Friday, December 31, 2004

Dignified & simple worship [in the Anglican Way] leading to mission and ministries of compassion in the U S A

The pendulum swings this way and that. Right now the pendulum that swings at the heart of American evangelicalism is in motion away from the programmed mega-church, committed to evangelism and involved in a general dumbing down of historic Faith and discipline. It is apparently moving towards a type of church that takes seriously the public and private reading of the Bible and its application to life, the basics of the Christian Year, a recognition of the value of ordered worship, and a sense that mission is more than evangelism and includes ministries of compassion to needy people.

Importantly, the pendulum’s movement is indicating that for the first time in a long time the “evangelicals” are beginning to recognize that the basic and real purpose of “a service of worship” is simply to offer worship – as praise, thanksgiving, confession, petition and intercession, but chiefly praise – to the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. Further, to see that all genuine ministry & mission flow from and surround such holy, God-centered, corporate worship.

In the recent past, “worship services” (often like a show or a concert) have been promoted and seen too much as a means to an end – e.g., evangelism or church planting or community-building – and have appeared to be (by the evidence of the way folks dress) a special kind of leisure activity.

Now the possibilities are opening up for traditional churches to attract younger people not by gimmicks but by an obvious, serious and sincere attempt to read the Bible as God’s Word and to apply it to life’s journey, needs and questions, to engage in worship which is directed wholly towards the Father in the Name of the Son and with the Holy Spirit, and to participate in mission which takes the real needs of the world seriously. [Of course in the USA there will be the standard need for a decent building and car park with childcare etc.]

This situation provides a real and vital opportunity for Anglican churches either to be planted or for existing churches to be revived (retooled!) to catch the movement of this pendulum. Whether they will rise to the occasion is doubtful (based on what they have done in the past) but one must seek to be optimistic, as one notices how the Orthodox Churches, for example, benefit from this situation.

I fear that the way that much traditional Anglican worship as is conducted and presented now in small churches will not catch the flow of this pendulum. Indeed it will not notice its movement or the breeze that it creates, for it is locked into a kind of 1950s type of experience and model. And neither, I fear, will the generic, charismatic-type of Anglican worship, which has parted company with the basics of liturgy and the Church Year since the 1980s and which is so committed to using “worship services” as a means to an end, be it that of personal fulfillment or evangelism or community building.

What I think will probably succeed (by God’s blessing) to catch the pendulum’s movement is a local parish that:

1. On Sunday morning has simple, dignified worship, using the classic text of the BCP as is, without additions from other books (e.g. Missals); has good music, and uses minimal but well executed ceremonial and ritual to accompany the words.
2. takes the public reading of the Bible seriously as a means of grace and also takes expository preaching of the same seriously as a further means of grace (15-20 min well prepared sermons).
3. open to the use and development of modern (dignified) forms of music to accompany psalms and canticles, alongside the creative use of traditional music.
4. places emphasis upon real fellowship in Christ Jesus between people not only of the same generation but across generations
5. teaches the habit and discipline of Daily Prayer using the Offices in the BCP along with the Bible, and offers such daily in church.
6. teaches the value of the Church Year as a means of grace and ordered piety and keeps its major Feasts reverently.
7. has provision mid-week and on Sunday afternoons/evenings for Bible Study, fellowship, serious discussion and questioning.
8. has definite outreach ministries to the locality focusing on needs that can be addressed.
9. has clergy and lay leadership which, while highly esteeming the heritage of the Anglican Way, is keen to find appropriate ways to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness and to serve him in his world, in this generation and in this culture.
10. is open to the presenting of the texts of the services in attractive booklets in a modern typeface and with suitable illustrations and explanatory comments – and even open to projecting the text on to a screen if this is necessary and useful.
11. which distinguishes between being simple and being simplistic and which learns to major on majors not on minors (e.g., does not major on the minutiae of ceremonial or of clergy dress).
12. that advertises in ways which reflect the ethos of the church (rather than imitate modern advertising of goods) and which is not afraid to go into the public square to make itself known.
13. that is geographically situated in a place which is easy to access and which has the basic facilities (or the potential for them) for activity outside the worship area.
14. that has a bishop, clergy and leadership who are sensitive to the movement of the Spirit in the Church and world and who are men of God, first and foremost!

One could continue. The point is that the classic Anglican Way has sufficient within itself by God’s grace to address and meet the need of those young people today who look for an attractive yet substantial way of worshipping the Holy Trinity and serving Him in His world. What is urgently needed are dedicated, wise and gracious persons to become engaged (or in some cases) to continue to be engaged in the MISSIO DEI as it presents itself at this time in this place.

December 31 2004. The Rev’d Dr. Peter Toon

On the new kind of young evangelicals in the USA: Keeping it real

Turned off by the programmatic thinking and watered-down preaching of many boomer churches, a new generation of evangelicals is forging a new breed of church

by Anthony Bradley

"DOUBT NIGHT" AT MARS HILL Bible Church in Grandville, Mich., promises an evening of brutal honesty and searching. Rob Bell, the church's 33-year-old teaching pastor, fields questions about anything related to Christianity and life. One night last December, a brave young woman put Pastor Bell on the spot: "I doubt that God will forgive my sins, when I can't forgive a babysitter who raped me repeatedly when I was 10 years old." And so it began. The young woman that evening raised the first of many deeply personal issues ranging from suicide to addictions.

Mars Hill started with a small group in 1999 and five years later claims more than 10,000 weekly attendees. Church leaders say such growth was not the result of a grand master plan. "Doubt Night" displays Mars Hill's emphasis: the Bible applied to real-life situations with a level of authenticity not previously found by a new generation of churchgoers.

This church is not an anomaly. The rise of young pastors like Mr. Bell and others of his generation represents "a new period in evangelical history," says Robert Webber, author of The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New World.

Mr. Webber, a former Wheaton College professor, distinguishes between "traditional" evangelicals who came of age between 1950 and 1970, the program-based evangelicals of the 1975-2000 era, and a new generation of younger evangelicals beginning around 2000. The new leaders see themselves connected to a lost generation: Many young people flocking to these new churches are reacting against the perceived failures and shortcomings of the baby boomers -- their parents, by and large.

With baby boomers, observes Mr. Webber, "came the rise of crime, the inhabitability of the inner cities, the disruption of social institutions, the decline of marriages, the rise of divorce, out-of-wedlock births, the breakdown of values, the suspicion of institutions, the intensification of individualism, the demise of authority, and in general the collapse of modern society as we know it." Baby-boomer misadventures produced collateral damage: the broken and wounded hearts of Gen-Xers and Millennials (born after 1982).

This is "the first generation raised without parents and by the media, i.e., MTV, HBO, etc.," explains Ethan Burmeister, 31, pastor of Core Community in Omaha, Neb. "We are a latch-key, street-smart, materialistically saturated, authority-hating, media-induced generation."

Ron Wheeler, 27, pastor of The Gathering in Mt. Vernon, Wash., says, "Xers and Millennials are the recipients of the wealth that their boomer parents amassed. Children were usually spared no luxury. Having very often grown up in a dysfunctional home environment, young people learned quickly how to use the guilty conscience of parents to obtain material substitutes for real intimacy and stability. Ultimately, we are hedonists who, like most spoiled brats, hate the fact that nothing feels real and suffer from a lack of direction and purpose."

Younger evangelicals sensed they needed new ministry methods. "Pragmatic evangelical churches develop programs based on a target group and felt needs," says Bill Clem, 48, a church planter with Doxa in Seattle, Wash. "This really means a church is at the mercy of trends for programming, and that there is an extreme urgency to be tragically hip."

These pastors lament that commercialism and consumerism now dominate evangelicalism. It has become common, they say, for churches to engage in intensive marketing and targeting of people, in an attempt to act as vendors of religious goods and services, much like a Wal-Mart or Target. "We're just peddling spiritual goods and services instead," says The Gathering's Mr. Wheeler.

Eric Stanford, 40, writing for Next-Wave, an online discussion group of younger evangelicals, observes that baby-boomer churches tend to rely heavily on highly structured programs, but Xer-led churches put more emphasis on relationships. He says that boomer churches emphasize "excellence" in often professionalized church ministries but Xer churches emphasize "realness."

Younger evangelical leaders also do not limit their outreach to particular age groups, as Mr. Webber points out: "Younger evangelicals desire to be around their parents and grandparents, and their dislike of being separated into their own group runs counter to the advice given by church-growth movements that the way to start a church is to target generations."

Boomers and Xers may use the same words differently. Baby boomers who hear the word community often think in terms of programs, such as small-group ministries, which may mean a group of 10 or so random people who don't know each other -- meeting once a week, maybe, to sojourn through life together in two hours or less.

But for young evangelicals the word community reflects the need for deeper relationships. Many say that churches can't put random people together and expect honesty and transparency. Small groups are organic, emerging from relationships among people who spend time together -- almost like "family." "We are filling in a deficiency," Mr. Burmeister says. "The church has an opportunity to become a family to the family-less."

Young people, Mr. Wheeler says, long to learn from a person who is honest about his struggles and who passionately longs to be spiritually transformed -- "not a fakey pastor who wears a fake smile and pretends at a fake relationship with his wife."

