Monday, November 16, 2009

As Night Follows Day?

David Phillips, General Secretary of Church Society writes:
There are many who sincerely believe that it is right for the Church to ordain women as presbyters, and wrong for it to endorse homosexual practice. Although some have argued this distinction forcefully I am convinced that the acceptance of one almost inevitably leads to the acceptance of the other. Some will find this conclusion offensive but I find it rather obvious. -- AS NIGHT FOLLOWS DAY?, from Cross†Way Issue Autumn 2009 No. 114

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

At Almost Every Service I Attend, I Remember God's Mercy

by Nathan Carr, All Soul's Episcopal Church
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

In most every service I attend, the opening sentence of the Order for Daily Morning Prayer crosses my mind as either the bell tolls or the priest enters, “The Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.” What an interesting thing to say right before we do a lot of talking!

Upon further reading, I noticed from the same chapter in Habakkuk the following: “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” I look around the chapel in anticipation of that Scripture’s fulfillment…but with only two minutes to go, it appears that only one kneeler will be used this morning. I shall really have to speak up now! Right on cue, the priest begins, “The Lord is in his Holy Temple!” Will three voices be enough “water” this morning to fill the earth?

Next to me is my three-year-old son. His two eyes barely peer out over the top of the oaken pew, as he struggles to balance those tiny legs on the kneeler. Whether he’s presently thinking about it or not, I have told him a number of times that today’s service, just like yesterday’s and last night’s, is another celebration of mercy. In fact, Habakkuk comes to mind again! “O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known: in wrath remember mercy.”

Then, as we admit to "provoking most justly [God’s] wrath and indignation against us,” we confess together. I feel very justified in my recollection of Habakkuk, and I find myself already looking forward to Cranmer’s prayer after the consecration, "but Thou art the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy” - mercy that turns the hearts of parents to their children; mercy that allows an ingathering of the saints even to this service with these prayers. I wonder if Habakkuk knew just how far forward his prophetic words would reach?

Confession really is the exhale of the church—for we know also from Habakkuk that “him that establisheth a city by iniquity” stands condemned already. This City, though—the great City of our God—its ramparts are forged in the labor that is love; the labor that is mercy; the labor that is worship. Its ramparts are forged by three-year-olds and awkward fathers.

As I again look down at my Gentile son who now lisps on what would’ve been an unknown continent, I realize how pleasing a thought it would have been for Habakkuk, at the hour of his transcription, to see this time and place of his still-used words. Truly, the knowledge of the glory of the Lord has covered the earth as the waters cover the sea. I bow my teary eyes in silence next to my son, knowing full well the indwelling Lord is in his holy Church.

Monday, August 24, 2009

St Bartholomew Apostle & Martyr, August 24th

The Feast of Saint Bartholomew the Apostle & Martyr, August 24th

We do not know much about Bartholomew except his name, and that he was an apostle. According to Church tradition (recorded by Eusebius), it is said that he preached the gospel of Christ in India (a vague geographical term that in antiquity covered much of south Asia) and died a martyr in Armenia, after being skinned alive. That is why his traditional symbol is the flenching knife; and he is sometimes portrayed in art – most famously in the Sistine chapel – with his own flayed skin hanging over his arm. In the Middle Ages, with an indelicate sense of humour, he was made the patron of butchers, and all artisans who worked in leather – tanners, curriers, shoemakers, glovemakers, and bookbinders. But if church tradition is loquacious, Scripture is reticent about his personal qualities and life story, and we must take that reticence seriously. By denying our natural curiosity about them Scripture forces us to focus on what is of primary important to us – his calling to be an apostle of Jesus Christ.

In today’s lesson from Saint Luke’s gospel, chosen many centuries ago for this feast day, we find the apostles at the last supper, bickering about “which of them should be accounted the greatest”, when God, as they confidently expected, would bestow the authority and power of his Kingdom upon their Master, Jesus of Nazareth. As we know from other occasions, recorded by St. Matthew and St. Mark, they conceived of his Kingdom in worldly terms, and their ambitions were whetted by the thought of being his right-hand man, with first crack at the spoils of power and prestige. It is not an edifying display – but who are we too complain? Jockeying for position and prestige is a feature of every human society and institution, from the playground to the pulpit, in the cut-throat worlds of business and politics, and even in marriage and friendship.

