Thursday, July 29, 2004

The Network and FiF North America

An important piece by the Revd Dr Geoffrey Kirk of Forward in Faith of England

23 July 2004

"These hands have ordained women and I am comfortable with that", Bishop Peter Beckwith told delegates to the Forward in Faith North America National Assembly in Bedford, Texas.

It was an unfortunate way of putting things. Unfortunate because it was a scarcely veiled allusion to the so-called "Doctrine of Taint", of which Forward in Faith has often been accused, but which it has never held. And unfortunate in the way in which it seemed to belittle the importance of the very issue which had brought the delegates of that conference together.

"The Network", whatever it stands for (and that is by no means clear), has drawn its line at the consecration of Gene Robinson, and so, by implication, declared other contemporary innovations in the life of the Episcopal Church to be secondary or subsidiary. It is therefore important to ask: Why this line in the sand and no other?

It has to be said, with frankness, that it does not appear to be a very tenable line. What, after all, is wrong with the ordination of Gene Robinson?

Is it that he is a practising gay bishop? But he was a practising gay priest before he was a practising gay bishop. Why is now so much worse than then?

Is it that, as a bishop, he exercises a teaching role in matters of doctrine, which as a cathedral canon he did not exercise? Then why did those who object to the consecration of Gene Robinson not seek the deposition of Jack Spong (whose doctrinal defections were at least as flagrant as Bishop Robinson's?)

Is it that Gene Robinson has separated from his wife to embrace a life style excoriated by the scriptures? Certainly he has; but is it clear (Article XXVI and all) that his sacramental acts are defective and that his ministry should therefore be shunned? Frankly, a man's bedroom activities are an uncertain foundation on which to build an ecclesiology - especially those of a man as uncertain in his mores as Bishop Robinson. He has already forsaken a gay lifestyle for matrimony and deserted matrimony for a gay lifestyle. Who is to say that he will not change his mind again and confound his critics with repentance?

Is it because a majority of ECUSA bishops consented to his consecration, so signalling their departure from scriptural fidelity and the constraints of the tradition? They did so, of course. But the challenge is to say why this is a defining moment. Does anyone believe that a majority of ECUSA bishops was faithful to scripture and the tradition up to the moment of the Robinson consecration?

Those in the Episcopal Church who have opposed the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate for the last thirty years (and have been marginalised in that Church as a result of their principled stand) have earned the right to ask these questions and more.

Forward in Faith maintains that the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate is contrary to the clear teaching of scripture, and is repeatedly and unreservedly condemned in the tradition. We hold that the exegetical sleights of hand which allow women?s ordination to be portrayed as consonant with scripture are precisely those which are now being employed in condoning homosexual practice. We believe, moreover, that the two matters are related, not only by the exegetical methods used to uphold them, but by a doctrine of personal rights and freedoms which is itself unevidenced in scripture and inimical to orthodox Christianity.

It will be seen that an alliance with those who oppose the homosexualist agenda is one which Forward in Faith can undertake with enthusiasm. It will be equally clear that we cannot do so in terms which will in any way compromise our stand on what is, in our view, the clearest and most fundamental ecclesiological issue in the present debate.

We believe that matters of sexual ethics, especially when they set aside (or seek to trivialise or compromise) the marriage bond, seriously affect the integrity of the Church as the Bride of Christ [Ephesians 5: 22-33] and the Household of Faith [Galatians 6: 10; Ephesians 2: 19]. These are matters of great importance. The Apostle Paul, more than once, links sexual license with idolatry. [Romans 1:18-24; Galatians 5:19-20; Colossians 3:5]

But the ordination of women (setting aside, as it does, the free, gracious and sovereign action of the Lord in his choice of male Apostles [Matthew 4: 18-22; Mark 1: 16-20]; the deliberate continuation of that choice by the Apostles themselves [Acts 1:15-26]; and the specific and clear prohibitions of Paul in his Apostolic charge to those who were to succeed him [I Timothy 2:11-15] ) is graver still.

The ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate is for us a salvation issue. By this we mean that it calls into question the apostolicity, continuity and reliability of those sacraments upon which eternal life and salvation depend. ("Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you do not have life in yourselves. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day". [John 6:53-54]) We do not mean by this, as some have perversely misconstrued, that those who have ordained women or have received their ministry are damned: simply that their actions endanger the salvation and spiritual well-being of others.

Women?s ordination is also a primary ecclesiological issue, since it is the vocation and purpose of the Church to guard the authenticity of the sacraments of the Lord, until the Lord himself comes and all sacraments are done away. The Church does not authorise the sacraments; in Christ the sacraments constitute and authorise the Church.

Because of the ecclesiological implications of the ordination of women it has been the consistent aim of Forward in Faith to establish a free and independent province of the Anglican Communion in North America which would continue the priesthood and episcopate of the Catholic Church as the Episcopal Church received them. Such a province would, as a matter of course, uphold the Church's teaching on the sanctity and indissolubility of the marriage bond, and other dependent issues in human sexuality.

It is not presently clear what the ultimate ecclesial aims of the Network are. We are grateful for the generosity of those who have assured a secure and respected place within it for those opposed to women bishops and priests. But such assurances do not diminish our aims and objectives. Ours is the majority opinion in the communion and in the wider church. It would be foolish, therefore, to allow impaired communion with those within the Network to dictate for us the nature and extent of our fraternal relations with fellow Anglicans opposed to women's ordination - and our ecumenical opportunities with respect to the great churches of East and West.

It may be added that the 1979 prayer book of the ecusa wholly supports the ordination of women and that this prayer book is the book used by the network.

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

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Chief Pastor – yes: Liturgical Officer – no.

A discussion starter from Peter Toon

Since the 1970s it has become increasingly common for Episcopalians to speak of their bishop not only as “chief pastor” (an ancient title) but also as “the [chief] Liturgical Officer” of the diocese (a new title). This is an innovation which has had, and continues to have, serious consequences for the life of the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. (ECUSA), for it is one of many innovations and the cause of some.

The two titles of “chief pastor” and “liturgical officer” occur, for example, in a Resolution adopted by both Houses at the 66th General Convention of ECUSA at Denver in 1979:

This Convention declares…that the Book of Common Prayer of 1928 is a rich part of the liturgical heritage of this Church, and that liturgical texts from the 1928 Prayer Book may be used in worship, under the authority of the Bishop as chief pastor and liturgical officer…

Two questions arise from this resolution. First, does the Bishop according to Canon Law have authority as “liturgical officer”? And, secondly, from where does this title “liturgical officer” or even “chief liturgical officer” come?

The answer to the first question is “no”. For the answer to the second question, I rely upon the influential Gregory Dix, whose influence on the shape and content of the eucharistic texts in the 1979 Prayer Book of the ECUSA is immense. Writing during the Second World War, he stated:

We have heard a lot in England in late years of the bishop’s “jus liturgical”. The terms is entirely unknown to the canon law or to any writer in any country before the later nineteenth century, when it comes into use among a certain group of Anglican ecclesiologists, who invented it as a means of lifting the dead hand of parliamentary statutes off Anglican worship. (The Shape of the Liturgy, 1945, up.588)

Presuming Dix to be correct we may note the following things:

1. The term jus liturgical authority] came into use within the Church of England, which is an Established Church, where the Queen is the Head of the Church and where all major changes have to be agreed by the Parliament.

2. It was invented as a means of seeking to gain or claim freedom for the Bishops in matters concerning the revision of the public services of the Church of England.

So it appears that the American title “liturgical officer” is a development from the Latin expression jus liturgical via the debates in England in the early part of the twentieth century in relation to the proposed 1928 Prayer Book, approved by Convocation but rejected by Parliament (for which see OR.CO.DO.Jasper, The Development of the Anglican Liturgy 1662-1980, SPECK, 1989, pp.149-155).

This noted, it is one thing to say that a Bishop has liturgical authority in his diocese and yet another to say that he is the “liturgical officer,” for the latter suggests and encourages a non-pastoral role.

We may add that in the Service for the Ordination/Consecration of a Bishop in the Ordinal (1662) of the Church of England, there is nothing whatever to suggest that the Bishop is the Liturgical Officer, for the Liturgy of the Church is governed by the Canon Law and the rubrics within The Book of Common Prayer (1662). However, it is assumed everywhere that as the Chief Pastor of the diocese the Bishop is also the chief Celebrant, and normally will be celebrant when present either in his cathedral or in a parish church.

In the Church of England the lawful authority of a bishop to make decisions on liturgical matters was and remains very limited. It is to authorize special services for specific purposes only within his diocese and when there is no provision of such in the Book of Common Prayer or in the official “Book of Alternative Services” (called Common Worship from 2000) – e.g. for an ecumenical occasion or a once-off local event.

