Monday, June 30, 2008

Rowan Williams responds to GAFCON

The following press release from Lambeth Palace was issued at 1641 BST today.

Press release from Lambeth Palace

For immediate use

Monday 30th June 2008

Archbishop responds to GAFCON statement

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has responded to the final declaration of the Global Anglican Future Conference with the following statement:

The Final Statement from the GAFCON meeting in Jordan and Jerusalem contains much that is positive and encouraging about the priorities of those who met for prayer and pilgrimage in the last week. The ‘tenets of orthodoxy’ spelled out in the document will be acceptable to and shared by the vast majority of Anglicans in every province, even if there may be differences of emphasis and perspective on some issues. I agree that the Communion needs to be united in its commitments on these matters, and I have no doubt that the Lambeth Conference will wish to affirm all these positive aspects of GAFCON’s deliberations. Despite the claims of some, the conviction of the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Lord and God and the absolute imperative of evangelism are not in dispute in the common life of the Communion

However, GAFCON’s proposals for the way ahead are problematic in all sorts of ways, and I urge those who have outlined these to think very carefully about the risks entailed.

A ‘Primates’ Council’ which consists only of a self-selected group from among the Primates of the Communion will not pass the test of legitimacy for all in the Communion. And any claim to be free to operate across provincial boundaries is fraught with difficulties, both theological and practical – theological because of our historic commitments to mutual recognition of ministries in the Communion, practical because of the obvious strain of responsibly exercising episcopal or primatial authority across enormous geographical and cultural divides.

Two questions arise at once about what has been proposed. By what authority are Primates deemed acceptable or unacceptable members of any new primatial council? And how is effective discipline to be maintained in a situation of overlapping and competing jurisdictions?

No-one should for a moment impute selfish or malicious motives to those who have offered pastoral oversight to congregations in other provinces; these actions, however we judge them, arise from pastoral and spiritual concern. But one question has repeatedly been raised which is now becoming very serious: how is a bishop or primate in another continent able to discriminate effectively between a genuine crisis of pastoral relationship and theological integrity, and a situation where there are underlying non-theological motivations at work? We have seen instances of intervention in dioceses whose leadership is unquestionably orthodox simply because of local difficulties of a personal and administrative nature. We have also seen instances of clergy disciplined for scandalous behaviour in one jurisdiction accepted in another, apparently without due process. Some other Christian churches have unhappy experience of this problem and it needs to be addressed honestly.

It is not enough to dismiss the existing structures of the Communion. If they are not working effectively, the challenge is to renew them rather than to improvise solutions that may seem to be effective for some in the short term but will continue to create more problems than they solve. This challenge is one of the most significant focuses for the forthcoming Lambeth Conference. One of its major stated aims is to restore and deepen confidence in our Anglican identity. And this task will require all who care as deeply as the authors of the statement say they do about the future of Anglicanism to play their part.

The language of ‘colonialism’ has been freely used of existing patterns. No-one is likely to look back with complacency to the colonial legacy. But emerging from the legacy of colonialism must mean a new co-operation of equals, not a simple reversal of power. If those who speak for GAFCON are willing to share in a genuine renewal of all our patterns of reflection and decision-making in the Communion, they are welcome, especially in the shaping of an effective Covenant for our future together.

I believe that it is wrong to assume we are now so far apart that all those outside the GAFCON network are simply proclaiming another gospel. This is not the case; it is not the experience of millions of faithful and biblically focused Anglicans in every province. What is true is that, on all sides of our controversies, slogans, misrepresentations and caricatures abound. And they need to be challenged in the name of the respect and patience we owe to each other in Jesus Christ.

I have in the past quoted to some in the Communion who would call themselves radical the words of the Apostle in I Cor.11.33: ‘wait for one another’. I would say the same to those in whose name this statement has been issued. An impatience at all costs to clear the Lord’s field of the weeds that may appear among the shoots of true life (Matt.13.29) will put at risk our clarity and effectiveness in communicating just those evangelical and catholic truths which the GAFCON statement presents.

© Rowan Williams

Marie Papworth
Archbishop of Canterbury’s Press Secretary
Lambeth Palace

020 7898 1280

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Praise the LORD!

It is good to sing praises to our God; for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting. The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel. (Psalm 147:1-2)
Brothers and Sisters in Christ: We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, send you greetings from Jerusalem!


The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), which was held in Jerusalem from 22-29 June 2008, is a spiritual movement to preserve and promote the truth and power of the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ as we Anglicans have received it. The movement is global: it has mobilised Anglicans from around the world. We are Anglican: 1148 lay and clergy participants, including 291 bishops representing millions of faithful Anglican Christians. We cherish our Anglican heritage and the Anglican Communion and have no intention of departing from it. And we believe that, in God’s providence, Anglicanism has a bright future in obedience to our Lord’s Great Commission to make disciples of all nations and to build up the church on the foundation of biblical truth (Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 2:20).

GAFCON is not just a moment in time, but a movement in the Spirit, and we hereby:

- launch the GAFCON movement as a fellowship of confessing Anglicans
- publish the Jerusalem Declaration as the basis of the fellowship
- Encourage GAFCON Primates’ Council.

The Global Anglican Context

The future of the Anglican Communion is but a piece of the wider scenario of opportunities and challenges for the gospel in 21st century global culture. We rejoice in the way God has opened doors for gospel mission among many peoples, but we grieve for the spiritual decline in the most economically developed nations, where the forces of militant secularism and pluralism are eating away the fabric of society and churches are compromised and enfeebled in their witness. The vacuum left by them is readily filled by other faiths and deceptive cults. To meet these challenges will require Christians to work together to understand and oppose these forces and to liberate those under their sway. It will entail the planting of new churches among unreached peoples and also committed action to restore authentic Christianity to compromised churches.

The Anglican Communion, present in six continents, is well positioned to address this challenge, but currently it is divided and distracted. The Global Anglican Future Conference emerged in response to a crisis within the Anglican Communion, a crisis involving three undeniable facts concerning world Anglicanism. The first fact is the acceptance and promotion within the provinces of the Anglican Communion of a different ‘gospel’ (cf. Galatians 1:6-8) which is contrary to the apostolic gospel. This false gospel undermines the authority of God’s Word written and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the author of salvation from sin, death and judgement. Many of its proponents claim that all religions offer equal access to God and that Jesus is only a way, not the way, the truth and the life. It promotes a variety of sexual preferences and immoral behaviour as a universal human right. It claims God’s blessing for same-sex unions over against the biblical teaching on holy matrimony. In 2003 this false gospel led to the consecration of a bishop living in a homosexual relationship.

