Sunday, November 26, 2006

Respite from Toon until mid-December!

Toon E-Mail Machine closing down after THANKSGIVING for 3 weeks for Renewal and Overhaul


From Monday November 27 through to Sunday December 17, Peter Toon will not be sending out any e-mail tracts.

This is not because the Anglican Crisis of Identity is over, or that Episcopalians in the USA have repented of (a) their putting of the Anglican Formularies into the Archives or Trash in 1979 and then (b) treating the 1979 Book of Varied Services and Doctrines as a true Formulary (thereby rejecting the classic Formularies).

It is because he is taking a vacation and retreat to replenish his batteries, fill his mind with good ideas, and prepare for the continued struggle and high privilege of seeking with others to unite faithful Anglicans in North America in sound Anglican doctrine in order for them to enjoy and glorify God and to engage in his mission to the world.

He has not forgotten the advice of the Black Preacher in Mississippi who said to him in the 1980s when he was lecturing in Jackson: “I reads myself full, I thinks myself clear, I prays myself hot and then I does fire.” One can fire words in various ways from preaching through to DVD and e-mail. I try to use all these means.

May I urge you to visit www.anglicanmarketplace.com to see what is on sale there from the Prayer Book Society of the USA. I would be honored if you would read either or both of my two recent essays/booklets on “Scripture and the Formularies” and on “Anglican Identity” and send me your thoughts afterwards.

A final word. In your generosity, at the end of the financial year, please consider sending a donation to The Prayer Book Society of the U.S.A, Box 35220, Philadelphia, PA 19128—0220. The phone is 610-490-0648. Thank you very much. The Society has been around since 1971 and exists by the kindness and prayers of faithful Anglicans in North America.

MAY ADVENT BE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU and YOURS.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Roman and Anglican Way contrasted: Liturgy expressing doctrine, but, which doctrine?

Consider this sentence which was in an e-mail communication to me recently:

After Vatican II, Rome managed to revise its liturgies without altering its beliefs, whereas our Anglican folks have used liturgical revision as a subterfuge in order to change our church's beliefs.

Here I believe is truth, not the whole truth, but truth.

Vatican II (1962-65) certainly introduced a new ethos and spirit into the Roman Church, and certainly some of its clergy and laity took this new spirit too far. But Vatican II merely refined and restated Roman Catholic teaching, it did not change it in substance or dumb down the received doctrine. The changes in the Liturgy and the very difficult task of rendering the Latin originals into the vernacular have not always taken the wisest course, especially in the sphere of the English language translations (where work still continues).

So if we look at the Latin originals rather than the sometimes weak, dumbed-down and politically-correct present English renderings we will find it hard to find any major change of doctrine from the previous Tridentine and late Patristic positions. There is no substantial or essential altering of beliefs even if there is an attempt to emphasize aspects of the patristic Tradition which are not prominent in the medieval and Tridentine. If you take the modern Breviary, Missal and Catechism together you meet full-blown Roman Catholicism, even if with a new genial smile towards “separated brethren.”

Regrettably, though the shape of the modern Anglican Eucharist in the “Books of Varied Services” now in use in Anglican Provinces is much the same as that of Rome in the Missal, what has to be said in a general way about the post-1960s adventures of Anglican liturgists is this: that they have used the opportunity of producing new Rites to introduce into them new Doctrine, that they have then cried out, “The Law of Praying is the Law of Believing,” and finally that they have assumed that they have introduced both good new liturgy and good doctrinal change. And, with the help of bishops, priests and laity—all wanting to be relevant and credible in a post-1960s culture of rights and “experience”—they have been relatively successful in propagating their message.

As the Roman Catechism makes abundantly clear, Rome has not changed its doctrine but has sought to make it accessible to people today. As the Outline of Faith in the American 1979 Prayer Book (and note it was written as a summary of the doctrine of this book) makes clear, Episcopalianism in the USA has changed its doctrine (not merely changed the way that doctrine is expressed. [See for more detail, Neither Orthodoxy Nor a Formulary, the 1979 Prayer Book, by Lou Tarsitano & Peter Toon (from www.anglicanmarketplace.com or 1-800-727-1928)] Likewise in Canada those who have followed the doctrine of the BAS of 1985 (itself based on the 1979 USA book) have drunk deeply of new doctrine through its use.

If the Anglican Way has been true to its own traditions--The Common Prayer Tradition and Reformed Catholicism--it would have found a way in the search for so-called contemporary liturgy after the 1960s of (a) faithfully rendering the received Services of the classic BCP into a pleasing form of modern English and (b) producing any new, alternative liturgy in the same doctrine (classic Trinitarian Theism with the Augustinian doctrine of grace and the Reformation doctrine of Justification by faith). It is now very clear to all serious students of the shape and contents of the new Liturgies that not a few of them are the vehicles for the transmission of innovatory doctrines, usually based on one or another form of panentheism/process theology. Further, the embrace of women’s ordination has deeply affected the way in which Anglicans read Scripture, interpret it, do theology and conduct church affairs and all this has also served to erode the biblical and historical content of the Anglican Way.

So we return to where we started:

After Vatican II Rome managed to revise its liturgies without altering its beliefs, whereas our Anglican folks have used liturgical revision as a subterfuge in order to change our church's beliefs.

Subterfuge—a trick or deception used to achieve certain goals—regrettably is a blot on post 1960s Anglican life in the West. No wonder the Anglican Way has an IDENTITY CRISIS (which I have tried to explain in my Anglican Identity from www.anglicanmarketplace.com ). Do we have the guts to put right what is wrong and to claim out real Identity?

drpetertoon@yahoo.com Nov 21 2006

BCP 1662 available in the USA - CUP new typeface and layout

Christian Book Distributors (1-800-247-4784) has imported a large number of copies of the BCP 1662 from Cambridge Univ Press in the new typesetting and in a variety of formats including the Desk Edition (= altar edition)

It is NOT yet up on the website (www.christianbook.com) but will be soon.

Call them for a copy before they all go.

Peter

Monday, November 20, 2006

San Joaquin bishop sent letter from Presiding Bishop

Episcopal News Service
November 20, 2006

[ENS] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori -- concerned by current affairs in the Fresno-based Diocese of San Joaquin, California -- has written to its bishop, the Rt. Rev.John-David Schofield. The diocese, which is scheduled to meet in convention December 1-2, includes an estimated 10,000 Episcopalians in some 48 congregations. The text of Jefferts Schori's November 20 letter follows.

November 20, 2006

The Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield
Diocese of San Joaquin
4159 E. Dakota Avenue
Fresno, California 93726

My dear brother:

I have seen reports of your letter to parishes in the Diocese of San Joaquin, which apparently urges delegates to your upcoming Diocesan Convention to take action to leave the Episcopal Church. I would ask you to confirm the accuracy of those reports. If true, you must be aware that such action would likely be seen as a violation of your ordination vows to "uphold the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them." I must strongly urge you to consider the consequences of such action, not only for yourself but especially for all of the Episcopalians under your pastoral charge and care.

I certainly understand that you personally disagree with decisions by General Conventions over the past 30 and more years. You have, however, taken vows three times over that period to uphold the "doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church." If you now feel that you can no longer do so, the more honorable course would be to renounce your orders in this Church and seek a home elsewhere. Your public assertion that your duty is to violate those vows puts many, many people at hazard of profound spiritual violence. I urge you, as a pastor, to consider that hazard with the utmost gravity.

As you contemplate this action I would also remind you of the trust which you and I both hold for those who have come before and those who will come after us. None of us has received the property held by the Church today to use as we will. We have received it as stewards, for those who enjoy it today and those who will be blessed by the ministry its use will permit in the future. Our forebears did not build churches or give memorials with the intent that they be removed from the Episcopal Church. Nor did our forebears give liberally to fund endowments with the intent that they be consumed by litigation.

The Church will endure whatever decision you make in San Joaquin. The people who are its members, however, will suffer in the midst of this conflict, and probably suffer unnecessarily. Jesus calls us to take up our crosses daily, but not in the service of division and antagonism. He calls us to take up our crosses in his service of reconciling the world to God. Would that you might lead the people of San Joaquin toward decisions that build up the Body, that bring abundant life to those within and beyond our Church, that restore us to oneness.

I stand ready for conversation and reconciliation. May God bless your deliberation.

I remain

Your servant in Christ,

+Katharine

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate

No to Rome’s advances and Yes to the Anglican Way!

Apparently the Pope has authorized various officials to look into ways to facilitate the conversion of confused and disaffected Anglicans—especially in the West—to the Church of Rome (Sunday Times, London, Nov 19). And unless the people called Anglican in North America get their act together, as we say, then Roman Catholic facilitators are going to be very busy in the next three or four years.

Certainly we seem to be in a period when Anglicans in the West, even those who claim to be orthodox, do not seem to have the guts to stand wholly by the Anglican Way as it has existed, been known and defined since the sixteenth century. They seem to prefer to move on a very wide front of alternatives and choices with a massive mixture of liturgies, rites and ceremonies, not to mention varieties in doctrine, even touching the question, Who is God?

However, even in the depression and anxiety of Anglican life, there is talk concerning the renewal of Anglicanism in North America and the forming of a new Province of the Anglican Communion (to take the place of the present “sick” ones). Concerning this, I have made several proposals—or adapted ideas first articulated by others or in dialogue. Here they are. I suspect that they will only appear attractive and possible to those who are coming to the conclusion that the Anglican Way in the West has become so diversified and so comprehensive that it has lost identity and its must return to a simpler, more basic and unified stance in order to remain viable!

