Thursday, September 30, 2004

The Apocrypha, the ESV & RSV & KJV

Dear Father Kim,

One of your correspondents asks me to explain why I want to see the Apocrypha in the ESV as it is in the RSV. Here is my answer.

Apocrypha (Books that are edifying to read)

In Luther’s German version of the Bible (1534) the Apocrypha stand between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Coverdale gave them the same position in the English version of 1535 and they appear in the King James Version of 1611 in the same place. The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England from the sixteenth century list the books of the Apocrypha and states that the Church reads them not for doctrine but for example of life. And thus they are included in the Lectionary of the Church of England.

In contrast the Puritans – followed by radical Protestants in the USA – did not read them in divine worship or daily prayer, but only rarely as religious books for information about the Jewish people. So in editions of versions of the English Bible for these folks the Apocrypha were omitted.

The Apocrypha, as explained in the Thirty-Nine Articles, are part of Reformed Catholicism, which is another name for the Anglican Way! There is no escaping this fact. Thus all versions of the Bible used for public reading in Anglican Churches ought to have them included.

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

Two Bible Versions and Two Forms of Liturgy needed for western Anglicans?

Those of us who defend the received, traditional, historical and biblically-based Anglican Way, with its commitment to the classic Formularies (The Book of Common Prayer, The Ordinal & The Articles of Religion) are not totally blind or foolish or out of touch with modern reality.

We recognize that many Anglicans believe that it is right to talk to God in much the same way as they speak decently to fellow human beings. We are aware that many Anglicans think that to be credible in the modern west the Christian message has to be simple, clear, relevant and easily understood. So we notice that there is not only a demand for a version of the Bible but for a form of church service that fits into these parameters.

So how to be face up to this situation? What do we say? More specifically, what do I say?

Before I make my "say", may I explain that in the present crisis of the Anglican & Episcopal Way in the West/North, there is a fresh and lively debate beginning on what is an appropriate liturgy for an Anglican Province that aspires to dynamic orthodoxy in pleasing the Lord. I welcome this and hope that it continues and is in depth. (Translating the Bible and creating liturgy are extremely difficult tasks!)

First of all, I say this. Let us hold on to the received, classic Formularies and to the received, classical English Bible (the KJV). Let us not allow these to be removed from the scene. Let them always be there both to be used and to be consulted. And let us not fiddle with them to update them or to improve them. Let them remain as they are and let us use all our skills to understand them aright.

Secondly, firmly rooted in the tradition of this Anglican Way, then let us first of all agree on what kind of modern Bible version is required in order to be the best possible means of bringing the original, written Word of God to modern ears as it is read in church services? Here, initially, there are three choices - a version based on the traditional theory of essentially literal (word for word, phrase for phrase), a version based on the 1960s theory of dynamic equivalency (thought for thought equivalency), and a version based on a mixture of the two previous theories.

We need to agree on the version of the Bible first of all because good English Liturgy uses so many portions of a version of the Bible that its style and form need to be known in advance so that the rest of the content of Liturgy can be in harmony with it.

Please note that I am referring here to the use of an English Bible for public reading and not for personal, private study or devotional use.

I want to suggest that of the three choices, the only kind of version suitable both for public reading and therefore also for use in Liturgical texts is one that belongs to the tradition of essentially literal translation. We surely need to know as nearly as it is possible what actually was originally said, even if it sounds odd or strange to our modern ears.

Regrettably the NIV, the NEB, the REB, the NRSV and the NJB to name well known versions contain a mixture of two methods, the essentially literal and dynamic equivalency; that is, they are a mixture of both translation and paraphrase and are so because of a determination to be relevant or easily understood by modern westerners or not to be offensive to modern theories of human rights.

This leaves us, for example, with the ASB (1901), the RSV (final edition
1971) and the ESV (2001). However, the ESV does not yet have the Apocrypha, which is needed for Lectionary readings and for use in Liturgy for Canticles. (Again, I repeat that I am here referring to versions of the Bible suitable for public reading and for use in public Liturgy. What a person uses on an individual basis is governed by so many factors that I cannot write of them here.)


If we examine the versions of the Bible most used publicly by those in the West/North, who presently aspire to dynamic orthodoxy, we find that they belong more to the mixture of the essentially literal and the dynamic equivalent than to the first category of only essentially literal. But when we look at the passages from the Bible used in the post 1970s liturgies that are used, we see that they belong nearly wholly (especially in North America) to the dynamic equivalent approach (e.g., "and also with you" for "and with your spirit" and "Happy are they..." for "Blessed is the man...").

With or without the homosexual debate/crisis to focus the mind, it seems to me that unless there can be an agreement amongst the would-be orthodox of the Anglican Way in the West/North as to (a) keeping the classic formularies firmly in place with the classic Bible - and always available; and (b) agreeing on what kind of version of the Bible and form of Liturgy is to exist officially and publicly alongside the classic texts (as an alternative not a replacement) then the centrifugal forces so powerfully present right now in the ECUSA, the Anglican Church or Canada, and other provinces, will continue to operate, as we all read different versions of the Bible and do our own thing at our local parish church or college chapel and spin more apart than we are now.

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

A word to the Episcopal Church from the House of Bishops

ENS 092804-1
Tuesday, September 28, 2004

[Episcopal News Service] We the bishops of the Episcopal Church, gathered in Spokane for our regular fall meeting, greet you in the name of Jesus Christ.

Our time together has reminded us of the words spoken at our ordination that our "heritage is the faith of patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, and those of every generation who have looked to God in hope," and our "joy is to follow him who came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

We are deeply grieved by the on-going violence and division in the Middle East, continuing war in Iraq, the Sudan and other troubled places, and we are mindful of the devastating effects of hurricanes and other natural disasters. As well, we are sharply aware of tensions and pain in our church and in the Anglican Communion. During these days we have explored more fully our continuing call as your chief pastors to be ministers of reconciliation, even as we seek and discover reconciliation within ourselves, within our church and across the Communion.

We rejoice in the depth of our conversations and, in spite of the differences among us, we discovered that although we are not of one mind in all things we are profoundly of one heart in our commitment to proclaim Christ's reconciling love to this broken world. We are confident that our household of faith is large enough to embrace us all.

We have been encouraged by stories of health, vitality and strength within the Episcopal Church. We have also heard stories of anger, anguish and division within this church. All are responses of faithful people.

Our perspectives have been enlarged by the presence and witness of bishops from other provinces of the Anglican Communion. These bishops have described some difficult consequences felt in their provinces as a result of our decisions. We are deeply saddened by the pain we have heard so movingly described.

The report of the Lambeth Commission will be released in mid-October. We are committed to a gracious reception of the report in a spirit of humility and to a willingness to learn how we might best be faithful and responsible partners in the Anglican Communion. It is our intention to gather as provincial Houses of Bishops during the autumn and then to meet as a House of Bishops early in the new year to study and appropriate the work of the Commission.

We believe our relationships with others make real and apparent God's reconciling love for all of creation. Our mutual responsibility, interdependence and communion are gifts from God. Therefore, we deeply value and are much enriched by our membership in the Anglican Communion. We also value Anglican comprehensiveness and its capacity to make room for difference.

As the future unfolds differences will continue to challenge us. We believe that the gift of difference is the gift of Christ among us. In wrestling with difference we discover a blessing as Jacob discovered a blessing when he wrestled with God.

May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Bible Versions – The English Standard Version

In my recent tract on “Bible Versions – if not chaotic then nearly so” of September 28 I did not mention, and therefore did not commend, The English Standard Version, which appeared in 2001 in the U.S.A. from Crossways of Illinois and in London, England, 2002 from Harper-Collins.

The title is perhaps somewhat pompous, especially since it is produced not by an official committee of the main-line or main-stream Churches but by a group of conservative evangelical scholars brought together by a Christian Publisher, Crossways, a Division of Good News Publishers. However, in the over-populated market of versions of the Bible, there are so many titles on view that to find a new one which characterized the intention of the translators was not easy.

The claim of the publisher is that the ESV stands in the mainstream of English Bible versions reaching back to the New Testament of William Tyndale (1626), the King James Version (1611), the Revised Version (1885), the American Standard Version (1901) and the Revised Standard Version of 1952 & 1971. Thus this version may be regarded as a revision of the Revised Standard Version, for the 1971 text of the RSV was where the team of translators began.

By starting here, and further by deciding to have nothing to do with the post-1960s method of translating known as “dynamic equivalency”, the team was committed to what may be called an essentially literal approach to translation. In doing so they separated their work from most of the versions that had appeared from the 1960s through to 2000.

In contrast to the ESV, such versions as The New International Version & the Revised English Bible are based on a use of both the essentially literal and the dynamic equivalency theory of translation and thus they move in one paragraph from literal rendering to a form of paraphrase and back again. (Note that such versions as The Good News Bible and the New Living Translation are wholly committed to the dynamic equivalency approach and thus they read as though they were written in the USA in the 20th century rather than in the ancient world!)

Because of its commitment to the essentially literal approach, the ESV retains the words of the original when referring to human beings. Thus Psalm 1:1 begins, “Blessed is the Man…”, and in the Epistles, Paul writes to “the brethren”. Also the inclusive use of the generic “he” is retained. In contrast, the New Revised Standard Version (so popular in the so-called main-line Churches) knowingly and deliberately renders references to “man” and “brethren” by dynamic equivalents in order not to be offensive to those (e.g., feminists) who find traditional generic language unacceptable.

Thus, those who have found the RSV to be a version whose literary qualities -- in terms of clarity, effective diction, vivid expression, respect for the principles of poetry and smoothness of rhythm -- are high, or at least pleasing and acceptable, should find the ESV also to be suitable for public reading and personal devotional use.

Certainly if the choice is between the NRSV or the ESV then the ESV wins; if it is between the NIV and the ESV, then the ESV wins. However, if is a choice between the RSV of 1971 and the ESV of 2001, then the ESV probably does not win.


