Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Everyone agrees that what we know as Anglicanism, or the Reformed Catholicism of The Anglican Way, began when ecclesia anglicana, the Church of and in England, went through a reformation in the middle of the sixteenth century. To gain an immediate acquaintance of the heart of the changed religion of this National Church one needs to read the English Bible, the English Prayer Book, the English Ordinal [services of ordination] , the Articles of Religion, and the Book of Homilies.

Obviously, since the sixteenth century, there have been changes and developments in the religion of The Church of England and in the many churches created from it around the world. Nevertheless, everyone agrees that the Anglican form of Christianity began in the Church of England.

Until very recently everyone apparently also agreed that rightly to claim the name of Anglican a Church in any country had to be in communion with the Church of England, and the way of expressing this was often, “in communion with the See of Canterbury” as the seat of the archbishop who is known as the Primate of all England.

However, in 2008 we are in the amazing position where Churches, tiny and large, in America and Africa (and perhaps in South America), are claiming that they are truly Anglican; and, at the same time, they are asserting that this does not require being in communion with the See of Canterbury or with the Church of England.

To illustrate this point, let’s begin with the tiny churches, those known as the Continuing Anglican Churches in the U.S.A. and which originally seceded from The Episcopal Church in 1977.

On departing they clearly asserted that they desired to remain in communion with the See of Canterbury (see “Affirmation of St Louis, 1977” ). However, this dimension of their religion has now been dropped. So they claim to be able, in and of themselves, and by their own authority, to define what is “Anglican” and then practice that religion, as wholly separate from the See of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion of Churches.

Now let’s note what the largest of Anglican Churches in the world did in 2002. The Anglican Church of Nigeria removed from its constitution all reference to Communion with the See of Canterbury and stated its own authority to define both what is “Anglican” and what is “the Anglican Communion.” This new Constitution is currently in force.

Though the provinces of Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda have not taken such dramatic action as Nigeria, they have effectively united with Nigeria in a position that in practical terms states that Communion with the See of Canterbury is at best optional and may even be damaging—and thus avoided. One major reason for the proposed Conference in June 2008 in Jerusalem (GAFCON), just before the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury, is apparently to demonstrate that the Anglican Communion can do quite well without being [mis]guided by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The group of provinces and organizations associated with GAFCON appear to believe that “Anglican” can be defined and claimed by any group that so chooses and the ancient polity of relation to the C of E is no longer necessary—especially as long as Rowan Williams, whom they distrust, is in the See.

This means that the offshoots of these Provinces which are present in the U.S.A. and Canada have to follow the lead of their African leaders. This they seem happy to do! Apparently what is known as the Common Cause Partners (a fledgling organization of some of these offshoots and like-minded groups) has through its appointed leader, Bishop Bob Duncan, stated full commitment to GAFCON and thus to the mindset of it, which is the downgrading or rejection of the See of Canterbury.

Therefore in the U.S.A. any parish or congregation that claims the name of Anglican or Episcopal and desires to be in communion with the See of Canterbury has only one place to go, and that is The Episcopal Church! Though one could say that this Church is hanging on by a thread to its membership in The Anglican Communion of Churches, it is still a member! Much the same point applies in Canada.

There may be an exception to this and that is membership of a former TEC diocese that has become a diocese of The Southern Cone of South America—specifically San Joachin in CA. However, it is not wholly clear whether the association of this small Province with GAFCON means that it regards the See of Canterbury merely as an option rather than a necessity for truly Anglican identity.

All in all we are living in complex and confusing times, and nowhere is it more difficult to fathom what is going on than in the U.S.A. Sexagesima , January 2008,

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Preparing for LENT: Ash Wednesday – Why no call for FASTING in the Collect?

People ask me: Why does The Book of Common Prayer (1662) delay the required Prayer (Collect) on Fasting during Lent to the First Sunday in Lent when it should, apparently, by rights, be prayed on the First Day of Lent, which is the previous Wednesday?

Here is the answer!

The Collect for the first Sunday is addressed to the Lord Jesus Christ and begins with a reference to fasting,

O Lord, who for our sake didst fast forty days and forty nights; Give us grace to use such abstinence, that, our flesh being subdued to the Spirit, we may ever obey thy godly motions in righteousness and true holiness, to thy honour and glory…..

In contrast, the Collect appointed for Ash Wednesday is addressed to the Father and contains no reference to fasting:

Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all them that are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins, and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The answer to the question of why no reference to fasting in the Ash Wednesday Collect is as follows:

Back in the fifth and six centuries when the Christian Year, with its Collects, Epistles and Gospels, was created, Lent began on the Sunday which was called Quadragesima, for it was about 40 days before Easter ( with the previous Sundays being named Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima—roughly 70, 60 & 50 days before Easter). Only later was the beginning of Lent put back to the previous Wednesday to make it an exact 40 days, when the Sundays are not counted. So in the tradition of the medieval Church of England, although Lent began literally forty days (excluding Sundays) before Easter on the previous Wednesday (called Ash Wednesday), the Collect for the First Sunday testified to (and historically belonged to) an earlier period when Lent actually began on the Sunday which was 40 days or so before Easter.

So worshippers need to know the Collect for Quadragesima, as they actually hear the Collect for Ash Wednesday at the beginning of Lent!

Now back to the special Prayer for Ash Wednesday which is to be repeated every day throughout Lent.

This was composed by Archbishop Cranmer, using as his base, the Latin Collect prayed at the benediction of the ashes on Ash Wednesday in the medieval English Church. Before the ashes were laid upon the heads of the members of the congregation the priest said, “Remember, man, that thou art ashes [dust] and unto ashes [dust] shalt thou return.”

Here is the old English Latin Collect used with the ashes in an English translation, which seeks to preserve the style of the original:

Almighty and everlasting God, who hast compassion upon all men, and hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost not impute the sins of men by reason of their penitence; who also dost succour those who labour in necessity; Vouchsafe to bless [+] and sanctify [+] these ashes, which thou has appointed us to bear upon our heads after the manner of the Ninevites, in token of humiliation and holy devotion, and in order to the washing away of our offences; and, by this invocation of thy holy name, grant that all those that shall bear them upon their heads, to implore thereby thy mercy, may obtain from thee both the pardon of all their offences, and also grace so to begin today their holy fasts, that on the day of Resurrection, they may be counted worthy to approach to the holy Paschal feast, and hereafter to receive everlasting glory. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A final word is in order. Lent, of course, is not about historical research but is about devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. May our abstinence and fasting in Lent be adorned in Gospel righteousness.

The Reformers dropped the use of ashes on Ash Wednesday in order to avoid superstition and misunderstanding. Today some churches have restored their use believing that their symbolism can be rightly appreciated in this time and place, January 2008 Sexagesima

Quinquagesima Sunday—LENT begins in 3 days—February 3, 2008

The Collect for the 3 days before Ash Wednesday, and then for the rest of the week, was created by Archbishop Cranmer, after prolonged meditation upon the Epistle for the day, 1 Corinthians 13.

It replaced the medieval Collect, which related to a custom of receiving absolution (“getting shriven”) on Shrove Tuesday before Lent began. In traditional English it prayed: “O Lord, we beseech thee favorably to hear our prayers, and, having loosed us by absolution from the bonds of our sins, defend us from all adversity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” For many by 1549 Shrove Tuesday had become a day of letting off steam—as now in many Latin American places—before the rigors of Lent ;and so this Collect by 1549 no longer had much relevance.
Here is the Collect that first appeared in the new English Prayer Book of 1549:

O Lord, who hast taught us that all our doings without charity are nothing worth; Send thy Holy Ghost, and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity, the very bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whosever liveth is counted dead before thee: Grant this for thine only Son Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.

We may observe first of all that to enter the door into the long season of Lent, thinking and praying about the gift of charity in relation to God and man, is an excellent way of going forward into this important penitential season. And in the second place, we note that the cruciality of the word “charity” both in the English Bibles of the sixteenth century and in the Prayer Book. It points to what we would call a real and committed love of human beings as they are in themselves before God and in their need.

The Collect addresses the Lord, who is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. And in his presence it recalls—by use of the relative clause—what he has taught us in his written Word, especially in 1 Corinthians 13. And this is that unless we do our good works in the spirit of love for others then as deeds seen by God they are worth nothing; for only what is truly motivated and offered in love has worth in God’s kingdom. So it is not the size or value of any good work that God sees but its quality in terms of its motivation and purpose. We recall the widow’s mite!

Having recalled in his presence what his Word teaches concerning love in action, the Collect is ready to make a major petition: “Send thy Holy Ghost—the Spirit who comes from the Father through the Son—and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity.” In Galatians 5:22 we read that “the fruit of the Spirit is love.” We need to be profoundly and humbly aware that in and of ourselves, try as we may, we cannot produce the love that God approves and accepts.

What he requires of us he alone is only able to give to us—that is, to give when we are ready to receive with penitent heart. And the love that he gives enables us both to love him and, in that love, to love our fellow human beings. But this excellent gift of charity/love is not given at one moment to be there for all time; we need to be receiving this love daily so that our hearts are not governed by our own pride and selfishness.

Then the Collect in the words, “the very bond of peace and of all virtues,” offers an interpretation of the crucial and unifying place of love in the Christian life, based upon (a) Ephesians 4:3—“endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” and (b) Colossians 3:18—“… the bond of perfectness.” The idea is of love being that central way and means by which the various virtues (= doings) and gifts of the Spirit are held together in an orderly and efficient way in the Christian life, in order both to please the Lord and to abound in good works.