The second fact is the declaration by provincial bodies in the Global South that they are out of communion with bishops and churches that promote this false gospel. These declarations have resulted in a realignment whereby faithful Anglican Christians have left existing territorial parishes, dioceses and provinces in certain Western churches and become members of other dioceses and provinces, all within the Anglican Communion. These actions have also led to the appointment of new Anglican bishops set over geographic areas already occupied by other Anglican bishops. A major realignment has occurred and will continue to unfold. The third fact is the manifest failure of the Communion Instruments to exercise discipline in the face of overt heterodoxy. The Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada, in proclaiming this false gospel, have consistently defied the 1998 Lambeth statement of biblical moral principle (Resolution 1.10). Despite numerous meetings and reports to and from the ‘Instruments of Unity,’ no effective action has been taken, and the bishops of these unrepentant churches are welcomed to Lambeth 2008. To make matters worse, there has been a failure to honour promises of discipline, the authority of the Primates’ Meeting has been undermined and the Lambeth Conference has been structured so as to avoid any hard decisions. We can only come to the devastating conclusion that ‘we are a global Communion with a colonial structure’. Sadly, this crisis has torn the fabric of the Communion in such a way that it cannot simply be patched back together. At the same time, it has brought together many Anglicans across the globe into personal and pastoral relationships in a fellowship which is faithful to biblical teaching, more representative of the demographic distribution of global Anglicanism today and stronger as an instrument of effective mission, ministry and social involvement.

A Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans

We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, are a fellowship of confessing Anglicans for the benefit of the Church and the furtherance of its mission. We are a fellowship of people united in the communion (koinonia) of the one Spirit and committed to work and pray together in the common mission of Christ. It is a confessing fellowship in that its members confess the faith of Christ crucified, stand firm for the gospel in the global and Anglican context, and affirm a contemporary rule, the Jerusalem Declaration, to guide the movement for the future. We are a fellowship of Anglicans, including provinces, dioceses, churches, missionary jurisdictions, para-church organisations and individual Anglican Christians whose goal is to reform, heal and revitalise the Anglican Communion and expand its mission to the world. Our fellowship is not breaking away from the Anglican Communion. We, together with many other faithful Anglicans throughout the world, believe the doctrinal foundation of Anglicanism, which defines our core identity as Anglicans, is expressed in these words: The doctrine of the Church is grounded in the Holy Scriptures and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular, such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal. We intend to remain faithful to this standard, and we call on others in the Communion to reaffirm and return to it. While acknowledging the nature of Canterbury as an historic see, we do not accept that Anglican identity is determined necessarily through recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Building on the above doctrinal foundation of Anglican identity, we hereby publish the Jerusalem Declaration as the basis of our fellowship.

The Jerusalem Declaration

In the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit: We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, have met in the land of Jesus’ birth. We express our loyalty as disciples to the King of kings, the Lord Jesus. We joyfully embrace his command to proclaim the reality of his kingdom which he first announced in this land. The gospel of the kingdom is the good news of salvation, liberation and transformation for all. In light of the above, we agree to chart a way forward together that promotes and protects the biblical gospel and mission to the world, solemnly declaring the following tenets of orthodoxy which underpin our Anglican identity.

1. We rejoice in the gospel of God through which we have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Because God first loved us, we love him and as believers bring forth fruits of love, ongoing repentance, lively hope and thanksgiving to God in all things.

2. We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God written and to contain all things necessary for salvation. The Bible is to be translated, read, preached, taught and obeyed in its plain and canonical sense, respectful of the church’s historic and consensual reading.

3. We uphold the four Ecumenical Councils and the three historic Creeds as expressing the rule of faith of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

4. We uphold the Thirty-nine Articles as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s Word and as authoritative for Anglicans today.

5. We gladly proclaim and submit to the unique and universal Lordship of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, humanity’s only Saviour from sin, judgement and hell, who lived the life we could not live and died the death that we deserve. By his atoning death and glorious resurrection, he secured the redemption of all who come to him in repentance and faith.

6. We rejoice in our Anglican sacramental and liturgical heritage as an expression of the gospel, and we uphold the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as a true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer, to be translated and locally adapted for each culture.

7. We recognise that God has called and gifted bishops, priests and deacons in historic succession to equip all the people of God for their ministry in the world. We uphold the classic Anglican Ordinal as an authoritative standard of clerical orders.

8. We acknowledge God’s creation of humankind as male and female and the unchangeable standard of Christian marriage between one man and one woman as the proper place for sexual intimacy and the basis of the family. We repent of our failures to maintain this standard and call for a renewed commitment to lifelong fidelity in marriage and abstinence for those who are not married.

9. We gladly accept the Great Commission of the risen Lord to make disciples of all nations, to seek those who do not know Christ and to baptise, teach and bring new believers to maturity.

10. We are mindful of our responsibility to be good stewards of God’s creation, to uphold and advocate justice in society, and to seek relief and empowerment of the poor and needy.

11. We are committed to the unity of all those who know and love Christ and to building authentic ecumenical relationships. We recognise the orders and jurisdiction of those Anglicans who uphold orthodox faith and practice, and we encourage them to join us in this declaration.

12. We celebrate the God-given diversity among us which enriches our global fellowship, and we acknowledge freedom in secondary matters. We pledge to work together to seek the mind of Christ on issues that divide us.

13. We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed. We pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord.

14. We rejoice at the prospect of Jesus’ coming again in glory, and while we await this final event of history, we praise him for the way he builds up his church through his Spirit by miraculously changing lives.

The Road Ahead

We believe the Holy Spirit has led us during this week in Jerusalem to begin a new work. There are many important decisions for the development of this fellowship which will take more time, prayer and deliberation.

Among other matters, we shall seek to expand participation in this fellowship beyond those who have come to Jerusalem, including cooperation with the Global South and the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa. We can, however, discern certain milestones on the road ahead.

Primates’ Council

We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, do hereby acknowledge the participating Primates of GAFCON who have called us together, and encourage them to form the initial Council of the GAFCON movement. We look forward to the enlargement of the Council and entreat the Primates to organise and expand the fellowship of confessing Anglicans. We urge the Primates’ Council to authenticate and recognise confessing Anglican jurisdictions, clergy and congregations and to encourage all Anglicans to promote the gospel and defend the faith. We recognise the desirability of territorial jurisdiction for provinces and dioceses of the Anglican Communion, except in those areas where churches and leaders are denying the orthodox faith or are preventing its spread, and in a few areas for which overlapping jurisdictions are beneficial for historical or cultural reasons. We thank God for the courageous actions of those Primates and provinces who have offered orthodox oversight to churches under false leadership, especially in North and South America. The actions of these Primates have been a positive response to pastoral necessities and mission opportunities. We believe that such actions will continue to be necessary and we support them in offering help around the world.

We believe this is a critical moment when the Primates’ Council will need to put in place structures to lead and support the church. In particular, we believe the time is now ripe for the formation of a province in North America for the federation currently known as Common Cause Partnership to be recognised by the Primates’ Council.

Conclusion: Message from Jerusalem

We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, were summoned by the Primates’ leadership team to Jerusalem in June 2008 to deliberate on the crisis that has divided the Anglican Communion for the past decade and to seek direction for the future. We have visited holy sites, prayed together, listened to God’s Word preached and expounded, learned from various speakers and teachers, and shared our thoughts and hopes with each other.

The meeting in Jerusalem this week was called in a sense of urgency that a false gospel has so paralysed the Anglican Communion that this crisis must be addressed. The chief threat of this dispute involves the compromising of the integrity of the church’s worldwide mission. The primary reason we have come to Jerusalem and issued this declaration is to free our churches to give clear and certain witness to Jesus Christ.