Because, first of all, the ESV, unlike the RSV, does not yet contain the Apocrypha. This means that its use by the ancient Churches of Constantinople & Rome is limited, if not a non-starter. Anglicans also, who follow the Daily Lectionary, will find it does not meet their needs for they read from the Apocrypha in parts of the year.

Second of all, the ESV, though it claims to be committed to the essentially literal approach, does not use the ancient facility in English to convey the second person singular. The pressure of market forces in the USA, where it is judged that the majority of evangelicals do not wish (or have a strong aversion) to use the old form of the second person with its special verbal forms, dictated that “you” be used always and everywhere for the second singular and plural. Thus often the reader does not know whether God the Father or the Lord Jesus Christ are speaking to a single person, individually and personally, or to a group, a plurality. This causes a major loss of meaning if one believes that the original text is “God-breathed” and inspired by God verbally.

Further, in refusing even to address God as “Thou/Thee” (as does the RSV) the ESV team removed root and branch from the English language of prayer a form of address that reaches back through the Reformation to fourteenth century English lyrics and which was constant from the fourteenth century until the 1960s/1970s! A rich stream of devotion was uprooted!

In closing, I have a thought to share.

That if the publishers of the ESV were willing to produce an edition containing the Apocrypha, addressing YHWH as “thou/thee” and rendering the second person singular truly as such, then with the right marketing the ESV could do what the RSV once did and thereby cause the displacement of the NRSV and the NIV especially from churches where there is some kind of formal liturgy – R C, Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist etc.

There is needed, alongside the KJV, in American Churches and in the supermarket of American religion, a solid, reliable, readable version that is essentially literal in its rendering of the original languages! For the ESV to be so, it surely needs some further editing.

(See further on language for God – NEITHER ARCHAIC NOR OBSOLETE, the language of Common Prayer and Public Worship by Peter Toon & Lou Tarsitano from The Prayer Book Society in the USA (1-800-727-1928) and from Edgeways Books in the UK (ISBN,0 907839 75 4)

the Revd Dr Peter Toon September 29, 2004

Bible Versions – if not chaotic then nearly so

There was a time when it was believed in the Churches that to justify its existence a modern translation of the Bible must not merely be as good as existing versions – it must be better. This was when the literary merits of any translation were evaluated in terms of clarity, effective diction, vivid expression, respect for the principles of poetry, and smoothness of rhythm.

By these tests, the King James Version of 1611 stood supreme, and this is one reason why it was the Common Bible of the English-speaking peoples for over four centuries. It is only since World War II, and more particularly from the late 1960s, that ordinary readers have claimed that it is too archaic or difficult for them.

In fact one can claim that since the 1960s, when the desire for innovation through paraphrase and the use of dynamic equivalency in translation took a strong grip on most teams of translators and on the public imagination, the flow of Bible versions has been of haphazard and usually poor literary quality. Few if any of them actually sound good when read aloud and they certainly do not provide the basis for easy memorization.

[If the NIV had not appeared in the 1960s and the Evangelicals had been satisfied with a few changes in the RSV from the 1950s, the story of Bible versions would probably have been very different!]

Why then have there been so many versions and why do they keep on coming?

Here are several reasons:

Because of a prevailing sense in the churches that the Bible [and Liturgy] must be relevant, accessible, credible and easily readable by modern Westerners.

Because it is believed by leaders that folks want to talk to God as they talk to each other and thus they want the Bible to be in journalistic prose.

Because in a culture of rights, each group is perceived as having the right to its own version of the Bible, to meet its own needs and to be the Word of God to it in its own special context. So conservative and liberal groups have their Bible versions and so do feminists and fundamentalists as well as other interest groups.

Because in a culture of individualism, the Bible is seen less and less as the Holy Book of the Holy Church and more and more as a personal letter from heaven to the individual Christian, who wants it in simple prose!

Because publishers see the opportunity of making an inroad especially into the American market first with a version of the Bible and then following this with books based on it such as Sunday School material, commentaries and the like.

Because of the revolution in typesetting and printing, it is much easier and cheaper now to produce a Bible version than it was fifty years ago.

BUT whatever the precise reasons for the appearance of so many versions, the result of their sales has not been a more Biblically-based and Biblically-literate people. In fact, there has been a removing of modern readers from the actual world of the original text and thus of its possible deep meaning (because of the use of paraphrase and dynamic equivalency); and, further, the desire to memorize and the ability to do so has decreased immensely as the Common Bible has been forgotten and a series of new versions has been tried and found wanting!

This sad situation cannot be reversed easily if at all. Choice as a preference and the Supermarket as a reality are part of the cultural reality of modern western Christians, especially in the U.S.A. But Blessed are those churches that have stayed with one Version over the last five decades – perhaps the KJV, the ASB, & the RSV (none of which is a paraphrase or affected by dynamic equivalency!) – and blessed are those who have memorized portions. In their final years these gems in memory will be a means of grace.

Where a church uses a set liturgy, in which there is obviously supposed to be much biblical content, then the members surely have to keep their eyes wide open to see what it is that is being put before them as extracts from “the Bible”. All kinds of versions and paraphrases are introduced these days.

For public reading of the Bible in Liturgy the KJV or the RSV are the most pleasant and moving to the ear/heart.

One rule that stands out – do not forsake The Common English Bible, the KJV, always read it along with your preferred modern version, and if you have family prayers and read aloud a Bible, let it be the KJV or the RSV!

The Revd Dr Peter Toon September 28, 2004

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Statement from the Archbishop of the Church of the Province of Uganda

ACNS 3889 | UGANDA | 27 SEPTEMBER 2004
23 September 2004

One of the hallmarks of the East African Revival in the Church of Uganda
is 'walking in the light.' On 20 November 2003 the Church of Uganda
broke communion with the Episcopal Church of the United States of
America (ECUSA) until it repents of its actions in approving and
consecrating as bishop a man in an actively homosexual relationship.
Furthermore, we have taken the position that, as a result of broken
communion, we will not take any financial gifts from ECUSA.

We want to thank ECUSA's Executive Council member, Louie Crew, PhD, DD,
DD, DHL, for helping us to walk in the light regarding our financial
accountability. Despite its condescending and imperialistic tone, his
two recent open letters to me and to our House of Bishops shed
considerable light on things we had not known.

For many of us, the internal workings of ECUSA are a mystery. Were it
not for the information revealed in these open letters, we would not
have known that the UTO (United Thank Offering) grants of the Episcopal
Church Women were part of the official ECUSA structure. Nor would we
have known that women in the Episcopal Church support the recent
heretical and immoral actions of the General Convention, which have
caused ECUSA to separate itself from the historic church and the vast
majority of the Anglican Communion and Christendom. We are grateful to
have this information, and respectfully request that UTO not send us any
more funds - even if grant requests have been submitted.

Accordingly, the Bishop of West Buganda is withdrawing his diocese's
request for a UTO grant and has asked that UTO not send the wire
transfer for the recent grant request from his diocese. Likewise, in the
spirit of 'walking in the light,' the Bishop of Luweero has notified UTO
that he is returning the US$30,000 recently received from a 2004 UTO
grant to his diocese. At the same time, the Church of Uganda is
committed to carrying through on these projects. We believe that God
will honour our commitment to His Word and will provide more than we
could ask or imagine for the people committed to our care, especially
those who are most vulnerable.

Furthermore, we respectfully request Episcopal Relief and Development to
not send any grants to any Church of Uganda diocese or institution,
including remaining instalments on multi-year grants awarded prior to
ECUSA's 2003 General Convention. Likewise, please do not raise any more
money on our behalf. The Church of Uganda did gratefully receive ERD
grants in 2001, 2002, and 2003 - prior to the consecration as bishop of
a man in an actively homosexual relationship. According to our records,
and confirmed by Don Hammond, Vice President of ERD, the Church of
Uganda has refused the remaining instalments of a four-year grant that
was approved prior to the 2003 General Convention of ECUSA.

This state of broken communion saddens us because of the loss of
relationships and partners, and we believe it also grieves the heart of
God. We continue to pray that ECUSA will repent of its actions so
healing can begin, reconciliation be pursued, and communion be restored.
We continue to rejoice in the formation and growth of the Network of
Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes in the United States under the
leadership of Bishop Bob Duncan, and thank God that there is a faithful
remnant of Anglicans in America with whom we can remain in communion. We
look forward to deepening our ties and mission partnerships with those
parishes and dioceses that are part of this Anglican Communion Network.

The Most Revd Henry Luke Orombi
Archbishop of Uganda and Primate of the Church of the Province of Uganda


While I find this Statement concerning receiving money to be wholly in accord with sound Gospel principles, I do still worry because the Bishops in Uganda (as in most of Africa where the ECUSA is opposed) give the impression that the fact of the consecration of Gene Robinson (with the added blessing of homosexual unions) is all that is SERIOUSLY wrong with the ECUSA, and that if this particular SIN, is repented of, then ECUSA will be "orthodox" again.

Again I have to state -- cry out from the wilderness as it were - that the homosexual innovations of the ECUSA are ONE presenting problem amongst other very serious such problems, and that the disease or the root of these is a basic APOSTASY, a turning away from the LORD our God, His Revelation, His Will, His worship, His doctrine and His discipline. If there are to be calls to repentance then let it be for the real thing, the forsaking of the living and true God, the Blessed Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost and the embracing of a "Deity" which is more immanent than transcendent and more known by human experience in culture than holy, saving deeds and words through space and time, and recorded in a Holy Book.

The Bishops of Africa, some of whom I have taught and others I know, do not seem to understand what is the true situation in the ECUSA -- it is diseased in a major way and simply getting rid of the latest innovation, the homosexual initiative, will not cure that disease.

Kyrie eleison.