In the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A., there is no tradition at all (until very recent times – the end of the 20th century) of any suggestion or claim that the diocesan Bishop has a specific liturgical authority. For two centuries there were no bishops in the American colonies and thus rectors, with or without the approval of the vestry, decided what kind of services there would be, and when. And this tradition continued when bishops were consecrated and dioceses formed after Independence. Again, there is nothing in canon law to state that the Bishop has liturgical authority to add or take away from the official services approved by the General Convention. But he does have a limited authority to authorize services for temporary use if they are within the general scope of that which General Convention has approved. Of course, the Bishop is according to canon law and tradition the chief celebrant at every service where he is present, unless he chooses to hand this duty over to someone else; but, this role is rather different than that of introducing new services as regular liturgy or the actual changing of existing ones (e.g., by making them politically correct or to conform to a feminist theology).

Therefore, it has to be noted that those Bishops who over the last decade have approved liturgies for the blessing of same-sex couples or for any other novel purpose, and have done so claiming that they are the liturgical officers with a legal authority to innovate, have acted on a false foundation. Further, it has to be noted that the many Bishops, who have claimed to have the authority to ban the use of services from The Book of Common Prayer (1928), have claimed power that they actually do not have in law and tradition. The point about the edition of The Book of Common Prayer dated 1928 (or even dated 1892) is that it was wholly approved by the General Convention and has been used by thousands of parishes for a long time. Thus the Rector and Vestry of a parish have the right to use services from it; but, they also have a duty to inform the chief pastor of what they are doing.

The term “[chief] liturgical officer” places the bishop in the category (regrettably which many of them seem to encourage these days) of being a kind of Chief Executive Officer and such a designation takes away from and eventually denies the historic role of the Pastor -- pastor of the clergy and pastor of the whole flock. In contrast “chief celebrant” in relation to “chief pastor” points to his vocation to gather the flock together and to lead them in the worship of the Father through the Son and with the Holy Spirit.

If the ECUSA is to be saved from further self-destruction, and if the Extra-Mural Anglican jurisdictions in the USA are to become and remain authentic expressions of the Anglican Way, then both must see the renewal of the vocation and office of a bishop in their midst. Godly, learned and compassionate men who are chief pastors are what is needed not more chief executive officers and bureaucrats with no heart.

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

Monday, July 26, 2004

The 1979 Prayer Book -- my attitude to it

People who have the time and inclination to read my little tracts and books will have noticed that consistently over the years I have referred to the official Prayer Book of the Episcopal Church, USA, as "the 1979 Prayer Book." This is a reasonable title to use and it is used by me for one basic reason -- in order to avoid using the official title as given to it by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Minneapolis 1979 which was "The Book of Common Prayer".

Why do I seek to avoid calling this Book by its official title? The answer is simple. I cannot in conscience or historical judgment see it as "The Book of Common Prayer." It is most certainly a Prayer Book, but to my eyes it is not "The BCP." If we actually take note only of its internal contents which are characterized by variety and choice, we see very clearly and quickly that they belong to the new class of Prayer Books which were produced from the early 1970s onwards in the western/northern parts of the Anglican Communion, after the Lambeth Conference gave its moral backing to this enterprise. These new Books were intended to provide experimental, alternative forms of public services alongside the received, historical, Book of Common Prayer. Thus they usually contained the word "alternative" in their titles -- e.g., An Alternative Service Book (England 1980).

Therefore, as a historian of doctrine and of forms of Anglican worship, I see that the 1979 book was given the wrong title. It should have been something like, An American Prayer Book (1979) or A Book of Alternative Services (1979). When I enquire why it has the wrong title, I find a long and involved story about the ecclesiastical politics operative in the Episcopal Church from the 1960s into the 1970s and it is not necessary to tell that story here.

However, looking back over the history of the Episcopal Church from the new millennium back to the 1960s, I can see clearly how so often the General Convention is driven not by a commitment to biblical truth and historical orthodoxy, but by the desire to innovate to be relevant to a fast changing society and culture. So, it seems to me, the title of the new Prayer Book was a major innovation, a novel way of using an hallowed and distinctive title in order to make easy the speedy entrance of innovation and change of doctrine. And as such it worked as bishops took up the cause and pressed its use upon all dioceses of the Church.

Because its title is the wrong one does not mean that there are not useful, even good, things in the 1979 Book. I gladly accept that by it, in the hands of faithful priests over the years, many have been blessed by God.

Thus, in summary, my position in terms of my relation to the Prayer Books of the ECUSA is to regard the last edition of the classic Book of Common Prayer, the edition of 1928 as the true Formulary of the Anglican Way in America and then to see the 1979 Book as the equivalent of the ASB (1980) of the Church of England and the BAS (1985) of the Anglican Church of Canada (and of others similar ones from Australia, South Africa. Wales, Ireland etc). So for me to say "the 1979 Prayer Book" is to see it as an official alternative to the classic BCP and also under the general doctrinal standard of the historic editions in the USA of the classic BCP -- that is those of 1662, 1789, 1892 & 1928.

When the new Prayer Book (or perhaps books and web sites of liturgical resources) of the ECUSA appears later in this decade, then I shall have to re-evaluate my position; but I expect that I shall regard the 1979 Book as conservative in comparison with the innovatory content of what will replace it by 2010! In and of itself the 1979 Book was innovatory in 1979 but such have been the changes within the ECUSA that it is now a conservative bedrock for some. (The liberals of the 1970s became the conservatives of the 1990s!)

[See further my booklets, The 1928 Service of Holy Communion Annotated & An Act of Piracy, An evaluation of the 1979 Prayer Book, both available online from & by calling 1 800 727 1928]

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

Thursday, July 22, 2004

"We know you have a choice--but do come to our church!": Choice, Diversity, Variety

A discussion starter

One can claim that since the seventeenth century and certainly from the eighteenth century in English-speaking countries, there has been freedom of religion and thus CHOICE for worshippers as to place of worship -- e.g., parish church or nonconformist chapel in England with similar choice in other lands. Further, one can claim that until the mid to late twentieth century it was generally true that one was fairly certain what to expect inside a place of worship, if one knew to whom it belonged. What went on, in terms of forms of worship, inside a Baptist or a Methodist Chapel in England or a Scottish (Presbyterian) parish church was wholly predictable. Likewise in the parishes of the Church of England one was fairly certain that The Book of Common Prayer was used, even if there were differences in ceremonial between one parish and another.

Now in 2004 one cannot make such a claim. As CHOICE has entered into the mainstream of life and culture in the West so that people see it as a basic right to exercise choice in virtually every aspect of life, so CHOICE (leading to diversity and variety) has entered into the whole concept and pursuit of worship. Today, one does not know what to expect on entering any building for Christian worship because the exercise of local choice with autonomy means that there are very few universal rules observed, even within churches that belong to the one jurisdiction or denomination.

In the Church of England, variety and diversity based on local autonomy and choice are commonplace. Common Worship, the new Prayer Book of this Church, takes this for granted and supplies, as its very first provision, not a service of worship but a suggested outline of a service of worship! So within the Established Church one finds everything from the use of the modern Roman Catholic Mass to forms of Lay Celebration of Holy Communion based on ex tempore prayer and to prayers to the mother goddess in feminist groups. Similar diversity and variety is to be found in the Church of Scotland and the major denominations of the United Kingdom. And what is the case in Great Britain is more abundantly so in the United States of America. The basic exception to this phenomenon is The Orthodox Church, with its various jurisdictions, which maintains the traditional liturgy, even if some of the English translations leave much to be desired.

In fact we have all become so used to CHOICE that without its presence we would probably all feel deprived or odd. We all accept the supermarket of religions in the West as a given, and, further, we seem also to accept that within each Christian brand name (i.e., denomination) there should also be variety with choice and local autonomy. Thus we are dealing with multiple choice across and within the variety of religions within the one supermarket. Of course, on close examination not a few of the brands look and taste alike but are different on minor aspects (and here the tendency is to major on minors to extol one's distinctives)!

Thus, for example, the CHOICE now for Anglicans/Episcopalians is not only between a traditional language service and a modern language service, but it is also between a set service and an informal service, and then between different kinds of each! Local worship committees or strong-minded local clergy decide what is the local offering and style and then the member or visitor takes it or leaves it. Further, local CHOICE is intensified by whether one wants to be part of a group which uses women clergy. So not surprisingly when churches get together it is sometimes a problem to decide how and what to pray, sing and read and what kind of music to employ! Try asking a crowd to say the Lord's Prayer in unison.

BUT, Birds of a feather do flock together and so within all the diversity and variety there are various ties, associations and fellowships. These tend to be the more real and meaningful when there is general agreement as to the form and content of public worship. Yet centripetal forces are few in comparison with centrifugal ones.

Is this diversity, variety, choice and local autonomy here to stay? Is it all part of the western scene in which we must operate for the foreseeable future?