It is our hope that this Statement on the Global Anglican Future will be received with comfort and joy by many Anglicans around the world who have been distressed about the direction of the Communion. We believe the Anglican Communion should and will be reformed around the biblical gospel and mandate to go into all the world and present Christ to the nations.


Feast of St Peter and St Paul 29 June 2008

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Marriage on hold but not for ever: Back burner for Lambeth but ready to use there!

Some reflections from Dr Peter Toon, on The Nativity of John the Baptist, June 24, 2008

I begin with two assertions.

First of all, there would not have been GAFCON in Jerusalem this week (June 22-28) had not The Episcopal Church in its arrogance, but legalistically following its canon law, consecrated Gene Robinson in 2003 as a bishop, and thereby precipitated an on-going crisis of identity and authority within the Anglican Family of Churches.

And probably somewhat surprising to some, but just as true:

Secondly, there would not have been either GAFCON in June 2008, or even the consecration of Gene Robinson in 2003, if The Episcopal Church had not in 1973 changed its marriage canon.

In that year, this Church abandoned the basic, common Anglican position on marriage, on its books from its separation from the Church of England in the 1780s, and introduced (what sociologists of the time were calling ) “expressive individualism” into the Church’s law. In real terms, this meant that instead of each person marrying the other into an already existing order of creation and grace ordained by God and blessed by the church, each was free to marry the other into a revised, human order, there to have space to fulfill his and her own self-interests, while receiving – in the spirit of those times -- the blessing of the (revisionist) church at the same time.

In this new order sanctioned by The Episcopal Church procreation was seen as optional even for those in good health, and, further, a second or third marriage in church was deemed acceptable, if required by failure of earlier one. It was, of course, the period when the general availability of “safe” artificial birth control was widespread in the West and when “rights-monism” and the power of therapeutic accounts of life were in much in vogue, each giving strength to the new approach to marriage

In this new ethos and practical theology, there was a major opportunity for those committed to homosexual relations to develop their agenda, claims and make their witness for full acceptance in the churches, and this they did in all kinds of sustained ways. In fact they walked through the doors opened by the new “order of marriage” and even claimed that with a few changes of nouns and pronouns they could use the church marriage service for their blessing of partnerships or even for same-sex marriage.

What all this may suggest to some—as it appears to me—is that from June 2008 onwards the problem faced by the leadership of the successor of GAFCON in the Western Churches is not simply that of opposing same-sex blessings and partnerships and making general assertions about sexual relations within marriage only; but, more broadly and deeply, of making a major effort at restoring initially for the West the biblical, Christian doctrine of marriage as received in the Anglican Way – which is well set out in the Service of Holy Matrimony of the historic Book of Common Prayer in its authentic editions in use in the West (e.g. 1662 England, 1962 Canada, & 1928 PECUSA/TEC).

Here I tread on toes and apologize if it hurts! One pressing reason (and few want to recall this) for this needed, immediate and high vocation of restoration is that the minority in the U.S.A., which supports and is part of GAFCON, and which styles itself “orthodox” in the TEC and in the Anglican movements in the USA generally, is, in fact, in most of its expressions deeply itself affected by expressive individualism in its record of, and witness to, marriage. For its divorce rates and serial monogamy are national average, with a high proportion of its Ministers divorced, remarried and still working in full pastoral settings. Thus—and we mention what we do not normally mention in the U.S.A.--that the tragedy is that both the “orthodox” and “the revisionists” in the American Anglican Way, inside and outside The Episcopal Church with all its innovations and dyfsunctionality, reap the fruit of the revolutionary early innovations of the 1970s in The Episcopal Church—because (1) all have drunk deeply of the Liturgy found in the the Episcopal Prayer Book of 1979, and/or of its various additions and extensions since; (2) all have continued in strong or weak form of “expressive individualism in life style and worship; and (3) all have continued to drink deeply of rights-monism as a major for of moral guidance and self-direction.

On the Back Burner for Lambeth, July 2008

When you open the classic Book of Common Prayer in any of its authentic editions, the first service to leap from the page is not usually “The Form of the Solemnization of Matrimony” even though in terms of the amount of pages in the Book it is somewhere near the center! After all this is the Book of Common Prayer—prayer for morning and evening daily, weekly Litany and Holy Communion, followed by Baptism and Confirmation. Marriage one of the “Rites and Ceremonies,” which include the Visitation of the Sick and the Burial of the Dead, provided in the Prayer Book for important but occasional use.

In the ups and downs of the life of the Church in history, and within the providence of Almighty God, sometimes what is “an occasional office” assumes a critical and outstanding role, symbolism and doctrine. I suggest that “The Form of the Solemnization of Matrimony” in The BCP (1662) is there on the back burner of the Anglican, Lambeth stove, ready to be placed at the front, and allowed to boil.

What is it is about this short Service (only eleven pages in the pew edition) which makes it so important and deserving of full visibility and tasting at this time of crisis of Anglican identify and of teaching on sexual relations?

Negatively, it was written before and therefore avoids both the dominant expressive individualism of the post 1960s and the extreme rights-monism of the same period, not to mention the strong therapeutic presentations of human relationships much in vogue also. In other words, it presents marriage in a perspective and in a way that it is difficult to see it in the West at this time, except through this kind of mirror, as it were.

Positively, it presents—howbeit in classic prose of the seventeenth century—a fully biblical and traditional Rite and Ceremony for the joining of a man and woman in holy matrimony, according to the laws of human society and to the eternal law of God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, the Holy Trinity, and receiving his Blessing.

Comment on the BCP 1662 Rite of Holy Matrimony

What causes this Rite to stand out so clearly, over and above all other more recent forms of marriage in Anglican Prayer Books, is its clear doctrine in specific areas—the very areas which first the “Enlightenment” world of the eighteenth and beyond, and then in the human rights world of the twentieth century and beyond, have been attacked and often eclipsed. In fact Anglicans have usually been the ones to attack and remove them!

First of all, in the Preface to the Service, the clear relation of the holy duty and privilege of procreation (--think of it, creating new life in union with the one, unique Creator) in the context of one-flesh, holy union and growing friendship of man and woman, husband and wife, is stated as God’s will, and not negotiable!

Secondly, the whole content of the Service makes it clear that the man and woman are entering into an already existing order of creation, ordained by God himself, to which is added the rich blessing of the new covenant of grace. The Husband and Wife are not creating a new relationship and space for themselves, but entering into God’s existing relations of order and into his holy space. Thus they do not make up their own vows and promises but they make those already there—and in the U.S.A. they say “I will” and not “I do”!

Thirdly, the relation of order into which the man and woman enter in the covenant of marriage before God, the Holy Trinity, is most graciously and clearly that of “the man first in order and the woman second in order, but both equal before God as persons.” This clearly is stated in the promise made by the woman to the man; but, the context of love in which it is made in clearly state in the promise of the man to the woman first of all! Further, and this is often missed, this teaching of what is often called “male headship” is shown to be clearly scriptural and apostolic by the presentation of the duties of Man and Wife as given at the end of the Service from Ephesians 5; Colossians 3; and 1 Peter 3. These passages are part of the Service! [ As an aside, the doctrine of the Marriage service in terms of the relation of husband and wife is the doctrine one uses to interpret the Ordinal in its teaching of the duties of the Minister in the home and parish!]

