Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Dr Toon's email address has not changed.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
A THESIS to read: a personal commendation from Dr Peter Toon of an important study of Anglican Identity now available on PDF
However, as I have found out from much experience and even pain, It is one thing to be a member of the Church of England, ordained or lay, and yet another to be the equivalent in a province overseas, especially in the U.S.A., with its totally different history and expression of religious freedom, Christian churches and denominations.
Since 1990 I have been a part of the American Episcopal or Anglican experience and thus have lived within what is generally agreed to be the fruit of the most powerful, sustained innovations in Anglicanism since the Reformation—which occurred in the 1960s-1980s in the U.S.A.. Here the innovations have not been to restore biblical holiness; but to open the church up to the secular world and conform the church to the accepted standards of peace, justice and human rights of the world. The innovations have been most obvious in Episcopal circles in terms of sexual ethics and relations between the sexes. Yet though originating primarily in the U.S.A. these innovations have caused a major crisis within the whole Anglican family and this crisis is as real now as it was five years ago!
All this personal story is merely a way of opening up the topic, described in detail in a Ph.D thesis by Charles Erlandson, entitled, “Orthodox Anglican Identity: Clear and Coherent, or Ambiguous and Messy?” (Lancaster University, UK, 2007). I want to commend this thesis—please read it by PDF on disc—to serious students of the Anglican Way, especially to those seeking to be Anglican or Episcopalian within North America and the West generally. (To order a pdf file copy of the thesis for $10, please visit www.standrewsresources.com St Andrew’s Fort Worth)
To commend this work I will make further general remarks which I hope which promote interest in the topic.
1. Though we speak of Anglicanism and the Anglican Way in the world and in specific parts thereof, such as the U.S.A., and our speech suggests a unified reality, we know that there is no unified reality as such, particularly in the U.S.A. In some parts of the world there is the official Anglican Church, as it were, and virtually no seceders from it or even competitors using the same name alongside it. But in the U.S.A., and elsewhere, Anglicanism is a cluster or a collection or a network or a group or a mixed bag of different types of Anglicans with varied loyalties and associations and with different doctrines and liturgies. Little unites them apart from the name. There is no longer only the original Protestant Episcopal Church created from the Church of England of the 13 colonies in the 1780s; alongside it and around it are many other groups, created locally or imported from abroad, also using the Anglican name! And even within the (Protestant) Episcopal Church there is a spectrum of differing forms of Anglican religion, even though the dominant is liberal progressive.
2. All kinds of efforts, intellectual and practical, have been made in recent times and are being made globally now to try to keep together in some kind of meaningful fellowship at least what is known as the Anglican Communion of Churches. That is, all these provinces which one way or another came out of the Church of England or a Church associated with this Church, and which over the last forty years or so have been bound together by a common history and bonds of affection. But this is easier said than done for what was possible in good times is often impossible in difficult times, and today is a difficult time of crisis, and thus differences loom more clearly than agreements. In fact, the search for a common identity is often not merely very difficult but elusive for groups come in and go out from such different perspectives and with mixed and varied motives. People of the best intentions see things very differently and there is much scope for misunderstanding, as is so evident in 2008.
3. It may well be—and if so this is a real tragedy— the case that there is no possible way available in the U.S.A. for there to be anything but what there is now—a messy association of different types of competitive Anglicans representing a vast spectrum of religion but all claiming to be Anglican as such. It may be that the only way to be an Anglican in the U.S.A. is to identify with one part or group within the spectrum and, realizing that it is only a part, to seek within it to fulfill one’s Christian calling in a charitable way. Now in other parts of the world, say Burma or Sarawak or Sabah, it may be different—very different—but in the U.S.A. it will be an experience of great spiritual pain for those who desire Anglican unity in truth and truth in unity in common identity! There will not be and indeed cannot be a coherent province of the Anglican Communion of Churches in the U.S.A. at this time and probably never—and what is called the Province now (Episcopal Church) is so only in name not in worship, doctrine and holiness.
BUT PLEASE DO NOT GIVE UP ON THE ANGLICAN WAY YET!
For me the form of godliness and discipline provided by the use of the classic BCP daily with the Bible represents a very high form of Christian piety, devotion and doctrine, and though I am deeply pained each new day by the lack of coherent identity in Anglicanism in the West, I have much to hang on to in a positive way from the reformed Catholic, deeply biblical heritage of the Anglican Way! Unless I can find better I stay with it and am grateful.
DO PLEASE BUY AND READ THE THESIS—better to informed and to live as an Anglican with understanding than to live avoiding facing the messy reality of the situation on the ground!
