within the Church this LesBiGay agenda has taken the form of claiming that God created some people heterosexual and others homosexual and that therefore each grouping should have the same rights in terms of the Sacraments, means of grace and ministerial opportunities. Thus what was before the 1960s an unseen presence became after the 1960s a militant group with a message that had the power potentially to change completely the Church’s received teaching on sexuality. By 2003 the militant group has become the accepted group, whose demands and teaching are now those of a majority of Episcopal leaders, clergy & laity.

The Lambeth Conference of Bishops in 1998 and the Primates’ Meetings since then have clearly stated that active homosexual relations, relationships, partnerships, liaisons and encounters are wrong and will always be wrong, even as adultery & fornication and serial monogamy are wrong. The fact that the ECUSA and individual bishops and dioceses in other Western Provinces did not receive this message as godly advice and moral suasion but chose to ignore it reveals the intensity of this heresy amongst Anglicans of the West.

The heresy is that there exists alongside marriage between two persons, male and female, another relation between two persons of the same sex/gender, and that the latter is dynamically equivalent to the former and is therefore acceptable to God and open to his blessing through his ministers. And western governments and political parties wholly support this general position.

So the traditional teaching of the Church is now completely different from that of the State. At the same time since the Church is in the world then the Church can so easily absorb what the respectable world teaches and thus can become of the world in her teaching on sexuality.

In a culture of human rights and of self-worth/self-realization and where serial monogamy is taken as a right in state and church, this heresy of the morality of same-sex relationships is likely to grow in intensity in the churches of the West. It is especially dangerous because of the fact that it does not & cannot exist alone, for it is a parasite. It only is accepted and grows in a church environment where the ground is prepared through the presence there of secularism dressed up in “god-language” as “relevant” worship, doctrine, morality and discipline.

As the Anglican Family of Churches possesses no central authority to deal with crisis and heresy – only the Voice of Moral Suasion and the Plea of brotherly love from the “Instruments of Unity”, the expelling of heresy and the anathematizing of it has to be done by each Province/National Church on its own, encouraged by other faithful Provinces. Let us not expect quick results; and let us not think that any of us by going into separated existence will be immune from the Zeitgeist which empowers the LesBiGay and other related movements. We all need to be praying, “Lord have mercy upon me, a sinner.”

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

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Anglican Polity – how does it function?

A discussion Starter

In the world today there are two major examples of long-standing and well tried forms of Church Polity. There is the Roman Catholic, which is centralized in the Papacy & the Vatican, and there is the Orthodox, which is not centralized, but which is a fellowship of self-governing Churches.

When Anglican Bishops have thought seriously about the nature and characteristics of that Family of Churches, which is called “The Anglican Communion of Churches,” they have usually claimed that the model they follow is that of the Church of the early centuries (patristic era), the same model which has been maintained in general structure by the Orthodox Churches to this day. Anglicans have always rejected the Roman model, wherein supreme authority is placed in one Bishop, and theyhave said that, in contrast, the Archbishop of Canterbury has a primacy of honor and is the first amongst equals. The clearest account of the Anglican model (based on the Patristic and Orthodox models) that has been produced to date is that by the Lambeth Conference of 1930. (It is surprisingly relevant to concerns of 2003-4.)

Since 1930 a lot of thinking has gone into working out how this Anglican group of self-governing (and culturally very different) provinces maintains fellowship and communion. Historically the unity has been grounded in a common heritage, a common Faith, common Formularies (the classic BCP & Ordinal) and a common Ministry. But with the advent of new liturgies, the ordination of women and other innovations from 1970s onwards, there has been a search for new glue to bind the member churches together. So now we hear much talk of the Instruments of Unity – the See of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference of Bishops, the Anglican Consultative Council & the Primates’ Meeting.

There is a growing tendency – especially from those who are frustrated by the extreme innovations in doctrine and practice in certain western provinces & dioceses in recent years – to be tempted (on pragmatic grounds) to move away from the Patristic & Orthodox Models and look for ways to strengthen the center -- by giving new authority & power to one or more of the Instruments of Unity. In other words, there is a move, howbeit minimal to date, towards the Roman Model, where an authoritative center has the right and power to discipline the perimeters.