The worship style of many younger evangelicals is also different than the show-time emphasis of professional-style choirs and instrumentalism at some churches. Aaron Niequist, 27, worship director at Mars Hill, says that what people "cry out for is honesty." People want to know "how I can be really broken and not have to get cleaned up in order to sing to God."

That might even involve singing a few old-time hymns. At Doxa in Seattle traditional hymns are used, even if the music is tweaked a bit for Gen-Xers. Advent was a "big deal" that invoked the ancient church and the congregation as well, says Mr. Clem. During last year's Advent, Doxa "used traditional Scripture readings from Old Testament, Gospel and Epistles, sang hymns and carols, and lit advent candles. There was even communion."

The biggest emphasis is on Bible teaching applied to real-life situations. The preaching and teaching of Gen-Xers in these churches is far from watered down or seeker sensitive. "We know the message of self-esteem is bankrupt," says Shaun Garman, 34, pastor of Red Sea Church in Portland, Oregon. "We know we are not the center of the universe." Rather than seeing a desire for feel-good messages, he sees people who are hungry "for someone to tell them the most subversively true message -- how bad they are and how great God is."

Longing for a place to come alive typifies the quest for a new way of ministry for this generation. Steve Mayer's journey landed him an internship at a small evangelistic church. His immersion into the Christianity of "evangelism only" prompted him to lead a team to Alaska to share the gospel with villagers. That trip forever changed his passion for ministry.

Among Native Americans, he saw the effects of alcoholism, suicide, depression, hopelessness, poverty, and broken families. Mr. Mayer realized that he had no answers for these situations. He had a programmed evangelistic method, but this was of little help in dealing with the situations before his eyes. "We thought we could just come in a week and change their lives" with things like VBS and other evangelistic programs, says Mr. Mayer.

So he broke all the rules of the program. He stayed out very late at night talking to people on the street, often alone, and often in co-ed contexts. He could not escape the feeling that he was selling prepackaged Christianity -- and he balked. The programmed Christianity he was taught was not in touch with the brokenness of the Native Americans he met.

For help, Mr. Mayer turned to the writings of Martin Luther King Jr. From King he learned that Christianity should be passionate about souls and passionate about the "slums those souls reside in." Caring about souls and the real-life situations in which those souls move became authentic evangelism for Mr. Mayer. But where could he do that?

After being told by a seminary professor that many programmed-based churches wouldn't support his passion for addressing social issues, he left the world of "evangelism only" for Mars Hill. There he says he found a place where people cared about souls and life situations. "If you programmatically implement what it means to follow Jesus, you're missing it," says Mr. Mayer.

As an emerging leader at Mars Hill, Mr. Mayer recently accepted a part-time staff position in the Global Outreach office. In addition to his church work, Mr. Mayer leads a group of young adults studying justice issues and a men's group where, he says, "authenticity is simply a requirement." Mr. Mayer's passion for people and their various circumstances convinces him that in the end "you just can't think programmatically about this stuff."

It may be too early to make a sweeping generalization about where this movement is headed, but some may rightly ask: Are the concerns of the Gen-X leaders like these just a reaction? That is, in 20 years, when the children of younger evangelicals come of age and break away to start the next "new" movement, will they see the work of their parents as a healing force? Or will there be fresh brokenness to lament?


-- Anthony B. Bradley is a research associate at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Overreach

more on Windsor Report by a devout Canadian Anglican thinker:

Dear Peter,

The blessings of the Child Christ be upon you and
yours. Here is a little opinion piece that may interest
you.

In Christ,

David Curry
Overreach

The Windsor Report offers a series of snap-shots of the Anglican Communion. It will, of course, be analyzed to death and from a variety of different points of view, each vying to wrest some claim to integrity and justification for their respective positions. But perhaps, it is best read by flipping through it as through a pack of cartoon stills to give the illusion of something dynamic.

At its best and with respect to the presenting issue of the actions of the North American Churches about human sexuality or, more truthfully, the sexuality of those who call themselves ‘homosexuals’, the report is abundantly clear that the Diocese of New Westminster in British Columbia, Canada, and the Diocese of New Hampshire in the United States, together with ECUSA itself, have overreached themselves in allowing for the “blessings of same-sex couples” and for the ordination to the episcopate of a self-proclaimed ‘homosexual’. The Report is clear that such decisions have broken “the bonds of affection” in the Anglican Communion. But in what way?

By way of the violation of process. By acting unilaterally and precipitously. While the report acknowledges that there are matters of scriptural and theological principles at stake for many in the Communion on this question, it fails to recognize in an open and clear way that there are any properly constituted theological principles that define the Anglican identity within the Church Universal. In this respect, the report is a snap-shot, whether as a series of moving stills or not, of the doctrinal and intellectual bankruptcy of the Anglican Communion. It assumes as primary matters of process.

In this respect the report is a perfect mirror of the intellectual character of the reigning liberalism in politics and law. The assumption, championed by the leading architects of American jurisprudence such as Kingman Brewster and others who were of his circle, such as Paul Moore who became Bishop of New York, is captured by Brewster’s biographer Geoffrey Kabaservice as process thinking, the idea “that any decision was fine as long as the process leading to it was fair…the idea of process was in a sense the credo and self-justification of the liberal establishment”.

From the standpoint of the Windsor Report, the problem is that the North American Churches were too hasty and lacked the patience that would allow for the policy of reception to take its course. What is missing is the idea that there are any governing principles on fundamental theology with respect to essential doctrine, orders or morality that are in any way definitive. The Articles of Religion, The Ordinal and The Book of Common Prayer, for instance, with their clear sense of the principle of doctrinal sufficiency or restraint have been sidelined if not silenced by the primacy granted to the process of reception, a process which has been violated by the North American Churches and has resulted in the situation of impairment. The Communion is fractured. It is, in fact, a fiction.

In some ways, the report is the best and the worst that could be expected. At best, it might provide some breathing room for the recovery of the principles which should and must inform the life of the Body of the Christ in the institutional moments of the various churches of the Communion. At worst, it shows the serious intellectual limitations of the Anglican Communion in its inability to define the theological principles of its own being, throwing the Communion open to the political winds of power and compromise without recourse to the anchors of doctrine. The principle is the process. In effect, there is no doctrine.

The problem is one of Episcopal and Synodical overreach. The problem lies in the restlessness of the liberal ascendancy to accept and to live within any set of limits – even those which are accepted by them are never really binding but only transitional until there is a measure of acceptance for whatever new concern emerges. Yet, it remains unclear what the measure of acceptance could really ever be since the Communion has never established any mechanisms that can hold the various churches of the Communion accountable to one another, let alone to matters of basic Christian doctrine. In effect, the Windsor Report is the whine of the invented magisterium of ‘the Committees of the Stratosphere’ such as the Anglican Consultative Council, the Lambeth Council, and the Primates themselves in various configurations, to make up what constitutes the belief of the Anglican Communion over and against the claim of the local and national dioceses synodically and episcopally to define what constitutes the “Faith”; in short, to constitute themselves as the magisterium – the doctrinal authority.

The problem is that the Communion as a whole and in its parts remains uncommitted to basic scriptural, creedal and doctrinal orthodoxy even in the face of the explicit principles embodying Trinitarian orthodoxy for Anglicans in all parts of the Communion to a greater or lesser extent. From the standpoint of the process thinkers, there is no principle such as Trinitarian orthodoxy that cannot be altered or changed and no way to distinguish in a hierarchy of importance one position from another.

The forms of Episcopal and Synodical overreach with respect to Scripture and Doctrine are legion but they need to be exposed to view in order to highlight the untenable situation that the now fictional Communion is in. What follows does not intend to be exhaustive but seeks to provide a snap-shot of the doctrinal and moral bankruptcy of the churches of the Anglican Communion.

The Communion has long been exercised by the question about the Ordination of Women to the ordained ministry. In the Windsor Report, for example, that question is used as an example of the process of reception that should have but has not been followed by the North American Churches with respect to the same-sex controversies. The Report is na├»ve in supposing that a pax dissendentium, a form of reasonable dissent that recognizes that there are and must be room for different theological opinions on this matter, exists within and throughout the community. ‘T isn’t so, as the Canadian Church clearly shows.

In 1986, the Canadian Church, without any consideration for the larger Communion, revoked the conscience clause with respect to the Ordination of Women to the ministry thus making acceptance and approval of the Ordination of Women to the ministry a sine qua non of membership in the Anglican Church of Canada and requiring, through the mechanisms of process in most dioceses, subscription to this matter and proscribing any forms of dissent either practically or notionally. In the case of ordinands who might be suspected of harbouring doubts or uncertainties about the Ordination of Women to the ministry, they were subjected to liturgical test-cases to see if they would receive communion or not from women priests. The process of reception was a one-way street; the only exception was a grandfather clause for those who had been ordained prior to the 1986 General Synod decision.

