Friday, June 29, 2007

Personal Prayers for Families and Households, and their members, from the official PRIMER of Edward VI of 1553

[The PRIMER was one of the great Books of the English Reformation along with the English Bible, The Paraphrases of Erasmus, the Book of Common Prayer and the Homilies. The prayers below reflect the same doctrine as the BCP. Homilies and Catechism in BCP and they show just how far, not only in social order but also in morals the modern Church has moved away from its Reformed Catholic roots.]

For Fathers and Mothers.

THE fruit of the womb and the multitude of children is thy gift and blessing, Lord God, given to this end, that they may live to thy glory, and the commodity of their neighbour. Forasmuch, therefore, as thou of thy goodness hast given me children, I beseech thee give me also grace to train them up even from their cradles in thy nurture and doctrine, in thy holy laws and blessed ordinances, that from their very young age they may know thee, believe in thee, fear, love, and obey thee, and diligently walk in thy commandments all the days of their life, unto the praise of thy glorious name: through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Of Children.

THOU hast given a commandment in thy law, heavenly Father, that children should honour their fathers and mothers. I most humbly beseech thee therefore to breathe thy holy Spirit into my breast, that I may reverence and honour my father and mother not only with outward gestures of my body, but also with the unfeigned affection of my heart, love them, obey them, pray for them, help them, and do for them, both in word and deed, whatsoever lieth in my power, that thou seeing my unfeigned hearty good-will toward my parents, mayest become my loving heavenly Father, and number me among those thy children, whom from everlasting thou hast appointed to be heirs of thy glorious kingdom: through thy well beloved Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Of Masters.

THY commandment is by thine holy apostle, most merciful Lord Christ, that masters should entreat their servants gently, putting away threatenings, and doing that unto them which is just and equal, forasmuch as we also have a master in heaven, with whom there is no respect of persons: Grant, I most heartily pray thee, that I may so order my servants, that I attempt no unrighteousness against them; but that I may so use my rule and authority over them, that I may alway remember that thou art the common Lord of all, and we all thy servants; again, that I may not forget, that we be all brethren, having one Father, which is in heaven, and look for one glorious kingdom, where thou, with the Father and Holy Ghost, livest and reignest true
and everlasting God for ever. Amen.

Of Servants.

LORD Jesu Christ, we are commanded by thy blessed apostles, that we should honour and obey our bodily masters in fear and trembling, not only if they be good and courteous, but also though they be froward, and serve them, not unto the eye as men-pleasers, but with singleness of heart, not churlishly answering them again, nor picking, stealing, or conveying away any part of their goods, unjustly, but shewing all good faithfulness unto our masters, as though we served God and not me: Grant me grace, I most humbly beseech thee, so to serve my master and my superiors, that there may be found no fault in me, but that I, behaving myself uprightly, justly, faithfully, and truly in my vocation, may do worship to the doctrine of thee my God and Saviour in all things. Amen.

Of Maids.

THERE is nothing that becometh a maid better than silence, shamefacedness, and chastity of both body and mind. For these things being once lost, she is no more a maid, but a strumpet in the sight of God, howsoever she disguiseth herself and dissembleth with the world: I therefore most humbly beseech thee, merciful Father, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift, and without whom we are able to do nothing, that thou wilt so order my tongue and dispose my talk, that I speak nothing but that become my state, age, and person, neither that I delight to hear any talk that might in any point move me to lewdness, seeing that evil words corrupt good manners. Give me also such shamefacedness as may pluck me away from the delectation either of thinking, speaking, hearing, seeing, or doing evil, that my whole de light may be in virtue, in godliness, in eschewing idleness, in giving myself continually to some godly exercise, but above all things in thinking and speaking of thee, in reading thy blessed word and heavenly law, which is a lantern to my feet, and a light to my paths. Moreover suffer neither my mind to be denied with evil thoughts, nor my body to be corrupted with any kind of uncleanness; but give me grace so to order myself in eschewing idleness and wanton wicked company, that my mind being free from evil affects, and my body clear from all uncleanness, I may be found a meet temple for the Holy Ghost to inhabit, and if it be thy good plea sure hereafter to call me unto the honourable state of matrimony, that I may bring also unto my husband a pure and undefiled body, and so live with him in thy fear, unto the
praise and glory of thy blessed name. Amen.

Of Single Men.

LORD, thou hast commanded by thy holy apostle, that we should abstain from fornication, and that every one of us should know how to keep his vessel, that is to say, his body, in holiness and honour, and not in the lust of concupiscence, as do the heathen, which know not God. I beseech thee, give me grace to behave myself according to this thy holy commandment: that in this time of my single life, I defile not my body with whoredom or any other uncleanness; but so order my self with all honesty and pureness of life, that I may glorify thee, my Lord God, both in body and spirit. Amen.

Of Husbands.

FORASMUCH, heavenly Father, as thou hast called me from the single life unto the holy state of honourable wedlock, which is thy good and blessed ordinance for all them to live in, that have not the gift of continence, and hast given me a woman to wife, that I living with her in thy fear may avoid all uncleanness: I most heartily pray thee, give me grace to live with her according to thy godly pleasure. Kill in me all filthy and fleshly lusts. Suffer me not to delight in any strange flesh, but to content myself only with her love, to love her as Christ loved the congregation, to cherish her as I would cherish mine own body, to provide for her according to my ability, to instruct her with the knowledge of thy blessed word, quietly and peaceably to live with her, and to agree together in such perfect concord and unity, as is found among many members in one body, seeing now that we also are no more two, but one flesh; that other, seeing our godly and quiet conversation, may hereby be provoked to forsake their filthy living, and to embrace the holy state of honourable wedlock, unto the glory and praise of thy holy name. Amen.

Of Wives.

O LORD, forasmuch as thou of thy fatherly goodness hast vouchedsafed to keep me from my tender age unto this present, and hast now called me from my single life unto the holy state of honourable wedlock, that I living therein might, according to thine ordinance, bring forth children unto thy glory: Give me grace, I most entirely beseech thee, to walk worthy of my vocation, to knowledge my husband to be my head, to be subject unto him, to learn thy blessed word of him, to reverence him, to obey him, to please him, to be ruled by him, peaceably and quietly to live with him, to wear such apparel as is meet for my degree, and by no means to delight in costly jewels and proud gallant vestures, but alway to use such clothing as become a sober Christian woman, circumspectly and warily to look unto my household, that nothing perish through my negligence, and always have a diligent eye that no dishonesty, no wickedness, no ungodliness be committed in my house, but in it all things be ordered according to thy holy will, which art worthy all honour, glory, and praise, for ever and ever. Amen.

Of Householders.

To have children and servants is thy blessing, Lord, but not to order them according to thy word deserveth thy dreadful curse: Grant therefore, that as thou hast blessed me with an household, so I may diligently watch, that nothing be committed of the same that might offend thy fatherly goodness, and be an occasion of turning thy blessing into cursing; but that so many as thou hast committed to my charge, may eschew all vice, embrace all virtue, live in thy fear, call upon thy holy name, learn thy blessed commandments, hear thy holy word, and avoiding idleness, diligently exercise themselves every one in his office, according to their vocation and calling, unto the glory of thy most honourable name. Amen.