BUT the fact of the matter is that the Instruments of Unity can only advise and their authority is at best a moral authority. What they decide does not automatically become the canon law of each province! However, each self-governing Province of the Anglican Family does decide for itself with which other Churches (e.g., the local Lutheran) and with which other Provinces (all 37 others or only 35 or 36) it wishes to be in eucharistic Communion with. Such a system, based on local self-governance, makes for untidiness at times and it is slow to come to a common mind on any matter. Yet we need to remember that even if there could be a Synod of all the 38 member churches, whatever was decided would have to be ratified wholly and completely by each of the churches locally. And further, neither the Archbishop of Canterbury nor any other Primate is a Chief Executive Office – not even in their own dioceses!

Presumably, all that the Commission recently appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury on the request of the Primates’ Meeting, can recommend are weighty means of intervening in the internal life of [erring or sick] provinces that are basically those of sophisticated moral suasion. For only the province as an individual entity has the power to declare itself out of communion with another church or diocese. Of course, several provinces in a region can coordinate their synodical action so that it appears as if a whole region is acting as one unit. However, it is in reality the actions of individual, autonomous provinces.

Right now the ECUSA is a self-governing autonomous province and it chooses to pay little or no heed to the moral suasion from, or to the declarations of broken communion by, other provinces. Apparently, therefore, the ONLY way the situation in the USA can be remedied – if both excommunication & moral suasion now and tomorrow do not work – is by those Americans who believe themselves to be truly doctrinal Anglicans to come together and to form the fellowship of churches and dioceses that can become the new Anglican Province in the USA.


The Rev’d Dr Peter Toon November 11, 2003

Saturday, November 08, 2003


What shall we call those outside the official Anglican Communion in the USA who use “Anglican” liturgy and confess “Anglican” doctrine?

A Name is important. Giving a person or a group the wrong name can do them great harm. In contrast, rightly naming him or them can bring great benefit.

There is in the world what is called “The Anglican Communion of Churches” and it is made up of 38 independent National or Geographical Provinces or Churches. The historic center is the Ecclesia Anglicana (the ancient Church of England, reaching back to the Patristic era). Obviously members of the parishes of the dioceses of the national provinces of this Communion are rightly called “Anglicans” and so we state that there are 75 millions of them world-wide. They differ amongst themselves in race, language, culture & churchmanship, but they are united by strong bonds of common worship, faith and polity – or nearly so for we have admit that there are erring dioceses and even an erring province.

For a very long time there have existed outside these Provinces dioceses and parishes which claimed to be authentically Anglican, in that they have held to received Anglican polity, worship and doctrine – e.g., the Church of England in South Africa, the Free Church of England and the Reformed Episcopal Church.

For a relatively short time – since the 1970s – there has been the existence of congregations and dioceses whose basic membership has seceded from the Episcopal Church of the USA because they judged that Church to be in serious error or to be apostate. This secession now constitutes a very varied set of groups, which may be as many as forty, and which reflect a wide churchmanship. The Continuing Churches so-called (which trace their origins to the St Louis Congress in 1977) generally use the historic Book of Common Prayer (edition of 1928) and have no women clergy at all; but, the newer seceders such as the AMiA tend to use the 1979 prayer book of the ECUSA and have some women clergy (though only as deacons for the long term).

The question arises: By what name do we call these seceders who desire to be what they believed the ECUSA, as a Province of the Anglican Communion, was called to be and has failed to be? Just to call them “Anglicans” is not sufficient for it does not clarify their position as being “outsiders”.

We could call the older seceders from the 1970s and early 1980s the “Abandoned Anglicans”, for when the ECUSA made its massive changes (e.g., abandoning its basic Formularies) the rest of the Anglican Communion stood by and did nothing for those who for conscience had to leave or were pushed out. Likewise we could call them “Anglicans in Exile” that is outside the official Communion; and also we could call them “Extra-Mural Anglicans” that is outside the “walls” of the official Communion.

As to the newer seceders from the last decade or so, we can also could call them “Extra-Mural” for they are outside but have contacts within (e.g. via Rwanda Province). And those who used to be said to be on the Canterbury Trail and who now we say are in search of a liturgical Christianity in new “Anglican” congregations, these we can call “potential Anglicans”.