It seems that it is and this prospect must surely cause us to ponder carefully whether our own brand is really all that different from others and if it is, whether it is a truly good brand, and then if we judge it to be so, is it really worth selling and if so, what is the best way to "sell" it. For in the competitive supermarket products have to be advertised, pushed and commended.

Thus, for example, if a group is convinced that the product known as The Common Prayer Tradition (worship & doctrine based upon the classic Book of Common Prayer using the King James Version) is good and worth pushing then it needs to be fully aware of the context and situation of diversity, choice and local autonomy and to form an apologetic and an outreach with appropriate communications that actually address people in this vast land of choice. Without such a strategy it will surely not make much progress.

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

From new Liturgy to no Liturgy at all, and so back to real Liturgy

A discussion starter

The role of Liturgical Commissions in Anglican Churches has dramatically changed since the 1960s. In the 1960s into the 1970s, inspired by what was called "Liturgical Renewal", they cautiously began to create new rites as alternatives to the received and traditional rites in The Book of Common Prayer. And they did this in the wake of the production of new versions of the Mass in Roman Catholicism, following the Second Vatican Council. In those days the Liturgical Commission blazed a trail and the Church often reluctantly followed as experimentation meant uncertainty in Sunday worship for a decade or more. Eventually some stability was achieved by the production of "Books of Alternative Services", existing alongside The Book of Common Prayer.

However, once the spirit of change and of choice was absorbed by the churches then it became difficult in many places to control it. Few parishes kept to the received texts, be they from the BCP or the new books. They felt free to adapt them excluding some things and including others. At the extreme ends were (a) the evangelicals with their Microsoft Software and Screen on which was projected the service for the day created locally and (b) the Anglo-Catholics using the modern Roman Catholic mass.

In fact, many worshippers in many congregations were much like consumers in the market place and supermarket. After all, they lived in the same culture and context. Once they got a taste for exercising their own choice and doing their own thing, then they went ahead, with varying degrees of intensity. Even as everyone had an opinion even so everyone had a preference for this or that form or part of worship. And, if asked, all offered what they deemed to be good or even excellent reasons for their choice of this or that rather than other possibilities. So the situation arose by the 1990s where no two congregations belonging to the same diocese actually had the same service because though they may have had the same general "shape" the contents were so different.

With the growing appetite for and exercise of choice and the increasing diversity in forms and content of worship, it is not surprising that Liturgical Commissions have had to change their role. This new role is seen in the non-stop production line of the C of E Liturgical Commission in presenting the Church with a vast amount of new services wherein are many alternatives, all under the banner of "Common Worship" (what a strange title for great diversity). The new role will be seen in even more marked a way when the Liturgical and Music Commission of the ECUSA begins to publish its proposals to replace the 1979 Prayer Book of that Church later this year.

However, what these Commissions -- and that of Synods and Bishops who authorize them -- are now discovering is that their first task is increasingly becoming that of seeking to convince "awakened" people that a fixed liturgy of some kind is useful, even good. Imagine that! The Anglican Way has always been a liturgical way, giving little or no opportunity for ex tempore prayer in public worship and very little choice in use of liturgical texts -- that is, until the 1970s and 1980s. Now, it is characterized not by uniformity in basics but in variety and diversity in forms and contents at the local level, and much of this not from authorized texts. So liturgists, who make their living by producing liturgies, are fighting for their lives as they seek to persuade churches that ordered Liturgy is good and should be used. So we have the general situation of liturgists who began in the late 1960s this whole process of choice and options now trying to hold it back, to keep it in check, and to stay in the driving seat. And, strangely, they are doing so by providing a vast amount of texts and options, hoping that these will quench the appetite for variety! Regrettably, their vast output suffers from dumbing-down and inferior quality and is unlikely to do anything to remedy the situation because local churches out of their own resources can do as well in producing optional texts and prayers as can the Liturgical Commissions.

So the whole Church of England seems to be dominated by the general view that choice in liturgy is in and of itself good, that the local church is as able to decide what is appropriate for worship as is a national commission, and that keeping rigidly to a set Liturgy (as was done in the past) is wholly out of date and dangerous to human freedom and development. Let's face it, the House of Bishops and the Liturgical Commission seem to be hopelessly caught in this whole mess and they are thrashing the waters for relief.

It would seem that the true alternative to the present situation of excessive choice and diversity is an ancient view holding that what human beings need to worship God aright is (a) a pure heart (b) one excellent Liturgy, and (c) well formed habit. That is, what is needed is for a series of set services, which represent the best efforts of the Church in history as texts for worship, to be used regularly, reverently and habitually by the faithful, and, as much as possible, learned by heart. This alternative was of course that of the monastic movement for many centuries and it has been that of the Anglican Way that is wholly based upon the Common Prayer Tradition -- that is on using The Book of Common Prayer according to its own internal principles, which means using fixed rites daily and inserting into them different Bible lections, psalms and canticles throughout the Christian Year.

To save the Anglican Way, the Churches may have to revert to the ancient wisdom and practice even though it would be an excessively anti-cultural way to go. Like the ancient Israelites we may have "to dig again the wells of Abraham" in order to find pure water of life.

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

The ANGLICAN WAY in NORTH AMERICA: What kind of evidence would indicate that it is under the blessing of God in 2004?

A discussion starter, not a statement of faith, by Peter Toon.
Since the sixteenth century, Anglican Churches, first in Britain and then in other countries, have claimed that together as a Communion they represent a legitimate jurisdiction within the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. The form of Christianity to which they are historically committed may be described as a biblically based Reformed Catholicism.  The Church of England, known for centuries before the Reformation as Ecclesia Anglicana, claimed that what happened to her in the sixteenth century was a washing of her dirty face, a restoring of her original faith and practice, not the adoption of a novel religion.
However, Anglicans have always been aware of the fact that any one or more of their Churches or Provinces, or dioceses therein, could reject or revise the received, historic Faith and thereby enter the slippery slope into apostasy. There are grave warnings in Holy Scripture of the danger of apostasy and the history of the Church provides examples thereof.
In 2004, the claim of many Anglicans worldwide and an increasing minority of  American Episcopalians, who still belong to dioceses or parishes of the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A., is that this Church as a whole in terms of both its governing Convention and many of its dioceses and parishes has crossed the line from error to apostasy. The reason for this amazing claim is the embracing by the General Convention (= Synod) of the ECUSA of a series of innovations in doctrine and morals, culminating in the acceptance of same-sex marriage and the consecration of a "gay" priest as a bishop - and all this without as yet the slightest sign of repentance, despite calls to this from all over the Anglican world.  This minority of Episcopalians within the ECUSA is united under the banner of "The Network".
But this group is certainly not the sole representative that is claiming to express an authentic form of the received Anglican Way in the U.S.A.. We need to be aware that at least since the 1970s there have been secessions from the Episcopal Church and these have led to what we may call  Extra-Mural Anglican groups, and they are organized in a variety of small jurisdictions (e.g., the Anglican Church of America and the Anglican Mission in America) which now exist alongside the Reformed Episcopal Church , which originated in the nineteenth century. There are some signs of cooperation and inter-communion not only between some of these bodies but also with yet another grouping, Pentecostalists on the Canterbury trail (e.g. the Charismatic Episcopal Church). What they all have in common is the belief that the ECUSA is either apostate or virtually so and that they are preserving the whole or major aspects of the genuine, historic Anglican Way.
Let us now return to the question with which we began: What kind of evidence would indicate that this motley crowd of Episcopalians and Extra-Mural Anglicans, seen as a whole, is under the blessing of God and is in some way or another an expression of the genuine Anglican Way of Christianity in the multi-cultural society which is America?
Let us be clear that this is a different question to:  Are there individual parishes and congregations faithfully worshipping, witnessing and working for the Lord?  We can all agree that seen as isolated units not a few of the local churches in this motley crowd are fellowships where God is truly honored and people are genuinely blessed. But let us remember that one unit is neither a jurisdiction nor a communion of churches.
For the motley crowd of jurisdictions, missions and societies really and truly to be a genuine expression of the Anglican Way I suggest that the following principles must be evident in and amongst them:

That they are fully aware of and committed to the classic foundations of the Anglican Way, that is to the Scriptures as the Authority for Faith and Conduct, and to the historic Creeds and Formularies [classic BCP, Ordinal & Articles of Religion] as the standards of worship, doctrine and discipline. [This is a very demanding principle for all because, on the one side, The Network and former Episcopalians are tempted to regard the 1979 ECUSA Prayer Book and its Catechism as genuine Formularies; and, on the other side, the extreme Anglo-Catholics are tempted to insist that the decrees of the Seventh Ecumenical Council on images/icons and the doctrines of the Tridentine Roman Mass on Transubstantiation and Sacrifice are to be held by all true believers.]