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

Divorcing Marriage

Divorcing Marriage
Unveiling the Dangers in Canada's New Social Experiment

Edited by Dan Cere and Douglas Farrow
Paper 0773528954
Release date: 2004-08-11
CA $24.95 | US $19.95 | UK £15.50

Cloth 0773528946
Release date: 2004-08-11
CA $65.00 | US $65.00 | UK £49.95

6 x 9

Is the decision the government of Canada is on the verge of taking to redefining marriage to include same-sex unions simply an act of fairness to gays and lesbians - another step in the evolution of a just society - or is it a hastily conceived social experiment that will undermine human rights, deflecting marriage from the support of children to the mere affirmation of sexual commitment between adults?

Divorcing Marriage asks that we pause and reflect on this question and take a closer look at both the arguments for redefinition and the arguments against it; to examine the effect of redefinition on children, on the law, on freedom of speech and religion, and on society as a whole.

Its authors are prominent scholars familiar with the debate that recent events have thrust to the fore on both sides of the border. Joining the editors are professors in law, ethics, political science, religion, and culture, including Margaret Somerville, Ted Morton, F.C. DeCoste, and Katherine Young.

Written for a broad readership, Divorcing Marriage sheds light on three central questions:

How did Canada come to the point of proposing a redefinition of marriage?

Where would such redefinition take society?

Is exchanging an opposite-sex institution for one built on "the union of two persons" mandated by the Charter and by equality rights?

The case will be brought to the Supreme Court of Canada on September the 8th.

Review quotes
"Divorcing Marriage makes a compelling case that romanticism plus rights has prompted Canada to embark on a radical social experiment absent the sober analysis and criticism that should be attendant on such efforts. Whatever one's view of gay marriage, this volume injects a strong dose of realism into a debate that tends to be driven by ideology and naïveté." Jean Bethke Elshtain, Professor of Social and Political Ethics, University of Chicago

"From this book, opponents of same-sex marriage may learn much with which to clarify their own arguments in public and be more persuasive. And because of this book, proponents of same-sex marriage will have to develop more rational arguments than they have proposed until now."
David Novak, Professor of Jewish Studies, University of Toronto

"For those of us who are concerned about judicial pre-emption of ordinary democratic political processes, this book is a welcome and well-reasoned contribution to the much-needed public discussion of what is
at stake in the current marriage debate." Mary Ann Glendon, Professor of Law Harvard University

"It can seem to the individual Canadian that the country is being carried away on a torrent of social change -with consequences difficult to foresee. We are redefining the rule of law, rethinking obligations to community and nation, and revising ideas of individual responsibility. We are revising the very idea of individuality! This book throws out an anchor. It is an invaluable contribution to the broad discussion of relations between government and society, Parliament and the Court, church and state." Janet Ajzenstat, Professor Emeritus, Political Science, McMaster University

"Divorcing Marriage unravels the legal mystagoguery that same-sex marriage is required by constitutional rights. This book is brilliant, timely, and essential. " John O'Sullivan, Editor, The National Interest

Daniel Cere is a director at the Institute for the Study of Marriage, Law & Culture, Montreal.

Douglas Farrow is Associate Professor of Christian Thought, McGill University.

Anglicans tell US Church to 'repent' over gay bishop

(see this report below from the English Daily Telegraph and then see my comments)

Anglicans tell US Church to 'repent' over gay bishop
By Elizabeth Day
(Filed: 26/09/2004 for Daily Telegraph 27th)

One member of the commission, the Archbishop of Kaduna, Josiah Iduwo-Fearon, of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, last week compared the American church to a misbehaving child that had to be taught a lesson. The archbishop, who has never before spoken publicly on the issue, said that the American Church would have to admit that the consecration had been harmful to the overall interests of worldwide Anglicanism, or face suspension.

He said that the 17-strong Lambeth Commission, set up last October to seek ways of maintaining the Anglican Communion that was divided between evangelicals and liberals over the issue, had agreed that the only way forward was for the Episcopalians to apologise for their actions.

"The thrust of our concerns is that our communion is a family and if you have a family there has to be give and take for us to keep the family together," he told The Sunday Telegraph.

"That is what we are expecting and we hope that the American Church will be willing to behave the way members of the family should behave.

"If you've done what is not acceptable to the other members of the family, why don't you consider the overall interest? [I would say to them] For the sake of our communion, accept what we are offering.

"I believe that the American Church will do this for the sake of the family and to make the ministry of the Archbishop of Canterbury less stressful," the archbishop said.

"Personally, I would not want anything to break up this communion but there are parameters, there are limits to what a member can do - for instance the consecration.

"Since this has been flouted, there has to be an acceptance [by the American Church] of what we've done has not been accepted by the family, we are sorry, therefore where do we go from here?"

The archbishop called for the American Church to "retract" its ordination of Bishop Robinson. "I believe that the American Church's leadership will recognise the need for this beautiful communion to stay together and retract," he said.

"I'm hoping and praying that they will try to persuade their membership that the more we're together, the better."

The archbishop conceded that if the Episcopalian Church did not accept the commission's findings, to be published on October 18, it would be "difficult" to proceed.


If the above is substantially true, and that an African Archbishop (and the Eames Commission or parts of it) actually believe that for the ECUSA to apologise for the introduction of the LesBiGay agenda and to remove the offending bishop is sufficient, then I see a bleak future for the Anglican Way.

The LesBiGay business is a major presenting problem, one of several such problems in the ECUSA, and what needs putting right and curing in the long term is the underlying disease. For the ECUSA to go back to a pre-August 2003 position in terms of its worship, doctrine and discipline, and thereby to be rid of the offending bishop and regulations supportive of same-sex blessings, is for it to step back into the very same apostasy that was actually multiplied by the Robinson consecration!

Dealing with a presenting problem may bring temporary relief; but, in the case of the ECUSA, it will NOT cause a return to a biblically-based, orthodox worship, doctrine and discipline and it may deceive thousands in the USA and millions worldwide that a cure has been applied to the disease -- which will be a tragedy!

If the Commission has not seen clearly that the Robinson affair is only a presenting problem, pointing to the rejection of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Revelation, Worship, Doctrine and Discipline, then one must be pessimistic about the value of the Anglican Communion and about its commitment to the historic Anglican Way. Not an apology but repentance for forsaking the LIVING GOD, the LORD, is what is surely needed!

The Revd Dr Peter Toon, September 27, 2004

Conference on the Anglican Way at Jackson MS

God willing, Dr Tarsitano & Dr Toon will conduct an all-day conference Saturday 23rd October and then preach and teach on the Sunday 24th at St Stephen's, Flowood, Jackson MS. (601 992 4317)

Here is what the flyer says

"Western Christianity is in moral and doctrinal turmoil, and the Anglican churches are no exception. The Anglican Way of being a Christian is in crisis, and this Conference will examine the causes of that crisis, the true nature of the historic Anglican witness, and the spiritual disciplines needed to survive and overcome the presenting problems of the day. More than a Conference just for Anglicans and Episcopalians, this study day is open to all our Christian friends, whether they desire a better understanding of the predicament of their Anglican neighbors or are seeking greater insight into their own situation as Christians living in this troubled world."
  • Begins with MP

  • Then two lectures followed
    by questions in the morning

  • Lunch

  • Then 2 more lectures followed by
    questions in the afternoon
  • Ends with EP.

  • Sunday 2 services each followed by S
    School period for questions and answers

Is YE obsolete? Please read on

Dear Peter,

I usually wouldn't bother you with the maunderings of this strange little woman, but I thought that it was interesting in the quoted material to see the way that she uses "ye." I know that it is an "irishism" here, but it strikes me as fun to note that a rock star can use a supposedly obsolete word and expect to be understood, whereas a prayer or translation with such a usage would be incomprehensible according to the lights of some.


Published: 9/24/04

DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) - One-time pop sensation Sinead O'Connor was back in the news Friday - by taking out a full-page ad pleading for people to stop making fun of her.

O'Connor, who shot to international fame in 1990 with her biggest hit "Nothing Compares 2 U," claimed she had been "consistently ridiculed, lashed and called mad" for decades, particularly in her native Ireland.

"I don't think there can be any person male or female from this country who has been as consistently lashed as I have been and always am no matter what I set out to do," she complained during her 2,000-word essay published in the Irish Examiner newspaper.

"If ye all think I am such a crazy person why do ye use me to sell your papers?" she wrote, adding, "Please, I just want to be a little old lady now, and not be all controversial and not be bashed and called crazy and laughed at when I open my mouth to sing or speak."

O'Connor, 37, specialized in attention-seeking stunts during her early career, most notoriously in 1992, when she ripped up a picture of Pope John Paul II on the U.S. TV show "Saturday Night Live" and declared, "Fight the real enemy." She also courted hostility from American audiences by refusing to allow the U.S. anthem to be played at her concerts there.

In recent years, she's clashed with her own siblings - particularly her brother Joe, an internationally regarded author - about her allegations of an abusive childhood at the hands of her late mother. Her siblings insist she's exaggerating claims of abuse.

She returned to that theme Friday. "Before God let me swear to you that if I or any of us were to tell you what we went through this country would cry for a month. To know that my brothers and sister survived, makes me proud of us all," she wrote.

O'Connor, who married in 2001 and has two children, has continued to court headlines with unusual decisions and occasional essays published in local papers.

She was ordained a priest in a breakaway Catholic sect in 1999, but subsequently stopped referring to herself as "Mother Bernadette Mary" and said she'd found the celibacy rule impossible to follow.

Last year she declared she was retiring from the music business, was interested in a movement called the "Death Midwives" that counsels chronically ill people, and planned to train as a religion teacher for elementary school kids.

She resurfaced on Ireland's airwaves Wednesday, when she told the national RTE radio network about her campaign to stamp out head lice in children.

The spread of head lice is a chronic problem in Irish schools, but some commentators sarcastically noted her pressure group's email address, "nittwit," and poked fun at her appeal for Ireland to stage a "national delousing day."

O'Connor said her efforts to help people were unfairly ridiculed. She compared her treatment to that of U2 frontman Bono, whose lobbying of world governments on such issues as AIDS and Third World debt has earned him respect and humanitarian awards.

