Monday, June 30, 2003

Was Jesus really silent on homosexuality?


I make a resolution to write not more on this topic that is in the British papers daily and then I get a flood of correspondence and in it are new questions and points to ponder. Thus...

Was Jesus really and truly silent on homosexuality?

The Bishop of Oxford and other supporters of the Christian Lesbigay agenda say that Jesus was silent on homosexuality. Some of us have agreed with them but then we have attempted to show that the mind of Jesus is the same as that of the Old Testament and his apostles on this matter.

But maybe Jesus was not wholly silent on this subject and did say something about homosexuality; and perhaps he did so not directly but by implicit reference, for those with ears to hear and eyes to see.

Consider this possibility which has been put to me by a learned friend.

In Matthew 10 and Mark 6, where the twelve disciples receive their first commission for evangelization, Jesus gives them instructions as to what to do if they and their message are rejected. "And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, as ye go forth thence, shake off the dust that is under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city." (Matthew 10:14-15)

Now let us recall that modern apologists for homosexual conduct frequently allege that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah is not that of homosexual conduct but rather that of non-hospitality, or of homosexual rape or something else. Further, the view (adopted by the apostolic church and church fathers) that it is homosexual conduct which is the sin is alleged by the same apologists to be false and to have originated in a corrupt Pharisaic rabbinical interpretation, which was received by Sts. Paul, Peter and Jude (Cf. Rom. 9:29, II Pet. 2:6, and Jude 7.) .

These same apologists further employ an argument from silence -- that if Jesus did not explicitly condemn something, then he was not against it, and thus implicitly accepted it.

The fatal flaw in the argument based on the supposed rabbinical teaching is that this alleged corrupt interpretation was already in place at the time of Jesus (since St. Paul was taught it). Jesus could have condemned this argument (as he condemned the corrupt Pharisaic traditions regarding divorce) but he was silent. And, further, and most significantly, in positively citing Sodom and Gomorrah, Jesus accepted this [alleged corrupt] interpretation. He made it his own. Therefore, Jesus did condemn homosexual conduct per se as sinful, and the writings of Sts. Peter and Paul on the subject reflect the mind of Christ here also, not an alleged corrupt tradition in opposition to Jesus.

If this is so, then the only avenue left open to the apologists for the homosexual position is to drop their claim that Jesus did not condemn homosexual conduct per se, and to fall back on the position that the modern Church can set aside His teachings here, just as it has on divorce. Of course, they then abandon any claim that their position is founded on Christ's teachings and reflects a proper Christian understanding of "love" [agape]. They accept that it is based on a modern foundation only.

And this journey of thought takes us back to the point that I have been making a lot recently. That the basic Christian position - based on the identity of God as the Lord God, the God of Order, the Blessed Trinity (Three Persons in holy Order) and upon His revelation to us - is that this God of Order created man and woman in order, man the first woman the second. He so made them as to order them toward each other. Any other kind of ordering is thus against divine Order and revelation.
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Bishop of Oxford: "Gay love's fine, its all in the Bible"

Controversy has the effect usually of pushing its participants deeper into their foundational principles.

This is the case with Bishop Richard Harries who has been defending his appointment of "a gay priest" to the suffragan bishopric of Reading. Here is part of what he wrote for The Sunday Times of London, 29th June, in his piece "Gay love's fine, it's all in the Bible" (sect/4.p.7).

"The crucial decision made by the first Christians was that the Gentiles could become Christians without being circumcised or obeying other aspects of Jewish law. Some, like Peter, found this very difficult. Then he had a dream in which he saw the Gentiles could be accepted fully. Perhaps like Peter, those opposed to this appointment will dream about people of the same sex loving one another through life and Jesus saying: 'This rejoices my heart; may it rejoice yours too'. Jesus said nothing about homosexuality. He did say something very fierce against divorce. The church, however, has made provision for divorced people to be married.
Gay and lesbian people find themselves with God-give affections for people of the same sex. If celibacy is not the chosen path, then, John [the 'gay' man appointed to be bishop] has urged the right course is a relationship of life-time love. Divorced people who remarry and gay and lesbian people who enter into such relationships are in a similar position. God takes them and their love, as it is, and blesses it."

Those who have listened to the arguments of the lesbigay lobby in the Episcopal Church and have also read the few writings on the doctrine of reception [with respect to women's ordination but easily transferred to lesbigay concerns] will be familiar with this argumentation, which is bold even if not sound.

1. The inclusion of "gay" and "lesbian" people in the church today is of similar importance to the inclusion of Gentiles, alongside the Jews, in the apostolic era.

2. Jesus rejoices to see two persons of the same sex living together in a partnership, which will include sexual acts.

3. Jesus said nothing about homosexuality [therefore he is not against it].

4. Jesus spoke against divorce [and thus remarriage] but the Church of England has in 2003 begun to allow the marriage of divorced persons [after centuries of forbidding it].

5. Persons who define themselves as "gay" or "lesbian" are made that way by God and thus they are to be accepted as such - with a permanent and God-given orientation.

6. "Gay" and "lesbian" persons should be given the same kind of rights in the Church as are given to divorced persons.

Now he makes these arguments even though he insists earlier in the article that Dr John is no longer in an active sexual relationship with his male partner of many years. He even suggests that Dr John has brought all this to his Confessor and Spiritual Director and thus all is fine. However, he does accept and approve the fact that Dr John intends to work for the acceptance and blessing of same-sex couples who intend to live in stable relationships.

If the Bishop of Oxford is right in his arguments then the moral teaching of the Church through the centuries has been profoundly misguided and the position adopted by the Vatican recently is also deeply wrong. A few considerations..