(To order a pdf file copy of the thesis for $10, please visit www.standrewsresources.com St Andrew’s Fort Worth)
Saturday, May 17, 2008
An appreciation of Philip Jenkins, God’s Continent. Christianity, Islam and Europe’s Religious Crisis, Oxford 2007
In one of what I regard as my important short essays of recent months—“Jerusalem & Gafcon” in The Mandate, for May-June, www.pbsusa.org -- I refer to Philip Jenkins’ book, The Next Christendom, and the discussion surrounding it, as being one of the major influences in causing the new recent seceders from The Episcopal Church to turn to African Primates and Provinces for succor and a spiritual home in the Anglican Communion.
Now I wish to commend another important book by Dr Jenkins on the situation in Europe caused by (a) the powerful secularization of European Christianity and Churches in modern times; (b) the advent as immigrants of people of Muslim background, and other factors.
From this book, God’s Continent…, which I have read carefully and with profit, I have gained what I may call a complementary vision of that which American Episcopal seceders gained from the earlier book, The Next Christendom. I can now see (any maybe my European birth, education and ordination in the C of E contribute!) that there is—human speaking, and based on a long historical view of Europe in the past— a real chance of a slow but true renewal of authentic Christianity in Europe in a few years time: that is, after there is a settling down of some of the raw emotion and politics associated with the presence and demands of Muslims, as they have to face the reality of secularist Europe and so modify their religion to fit in.
Of all the Churches in Europe that has been affected by secularism in the most obvious way and so widely, since World War, is the R C Church. And it is, of course, by far and away the biggest and with the largest global connections. Any restoration of viable Christianity would, I envisage, have to include in a central and significant way, this Church, which would then, as it were, energize Lutherans, Anglicans and others to rediscover their own true heritage and vocation. Now this revival or restoration would not come out of nowhere for there are now signs in small enclaves of this beginning of renewal and vision.
However, for it to take off – see Jenkins for suggested preliminaries—it will need Europeans through their encounter with Islam socially, politically, at work, in government and so on to be led as it were to ask questions about their own cultural and religious background and heritage (e.g. why all the great cathedrals and churches around? What is the real truth about spirituality and self-meaning.? Who is God and Christ and what is salvation? And so on).
There are a lot of ifs and factors and unknowns, but to see the beginnings of a rejuvenating European Christianity with the R C Church leading and in genuine best Vatican II mode—and including a new power and vision in the See of Canterbury— in a decade is not a stupid vision: it is reasonable in the sense that it makes sense of possible factors now in play and known from other periods of history and places. And it believes that God loves the disobedient, rebellious people of Europe for Jesus sake!
If this rejuvenation were to occur, then the New Christendom of the Global South would be enriched by the new energy and insight from God’s old Continent, the spiritual home of most of the Churches of the Global South. And there would be the real possibility of a united Anglican Communion with the See of Canterbury acting in biblical apostolic fashion.
Eve of Trinity Sunday, 2008.
“Blessed, praised and adored be the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.”
Thursday, May 15, 2008
14th May 2008
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
The Episcopal Church USA
815 Second Avenue
New York, NY
Dear Bishop Katharine,
I received word of your letter through a colleague who had seen it on the internet. Without the internet, I may never have known that you had written such a personal, yet sadly ironic, letter to me.
Unfortunately, you appear to have been misinformed about key matters, which I hope to clear up in this letter.
1. I am not visiting a church in the Diocese of Georgia. I am visiting a congregation that is part of the Church of Uganda. Were I to visit a congregation within TEC, I would certainly observe the courtesy of contacting the local bishop. Since, however, I am visiting a congregation that is part of the Church of Uganda, I feel very free to visit them and encourage them through the Word of God.
2. The reason this congregation separated from TEC and is now part of the Church of Uganda is that the actions of TEC's General Convention and statements of duly elected TEC leaders and representatives indicate that TEC has abandoned the historic Christian faith. Furthermore, as predicted by the Primates of the Anglican Communion in October 2003, TEC's actions have, in fact, torn the fabric of the Communion at its deepest level.
3. May I remind you that the initial reason the Lambeth Commission on Communion was appointed was because of unbiblical decisions taken by TEC in defiance of repeated warnings by all of the Anglican Instruments of Communion. The Windsor Report was produced and accepted in amended form by the Primates at our meeting in Dromantine, Northern Ireland, in February 2005. It is, therefore, quite ironic for you to be quoting the Windsor Report to me. Nowhere in the Windsor Report or in subsequent statements of the Instruments of Communion is there a moral equivalence between the unbiblical actions and decisions of TEC that have torn the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level and the pastoral response on our part to provide ecclesiastical oversight to American congregations who wish to continue to uphold the faith once delivered to the saints and remain a part of the Anglican Communion. Your selective quoting of the Windsor Report is stunning in its arrogance and condescension.
