Thursday, October 28, 2004
It is now generally known that the positive proposals of The Windsor Report include (a) the strengthening of the Instruments of Unity, and (b) the creation and acceptance of a Covenant by all the 38 Provinces.
I wish here to reflect upon the reason for these proposals.
I want to suggest that the reason for them is in fact nothing to do with the presenting problem faced by the Commission, that is the sexual innovations in North America. Rather, it is because the Lambeth Conference of Bishops, and Anglican leaders generally, let go of (in some cases forsook) that which was the very basis of the “Bonds of Affection” which tied each Anglican Province both with the Church of England (via the See of Canterbury) and with other Provinces.
The doctrinal basis of the Bonds of Affection was, from the seventeenth century through to the arrival of “liturgical renewal” in the 1970s, the Anglican Formularies – i.e., the Sacred Scriptures, the ecumenical Creeds, the Book of Common Prayer [the edition of 1662 or of one based upon this], the Ordinal [again that of 1662 or one based on it] and the Articles of Religion. In terms of worship, doctrine and discipline there was a common foundation and tradition, with a comprehensive churchmanship, and this made possible the full exercise of the Bonds of Affection in all kinds of practical ways.
In the 1960s in the western world there was a social and cultural revolution and this deeply affected the Church of God in all her expressions. In terms of the Anglican Way it affected her worship, doctrine and discipline and thus the way in which individual provinces produced new shapes and forms of worship, with new content and in a new language (“the You-God”) and also a variety of translations of and paraphrases of the Bible. Patterns of family life were also deeply affected with the increase in the divorce rate and the allowing of divorced persons, particularly in America, to remarry in a church service. And of course there was women’s liberation which led to the call for the ordination of women, which also occurred in the 1970s.
Therefore, by 1980, the Bonds of Affection within Provinces and between Provinces were strained because there was no longer the general acceptance of the received common foundation and tradition to the Anglican Way. The Common Formularies of the BCP, Ordinal & Articles were either being sidelined or wholly rewritten (e.g., by the Episcopal Church of the USA in the 1970s).
So it was after the religious disturbances of the 1960s & 1970s that the need was felt of something to hold together the Communion of Provinces and so there began the talk, which intensified as the years went by, of “Instruments of Unity,” that is official means to keep the Provinces together in fellowship. Yet they were as weak glue seeking to hold together independent, self-governing, autonomous Provinces, which were now more conscious of their freedom than of their inter-dependency! In this context the first Eames Commission of the 1980s was given the task of finding a way to hold all together when there were severe differences over the ordination of women. From Eames I came the creation of the Anglican form of the modern ecumenical doctrine of “reception” [that is, testing the innovation of women clergy within the churches over time to see whether it be of God --- see my Reforming Forwards? The Process of Reception…. The Latimer Trust, London, ISBN: 0 946307 50 4. www.latimertrust.org ] This seemed to work in the short term to hold all together, howbeit uncertainly.
In the 1990s and into the new century, the influence of the LesBiGay movement grew in influence and no more so than in the ECUSA and in western Canada. Blessings of “gay” persons in partnerships increased and so did the ordaining of sexually active homosexual persons, including the famous Gene Robinson as a bishop. The world looked on and a crisis arrived
So to the Eames Commission of 2003-4, which had the task of proposing ways to hold together the 38 Provinces in the context of the crisis over the sexual innovations that had occurred in North America. This time there is no proposal of “reception” testing “gay blessings and partnerships” to see whether they be of God! However, there appears to be the belief that the period of testing of women as clergy is over and the verdict is in the affirmative!
Eames II proposes the strengthening of the Instruments of Unity (Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth Conference, Anglican Consultative Council & Primates Meeting) and greater acceptance of them by the individual Provinces. It may be observed that if the North Americans had valued the Instruments more than their agenda then they would not have gone ahead with their recent “gay” innovations since the Instruments had clearly rejected them by majority vote.
[What Eames II does not seem to recognize is that it was Two of these Instruments (A of C and Lambeth C.) which were responsible for the introduction of the “legitimizing” of the intense activity in the 1960s and 1970s that led to the sidelining or the marginalizing or the rejection of the Common Formularies of the Anglican Way, when they enthusiastically commended liturgical revision and did not warn of the real dangers of excess!]
Further, Eames II proposes the writing of, and then the acceptance of, a Covenant by all Provinces. Such a Covenant would be voluntary, but obviously not to accept it and sign it would effectively place a Province outside of the Communion of Churches.
The point I wish to make here as strongly as I can is that there was a Covenant – the Anglican Formularies of the classic BCP, Ordinal & Articles – very much in place until the 1970s. And that it has been since the virtual rejection of this Covenant that a series of innovations has been implemented in western Provinces that has caused crisis and further crisis. The proposed Covenant, to be based on the model of the ecumenical covenants now much used between different denominations, will seemingly be used to attempt to do for the future what the Common Formularies did for the centuries before the 1970s.
I regret to have to admit that it would seem that there is no way now for the whole of the 38 Provinces to return to the status quo of the 1960s when “Bonds of Affection” upon the sure foundation of Common Formularies is/was the basic order of the day. This “digging again the wells of Abraham” is not possible because Provinces have moved too far away from this base – and some like the Provinces of the ECUSA, the West Indies, Wales and Ireland have even called their latest “Books of Alternative Services” by the hallowed title of “The Book of Common Prayer”, thereby rejecting in a less than honest way – even a deceptive way – the classic BCP & Ordinal (and shame upon Dr Eames that he, of all people, led his Church to do this in 2004!).
So it looks as though the days of the Anglican Communion as it was are over. In the future there will be not one but several groupings of Anglican Churches, on a regional and also on a doctrinal and liturgical basis. There is no longer one Communion for there is no longer the common acceptance of One Faith and One Order. Instead there is a diversity of “faiths” and of “orders”. And this has been realized for some years in places like the USA with the creation of “extra-mural Anglican jurisdictions”. In England this situation will probably lead to the formation of a new Province with male-only clergy within the established Church of England.
The Anglican Way of the future is going to be more difficult to define that it has been since the 1970s. It is going to have multiple expressions and multiple associations and groupings. Those who want to find an expression in the West that is authentic in the sense of being a continuation of the Tradition up to the 1960s/1970s will; have to look hard and maybe travel far!
The Rev’d Dr Peter Toon October 28, 2004
The Prayer Book Society is pleased to announce that it now has available a Compact Disc on which are copied no less than five important commentaries on The Book of Common Prayer. Three of these are on the classic English edition of 1662, still used in many English parishes, and two are on the American 1928 edition, also still used in many Episcopal and Anglican churches in the U.S.A.
Most people are able to use the Prayer Book for daily and Sunday worship without any difficulties, apart from perhaps the odd word here or there or the strange ending of a verb occasionally. For ordinary practical purposes they do not need a commentary to assist them.
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The Commentaries on the BCP of 1662 are by Evan Daniel, Alfred Barry, and Charles Neil with J. M.Willoughby. Each of them is a major volume and so the three together (all from the period just World War I) provide a veritable feast of doctrinal, historical, liturgical, legal and devotional information and guidance. They have already educated and helped hundreds of thousands of people.
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Please also note that the Prayer Book Society has other CD’s containing Anglican Classics, each at $12.50: Blunt, Annotated Book of Common Prayer; Hooker, Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity; More & Cross, Anglicanism. Also it has a large booklet, The Annotated Order for Holy Communion (1928), which has the text of the service on the one side and a commentary/notes on the other side of the page. This is $7.00, with a special price for bulk orders.
The Prayer Book Society, P O Box 35220, Philadelphia, PA 19128-0220.
Monday, October 18, 2004
The Anglican Covenant
We, the churches of the Anglican Communion, in order to foster greater unity and to
consolidate our understandings of communion, solemnly establish this Covenant,
entered on our behalf by designated signatories and to which we shall adhere as
authorised by laws enacted by each of our churches for these purposes, so that our
communion may be made more visible and committed, and agree as follows as to our:
(1) Common identity;
(2) Relationships of communion;
(3) Commitments of communion;
(4) Exercise of autonomy in communion;
(5) Management of communion issues.
Part I: Common Identity
Article 1: Common Catholicity, Apostolicity and Confession of Faith
Each member church: (1) belongs to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of
Jesus Christ; (2) participates in the apostolic mission of the whole people of God;
(3) affirms Holy Scripture, as containing all things necessary for salvation and as
being the rule and ultimate standard of faith, and holds the essentials of the apostolic
faith, as summed up in the Creeds; and (4) seeks to preach God’s Word authentically.