1. The admission of believing Gentiles into the [then] wholly Jewish Church was truly a momentous moment. It opened a door which is still wide open. To equate the inclusion of "gay" and "lesbian" people, who claim that they have an inbuilt orientation towards the same sex and who intend to fulfil this in practice, with the Gentiles is daring but preposterous. Such a claim can only stand if one previously has accepted a whole set of propositions about humanity, God, the church and so on.

2. To make the audacious claim that the heart of Jesus is made glad when he sees two persons of the same-sex in an intended life-long partnership is totally off mark. A bishop should not make such claims for he has no way whatsoever of showing it to be true or even possibly true from either Scripture of Tradition. He has to call in "experience" (a favourite source of revelation for such as Dr Harries) and this is a very shaky foundation indeed.

3. Certainly Jesus is not recorded as speaking about homosexuality. But he is recorded as saying much about the nature of man, of the relation of man and woman and so on. Jesus accepted the authority of the Hebrew Scriptures which he fulfilled in his Person and in his Teaching and in his Saving Work. The inference to draw from his not being recorded as addressing the topic of homosexuality is that he accepted the moral law as received by the Jews on this, and that his mind is further reflected in what his apostles said about it.

4. The Bishop has a point in what he says about divorce and remarriage. Once the Church gives up her received morality and makes adjustments to suit the pressures of the times then she is vulnerable on other fronts. Open one door and there is banging on the other door to be opened (as the history of the ECUSA in recent times abundantly shows).

5. In modern society, where the right to divorce and remarriage by the State is long established, and where now the rights of "gay" and "lesbian" couples to various rights (especially health and death benefits) are being quickly accepted, the church needs to keep all doors closed if she is to keep any closed! The fact that the Church of England has open one big door means that she will very soon open another and afterwards even more.

As a minimum the C of E will soon accept, as a minority position but one described as one based on "conscience", the right of priests to live in same-sex relationships/partnerships and to be accorded full acceptance as such. Even leading evangelical Bishops appear to conceded this.
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Leader of the Kirk welcomes gay clergy

(from English Daily Telegraph, Monday 30th June)

Leader of the Kirk welcomes gay clergy
By Tom Peterkin
(Filed: 30/06/2003)

The leader of the Church of Scotland has said for the first time that he has no objection to openly homosexual ministers being ordained in the Kirk.

The new Moderator of the Church of Scotland, the Rt Rev Prof Iain Torrance, has become the first leader to welcome the idea of homosexual ministers in the Kirk's 500-year history.

Prof Torrance said he was "utterly untroubled" by the ordination of homosexuals provided that they proved "disciplined and effective" ministers.

His remarks represent a major shift in the Church's view and are likely to be met with fierce opposition from traditionalists. Prof Torrance was speaking at the weekend following the controversy in the Church of England surrounding the appointment of Jeffrey John, a homosexual, as the Bishop of Reading.

Prof Torrance's comments in an interview with the Sunday Times are likely to provoke a similar row north of the border.

The Moderator said sexuality should not act as an impediment to those wanting to join the ministry and promised that homosexual ministers who encountered prejudice from congregations would be given help to move to another parish. Harry Reid, the author of the book Outside Verdict, which examined the issues facing the Church, said: "The Moderator's comments will take the debate much further on. But it will also bring what has been a festering issue for some time into the open.

"As a result, there could be a schism within the Church. There is undoubtedly a very significant minority in the Kirk, particularly north of Inverness, who will be appalled by the thought of the Church having a number of openly homosexual clergy."

Prof Torrance's views on the matter have changed since 1994 when he was one of six ministers to oppose a report to the General Assembly that recognised homosexuality and sex outside marriage for the first time.

Now he said he was prepared to cite the report to justify the appointment of the Kirk's first openly homosexual minister.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Sunday, June 29, 2003

The Bishop of Liverpool on the bishopric of Reading.

There was a live interview this morning (29th June) by the BBC of the Bishop of Liverpool on the controversy surrounding the recent appointment of Dr John to the suffragan bishopric of Reading in the diocese of Oxford. (Today also there is an interview in the London Sunday Times with the Bishop of Oxford, where he defends his appointment of Dr John.)

The Bp of Liverpool is an attractive evangelical spokesman who does not support the ordination of active homosexual persons because he accepts a traditional sexual ethic. However, his way to solve this controversy will open the door for the acceptance as a norm of such persons into the ordained Ministry.

First of all, he wants the Church to go back as it were to a point before the appointment of Dr John (i.e., he wants a way to be found to cancel this appointment) and then he wants there to be a full debate in the C of E leading to a vote in the General Synod about this matter.

The model he offers is significantly that of the process the C of E went through over the ordination of women. There was debate; there was a vote in favour; and importantly there was provision for people who in good conscience could not accept the innovation. In the latter case the provision was of "flying Bishops".

The fact that he insists that the informed consciences of church members should be respected and honoured means that, as in the debate over women and ordination, there will be the majority and the minority (and people caught in the middle not knowing what to think). If the majority is in favour of accepting the rights of those who wish to be active homosexual persons, then suitable provisions will have to be made for the evangelicals, anglo-catholics and traditionalists whose consciences tell them that all forms of active homosexuality are wrong before God. If the majority is in the other direction then likewise there will need to be provisions for the rights of those who wish to be active homosexual persons in the church.

By using the model of the process to resolution of the question of women's ordination, the Bishop has ensured that the Lesbigay lobby has already achieved one of its major goals in the Church of England - and done so in the thinking of evangelical bishops - that of the acceptance of the claims of active homosexual persons to be doing what is within the sexual morality of the Church. In fact, while he holds to the authority of Scripture, he has conceded that for practical purposes the morality approved by the Church of England has to be based on modern theories of human rights!