"If ye wrote about Bono like you wrote about me, he'd kick your asses," she wrote.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Farewell to Thee’s and He’s: On Why the NRSV is popular with both Evangelicals and Liberals

I was in an English university college and attached theological college (of an Evangelical foundation) during the weekend of September 17-19 and the only version of the Bible easily available in chapel and common room was the New Revised Standard Version from the 1990s. Had I also visited a Liberal college, I think I would have found the same. Further, I was sat in the chancel at the local, magnificent Cathedral for five services and the NRSV was read there as well, except at the Holy Communion when The Book of Common Prayer (1662) was used.

It seems that the NRSV has won the hearts and allegiance of both Evangelicals and Liberals in both the United Kingdom and the United States of America. WHY? It is the most favoured version used in the major old-line/main-line denominations of the U.S.A. and the State Churches of Great Britain. WHY?

I think that the answer can be put into four parts:

First of all, the NRSV came along as the successor to the RSV (still in print) and the publicity for it which was intense benefited from its relation to this very successful version from the 1950s. In short, marketing and relation to a previous version!

Secondly, the NRSV, unlike the NEB, REB, NAB & NJB, preserved some of the literary qualities of the English literary tradition of Bible translation that flows from the KJV through the ASV & the RSV. Further, it continued to follow the tradition of essentially literal translation for much of the texts. In contrast, the NEB & the REB relied more on the theory of dynamic equivalency. The result of this conserving is that the NRSV sounds better in formal services than do the other recent versions.

Thirdly, the NSRV went all the way with the eradication of the historic second person singular in the English language – thou, thee, thine, thy, thyself – and replaced by “you, yours.” Since the late 1960s a growing number of both Evangelicals and Liberals have been of the opinion that in order to be relevant and credible the churches must free their language of worship, apologetics and mission of archaic forms, especially “thou/thee” with the special verb endings.

Fourthly, the NRSV went most of the way with the eradication of what is usually called sexism. It used a variety of devices to hide and conceal the supposed androcentric nature of the biblical texts. Both Liberals and Evangelicals are wholly committed to the advancement of women to full equality in terms of positions of leadership in the churches and so the removal of what seems obvious sexism from the English version of the Bible used is for them a necessity. (To be accompanied by the removal of sexism from hymnody and liturgy and sermons.)

Therefore, while Evangelicals and Liberals may disagree on what is salvation and whether homosexual unions are blessed of God they agree that for their different agendas they both need a modern version of the Bible that allows them to be relevant and credible in modern western Society. The NRSV fits the bill nicely, while for Roman Catholic Liberals the NAB or the NJB seem to suffice.


When an ancient text contains a clear distinction between the second person singular and second person plural, as do Hebrew & Greek, not to convey this in a translation into English causes a serious loss of meaning.

When there is a very long tradition in English usage, going back to the middle ages and strongly confirmed at the Protestant Reformation, of addressing God as “Thou/Thee” not to continue to maintain this in translation (as did the RSV) is a serious loss to the continuity of English devotion as a living tradition. “Thou/Thee” not only preserves the Unity of God but also makes clear that the Holy One admits sinners by grace into friendship with him as his adopted children.

When the ancient texts of the Scriptures contain a doctrine of divine order which places men and women in a specific relation, deliberately to remove this relation is to remove a basic doctrine from the Bible and hide it from the modern reader.

This is what we read in the Preface to the NRSV:

During the almost half a century since the publication of the RSV, many in the
churches have become sensitive to the danger of linguistic sexism arising from
the inherent bias of the English language towards the masculine gender, a bias
that in the case of the Bible has often restricted or obscured the meaning of
the original text. The mandates from the Division specified that, in references
to men and women, masculine-oriented language should be eliminated as far as
this can be done without altering passages that reflect the historical situation
of ancient patriarchal culture. As can be appreciated, more than once the
Committee found that the several mandates stood in tension and even in conflict.
The various concerns had to be balanced case by case in order to provide a
faithful and acceptable rendering without using contrived English.

Only those who read the original, can use an interlinear Bible, or are willing to carefully compare the old RSV (or some other linguistically conservative version such as the KJV, the RV or the ASV) with the NRSV will notice the varied, clever, and subtle ways offending words, such as he, his, him, man, men, and brethren, are excised from the text. However, when referring to God, Christ, or male historical characters, the masculine pronouns are normally retained.
Here are five ways in which divine relations are removed or disordered.
1. Pluralization
A common NRSV device to do away with man and he is pluralization:
Blessed is the man... but his delight (RSV)
Happy are those... their delight (NRSV)
Examples of this technique are found everywhere.
2. Additions to the Text
The addition of "and women" to 2 Pet 1:21 suggests that some Bible books were written by women. Perhaps they were?
The word "brethren" (KJV) or "brothers" is the NT's most common word for Christians. Adelphos, the Greek word for brother, comes from the alpha copulative (a-) and an old word for womb.
1 Thessalonians and 1 John use brethren frequently. Generally, the NRSV will put "brothers and sisters" in the text with a footnote "reading Gk brothers(s).” No one disputes that the term brethren includes both sexes and all ages, but whether it is valid to add to the text words that are not there is at best questionable.
3. Subtraction from the Text
In I Thess 5:27 the NRSV reads: "I solemnly command you by the Lord that this letter be read to all of them." In contrast the RSV reads "I adjure you by the Lord that this letter be read to all the brethren."
Note that Romans 2:1 deletes "O man" entirely.
It is one thing to change an ambiguous pronoun "he" to Jesus where it's not clear who is meant. It is yet another to change a clear noun brethren to a vague pronoun them.
See also Romans 2:1 where “O man” is deleted.
Further, what about a bias toward the feminine in that the NRSV at Matt 24:40 deletes "men" in "Then two will be in the field"; and yet" women" is added (validly? for the Greek form is feminine) in v 41: "Two women will be grinding meal"?
4. Paraphrase
For example, Abraham is no longer a "father" in Rom 4:11, but an ancestor.
"Married only once" (1 Tim 3:2) for the literal "the husband of one wife," if taken out of context, might allow for women bishops.
The Son of God became a human being as male man. This is obscured by the NRSV:
There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim 2:5 RSV).
There is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human (1 Tim 2:5 NRSV).
5. Incorrect or Very Loose Translation
In I Thess 4:10 adelphoi is rendered, "But we urge you beloved..." and 5:4, "But you, beloved" instead of "brethren" (RSV). While brotherhood implies affection, “beloved” is hardly appropriate as a translation.
Other less than accurate renderings of brothers include "students" (Matt 23:8), "members of my family" (Matt 26:40), "community" (John 21:23), "friends" (Rom 7:4), "believer(s)" (1 Cor 6:5, 7), "everyone" (1 Cor 10:13), and "comrades" (Rev 12:10).
The NRSV ought only to be used by those who use it alongside a version which seeks to preserve the literal sense of the original languages, the KJV, the RV, the ASB, the RSV and perhaps the NKJV & ESV.
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

When is a Paraphrase an Untruth? On translating in order to avoid what the original states

What is a Paraphrase? It is an expression in other words of the sense of a given passage, or, a free rendering or amplification of a specific passage

From Latin paraphrasis & Greek paraphrasis (to tell in other words)

Each Sunday in adult and children’s classes in churches in the U.S.A., teachers use paraphrase to convey what they believe to be the meaning and sense of parts of the Bible. For example, a paraphrase of “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” (Matthew 5:3) may be “How happy before God are those who are inwardly humble…”

Strictly speaking, to provide a paraphrase, the teacher or preacher should first have before him the original text, have studied it and have understood its meaning, and then he should choose an alternative form of words & phrases to convey what he thinks is the meaning of the original form of words. If he does not have the Hebrew or the Greek text, then he must have an accurate literal rendering in English of the original so that he has as direct an access as possible to the original text, and that he faces whatever strangeness it has or oddities it seems to contain, before he makes the attempt at a paraphrase. For the paraphrase is really a commentary upon the original or an explanation of the meaning of the original.

In the profusion of versions of the Bible in English since the 1970s, it is difficult for the untrained eye to discern whether the English version he is given is a genuine translation, that is an essentially literal translation, or is, in part or in whole, a paraphrase. From the NIV onwards and including the REB, the NJB, the NAB and the NRSV most of the serious English versions contain a mixture of literal rendering and paraphrase and it is not easy for the ordinary reader to know the difference. This is also true of all Liturgies composed since the 1970s.

However, to notice fairly quickly where, in such versions as the REB, NJB, NAB and NRSV, that it is obvious that paraphrase is being used one needs to go to those places where (by modern secular standards of judgment) sexism, patriarchy and androcentricism are said to dominate the original text. The easiest place to notice this in the Old Testament is in Psalm 1:1 where the original text in Hebrew begins very clearly and is easily rendered literally into English as, “Blessed is the man…” No serious minded Hebraist questions this is what it there written, and all the serious commentaries on the Psalter make it clear that the opening words of Psalm 1 refer to an individual, male, human being.

However, here are the paraphrases found in modern versions of the Bible:

NRSV Happy are those…
REB Happy is the one…
NAB Happy those who…
NJB How blessed is anyone…

Obviously, what the Psalmist actually and precisely stated is being told in other words and these other words include a tremendous amount of interpretation. Perhaps the reasoning of the translators went something like this. “The word ‘man’ was used in Hebrew both for the male human being and for human beings of both sexes. God loves both female and male and wants both sexes to be happy in his service. So what the Psalmist was really saying – if we remove his cultural skins – is that both sexes are to be happy in God. And this is what must be said today so that women as well as men think that God wishes their happiness. The dynamic and functional equivalent of ‘Blessed is the man’ is ‘Happy are they’ or ‘Happy is the one’.”

Here the paraphrase obviously contains a very heavy interpretation and anyone reading it, who is not familiar with the original text, would never know that it is a paraphrase, unless some footnote admits it is so.