Article 2: Common Sacraments and Liturgical Tradition
Each member church: (1) holds and duly administers the sacraments of baptism and
eucharist as instituted by Christ; and (2) practises the common patterns of Anglican
liturgical and ritual tradition as adapted to the needs of each generation and the
particular circumstances of each local ecclesial community.
Article 3: Common Ministry and Mission
In every member church: (1) the threefold ordained ministry of bishops, priests and
deacons and the ministry of the laity are ministries given by God as instruments of his
grace; and (2) we share a common life of service in the apostolic mission entrusted by
Christ, serving in the world his purposes of mission, justice and peace.
Article 4: Common Understanding
(1) Each member church belongs to each other in mutual reciprocity and forbearance
in the Body of Christ. (2) Communion does not require acceptance by every church of
all theological opinion, sacramental devotion, or liturgical practice that is
characteristic of the other. (3) Every member church has the intention to listen, speak,
act and strive to obey the gospel. (4) Every church has the same concern for a
conscientious interpretation of scripture in the light of tradition and reason, to be in
dialogue with those who dissent from that interpretation, and to heal divisions.
Article 5: Common Autonomous Polity
(1) Each member church is autonomous, episcopally led and synodically governed.
(2) Decisions in every church are to be presumed as duly authorised but such
decisions do not bind outside that church. (3) Every church shares the same concern
for good government for the fulfilment of its mission and for the common good of the
Anglican Communion and the Church universal.
Part II: Relationships of Communion
Article 6: The Divine Foundation of Communion
(1) Communion is a gift of God, who is a communion of three persons, to all member
churches of the Anglican Communion. (2) Our ecclesial communion is animated in
the experience of God’s work of redemption, and furthered or hampered by human
action. (3) The divine call to communion is inviolable and no member church may
declare unilaterally irreversible broken communion with any fellow church.
Article 7: Communion in Membership, Relation and Purpose
(1) The Anglican Communion is a community of interdependent churches and
consists of relations between each church, the See of Canterbury, and the fellowship
of member churches worldwide. (2) Each church acknowledges its Communion
membership, and is constituted by, exists in and receives fullness of life in its
relations to the other member churches. (3) Ordained and lay persons in each church
are in personal communion with those of other member churches. (4) Each church
shall serve the purposes of the Communion, which include: (a) proclaiming to the
world in common witness the good news of the Kingdom of God; (b) fostering and
protecting a common mind in essential matters; and (c) achieving greater unity.
Article 8: The Process and Substance of Communion
(1) Communion, never perfected until God’s Kingdom is all in all, involves unity,
equality of status, and a common pilgrimage towards truth, each church in partnership
with its fellow churches learning what it means to become interdependent and thus
more fully a communion. (2) Communion subsists in the mutual acknowledgement by
churches of their common identity. (3) Communion involves responsibilities so that
each church may be more fully completed in, through and by its relations with other
member churches, having regard for their common good.
Part III: Commitments of Communion
Article 9: Catholicity and Common Good of the Anglican Communion
(1) Each church shall act in a manner compatible both with its belonging to the One,
Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and with its membership of the Anglican
Communion. (2) In all essential matters of common concern in the Anglican
Communion, no member church shall act without consideration of the common good
of the Communion and fundamental compliance with all of the Parts of this Covenant.
Article 10: Obligations of Confession of the Faith
Each church shall: (1) uphold and act compatibly with the catholic and apostolic faith,
order and tradition, and moral values and vision of humanity received by and
developed in the fellowship of member churches; and (2) primarily through its
bishops, ensure that biblical texts are handled respectfully and coherently, building on
our best traditions and scholarship believing that scriptural revelation must continue
to illuminate, challenge and transform cultures, structures and ways of thinking.
Article 11: Sacramental Commitments
Each church shall: (1) maintain and administer the sacraments of baptism and
eucharist; (2) welcome members of all other member churches to join in its own
celebration of the sacraments; and (3) enjoin its members to eucharistic sharing in a
fellow church in accordance with the canonical discipline of that host church.
Article 12: Apostolic and Ministerial Commitments
Each church shall: (1) uphold the historic threefold ministry of bishops, priests and
deacons; (2) recognise the canonical validity of orders duly conferred in every
member church; (3) welcome persons episcopally ordained in any member church to
minister in the host church subject to the necessary consents required by and in
accordance with the law of that church; and (4) permit any person ordained in that
church to seek ministry in any other member church subject to its law and discipline.
Article 13: Ministerial Obligations of Unity
(1) Each minister, especially a bishop, shall be a visible sign of unity and shall
maintain communion within each church and between it, the See of Canterbury and
all other Communion churches. (2) No minister, especially a bishop, shall: (a) act
without due regard to or jeopardise the unity of the Communion; (b) neglect to cooperate
with ministers, especially bishops, of member churches for the good of the
Communion and Church universal; (c) unreasonably be the cause or focus of division
and strife in their church or elsewhere in the Communion; (d) if in episcopal office,
unreasonably refuse any invitation to attend meetings of the Instruments of Unity.
Article 14: Hospitality and Availability of Ministrations
Each church shall: (1) welcome members of every Communion church to share in the
spiritual benefits, ministrations and worship available in that church in the manner
prescribed by its law; (2) provide, as practicable, for the pastoral care and wellbeing
of any member of a fellow church during a visit to that church; and (3) through the
relevant authority, from time to time invite, as practicable, bishops of member
churches to participate at ordinations administered in the host church as a sign of
ecclesial unity and continuity.
Article 15: Commitments to Mission and Prayer
Each church shall: (1) share in the mission of the Anglican Communion entrusted by
Christ to his church in a common life of service; (2) co-operate, so far as is
practicable, with other member churches to develop a common understanding of
mission and evangelism and to promote mission through practical schemes to serve
the needs of the world; (3) pray for the needs of and with fellow member churches
and their faithful; (4) offer its spiritual, intellectual, material and financial resources to
assist with the needs of any other member church or of the Communion as a whole;
and (5) promote in theological education, an understanding of the relationships of
communion between the member churches.
Article 16: The Bonds of Mutual Loyalty
Each church shall: (1) in essential matters of common concern to the Communion
place the interests and needs of the community of member churches before its own;
(2) in such cases, make every effort to resolve disputes by reconciliation, mediation or
other amicable and equitable means; (3) respect the counsels of the Archbishop of
Canterbury, Primates’ Meeting, Lambeth Conference, and Anglican [Communion]
Council; and (4) respect the principles of canon law common to the churches of the
Article 17: Ecumenical Commitments
Each church recognises that: (1) if a member church enters a relation of communion
with a non-member church, this effects a relationship between each member church
and the non-member to the extent provided in our laws and the regulatory instruments
of the ecumenical partner; and (2) before a member church enters any agreement with
a non-member church, that church shall consult the appropriate Instrument of Unity.
Part IV: Exercise of Autonomy in Communion
Article 18: The Principle and Nature of Autonomy
(1) Autonomy is a fundamental principle of Anglicanism. (2) Autonomy is the right of
a church to self-government. (3) An autonomous church has authority only to make
decisions for itself in relation to its own affairs at its own level. (4) Autonomy
expresses subsidiarity: decision-making at the appropriate level. (5) Autonomy is
exercised by a church in the context of the wider community of which it forms part.
(6) There are limits on the exercise of autonomy imposed by the relationships of
communion, the acknowledgement of common identity, the commitments of
communion, and the principles applicable to the management of communion affairs.
Article 19: The Autonomy of Each Church
(1) Each autonomous church has the right to order and regulate its own affairs through
its own system of government and law. (2) Each member church shall be free from
control by any decision of any ecclesiastical body external to itself in relation to its
exclusively internal affairs unless that decision is authorised under or incorporated in
its own law. (3) The validity within each autonomous church of any ecclesiastical act
relating to such internal affairs is governed by the law of that church.
Article 20: Autonomy and Communion Issues
(1) Some issues treated within each church may have a dual character and consist of
mixed elements of internal (domestic) concern and of external (common) concern to
the Anglican Communion. (2) Autonomy includes the right of a church to make
decisions on issues in those of its affairs which may also touch the Anglican
Communion of which it forms part, provided those decisions are compatible with the
interests and standards of the wider Communion (as determined in accordance with
Part V). (3) What touches all should be approved by all.
Article 21: Autonomy in Communion
(1) Each church has a fiduciary duty to honour and not to breach the trust put in it by
the Communion to exercise its autonomy in communion. (2) In essential matters of
common concern, each church shall in the exercise of its autonomy have regard to the
common good of the Anglican Communion. (3) In such matters, each church shall
exercise its autonomy in communion, prior to any implementation, through
explanation, dialogue, consultation, discernment and agreement with the appropriate
Instruments of Unity.