4. You and your House of Bishops rejected outright the Pastoral Scheme painstakingly devised in Dar es Salaam, and to which you agreed. You have, therefore, left us no choice but to continue to respond to the cries of God's faithful people in America for episcopal oversight that upholds and promotes historic, biblical Anglicanism.
5. An important element of the Dar es Salaam agreement was the plea by the Primates that 'the representatives of The Episcopal Church and of those congregations in property disputes with it to suspend all actions in law arising in this situation.' This was something to which you gave verbal assent and yet you have initiated more legal actions against congregations and clergy in your short tenure as Presiding Bishop than all of your predecessors combined. I urge you to rethink, suspend litigation and follow a more Christ-like approach to settling your differences.
Finally, I appeal to you to heed the advice of Gamaliel in Acts 5.38ff, 'Leave these [churches] alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop [them]; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.'
Yours, in Christ,
The Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi
ARCHBISHOP OF CHURCH OF UGANDA.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
By A MERE ANGLICAN PRIEST
According to the wisdom of the wise, all those Bishops (of biblically-orthodox faith) who were invited to Lambeth 08 ought to have said Yes. Then as a group they could have protested with one voice the invitation given to the consecrators of Gene Robinson. Also they could have prepared to work together at Lambeth, whatever the stated agenda, for real reform and necessary change in the Communion of Churches.
In the event, because of conscientious problems about cooperating with the Archbishop of Canterbury and matters to do with the Windsor Report and Process, many orthodox bishops delayed to say Yes and so little or no common mind and protest were generated.
Fast forward to early December 07 Nairobi
Bishop Duncan and other Bishops of Common Cause went to a meeting in East Africa in December 2007, and there gave approval to what came to be called GAFCON to be held in Jerusalem in June 08, a month ahead of the Lambeth Conference (itself planned for July 08 ever since July 1998!). Although GAFCON was initially clearly stated to be NOT an alternative to Lambeth 08, the dominant participants (Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Sydney) in the East Africa meeting soon announced that they would not be present at Lambeth. Significantly, the reasons given for not going to Lambeth all concerned being faithful to the Lord Jesus and his Gospel and Truth. Although asked to change their minds by voices from many quarters, these Provinces stood firm ---Gafcon certainly Yes, but Lambeth certainly No. And they saw it as being obedient to the will of the Lord Jesus. They did not want to cooperate with and share the Lord’s Table with “heretics” such as those from TEC.
From December 07 most observers and commentators thought for several months that all the bishops from America from Common Cause, who attended the East Africa meeting, had surely committed themselves in general terms to the position of the lead participants. And clearly the missionary Bishops in the USA from Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda were so committed.
However, amazingly, the TEC Bishops in Common Cause (Duncan, Ackerman, Iker et al) have announced in May 08 that they will be go first to GAFCON and then to LAMBETH! They offer the general justification that unless there are “the orthodox” there at Canterbury to make the case, the truth about what is going on in North America may not be understand, let alone heard, by the Anglican Bishops present. So their presence as truth-tellers is necessary, they say (but do they realize that their senior African colleagues have already rejected totally this type of argument!).
In fact by attendance at Lambeth the TEC Bishops accept that the A. of C. is in fact, and in practice, the President of the Lambeth Conference and also the first Instrument of Unity of the Anglican Communion of Churches. More to the point they undermine the strong critique of the Windsor Report Process and the work of the Archbishop in that process, made on behalf, and in justification of, the GAFCON event!
One is left wondering whether the parting of the ways is beginning (but not yet discerned) between the TEC Bishops in Common Cause and the rest of the Bishops therein (e.g. AMIA & CANA). Further, is the bond between the African Provinces (Nigeria, Rwanda etc.) and the TEC Common Cause Bishops beginning to snap? And, further, is the Southern Cone beginning to change direction? Not going to Lambeth 08 obviously lies near to the heartbeat of the practical religion of the Nigerians, Rwandans, Ugandans, Kenyans and Sydneyites! Do the TEC Common Cause Bishops really appreciate this and have they assessed before the throne of grace what their going to Lambeth may mean?