But consider what is lost to worship, prayer, doctrine and devotion by NOT offering a literal translation.

The text states “Blessed is the man…” for according to the Law of Moses, the man, as husband and father, was the head of the home with the duty to care for his wife and family and to set them an example of godliness. When the Hebrew man obeys the Law of Moses/God and walks in his Statutes then he is blessed by God. And the same is true of his wife and children, who, though they have a different vocation it is a related vocation to his and dependent upon his, and their faithful obedience has its rewards as well.

As read by the Christian Church, the “Man” who obeys the Law and walks in God’s ways is pre-eminently the Man Christ Jesus. The Psalter was his prayer book and so the Church worships God and prays to the Father using this prayer book and using it with and through Jesus Christ, the Man, who is at its very center. If “the Man” is removed from the very first words of the Psalter, how is this possible?

Paraphrases occur in many other places as well but to illustrate them would require a very long essay with all kinds of comparative tables!

To conclude. We see that a paraphrase, however well intentioned, makes it impossible to see the layers of meaning and application that are there in the content of the Sacred Scriptures. If the Church or her Ministers cannot read and understand the original texts then what is needed by them is a sound, literal translation, by and from which the varying layers of meaning can be discerned and experienced. We must not confuse translation with commentary and worse still translation with an opportunity to convey an ideology.

When is a Paraphrase an Untruth? When it is incorporated into the text of an English Bible and there prevents access to the full light that the Lord desires to send forth from his Word.

The Revd Dr Peter Toon September 20, 2004-09-20

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Do the "would-be orthodox" give away with the left hand what they take with the right?

The Authority of Scripture, the ENGLISH BIBLE, and the Crisis of Anglicanism

It is the claim of the Evangelical, Charismatic and Anglo-Catholic members of the American Anglican Council, The Network and affiliated organizations in Canada and Britain that what they are really standing for, in the current controversy and crisis caused by the innovation of blessing 'gay' partnerships and consecrating a 'gay' bishop, is the authority of Holy Scripture in doctrine and morals.

I want to suggest that unwittingly many of these well-intentioned people are actually undermining the authority of Scripture as the written Word of God by their actual use of modern versions of the Bible in their worship and in this present controversy. This suggestion may seem far-fetched; but, I ask my reader to bear with me and to carry on reading what I write.

What is causing the undermining of the authority of the Bible as God's Word written in this Anglican crisis? I suggest that it is the net result of at least these two factors, which I briefly explain below.

1. The proliferation of versions and paraphrases of the Bible available and constantly being revised and re-marketed and being used in churches and by individual persons. No longer can one refer to the English Bible (as one could for centuries with respect to the KJV) for there are currently around 100 versions in print. No longer can one quote a verse or a paragraph and it be instantly recognized as "the Word of God" for the hearers may be using a very different version and thus not immediately see what is being cited. Proliferation has caused skepticism concerning which version if any is trustworthy, and competitiveness has arisen as to which is the "best" Bible!
There is now a smorgasbord approach to choosing an English version of the Bible, with Christians shopping around for what they feel is best for them in their situation and with the particular needs and context. There is no longer the Word of God written, the English Bible, but there are effectively 100 plus major opinions as to what this Bible could be, should be and even ought to be. Visit your local large Christian bookstore to see for yourselves.

2. The fact that most of these 100 or so versions rely in whole or in part upon the
theory of dynamic (or functional) equivalence for the basis of the translation. That is these versions deliberately set aside the traditional approach to translation (essentially literal, and word for word) as used in the KJV, ASB, NKJV, RSV, and ESV and use instead the modern approach which goes for a "thought for thought" rendering. It will be observed that in this new approach the translator is also to a large extent the interpreter. And this is seen so clearly when one compares in parallel columns the texts of these many versions. Whatever be the skill of the translator in knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, he feels duty bound to render the original into ways that can be easily understood by the reader and often he will have a target reader in mind (e.g., an average 15 yr old in High School, a politically-correct congregation, busy mothers, feminists with an agenda, homosexual activists with an agenda, Sunday School classes in big evangelical churches, and so on). The attraction of the theory of dynamic equivalence is that the Bible can become the Bible for any targeted group and can speak its language and serve its ends! And commercial pressures give a respectability to this situation. This is why this theory has been so
acceptable to both Evangelicals (who want a simple, easy-to-read, accessible
text that has few difficulties of grammar, syntax and style) and radical Liberals (who want a Bible that is "soft" on those sins which they want to make into virtues).

Reflection. To commend and defend the Word of God written and the doctrines contained therein (e.g., of human sexuality and holiness) there is needed an English Bible, or a family of English versions which are of the same genre, likeness, and style. Happily there is still available such a provision -- that family of English versions which are based on the only theory of Bible translation that can offer to the churches today a route into the authoritative Word of God and to what it actually says. This theory of essentially literal rendering is that behind the KJV (1611), RV (1881), ASV (1901) NASB (1971), RSV (1957/71) and ESV (2001).

[Note that such versions as the NIV and the NEB contain some but not total use of the essentially literal rendering, while the Todays New International Version and The New Living Translation go all the way with dynamic equivalency. The NRSV and the REB go most of the way with the dynamic equivalency as do the modern R C versions. The 1979 Prayer Book of the ECUSA also goes most of the way in this direction in its rendering of ancient texts.]

Every moment the "would-be orthodox" and the "would-be biblically based" Anglicans continue to use the variety of dynamic equivalency versions as the basis for their debate (war) with innovators in their churches, they actually agree, regrettably, with their liberal and revisionist opponents in assuming & stating that the Word of God is what we decide it is, by what our "thought for thought" rendering really says to us. Subjectivity and opinion thus reign and the true Word of God remains partly hidden from us as we revel in our "thought for thought" equivalency! Reductionism and dumbing-down have made major inroads into the modern versions of the English Bible and by them true reform, revival, renewal and regeneration are made if not impossible most difficult!

(If you really want to help in examining the great harm that the use of dynamic equivalency does to the Bible in English buy and read Leland Ryken, The Word of God in English. Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation, Crossway Books, 2002 ISBN 1-58134-464-3. The only weakness of this book is that it was published to commend the ESV of 2001 and may seem to be a tract rather than a most serious contribution to (especially) evangelical thinking.

If you want to see how far dynamic equivalency has invaded modern R C writing and translating see Keith F. Pecklers, Dynamic Equivalence: the Living Language of Christian Worship, Liturgical Press, 2003.)

The Rev'd Dr Peter Toon September 15, 2004


Dear Father Kim,

You ask me to comment on TO MEND THE NET ....

Those of us, led by Bishops Sinclair and Gomez, who produced the book, TO MEND THE NET, made a submission in 2004 to the Lambeth Commission which included a development of the original strategy for renewal. This document is entitled HOLD THE HELM! and its last part contains specific suggestions. Here is that last part. You will notice that there are three aspects to the recommendation.


5.1 In this present submission we have highlighted some of the developments in the controversy which forms the context of the Commission’s work. We have also attempted to review the most critical issues underlying and overlaying this Anglican dispute. On the basis of these we comment now on some of the choices the Commission will have to make in deciding its recommendations to the Primates Meeting. In doing so, we bear in mind the specific instructions given to the Commission. We can identify three course of action which the Commission may commend to the Primates.

1. An appeal for a voluntary renewal of mutual accountability:

5.2 Mutual accountability between member churches in the Communion and the collegial loyalty between bishops and primates has been badly weakened as this controversy has taken its course. The restoration of these relationships is not only highly desirable, but actually necessary for the future of the Communion. The Church by its very nature is voluntary, in the sense that its members offer a heart obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. A voluntary and Spirit prompted godliness and mutual submission is indispensable.

5.3 This first appeal should we believe be an essential element in the recommendation made to the Primates. To be valid it should point to a return to a way of being church in which our liturgies and orders of service are consistently and deeply Biblical and our theological debates relate seriously to what is affirmed in the Scriptures, the Creeds and the Anglican Formularies. Mutual accountability does of course mean that novel positions adopted in these debates, but lacking wider consensus and the seal of the Spirit, are not then introduced into the common life of the church, much less imposed within it.

2. A harmonization of the Constitutions and Canons of the Member Churches of the Communion:

5.4 We note that the Primates’ Commission has been asked to undertake legal as well as theological reflection upon the dangers currently facing the Communion. This relates to work previously requested from the IATDC on “the parameters of identifiable Anglican common law and how an understanding of such common law can enhance our global communion.” That the present commission should be looking for a “canonical understanding” of both impaired and broken communion represents necessary ground clearing. Also highly relevant is the question about communion and autonomy and the extent to which they may be compatible.

5.5 It may well be the case that the respective constitutions of our member churches do reflect a very strong common identity and a firm anchorage in Anglican history and tradition. ECUSA has a constitution which identifies it in very conservative terms. The way the individual constitutions are then safeguarded by the canons of the different member churches may vary more widely, and modifications bringing a greater measure of consistency are surely to be welcomed. The canons of course make provision for synodical decisions which may alter church order and possibly church doctrine. There remains therefore the question of how positive modification can be encouraged and allowed, while restraining mistaken change that may be unacceptable to a minority within a given member church and to a majority in sister churches in the Communion.

5.6 Do the proposals following the examination of constitutions and canons contemplate the creation of juridical authority above the level of member churches? If this measure is not introduced, then it is hard to see that by itself a rationalization of constitutions and canons will effectively prevent the introduction of changes which may subvert Anglican identity and compromise Anglican witness. How this level of juridical authority may be introduced should, we believe, be governed by the inclusion of a third proposal, which now follows.

3. An Exercise of Discipline applied by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates’ Meeting to Dioceses and Member Churches that after due warning have in their synods taken steps that the wider Communion has declared to be contrary to Scripture.

5.7 The Proposal contained in To Mend the Net did not explicitly elaborate the recommendations that have just been described. They are, however, included in or consistent with what was published that document. We want to positively affirm them now, but at the same time insist that without the acceptance of this third recommendation they will prove inadequate.