Article 22: Autonomy, Diversity and Mutual Respect
(1) Diversity is a desirable dimension of the catholicity of the church, a feature of the
historic development of Anglicanism, and inherent to the particularity of each
member church. (2) Each autonomous church has the greatest possible liberty to order
its life and affairs, appropriate to its Christian people in their geographical, cultural
and historical context, compatible with the unity and good order of the Communion.
(3) Each church shall respect and maintain the autonomy of all churches in the
Anglican Communion and shall not permit any authority or person within it to
intervene in the internal affairs of another member church without its consent.
Part V: Management of Communion Issues
Article 23: Communion Issues of Common Concern
(1) Communion issues are those essential matters of common concern to the member
churches of the Communion, and include the affairs, actual and prospective decisions,
of a member church which touch fundamentally the fellowship and mission of the
Anglican Communion, the relations of its churches, and the compatibility of such
decisions with this Covenant and the unity and good order of the Communion. (2) The
Instruments of Unity shall set out formally their composition, functions, relations one
with another, and procedures for matters arising under this Part. (3) A matter is a
communion issue if so designated by the Instruments of Unity, where appropriate in
dialogue with any member church involved in the matter, subject to the right of the
Archbishop of Canterbury under Article 27.
Article 24: The Instruments of Unity
(1) The Instruments of Unity serve in communion to discern our common mind in
communion issues, and foster our interdependence and mutual accountability, but
exercise no jurisdiction over autonomous member churches save to the limited extent
provided in this Covenant and the laws of member churches. (2) The Archbishop of
Canterbury enjoys a primacy of honour and is a personal sign of our unity and
communion, and shall be assisted by a Council of Advice. (3) The Lambeth
Conference, under the presidency of the Archbishop of Canterbury, expressing
episcopal collegiality worldwide, gathers for common counsel, consultation and
encouragement and to provide direction to the whole Communion. (4) The Anglican
Consultative Council has such membership and functions as are prescribed by its
constitution. (5) The Primates’ Meeting, presided over by the Archbishop of
Canterbury, assembles for mutual support and counsel, monitors global developments
and exercises collegial responsibility in doctrinal, moral and pastoral matters.
Article 25: The Anglican Communion Officer in Each Church
Each church shall (1) designate a person to act as its own Anglican Communion
Liaison Officer, appointed to defend the bonds of communion expressed in this
Covenant, and accountable to its central assembly; and (2) have a system to identify
and process within that church contentious communion issues for submission to that
Article 26: Process in Contentious Communion Issues
(1) On discernment by the Officer of any contentious communion issue, the Anglican
Communion Liaison Officer shall liaise with the Primate and the Secretary General of
the Anglican Communion. (2) Following such liaison, the Officer or Secretary
General may submit the matter to the Archbishop of Canterbury. (3) The Archbishop
may issue such guidance as he deems fit or, as appropriate, refer the matter to the
Council of Advice for guidance and, if necessary, the Primates’ Meeting, the
Anglican Consultative Council, or the Lambeth Conference to resolve the issue
having regard to the common good of the Communion and compatibility with this
Article 27: Interpretation and Periodic Review
(1) The Archbishop of Canterbury shall decide all questions of interpretation of this
Covenant, consulting the Council of Advice, and seeking the advice of any other body
as he deems appropriate. (2) If approved by the Joint Standing Committee of the
Primates’ Meeting and Anglican Consultative Council, the decision of the Archbishop
shall be regarded as authoritative in the Communion until altered in like manner.
(3) The Council of Advice shall carry out periodic reviews of the administration of
this Covenant for submission to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who shall act upon
such reviews as he deems appropriate, so that our churches may more completely
embrace the life in communion to which all are called by the Lord Jesus Christ.
143. We believe that to proceed unilaterally with the authorisation of public Rites of Blessing for same sex unions at this time goes against the formally expressed opinions of the Instruments of Unity and therefore constitutes action in breach of the legitimate application of the Christian faith as the churches of the Anglican Communion have received it, and of bonds of affection in the life of the Communion, especially the principle of interdependence. For the sake of our common life, we call upon all bishops of the Anglican Communion to honour the Primates' Pastoral Letter of May 2003, by not proceeding to authorise public Rites of Blessing for same sex unions. The primates stated then:
"The question of public rites for the blessing of same sex unions is still a cause of potentially divisive controversy. The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke for us all when he said that it is through liturgy that we express what we believe, and that there is no theological consensus about same sex unions. Therefore, we as a body cannot support the authorisation of such rites.
This is distinct from the duty of pastoral care that is laid upon all Christians to respond with love and understanding to people of all sexual orientations. As recognised in the booklet True Union, it is necessary to maintain a breadth of private response to situations of individual pastoral care."
144. While we recognise that the Episcopal Church (USA) has by action of Convention made provision for the development of public Rites of Blessing of same sex unions, the decision to authorise rests with diocesan bishops. Because of the serious repercussions in the Communion, we call for a moratorium on all such public Rites, and recommend that bishops who have authorised such rites in the United States and Canada be invited to express regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached by such authorisation. Pending such expression of regret, we recommend that such bishops be invited to consider in all conscience whether they should withdraw themselves from representative functions in the Anglican Communion. We recommend that provinces take responsibility for endeavouring to ensure commitment on the part of their bishops to the common life of the Communion on this matter.
145. We urge all provinces that are engaged in processes of discernment regarding the blessing of same sex unions to engage the Communion in continuing study of biblical and theological rationale for and against such unions. Such a process of study and reflection needs to include clarification regarding the distinction, if such exists, between same sex unions and same sex marriage. This call for continuing study does not imply approval of such proposals.
146. We remind all in the Communion that Lambeth Resolution 1.10 calls for an ongoing process of listening and discernment, and that Christians of good will need to be prepared to engage honestly and frankly with each other on issues relating to human sexuality. It is vital that the Communion establish processes and structures to facilitate ongoing discussion. One of the deepest realities that the Communion faces is continuing difference on the presenting issue of ministry by and to persons who openly engage in sexually active homosexual relationships. Whilst this report criticises those who have propagated change without sufficient regard to the common life of the Communion, it has to be recognised that debate on this issue cannot be closed whilst sincerely but radically different positions continue to be held across the Communion. The later sections of Lambeth Resolution 1.10 cannot be ignored any more than the first section, as the primates have noted.102 Moreover, any demonising of homosexual persons, or their ill treatment, is totally against Christian charity and basic principles of pastoral care. We urge provinces to be pro-active in support of the call of Lambeth Resolution 64 (1988) for them to "reassess, in the light of ... study and because of our concern for human rights, its care for and attitude toward persons of homosexual orientation".
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)
117. This Commission recommends, therefore, consideration as to how to make the principles of inter-Anglican relations more effective at the local ecclesial level. This has been a persistent problem in Anglicanism contributing directly to the current crisis, and could be remedied by the adoption by each church of its own simple and short domestic "communion law", to enable and implement the covenant proposal below, strengthening the bonds of unity and articulating what has to-date been assumed. Our opinion is that, as some matters in each church are serious enough for each church currently to have law on those matters - too serious to let the matter be the subject of an informal agreement or mere unenforceable guidance - so too with global communion affairs. The Commission considers that a brief law would be preferable to and more feasible than incorporation by each church of an elaborate and all-embracing canon defining inter-Anglican relations, which the Commission rejected in the light of the lengthy and almost impossible difficulty of steering such a canon unscathed through the legislative processes of forty-four churches, as well as the possibility of unilateral alteration of such a law.
118. This Commission recommends, therefore, and urges the primates to consider, the adoption by the churches of the Communion of a common Anglican Covenant which would make explicit and forceful the loyalty and bonds of affection which govern the relationships between the churches of the Communion. The Covenant could deal with: the acknowledgement of common identity; the relationships of communion; the commitments of communion; the exercise of autonomy in communion; and the management of communion affairs (including disputes). A possible draft appears in Appendix Two. We emphasise that this is only a preliminary draft and discussion document, and at this stage it would be premature for any church to adopt it. To the extent that this is largely descriptive of existing principles, it is hoped that its adoption might be regarded as relatively uncontroversial. The Covenant could be signedby the primates. Of itself, however, it would have no binding authority.
Therefore the brief "communion law" referred to above (paragraph 117) might authorise its primate (or equivalent) to sign the Covenant on behalf of that church and commit the church to adhere to the terms of the Covenant.79 As it is imperative for the Communion itself to own and be responsible for the Covenant, we suggest the following long-term process, in an educative context, be considered for real debate and agreement on its adoption as a solemn witness to communion:
¨ discussion and approval of a first draft by the primates
¨ submission to the member churches and the Anglican Consultative Council for consultation and reception
¨ final approval by the primates
¨ legal authorisation by each church for signing, and
¨ a solemn signing by the primates in a liturgical context.