In contrast, the Roman Catholic Church through the Vatican is in the process of putting in place rules which will make it extremely difficult for a person who says he is homosexually inclined to be ordained in the future.
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Saturday, June 28, 2003

Two unlikely partners


A discussion starter

Not a few people write to me to express their viewpoint that it is most regrettable that women's ordination is discussed alongside or together with the ordination of persons who openly state that they are "gay" and in a stable partnership, a relationship which they say should be blessed by the Church. The reason for this regret or even anger and pain is, I think, reasonably obvious in most cases. Most of the opposition to the ordination of women has been and remains intellectual [theological], with some emotional blow-ups here and there. Many church members cannot see the reasons for opposing the progress of women to leadership roles when they have moved ahead elsewhere. However, the resistance to "gay ordinations & partnerships" is in large part "aesthetic," in the sense that any kind of homosexual activity that is open and obvious affronts middle-class sensibilities. Thus the latter cause is likely to be resisted more and longer than the former in most of the churches.

The obvious reason why the two are linked together - and in this sense cannot be prized apart practically - is that in the second half of the 20th century (from the 1960s in particular) both innovations in the Church have gained their primary support from the powerful human rights movement (which has included many other rights in the civil sphere). Were it not for their skilful use of and immersion in the human rights movement, it is highly unlikely whether either would have gained the substantial victories that they have in the State and in the churches. We need to be wholly aware that since for practical purposes the language and content of modern morality in the West is dominated by human rights, once any group within society is able to demonstrate that its agenda and pleas are really all about human rights it is usually on a winning run for it has an acceptable moral foundation & case.

But of course more is needed that the context, ethos and principles of human rights for an agenda to become a church agenda. In the case of women being admitted to the role of pastors in the churches the Bible was brought in to assist the case for equality and dignity already made by human rights principles. And with spectacles created in the factory of human works the Bible was seen in new perspective and light. A whole industry of scholarship arose to present the meaning of the Bible in a different way than it had been read for centuries. Behind its obvious perceived patriarchalism and sexism, principles of equality were seen and these were harnessed for the cause. Thus a continuing favourite verse has been Galatians 3:28: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Some advocates of women's ordination within the churches even went so far as to claim that their case was wholly Biblical (for they were not fully aware of how a cultural context, ethos & zeitgeist affect one 's reading of the Bible).

Likewise with the blessing of same-sex partnerships and the ordaining of "gay" persons (male & female). In the powerful context of human rights & convinced by experience, reason and some selected scientific studies that what they had and enjoyed in their intimate same-sex partnerships was of God, religiously inclined "gay" persons and their supporters in the churches looked at the Bible in new light. What they saw was certainly God's condemnation of a variety of same-sex activities based on wild passion, prostitution, violence, child abuse and the like. But what they did not see or find - and this is hugely significant - was the condemnation of faithful, loving same-sex partnerships (simply because the ancient world did not encourage or know such relationships). Further, they made a lot of the fact that in the recorded teaching of Jesus there is no specific condemnation of same-sex relations. Thus they declared that the Bible does not address and therefore does not condemn faithful, monogamous, covenantal same-sex partnerships. And since their experience of them brought them blessings, they can be/even must be "of God". Thus they had the right to be blessed by the church in their partnerships.

So it has been the case that two different causes, both originating and energized by the human rights movement, have since the 1960s entered the church (where they were welcomed by some members and leaders) and have skilfully used the language of religion, the contents of the Bible and pre-eminently the name of "God" (which they have nearly successfully changed the grammatical gender of - from masculine to neither) to establish their innovations as not merely plausible but credible. In the one case, the ordination of women the work seems to be well on its way to being completed in the West/North in the Protestant Churches (with a minority still against it on theological grounds) and, in the other case, the acceptance of "gay partnerships", it is a work in progress but making major headway, even though still met by middle-class emotional opposition as well as (minority) intellectual/theological arguments. 2003 may the year for major steps forward being achieved by those pressing for full rights for "gay" persons in the churches.

It is true that a particular context or issue or scientific development within general culture can cause the Church to look into the Scriptures and see there teaching that previously had been missed or not taken seriously. This is hardly the case with respect to the ordination of women and of "gay" persons. Since the 1960s what has been seen in Scripture has generally speaking been found there to support a case that already is believed or assumed on the basis of secular culture, in particular human rights' claims.

The patristic argument against both women's ordination and all forms of sexual relations outside of marriage was based on Order - that is, within the creation of the cosmos and of human beings and also within the old and new covenants of grace there is a divine revealed Order and this exists to reflect the Holy Order that is the Holy Trinity (where the Father is first in Order, the Son second and the Holy Ghost, third in order). This Order is reflected in the word "God created man: male and female created he them" - i.e. created in an ordered relation and thus the man is first in order and the women second and this order applies in the sexual relation of holy matrimony and in the ordering of the Church.
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Masterpieces of Vatican Museums Now on Internet

Virtual Galleries Included Those Now Closed to the Public

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 24, 2003 ( An ambitious multimedia project has made it possible for Internet users to get a glimpse at the Sistine Chapel and other immortal works of Vatican art.

The novelty, offered on the Holy See's Web page ( in the Vatican Museums section, took five years to complete. It was presented to the press today in the Vatican.

The most important works of Renaissance artists Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, and galleries of Egyptian and Classic Greco-Roman art are presented, with technical explanations given by experts who catalogue and conserve them.

Cardinal Edmund Szoka, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State, observed that the new site "further enriches the Holy See's Web site, created years ago and in continual and progressive expansion."