First of all, I have made the point that American Episcopalians who, desiring to find a common basis for Anglicanism, are suggesting that that the BCP (1662, but without prayers for the monarch) be made the general norm should not try to jump over the centuries to this BCP, but recognize the development and use of this BCP in its USA form—in editions of 1789, 1892, 1928—and use these as necessary bridges back to the 1662. Such a routing would help them to understand what actually is the BCP, what is meant by Common Prayer, and how the classic BCP has been both celebrated (and tragically rejected—in1979) by The Episcopal Church.

I realize that the going back to 1662 via one or all of the official Episcopal Church editions of the one BCP will be painful for those who have committed themselves to, used and continue to use, as if it were truly The BCP, the 1979 Book of Varied Services and Doctrines; but, I suggest that there can be no blessing upon a new Province that begins by refusing to confess its sins and those of its forefathers with regard to the rejection of the authentic BCP and Formularies in 1976/79 and the calling of “A Book of Varied Services” by the name of the BCP (after all the true confession of sins is the Praise of God, recognizing His Sovereignty and Justice).

In the second place, I have also made—what I think is a most important point—that the BCP 1662 (without the prayers for the monarch) should be the Template for all future Anglican Liturgy, that it should be available to be such in both its original classic English form and also in an agreed contemporary English form, and that in each Province there should be an appropriate commission to rule on approved additions and minor variations to this Template. (Presumably these would include the minor revisions of 1662 made in the USA and Canadian editions of the Prayer Book—1962 & 1928—and such others as are deemed to be according to the doctrine and style of the 1662 edition. Obviously the number would have to be controlled or the future would soon begin to look like the present confusion—i.e., many different forms of service with much varied doctrine and not a sign of liturgical unity before God..

The aim of all this is to make possible Anglican Unity in One Faith under One Lord and using One Liturgy (with appropriate local minor variations) in one Province. Of course, there would also be the need to settle which versions of the English Bible were to be used for public worship and what Lectionary would be in use. So there would be a minimal yet necessary uniformity—with comprehensiveness of churchmanship and ceremonial— and Anglican worship would become coherent and Anglican again.

Now, in the third place, I would like to add this. The BCP, Ordinal and Articles all printed in the 1662 edition (as well as in the 1928 & 1962 editions) of the One Book of Common Prayer do assume and require—by their inbuilt doctrine—the practice of male headship and thus, as they stand, they do not allow for women to be deacons, priests or bishops. In fact they positively require only those men who are called and tested to be ordained. So any new Province which makes the BCP 1662 its formulary has to be honest about this matter.

How difficult it is to retain the Formulary and to ordain women have been already seen and painfully experienced in the Anglican Communion; and it may be seen right now in the C of E in the attempts therein to make it possible for women to be made bishops. In this regard, the so-called “Anglican doctrine of Reception” needs to be revisited for it is more of a diplomatic agreement than it is a genuinely Christian doctrine! It has been grossly misused by the present ECUSA and as a way forward it will not work in North America. To produce the greatest harmony for the future (if divisive right now) it would be the wise thing not to have ordained women clergy at all in the new province, but to make all kinds of imaginative and practical forms of women’s ministry prominent and important in the new arrangements.

There are other issues and problems to be solved in the creation of a new Province but one thing is certain and it is this. Unless there is agreement on a common formulary, liturgy and ministry by Anglicans, then the Pope’s facilitators will be over-employed for the rest of the first decade of the twenty-first century receiving.

[See further my Anglican Formularies and Holy Scripture and my Anglican Identity both available from www.anglicanmarketplace.com and also my Reforming Forwards. The Doctrine of Reception, available at www.latimertrust.org ]


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

Pope plans recruitment drive among disaffected Anglicans

(See comment of Graham Leonard at the end- I wrote a book with him and did various theological jobs for him.

When an Englishmen says “no guts in it” what does he mean? I think it is about lacking personal courage and determination which is what anemic Anglicanism is in the West, generally speaking, right now. We prefer the comfort zone to the taking on of the whole armor of God!. -- PT)


The Sunday Times (London), November 19, 2006

Christopher Morgan

THE POPE, who is this week meeting the Archbishop of Canterbury, is drawing up plans to welcome disaffected Anglicans into the Roman Catholic Church.

Pope Benedict XVI is keen to reach out to conservative Anglicans who have been antagonised by their church's stance on women priests and homosexuality. Senior Vatican figures are understood to have drawn up a dossier on the most effective means of attracting disenchanted Anglicans.

The recruitment drive is a potential embarrassment for Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is travelling to Italy for his meeting with the Pope.

It is understood that Fr Joseph Augustine di Noia, undersecretary of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the most powerful of the Vatican's departments, has led a team analysing the current schism in the Anglican world.

The ordination of the openly gay priest Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003 caused outrage among some Anglicans. It threatened to cause a split in the church, which has 70m members worldwide.

In America, some of the 2.5m Anglicans have already left the church and become Catholics. In some cases, entire parishes have "defected", but they have been allowed to continue with
some of their Anglican traditions and prayers.

John Myers, the Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, who has been involved in supporting former Anglicans who have converted to Catholicism, has been helping di Noia with his recruitment dossier. He travelled to Rome last month to suggest ways of appealing to Anglicans.

The Pope's enthusiasm for bringing traditional Anglicans into the fold was expressed powerfully three years ago when as Cardinal Ratzinger he sent greetings to a group of conservative churchmen meeting in Texas in protest at the election of Robinson.

Williams was involved in a controversy last week when it was reported that he had suggested the church might reconsider the issue of women priests. He insisted he had been misquoted.

While the Pope is keen to welcome any conservative Anglicans, he is also keen to forge good relations with Williams. "The Vatican will do nothing to undermine Williams at such a precarious moment in Anglican history," one source said.

Despite the friendly overtures, the Pope believes the Anglican Church faces a difficult future. Graham Leonard, the former Bishop of London and now a Roman Catholic monsignor, said: "The Pope's view is that theologically Anglicanism has no guts in it."

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Stir up our wills, O LORD -- Today please, not in the far distant future!

(The Collect for the last Sunday of the Christian Year)

Have you ever been comfortably seated watching TV, or reading a good book, and yet also been aware of (a) various necessary jobs to be done in the kitchen or elsewhere, and (b) a lack of will power to get up and do what has to be done?

It is common for human beings to experience in their moral and spiritual lives what Luther called in a famous book, “the bondage of the will,” a seeming absence or lack of power to do what is clearly known to be a duty and requirement. In the soul, as it were, there is not always a smooth gear change between what the mind through the conscience declares to be right and what the will alone can set in motion.

The weakness of the will of baptized believers in the Christian life of obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ was well recognized by the apostles (see Romans 7-8) and by the bishops and teachers in the Early Church. This is why they called upon all to use the means of grace provided by the Gospel and to pursue sanctification before God. He who knows his own heart well knows that it is prone to lethargy; that it seems always ready to relapse into slumber as if it were satisfied with present attainments in the moral sphere. It needs constantly to be re-charged as it were by heavenly power and prompted to godly action. In fact, at times it needs to be released from servitude to selfish motivation.

Regrettably in much modern forms of Christianity, this truth and practical experience are not taken seriously (because there is such a low doctrine of human sinfulness and a strong belief in the freedom of the will) and it is assumed that people are actually and always free to do what is right if they so wish (see the Catechism or Outline of Faith in the ECUSA 1979 Prayer Book, page 825 for such teaching, which we may call Pelagianism if we want to give it an ancient title.)

The Collect [set prayer] for the last Sunday of the Christian Year in the ancient Gregorian Sacramentary [service book] and in the medieval Sarum Use [service book used in medieval England] and in The Book of Common Prayer (1549 and later editions) took this bondage of the human will to sin for granted as a reality experienced bu the faithful during the past year and prayed for the empowerment of the will by the Holy Spirit for the coming year. In its English form, as translated by Archbishop Cranmer, it prays:

Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The will is stirred up whenever by the presence and influence of the Holy Spirit (directly or indirectly through the means of grace) the internal affections of reverence before God, hope in God and love for God are set in motion so as to give strength and motivation to the will. Yet, it remains within our power even when our wills are set in motion not to follow the lead of these (aroused) godly affections; that is, we may resist and avoid their direction. The lethargic will, aroused by grace, can, as it were, turn over on its side and try to back to sleep. When this happens there is regression in the Christian life.

But Christ calls his disciples to follow him, to love God and the neighbor, to fulfill the great commission to evangelize and teach, and thus they ought, as and when aroused, to follow the direction of the Spirit and in his power do whatever duty is set before them, with joy and thanksgiving, bringing forth the fruit of the Spirit in practical Christian living. And a constant duty and vocation is to abound in good works for the benefit of men and the glory of God. [We recall that Dorcas is commended as having been “full of good works and alms-deeds which she did” (Acts 9:36); that Paul declared that we are “created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10) and we are to be “a peculiar people zealous of good works” (Titus 2:4).]

I would not work my soul to save for that my Lord has done;
But I would work like any slave for love of God’s dear Son.

In the new Christian Year about to begin, let us allow the Holy Spirit to stir up our wills and to inspire us to follow His lead into the production of the fruit of the Spirit & into good works to the glory of the Father.

Minister’s Own Rules Sealed His Fate

From The New York Times November 19, 2006

By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
COLORADO SPRINGS, Nov. 15 — The four ministers who assembled here two weeks ago to decide the fate of the Rev. Ted Haggard were facing a painful choice.

