Monday, February 28, 2005

The Primates and Homosexuality

Do they actually & clearly condemn 'Gay Sex' in their Communiqué as sin against God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ?

The answer seems to be 'No'!

This is perhaps surprising and so let us note what they wrote (or what their scribe Dr, Carnley, Primate of Australia and a noted liberal churchman, prepared on their behalf).

In Paragraph 6 they stated:

We also wish to make it quite clear that in our discussion and assessment of the moral appropriateness of specific human behaviours, we continue unreservedly to be committed to the pastoral support and care of homosexual people. The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us. We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship (vii).

This is a very positive affirmation of homosexual people and their right to full church membership.

In Paragraph 12 they stated:
We as a body continue to address the situations which have arisen in North America with the utmost seriousness. Whilst there remains a very real question about whether the North American churches are willing to accept the same teaching on matters of sexual morality as is generally accepted elsewhere in the Communion, the underlying reality of our communion in God the Holy Trinity is obscured, and the effectiveness of our common mission severely hindered.

Here it is stated that the teaching in North America is different from that in other places and also that this division obscures communion with God and common mission. However, there is no basic criticism of the North American position as such.

In Paragraph 14, the North American Churches are asked voluntarily to withdraw from participation in the Anglican Consultative Council and to consider their place in the Communion. Nevertheless, they are invited in Paragraph 16 to attend the next meeting of this Council in order to explain their doctrines and reasoning to all the members. There is no hint of their being in doctrinal and moral error, only that they have different views to the rest.

Finally in Paragraph 18 it is stated:

In the meantime, we ask our fellow primates to use their best influence to persuade their brothers and sisters to exercise a moratorium on public Rites of Blessing for Same-sex unions and on the consecration of any bishop living in a sexual relationship outside Christian marriage.

Here there is no statement that these innovations are sins but only that they should not be continued at the present time. A moratorium is not a full and final cessation but only a temporary one.

It may be argued that behind this Communiqué are both The Windsor Report and the Resolutions on Sexuality of the last Lambeth Conference (1998). Even so, it is most surprising that, in the light of what a majority of the Primates has said (with prophetic passion and biblical urgency) inside and outside Synods about the fact of sin and the need for repentance, this Communiqué does not anywhere clearly state in simple terms that active homosexuality and same-sex unions are sinful. There may be an implicit condemnation of them but it is not explicit! In fact, the words 'sin' and 'repentance' do not occur in this rather long document, which mentions Jesus Christ only twice!

No wonder the various pressure groups for homosexual persons are very pleased with this Statement from the Primates! No wonder traditional Anglicans are worried that the Primates failed to address with appropriate biblical wisdom and vigor the apostasy being created in a growing number of provinces through the departure from biblical faith and morality.

One wonders whether the majority of Primates actually read very carefully what their liberal Brethren produced for their approval.

And one keeps on wondering, even after (as I have) one has read this document many times in the spirit of generosity and charity.

Peter Toon February 28, 2005

Wrong use of the Quadrilateral condoned by the Primates' Meeting!

In their Communiqué of February 24 the Primates summarized their discussion of The Windsor Report. Paragraph 9 is a summary of part of this discussion, dealing with the need for a Covenant to bind the Provinces of the Anglican Family together for the future in a basic agreed statement of Faith and Conduct, Liturgy and Polity.

9. We welcome the proposals in Section C for the future development of the Instruments of Unity (viii), although we recognize that serious questions about the content of the proposal for an Anglican Covenant (ix) and the practicalities of its implementation mean that this is a longer term process. We were glad to be reminded of the extensive precedents for covenants that many Anglican churches have established with ecumenical partners, and that even within our Communion the Chicago/Lambeth Quadrilateral has already been effectively operating as a form of covenant that secures our basic commitment to scripture, the Nicene Creed, the two Sacraments of the Gospel and the Historic Episcopate. We therefore commend this proposal as a project that should be given further consideration in the Provinces of the Communion between now and the Lambeth Conference 2008. In addition, we ask the Archbishop of Canterbury to explore ways of implementing this.


Until the advent in recent times of the multitude of new forms of services and liturgies, along with translations and paraphrases of the Bible, there was absolutely no need of a covenant to bind Anglican provinces together. The commitment to the Formularies (the classic BCP, Ordinal and Articles of Religion) was very adequate. Setting aside of the Formularies in law or in practice in the latter half of the 20th century has been the underlying cause of much of the apostasy and error in Anglicanism since the 1960s.