5.8 This recommendation responds to the questions directed to the Commission concerning the “extra-ordinary ministry” that the Archbishop of Canterbury may assume in the internal affairs of a province. It also relates to the inclusion among the responsibilities of the Primates’ Meeting “intervention in cases of exceptional emergency which are incapable of internal resolution within Provinces” specified in resolution III.6 of Lambeth ’98. So does this ministry and this intervention include the exercise of discipline?

5.9 There are essential as well as contingent reasons why a minimal but nevertheless adequate exercise of disciple must be available at every level in the life of a communion of churches. Entry into this communion is voluntary, but if communion is to remain communion there must be a binding loyalty not only to its Head, Jesus Christ, but to its standard of teaching, the Apostolic testimony to Jesus. During the life-time of the Apostles they set this standard for the infant church and protected it from false teaching. There is no reason to imagine that the Church no longer needs protection from heresy, nor that those who introduce false teaching no longer require discipline. Distaste for the wrong kind of heresy hunting gives no justification for failing to preserve essential loyalty to dominical and apostolic standards. Discipline should not be viewed negatively. Ultimately it is restorative. To the extent that the church has lost the capacity for godly discipline, it has no alternative but to learn to exercise it again.

5.10 There is though, a further question: are the revisions currently being introduced in the area of human sexuality of a degree of seriousness that justifies the disciplining of those who through their synods introduce them? In reviewing the issues that are inextricable from those of human sexuality, we gave reasons why contradictory positions on sexuality cannot be held together in the same Communion of churches. The underlying theological divergence is very great, pastoral care, evangelistic outreach, ecumenical and interfaith relations are all place in jeopardy, unless such revisions are held in check. To achieve this necessary restraint the revisers have in this instance to be disciplined. Free running revision is demonstrably fatal to communion. It is insufficient for the Primates meeting to declare that the teaching of the Anglican Communion has not been altered by the innovations relating to sexuality introduced in some member churches, if the meeting cannot bring itself to exercise discipline. While those revisionist member churches or dioceses remain in good standing in the Communion then ‘de facto’ the teaching of the Communion is being changed: a situation which as we have seen is intolerable for other member churches.

5.11 It is our conviction that these three recommendations - renewal of mutual accountability, harmonization of constitutions and canons, and exercise of appropriate discipline at international level – work together. The recent history of refusal against the repeated appeals of the Primates Meeting proves that unless this instrument of Anglican Unity can match godly discipline with godly admonition, the Communion remains at the mercy of any local option however prejudicial it may be to its global witness. To Mend the Net offers a way in which this discipline can be wisely exercised. The harmonisation of constitutions can then provide a complementary juridical basis for this action by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates Meeting, matching the authority its President already possesses: to call bishops together or to withdraw that call. These disciplinary and legal steps are necessary, but neither are they sufficient. The life of the Communion must continue to be sustained by a willing mutual accountability and by Spirit inspired virtues, without which communion is in any case hollow. There is no question of a total regulation of the Communion either on the basis of enforced discipline or codified law. These two requirements provide a necessary last line of defence against subversion and disintegration, but the first is a necessary condition for flourishing.


6.1 What is happening at this time in the Anglican Communion requires on the one hand prompt action, and, on the other, careful working out of long term measures to help to sustain and make fruitful its ongoing witness. Even while the Commission is doing its work in the appointed twelve months, a revisionist member church and diocese are pursuing their chosen course, orthodox dissenters in those areas are re-grouping, and provinces in Africa and Asia and Latin America are declaring impaired or broken communion with the innovators. It is evident that the ship has to be refitted and redirected in a storm.

6.2 Because of the speed of events the Archbishop Canterbury and the Primates Meeting faces a stark alternative. Either a decision is made to discipline ECUSA and New Westminster or else through lack of that decision the communion is allowed to divide into two parts: one tolerating the North American revisions and the other dissociating itself from changes which fatally compromise its Christian witness. The Commission might want to limit its recommendation to damage limitation, but damage to the life of the Communion has already been extensive, and more than damage limitation is now required. In the last analysis, if the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates Meeting as a body do not take upon themselves the duty of discipline, then a number of Primates with their Provinces will repair their omission. That though will represent a healing but at the cost of division.

6.3 We conclude with the figure of the ship in the storm. It is significant that a word used for church government in the New Testament also applies to the steering of a ship. Steering becomes critical in turbulent waters. We are saying here as clearly as possible that in the actual storm buffeting the Anglican fleet it isn’t enough to lower some of the sails or nail down some planks on the decks. Those called to exercise enhanced responsibility in the Communion today have to grasp the rudder and restore straying vessels to their Christ appointed course. Nothing less than such a restoration of direction will preserve intact this family of churches. The dangers to which the brief of this Commission allude are real. We submit that the Commission must point the Communion not only to ways of true safety but also to ways in which it can fulfil, by God’s grace, its true potential.

February 2004-02-06

As you know what worries me - even if the Lambeth Commission adopts these suggestions -- is that a presenting problem in North America will be treated as if it were the real problem (that the fruit will be confused with the root!). Though of great seriousness, the homosexual innovations are one sign amongst several of a basic apostasy in the Episcopal Church, and to deal only with one sign is to miss the opportunity to worship and serve the LORD in the beauty of holiness. And to exascerbate the general situation all of us are involved in one way or another in this apostasy and therefore all of us are called to repentance, reform and renewal.

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

No theology, please, we're British

(This is a good read for those who are thinking seriously about the Anglican Communion --p.t.)
By George Weigel
This past summer I had a pleasant dinner with a senior British churchman who happened to be visiting Cracow while I was teaching there. His Grace was, in many respects, an Anglican prelate straight from central casting: handsome, charming, urbane, impeccably attired, emotions under control, disclaimers always preceded by a "perhaps," etc., etc. Earlier in the day, he had gone to Wadowice, the Pope's birthplace, and was clearly moved to have seen the roots from which a great Christian witness had sprung.

What was disconcerting about our conversation was that it never touched on theology. We discussed at length the impact on the Anglican Communion and the Anglican-Catholic dialogue of last year's decision by the Diocese of New Hampshire (supported by a majority vote of delegates to a national Anglican convention) to ordain as the local bishop a man who has lived for years with his homosexual lover -- this, after divorcing his wife in a church ceremony. My interlocutor suggested, politely, that the real problem here was one of management, or perhaps of manners: U.S. Episcopalians had rushed into this before the rest of the Anglican Communion had had a chance to adjust its thinking to more enlightened (so to speak) ways. That the Gene Robinson case in New Hampshire engaged some core theological questions, including the Church's claim to be the bearer of moral truth, did not seem to be at the top of my dinner companion's menu of concerns.

Later in the summer I remembered this conversation when reading several reviews of, and commentaries on, the memoirs of George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Anglican Communion. It is no offense against charity to suggest that Lord Carey is confused about several things -- and, once again, they are theological in character.Carey argues that, as John Paul II has experienced more physical difficulties, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has taken the Catholic Church in a new direction, undercutting the Pope's heroic personal witness.

The evidence for this? The 2000 Vatican document Dominus Iesus, which reaffirms the unique salvific mission of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church's ancient understanding of itself as the most rightly ordered expression in history of the One Church of Christ. Why has Ratzinger done this? Because, Carey writes, Ratzinger is "exceedingly conservative," a man who shows "little of the flexibility that characterized the approach of the Second Vatican Council."Really? Dominus Iesus contains 102 footnoted citations; fifty of them are taken from the documents of the Second Vatican Council. Another thirty-seven citations are from the magisterium of John Paul II, who, as Dominus Iesus states, approved the document "with sure knowledge and by his apostolic authority."

Carey also blames Ratzinger and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for the strained relations between Rome and Canterbury over the Anglican admission of women to the ordained ministry. But this, too, makes no sense. Carey's predecessor, Archbishop Robert Runcie, had been told in letters from the Pope and from Cardinal Johannes Willebrands (whom no one would ever style "conservative") that Anglican approval of the ordination of women would raise extremely grave questions about the future of the Anglican-Catholic dialogue and the hope for ecclesial reconciliation. Runcie replied that there were indeed serious theological and ecumenical issues in play -- and then proceeded to make the case for ordaining women on strictly sociological grounds.

Which leads to the awkward but inescapable thought that some high-ranking Anglican prelates of recent vintage have suffered from a dramatic theology deficit. Lord Carey's successor, Dr. Rowan Williams, is a formidable and well-regarded theologian. Whether he can convince his fellow bishops of the Anglican Communion to think theologically, rather than sociologically and politically, about central questions of Christian doctrine and Church order would seem to be one of his challenges.

If Dr. Williams is unsuccessful -- if senior Anglican figures continue to treat the Gene Robinson affair as a management problem, while others blame ecumenical chilliness on that great bogeyman, Cardinal Ratzinger -- then, before too much time has passed, many Catholics, including those fully committed to ecumenism, will sadly but ineluctably conclude that what styles itself an Anglican "Communion" is in fact a fraternity of quarreling Protestant sects.

George Weigel is a senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

Questions that bother me and for which I do not have full answers

Surveying the Anglican scene in the West as it has developed in recent decades, various questions constantly arise in my mind. Here are three:

Why is it that the theory of dynamic equivalence or functional equivalence has come to dominate the translation of the Bible and to do so as much for Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics as for Liberals/Radicals?

And, in relation to this, Why has the older theory of essentially literal translation been abandoned by the same people? And, Why are so few, who are using version of the Bible based on this new theory, so little interested in hearing arguments for the older theory of translation and thus for the older versions?

Why is it that the theory of dynamic equivalence or functional equivalence has come to dominate the translation of liturgical texts for use in the Daily Offices, the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion and so on in all the Anglican Prayer Books since the 1970s?

And in relation to this, Why has the older theory of essentially literal translation been abandoned by the various Commissions on Liturgy? And, Why are so few, within the influence of the new theory, so little interested in hearing arguments for the use of the older theory of translation?