A male prostitute had accused Mr. Haggard, one of the nation’s most prominent evangelical ministers, of engaging in a three-year affair with him and of using drugs. Then, in a private emergency meeting, Mr. Haggard promptly confessed to the ministers — his handpicked board of overseers — that he had engaged in sexual immorality.

Now, the question was, what punishment did Mr. Haggard deserve? The board had two options: discipline him or dismiss him as senior pastor of New Life Church. Could he take a leave of absence, repent, receive spiritual counseling and return to ministry?

The answer became clear the next morning, the overseers said, when Mr. Haggard gave an interview to a television news crew as he pulled out of his driveway with his wife and three children in the car. He denied having sex with the male prostitute, and said he had bought methamphetamine but never used it. The overseers said they watched Mr. Haggard, affable as ever, smile grimly into the television camera and lie.

“We saw this other side of Ted that Friday morning,” said the Rev. Michael Ware, one of the overseers. “It helped us to know whether this would be a discipline or a dismissal.”

The Rev. Mark Cowart, another overseer, agreed. “It was a defining moment.”

In many ways, Mr. Haggard had sealed his fate long before the driveway interview by establishing a mechanism for accountability in his church that gave a committee of his peers ultimate authority to remove him. Years ago, Mr. Haggard had asked four of his closest friends, all senior pastors of their own churches, to serve as a board of overseers. They had only one function: if Mr. Haggard was ever accused of immoral conduct, they would act as judge and jury.

Until the scandal that drove him from the pulpit, Mr. Haggard appeared to be a responsible steward and chief executive of New Life Church and the adjoining World Prayer Center — an evangelical empire that he built from nothing on a bare plateau with sweeping views of the Air Force Academy and Pikes Peak. He was sovereign over a 14,000-member church that answered to no denomination and was in many ways built on his charisma.

Mr. Haggard spelled out his system of checks and balances in bylaws that independent churches in the United States and overseas have adopted as a model. “All of our bylaws are really set up to protect our churches from us,” said Mr. Ware, the senior pastor of Victory Church in Westminster, Colo. “The same bylaws Ted wrote were the same laws by which he was dismissed.”

Unlike the televangelists Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart, who became mired in sexual and financial scandals in the 1980s, Mr. Haggard’s case was decided by his board with a haste that stunned many church members and employees.

“To watch his whole world evaporate in less than 24 hours is one of the most humbling and God-fearing experiences I’ve ever encountered,” Mr. Ware said in an interview over a motel breakfast of little but coffee with two other overseers.

Mr. Haggard could not have picked overseers with more potential conflicts of interests. Mr. Haggard, Mr. Ware and the Rev. Larry Stockstill started in ministry together 28 years ago in Baker, La., at Bethany World Prayer Center, where Mr. Stockstill is now the senior pastor.

Another member of the board, the Rev. Tim Ralph, the senior pastor of New Covenant Fellowship in rural Larkspur, has known Mr. Haggard since he founded New Life Church in his basement 21 years ago. Mr. Ralph’s son was a sound technician at New Life for six years.

Three of the overseers have their own boards of overseers at the churches they pastor, and Mr. Haggard was on all of them.

In 20 years, Mr. Haggard’s overseers had been summoned only once, to investigate an accusation of sexual impropriety that turned out to be a misunderstanding, overseers and staff members said. A church member reported to the elders in 2001 that he had seen Mr. Haggard in the church offices embracing a woman who was not his wife. The elders immediately called in the overseers to investigate, and they found that the woman was Mr. Haggard’s sister.

But the accusations that surfaced on Nov. 1 proved much more serious.

Mr. Ralph said the accusations left the overseers “holding nitroglycerine” in one hand. In the other hand, he said, they held “some very valuable life to the body of Christ,” referring not only to Mr. Haggard, but also to his wife, Gayle, who directed women’s ministries at New Life Church, and their five children, ages 13 to 25. The Haggards’ eldest son, Marcus, pastors a satellite congregation of New Life in downtown Colorado Springs.

The overseers gathered the next afternoon in the offices of the church’s lawyer, a bit stunned to be called into action, said Mr. Ralph, who likened the assignment to his second job as a firefighter.

“You don’t want to take the trucks out,” he said, “you want to keep shining the trucks.”

They reminded one another that despite their long ties to Mr. Haggard, the Bible says they are to judge accusations without partiality. On handheld computers, they pulled up another Scripture that says two or three witnesses are necessary when determining the guilt of an elder.

They considered the prostitute the first witness. When Mr. Haggard confessed that afternoon, he became the second. Within hours, he had resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals.

“He made it easy on us,” said another overseer, the Rev. Mark Cowart, the senior pastor of Church for All Nations in Colorado Springs. “We didn’t have to sort through everything.”

Mr. Ware said Mr. Haggard told them: “Ninety-eight percent of what you knew of me was the real me. Two percent of me would rise up, and I couldn’t overcome it.”

The harder decision was whether to dismiss him, but the overseers said Mr. Haggard’s lie in the television interview had deeply unsettled them. When they informed Mr. Haggard of their decision on Saturday, they said, he told them they had done the right thing.

The overseers also believed that Mr. Haggard needed more counseling, oversight and accountability than they could provide. They asked three of the country’s most renowned evangelical leaders — the Revs. Jack Hayford and Tommy Barnett and Dr. James Dobson — to serve as a “restoration team.” Dr. Dobson, the founder of the Focus on the Family ministry, soon excused himself, saying he could not devote adequate time and attention. He was replaced by the Rev. H. B. London Jr., a Focus on the Family vice president who runs a division that counsels clergy members and churches.

Mr. London said it could take at least three years before a fallen minister was “restored” to “spiritual, emotional and physical health,” with no assurance he could return to ministry.

He said Mr. Haggard’s former congregation had rallied around him, and church officials said they were negotiating a generous severance package.

There are mixed views on how well the overseer system Mr. Haggard put in place worked.

“From what I can tell, it was handled very well,” said Mark A. Noll, a historian at the University of Notre Dame who studies evangelicals. “If the accountability procedure is real, as this one seems to have been, it works well.”

But Eddie Gibbs, a professor of church growth at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calf., said Mr. Haggard’s accountability structure was a failure. The flaw, he said, was that it provided for intervention only when the pastor was about to crash and burn, rather than establishing a process to check on him routinely to prevent such an outcome.

“You’ve got to have the kind of people who will ask the awkward questions about every area of life,” Mr. Gibbs said, especially if for a high-profile pastor in a large church.

In the New Life executive suites, the Rev. Rob Brendle, Mr. Haggard’s young associate pastor, who said he had thought of himself as “Ted’s Karl Rove,” said he was so traumatized he could not yet ask himself if had seen signs of Mr. Haggard’s double life. But Mr. Brendle said he was comforted by the smooth handling of the crisis.

“I want everyone to see how evangelical Christians respond during adversity, and how we treat our wounded,” he said. “We aren’t interested in kicking someone to the curb when he shames our movement. We are committed to serving him.”

Last week, a young man working at the cafe of the World Prayer Center stripped Mr. Haggard’s books off a shelf. Mr. Brendle said he had approved the purge of books and of the sermon archives on the Web site because he did not want people “looking for clues.”

In his book “Foolish No More,” Mr. Haggard wrote that lying about a sexual affair produces “the stinking garbage of a rotting sin.”

“If a church leader sins,” he warned, “everyone within the church’s influence pays.”

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Baptism—Wonderful Sacrament but not without with huge problems in American Anglicanism

What ought to be a basis of common faith amongst Anglicans in North America is in fact a means of confusion. Regrettably, Baptism as practiced by Episcopalians tends to divide rather than unite. It does so for a variety of reasons which include the clash of traditional doctrine with innovatory doctrine, and the context of the American “Born-again” scene where half the population says it has made a decision for Jesus and so is “Born-again.”

What the Catechism states

According to the traditional Anglican Catechism, Baptism has been ordained by Jesus Christ as a Sacrament in his Church and it is necessary to salvation. It consists of an outward visible sign, which is Water wherein the person is immersed (or water is poured upon the candidate) as the words, “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” are said by the Minister. It also has an inward and spiritual grace which is death unto sin and a new birth unto righteousness. Candidates for baptism forsake sin in repentance and by faith they steadfastly believe the promises of God presented in the Gospel. If the candidates are infants, their godparents act as sureties for them making the promises in their behalf—which promises when the infants come to appropriate age, they renew for themselves.

According to the traditional Prayer Book, all who are baptized are then to be confirmed by the Bishop (immediately or later) and then they become communicant members of the Church. Until Confirmed, though members of the invisible Body of Christ, they are not yet full members of the local, visible church.

Two different Liturgies

In contemporary Anglicanism, there are two liturgies of Baptism in operation, one is in the traditional Book of Common Prayer (editions of 1662, 1928 USA, and 1962 Canada) and the other is in the new Prayer Books (for example, the 1979 book of The Episcopal Church). These are not identical in structure or in doctrine and they are accompanied by varied pastoral practice.

As already noted the traditional liturgy of Baptism is not truly complete in itself for it is completed in Confirmation and First Communion. This is not a matter of salvation for only Baptism (including both outward and inward realities) is necessary for salvation, but it is a matter of being confirmed by the Bishop in the Faith and in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and this leading on to participation in the Holy Communion as a full member of the Body of Christ. (Of course, in the case of adults all three events can and should wherever possible take place in one service.)