Of all Christians.

ALBEIT, heavenly Father, all we that unfeignedly profess thy holy religion, and faithfully call on thy blessed name, are thy sons and heirs of everlasting glory: yet as all the members of a body have not one office, so likewise we being many, and making one body (whereof thy dearly beloved Son is the head), have not all one gift, neither are we all called to one office, but as it hath pleased thee to distribute, so receive we: We therefore most humbly pray thee to send the spirit of love with concord among us, that without any disorder or debate every one of us may be content with our calling, quietly live in the same, study to do good unto all men by the true and diligent exercise thereof, without too much seeking of our own private gain, and so order our life in all points according to thy godly will, that by well doing we may stop the mouths of such foolish and ignorant people as report us to be evil doers, and cause them through our good works to glorify thee our Lord God in the day of visitation. Amen.

A prayer meet for all men, and to be said at all times.

MOST merciful Father, grant me to covet with an ardent mind those things which may please thee, to search them wisely, to know them truly, and to fulfil them perfectly, to the laud and glory of thy name. Order my living so that I may do that which thou requirest of me, and give me grace that I may know it, and have will and power to do it, and that I may obtain those things which be most convenient for my soul. Gracious Lord, make my way sure and straight to thee, so that I fall not between prosperity and adversity ; but that in prosperous things I may give thee thanks, and in adversity be patient, so that I be not lift up with the one, nor oppressed with the other : and that I may rejoice in nothing but that which moveth me to thee, nor to be sorry for nothing, but for those things which draw me from thee, desiring to please nobody, nor fearing to [dis-]please any besides thee. Most loving Father, let all worldly things be vile unto me for thee, and be thou my most special comfort above all. Let me not be merry with the joy that is without thee. And let me desire nothing besides thee. Let all labour delight me which is for thee, and let all the rest weary me which is not in thee. Make to lift up my heart oftentimes to thee ; and when I fall, make me to think on thee, and be sorry with a steadfast purpose of amendment. Loving Lord, make me humble without feigning : merry without lightness : sad without mistrust : sober without dulness : true without doubleness: fearing thee, without desperation: trusting in thee, without presumption: telling my neighbours their faults meekly, without dissimulation: teaching them with words and examples, without any mockings : obedient without arguing : patient, without grudging : and pure without corruption. Give me also, I beseech thee, a waking spirit, that no curious thought with draw me from thee. Let it be so strong, that no filthy affection draw me backward : so stable, that no tribulation break it. Grant me also to know thee: diligent to seek a godly conversation to please thee, and finally, hope to embrace thee, for the precious blood sake of that immaculate lamb, our only Saviour Jesu Christ : To whom with thee, Father, and the Holy Ghost, three Persons and one God, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.

-- The Revd Dr Peter Toon

Prayers for Personal Use from the PRIMER of Edward VI (1553)

[Note that the Primer existed alongside the Book of Common Prayer, the English Bible and the official Homilies, which were read in church at public worship. In this brief selection of prayers, one can see the Reformed Catholic Faith in the very strong doctrine of sin, the very high doctrine of the Saviour, the fear/reverence of the Lord, justification by faith, and the clear teaching that faith works by love.]

For the grace and favour of God.

WHOSOEVER liveth without thy grace and favour, most gracious and favourable Lord, although for a time he walloweth in all kind of fleshly pleasures, and abound with so much worldly riches, yet is he nothing else but the wretched bond-slave of Satan, and the vile dunghill of sin. All his pleasure is extreme poison, all his wealth is nothing but plain beggary. For what felicity can there be, where thy grace and favour wanteth ? But where thy grace and favour is present (though the devil roar, the world rage, the flesh swell) there is true blessedness, unfeigned pleasure and continual wealth. Pour down therefore thy heavenly grace and fatherly favour upon us, that we, being assured of thy favourable goodness towards us, may rejoice and glory in thee, and have merry hearts whensoever we be most assailed with any kind of adversity, be it poverty or sickness, loss of friends or persecution for thy name s sake, to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

For the gift of the Holy Ghost.

So frail is our nature, so vile is our flesh, so lewd is our heart, so corrupt are our affects, so wicked are all our thoughts even from our childhood upwards, that of ourselves we can neither think, breathe, speak, or do anything that is praiseworthy in thy sight, heavenly Father: yea, except thou dost assist us with thy merciful goodness, all things are so far out of frame in us, that we see nothing present in ourselves but thy heavy displeasure and eternal damnation. Vouchsafe therefore, O sweet Father, to send thy Holy Spirit unto us, which may make us new creatures, put away from us all fleshly lusts, fill our hearts with new affections and spiritual motions, and so altogether renew us, both in body and soul, through his godly inspiration, that we may die unto old Adam, and live unto thee in newness of life, serving thee our Lord God in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life. Amen.

For the true knowledge of ourselves.

IT is written in thy holy gospel, most loving Saviour, that thou camest into this world not to call the righteous, that is, such as justify themselves, but sinners unto repentance. Suffer me not therefore, Lord, to be in the number of those justiciaries, which boasting their own righteousness, their own works, and merits, despise that righteousness that cometh by faith, which alone is allowable before thee. Give me grace to knowledge mine own self as I am, even the son of wrath by nature, a wretched sinner, and an unprofitable servant, and wholly to depend on thy merciful goodness with a strong and unshaken faith, that in this world thou mayest continually call me unto true repentance, seeing I continually sin, and in the world to come bring me unto everlasting glory. Amen.

For a pure and clean Heart.

THE heart of man naturally is lewd and unsearchable through the multitude of sins, which as in a stinking dunghill lie buried in it, insomuch that no man is able to say, My heart is clean, and I am clear from sin. Remove from me therefore, heavenly Father, my lewd, stony, stubborn, stinking, and unfaithful heart. Create in me a clean heart, free from all noisome and ungodly thoughts. Breathe into my heart by thy Holy Spirit godly and spiritual motions, that out of the good treasure of the heart I may bring forth good things unto the praise and glory of thy name. Amen.

For a quiet Conscience.

THE wicked is like a raging sea which is never in quiet, neither is there any peace to the ungodly ; but such as love thy law, Lord, they have plenty of peace, they have quiet minds and contented consciences, which is the greatest treasure under the sun, given of thee to so many as seek it at thy hand with true faith and continual prayer. Give me, Lord, that joyful jewel, even a quiet mind and a contented conscience, that I being free from the damnable accusations of Satan, from the crafty persuasions of the world, from the subtle enticements of the flesh, from the heavy curse of the law, and fully persuaded of thy merciful goodness toward me through faith in thy Son Christ Jesu, may quietly serve thee both bodily and ghostly, in holiness and righteousness all the days of my life. Amen.

For Faith.

FORASMUCH as nothing pleaseth thee, that is done without Faith, appear it before the blind world never so beautiful and commendable, but is counted in thy sight sinful and damnable, yea, the self sin and damnation ; this is most humbly to desire thee, O Father, for Christ's sake, to breathe into my heart by thy Holy Spirit this most precious and singular gift of Faith, which worketh by Charity ; whereby also we are justified, and received into thy favour : that I truly believing in thee, and fully persuaded of the truth of thy holy word, may be made thy son and inheritor of everlasting glory, through Jesu Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Charity.