119. This Commission believes that the case for adoption of an Anglican Covenant is
¨ The Anglican Communion cannot again afford, in every sense, the crippling prospect of repeated worldwide inter-Anglican conflict such as that engendered by the current crisis. Given the imperfections of our communion and human nature, doubtless there will be more disagreements. It is our shared responsibility to have in place an agreed mechanism to enable and maintain life in communion, and to prevent and manage communion disputes.
¨ The concept of the adoption of a covenant is not new in the ecumenical context. Anglican churches have commonly entered covenants with other churches to articulate their relationships of communion. These ecumenical covenants provide very appropriate models from which Anglicans can learn much in their own development of inter-Anglican relations.
¨ Adoption of a Covenant is a practical need and a theological challenge, and we recognise the process may lead to complex debate. A Covenant incarnates communion as a visible foundation around which Anglicans can gather to shape and protect their distinctive identity and mission, and in so doing also provides an accessible resource for our ecumenical partners in their understanding of Anglicanism.
¨ The solemn act of entering a Covenant carries the weight of an international obligation so that, in the event of a church changing its mind about the covenantal commitments, that church could not proceed internally and unilaterally. The process becomes public and multilateral, whereas unilateralism would involve breach of obligations owed to forty-three other churches. The formality of ratification by the primates publicly assembled also affords a unique opportunity for worldwide witness.
¨ A worldwide Anglican Covenant may also assist churches in their relations with the States in which they exist. At such moments when a church faces pressure from its host State(s) to adopt secular state standards in its ecclesial life and practice, an international Anglican Covenant might provide powerful support to the church, in a dispute with the State, to reinforce and underpin its religious liberty within the State.
¨ As with any relational document of outstanding historical importance, which symbolises the trust parties have in each other, some provisions of a Covenant will be susceptible to development through interpretation and practice: it cannot predict the impact of future events. For this reason the draft Covenant is designed to allow the parties to it to adjust that relationship and resolve disputes in the light of changing circumstances.
120. Whilst the paramount model must remain that of the voluntary association of churches bound together in their love of the Lord of the Church, in their discipleship and in their common inheritance, it may be that the Anglican Consultative Council could encourage full participation in the Covenant project by each church by constructing an understanding of communion membership which is expressed by the readiness of a province to maintain its bonds with Canterbury, and which includes a reference to the Covenant.
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)
From the Presiding Bishop: A Word to the Church
Some preliminary reflections regarding the Windsor Report
St. Luke's Day
Monday, October 18, 2004
The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold
[Episcopal News Service]
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
I write to you from London where I am attending a meeting of the Primates' Standing Committee. I have had a matter of hours to review the Report of the Lambeth Commission on Communion, thus I will now offer only some preliminary observations. It will take considerable time to reflect upon the Report, which consists of some 100 pages. Over the next months it will be discussed in a number of venues, including the Executive Council meeting in November and the Winter Meeting of the House of Bishops in January. After an opportunity for further study and reflection, I will have more to say about the Commission's work.
The members of the Commission, chaired by Archbishop Robin Eames, clearly have worked with care and great diligence, and the fact that they have unanimously put forward the Report, which individually may give them pause, is no small accomplishment.
The Commission was obliged to consider a number of sometimes conflicting concerns, and therefore in these next days the Report will doubtless be read from many points of view and given any number of interpretations. It is extremely important that it be read carefully as a whole and viewed in its entirety rather than being read selectively to buttress any particular perspectives.
As Anglicans we interpret and live the gospel in multiple contexts, and the circumstances of our lives can lead us to widely divergent understandings and points of view. My first reading shows the Report as having in mind the containment of differences in the service of reconciliation. However, unless we go beyond containment and move to some deeper place of acknowledging and making room for the differences that will doubtless continue to be present in our Communion, we will do disservice to our mission. A life of communion is not for the benefit of the church but for the sake of the world. All of us, regardless of our several points of view, must accept the invitation to consider more deeply what it means to live a life of communion, grounded in the knowledge that "in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself."
Given the emphasis of the Report on difficulties presented by our differing understandings of homosexuality, as Presiding Bishop I am obliged to affirm the presence and positive contribution of gay and lesbian persons to every aspect of the life of our church and in all orders of ministry. Other Provinces are also blessed by the lives and ministry of homosexual persons. I regret that there are places within our Communion where it is unsafe for them to speak out of the truth of who they are.
The Report will be received and interpreted within the Provinces of the Communion in different ways, depending on our understanding of the nature and appropriate expression of sexuality. It is important to note here that in the Episcopal Church we are seeking to live the gospel in a society where homosexuality is openly discussed and increasingly acknowledged in all areas of our public life.
For at least the last 30 years our church has been listening to the experience and reflecting upon the witness of homosexual persons in our congregations. There are those among us who perceive the fruit of the Spirit deeply present in the lives of gay and lesbian Christians, both within the church and in their relationships. However, other equally faithful persons among us regard same gender relationships as contrary to scripture. Consequently, we continue to struggle with questions regarding sexuality.
Here I note the Report recommends that practical ways be found for the listening process commended by the Lambeth Conference in 1998 to be taken forward with a view to greater understanding about homosexuality and same gender relationships. It also requests the Episcopal Church to contribute to the ongoing discussion. I welcome this invitation and know that we stand ready to make a contribution to the continuing conversation and discernment of the place and ministry of homosexual persons in the life of the church.
The Report calls our Communion to reconciliation, which does not mean the reduction of differences to a single point of view. In fact, it is my experience that the fundamental reality of the Episcopal Church is the diverse center, in which a common commitment to Jesus Christ and a sense of mission in his name to a broken and hurting world override varying opinions on any number of issues, including homosexuality. The diverse center is characterized by a spirit of mutual respect and affection rather than hostility and suspicion. I would therefore hope that some of the ways in which we have learned to recognize Christ in one another, in spite of strongly held divergent opinions, can be of use in other parts of our Communion.
As Presiding Bishop I know I speak for members of our church in saying how highly we value our Communion and the bonds of affection we share. Therefore, we regret how difficult and painful actions of our church have been in many provinces of our Communion, and the negative repercussions that have been felt by brother and sister Anglicans.
In a "Word to the Church" following the meeting of our House of Bishops in September we wrote as follows. "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."
One section of the Report recommends the development of a covenant to be entered into by the provinces of the Communion. This notion will need to be studied with particular care. As we and other provinces explore the idea of a covenant we must do so knowing that over the centuries Anglican comprehensiveness has given us the ability to include those who wish to see boundaries clearly and closely drawn and those who value boundaries that are broad and permeable. Throughout our history we have managed to live with the tension between a need for clear boundaries and for room in order that the Spirit might express itself in fresh ways in a variety of contexts.
The Report makes demands on all of us, regardless of where we may stand, and is grounded in a theology of reconciliation and an understanding of communion as the gift of the triune God. It is therefore an invitation for all of us to take seriously the place in which we presently find ourselves but to do so with a view to a future yet to be revealed.
Here I am put in mind of the words of Archbishop Eames in the Foreword to the Report. "This Report is not a judgment. It is part of a process. It is part of a pilgrimage towards healing and reconciliation." It is my earnest prayer that we will undertake this pilgrimage in a spirit of generosity and patient faithfulness, not primarily for the sake of our church and the Anglican Communion but for the sake of the world our Lord came among us to save.
The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church, USA
134. Mindful of the hurt and offence that have resulted from recent events, and yet also of the imperatives of communion - the repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation enjoined on us by Christ - we have debated long and hard how all sides may be brought together. We recommend that:
the Episcopal Church (USA) be invited to express its regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached in the events surrounding the election and consecration of a bishop for the See of New Hampshire, and for the consequences which followed, and that such an expression of regret would represent the desire of the Episcopal Church (USA) to remain within the Communion
pending such expression of regret, those who took part as consecrators of Gene Robinson should be invited to consider in all conscience whether they should withdraw themselves from representative functions in the Anglican Communion. We urge this in order to create the space necessary to enable the healing of the Communion. We advise that in the formation of their consciences, those involved consider the common good of the Anglican Communion, and seek advice through their primate and the Archbishop of Canterbury. We urge all members of the Communion to accord appropriate respect to such conscientious decisions
the Episcopal Church (USA) be invited to effect a moratorium on the election and consent to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same gender union until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges.