"For some time, the Church has paid great attention to the means of social communication, in order to more efficaciously perform her universal mission," the Michigan-born cardinal said. "The Internet, with its enormous potential, allows us to approach an ever greater number of people and to spread throughout the world our message of evangelization."

Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, secretary of the administration of the patrimony of the Apostolic See, which oversees the Vatican's Internet Office, noted the imposing work carried out by Vatican computer technicians to block viruses or cybernetic attacks.

Francesco Buranelli, director of the museums of Vatican City State, explained that the site "will allow the public to access the inestimable artistic heritage that these museums have preserved and protected for centuries," and highlighted the "effort to make it possible in five languages: Italian, French, English, Spanish and German."

Thanks to this new site, the Ethnological Missionary Museum can be visited. This museum has been inaccessible to the public for some time because it is being restructured.

The digitalization and presentation of the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael Rooms makes it possible for browsers to amplify aspects of the paintings.

Pictorial explanations have been prepared by directors of various sections of the museums. The sources of biblical texts that inspired the artists are also indicated.

Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls noted two aspects of the project: "the possibility of the virtual visit for people who live outside from Rome, and the possibility to personally choose the itinerary that will be followed in a real visit to the museums."

Nicola Aliperti, a representative of Hewlett-Packard Italy, the company that gave technical assistance in the project, remarked that "in the future the patrimony presented in the Vatican Museums, which UNESCO defined as 'the patrimony of mankind,' will be accessible through the wireless means of palm pilots."

Internet users cannot download the pictures on the Web page. If an attempt is made, the images will disappear automatically. ZE03062406

Friday, June 27, 2003

On uttering the words "Homosexual" & "Gay"

A discussion starter.

In debates and discussions there has to be some basic agreement on the meaning of words if there is to be progress in understanding. On the other hand, the actual use of certain words in some debates actually means that the discussion is loaded in favour of one side. This is because certain words carry within their meaning in general use certain presuppositions.

Take the use of the words "homosexual" or "lesbian" or "gay" or "homosexual persons". The modern "lesbigay" movement wishes to make it widely known as a scientific fact that some people are born with an orientation towards the same sex and that this is as much a part of them as is the colour of their eyes or skin. By using the words "gay" and "homosexual person" and the like, they are seeking to establish that even as there are tall and short people, brown, yellow and olive coloured people & male and female persons, so there are within these general categories some people who are "gay", whose natures are so formed that they find genuine human fulfilment only in relation with other persons who are likewise "gay".

Thus, if these words are used in debate as useful short-hands or as commonly accepted terminology, this is practically speaking to concede that there is this category of persons within the human race [at least probably] with this fixed nature. This has the effect (practically speaking) to restrict the debate as to what is to be done about the welfare of such persons in terms of their rights and responsibilities, their fulfilment and their destiny, and so on. In other words what they claim about themselves is for all practical purposes conceded before the debate begins!

If, however, it is intended that the first area of debate is whether or not being inclined to homosexuality is part of one's fixed nature, then those who are NOT convinced that it is, need to be careful when and how they use such words as "homosexual" and "gay". If it is their view, until proven otherwise beyond all reasonable doubt, that a homosexual inclination or urge is more likely the result of [bad] nurture and experiences in life than the inheritance of certain genes, then in debate they surely must not use words and expressions that already concede the very claimed facts that they are opposing (or even investigating).

That is, they need to use the word "homosexual" only as an adjective with reference to sexual acts committed by a person and they must refuse both to use the word as a noun (so that it functions like "Caucasian" or "African-American") or as an adjective with "person" or "man". Likewise, the word "lesbian" should be used, as far as possible, only as an adjective when referring to specific female sexual activity. The word "gay" should be avoided unless one is quoting form something said by another. To follow this kind of a rule will mean long sentences and more careful construction of sentences but it will mean that the point being investigated is not conceded from the beginning.

Those who stand by the traditional Christian ethic for sexuality and believe that all of us are to be chaste, and that all sexual acts with anyone of the same or opposite outside holy matrimony are sinful and against divine order, probably need to re-think how we engage in the debate and controversy over homosexuality - a controversy that will be in society and the churches for a long time to come. If we truly wish to communicate reasonably and charitably the received Christian morality, then we must not concede the basic premises of those who seek to undermine and overturn it. We must take these precautions not only for truth-sake but also for compassion-sake, because the more that the message is heard that some of us are born with an inclination towards the same sex, and that this is unchangeable, the more likely it is that there will be more persons who think that and claim that they are so disposed and created.

One last point. In a culture where Governments and Public Bodies are actually conceding certain human rights to persons who call themselves "gay" , and where the public read this as the "proof" that there are people who are born "gay" and thus should be allowed and encouraged to be so in practice, the Church (or the orthodox therein) finds herself in an exceedingly difficult situation, if she is to conduct the debate and offer a reasoned apology for traditional sexual morality both with compassion and also without conceding the basic assumptions of the "lesbigay" claims in engaging in the debate at all.

Much of the recent discussion about the recent same-sex issues in the Anglican Communion (New Westminster, New Hampshire and Oxford/Reading) has assumed that much if not all of the claims of the "gay" lobby concerning "the homosexual orientation" is/are correct. This has meant that there has been little clarity as to what are the basic questions raised for holy Mother Church in these highly charged matters. Certainly there has been little discussion of whether or not there is a divine ordering of male and female in their relations, an ordering that reflects in some way the Divine Order which is the Holy Trinity, a Unity in Trinity and a Trinity in Unity; and that any other form of "ordering" is in fact "disorder".
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Divine order and ? "homosexual persons"

(A response to my piece on Divine Order and ordination from a thuoghful and well educated lady member of the General Synod of the C of E. It contains a rebuke to me for using "homosexual persons" which I use normally in preference to "homosexuals". She is probably right and we all need to be careful...)