The matter of the Ordination of Women to the ministry may very well be “the right thing”, but, as T.S. Eliot so clearly reminds us in Murder in the Cathedral, “to do the right deed for the wrong reason is the greatest treason”. The matter of the Ordination of Women to the ministry lacks theological consensus and compelling theological justification throughout the Anglican Communion, within and without the particular churches, not to mention the wider Church. It remains an advocacy issue. It is a matter upon which there can be any number of perfectly legitimate points of view theologically. The problem with the Canadian Church is that its General Synod effectively made the acceptance of the Ordination of Women to the ministry a first–order matter, raising a matter of orders to a matter of Faith requiring, not just acceptance, but reception of it as definitive, excepting only those ordained before the 1986 decision. Effectively, there can be only one view.

This clear example of Episcopal and Synodical overreach reveals the tendenz of the synodical bodies who assume a power and a magisterium which they do not have. In the absence of any effective mechanism to limit their decisions they have effectively trespassed on matters of doctrine and faith which are denied to them by their own foundational principles. Synods do not have the power to determine on matters of doctrine and worship. Those matters are subject to the doctrinal authority of The Articles, The Ordinal and The Book of Common Prayer.

This does not mean that there cannot be, for instance, alternative liturgical rites, or even such developments as the Ordination of Women. What it means is that such things have to be subject to the doctrinal authority of such principles and that nothing can be compelled or accepted that stands opposed to them or that is not explicitly allowed by them. In the case of the Ordination of Women, it has to be said, that it could be allowed but not required. Humility and honesty would have to acknowledge this issue as one upon which there is and continues to be a legitimate variety of theological opinions that constrain the presumptuous acts of bishops and their synods; in short, that this is a matter requiring and providing for the legitimate diversity of theological views, not proscribing some in favour of one. In failing to do so, the Anglican Church of Canada violated its claim to be an integral portion of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. Its synodical action was sectarian.

But the disease of overreach does not stop there but extends explicitly to creedal doctrine both in Canada and elsewhere in the Anglican Communion precisely because there is no mechanism to hold the churches accountable to essential doctrine. The Anglican Church in New Zealand in its 1989 A New Zealand Prayer Book provided in place of the three classical Creeds, liturgical affirmations of the Faith which obscure the identity of the Father and the Son; in short, they are not Trinitarian. In Canada, and only in Canada, we might add, the filioque clause was dropped from the version of the Nicene Creed provided for use in the 1985 Book of Alternative Services. As well, provision was made to allow the Shema – the “Hear, O Israel” – to be used as a creedal alternative to the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds. Such provisions undermine the Trinitarian orthodoxy of the Anglican Church and its undeniably western character.

The clear point that has to be made is that these churches, through their Synodical instruments, had no authority to make such substantial changes in matters of fundamental doctrine to the liturgies. In the matter of the filioque clause one has to accept that it is the form in which the Western Churches have understood, prayed and proclaimed the Doctrine of the Trinity, which in no way invalidates the Eastern Orthodox tradition that omits the filioque, subscribing to a different but legitimate way of thinking and praying the Trinity, a point which Anglican divines such as John Pearson in his classic On the Creed, was at pains to establish.

The Churches that emerged in the early modern period, like the emerging national states in which they found themselves, had to give much thought and expression to distinctions which are currently lost in our contemporary confusions. Both the Churches of the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation had to work out what it means to be the Church in the form of the various churches. The main distinctions had to do with recognizing the respective spheres of doctrine and polity and their interrelation. With respect to doctrine, the upshot of the English Reformation was a clear determination to hold fast to what one might call a minimalist view of essential doctrine, especially the Trinitarian orthodoxy embodied in the creeds, and to enshrine this in the liturgy.

The betrayal of Trinitarian orthodoxy was further advanced in the Anglican Church of Canada which in 1995 allowed for use three Eucharistic prayers, two of which explicitly and self-consciously denied the identity of the Son of God. As with every other issue in the Canadian Church what is most apparent is the inviolability of the process. It is what remains sacred. Doctrine is about nothing more than those who shout the loudest capturing the attention of those who presume to be the makers of doctrine.

Much of this must be laid squarely at the feet of the bishops who have either been the slaves of their synods or have used them as their poodles. In every case, there has been an overreach of authority. The latest controversy about “same-sex” belongs to the same reality. For if God can be re-imaged, what on earth can prevent the re-defining of marriage and, for that matter, ourselves. Is not everything a social construct, after all?

Against the clear and undeniable principle of Christian marriage unambiguously presented in The Book of Common Prayer, the teaching which in principle Bishops and clergy are obliged to uphold, Bishops and Synods presume that the doctrine of marriage itself is subject to alteration and change. And as with every other matter, so here, the discourse is clouded by the failure or inability to make distinctions theologically, politically and pastorally. In the present case, for example, the re-marriage of divorced persons and the blessings of animals are invoked as justification for the church’s redefining of the received institution of Christian marriage. The one is a negative argument – making the sad situation of failure the basis for the normative; the other is indeterminate and strangely insulting – making no distinction between the objects and kinds of blessing and equating the blessing of same-sex couples with the blessing of animals!

Sadly, what is also lost is the recognition of the role and place of Christian friendship. Relationships are invariably reduced to some form of sexual activity. The prevailing view of the indeterminate Trinity – any three will do – debases the Doctrine of the Trinity in the concreteness of its expression of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. This has its parallel in the debasing of both friendship and marriage. Any form of ‘committed relationship’ will do.

The overreach does not constrain itself to matters of doctrine, orders and morals now in such confused disarray. It also extends to property. Episcopal authority increasingly seeks to have complete control over the parishes and priests in ways that violate the legitimate and various forms of relationship between parishes, priests and bishops. Synods, too, are drawn into this either in collusion with Episcopal agendas or as arrogating unto themselves powers which were formally resident in the bishops. At stake is the viability of the Anglican witness in the land. Episcopal and Synodical overreach serves the interest of the bureaucratic or committee church, busily passing motions of how the world should run while living off the avails of the parishes to their destruction.

The Windsor Report belongs to the same mind-set that has bankrupted the Communion. Without the integrity of principle, all matters of process are inherently flawed. It matters for ecclesiology whether one’s Trinitarian theology is Arian or Athanasian. One might make the argument more pointedly and say that it matters for the ecclesiology of the churches of the Anglican Communion – if there is to be one – whether one’s Trinitarian theology is western or not. How? Because orthodox Trinitarian theology, significantly in its western form, upholds the basis for a polity that is constitutional and limited, that recognizes and respects the legitimate diversity of theological points of view through the deep commitment to essential doctrine which it refuses to compromise in the name of expediency and advocacy. It alone allows for the principled engagement with the various forms of secularism – both the good and the bad – which arise from Western Christianity.

The Windsor Report reveals just how completely the Bishops and the Synods have betrayed what has been entrusted to them. Paradoxically, given the Anglican enlightenment experience when there were attempts to re-write the foundational doctrines such as the Articles and the Liturgy that failed, the current Anglican position doctrinally is caught between an existential animism, on the one hand, and a dry and brain-dead deism, on the other hand; in short, what has been compromised is Trinitarian orthodoxy. Such is the consequence of the overreach of Bishops and Synods, the unbridled authority of process over principle.

David Curry
Windsor, NS
December 29th, 2004

Choice & Variety in the West and its results in Worship

A word to traditional believers and worshippers & a discussion starter

To look at the homes, cars and clothing of middle-class people in the West is to see a great variety but within certain limitations caused by availability, size, space and so on.

For example, on the outside middle-class homes look alike but on the inside there are differences in terms of decoration, type and layout of furniture, tidiness and so on. With respect to clothing, there is a variety of type, size and color of garments even though there are limits on the variety imposed by such things as the shape of the human body and availability of materials. In terms of cars, most of them have four wheels and an engine but they come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and interiors. Concerning food, there are many types, menus and forms seen in homes and in restaurants, but food must be edible and not poisonous!

Variety in availability leads to choice by the consumer and the result of this is variety again in virtually all aspects of western life. Yet the variety is also held together by certain basic rules – the human need for food, clothing, lodging, and transport, the laws of nature as well as the laws of supply and demand.

It is therefore not surprising at all to find that within the practice of the Christian Faith in a western country there is variety and choice, choice and variety. And this has increased dramatically in the post World War II period, even as choice and variety have dramatically increased in society at large with respect to consumerism.

Varity and choice in religion is portrayed clearly in the way in which “worship” is conducted and engaged in. To take the Anglican scene as an example. Between 1960 and 2005 there has been a move from a general uniformity with limited variety through use of The Book of Common Prayer (1662) to a great variety with no uniformity where many local parishes create their own liturgies from both classic and modern sources and others modify the official liturgies. Thus the services of worship in parish churches are as different one from another as are the homes and the dress of the middle-class who attend them.

Similarity and likeness in liturgy was once what was found in a denomination, or a part thereof, and which marked it off from others; but now similarity and likeness are found across denominations – e.g., the generic “charismatic” free style is found in all the major denominations and in the independent “community” churches, and traditional Anglicans have more in common with traditional Lutherans than with fellow modern Anglicans.

