Saturday, January 28, 2006

Will the full American Anglican Family ever get together for Family Occasions?

And, Will the Network Bishops ever seriously talk to the Bishops of the major Continuing Jurisdictions?

An exercise in Christian optimism!

The Anglican/Episcopal Family on US soil is so divided that members in one part do not know of the existence of other members in the same town and region. Or they know of them by repute but not face to face. Cousins and second cousins have never met!

Now there are many kinds of Baptists and various types of Methodists, Lutherans and Presbyterians, and all these denominations have the same problem of being divided into various sub-divisions which are not on talking terms, less fellowship terms, with the others. However, the Anglican problem is that it only has a million or so real membership, which is much less than any of the others mentioned, and right now as a family it is the most dysfunctional and divided.

On the one side the largest part of the family, the majority of dioceses of the Episcopal Church, is way off into progressive liberalism which has little in common with dynamic, biblical Christianity or virtually all other Anglicans in the world; and, on the other side, the smallest part, represented by smallish traditionalist groups seeking to be as the Episcopal Church was in the 1950s in terms of doctrine and liturgy, has put up such high doctrinal barriers that it finds it difficult to find any other Anglicans with whom fellowship is remotely possible. In between these are many different groups, small or very small, which seek to embody the worship, doctrine and witness of the Anglican Way as they have received it or as they have sincerely invented it.

In this middle area is the Anglican Communion Network which is primarily made up of dioceses and parishes within the Episcopal Church, who protest primarily against the recent innovations in sexual doctrine and conduct adopted by this Church. [It seems to be reasonably happy with, or not too upset by, the major innovations from 1960-1990 in worship, doctrine, morality, polity and discipline; but yet wholly opposed to the innovations of the late 2oth & early 21st century.]

Associated with this Network are groups, missions, jurisdictions and congregations which are by choice outside the Episcopal Church but who would like to be, or see themselves as within, the Anglican Communion of Churches – e.g., the Reformed Episcopal Church, the Anglican Province of America, the Anglican Mission in America, many individual congregations with overseas bishops and so on.

Outside the Network, and right now probably not interested in being inside it or even in fellowship with it (or with the Anglican Communion), are the traditional Continuing Anglican Jurisdictions whose origins go back to the Covenant of St Louis of 1977 when a goodly number of determined souls left the ECUSA en bloc on grounds of conscience. The major results of that schism are now the Anglican Province of Christ the King, the Anglican Catholic Church and the Anglican Church of America (= Traditional Anglican Communion].

I do not know whether or not any of the ECUSA diocesan bishops in the Network has actually approached the bishops of these Continuing Churches to invite them to participate in the Network. For the sake of charity, I hope that they have and in doing so have learned a little about the dynamic and content of the traditional Anglican mindset. If they have not, then I do hope that Bishop Duncan and his colleagues will sit down with the Episcopal leadership of the real Continuers and find out what makes them who and what they are.

Here I can only indicate what they have told me in numerous conversations face to face and by e mail and on the phone about why they seem (to Network folks) to be stand-offish. To put it simply, they have, for the sake of God’s honor and revelation, decided that they are and will be wholly for the doctrine and practice of the Anglican Way before the major innovations of the 1960s into 1970s arrived to distort it and put it off track.

So they affirm,

the doctrine of marriage in the Bible and classic editions of the Book of Common Prayer and they repudiate the 1973 Canon of Marriage of the ECUSA which made Christian marriage an option not a necessary doctrine;

the doctrine of the Threefold Ministry of male clergy as provided in the traditional Ordinal attached to the BCP and they repudiate the Ordination of women legislation of the 1976 General Convention and the Ordination Services in the 1979 ECUSA prayer book, which allow for women to be bishops, priests and deacons as well as lowering the standards of clergy;

the classic BCP of 1662/1789/1892/1928 of the Episcopal Church which the ECUSA rejected and put into the archives in 1979 – calling a book of alternative services by the name of BCP;

the full authority of the Scripture in all matters of faith and conduct and as interpreted by the guidance of the teaching of the Fathers, the Reformers, and the standard divines of the Anglican Way (e.g. the great Caroline divines).

So to their way of seeing things, the Network, however well meaning, is committed to most of the major errors and heresies of the Episcopal Church since the 1960s and is itself in error ; the only point where they truly agree with the Network is that the recent innovations in sexual doctrine and conduct approved by the ECUSA are immoral and sinful. YET, at the same time, they know that the Network folks are Anglican and are members of the family, if only second cousins, and that they are embraced by our Lord and Savior despite their shortcomings in doctrine!

Where do we go from here?

As the Network is much the larger entity and makes large claims for its comprehensiveness, good will and intentions, and as the Continuing Anglican Jurisdictions have limited resources and are somewhat backed into a corner, I would suggest that the senior Bishops in the Network make immediate attempts to contact the bishops of the major Continuing Jurisdictions for prayer, dialogue and fellowship in the Word. For second cousins to talk may be difficult; but, if they have good intentions, the end product may surprise all of them and all of us!

We look forward to good fruit from these conversations! The One Family needs to find ways to be a true Family.