135. Finally, we recommend that the Instruments of Unity, through the Joint Standing Committee, find practical ways in which the "listening" process commended by the Lambeth Conference in 1998 may be taken forward, so that greater common understanding might be obtained on the underlying issue of same gender relationships. We particularly request a contribution from the Episcopal Church (USA) which explains, from within the sources of authority that we as Anglicans have received in scripture, the apostolic tradition and reasoned reflection, how a person living in a same gender union may be considered eligible to lead the flock of Christ. As we see it, such a reasoned response,following up the work of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church (USA), and taken with recent work undertaken by the Church of England and other provinces of the Communion, will have an important contribution to make to the ongoing discussion.
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)
It may be downloaded as an Adobe Acrobat document (.pdf) here:
Saturday, October 16, 2004
Was it not there that a major speaker was Professor Norman Doe of the Faculty of Law at the University of Wales? The paper he gave was on the Website of the Office of the Anglican Communion for a while.
He was advocating the moving towards a common core of canon law for all the Provinces of the Anglican Family, so that each one would be tied through this core in a common bond to the others. (Right now many constitutions do not state the relation of a province to the whole Communion but they do state ecumenical relations with Lutherans or others!)
[In our submission to the Archbishop's Commission, the writers of To Mend the Net actually recommended this same development - a core of common canon law.]
What is apparently in The Windsor Report, due the 18th Oct., is a major proposal drafted by Doe that is a development of this idea which he has been floating and developing since Kanuga. (Actually there have been several meetings of canon lawyers from around the Communion in recent years to talk about common canon law.)
It appears (if Ruth Gledhill read/heard properly what she was shown) that it is proposed that there shall be a covenant which will be accepted by each province and become part of its constitution. By this covenant each province will be tied to other provinces that also have this covenant, tied in a legal and moral way. This covenant will obviously state some minimal position with regard to worship, doctrine and discipline and not to accept it, or to set it aside after acceptance, will lead to automatic departure from the communion.
Of course bright ideas are easier written or spoken than put into effect and achieved! But this good idea seems to be intended to put the onus on the offenders rather than causing the non-offenders to seek to discipline the offenders, not only in sexual sins but also in matters of doctrine and discipline. However. it will take more than a year to find out whether this covenant will work as a centripetal force for good! It is not an instant remedy.
Apparently this Common Core or Covenant or Common Canon Law will act as a fifth Instrument of Unity -- with The See of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates Meeting. (Cf. the three Formularies of the Anglican Way -- the classic BCP, the Ordinal and the Articles of Religion - with sometimes the fourth being Canon Law. Regrettably in quests for unity these days most Anglicans seem to forget the Formularies as the Basis of the Unity of Anglicans.)
Those who want to sample the work of Professor Doe should read his CANON LAW IN THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION. A WORLDWIDE PERSPECTIVE, Oxford Univ (Clarendon) Press.
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)
London Times - www.timesonline.co.uk
LONDON: WINDSOR REPORT REVEALED
By Ruth Gledhill
THE LONDON TIMES
The ordination of openly gay bishops in the Anglican Church is to be outlawed under controversial new proposals to be published next week to save the Church from schism.
Anglican provinces are to be told they must sign an unbreakable unity agreement which would prevent dioceses and provinces from ever ordaining gay bishops such as Gene Robinson in the US again.
A new "star chamber" will be set up to adjudicate when provinces are accused of breaking the agreement.
If deemed to have done so, they will in effect be suspended from membership of the Anglican Communion until they come back into line.
In some cases this will mean little more than the withdrawal of invitations to meetings such as the 10-yearly Lambeth Conference and the annual meetings of the primates. But in extreme cases, rebel churches could be denied the right to claim they are "in communion" with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.
The recommendations will be published on Monday in the Windsor Report, the 126-page document of the Lambeth Commission set up by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, to resolve the crisis over gays. They will be discussed by the primates next February.
Each of the 38 Anglican provinces worldwide will be asked to adopt the covenant in a last-ditch attempt to save the Church from schism.
The covenant, similar to a clause in the 1998 UK Human Rights Act, will state: "No ecclesiastical authority shall act in a manner inconsistent with the terms of communion, the bonds of unity, shared by the churches of the Anglican Communion."
The long-awaited Windsor Report, to be launched at St Paul's Cathedral in London, has been drawn up to deal with a series of unprecedented crises over homosexuality in the Church. It is the work of a commission chaired by Dr Robin Eames, Primate of Ireland.
The 17 members of the commission, from provinces around the world and from across the evangelical, liberal and catholic wings of the Church, were asked to examine the nature of communion and to find a way of maintaining church unity.
The commission was advised by Norman Doe, professor of canon law at Cardiff, and many of its conclusions are based on a paper he presented.
Evangelicals from England, the US and the "Global South" churches across Africa, Asia and Latin America had demanded the suspension or expulsion of the US Anglican church for permitting the ordination of the Right Rev Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.
They also wanted the New Westminster diocese of Canada to be disciplined for authorising same-sex blessing rites.
Under the proposals, these churches will not be suspended but will effectively suspend themselves if they are unable to sign up to the new covenant.
The report will also affect the church in Australia, where the diocese of Sydney is next week expected to vote through "lay celebration", permitting the celebration of Holy Communion by non-ordained lay people. Although not as outwardly sensational as the ordination of practising homosexuals, lay celebration is in "ecclesiological" terms an even more radical development.
The Windsor Report is also expected to propose a system of "alternative episcopal oversight" for those conservative evangelical parishes in the US and Canada unable to accept the ordination of Bishop Robinson or same-sex blessings.
The US church will only be disciplined if it refuses to allow parishes to opt for alternative oversight and take their property with them.
The "star chamber" will be set up to decide whether a province has breached the covenant. Each province will also have its own committee to make sure it does not breach the bonds of unity.
Initial proposals envisaged the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, as being the final authority in deciding whether the covenant had been breached. But he is understood to have resisted such a role and to have fought any development towards a papal structure for the Anglican Church.
However, Dr Williams could still be appointed to chair the eventual star chamber.
One evangelical insider said: "This could save the communion but it is a high risk strategy because any province could in effect put itself out of communion with the rest, even the Church of England."
Liberals warned that provinces would be unwilling to surrender even a part of their traditional autonomy.
The Rev Martin Reynolds, spokesman for the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, said: "There will be many churches that will not be comfortable with this. If this is the only thing that will hold the Anglican Communion together, the result will be a body that is not what we now understand to be the Anglican Communion. It will be a new church."
The covenant will be the fifth "instrument of unity" in the Anglican Communion.
The first four are the Archbishop of Canterbury, the 10-yearly Lambeth Conference of all Anglican bishops, the Anglican Consultative Council which brings together bishops, priests and laity and the annual meetings of the Primates, the bishops and archbishops at the head of each province.
It could be several years before it is agreed as it will have first to be authorised by the synods of all 38 provinces in the worldwide church.
David Virtue, who has become a spokesman for the conservative evangelical movement through his website Virtuosity, welcomed the proposals. He said: "This confirms the truth that there is a still a biblical standard that must be maintained on all matters of faith and morals, and that even a wealthy, though numerically poor church like the US episcopal church must abide by a common body of truth or find itself excommunicated."
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)
Thursday, October 14, 2004
Since the Anglican Communion Office made an agreement with SPCK for the latter to be publisher, the Report needed a title that would be remembered! Thus "The Windsor Report", which the unsuspecting could think had the approval of the House of Windsor.
But what short memories and narrow vision the Anglican Communion Office must have! There has already been a Windsor Report! It was published in 1971 and was the first ARCIC [Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission] Report. And its subject was on Eucharistic Doctrine - ironic when you come to think of it because this latest Windsor Report of 2004 is all about preserving Eucharistic Communion (not with Rome!) but amongst Anglicans.
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon October 14, 2004
The Report of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Commission, chaired by Archbishop Eames, will be released on St Luke's Day, October 18, in the Crypt of St.Paul's Cathedral, London.
For many centuries, the Collect for the nineteenth Sunday after the Festival of the Holy Trinity, was constant and in the English translation from the Latin in The Book of Common Prayer is:
The Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity
O God, forasmuch as without thee we are not able to please thee: Mercifully grant, that thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Epistle: Ephesians 4.17-32 The Gospel: S. Matthew 9:1-8
Here are some comments on this Collect.
We can only genuinely desire to please the Lord our God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, if and when he inspires us so to do. In and of ourselves, because our natures are infected by sin, we cannot produce by our own effort the purity of heart, mind and will that is necessary to worship the Lord God in the beauty of holiness and in spirit and in truth.
To recognize this powerlessness within ourselves is to begin to move into the sphere where we can worship God aright, for the confession before the LORD of our weakness and sin, our impotency and our spiritual sickness, is the beginning of his true worship and praise. And this beginning occurs because of his prevenient grace!