Uniformity, or the lesser reality of similarity & likeness, in worship & liturgy are still found in 2005 but in small units (e.g., small jurisdictions/denominations & groups which have a sense of special vocation and a cause to uphold or fight for). The general scene of Anglicanism in the West is one of a basic similarity in terms of (a) rejection of absolute fixed styles, forms and structures and (b) use of freedom to allow local choice to determine the style and content of the liturgy. To cater for such a situation, the national Liturgical Commissions of Churches provide suggestions as to what a service should and could look like and what kind of resources are there to help plan it. In the first volume of Common Worship (2000) of the Church of England, the first service is not significantly a proper liturgy but a suggested structure of a service! This indicates where the emphasis is now and national Liturgical Commissions are seeking to catch up with and to control a little the variety being developed at the parish level. The 1979 Prayer Book of ECUSA had such a provision but not as the first item, but the forthcoming new prayer book of ECUSA will have little formal liturgical uniformity and many provisions for local choice.

To conclude: There seems to be no prospect whatsoever of this situation changing in the short term. Those who believe that a sound and good liturgy is necessary or at least advisable for the worship of God in spirit and in truth and in the beauty of holiness will have to work extraordinarily hard to make converts and to cause their congregations to grow. For they fight against the tide of the power of consumer choice, individualism and variety which currently mark western culture and society and which have entered the mainstream of the churches.

In short, the Extra-Mural Anglican Churches which use a traditional liturgy in a traditional (often a kind of 1950s way) will find it most difficult to grow in size in the next decade even as they have found it difficult to do so in the last. Growth has been more by transfer of members from other churches than by the results of evangelism.

Finally, a Prayer Book Society (defending and commending the traditional Liturgy) will find it is in a constant struggle, ever looking for new ways to seek to convince people “to taste and see” that the Lord is good and that his goodness is known inpart through sound, traditional, orthodox worship.
-------------------------------------
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

On sponsoring a Study Edition of a Modern Language form of the classic and traditional Book of Common Prayer

A Discussion Starter for serious-minded Anglicans
(arising from questions put to me by various devoted and concerned persons)


Would a study edition (in contrast to a pew edition) of The Book of Common Prayer in modern standard English possibly assist in the recovery (amongst younger people) of the use of the original Book of Common Prayer in Anglican Churches in the English-speaking world?

Let us consider the following in attempting to answer the question:

1) The Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches, together with the major Protestant denominations, have committed themselves to the use of modern English for their public liturgy/services in the English-speaking world. This situation seems here to stay.

2) All new versions of the Bible are in modern English, avoiding the use of “Thou/Thee” for God or man.

3) It seems to be true that the doctrine and ethos of the content of the classic Book of Common Prayer ( BCP 1662 and gentle revisions thereof in USA & Canada) are closely connected with the style of the services therein, and part of the style is the use of the second person singular for God as well as the way in which the Collects & Prayers are constructed and rhythm is
present.

4) Any rendering of this classic 17th century text into standard modern English, however well done, will inevitably produce/require a different style and will run the major risk of a diminution in doctrine and ethos. That is, any modern version will perhaps inevitably lack the precision, beauty and maturity of the original.

5) However, such a projected loss would not mean that the texts/rites produced would be of a nature as not to be suitable for the use in the worship of Almighty God. They would be like unto and similar to the original without having the full quality of the original. Nevertheless the texts/rites would aim to be the best possible in the modern context using modern style, syntax and grammar.

6) An Extra-Mural Anglican Jurisdiction or a Prayer Book Society, which aims to preserve in print and in use (with understanding) a classic edition of the BCP (1662, 1928 or 1962 [Canada]), faces the decision in 2005 whether or not these two specific aims will be supported, even enhanced, if it were to lend its support to a carefully produced edition in modern standard English of the traditional and classic BCP.

7) It is now the case (in the crisis which Anglicans are presently going through in the West) that a lot of Anglicans are in search of orthodoxy and of beauty in worship. They are looking for roots and heritage. Their education and training inside and outside the Church since the 1970s has given them strong convictions and even prejudices in terms of the right form of language to address God in worship and prayer. Thus the use of the classic Book of Common Prayer and even the reading of the King James Version of the Bible are not within their everyday horizons or experiences.

8) So the question arises, would a study edition in modern, standard English of the BCP help to serve as an introduction for such persons – and others – to the tradition of English Common Prayer? That is, would a well produced book containing a modern yet faithful form of say the M.P., Litany, E.P., Holy Communion, Baptism, Confirmation, Catechism & the Collects (with a suggestion that the RSV or the ESV be used alongside it for the Sunday & Daily Lectionary and for the Psalter) serve as a means by which some people (using it for personal prayer and for study) would be led to want to consult and make use of the original (which could be advertised on the back page) and even consider using the original for the worship of the LORD our God in public services on the Lord’s Day?

9) There is a danger if the job were done well (and as yet this job has not been done well, thoroughly or consistently) that the study edition would become the basis for a liturgy that some people would want to use for their public worship in preference both to the diluted and distorted doctrine that occurs is much modern Anglican Liturgy and to the classic liturgy. (Where people have choice there is not much that can be done about such a development, for it is a risk inherent in the project and may not be a bad thing!)

10) Some people may say that this kind of project has been tried with the Bible – that modern versions (e.g. N.E.B. & NRSV) to replace the KJV have not sent many people back to use and consult the KJV. Let us note that in the case of the Prayer Book project there is a difference. The translators of the modern Bible versions all are committed to the absolute need for new versions because they believe that the
KJV is out of date even obsolete. Those who work on this project of the BCP would believe exactly the opposite – that the classic BCP remains the best Liturgy. but that not everyone is able to appreciate it as such and so they need a bridge to cross over from where they are to the classic Liturgy itself!



Please send any serious thoughts or questions on this topic to peter@toon662.fsnet.co.uk

The Revd Dr Peter Toon December 28, 2004 Holy Innocents Day.

Circumcision, the feast of [January 1st] & The Second Sunday after Christmas Day

“By the mystery of thy holy Incarnation; by thy holy Nativity and Circumcision…” (Litany).

“Almighty God, who madest thy blessed Son to be circumcised, and obedient to the law for man; Grant us the true circumcision of the Spirit; that, our hearts, and all our members, being mortified from all worldly and carnal lusts, we may in all things obey thy blessed will; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
The Epistle: Romans 4. 8-14 The Gospel: St Luke 2.15-21

The Book of Common Prayer (1662) makes no special provision for the Second Sunday after Christmas (which occurs 4 out of 7 times), but directs that what is provided for the Feast of the Circumcision be used on this day also and up to the Feast of the Epiphany. Editions of the Prayer Book since 1928 do, however, usually provide Propers for the Second Sunday (see e.g., the PECUSA Prayer Book of 1928).

The Collect is addressed to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who by adoption and grace is also our Father. Circumcision was the entrance into the covenant of the Law (Genesis 17:12) and to receive it implied taking on the whole obligation of the Law. It was the Father’s will that his Incarnate Son should, as one born of a woman and under the Law, submit to that Law. Thus “when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus” (Luke 2:21). Yet he did not submit to the Law for his own sake, but for ours in order to fulfill in our place our debt to the whole Law of God, ceremonial and moral. He was born to be our Representative and Substitute, whether we be Jew or Gentile. And the shedding of the drops of blood at his circumcision point to the greater shedding of his precious blood for us at Calvary, thirty or so years later.

In the light of this crucial doctrine about the Incarnation, Circumcision and Obedience (active & passive) of Christ Jesus, we earnestly pray for an internal gift of grace, the true circumcision of the Spirit. Not the old circumcision of the flesh but “circumcision of the heart, in the spirit” (Romans 2:28-29). That is, we ask for the action of the Holy Spirit upon our spirits that energized by heavenly power we shall be enabled to cut away all sinful desires from our hearts and to put them to death (mortified – see Colossians 3:15). For it is only when the power of evil desires and habits is dispelled from the various faculties and recesses of the soul, that we are able seriously to obey the will of the Lord, our God, in the name of his blessed Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thus, when spiritually circumcised and whether male or female, we are able to present out bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God (Romans 12:1). Hands, cleansed and ready to work on God’s assignments; feet, washed and ready to run his errands of mercy and love; eyes, purified from lust, ready to meditate upon and contemplate God’s works and words; ears, cleansed of flattery and enticement, ready to hear the voice of God and the cry of the needy; the tongue, mortified of evil speech and idle words, ready to praise the Lord – in all a living sacrifice!

It seems that Archbishop Thomas Cranmer created this Collect not by translating the Collect in the Sarum Use, but by using and adopting the Latin benediction for this feast. Translated this Benediction runs, “Almighty God, whose only-begotten Son on this day received bodily circumcision, purify your minds by the spiritual circumcision from every allurement of vice, …”

In conclusion, even as the Litany joins together the Nativity (“made of a woman”) and the Circumcision (“made under the law”), so let us celebrate these Events by our faithful use of this Collect to the salvation of our souls and the redemption of our bodies.