  1. That they recognize that there is a genuine comprehensiveness in the Anglican Way and within it there is a full place for both Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics, Charismatics and others. And that this comprehensiveness is based upon a common commitment to the Scripture and the Formularies but allows a generous latitude in terms of churchmanship, music, apologetics, clergy dress and  so on. [It is regrettably all too common ? to give two examples -- for the members of the Traditional Anglican Communion to talk as though all Anglicans ought to be Anglo-Catholics and for members of The Network to act as though all ought to be Charismatics.]

  2. That they are doing all they can to promote centripetal spiritual and moral forces leading to dialogue, a growing cooperation, fellowship and common worship. And that they are doing all they can to minimize centrifugal forces leading to the majoring on minors and to a growing apart. [Thus they are looking for ways to do theological education, evangelism, church planting, communications together and not apart and not in competition with one another.]

  3. That they are doing all they can to deal with the culture, context and failures which allowed the acceptance of innovations in doctrine and morality within the ECUSA and the liberal north American denominations. [For example, that they are seeking to develop a healthier attitude towards sexual relations and thus working to minimize such things as abortion, trial sex before marriage, divorce, remarriage of divorcees in church, ordaining divorced and remarried persons, allowing divorced and remarried bishops to function, and so on.]

  4. That they are seeking to cut down the number of bishops being consecrated and making efforts to have fewer bishops who are then accepted across the jurisdictions. [The Anglican Way in the USA managed for over a century from the 17th into the 18th without any bishops at all! Today there are at least 120 bishops amongst the extra-mural Anglicans, too many by any reckoning.]

  5. That when there is a meeting where members of diverse groups are present the primary acts of worship should be based upon services in the classic Formulary or on services whose style and content are agreed in advance by all parties. [Anglicans who were once united by their use of The Book of Common Prayer translated into 150 or so languages have become divided by their use of a vast array of alternative and semi-extempore forms of service. So great sensitivity is needed here.]

  6. That there are seeking together to communicate with leaders from other parts of the Anglican Communion, to share what is going on, and making sure that visits from overseas Anglican bishops are made to a variety of jurisdictions and not only to present or former ECUSA congregations. Likewise overseas leaders from the Traditional Anglican Communion visit a variety of Anglican bodies in the USA.

This is not a complete List but what it attempts to do is to indicate that certain signs must surely be present for a movement/jurisdiction to claim to be, as a movement/jurisdiction, under the blessing of God and a genuine constituent member of the authentic family of jurisdictions which make up the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church on earth.
A corollary of this argument is that if the above signs are not present and not likely to be present (for whatever reasons) then the Anglican Way in the U.S.A. is no longer viable and that its members ought to seek another valid jurisdiction of the Church of God on earth and to do so in the fear of the Lord and for the salvation of their souls.
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Archbishop announces new Anglican Communion Secretary General

ACNS 3855          ACO          20 JULY 2004

A photograph to go with this item is available here:
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, in his capacity as President of the Anglican Consultative Council has announced the appointment of the Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon, Director of the IrishSchool of Ecumenics, Trinity College Dublin, as the next Secretary General of the Anglican Communion to succeed Canon John L. Peterson who steps down in December 2004.

Dr Williams said he was delighted with the appointment: "Canon Kearon will bring to this post a superb knowledge of the worldwide church and invaluable experience, especially in the field of church and community relationships and in mediation and conflict resolution. He comes at a time when the challenges facing our Communion are enormous and the opportunities for mission great. I look forward to working closely with him in the service of Christ." Canon Kearon said he was honoured to have been invited to take up this role in the Anglican Communion. "I look forward to getting to know the member churches, and through the work of the Anglican Communion Office, to serve the unity and mission of our worldwide Communion."

Canon Peterson said, "I welcome the news that Canon Kearon has been appointed to be my successor as Secretary General. I am looking forward to working with him in this period of transition. Might he and Jennifer be as blessed as Kirsten and I have been while I have had the great privilege to serve the Anglican Communion as its Secretary General these last ten years."

Canon Kearon, who is 50, will take up his duties in January 2005.

The Press Office, Lambeth Palace
Tel: 0207 898 1280/1200
Fax: 0207 261 1765

Anglican Communion Office:Tel: 0207 313 3900

Note to editors: Canon Kenneth Arthur Kearon was born in Dublin in 1953. After education at Mountjoy School he attended Trinity College in Dublin where he studied Mental and Moral Science for a degree in Philosophy. After further study in Cambridge and Dublin, he was ordained deacon in 1981 and priest in 1982. He served a curacy in the parish of All Saints Raheny and St John's Coolock in the diocese of Dublin & Glendalough and then was appointed Dean of Residence at Trinity College. In 1991 he became Rector of the parish of Tullow (Dublin) before becoming Director of the Irish School of Ecumenics in 1999. He has also, since 1995, been a member of the Chapter of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, and has served as its Chancellor since 2002. Kenneth is a member of the General Synod of the Church of Ireland, Co-ordinator of Auxilliary Ministry (NSM) Training in the church, and a member of the Irish Council forBioethics. He is author of Medical ethics: an Introduction (Columba 1995) and has contributed to a number of volumes on Education, Family and MedicalEthics. Kenneth is married to Jennifer, and they have three daughters.

The role of Secretary General

1. The Secretary General and the staff of the Anglican Communion Office exist to serve the various inter-Anglican bodies, and in particular the four 'Instruments of Unity' of the Anglican Communion - the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Anglican Consultative Council, the Primates' Meeting and the Lambeth Conference.

2. The position of Secretary General has two major components: an administrative responsibility as the manager of a secretariat, and an ambassadorial function.

3. The responsibilities of the role consist of:

a) Providing leadership to the professional and international staff ofthe secretariat; ensuring that adequate support, direction and supervision is in place for all staff members, and seeing to the effective management of personnel and resources; 

b) Providing secretarial and administrative services and guidance for many activities in which Anglicans and ecumenical guests share from all parts of the world;

c) Preparing for and administering the meetings of the various inter-Anglican bodies described above - and seeing to the implementationof their decisions;

d) Facilitating, co-ordinating and encouraging other important inter-Anglican activities and events; 

e) Giving general guidance to the Ecumenical Dialogues, the work on Mission and Evangelism, various initiatives in Theological and Doctrinal study, and the many Networks of the Anglican Communion; and,

f) Working with others in - but not being responsible for - the management of the Inter-Anglican budget. Principal tasks associated with fund-raising will be managed separately, but the Secretary General will be required from time to time to play a visible role in collective efforts to raise funds.



ISBN 0-310-24607-5,  ed Steven B Cowan.
I bring this to your notice because I wrote the 1/4 on The Episcopal Way -- the other writers are well known in Presbyterian & Congregational circles in the USA.
Each of the others argue that there is a kind of blue-print in the Bible for his particular form of church government, whereas I argue that there is a fluidity in the churches of the apostolic age but that there emerged soon and decisively under the guidance of the Lord of the Church the Episcopal Way with the Threefold Ministry and the diocese etc. I state that the Church which actually gathered and approved the Canon of the New Testament was a Church with an Episcopal Polity and if the NT documents collected had taught clearly a congregational or presbyterian polity then someone surely would have said so and there would have been a controversy... which would have left a trace in history.
There was only the Episcopal Way from the 2nd to the 16th centuries -- often abusive and in error but not in competition with other polities, only in need of renewal and reform. The modern Church needs a renewed Episcopal Way as a means to unite and guide it.
This will be available in all US Christian bookshops with the recommended retail price at $16.99. 
In the UK it is £11.99.
Buy a copy for your library or for yourself.
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Why the R C Church Restricts Access to Communion According to a Professor of Sacramental Theology and Ecumenism

(The first learned article I wrote way back in the 1960s was on the "Strict and Particular Baptists"  - strict in terms of who was admitted to the Table and particular in terms of holding particular redemption for the elect only . This is a piece on strict communion from a R C viewpoint.)

ROME, JULY 15, 2004 ( That the Church normally restricts access to holy Communion to Catholics, who must fulfill certain conditions, has become a debated issue in some sectors.Some Catholics do not even know why the Church maintains this custom, which dates back to the early Christian communities.
To answer the question, ZENIT interviewed Father Philip Goyret, professor of sacramental theology, ecclesiology and ecumenism at the University of the Holy Cross. Father Goyret is also the pontifical university's director of studies.

Q: What is the theological and ecclesiological significance of someone receiving Communion?

Father Goyret: Following biblical texts, especially St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians, Catholics believe in the profound existing nexus between the body of Christ, the Eucharistic body, and the ecclesial body.

The language of the New Testament manifests this reality using the same word "body" to speak either of the historical and later glorious body of the Lord, or the Eucharistic body, or the ecclesial body.

It goes beyond a mere play on words, as, by nourishing ourselves with the Eucharistic body of the Lord, which contains substantially the now glorious body of Our Lord in heaven, we are consolidated as members of his ecclesial body.