The Revd Dr Peter Toon January 28, 2006

Friday, January 27, 2006

LOOKING to Africa & Healing the many divisions in the Anglican Way in the USA

Let’s face it. We who call ourselves “orthodox Anglican” (or like terms) are embarrassed – very much – by the way in which more and more Anglican jurisdictions and affiliations are being created by (a) departures from the Episcopal Church; (b) schisms within existing groups and jurisdictions; (c) the founding of new Anglican congregations from evangelical roots and ethos; and (d) combinations of the former and other novel means. As one well-known blogger has put it: Anglicans are an alphabet of affiliations. And as I have often expressed it – the centrifugal forces are much more evident right now than the centripetal ones (which suggests the absence of the Holy Spirit in some specific way!).

Do we know believe that there is only one Anglican Way, the way of Reformed Catholicism which is comprehensive in churchmanship and style? If so, then should we not desire to see and pray for a coming together of these groups in North America into at least a basic fellowship and cooperation for joint service of our Lord Jesus Christ. A house divided cannot stand – when the tough times come.

Several years ago the late learned and wise Dr Tarsitano with my help wrote a series of essays in which we advocated a national Congress, chaired by a distinguished person [High Court Judge, Senator, Film Star or the like] whom virtually all could respect, and with a specific agenda, as a means of bringing on to one site for a few hours representatives of all the Anglican groups, inside and outside the Episcopal Church, as a starter. This never got off the ground because (a) it was too visionary, and (b) others organized congresses of a portion, and only a portion [and usually dominated by ECUSA clergy], of the groups in the Anglican Way.

I cannot see the Congress method achieving unity – at least in the immediate future. Yet it may serve other good ends.

What I do see as a viable way of uniting most of the groups and jurisdictions of the Anglican Way is rather simple to state; but it will require a lot of work to achieve, especially where groups have adopted canons which limit their ability to seek unity and have adopted stances that separate them from others.

I propose that each group, jurisdiction and association seeks the godly patriarchal headship of an Archbishop, whose province within the Anglican Communion is known genuinely to be orthodox in both foundation [based on the Bible and the historic and classic Anglican Formularies] and in practice in worship, doctrine and discipline.

Thus when all groups have achieved this, then all the American groups will be within the Anglican Communion and all will be in communion with each other. Thereby the basis for cooperation in witness and service in the USA will be firmly laid and the possibility of unity with comprehensiveness will be before us.

What I propose is a real possibility!

Right now we have exemplars. The Anglican Mission in America is tied to the Province of Rwanda; the Reformed Episcopal Church (with APA) has a covenant with the Archbishop of Nigeria, and multiple congregations are under the pastoral care of Bishops in a variety of provinces around the world from South America via Africa to Asia. Further, the Traditional Anglican Communion (= ACA in the USA) has put itself off this map by chartering a course over the River Tiber to the Vatican and this has served somewhat to clear the horizon and show that other Anglican groups truly wish to be Anglican in the long term.

Maybe there are better ideas and suggestions for uniting the very much divided membership of the Anglican Way. If so perhaps this short essay will help to bring these to light. Meanwhile I invite the serious-minded to consider what I have written above. Thank you. January 27, 2006

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Mixing language addressed to GOD – is it appropriate or permissible?

If one is in the Episcopal Church of the USA, and if one uses Rite 2, then it is possible to be consistent in the way one addresses God. Always the Deity is the “You-God.”

If one is in the ECUSA or a Continuing Anglican Church, and if one uses the standard Book of Common Prayer (1662 or 1928 editions), then it is possible to be consistent in the way one addresses God. Always the Deity is the “Thou-God.”

If one is in the ECUSA, and if one uses Rite 1, then it is possible – just about – to be consistent in the way one addresses the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Almighty God. That is one may address Him virtually all the time using the historic and classic English language of prayer as “Thou/Thee.” I say – just about – because if one also uses the Psalter in the 1979 Prayer Book with Rite 1 and say the NRSV Bible then one is drawn not merely into the addressing of the “You-God” but also into a certain amount of politically motivated inclusive language (where, for example, a third person plural is used to replace “man” – see Psalm 1).

We all know that the addressing of the Deity in the historic second person singular as Thou/Thee is as old as the English language and was universal from the Middle Ages through to the 1960s in the English-speaking world. Also we all know that it was the social and cultural revolution of the radical 1960s that caused the churches in the name of relevance and accessibility to seek to say goodbye to the “Thou-God” and to attempt to embrace the “You-God” – in liturgy and Bible translation.

However, because the glorious heritage of liturgy and hymnody, prayer and praise, prior to the 1960s, is addressed to the “Thou-God” and is not easily rendered into a “You” form, it has been the case that the “You-God” in recent times has had to give way to the “Thou-God” here and there – in order for congregations to sing certain familiar hymns, choirs to sing glorious anthems, and priests to use certain beautiful prayers in a modern form of service.

This noted, the point I wish to make here is that mixing the language by which we address God is not good from any reasonable point of view – grammatically, logically, devotionally, and doctrinally. In fact, if it is done regularly and carelessly it could be harmful to the soul and to the conduct of public worship of Almighty God. After all, we do not speak to human beings in this mixed and confused manner, and God the LORD, deserves only the best, the excellent, and we owe Him such..

If we intend to use the traditional form, then let us stay with it consistently and not, either from carelessness, thoughtlessness, relevance or convenience, glide into the modern form. If we are using Rite 1 then let us use a form of the Psalter that is in the same style – e.g., as in the 1928 BCP or in the RSV – and let us make sure that our public prayers, litanies, canticles, and hymns are also in the same style.