And the Collect draws to a close with a further strong statement, that can only be uttered if it is truly grounded in Scripture: “Without which whosoever liveth is counted dead before thee.” That is, not to have the love of God in the heart is to be as dead before the heavenly Father. The easiest place to look for the grounding is in 1 John 4 where we read, “He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” But it is also grounded in 1 Corinthians 13:2, “without charity I am nothing”.

It is with one of the great verbs used in prayer, “Grant,” that the final part of the Collect begins. What has been asked thus far is only possible because of the saving and mediatorial work of the Incarnate Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ; and so the Collect arises to the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ.

And God’s people say, Amen! Sexagesima 2008

Monday, January 28, 2008


[Various people have asked me if they or their church may have a copy of the pdf of AN ANGLICAN PRAYER BOOK. The answer is regrettably NO for the time being and for two basic reasons: first of all, the purpose of a Prayer Book is to provide an approach to the LORD our God in worship and prayer daily, weekly and on special occasions--thus we want to invite people to get a copy and get a living sense of the whole relation to God daily and weekly in common prayer (this is extremely important); secondly, to produce a hardback book on quality paper etc costs a lot of money and we need to recoup some of this before we release it free as pdf. Bishop Murphy will decide when I can release it as pdf but it will not be for a while yet. --P.T.]

To order a copy see below:

Contemporary English Services based on those in The Book of Common Prayer and The Ordinal, in their English 1662, American 1928 and Canadian 1962 editions

The aim of this prayer book is to make available in contemporary language the doctrine, devotion and structure of classic Anglican Common Prayer, as these are provided in the historic editions of The Book of Common Prayer. It is designed for use primarily with the English Standard Version of the Bible, but other conservative translations will work also. It is intended in the first place for the congregations in the networks of The Anglican Mission of the Americas; but; it is fully expected that it will also be used within other parts of contemporary Anglicanism.

The aim is not to replace the standard, traditional editions of The Book of Common Prayer authorized in England, U.S.A. and Canada, but to build a bridge towards them by presenting their basic theology, spirituality and reformed catholic ethos in a form of language that a majority feel is now the only real option—a form of contemporary English.

It is a regrettable fact that most of the forms of service designed for use since the late 1960s in western Anglicanism have sought to set aside the pattern and doctrine within the historic Book of Common Prayer, and replace them with a shape and theology that is a mixture of ancient structure and modern doctrine. Even where some of the historic content has been preserved, as in Rite One services of the 1979 Prayer Book of The Episcopal Church, it is made to fit into the “shape” of the modern Rite Two.

Therefore, there is a real need in contemporary Anglicanism for the availability of classic Common Prayer in a way that is acceptable and usable by those who currently use Rite Two, or the Canadian 1985 Book, or the like. There is an open space developing for use of traditional services in contemporary English, where the doctrine and devotion of the historic Anglican Way are present, known and received.

Contents : Preface; The Christian Year; Morning and Evening Prayer; The Litany;
The Athanasian Creed; Compline; Holy Communion; The Collects and Eucharistic Lectionary; Baptism; The Catechism; Confirmation; Marriage; Visitation of the Sick; Burial of the Dead; Interment or Scattering of Ashes; Family Prayer; Daily Lectionary; The Ordinal -- The Making of Deacons; The Ordination of Priests; The Consecration of a Bishop; & The Articles of Religion

AN ANGLICAN PRAYER BOOK is published for The Anglican Mission in the Americas by The Preservation Press of the Prayer Book Society on February 1, 2008. ISBN: 978-1-879793-13-2 and 1-879793-13-X. It has 240 pages and is in quality hardback.

Individual copies are $15.00 including S & H; multiple copies for congregations are $10.00 each, including S & H. Available from: The Prayer Book Society of the U.S.A., P.O. Box 35220, Philadelphia, PA. 19128-0220. 1-800-PBS-1928. Checks to “The Prayer Book Society.”

Very soon after February 1, 2008, individual copies only will be available at for purchase with a credit card in a secure system.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

"Liberal theology without the gospel has the smell of death" J.I. Packer

by David Virtue 1/25/2008

"Liberal theology without the gospel has the smell of death rather than of life" -- J.I. Packer

In a wide-ranging interview, the Canadian Anglican theologian J.I. Packer talked with David W. Virtue about the state of the Anglican Communion at the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) Winter Conference in Dallas, Texas.

Dr. Packer, 81, is a British-born Canadian Christian theologian in the Calvinistic Anglican tradition. He currently serves as the Board of Governors' Professor of Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. He is considered to be one of the most important evangelical theologians of the late 20th century.

Packer was educated at Corpus Christi College, obtaining the degrees of Bachelor of Arts (1948), Master of Arts (1952), and Doctor of Philosophy (1955). In a meeting of the Oxford Inter-Collegiate Christian Union, Packer committed his life to Christian service. He taught briefly at Oak Hill Theological College in London, and in 1949 entered Wycliffe Hall, Oxford to study theology.

He was ordained a deacon (1952) and priest (1953) in the Church of England, within which he was associated with the Evangelical movement. He was a lecturer at Tyndale Hall, Bristol 1955-61 and Librarian of Latimer House, Oxford 1961-62 and Principal 1962-69. In 1970 he became Principal of Tyndale Hall, Bristol. From 1971 until 1979 he was Associate Principal of Trinity College, Bristol, which had been formed from the amalgamation of Tyndale Hall with Clifton College and Dalton House-St Michael's. In 1979, Packer moved to Vancouver to take up a position at Regent College, eventually being named the first Sangwoo Youtong Chee Professor of Theology, a title he held until his retirement.

He is a prolific writer and frequent lecturer, but he is best known for a single book, "Knowing God". He is a frequent contributor to and an executive editor of Christianity Today. Packer served as general editor for the English Standard Version, an Evangelical revision of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible.

By David W. Virtue

VIRTUEONLINE: Dr. Packer, you sit in Vancouver, British Columbia. You have seen the collapse of a united Anglicanism in your city and area and it is a microcosm of what is going on in many places. How do you read the present fractures and controversies within the Anglican Communion?

PACKER: It is true that the Diocese of New Westminster is where the modern Anglican troubles began. They began with the decision of the bishop to accept the request of his Synod to start blessing gay unions and drawing up a liturgy for the same. When he did this, he was able to claim "local option" in way among Anglican provinces of settling questions about what Diocesan policy should be. Local option is a corollary from the principle of subsiduarity originally focused on the Roman Catholic fence. Another name for local option is pluralism in practice and there was a time when Anglicans thought that such freedom of thought was Anglicanism in practice. That opinion was revised when applied to blessing gay unions in the Anglican Communion. It is by no means one. The Lambeth '98 Resolution 1:10 declared categorically that such unions were off limits, so when New Westminster opted for gay unions it was like throwing a stone into a pond. The ripples went out to the edge of the pond in all directions. The impact of New Westminster's actions was increased by the action of New Hampshire diocese, electing Gene Robinson. Accepting and consecrating Robinson was Bishop Michael Ingham who was prominent among the consecrators of the wider Anglican Communion. The orthodox became increasingly antsy and the southern hemisphere Primates, the South by South community protested in stronger and stronger language. One reason they did so is that they had a straight forward evangelical faith and they were up against Muslims who saw homosexuality as absolutely off limits and they could foresee what the Muslim world would say to the community as if it were preached as a form of holiness.

VIRTUEONLINE: What happened in practice, and was the response strong enough?

PACKER: In North America both the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada were asked to withdraw from Anglican Consultative Council, and a body of theologians produced the Windsor Report which reviewed the whole situation and along with the four instruments of unity imposed a moratorium on affirming homosexual behavior, blessing same-sex unions and consecrating gay priests and bishops. The moratorium was not honored in North America. Homosexuals were put up for election, a lesbian in Chicago was honored in the breach rather than observance. Ingham maintained that churches already blessing gay unions could continue and said he was maintaining the spirit of the moratorium on no gay unions pro tem.

The rest of the Anglican Communion did not agree and it was being discussed at the primatial level. The Archbishop of Canterbury (ABC) said the communion should not be hasty in action, more talking needed to be done. This is what liberals always say and they gain ground every time no action is taken or enacted, and the reason for that is they have more time to get people used to their ideas and drill people in their preferred practice. It is a transparent political calculation. The present situation is something of a stand off. The ABC is desperately seeming to try and stave off the day of further decision against the blessing of gays. He is showing himself to be more and more clearly a liberal with an Anglo-Catholic top dressing expressed in his active commitment of the Affirming Catholic movement. Increasingly, what makes him tick is a liberal perspective on theology rather than the catholic heritage which is robustly against condoning homosexuality.

Is he really a catholic with his mind entreating liberalism, or is he a liberal with a catholic top dressing? That's the question.

Since the Primates of the Global south discovered politically, they now have more clout with a working majority. Unhappily, politics has entered into the whole situation and such action as Akinola's concerning the constitution of the church of the Province of Nigeria to remove all reference to Canterbury is seen as ventures into power politics. That's a mistake rather than a step forward. It is reducing an issue of truth to a matter of power politics; it takes people minds off of the question of truth. I am not interested in power politics.

VIRTUEONLINE: Can you be more specific about Jerusalem (GAFCON) and Canterbury (LAMBETH)?

PACKER: A political jobbery has entered into the debate and the GAFCON gathering of primates, bishops and leaders in Jerusalem in June, before the Lambeth conference, inevitably looks like an attempt to upstage and defuse the Lambeth Conference. A number of bishops are not going to the Lambeth Conference -- they see Rowan Williams as too compromised. Williams is trying to meet their needs by organizing Lambeth as a study conference with Bible study and topical study without serious resolutions emerging.