As I have indicated above, this genuine Anglican doctrine of marriage from the primarily Formulary of the Anglican Way, The BCP 1662, has been eroded at these distinct points:

by dropping its God-given order and making it into primarily a human arrangement and contract which we ask God (who loves us!) to bless;

by the making of pro-creation an option, even for healthy people so that a fruit of the one-flesh union is negated;

and by the allowing of the entry into the current ethos of marriage both rights-monism and expressive individualism (opening the door not only for the advance of the homosexual cause but of much more as well).

At Lambeth 2008 will be the opportunity, provided by the providence of the Lord, for the courageous and wise Bishops from the West, along with the courageous and wise supporters of the Anglican Way, present at the Conference, to place on the front of the stove and bring to the boil this Anglican Doctrine of Marriage---and make it available for all to partake of in reading, study, meditation and desire for using to renew the doctrine and ethos of marriage on the western Church!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

GAFCON BOOKLET for all the pilgrims: Way Truth & Life

It is printed in Jerusalem in order to be available to the 1000 present, and was published on the 20th

It shows the following signs/weaknesses:

a. Hasty writing and production of the material
b. Written in generally generic evangelical language and thus limited by this form
c. Minimal editing by the English lady editor.

It covers these topics:

a. The familiar story of the innovations in sexuality since Lambeth 1998, written by the Archbishop of Nigeria and emphasizing the failure of the Windsor Process and the Archbishop of Canterbury to deal with the crisis in a biblically-coherent manner.
b. Thus the need for GAFCON – to recover the vision of what the Anglican Communion is all about, its true goals and essence.
c. Short statements of basic doctrine concerning God, Christ and Salvation, all in a generic evangelical form.
d. Strong emphasis upon the authority of Scripture, it right use and interpretation; its clarity for the current questions.
e. The common (and relatively recent) presentation of the Anglican way as “lower case” –evangelical, catholic and charismatic.
f. A clear recognition of the authority of the BCP 1662 and the Articles for the Anglican Way and a desire to be guided by them—but with no specifics.
g. A commitment to worship that originates in the form and doctrine of the classic BCP but expands in non-English cultures and different musical contexts to being a flower from the BCP root and open to growing in the new context (where church growth may be intense!).

It appears not to have considered the possibility of:

a. The presence in the Anglican Way of a classic high-church (Caroline divines) approach as being an important “stream” and likewise an anglo-catholic one that is not Rome-ward going.
b. The presence of those who wish to be in the Anglican Way and have deep roots in it, but find themselves not able to speak with certainty on some of the doctrines confidently asserted by generic evangelicalism.
c. Its wholesale use of generic evangelical language as not the best way to write a document for the “world.”

In SUMMARY. Nothing here that is new! It is a confirmation that GAFCON is essentially an evangelical, charismatic movement lead by spiritual giants from Africa, a movement that is a growth of Anglican evangelical missionary work, years ago, but a growth that is now on the world-stage mature and a major phenomenon to take into account. The West would do well to mark, learn and digest….we need the passion of the evangelist in the hearts of all our clergy and lay leaders! We need to think again of wining souls (people) for Jesus!

The Revd Dr Peter Toon

The Prayer Book Society of the USA, Box 35220, Philadelphia PA 19128-0220

1 800 727 1928

Monday, June 16, 2008

Apparent Prayer eliminates Effectual Prayer

On those “Lists” in the Bulletin which are read aloud in the Sunday “Eucharist.”

Some observations from one who has visited many churches over the last fifteen years in the forty-eight contiguous states - and in Hawaii and Alaska, and in most Canadian provinces.

In a previous short essay released on Trinity IV (“LITURGY: Contrast before and after the 1970s”), I noted the massive change to the “Anglican Divine Liturgy” (Public Worship for the Lord’s Day Morning) that occurred after the late 1960s, and then in and through the decades to the twenty-first century. From being the fixed and stable Liturgy where the individual person became by desire and grace a member of the Body, the divine entity, the divine organism, the microcosm of the one, catholic Church, historic Anglican Public Worship [Morning Prayer, Litany and The Order for Holy Communion] became the Liturgy for the ever-fuller expression of what is known as expressive individualism.

Gone was the united, fixed Prayer and content; in its place was flexibility, choice and change. Common Prayer assumed a new shape allowing varied content rather than classic shape containing unity in doctrine and content.

The entrance of this powerful, expressive individualism (which of course dominated much of American Protestant evangelical and liberal religion at that time and has done since) was felt in Anglican circles (as well as in Lutheran and Methodist circles) in both strong and weak forms. With the strong came musicians, actors, dancers, readers and their “arts,” and with the weak came celebration of birthdays and wedding anniversaries, extra “new” music, “shared ministries” in “the worship service” and so on. In a sense, what had been seen as belonging to a period after the Public Liturgy on Sunday, and also to mid- week for a variety of purposes, was now judged to be right for the unique Sunday Liturgy as well, but, importantly, it entered on Sunday as the result of expressive individualism! that is, to meet the felt needs of liberated individuals, who saw and felt the world from the inner perspective of the self.

Here, as space is limited, let us focus on one innovation that is so visible and audible in most “worship services” of churches of Anglican, Lutheran and Methodist types across the U.S.A. and Canada in 2008. It is most clearly the result of the influence of expressive individualism, a phenomenon that liturgists have embraced as one important theme of successful contemporary worship.

Prayer LISTS

Sometime during or after the 1970s the ”Prayer List,” previously found in the printed Bulletin of parishes. found its way into the content of “the [new] Holy Eucharist” as a required part of the form of the “Prayers of the People.” Here, in the middle of what were usually short prayers of petition and intercession for the church and the world, a lay-person reads through this (usually-long) List, normally of first names, of those who had been placed upon It or requested to be on it as “needing prayer.” It all ended with the minister or lay-person making a short, summary prayer. The general idea seems to have been the incorporation of these “sick people” into the gathered “community” and embrace them in love.

Question: Why does the importing of such a List in such a way into the Liturgy represent a major and serious innovation from the point of view of the Anglican Tradition (i.e., from the first Book of Common Prayer of 1549, behind this in the medieval Latin Liturgy and on backwards into the Patristic Liturgy and even into the liturgy of the synagogue)?

To see the answer one may turn to look in The Book of Common Prayer (1549-1662 & the USA 1928 and Canadian 1962 editions; but NOT the 1979 USA edition). In the Prayer for the whole state of Christ’s Church militant here on earth, the Minister prays on behalf of all: And we most humbly beseech thee of thy goodness, O Lord, to comfort and succor all them, who in this transitory life are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity…”

This is the Prayer of the local church understood as an entity, an organism, as the local body of Christ and as the household of Faith. So the intercession is all-embracing , covering all, addressed to an All-knowing, all-wise, All-powerful God and Father, before whom all are equal in Christ Jesus, whether severely or minimally ill. The one united prayer of the one people of God for the one people of God arises through Christ in the Spirit to the one God of Salvation, the God of Health for this world and the next, that is of true Health!