The experience of the centuries tells us that consistency of language is important for the creating of habits of devotion and prayer, as well as for establishing a doctrinal paradigm in the mind. Addressing God as “Thou/Thee” (the 2nd person singular), for example, has the effect of emphasizing both that He is One God, One Deity, One Divinity and that also that He is intimately related to His children, as their Father by adoption and grace.

Today in the West when the mainline Churches are filled with confusion created by a variety of cultural and religious factors, why would faithful pastors want to increase the confusion of how we think of and name God, by mixing the use of language addressed to and describing the One, True and Living God who is a Trinity of Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost?
Let us worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness, in spirit and in truth, and let us be consistent in our use of language, especially in public worship, in order truly to know & honor this majestic and righteous LORD, the great I AM!

[See further the important discussion of language for God in the book, Neither Archaic nor Obsolete, the English Language of Public Worship & Common Prayer, by Peter Toon & Louis R Tarsitano, 2003. ISBN 0 907839 75 4, available from 1- 800 – 727- 1928 and in the USA and from in Europe and worldwide.]

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon MA., D.Phil (Oxford)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Relationship with God and Jewish Psychotherapy, how connected?

Before the 1960s very few Christians, conservative or liberal, Protestant or Catholic, spoke of “my relationship with God/Jesus.” Rather they used different language to point to their religious convictions, based either on the terms used in the Bible or in the Christian tradition – e.g., a child of God, a son of God, a disciple, following Jesus, walking with Jesus, a baptized believer, a believer, and so on.

What brought the revolution in description from the 1960s onwards which affected ALL kinds of Christians – fundamentalist, conservative, protestant, catholic, liberal and progressive – who hold all kinds of “values” and doctrines?

No version of the Bible in use at that time used the word “relationship” and neither did any official Book of Liturgy! Thus how could a non-biblical word/expression triumph and be the word to sum up the religious experience of being in touch with God?

The answer begins with the arrival of the therapeutic culture in the 1960s, but there is more to it than that.

After World War II several hundred (mostly Jewish) professional psychologists and psychiatrists changed the culture of the USA (and then of much of western society) by introducing psychotherapy into the popular market place. One thinks of the names of Freud, Adler and Maslow and then the popularizers like Rabbi Joshua Liebman, Rabbi Harold Kushner [When Bad Things happen to Good People], and columnists like Ann Landers and Joyce Brothers.

What did they do? And why did they do it? Here is the answer of Andrew R. Heinze, who has researched this topic more than anyone else:

“To reckon with the myths and realities of Jewish neurosis, those popular psychologists emphasized the psychologically crippling effects of religious persecution and orthodox dogma, defended the neurotic as a creative force in society, and presented the once-ghettorized Jews as an examplar of psychic survival in modern civilization.” [ Jews and the American Soul, Princeton Univ Press, 2005]

Thus there began what was to become the rapid advance of psychotherapy in the USA with its new explanations of human nature and the self, offered first to Jews and then by Jews to Christians and fellow Americans.

This advance was not primarily because of the secularization of American society, or the arrival of emphasis on human rights, or the loss of the Protestant work ethic, although these things certainly helped erode the received view of human nature and the soul. Rather, it was through the adapting of what Jewish scholars and popularists had first applied to Jewish people to bring them out of the ghetto-mindset and holocaust-mindset into the mainstream of US society to other Americans, especially to Christians.

What happened to the USA in and from the 1960s has been well explained by Philip Rieff in The Triumph of the Therapeutic, but it is to Heinze’s fascinating and learned book that we must turn for the details of the origins of the Therapeutic as a major reality in shaping American lives and society.

Because of the triumph of the therapeutic in explaining who and what we are, the whole tone of American life and religion changed – e.g., notice how often we say “I feel” when we really mean, “I think” or “I believe’; and notice also how difficult it is for people to speak objectively about views, which they hold, without getting emotionally involved in commending or defending them (for they feel personally attacked if their views are subjected to discussion).

In the churches, notice how descriptions of salvation, the nature of sin, the Christian life, communion with God, public worship, and so on and so forth have all been touched and often deeply affected by this therapeutic culture. So has the translating of the Bible, Christian music and liturgy and books on maintaining good marriages (here most especially is it most evident even amongst those who wish to maintain “patriarchy” and biblical manhood!).

Here, as an obvious example, I simply point to the widespread use of the word “relationship” in popular Christian discourse by all kinds of religious persons. At the horizontal level it refers to any kind of sexual union with another person (be it fornication or adultery, sodomy or pederasty, holy matrimony or friendship) and at the vertical level to any kind of felt or perceived union with Divinity. This word communicates “feeling” and is “experiential” and subjective. From a truly biblical or classical position – Christian or Jewish -- its constant use causes believers to lose (a) the divinely ordered relation of holy matrimony as a union of two persons as one flesh for life, and related to this the sense of a family with permanent relatives; and (b) the divinely given by grace ordered relation from God [the Father through the Son] to the believing sinful person for salvation and sanctification in the Body of Christ. [And we have really descended to the lowest in theological terms when we speak of the relationships between the members of the Holy Trinity!!!]

Jews and the American Soul is required reading for those who really have a desire to know why American culture and religion is so deeply therapeutic in all its forms, conservative and liberal. The therapeutic is here to stay it seems but at least it s worth knowing what it is and where it came from!