THY cognizance and badge, whereby thy disciples are known, Lord and Saviour Jesu Christ, is Charity or love, which cometh out of a pure heart, and a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned. I pray thee, therefore, give me this Christian love and perfect charity, that I may love thee my Lord God with all my heart, with all my mind, with all my soul, and with all my strengths, doing alway of very love that only, which is pleasant in thy sight; again, that I may love my neighbour and Christian brother as myself, wishing as well to him as to myself, and ready at all times to do for him whatsoever lieth in my power, that when we all shall stand before thy dreadful judging-place, I being known by thy badge, may be numbered among thy disciples, and so through thy mercy receive the reward of eternal glory. Amen.

For Patience.

WHEN thou livedst in this world, LORD Christ, thou shewedst thyself a mere mirror of perfect patience, suffering quietly not only the spiteful words, but also cruel deeds of thy most cruel enemies, forgiving them and praying for them, which most tyrantlike handled thee. Give me grace, most meek and loving Lamb of God, to follow this thy patience, quietly to bear the slanderous words of mine adversaries, patiently to suffer the cruel deeds of mine enemies, to forgive them, to pray for them, yea, to do good for them, and by no means even once to avenge myself, but rather give place unto wrath, seeing that vengeance is thine, and thou wilt reward; seeing also that thou helpest them to their right that suffer wrong; that I thus patiently suffering all evils may afterward reign with thee in glory. Amen.

For Humility.

WHAT have we, heavenly Father, that we have not received? Every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from thee, which art the Father of lights. Seeing then all that we have is thine, whether it pertain to the body or to the soul, how can we be proud, and to boast ourselves of that which is none of our own ; seeing also that as to give, so also to take away again thou art able and wilt, whensoever thy gifts be abused, and thou not acknowledged to be the giver of them ? Take therefore away from me all pride and haughtiness of mind, graft in me true humility, that I may knowledge thee the giver of all good things, be thankful unto thee for them, and use them unto thy glory and the profit of my neighbour. Grant also that all my glory and rejoicing may be in no earthly creatures, but in thee alone, which dost mercy, equity, and righteousness upon earth. To thee alone be all glory. Amen.

For Mercifulness.

THY dearly beloved Son in his holy gospel exhorteth us to be merciful, even as thou our heavenly Father art merciful, and promisest that if we be merciful to other, we shall obtain mercy of thee, which art the Father of mercies, and God of all consolation. Grant therefore that, forasmuch as thou art our Father, and we thy children, we may resemble thee in all our life and conversation ; and that as thou art beneficial and liberal, not only to the good, but also to the evil, so we likewise may shew ourselves merciful, gentle, and liberal to so many as have need of our help, that at the dreadful day of doom we may be found in the number of those merciful, whom thou shalt appoint by thy only begotten Son to go into everlasting life, to whom with thee, and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and praise. Amen.

For true Godliness .

IN thy law, thou Maker of heaven and earth, thou hast appointed us a way to walk in, and hast commanded that we should turn neither on the right hand, nor on the left, but do according to thy good will and pleasure, without adding of our own good intents and fleshly imaginations. As thou hast commanded, so give me grace, good Lord, to do. Let me neither follow mine own will, nor the fancies of other men ; neither let me be beguiled with the vizor of old customs,
long usages, fathers' decrees, ancient laws, nor any other thing that fighteth with thy holy ordinances and blessed commandments ; but faithfully believe and steadfastly confess that to be the true godliness, which is learned in thy holy Bible, and according unto that to order my life, unto the praise of thy holy name. Amen.

For the true understanding of God's word .

LORD, as thou alone art the Author of the holy Scriptures, so likewise can no man, although he be never so wise, politic and learned, understand them, except he be taught by thy Holy Spirit, which alone is the Schoolmaster to lead the faithful into all truth. Vouchsafe therefore, I most humbly beseech thee, to breathe into my heart thy blessed Spirit, which may renew the senses of my mind, open my wits, reveal unto me the true understanding of thy holy mysteries, and plant in me such a certain and infallible knowledge of thy truth, that no subtle persuasion of man s wisdom may pluck me from thy truth, but that, as I have learned the true understanding of thy blessed will, so I may remain in the same continually, come life, come death, unto the glory of thy blessed name. Amen.

For a life agreeable to our knowledge.

As I have prayed unto thee, heavenly Father, to be taught the true understanding of thy blessed word by thy Holy Spirit, so I most entirely beseech thee to give me grace to lead a life agreeable to my knowledge. Suffer me not to be of the number of them, which profess that they know God with their mouth, but deny him with their deeds. Let me not be like unto that son which said unto his father, that he would labour in his vineyard, and yet laboured nothing at all, but went abroad loitering idly. Make me rather like unto that good and fruitful land, which yieldeth again her seed with great increase, that men seeing my good works, may glorify thee, my heavenly Father. Amen.

[There are many other private prayers for all types of persons in society and for all members of families. These reflect both the deep commitment to the fear of the Lord and to obeying his will, and, also, to the ordered, hierarchical society which the King and his Council wished to be a godly commonwealth.]
-- The Revd Dr Peter Toon

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Hooker on Church Apostasy and the Salvation of souls.

Some thoughts to initiate discussion from Dr Peter Toon—June 27, 2007.

Here I shall use the good name of Richard Hooker, the greatest perhaps of Anglican divines, to raise questions about how and when a church enters into apostasy.

Hooker, the Puritans and Rome

In his treatise, On Justification and the Foundation of Faith , Richard Hooker provides a clear and comprehensive statement of the classic Anglican and Reformed doctrines of justification and sanctification, and also explains how they differ from those set forth by the Council of Trent for Roman Catholicism.

Yet the major portion of the treatise is taken up with the question as to whether the Church of Rome of the 1580s is in any real sense a true Church, and whether its members can expect everlasting salvation when they die as believers in Christ.

The English Puritans (Presbyterians) within the National Church at that time took a "purist" line and maintained that, since the Roman Church was in serious and grave error and heresy, then all her members who shared in this error and partook of this heresy did so unto the peril of their souls and to eternal perdition. The Roman Church was a fully apostate Church and it was virtually impossible to be saved therein.

Richard Hooker expressed a different and more complicated judgment of the nature of the Roman Church, and of the possibility of eternal salvation for members of it. He maintained that the Roman Church clearly held to the basics of the Christian Faith—as expressed in the Creeds, for example, and thus should be counted as a visible Church of God. Yet, he also maintained, this same Church had built upon the foundation a superstructure of such materials that by them the foundation itself was imperiled and in danger.

Thus the Church of England as a National Church led by its Monarch had a duty to separate from the Roman Church in order to be based not only upon the sure foundation of Jesus Christ but also to build a superstructure on that foundation, a Household of Faith true to the composition of the foundation itself.

Returning to the Roman Church, Hooker held that one needs to differentiate on the one hand between the Popes and leaders who create, propagate and require the error and heresy, and, on the other, the ordinary members who simply believe what they are taught and seek to be faithful Christians. When the latter come to stand before God, it is highly probable that many will be more conscious of the foundational truths of the Creed and their relation to God, than by the extras built upon these truths and distorting them; and so they will truly trust in the Lord Jesus unto salvation, and be redeemed by the blood of Jesus.