Note: the Collect provided in 1928 in the C. of. E. as an addition specifically for the Second Sunday after Christmas is:

Almighty God, who didst wonderfully create man in thine own image, and didst yet more wonderfully restore him: Grant, we beseech thee, that as thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ was made in the likeness of men, so we may be made partakers of the divine nature; through the same thy Son, who with thee and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end. Amen.
Epistle: 2 Corinthians 8:9 Gospel: John 1:14-16

In the same year the American Church authorized a different Collect and readings:

Almighty God, who has poured upon us the new light of thine incarnate Word: Grant that the same light enkindled in our hearts may shine forth in our lives, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Epistle: Isaiah 61:1-3 Gospel: St Matthew 2:19-23

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Postscript --- the first day of the civil year in 1662 was March 25 and so January 1st is only a Feast Day.
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The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The Angels’ Christmas Hymn - GLORY

In the Gospel of St Luke (2:14) we have the text of a HYMN that was/is sung in heaven itself. The record we have of it is in Greek but the shepherds of Bethlehem probably heard it in Hebrew or Aramaic.

Technically speaking, the hymn consists of two members connected by a conjunction; and the three parts of the one member exactly correspond with the three parts of the other member. One member looks to heaven and the other member looks to earth as affected by heaven.

In the RSV (1952) we read:

Glory to God in the highest
and
On earth peace among men with whom He is well pleased.

We note that:

Glory balances with Peace

In the highest with on earth

To God with among men

In the highest places – that is in heaven itself – praise (glory) is being offered by the angelic hosts to the Father. Why? Because of the Incarnation of the only-begotten Son of the Father. The saving and redeeming work amongst the people of Israel has reached its climax and fulfillment. The Son of God is incarnate of the Virgin Mary: the Word of God is made flesh to dwell amongst men. He is there to be seen in the manger in Bethlehem.

On earth, created by God, something is also being offered. It is not praise but peace and it is for the elect (those who believe and trust in the Lord and in whom God delights). The marvelous effect of the Incarnation of the Son of God as the Savior is peace – shalom, peace with God removing enmity, peace (wholeness) in the heart and mind removing the guilt and stain of sin, and peace (reconciliation) between men breaking down barriers. Such peace is also salvation from sin and friendship with God unto eternal life.

In the true liturgy on earth the choirs of men join with the choirs of heaven at the Festival of the Nativity first of all to praise, magnify and give glory to God for the Incarnation of His Son, and secondly, to proclaim what the arrival of His Son means for the human race in terms of peace and salvation.
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The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Were Joseph and Mary in a relationship?

a meditation in preparation for Christmas

Since the 1960s English-speaking westerners have increasingly used the word “relationship” so that it is now – along with the verb “to feel” – one of the most used words in ordinary discourse and writing, including religious talk.

Any coming together, or being together, for a long or short time of persons, animals, companies, countries and organizations is called “a relationship.” When two persons are living together, engaged to be married, or actually married, they are said to be in a “relationship”. In fact the marriage of two persons, male and female, or a “committed partnership” of two persons, male and male (or female and female) is called “a relationship.” And to top it all, preachers of both liberal and conservative persuasions call upon people to enter into a “relationship with God”, as something that can be instantly and easily entered into.

One thing about a modern “relationship” is that it is freely entered into and it can be freely dissolved by one party alone or by joint agreement of all parties involved. Thus “relationship” is a word that particularly fits well into modern western culture where individual rights and freedom are so much prized and people are on the move.

So were Mary and Joseph in a “relationship”? No! No! and No!

We first hear of them as being betrothed -- “When his [Jesus] mother was betrothed to Joseph…” (Matthew 1:18). Betrothal was a serious and lasting commitment. It bound the man and woman together in a holy commitment and consecration as they waited to be formally married and consummate their union. Betrothal was the first part of a relation of order proceeding from God’s creation of male and female and from the revealed Law of God (the Law given to Moses and written in the Torah) concerning human relations. The second part of this holy relation was holy matrimony. God’ will is that a man and woman be united in marriage and become as one flesh and remain so until the death of one of them. [Divorce was actually allowed in the Law of Moses but as a concession to human weakness and sinfulness and not commended as being the perfect will of God.]

A permanent union of a man and woman in matrimony is not therefore a relationship which either party can at any time dissolve. It is a relation of order that once entered into is intended by God’s appointment and will to be permanent – “until death us do part.” By it relatives are gained and through procreation more relatives are produced!

When Joseph learned that Mary was pregnant, he thought that she had “known” another man and that according to the law of Moses he was required to use the provisions of that law to break his betrothal to her and set her aside. Yet the angel of the Lord intervened and told Joseph of the true origins of Mary’s baby and commanded Joseph to proceed with their marriage and accept that unique and precious baby as his own, so that Jesus was born “ a son of David”, like his adopted father. Happily Joseph, being a just and devout man, did as the angel commanded him.

So what could have been an intended permanent union, which had to be dissolved because of a major impediment, actually proceeded in God’s providence to be a permanent union, a relation of order within God’s creation and grace. By this union came salvation and joy to the world!

Had their coming together merely been a modern “relationship” then there would have been no “Christmas Story” and God’s plans for the redemption of the world would have been thwarted!

Likewise, when a sinful human being is regenerated (born from above), concerted and baptized in the Triune Name to become a disciple of Jesus, he enters not into a relationship that is dissolvable for this or that reason, but into a permanent relation of friendship, peace and union with God, a relation of order wherein he is adopted as a child of God!

A true “relationship” with God is the experience of a relation of order (wherein a person is an adopted child of God) and while the experience changes as human feelings change the relation of order by God’s will is permanent! “O Love that wilt not let me go…”

The Rev’d Dr Peter Toon Advent IV, 2004 December 21.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Bishops, bishops and more bishops.

Dear Fr Kim,

You ask me for a comment on the news that the Traditional Anglican Communion has appointed Fr Moyer as its next bishop.

I say nothing here about Fr Moyer at all except that I believe him to be a faithful presbyter and parish priest. Rather I comment on the plurality of bishops in the Continuing Anglican churches. My comment is intended as light relief but also as an expression of pain at what I see happening to the Anglican Way in North America.


Bishops, bishops and more bishops.


Extra-mural Anglicans love bishops and they keep on consecrating them so that often a bishop does not have more than a few hundred people in his diocese.

In the America Colonies the Anglican Way did quite well up to the 1780s without bishops present and continued to do well for much longer with few bishops present. But things changed rapidly with the formation of the Continuing Anglican Movement in the 1970s. The desire to become a bishop became a passion for many presbyters!

Now, the fervent desire of the present members of the extra-mural Anglican Way to have a large supply of bishops is such that - to borrow from Presbyterian Polity -- all presbyters should be regarded as bishops and all bishops as presbyters and so all presbyters consecrated bishops; and then henceforth the normal way of ordination for all postulants should be deacon for one year, presbyter for three years, and bishop then onwards.

After all the Holy Scripture states: "If anyone aspires to the office of bishop [overseer], he desires a noble task." Let all clergy be allowed to have this noble task!

Trouble is that the same Scripture has nothing to say about becoming an archbishop - of which the Extra-Murals have a good, perhaps plentiful, supply as well.

My own belief is that rather than more Bishops and more presbyters, extra-mural Anglicans need more committed and consecrated members brought to Faith through evangelization, mission, winsomeness in worship and fellowship and polity! Hold the number of clergy steady while the number of the laity greatly increases. Let's have a moratorium on ordinations until the membership has doubled and there is greater unity amongst Extra-Mural Anglicans.


Advent IV (eve of 2004)

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

A Statement from the Executive Committee of Forward in Faith, North America regarding the election of Fr. David Moyer as a bishop in the ACA

Since its inception in 1989, Forward in Faith, North America (FIF/NA), has sought “to minister pastorally and sacramentally to all who are faithful to the Anglican Way, both within the Episcopal Church and outside it...”.

FIF/NA is the only organization which represents those within The Episcopal Church who refuse to compromise the Church’s historic Faith and Order. In response to Resolution IV.11 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference of Bishops, FIF/NA has sought ways to serve as a bridge between the Communion and those who live that Faith and Order outside it, particularly those within the United States gathered in the Anglican Communion Network.

To this end, FIF/NA has entered into full communion with two such “extramural” bodies, the Anglican Church in America (ACA) and its parent, the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), and the Anglican Province of America (APA). Members of the ACA and the APA are thus eligible for full membership in FIF/NA, and to hold office in it.

At the end of November, the ACA’s House of Bishops elected FIF/NA’s President, the Rev’d Dr. David Moyer, to serve as that body’s Bishop for the Armed Forces. The leadership of FIF/NA was not consulted prior to the election, and first began to learn of it in confidence during the week of December 5th.

FIF/NA’s Assembly some years ago presented Fr. Moyer’s name to faithful Primates of the Anglican Communion, in the hope that he might be consecrated as bishop of an overseas Province and sent back to minister to the faithful in North America. While the decision of the ACA is entirely separate from that action, FIF/NA is on record as affirming its belief that Fr. Moyer is a worthy to serve as a bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ.

Fr. Moyer is a priest of the Diocese of Upper Shire, Malawi, in the Province of Central Africa. It is FIF/NA’s understanding that his Province’s canons allow him to remain within it as a priest in good standing, even as he serves as a bishop in the ACA. It is FIF/NA’s earnest hope that this will allow him to pursue even more effectively the organization’s efforts to bring together all who hold the historic Anglican Way, both within the Communion and outside it.

It is also FIF/NA’s hope that this will enable the organization to meet more effectively the pastoral and sacramental needs of those among its members who are no longer able to remain within their Episcopal congregations.