Finally, if you want to now more about the recent past and present trends read One Nation under Therapy, by Christina Hoff Sommers and Sally Satel, St Martin’s Press, 2004. January 25, 2006

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Is the renewal of the mainline Churches a pipe-dream or a possibility?

A discussion starter from Dr Peter Toon, January 23, 2006

It is beyond dispute that the mainline denominations (Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, ELCA Lutheran, United Church of Christ etc.) of the USA have moved a long way from their original confessional and devotional roots. They have been deeply affected by the Enlightenment, modernism and post-modernism and other social & cultural realities. No-one of a reasonable mind doubts this.

Can they, can any single one of them, be so reformed and renewed in 2006 or 2007 or anytime that the changed worship, doctrine and discipline reflect the biblical roots of their origins and their unique witness in the past?

This question is answered in the affirmative by a few theologically conservative people involved all these denominations. These include members of the American Anglican Council and the Anglican Communion Network in the Episcopal Church who speak optimistically of what can happen at the General Convention of ECUSA in June 06.

This very small minority take this position even though the evidence of history seems to be pretty clear that the American way of renewal is to move out of the “apostate” denomination and create a new one in which the original principles and ideals can be recovered and maintained.

Happily this minority has a spokesman, and a distinguished and able one at that. He is the Methodist retired professor from Drew University, Thomas Oden, and he speaks (writes) clearly of this in his book, published January 2006 -- TURNING AROUND THE MAINLINE: how renewal movements are changing the Church (Baker Books).

For those Episcopalians who are going to the General Convention thinking and praying that they will see the beginnings of a U-turn by the ultra-progressive Episcopal Church, this book is required reading --- so that they know has happened in the past in the mainline concerning “renewal” and what (humanly speaking) the possibilities for the ECUSA are and what the odds against also are! This book should also help prepare them to recognize the difference between a real U-turn of repentance and a faked U-turn which is merely a political apology (which the ECUSA leadership is trained in).

I wish them profitable reading and valuable meditation thereon, leading to informed petition and intercession, not to mention confession of sins on behalf of what ECUSA has done and continues to do.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon MA., D.Phil (Oxford)

A Creed That Even Moderate Feminists Can Say...

(Regrettably the PECUSA never had this Creed to its great disadvantage – here it is translated to remove its alleged sexism – see use of person for man etc)

The Athanasian Creed

Whosoever desires to be saved must above all things hold the Catholic Faith. Unless a person keeps it in its entirety inviolate, that person will assuredly perish everlastingly.

Now this is the Catholic Faith, that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, without either confusing the Persons or dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son and other of the Holy Spirit, but the Godhead of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is one, their glory is equal and their majesty co-eternal.

Such as the Father is, such is the Son, such also the Holy Spirit. The Father is increate [uncreated], the Son increate, and the Holy Spirit increate. The Father is infinite, the Son infinite, and the Holy Spirit infinite. The Father is eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal. Yet there are not three eternals but one Eternal, just as there are not three increates or three infinites, but one Increate and one Infinite. In the same way the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty; yet there are not three almighties, but one Almighty.

Thus the Father is God, the Son God, and the Holy Spirit God; and yet there are not three Gods but one God. Thus the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, and the Holy Spirit is Lord; and yet there are not three Lords but one Lord. Because just as we are obliged by Christian truth to acknowledge each Person separately both God and Lord, so we are forbidden by the Catholic religion to say that there are three Gods and three Lords.

The Father is from none, not made nor created nor begotten. The Son is from the Father alone, not made nor created but begotten. The Holy Spirit is from the Father and the Son, not made nor created but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits. And in this Trinity there is nothing before or after, nothing greater or less, but all three Persons are coeternal with other and coequal. So that in all things, as has already been stated, both Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity must be worshipped. So anyone who desires to be saved should think thus of the Trinity.

Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation faithfully to believe in the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now the right faith is that we should believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is equally both God and man.

He is God from the Father’s substance [Being], begotten before time; and he is man from his mother’s substance [being], born in time. Perfect God, perfect man composed of a rational soul and human flesh, equal to the Father in respect of his divinity, less than the Father in respect of his humanity.

Who, although he is God and man, is nevertheless not two, but one Christ. He is one, however, not by the transformation of his divinity into flesh, but by the taking up of his humanity into God; one certainly not by confusion of substance, but by oneness of Person. For just as the rational soul and flesh are a single man, so God and man are a single Christ.

Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose from the dead, ascended to heaven, sat down at the right hand of the Father, from where he will come to judge the living and the dead; at whose coming all persons will rise again with their bodies, and will render an account of their deeds; and those who have done good will go into life everlasting, those who have done evil into everlasting fire.

This is the Catholic Faith. Unless a person believes it faithfully and steadfastly, that person cannot be saved.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Anglo-Catholics, the People’s Anglican Missal and the ECUSA 1979 Prayer Book – a point where liberalism and traditionalism meet.

Some Anglo-Catholics (especially in the Continuing Anglican Jurisdictions like the Anglican Catholic Church) use the People’s Anglican Missal (1971), while others (e.g. those of the Diocese of Fort Worth in the ECUSA) use the Rite of the Eucharist in the 1979 Prayer Book of the ECUSA.

What from the post World War II era unites these two Rites?
And what, in uniting them, is a false assumption?