Thus Hooker was a major critic of Rome for adding doctrines and dogmas that are neither within Scripture nor required by Scripture, but are in fact much against Scripture. Yet he allowed that God's grace is such that even those raised in this Church who, to use a phrase, but touch the hem of the garment of the Savior will be healed.

This position was the standard Anglican position before and during the rise of the Anglo-Catholic movement of the 19th century, which had a very positive evaluation of Rome. Today, it appears that Rome has changed a lot, because it has allowed the Bible to be freely available to laity, it engages in ecumenical talks and activities, and much of its worship and teaching at the local level in the West is simplified and involves laity in an increasing way. Yet the dogmas and doctrines that Hooker found unacceptable, erroneous and heretical are still on the books and still part of the living dogma of the Church.

Applying Hooker's approach to The Episcopal Church

At least since the 1970s. persons who care for the classic heritage of the Anglican Way have by an informed conscience decided to leave The Episcopal Church (originally called The Protestant Episcopal Church).

If we apply to The Episcopal Church (TEC) the principles that Hooker used to evaluate the Roman Church, what is the result? Is the exiting justified?

On the matter of a sure foundation, TEC has much less to offer than Rome which has always adhered to a very correct doctrine of the Person of Christ and the Holy Trinity. Why does TEC have less to offer? Because, though its official Prayer Book of 1979 recites the Creeds, it also contains a variety of expressions that cast doubt upon what may be called the orthodox or normal understanding of the Creeds. This is seen not only in the content of various liturgies but pre-eminently in the Catechism within the 1979 Book. And in the various liturgies produced since 1979 the questionable foundation is the more clearly revealed.

It is, however, on what has been placed on the foundation (which we may grant for the purpose of discussion to be possibly sound) that there has been the greatest criticism from those who have seen, and see nowTEC going into apostasy. Here the list of bad building materials and bad design is a long one—from the importation on a massive scale of human rights to the using of psychological and social theories to create new doctrine, revise canon law, and change the content and essence of public worship.

Therefore, those who do depart TEC in order to seek to re-create the Anglican Way of worship, doctrine and discipline in America, have to be sure that they first of all have a sound foundation with respect to basic doctrine and dogma—on who is God, who is Jesus and what is salvation? Then, secondly, they have to be sure that they place a sound building on the sure foundation and that the foundation and the structure on it are both truly together what may be called the household of God. It hardly needs to be said that—where there is no central authority to rule where there is difference of opinion amongst Anglicans—this task of making a foundation and then creating a structure on it is likely not to go smoothly. And it has not at all gone smoothly. TEC has been replaced by many attempts to create the Anglican Way all over again. These began with the Reformed Episcopal Church in the 1870s and have continued intensely in the twentieth century from the 1970s to the present time.

The foundation of TEC remains the 1979 Book and its Canon Law; the foundation of those who exited in the late 1970s remains the historic Formularies (certainly the BCP of 1662/1928 and Ordinal and sometimes also the 39 Articles); the foundation of those who exited more recently, primarily over the acceptance by TEC of an actively homosexual bishop is more difficult to state for it appears to be in transition from the 1979 Book as foundation to a set of Formularies not yet finally decided.

Those who exited in the late 1970s, together with those who joined and followed them, and called "Continuing Anglicans" often build upon the foundation certain structures—using material from the Tridentine Roman Missal and other R C devotional sources—which appear to be in contrast to, and not in accord with, the foundation. After all, the Reformed Catholicism of the classic Anglican Way has a different doctrine of the Sacraments and of Justification by Grace through Faith than does Rome.

Those, who more recently exited TEC and have not yet decided precisely on their foundation, are building tentatively, but in the main worshipping and teaching pretty well what they did in TEC with some minor alterations, often because they are taking into account the known teaching and wishes of overseas Primates.

While the traditional Anglicans who exited in the late 1970s now regard TEC as essentially apostate and thus not a true visible Church at all, and while some of the overseas bishops of the Anglican Communion also appear to think in these terms, it appears that, as Hooker accepted that Rome is a visible Church but corrupted, so most of those who have recently left TEC evaluate TEC in similar fashion. They believe it is corrupted but that there are within it many true baptized believers who will go to heaven by grace!

In conclusion

Of course, Hooker wrote in the sixteenth century within a National Church, working to preserve the unity of the same. We read Hooker in a country famed for the separation of "Church and State" and for its tolerance of a wide variety of Christian, Jewish and other denominations. This said, the way that Hooker examined the question of both the foundation of the Church of Rome and the building it had erected on it, provides for us a reasonable way to examine what we mean when we describe TEC as apostate, or in error, and how such a description has implications for the eternal salvation of its claimed 2 million members.

(see further Peter Toon, Episcopal Innovations 1960-2004, from or from 1-800-727-1928)

Monday, June 25, 2007

BISHOPS—"too thick on the ground and causing a big mess"?

Within the claimed territory of The Episcopal Church [TEC], there will be very soon the presence of "missionary bishops" of four Anglican Provinces from Africa—Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda. And their emerging "dioceses" will exist together with (a) former TEC congregations supervised by bishops from outside the USA; and (b) a few dioceses and parishes within TEC claiming to be supportive of the Africans.

Why this invasion from abroad? At one level, it is the rejection of the ancient catholic rule which insists on respecting diocesan boundaries and national church boundaries. At another, it is an assertion of confidence by African Anglican Churches that they know what Christian Orthodoxy is, and that they are more than competent to discern where it is rejected—as they judge it now to be within the TEC. Indeed, they are self-consciously rejecting the historic place of the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Anglican Family and doing what they think is right—whatever the consequences, it seems.

Now let us go back in American Anglican/Episcopal history just thirty years to see why the total Anglican situation is much more complex than the situation just described.

In 1977 there was an invasion of the territory and claims of TEC not from abroad but from within. There broke away from TEC a large group of members who held that, with its rejection of the classic BCP and by its ordination of women, the same TEC was moving into apostasy, and that the only way to continue the Anglican Way of orthodoxy was to move out and create "the Anglican Church in North America ." And this was done at a Congress in St Louis in 1977. However, for a variety of complex reasons, this movement soon had four bishops (Doren, Mote, Morse and Watterson), and then four separated jurisdictions. Further, around these four separated groups were both independent congregations and very small groups all claiming to continue true Anglicanism. Now the number of related but competitive groups has much increased and there are over 100 bishops in or related to this "continuing Anglican movement" and most of them have very small flocks indeed.

Schism, it seems, is in the very nature and ethos of American Christianity; it is the long established way to begin again and recover what has been lost. All churches have done it and do it still. It is apparently incurable! Anglicans are not exempt from this virus and disease.

Today, one does not need to look very far to see that all these various "invading" dioceses, together with the TEC itself and the many other small groups, present one huge mess, the like of which the Anglican Family has not seen before in its history from the late patristic period. The Anglican Way in North America is totally dysfunctional and conforms perfectly to the image of divided and competitive American Protestantism in its presence in the American supermarket of religions. It is embarrassing to be asked: "What is an Episcopalian/Anglican?" today. And even as there is a vast spectrum of Anglican types—groups, jurisdictions, networks etc.—so there is also a vast spectrum of liturgical uses and theological persuasions. Again, the variety in all areas blows the mind! No wonder there is a constant exodus to Rome, Orthodoxy and other apparently safe havens!