But the general consensus is that that isn't an answer. We are not going to attend Lambeth and put our heads in the sand. We are not going to not discuss this question about gay unions and holiness with licit linkings fit for blessing. If Lambeth doesn't deal with these issues, Lambeth is not worth coming to. The unity of the Anglican Communion is so impaired at the present time that any Lambeth agreement would be hollow. That is why bishops are not coming. I see GAFCON as an attempt to upstage Lambeth by making policy decisions for the Anglican Communion, distilling policy guidelines for the Anglican Communion for Lambeth proper.

The other side of the GAFCON conference is very important. In a good way, it will establish in advance of Lambeth, global policy principle as a fixed point. There is legitimate disagreement whether it is better to go to GAFCON or have GAFCON after Lambeth and encourage everyone to go to Lambeth. Archbishop Mouneer Anis is much wiser by saying we should go to Lambeth and constitute an evangelical phalanx. It would create a stand off position with each side is digging in. Rowan Williams is doing everything he can to judge its significance while the Global South through its Primates ensure that it won't happen.

It is clear that at least one of the crucial issues involved in this debate is the issue of jurisdiction, which history has always affirmed mon-episcopal (whoever the bishop turns out to be) that pattern of jurisdiction is in process of being broken first by the action of Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone who is going to give Episcopal jurisdiction to churches in Canada as he did to Recife, and certainly in Canada that means parallel jurisdictions. It was earlier breached by Emmanuel Kolini who took AMiA into the Diocese of Rwanda. Second, it is being breached by the Common Cause negotiations for a third non geographic province for North America, a province that will take in US and Canadian churches. Those negotiations, they hope, will come to fruition in a couple of years. I don't think the principle of mon-episcopal oversight can ever be abolished.

VIRTUEONLINE: Do you approve of the ecclesiastical intervention of alternative Anglican archbishops into Canada, and what is your overall view of diocesan boundary crossing?

PACKER: If the Anglican Church of Canada were clearly and unambiguously committed to the constitution of the Anglican Church of 1893 and appealed to the 39 Articles and to the 1662 BCP as standards, then I would discourage causing more trouble than it is worth for churches to leave the ACIC to come under their jurisdiction whom they liked more than their own bishops. Where as now the ACIC refuses to stick unambiguously to its constitution, the intervention of the primates, though regrettable, is much less regrettable than forcing faithful Anglican churches to continue in an unfaithful Anglican situation so there is no alternative save into a splinter group.

We in Canada have carefully seen the acceptance of foreign episcopal jurisdictions as an emergency measure that we would not have accepted unless pushed upon us, and our hope is that the Anglican Church of Canada might come to its senses and halt its tentative sanctioning of gay unions by Synod. Now four dioceses have voted to ask the bishops to sanction the blessings of same sex unions, and bishops accede to it on some murky situational ethics basis with any complaint to the effect that leaving the constitution of ACIC falls on deaf ears. So some have declared the ACIC out of communion. Calls upon the bishops to repent of all form of sin falls on deaf ears.

VIRTUEONLINE: Three archbishops, one from the Southern Cone, one from Rwanda for the Anglican Coalition in Canada in Vancouver and one from Kenya, Bill Murdoch have, or will, intervene in Canada. (Murdoch is going there without invitation to a conference and will celebrate with the Eucharist March 2-3). What is your thinking about that?

PACKER: In an emergency, necessity knows no law. Any ordinary sanctions can, with impunity, be disregarded if necessity so requires. In this case, it does require that the ordinary rules be breached.

VIRTUEONLINE: Do the archbishops of Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda have sufficient experience and wisdom to make major decisions, which are leading to the break up of the Anglican Communion?

PACKER: I think they have sufficient clarity of biblical understanding to see that treating gay unions as holy and blessing them is contrary to the Bible and to the gospel and cannot be sanctioned whatever. I think they are right, that when the gospel itself is impugned, it must at all costs be maintained. It is not a question of wisdom but obligation. People are pushing the acceptance of gay unions and blessing them accordingly.

VIRTUEONLINE: Do you think that personal animosity is driving it too fast and without sufficient reflection?

PACKER: If there are personal animosities, they are conscientiously discounted in their statements. Those arguments are at level of principle, so animosities have been stalled or suspended for the truth.

VIRTUEONLINE: Why can't the GAFCON folk wait till after Lambeth and then, on that basis say that they tried, reasoned, been patient and then make a big decision in August, than now?

PACKER: I don't know because I am not involved in GAFCON discussions and I am not sure I know all the reasoning that guided the GAFCON meeting in June.

VIRTUEONLINE: The Book of Common Prayer presumes that the Anglican Church in any one geographical area is one; this is presumed by the BCP. How do you explain in any American metropolis the presence of multiple Anglican jurisdictions? Is there a way of reconciling the multiplicity of jurisdictions with the Prayer Book and the 39 Articles in one church in one region?

PACKER: Realism says there are few liberal churches, if any, who hold to the 1662 liturgy in its ideal, none hold to the 39 Articles, so if there are separate jurisdictions, the stock piling of conservative Anglicans in a Third Province is necessary. The liberals only prove they will become more liberal and they will shrink and shrink. So the issue of parallel jurisdictions will resolve itself in 30 years.

VIRTUEONLINE: On women's ordination. CANA is opening up the subject and AMiA has opened up this subject, do you think that pursuing women's ordination as an issue will eventually bring schism and division among the orthodox?

PACKER: My hope is that the ordination of women will never bring about church division. This is not a part of the gospel, it is a secondary issue rather than a primary one and I would hope that an amicable arrangement, not to everyone's full satisfaction, but a workable arrangement, can be arranged that have differed historically can come together. It is hoped that 10 splinter bodies will come together in the Common Cause diocese.

VIRTUEONLINE: What do you think Anglicanism in North America will look like in 10 years time?

PACKER: First, I disclaim any gifts as a prophet. My guess is that the Third Province, the Common Cause province will have arrived. That reluctantly its presence will be accepted by the TEC and ACIC. That in the light of the situation, the ACIC and TEC will go forward in making liberal theology their standard and bless and accept gay unions. It will be the Common Cause churches that preach the gospel and teach the Bible. I expect congregations in TEC and the ACIC being fed on liberal theology will continue to wither on the vine as they have done for the last half century. Liberal theology, without the gospel, proves to be the smell of death rather than of life. While Common Cause are [sic] a minority today, that will change as liberal churches get smaller and smaller and become in turn a minority.

VIRTUEONLINE: Thank you Dr. Packer.

Tom Wright on the proposed Jerusalem Conference

(Years ago I was [to use the English expression] an assistant curate with Tom Wright at St Ebbe's Oxford. There was no doubt then that he was a future leader both as a scholar and a churchman. I have parted the ways from him on the doctrine of justification by faith [where he has pioneered a new way of stating this doctrine] but I regard him with great respect and admiration and, as my writings have shown, I have a similar view to his about the NEED for all the Bishops who have been invited to be at Lambeth, as--very importantly--for the Anglican people to prayfervently that the Holy Ghost will descend upon then and fashion then according to the Father's will. Read on and pray for the peace and prosperity of the Anglican Way! --P.T.)

Writing in the Church Times, Tom Wright takes a swing at the GAFCON organisers:
Evangelicals are not about to jump ship

image: Church Times

ST PAUL, facing shipwreck off Malta, spotted the soldiers getting into a small boat to rescue themselves. “Unless these men stay in the ship,” he said to the centurion, “you cannot be saved.”

A similar urgent plea must now be addressed to those who, envisaging the imminent break-up of the good ship Anglican, are getting into a lifeboat called GAFCON, leaving the rest of us to face the future without them.

I have shared the frustration of the past five years, both in the United States and around the world. I have often wished that the Windsor report could have provided a more solid and speedy resolution. But the ship hasn’t sunk yet.

The rationale of GAFCON (the Global Anglican Future Conference) is: “The Communion is finished; nothing new can happen; it’s time to split.” No mention is made of the Windsor report, the proposed Anglican Covenant, or, indeed, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Advent letter, insisting as it does on scriptural authority, which GAFCON seems to regard as its monopoly.

That last point is crucial. To say “scripture is our authority” does not commit anyone to joining the small group represented by Chris Sugden, Martyn Minns, and Peter Jensen. It is clear that they are the prime movers and drafters, making a mockery of Canon Sugden’s claim (Comment, 11 January) that GAFCON is about rescuing the Churches from Western culture. But they have marshalled impressive support, particularly from great leaders like Henry Orombi of Uganda.

But where are Archbishops Mouneer Anis, John Chew, and Drexel Gomez, not to mention the Windsor and Camp Allen bishops in the States, and the great majority of traditionalist Anglicans, including most Evangelicals, in the UK? The rhetoric of “We are the Bible-believing orthodox; so this is what we must do” simply isn’t good enough. Many others share the belief, but draw different practical conclusions.

DESPITE official denials, GAFCON will appear to many to be an alternative to the Lambeth Conference. Some who want to go to Lambeth are under primatial pressure not to do so, and to go to GAFCON instead. Even those free to choose may find two trips beyond their limited means.

Going to the Holy Land shows an alarming lack of awareness of Christian realities in the Middle East, including what looks dangerously like a casual disregard for the local bishop and Primate, who were informed at the last minute.

The Jerusalem Post article about the conference, proudly displayed on the GAFCON website, highlights different Anglican attitudes to the Israel/Palestine question. Do the organisers really want to raise those matters? Do they know what will happen if they do?