At the same time, the majority of FIF/NA’s members remain within the structures of The Episcopal Church. Fr. Moyer’s election in no way affects FIF/NA’s commitment to minister to them, and to its continued and active participation in the Anglican Communion Network.

Fr. Moyer’s election parallels events in Australia, where FIF/Australia’s vice-chairman has been elected to serve as a TAC bishop while continuing as a priest in good standing of the Anglican Diocese of Brisbane.

The date of Fr. Moyer’s consecration, February 16th, was chosen to coincide with a previously-scheduled international meeting which will bring the bishops who will consecrate him into the Philadelphia area. Some concern has been expressed that it will come just before the meeting in Ireland at which the Primates of the Anglican Communion will respond to the Windsor Report. Fr. Moyer has assured FIF/NA that this timing is simply a matter of coincidence: it is not meant to sent any message to the Primates, and FIF/NA hopes that Fr. Moyer’s election and consecration will have no impact on their deliberations.

While his consecration in the ACA will not affect his constitutional standing within FIF/NA, the Council and Fr. Moyer are considering whether or not he will continue as its President.

Copies of the original ACA release can be obtained from

Archbp. Louis Falk at 515-987-0124 or <bishopdmv@aol.com>

For further information, contact

Fr. Warren Tanghe at 404-872-4169, 404-822-6306, or <wtanghe@america.net>

Do not forget JOSEPH

Christmas is all about Jesus who is the Christ/Messiah. Yet in the divine narrative we cannot ignore his mother, Miriam/Mary, who as the Orthodox say is “theotokos” (the birth giver of God, the Son). Further, we cannot remove Joseph from the narrative for his cooperation, even as that of Mary, with the will of the LORD was essential to the success of the whole divine drama and action that led to the Incarnation of the eternal Son/Word of the Father.

The key to an appreciation of Joseph is that he was a just man, who not only sought to obey the Law of Moses but was open to receiving the word of the Lord beyond this Law. Thus he sought to do justice and to love mercy and to walk humbly with his God. In his humility before God he was open to being specifically instructed and led by God. Therefore, after the appearance of an angel of the Lord to him in a dream and his learning from this divine visitor unique facts about Mary’s pregnancy, Joseph the just and devout man “did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.” And this doing the will of the Lord beyond the law of Moses is a necessary part of the human co-operation with God in the salvation of the world.

The story we all know. Joseph was betrothed to Mary and before they came together in holy matrimony she became pregnant. When Joseph found out he believed his duty according to the Law of Moses (see Deuteronomy 22:13ff.) was to divorce Mary but he determined to do it quietly out of compassion for her. Before he had taken this action, the angel of the Lord spoke to him and told him that Mary’s pregnancy was an unique act of God who had (contrary to the laws of nature) generated a human life in her womb. Mary’s son would be the Messiah of Israel and he, Joseph, had an essential part in this divine action. He was to go ahead and marry Mary and call her son, his son, so that her and his son was truly a descendant of the royal line of David, the king.

In waking from sleep, Joseph also woke from doubts, woke from fear, woke from calculating human possibilities, and with the new dawn of trust and the serenity of faith he began to count on the word and the promises of his God. In fact he woke from an old into a new obedience, responsive to the speaking of God in the arrival of the new covenant, epoch and order.

So Joseph obeyed the Lord his God and made the decision by divine leading and appointment to become the human father of the Messiah, who is Jesus (God’s salvation) and Immanuel (God with us).

Joseph’s role in the history of salvation is unique, as also is in a greater way is that of Mary, his betrothed, who became his wife and then mother of his “adopted” Son. Yet Joseph presents himself to us as a faithful member of the righteous remnant of Israel, whose faithfulness we are to imitate in our own vocation and circumstances.

Thanks be to God for the faithfulness and example of holy Joseph, the righteous and caring man.
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The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Fr Moyer Elected Bishop in ACA

The Rev. Dr. David L. Moyer, Rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Rosemont, PA, has been elected Bishop in The Anglican Church in America (ACA), a member Church of the worldwide Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC). To read the entire announcement, go to http://www.acahome.org/submenu/docs/moyer.htm

To Whom should the Collect for Advent IV be addressed?

In The Book of Common Prayer of 1662, the Collect for Advent IV, the Sunday next before Christmas, begins, “O Lord raise up (we pray thee) thy power, and come among us…,” while in the Canadian revision of 1960, it begins, “Raise up, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy power and come among us…” In this petition there is an echo of the cry unto “the Shepherd of Israel” in Psalm 80, “ Shew thyself…stir up thy strength, and come, and help us…”

In the Prayer Book of 1662 the “O Lord” is The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, while in that of 1960 he is The Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

To whom then should this Collect be addressed?

Dr. Mason Neale (Essays on Liturgiology, London, 1863, p.51) claimed that Archbishop Cranmer and his colleagues made a mistake in addressing it to the Father and in so doing lost almost wholly the true spirit and emphasis of the original Collect in the medieval Sarum Missal used widely in England until 1550. For Dr. Neale the Collect dramatically calls upon God the Son to raise up his power, that is to be born among us in order to be our Saviour. And thus to address it to the Father is to lose the sense of the proximity and power of the approaching Festival of the Incarnation, Christmas, and the Nativity of the Lord.

Other Anglican scholars have shared the opinion of Dr. Neale and apparently the belief that liturgically it is more appropriate to address the Son rather than the Father at the eve of the Christmas Festival was persuasive in the Liturgical Commission of the Anglican Church of Canada in the 1950s.

However, what Dr. Neale does not mention and what is often not observed is that the Latin Collect in the Sarum Missal is taken from the Gelasian Sacramentary, and in the latter it is addressed to the Father, not the Son, as is seen by the important preposition, Per (through) [Jesus Christ…]. However, it is appointed to Advent II.

Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam; et magna nobis virtute succerre: ut per auxilium gloriae tuae, quod nostra peccata praepediunt, indulgentia tuae propitionis acceleret. Per…

As the Collect is an essential part of the Eucharist, and since the Eucharist is addressed to the Father through the Son and with the Spirit, it is the general norm that Collects are addressed to the Father, per (through) the Son. However in several old Sacramentaries (Hadrianum, Paduan &, Gregorianum ) it is allocated to Advent IV and is addressed to the Son – see Liturgy & Worship, ed W.K. Lowther Clarke, p.383.
Here the Latin is the same as above except at the end there is no “Per” but instead “Qui vivis…” (“who with the Father and the Holy Spirit liveth…”).

Of course, both Collects make sense and there is certainly added “drama” when it is addressed to the Son as the Church expects (in liturgical time rather than chronological time) his Nativity & Arrival on December 25. However, the second part of the Collect concerning “the race that is set before us” more naturally fits into a petition to the Father in the Name of the Son.

Below is an exposition of the Collect as it appears in the Gelasian Sacramentary for Advent II, The Book of Common Prayer (1662) for Advent IV, Common Worship, 2000, of the C of E for Advent II and in the 1979 Prayer Book of ECUSA for Advent III!


Fourth Sunday in Advent

O LORD, raise up (we pray thee) thy power, and come among us, and with great
might succour us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness, we are sore let
and hindered in running the race that is set before us, thy bountiful grace and
mercy may speedily help and deliver us; through the satisfaction of thy Son our
Lord, to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost be honour and glory, world without
end. Amen.


The Epistle: Philippians 4.4-7 The Gospel: St John 1:19-28


This Collect is the last for the season of Advent and is used for the Sunday and such other days as they are up to Christmas Eve.

The two major themes of Advent have been the First Coming in humility and the Second Coming in glory of the one and the same Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of the Father.

In this last period of Advent the emphasis is upon the Second Advent because from Christmas Eve the emphasis will most solidly be upon the First Coming, the Incarnation of the eternal Son from the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Collect is addressed to the Father, the first Person in order of the Holy Trinity, and it is an earnest request that he will gather up his power and descend to his people (by the Holy Ghost) in order to help, succour and sustain them in the race they are running in their earthly pilgrimage towards the goal & fullness of the kingdom of heaven (see Hebrews 12:1).

In making this petition, God’s people recognize that due to their sins of omission and commission they have failed to run in God’s grace as gracefully and swiftly as they are called to do and ought to have done. Thus they look to the Father to provide them through his Son and by his Spirit, and in grace and mercy, the help they need. In particular they look to the “satisfaction of thy Son”, to his perfect obedience of the Father in his life and in his death, as the basis for asking for divine mercy and assistance (i.e., they look to the active and passive obedience of the one Mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ).

If God’s people are to live as those who expect the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, then they need not only to watch and pray but also to live as the obedient and faithful servants of God, engaged daily in his service and running the race that is set before them.

Not only is this the right way to approach the Christian life it is also the best preparation for the celebration of the Festival of the Incarnation, Christmas.

The Collect ends in doxology to the Three Persons of the Blessed, Holy and Undivided Trinity. Advent thus ends in adoration and praise.

The Epistle is a magnificent call to live, think, pray and behave as those who are filled with the great joy of Christmas, the Incarnation of God. Christmas-people are a rejoicing, thankful and peace-filled people!

The Gospel provides us through the testimony of John the Baptist a further clear statement of the identity of Jesus, who is not only the Messiah, but the Messiah who will fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus the Messiah is not the political liberator of the Jewish people from Roman oppression, but the Redeemer of the Jews and the Gentiles.