In fact, the excellent Chicago/Lambeth Quadrilateral was set forth as a guide to relations with other Churches from the Anglican Churches, which were wholly committed to the reformed Catholic Faith through the Formularies, in which are found the four basics of the Quadrilateral (Bible, Creeds, Sacraments & Episcopate). The Quadrilateral was seen the minimum basis upon which re-union or union with other Churches could take place. Never for a moment was it envisaged that it would serve as the basis of communion between fellow Anglican Churches!

It is most interesting to note that the majority of the lively, orthodox branches of Anglicanism in Africa either use a form of the classic Book of Common Prayer (1662) in translation or in English.

Perhaps the severe encounter with modernity and post-modernity, which has so rattled and disturbed the Anglican Churches of the West/North, will serve as a clarion call to them to "dig again the wells of Abraham" and return to their roots, to the doctrine, discipline and worship of their historic Formularies!

Peter Toon

The Anglican Communion and Communion with God the Holy Trinity

Reflections upon what is claimed in the Communiqué issued after the Primates’ Meeting.
It is stated:

12. We as a body continue to address the situations which have arisen in North America with the utmost seriousness. Whilst there remains a very real question about whether the North American churches are willing to accept the same teaching on matters of sexual morality as is generally accepted elsewhere in the Communion, the underlying reality of our communion in God the Holy Trinity is obscured, and the effectiveness of our common mission severely hindered.
13. We are persuaded however that in order for the recommendations of the Windsor Report to be properly addressed, time needs to be given to the Episcopal Church (USA) and to the Anglican Church of Canada for consideration of these recommendations according to their constitutional processes.


Over the last decade, it has become increasingly common for Anglican leaders and theologians to claim that the communion (koinonia) enjoyed within the Church of a Province and between the Churches of the Provinces is grounded in the Holy Trinity.

The usual line is that there is unity and diversity in the Blessed, Holy and Undivided Trinity and this unity and diversity is mirrored and reflected in the unity and diversity of the Churches of the Provinces. Further, as there is Communion in God between the Three Persons so there is communion between the differing Churches of the Provinces so they can be called a Communion of Churches.

Let us reflect upon this claim.

At the best of times, when there are not only bonds of affection between the Provinces but also substantial agreement in doctrine and practice, to claim that the unity and diversity of the 38 Churches mirrors the Holy Trinity is an exceedingly bold and high claim. Indeed, it is an excessive claim, and very difficult to justify in the biblical and patristic use of Communion and Fellowship. So when there is a major crisis in relations between the Churches of the Provinces and they are not in eucharistic communion one with another, as is the case in 2005, it is bordering on the blasphemous to speak of the claimed unity merely being “obscured.”

The fact of the matter is that even if there is in the very best of times a hint of the mirroring of the unity and diversity within God in the relations of the Anglican Churches, there is certainly no trace of such right now! The Primates recognized this in their Meeting in February 2005 by not having a Common Corporate Eucharist but meeting only together for daily prayers and Bible study. (The daily Eucharist conducted by a chaplain was optional.)

In particular, the Episcopal Church of the U S A and the Anglican Church of Canada actually deny in practice the received, classic and historic doctrine of the Holy Trinity by their adoption of what can only be called, in traditional terms, heresies and immoralities. And they have caused the cessation of eucharistic communion in a big way!

The Primates of the Anglican Churches would be well advised to cease claiming to mirror in their unity and diversity the Blessed Trinity for their unity is an ideal not a reality, and much of their diversity is caused by sin and error. Meanwhile they would be well advised to study the use of koinonia in the New Testament and as used by the Early Church and conform their claims to that usage.
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

The Primates Communiqué – what does it tell us?

The following is intended to give a sense of what the Primates discussed and decided and what are some of the implications of their decisions.

1.Where the Primates met – The Dromantine Centre, Newry, Northern Ireland, from February 20 – 25. This is a former R.C. Seminary set in an attractive rural situation. Three Primates (Burundi, Hong Kong and North India) were unable to attend because of pressing personal reasons.