When receiving Eucharistic Communion, we receive the body and blood of the Lord, which increases in our hearts our profound union with him. And to be united to him also implies to be united with those who are united to him. Thus we attain ecclesial communion.

This is what theology expresses with the phrase "the Eucharist builds the Church." By Eucharistic Communion we enter into communion with the Lord and we are consolidated in ecclesial communion.

Looking at the "negative" side of things, it is interesting to recall the original meaning of "excommunication." Before its juridical consequences were developed, to be excommunicated meant -- and still means -- to be removed from Eucharistic Communion. Whoever is excluded from ecclesial communion cannot take part in Eucharistic Communion.

However, the Eucharist is not "automatic." The effect mentioned above will not follow if Communion is received by a Martian who has never heard about the Gospel. One must go to Communion receiving the Eucharist for what it is, namely, the body and blood of Christ, with intense faith in his real presence in the species.

To believe this takes great commitment, as it means to believe in the complete truth revealed in Christ; as it is the complete Christ who is present in the Eucharist. And the complete truth includes all that the Church proposes as revealed, including about herself.

It means, moreover, to believe as we Christians do: not only accepting specific knowledge intellectually, but also conforming our life to this knowledge. This is why we speak of "intense" faith.

Hence, "to be in order" with the Catholic Church as a condition to receive the Eucharist in a Catholic celebration is not simply a question "of regulations" -- as a tennis club that does not allow the use of its courts to those who have not paid their dues -- but an internal exigency of the sacrament, as understood by the Catholic faith.

Therefore, between Eucharistic Communion and ecclesial communion there is a relation which we could call "circular." The Eucharist consolidates us in ecclesial communion, while at the same time exacting it as a first condition. Eucharistic Communion causes ecclesial communion while at the same time signifying it.

Q: Denying Communion, whether to Catholics or in some cases even to Protestants, is criticized as being a divisive measure. What is your opinion?

Father Goyret: To understand this, suffice it to develop the foregoing last lines.

Ecclesial communion as an antecedent condition to access Eucharistic Communion consists, substantially, in the integrity of faith and absence of grave sin. From the Catholic point of view, the first includes, logically, to be a Catholic.

It also implies the absence of situations of habitual sin -- family irregularities, ideological positions that are incompatible with the Catholic faith, professional conduct opposed to Catholic morality, etc. -- in addition to occasional sins.

The moral and pastoral norm followed by priests when distributing Communion is to deny it publicly to those who are publicly known as persons who cannot receive it. To proceed otherwise would mean to cast aside the theological and ecclesiological meaning of which we spoke earlier.

For Catholics, the eventual distribution of Communion to a non-Catholic, within a Catholic celebration of the Eucharist, implies a contradiction, as it would imply an ecclesial communion that does not exist in its fullness. Something similar occurs in the case of the eventual Communion of a public sinner.

Obviously, these ideas presuppose a strong affirmation in faith in the Eucharist -- not as a mere external manifestation of a generic feeling of Christian fraternity, but as the sacrament that truly contains the whole Christ, with his body, blood, soul and divinity.

It is important to see that the necessity of full unity of the faith among the participants in the Eucharist is something exacted by the specific content of this sacrament, namely the substantial reality of the body of Christ -- because in it is necessarily implied faith in everything that Christ has revealed and that the Church teaches.

Therefore, Eucharistic Communion and communion in truth cannot be separated. In this line, the Catholic Church denies Eucharistic Communion to those who do not participate fully of its ecclesial communion, as they cannot participate in the sign of full unity who do not possess it wholly.

In short, according to the Catholic point of view, access to Eucharistic Communion without full ecclesial communion is, first of all, an absurd action, as it does not realize the significant aspect characteristic of the sacramental dynamics; and by not signifying this, it does not cause it either.

It must be added that the desire and spiritual need to receive Communion is something profoundly personal, but never a "private" event, precisely because we are before an ecclesial good -- ecclesial par excellence -- of which we are not the owners.

Not to respect this discipline is not only a contradiction in the one who goes to Communion, but also in the whole ecclesial community.

Q: What are the key considerations that bishops are grappling with regarding the debates? What is the bishops' primary concern over the Communion debate?

Father Goyret: I cannot say exactly; each episcopal conference has its battles.

I would dare to say, however, that the key concern is to make it understood that the denial of Eucharistic Communion -- either of Catholics in "public" situations that impede it, or of non-Catholics -- is not due to an indolent attitude or to lack of understanding, but is simply consistent with our faith in the Eucharist.

If we go deeper, it is deficient formation in the faith that does not make it easy to understand this matter, aggravated by the loss of the sense of sin and of its consequences.

Just as it is very difficult to explain Pythagoras' theorem to those who do not know the multiplication tables, the same can be said of our subject in regard to those who are far from God.

We can conclude these considerations with an example, more didactic than theological, which in its simplicity indicates a useful moral.

I am referring to the feeling of corporal pain and to our reaction to it. When we experience it, it is telling us that something is not functioning properly in our body, that something is not in harmony. It is the alarm bell that leads us to medical care and eventually to treatment.

The simple elimination of pain does not produce healing per se. It can entail only a certain relief, but it could also make us forget the need for serious medical treatment. Pain, in short, has the positive function of alerting us to a disharmony that must be cured.

The application of the moral to our case is obvious. The impossibility of celebrating the Eucharist together among different confessions is, certainly, a painful situation. But the intense ardor of wanting to do something together does not always mean that that is what is most appropriate. The elimination of pain in the face of division, without the elimination of its causes, only makes things worse.

It is necessary not to lose sight of the fact that the discipline of the Church that prohibits intercommunion is not the cause of division, but its consequence.

The causes are discovered and removed through the dialogue of truth: a process that is certainly longer and more exhausting, but which carried out with patience and perseverance promises more certain results.

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

Semper Reformanda , a Collect

A collect for use by all age groups but especially those who are neither young nor old. 

O God our Father, who dost quicken us by the new and sustain us by the old: grant that the old may be refreshed by the new and the new deepened by the old, through him who is the same yesterday, today and forever, even thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 
I base this prayer upon a shorter one by Roland A. Bainton, the distinguished historian of the Reformation and biography of Martin Luther.
It may be understood in terms of the New and Old Covenants [testaments] or by the New light/inspiration that is given to the Church in revival and renewal by the illuminating presence and power of the Holy Ghost, who is the Spirit of the Father and the Son.
It is a suitable prayer for churches "in renewal" -- in the charismatic movement and the like.
We certainly need not only the New Testament but also the Old (read of course in the light of the New) but also ancient tradition (Creeds and the like) energized by the presence of the Spirit of the New Covenant. 
For those who find it hard to pray in the received English style of prayer, here is the Prayer in modern form: 
O God our Father, you who quicken us by the new and sustain us by the old: grant that the old may be refreshed by the new and the new deepened by the old, through him who is the same yesterday, today and forever, even your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Growing old with Jesus - a Prayer

A Prayer for those maturing in years -- Psalm 71

On reaching the age of 50 a person is eligible for membership of the large and active American Association of Retired Persons. A growing percentage of the general population in the West belongs to the over 50s. Likewise, in many churches the majority is made up of the over 50s. All kinds of provisions are made for such older persons in society from housing to medical cover, from dress to food.

There is good reason also why there should be collections of prayers for the over 50s as they become aware of being in the second phase of their mortal life. Here we look at the personal prayer of an older person that has come down to us in Holy Scripture as a Psalm - Psalm 71 in the English versions.

This psalm may be described as the lament of an old man, who is not without means and who has some musical ability. He prays to the Lord for deliverance from various enemies as he grows old. Happily, remembrance of God?s protective care since infancy convinces him in his praying that God will not abandon him to the afflictions brought either by old age or by jeering enemies. His desire is to praise his Maker and Redeemer as long as he has breath.

The heart of his petition is found in verses 9 & 18 (Revised Version).

Cast me not away in the time of old age; Forsake me not when my strength faileth.

Even when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; Until I have declared thy strength unto the next generation, Thy might to every one that is to come.

This pious Israelite is not asking to be freed from the reality of growing old or from the real experience of diminishing powers and weakening body. He is fully aware of what getting older means in terms of reduction and decay in bodily strength and vigor.

Rather, he prays that he will always be aware in pain or in pleasure of the presence of the Lord God, always be able to recall the mercies of God to him as a member of the covenant people, and always ready to testify in praise and in witnessing to the covenant mercies of God to those around him.

In the whole Psalm there are many acts of praise, petition and intention. As the old man beseeches God to be merciful to him, he also recalls the mercies he has known and experienced and he states what he intends to do as he continues to grow older.