The point is that there is NEED for the remnant of those who in the ECUSA who desire truly to be authentic Anglicans ( not merely in name but in terms of worship, doctrine & discipline) and those outside who are “in Exile” or “Abandoned” or “Extra-Mural” or “Potential” and who also want to be authentic Anglicans, to draw nearer together, to find common roots and to work for a common framework into which they can all fit, in order to present a credible alternative – even a province -- to the present deformed ECUSA, which does not witness faithfully to the glorious Gospel of the Father concerning his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.


The Rev’d Dr Peter Toon, November 8, 2003.

Friday, November 07, 2003

An Anglican. Who is one? and What makes one?

A discussion Starter

Perhaps we should be clear as to who is an Anglican before we speak too much about Anglican unity within the USA or anywhere else.

If we begin from the reality of churches in the USA, the commonly-accepted approach is to say that anyone who belongs to a congregation, outside whose building is the name “Anglican” or “Episcopalian”, and whose services are in the historical Anglican mould – that is based upon the Book of Common Prayer or a Prayer Book related to it – is an Anglican (or Episcopalian).

Others would add to this definition by liturgical use some kind of doctrinal statement such as accepting the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral or The Thirty-Nine Articles or the Dogma of the Ecumenical Councils, together with some relation of the congregation to a bishop.

BUT if we begin outside of the USA with the Church of England, from which emerged what we now call the Anglican Communion of Churches, and ask in this context [i.e., of the thirty-eight Provinces (National Churches or Churches of a region)] what is an Anglican we get a different answer.

Here, an Anglican is a member in good standing of a parish which is in a diocese which is in a province, which is in the Anglican Communion of Churches. And we are told that there are about 75 millions worldwide.

Working from this standpoint, we could call those who are in “Anglican” congregations outside this world-wide Family by a name such as “Anglican in exile” or “potential Anglican” or something similar – a name that is respectful, but which indicates that this person and his congregation are not in the Anglican Family as such, even though their liturgical life is Anglican in style.

But there is a problem!

Where a National Province/Church that belongs to the Anglican Communion is judged by the rest to have departed from, or to be departing from, the Common Faith and Order, then of course the situation on the ground in that country where the apostasy is exhibited becomes complicated. And that is essentially what is the case in the USA where the situation is most complicated and has been getting more so since the 1970s – since the imposition of women’s ordination, of the prayer book of 1976/79 and major changes in worship, doctrine and discipline within ECUSA. It is the case that, outside the National Province, the ECUSA, there is an ever growing number of congregations and groups claiming the name of Anglican, and, as time goes by, each of these creates its own organizational, denominational structures, and these make it more difficult for it to see itself as “Anglicans in exile” – rather, it sees itself as a valid “Anglican” denomination. And right now there are a lot of these – perhaps forty -- in the USA.

But what about a credible Anglican presence and witness in the USA?

It would seem that the only way to create and preserve a credible & Christian Anglican presence and witness in the USA is (a) for ECUSA to be thoroughly reformed and renewed so that “Anglicans in exile” can return and recognize the true Anglican Way there; OR (b) for all the “Anglicans in exile” & “potential Anglicans” to be united together with “the remnant” from ECUSA into a new comprehensive body that can painfully emerge and be recognized by the world-wide Anglican Family as the National Province of America. If this occurred then ECUSA would be left to drift alone into the radically liberal end of the supermarket of religion in the USA.

The alternative to either (a) or (b) seems to be the persistence of a variety of groups, large and small, who in some way or another have “Anglican” characteristics but in all other ways are simply modern American denominations. Of these some may have associations with Anglican Churches abroad.

So what is an Anglican? It depends whether you define from the basis of the American denominational scene or whether you begin from the existence of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion of Churches.

Then, of course, we have most seriously and devoutly to bear in mind the great emphasis in sacred Scripture on the unity of the Church of God and the definition in the Creed of “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church”. Competitive denominations do not seem to fit the bill!