2. The context of their Meeting – “common prayer and worship, including Evensong on the 22nd at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh.” However, there was no Common Eucharist, where all were expected to attend. Instead, chaplains provided a service of Holy Communion daily for those who wished to attend. Apparently, due to the reality of impaired and broken communion between the Primates, the Common Eucharist was not attempted. There was attempted Koinonia/Fellowship but without eucharistic Communion.

3. The topics they addressed – reports on the effect of the Tsunami disaster, the Windsor Report, HIV/Aids, Millennium Development Goals, theological education, the definition of “The Anglican Way.” Of these, that which occupied most time and the intense attention of the Media were the recommendation of the Windsor Report with respect to the situation in North American Anglicanism, where innovations (judged to be heresy and immorality by many) have been introduced into the Episcopal Church of the USA and the Anglican Church of Canada.

4. What they affirmed in the Windsor Report – “we welcome” they said, “the general thrust of the Windsor Report as offering a way forward for the mutual life of our Communion” but they had some reservations about details, e.g., the nature and content of the proposed Covenant and the extended role of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

5. What they said about North America – this is contained in paragraphs 14 to 19 of the Communiqué and these are printed below. In order to understand their language, it must be borne in mind that the Primates’ Meeting has no power of discipline or censure, but it does have by reason of the stature of the persons involved a moral authority. Further, to appreciate the full power of this section, one must also recall that a majority of the Primates present had already declared themselves out of eucharistic communion with the provinces of North America. So underlying the seemingly respectful and gentle language of the Communiqué is “tough talking.” The primary drafter of these paragraphs was the Australian (liberal) Primate, Dr. Carnley, and this also is to be borne in mind in interpretation.

14. Within the ambit of the issues discussed in the Windsor Report and in order to recognize the integrity of all parties, we request that the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada voluntarily withdraw their members from the Anglican Consultative Council for the period leading up to the next Lambeth Conference. During that same period we request that both churches respond through their relevant constitutional bodies to the questions specifically addressed to them in the Windsor Report as they consider their place within the Anglican Communion. (cf. paragraph 8)
15. In order to protect the integrity and legitimate needs of groups in serious theological dispute with their diocesan bishop, or dioceses in dispute with their Provinces, we recommend that the Archbishop of Canterbury appoint, as a matter of urgency, a panel of reference to supervise the adequacy of pastoral provisions made by any churches for such members in line with the recommendation in the Primates’ Statement of October 2003 (xii). Equally, during this period we commit ourselves neither to encourage nor to initiate cross-boundary interventions.
16. Notwithstanding the request of paragraph 14 of this communiqué, we encourage the Anglican Consultative Council to organize a hearing at its meeting in Nottingham, England, in June 2005 at which representatives of the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada, invited for that specific purpose, may have an opportunity to set out the thinking behind the recent actions of their Provinces, in accordance with paragraph 141 of the Windsor Report.
17. In reaffirming the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10 as the present position of the Anglican Communion, we pledge ourselves afresh to that resolution in its entirety, and request the Anglican Consultative Council in June 2005 to take positive steps to initiate the listening and study process which has been the subject of resolutions not only at the Lambeth Conference in 1998, but in earlier Conferences as well.
18. In the meantime, we ask our fellow primates to use their best influence to persuade their brothers and sisters to exercise a moratorium on public Rites of Blessing for Same-sex unions and on the consecration of any bishop living in a sexual relationship outside Christian marriage.
19. These strategies are intended to restore the full trust of our bonds of affection across the Communion.
6. Further comments on Paragraphs 14 to 19 – based upon what was said by Primates at the Press Conference on the 25th, individually on the telephone or on TV & radio.
(a) The Archbishop of Canterbury and other Primates remain in eucharistic communion with most if not all of the bishops of North America, during this period of “voluntary separation.”
(b) The present situation is to be compared not to a divorce of two provinces from the rest but rather as final attempts at reconciliation.
(c) The Primates, who presently have adopted parishes in North America, will retain them until such time as a wholly satisfactory form of pastoral oversight for them is provided within the proposed new arrangements to be supervised by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The possibility is real that a satisfactory form of pastoral oversight from within North America may never be produced, for it depends on the willingness and good offices of the local bishops, who may be totally committed to the innovations and unwilling to change.
(d) Some Primates (with many people in their provinces) find it extremely difficult to comprehend how the North Americans can justify their innovations from Scripture and so they want one more opportunity to hear explanations of this (thus the invitation to the North Americans to the next ACC meeting in England).
(e) It is not yet decided whether or not the Bishops of North America will be invited to the next Lambeth Conference of Bishops, due in the summer of 2008.
(f) African Primates tend to describe what is being said to the North American Churches in stronger terms than does the Communiqué. They speak of “exclusion” and “discipline”.
(g) For the Episcopal Church, the major decision time will be the General Convention in 2006, where, by what is decided concerning the innovations in sexual doctrine and conduct, the place of the ECUSA in the Anglican Communion will be effectively determined. To talk about the creation of a New "orthodox" Province for the Anglican Communion in North America before that date may be premature.
7. The Ideal which the Primates seek – this is set out in the last paragraph, which is the only paragraph that actually cites Holy Scripture.
22. Our common commitment to the pursuit of projects such as these, together with our recent very positive experience of close practical co-operation in response to the tsunami disaster, convince us of the enormous importance of our shared work together as Provinces of the Anglican Communion. Indeed, in the course of our meeting, we have become even more mindful of the indissoluble link
between Christian unity and Christian mission, as this is expressed in Jesus’ own prayer that his disciples should be one that the world may believe (John 17.21). Accordingly, we pray for the continuing blessing of God’s unity and peace as we recommit ourselves to the mission of the Anglican Communion, which we share with the whole people of God, in the transformation of our troubled world.
“Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12.2)“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5.18)