Yet greatness in the kingdom is not an unworthy desire. It is simply a matter of getting the right perspective on it. Jesus began by correcting the apostles’ fantasies of power and prestige. “The kings of the Gentiles”, he told them, “exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called Benefactors.” It is a subtle reminder that they are talking just like the pagan rulers and officials they despise, who used the privileges and vast wealth of their positions to keep armies of dependents in ego-gratifying servility. “But ye shall not be so”, he tells them, and then turns upside down their worldly notions of greatness: “but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? Is not he that sitteth at meat? But I am among you as he that serveth”. The proper question, he is saying, is not ‘which is the greatest in the Kingdom’ but rather ‘how those who are great in the Kingdom conduct themselves’. In his Kingdom, greatness is manifested in humble service.

The word “service” gets bandied about a great deal in our society. Schools require young people to undertake “service projects” in the community, designed to harness their idealism towards the improvement of the world. Experts on business management talk about “servant-leadership” as a way of improving the productivity and effectiveness of one’s employees. This is not really what Jesus is talking about. In Biblical terms a servant is a slave, and a slave has no power to assert his own will; he is entirely at the disposal of the one he serves. To be great in the Kingdom of God, therefore, is to have given up one’s rights, and one’s own will, in favour of God’s will. It is to put oneself entirely at the service of God, as Jesus did, even though it meant death, the death of the cross. Following in the footsteps of the servant of the Lord, the apostles must deny themselves, and crucify worldly pride.

That is a hard saying, no question about it: but Jesus only takes away worldly ambition, that he may give them true greatness in the Kingdom of God: “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations” he tells the apostles; “and I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel”. It is by obedience that men learn how to command; and those who put themselves at the service of God become the willing instruments of his almighty will, and are entrusted with power and authority from on high. When the Lord’s Servant, who humbled himself unto death, even the death of the cross, was highly exalted in his resurrection, and given all authority in heaven and earth; those who followed him in humble service of God were commissioned to claim the allegiance of all nations to him.

For an apostle is “someone who is sent” -- an emissary or ambassador of the Kingdom of God, sent to announce the Kingdom’s coming in Jesus Christ, and authorized to claim men’s allegiance to him. “We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5.20). They are entrusted with the Word of God’s power, of his justice and mercy; the power to proclaim repentance and remission of sins among all nations in Jesus’ name; the power to bring the light of heaven into the dark places of the earth, and to admit men to communion with God. “We preach not ourselves, (says St. Paul) but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 4.5). The words are St. Paul’s, but he speaks for all the apostles, and for those of us who profess the apostolic faith.

In his poem “The Windows”, George Herbert, a 17th century priest and poet, asked,

Lord, how can man preach thy eternal word?
He is a brittle crazy glass:
Yet in thy temple thou dost him afford
This glorious and transcendent place,
To be a window, through thy grace.

Such is greatness in the Kingdom of God: “To be a window, through thy grace” to the light of God’s truth, his goodness, his beauty, his justice, and his mercy, as this is revealed in his eternal Word, and set forth in the witness of the apostles to Jesus Christ. It is the greatness of Bartholomew and all the apostles; which it is our holy desire to share; and so we pray, that as his fellow-servants, we may both love what he believed, and proclaim what he taught. Amen.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bishop Jeremy Taylor

The Anglican calendar commemorates Bishop Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667), a scholar, a man of prayer, and a true pastor. He lived through a century that saw the execution of King Charles I, the Cromwellian interregnum which suppressed the Church of England and banned the Book of Common Prayer, and finally the Restoration. He was a renowned scholar, a student of the liturgy, his thinking formed by the works of the Church Fathers, who defended the Book of Common Prayer, and the historic practice of organized formal prayer in his essay An Apology for Authorized and Set-Forms of Liturgy.