Hello Peter,

It's encouraging at last to see somebody trying to explain WHY homosexual practice is wrong rather than just saying 'it's in the Bible' or 'we've always done it that way'. While those arguments are not in themselves invalid, used in isolation they are simplistic and open to easy challenge. They can also imply that God is irrational, and I do not believe that He is.

Whilst we do not always understand His reasons and should not expect to, as rational beings ourselves it is right and proper that we should attempt to discover the rationality behind the Divine will. Indeed, I think proponents of the traditional view have tended to let themselves down badly by failing to justify their assertions, implying (wrongly) that there is no justification.

In addition to your arguments from Divine order, I'm sure there are powerful arguments from psychology and sociology that run in our favour. This is, after all, only to be expected, if the Divine order is intimately woven into the human condition.

We do ourselves no service by accepting the existence of a category of 'homosexual persons'. This is a spurious definition invented by the 'gay rights' lobby in order to further the argument that a rejection of the homosexual lifestyle involves rejection of and discriminaion against certain individuals, just as for example racism involves discrimination against black people. It is asserted by those who propound this view (i.e. almost everyone these days, especially the BBC!) that homosexuality is a trait like skin colour and so should be treated in the same way.

There are two things wrong with this argument.

First, there is little or no evidence that homosexuality is wholly innate. It's ironic that those of a liberal mindset who are most wedded to this view, tend to be the very same people who assert most dogmatically that every other personality trait, such as intelligence, is the product of 'nurture' rather than 'nature'. Scientists can never diefinitively determine the accurate ratio of 'nature' to 'nurture', and the debate rages on; but of course we're absolutely sure than homosexuality is 100% nature. (This is despite the fact that we recognise that experience can affect sexuality, since many paedophiles were sexually abused as children.) Where's the logic in THAT?

The 'logic', of course, is that if we accept that homosexuality can be, as it were, 'brought on' by a person's experiences, then we can immediately say that, in a society where homosexuality is considered 'normal', there will be more of it. Since most people have a desire to raise a family, and it is not possible to do this (naturally) within a homosexual relationship, then we are auomatially putting people at a disadvantage if we allow their early experiences (in childhood, teens and early adulthood) to 'turn them gay'. Instead, if we keep a lid on homosexuality and don't allow it to run rampant, those with inclinations in that direction will be more likely to be 'straightened out'. This is the argument that the 'gay rights' lobby are most keen to dismiss; but to do so is prejudice pure and simple.

Homosexuality has, of course, been present right down he ages. Romans were especially keen on it. At no time in history, however, apart from our own, have we sought to define 'homosexual persons', as opposed to simply 'homosexual activity'. Indeed, I have anecdotal evidence from conversations (e.g. with a friend of mine an elderly clergyman-cum-headmaster, chastely and happily married for several deades until sadly widowed a few years ago) that in his experience it was NOT AT ALL UNCOMMON for young servicemen in wartime to be physically attracted to their comrades in arms, or for schoolmasters to be attracted to some of the boys they taught. The point was, though, that they knew it was wrong, so they suppressed those feelings hard and did not act on them.

The other major issue is, of course, the distinction between homosexual instinct and homosexual behaviour. Even if a person cannot help his homosexual orientation, there's no reason why he has to engage in homosexual sex acts (any more than anyone has to engage in heterosexual sex acts). Whist our over-sexed society considers celibacy unimaginable, as Christians we should know better. Acceptance of any genital activity outside of marriage undermines the 'ordering' of which you spoke in your e-mail.

Talk of 'homosexual persons' neatly elides the crucial distinction between inclination and practice, as the Bishop of Oxford was explicilty keen to do in one of his recent statements. And yet many have FORGOTTEN that the 'outing' of the current Archbishop of York by Peter Tatchell a few years ago, since the Archbishop's declaration that he was celibate immediatley silenced the matter. So much for 'homophobia'.

So no more 'homosexual persons', 'homosexuals', 'lesbians' or 'gays', please! (And yes, I'm very guilty of using these terms since they are a convenient shorthand; but also a dangerous form of 'newspeak'.)

Signed xxxxx.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Australian Primate on "gay" and "lesbian" matters

ACNS 3490 | AUSTRALIA | 27 JUNE 2003

Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, The Most Revd Peter Carnley AO, on issues of human sexuality

[ACNS source: Anglican Church of Australia] The view that the Anglican Communion is about to fall apart, essentially over differences of opinion about how to care pastorally for gay and lesbian people, is reminiscent of that celebrated comment of Mark Twain when he said that reports of his own death were greatly exaggerated.

What is indisputably true is that there is a Communion-wide debate going on which, without a whit of exaggeration, is extremely lively.

This is certainly what Anglicans should expect right now. The 1998 Lambeth Conference, while cautiously reaffirming received teaching and pastoral norms, encouraged the 38-member churches of the Communion to continue to study what is clearly a complex and difficult matter.

This is exactly what the Anglican Church of Australia is committed to doing. Our last General Synod at Brisbane in 2001 received a Doctrine Commission report entitled Faithfulness in Fellowship and commended it to the dioceses for further reflection. Even the most preliminary look at the chapters of this report relating to the handful of biblical texts that are relevant to the homosexual question will reveal something of the wide diversity of viewpoint about their correct interpretation. Do these ancient texts warn against undisciplined promiscuous behaviour that is declared to be contrary to the divine will because it fractures what should be steadfastly committed personal relationships of love? Or can these texts also determine the wrongness or otherwise of long-term and committed relationships but among people of the same sex?