Because of impaired and broken communion due to major differences over women’s ordination and doctrines & forms of sexual relations, it would seem that the Anglican Provinces are more like an international denomination than a true Communion of Churches. Perhaps they are as a dysfunctional family, which is seeking to find its way to genuine friendship and fellowship. Let us pray that true Communion will be found either with or without the present North American Provinces, preferably if God so will, through the repentance of the leaders of the ECUSA and Anglican Church of Canada.

Peter Toon February 28, 2005

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Primates’ Meeting – the Impotency of the Anglican Way as an international denomination

A clear difference in style is to be noted between the way in which various African Anglican Synods and Meetings of Bishops have recently spoken of the innovations pursued by the Churches of North America and that of the Communiqué issued from the Primates’ Meeting on February 24, 2005. This difference is partly that the former were written by Africans and the latter was drafted by an Australian; but it is much more in terms of what we may call Anglican Polity.

A Synod of a Province is, under God, the final authority in that Province and so when it speaks it can do so, if it wishes, in the style of the apostles and of the councils of the Church. That is, it can speak as a body with the Word of God and both interpreting and applying that Word to a given situation or against a known heresy or immorality. And this is how various African groups have spoken of what they judge to be the acceptance and celebration of heresy and immorality in North American Churches.

But in terms of having one voice in the world, as does the Roman Catholic Way through the Pope and Vatican, the Anglican Way has to seek to find one through the coming together of representatives and leaders from the 38 provinces in ordered ways – e.g., in the Lambeth Conference, Anglican Consultative Council & Primates’ Meeting. Such bodies have moral authority but no legal or doctrinal authority. Anything that they unanimously or by a vast majority recommend can only become part of the Anglican Way when accepted by each and all of the Provinces.

This explains how it is that the African Bishops can state “Thus saith the Lord” when speaking to North American bishops, and why they believe that they must be in broken communion with them and are willing to adopt parishes in the USA and Canada where the local bishop is a heretic or immoral person.

It also explains why the Primates’ Meeting, wherein the vast majority believe the North Americans to be commending heresy and immorality, used what seem weak forms of address. Their Communiqué does not say to North America, “We require” or “We command in Christ’s Name” but simply “we request”. It asks for the compliance of the offenders; it does not address them in the Name of the Lord. The only authority possessed by the Primates’ Meeting as such is a moral one and so the Primates appealed to the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada to change their ways and return to the doctrine and practice of the vast majority in terms of sexuality, and meanwhile asking them to absent themselves from certain joint meetings (e.g. Anglican Consultative Council).

This said, it is well known by these two North American Churches that a majority of Provinces of the Anglican Communion of Churches has declared itself to be in broken communion with them and so behind the moral authority there is the full reality of ecclesial censure, and that on a big scale!