The 1979 Liturgy is introduced by the words, “Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body the Church.” In this Service, Chrism (oil consecrated by the bishop) may be used at the making of the sign of the Cross on the forehead of the baptized. Whether or not Chrism is used the baptized are seen as full communicant members and are welcome to receive Holy Communion immediately after the Sacrament of Baptism is received. Confirmation is not necessary and is not seen as the completion of Baptism, but rather as a public ceremony of commitment to Christ and church membership along with a renewal by God of the covenant made in Baptism with them.

The different approaches to Baptism and Confirmation in the two Liturgies lead obviously to two very different disciplines for approaching the Lord’s Table. In the one, infants may come for a blessing but not for Communion until they have basic understanding, show commitment, and are Confirmed, while in the other they come for Communion after Baptism both when they do not yet understand and later when they do now understand.

Two different doctrines

Also the doctrinal content of the two Liturgies is different. To put this in traditional terms the old service has what may called an Augustinian theology while the modern (1979) has a semi-Pelagian theology.

In the traditional Liturgy the infant or adult comes because of the call of the Gospel of Christ to the waters of Baptism as a sinner needing forgiveness and cleansing for two forms of sin, original and active. The person—himself or by his surety—comes believing in the Lord Jesus Christ and repenting of sin, looking unto God for salvation. In Baptism, God the Father causes the Holy Spirit to cause him to be born again, to be made a new creation, to be regenerated, to be united to Christ in his death unto sin and in his resurrection unto new and abundant life. As a baptized member of the Body of Christ, and an adopted child of God, he then goes forward to confess the faith of Christ crucified, to fight courageously under his banner against win, and the world, and the devil, and to continue Christ’s faithful soldier and servant to the end of his life on earth.

In comparison, in the 1979 Liturgy there is only a minimal emphasis upon sin with no original sin stated and there are also only traces of the doctrine of new birth, regeneration. The atmosphere is very different (the devil and the wicked world seem to have disappeared) and so is the relation to God that is presupposed in the words and drama of the Service. The acceptance by the candidate for Baptism of the articles of the Apostles Creed and his commitment to various requirements and duties, are called, “The Baptismal Covenant.” The doctrine seems to be that God offers a covenant and the candidate accepts it, and then it is sealed by the act of Baptism. This is rather different from the doctrine in the traditional Liturgy where while promises are made (e.g., to renounce the devil and all his works…) there is no sense that a covenant is being agreed to—rather there is submission to the sovereign Lord who is also the Father of mercies. However one could reasonably infer that in the traditional Liturgy as solid background is the biblical covenant of grace, which is one sided in the sense that God alone makes it through Christ and by the Holy Spirit and sets the conditions of it, allowing no negotiation from human beings, who gratefully and humbly submit to it.

While most of the human commitments asked for in “The Baptismal Covenant” may be judged to be traditional (though stated in weaker language) the final one is novel, in that it had not appeared in baptismal services before 1979. It is: “Will you strive for justice and peace and respect the dignity of every human being?”

This was included because of the radical social, political and cultural agenda of the Episcopal Church from the 1960s into the 1970s and it has the presupposition that God is on the side of the movements of that period for “peace and justice.” And this dimension of “The Baptismal Covenant” has been emphasized and utilized as the basis of the innovations in doctrine and discipline over the last thirty or so years. (At both the installation of Frank Griswold in 1997 and that of Katherine Jefferts Schori in 2006 as Presiding Bishop at the National Cathedral, this Covenant in terms of its radical aspects was a central feature, as it has been at General Conventions since 1979!)

The Augustinian doctrine within the traditional Liturgy cannot exist alongside excessive emphasis upon human rights, human freedoms, human centeredness, self-realization, self-worth and self-fulfillment. To make Baptism acceptable to the post 1960s cultural Zeitgeist which invaded The Episcopal Church another doctrine was necessary which made little of sin, God’s wrath, Christ’s blood and regeneration, and at the same time majored on human potential and possibility. That doctrine was found in the panentheism available at that time in such writers as Paul Tillich and John Macquarrie but fairly traditional language was used in the Baptismal Liturgy. (The same panentheism was also widely embraced by theologians of liberation and feminism to propagate their agenda. Often they encouraged Baptism in the Name of Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier or like words.)

Evangelicals and Regeneration

It would appear that Evangelicals in The Episcopal Church and in the AMiA have been more happy with the 1979 Liturgy than the traditional firstly because the latter is in so-called contemporary, accessible English and secondly because it does not emphasize so often and so clearly the connection of regeneration to Baptism in the case of infants.

Evangelicals have generally followed the model of conversion which from divine perspective is made up of—the preaching of the Gospel accompanied by the work of the Holy Spirit in the minds and hearts of hearers; the decision to believe and accept the Gospel made by hearers; this leading to the presence of the Holy Spirit in the soul causing new birth into the kingdom of God and the family of God, with the assurance of the forgiveness of sins (all highly individualistic in tome). Then Baptism follows as a public witness by the converted to his/her new life in Christ and then with Baptism comes commitment to a local church.

The traditional Anglican Liturgy of Baptism does not follow this popular model for it is based upon the model of the Early Church. Here people heard the Gospel, responded positively, attended catechetical classes for instruction in the Faith and the Christian life, and then were prepared for Baptism with Chrism at special times of the Church Year—Easter Eve and Whitsuntide, for example. In this model it was only at the Baptism that the candidates, after examination, prayer and exorcism, were declared to be regenerate and were allowed for the first time to say the Lord’s Prayer, calling God “Father” as his new, adopted children. Obviously the Holy Spirit had been working in them for a long time drawing them to Christ but formally it could only be stated that they were regenerate when they were actually baptized in the Triune Name (“Whoever believes and is baptized shall be saved” Mark 16:16).

So the difference is that the ancient Church, with the classic Liturgy (weakened in the 1979 form), takes a very high view of the Dominical Sacrament of Holy Baptism and will not publicly speak of the reconciled relation of a sinner to God the Father until he has been baptized in the Triune Name as Jesus commanded. Popular Protestantism and Evangelicalism tend to reply upon the stated experiences of people, claiming a change or conversion or new birth at a specific time and in doing so they have to make Baptism fit into this understanding. For Anglican Evangelicals this causes problems with both the availability and practice of infant Baptism and also the very close identification of regeneration and Baptism in the classic service. (And we may add that their situation is not helped by the widespread administration of Infant Baptism indiscriminately, and with it the claim that even the children on non-believers are regenerate when baptized.)

Conclusion

Basic Christian fellowship and communion is based on the fact that there is “one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all…” (Ephesians 4:4ff.) and this requires us to think rightly about and practice correctly the Dominical Sacrament of Baptism. Right now, Anglicans look as though they serve several Lords and worship several Gods!

drpetertoon@yahoo.com November 18, 2006 please visit www.anglicanmarketplace.com

Friday, November 17, 2006

THE BAPTISMAL COVENANT OF 1979

By Gary L'Hommedieu
www.virtueonline.org
11/17/2006


I can't count the number of times since the late '70's I have heard "our Baptismal Covenant" invoked as a magisterial authority in The Episcopal Church, even more than Richard Hooker's fictitious "three-legged stool" -- you know, the one that actually has four legs, only one of which (i.e., "experience", the one Hooker never mentioned) carries real weight.

I can count on three fingers at most the number of times in those years I've heard this "Covenant" invoked in reference to any of the first seven promises recited in the '79 service (pp. 304-305). These cardinal tenets of the historic Faith now serve a strictly decorative function as solemn introduction to the final promise: "Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?"

The first seven promises have a parallel in the 1928 BCP in the service of baptism for adults (pp. 277-278), where the candidate responds to a series of questions similar to those contained in the '79 Baptismal Covenant, except for the final one.

Well, what could be wrong with adding a promise to strive for justice and peace? Sure, you could put a radical spin on it, I suppose; but can't it just be taken as the sort of lofty idealism you'd expect in a religious service?

Well, perhaps it could, except that it adds nothing whatever to the promise that immediately precedes: "Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?" Nothing, that is, EXCEPT its context in the American political scene of the 1970's. Take it out of its natural context and it becomes meaningless.

Today '70's-style political activism is the only thing Episcopal leaders have in mind when they recall us to OUR "Baptismal Covenant", by which they mean THEIR political commitments that took shape in that era.

This added eighth promise in the '79 "Covenant" suggests that the seven traditional promises aren't enough either to save souls or transform societies: believing the gospel of deliverance from sin, maintaining the apostolic faith and tradition, practicing the classic spiritual life, obeying the Great Commission and the Summary of the Law. These ARE the historic commitments of the Christian Faith. You could legitimately add a radical spin to these, as some Christians always have and always will.

What was thought to be missing back in 1979? The historic Faith was not sufficient to appease the consciences of Americans coming out of the 1960's. To save their souls American Christians, and especially Episcopal trendsetters, turned to stronger medicine: parroting the political speech of revolutionaries.

Rather than become Gandhians, the '60's generation went to college and became "socialists". I don't mean real "workers", of course; more like a Designer Proletariat -- kids from the suburbs wearing stern expressions and expensive blue jeans. "Justice and peace" for them would be a white-collar, and for some a turned-around-collar, enterprise -- a kind of liturgical UN. "Justice and peace" now meant angry resolutions and shattered glass ceilings. It was pure symbolism, but it sure got your blood pumping!

Before 1979 the Apostles' Creed was referred to as "the baptismal symbol". After 1979 that same terminology had an eerie new meaning. The doctrinal portions of the Creed -- outlining the Church's faith in the Trinity and the Incarnation -- are received today as "symbolic", meaning "only symbolic" -- i.e., propositionally false, or at best irrelevant. The ancient Creed is "true" today as mythological dressing for the latest utopian scheme.