It seems that the Bible of American Anglicanism has, like the Bible of Marcion been edited with a penknife, in order to remove all calls to unity, and unity in truth, of the people of God from it! Rather, the spirit of capitalism and competition seem to have been written into the Bible! On the ground, the number of CEO's (Bishops) increases rapidly in order to rule over the increasing number of administrative units, even as the total number of Anglicans/Episcopalians in the USA actually decreases ( in 1965 it was twice what it is now, and then the population of the USA was much smaller).

The example set by the Continuers since the 1977 of division and dissent, with little active effort to unite, looks like being repeated—but in different ways—by those who are now in the USA gathering around Rwanda or Nigeria or Kenya or Uganda or (? the next Province to announce a missionary outpost in the good old USA). And what this suggests is that TEC will continue effectively to rule the roost, while all its enemies continue to fight amongst themselves, as they major on minors and preserve their small empires to the last ditch, professing belief in one holy, catholic and apostolic Church!

I cannot but believe that the LORD our God is saying something to us through this total mess and that this holy Word is not one that we all want to hear!

I personally hang on for I find the Anglican Way in its classic expression and based on the historic Formularies—Book of Common Prayer, Ordinal and Articles—to be most satisfying as Reformed Catholicism. Yet I hang on expecting deserved and profound chastisement to come our way from heaven very soon.

The Revd Dr Peter Toon

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Father's Day: does it intrude into The Lord's Day?

First, there was Mother's Day and then in these days of equality there was Father's Day. Both occasions provide an opportunity for commercial companies to advertise their products as gifts for Mother or Father, respectively. And, maybe, some good is done to American family life by these "celebrations"—despite the fact that families, where there is a resident mother and father, are now in a minority in the spectrum of modern families. Regrettably, both Mother's and Father's Day are on Sundays, and this causes complications to those who celebrate Sunday as the Lord's Day, the feast of the Resurrection.

Importing the theme of Father's Day into Christian worship and congregational life on the Lord's Day is not without profound difficulties and problems, from both a biblical and a social perspective. With respect to the latter, many children do not know who is their father, or, if they do, they hardly see him; and in many cases "mother' is at odds with "father" because he is not paying her what he should for the upkeep of children. So celebrating Father's Day in a congregation where there is a good proportion of single parent families may cause great pain of heart especially to the children of absent fathers.

But, from a biblical perspective, celebrating human fatherhood on the Lord's Day, the festival of the raising of the Lord Jesus, Incarnate Son, from the dead by the Father, is at the very best only celebrating the image and likeness instead of the Original. Let me explain.

If we are not feminists, and if we believe that it is right to use the Name of "Father" for God, then we have to be clear—especially on this secular "Father's Day—whether the Name of "Father" is a Name that human beings out of their own wisdom and volition have come to project on to, and use of, God, arising out of their experience over the centuries of ancient "patriarchal" and modern "nurturing" fatherhood; or whether this Name has been revealed by God himself, and thus the original and right use of it in Christianity is solely because it is a revealed Name, belonging to a real almighty Person, the First of the Three of the Holy Trinity.

My sense is that most Christians, who are committed to the authority of the Bible and who call God "Father," do generally think of God as Father in terms of an enlarged ideal human father. This is the easier for them if their experience of a father has been, and is, positive and good.

However, such an approach can so easily fail to take into account the claim that the Name of "Father" is revealed by God, and especially is revealed by Jesus Christ, who referred to "the Father" as "my Father." Further, it does not seem to square with the particular statement of St Paul who wrote: "I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family [fatherhood] in heaven and on earth is named…" (Ephesians 3:14). We need to reflect upon what St Paul said.

The Apostle does not say that God is named by the names used in human families (Father and Mother) but the opposite, that each human family (and the word he uses is of what we call a tribe or extended family) is named after God the Father. This is to say that the human father ( pater), as the head of, and as the representative of, the family (patria), is not only a creature of God, but, also, that he is to reflect in his character and actions, as a father, the character and actions of God the Father. We recall that in biblical thought to be "named" is much more than being given a name or title. It carries the ideas of determining the character and exercising authority over what is named. Thus God the Father by naming the father in the family actually places him under his authority and determines who he is to be, how he is to be and what he is to do within and for the family. That is, human fatherhood is to reflect divine Fatherhood, not the reverse. And the human family is thus to benefit from this refection.

And, we may add, that Christians learn about the Father through his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who had the most intimate relation to him and also taught us much about the identity and character of his Father, who is The Father, and by grace, "Our Father." In fact the only sure knowledge we have of The Father is from his Incarnate Son. Any projections we may from our own experience of human fathers are sure to be imperfect, incomplete and probably very wrong.

So, returning to the secular "Father's Day" perhaps it is alright to allow it to enter Christian worship on the Lord's Day if—and only if—it is to be the occasion for (a) profound, spiritual worship of the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and (b) meditation upon the real nature and character of human fatherhood, as provided in the identity, nature and character of God, the Father. Let us remember that baptized Christians are first of all—from heaven's vantage point—adopted children of the heavenly Father! And they are such whatever kind of human family-or no family-they come from on earth.

June 13, 2007

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Fear and love of God's Holy Name--inseparable twins

You may care to read my reflections on the theme of the Collect for Trinity II, Sunday 17th

I do think that we have generally lost the godly affection of "fear of the Lord" and have tended to bring down God from his Majesty into our sphere so that we can have a relationship with Deity on our terms! Yet we make much of Love although it is a Love without discipline and certainly without worth against sin.

thanks-- The Revd Dr Peter Toon, M.A. M.Th. D.Phil., President of the PBS 2007

Do you have a perpetual fear and love of God’s holy Name?

In the appointed Collected in the classic Book of Common Prayer for the second Sunday after Trinity Sunday, we pray that we may have “a perpetual fear and love of God’s holy Name”—as the Father, the Lord, and so on. Let us note the origins of this prayer and theme in the tradition of worship in the West.

We go back to The Collect in the Gelasian Sacramentary (circa 500), used on the Sunday after the Ascension at the Eucharist. It is, as most ancient collects, brief and profound. Through it, we gain an understanding of a major aspect of the Christian life and corporate worship as understood by the Fathers in the patristic era. In traditional English, the prayer is as follows:

O Lord, make us to have concurrently (or, equally) a perpetual fear and love of thy holy name, because never dost thou leave destitute of thy pilotage, those whom thou dost institute [bring up] in the steadfastness of thy love. Though the Lord Jesus Christ….

Here the basic doctrine is that God the Father pilots – and never fails to do so – through life all those whom he trains, rears, disciplines and educates in his steadfast love. And this doctrine presupposes that God’s love reaches out to the sinner in the Gospel and by it he is drawn into the family of God, there to live as a child of God within the steadfast, sure and certain continuing love of God.