THE DANGER of GAFCON is that the rhetoric — “the Communion’s finished” — could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Some of the organisers actually seem to want a Lambeth Conference robbed of lively, orthodox bishops from around the world, so that they can point to the results and say: “There you are: told you so.”

If, instead, such bishops come, bringing their cheerful worship, their deep understanding of scripture, and their wide experience of mission among the world’s poorest, this could be a great moment of renewal. Dr Williams has made it clear that Windsor and the Covenant are the tools with which to forge our future. “Orthodox” bishops should celebrate that, and join in the task.

Our Communion has for the past five years been living through 2 Corinthians: the challenge to re-establish an authority based on the gospel alone and embodied in human weakness. Inevitably, “super-apostles” then emerge, declaring that such theology is for wimps.

To them I would say: Are they Evangelicals? So am I. Are they orthodox? So am I. Do they believe in the authority of scripture? So do I (including the bits they regularly downplay). Are they keen on mission? So am I, and on the full mission of God’s kingdom which an older Evangelicalism often ignores.

Those who want to be biblical should ponder what the Bible itself says about such things. There are many in the GAFCON movement whom I admire and long to see at Lambeth, but the movement itself is deeply flawed. It does not hold the moral, biblical, or Evangelical high ground.

To say no to GAFCON is not to say yes to the revisionist agendas prevailing in much of the Episcopal Church in the US. It is to say yes to a Lambeth Conference based on and taking forward the Archbishop’s agenda of Windsor and the Covenant, in pursuit of what Dr Williams refers to in his recent letter as “an authoritative common voice”.

It is, in other words, to say yes to a future Anglican Communion rooted in the full authority of scripture. The Archbishop has spoken of the Lambeth invitation in terms of facing the suffering of the cross together, in order to share the glory of the resurrection. When Jesus said that to his followers, James and John immediately started to think about their own chances of power and prestige.

Thomas, however, had the right idea: “Let’s go with him, so that we may die with him.” And, before they even arrived, they saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

GAFCON 'disastrous' for Holy Land says local bishop

[The material below makes for painful reading and reveals that what seem to be simple decisions made in one context (a meeting in Nairobi in December) are seen as major, controversial ones in another--divided Jerusalem. Prudence the old virtue but still a virtue does not seem to have been too prominent in the euphoria of the Nairobi meeting in December. But to have the Conference in Cyprus and then go on in pilgrimage only to Jerusallem (as did Jews in the Roman Empire for the festivals) seems a good compromise, if one is needed. But OH what further sadness and pain for the Anglican Commnuion, already suffering crisis and torment. Let us pray that good will come out of this mess! --P.T.]

January 22, 2008
Gafcon 'disastrous' for Holy Land says local bishop

I've been leaked a copy of the minutes of two recent meetings that took place in Jerusalem between Bishop Suheil Dawani, Archbishop Peter Akinola and Archbishop Peter Jensen. The other attendees are listed below. Bishop Suheil did not mince his words. Gafcon would be 'disastrous' for his ministry in the Holy Land. The minutes are self-explanatory. It rather fits with what Rowan Williams was saying yesterday at Lambeth. I'm going to try and get some reaction and do a story for online shortly. Meanwhile, read on for the details.


On Meeting of Bishop Suheil Dawani, Anglican Bi shop in Jerusalem, with

Archbishop Dr Peter F. Jensen, Archbishop of Sydney
Archbishop Peter Jasper Akinola, Archbishop of Nigeria

by Janina Zang
Acting PA to the bishop
12 January 2008 and 15 January 2008


To discuss Bishop Suheil’s concerns about the Global Anglican Future Conference in Holy Land (GAFCON), following his press release dated 2 January 2008.

Bishop Suheil has not been consulted about this planned conference. He first learned of it through a press release. He is deeply troubled that this meeting, of which we had no prior knowledge, will import inter-Anglican conflict into his diocese – the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, which seeks to be a place of welcome for all Anglicans.

Bishop Suheil: “It could also have serious consequences for our ongoing ministry of reconciliation in this divided land. Indeed, it could further inflame tensions here. We who minister here know only too well what happens when two sides cease talking to each other. We do not want to see any further dividing walls!

The Primate of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis, is also concerned about this event. His advice to the organizers that this was not the right time or place for such a meeting was ignored.

Minutes of Meeting with Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter F. Jensen, on 12 January 2008:

Participants: The Rt Rev’d Suheil Dawani, Anglican Bi shop in Jerusalem
Archbishop Dr Peter F. Jensen, Archbishop of Sydney
The Rev’d Canon Dr Chris Sugden, Executive Secretary

After mutual words of welcome and thanks, Archbishop Jensen informed Bishop Suheil that the idea of holding such a conference was only developed in December 2007, which was probably the reason for the problems that have arisen. He invited Bishop Suheil to share his concerns about the conference and he apologized for having rushed into organizing this conference without Bishop Suheil’s approval.

Bishop Suheil was then inquiring about the general idea of the conference. Archbishop Jensen responded that some bishops have come to the conclusion that they cannot attend Lambeth Conference. He said that he respected those who have different opinions, but he was concerned about what the future was going to be like. He said that he felt a deep sadness about the terrible situation the Anglican Communion finds itself in and found it important to gather at this conference to discuss how the future will unfold. He said that there have been a number of possible venues, but when someone suggested the Biblical Land, he immediately felt that this was the right venue.

Bishop Suheil then began to share his concerns, saying that we are the body of Christ and thus have to listen and pray for each other. He emphasized that as the heart of the Anglican Communion, Jerusalem was a place of welcome for all.

He continued that Christians in the Holy Land are diminishing and that there was a real need to sustain dialogue and unity among the traditional churches. Bishop Suheil said that he was concerned about any issues that may appear to threaten unity and dialogue. The language that was used in the GAFCON press release was very concerning to him and to all the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem. The Orthodox churches did not welcome this language.

Bishop Suheil then went on to say that Christians in the Holy Land, including the Diocese of Jerusalem, were struggling with their own issues and that issues of peace and dialogue between the different faith communities of the Holy Land were far more important at this time than issues of homosexuality. Bishop Suheil said that as traditional churches they were deeply rooted in the bible and that he agreed that these issues needed to be discussed, but he felt that the venue was not right at this sensitive time.

Bishop Suheil said that he was happy to welcome the bishops as pilgrims. However, he repeated that at this critical time, political and other leaders would exploit such a conference. It would be misunderstood by many, and would threaten ecumenism and interfaith dialogue. Bishop Suheil felt that this conference would be disastrous for his ministry in the Holy Land.

Bishop Suheil explained that the international world has largely ignored the local Christians of the Holy Land in the past, and has continued to do so to some extent until today (holding the conference in the Holy Land would be one example). Bishop Suheil said that the Anglican Christians in the Holy Land are trying to be simple and humble and that their contribution is reconciliation. Anglicans are very much respected in the Holy Land, but their reputation would suffer as a divided Church if such a conference was to be held in the Holy Land.
Bishop Suheil concluded by saying that he would prefer that all Anglicans came together at Lambeth Conference to discuss their concerns there together.

Archbishop Jensen responded by saying that he would do his best to present Bishop Suheil’s point of view to the leadership, but that he could not promise that this matter would change. Admitting that it would be wrong to come to the Holy Land without acknowledging the local Christians, Archbishop Jensen said that his hope was that Bishop Suheil would be able to contribute something to the conference.

Minutes of Meeting with Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Jasper Akinola, on 15 January 2008:

Participants: The Rt Rev’d Suheil Dawani, Anglican Bi shop in Jerusalem
Archbishop Peter Jasper Akinola, Archbishop of Nigeria
The Rev’d Canon Dr Chris Sugden, Executive Secretary
The Very Rev’d Michael Sellors, Coordinator to the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem
The Rev’d Canon Hosam Naoum, Acting Dean, St. George’s Cathedral

After a few words of welcome by Bishop Suheil, Archbishop Akinola thanked Bishop Suheil for receiving him in Jerusalem. He acknowledged receiving the minutes for the above meeting.

Archbishop Akinola explained that in the beginning of the matter he had called for a consultation in Nairobi, which led to the idea of holding the conference in Jerusalem. He explained that he had led many pilgrimages but had been in Jerusalem and at St. George’s Cathedral only once. He said that this pilgrimage would be different from previous ones, since it included primates, bishops, clergy, and laity from 20 countries around the world. The conference would have a great impact on all taking part and their communities.

Archbishop Akinola apologized for sending his letter to Bishop Suheil at a very inconvenient time (at Christmas) and at such short notice, but he said that he could not see how this conference could become a “political problem”. He stressed that liberty was important for Africa and that he could not allow anyone to tell his community what to do and to say. He repeated that his interests were not political, and that his major concern was about how to grow and how to be strengthened and exchange experiences.

Responding to the question of unity within the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Akinola said that in 2003 there had already been a huge eruption leading to the divide within the Anglican Communion.
He went on to say that coming together in the Holy Land would help them to find the road map. He also stressed that there would be more conferences of this kind in the future all around the world.

Bishop Suheil responded by saying that he wished he had been consulted beforehand. In his eyes, the conference would raise many issues, politically, ecumenically, and in the area of interfaith dialogue. He said that Jerusalem is a place of reconciliation and that on an ecumenical level and in his efforts to maintain his diocese that covers five countries with different cultures and traditions, it was very important to keep the balance.