Outside this unique Prayer of the Sunday Liturgy on the Lord’s Day, and during the weekdays, are many opportunities for the visiting of, and praying for the sick – which should be a real ministry of ordained Ministers and commissioned lay leaders. Regrettably this was often neglected in the past, as it is also now, and for this there is little or no excuse for us before the judgment seat of Jesus the Lord.

Obviously the point being made here is a biblical, liturgical and pastoral one, and one that was wholly in place for over a thousand years in Western and Eastern Catholicism, and then magisterial Protestantism (Anglicanism and Lutheranism, for example). To have disregarded it, with so much else, in the and after the 1960s is an amazing and sad comment on contemporary, western, liturgical Christianity, and a failure to grasp the nature of Prayer in the Body of Christ.


Perhaps an explanatory and practical comment on the modern use of the “List” here will help to make clearer the most important point that I believe I am making. Standing alone, I believe and I am often told that this common practice, even with good intentions, suffers from regular deficiencies, which are rarely put right. Here are some deficiencies that people regularly note and comment on:

People are left off the List simply through human error, ignorance and carelessness and this upsets not a few people a good deal (for the LIST has acquired emotional connections for some).
People who have died or moved away are left on often for weeks.
People who have recovered and are visibly active are often left on.
Very few people in larger congregations know more than a few of the names – especially as most appear as nick-names or first-names, or without any clue as to their whereabouts or needs.
Editors of Lists are fearful to edit even though they know it is often desperately needed, because of the built-in expressive individualism in this practice now.
When Lists are read out, few readers seem to prepare themselves either for pronunciation or for reverential demeanor in reading, and thus it sounds like any other list and can be most boring to the average listener!
In comparison to the often several minutes of names upon names, the concluding prayer at the end usually takes a few seconds usually.
Thus in the end what purports to be an intercessory Prayer is not a Prayer at all, but, rather, a list of names of persons (“individuals”) which are read out aloud and then attached to a short, quick, prayer formula!

As I have indicated, to redeem this poor pastoral, liturgical practice is not possible; but, I suggest that it may be improved somewhat by keeping a good, up-to-date, annotated LIST, printed in the Bulletin weekly, and then using it not in the “Service” but in daily Family Prayers in the parish and at the church prayer meetings, and the like, where it can be used creatively and reverently.

The Rev’d Dr Peter Toon, June 16, 2008, week of Trinity IV


Saturday, June 14, 2008


Or, HOW the Holy Eucharist, the Anglican Divine Liturgy, The Order for Holy Communion, was radically changed in the 1960s & 1970s, possibly for ever: and how the public services of Morning and Evening Prayer suffered as a consequence.

Some preliminary thoughts for consideration from the Revd Dr Peter Toon, Trinity 4, 2008, with special thanks to the insights of the late F. P Harton, who wrote in the 1930s

Here I do not intend to deal in detail with relation to Liturgy of the changed structure and content, or the supposed move away from the penitential to the adoption of the celebratory, or to the principle of openness to reform and development every decade or less, or to the power of local worship committees to adapt and modify for supposed local needs. I have written on these matters on various occasions in various publications and on the web.

Rather, I want to focus on the true Liturgy for a given jurisdiction as a whole text, a whole prayer, a whole experience of and for the local Body of Christ (a microcosm of the whole Body, and as such a totally non-individual because a supra-personal event).

Further, and here I may shock the reader, I want to suggest that this classic ideal has been shattered by the entry into liturgy of all kinds of forms of what is known as expressive individualism, which is endemic in the West and very much so in the USA and very noticeably in the USA churches.


Here I refer to “the Anglican Order for Holy Communion” found in the classic editions of The Book of Common Prayer (1549-1662) as The Liturgy – an ancient title, but in doing so I shall not forget Its close association with the Daily Offices & Litany.

Classically and historically the C of E and Anglican Churches have clearly and carefully distinguished between the set, authorized, written Liturgy on the one side, and then other services on the other side. Amongst the latter have been evangelistic and mission service, extempore prayer meetings; fellowship meetings; bible study meetings, times for singing and special music, and so on. Without in any way negating these, the Liturgy has been seen as distinct and different in status to these, not easily or quickly open to change and adaption according to local felt needs. Historically, Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics have both accepted this (but Anglo-Catholics usually after they have added a few distinctive features to the Liturgy, which once incorporated, were seen as part of it permanently!)

At this point some explanation is necessary, I think. It has been recognized from the days of the Early Church that individual prayer, even when collective, is one thing, and the special, liturgical prayer of the Church another, and each is necessary for the edification of the whole people of God. The Liturgy as such is not concerned with the individual in the first place or as such: it is primarily the expression of the one body of Christ; so in this sense liturgical prayer is impersonal. Within it as one member of the one body he or she is required by divine command and love to sacrifice and set aside his or her individualism in order to enter fully into the fullness of the body of Christ. And, only as this is one, does the worshipper truly find out and know what worship of the Father through the Son and with the Holy Spirit really is. One is in the body worshipping God the Almighty Father in union with his Incarnate Son, and this worship that is “through Jesus Christ our Lord” is far deeper and richer than any worship of our own that we can make in our own special services and meetings. Why? Because Christ is within us as a body, and as the Head offering in the Spirit the worship to the Father!

Thus in the Liturgy is realized the unity of the Body of Christ, for, importantly, the Church of God is an entity, and its vital principle is the life of Christ, the Incarnate Son, for it is guided by Him as its head, and guided by the Holy Spirit, his Paraclete. In contrast, we need to say that the individual Christian is not an entity, but a member of this unity, a cell of the living organism which is the Church of God. Of course, each Christian has his/her own spiritual life which must be lived and matured, but which must never, we must insist, be developed apart from the life of the organism and the one body.

(B) Expressive Individualism

Attempts to assimilate the Prayer that is the Liturgy to the prayer of the individual are not new in the West; but they are always wrong and they are exceedingly common in 2008 and have become so more and more since the 1960s. The line, as noticed above, between forms of real Liturgy and extra-liturgical services has been eroding so that it hardly exists in some Anglican congregations today; and, indeed, it is assumed as not only the Anglican way but also as right to have it this way! Here we find that the individualist wants to find in public prayer the direct expression of his or her own spiritual condition and needs, and for him/here, therefore, the old Liturgy (by repute or by examination) seems to be generalized, formal and cold; hence arise the experiments to make Liturgy more human, accessible, relevant and the like. And this it now appears is an open and never ending process for there are no real, fixed points.

To put this in contemporary terms, the Liturgy has been increasingly since the late 1960s—and very much since the 1990s in USA Anglicanism and elsewhere—invaded by the Individual (that is by and through Expressive Individualism) and what is often left, after this invasion, is not the LITURGY as such, but a modern form of “worship service” in which are traces of the LITURGY present via some of the ancient, familiar fixed parts (and modern liturgists now dare to call these left-overs “common prayer”!).

Expressive Individualism involves a person feeling and acting as she/he were the center of the universe, looking for self-worth, satisfaction, fulfillment and happiness outside the self, through the expression of inner desires, convictions, orientations and wants in the outer world. So personal feeling, opinion, expression, satisfaction, relevance and the like are what is looked for in daily living. (This does not in most cases lead to excessively selfish people for much kindness is felt for others most of the time.)