Taylor is best known for The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living and Holy Dying, his contemplation of the purposes of life in the face of our final end, and advice on the means to living well, and preparing ourselves for a blessed death. Filled with hope and love, not dark or distressing, Taylor's work offers practical advice. In his memory I excerpt the following:

The memories of the saints are precious to God, and therefore they ought also to be so to us; and such persons who serve God by holy living, industrious preaching, and religious dying, ought to have their names preserved in honour, and God be glorified in them, and their holy doctrines and lives published and imitated; and we by so doing give testimony to the article of the communion of saints...
And so today we give thanks to God for the work of Bishop Taylor.

Roberta Bayer
[More information about Bp Taylor and links to his writings can be found at]

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


When we say that we desire to recover real religion, what we mean is that we desire to recover Christ Jesus. True religion is recovered when man discovers that Jesus Christ is reality. Reality- or what is true and good, is God's life, and God's life is given to man in Christ Jesus.Reality is the union of God with man, and man with God. Christ Jesus is the dynamic center of this unifying reality. He is the love of God and the love of man in the one centrifugal activity which unites the two. Through the Holy Spirit this love is offered to us. If we accept it "he will dwell in us, and we in him". Are you interested in this Reality? Or are you, rather, following a religion that is alien to it?

--Fr. William Martin

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

PBS on Scriptorium

Fred Sanders has a piece posted on the Scriptorium blog called "Cranmer Prays to the Trinity" in which he references one of Peter Toon's articles from 2001 here: "Praying to the Holy Trinity, One Lord, with Thomas Cranmer". He also commends the current issue of the PBS's journal The Mandate.

Scriptorium is sponsored by the Torrey Honors Institute of Biola University.

The PBS website and blog contain a large number of posts and articles, many by the late Rev'd Dr Peter Toon. The easiest way to find those in which you may be interested is to use the search box on the home page: this will search both the PBS website and the blog site.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

From The Rev'd David Curry

Dr. Peter Toon

The death of Rev’d Dr. Peter Toon (on April 25th, 2009) has saddened us all. But there is much comfort to be taken from the witness of his life.

Peter was one of the most remarkable oracles of the Anglican Way. He shall be greatly missed. Indefatigable in his commitment to Christian Orthodoxy and to the place of the Anglican witness within that orthodoxy, Peter was tireless in a much neglected but crucial feature of our corporate life. He was, first and foremost, a catechist. That is no mean feat and no minor calling. Quite the opposite. It was Peter’s advocation. He was zealous and insistent upon using every opportunity to teach and proclaim the essential love of God for our humanity declared and made known in Jesus Christ.

It was the form of his service to the Church Universal in and through the Anglican Way. It was my privilege to have known Peter, to have enjoyed his confidence and respect and to have learned from him as a colleague and friend. Dogged and determined in his approach to matters of doctrine, there was also a remarkable humility to Peter. He was almost unique as an English academic in wanting to try to understand the North American Anglican (Episcopal) scene and to appreciate what is true in it. He was also a true intellectual willing to learn from others, however green behind the ears they may have seemed. Writing as a Canadian priest, I can only remember with great gratitude Peter’s openness, consideration, support and regard for the Prayer Book Society of Canada whose witness he valued and to which witness he greatly contributed.

In our present confusions, we may be apt to wring our hands, to lament and complain, to fret and worry about a multitude of things. We would do well to remember the perseverance in prayer, thought and action of Dr. Peter Toon, the legacy of whose service to the Gospel of Christ in and through the Anglican Way remains ours to keep.

We give thanks to God for Peter’s prolific teaching ministry. Rest eternal grant unto him, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon him. Well done, thou good and faithful servant!

(Rev’d) David Curry
Vice-Chairman of the PBSC
June 1st, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009

When Church Leaders go Wrong

As a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, I was not happy when the president of the University of Notre Dame invited President Obama to speak at Notre Dame's commencement ceremony this year. Checking the Roman Catholic website, one finds a document dated June 15, 2004 which contains a statement from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops on the subject of Catholics in Political Life. It states clearly why he should not have been invited:

* We need to continue to teach clearly and help other Catholic leaders to teach clearly on our unequivocal commitment to the legal protection of human life from the moment of conception until natural death. Our teaching on human life and dignity should be reflected in our parishes and our educational, health care and human service ministries.