Luther lamented the Babylonish captivity of the Church in medieval Germany. In America in the 1970's we beheld a pandemic of Stockholm Syndrome. The "poor", whose cause we celebrated, held us prisoner. Not in actual fact; we rarely saw them except on a screen. Nonetheless we had become ideological prisoners. It was around this time that politically correct speech became sacrament.

The old baptismal creed had become "symbolic" of new political activism -- or rather, of the latest talk about politics. "Justice and peace" would be measured by how many lobbyists could be hired by the National Church office in New York. These would set about the "work of the Church", such as exporting the American sexual revolution to Africa. Once that was under way, they could hustle pocket change for Millennium Goals.

The culture war that ensued in the Episcopal Church was not "social gospel" versus "personal religion", as many have thought. That is one of false dichotomies that arose in the post-'70's era. Today liberals and conservatives alike talk up the "Baptismal Covenant", and for the same reason: to validate themselves and ease a guilty conscience. What God had provided for the stricken conscience was outlined in the original baptismal Creed, but it wasn't good enough.

People who serve the poor do it with a good conscience, and they do it for the sake of Christ's poor, not for the sake of their own validation. They don't have grandiose expectations. Sometimes they agree with liberal policies, sometimes with conservative policies. In either case they're waiting for someone to show enough interest to roll up their sleeves and do something.

The 1979 "Baptismal Covenant" was from the beginning an assault upon the historic Faith. It was smuggled into the Church by stealth. The Faith of the creed was appended to an agenda that was not forthrightly acknowledged. Now Episcopal leaders wag their fingers at the faithful, accusing them of rejecting the Faith, when what they reject is a biased and ineffective social vision.

Such was the case in a recent interview when Canon John L. Peterson, former Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council, explicitly equated Millennium Goals with "the core gospel of Jesus Christ", and then blamed "the Internet" for depriving the poor of succor and sustenance.

The invocation of this "Covenant" as a call to accountability is a kind of moral extortion -- the spiritual equivalent to the Dennis Canon. Here's a promise you never made, and now we're going to hold you to it. A people of sound mind and conscience could never be bullied so easily.

I can count very easily the number of times I've been in gatherings of Episcopalians where a majority were actually baptized under the "Covenant" of 1979 -- precisely zero. Most were baptized according to the rite of 1928 or some historic Catholic or Protestant rite. If there is any binding contract under which Episcopalians of mature years have been baptized, 1979 is not it.

---Gary L'Hommedieu is Canon in charge of Pastoral Care at St. Luke's Cathedral in Orlando, Florida. He is a columnist for

Thursday, November 16, 2006

IDENTITY—a problem for Anglicans

Proof of identity is now required before doing things—e.g., withdrawing money—or going places—e.g. on an aircraft—or entering the workplace. Each of us, it seems, needs to know who we are and to be able to prove that identity to others by birth certificate, driver’s license, passport, or some other means.

In the ecclesiastical sphere, both to each other and to the larger Christian Church, Anglicans are now being asked to declare or prove who and what they are. The primary reason for this is that there is widespread confusion as to Anglican Identity. There have been—and continue to be—so many innovations in worship, doctrine and morals abounding in the West/North and so much difference in religious mindset between the Global (conservative) South and the progressively liberal West/North that to know what is Anglican is problematic not only for observers but also for the principal players.

Over the last forty years or so there have been those in the West/North who have knowingly and deliberately been attempting by both synodical and propaganda means to create a new identity for Anglicanism, that is an identity different to that which they received within their own Province by means of its inherited doctrine, common prayer, liturgy, morality, polity and canon law. While they have not agreed in details, yet in general outline they have been seeking to make Anglicanism credible in contemporary western culture and where human rights, freedoms, dignities and equalities are embraced by the Church as revelation from God through “Experience,” and also ecumenical, in the sense of conforming to the insights of the wider “liberal” Christian scene. Many such activists continue to propagate this message.

Also there have been those who have knowingly sought to provide a false identity for Anglicanism—both from the right and the left. On the right is the minority who, being devout and catholic-minded, use Roman Catholic forms of worship (either Tridentine or Vatican II) because they believe Anglican ones to be “Protestant”, and on the left is the minority who, being totally committed to progressive liberalism, use highly secularized rites and ceremonies to propagate what is at best panentheism or more usually pantheism.

Then there are those who have taken up the search for real identity, which they realize they have lost. Such are often people of evangelical and/or charismatic background who have used the Anglican Way as a kind of “good boat to fish from” and have essentially embraced a kind of generic evangelicalism (as promoted by Christianity Today). The crisis in North America over sexual ethics and biblical authority and interpretation has caused them to learn Anglican history (or to refresh their minds) and to consider afresh the founding documents of the new period in history of the Church of England from 1549 onwards. And often they are inspired, even amazed at what they find concerning the original and continuing Identity of the Anglican Way. But also the search for identity has been taken on at the level of the leadership as is demonstrated by the creation of the commissions and then the work of the commissions which have produced in recent times The Virginia Report and The Windsor Report. Here, in these reports, it is Identity for a global communion that is being sought.

Then there are those who seem to be humbly confident of their identity and are moving ahead in evangelism and church planting with the forms of worship, doctrine and polity that they received from missionary endeavor and have adapted to their cultural situation. Such it seems is much of the large Anglican Church in Nigeria and in other African provinces, as also in Singapore and other Asian dioceses. Not that these situations are perfect but that those involved from laity to bishops are reasonably clear concerning their Anglican identity and thus are able to engage in mission and evangelization without stopping to ask who they are! Happily, these people are the Majority in the Anglican Family even though they have the very minimal form of press attention in the West.

As the question of Identity is faced or avoided in the West/North, people daily are leaving Anglican Churches. We need to agree on an answer which serves to glorify God in pure worship and service and which creates a missionary Church!

In my essay/large booklet, ANGLICAN IDENTITY Keeping the Global Anglican Family Together, November 2006 (available from www.anglicanmarketplace.com for individual copies or bulk orders call 1-800-727-1928) I seek to face this pressing question of who and what we are as Anglicans. I invite you to read it!

drpetertoon@yahoo.com November 16, 2006

The BCP as Template

This short essay continues the thinking and debate (recently initiated by Bishop Duncan, Moderator of the CAN) concerning the making The Book of Common Prayer (1662 edition) into the standard of Anglican Liturgy and the basic Formulary of the Anglican Way. And it does so by considering this classic edition of The BCP which is translated into 150 languages, as a template.


A template is a piece of rigid material used as a pattern for processes such as cutting out, shaping or drilling.

So The BCP (1662) as template becomes the model or pattern of all Anglican services in all provinces and languages. However, even as there can be all kinds of minor local variations on that which is produced from the original template (e.g., if a dress then in color, material used, additions attached and so on) so with The BCP there can be minor local variations in order to meet with distinct cultural, societal and political needs. However, the same basic structure and content will be everywhere so that there is both uniformity in doctrine, shape and contents, but a limited multiformity in style, churchmanship and ceremonial. And the latter multiformity will be consistent with the basic uniformity in terms of doctrine. (This kind of proposal is in some ways parallel to that made for human society where multiculturalism is said to have gone too far and now needs to be centered and restricted by a uniculturalism—and in this process the government has a clear role to play.)

Now the Template would itself need to exist in two forms as far as English is concerned but it all other languages, as far as I can tell, one language would work.

In English there would need to be (a) the classic edition itself (from which of course in some places the prayers for the English Monarch would be removed and others for local State inserted) that is in the English language of prayer; and (b) a contemporary English version of this which maintains the doctrine and contents of the classic edition but is suitably rendered into an accessible form of English. The latter is necessary because many in the English-speaking world no longer have the desire or will to address God using the long-established and beautiful classic English language of prayer (which was in use from late medieval times to the middle of the twentieth century).

To this proposal of the BCP as template in two related forms, one has to add a further proposal of control to stop the modern Anglican activity of producing an unceasing series of liturgies and of exercising localized private judgment via a worship committee to decide what is liturgy. The Anglican Churches that use English would have to agree upon some permanent authority (that is a group in which is invested authority, be it a commission or a committee or a council of elders) first to agree upon the text of the contemporary language edition of the BCP and then to decide in principle and case by case what kind of multiformity is permissible in terms of additions and subtractions to the text of both templates. Such an authority would need to exist in each Province but if each of these worked with the others in the other Provinces, perhaps Anglicans could achieve by this means what the R C and Orthodox achieve by other means. Obviously autonomy would need here to be very much influenced by interdependency.

Until the 1960s each and all used the one BCP in one or another edition and language. Since the 1960s the options in liturgy have mushroomed and with it chaos in doctrine and decorum as well. Uniformity used to be a bad word; but now it is beginning to seem a good one, especially when it is connected with Unity in the Holy Spirit and in basic Doctrine, along with minimum multiformity in an ordered and gracious way locally!

Dr Peter Toon November 16 2006

The Candle-lighting Hymn of the Early Church

As far as I know there is no use of the English words “hilarity” and “hilarious” (meaning “extremely funny or merry”) in the texts of modern English Liturgy. However, in English Hymnals from the late nineteenth century and in English Liturgies of the twentieth century, we find the Greek word, hilaros/hilaron, from which they come (via the Latin hilaritas = mirth, gaiety, cheerfulness). And we find this Greek word in the title of an early Christian hymn, Phos Hilaron, which was sung at the Evening Prayer when the oil lights were lit (no electricity then!) to bring light into the sanctuary. Though the title was retained from the Greek Vespers, it was translated into English in verse form (see Episcopal Hymnal 1940, No 173 & 176) and sung as an Evening Hymn at Evensong in the Anglican Churches worldwide. At that time, it could not be used as a Canticle along with the Nunc Dimittis for the rubrics did not permit this.