In his speaking to his God, we hear not only his faith, trust and hope but also his fears and concerns. He is a real man with strong convictions and feelings, and what comes through very powerfully in the whole Prayer is his overwhelming desire to remain in communion with God as he grows older. Certainly to be aware of the presence of God each day is for his own sake, for his peace and comfort; but, it is also that he may constantly witness to his family and his friends of the covenant mercies of his God.

If we pray this Prayer in and through Jesus Christ in the spirit of the new covenant, then the promises of God the Father to his adopted children available to us are the clearer, stronger and more explicit than those under the old covenant. If we do consider ourselves as the adopted children of God the Father, bound to him in and through Jesus Christ, his only-begotten Son, and united to him and the Lord Jesus in and by the Holy Spirit, then we can claim a vast array of promises in the New Testament to guide and support us as we grow older and continue as pilgrims en route for the heavenly City.

DO READ the Psalm and pray it as a child of God with the psalmist.

Then, perhaps you could open your hymnbook and sing/pray Joseph Addison's hymn, inspired by this psalm -- "When all thy mercies?" Here are the first and last verses.

When all thy mercies, O my God,
My rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view I'm lost
In wonder, love and praise.

Through all eternity to thee
A joyful song I'll raise;
For O! Eternity's too short
To utter all thy praise.

Finally, an ancient Collect:

O God, the protector of all that trust in thee, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us thy mercy; that, thou being our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal: Grant this, O heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ?s sake our Lord. Amen.

Does anyone know of any published editions of collections of prayers for older people, those maturing in years? Please let me know?


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

The Administration of Holy Communion (1662) & the Doctrine therein

(a discussion starter for those who regularly or occasionally use The Book of Common Prayer of 1662 -- see further, The Order for Holy Communion 1662, annotated by Peter Toon, 2004, The Prayer Book Society Trading Company of England - ISBN 0 9535668 1 1.)

What I wish to do here in a straightforward way is to go through the Contents of The Order for the Administration of Holy Communion and to indicate briefly what doctrine is expressed or is presupposed, and then, where appropriate, to refer to The Articles of Religion [Articles] or to The Form and Manner of Making, Ordaining and Consecrating of Bishops, Priests and Deacons [Ordinal]. Both these texts, together with The Book of Common Prayer (1662), are the official formularies of the Church of England.

It has been suggested to me that only a few people who piously attend a service of Holy Communion realize the amount of doctrine that is assumed and expressed in the service and thus that to which they assent by their sharing in the service in a devotional manner.

A spiritual danger lurking in the shadows for those of us who enjoy the excellent language of the Prayer Book is that we so relish the syntax, grammar, rhythm and vocabulary that we forget that excellent prose is provided to convey biblical and orthodox doctrine, to lift us up to heaven, and to produce holy people who love God.

Here is the brief (and not exhaustive) summary of the doctrinal content (which of course is not easily separated from the language used or the worship intended).

a. In the rubrics at the beginning of the service.

The Holy Communion is ONLY for Christian believers who have repented of their sins and in right relations with their neighbors.

The person who is to lead this service is called The Minister, and he is either a Priest or a Bishop, but normally a Priest -- as later rubrics indicate. (What is a priest or bishop is set forth in the Ordinal & in Articles xxiii, xxvi, xxxii, xxxvi.)

The parish is part of a diocese over which is the Ordinary (the Bishop) and he is ultimately responsible for doctrine and discipline.

b. In the Collect for Purity & the Ten Commandments

God the Father knows the spiritual and moral condition of all who appear before him and his sovereign will is that all should examine their lives according to his law in order to come before him with pure hearts. [See Articles ix, x, xi, xii, xiii, xiv, xv & xvi.]

c. Prayers for the Queen

God the Father is the Lord of space and time, and the supreme Governor of the universe. By his providence Elizabeth II is the Head of the Church of England and the British State and thus she is to care for her people as they are to obey her as God?s representative.

d. Collect, Epistle & Gospel.

The Church is committed to the Christian Year and thus follows the ancient Lectionary and collects. Further, the Bible is the Word of God written and is to be heard when read as God's Word for today. The four Gospels are holy in that they are the basic source of the knowledge of the Incarnation, Ministry, Death and Resurrection of the Son of God. [See Articles vi & vii.]

e. The Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381 as received in the West and known as the Nicene Creed.

The Church of England is committed to the same Faith as the Early Church, and particularly to its doctrine/dogma of God the Holy Trinity, that the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost each possess the one and the same divinity/substance (and thus are Three Persons, One God). Further, she is committed to the nature and polity of the same Early Church, which is Catholic (of heaven and earth) and Apostolic (in doctrine and Ministry). [See further for the dogma of the Trinity and the Person of Christ, The Quicunque Vult or Athanasian Creed, and for the doctrine of the Church and Ministry, the Ordinal. Also see Articles i - iv & viii.]

f. The Prayer for the Church.

The Church of England is committed to the privilege and duty of intercessory and petitionary prayer as an essential part of her vocation. The Church is to pray to the Father in the Name of the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, with the Holy Ghost. She is to pray thus for the worldwide Church and for the ordained Ministry, for the Queen, and for all who are in special need, even as she thanks God for the witness of the saints.

g. The Exhortations.

The Holy Communion is a precious gift of God the Father to his adopted children. It is a heavenly Feast. As such it is open to all worthy partakers. Worthiness is not achieved by human endeavor or merit; but by turning from sin, being reconciled to one?s neighbors and believing savingly in the Lord Jesus Christ, fully trusting in the mercy of God. Those who partake unworthily bring divine judgment upon themselves. [See further Articles xxv - xxxi.]

h. The Confession of Sin(s)

God the Father is the Holy Lord and the Judge of all. He hates sin but loves the penitent sinner for the sake of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Entrance to Holy Communion is through confession of sins, for herein there is both the praise of God (the holy and merciful Lord) and the true preparation of the sinner.

i. The Absolution and Comfortable Words

God the Father is a merciful, forgiving God, who speaks to us today through Holy Scripture and his servants. He declares his forgiveness of penitent, believing sinners through the ordained Ministry (see the Ordinal for the doctrine of the Ministry and the authority to pronounce the forgiveness of sins).

j. The Prayer of Consecration.

In and by the Holy Spirit the hearts of the people of God are raised to be with the exalted Lord Jesus Christ in heaven at his heavenly Banquet. As penitent, believing hearts are raised they join with the heavenly choir to praise and celebrate the Father and the Son.

The church of God comes to the Holy Communion to eat the flesh and to drink the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is both the Host and the Gift at the Messianic Banquet.

Thus the Church celebrates before the Father the perfect sacrifice for sin offered by the Incarnate Son at Calvary, rehearses his words at the Last Supper and prays that in remembrance of that death and passion, she will truly partake of his most blessed Body and Blood.

[For a fuller explication of the doctrine assumed and proclaimed here see Articles xxviii - xxx.]

k. The Concluding Prayers, Gloria & Benediction.

The sacrifice offered by the Church is primarily a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving for the Sacrifice of Christ and his Exaltation to heaven. The receiving of Holy Communion is a means used by God to assure his children that they are truly members of the Body of Christ. And the wondrous gift given in Holy Communion includes or may be stated in terms of "the peace of God which passeth all understanding." Finally, the Name of the LORD God worshipped by Christians is "The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost."

It is the case that, as Canon Law makes clear, the meaning of the Order for the Administration of Holy Communion is based first upon the Holy Scripture (as this has been read and understood in the Church) and then upon the Formularies of the Church of England (the Ordinal and the Articles, together with other parts of the Prayer Book ? e.g. service of Baptism). This Service of Holy Communion does not stand alone, detached from other Services and Rites of the Prayer Book, and neither does it stand alone from the content of the Articles and Ordinal. Even as we read and interpret Holy Scripture by the analogy of faith, so also we read and use the Service of Holy Communion.

Doctrines excluded by using the Order for Holy Communion (in the context of all the Formularies) include Unitarianism; Modalism (God is One Person with Three Names); Panentheism (the world is in God); Adoptianism (that Christ was adopted as the Son of God either when born or when baptized); Pelagianism (that human beings do not have a fallen nature and bias towards sin); Universalism (that all will be saved in the End); that it is a Mass and is a propitiatory sacrifice; that the elements used actually become the body and blood of Christ (transubstantiation); that the Holy Communion is open to all whatever their state; and that a woman can be ?the Minister? at Holy Communion.

Doctrines included are Trinitarian Theism (The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, one God); that Jesus Christ is One Person made known in two natures, divine and human; that by his perfect sacrifice he has brought salvation into the world; that salvation is by grace through faith in the same Lord Jesus Christ; that the church offers to the Father a sacrifice of praise in remembrance of the Lord Jesus Christ & his Sacrifice and in union with him; that the Holy Communion is a gift of God to penitent believers; and that the ordained Ministry celebrating Holy Communion is male.

