TWO practical suggestions offered to the Bishops and Priests of the Anglican Communion Network
Peter Toon, President of the Prayer Book Society
Rightly The Network has protested against the decisions of the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church with regard to its inadequate responses to The Windsor Report. Rightly the Diocese of Fort Worth has appealed to Lambeth Palace, London, for a stand-in Primate to replace the new lady Primate of the Episcopal Church.
But…ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS. As small children used to cry out when I was a boy in Northern England: “Sticks and stones will break my bones but calling will not harm me.”
The clergy in the Network, and specifically those who use the 1979 Prayer Book, can take action which will both show their allegiance to the Gospel and historic Church Order, and at the same time be a protest against the innovations of the Episcopal Church.
Here they are:
1. Cease to use the Baptismal Service in the 1979 Book and use instead in traditional or contemporary language the Order for Baptism from the classic BCP in its 1928 US edition or its 1962 Canadian edition or its classic 1662 edition.
Why do this? Because the foundation of the New Episcopal Religion, which has been forming since the 1970s is based upon, as its practical theological charter,the 1979 Baptismal Service and, more specifically, on the much trumpeted “Baptismal Covenant.” Over the years the claims made that this new Religion is based on this “Covenant” have got stronger and louder. British visitors to the June General Convention in Columbus were mystified as to why there were so many references to “the Baptismal Covenant” as the basis for change and innovation.
I submit that those who aspire to “orthodoxy” should avoid the use of it completely. First of all, it has the appearance of,and is interpreted by the official ECUSA as making, a contract with God to do certain things. Prominent amongst these (and not found in traditional services of holy Baptism) are commitments to work for “peace and justice” and “the dignity of all persons.” There is no doubt that these are 1960s phases and to see what they mean one simply (a) notes what the Peace and Justice commission of the Episcopal Church has been and is concerned with, and (b) in what circumstances the “Covenant” is claimed as authoritative in usual ECUSA business. The present Presiding Bishop and the incoming Presiding Bishop, together with many others in leadership, see this “Covenant” as a contract with God to introduce the left of center social and political agenda into the doctrine of the Church, adding the names of God and Christ to give it a religious flavor. Further, they interpret Baptism as being the moment when a person is given in potential all the possible ministries of the Church, lay and ordained. Thus everyone, whatever their “gender” and “orientation”, has a right to be a priest and a bishop and even a presiding bishop by reason of his or her Baptism. So there can be no exclusion of Lesbian, Gay, Divorced, Divorced and Remarried, and Bi-Sexual persons, to name several categories.
In favor of using one of the other sound texts mentioned above is that they are clearly orthodox and without a 1960s revolutionary agenda within them. They provide the means to make a person the child of God and citizen of heaven.
2. Cease to use the Services for Ordination in the 1979 Book and use instead the classic Ordinal from an edition of bound within the classic Book of Common Prayer – either in traditional or contemporary language.
Why propose this? First of all the Episcopal Church changed its doctrine of the Ministry in 1976 and the services in the 1979 Book were intended to incorporate this change, not only in the inclusion of women but also in the lowering of standards for ordained Ministry. Secondly, the leaders and exemplars of the New Episcopal Religion have been ordained and consecrated by these Rites and now they use them to create a New Ministry for the New Religion by them. Their use of them makes the Rites to be theirs!
The Ordinal in its traditional Anglican form was used from 1549 to the 1970s everywhere and continues to be used in many places to the present time. To use it is a clear sign of commitment to classic orthodoxy and it is to commit oneself to the received apostolic succession and three fold Ministry, maintained and commended by the Anglican Way.
ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS.
(Note: the Prayer Book Society can help with the provision of the classic services in contemporary English. All three editions of the classic BCP mention above are in print.)