When such people meet (and that means most of us!) the common way to be the church in the post-1960s world is as a “community” (not as an “entity” or “organism”) where the whole is built up of the individual persons, feeling consenting and expecting to be affirmed more or less in their expression of their unique individualism. Obviously any agenda from the Bible or elsewhere arising in these circumstances is going to reflect where the members are in their expressive individualism (and obviously they are going to be at different points of expressiveness due to their belonging to different age-groups, family backgrounds, educations, moral training and so on – thus a mixed or contested agenda as we see in The Episcopal Church today).

But back to LITURGY. I submit that it cannot be doubted that since the late 1960s the new replacement Liturgy within western Anglican Churches has absorbed all kinds of additions and lost various critical previous parts and themes. These mostly, but not always , have been in the service of expressive individualism, taken for granted, it appears, at least in weak form, by the liturgists for they belong to it.

Into the “Eucharist,” as it is usually called now, has entered the dominant idea of “celebration” usually meaning the bringing of choruses, songs, loud music, testimonies, drama, stories and the like into what is now known as the generic “worship service”, and at the same time, the dumbing down of some of the great themes and doctrines of the centuries—penitence, repentance, confession of sin as the praise of God, the fear of the Lord, the chastisement of the Lord, and great mercy of God to miserable, undeserving sinners, the absolute centrality of the Atonement of Calvary and so on.

Let us be clear: this is not solely an Anglican reality for it is seen also in the ecumenical partners such as Lutherans and Methodists, and even in some of the modern Roman Catholic masses. Yet not yet as far as I know in Orthodox Churches where the right estimate of the Divine Liturgy is wholly held with care and delight.


The tragedy is that for virtually all types of western Anglicanism the line between the LITURGY as (a) the Prayer of the Entity, the Organism, the Body of Christ (microcosm in the one place) and (b) evangelistic, charismatic, prayer, bible-study, social work services (services for individuals coming together with Christian intent and to serve the Lord) has been shattered. We have lost the sense of the uniqueness of Divine Liturgy, first of the Holy Communion, and second, of classic Morning and Evening Prayer as public worship with fixed texts.

It is as though the long experience and great teaching and devotion of the Reformed Catholic Tradition of the Anglican Way from the 1550s through the 1960s has been thrown to the wind because of the turn to the inner self, and to a new form of individualism, which was given such new power by the revolution that we call the 1960s.

It is most difficult now in 2008 to know where to find the Anglican Way in the West, for even where the classic services are used they are so often conducted and attended by people who live within expressive individualism and do not realize the very vast difference between the restrained individualism with strong relational content, assumed within the classic texts, and that individualism that reigns virtually supreme today!


Why Uganda goes to Gafcon and not Lambeth

Below is a press release that the Church of Uganda has put out about GAFCON. It has been sent from the Archbishop of Uganda's office.

Press Release
For Immediate Release
13th June 2008
Contact:David Sseppuuya,
Amanda Onapito,, +256 772 561 428

Background on GAFCON – Global Anglican Future Conference
What is GAFCON?
GAFCON is the Global Anglican Future Conference ( being held in Jerusalem from 22nd – 29th June 2008. There are three purposes:

1. To provide an opportunity for fellowship as well as to continue to experience and proclaim the transforming love of Jesus Christ

2. To develop a renewed understanding of our identity as Anglican Christians.

3. To prepare for an Anglican future in which the Gospel is uncompromised and Christ-centred mission is a top priority.

Who is organizing GAFCON?
GAFCON was conceived by the Anglican Archbishops of Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, the Southern Cone (South America), and Sydney (Australia). Evangelical Anglican Bishops from the UK and the USA were also involved in its organization.

How many people will participate in GAFCON?
More than 1,000 people have registered for GAFCON, including more than 280 Bishops, their wives, clergy and non-ordained church leaders. One hundred and seven (107) people from Uganda will be going, including 34 Bishops.

Why is GAFCON being held in Jerusalem?
GAFCON is essentially a pilgrimage. We are going back to the roots of our faith, to the place where Jesus was born, lived, died, and was raised from the dead.

How is GAFCON different from Lambeth?
The Lambeth Conference of Bishops is held every ten years and will be held this coming July at the University of Kent in England. The Archbishop of Canterbury convenes the Lambeth Conference and invites Bishops and their spouses from all provinces of the Anglican Communion. The purpose of Lambeth is to provide Bishops with an opportunity for worship, study, and conversation about matters that affect the Anglican Communion.

GAFCON is different because it includes clergy and non-ordained leaders from the church.

GAFCON is the first of its kind and is a one-time event. It is, therefore, not an alternative to Lambeth.

Are the Bishops from the Church of Uganda going to Lambeth?
No. The Church of Uganda Bishops decided together not to go to Lambeth this year. Their decision has been supported by the governing body of the Church of Uganda, the Provincial Assembly Standing Committee. The reason the Church of Uganda is not going to Lambeth is because the purpose of Lambeth is for fellowship among Bishops, and our fellowship has been broken with the American church. We broke fellowship with them for three reasons:

1. In direct violation of the Bible and historic Christian teaching, they consecrated as a Bishop a gay man living in a same-sex relation ship

After five years of pleading with them, listening to them, and giving them many opportunities, they have not repented of that decision.

The Archbishop of Canterbury did not follow the advice given to him by his own appointed Commission to not invite to Lambeth those responsible for the confusion and disobedience in the Anglican Communion. The Bible says, 'Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?' We have not been in fellowship with the Americans who have violated the Bible since 2003, so we are not going to pretend by going to Lambeth that we are in fellowship. We are not. What they have done is a very serious thing, and what the Archbishop of Canterbury has done in inviting them is grievous and we want them to know that.

Is the Church of Uganda seceding from the Anglican Communion?
No. We are simply not going to the Lambeth Conference. We are still part of the Anglican Communion, and the vast majority of the Anglican Communion opposes what the American Church has done and the Archbishop of Canterbury's tacit support for it.

What is the Anglican Communion?
The Anglican Communion is a family of 38 independent churches that trace their heritage to the Church of England. It is the third largest Christian community in the world – the Roman Catholic Church is the largest; the Orthodox Church is the second largest; and, the Anglican Communion is the third largest. There are 77 million members in the Anglican Communion. The Church of Uganda is the second largest Province with more than 10 million members. The Church of Nigeria is the largest with more than 20 million members. The Church of England claims 26 million members because it is the State Church, and all English subjects are entitled to membership in the Church of England. But, less than 1 million people attend church on an average Sunday.

Is the Anglican Communion going to split?
The Anglican Communion has been deeply wounded. The 2003 decision of the Episcopal Church in America to consecrate as a bishop a gay man living in a same-sex relation ship caused a deep tear in the fabric of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Not only has the American Church not repented of this decision and action, but they have continued to advance non-Biblical teaching and practice. Their Bishops and many clergy have presided at the blessing of same-sex unions. Their Archbishop does not believe the Bible when Jesus says, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me.' Another American Bishop has said, 'The Church wrote the Bible, so the church can re-write the Bible.' It is wrong for them to continue to be Bishops and leaders in the Church. Yet, if their church will not discipline them, we will continue in broken fellowship with them. We cannot tolerate such theological corruption.