* The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.

Fr Jenkins, the university president, should have recognized that he was contravening an instruction from the Conference of Catholic Bishops in offering President Obama a doctorate of laws. A commencement ceremony is not a place to engage in political dispute, yet that is exactly what happened when President Obama took the stand. Instead of avoiding the issue, and speaking on topics which might concern a graduating class, he gave a speech which indeed was a pro-choice speech. Consequently Notre Dame gave him a platform to profess something that is contrary to Biblical authority and the long-held teaching of the church.

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee (Jeremiah.1.5)

It is by God's providence that we come into the world, and it is He also who knows the end of our days. He is the beginning and end, the alpha and omega of everything that exists, including ourselves. Every conception is ordered to His will, every humanly contrived termination is an act of ours. Surely it must be clear that human life is not ours to willfully take away.

One lesson that Anglicans should take away from watching this debacle is that even within the Roman Catholic Church there is precious little power to regulate rogue priests, university presidents and boards of trustees of Catholic universities. Even the local bishop of South Bend, Indiana could only voice opposition. The president of the University of Notre Dame, despite being a priest in the Order of the Holy Cross, could not be stopped from awarding an honorary degree to President Obama. Even the most hierarchical church has limited authority over subordinate institutions and priests. Those in the Prayer Book Society who work without any institutional backing should take heart. It is argument, not power, that must be marshaled to win any theological fight.

Roberta Bayer

Friday, May 01, 2009

From Graham Eglington, former National Director of the Prayer Book Society of Canada

Tribute to Dr. Peter Toon

Peter was my comrade in arms, guide, counsellor, and dear friend for upwards of 20 years. I owe him much personally. But it is his contribution to the Anglican Way of reformed Catholicism, particularly in North America and Australia which concerns us all. The Prayer Book as the principal formulary and root of the Anglican Way was at the heart of his message. Indeed it would not be saying too much to observe that there would be no Prayer Book cause in North America without his tenacious, dedicated, learned contribution. Peter shone like a searchlight through the fog of ignorance, amnesia, wishful and selective thinking , the muddled motives and petty jealousies that surround the supposedly orthodox Anglican forces in North America, Australia and even in England. His incisive mind and clarity of expression served us all so well, even those of us who were made uncomfortable thereby.

Peter was determined to understand and to engage modern North American life and society. His analyses remain a tremendous gift to us who are left to fight on for the Anglican Way. Not for Peter was the Anglican Way a retreat into some romanticised, enchanted world of faux mediaevelism. Peter’s faith was a living, driving thing, and in him one got a real sense that our God is a flaming fire. His profound humility never lessened the urgency with which he worked, and wrote. A master of terse, nervous English he could address complex issues in simple direct terms in a very brief span. We shall not see his like again. He was God’s gift, and his writings are a treasure trove to be rediscovered and put to use by succeeding generations.

Generosity of spirit attended Peter in all his work and life. Never did he resort to ad hominem attacks on opponents in argument. His tenderness to some of his antagonists was extraordinary, though his life was marked by adversities and betrayals, by humiliations at the hands of those he thought were allies, and by slights, sneers and condescension on the part of those who were in every respect his inferiors, that would have provoked a lesser man to sarcasm and worse. Never was he bitter. Peter remains to us all an ensample of emulation of our Lord’s life and teaching. Peter lived the petitions in so many of the Collects he delighted to expound to our benefit in his weekly commentaries on the Eucharistic lectionary.

We are all so much the poorer for Peter’s personal absence from us and from the end of his earthly ministry. But of him we can say with confidence: “May he rest in peace; and rise in glory”. In his memory we must all “press on”.

Graham Eglington, former National Director of the Prayer Book Society of Canada

Thursday, April 30, 2009

From Ian Robinson

Peter Toon was one of the best minds of the Anglican tradition in modern times. Gifted with a very good and well-stocked memory, he was a relentlessly efficient thinker, able to produce everything from scholarly works to comments on issues of the day at a great pace without loss of coherence or depth. He was as near as we have come to a reliable, faithful and reasonable guide to the Christian way in times when it is often obscured.