[See also the booklet from the Prayer Book Society of the USA which contains the 1928 Service of H C together with my annotations -- call 1 800 727 1928 or go to ]

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

The Sixth Sunday after Trinity

O God, who hast prepared for them that love thee such good things as pass man's understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards thee, that we, loving thee above all things, may obtain thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Epistle: Romans 6:3-11 Gospel: St Matthew 5:1-11

It seems reasonably sure that this Prayer is based on the words of St Paul as he quotes from Isaiah the prophet in 1 Corinthians 2:9, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him". Of course, this Collect had a history in Latin before it was made into an English Collect by Archbishop Cranmer in 1549 and then slightly revised in 1661 for the Prayer Book of 1662.

The doctrine contained in the relative clause - "who has prepared?" - is the mystery and yet the confidence of the Christian Hope. To be with the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven in the company of the saints and with all the angels and archangels and there to enjoy the beatific vision of the Father Almighty are "the good things" that pass our understanding. To live in perfect communion with the Holy Trinity [with the Father through the Son by the Holy Ghost] and in heavenly blessedness is the goal of the true Christian soul and the fulfilment of the promises of the Gospel.

But the enjoyment of God and the glorifying him for ever are only desirable and possible in and to those who truly love God - that is those who not merely love him as one amongst many, but who love him supremely and love others in the light of that love for him. The true quality of a saint is that he loves the Holy Trinity, the Father through the Son and with the Holy Ghost, chiefly and supremely and evaluates all else in the strength and light of this love.

And, since we are both sinful and morally weak, we can only love God in a way that is appropriate for loving our Creator, Redeemer and Judge, when he, as the Father, grants to us the gift and presence of his Holy Spirit, who brings the very love of God into our hearts, minds and wills. Thus it is this love, this divine and heavenly love, for which we ask here so that we can fulfil the law of God which requires us to love Him and our neighbour. In so doing we can experience by grace the fruit of such loving, including especially the enjoyment of the beatific vision of heaven.

The Lord Jesus in the Gospel for this week (Matthew 5) tells us that only in the possessing of a perfect righteousness can we enter into the kingdom of heaven. Happily, this is provided for us by the Lord Jesus Christ himself, as the Epistle for the week teaches. However, what we are reckoned by God the Father to be in Christ we are to strive to be in daily living.

St. Paul in the Epistle (Romans 6) tells us that it is only in union with Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God, in his death, burial and resurrection that there can be genuine righteousness and therefore union with his Father and thus union with the Blessed, Holy and Undivided Trinity.


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

Two New Booklets Available

Friends and Correspondents:

I am pleased to announce the availability of two NEW booklets by me which will interest some of you.

THE ORDER FOR HOLY COMMUNION 1662 with Annotations by Dr Peter Toon. ISBN 0 9535668 11

This has the text on one side and annotations on the other side and is published by the Prayer Book Society of England. (Prayer Book Society Trading, 19 Kineton Road, Wellesbourbne, Warwick CV 35 9NE - phone in UK 01789 840 814 - uk )

It has two types of readers in mind -- those who use the 1662 service and desire greater understanding of it; and honest enquirers who want to know what this old service is all about.

REFORMING FORWARDS? The Process of Reception and the consecration of women as bishops by Dr Peter Toon ISBN 0 946307 50 4

This has 64 pages and is published by The Latimer Trust ( of London (P O Box 26685, London N14 4XQ).

The Anglican doctrine of reception was "created" by the Grindrod and Eames Commissions as a way of keeping supporters and opponents of the ordination of women together in one Communion. The C of E is in danger of paying lip-service to this doctrine and of pressing ahead with the consecration of women as if it were not wholly committed to the doctrine and process of reception (which means being patient, exercising spiritual judgment, and not forcing the issue). Here the origins of the doctrine, its meaning and its use are examined along with the use of "koinonia" as a political tool.

People overseas can get a copy of either or both through me by sending me an e mail

Please note that a different but related booklet THE SERVICE OF HOLY COMMUNION ANNOTATED, based on the American 1928 BCP and by me is available on line at or from The Prayer Book Society, P O Box 35220, Philadelphia, PA 19128-0220 - 1 800 727 1928. There are differences in content between 1928 & 1662, especially in the Prayer of Consecration.


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

Monday, July 05, 2004

The Fifth Sunday after Trinity

In the Collect for next Sunday (11th July) in the traditional Eucharistic Lectionary, we encounter in the short Petition addressed to the Father in the Name of His Son two strong verbs -- grant & beseech. Both occur often in the classic English dialect of public prayer as that was used everywhere from the mid 16th to the late 2oth cent. And strangely, "grant" occurs quite often in so-called "contemporary" liturgy even though it is used extremely rarely in this way in modern English.

"Grant" is strong or intense in the sense that it recognizes that the One being approached is Almighty and has the right & power according to his perfect will to respond positively or negatively to the petition. Further, that if this One does respond positively then this will be out of total mercy on his part and not out of any deserving on the part of those who ask.

"Beseech" is also strong or intense in the sense that it presupposes that those who are asking do so earnestly out of unworthiness and without rights while looking entirely to the generosity of the One being approached.
Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by thy governance, that thy Church may joyfully serve thee in all godly quietness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle. 1 Peter 3: 8-15 The Gospel. St Luke 5:1-11

This Prayer is a Petition, an intense and rich petition which contains two strong verbs, each of which particularly belong to the vocabulary of traditional English prayer, public and private. The verb “to grant” is most appropriately used (a) by creatures when thinking of the relation of their beneficent Creator to human beings made in his image and after his likeness, and (b) by sinners when thinking of the relation of their gracious Redeemer to them as undeserving and without claims upon him, except the Name of Jesus Christ. Further, the verb “to beseech” is an appropriate form of asking by such creatures and sinners as they face their Lord. It suggests that they are bowing low before him in deep humility recognizing his Majesty. They come not as friends asking for a favour or for a loan. They come as weak and undeserving, but yet they come in the faith of Jesus Christ.

And what do sinners being saved by grace desire and hope God will grant in response to their beseeching? They deeply desire that by his providence as the Governor of the universe he will so guide events in space and time that the Church of God will be able not merely to serve the Lord her God as best she can, but that she will serve him joyfully and in a calm yet committed way.

The Church, as a school for weak sinners and a hospital for sick disciples, here prays that she will not be placed in a world of tribulation and persecution (which has often been her vocation), but that there will be civil peace. Further, that there will be peace within the Church herself, free from internal schism and controversy. In this situation she will be able, by his guidance and in his strength, to love and serve him with joy, exceeding great joy, and also with a quiet mind, a meditating and convinced mind. In other words, as it is expressed in the Lord’s Prayer, to do his will on earth as it is done in heaven, where there is perfect peace and joy.

Of course, each of us can personalize this prayer desiring that the circumstances of our lives make it possible for us to serve God joyfully and with a quiet mind!

This kind of praying is offered in the biblical, lectionary context of the apostle Peter saying to the Lord, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord,” (Gospel) and the word of God telling us: “The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous and his ears are open unto their prayers” (Epistle).

[See further, Neither Archaic Nor Obsolete. The Language of Public Worship & Common Prayer by Toon & Tarsitano, ISBN 0907839 75 4 - call 1 800 727 1928 in USA]

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.),
Christ Church, Biddulph Moor & St Anne's, Brown Edge

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Credibility & The Anglican Mainstream worldwide & The Network (and affiliates) in USA Anglicanism

A Discussion Starter

It is well known that opposition on biblical & biological principles to the treating of same-sex partnerships as unions approved and blessed by God was a major factor in the formation of both the Anglican Mainstream and The Network.

Let us assume that this opposition rightly reads Holy Scripture and Christian tradition on this matter and proceed to ask whether anything more is required to make the case credible in western culture as we experience it.

The argument made by bishops, theologians and philosophers in support of the acceptance as same-sex relationships as normal and therefore to be accepted in the church and blessed by her ministers, is complex and many layered. What I focus on here is that part of it which directly affects those within the churches who oppose the innovation.

I think we can agree that the call for the acceptance of same-sex partnerships had to follow after the absorption by the churches of most of the principles underlying the modern civil and human rights agenda, together with its emphasis upon the freedom, autonomy and dignity of each human person. Because of the influence of this agenda, many churches in the USA have since the 1950s revised their attitude on racial segregation, admitted women as office-bearers and clergy, modified their “God-language” to make it more acceptable to women, made it possible for the blessing of second and third marriages (serial monogamy) in church, and generally made the human rights agenda to be effectively a greater authority for morality and order than the commandments within the Bible.

If we remain within the realm of sexual relations, we have to admit that because of this walking together of churches & the human rights movement, even Christians of a generally conservative mindset, and with a desire to be true to biblical morality, have been deeply affected by it. The acceptance of women on vestries, as office-bearers and particularly as clergy, including bishops, could not have occurred without the context of the civil and human rights movements. Likewise the dramatic change in the form of language used in the many versions of the Bible now available and also in the many new liturgies used in services of worship could not have occurred without the context of this liberation movement. Then, the acceptance of “the divorce culture” within churches, even to include the right of clergy to divorce and remarry and continue in pastoral ministry, is a fruit of the rights movement and agenda in society.

