Saturday, September 15, 2007

Paving the Way to leave TEC if and when necessary, says Diocese of Pittsburgh

Dr Peter Toon

I want to suggest that there is a assumption, which needs to be challenged, behind proposed legislation to be put before the Convention of the Diocese of Pittsburgh later this year in order for the Diocese to be able to secede from The Episcopal Church.

The assumption is that the Diocese has been and remains “orthodox” even though it has been and remains constitutionally a member of TEC. To remain orthodox, however, due to the apostasy of TEC, it is claimed that it needs to exit TEC and be clearly and formally part of the Anglican Global Communion of Churches. I believe that this claim of continuing orthodoxy needs to be challenged both for the sake of truth and for the true spiritual prosperity of the people involved. Yet I do fully desire that Pittsburgh diocese be biblically and joyfully orthodox unto the Lord.

Let us recall (or let us do the homework to find out) that what the then Episcopal Church of the USA did in 1976, and confirmed formally in 1979, in its General Convention was deliberately to set aside its received Anglican doctrinal heritage. It placed in the archives its classic, historical Formularies (BCP, Ordinal and Articles of Religion of 1789/1892/1928), which were nearly identical to those of the C of E as found in the BCP 1662 ; it adopted in their place a new Prayer Book of the kind and shape that in England and Canada was then called "A Book of Alternative Services;" and it called this new 1976/79 Prayer Book “The BCP” and made it into its new Formulary (inside of it were new Ordination Services and a new Outline of Faith).

Let us also recall that the USA line of public liturgy and formulary is from 1662 up to Independence and then on via revision of 1662 BCP for a Republic via the official editions of the USA BCP of 1789, 1892 & 1928. This line stops at 1928 – which is still in print from Oxford University Press and other publishers—visit for details

To students of the history of doctrine and liturgy, the 1979 line represents a clear rejection of this long line that goes back via 1662, 1559 and 1552 to the first edition of the BCP in 1549. and it does so by seeking to re-create it in the light of how the Christian religion looked and felt like in the cultural shake-up of the 1960s and following Vatican II (1962-5). Most of the innovations within ECUSA/TEC since the 1970s may be traced to the embryonic novel doctrines and devotions of the 1979 Book.

Happily the BCP 1928 USA edition is still in use both inside TEC (e.g., by St John’s Savannah & St Andrew’s Fort Worth) and by many churches in Extra-Mural Anglicanism (hundreds of continuing churches). Others use the BCP 1662 without the prayers for the Queen.

Amazingly and providentially the Doctrinal Foundation of The Common Cause movement, which embraces both American and Canadian Anglican groups and jurisdictions, including the Anglican Communion Network, embraces specifically the Formularies of 1662 -- BCP, ordinal and Articles-- to state clearly its Anglican heritage and roots. However, we may suggest that for Americans in Common Cause the proper mental routing is historically via the authentic editions of the classic BCP, from 1928 to 1892, 1892 to 1789, and 1789 to 1662. Only in this route do they do justice to the ways of God’s providence in the Anglican Way in the great nation which is the USA. Yes back to the global Anglican standards of 1662 BCP, Articles and Ordinal but taking the American highway.

What all this suggests is that the whole of the ECUSA or TEC has been in grave error and remains in error-- and this we must recognize includes the so-called Orthodox dioceses like Pittsburgh and Fort Worth -- because it has rejected the classic, historical, received Anglican Way as communicated by the BCP 1662 & BCP 1789/1892/1928 Formularies. It has held on to and continues to hold on to the innovative form of the Anglican Way started in 1976/79. To this day TEC as a whole, nor any part thereof, has not yet repented of this error. Further the "orthodox" of TEC in the Anglican Communion Network do not yet seem to see the powerful connection between the holding to the 1979 Formulary and to their sharing thereby in the responsibility for the innovations and moves towards apostasy embraced by TEC in the last three decades.

One great sign of the movement of the Spirit of the Lord in the present shaking of the American Anglican Way will surely be repentance for the acceptance of this rejection of the classic Anglican Way in 1976/79 and for the proud maintenance of it since then.

I suggest that before going back to the 1662 (which is a great idea) the so-called orthodox dioceses of TEC should state that their real BCP as American Anglicans is 1928 edition and that 1979 is their BAS or ASB; then, they can move on from there to embrace BCP 1662 as in the Common Cause Statement of Faith. But the error of 30 years of devotion to the 1979 ASB/BAS as THE Formulary & Standard of Faith must surely be admitted before God and his people—especially before the trusting laity!

Happily the provinces of the Global South embrace the BCP 1662 as their Formulary in their constitutions, and many churches also use the BCP 1662 in English or the local language. (So much so that there is urgent need in East Africa to reprint the BCP in local languages for use and to send copies of the English edition for use in the towns. The Prayer Book Society [] is engaged in this ministry but there is room for others to help—write to )

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