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

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Away in a manger

Away in a manger, no crib for his bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.

This carol is of American Lutheran origin and is (mistakenly) believed by some to be Luther’s cradle song, used in his German home in the 16th century.

The use of the words “manger” and “crib” and “cradle” in the carol and in the tradition is interesting and suggests that this carol could not have been written in recent times by an English person from Great Britain, who would not have used “crib”.

“Manger” refers to the box wherein the food for the animals was placed. Since presumably the animals were out in the fields, this available box was used as the receptacle in which to place the infant Jesus (with perhaps straw and cloth to make it comfortable).

But what does “crib” refer to? In modern church talk it refers to the representation of the stall in which was the manger and where Mary and Joseph received the shepherds (this stall was probably a large cave).

However, in this carol it appears to be the name for the “box” wherein Jesus would have been placed had he been born in a home or in the inn. Probably in German American homes in the 19th century, the place where small children slept was called a crib and this referred to a small bedstead with high enclosing slatted sides (in Britain this is usually called a “cot” today but it has also been called a “crib” in earlier centuries – see the O E D).

“Cradle” refers to a bed for a baby that is on rockers.

So I conclude that for the average English speaking person, who knows that the representation of the place where Jesus was born is now called “the crib”, the first line of this popular carol is somewhat confusing, especially when it is sung by the “crib” in church! For there He is in the Crib!

The Rev’d Dr Peter Toon December 16, 2004

Fourth Sunday in Advent

O LORD, raise up (we pray thee) thy power, and come among us, and with great
might succour us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness, we are sore let
and hindered in running the race that is set before us, thy bountiful grace and
mercy may speedily help and deliver us; through the satisfaction of thy Son our
Lord, to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost be honour and glory, world without
end. Amen.

The Epistle: Philippians 4.4-7 The Gospel: St John 1:19-28


This Collect is the last for the season of Advent and is used for the Sunday and such other days as they are up to Christmas Eve.

The two major themes of Advent have been the First Coming in humility and the Second Coming in glory of the one and the same Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of the Father.

In this last period of Advent the emphasis is upon the Second Advent because from Christmas Eve the emphasis will most solidly be upon the First Coming, the Incarnation of the eternal Son from the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Collect is addressed to the Father, the first Person in order of the Holy Trinity, and it is an earnest request that he will gather up his power and descend to his people (by the Holy Ghost) in order to help, succour and sustain them in the race they are running in their earthly pilgrimage towards the goal & fullness of the kingdom of heaven (see Hebrews 12:1).

In making this petition, God’s people recognize that due to their sins of omission and commission they have failed to run in God’s grace as gracefully and swiftly as they are called to do and ought to have done. Thus they look to the Father to provide them through his Son and by his Spirit, and in grace and mercy, the help they need. In particular they look to the “satisfaction of thy Son”, to his perfect obedience of the Father in his life and in his death, as the basis for asking for divine mercy and assistance (i.e., they look to the active and passive obedience of the one Mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ).

If God’s people are to live as those who expect the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, then they need not only to watch and pray but also to live as the obedient and faithful servants of God, engaged daily in his service and running the race that is set before them.

Not only is this the right way to approach the Christian life it is also the best preparation for the celebration of the Festival of the Incarnation, Christmas.

The Collect ends in doxology to the Three Persons of the Blessed, Holy and Undivided Trinity. Advent thus ends in adoration and praise.

The Epistle is a magnificent call to live, think, pray and behave as those who are filled with the great joy of Christmas, the Incarnation of God. Christmas-people are a rejoicing, thankful and peace-filled people!

The Gospel provides us through the testimony of John the Baptist a further clear statement of the identity of Jesus, who is not only the Messiah, but the Messiah who will fulfil the prophecy of Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus the Messiah is not the political liberator of the Jewish people from Roman oppression, but the Redeemer of the Jews and the Gentiles from sin, Satan and death.


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

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Third Sunday in Advent

O Lord Jesu Christ, who at thy first coming didst send thy messenger to prepare thy way before thee: Grant that the ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at thy second coming to judge the world, we may be found an acceptable people in thy sight, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

The Epistle. 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 The Gospel. St Matthew 11:2-10

This Collect was written in 1661 by Bishop Cosin of Durham and inserted into the 1662 edition of The Book of Common Prayer, to replace the Collect that had been in there since the first edition of 1549. This was very brief: “LORD, we beseech thee, give ear to our prayers, and by thy gracious visitation lighten the darkness of our heart…”

The Address. In The Book of Common Prayer of 1662 only three Collects are addressed to the Incarnate Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (Advent 3, St Stephen’s Day & Lent 1) while the rest are addressed to God, the Father. Here Jesus of Nazareth is thought of as the exalted Messiah, who has been given the name of “the Lord” by his Father. He reigns in heaven at the right hand of the Father as the Lord of lords and King of kings over the whole universe and also over the kingdom of the Father, wherein are all the redeemed and holy angels.

The Recollection. As we address the Lord Jesus Christ, we recall in his presence an aspect of that which he has done in salvation history in order for it to become the basis for our specific petition to him. And what we recall is that He as the Lord of history and salvation caused John the Baptist to prepare the way for himself, as the Messiah of Israel, and for his messianic ministry of bringing the message and power of the kingdom of God from heaven to earth. We are not here presuming to tell the Lord Jesus what He already knows perfectly; but, rather, we are remembering in his presence what we need to have in mind in this act of prayer.

The Petition. God’s people pray especially this Sunday and during the week for those who are ordained ministers, that they may be faithful heralds of the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ even as John the Baptist was a faithful herald of the ministry of the Messiah at the First Coming. The description of a Christian minister (from the original Greek words of the NT) is in terms of a rower (huperetes) in the Church’s galley and as a steward (dispenser/housekeeper) in the household of God. As slaves/rowers in the Church’s galley, ministers receive orders and the timing of their rowing from the Captain, who is also their pilot on the voyage. As stewards or housekeepers, ministers also serve those who attend Christ’s Banquet with that which the Lord himself has provided (see the Epistle reading). If the ministers are faithful as rowers and stewards they will be God’s agents in bring people to repentance from sin and commitment to holiness and service of the Lord.

This prayer for clergy is particularly meaningful on this Sunday for Advent 3 is an ember week and Advent 4 is traditionally a time for ordinations.

The Aspiration. No-one knows when the Lord Jesus will return to earth in power and great glory and accompanied by the holy angels. Yet it is most necessary that the household of God, the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, be in such a state of faithfulness, godliness and preparedness, that they may be found an acceptable people at his Parousia/Appearing. They want to hear at the Judgement his words, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”

The Termination. Since this Collect is addressed to the Second Person of the Holy, Blessed Trinity, the ending unites Him with the First and Third Persons in a brief doxology. There are three Persons, each of whom possesses in totality the One Godhead or Divinity/Deity and thus we say, “Three Persons and One God. A Unity in Trinity and a Trinity in Unity.”

The Epistle is in part the inspiration for the Collect. While the people of God have certain legitimate expectations of the clergy, it is God the Father who will ultimately be the Judge of all.

The Gospel describes the entry – the Coming – of Jesus of Nazareth into the holy city as the Son of David, the Messiah and the Lord. Thus it helps us recall the other two Comings, the Incarnation as a baby and the Parousia at the end of the age as the Lord of all lords.

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

The Unique Act of the Holy Spirit & Mary: Questioned in Common Worship?

In Common Worship, the ever growing collection of alternative services of the Church of England, there are on pages 302-303 of the first volume special provisions for the period “from Christmas Day until the Eve of the Epiphany”. Amongst these are three Prefaces for the Eucharistic Prayer, and in each of them, in referring to the conception and birth of Jesus, the Messiah, the expression “by the power of the Holy Spirit” is used. (E.g., “… by the power of the Holy Spirit, he took our nature upon him…”)

Where does this expression “by the power of the Holy Spirit” come from? It is from the 1970s Ecumenical Commission for the translation of common texts for the Liturgy and it was used in the version of the Creed in The Book of Alternative Services (1980) -- “Conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit”. Happily “by the power of” was then dropped from the Creed used in Common Worship, where we find “from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary”, based on the original Greek. [ We may note that the translation of the Creed in The Book of Common Prayer from 1549 to the present day (1928 in the USA and 1962 in Canada) has “conceived by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary” based on the Latin text.

So it seems that Common Worship has retained material from The Book of Alternative Services when it ought to have revised it so that it is in harmony with the translation of the Creed in the same book. Is this a case of careless editing? Or is there something special in “by the power of”? (We recall the theme of “empowering” from the 1960s?)

Of course, and very importantly to those who are theological sensitive, “conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit” is erroneous when used to point to the assuming of manhood in the Virgin’s womb by the only-begotten Son of the Father (which divine act is also at the same time Mary’s conception of Jesus). All procreation and reproduction in this world is according to the laws of nature and is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of God present through the universe.

BUT, the unique conception by Mary, which is also the Incarnation of the Logos/Son, is directly brought to be by the immediate presence of the Person of the Holy Ghost, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. He is directly and immediately present in an unique manner in order to cause this miracle of miracles to occur and the salvation of the world to begin in and by the Word made flesh.