Then also there is the question:

Why it is that, after a long series of doctrinal, liturgical and ethical innovations by the Anglican Provinces of the West/North, the innovation of blessing “gay” partnership should become for many in the Anglican Communion a matter so serious as to become the basis for a probable breaking-up of the 38-member Communion of Churches?

And in relation to this, Why is it that Primates, Archbishops, Bishops and Presbyters, of undoubted zeal for the Lord and from all over the world, do not see the innovatory blessing, though a serious error, as a major presenting problem, pointing to the apostasy of much of the Anglican constituency in the West/North?

For me to share what thoughts I have on these topics would take a full-length book, since many considerations come to mind.

However, I would make two observations in relation to the first and second questions: (a) that there is very widespread ignorance amongst many churchgoers, including their pastors and teachers, of the nature of this new theory of translating ancient texts and what are its results. (For a starter into this topic see the chapter “Ancient Texts, Translation and Doctrine” in the book, Neither Orthodoxy Nor a Formulary, 2004 from 1-800-727-1928 and by Tarsitano & Toon). To remind people of what is the difference between the two theories see, for example, the results in Psalm 1:1, “Blessed is the man” (traditional versions) and “Happy are they…” (dynamic equivalent versions). And (b) that conservatives and liberals are both zealously committed to versions of the Bible and forms of liturgy based on this theory – this is worrying indeed!

And here is one observation with regard to the high profile given to homosexuality in current Anglican thought and discourse. Most of the African bishops who are so solidly against the practice of blessing homosexual partnerships come out of a context where the whole society (traditional, tribal and Muslim culture) sees any form of homosexuality as a serious and heinous distortion of human sexuality and offence against social cohesion. Thus they condemn it in the Western Churches with zeal; but, in so doing they do not have the time to see that it has arisen in the Anglican Churches as part of a continuing stream of innovations in doctrine and morality. Meanwhile, this pleases many “would be-orthodox” in the erring Western Churches for they can join in the condemnation and thereby conveniently do not have to face the real problems of apostasy of which the homosexual innovations are a most serious, but yet only, a presenting problem.

The Rev’d Dr Peter Toon September 14 2004

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Is Frank Griswold is a classical Anglican?

Today, September 12, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold of the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. was interviewed on BBC Radio 4 on the Sunday programme. He is in London to speak at St Paul’s Cathedral. He was asked about the consecration of Gene Robinson and its impact, as well as about his reaction to the forthcoming Lambeth Commission [Eames] Report arising from the impact of that consecration. He claimed to have been surprised by the world-wide interest in and reaction to the consecration, and he refused to comment on what he would say or do if the Report recommends discipline for the ECUSA.

However, he did use the expression “classic Anglicanism” several times and claimed that the position he holds (and the General Convention works to) is such.

Whatever does he mean?

He appears to be assuming that the situation today where different provinces (e.g., ECUSA & Nigeria) have very different theological & moral positions is to all intents and purposes identical with the situation of say fifty years ago. Then there was much talk of Anglican comprehensiveness -- the holding together churchmen who were Anglo-Catholic, Latitudinarian and Evangelical, with shades in between and from very high church to very low church in terms of ceremonial.

But is he right?

Certainly the Anglican Communion had the character of unity in diversity until recent times, even though the unity was strained from time to time and the diversity ran the risk of being too varied at times. All the varying forms of churchmanship held to a common core of doctrine and morality and gave allegiance to The Book of Common Prayer & The Ordinal (but not always to the Articles of Religion or The Athanasian Creed). The individual provinces did flex the muscles of their autonomy occasionally, but they did not generally use it against the wishes of the whole body, and certainly not to deny a cardinal doctrine or expression of morality.

The arrival in some provinces of the ordination of women severely tested – and does still – the unity in diversity as provinces have used their autonomy in this instance in ways that made fellowship with others problematic. In response to this the first Eames Commission of the 1980s came up with the anglicized doctrine of reception, which attempted to permit provinces and dioceses with different views of the ordination of women to live together in a basic peace and with a basic fellowship as the process of reception, testing and discerning proceeded. (see my 64 page booklet on Reception – )

It seems that Presiding Bishop Frank wishes to use the term classical Anglicanism of the situation in the Communion after the arrival of the ordination of women and the doctrine of reception, and during the time when one or two provinces have deliberately and knowingly stretched the diversity past the point that most if not all other provinces believe is acceptable or right.

In other words Griswold wants to retain the expression “classical Anglicanism” for a diversity where there is no longer even a minimal basic unity, because a majority of provinces has stated very clearly that they are not now in, or will not be in, communion with a province that publicly and deliberately accepts homosexual partnerships as approved by God and persons from them as suitable candidates for ordination and consecration.

Let us recall that Classical Anglicanism was a system which can be compared to a wheel, with the hub (center), the spokes and the circumference. This is unity in diversity with definite limits set by the circumference to the diversity.

Frank is deceiving himself into thinking that even where the spoke penetrates the rim and sticks out through the tire, or even where the spoke is not actually fully attached to the hub/center, the wheel still is in place! Let him recall Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it?”

As a global phenomenon classical Anglicanism is fractured or gone. Let us hope that after the Eames Report is published on October 18, moves will begin for its restoration, for the glory of God and the good of His Church. Meanwhile let us not forget to pray for Bishop Frank.

The Revd Dr Peter Toon September 12 2004.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Comment upon the Document submitted by a group of evangelical Bishops and theologians to the “Eames” Commission at its last meeting on 9/6/2004

Obviously, this was a last minute, determined attempt to persuade the Commission (which met from 6-10 September at Windsor Castle) to recommend what this group believes will be the minimum acceptable to the “orthodox” of both the Global South and the West/North and will therefore prevent an evangelical “walk out” from the Anglican Family as it is presently constituted.

In brief this international (but mostly Western) group:

1. desires the present Anglican Communion to remain a Communion of Churches with a common Faith and having two types of membership of national Churches – (1) full member and (2) member-under-discipline.

2. rejects proposals for converting the Anglican Communion into a Federation of National Churches, wherein each of which can emphasize its provincial autonomy, but for which total grouping there is no clear common Faith or discipline.

3. insists that discipline – restorative discipline – be offered to/pressed upon the North American provinces (via the visit of overseas Primates to address the Houses of Bishops) for their true good.

4. explains that if restorative discipline is not accepted then the provinces of North America be excluded from the Communion and that in their place what is now called “The Network” (and its Canadian equivalent) be recognized as the true Anglican province(s) of North America and organize as such.

Further, this document assumes that the provinces of North America should be disciplined or excluded by the leaders of the Communion because of, and only because of, the innovative sexual developments of 2003/4. There is no mention or even assumption that these sexual innovations are really and truly presenting problems, and that, alongside and beneath them, there are other, very serious expressions of apostasy from the LORD and from Catholic & Evangelical Worship, Doctrine and Discipline.

What is distressing is that the kind of thinking displayed by the group carries the implication that “The Network” which accepts some of these post 1960s innovations is truly “orthodox” now, and simply because it is apparently “clean” on the homosexual innovations and actually protests against them. Thus, regrettably, the new USA province it envisages will at best be only “would-be-orthodox” in shape and content for it will not have the classic and orthodox Formularies in place.

The REPORT of the Commission is now being written and is promised for publication on October 15, 2004. We await its appearance with some measure of trepidation.

The Rev’d Dr Peter Toon September 12, 2004

Lambeth Commission reports 18 October 2004


A photograph for this item can be found here:
Press Contact:The Revd Brian ParkerTel 028 90 232909 (m) 07775 927 807

The Lambeth Commission on Communion announced today that it is to publish its report in London on Monday 18 October 2004 at the beginning of the meeting in London of the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates' Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council. The announcement follows the Commission's third plenary meeting, which was held this week (6 - 10 September) in Saint George's House, Windsor Castle.

The Most Revd Robin Eames, Archbishop of Armagh and Chairman of the Commission, said, "The Commission has been greatly challenged in this task and I have been privileged to work with such a dedicated team. I have no doubt that their collective insights and recommendations can and must make a profound and practical impact for good in the life and mission of the Anglican Communion. This has been a labour of love in the faith that Christ is our guide and strength in working for peace and healing."

The Commission was established by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Rowan Williams, in October 2003, to make recommendations to the Primates of the Anglican Communion on how to maintain the highest degree of communion possible following developments in North America.

The Commission has now concluded its plenary sessions, but work is continuing to be done in the preparation of the report in readiness for its delivery to the Archbishop of Canterbury. No further statements will be issued by the Commission before the release of its report on 18 October.

The Commission would like to thank the Dean and Chapter of St George's College, Windsor, for their warm hospitality this week. For full information on the work of the Lambeth Commission on Communion check the web site: The arrangements for the issuing of the Lambeth Commission Report on 18 October 2004 will be announced later.

Evangelicals & Dynamic Equivalency

Dear Fr Kim,

Thank you so much for circulating the last-minute submission of the Evangelicals to the Eames Commission (September l, 2004). I hope to send you later today, after I have conducted a funeral, my evaluation of this document entitled “Drawing the Line.”

At this stage I send to you my observation on the opening 20 words which state they are the words of Psalm 25:21-22. But are they?

Here is what appears at the head of the document:

May integrity and uprightness protect us, because our hope is in you.Redeem
Israel, O God from all their troubles (Psa. 25:21-22).

I ask, From which published paraphrase of the Psalter is this taken?

It is not taken from such versions of the KJV, RV, RSV,ESV, NRSV, REB, NAB, JB, NJB and not even from the Psalter in the 1979 Prayer Book of ECUSA.

All these versions agree that we are dealing with the singular in the Hebrew and so the translation should be something like this as we listen in to the Psalmist praying to YHWH, the LORD:

“Let integrity and uprightness safeguard me, for I wait for Thee. Ransom Israel,
O God, out of all his/its troubles.”