So how does the baptized believer make sure – as far as a human being can so do – that, as an adopted child of God, he is being piloted by God the Father through the problems and difficulties of life in this evil age? The answer is stated in the petition of this Collect: “to have concurrently a perpetual fear and love of the holy Name of God the Father.”

We note that what is required in not only a continuing fear of God but also a continuing love of God. Fear and love are two side of the same divine coin: or they are two parallel primary affections of the soul: and they are wedded to each other in the godly life. Fear of the LORD leads to love of the LORD and love of the LORD cannot exist without fear of the LORD.

An important point to bear in mind here is that both fearing and loving God are actually commanded by God. They are to be done in response to his authoritative word of command. This means that fearing and loving are not be seen as innate emotions of the soul that can be aroused by this or that circumstance or occasion. To put it minimally, they are acts of the will to do something that God, the Sovereign Lord, commands.

Godly Fear, as an act of the will and a godly affection of the soul, is awe, reverence, even dread, before the Majesty of the Almighty God, who is not only Creator, but also Judge, and not only Sustainer but also Saviour. A perpetual fear is this same awe, reverence and dread filling the believer’s soul each and every day, wherever he is, and causing him to think, determine and act in ways that are pleasing to the holy and righteous LORD God, whom he desires to please and not to offend – and from whose Spirit and Presence he can never escape.

Where there is such holy, profound respect for the LORD, there can be, and will be, genuine love of God. In fact, there can be no other for God, the LORD, as known in his nature, attributes, perfections, ways and deeds by the reverent, humble soul is supremely adorable and lovable. And, practically speaking, love for the LORD means worshipping him, doing his will, obeying his commandments and walking in his ways.

Before the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, The Holy Trinity, the Christian believer bows in humility and with reverence and awe, and, as he does so, he can do no other but love the LORD his God, with all his heart, soul, mind and strength, for the One before whom he bows is supremely lovable. The immediate fruit of this fear with love is obedience of the same LORD, the keeping of his commandments.

The joining together of fear and love is, of course, a biblical method, beginning most clearly in Deuteronomy (see 10:12-13) and reaching its climax in the Revelation of St. John (see 14:7; 15:5; 19:5). This couple is married on earth and the marriage remains in heaven.

In the composition of The Book of Common Prayer (first edition, 1549) of the ecclesia anglicana (Church of England) this ancient Collect was transferred to the Second Sunday after Trinity. In later editions of this Prayer Book, it was also expanded. The edition of 1662 contains it in this form:

O Lord, who never failest to help and govern them whom thou dost bring up in thy steadfast fear and love; keep us, we beseech thee, under the protection of thy good providence, and make us to have a perpetual fear and love of thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Here the doctrine and petition are similar to those of the ancient Gelasian Collect, but not identical.

The doctrine is found in the relative clause beginning, “who never failest…” It is that God is the Pilot through life of those whom he instructs and educates in steadfast fear and love of himself as the LORD, the Holy Trinity.

The petition begins with “Keep us…” and includes two requests. It is that we ask to be safely guided by God the Pilot through the complexities of life and that, as we are so guided, we shall have and also maintain both a perpetual fear and a committed love of his holy Name.

Here again in this English Collect, fear and love necessarily belong together in the determinations of will and the godly affections of the children of God, who are disciples of Jesus, the Lord. This union of fearing and loving God as God’s command is certainly Biblical doctrine; then also it is Patristic doctrine, as we have seen; further, it is both genuine Reformation and Counter-Reformation Doctrine.

In the light of all this, the questions arise (a) whether the union of fear and love as doctrine and is found in modern liturgical books, and (b) whether or not the union of fear and love is within the practical theology as generally taught, commended and received in modern churches (be they “progressive” or “orthodox”)?

Some observers of the contemporary church scene—and Anglican Way—
maintain that there has been such a sentimentalizing of love that the whole (biblical) concept of fear that leads to love, and love that requires fear as its context before God, is nearly impossible to conceive, let alone act upon! If this is so then we have reached a perilous, moral and spiritual position.

The Revd Dr Peter Toon; Trinity II, 2007

Monday, June 11, 2007

Credits for Graduation at the Last Day; Or Performing Good Works for final Salvation

CORAM DEO—not before man!

All the degrees I received from British Universities were based on either final examinations (covering all courses over 3 years) or on theses of 60,000 or 90.000 words (whether M.Phil or D.Phil). All my American colleagues received their first degree, and sometimes Master's degree, by accumulating credits, with no final exams of the old British type.

I want to use the analogy from education—earning and accumulating credits in order to graduate—in what follows in order to raise important questions about salvation from God, and, about how we stand, Coram Deo. (Bishop C. Fitzimmons-Allison has an essay on "Coram Deo" in the recent book, By Faith Alone, edited by G.L.W. Johnson & G.P, Waters, Crossway, 2006).
Missing from current controversy and debate

Within contemporary Anglicanism, most observers are familiar with the intense exchange of views concerning sexual morality and this controversy is found also in the other main-line denominations, but perhaps less intensely.

What seems to be missing entirely from debate within the major denominations today are these questions: On what basis will a sinner be accepted for eternal salvation at the End by God the Judge? And, in this context, what is the relation of faith and good works?

Perhaps the basic reason why these questions are not present is that modern Christianity is so attached to the idea of God as immanent—present everywhere in all places at all times—that it ponders little the doctrine of God as transcendent—over, above and beyond us, yet keeping us all in his sight. Thus how we stand before him as the holy, righteous Judge is not in prominence in worship or piety.

The two questions stated above were very prominent in the Church in days past, particularly, we may recall, in the late patristic age and in the late medieval period in the West. Then the relation of faith and works, or believing in the Lord Jesus in relation to doing good deeds, were of supreme and captivating importance. This is seen in much of what St Augustine of Hippo and his immediate successors wrote in the so called "Pelagian" and "Semi-Pelagian" controversies. And, it is most clearly seen in the debates, controversies and Confessions of Faith produced in the sixteenth century by both the new "Protestants" and the "traditional [Roman] Catholic." Anglicans need only look at The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion (especially numbers IX to XVIII) to see the stated position of the Church of England in terms of the relation of faith and good works.

Three Approaches

Painting with a broad brush, we may claim that three basic positions (with mediating points between them, of course) have been articulated in the Western Church over the centuries from the patristic to the post-modern age. They are present today but unlike former times they are not often consciously differentiated by many people and so it is as though they are there under the surface but not recognized or seen.

1. God helps those who help themselves. God gives us grace, spiritual illumination and inspiration, means of grace, together with the supreme example of Christ and the advice of prophets and apostles. In return, he expects us to get on with the job of (to use the educational analogy) attending classes, doing the work, earning the credits and then graduating as a saved person, to enter into everlasting life. In recent times, this approach has been deeply influenced by secular doctrines of the therapeutic self, the autonomous self and the self as the possessor of basic human rights. So God as Love affirms everyone and by the knowledge and strength of this affirmation each person is to do what God expects of him/her. There is universal salvation for all because God is truly Love.

