Friday, October 29, 2010

Statements from the Lambeth Conferences of 1878 and 1888: The Book of Common Prayer is Central to Worship and Doctrine

Resolutions from Lambeth 1878
Recommendation 7

Union Among the Churches of the Anglican Communion - Encyclical Letter 1.11-12: Of diversities in worship
Your Committee, believing that, next to oneness in "the faith once delivered to the saints," communion in worship is the link which most firmly binds together bodies of Christian men, and remembering that the Book of Common Prayer, retained as it is, with some modifications, by all our Churches, has been one principal bond of union among them, desire to call attention to the fact that such communion in worship may be endangered by excessive diversities of ritual. They believe that the internal unity of the several Churches will help greatly to the union of these one with another. And, while they consider that such large elasticity in the forms of worship is desirable as will give wide scope to all legitimate expressions of devotional feeling, they would appeal, on the other hand, to the apostolic precept that "all things be done unto edifying," and to the Catholic principle that order and obedience, even at the sacrifice of personal preferences and tastes, lie at the foundation of Christian unity, and are even essential to the successful maintainance of the faith.

They cannot leave this subject without expressing an earnest hope that churchmen of all view, however varying, will recognise the duty of submitting themselves, for conscience' sake, in matters ritual and ceremonial, to the authoritative judgements of that particular or national Church in which, by God's providence, they may be placed; and that they will abstain from all that tends to estrangement or irritation, and will rather daily and fervently pray that the Holy Spirit may guide every member of the Church to "think and do always such things as be rightful," and that he may unite us all in that brotherly charity which is "the very bond of peace and of all virtues."

[NOTE: The Lambeth Conference of 1878 did not adopt any formal Resolutions as such. The mind of the Conference was recorded by incorporating the Reports of its five Committees, received by the plenary Conference with almost complete unanimity, into an Encyclical Letter which was duly published. Recommendations embodied in the Committee Reports were evidently accorded equivalent status to formal Resolutions, and they are reproduced here as they appeared in the course of the Encyclical Letter, under appropriate reference.]

Resolutions from Lambeth 1888
Resolution 19

That, as regards newly constituted Churches, especially in non-Christian lands, it should be a condition of the recognition of them as in complete intercommunion with us, and especially of their receiving from us episcopal succession, that we should first receive from them satisfactory evidence that they hold substantially the same doctrine as our own, and that their clergy subscribe articles in accordance with the express statements of our own standards of doctrine and worship; but that they should not necessarily be bound to accept in their entirety the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion.

The statement of Lambeth 1878, echoed in 1888, that it is worship which most firmly binds together bodies of Christian men is one of great importance for the communion today. The Book of Common Prayer was seen to be the single most important bond of union. It was not a matter of contract, or covenant, or even agreement about the totality of the Thirty-Nine Articles, it was the practice of prayer.

It is worth pondering the motivation behind such statements.

Do these resolutions not suggest that the doctrine of the Anglican Church is in the Book of Common Prayer itself, in the worship?

It also seems to me that these Resolutions suggest that the very antiquity of the pattern of daily, weekly, and seasonal worship found in the Book of Common Prayer was in itself a reason for obedience and submission.

Finally, it would seem that behind these Resolutions might lie that idea common to the Magisterial Reformers and the Anglican Reformation, Cranmer and Calvin included, that while we are first justified by faith, we also require the sanctifying grace available through the work of prayer and sacrament in order to work blessedness among us.

It particularly seems to me that they are assuming that as humans err, their reason is fallen and their will contrary, knowing the 'faith once delivered from the saints' requires following "the apostolic precept that 'all things be done unto edifying,' and to the Catholic principle that order and obedience, even at the sacrifice of personal preferences and tastes."

--Roberta Bayer, PhD, Editor, The Mandate

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