Certainly it is not the actual text as such for the Missal text uses as a base the text of the BCP 1928 Order for Holy Communion and adds to it sections from the Tridentine Mass of the Roman Catholic Church. In contrast, both Rites One and Two in the 1979 Book have a structure, shape, content and style that is very different.

Certainly it is not doctrine contained therein for the Missal actually proclaims traditional Roman Catholic doctrines of the sacrifice of the Mass and the transubstantiation of the elements therein. In contrast, Rites One and Two [falsely] claim to reproduce the doctrines from the third century of the Christian era, the doctrines which were in favor with the liturgical movement of the 1960s and 1970s.

What actually brings the two Rites close together is the influence of an Englishman who after training as a barrister (and hence his ability to make a weak case look very appealing) became a priest of the Church of England. He is Gregory Dix, famous for his influential book from the 1940s and often reprinted up to the 1970s, The Shape of the Liturgy.

In this he claimed that in the third century, before the reign of Constantine the Great, there was a common structure to the Eucharist throughout the Christian world, and furthermore he knew what it was, and it included what he called “The Fourfold Action.”

At page 275 in the People’s Anglican Missal under the heading, “The Mass of the Faithful or the Action,” we are told:

“The Action is that part of the Mass in which we Do what he [Christ] did. We read that he did four things. 1. He took Bread and Wine. 2. He gave thanks. 3. He brake the Bread. 4. He gave it to them. Bear in mind these four acts of The Action.” Then these four headings in large print appear in the text effectively dividing the rest of the service into four parts.

This imposition of four headings into the text is not found in the original 1928 Service or the Tridentine Mass itself. It is an addition caused by the devotion of the editors of this text to the views of Gregory Dix.

The same view about the shape of the Mass/Eucharist was held by those who created the 1979 Texts for Rite One and Rite Two, even though they were liberal Anglican Catholics rather than traditional Anglo-Catholics. So although the text is not divided by headings indicating the start of each Action, the four stage Action is clearly there nevertheless!


One problem with committing an organization or church to an innovatory theory is that there is a real danger that in the near future the theory will be shown to be false or partly false and scholars will move either to return to former positions or develop new ones. And this is what has happened to the theories of Dix. Few if any responsible scholars working in the history of Christian worship of the first five centuries of the Church accept Dix’s theories.

It is now generally held that there was no uniformity of structure or doctrine of the Eucharist in the third century but that there was great variety within a common theme in Sunday worship in the churches spread throughout the Roman Empire. Only in the fourth century, during and after the rule of Constantine the Great, was there a general movement to unify the various shapes and style of liturgy as bishops were able to meet more in the open for consultation. But this move to unity of rite did not last long before each of the major churches – e.g., Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, & Rome – developed its own liturgy specific to its own needs and doctrines (and thus leave us the legacy of several classic rites today originating from the fifth century or so).

So talk of “Fourfold Action” as being universal and standard is now ceased, except with those who use old text books and have not kept up with serious reading in liturgical studies. In this regard, I would commend the first two chapters on the Early Church in The Oxford History of Christian Worship (2005) from Oxford University Press in NYC. Anyone reading these, and being familiar with the reasons given for the shape and content of the 1979 ECUSA Prayer Book (when it was being produced and when it appeared) will soon realize that the latter is not only outdated but is based on what is now generally acknowledged to be a mistake – that is a false theory about the nature of the Church in the third century and of the dating of the extant writings of Hippolytus of Rome (upon which texts much in the 1979 Book hangs!). When you join this mistaken evaluation and usage with a deliberate attempt to change the doctrine of the ECUSA by the liberal Catholic liturgists, then the deceptive nature of the 1979 Prayer Book is revealed. It was truly the moment when the ECUSA accelerated in its journey to apostasy as it put the classic, old Prayer Book into cold storage!

Thus I continue to be both puzzled and amazed by the love for this 1979 Book by both the Anglican Communion Network churches and also those of the Anglican Mission in America. I urge their clergy to read The Oxford History of Christian Worship (2005). I am also puzzled why the Continuing Anglican Churches continue to use The People’s Missal in its present form. January 19, 2006

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Why is the AMiA so much in love with the 1979 ECUSA Prayer Book?

It was my privilege to attend the Anglican Mission in America Winter Conference in Birmingham, Alabama, January 11- 15. There were about 800 present and one could not but be impressed by at least four things:

  • that the conference was well organized;
  • that the 800 folks there were excited about their vocation to be Anglicans in mission;
  • that in their relation to the Primates (especially of Rwanda) and to Bishop Chuck Murphy there was the (rare these days) presence of biblical and Christian patriarchy and hierarchy;
  • and that there was virtually no criticism of ECUSA or any other Anglican entity (for the emphasis was positive on evangelism and growth).

This said, and I hope and pray in the best possible spirit, I ask the question:

Why, O Why, is the leadership of the AMiA so tied to the ECUSA 1979 Prayer Book?

In the Opening Service on the Wednesday evening (based on 1979 Prayer Book) all the clergy present re-committed themselves to the Lord Jesus in mission and to the doctrinal basis of the AMiA. The latter contains no reference to the 1979 Prayer Book as a doctrinal formulary, but rather points to the classic edition of the Book of Common Prayer (now in 152 languages), the English standard edition of 1662, with the accompanying Ordinal and Articles of Religion.

The AMiA has an excellent doctrinal foundation. Thanks be to God! Yet there seems to be some kind of inability to see that the love-affair with the 1979 ECUSA Book cannot remain if this foundation is to be maintained. This is not a matter of “Thou-Thee” over against “You” but is at the level of foundational and fundamental doctrine.