The Church has to be IN the world and FOR the world but not OF the world. However, NOT to be so is most difficult in western societies which have a tradition of Christianity intermingled with their history and culture.

The CREDIBILITY of The Anglican Mainstream and The Network [and affiliates] in western society will in the long term be related to whether they are seen as consistent, that is whether they are ready to reject or modify the rights agenda in areas where to date they have tended to accept it – and to be ready not only to stand up but to face the pastoral consequences of that opposition.

A criticism made daily against the position of these groupings is:

They do not work [despite their protestations on behalf of “the ideal” of Christian marriage] for the traditional doctrine and practice of Christian marriage with the same energy as they oppose homosexual practices. This is because in their midst, especially in North America [and often in leadership], are many divorced and remarried persons, whose place in the churches and even in the Ministry, has been made possible by the rules of the ECUSA, which rules have been put in place due to the heavy influence of the human rights movement in this Church. Thus they are not consistent. If they were consistent, then they would agree that if they are to continue their practice of allowing second and third marriages in church, then they would also agree to the blessing of faithful same-sex partnerships, based on the same agenda of human rights. Further, while it may be argued that the approval of same-sex partnerships as if they were marriages is a direct threat to the institution of marriage in society, it may also be argued that thousand of divorces and remarriages each month are threats not only to individual marriages but also to the stability of marriage in western society.

And parallel arguments can be and are made in terms of the concessions made by these groups in terms of the ordination of women, the use of “God-language”, and the use of a variety of versions of the Bible based upon the “dynamic equivalency” theory of thought for thought rather than the traditional word for word approach. All these concessions can be shown to be based on principles that can also be used to justify the acceptance of certain – i.e., faithful – same sex unions.

In other words, the credibility of The Anglican Mainstream and The Network depends not only on their fervor in showing that theologically and biologically same-sex relations are against God’s honor and the laws of nature. It also as much depends on their showing in apologetic and teaching, in church life and administration, in how the Bible is interpreted and preached, and in how marriage (“what God has joined let no man put asunder”) and ordination (“headship”) are treated, that they are following the Bible and the best Christian tradition rather than allowing contemporary cultural movements when it is convenient to decide what is right.

The Revd Dr Peter Toon July 4th, 2004.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Intimacy with God and the language of prayer

A discussion starter

In the Introduction to Contemporary Prayers for public Worship (1967), the late Congregational divine, Caryl Micklem, wrote:

There are some familiar constructions of liturgical language which are themselves unacceptable in modern English. One such is the Collect form, in which the opening address to God is expanded by a relative clause indicating the special grounds on which we approach him.

And in a footnote he adds:

Conversely (and this, we think, is even more important) there are many words and phrases which ought to be usable in public prayer today which are quite incompatible with “thou” and its attendant verb-forms.

As examples of that which will not fit into or convert to the “thou” form, he points to two prayers in the collection, both of which are to be used especially when children are present.

Here we are, our Father. You called us, and we’ve come.

You want us to learn more about your love for us,
and we want your help to make our lives less selfish and more loving.

So we have come to church
to listen to what you have to say to us,
to give you thanks for what you do for us,
and to share with you the hopes you have given us through Jesus.

Help us to make good use of our time together:
and when we leave here again help us to take our worship home with us.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Father God, we sing our praise and thanks to you; for you are our friend.

You love us and look after us, and nothing happens without your noticing.

You keep on being kind to us, however little we deserve it.

In Jesus you show us the right way to behave:
and if we trust you, you help us to live as your family.

So everyone who knows you thanks you and loves you. Together we thank you now.

Father, help your children everywhere to grow up and to grow together.
As we follow the example of Jesus may we get wiser:
and not only wider but more loving.
Through our life in your family may we learn unselfishness,
and be ready to make sacrifices for your sake.

Dr Micklem is right that these prayers will hardly convert satisfactorily into a “thou” form. The model of relation upon which they are based is apparently that of a Deity who is easy to approach, friendly, and who enjoys being talked to in the same way that decent human beings talk to each other. He is like a kindly grandfather to whom children easily speak and with whom they feel comfortable.

Let us recall a few facts. What is significant is that the “thou” form was not only in the 16th & 17th centuries the second person singular in grammar, but also the language of intimacy, between lovers as well as family members. The “you” form was both the second person plural and also a means of polite address between strangers or to superiors (cf. your majesty).

What has happened in the language of public prayer (Anglican & Congregationalist) is that the “thou” form as second singular has functioned in public prayer as setting forth first of all the unity of God and then secondly it has expressed the intimacy with the almighty Father of those who are adopted by grace in Christ as His children. But this intimacy has never been a familiar one; but, rather, one resting in the relation of penitent, obedient, loving hearts to the holy, almighty Lord.

The use of “you” in modern prayers, such as the chatty ones above, has the ability to present a relation of closeness and friendliness; but, it seems not to have the power to communicate that the genuine intimacy with the Lord our God, prized by the saints, is truly only within the real context of holiness and majesty on the divine side and of humility on the human side. So, as the decades since 1967 have shown, the “you” form is well suited to church situations and contexts where the immanence of God, that is God present with his people, is seen as prior to his transcendence over them! Conversely, “thou” is more suited to a situation where the immanence of God is seen as flowing from his majestic transcendence and being dependent upon it.

Although the “thou” form is an expression of intimacy, in the relation with the one, true and living HOLY ONE, the Lord, that intimacy is not familiar or easy to gain. Rather it is possible by grace when the human soul is humbled before the Majesty on the righteous LORD.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.),
Christ Church, Biddulph Moor & St Anne's, Brown Edge

Collects, the Relative Clause and the 3rd person.

Many of the Collects in The Book of Common Prayer (1662), as in the Latin Missal, make use of the relative clause in the address to God as a reverent means of recalling before God aspects of his revelation, attributes, character or will before making the petition. For example, “ O God, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thy only-begotten Son to the Gentiles: …”

With the advent from the 1960s of “you” for the second person singular, the use of the relative clause in this manner has virtually ceased. The reason is that in most circumstances it is judged to sound strange and awkward. (One person stated: “In contemporary usage such – originally Latin – syntax cannot be employed without incongruity.”) So it has usually been replaced by the structure, “O God, by a star you led the wise men….” One problem with this style is that it sounds as though God is being told what he already well knows and thus it may be judged an irreverent address by sensitive hearts.

Around 1970 in South Africa, Leonard Lanham, professor of Linguistics and Phonetics at the University of Witwatersrand and a prominent member of the Liturgical Committee of the Anglican Church of the Province, persuaded that Committee and sought to persuade the Liturgical Commission in England of a new way of using the relative clause.

He argued for the use of the relative clause introduced by “who” with the third person verb, although retaining the second person in the rest of the prayer. For example, “Almighty God, who has taught us, give us…” It was his argument that this form was a paraphrase of, “You, Almighty God, who has taught us…”, and that “usage rather than traditional grammar” is to be followed here. (His correspondence with the Liturgical Commission is in the records of the Commission at Church House.)

Apart from the Modern Collects (1972) published in South Africa , another source where this Lanham technique may be seen is in some of the Collects of the Book of Common Prayer for Wales (1984) – see Septuagesima & Trinity 20 for example.

Apparently there had been a debate in the USA amongst Roman Catholics and some Anglicans in the 1960s concerning “You who…” Jokes were common about “The You-Who Missal” which sought to follow traditional Latin syntax and employed the style, “Almighty God, you who have taught us, give us….”. It is perhaps to be regretted that the “You who” form has not been followed by modern Roman Catholic translators of the Missal and Breviary.

[Note that in his important essay “The Question of Style” Ian Robinson has some important comments on “You who” and he shows that it is commonplace in novels and plays. See The Real Common Worship, edited by Peter Mullen, Edgeways Books, 2000, pp.99ff. ISBN 0-907839-67-3]

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.),
Christ Church, Biddulph Moor & St Anne's, Brown Edge

Swedish pastor sentenced to one month's jail for offending homosexuals

Stockholm (ENI). A Swedish court has sentenced a pastor belonging to the Pentecostal movement in Sweden, Ake Green, to a month in prison, under a law against incitement, after he was found guilty of having offended homosexuals in a sermon. Soren Andersson, the president of the Swedish federation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights (RFSL), said on hearing the sentence that religious freedom could never be used as a reason to offend people. "Therefore," he told journalists, "I cannot regard the sentence as an act of interference with freedom of religion." During a sermon in 2003, Green described homosexuality as "abnormal, a horrible cancerous tumour in the body of society". [357 words, ENI-04-0403]