Given that the concept of a 'homosexually orientated person' is a relatively modern invention of the mid-19th century, can these ancient texts be lifted out of their original cultural context (which assumed an undifferentiated
heterosexuality) so as to be made to apply to the essentially modern question about faithfully committed homosexual people? The answer to that question is not so obvious to some people as it apparently is to some "Sydney Anglicans".

Despite suggestions to the contrary, all of us agree unreservedly about the uniquely normative and authoritative place of the scriptural texts within the Christian tradition. The exact meaning to be read from these texts and whether they can rightly be made to provide a neat pre-packaged answer to our contemporary questions is what is at issue.

Meanwhile, most of us also agree that the pre-emptive action of the Canadian diocese of New Westminster in authorising liturgical texts for the blessing of same-sex unions (which are explicitly said not to be marriages) is unhelpfully well ahead of the play.

Similarly, the election of a priest who is said to be in a same-sex relationship to be the bishop of the diocese of New Hampshire, having formerly been in a heterosexual marriage, expresses the confidence that the clergy and people of that diocese have in him. But the question of whether he is a worthy recipient of episcopal orders now has to be ratified by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in the US.

But, because this is not really our question to decide, we might be well advised not to be tempted into empty moralising. Still less should we be tempted to send terse and threatening messages to New Hampshire or to the General Convention or just into the ill-defined ether through the media. Surely it is better to write a private letter, expressing a well-argued and rational viewpoint, rather than gallop into the grandstand of self-righteous indignation.

Likewise, the election in England of a declared celibate person who promises to uphold current church teaching and practice, even while openly and honestly confessing to having had 'a past', is hardly a matter for grown-up people to stomp their feet or wring their hands over.

In this case the question of worthiness is properly left to the Oxford electoral college and the Queen who must ultimately approve such church appointments in the realm of England. Far be it from colonials to question the royal prerogative. We would certainly need very concrete and substantial grounds on which to base an objection, lest we get ourselves into a defamation suit.

Meanwhile, anybody brave enough to claim to know the inner mind of God on the basis of a personal claim to be privy to the only conceivable interpretation of some biblical texts is guilty of self-delusion. Literary texts are rarely as univocal, clear and distinct as we are sometimes led to believe.

Like Hamlet, there is no one reading of them. The debate itself is testimony to the complexities of the interpretative task.

What are most needed right now are honesty and humility, and a willingness to acknowledge the possibility of alternative readings of hotly disputed texts. A civilised and reasoned discussion can be welcomed as a sign of vigorous life.

ACNSlist, published by Anglican Communion News Service, London, is distributed to more than 6,000 journalists and other readers around the world. For subscription information please go to:
(This is the Bishop of Vancouver/New Westminster who has approved same-sex blessings writing to his churches)

Pastoral Letter from Bishop Michael Ingham to be read in all churches, at all services on Sunday 29 June 2003

Dear Friends in Christ:

I write to you as your bishop concerning some widely publicized reactions to the recent decisions of our Diocesan Synod. As you may know, several bishops and Primates from various parts of the world have expressed strong disagreement with the blessing of same-sex unions - to the point, in some cases, of declaring a state of "impaired communion" with the Diocese of New Westminster.

This means that Anglicans in these dioceses are being prohibited by their bishop from receiving communion in our diocese, and we in theirs. Similar steps have been threatened by these same bishops against the Episcopal Church of the United States as well as the Church of England, where decisions have recently been made with which they also disagree.

Let me assure you that our diocese remains in full communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and the Metropolitan of British Columbia and Yukon. We are members of the Canadian Church and of the worldwide Anglican Communion. These declarations by others should be viewed as expressions of anger and dissent, and while we regret their intensity you may be assured they will have no effect, legal or practical, on Anglicans here in our diocese. In St Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians, the apostle speaks of the church as the body of Christ, a body made up of many parts and members. He urges Christians of various sorts and conditions to welcome and respect each other whatever their differences. Paul specifically admonishes those who wish to declare others unwelcome by reminding them that no part of the body can say to another "I have no need of you" (I Cor. 12:21). The New Testament is full of such appeals to Christian charity and tolerance. Indeed, Paul says that charity is the greatest of all the gifts of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 13:13).

In light of Scripture, and in the spirit of mutual respect and tolerance, let me make it clear that the Diocese of New Westminster continues to welcome all members of the Anglican Communion, wherever they may be. We shall not exclude or reject our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, whatever their personal convictions, and we wish to assure them that the doors of our churches remain open to all. Furthermore, we shall continue as a diocese to support the mission work of the Canadian church in the North and overseas with our financial contributions, even where certain bishops have attempted to exclude their people from fellowship with us.

Finally, let me clarify our position with respect to the recent decisions of Canadian courts and the announcement of the federal government about same-sex marriage. Our Synod has approved the blessing of unions between persons of the same sex, not marriage. Marriage in our church continues to be a bond between husband and wife, and it lies solely within the power of the national church to change that definition.

The church is in the midst of change, as it has oftentimes been before. We acknowledge the difficulties some may have with our desire to be a welcoming and inclusive church. At the same time, we continue to receive many expressions of support and encouragement from around the world. Let us get on with being the church of Jesus Christ, in the spirit of friendship and in the bonds of peace, and leave behind the division and discontent which is a distraction from our life and worship.

Kindest regards,

The Right Reverend Michael Ingham
Bishop of New Westminster

Province of South Africa & the Bishop of Reading

(One of the few "liberal voices" from the Anglican family in Africa supports liberal English)
ACNS 3489 | SOUTH AFRICA | 26 JUNE 2003

Statement issued by Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane

[ACNS source: Tulleken & Associates, CPSA] In the worldwide Anglican Communion each province is autonomous and each of us faces various issues at various times. The issue surrounding the appointment of Jeffrey John as a suffragan bishop affects, in the first instance, the diocese of Oxford and the Church in England, not the Church of the Province of Southern Africa.