Therefore, we invoke our Father in heaven, by his great mercy and because of his marvellous grace, to send us the assistance that we need in order to be what he calls us to be. We ask for the gift and presence of the Holy Ghost - the One who comes in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, bearing his virtues and graces - to indwell our souls that we may be rightly inspired, directed and guided in how we are to please our Creator, Redeemer & Father, in what we think and say and do.
Let us so pray and let us be so directed by the personal presence of the Third Person of the Blessed, Holy and Undivided Trinity.
The Epistle is a vigorous call to holiness of life as we walk with Christ and the Gospel is a proclamation of the power of Christ to save, help and guide us.
There is hope for the Provinces of the Anglican Family if the reality of what is asked in this Collect is known practically in their common life.
October 18 is St. Luke's Day and here is the Anglican Collect for this day:
Almighty God, who calledst St Luke the Physician, whose praise is in the Gospel, to be an Evangelist, and Physician of the soul: May it please thee that, by the wholesome medicines of the doctrine delivered by him, all the diseases of our souls may be healed; through the merits of thy Son Jesus Christ. Amen.
This Collect presumes that the inner life of man (mind, emotions & will) are diseased by the presence and influence of sin. It also proclaims that in the holy and powerful medicine of the Gospel there is cleansing, forgiveness and healing.
Here again we can say that if the Provinces of the Anglican Family truly mean this Prayer then not only the disease of sexual immorality but all other diseases, many of them more serious than sexual sins, would be faced, confessed, turned from and healed.
The problem with much modern church life is that we avoid the obvious for it is too demanding of us and we search for sophistication in order to avoid doing what we know we ought to do and being what we ought to be! I fear that The Windsor Report will belong to this modern escapism but if so all the more that we should pray and mean these Collects as we offer them on the 18th!
The Revd Dr Peter Toon October 14, 2004.
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
I believe that the Lambeth Commission made a remarkable journey in the year.
Strongly different views on the developments in North America were represented
on the Commission: those views, echoed in the evidence submitted, were all
forcefully and frankly exchanged. But every member of the Commission also firmly
believed in the future of the Communion, and for that reason found the will to
work out a series of recommendations that they could all commend together to the
(See New Directions, October 2004, page 20, column 3)
So the Commission of 17 members made a remarkable journey! There is much talk these days of “journeys” in the modern interest in “spirituality”. What was the route and where were they heading? Was the goal to agree on recommendations? If so they got there.
The fact that there were differing and opposing views amongst The Seventeen on “developments in North America” is very suggestive. It prompts me to think that their agreed recommendations contain no moral or theological judgments as to the rightness or wrongness of the sexual innovations introduced in the ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada. After all the purpose of the work of the The Seventeen was to suggest ways in which the highest degree of communion possible can be maintained, when there is such disagreement over the homosexual innovations, which are themselves contrary to the standards adopted by a majority vote at the Lambeth Conference in 1998.
The Seventeen all believe in the Future of the Communion, but of course that is to say little for the Anglican Communion of Churches can exist as a Federation or at a variety of levels of eucharistic Communion. The Seventeen will tell us what in their judgment is the highest level of fellowship that can reasonably be aimed for and achieved in the present crisis.
The fact that late in the day the officers of Anglican Communion Office (not the Archbishop of Canterbury) decided to make an agreement with the SPCK for publication (£4.95 per copy) and to call the Report “The Windsor Report” (and odd title but similar in nature to “The Virginia Report” of a few years ago) is to be understood against a specific background. The same Office was responsible a year ago for “finding” the huge cost of getting twenty or so people from all over the world to three residential meetings and of paying for Fedex and UPS and Post Office specials to get the paperwork from country to country over that year.
The Revd Dr Peter Toon October 8, 2004.
Thursday, October 07, 2004
I fear that too many people who are not fully aware of the POLITY of the Anglican Communion of Churches may not recognize that this Commission has no canonical authority and is providing only advice and suggestion; as such it may of course bear moral authority in most Anglican circles.
Even if the Archbishop of Canterbury agrees with it, and even if a majority of the Primates agree with it, whatever it recommends can only have real force in the Communion if and when all the Provinces through their Synods actually approve it.
Now all this will take time – for there to be a meeting of the Primates and of the Anglican Consultative Council, then of regional bodies and most importantly of provincial synods will take months if not a year. The only real authority (under God) are the Synods of the Provinces; and the most that the Archbishop of Canterbury or any Primate can do in the short term is to exercise a moral leadership and suasion.
Where a provincial synod has authorized a Primate or Regional Meeting to speak for it then in those case there can be immediate reaction, but a considered response to this Report from the whole Communion will take more like a year than a month or two.
Let us be prepared for this and pray for patience and discrimination.
Then also, consider,
First of all, it is most doubtful whether it will come anywhere near recommending what strong-minded African bishops are demanding – requiring open, public repentance by the leadership of the ECUSA for their supporting the homosexual innovations and also the stepping down of Bishop Gene Robinson, who is the focus of the innovations.
Second of all, even if it were to recommend that the ECUSA be required publicly to repent and set aside its homosexual [and other] innovations, then this has to be approved by the Provinces and further, it has to be received humbly by the ECUSA bishops (who may well be encouraged by Bishops in the North/West in other provinces not to do so!).
To think aloud, as it were…
Perhaps the chastisement of the Lord is so heavily laid upon the Anglican Communion that it is now set for a period of greater crisis and pain than has occurred over the last year.
Or perhaps this Report, with all its weaknesses, will be a sign of the blessing of God upon the Communion and will offer the means for genuine renewal in sound worship, doctrine and discipline and a turning to the LORD, the Holy & Beautiful & Glorious Trinity.
I hardly dare hope for the latter!
The Rev’d Dr Peter Toon, October 6, 2004
Anyone who is old enough and has a long enough memory is aware of many changes that have occurred in the customs and ways of western churches since World War II and more especially since the 1960s.
Here are some of them described briefly and not scientifically from a conservative viewpoint:
1.A major change in attitude towards the Lord’s Day. Once it was a day of rest and gladness; now it is church in the morning (or even Saturday evening) and then free to pursue other things the rest of Sunday. The sense of a day of rest and of being with the Lord has virtually disappeared and so has the evening service in many places.
2. A major change in outward dress for divine worship. Once it was wearing one’s formal best in order to meet with the King; now it is usually wearing comfortable casuals to meet with the heavenly Friend.
3. A major change in the way God is addressed in prayer. Once it was always, “Thou/Thee” and now it is nearly always “You”. With this comes usually also an informality to worship and perhaps a seeming lack of reverence for the LORD.
4. A major change in the type of Bible used in church. Once it was the KJV or one of the versions in the tradition of this “English Bible”. Now it is often one or several of the new types of versions which are more of a paraphrase than a translation. This has led to a serious decrease in Bible memorization from any version.
5. A major change in the discipline with respect to sexual relations and marriage. Once the marriage of a divorcee in church was rare, now it is very common. Once a divorced and remarried clergyman was extremely rare, now he is not rare. Further, the church turns a blind eye now to couples (of the opposite sex or the same sex) living together. Physical contact between members of the opposite sex is all too common and often for a religious purpose – “the passing of the peace”.
6. A major change in the actual basis for morality. Once it was clearly the Law of the Lord, His Commandments and Statutes. Now it is much more the content of modern Human Rights and the Commandments of God seen in the light of these. One result is a dumbing down of standards and of expectations of standards.
7. A major change in the person and role of the priest/pastor. From being the godly and learned man who preaches the Word, administers the sacraments and exercises pastoral care, the modern Minister, female or male, is now more the “manager” of the congregation and the “counselor” of all who need advice or help. Likewise Bishops or superintendent Ministers are seen more as chief executive officers and chief liturgical officers rather than Fathers in God. Candidates for ordination tend to leave their education & training as jacks of various trades and masters of none, not even of the Bible or of its languages.
8. A major change in the understanding and presentation of Salvation & Redemption from God. From being primarily that which shall be in the age to come (heaven) and of which there is a foretaste now in this age, salvation is often now interpreted with the help of psychotherapy and tends to be as much in this age as in the age to come.
9. A major change in the way in which the ethos & development of general western culture is regarded. Once there was a great concern not to be conformed to the world but to be in the world and for the world while not being of the spirit of the world. Now in a variety of ways the churches follow the spirit of the world because they believe that God is revealing his nature and will through what is happening in the world at large. What once was the domain of Satan is now regarded as the sphere of God’s self-revealing and as such is to be embraced.
10. A major change in the way that the mission of the Church in the world is perceived & executed. Once there was a certain commitment to the uniqueness of Christ and of the need to proclaim him everywhere as the only Savior and Way to the Father – to be accompanied by the good works of education, medical services etc. Now Christ is usually presented as an inclusive Savior rather than an exclusive one and much of the message of the churches is about peace and justice in the world.