OH, IF ONLY ALL THE BIBLICALLY ORTHODOX BISHOPS WOULD HAVE DECIDED TO GO TO LAMBETH AND TO MAKE A CONCERTED AND GODLY STAND there FOR FULL BIBLICAL ORTHODOXY IN THE ANGLICAN WAY! That they did not do so will leave a permanent scar on the face of world Anglicanism and may be a major cause to the rupture of the Anglican Way.
END Eve of Pentecost 2008
I am a candidate for stem-cell transplant at the University hospital in Seattle, as the most efficient treatment to seek to expel the rogue protein, amyloid, from my body where it does much harm. I am doing all the preliminary tests in order to move into this program within a few weeks.
However, initial treatment and preparation is already delayed, and will be much more delayed, if the fluid that is draining from my right lung does not cease or become minimal very soon. Fifteen days out from the procedure, plurodesis, the tube is still there in my right lung! It has to come out very soon or there will be infection etc, and if it comes out with the fluid still building up inside, then another more radical procedure will be necessary and this will certainly delay or stop the treatment of the amyloidosis.
So my prayer request is simple: If you are so moved and guided,
Ask the Lord by the presence and power of the Pentecost SPIRIT to heal and put right what is causing the continuing build-up of fluid in my right lung. And to prepare my body for the demanding procedure of stem-cell transplant (using my own cells!).
And may you have a blessed Whitsuntide!
Monday, May 05, 2008
For this percentage to grow, the following “facts” need to be not only known but appreciated and understood, which is a major Christian education outreach.
In what is known as the Liturgical Movement of the second half of the twentieth century in the C. of E. and Anglicanism, the question of traditional language versus contemporary language for God is to be separated clearly from other aspects of this Movement—from e.g. (a) the call to make the Parish Communion the central Sunday service; and (b) the criticism of the Prayer Book Rite for H.C. and its “shape” by Gregory Dix et al; neither of these required a change of language for God.
The move to adopt contemporary language for God was related primarily to responding to social, cultural and religious (including movements flowing from Vatican II) factors.
The new Bible of 1611 and the BCP edition of 1604 were both authorized by King James. Both are totally consistent in their use of the traditional SECOND PERSON SINGULAR, thou/thee, for the Lord God and for Jesus Christ. Neither the Father nor the Son nor the Holy Ghost is ever addressed as You.
Both the KJV and the BCP are also wholly and totally consistent in the use of the traditional SECOND PERSON PLURAL, ye/you, for two or more human beings.
The KJV is always and everywhere consistent in using thou/thee of the individual person, male or female. This is because the translation is following the specific grammar of the Hebrew and Greek texts and rendering the singular one way (thou) and the plural another way (you).
The BCP (1549-1662) nearly always and everywhere uses thou/thee of the individual person (always so in Bible passages), but here and there uses “you” as the singular form—see the Catechism, the Churching of Women, and the Consecration of a Bishop. This latter use arises from the use of English in the sixteenth century where the king and courtiers along with others of high class or calling were addressed as “you.” This convention may also be observed in Shakespeare’s plays and other writings of the time.
A lot of people have been confused or misinformed since the 1960s in speaking of the language of the KJV and BCP. First of all, many have assumed that the BCP follows the same rules as the KJV with a strict division between thou and you. This is only partially true and can be misleading. Secondly, many have thought that the addressing of God as Thou is merely and only a grammatical matter—that God is singular; therefore, Thou in old English becomes You in contemporary English. This approach misses the doctrinal and devotional connections of Thou.
From the seventeenth century, the use of “you” as second person singular grew, moving out from its previous restriction as conveying respect (thus usually only to the higher classes and authorities). At the same time, the use of “thou” was gradually restricted to specific close relations between members of families, lovers, in dialects and by the Society of Friends. It has now virtually totally disappeared.
However—and this is most important—the “you” never, ever, anywhere, was used of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. “Thou” alone for God had been used since English began centuries before, and it remained in universal use, even as the use of “you” as singular for ordinary people much increased.
Thus in and after the seventeenth and until the twentieth century, God is always Thou in hymnody, devotional book, liturgy, ex tempore prayer and family devotions. The English Language of Prayer is constant in knowing the LORD God and Jesus Christ as “Thou/Thee.”
Using Thou of God (a) affirms unmistakably his singular identity as the One God; but (b) it also very importantly allows for a sense of intimacy by grace with him as the personal Lord.