Your cat’s kittens and your dog’s puppies were conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit; but, the Son of God assumed human nature and Mary conceived Jesus by the Holy Ghost present as a Divine Person.

Why the Ecumenical Commission decided in the 1970s to add “by the power of” to the Creed is a matter of debate. But the claim that it was an attempt to do justice to Luke 1:35 does not hold water!

The angel said to Mary:

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
And the Power of the Most High will overshadow you:
Therefore the Child to be born will be called holy.”

“The Power of the Most High” points to the Shecinah (Exodus 40:38), the cloud of glory which signified the presence of YHWH (The LORD). The miracle of the virginal conception was by the personal action of God himself.

The expression “by the power of the Holy Spirit” in Common Worship detract from the full and real miracle of the virginal conception of Jesus by Mary, the very act which is also the Incarnation of the only Son of God!

The Revd Dr Peter Toon Advent 2004

What is “the Prayer Book Society of the U.S.A.”?

It is generally agreed that The Book of Common Prayer (first edition 1549) is both one of the great treasures of the English language and one of the few books that helped to create modern English prose. In fact, scholars tend to group together this Prayer Book, the King James Version of the Bible (1611) and the plays of Shakespeare, as the major influences upon the development of the English language in its formative period.

The literary genius behind the composition of the first two editions of The Book of Common Prayer (1549, 1552) was Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury under Henry VIII & Edward VI.

This Prayer Book reached its definitive English edition in 1662 and this edition was used in the British Colonies in America until it was revised to be appropriate for the new American nation in the late eighteenth century. It has had three editions in the USA, 1789, 1892 and 1928. Thus the classic BCP was the official Prayer Book of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the USA from its origins until very recently.

In 1976/79 the [Protestant] Episcopal Church of the USA adopted as its official prayer book a new kind of collection of services, in which were portions of the original Prayer Book, howbeit in a revised form, along with a variety of new liturgies. Instead of calling this new Book by a new name, such as “An American Prayer Book,” the Episcopal Church called it “The Book of Common Prayer” as if it were simply a revised edition of the classic BCP of 1662 or 1928.

The Prayer Book Society of the USA seeks to preserve for use and with understanding the classic and historic Prayer Book in its latest American edition of 1928. The Society is committed to the view that not only in its use of the traditional English language of prayer, but also in its forms of worship, prayer and doctrine it is one of the treasures of the Church of God in the West. In short, it was and remains an excellent Liturgy.

We believe that the classic BCP provides through its regular use an introduction to what C.S.Lewis called “Mere Christianity” and others have called “Basic Christianity.” Also, along with this, it provides the structure and basic content of what may be called the historic Anglican Way of worship, discipline and doctrine. Thus by its regular use a Christian is enabled to live within the Church Year in union with our Lord Jesus Christ and in fellowship with the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

Further, the BCP contains a presentation of what may be described as disciplined personal and corporate Christianity & Worship, which pre-dates the rise of modern individualism and individualistic subjectivism. Thus it provides a welcome and healthy change from, and challenge to, much modern thinking, feeling and behaving both in society and in the modern church.

Why not take the time to procure a copy and to sample its prayers and collects, its canticles and psalms, its doctrine and morals, its sanctification of time and its hallowing of the year (Oxford University Press of NYC publishes the editions of 1662 & 1928 in various formats)?

You will find that The Book of Common Prayer (1928) is still used in a minority of parishes in the Episcopal Church and in a majority of the parishes of the Anglican jurisdictions in the USA, which are known as the Continuing or Separated or Extra-Mural Anglican Churches.

In Canada, England and Australia the classic BCP remains in canon law the first prayer book of the Anglican Churches.

The Prayer Book Society seeks to make sure that the BCP is always in print and available. Further, the Society produces CD’s of services from the BCP, has a web site which is regularly maintained, publishes a bi-monthly magazine called The Mandate, and from time to time publishes books and booklets.

The Society is part of an international family of societies and they are found throughout the English-speaking world – Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, & Australia..

You are warmly invited to take a trial membership for a year and thereby receive the magazine and letters. If you have access to the world-wide web, please go to our website and from there to other similar sites to learn more about us, our purpose and our friends – www.episcopalian.org/pbs1928

To go on our List, please send you name and address and a donation (we suggest a minimum of $28.00) to The Prayer Book Society, P.O. Box 35220, Philadelphia, Pa. 19128-0220.

Monday, December 06, 2004

The Bible as Holy Scripture: to whom does it belong?

A discussion starter

The way in which the Hebrew and Greek Testaments of the One Canon of the Bible have been translated and published since World War II raises acute questions concerning the ownership of the Bible and the copyright of the original texts.

Let us suppose that the Canon of Scripture, made up of the Old and New Testaments, is the gift of God the Father through Jesus Christ the Lord and by the work of the Holy Spirit to the Church as the Household of God, the Body of Christ and the Bulwark of the Truth. It is the duty of the Church to preserve the sacred texts, to translate them, to interpret them, to make them known and to live by their rule of life. In the worship of the Church, the Scriptures are read and a context of worship and wisdom is provided for their interpretation and exposition. Reading and meditation in the homes of believers is, therefore, a growth from and, though important, is secondary to the public use and reading of the Bible in the assembly of the faithful.

This kind of approach is commended by the Collect in The Book of Common Prayer (1549) of the reformed Catholic Church of England for the second Sunday in Advent.

Blessed Lord [= God the Father], who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning [= instruction]: Grant that we may in such wise hear them [in the congregation of Christ’s flock], read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them [in public service and then in private devotion], that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Here the Bible is seen as given by God to us [the Church] and is first to be heard in the worship of the Church.

With the use together of The Book of Common Prayer and The English Bible (1611 – the Authorized Version or K.J.V.) in the Anglican Way, the basic purpose and meaning of the Bible was established in divine service and thus a framework of understanding was provided for family and personal use of the Bible in study, meditation and devotion. From the praise, prayer and instruction of divine service, the Scriptures in a healthy context flowed into homes and individual lives.

Looking back over the centuries from say the year 1939 it is possible to see and to claim that there was a general recognition in the Anglican Way (and more so in the R.C. way) that the Bible as Holy Scripture is first the Church’s Book and secondly and derivatively the Book of individual families and persons.

However, if we look back from 2004 to 1945, the end of Word War II, then we find that we cannot make this general observation and claim. For increasingly in these six decades, there was a move from (a) the English Bible as holy Scripture being firstly the Church’s Book to (b) the Bible in an English rendering becoming a commodity to be sold in competition in the supermarket of religion and thus becoming the individual’s Book. Let us recall that it is now possible to purchase around one hundred different paraphrases or translations of the original Hebrew and Greek texts and these are available in a variety of styles, typography, formats and covers.

No longer can the Bible straightforwardly be called the Church’s Book for the Church[es] have lost all control over the translation, printing and publication of versions of the Bible. With the involvement of pressure groups, commercial publishing houses and scholars ready to earn good money as translators or paraphrasers, the supermarket of religion offers the consumer real choice in the purchase of a version of the Bible. The many versions on offer are aimed at the individual person, at individual churches, and in some cases at denominations as the basic text to be used for their Sunday School program and lessons. In some cases, denominations and associations of denominations have commissioned a translation in order to have a Bible that meets their needs and commends their doctrines.

We need to realize that the ability of translators to make the ancient books of the Bible commend some modern developments and innovations (e.g., women’s ordination & same-sex blessings & politically correct speech) in their versions is much helped by the use of the modern approach to translation known as dynamic equivalency, where the translator provides not an essentially literal translation but an equivalence of thought. So, for example, if the ancient text has “the man” then the dynamic equivalent in the modern West becomes, for example, “the human being”, for to say “the man” today is regarded by some as sexist. By this now widespread method of dynamic equivalency, the Bible, made to read as a modern book, can be perceived to proclaim something entirely different to what it proclaimed in its original text in a different context.

The effects of all this – perhaps inevitable in a society and culture dominated by freedom, individualism, commercialism, consumerism and choice -- has been and is wide-reaching and deep. The Bible has lost much of its character as “HOLY Scripture” and has become merely “the Bible”, an important, easily accessible Book which is used to support the religious, devotional and moral choices made by individual persons, groups and societies. And religion has become for conservative and liberal alike “a personal relationship with God” based on an individual reading of the Bible in one or another version together with an individual spirituality, not formed from classic models by true religious habit, but by the exercise of privatized judgment and imitation of modern dominant models.

Let us be honest! There is not likely to be much change in the immediate future. People who enjoy and thrive in this individualistic approach to religion will continue to do so; but, those who see religion as first of all corporate and then leading to personal and individual dimensions are going to continue to have a difficult time as they seek to hear an authorized version of the Bible read and expounded in church and as they seek to read such in their homes and live by its teaching in their lives. And in this situation the traditional Anglican will find he has much in common with the traditional Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, Orthodox and Roman Catholic, all of whom believe God holds the copyright to the original texts and that he has given permission to translate them only to the Body of his Son, his Household – not to commercial publishing houses!

The Rev’d Dr. Peter Toon Advent II, December 2004