These changes, with many others, have occurred in churches in Western Society as the process of secularization in the West has continued and as church attendance, especially in Europe and Canada, has decreased rapidly. Some of the changes were made consciously to try to retain or win back members by being relevant and credible in a changing world. Others were made to try to get rid of what were deemed to be bad or unsatisfactory attitudes, ways and customs. Yet others were made in order to make Christianity easier to embrace and hold!
It would appear to be the case that anyone today who keeps the Lord’s Day seriously going to church twice, who dresses formally for worship, who addresses God as “Thee/Thou”, who reads the KJV or the R V or the A S V or the R S V. daily, who thinks that the churches should be graciously strict concerning who is married in church, who believes that before God we have no rights but only duties and responsibilities, who holds that the pastor should be a godly and learned man, who accepts that salvation is out of sin and this world into the glorious world of the age to come, who thinks that the church is to be in the world and for the world but not of the world, and who believes, teaches and confesses that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life in an exclusive sense, is these days out of step even with “conservative” and “orthodox” opinion in the generality of evangelical and main-line churches.
To put all this in another way; he who conforms to what was generally regarded in say 1960 as the basic requirements of being a Christian is today perceived as hopelessly out of touch and perhaps weird – certainly irrelevant and probably “a fundamentalist”!
Interestingly, in Britain & Europe many young people, usually but not always born into Muslim homes, are embracing Islam in its full traditional form, or at least in as full a form as it is possible to live it in the modern West rather than the Arabian desert. As Christians become more liberal in the practice of their Faith, so Muslim young people become more conservative in the practice of their Religion.
There is no possibility or purpose in seeking to go back to 1960 for we live in 2004. However, we can learn from the past and use that understanding to evaluate where we are today, asking whether or not we have so lowered the standards of the Christian Faith as to make It all too easy to embrace and not worth dying for.
The Revd Dr Peter Toon, October 4, 2004
Are English-speaking Churches “grieving the Spirit” in the way in which they address God the Father Almighty?
To address God, the LORD, is to speak to the Creator of the Cosmos, the Judge of the Nations, the Holy One beyond holiness, the Beautiful One beyond beauty, the Righteous One beyond righteousness, and the Ineffable One beyond our choicest thoughts and words.
Thus it is a requirement of devotion that human beings ought to address the LORD with reverence and awe, and in godly fear. This requirement remains constant even though male and female are made in the image of God and become, by Grace, the temples of the Spirit of the Lord. Even when deep from within their souls they genuinely cry, “Abba, Father,” they do so in godly fear and holy awe.
The Holy Ghost, the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, is present in the Church, the Household of God, as He is also present in each member of the Body of Christ. This Presence is not to be taken for granted but to be acknowledged appropriately in faith, hope and charity and in such a way as to please such a Guest.
One thing that the baptized believers are told with reference to the Spirit is this: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:20) Here the Spirit is spoken of in personal terms, a truth that is later recognized in the Church by the dogma of the Holy Trinity, wherein the Holy Spirit is the Third Person of this Trinity.
Obviously one can cause grief or grieve a person in human contact in a variety of ways. For example: How many young people today cause grief to their parents by the way they live and by the company they keep?
Christian believers cause grief to the Holy Spirit by any of their sins of omission and commission against God the Father – e.g., by their refusal to confess a particular besetting sin, turn from it and amend their lives. Here I want to suggest that amongst English-speaking people within the Church of God, there is one longstanding and continuing way in which they cause grief to this Divine Person. Further, this causing grief is compounded because there is virtually no recognition of doing it.
I refer to the way in which we address God when we make use of pronouns, which we do virtually every time we offer a prayer to God.
My argument is simple. In the providence of God, it became clear to the Ecclesia Anglicana, the Church of and in England, in the period when English was first used partially and then wholly in devotion and in Church services (i.e. from say 1300 to 1600) that the right pronoun for the Persons of the Holy Trinity is “Thou/Thee”. This practice was universally adopted and remained the norm in all forms of English-speaking Christianity until the 1960s. And it was only dropped then because of a period of social revolution in the West, when many norms, traditions and manners were abandoned.
The force of this argument is much strengthened when it is realized that social conventions of the time (1300-1600) could have pushed the Church to address God as “Ye/you”. It is very well known that a King was addressed as “Your Majesty” – never “Thy Majesty”, and that Dukes and Duchesses were addressed as “Your Grace” as were also Archbishops and Bishops. (In fact this custom is clearly evident in The Book of Common Prayer [1549, 1552, 1662] in the service for the Consecration of a Bishop where the individual bishop is actually addressed, following this custom of politeness, as “ye/you/you”!) The use of “you” was both the second person plural and also the form of the second person singular used when politeness was required (again there are several examples in The Book of Common Prayer of an ordinary person being addressed as “you” to conform to this rule of polite address.)
Why then did the Church of God choose – against the odds as it were – to address the LORD as “Thee/Thou”? Before answering let us recall that in ordinary speech this basic form of the second person singular was used by Masters to servants, by servants to one another, by members of a family of one another, and by lovers to each other. The answer is twofold: (1) to maintain beyond all doubt that the LORD is one God and one God only [“thou/thee” could never be the second person plural, whereas, of course, “ye/you” could be and was]; and (2) to maintain the biblical emphasis that baptized Christians are the children of God because He adopts them into the family of His Son, and as family members they address him an a filial way.
So it was that in The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England, as well as in the many books of doctrine and devotion produced by the Puritans in England and the Presbyterians in Scotland in the same period (16th & 17th centuries), the evidence is clear of the commitment of British Christians to recognized norms as they sought to create and maintain filial reverence & awe before God as they addressed Him as “Thou/Thee.”
The custom from the 1960s (with roots into earlier decades of course), and now made into a rule within many churches, of addressing God as “You” is a major way in which I believe, English-speaking Christians today grieve the Spirit of God. Many do so unwittingly as they follow the leaders but others do so firmly, deliberately and without apology. The grieving of the Spirit is compounded further by the general ethos and climate of much western Christianity. A spirit of “celebration” and “relaxation” and “informality” has so taken over that a sense of reverence, awe and godly fear before God, the LORD, seems rare – even not desired. In fact, the use of “you” of the LORD (where God can so easily be regarded as if he were one of us but more important) makes it difficult for people to realize and recognize that they are in worship addressing not anyone but the unique Glorious One, the LORD, the Holy One.
[For more details of the historic and classic way of addressing the LORD and the use of “thou/thee” in Scripture, see Peter Toon & Louis R Tarsitano, Neither Archaic nor Obsolete. The Language of Common Prayer and Public Worship, 2003, available from The Prayer Book Society of the U.S.A. (1 800 727 1928) and Edgewaysbooks.com in the UK – ISBN 0 907839 75 4.]
The Revd Dr Peter Toon October 4, 2004.
Saturday, October 02, 2004
To knock down that wall takes a short time.
To design and assemble a motor car takes a long time.
To crash it and make it a write-off takes a short time.
To create a Tradition of English Public Worship & Common Prayer takes centuries.
To desert it or to rubbish it or to destroy it takes not more than a decade.
In the 1960s (with roots reaching back into earlier times) and on into the 1970s a Tradition that had existed for many centuries was actively destroyed, primarily by those who had been raised within it. The stormy winds of cultural change that blew in that era swept away, by the design of those who ought to have known better, much of the English way of prayer and forms of Bible translation. In their places there came to exist a virtually open field in which innovators of all kinds could and did begin to plant their seeds. The fruit of those seeds are all about us today but they present a field of confused colors and shapes, style and forms – it is evident that it was much easier to destroy than it is to create and build in unity. In one thing only do moderns seem united and that it their opposition to that which existed up to the 1960s. Amongst them are many opinions of what could, should and ought to be and agreement that what must never be is the classic Tradition of prayer and worship.
Most people who go to churches these days have no idea as to what was the case in terms of Bibles and Prayer Books not too long ago. They are so used to a variety of versions of the Bible and a variety of forms of services/liturgy and an emphasis on choice and diversity, and they are so accustomed to what is generally known as dumbing–down, that they hardly notice the generally poor quality of English that is being used to address the Almighty and to speak to those who are made in his image. Therefore they are surprised – even offended sometimes – to be challenged about these things. Why should normality be challenged? Why attack the status quo? When there is variety & choice everywhere in the western world why should the same not be evident in the church and her activities?
Part of the reason why most people accept things as they are is that they breathe in the air of modernity daily. They are thoroughly modernized people. Further, they have imbibed the various stories created by church leaders about the need for relevancy & simplicity, about the fact that modern people cannot possibly appreciate traditional, classic English grammar, syntax, style and rhythm, about the fact that modern liturgy and modern versions of the Bible are based on greater knowledge of the ancient languages and contexts, about the claim that God is speaking to us through modern experience and we should be listening, about the fact that only certain types of music and song minister to modern tastes, and so on.