During his long and debilitating final illness the frequent emails in which he made sometimes daily comments continued almost as before. Characteristically his experience of approaching towards death turned him to the problem of suffering, and how it relates to faith, and his thinking was as clear and profound as ever.

Without pre-empting judgement one may surely hope for Peter to hear “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

It is harder for those of us still in the field that this shepherd is taken from us in his intellectual prime, though Peter would have been the first to remind us of “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Ian Robinson
The Brynmill Press and Edgeways Books

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

From The Rev. Ed Hird

Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Dr Peter Toon came many times to Canada. As he was living in Seattle and attending St Lukes' Seattle with the Rev. Dr John Roddam, Dr Toon was able to visit a number of times to Vancouver BC. I remember once when Dr Toon was about to speak at St John's Shaughnessy to the faithful embattled Anglicans in BC. Dr. JI Packer introduced him, saying how much he was looking forward to hearing Dr. Toon, and ended by saying in childlike joy and with a twinkle in his eye: 'goody'. ;)

I also remember meeting Dr. Toon a number of times at the AMiA Conferences, which shows his true catholicity in embracing faithful Anglicans from different streams. While Dr. Toon 'enjoyed' a good debate, there was an overall graciousness and breadth to Dr. Toon that I fondly remember. His work on the recent 'Anglican Prayer Book', sponsored by AMiA and used now by many, is a good example of that graciousness and scholarship.

Ed Hird+

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

From Bill Fishburne

Dr. Toon's work enriched our spiritual lives through the many notes he authored that appeared in these pages. He will be greatly missed.

Bill Fishburne

Into thy hands, O merciful Saviour, we commend the soul of thy servant, Peter, now departed from the body. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech thee, a sheep of thine own fold, a lamb of thine own flock, a sinner of thine own redeeming. Receive him into the arms of thy mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the Saints in light. Who livest and reignest, world without end. Amen,

Rest eternal grant unto him O Lord,
And let light perpetual shine upon him
May he rest in peace. Amen

From The Rev'd. Dr. John Roddam

Our parish was privileged to stand in prayer with you in this season. Peter spoke encouragement to our parish family that blessed us and endeared us to him. Peter's heart for Reformed Catholicism and passion for the Word of God were profound. He has left a legacy with the Prayer Book Society and beyond that offers hope in a morass of confusion within the Anglican Family.

Peter was a wonderful mentor to many church leaders. He greatly blessed me with practical pastoral wisdom. He also demonstrated gracious conversation with those with whom he differed. My life has been enriched by the Toons!

Know that Holly and I, with our St. Luke's parish family, pray for God's comfort and strength for you and your family at this time. God Bless!


Iesus, tanto nomini nullum par elogium!
Jesus, for so great a name, no praise is adequate!

The Rev'd. Dr. John Roddam,
St. Luke's Episcopal Church,
Seattle, WA

Monday, April 27, 2009

From The Reverend Dr. David Wheaton

Peter joined the staff of Oak Hill College in Southgate, North London in 1976 from Latimer House in Oxford, where he had been working alongside Dr. James Packer at the Anglican Evangelical research centre. At that time the College was negotiating with the Council for National Academic Awards with a view to being able to set up its own courses with a greater Biblical and pastoral emphasis than was to be found in the syllabi current in the General Ordination Examination or the Diploma and Degree courses offered externally by London University.

Peter's academic prowess gave greater credibility to the College in the eyes of the CNAA. The College's official history (Witness to the Word published by Paternoster Press in 2002) records that he instilled in students his own deep appreciation of the Anglican heritage, and was never satisfied with facile, poorly thought-out answers. He was always ready to challenge his colleagues as well as his students to think more deeply. The College community also valued having Vita and Deborah living on site as part of the College community.

Yours in Christ,

The Reverend Dr. David Wheaton,
former Principle Oak Hill Theological College, London, UK,
Honorary Chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen,
Canon Emeritus of the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban

From Dr Richard Pierard

It is with great sadness that I read the message of Peter Toon's passing.