Bishop Suheil also emphasized that the issues to be raised at the conference should be discussed internally, because they are internal matters. Outsiders should not be involved in the problems of the Anglican Communion. He stressed that it was very important for Archbishop Akinola to understand that Christian leaders of the Holy Land are working very hard to maintain indigenous Christian presence in the Holy Land.

Bishop Suheil underlined that for all Anglicans Lambeth is the place and the time to have such a conference.

The Rev’d Canon Hosam referred to his studies in Africa, saying that he got a good idea of what Africa and Africans have gone through in the past. Yet, he wished to stress that the indigenous Christians of the Holy Land also did not want to see themselves being told what to do and what to say. They did not want to be forced to deal with issues that are not on their agenda yet and that could create serious disputes on the level of the local churches in general and the Diocese of Jerusalem in particular, as well as ecumenically, theologically, and socially. He stressed that Christians in the Holy Land still had their own problems to deal with.

The Rev’d Canon Dr Chris Sugden then posed the question in what way the conference was imposing on the diocese?

The Rev’d Canon Hosam answered that the conference was imposing the issue of homosexuality on the diocese.

The Rev’d Canon Dr Chris Sugden responded by saying that this conference was not about homosexuality.

The Rev’d Canon Hosam replied by reminding Archbishop Akinola that he had referred to the split of the Anglican Communion in 2003.

Archbishop Akinola refrained from answering. Instead, he said that he could not understand how this conference would have all these impacts on the diocese.

The Very Rev’d Michael Sellors highlighted that this could not be fully understood unless you lived in the Holy Land and experienced the sensitivity. He stressed that the Holy Land was a fishy ground for the media and for those who wanted to destroy or distract the peace process and the role that the Christian Church in general and the Anglican Church in particular plays in it.

Archbishop Akinola then said, that this was a pilgrimage and wondered what the difference was to other pilgrimages.

The Rev’d Canon Hosam responded by saying that this was not only a pilgrimage, since the Archbishop himself was talking about a conference with an agenda.

Archbishop Akinola replied that he would be happy to change the terminology and refrain from calling it a conference, in which case he would call it a pilgrimage.

Bishop Suheil closed the discussion by saying that for the sake of making progress in this discussion he would like to suggest that Archbishop Akinola either reconsiders the venue and time for the conference, or divides his program into two parts: to have the conference in Cyprus, and to have a pure pilgrimage in the Holy Land.

Should Archbishop Akinola be ready to accept this suggestion, Bishop Suheil would warmly welcome him and his pilgrims.

16 January 2008

Technorati Tags: Anglican, Anglican Communion, Gafcon, Lambeth Conference, Religion, Ruth Gledhill, Suheil Dawani

Posted by Ruth Gledhill on January 22, 2008 at 12:38 PM in Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury, Gay debate, Global South, Israel

Monday, January 21, 2008


This is surely a Feast Day tailor-made for Evangelicals, who do not normally keep such days—and it is, at the same time, a Feast for other Anglicans as well, who find St Paul’s teaching difficult to receive - especially of women's ministry and divine election!

Normally, an apostle or saint is commemorated in The Book of Common Prayer (1662) on the day of his martyrdom/death. The exceptions to this are St John the Baptist (his birth) and St Paul (his conversion)—and the two Feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which in reality point to her Son and so are feasts of the Lord Jesus.

According to reliable tradition, St Paul was martyred in Rome together with St Peter, and the two are commemorated together in ancient and modern Calendars on June 29; but for the English Reformers, what seemed the most important fact to commemorate with respect to Paul was his conversion and so they gave June 29 to Peter alone and January 25 solely to Paul, so each had one day.

Here is the Anglican Collect for St Paul’s Day:

O God, who, through the preaching of the blessed Apostle Saint Paul, hast caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world: Grant, we beseech thee, that we, having his wonderful conversion in remembrance, may shew forth our thankfulness unto thee for the same, by following the holy doctrine which he taught; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Or, for those who prefer to address the Lord our God as “You” we may pray:

God, You who, through the preaching of the blessed Apostle Saint Paul. caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world: Grant, we pray You, that we, recalling his wonderful conversion, may display our thankfulness unto You for this, by following the holy doctrine that he taught: through Jesus Christ our Lord; Amen.

Let us now examine the content of this solid prayer.

O God, who through the preaching of the blessed Apostle Saint Paul.

The Collect is addressed to God the Father, who acted, that is revealed his will, in the work of St. Paul. Specifically, it was the preaching of the Apostle to the Gentiles that God used for his purposes: “Christ send me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel” (1 Cor.1:17). Paul’s assistants could baptize converts, but only Paul could preach and teach the things and for the ends that God the Father required, for he was the chosen ambassador, to whom was given the divine message.

Hath caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world.

Though other apostles had their sphere of apostolic ministry and influence, St Paul was the chosen apostle to the non-Jewish peoples. He preached and taught widely in the Roman Empire, concluding in the capital, Rome, itself. “From Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the Gospel of Christ,” said Paul (Romans 15:19). Then, added to his personal presence as ambassador and teacher was his later influence as author of Letters, which were read all around the Roman world and beyond.

Grant, we beseech thee, that we, having his wonderful conversion in remembrance

We have three accounts of the conversion, one from St Luke and two from St Paul himself, preserved by St Luke (Acts 9:1-23; 22:1-22; 26:1-24). However, in the providence of God, the account of the martyrdom of St Paul did not enter the Canon of Scripture. We are to meditate upon this conversion so as to see within it the grace and mercy of God revealed in Jesus Christ, the Crucified and Risen Lord, and made known in a highly personal way to Saul of Tarsus. Only as we reflect upon it, can we have it in memory so as to be able to recall it and the purposes of God revealed in it.

May shew forth our thankfulness unto thee for the same.

We thank God our Father not only for the personal experience of eternal salvation in Christ Jesus received by Saul, who became Paul the apostle, but also for the apostolic ministry of this converted Jew to the Gentiles. But we need to shew our thankfulness more practically! How?

By following the holy doctrine which he taught; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

To follow his holy doctrine is to read and receive his teaching, to believe it and to act upon in practical obedience and service. And we to do this because we are disciples of Jesus, St Paul is the apostle of Jesus, and by following St Paul we are brought near to Jesus Christ our Lord in faith, hope and love.

Amen. And all God’s people say, “So be it, LORD.”

January 21, 2008 drpetertoon@


Contemporary English Services based on those in The Book of Common Prayer and The Ordinal, in their English 1662, American 1928 and Canadian 1962 editions

In January 2007 the “Green Book” of contemporary language services based on BCP 1662 was made available in AMIA for trial use and comment. It has been so used and studied. In January 2008 AN ANGLICAN PRAYER BOOK is the result of further work and consultation.

Contents : Preface; The Christian Year; Morning and Evening Prayer; Litany; Athanasian Creed; Compline; Holy Communion; Collects and Eucharistic Lectionary; Baptism; The Catechism; Confirmation; Marriage; Visitation of the Sick; Burial of the Dead; Interment or Scattering of Ashes; Family Prayer; Daily Lectionary; The Ordinal -- Deacons; Priests; a Bishop; & The Articles of Religion

AN ANGLICAN PRAYER BOOK is published for AMIA on February 1, 2008. ISBN: 978-1-879793-13-2 and 1-879793-13-X. 240 pages, quality paper and in hardback-- $15.00 including S & H; multiple copies for congregations $10.00 each, including S & H. Available from: The Prayer Book Society of the U.S.A., P.O. Box 35220, Philadelphia, PA. 19128-0220. 1-800-PBS-1928. Checks to “The Prayer Book Society.” PA residents add sales tax. Queries to

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Launch of Lambeth Conference 2008

Posted On : January 21, 2008 3:02 PM London

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams today launched the official programme for Lambeth Conference 2008 Equipping Bishops for Mission at Lambeth Palace. Joining Dr Williams on the panel were Archbishop Ellison Pogo (Archbishop of Melanesia and Chairman of the Design Group) and Archbishop Ian Ernest (Archbishop of the Province of the Indian Ocean). Mrs Jane Williams outlined the plans for the Spouses' Conference which is being held alongside the bishops' conference. Jane Williams was joined by Margaret Sentamu. 30 bishops from 17 provinces around the Anglican Communion also joined the press conference.

The texts of both presentations are available below.

Archbishop of Canterbury

I'd like to start by putting this year's Lambeth Conference in some kind of context by saying a brief word or two about how it got started. The first Lambeth Conference was called by Archbishop Charles Longley in 1867 - partly, as it happens, in response to a crisis about the limits of diversity allowed in the Anglican churches around the world; so there's nothing so very new about a Lambeth Conference meeting in a climate of some controversy. But the important new fact about the Anglican family of churches at that point was that it was a time when
non-English and indeed non-white influences were for the first time making a real impact in the Communion, and needed to be celebrated and affirmed. Not only did the Canadian Church contribute strongly to the thinking around the Conference; it was also attended by the first black Anglican bishop, Samuel Crowther from Nigeria, who had been made a bishop just three years earlier. It was a moment when there was a real acknowledgement that a worldwide Church had to find ways of sharing its challenges and its triumphs - and some aspects of its decision-making.

The Conference has never been a lawmaking body in the strict sense and it wasn't designed to be one: every local Anglican province around the world has its own independent system of church law and there is no supreme court. But there was already in 1867 a deep concern to find Ways short of passing formal laws that would make sure that Anglicans around the world acted in a responsible way towards each other and stayed faithful to the common inheritance of biblical and doctrinal faith. This is as much a challenge now as it was then. But the very fact of the onference shows that we have always been willing to look for such ways of setting our common life on a firm basis so that we can act and serve more effectively in our world.