2. God cooperates willingly and fully with those who desire to know him and receive his salvation. Here, God provides all kinds of help (to use the analogy) beginning with forgiveness of sins to those in the school of Christ, to choose what courses, to do them well and to earn the right credits, in order to come to graduation. Here the graduate is one who is a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and who makes his own contribution to his final salvation by doing what God commands, with the help that God supplies. He stands before God at the End as one who offers his own—though Christ inspired and assisted—righteousness. Like (1) above this approach can be minimally or deeply affected by modern doctrines of the self, as autonomous, therapeutic and possessing rights.

3. God supplies by imputation the righteousness which is needed to stand before God as innocent at the Last Day. That is, he reckons to the believing sinner the mediatorial righteousness of Jesus the Christ and, on this basis, forgives and accepts him as his child/son. This imputation does not remove the necessity of good works but makes them to be the fruit of genuine faith, done out of gratitude and love for God, and not as means to earn credits for graduation in salvation. Faith itself is pure receptivity, wholesome trust in the gracious promises of God, and in response to such faith (which God inspires within sinners) God justifies the repentant, believing sinner. In this approach, Coram Deo, there is no real place for modern doctrines of the human Self!

[Note that the place and use of preaching, administering the Sacraments and other means of grace can take different forms in each of these three approaches.]

Where we are today

Though the historical confessional position of the major Protestant traditions, including The Anglican Way, is that of (3) above, the doctrine proclaimed (implicitly if not explicitly) by the liberal, progressive leadership in the Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian and Episcopal Churches is more like that of (1) above, thereby linking with that of the Unitarian Church. There has been such an absorption of modern ideas of the human Self, of community and of bringing the kingdom of God on earth through political, social and economic actions, that salvation is very much "by works" but not primarily "works" in the sense of St Paul; rather, works in terms of doing what is necessary to change policies towards the poor, the marginalized and the outcasts of society, be they in the first or the third world. Even God as God is made to serve this purpose by becoming the God who is evolving with the world—the God in process—and thus in active cooperation with evolving species! In fact, the old-time message of "justification by faith alone through Christ alone" is probably meaningless or even offensive to many of the progressive liberals, for, in their eyes, God helps those who help themselves. In The Episcopal Church the message of the Presiding Bishop, and her specific commitment to the millennial goals of the United Nations as a religious doctrine, seems to fit well into this category and approach.

According to the official doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, it is committed to a sophisticated and heavily sacramental version of (2) above. This is well seen in the decrees and canons of the Council of Trent and in the meaning and full use of the many Sacraments for the obtaining of salvation. Here the basis of justification at the End is seen as infused and inherent, given by God for Christ's sake, but yet truly human for it is received and worked out in practice by the forgiven sinner who receives it. So God accepts the Christian at the Last Judgment on the basis of his own inherent righteousness and the fact that he is made righteous or at least "being made" righteous.

Amongst Protestants of an Evangelical mindset, the thought of justification by faith and/with works is abhorrent in theory, but very prevalent in practice. Like the liberal progressives, they have been affected by modern doctrines of the therapeutic, autonomous and rights-possessing Self, and like all of us, they also possess imperfect fallen human natures (from which none of us can escape). Therefore, the temptation is always present—and difficult to resist—to allow for some human merit to have a part in acceptance by God now and at the End. Let us remember that the general context for Americans is high activism: the earning of credits for graduation; the working hard to be successful; and the endemic American themes of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, these all conspire to provide the doctrine that what we do—by our good music, successful evangelism, fine testimony, church growth methods, use of communication skills, visitation of the sick, counseling for the divorced, creating our own baptismal covenant, and so on and so forth—is part, if only a small part, of why God accept us, justifies us, makes us his adopted children. Indeed, so much popular evangelism presumes that faith itself is not as St Paul said, "a gift of God" (see Ephesians 2:8-9) but is something that we out of our own volition and strength produce.

This brings us to (3) above—the pure doctrine of "justification by faith alone by Christ alone" issuing in "faith working by love" (Galatians 5:6) and in good works to the glory of the Father. Lutherans once claimed that this is the doctrine by which the contemporary church stands or falls. This claim, though perhaps a little over-stated, contains vital insights and is certainly worth pondering.

Perhaps the time has come again for all of us—and particularly Anglicans in their present crisis of faith and morality, to ask: In what garments shall we stand before God (CORAM DEO) at the Last Day? Shall they be my own (filthy rags) or shall they be those provided in the Gospel by God the Father, that is, the mediatorial perfect garments of righteous of the Savior, Jesus Christ?

And if we answer the way of the Anglican Article XI and of the doctrine underlying the Order for Holy Communion in the BCP (1662) then we need also to ask urgently": How does the doctrine of justification by faith alone through Christ Jesus alone" affect our relation to the Holy Trinity, our worship, witness, mission, evangelism and Christian living?

Finally, when did we last read through Galatians and Romans?

June 10, 2007

[Note, for Anglicans there is a near perfect statement of the relation of saving faith to works done for God's glory in the Homily on Justification that is referred to in Article XI. It is the third Homily in the Book of Homilies of 1547 and was written by Thomas Cranmer. It may be found in the recent edition of The Homilies, edited by Ian Robinson and available in the USA from and in the UK from ]

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Baptism—Let's face it, the New Testament is not wholly clear! So what shall we do about it?

Periodically there are intense debates or controversies in American Evangelicalism between those called "Baptists" and those called "Paedo-Baptists"—that is between those who baptize only adult believers and those who baptize both adult believers and the infant children of such.

The tendency of each side is to look for, and to find, a clear "blueprint" of its position in the documents of the New Testament (in the context of the whole Bible). Further, the advocates of each position give the impression of going to the documents to look for "proof texts" for what they already claim to know is the teaching of the New Testament and the mind of Christ. In practice, each side presents what are seen as "clear" texts for its position and then works hard to make the "less clear" texts present the same message as the "clear" ones. They believe that the N.T. must have and does have one doctrine, and not—as the rainbow—seven varied doctrines that are complementary!

Further, neither side fully allows for the simple fact that what is assumed in the New Testament is a missionary situation amongst both Jews and Gentiles, where apostles, evangelists and prophets—let alone the local presbyters and deacons of the new congregations—are entering new territory and facing new situations, and adapting to varied conditions. Also, few if any appear to recognize that, surprisingly, comparatively little is said about the way Baptism was (and is to be) administered and what is its connection to faith, repentance, regeneration and Baptism in/by the Holy Spirit. There is not one pattern or model in The Acts of the Apostles and deciding whether or not infants were included in the Baptism of households is fraught with difficulties. Then St Paul seems to downplay Baptism in 1 Corinthians 1: 16-17 and the much-used text from John 3: 5 ("by water and the Spirit") may well refer to human birth, the "breaking of the waters in the womb."

Bearing this in mind, it is good to be able to recommend a recent book, published in May 2007, which does actually take into full account the incomplete and varied picture of Baptism provided in the New Testament. It is not a perfect book—as I shall explain—but it is most useful as a reliable introduction to the fascinating, complex and varied presentation of Baptism that is found in the documents of the New Testament, against the background of the Old Testament and Inter-Testamental developments.