I have tremendous respect for the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Richard Harries. He is a man of tremendous integrity. In like manner, I have confidence in the Archbishop of Canterbury, both in his capacity as primate of All England and as the focus of unity in the worldwide Anglican community. He handles issues of this nature with tremendous sensitivity.

Likewise, issues raised in New Westminster and New Hampshire are matters for the concern of the ecclesiastical province of Canada and USA respectively. In all these issues we don't have the full facts so any response will depend on information we are yet to receive from the primates concerned.

Our province is certainly not considering breaking communion with any other province. The only time that we do this is when a province or diocese is not in communion with the See of Canterbury on issues of faith and doctrine.

There has been mention of a possible schism but I can assure you the church has withstood far worse without falling apart. The doomsday prophets also predicted a schism over the ordination of women and were proved wrong.

From time to time every parish, every diocese and every one of our 38 ecclesiastical provinces in the world communion go through periods of stress and tension. The church is God's and he wills what is good for it. So it is premature to even consider talking about schism, the best thing is not to even use the word. What we need to do is not talk at each other but, as Henry Nouwen puts it, we must let our hearts descend into the heart of God and in that way we will be in a position to understand one another and discern what is God's will.

I fully agree with the Archbishop of Canterbury that we dare not become preoccupied with the sexuality issue. We must focus on mission. We are faced with matters of life and death. Seventy-five percent of the world's people who are living with HIV or AIDS are in sub-Saharan Africa. People are constantly dying and being infected and there are severe cases of poverty, many people go hungry every day and there are instances of children taking turns to have breakfast. We have a divine mandate to save lives and evangelise every generation.

These are but some of the urgent matters that require our attention and I pray to God that we can focus in a more concentrated way on the divine imperative: to give hope to the hopeless, help to the helpless and healing to the wounded, the sick and the lost.
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Divine Order & Human Relations

(I have written this arising from the news stories surrounding the recent appointment and election of gay men as bishops. It is only intended to be a discussion starter.)

Arguments from DIVINE ORDER work against both the ordination of women and active homosexual men.

For the Church, for her own internal integrity, the only basic argument against the ordination of either women (straight or gay) or homosexual men that holds true is - I suggest - that which flows from the doctrine and theme of ORDER.

In the 21st Century any reasonable argument against the ordination of women to the office of presbyter or bishop must take for granted that women are the equal of men before God in terms of (a) his love for them; (b) his gracious relation to them; (c) his making them his adopted children; and (d) his giving them the gift of life eternal and the beatific vision. Further, in terms of modern post-Enlightenment cultural themes and achievements, it must also take into account that women deserve and should possess equal rights and enjoy the same dignity as men in society.

Thus any argument against the ordination of women that suggests that they are less inferior to men either before God or in modern society/culture will not stand up to scrutiny and should collapse.

This leaves open an argument based on the belief that men and women are equal in dignity, worth, & ability and yet at the same time they are different from each other with complimentary roles or vocations in their relation to one another in life and especially in marriage. To this one then adds the further principle that for the complementarity to be sound and to work there must be an accepted order in the relation between them, that is one must be first and the other second in order [literally subordinate]. And this is how God created - God created man: male and female created he them. The man and woman are equal with the man being first in order (not superior but first).

Applying this principle to the Household of God, and bearing in mind the Blessed Order of the Trinity (the Father together with His Son and His Holy Spirit - the First, Second and Third Persons in Holy Order), one can say that there is given by God a revealed Order for the Church. Some men, but not all men, are set apart in this divine Order to rule over and be shepherds in the Church. This principle may be called "headship". This setting apart of some men into Order is nothing to do with human dignity, worth or ability but is based on the call of Christ to the office. Only the few men who are called may enter the Sacred Ministry (and of course in it they ought to think and act in ways that adorn the Gospel and that office).

It is highly probable that in terms of human abilities there will be in the Church of God both women and men who are better qualified to be leaders and pastors than those whom God calls. Further, in terms of modern laws on human rights and theories of individualism and human dignity, what the Church claims and does in terms of restricting the ordained Ministry to only a few men will be judged as irrational and discriminatory. The only possible basis for the Church's traditional position, if maintained in 2003, is that the all-male Ministry represents the will and intention of Christ, the Head of the Church, for his people. That is, it exists in obedience to Revelation written in Scripture and expounded in Tradition; and, while taking full note of the equality of women, it remains bound - come what may from modern society - to that Ordering, that revealed Order which is the will of the Lord of the Church. Of course, in taking this position the ordained Ministry needs to be humble before God and gracious towards man and prepared for hostility from the world around.

Thus the ordination of only a few males, called of God, into the sacred Ministry is the inclusion of them into Order, a state of being and relations, created by God for the good of the Church of God.

Now to homosexual persons and order.

Now that the Supreme Court of the USA has [June 27, 2003] given full rights to homosexual persons to engage in sexual activities of their own choosing in private, the Church has to recognize that in western culture to argue against the rights of homosexual men and lesbian women to hold offices in the Church is fraught with difficulties. Arguments from history, culture, anthropology and biology against their inclusion into ministries will be met with arguments for from psychology and sociology. Arguments from the Bible & Tradition against will be met with arguments for based on the same Bible (in the light of modern experience and reason).