The Conference this year has two key points of focus: strengthening the sense of a shared Anglican identity among the bishops from around the world, and helping to equip bishops for the role they increasingly have as leaders in mission, involved in a whole variety of ways in helping the Church grow. Because none of this would happen without a deeper commitment to prayer and studying the Bible, this year's Conference will begin with a couple of days' retreat, in which we can spend time together in quiet and begin to direct our minds towards the central issues of faith. And as in previous Conferences, every day will begin with worship and Bible study in small groups.

We've been exceptionally lucky in the gifts and the vision of the Design Group for this year's Conference. Drawn from a wide range of backgrounds, they have come together in a remarkable way to create not only a programme of events - about which we can speak in more detail later - but a whole way of doing business. In contrast to previous Conferences, we have planned a larger number of medium-sized groups instead of larger issue-focused groups, so that more people can have a say in the discussion. We've called these 'indaba' groups, picking up an African word for meetings where significant questions are worked through in a community.

In spite of the painful controversies which have clouded the life of the Communion for the last few years, there remains, as many people have repeatedly said, a very strong loyalty to each other and a desire to stay together. The fact that about 70% of bishops worldwide have Already formally registered for the Conference, with a number of others who have signalled that they will attend, shows something of this desire. But it is also reflected in the life of so many Anglican organisations that continue to work across national and regional boundaries - the Mothers' Union, the enormous variety of church-based development projects dealing with HIV/AIDS or educational matters, the partnership relations between bishops and dioceses from different parts of the globe – the relationship, for example, between my own diocese of Canterbury and the church in Madagascar, or between Salisbury diocese and the Sudanese province. These close and personal relationships, which are not often in the headlines because they simply carry on doing the work they set out to do, are part of the solid ground that helps us cope with the turbulence in other areas. The programme of pre-Lambeth hospitality which is being offered by local churches here in the UK will help to consolidate these relationships for the future, in ways that will respect the integrity of all.

In short, I believe we have, thanks to the hard work of our Design Group and Sue Parkes, our Conference Manager, an unusually varied and original programme - details of which are in your press packs - and a fresh style of working which will allow us both to confront differences honestly and to be focused anew on our primary tasks of service and mission. It is with real confidence that I introduce the work of this year's Lambeth Conference to you, with enormous thanks to all who have laboured in organising it; I know its vision is supported by the prayers of many people in our Communion, and I hope many more will go on holding it in their thoughts and prayers in the coming months.

(c) Rowan Williams 2008

Mrs Jane Williams: Launch of Lambeth Conference 2008

Some of you may think of the Spouses conference as basically Jam and Jerusalem, more tea vicar or mitre-making and flower-arranging. There will certainly be food and singing in our programme, but there will also be a chance to meet some of the most interesting, committed and dynamic people in the Anglican Communion.

Bishops' spouses are as varied as the spouses of people in any other profession would be, but we do have some things in common: like our faith, and the pains and pleasures of living with and supporting a bishop!

Our planning group for the Spouses Conference has been a real privilege. I have learned a bit of what it's like to live through drought, floods and elections in part of Australia, or to run micro-finance projects in Africa. Our sister from Myanmar was amazed to find that we knew far more
about the troubles in her country than she did. This kind of family knowledge we have about each other across the Anglican Church is what builds our advocacy for each other, our prayer for each other, and our action for each other.

So our two main aims in the Spouses Conference are to learn from each other and to resource ourselves to be God's People for God's Mission.

In lots of Anglican provinces, spouses can hardly meet at all, because of distances and lack of resources, and while all bishops get some kind of training and resourcing for their role, their spouses may not. And for many of the people coming, this is the only break they will get in
2008, and for some of them, their only opportunity to travel outside their own country, ever. So we want to make the most of what will, for most of us, be a once in a lifetime chance to equip ourselves, in the company of others who really know what we need. Our programme gives
Time for quite a lot of telling our stories and learning how to listen to each other. In my own experience, this is where the reality of the 'Anglican Communion' comes alive, in hearing the diversity, richness, challenges and successes of other Christians around the world. We also plan to make something together, which will symbolise our connectedness, and that communicates without words our variety and our unity. I think Margaret is going to tell us a bit more about that shortly.

We plan to look at some of the huge issues that face us all, and that diminish God's people and make it harder for others to hear God's good news. For example, the effects of ecological change, the challenge of health care projects, or the way in which gender violence affects our communities. For some of these themes, we will be joining the Bishops' Conference, because these are not 'women's issues'. The whole people of God need to be challenged and have their needs heard and ministered to in these areas.

I hope it will become clear why I am proud to belong to this extraordinary company of Bishops' spouses; I hope you will see just how varied the mission and ministry of the Anglican Communion is; and I hope we will go home at the end of Lambeth 2008, knowing that we have
Friends across the world on whom we can rely in good times and bad.

(c) Jane Williams 2008

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A part of my daily e-mail traffic comes from people who have read my various pieces, in which I show the mess into which North American Anglicanism has got itself through (a) the initial infidelity of The Episcopal Church [for details of this see my Episcopal Innovations, 1960-2004, from] and then (b) the indiscriminate creation of small groups bearing the name “Anglican” from 1977 through to 2008 [see further my Anglican Identity from the same site]. They ask simply: what are we to do? And some of them expect that there is a simple answer which applies in all the 48 contiguous states, not to mention Alaska and Hawaii.

It seems to me that the extra-mural Anglican situation outside TEC has got so complex—not least through the intervention of at least five overseas Anglican provinces in recent years—that it is not possible to offer any simple answer, except the one that avoids the problem and is simply: “Pack your bags, leave this Anglican house , go to another with a different name [Lutheran, Catholic, Orthodox etc.] and forget about the Anglican mess as far as you are able, for to clean it up will take a generation.”

If people have patience to consider principles and not be caught up in “winds of change” and “instant solutions” and “imitating others,” then I put to them—in brief—something like the following (adapted of course to local and personal reality). I presume here that the starting point is a parish in TEC where there is a dissatisfied group of Episcopalians who wish to be faithful to Biblical religion. (However, if the starting point is within extra-mural Anglicanism then begin at no 3.)

1. Bear in mind that the grass is not necessarily greener in the next field. The extra-mural Anglicanism out there has its own multiple problems and you may be going out of the frying pan into the fire.
2. It may be preferable to grin and bear the Episcopal situation and to fortify yourselves with home prayer meetings and bible study to edify you in fellowship and discernment. Certainly it may be preferable to maintain this situation until the results and fallout of Lambeth 08 are fully known – say late 08 or early 09.
3. However, if after most careful study, prayer and the exercise of spiritual discrimination, you believe that you must secede from TEC then recognize that what you are entering is, if not a mine-field, then a very hazardous terrain. Out there already are many “Anglican” groupings, many of whom will be happy to embrace you if you submit to their entry requirements. Please be truly aware that most regrettably you cannot simply leave the “apostate TEC” and enter the “new, orthodox Province of North America” for the latter does not exist and is not yet even on the horizon. So before exiting you have to decide what kind of “Anglican” you wish to be: a real traditional one (investigate the churches from the 1977 secession); a contemporary-style evangelical, charismatic one (investigate the groups affiliated with Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda etc.), or something in between (then look to such groups as the REC and EMC). To do justice to the possibilities will take you a very long time in study and research. And be aware that those who sell their group to you will probably not tell you of its weakness and faults!
4. Have specific questions to ask of the salesmen for the various Anglican groupings: What liturgy do you use and why? What is you doctrinal position? How far are you still tied to the worship, doctrine and ways of living found in TEC? How do you relate to the other Anglican groups in terms of cooperation, intercommunion, and acceptance of female clergy? How far are you controlled by your overseas sponsors and legitimators? And so on.
5. Having decided which specific one of the many houses you will enter, then dialogue with yourself in order to persuade yourself to be satisfied with the group you enter—even though it is one amongst many and by definition cannot be the wholeness of the Anglican Way, only a step towards that fullness. Be aware that you are said to be in a holding position—theoretically waiting for take-off into a new unified province of North America—which will last a long time, and may never actually end (for to produce a Province out of the multiple parts in the U.S.A. will require special divine intervention and much human wisdom and mutual submission). So be prepared for your holding position to be a permanent position and your group a permanent American “Anglican denomination” alongside many others. So choose people who you can live with for the long term!
6. Once with your chosen group, gently but firmly press for as many contacts and cooperative activities as possible with others around who also bear the name “Anglican.” Try to keep alive the vision of one genuinely Anglican Province for North America into which all the “orthodox” will merge and merging lose their autonomy. You will experience the powerful pressure of American individualism and voluntarism causing you to think that, if you own group seems to be doing well, then that is fine and the whole does not really matter. Resist such feelings and retain the vision of one, unified Anglican Province.
7. Be aware that once a particular schism has occurred, to be part of further schism is easier the second time around! And also be aware that one real danger of there being so many parallel Anglican groups is that each one will major on minors in order to establish its distinctiveness, and this search for distinctive will lead to centrifugal forces forcing the groups farther apart ( as we have since the 1977 schism with the more traditional seceders).

Of course I realize that this is poor advice. However, it is something that perhaps can become something better as people ponder it and face with open eyes the complex situation around them. I see my role as seeking to keep before people the goal of one, unified, faithful Anglican Province in North America and not being satisfied with the multi-denominational groupings of the American supermarket of religions. December 19, 2008

A popular argument justifying multiple jurisdictions addressed

Our task is to compare two apparently similar phenomena and to notice where they differ.