Visit www.american-anglican.fsnet.co.uk

The Rev’d Dr Peter Toon, November 7, 2003.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

What US Episcopalians & Anglicans should aim for: The Polity of the Anglican Way


The Anglican-American religious mind is so deeply affected by denominationalism within the competitive nature of the supermarket of religions of the USA that it finds the basic concept of the Anglican Way difficult to grasp. This is in part a problem of imagination – of not seeing Anglican polity aright – but it is also a problem of the will – a refusal to give up autonomy, a majoring on minors and upon individualism. It is an opting for plausibility instead of credibility and of refusing to work for the genuinely common good.

The Polity of the Anglican Way is to have a National Church or a National Province in each country or in each geographical area. The original was the Ecclesia Anglicana, the Church of England, from which by various routings have emerged the 38 Anglican Communion of Churches [national Churches or national Provinces].

Therefore, however difficult and however problematic it is, the vocation of American Anglicans/Episcopalians ought to be for One Province, One National Church. Any other vision and vocation is false and is a capitulation to the forces of sectarianism and denominationalism.

Even as the formation of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the USA and its acceptance by the Church of England was the beginnings of the Anglican Communion of Churches in the 18th century, so it seems that the ECUSA will be the first Province to leave that Communion of Churches, which will then have 37 not 38 members. The internal reason will be apostasy and the external reason will be non-acceptance by the other Provinces.

This means that there is a space and a place on American soil for the creation of that which will be the replacement of the ECUSA. The vocation of faithful Anglicans and Episcopalians is to rebuild the American Anglican Household. This will not be easy for its potential membership is suffering from all the faults (the centrifugal pulls) of the American denominational & sectarian scene. The centripetal unifying grace of God the Father by the Holy Ghost is urgently needed to bring together those who have the same name, the same heritage, and the same potential for being a diversity in unity & members of a comprehensive Province which has a common center in the Bible, Creeds and classic Anglican Formularies. (Right now the potential membership is hopelessly divided into many groups and jurisdictions, with more on the way!)

Those who have been called into the Anglican Way who are presently in the ECUSA (represented by the AAC & FinFNA for example) or in one of the many groups outside the ECUSA (comprising some 75,000 members I think) must recover the basic vision of the Anglican Way as One, Reformed Catholic, National Province in each country or geographical area. To this end, they will need to be ready to give up both many of their characteristics which currently advertise them as members of American denominations or ECUSA dioceses, and also many of their accumulated clergy positions and officers. Further, they will need to major, not on minors and on what divides them and makes them different from each other in the American supermarket, but rather on what they have in common and on their common vocation to be members of the one Province. Personalities (especially the 130 or more bishops involved!) will need to become submissive to the Person of Jesus, the Lord.

Further, what the Provinces abroad & the new Archbishop’s/Primates’ Commission need urgently to s in the USA are nor more and more calls for help but rather evidence of the centripetal forces of grace and of sound reason pulling together would-be orthodox, bible based, faithful Anglicans/Episcopalians all over America into dialogue, co-operation, and into a unity in diversity as an Anglican Household – leading to a new Province in the USA. (See further suggestions at www.american-anglican.fsnet.co.uk)

Short cuts - e.g. looking for some kind of protection from this or that Primate or even by the Archbishop of Canterbury, or forming an imitation of the Anglican Communion and pretending this is credible – must be avoided. The Vocation is to go for the real thing, the big thing, the credible thing, the one orthodox province of the USA, which then, within the Communion of Churches, can be a beacon of renewal and reform by the grace of God.

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

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Protesting, Prophesying and Proclaiming are all in vain…UNLESS


Many words of protest and condemnation have been uttered and continue to be uttered against Canon, now “Bishop”, Gene Robinson. Most are misplaced for they should have been directed against those who voted for him, supported him and finally “consecrated” him. Regrettably, because of the way the media exists and works, the opposition to Robinson has given tremendous free publicity world-wide to the “gay” cause.

However, Protesting, Prophesying and Proclaiming a message of condemnation against Robinson and his guides, mentors and supporters is merely a religious game, merely hypocrisy UNLESS there is also engagement immediately in reform and renewal of that part of the Episcopal/Anglican family & territory which is inhabited by the protestors.