The 1979 Prayer Book was designed by Liberal, Anglican Catholics (= Affirming Catholics today) in order to undermine the religion of the classic Prayer Book, Ordinal and Articles (as represented in the USA by the American editions of the classic BCP, those of 1789, 1892 & 1928).

During the five days of the Conference the BCP 1662 was not used publicly at all, and the 1928 edition of the BCP was used only for Morning Prayer on three mornings at which about 30 people attended (the majority went to non-Anglican forms of morning service a little later or to 1979 services at the same time). The major services of the Conference were all taken from the 1979 Prayer Book, as if the gathering were evangelical ECUSA people. The Ordination Service on Saturday afternoon was a straight lift from this Prayer Book, as were the two Services of Holy Communion (Rites One and Two) on Sunday morning.

Only when the Right Revd Dr John Rodgers gave a seminar on the future of the Anglican Communion did one sense that the Conference was in touch with the historic, classic tradition of Reformed Catholic worship, doctrine and discipline of the Anglican Way. Another seminar on “What is Anglicanism?” turned out to be a most sincere description by a recent convert to the AMiA of his own experience of Anglicanism as he, a Wheaton College evangelical, has chosen and received it.

The only reasons that I can think of to explain the love-affair of a reforming group with the major sign of the apostate Church it has left behind are the following:

  1. Sheer convenience. The book is there, available and they know it. It seems to be in accessible “modern” language.
  2. Lack of discrimination in matters theological, doctrinal and liturgical. Mind on mission not on Reformed Catholic doctrine.
  3. Many in the AMiA seem to be Evangelicals and/or Charismatics desirous of a liturgy rather than Reformed Catholics committed both to Mission and to classic Anglican worship, doctrine and discipline. They know very little indeed about Anglican history, doctrine, liturgy, music, devotion, moral theology etc.

The fact of the matter is that the 1979 Book is not suitable in any way for a Mission which desires to be doctrinally pure and to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness and in spirit and truth. I do urge AMiA clergy & laity to read: Neither Orthodoxy nor a Formulary. The 1979 Prayer Book of the Episcopal Church by the late Louis R Tarsitano and myself (call 1 800 727 1928 or go on line to get a copy at This will help to show what kind of a book the 1979 Prayer Book really is.

Let me indicate briefly why to use the 1979 Book so indiscriminately for ordinations is to undermine the doctrine and mission of the AMiA.

  1. The set of services for ordaining deacons, priests and bishops was designed to undermine the doctrine of the historic, classic Ordinal found in the editions of the BCP of 1549, 1662 & 1928, and thus to remove the Reformed Catholic doctrine of the Threefold Ministry from American Anglicanism.
  2. The supposed foundations of this set of services in the Church of the third century (via Hippolytus etc.,) have now been shown to be very shaky at best and wrong at worst – see the recent Oxford History of Christian Worship, 2005, chapters one and two.
  3. The commitments and promises made by the candidates in 1979 text are much reduced from the classic rites in the Ordinal of 1549, 1662, 1928.
  4. The 1979 services were designed specifically to allow for the ordination of women to ALL THREE orders of ministry. But the AMiA states that women cannot be bishops and presbyters by the will of the Lord Jesus.
  5. The doctrine of the Trinity, the foundational doctrine of the Christian Faith, is presented at the beginning of each service in 1979 in the modern ECUSA revisionist form and is, to say the least, imprecise. “Blessed be God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit” literally means, “Blessed be the One God who has three Names”. And, strictly speaking this is Sabellianism or Modalism or Unitarianism or all three. Why not begin “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” as in the Roman service or “Blessed be the Kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” as in the Orthodox service? Because ECUSA in 1979 wished to be different and did not care if it were heretical!

I cannot understand why the 1662 Ordinal (as is, or in a modern “You” equivalent) or the Rwandan Ordinal were not used.

I truly believe that it will be a sign of the maturing of the mindset and piety of the AMiA leadership and people as and when they shed the use of the 1979 Prayer Book and use another text or other texts which faithfully communicate the character, content and style of the biblically-based, historical Anglican Way of Reformed Catholicism. I would suggest that a classic edition of the Book of Common Prayer in its original “Thou/Thee” form or in a contemporary “You” form be used as soon as possible, at least part of the time. Let them remember that the BCP1662 was the book, along with the Bible, that Anglican missionaries took with them and it is still the most used text in the continent of Africa in village and town whether in English or in local languages. January 18, 2006

Monday, January 09, 2006

ECUSA’s Religion – a relevant and credible modern Faith or a rejection of “Mere Christianity”?

a discussion starter from Dr Peter Toon in preparation for the upcoming General Convention of the Episcopal Church of the USA.

After World War II the [Protestant] Episcopal Church as a mainline denomination made a major attempt to discover and present both a relevant and credible form of Christianity, having a Catholic & liturgical face.