Is the crisis in the Anglican Communion about homosexuality?
No. The crisis is about authority. Homosexuality is only the presenting issue. All four Instruments of Unity in the Anglican Communion – The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Lambeth Conference of Bishops, The Primates Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council – advised against the American Church approving homosexual relationships. Yet, the American Church openly defied these resolutions and there was no disciplinary action taken against them. That is a crisis of authority in the Communion. Furthermore, the apparent lack of resolve to take action manifests a deeper crisis, namely a crisis of confidence in the authority of the Word of God as the ultimate standard of faith and moral living.

Can anything good come out of this crisis?
Yes. As Christians we are always people of hope. We believe that the Anglican Communion must base its identity on bonds of truth as well as bonds of affection. That's why we are going to GAFCON. We hope that GAFCON will reassert as normative Anglican Christianity the reality we know in Uganda – that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ can bring substantive change for good in a person's life, in his family, and in our country. We saw it when Christianity came to Uganda. We saw it when the East African Revival broke out in the 1930's and 1940's. We saw families healed, cycles of revenge broken, and oppression from demonic powers lifted. The only hope from the human condition is eternal forgiveness that comes only through Jesus Christ. That's what the Anglican Church is about, and that's why we're going to GAFCON and not Lambeth.

What is GAFCON's position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
GAFCON participants are coming to Jerusalem from more than 25 countries for the purpose of pilgrimage. Many are from regions that suffer political instability and violence, and we empathize with all victims of injustice and violence in the Middle East. It is our fervent prayer that both Jews and Arabs find ways to work towards reconciliation and a political settlement to begin to bring a measure of security and justice to the peoples living in the region. We share our faith with Arab Christians, our biblical heritage with the Jewish people, and a common humanity with Muslims. We are going to the Holy Land as pilgrims and we stand against any form of unjust discrimination and violence against any people for ethnic, social or political reasons.

What is the Church of Uganda's position on the ordination of women?
The Bible is very clear that homosexual practice is sin. But, nowhere in the Bible is being a woman described as a sin. The ordination of women and the ordination of practicing homosexuals cannot be compared. They are not the same issue. People of equally strong evangelical conviction come to different conclusions about the ordination of women, but we in Uganda have understood the Bible to teach that God created men and women in His image and both can be ordained to serve God in His Church.

Chris Sugden
Anglican Mainstream

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Counterfeit Claims of SPREAD: On The Present Purpose of the One Anglican Communion

For your careful consideration in preparation for GAFCON and LAMBETH -- P.T.

The Counterfeit Claims of SPREAD: On The Present Purpose of the One Anglican Communion

By Ephraim Radner | June 10, 2008
The Society for the Propagation of Reformed Evangelical Anglican Doctrine (SPREAD) recently issued an appeal that the Anglican Communion be split. In particular, the appeal, entitled “Counterfeit Communion and the Truth that Sets Us Free”, has urged that all those committed to the “Anglican Faith” which is “defined by the Church of England’s Articles of Religion, 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the 1662 Ordinal” , “separate from” the Archbishop of Canterbury and form a new and properly orthodox Anglican Communion. This “urgent call to action”, the appeal says, will be presented to the assembled gathering at the upcoming meeting of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) to be held in and near Jerusalem.

The SPREAD website provides no names as to its board, members, and supporters. And although the appeal mentions a number of people positively in passing – Stephen Noll, Abp. Henry Orombi, Abp. Peter Jensen, and others – it is unclear as to whether any of these persons themselves are in favor of breaking up the Anglican Communion in the way the appeal urges. The only name listed, as SPREAD’s “convener” and the presenter at GAFCON of the call to break up the Communion, is that of John Rodgers, one of the leaders of the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA), former Dean and recently Acting Dean of Trinity School for Ministry, in Ambridge, PA. I shall assume, for lack of any other stated names, that Rodgers is the author of the appeal and respond on that basis. In many ways I regret having to make this response at all. Bishop Rodgers has served the Church of Christ with vigor, intelligence, and faith for many years; and although I have always disagreed with central strategic choices and behaviors pursued by the AMiA in their founding, I have continued to admire their evangelistic zeal and sacrifice. However, in this case, Rodgers has gone over the line with respect to charity, truthfulness, and wisdom. It is important that Anglicans be aware of the fact that there are many Scriptural Christians like myself, committed to the witness and struggles of the world-wide Church, who strongly resist and are indeed dismayed by the spirit and content of his proposals. It is not only a very serious charge indeed to associate the name of “anti-Christ” with the Archbishop of Canterbury, as Rodgers has done in his proposal (pp.6f.); it is also false, and because the charge derives from a conclusion to incomplete, unfair, and distorted interpretations of Rowan Williams’ own testimony, it is scurrilous.


Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Individual or the Person in relation(s) & ANGLICAN LITURGY, especially in North America

Preliminary thoughts from Peter Toon (June 1, 2008)

It is a common place of modern English that a single human being is referred to as an “individual” (rather than “individual man/woman/child”), whereas animals, from pets to wild lions, are not so named. This is odd and deserves an essay sometime by someone!

While what is referred to as “individuality” and “individualism” may be traced back a long way in western history, the use of the adjective, “individual,” acting as a noun for a human being, has only been common in recent centuries. It is, for example, the way used in the Federal Law of the U.S.A. but not so obviously of all USA State Law and not the way of, say, the law of the German Federal Republic. In the latter the human being as a person in relation is still there taking precedence over “individual”.

The unchallenged use of this word “individual” today for a human being tells us a lot, but not everything, about how human beings (particularly in the West) both see themselves and are seen by others. In the fullest form in 2008 this may be explained as a form of “exclusive humanism” that accepts “no final goals beyond human flourishing, not any allegiance to anything else beyond this flourishing” (Charles Taylor). I suggest that we can see this especially in the attitude and lives of many seeming nice young persons today.

To put this in a related way, there is general agreement amongst scholars, it seems, that the type of individualism that is dominant today and assumed by the educational system, the media, the fashion industry, Hollywood and so on is “expressive individualism,” which has roots of course in the Romantic movement of yesterday and other sources. Here an individual person is seen as being true to self by expressing and doing what he or she feels is good for him or her, and does not directly harm another. Here old rules about morality, manners, deportment and the like are set aside for the “nobler” purpose of full self- expression and self realization in the name of dignity and self-worth. In terms of the older form of moral discourse, it is obviously judged as wholly self-centered; however, in response this sensibility and mindset does not count the old discourse as valid, because it was not true to the “real” feelings of human beings in their varied and individual forms of living in a complex society.

With this as background, let us, as Anglicans, think about the Bible and inherited Anglican Liturgy and see where individualism is apparent.