The American Anglican Household is disordered and each and every part is in need of renewal. The parts inhabited by the Protestors currently unite against common enemies but are not united on such basics as worship, doctrine, and discipline. Some of these protesting parts are within the structure known as the Episcopal Church of the USA and others are in groups and jurisdictions that have left that Church or been formed alongside it since the latter part of the 19th century, and especially since 1976 (REC, AMiA, Continuing Anglican Jurisdictions etc – some 75,000 or more souls). Those within and without the ECUSA have more in common than in difference and now, if ever there is a time, is the time for growing together towards unity in Christ as he is known in the Anglican Way.

Those who believe themselves to be biblically-based and desirous to be orthodox in Anglican worship, doctrine and discipline surely have a most clear duty BEFORE the God of grace to rebuild their parts of the American Anglican Household so that they do begin to live alongside each other in harmony, with a common faith and practice, and thus provide a credible alternative to the present ECUSA (which is set to become more not less secular in its common life).

In the year – 2003-2004-- that the Archbishop’s/Primates’ Commission is seeking to find ways of dealing with the various crises caused by the exercise of excessive provincial autonomy, there is space and time for the would-be orthodox and would- be biblically minded Anglicans/Episcopalians of the USA to get together and (probably with the help of a distinguished Convener) begin to form a united front for the edification of all and for the credibility of Christian witness and evangelization. The end result could be the existence of two Provinces in the USA, one the present ECUSA not recognized by the Anglican Family and another, slowly emerging into shape being encouraged and helped by the Anglican Family through the Primates, made up of the present mixed bag of groups/dioceses/jurisdictions inside and outside the ECUSA.

Dr Tarsitano and I have sought and continue to seek to encourage the necessary basic thinking and conversations amongst and between these would-be faithful Anglican groups (see www.american-anglican.fsnet.co.uk) and we are very glad to find that the Anglicans United (formerly Episcopalians United) have similar suggestions. (Visit also www.episcopalian.org/pbs1928)

The sight of the American Anglican Household to the on-looking world is NOT even plausible, even less is it credible. There are too many centrifugal forces and too few centripetal forces; there are too many individual persons and groups doing their own things and too few sharing a common platform and reforming agenda. All need to begin to knock down bad walls and rebuild together on a sure foundation and with a view to being a credible expression of the Anglican Way of Reformed Catholic Christianity in America --- to put it another way, not many diverse items on the shelves of the supermarket packed together as “Anglican” but one basic product in differing flavors known as “Anglican” that is attractive to those desiring to worship God in the beauty of holiness.

The Rev’d Dr Peter Toon November 4, 2003 peter@toon662.fsnet.co.uk

Monday, November 03, 2003

That Baptismal Covenant & the Consecration of Gene of New Hampshire.


If pressed to say what is the most precious and non-negotiable part of the 1979 Prayer Book, the liberals, including the former and the present Presiding Bishop, would say “the Baptismal Covenant.” (see 1979 Book pages 304ff.) Themes from it have dominated the General Conventions since the 1980s and when Frank Griswold inducted himself into the office of the Presiding Bishop in the National Cathedral, he said that taking this office was the outcome and unfolding of his baptism.

So not only has this Covenant justified the political and social activism with the reduction of the kingdom of God to an earthly paradise (see its commitment to peace and justice) by many in the ECUSA, it has also justified the opening of the ordained ministry of deacon, priest and bishop, to all comers. How has it done the latter? By the doctrine enunciated by Griswold at the National Cathedral. This is that there is given at baptism in embryo or in principle the wholeness and the totality of all the gifts of ministry. They are given to all whatever their sex or their orientation or their race or the color of their eyes and skin and they are there to be called into activity as occasion demands and as the church asks.

On the basis of this doctrine the ordained Ministry is open to male and female and to people of differing sexual orientations – lesbian, bi-sexual and gay. To deny anyone entrance because of “gender and orientation” (all other things being equal) is to deny the meaning of the fundamental sacrament of the Christian religion.

How could Gene Robinson – and many others – be refused in the light of this doctrine? But how can those who claim to be orthodox continue to use this Baptismal Service which was designed to introduce innovation and which has misled so many?

The Rev’d Dr. Peter Toon November 3 2003