1. Parish Mobility in a National Anglican Church

Ever since the arrival of the motor car in country areas, and public transport in the cities, some people have travelled in England to attend the parish church of their choice. And it has been much the same story in other countries of the West, where there was a National Anglican Church, divided into dioceses and parishes. People travelled to continue to go to the parish where they were raised, where the ritual, or the preaching, or something else was to their liking. Or maybe they just did not like the parish priest where they actually lived.

This situation remains common today and is most obviously seen in big cities where, though parishes exist with their boundaries, this does not usually have a major impact on where people actually attend worship.

It is widely held in the Church of England and in other National Anglican Churches that to worship in a parish other than where ones lives is acceptable, even though the struggling local parish vestry/council may desire ones attendance and tithe!

2. Mobility between competitive and parallel Jurisdictions.

Within the last few years, there has been a secession of part or partial congregations from the various dioceses of the National Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. In not a few areas, the secessions from a particular diocese have not chosen to connect themselves to one jurisdiction (e.g., AMIA or CANA) but to several. That is each group has used its own judgment to choose one or another of the available open ecclesial doors to go through.

So, for example, the recent seceders from the Diocese of Florida have gone to these groups: Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Nigeria, and Southern Cone. This means that in northern Florida alongside the parishes of The Episcopal Diocese of Florida, there are the continuing Anglican churches of the 1977 seceders ( ACA, ACC , UAC, APA etc.) and the missionary outposts of four African and one South American Anglican Provinces—and this list is not exhaustive for there are other groups like The Reformed Episcopal Church and The Episcopal Missionary Church in the area as well.

The argument made with reference to these two phenomena

In order to justify the latter situation of the multiplicity of virtually competitive Anglican groupings in one area, an argument is made in these terms.

“Everyone these days, including bishops and loyal parish priests and workers, agrees that the old parish system in existence before the industrial revolution has lost much of its meaning, and today has more symbolic rather than practical value. Mobility creating choice has become the norm in the old National Anglican/Episcopal Churches.

What the presence of multiple Anglican groups in one area does is to add to the choice that mobility creates, It is simply an intensification and extension of what has been the case for a long time. Further, it may be added, the whole notion of one form or jurisdiction of the Anglican Church in one country or region is not realistic in terms of modern America.”

Certainly looked at through the prism of the general American values of individualism, voluntarism, choice and private judgment/opinion, the argument works well, for it does—at least in the short term—provide not only self-determination but also choice (as long as one has a car, can drive and can afford the gas) for many.

Problems with the argument

If it were not the case that the Anglican Way is, in its public statements of its identity, committed to the doctrine that there ought to be One Anglican Church in One Region, then the argument could perhaps stand. And standing it would justify the multiple forms of Anglicanism on the basis of the freedoms that create and maintain the American supermarket of religions.

However, the fact of the matter is that the Prayer Book, the Articles of Religion and The Ordinal, known as the Formularies, all clearly teach and assume that there should be One Anglican Church in one specific geographical area. They do not know of multiple forms and parallel dioceses in one region. And this is also true of the doctrine of the Church in the newer service books of Anglican Churches published in the last thirty or forty years.

Further, and this is most important, the Constitutions of the newer Provinces of the Anglican Communion in Africa and Asia all state and assume that the Anglican Church is a united entity in its own geographical area. This is what the Nigerian Constitution of 2002 states: “The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), hereinafter called “the Church of Nigeria”, shall remain one united and indissoluble Church under God.”

Of course, the form of a National Church that existed under Elizabeth I or James I or even Charles II in England is not what is in view in Nigeria or other places. It is a different kind of National Church or National Denomination but National all the same—and with no possibility of parallel jurisdictions.

In the U.S.A. if it is determined that The Episcopal Church is apostate and needs to be replaced by a faithful, new Province then that claim makes sense. But what does not make sense is to declare The Episcopal Church is apostate and seek to replace it with multiple jurisdictions, each one claiming the right to extend itself into any and all parts of the U.S.A., and even Canada.

So I conclude that there is a world of difference between, on the one hand, a National Church with dioceses and parishes, where there is mobility of parishioners, and, on the other hand, a situation where there are multiple, different Anglican groups existing in parallel and in competition. December 19 2008

Friday, January 18, 2008

INDISSOLUBLE NIGERIAN CHURCH: Not capable of being dissolved, undone, or broken up

I write this from the perspective of believing that the normal Anglican doctrine of the Church is that there should be in one specific territory—region or country—one united Province; thus the presence of parallel provinces is an anomaly and most probably (for each situation has to be analyzed) a denial of the polity of Anglican Way.

Ever since I read a week or so ago the word “indissoluble” in the opening section of the Constitution of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, I have been intrigued by the use of this word. Here is the context in which it occurs:
This Constitution shall be known as the Constitution of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), 2002. The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), hereinafter called “the Church of Nigeria”, shall remain one united and indissoluble Church under God.

What is being stated here?:

• First of all, this Church is the Church of and for the whole of the State of Nigeria;

• secondly, it is a Church which identifies itself not as Baptist, or Presbyterian, or Lutheran, but as Anglican and as a member of “the Anglican Communion”;

• thirdly, it intends to be, and commits itself to be (“shall remain”), one Church, truly united and not divided into subgroups or parallel entities;

• and finally, it commits itself to the position of not being open to, or even capable of, being dissolved, undone or broken up.

As we reflect upon this commitment, we note that there is no reference to the See of Canterbury or to the Church of England as identifying what is “the Anglican Communion.” What this expression means is presumably left open for the Synod of this Church to determine whenever needed. In the previous Constitution of 1997 a relation with the See of Canterbury was stated but that was removed; thus the Synod is now at liberty to define the Anglican Communion in whatever ways seems best to it. (In the light of the current crisis in the Anglican Family of Churches, and the disagreements between the See of Canterbury and Nigeria, this may seem to be a distinct advantage!)

Then, we note the strong form of the commitment to the unity of this Church in a large country where tribal and regional conflicts are all too common. In this context, we can readily understand the commitment to indissolubility, and the refusal to let go any diocese or province; but, we also move on to ask ourselves whether or not the claimed indissoluble nature of the Nigerian Church applies outside of Nigeria proper to the missionary dioceses of this Church in the Congo and in the U.S.A.

This question is difficult to answer because it is not wholly clear whether these “missionary dioceses” are really and truly regarded as dioceses or simply as administrative arrangements for the short term.

But let us, for the sake of gaining clarity of mind, suppose that what is called in the U.S.A. “The Convocation of Anglicans in North America” (CANA) and which has at least sixty congregations and six bishops is in fact truly a diocese of the Church of Nigeria. Then the question arises: Being an overseas diocese does it partake of the indissolubility stated in the Constitution? Is it in the U.S.A. for the long term, in fact, for ever?

If it is a diocese and the mark of being indissoluble applies to it, then, we may suggest that this has important ramifications in the immediate short term for what is known as the Common Cause Partners, of which the CANA is one. It means that CANA as an entity cannot dissolve and become one wholly new ecclesial unit with the Rwandan and Kenyan and Uganda missions, not to mention the various American partners. If there is to be unity, it appears that the others will have to dissolve themselves into CANA and then this will be the nucleus of the proposed new Province to replace The Episcopal Church.

But what if the other African Churches which have outposts in the U.S.A. also regard their Churches as indissoluble (even if the word is not in their constitutions)? It means that at best there can only be in the U.S.A. a Federation of independent Dioceses working in parallel and in competition (as already is the case in some places) on American soil.

Did anyone ever think of the multitude of problems that would be created when they invited the various African Anglican Provinces—not to mention the Southern Cone— to invade “the land of liberty”? These problems are just beginning to appear and it would seem that they are many yet to surface! Let us pray that we are wise enough and gracious enough to handle them well! December 18, 2008

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Old Testament; The Book of Common Prayer ; Daily Prayer & The Lectionary.

THE primary purpose of this reflection is to ask these questions: do we “orthodox” Anglicans treat the Old Testament as Word of God in its own right? Or have we unwittingly relegated it to merely the preparation for the New Testament?

Those who use the classic form of Morning and Evening Prayer from The Book of Common Prayer (1662) actually read (or read and chant) much more of The Old Testament than of The New Testament each day.

True enough there is an appointed Lesson from both Testaments in both Morning and Evening Prayer; however, to these are added several Psalms based on a monthly cycle and also Canticles. And a majority of the Canticles are from the Old Testament or the Apocrypha.

Though the Psalms are read from the Old Testament, they are understood in these Services as Christian prayers, prayed with, in and through Jesus Christ (the “Man” of Psalm 1). They are concluded by the Gloria addressed to the Holy Trinity of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit in order to place them securely in the period after the Death and Resurrection of Jesus and in the new covenant. The Psalter is the primary Christian Prayer Book (and thus must be translated in a way that makes it available to be prayed in Christ).

Likewise all the Canticles—from Old Testament, the Apocrypha and New Testament—are chanted as Christian Prayers and Praises.

Then the Lesson from the Old Testament is read as Word of God written having the same authority as the Lesson from the New Testament—with the difference that the former is heard in the light of the Incarnation and Saving Work of the Son of God, Jesus the Christ.

The advantage of the Lectionary (1872) in The BCP of 1662 is that there is both a reading of texts so as to hear their totality and also a use of texts that relate specifically to the major festivals as they arrive in the Christian Year.

Thus far, then, we see that The Old Testament is received as the Word of God written and related to The New Testament in terms of first in order (but not either first or second in importance.)