I had first met Peter in England in the early 1970s when he allowed me to speak in his church, and we had visited in each other's homes on subsequent occasions. To be sure, we travelled along different paths ecclesiologically, in that he was an Anglican and I am American Baptist, and we worked in different periods of church history. But I always appreciated Peter's good spirit and commitment to the historic Christian faith which we shared. It is hard to believe that he is no longer with us, but his memory lives on. I convey my sympathies to his wife and family members, and remain encouraged by that hope that we shall see one another against in that glorious resurrection day.


Richard Pierard

Dr. Richard and Charlene Pierard, Professor of History Emeritus, Indiana State University and Gordon College

From The Rev'd Canon Dr Gavin Ashenden

Peter meant a very good deal to me - and to many of those he taught.

We immediately recognised him as an individual thinker of considerable authenticity and standing.

He was both a source of inspiration and also of liberation to us as we tried to offer our minds as well as our hearts to our dear Lord.

Peter opened so many windows for us. He inculcated an attitude that was at one and the same time wholly reverential, and also unafraid to look for that angle of integrity. He encouraged us to think, and explore, to dismantle and rebuild, but unlike so many intellectuals, this was nothing to do with the ego, and everything to do with service for the kingdom and the Gospel.

We recognised how much he knew - and how far he had travelled. We became unafraid to flex our intellectual muscles since Peter set us an example of how that could be done in a way that was thoroughly Godly, faithful and constructive.

In the last few years, Peter's was the voice I looked to for a proper and dependable interpretation of what was happening in the American Church.

My loss will be nothing compared to yours, but I feel it keenly nonetheless.

A world that lacks Peter, lacks an element of intelligent compassionate insight it can ill afford to lose.

A Church that lacks Peter, is so much the poorer for he takes his integrity with him, and there is too little left behind.

He was generous in the way he honoured us with his friendship, and I am profoundly grateful and blessed for having known him, and been trained to serve our Lord's Church by him.

"All shall be amen and alleuluia.
There we shall rest and we shall see;
we shall see and we shall love;
we shall love and we shall praise.
Behold what shall be in the End and shall not end."

St Augustine of Hippo.

The Rev'd Canon Dr Gavin Ashenden,

Chaplain and Lecturer in Humanities,
The University of Sussex.

Chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Death of Dr. Peter Toon Saturday April 25, 2009

Dr. Peter Toon, priest and theologian, passed away on the evening of the feast of St Mark the Evangelist, in San Diego, California, where he and his wife have resided for the last months. He will be sorely missed by all those who love the Anglican Way. Dr. Toon has been, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the most vocal and prolific defender of the theology of the Anglican Reformation and the traditional Book of Common Prayer over the last decades. The absence of his voice on so many issues facing the church today will be an irreparable loss. Clarity of mind, depth of knowledge, and vigor of presentation marked his work, making his arguments both distinctive and convincing. An evangelist like St Mark, he was a lion of the faith.

During the last year, Dr. Toon has been suffering from a rare disease called amyloidosis. Diagnosed last spring, he underwent various treatments that were intended to slow the progress of the disease. Sadly, the disease was stronger than the medications, and we have lost him sooner than was hoped.

At the end Dr. Toon was attended by Fr Tony Noble, rector of All Saints' Episcopal Church, San Diego. Over the last weeks they have prayed together with the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and his final words to Fr Noble were to the praise of God who he has served and loved so well. In his last hours, Fr Noble prayed with Dr. Toon the commendatory prayer.

O Almighty God, with whom do live the spirits of just men made perfect, after they are delivered from their earthly prisons: We humbly commend the soul of this thy servant,our dear brother, into thy hands, as into the hands of a faithful Creator, and most merciful Saviour; most humbly beseeching thee that it may be precious in they sight. Wash it, we pray thee, in the blood of that immaculate Lamb, that was slain to take away the sins of the world; that whatsoever defilements it may have contracted in the midst of this miserable and naughty world, through the lusts of the flesh or the wiles of Satan, being purged and done away, it may be presented pure and without spot before thee. And teach us who survive, in this and other like daily spectacles of mortality, to see how frail and uncertain our own condition is; and so to number our days, that we may seriously apply our hearts to that holy and heavenly wisdom, whilst we live here, which may in the end bring us to life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, thine only Son our Lord. Amen.