1. We can begin by stating that there is no description or commendation of expressive individualism in either the English Bible (KJV, RSV etc) or the English Prayer Book (The BCP 1549-1962 editions). There is selfish, pride and misery but no expressive individualism.
2. However, we need to add that there is what may be called a form of individualism in each in the sense that – always within the powerful reality of kith and kin, family relations and the like –there is the definite call to each and every person to repent, to believe, to trust and to obey the Lord Jesus as a person in his/her own right. “Take up thy cross and follow me…” But the person in decision is not seen as an individual in the modern sense: rather he is seen as a person in relation, a person who by the grace of God in free choice changes his relation to membership of the kingdom of God and ekklesia of God, without ceasing to have real human connections and relations around him. He is always a person in relation even as he acts individually in moral decision in the U-turn to the living God.
3. Turning to the new paraphrases and dynamic equivalency translations of the Bible which have appeared in many forms since the revolutionary decade of the 1960s, we do (if we have eyes to see!) meet modern expressive individualism (usually in a weak form but there) in them in the way in which human beings are situated in relation to God and to their moral lifestyle. Indeed one may say that the very use of the technique of dynamic equivalency leads necessarily to the statement of Christian standing and privilege in terms of human rights and self-worth/dignity before God and man, and away from the Biblical emphasis on responsibility, duty, fear, love, trust and so on. It does so for it seeks to put things in ways that are in vogue today in this place and time.
4. Now to the liturgies which were put together in the 1960s and 1970s and have appeared in official and semi-official forms since then. What is very clear—if one takes a bird’s eye view of their content from 1967 to 2007—is that they quickly move in North America to working with expressive individualism in restricted form as where people are to setting this position out as the ethic of the Gospel. God wills that each of us be what we are according to our individual orientation: and holiness for each of us is only possible this way. At the same time to seek to make sense of having churches, they liturgists of the new order put great emphasis on community (where individuals come together freely for celebration and self-realization), and to this end they emphasize baptism as the entry into a community of equals with a commitment to peace and justice. To be absent from the common eucharist or not to participate fully in it is regarded as a unique sin , for it is to deny practically both community and also self-realization as the way to holiness.
5. Her we have also to make the perhaps surprising point that the only real difference between those whom we think of as progressively liberal (who lead the Episcopal Church) and those who identify themselves as “orthodox,” but yet use in essence the same liturgies from the 1970s era as the progressives, is this: the former take the new innovatory principles all the way (from women’s ordination to same-sex blessings including serial monogamy and the renaming of fornication as holiness etc.), while the latter go in general with women’s ordination and serial monogamy but turn the expressive individualism away from gay sex into more traditional Christian concerns such as a “personal relationship with Jesus” which they believe is true to Scripture and which leads to charismatic style, nonconformity, church growth and outreach. That is “the orthodox” use as much as they can of the 1970s liturgies in a way that has connections with the pre-1960s tradition of Anglican liturgy and common doctrine. At the same time they are decidedly modern, that is post 1960s, in their general mindset and ethos for expressive individualism is part of their reality.

Now I would like to move on to ask how the minority in the Anglican Way, who use the Liturgies and Bible translations of the seventeenth century (KJV and BCP 1662), understand them with regard to this question of self-identity and individualism.

I think I would begin by stating my hunch that it is probably impossible for any person living in the West today to use the BCP and Bible in the way that it was used by the devout Anglican Christian in the seventeenth century. Though the Reformation had given a moral and spiritual impetus to individualism before God in terms of personal, moral decision, the strength of belonging to others in hierarchical and horizontal relations of order was strong and part of the received Christian reality of living. This is assumed by the Prayer Book in the prayers for Monarch and Country, for the good of the Commonwealth and all ranks of persons. It is assumed in the Catechism, in the Marriage Service and in the Services for Ordaining Bishops, Priests and Deacons. Here we are a very long way from either the rugged individualism of the American frontier in the 18th and 19th centuries or the developing expressive individualism of later times, especially post 1960s. It is real but it is carefully restricted for general purposes.

But to continue: It would seem that there are various motives present in contemporary Anglicans who profess a preference for using a traditional liturgy (1662 England; 1928 USA; 1962 Canada). Here are some suggestions.

We know that not a few are moved by the quality of the language and by general aesthetic considerations with regard to the old texts. It would appear that they enjoy these dimensions and possibly never really make an attempt to get inside the general cultural, religious meaning and ethos through and behind the texts. So they can bring to the text a mindset—say of expressive individualism in a mild or strong form—and not sense any real discord, because their attention is to the quality of the text as pleasurable (perhaps credible does not enter in here). And their worship of God and its inner devotion are usually very personal and not themselves topics of conversation. They also love both good music and genuine silence with the liturgy and hate with passion the intrusion of a thing like “the passing of the peace.”

We also know that not a few are moved not initially by the text as such but rather by a cultural social conservatism for which the classic, solid and highly-rated text becomes an external sign of their patriotism and generally Republican commitments. (Note that Rite I in 1979 texts can also function this way.) This is not to say that they do not seek to worship God in sincerity but it is to say that the text as form- of- worship- text is being understand in a way that is not its original meaning. In fact they usually bring to it some or all of their general convictions and feelings about modern social conservatism –e.g., the mindset that is much against abortion and same-sex marriage but wholly in favor of divorce and remarriage-and these topics are very obvious at the coffee hour!.

Then we know that there are those—and they are probably the minority with the minority by far—that welcome the quality of language and aesthetics, who may or may not be social conservative as citizens, and who also truly desire to enter into the Bible’s message and the meaning of the traditional Prayer Book Services, in a real and committed way because they believe that this is a valid way truly to God the Father through Jesus Christ in truth. That is they really want to find truth and worship in truth, as well as with beauty and good order.

To begin to think and act with this mindset immediately makes a person counter-cultural in the sense that he or she has to put aside most of the dominant mindset of western society—expressive individualism, morality stated in terms of rights, and much more. One has to seek to re-imagine or re-envision oneself as a person placed by God in relations of divine order—order within the created world natural law, procreation and families etc., and also order within the kingdom of God and grace, where there is the universal family of God, the eternal household of the Father. Such a task is most difficult and may be impossible in its fullness in the conditions of modern America: and it cannot be pursued alone by a determined person, it has to be a shared vocation with others, perhaps initially in one’s “nuclear family” and in the real fellowship of a committed group or church.

Persons of committed Christian faith, who seek to walk in this way, are of course wholly aware of their context in society and church, and they have to make conscious decisions daily within the powerful context as how they are to live authentically as persons placed by God in required relations of order, in the created and the supernatural realms. And they have to pray for wisdom and discrimination so as not to lose their bearings and become cranks! Certainly the devil is after them as prize targets.

No wonder that very few Christians today in the West stand against the powerful tide of expressive individualism and the universal morality stated in rights. To do so is tough, very tough indeed.

Observation of services of worship in R C, Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopal, Baptist and other churches today reveals, in the main, a serious and yet unapologetic dumbing down of what these Churches taught and did a generation ago, and it also clearly reveals a general capitulation to expressive individualism on the one hand and strong push for community feeling on the other. Ministers have often become semi-professional managers of the congregation as community, and also therapists to keep people feeling welcome and a part of the whole developing community. Much of their previous liturgical leadership is shared by the laity and they are not seen as “the godly and learned pastor” anymore.

Yet such is the sense of desire for spirituality and belonging within American society in 2008, expressed mostly through expressive individualism, that people still attend churches of many types in large numbers on Sunday mornings in the U.S.A.—in great contrast to the situation in Europe or Australia or even Canada, which is so near to this ferment.