It needs also to be known that this ecclesial censure of broken communion is the basic reason why there was no Common Eucharist at the Primates Meeting – for the first time ever! There was a service of Holy Communion on offer each morning conducted by one of the chaplains but this was optional and not part of the official joint gatherings of all the Primates. Thus there was the search for Koinonia at the Meeting but no expression of it in Common Eucharist.

A final thought. When the African Primates come to explain what the Meeting decided to their people, it may be that they will put the “we request” into a stronger verbal form, even as people reporting on the Primates’ Meeting have already done, calling it "exclusion". For we must bear in mind that behind the “we request” is the “Thus saith the Lord” of various Synods!

While the present separation between North America and the rest of the Anglican Family may not yet be likened to a divorce, it is certainly like a very serious stage in marriage counseling to prevent divorce, and the likelihood of divorce appears greater than does reconciliation in truth.

The Revd Dr Peter Toon February 27, 2005

(I was present as an observer of the Meeting and will issue a longer Report and interpretation on Monday next of the Communique.)

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Making Women Bishops in the C of E – a good thing?

A discussion starter from Peter Toon

The General Synod of the Church of England meeting in London in February 2005 took the first steps to the making of it legal for women not only to be deacons and presbyters (priests) but also bishops. The process will take a few years but it seems that (unless there is a major change in mindset, or an act of divine providence stopping it) it is now merely a matter of time before the C of E joins other Anglican Churches in North America and New Zealand in having female bishops.

There is a minority opposing this development, though it is much smaller than that which opposed the ordination of women as presbyters, more than a decade ago. Many in this minority wish to see the C of E create a third province wherein there are no women clergy at all, and thus the C of E can continue as the National Church, containing within it, in a peaceful settlement, people of different persuasions, as we wait the Second Coming of the Lord to cleanse and perfect His Church.

Let us suppose (for the purpose of discussion here) that the reasons offered by opponents of women as bishops are cogent but yet answerable, and thus that there are no insuperable theological reasons for not ordaining & consecrating godly and learned women, when canon law is adjusted to allow it.

Here I want to introduce a “secular” line of thinking which, if valid and if taken seriously by the majority, would perhaps stop or slow down the move to make women bishops in the C of E.

In brief, here is this line of thinking.

Since World War II, the influence of the acceptance of “rights” (human & civil) and their associated pressure groups (e.g., feminism) upon culture, legislation by national governments, the regulations of government agencies, business practices and public buildings have been immense and continue to be so.

The Churches have also felt this influence and pressure and have changed not only doctrines but also their canon law and pastoral practices to adjust to them. One could supply many examples of these changes, both of major and minor importance.

The movement towards the ordination of women and its acceptance by synods of Churches is inconceivable without the background of the human rights and human dignity movements in the larger society. Within this context the Bible and sacred tradition have been read in a different way than they were a few decades before; and thus what had prohibited the ordination of women is now seen as not opposing it, even if not positively commending it.

Thus it can be safely claimed that without the “rights” movement and related social developments church leaders would still be reading the Bible and sacred tradition as stating both the full equality of women and men before God and in Christ, and that only men, a few men not all men, are called by Christ to be pastors of the flock of Christ.

To continue. Once the Churches had opened the door to the impact of the “rights” movement and changed doctrine and practice to accommodate to it in such a major areas as the sacred Ministry, then the Churches felt the pressure of other groups who believed that their time had come for full recognition. Not least amongst these is the LesbiGay movement, which, at least in North America, can show definite success in making headway within the Churches, and doing so, on the back, as it were, of the women’s movement.

What happens in the USA in terms of cultural and doctrine change, often occurs also in Great Britain a little later. This is so with women’s ordination for example.

I submit that the embracing of the last stage of the women’s movement in the C of E is a clear signal to the LesBiGay movement that its full time has arrived and, on the basis of rights and on the back of the women’s movement, the C of E will most probably be embracing much of the programme of the LesBiGay movement by 2010! "Rights" once adopted work in a variety of directions and not always predictable and often not controllable!

The Rev’d Dr Peter Toon February 19 2004

Classic Lenten Poem by Robert Herrick

"To Keep A True Lent"

Is this a Fast, to keep
The larder lean?
And clean
From fat of veals and sheep?
Is it to quit the dish
Of flesh, yet still
To fill
The platter high with fish?
Is it to fast an hour,
Or ragg'd to go,
Or show
A down-cast look and sour?
No: 'tis a Fast to dole
Thy sheaf of wheat
And meat
Unto the hungry soul,
It is to fast from strife
And old debate,
And hate;
To circumcise thy life.
To show a heart grief-rent;
To starve thy sin,
Not bin;
And that's to keep thy Lent.

-- Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

For those who are interested the message in the sermon on Fasting in the official C of E Homilies from the 16th Centuty is much the same.

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

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Trying to Strengthen an 'I Do' With a More Binding Legal Tie

From the New York Times
February 15, 2005


LITTLE ROCK, Ark., Feb. 14 - In front of more than 5,000 cheering constituents in a North Little Rock sports arena, Gov. Mike Huckabee took the former Janet McCain to be his lawfully wedded wife Monday night, just as he did nearly 31 years ago, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, until death do them part.

This time, although the actual vows were not repeated, the emphasis was clearly on the "until death" pledge.

Upgrading their vows to that of a covenant marriage, a legally binding contract available only in Arkansas, Arizona and Louisiana, the Huckabees hope to jump-start a conservative movement that has shown little sign of moving in recent years. A covenant marriage commits a couple to counseling before any separation and limits divorce to a handful of grounds, like adultery or abuse. Read More

St George's Baghdad praises response, continued support necessary

By Michael Craske

The last remaining Anglican church in Iraq has praised the level of support it has received from the Anglican Communion and wider faith communities and has appealed for further assistance to meet its immediate needs and future goals.

St George's Memorial Church in Baghdad, part of the Anglican Congregation of the American Embassy Chapel, is an important centre for the Iraqi Christian community - with some 300 regular worshippers - and has become a focus for the work of the wider church in meeting the humanitarian needs of the parish. In a letter to the Anglican Communion Office, the church staff have reported that their initial appeal, started in November of last year, has greatly enhanced the church, which was founded in 1936 but forcibly closed for 10 years under Saddam Hussein

Since the appeal, the church has been able to buy a power generator - to enable the use of air-conditioning units - and has put up 75 perimeter security barriers around the church, as parishioners had been concerned about safety. In addition, deliveries of relief goods have now started to arrive via the US Army Chaplain's Office and are being distributed to the community, both Christian and Muslim. Also, one parishioner, a young boy named Yousef, has been able to get medical treatment in Amman and return to Baghdad with medical supplies through the church's work. Before re-opening, St George's was looted in 2003, with all its furniture, including the church organ, stolen. It was also badly damaged by rocket fire and still currently lacks plumbing, pews, a constant budget, and a full-time rector.

"Without you, St George's would not have been able to meet any of those critical needs," said the letter to those who had donated. "But as you can imagine, there is much more to be done...the most critical requirements are those which address the needs of the parish (security and medical care), the habitability of the church building (heaters) and other recurring costs..."

The ongoing project has been overseen by the Most Revd Clive Handford, the Primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East and Bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf - in whose province St George's is located. The Revd Canon Andrew White, the Director of the International Centre for Reconciliation at Coventry Cathedral in the UK, has played a leading role in the project and in raising the Church's vital profile in Iraq and beyond.

"For our brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of denomination, we appeal to you to come to the aid of an embattled congregation," the letter continued. "Our shared mission is to spread and sustain Christ's message of love and reconciliation, in showing our brothers and sisters that we acknowledge their suffering and want them to succeed

"For all who seek to work for peace and harmony amongst people of all faiths....the seeds of hope can be planted here."

To send financial assistance to St George's, cheques made payable to Coventry Cathedral ICR (IRAQ), can be sent to:
St George's Baghdad Relief Fund
c/o The International Centre for Reconciliation
Coventry Cathedral
England CV1 5AB

For those wishing to donate via the US, cheques should be made payable to St John's Church, and sent to:
St George's Baghdad Relief Fund
c/o St John's Episcopal Church
Lafayette Square
1525 H Street, NW
Washington DC 20005

All donations are being processed and sent to St George's without overhead.

The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East covers Jerusalem, Iran, Egypt, Cyprus, and the Gulf. The Jerusalem bishopric was founded in 1841 and became an archbishopric in 1957. Reorganization in January 1976 combined the Dioceses of Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria with the Jerusalem bishopric after a nineteen-year separation. Around the same time, the new Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf was formed and the Diocese of Egypt was revived to create the province as it is now known.