It began by seeking to update its liturgy which its “experts” judged was too inflexible, traditional and pessimistic in order to be appropriate for the new era where more celebration was required. After a series of published studies and experimental trial liturgies, General Convention approved what became known as “The Book of Common Prayer, 1979.” Although this book shared the same title as the earlier official editions of the Prayer Book (1662, 1789, 1892 & 1928), it was a wholly new kind of Prayer Book, similar in style to that called “The Alternative Service Book, 1980” in England and “The Book of Alternative Services, 1985” in Canada. Obviously it had the wrong title! In it flexibility, variety and relativism had replaced traditional order and style. Further, the “You-God” had achieved dominance over the “Thou-God” as the classic English form and style of Public Prayer gave way to an upgraded form of contemporary street language. Finally, this new Book replaced the classic Book of Common Prayer, Ordinal and Articles of Religion as the Formulary of the Episcopal Church.

Whilst the “renewal” of the liturgy was progressing within ECUSA a cultural revolution, which began in the 1960s and stretched well into the 1970s, was turning American society and values inside out. Naturally the ECUSA felt the winds of change and began immediately to adjust its worship, doctrine and discipline to the canons of modernity.

First of all, in the context of what was now a “divorce culture” in the USA, the General Convention in 1973 set aside its ordered canonical discipline for marriage, divorce and possible remarriage (under very strict conditions), replacing it with a new approach that was deemed “pastoral.” By this the marriage of divorcees in church became much easier and over the years became normal and common. Jesus Christ’s rules for Christian marriage were effectively made an option not church law in ECUSA.

Secondly, General Convention set aside the received doctrine of the relation of man and woman as given by God in creation by (a) the seating of female deputies in 1970, and much more obviously by (b) providing for the ordination of women to all three Orders of the Ministry in 1976. Meanwhile abortion on demand, as a means of birth control for a woman, was stated to be a women’s right by the same Convention.

Thirdly, to confirm the liberation of women from a supposed evil and oppressive patriarchy, the Convention decided that a different language of prayer was necessary, a language which gave equal emphasis to feminine and masculine metaphors, images, names and pronouns. This principle, begun in the 1979 Prayer Book, was continued more specifically in books of services approved in the 1980s and 1990s. By this, the revelation written in the Holy Scriptures was effectively revised and changed, and as a result all the received dogma of the Church became subject to revision or rejection.

Fourthly, with women’s rights fully acknowledged, and the biblical doctrine of marriage as a one-flesh union for life without divorce made optional, space was created for the Les[bian]Bi[sexual]Gay agenda to be pushed in the Convention. Those persons who believed that they have an “orientation” to persons of the same “gender/sex” and that this is God-given and should be recognized by the Church had their day and the result was – to cut a long story short – the approval of Gene Robinson (a divorced man with children now living in a same-sex union with a man) as a Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003. Here the move from order to disorder in human and sexual relations was proclaimed from the housetops.

Just where the General Convention and its House of Bishops will take the ECUSA next in this pilgrimage within the canons of modernity and post-modernity is anyone’s guess. As it has followed liberal society and culture since the 1960s, it is most probable that it will continue to do so well into the new century.

Meanwhile, a minority of ECUSA members of a socially conservative background desire that the Church slow down in its embracing of daring innovations, while a smaller minority (mostly Network and AAC members) desire that it begin a U-turn at its June 2006 General Convention. In particular, the latter minority is working hard to get the Convention to reverse itself on the LesBiGay agenda for to this group this particular innovation is that which God in heaven most abhors.

It is certainly conceivable that the Convention in mid 2006 will begin a U-turn; and with God (if HE so purposes) all things are possible. However, it is very difficult to believe that there will be anything more than a politically guided attempt to appease offended Anglicans abroad even as the progressive agenda continues apace, perhaps in hidden and mysterious ways. Reasons for saying this are: (a) major Western provinces of the Anglican Family have traveled in much the same direction as the ECUSA, if not so far; (b) all the mainline denominations of the USA are going in parallel tracks to the ECUSA; (c) since the time of Bishop Pike of California, the House of Bishops has shown no resolution to drive out error and heresy, but in fact has usually done the opposite, welcome disorder; and (d) the elite who run the ECUSA and the majority of the membership believe that the ECUSA is on its way to becoming a true church for the 21st century, a community of love, an inclusive community of justice and thus a credible and relevant expression of Christian faith and morality – and as such it remains attractive to many of liberal disposition in modern America.

When C.S.Lewis’ book, Mere Christianity, was published after World War II in the USA one could say that the vast majority of the PECUSA agreed with it. Now in 2006 the majority would see it as commending oppressive patriarchy, sexism, androcentrism and outdated theological traditionalism. Times have changed and with them the PECUSA. January 8, 2006

Saturday, January 07, 2006

ECUSA 2006: A prayer starter

Marching to the Promised Land, halted in the Wilderness, or heading into the Abyss.

1. The progressive Liberals who effectively guide and run the Episcopal Church believe that God has given them a vision and with it a vocation. They are called to be prophets to call this and all the main-line Churches to a vigorous commitment to being communities of inclusivity, wherein there is love, peace and justice. As such they are to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

Justice for women, for ethnic and racial minorities, for people whose “orientation” is “Gay, Bisexual or Lesbian” is well on the way to being realized in the ECUSA, they believe. God is giving signs of the success all the time, most recently in the consecration of Gene Robinson. Yet there is much to do since each generation has to be educated in the vocation of progressive liberalism and the mantle of the prophet(ess) handed on to it. To turn back, to begin a U-turn, would be to betray the Spirit and all that She has taught and continues to reveal to this Church.