In the Baptismal Service, being specifically a new covenant sacrament, there is little use of the Old Testament but what is cited is significant. The Old Testament is read typologically as in the opening prayer in The BCP 1662: “Almighty and everlasting God, who of thy tender mercy didst save Noah and his family in the Ark from perishing by water; and didst safely lead the children of Israel through the Red See,…” And in the Catechism related to Baptism, the study and learning off by heart of the Ten Commandments as God’s law is a bounden duty!

Turning to the Order for Holy Communion in BCP 1662, we notice that while there is the recitation as Word of God of the Ten Commandments, there is no Old Testament Lesson. The reason for this is that it is presumed that Morning Prayer has been said before the start of Holy Communion. However, there are several significant references to the Old Testament as Word of God. In the Nicene Creed, it is said of Jesus: “on the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures” and the Scriptures are the Old Testament (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Then of the Holy Spirit it is said “ who spake by the Prophets,” which is a reference again to the Old Testament. Then in the Sursum Corda and Consecration Prayer, there are many echoes of the Old Testament as these point to the Messiah and his fulfilling his role as Son of Man, Suffering Servant and Paschal Lamb. Further, the nature of character of God set forth in the Old Testament—the Lord God almighty, the Holy One, the Redeemer, the Revealer and so on—are assumed as true in the New Testament and used in this Liturgy as givens.

It would appear, therefore, that any church or baptized Christian who lives devotionally within the daily liturgy of the Church will acquire as both a mindset and habit the treating of the Old Testament as Word of God, and will learn how to read it as Christian Scripture, in with and through Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit.

In contrast, those (and they appear to be the majority), who rarely if ever make use of the Daily Offices, and thus only hear a short lection from the Old Testament with a part of a Psalm in the modern “Holy Eucharist,” are likely to view the Old Testament as not only previous to, but also inferior to, the New Testament. At best, they will think of it as a kind of development of insights into the nature of God and salvation, leading to the real information in the New Testament. Further, the use of a psalm or part thereof is rarely concluded by the Gloria and so they will not learn to recite it as Christian prayer in and with Christ. It hardly needs pointing out that a Christianity, from which the Old Testament is basically absent, leads to a very imbalanced Christianity—if Christianity at all!

We recall that the Bible of Jesus, the Apostles and the early Church was what we call the Old Testament; that the Old Testament was received and used within “the Rule of Faith” by the early Church and that when the New Testament books came along, and were formally admitted as Canon, they did not downsize or depreciate the Canon of the Old Testament. The New Testament books both depended upon the Old Testament and also served as the authentic commentary on them. Christian Scripture is both Old and New Testament, and in a specific relation to each other.


Anglican Christianity in its western forms surely needs to recapture the commitment to, and confidence in, the Old Testament that permeates its classic Formularies (BCP, Ordinal and Articles) and one sure way to do this is to begin reading the O.T. lections and praying the Psalms at Morning and Evening Prayer. And there are various modern studies to help increase understanding and appreciation once this discipline in well under way! Finally a warning. We live in a culture of short-cuts, easy access and dumbing down—Beware of shortened and abbreviated and simplistic forms of the Daily Office! If a job is worth doing it is well doing well. God-speed. January 17, 2008

God reveals Godself in modern experience—true or false?

The real foundation of the view that same-sex affection can be a form of holiness.
Today, within the old-line Protestant Churches, and not least within The Episcopal Church, any traditional church member, if he/she is paying attention, hears often, in a clear or veiled way, a novel view of both Divine Revelation and human religious experience.

In its submission of The Episcopal Church to the Anglican Consultative Council in Nottingham in June 2005 (entitled, To Set our Hope on Christ: Response to the Windsor Report) this novel view was presented in a way that sought to hide its radical nature and make it to be sound, widely held, biblical interpretation. I responded to this TEC essay in the large booklet, entitled, Same-Sex Affection, Holiness & Ordination (available from seeking not to deal with sexuality as such but to make clear the presence and foundational nature of this innovatory doctrine of Scripture in the response of The Episcopal Church to the Anglican Communion.

A few weeks ago, I listened to Bishop Gene Robinson via TV stating this same doctrine with clarity and apparent winsomeness in a lecture to students in Florida , as a means to defend his own “modern” sexual practices.

The innovatory doctrine

The TEC doctrine is simple: that in the two Testaments of the Canon of Scripture we have the account of the developing experience of God by the Israelites and then by Jesus and the Christians. Both the experience and the account of it naturally reflect the conditions of the times when received and described. So the received Revelation from God recorded in the Bible is a developing and maturing—though very much incomplete—Revelation. Further, it has always to be distinguished in its essence from the cultural form in which it is received and understood. In this development the high point but not the final point (for that is yet to be) is Jesus, in what he is, says and does.

Importantly, God does not cease to reveal Godself after the time of Jesus, for being the God of not only history but also of nature, that is the God of space and time, Godself reveals his/her/its mind and will through the varied searching and researching of human beings. And this is very obvious, they say, to moderns in the tremendous growth of knowledge by human beings in recent times of both human beings as complex creatures and of the massive cosmos in which they live. Further, this new Revelation both corrects and perfects knowledge gleaned from the religious experience of the Jews and early Christians and recorded in the Bible.

So on the basis that God is alive and well and making Godself known to human beings who have eyes to see, the Church has to move on in its worship, doctrine, morals and discipline to pay attention to the God of today, that is, to where Deity is in relation to humanity and the cosmos in 2008. And so the new prophetic agenda of the elite of The Episcopal Church is based on reality as they see it, the God in process revealing Godself! They can hold no other position, they say, for they are committed to the God who is, like the cosmos, in evolution and progress! Part of this reality is that same-sex affection is a reflection of the holiness of God.

Conservative response

But what about the conservative Episcopal opposition to this innovatory approach and in particular to its new stance on sexuality?

There does not seem to be one so-called “orthodox” mindset within the Anglican or Episcopal movement in opposition to that of the Episcopal elite. However, the varied approaches, in opposition to the development and process theory of the progressive liberals, all seem to believe that there are clear and final words of God about sexual relations and other basic matters written not only in the New but also in the New Testament. And these they quote and cite. But there are problems.

Most Evangelical clergy seem to come out of a seminary training where they daily saw the Department of Old Testament Studies and the Department of New Testament Studies having little dialogue--as a maximum cooperating and as a minimal going in parallel lines. It was as though the One Canon of Scripture was made up of two very different Testaments and what really connected them was the binding of the Bible in which they were placed.

Further, there was in the seminary usually no regular worship (= Morning and Evening Prayer) where the Old Testament and the Psalter are read/prayed daily in the context of their fulfillment in Christ in the New Testament readings and Canticles. This omission makes it difficult for students to establish a mindset wherein the right relation of the two Testaments is known intellectually and experientially. The theme of “according to the Scriptures” [i.e., The O.T.] is critical for early Christian doctrine and devotion and this is caught and imbibed in classic Christian worship.

From such a background as that of the typical seminary, it is difficult to make a reasoned case against the liberal doctrine of the progressive nature of revelation. And, in the present crisis over sexuality, it is difficult also in a modern context to use successfully the Old Testament texts which declare that homosexual practice is sinful.

The position of the Apostles and Early Church leaders with regard to the Bible seems to have been different and may be instructive. For them the Bible, the inspired, written Word of God, was without doubt the Jewish Bible, which most read in Greek. Together with this they had the teaching of, and facts concerning, Jesus as the Savior and how he fulfilled the Scriptures by his words, works and life, death and resurrection. On the basis of the Bible and with the guidance of the Apostolic Testimony and Tradition (which was simultaneously and slowly being put into writing and circulated), they possessed what has been called “The Rule of Faith,” which amounted to a Christ-centered reading and interpretation of the Jewish Bible, as from the God and Father of the same Lord Jesus Christ. Thus they read the Bible in both its common sense mode, and as the text not only approved by, but also fulfilled in various ways by, Jesus, the Lord and Savior. Therefore they cited the Old Testament as did Jesus as the Word of God written, nothing less and nothing more! Then later the “Rule of Faith” gave and made way to (a) the collection and acceptance of the books we call the New Testament; and (b) the fixed Creeds for Baptism of which the Apostles and Nicene are the most well known.

It would do us no harm today to regard the Old Testament as the primary Scriptures of the LORD and the New Testament as the Divinely authenticated interpretation of them by the Spirit of the LORD. Hereby we would have a sense of a fixed order of salvation in Christ from one God and Father, made available for revelation to the Gentiles and for us and for our salvation, in the Spirit.

I would suggest that the modern use of the Bible to support innovatory sexual relations, as is the norm in The Episcopal Church in 2008, cannot be overturned by the typical Evangelical use of the Bible. We need to recover the sense that the Bible is first ONE CANON and then within the CANON there are two Testaments, united in and by Christ. If we begin from the presenting doctrine of the seminary and many text-books, that “Two Testaments make up One Canon,” then we are probably sure to get things wrong.

(My learned friend Professor C Seitz of Toronto University is working on the relation of the Rule of Faith to the two Testaments and his insights contain important lessons for Anglicans to learn and make use of in their use of sacred Scripture in worship and doctrine and apologetics!)

But there is one more thing. Since the Episcopal elite is advancing a claim for Revelation based on process within God and cosmos, the “orthodox” response not only has to be from a sound view of the relation of OT & NT within the context of the Rule of Faith, but also with the use of Natural Law. Here much help can be gained especially from modern Catholic writers, who show that both homosexual practice and same-sex marriage are “unnatural” in terms of Nature as created by God, the LORD, and their support by the modern State will be a means of actually undermining the State in the long term. January 16, 2008