They have not been told (and probably most do not want to know) that in our times not a little of what is called translating of a text is in fact producing a paraphrase that removes from the original what is deemed offensive or unacceptable or unimaginable by “modern” people in the West. So there is much in modern Liturgies and Versions of the Bible that has been adjusted for the benefit of modern ears and is far removed from the original text and its original meaning. Today dynamic equivalency is acclaimed as the way to translate the Bible and to create liturgy. And because the style of modern versions of the Bible and forms of liturgy is like popular journalism, it all seems OK to most people.
Thus it is that a thousand years of the form and style of prayer to the Holy Trinity has been abandoned. Take the pronouns for God as an example. In medieval times and notably during the reign of Henry VIII, the king was always called, “Your Majesty” and addressed in the polite form of the second person singular “ye/you”. If any subject had dared to address the monarch as “Thy Majesty” he would have been immediately arrested!
But English liturgy from well before the Reformation and on through the centuries to the 1960s, always and only addressed God as “Thou/Thee.” One would perhaps expect the address to God to have been as the address to the King (“the Lord’s Anointed”) but English Christian leaders decided prayerfully that to communicate (a) the fact that God is One LORD and (b) that believers are called to have communion with Him, the form of the second person, “Thou/Thee” not “Ye/You” must be used. Obviously “thou/thee” can only be singular and further it is the form used for affectionate and familial relations.
So “Thou/Thee” preserved the transcendence and the immanence of the One God and made him approachable while keeping Him in his own glory and holiness. All this was ditched in the 1960s when it was insisted that God must be addressed in the same way that we address one another – so He was denied his transcendence and became basically the immanent God as He became the “You-God”.
Having abandoned the received, historic and classic way and style of English Prayer in the 1960s, the churches have not yet found a settled alternative for it. This is partly because it is now held that the language of prayer has to conform not only to the general style of language used on the street but also to an ever-enlarging series of requirements of various forms of political and gender correctness. Listening to most modern forms of public prayer it is difficult at times to recognize that they are addressed to God – that is, from a Christian viewpoint, to God the LORD, the God the Beauty who surpasses all Beauty; to God the Excellent who surpasses all excellence; to God the Holy, who surpasses all purity and to God the ineffable, the glorious, the Creator, Redeemer and Judge of mankind.
To address God as “You” and to do so with reverence and awe, and in humility and filial gratitude, is much easier proposed than done. It is not impossible but it is rarely achieved these days, in part because of the association of “you” with human beings who are all equal and have rights and so on.
Traditions of prayer and worship, of Bible translation and commentary, of habit and style of Christian living, are not meant to become fossils. (And this has happened at times to the classic Anglican Way!) Rather, as they are lived and engaged in they are to be gently reformed and perfected and adapted to new situations and contexts. Regrettably, this did not happen in the 1960s. There was revolution instead of gentle reformation and we still reap the fruit of that revolution with an unstable Bible (100 plus versions in print in America); unstable worship (liturgy is now locally generated in many places and classical forms are despised); unstable doctrine (our opinions take precedence over the received Dogmas and doctrines) and, in the case of Anglicans, an Anglican Way that is subject to powerful centrifugal forces tearing it apart and few matching centripetal forces bringing it together and into the classic Tradition.
It is easier to destroy than to build; it is harder to build than to destroy. To create a godly form of the language of prayer that uses “you” is not yet achieved and it may not be possible. Forty years of trying only shows to the observant just how difficult it is to do so!
[for more details on language in worship see Peter Toon and Louis Tarsitano, Neither Archaic not Obsolete. The language of Common Prayer and Public Worship, 2003. from the Prayer Book Society [1 800 727 1928] or in the UK from
Interim Meeting of the House of Bishops
September 23rd - 28th, 2004
Mind of the House Resolution
Resolved: That the transfer of a canonical residence to a diocese in another Province of the Anglican Communion shall meet the following guidelines:(a) The bishop is satisfied that the ministry of the person requesting transfer is to be exercised within the geographic boundaries of the diocese or the Province of the Anglican Communion to which the transfer is to be made.(b) The bishop is satisfied that there are no pending disciplinary proceedings or related matters regarding the individual requesting the transfer.
(Explanation: The House of Bishops rejects the practice of transfer of canonical residence to allow a priest or bishop to exercise ordained ministry outside of the geographical boundaries of his or her canonical license.)
MOTION SECONDED AND AFTER DISCUSSION PASSED.
September 27th, 2004
Comment on (a) The sending Bishop is supposed to send the Minister in good faith to the other Bishop, who is then wholly responsible for his licensing and deployment. This requirement makes the sending Bishop into the judge of what the receiving Bishop will or will not do, can or cannot do. If the sending Bishop has a complaint against another Bishop then he should do all in his power to get that complain resolved.
Comment on (b). The sending Bishop could not send a Minister in good faith if there were disciplinary proceedings against him and he would need to tell the prospective receiving Bishop about these. But what are "related matters"? The Anglican Communion has been a comprehensive communion embracing people and churches of differing churchmanship and of theological convictions. This has never prevented transfers before! "Related matters" is a cover-all kind of thing and can be used to hinder or prevent movement based on personal prejudice or vendetta.
What the ECUSA bishops do not want to accept and face is that it is their adoption of innovations in a whole series of things, culminating in the sexual innovations of 2003, that has caused this present confusion and the need to cross diocesan boundaries in order to maintain the historic Faith.
This Resolution and intended practice is another nail in the coffin of the true Anglican Way in the ECUSA.
The Revd Dr Peter Toon October 1st 2004
We read in Acts 16:3 that the apostle Paul “circumcised Timothy” because of the Jews who lived in the area of Lystra in Galatia.
Is this the same Paul who opposed so strongly the Judaizers (Acts 15:1) and wrote vehemently against the imposition of circumcision on Gentile converts to Christianity (Galatians 1:6-9; 3:1-5; 5:2-6)?
Why is he requiring circumcision of a young man who has a Jewish mother and a Gentile father and who has become a Christian along with his mother and grandmother (Lois)?
Has he lost his mind? Does he show inconsistency by first opposing and then requiring circumcision of converts to Christianity?
If we look at these questions from the point of view of Paul and his vocation to be the apostle to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews living in the Gentile world of the Roman Empire, then there is an answer which maintains Paul’s consistency!
It is this:
That once the basic principle that circumcision is not necessary for salvation & entry into the kingdom of heaven and into the Church of God has been established (which had been established in the Church by the time of Paul’s visit to Lystra recorded in Acts 16), then it may be most useful in some cases for the performance of the missionary vocation of the Church. Timothy had entrance into two different communities in the Roman Empire --- into the Jewish community being the son of a Jewish woman and thus a Jew, & and into the Gentile community by reason of having a Gentile father. Entrance into the Jewish community and synagogue as a missionary would be the easier if he were circumcised. So Paul required or asked for his circumcision. What was not necessary for his acceptance with God the Father was deemed advisable for acceptance by some human beings (the Jewish Diaspora).
There is in the action required by Paul of Timothy a basic principle that the Church from time to time has appealed to in the pursuance of her vocation in the world. However, this principle can easily be mis-applied and mis-used!
An obvious example of the application of this principle is by the Roman Catholic Church allowing the reception and ordination of former ordained Anglican Ministers, who are married, as Priests in the Roman Church. The fixed rule is a celibate Priesthood, but concessions are made when the unity of the Church and her mission require such a concession.
Another is the allowing in the Church of England of the marriage of a divorced person in church. The standard rule is that marriage is for life and there is no remarriage unless the spouse has died. Yet exceptions are made in certain circumstances. (Here of course the principle can be applied in too generously in liberal times.)
Another could be – but I doubt it – the use of non-fermented grape juice for Holy Communion in an Anglican Eucharist in North America. At the recent Essentials Conference in Ottawa at the end of August 2004, the normal sacramental, fermented wine used by Canadian Anglicans was not used. Why so? Out of respect for the Pentecostal denomination, whose tabernacle was being used for the Conference, grape juice was used (because this denomination uses grape juice in its advocacy of no alcohol). This meant that some persons present did not feel able to share in this Eucharist for it was not in their judgment a Eucharist as Christ instituted.
IT SEEMS to be the case that in the present crisis of Anglicanism in the West/North that this principle will be most useful and applicable in various situations and circumstances that will arise (I have some possibilities in mind but will not mention them here). The danger is that in acting hastily, it will not be applied with sufficient care and wisdom.
The Revd Dr Peter Toon October 1, 2004