The great change from Thou to You for God came in the 1960s fuelled by both ignorance and by cultural and social revolution in society and church. The vast selection of modern versions of the Bible using “you” began to appear from the 1960s. & Liturgies, hymns, songs and choruses followed. They continue to flow! Except when saying the Lord’s Prayer and singing an old hymn, we totally ignore the absolute dominance of Thou for God from the early medieval period through to the 1960s!
Thursday, May 01, 2008
The Antiphon for Ascension Day in the medieval Church of England was addressed to the exalted Lord Jesus and (in traditional English) reads:
O Lord of hosts, the King of glory, who today didst ascend in triumph far above all heavens, do not leave us as orphans, but send upon us the promise of the Father, even the Spirit of Truth.”
It was sung before and after the Psalm of the Day. Here there is a combination of themes from Psalm 24 and John 14-16.
To create a Collect for the Sunday following Ascension Day (because the Latin one from the medieval Church made no reference to the Ascension), Archbishop Cranmer took this Antiphon and made it into a Collect, but he composed it so that it is addressed to the Father not to the exalted Son.
O God the King of glory, who hast exalted thine only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph into thy kingdom in heaven; we beseech thee, leave us not comfortless; but send to us thine Holy Ghost to comfort us, and exalt us unto the same place whither our Saviour Christ is gone before, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
We recall that Jesus rose from the dead on Easter Sunday – not merely a spiritual resurrection but a truly bodily resurrection, which was very much more than bodily resuscitation. His resurrected body was an immortalized, glorified body, a human body wonderfully perfected.
For Forty Days on various occasions and places he appeared in this amazing body to his apostles and disciples until his last appearance recorded in Acts 1, which also became his marvelous Ascension into heaven.
For ten days afterwards the apostles and disciples waited for the Gift promised by the Lord Jesus – the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost/Spirit, coming from the Father in the Name of the Lord Jesus, bearing his gifts and virtues for his Church. So fifty days from Easter Day, at the Jewish Feast of Pentecost, and called Whit-Sunday by the western Church, the awaiting disciples received the Gift from above, the descent of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2). And from this day the message of salvation in and by Christ was proclaimed first in Jerusalem and then throughout the surrounding world.
Returning to the Ascension, by this glorious Event the resurrected Jesus was exalted by the Father to his right hand on high and crowned as the Lord of lords and King of kings—as Psalm 24 sings and prophesies.
It is most important to affirm that in this Ascension and Exaltation, the Lord Jesus did not lose or shed his human nature and body. He entered heaven—the sphere where the angels and archangels worshiped the Holy Trinity—with his full humanity, now in an immortalized and glorified form, yet real humanity still. And heaven was transformed by his arrival and session at the Father’s right hand. For now, as belonging fully and uniquely to the Second Person of the Trinity, human nature (humanity) was in heaven and the Lord Jesus, as the One Person made known in two natures (divine and human) became the One Mediator between God and man. Within the Triune Life of the Holy Trinity there was and there remains glorified human nature! An amazing thought and truth, with most holy and saving consequences for human beings, not least the possibility of the beatific vision of beholding the glory of the Father in the face of Jesus Christ.
Previously the angelic hosts and choirs alone praised and magnified the Holy Trinity with their, “Holy, Holy, Holy,” but now joined to them was the human voice of the exalted Jesus—High Priest, Son of God, Lord and Mediator. And through, in, by, and with this same Jesus there arrived in heaven also, from now onwards, a constant procession of redeemed and sanctified human beings, first the saints from the Israel of the Old Covenant and then the martyrs and saints of the Church of the New Covenant. So now in heaven the heavenly choir has both angelic and human voices and all joyfully sing in the Name of Jesus to the one glory of the one God, who is the Blessed, Holy and Undivided Trinity.
Let us rejoice and be exceedingly glad that Heaven was eternally changed, was marvelously developed and expanded, through the Arrival and Coronation of Jesus, Messiah, Savior and Lord at his Exaltation. It is now the most holy sphere and place whose entry is “through Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life” and in this place “there are many mansions” for the multitude of redeemed human beings.
So we ask: Why, O Why is the Festival of the Ascension so neglected today? It is the Festival without which the other Festivals cannot fulfill their meaning and purpose. For unless the Lord Jesus is exalted into heaven, his work is incomplete and thus there is no salvation, redemption, divinization and beatification for the human sinners whom he came to save.
Jesus is risen from the dead. Alleluia.
Jesus is exalted to the Father’s right hand. Alleluia.
Jesus has transformed ands remade heaven. Alleluia.
The Father sends the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, in Jesus’ Name. Alleluia.
Jesus will come to judge the living and the dead at the end of the age. Alleluia.