The book is Troubled Water. Rethinking the theology of Baptism . By Ben Witherington III, published by Baylor University Press of Texas, 2007. Despite the title, and very inappropriate dust-cover, it is primarily a biblical study with added reflections upon the biblical material. And herein is its strength for the author is an accomplished New Testament scholar, who is well aware of both the major studies of Baptism in the N.T. in the last century, and also of the debates with the Evangelical world to which he belongs (as a teacher at Asbury Theological Seminary).

What I would like the author to have attempted—and the studies for him to have used to assist him in the task are many—is an account of what the Early Church of the third and fourth centuries actually did with the biblical materials in order to create the baptismal theology and practice of the Church, in a period that it went from being a persecuted minority to that of being favored by the Emperor. How did the Church combine the different emphases and theologies of the varied New Testament witnesses (documents) and what if anything did it fail to make use of, or what did it over-use—and so on? Were the development of the Catechumenate and the holding of multiple Baptisms on Easter Morning developments in accord with major N.T. emphases?

From my Reformed Catholic or Anglican perspective, one has to admit that the providence of God guided the Early Church after the promotion of the apostles to heaven, and that what the Church came to institute and do by the fourth century is important for us to know and to study. I have made this point concerning the ordained Ministry in various essays—for here, like Baptism, we have a varied picture of Ministry in the New Testament itself and by the third century we have the stable Order of the Bishop, Presbyters and Deacons.

But before we attempt to look at the evidence of Church practice and theology from the 3rd and 4th centuries, we need to have a good idea as to the variety of teaching within the New Testament, and for this I commend Ben Witherington's book.

To those who wish—and I hope they are many—to begin to explore what happened to Baptism a couple of centuries later, as a starter I suggest: Bryan D. Spinks, Early and Medieval Rituals and Theologies of Baptism: From the N.T. to the Council of Trent, Ashgate Publishing , VT. 2006. Dr Spinks teaches at Yale.

[for my own 64 page booklet on Infant Baptism in the Anglican Way, go to and look for Mystical Washing……. (2007) ]

-- The Revd Dr Peter Toon, M.A. M.Th . D.Phil., President of the PBS 2007

Richard Hooker and the Crisis of Modern Anglicanism: wisdom from "the judicious Mr. Hooker."

A discussion starter from Peter Toon

In no place in England in the reign of Elizabeth I was the battle for the soul of the Church of England so clearly and learnedly waged as it was for a short time in the Spring of 1586 in the Inns of Court in London, where lawyers had their offices and chambers. It was in the building, known as the Temple Church, that assembled barristers heard on Sunday mornings the message of Reformed Catholicism from the "Master of the Temple" and in the afternoon that of Genevan Presbyterianism from "the Puritan Lecturer." And the two contestants and preachers were the Anglican, Richard Hooker, and the Puritan, Walter Travers. Hooker was a learned young man, wholly dedicated to the preservation of the Anglicanism of the Elizabeth Settlement, and Travers, just a little older, believed that the Church of England was not truly reformed and needed to institute more changes, including the abolition of the Order of Bishops and the required use of The Book of Common Prayer. Had he not been so militantly Presbyterian and Puritan, Travers would have been "the Master" rather than "the Lecturer." However, despite their profound differences on church polity and forms of worship, they had much in common, including the developed doctrine of Justification by Faith alone.

During the month of March of 1586, Hooker preached three sermons , based on texts from the prophet Habakkuk, on the themes of Justification, Sanctification and the possibility of salvation within the Church of Rome. These were later published, with footnotes often in Latin, under the title, A Learned Discourse of Justification, Works, and how the Foundation of Faith is overthrown. But before they were officially printed and published, reports and summaries of them were circulated amongst the highly educated constituency of the Inns of Court and with these also appeared responses and critiques, especially from Travers. Soon Travers was silenced by Whitgift, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Hooker was able to continue as Master in an Anglican manner for six years, when he left in order to give his primary attention to the writing of his most famous book, Treatise on the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, for which he is justly famous and reckoned one of the primary theologians of The Anglican Way.

In the three sermons, and then in the Learned Discourse, Hooker stated with great clarity the developed Reformation doctrine of Justification by Faith alone, through Christ alone, and issuing in good works, done in love for the glory of God. As he did this, he also stated and criticized the Roman doctrine of justification through the "sacramental system" as set forth by the Council of Trent in its canons and decrees. In all this Travers could find little to disagree with for on Justification by Faith alone there was basic agreement between Anglicans, Presbyterians and Lutherans.

Yet Travers and his fellow committed Puritans were very disturbed by the other major theme advanced by Hooker. This was his contention that, while the Church of Rome taught many errors and practiced many false forms of religion, it was still in a certain sense a Christian Church for it held securely to the basic Christian Confession of Faith. Thus it was reasonable to suppose that the thousands of Englishmen who had lived in the pre-reformed Church in England, who were not responsible for the creation and propagation of the Roman errors, and who sincerely accepted their sinfulness and looked to Jesus as Savior, were shown mercy by God at the last, despite their involvement in a error and heresy.

For Travers, the Church of Rome was wholly apostate and salvation by grace through faith was not possible within its system at all by anyone; thus he was extremely critical of Hooker on this point. He attacked Hooker even though Hooker most clearly taught that the Church of Rome had been and remained in gross error and tended thereby to deny the very foundations of Christian faith and truth. Thus it was in their attitudes to Rome and its traditions that the Reformed Catholic and the Puritan Presbyterian divided.

From the Inns of Court 1584 to American Anglicanism 2007

In the present, ongoing crisis of Anglicanism, centered on sexual morality, there is the powerful temptation presented to devout Anglicans to leave the Anglican Way and find a home in Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, or one of the many forms of modern evangelical Protestantism.

One major reason for the present crisis in Anglicanism and for the temptation to leave its ranks is that Anglicans have (generally speaking) lost that doctrine which Hooker and Travers held in common, even as Cranmer, Luther and Calvin had held it in common—Justification by Faith alone issuing in holiness of life with good works. Modern liturgies since the 1960s have in general been composed by persons who are not aware of or do not believe this doctrine; and, of course, the Roman Liturgy specifically denies it, as also in principle does the Orthodox Liturgy.

If we pay any attention to "the judicious Mr. Hooker" at all on this matter we would do two things at least:

(1) we would work hard to recover the fullness of the doctrine of Justification by Faith alone, along with Sanctification by the Holy Spirit of the justified; and

(2) we would follow his charity towards Roman Catholicism not by pretending that it has changed its erroneous doctrine of justification through the sacramental system and by human works but by recognizing that it has held the basics of belief and morality—set forth in the Creeds—even while it has added serious doctrinal errors to the Creedal foundations ( e.g., the doctrine of the Papacy and advanced doctrines of the Blessed Virgin Mary).

The Anglican Way is Reformed Catholicism and this means that while in charity we can and must say many good things about the Roman Catholic Church and its members, we cannot accept it as a Church that is truly subjected to the Word of God written.

On the other hand ,we can and must also say many good things about popular evangelical Protestantism, but we cannot join it in either its unfounded, generalized criticism of Roman Catholicism, or in its serious dumbing-down of the scriptural, twin doctrines of Justification by Faith alone with Sanctification by the Spirit issuing in good works.

Before Anglicans rush off in any direction let them make or find time to read "the judicious Mr. Hooker."

The Revd Dr Peter Toon June 5, 2007