May light perpetual shine up on Dr. Toon. May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace.

Dr. Roberta Bayer
The Prayer Book Society of the United States of America

The Prayer Book Society will hold a memorial service at All Saints' Episcopal Church, San Diego, California, at a future date.

Obituary of Dr Peter Toon

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Reflections on Holy Saturday near to its doctrinal themes.

In the west of the U.S.A. there seems to be a running together of the Christian Burial Office and a general funeral. This has been encouraged by the caring, therapeutic, hospital, and funeral directors, in the context of a secularized culture. Practically, it means that death is the culmination of a period of being kept without pain and in as much comfort as possible with the promise to some of remission.

Historically and biblically the Burial Office is primarily about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and secondarily about the person who has died because God is the God of the living and the dead. The proclamation is of the Christian hope of the resurrection of the dead and of life everlasting in the perfect Kingdom of God. And the deceased is commended within that living hope. Often a memorial service relating to the buried deceased is held days or weeks after the funeral burial service.

What are the chief features of the Christian Burial Office in the classic Anglican Prayer Books up to the modern era?

1. At the service there is always the body of the deceased unless he has been lost at sea. There can be no burial office without a body. (Today at funeral services such is very uncommon. The presence of a body or cremated remains are very rare, and are usually found in the funeral director’s establishment.)

2. The Burial Office may be held in church followed by interment in a burial ground, or it may take place wholly in a burial ground; or it may begin in the home and end in the burial ground. (The modern funeral is usually only in the church and is a mixed liturgy of burial and memorial.)

3. The natural expression of the mourners is that of the Psalms which were the prayers of Jesus, and these can be said or sung before and after the burial office. (In contrast in modern funerals any preferred music may be used.)

4. Central to the Christian Burial Office is the reading of the hope from the New Testament and no sermon is required for the Scripture is intended to be clear in and of itself. (Sometimes sermons are preached at the Burial Office and seem always to be preached at the modern funeral service.)

5. Also integral to the Christian Burial Office is the Collect which, though longish, sets out the Christian hope with power and clarity.( In contrast, modern Christian funeral substitutes Collects of choice.)

6. Absolutely integral to the Christian Burial Office is the final Commendation where the recognition of the separation of soul and body is acknowledged and both are commended to the care of God until they are reunited as one in the great Resurrection of the Last Day: when all diseases and sicknesses and maladies shall be eliminated everlastingly. (In contrast, for many modern funerals the celebration of the person in this life and this only is in view.)

7. In the Burial Office the service at the graveside must end with the anthem: I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me, Write, From henceforth blessed are the dead which die in the Lord: even so saith the Spirit; for they rest from their labours.

What a vast difference! And regrettably even as churches have changed their doctrine of Baptism to make it a commitment only to peace and justice in this world, they have changed their final service for Christians by making it into a celebration of life in this world!

Saturday April 11, 2009
The Rev. Dr. Peter Toon

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lent and Justification by Faith or, better, Justification by Faith and Lent

Justification by faith alone by God’s grace is clearly taught in detail by the apostle Paul in The Letters to Galatia and Rome, and it appears also in other Letters, as well as in embryo in the Book of Genesis and in the Psalter.

In substance this doctrine advances the view that a sinner is placed in a right relation with God, his Judge, through the merits of Jesus Christ, when he repents of sin and believes and trusts in the same Jesus as his Lord and Savior. The perfect righteousness that belongs to the exalted Christ Jesus is reckoned or accounted to the believing sinner so that the latter is declared righteous by the Father, through and in Christ the Righteous One.

The doctrine that it is primarily intended to exclude is the doctrine of justification or salvation by works, that is the notion that the good person can by doing good works gain entry into eternal life on the basis of merit from those works.