2. The small group of Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics of the Network and the AAC certainly oppose the more daring parts of the prophetic vocation of the progressive Liberals (whom they call “revisionists”) and they have major allies abroad who agree with them; but most of them share the earlier parts of this vocation. The presence of women with dog-collars, the relatively high number of re-married clergy and laity in their leadership and ranks, and the way they worship and what they use, all reveal most clearly their commitment to the innovations of the ECUSA between 1970 and 1980. They appear committed to the revised Canon on Marriage of 1973, the ordination of women of 1976, and the removal of the classic Anglican Formularies in 1979 (through the adoption of a wholly new kind of prayer book, ordination services and statement of Faith). However, unlike the progressive Liberals who are happy to attribute their prophetic vision to God speaking to them through contemporary experience and movements (e.g., human rights), the Evangelicals tend to look for biblical texts, or new forms of biblical interpretation to justify, their acceptance of these innovations. (In contrast they use old forms of biblical interpretation to attack the LesBiGay agenda!)

So for the progressive Liberals like Bishop Griswold the ECUSA is moving, howbeit slowly, towards the promised land, while for the Network it is stuck in the wilderness, waiting for the LesBiGay agenda to be dropped – hopefully at the General Convention, June 2006, or if not later – before there can be movement forward following the Shekinah.

Yet for a minority, an exceedingly small minority of traditional Episcopalians, the Episcopal Church is heading straight into full-blown apostasy, into the abyss. In their estimation it has systematically, even joyfully, set aside revealed divine order for marriage, for the family, for divine worship and for the Ministry and introduced dis-order at all levels of its life and witness. The blessing of same-sex-unions and ordaining people in such arrangements is but the most recent of a long series of innovation and setting aside of God’s will for his creation and his Church. This minority stays around because they believe it is their humble vocation to witness to and feel God’s judgment, to praise him for it, and to share its pain and weight with fellow Episcopalians in all humility and grace. They believe that God may choose in his covenant mercy to bring this Church or a remnant thereof back from the Abyss, out of Exile, to the promised land. January 7, 2006

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Epiphany – journeying by faith to a known goal

In contemporary “spirituality” a lot is made by some of “journeying” and keeping a journal of daily feelings and religious experiences. However, much of this emphasis on one’s journey is not specific on such basics as from where the journey began and to where the journey is headed! Regrettably, it can be more about the experience of being en route to wherever one may be going than what is there at the end of the road as the goal of the effort.

In contrast, when the wise men, the sages of the East, set off on their journey Westwards they knew where they were going and for whom they were looking, even though the specifics were not clear until they got near to their destination (Matthew 2). No doubt they had both uplifting and depressing experiences on their long journey; yet they kept going in the one direction because the goal of the journey was what made the journey necessary. They intended to see and worship the One born to be King of the Jews and they were not satisfied until they could present him with their precious gifts and worship him.

On the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6) we pray:

O God, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thy-only begotten Son to the Gentiles:….

We read the biblical account of “the wise men from the East,” we meditate upon it and we marvel how non-Jews could be so inspired and so dedicated in their determination to see and adore the Messiah of the Jews, whom they came to see is also the Saviour of the world. We note the sacrifice and time they were prepared to offer in order to gain knowledge of God’s salvation and we compare it with what we are prepared to make and give -- and we feel ashamed, but also inspired.

Mercifully grant, that we, which know thee now by faith, may after this life have the fruition of thy glorious Godhead, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The sages knew Jesus by sight and by faith; but we know him only by faith. Certainly we can know about him by education, instruction, reading and study; certainly we can be very well informed about his titles, commandments, teachings, ministry and saving work; but in and above and through this knowledge about him we must know him by faith – that is to be practically and experimentally (experientally) in touch and fellowship with him. To know God requires knowledge about him from his self-revelation but the real knowing is by faith, a faith that works by love.

In this mortal life and in this evil age, the baptized people of God are on a journey, and it is a journey which has a goal, a real goal, and it is a journey in which faith in the Incarnate Son of God is the primary means of staying on the road, which is a narrow way towards the end of that road. The end of the road is to gaze upon the glory of the Father as it shines in the face of the Lord Jesus Christ and to serve the Holy Trinity unto ages of ages. For inside the gates of heaven faith will be fulfilled in sight of Jesus and hope will be fulfilled in the beatific vision. As the star led the pilgrims from the East towards the Saviour, so the revealed word of God as taught in the Church of God, our “Mother”, teaches the people of God to walk by faith in the light of Christ Jesus towards the land of promise. There they will taste the glorious fruit of perfect communion with the Godhead, that is with the Person of the Father through the Person of the Incarnate Son by the presence of the Person of the Holy Ghost.

In its original medieval form in Latin this Collect prayed: “May we be led onwards, until we come to gaze upon thy Majesty by sight.” The journey is important for by it we are prepared in heart and mind (through testing and chastisement) for the contemplating, adoring and gazing upon the Majesty of God as this is reflected through, by and in the Incarnate Son. However, let us be clear, the journey is not important in and of itself but only as it is the means, the pilgrimage, ordained by God to bring us through the evil world into the world of pure delight, the heavenly Jerusalem.

The sages of the East saw the Majesty of God clothed in humility and in relative poverty and then they returned home to live by faith until they were given the sight of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ at death. But the baptized people of God head for the Goal and when they reach it they remain there for ever going from “glory unto glory” in the glorious light of the heavenly Lamb of God, and surrounded by the redeemed people of God and the hierarchy of heavenly choirs.

January 5, 2006