Since hilaron points to cheerfulness, happiness and mirth, the Phos (Light) which is God the Father, the Light of lights, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, then Phos Hilaron as a Christian expression means “The Light which brings cheer, happiness, rejoicing, gladsomeness and mirth” into the world to the people of God. And of course this was dramatically conveyed symbolically by the increasing light in the sanctuary as the oil lamps were gradually lit and the darkness was dispelled.

Phos Hilaron, in translation, has been made an optional Canticle for Evening Prayer in most of the recent, innovative Anglican Liturgies. For example, the 1979 Prayer Book of The Episcopal Church used The Rev. Dr Charles M. Guilbert to make its translation and this begins, “O Gracious Light,” which contains a truth (God the Light is gracious) but “gracious” is not a translation of hilaron! The same hymn in the 2000 Prayer Book of the Church of England begins, “O joyful light,” which is nearer the mark. (Why the 1979 book has this obvious inaccuracy I do not know.)

If one does the research, one finds that there are many renderings into English of this evening hymn from the Early Church. Some are directly from the Greek into verse and others into prose. Some are made from the languages of the Orthodox Churches (Slavonic etc.) into English. What this array of translations/paraphrases reveals is that it is not easy to translate this short Greek hymn and that able people do it in different ways. What it also reveals is that those without the appropriate gifts and skill should not attempt to translate it! Translating is more of an art than a science and this short hymn tests the ability of all who seek to translate it.

The Hymn celebrates the GLORY of God the eternal Father and the glorious LIGHT which comes through his Incarnate Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. And as the sun sets and the lamps are lit, the church of God sees in the light from the lamps a visible sign of the LIGHT of God and praises the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the One God. Recalling that God is known through and in Jesus, the church then focuses on the Lord Jesus Christ himself, who is the Son and God and, on behalf of all creation, worships and glorifies him.

It is a short hymn which celebrates the LIGHT that comes into the world from the HOLY TRINITY, the LIGHT which we experience as focused in the Incarnate Son of the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, from whom comes eternal life.

Regrettably the prose translation in the Episcopal Prayer Book of 1979, after beginning with an inaccurate description of Light, forces into the hymn a statement of the doctrine of the Trinity which cannot be truly found in the original Greek of this hymn or in the Greek theology of the period. Because the Episcopal Eucharist in Rite II begins with the problematic acclamation, “Blessed be God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” [notice the colon] this form of words became standard for other places in this 1979 Prayer Book, including, it appears, even in the translation of an early Greek hymn.

So while the C of E 2000 rendering is:

We give thanks and praise to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit of God

And while John Keble provided:

We hymn the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, divine,

The Rev Dr Guilbert wrote: “We sing thy praise O God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit” [notice the word order and the use of the colon].

Literally, the Greek translates: “We hymn Father Son and Holy Spirit God.” Here theos = God is deliberately at the end of the statement and is clearly intended to affirm that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit each and all is/are God (divinity, deity). In later terminology, this comes out as Three Persons and One God. Further, the Greek way of stating the Trinity (as the Nicene Creed makes clear) is to begin with the Father, to move on to his only-begotten Son and then to his Spirit, and thereby to state Three Persons, One God. Thus in this Greek hymn theos at the end of the line is crucially important for meaning, a clear Trinitarian one.

Regrettably the American 1979 rendering, through its bringing of theos to the beginning and then in its use of the colon, suggests the meaning that there is One God, and that this one God has three Aspects, or Names, or three Modes of Being. As a translation it fails completely to follow both the structure and the meaning of the original. (Better NEVER to sing it!)

But to end on a cheerful note.

If you would like to try to sing this Canticle in traditional Anglican style using a single psalm melody, here is a rendering by my learned friend, Ian Robinson, from 20 years ago ( see his Prayers for the New Babel, page 106) with the colons as used here metrical (as in the ordinary, traditional printing of psalms and canticles in the classic BCP) and (please note) using Coverdale-type English (as in the Psalter of the BCP 1662). Today he would probably want to revise it a little but here it is as he wrote it in 1980—choose your own psalm melody from the 1940 Hymnal selection..

Happy light, light of the holy glory : of the undying heavenly Father
O blessed from the Holy : Jesus Anointed
Coming at the going down of the sun : seeing the light toward evening
We sing our hymn to God the Father : the Son and the Holy Ghost
Well worth art thou O Lord in every season : to be hymned by lucky voices
O Son of God, who givest life : therefore the whole creation honours thee.

(Though God is placed in line 4 at the beginning—God the Father—there is no trace of Modalism or Unitarianism here as in the 1979 ECUSA book.)


I am happy to announce that in the January 2007 issue of The Mandate, the magazine of the Prayer Book Society of the USA (www.pbsusa.org), there will be a very informative article by my neighbor and friend, the Revd Dr Daniel McGrath, who is a musician, on this ancient hymn; and before then there will be posted at www.anglicansatprayer.org a longer essay by him on the same topic.

Let us hymn the Father together with His Son and His Holy Spirit, GOD!


drpetertoon@yahoo.com November 15, 2006

BCP with KJV in one volume- buy it while it is in print

Now available from the Anglican Parishes Association http://www.anglicanbooks.com
BCP (1928) with KJV ( & with apocrypha)
Leather Bound Volume
$120
Hardback Volume
$90
The 1928 Book of Common Prayer/King James Bible
Black Leather and Hardback; lvii + 611 + 1778 pages
5 & 1/4 x 7 & 3/8 x 1 & 7/8 inches
First Printing by the Anglican Parishes Association (2006)

Orders may be placed online using our secure server:
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Visit also http://www.anglicanmarketplace.com for editions of the BCP alione and for books and CDs about the Common Prayer Tradition, the Anglican Way and Anglican Identity.

The latest publication is ANGLICAN IDENTITY, Keeping the Global Family Together, by Peter Toon. This deals with the major question of identity which is bothering many in the 38 Anglican Provinces and outside them amongst the Extra-Mural Anglicans.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Bishop Duncan on Ordaining Women

Recently the Moderator of the Anglican Communion Network has said some positive things about the need for the return to One Edition of the One Book of Common Prayer—the classic edition of 1662 which is in 150 languages—as the bench-mark or formulary of the renewed and re-ordered Anglican Way in North America. I have applauded him for this in a variety of tracts and e-mail messages.

Yet he has also said some things which are disturbing, about “Reception” for example. I am particularly concerned since I am one of the very few persons in the Anglican Family to have written a major essay/study on this topic and I am aware of the shaky foundations upon which this doctrine rests.

[The study is published in London: Peter Toon, Reforming Forwards…The Anglican Process of Reception, Latimer Trust, www.latimertrust.org ; further I have dealt with the Eames Report on Reception in a long chapter in my Anglican Identity, Keeping the Global Family Together, available from www.anglicanmarketplace.com or from 1-610-490-0648]

Here is what Duncan said at Nashotah House on October 25:

"My own support for women in holy orders is well known. Global Anglicanism has said that there are, in fact “two integrities” here, both arguable from Holy Scripture, and – to employ Hooker’s method — less so from Tradition. I am convinced that an honest century of reception will sort this one out. I am also persuaded that our God has challenged us to deal with this issue, either because He does intend to bless this new understanding or because He has it in mind that we Anglicans will best find ourselves again in the institutional and relational charity it will require of us as a dynamic and faithful Anglicanism re-emerges."

In this short piece there are several things that need to be unpacked and challenged. So here we go.

1. First of all, Global Anglicanism has not said with anything like one voice that there are two integrities both of which are arguable from Holy Scripture. Certainly it has become common to refer to “two integrities” and even the Forward in Faith Movement in the Church of England uses the phrase. It means that there is general agreement that there are two positions—one in favor and one against ordaining women—in the Church of England and elsewhere that have been accepted by the resolutions of General Synods and Houses of Bishops and confirmed by the Lambeth Conferences of 1988 and 1998. This is a submission to reality for the sake of preventing schism in the Anglican Family; but it does not mean that those who oppose believe that a case can be argued from Scripture (or indeed that those who are in favor believe that a case can be argued for). In fact, most of those who oppose the ordination of women on the basis of Scripture believe that the principle of the headship of the male in God’s ordering of human society and especially in the Church is so deeply rooted and embedded in the Scriptures that the only way to avoid it is as follows: by using innovatory principles of interpretation that make the reality of patriarchy in the OT & NT to be that which God tolerated and allowed but does not sanction, and thus God is seen as ready to remove and replace it when people are prepared for the change, which, it is said, they are now in the world. So advocates of change employ the argument of cultural relativity and claim that the real God of the Bible is the God who does not favor male headship but Is all for genuine equality of the sexes.

2. Certainly Tradition speaks with one voice for even the Protestant mainline denominations only got into the making of women as clergy in the twentieth century in the context of the human rights movement and of equality for women in society. That is the Scripture for them began to allow in the 1960s what it had forbidden before; and to achieve this major development, new principles of interpretation of the Bible were needed and these needed for their operation a new context of changing society and culture after World War II.