For more information please contact either Canon White on or Ms Betsy Heine on

Friday, February 11, 2005

St John's Moultrie Georgia ECUSA Seeks Priest

St. John's Moultrie, Georgia is an ECUSA parish that is looking for a priest to reintroduce the 1928 book.

Contact Information:

Senior Warden: Mr Rodney Allen
Phone: 229-985-3912
Head of Search Committee: Fred H. (Bud) Beaty
Church Mail Address: P.O. Box 1657
Moultrie, GA 31776-1657
email address:

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Catholics' awkward 'inclusive' Bible follows Protestants' lead

By: RICHARD OSTLING - Associated Press

Should the Bible call God the "Father" or "Lord"? Should Jesus be termed the "Son" of God or "Son" of "Man"? Should masculine words such as "king" and "kingdom" be allowed? Should Holy Writ have so many male pronouns?

Not if militant feminists have their way, as they do in an awkward rewrite of the complete Bible issued in four volumes: The Inclusive Hebrew Scriptures (three volumes subtitled The Torah, The Prophets, and The Writings) and The Inclusive New Testament (all from AltaMira).

These "degendered" Scriptures were produced for the liberal Roman Catholic Priests for Equality. The revisers say that "most scriptures read in worship services are still grossly sexist," and "the continued self-destructiveness of an all-male clergy" only worsens matters.

They don't appear to like the Bible all that much.

The basic concept here is nothing new. In 1983-85, a National Council of Churches (NCC) panel performed similar surgery on familiar Bible readings in a three-year liturgical listing. NCC Protestants then published these in a trade edition.

Some gleanings from The Inclusive New Testament:

Start with the Lord's Prayer ---- er, make that the "Teacher's" Prayer. Since God can no longer be addressed as "Father" and his ---- er, make that God's ---- "kingdom" cannot come, we get: "Abba God in heaven, hallowed be your name! May your reign come ..."

"Abba" is simply Aramaic for "father," so the change seems pointless. But it's preferable to a proposed NCC option, "O God, Father and Mother," which sounded like two gods. "Reign" is awkward for oral readings because it hits the ear like a prayer for "rain." Elsewhere, the translation invents "kindom" minus "g" to replace the supposedly sexist "kingdom."

Euphemistic replacements for "Lord," designed to be "free of oppressive connotations," include "Our God," "Most High," "Almighty" and "Sovereign."

Shunning "Son of Man," these Catholics came up with "Chosen One" or "Promised One." That's preferable to the NCC's "the Human One," which sounded like an utterance by the Coneheads space aliens from "Saturday Night Live."

Or take Babylon, "the mother of harlots." Please. The famous symbol of the evil Roman Empire in Revelation 17:5 is deemed "genderist" and full of "misogyny" because "male prostitution is as old as female prostitution." The squeamish substitute: "Source of All Idolatry."

The revisers add words that are not in the Hebrew and Greek texts, for instance inserting women's names when genealogies name only men.

On pronouns, the revisionists de-emphasize "his" or "him" in passages that describe Jesus Christ's earthly ministry, and bar them altogether following the resurrection.

Besides women, the inclusive Catholics are worried about "marginalized" minority groups, and gays and lesbians. They shun "slave" and change "Jews" to "Temple authorities." "The poor" become "poorer people" or "people in need."

This Bible uses "partner" in place of traditional marriage terminology "to acknowledge and value nontraditional relationships." In the list of sinners in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, instead of the usual "homosexuals" it restricts the denunciation to "hustlers" and "pederasts." In 1 Timothy 1:10, criticism of "sodomites" is rewritten to target only "men and women who traffic in human flesh."

Overall, the theology underlying this effort runs as follows: "The Bible is not itself the Word of God, for that would be idolatry. Rather, the Bible contains the Word of God ---- or better yet, the Bible is the unique document of human beings' encounters with the Living God." Presumably, that makes it easier to monkey around with the scriptural words.

Turning briefly to the Old Testament, we read of the creation of "an earth creature." Whatever this being was, it certainly couldn't be called a "man," much less a particular fellow named Adam. But when Eve ---- er, make that "the woman" ---- appears on the scene, she joins "the man," and eventually they gain their Adam and Eve monickers.

Note: The four-volume set costs $160 in hardcover, $120 in paperback, so The Inclusive Bible isn't likely to be a sales smash.