Notice that this evangelical document begins with an inclusivist paraphrase of two verses of Holy Scripture, a paraphrase based on a theory of dynamic equivalency, making plurals out of singulars ---- me/us ; I/we ; his/its – their. The original text is interpreted and the interpretation offered as the translation.

Do you not find this a little worrying? That a group of men, bishops and theologians who claim to be speaking for Biblical Religion and Patristic Orthodoxy, should begin by using such a rendering of the sacred text of the Hebrew Scriptures? What is wrong with the rendering in the usually favored NSRV or RSV or ESV or even KJV?

The way that the sacred text is manipulated in their paraphrase is like unto the way in which the LesBiGay lobby uses the theory of dynamic equivalency to make the Bible speak the kind of message with which it is comfortable – i.e., reducing the wickedness of the sin of sodomy!

Once the principle of dynamic equivalency is conceded then it is like elastic than can be stretched and stretched to allow any meaning that clever people can devise.

Yours truly,

The Rev’d Dr Peter Toon September 10th 2004

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH? The deceitful heart/mind and the Confession of Sin in the BCP

Following my exposition of Jeremiah 17: 9 on the deceitfulness of the human mind/heart [How deceitful is the heart?, Sept 7], one respondent asked a question with respect to the words of the General Confession in The Book of Common Prayer (1662/1928). First, here are the words:

We have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too
much the devices and desires of our own hearts, We have offended against thy
holy laws, We have left undone those things that we ought to have done, And we
have done those things which we ought not to have done. And there is no health
in us

And here is the question: How much is too much?

Let us note first of all that it is assumed that everyone, that is each of the baptized gathered for Daily Prayer, says this prayer and that it applies to each of them fully.

Secondly, let us note that the content of the confession of sin here is presented through basically biblical images and teaching -- sheep forsaking the shepherd, the heart/mind as being deceitful, the breaking of God's laws and the absence in the soul of any principle of everlasting life (health/salvation). The total picture presented by these words and images is that each of us as individual persons and all of us as the congregation of Christ's flock are daily in need of the forgiveness of God because, whatever the state of our receipt of grace and growing sanctification, we remain always both sinful and sinners -- until this body of flesh is replaced at the Resurrection by the immortal body of glory.

Too much --- it is possible that these two words point to the fact that knowingly and deliberately (in contrast to unconsciously) we have followed the less than perfect or evil intentions of our "deceitful hearts/minds." Most of the time our thoughts, words and actions proceed from our deceitful minds as imperfect and sinful but we are not aware that they are so, for we assume they are acceptable to God. However, there are times when our self-knowledge, guided by the light of God's law, tells us that such and such thoughts, words and deeds are offensive to God, but, nevertheless, we still find some kind of pleasure or satisfaction in pursuing them.

Thus it is possible that the "too much" refers to the overflow of the sins proceeding from the fact of original sin, the possession of a diseased nature, the reality of a deceitful, devious and corrupt heart/mind. This overflow could have been prevented by calling upon the Lord for help!

The Rev'd Dr Peter Toon September 8 2004

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

How deceitful is the HEART?

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?KJV Jeremiah 17:9
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick. Who can understand it? ESV
The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse – who can understand it? NRSV
The heart is more devious than any other thing, and is depraved; who can fathom its secrets? NJB

For us “the heart” is either the pump in our chests on which we rely for life to the body, or it is the source and center of the emotions. However, for Jeremiah the emotions were centered in the viscera and for him “heart” is what for us is “the mind”, the source of thinking, imagining and willing.

Therefore Jeremiah is stating here:

  1. The human mind is of such a make-up that it is constantly engaged in deception so that what a person thinks and says is very likely not to be the truth.
  2. The same human mind is deceitful and devious because it is sick, morally and spiritually corrupt.
  3. No human being can fully know either the content and workings of his own mind or that of any other person.

It is important to note that Jeremiah is a prophet who is speaking to and of the moral and spiritual condition of man, in this case Hebrew man. He is wholly clear that at the center of his life, being, thinking and acting each human being is – in moral and spiritual terms – sick, and, in fact, so corrupted as to cause him to deceive himself, without him realizing that this deception is going on.

Because Jeremiah is focusing on the moral and spiritual, we need to exclude from this statement those aspects of the mind that come under what we may call its logical and practical capacity. The mind is not basically deceitful in doing of arithmetic and geometry, or in its application to doing basic things like cooking, cleaning and mending, and in solving practical problems to do with machinery or technology.

For Jeremiah, the (outwardly) best of human beings constantly think, feel, say and do things believing that they so act for this or that reason, when in fact they deceive themselves for there are other hidden reasons more active than the perceived ones working in their minds! Today, after a century of the experience of psychiatry and psychological counseling in the West we know only too well that the mind is a complex reality and that the way we say, feel, think and act, and why we so do, is a deep mystery. To know ourselves is extremely difficult, perhaps impossible. So Jeremiah’s question of “Who can know the mind?” is entirely justified then and now.

If we reflect a while we can see that the deceitful and devious mind operates both individually and in a kind of a corporate capacity.

Of oneself it is often true, for example, that one gives a particular reason doing something (e.g., resigning from a board or committee) and one really believes what one says and the explanation offered; however, the real reason hidden in the mind is different, for the hidden reason is usually expressive of self-justification, self-protection and pride, and one does not want to know this either of oneself or to publish it to others.

Of a group, any close group, it may be the case that while they speak openly with one voice and supplying one reason in their opposition to this or that enemy, the real reason for their opposition is something more sinister and evil, but this they do not want to admit even to themselves even if they are wholly conscious of it.

What is here being described by Jeremiah – and confirmed by Jesus in his description of the human heart/mind (see Mark 7:30-21) -- is what Christian theologians have called “original sin” for this deceptive quality of the mind is inherited and each baby has it. It is with us as long as we are in this mortal body. Happily, it will not be present in the resurrection body of glory!

Is there an answer and an antidote?

In verse 10 of Jeremiah 17 we hear YHWH, the LORD, who speaks and says, “I, the LORD, search the heart…” God knows fully and completely the bias and content of the mind and thus faithful creatures will look to the LORD, his law and statutes as the basis for their self-evaluation and actions. Later in his prophecies, Jeremiah speaks of the renewal of man which will come in the new covenant – “I will put my Law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God and they shall be my people…” (31:33-34). In the New Testament this becomes the new creation, birth from above, and the gift of the indwelling Spirit.

Even so, the arrival of the new covenant and the writing of it in the mind does not cause the inherited mind to cease to be deceitful and corrupt for this mind belongs to “this body of flesh”! No, what the arrival of the new covenant does is to provide a new principle, a new paradigm, a new power in the mind to overcome and to mortify the corruption of the old.

The deceitful mind and modern popular Christianity – teaching, preaching and liturgy

In the “celebratory” context of much modern western Christianity, there is little recognition of the inbred, innate deceitfulness and deceptiveness and deviousness of the corrupt, sick mind of man. Because the mind is seemingly unaffected at the level of logical thought and in practical thinking in doing tasks, it is assumed that it is not affected, or only minimally affected by sin in its spiritual and moral content, self-evaluation, self-knowledge and self-esteem.

This is in total contrast to the historic teaching of the Church in days past when God’s servants had a profound knowledge of both Scripture and the heart/mind of mind in its relation to God, his law and his Gospel. If one takes the doctrinal and psychological content of the basic services of The Book of Common Prayer and compares this with any of the post 1970s celebratory modern services one notices immediately that the former take for granted and assume “the deceitfulness of the human soul/mind/heart” and thus look for penitence and a desire for forgiveness as a basic requirement of any worship of God. The human condition – as known to Jeremiah and Jesus – is stated with what seems to moderns perhaps a crude clarity in the old liturgies and books of devotion! In contrast, in their creation of new liturgy, the experts of the 1970s and 1980s decided that this element had to be removed or greatly reduced.

Much modern piety and worship pays only minimal attention to the true condition of human souls as they meet with God and, therefore, in the application of the medicine of the Gospel they do not attempt to get to the real problem or to its bottom! This is why there is much “celebration” and self-worth and so little “weeping and gnashing of teeth”.

Deceitfulness of the heart/mind and the LesBiGay agenda.

Looking on from the outside, as it were, it is so easy for traditional people to see and state that the homosexual activists provide a clear example of the deceitfulness and deceptiveness of the human heart and mind. They are persuaded that in their committed partnerships they live under the blessing and approval of God and that they deserve the blessing of God’s Church. In this persuasion, they reveal the ability of the mind to produce reasons and explanations in self-justification of perceived feelings and drives of the flesh and to do so in a convincing manner. Such self-deception can only be cured by the presence of the new nature, the principle of the Spirit and of the Gospel, cleansing and renewing the content and functioning of the mind/soul.

But, as I have remarked in other places, I think that many of the “would-be orthodox” also reveal the reality of the deceitfulness of the mind in their reasoning and public statements. It seems to be the case that it suits many to believe, and to do so sincerely (for all kinds of complex reasons hidden deep in the recesses of the mind), that the ECUSA was just fine before it took on board in earnest the homosexual agenda. Sort that out, they think, and the ECUSA has every opportunity to be “orthodox”. But here the mind is devious, deceitful and corrupt! It avoids looking at the major instances of apostasy and of heresy which prepared for the arrival of the homosexual agenda and thus reduces complex sinful phenomena to simple proportions that make only few demands upon people who claim to be “orthodox”..

In Conclusion

No-one is exempt from the disease of the corrupt mind. The effects of this disease upon our daily living are immense and we know only part of the inner story of our souls. The way of the LORD for the humble is to engage in his presence in self-examination, in the light of his Law and the example and teaching of Christ, and then there begins the possibility of the beginning of genuine self-knowledge and therefore genuine repentance and forgiveness. Mortifying and overcoming the deceit in the mind is the an essential part of the process of sanctification by the Spirit.

The Rev’d Dr Peter Toon September 7 2004