3. The “Anglican doctrine of Reception” (note that I say Anglican for it is not precisely the same as the doctrine of reception known to historians of doctrine and the development of doctrine in the Church) was invented by the Grindrod Commission in 1988, adopted by the Lambeth Conference in 1988 and developed and commended by the Eames Commission between 1988 and 1998 and confirmed again by the Lambeth Conference in 1998. It is all about the process (a favorite word these days in ecclesiastical talk) of the reception of the decision made by a provincial synod to ordain women. It is asserted that time and patience, reflection and study, testing and discernment will eventually show whether or not the original decision was right. And the mind of the Church will only be known at the end. No specific time period is set and few criteria are supplied for the testing and discernment. It is all suitably vague. Thus in the C of E right now the reception of women as priests is seemingly going on and discernment is apparently occurring. However, while the process is ongoing and thus not yet completed, there is much activity to try to get women also consecrated as bishops. And the same thing goes on elsewhere! Would not a reasonable understanding of reception lead to patience before moving on to the next step especially when it will be divisive in the C of E? Also in England as well as in other provinces there is definite prejudice shown against candidates for ordination who are male and say they do not believe that the ordination of women is of God. In practice Reception works as a means of advancing the ordination of women without the theological controversy that such an innovation would normally cause. In 100 years, if there is still an Anglican Communion, it will be long past the process of reception, for women as priests and bishops will be universally accepted—and in part because the so-called process of Reception has provided the cover for the advancement of this innovatory ministry. Where can you find anyone who really believes that the process of reception can possible lead to the abandonment of the ordaining of women? The doctrine is designed to lead to one conclusion even though its vocabulary and rhetoric suggest otherwise.

4. It would be far better for Anglicans to abandon this phony doctrine of reception, be HONEST, and accept that the ordination of women is a very major issue but is not anywhere near the first truth in the hierarchy of truths (it comes far below the Trinity, the Person of Christ, the Work of the Holy Spirit and so on). There is a basic communion in the Gospel that exists by reason of One Baptism into One Faith in One Church under One Lord. However, this may not reach Eucharistic communion in all places because of this difference over ordaining women. However, if more use is made of Services of Prayer and of the Word, then there can be the practice of baptismal unity and Christian fellowship without tension. (The insisting on Eucharist as a kind of fast food always available at all meetings in the modern Church has itself exacerbated this problem of relations between groups of different mind. Too many eucharists outside parish worship is problematic in several ways these days.)

I myself believe that this doctrine of reception, because it is essentially a dishonest doctrine based on a politically inspired view of the Church, cannot lead to any real and lasting good and may well be the very undoing of Anglicanism. I regret that Bp Duncan is so attached to it.

Dr Peter Toon Consecration of Samuel Seabury Nov 14, 2006

Gospel = the U N Millennium Goals? Prayer Meetings for Katherine &Primates

See the News Account below concerning the Lady Presiding Bishop of the American Church.

Once more the new Presiding Bishop has made it clear that her GOSPEL is much the same as that of the old-time Liberals who saw the task of the Church to cooperate with God in bringing the kingdom of God on earth in terms of the improvement of the conditions of mankind.

She ties it to the commitment made in Baptism by every Episcopalian to work for justice and peace and to affirm the dignity of all persons (of whatever kind and orientation).The Gospel is that God is LOVE and loves everyone and wants everyone in this world to reach their full potential and in so doing to spread love to others, for where human love is there is God as Love.

In her committment to the Millennium Development Goals of the UN as paths to the future kingdom of God on earth, she has something in common with the Global South Primates---who are committed to the Goals as bringing to the needy much of what they ought to have , BUT NOT as paths to the earthly kingdom of God. She will be able to share this concern with them when they all meet in Tanzania in Feb 07.

Will they be able to persuade her that the GOSPEL of the kingdom of heaven is initially and primarily about the way provided in Jesus Christ for sinful human beings to have a right relation to God [who is transcendent and gloriously alive and active], to have their sins forgiven, to be adopted as his chidlren by grace, and then to show by good works that they are truly born again and the children of God?

Will they be able to show her that God does not accept everyone as she or he is and does not affrm them as his child to be what she or he can be in the work of improving the lot of the human race. by loving one another!?

Will they be able to convert her to the apostolic message of the Gospel and to spreading this Gospel, while at the same time seeing good works in terms of compassionate caring as a necessary implication of Gospel commitment?

Will they be able to introduce her to the Lord Jesus Christ of the New Testament and to his Gospel and agenda?

WHERE ARE THE PRAYER MEETINGS where the LORD our God is being implored to send his Spirit upon the Primates when they meet in Tanzania, to renew them all, and to make Katherine into a woman with the message of the kingdom of heaven in her heart and on her lips?

Should we not organize prayer vigils to beseech His Majesty to visit his pastors in Tanzania? If the Primates can be revived and renewed then maybe there is hope for the Anglican Way!

drpetertoon@yahoo.com visit www.anglicanmarketplace.com


Episcopal News Service
November 12, 2006

Presiding Bishop tells Executive Council to 'communicate the Good News'

House of Deputies president emphasizes 'accountability' in opening remarks

By Mary Frances Schjonberg

[ENS] In her opening remarks to the meeting of the Episcopal Church's Executive Council November 12, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori set the group's work in the context of mission and ministry.

Executive Council members must "figure out how to communicate the Good News we know in this body" to the diverse communities in which the Episcopal Church exists, especially to those people who have not been touched by the gospel or who are not yet part of a faith community.

"We have remarkable opportunities to speak and do Good News to people who don't know what that means," she said.

Both she and House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson said they are committed to what Jefferts Schori called the "deed-based evangelism" personified in the church's commitment to the Millennium Development Goals.

"We've got a long road and the journey begins today, and I am delighted that you're all here," she said.

Anderson, who is also the council's vice president, said that she sees "accountability" as a major challenge to both the House of Deputies during the time between General Conventions and to the Executive Council.

Full story and photographs:
http://www.episcopalchurch.org/3577_79621_ENG_HTM.htm

IDENTITY CRISIS—news of a possibly important BOOKLET

In reading a variety of recent statements by Anglican leaders in the generally liberal West/North and the generally conservative Global South, I found that the use of the word “Identity” was common. All seemed to think that the present crisis within (what used to be self-consciously) a Communion of Anglican Churches is a crisis of Identity. Of course, we all know that the presenting problem has been the innovation in sexual doctrine and practice favored by thousands in North American Anglicanism and rejected by millions globally. Yet underneath and surrounding this problem is the pressing question: Who are Anglicans? That is, what is their IDENTITY?

So I studied carefully the three major Anglican Reports of recent years—The Eames Report on Ordination, The Virginia Report on the nature of Communion, and The Windsor Report on the future of the Anglican Communion—in order to find out what they had to say about IDENTITY.

Following the example of the Introduction of The Windsor Report, and inspired by Dr Philip Turner, I also made a careful study of The Epistle to the Ephesians, which has much to teach us on Truth and Unity as “twins from conception.”

And I read many recent communiqu├ęs, statements, and position papers from a variety of sources—from the Primates’ Meeting to the writings of members of the Anglican Communion Institute.

Eventually I produced the 22,000 word essay, ANGLICAN IDENTITY. Keeping the Global Family together, as a booklet of 64 pages.

In it I offer a definition of “Anglican” which I hope will be taken seriously by those who compose and agree upon the content of the proposed “Anglican Covenant,” a means proposed by The Virginia Report to help bind together those Provinces who desire to be in a real Communion (rather than Federation) of Churches.

ANGLICAN IDENTITY is available from Monday, November 13 —for one copy go to www.anglicanmarketplace.com and for bulk orders (for use in study groups etc) call 1-610-490-0648. It is published by the Preservation Press of the Prayer Book Society of the U.S.A. In difficulty call 1-800-PBS-1928

Any questions, please e mail thomascranmer2000@yahoo.com

One of my hopes is that the kind of proposals I make (which are not unique to me) can be a means not only of uniting most of the present “Federation” of Anglican Provinces (38), but also of bringing the Continuing Anglican Churches and other Extra-Mural Anglicans into the future, orthodox and stable Anglican Communion of Churches. Some of the latter have been too long neglected by the hierarchy of Anglicanism.

Please let this booklet be a positive starter for serious and informed discussion about the true Identity of the Anglican Way.

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

A timely Prayer for the North American [Anglican] Church[es]

Here is Collect that has been prayed—in Latin from the fifth century and in English from the sixteenth—at Holy Communion and in the Daily Offices on that Sunday (and week following) towards the end of the Christian Year known as Trinity XXII.

The usual English translation provided in The Book of Common Prayer from its first edition in 1549 is as follows:

Lord, we beseech thee to keep thy household the Church in continual godliness; that through thy protection it may be free from all adversities, and devoutly given to serve thee in good works, to the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Here the Latin continua pietate is rendered “in continual godliness,” taking pietate to refer to human beings, and thus to how God’s people ought to behave and live. However, it is probable that the intended meaning of the Latin phrase was intended to relate to God and to mean “with thy continual pity/compassion” and so be a reference to the God’s guardianship of the Church—“We beseech thee to keep thy household the Church with thy continual pity…” Happily, either of these renderings makes perfect sense and the former was probably chosen by the Archbishop Cranmer in 1549 because he wanted it to be clear that those who are justified by faith are also to be those who live godly lives.

“Household” is good, old-fashioned English word which is little used today because its meaning hardly fits modern co-habitation and “family” structures. A household is an establishment consisting of children and servants, dwelling together under one roof, and subject to the rule and guardianship of a father and master (whose wife is the mistress). When speaking of the Church as God’s household the meaning is similar but not identical. God’s household consists of children and servants but these are not two distinct sets of people but one and the same people considered under two aspects. So he or she who in a real sense is a child of God (adopted by the grace of God for the sake of Jesus Christ) is also a servant of the LORD God, the Master (because a disciple of Jesus Christ). Thus the baptized, believing followers of the Lord Jesus Christ have both great and high privileges as the children of God and also many and profound duties as the servants of God. For ever and on into everlasting life these two aspects of their identity will remain for they are always beloved creatures with the privileges of adopted children and the duties of humble servants.

If we press the picture of the household, we can say that the Church is an ordered family where, while all are both children and servants, there are some servants who are above others and rule on behalf of the Master and in the spirit of the Master—thus the doctrine of “headship” and the sacred Ministry.

We all need to implore our heavenly Father—implore [beseech the Master] in order to let him know that we pray from the depths of our being and not merely with words framed in the mind or uttered by the lips—both to preserve his Church with his continuing pity and compassion and also to keep his Church in that genuine faith which issues in faithfulness and godliness. And to keep and preserve through thick and thin and especially in North America through the powerful attractions of the Zeitgeist which can take on religious attraction and is so seductive!

Of course, the Church can seek to go it alone and use its own human resources and claimed knowledge and experience to face the challenges and problems that necessarily exist in the secular culture today in the West. Yet, when it recalls and accepts that it is a household and not a democracy, it will seek the protection of God’s providence and care so that it is not overcome or infiltrated by adversities and adversaries (of which/whom there is no lack in the western world). Indeed the very best way to experience and enjoy the protection of the Most High is to be faithful as obedient servants committed to what the Master has commanded to be done in his Name and for his Kingdom and thus for his glory in this world.

What we have seen and been part of as Episcopalians or Anglicans in North America for a long time now is a sustained rebellion against the whole idea that the Church is the household of God and that we are not only children of God but also and always the servants of God. We act as though we are free citizens in a democracy where we make the rules and God rubberstamps them!What we have not liked, and still do not seem to like, is the implication that the Master makes the rules and gives the orders to the Church and there is no negotiation with him, only humble and loving submission to him through the confession of Jesus Christ as Lord. We have thought that we can negotiate with God—e.g., make our own baptismal covenant to determine his relation to us—and, indeed, we have even acted as though we can make God in our image and after our own taste (God is Love and nothing much else). Thus we have rejected that doctrine and approach to God which bows in holy reverence before His Majesty and trembles there in holy fear, seeking to gain wisdom and knowledge (for the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…) from the Father through the Son and by the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray this Collect and do so with true devotion and piety.

Lord, we implore You to keep your household the Church with your constant compassion in continual godliness; that through your protection it may be free from all adversities, and devoutly given to serve you in good works, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

drpetertoon@yahoo.com November 11, 2006

Friday, November 10, 2006

TWO EVILS of Yesterday here Today – let Episcopalians take note: Jeremiah still speaks the word of the LORD.

No verse in The Old Testament is more applicable to the Episcopal Church (and its offshoots) in North America in 2006 than this:

“My people have committed two evils,” declares the LORD; “they have forsaken Me, the Fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13)

This message to ancient Israel and to the modern Episcopal Church makes perfect sense as a stand alone statement. However, within the context of the message of the prophet given in Jeremiah 2 it takes on greater depth and power.

In moving terms, the prophet, speaking for the LORD, uses the powerful metaphor of marriage to speak of Israel’s relation to her God. The period from the Passover in Egypt to the receiving of the Covenant at Mt Sinai was like betrothal, espousals. There was constant love for the LORD from the people he was delivering. Yet after he had given his Covenant to them and they had received it—that is, after the formal marriage—Israel soon became an unfaithful wife committing adultery with the local gods, the Baalim of Canaan. That is the people of Israel either adopted the religion of Baal (a fertility god) or adapted the worship and service of YHWH to the ways and standards of Baal (syncretism). And all were involved—the prophets prophesied for Baal, the priests sacrificed to Baal, the people worshipped Baal. So Jeremiah cries out:

Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods?

And he exclaims,

But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit.
Be appalled, O heavens, at this; Be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD.


With sorrow and in tears, what Jeremiah describes is total apostasy, unfaithfulness, adultery and abomination. For the Israelites have committed two evils—they have forsaken the LORD in the land he promised to them; and they have embraced the existing local deities of the land (which the LORD willed to be remove!).

This double evil is presented in dramatic imagery based on water, an absolute necessity for life. It is as if Israel, facing the choice of either taking water in abundance from a fountain of gushing sweet water or taking it from leaking cisterns in the ground, actually chose the latter.

The LORD God, who had embraced the tribes of Israel as his elect people by his holy Covenant given at Mt Sinai, is presented as “The Fountain of living waters.” This proclaims as a minimum, we may say, that God is the super-abundant source of life, that he is more than sufficient for all the needs of life and that he satisfies complete in life. And it proclaims this in terms of the God who is all-powerful in action and always present to provide what his people need.

In contrast, the idols of Canaan, which the people embraced are presented by the prophet in God’s Name as broken cisterns that can hold no water. We are invited to picture these holes in the ground wherein water (contaminated by soil, rock and refuse) lies dormant and is constantly leaking. The life of the people cannot be sustained by polluted water that is in short supply!

Thus we are not surprised when we read on into Jeremiah 3 and following that the prophet has a very clear message of the necessity of repentance for the people of Israel. They are to cease their apostasy; they are to reject their idolatry; they are to return to the LORD their God and to the covenant which he gracious gave to them. There is no alternative, no negotiated settlement, and no other way but that of a major U-turn according to God’s map. This means restoration of the covenant terms for their corporate life and for their future health and prosperity.

Jeremiah 2:13 today

If the people Israel rejected the LORD and his Revelation to them and his will for them; then how much more have the people, Episcopalians, rejected the LORD, the Blessed, Holy and Undivided Trinity, and his greater Revelation given to them and his more perfect will made known to them. They too have committed two evils—apostasy and idolatry—and to this moment they are proud of their achievements and need to hear from Jeremiah.

Instead of the worship and service of the Father through the Incarnate Son and with the Holy Spirit, based on biblical foundations and the wisdom of classic Anglican Tradition, this people has turned to Deity in other manifestations. Some have turned to God the heavenly Clockmaker, who made the world, wound it up (as it were) and set it to run, whilst he “slept” eternally and allowed human beings to do what they thought best (Deism). Others have turned to the God in process and in evolution, who is not yet that which he will be, for he is developing in interaction with the cosmos and especially with our planet. Yet others have turned to the God of panentheism to look to a Deity who is eternally birthing the cosmos and our world and so is best addressed as Mother.

In any of these systems, or others like pantheism and Unitarianism, revelation from Deity is seen as occurring all the time and so while that recorded in the Bible may be or actually is important, because in some ways it is primary, it is also in many different ways superseded by what Deity reveals through modern experience and scientific achievement—which those with eyes to see can see.

So Episcopalians have turned away from the LIVING God, the FOUNTAIN of eternal and abundant life, and away from the “invisible” and “unseen” creation declared in the Creed, in order to embrace Deities who can deliver to them the multi-faceted message which they want as modern creatures to hear and believe: e.g., that this world not some other is what matters; that people just as they are of whatever orientation and type are precious to Deity; that all love in the world of whatever kind is an expression of the presence of Deity (for Love is God even as God is Love); that salvation is truly in this world and that talk of another world is a religious way of encouraging action in this; that what makes the Church unique is that it is a community of inclusion, where all without exception, and just as they are, are welcome; that Baptism is the means of entry into everything that God has and gives; and that Eucharist is the way of affirming one another in the community of inclusion through “the peace” and symbolic sharing of food.

The cisterns that Episcopalians have built are made from materials in abundant supply in western society and from its “progress” in anthropological insight, social science investigation, behavioral science conclusions, human rights ideology and achievements, cosmology and so on. Yet these materials are fashioned into icons and idols which are given religious and god-like names and titles. A major one of these—perhaps strange to relate for some—is “The Baptismal Covenant.” This is a major example of idolatry through syncretism where apparently traditional statements about the duty of the baptized are fused with duties based on progressive liberalism (“peace and justice” and “dignity” issues). And of course it is the latter which are then made prominent and worshipped (as the two sermons delivered by the Presiding at her “Installation” in Washington DC on November 4-5 and the sprinkling of the attendees with “baptismal water” most clearly reveal).

All Episcopalians, from the lady Presiding Bishop to the members of the Anglican Communion Network (whose Bishops are also apparently also deeply committed to the Baptismal Covenant as their submission to the Archbishop of Canterbury reveals) are into this apostasy and idolatry, but not all to the same degree. Some are totally into syncretism while others are into it partially (as was the case in ancient Israel, where even the righteous remnant was tainted with the religion of their fellow Israelites). Indeed to be inside or connected to the Episcopal Church is to be where you cannot avoid some measure of syncretism, and thus apostasy and idolatry! Pick up its Prayer Books and Hymnal and you hold it; attend its meetings and you feel it; consult its gurus and you are given it.

And, as was the case in ancient Canaan, the people of the land applaud you if you behave and act like the majority do, and if you make your religion to be but adding the word “God” to a current philosophy or ideology that is based on “enlightened Western values”!

So the word of the LORD comes to us all who are involved in syncretism and idolatry:

“My people have committed two evils,” declares the LORD; “they have forsaken Me, the Fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13)

And with it also comes the follow-up message of the prophet in chapter 3 and following. “‘Return, faithless Israel’, declares the Lord.” Return to the Holy Trinity, to the Covenant of Grace (where the only conditions are God’s!), to the written word of the LORD, and to the hope of life eternal with the Lord Jesus Christ.

drpetertoon@yahoo.com November 10, 2006