In this context, it is the same doctrine of divine Order - reflected in both God's creation of the cosmos and in the new covenant in and through Jesus Christ - that allows the entry into the ordained Ministry/into Order only of those men who are chaste in marriage (that is rightly ordered towards one women, a spouse) or chaste in celibacy (that is not wrongly ordered towards a woman in fornication or man in sodomy but ordered towards God in consecration). In holy matrimony and in chaste celibacy there is intended by God to be a right ordering of the sexual nature of human beings and he promises and offers divine help to those who intend to live in this divine Order gracefully.

The possession of what is these days called an orientation towards persons of the same sex is not in itself a barrier to ordination or to church ministries (e.g. deaconess) if this urge is kept under control and turned by grace into a positive care for people. However, in this excessively sexually driven western culture, it may be wise [even as the Vatican is now recommending] not to accept as ordinands men with an obvious homosexual orientation because of the great pressures and temptations they will be under as they seek to be chaste.

So it is ORDER, the order that is within the ineffable depths of the Unity in Trinity and Trinity in Unity that is the LORD God, the Order which always places the Father first, the Son second and the Holy Ghost third, and which is reflected in both the creation and in the new covenant, that we should seek justification of the historic basis of the Church's male-only ordained Ministry and exclusion from it of all who are first of all not called thereunto and secondly are not rightly ordered in their human relations.

Yet we must remember that this kind of reasoning about Order will seem offensive or meaningless outside the Church (i.e. outside the Church wherein Scripture and tradition is taken seriously and where a vote is given to past generations as well as to the modern ones).
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Thursday, June 26, 2003

From the Oxford Diocese Website

(Dr Giddings is not an extremist, but is a lay leader, a central Evangelical and long time friend of the Bishop of Oxford)

Dr. Giddings responds to Archbishop's letter
Tuesday 24th June 2003

I refer to the letter which the Archbishop of Canterbury has written to his fellow Bishops in the Church of England, the text of which was released earlier this afternoon. We are encouraged that the Archbishop's statement acknowledges that: 'The concerns of many in the diocese of Oxford are theologically serious, intelligible and by no means based on narrow party allegiance or on prejudice.'

The Archbishops says that these concerns 'must be addressed and considered' .We agree.We have sought, and will continue to seek, to bring those concerns to the attention of those within whose power it lies to resolve the crisis in which this diocese - and the wider church - now finds itself. We remain convinced that the way to achieve that resolution is for the appointment of Dr John as Bishop of Reading not to take place.

I repeat that the many clergy and laity who oppose the appointment remain committed to sharing the Christian gospel and offering welcome and pastoral support to all people, Christian and non-Christian, heterosexual or homosexual.This is not a question of discrimination against homosexuals. It is a mater of following the teaching of Scripture and 2000 years of Christian tradition about the qualities required in those called to the office of bishop in the church of God.

We call on all members of our churches to pray for Archbishop Rowan that God will guide him as he seeks to find a resolution to these painful issues.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

The Lesbigay Agenda & the doctrine of RECEPTION

A discussion starter

What keeps honest Anglicans, who differ in principle on the matter of ordaining women to the presbyterate and episcopate, officially together in basic [but not full] communion is the Doctrine of Reception. This doctrine came into the Anglican Communion from the ecumenical movement in the 1980s & 1990s and basically states that the Anglican jurisdiction of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church is in the process of receiving for discernment and evaluation the ordaining of women. At the end of the period of reception it will be known whether this innovation be of God or of human creation. Thus the whole experiment could be rejected in an orderly way (by phasing out women priests) or it could be adopted in an orderly way as a full doctrine of the Anglican Communion of Churches sometime in the future – say 2010 or 2020.

The way that this doctrine of reception entered the Communion was to address an emergency. Women were being ordained here and there and this was causing both great satisfaction and great pain. There was no way to control the development within autonomous provinces and thus the doctrine of reception came in as a way of handling the crisis by offering what seemed a reasonable way through it. Today, no one knows when the process of discernment and reception will end and how it will be agreed by all that it has in fact ended. Some (arrogant) provinces [e.g. ECUSA} have declared it ended while others have not even started the process!

What the presence of the doctrine has allowed within a Communion of autonomous provinces is the advancement of the cause of women’s ordination in a respectable way on the basis of a generally accepted doctrine and process. At the same time few these days (who are not within the inner loop, as it were) seem to know that the fact of women’s ordination as a permanent institution of the Church is not yet guaranteed and may never be guaranteed. Promoters of women’s ordination make use of it while opponents seem to say little or nothing about it!

It appears that those who are pressing for the blessing of same-sex partnerships have learned from the introduction and use of the doctrine of reception with respect to women. Although it is rarely trumpeted from the top of the church tower, from the pulpit or stated in a newspaper interview, there seems to be on the agenda of the lesbigay activists (a) the intention of getting the approval here and there by dioceses of same-sex partnerships (preferably by portraying leading laity & bishops in such unions); (b) claiming that there has been and is a discernment process going on in (the more sophisticated) parts of the Communion with regard to this innovation; and (c) asking that the discernment process be extended from dioceses as such so as to include several provinces – possibly a third or more of the 38 (in e.g., the North/the West, South Africa & South America). Further, that the whole discernment process be included within the doctrine of reception.

Once the matter of same-sex partnerships is placed within the terms of reference of the doctrine of reception (and it seems to have been in parts of the ECUSA, Anglican Church of Canada and the Church of England by the action of bishops and/or diocesan synods) it is virtually sure to assist in the gaining acceptance for the innovation wherever western culture is dominant in the church. In fact, it will most probably help to make the doctrine and practice respectable not merely on the basis of a doctrine of human rights but also within a supposed Christian doctrine of human relations based on the Bible. Those who threaten to break communion with dioceses which allow such unions will be a minority and they will be “shamed” into compliance (by being accused of homophobia and other like “sins”).

The actual ordination of women has had a momentum of its own – very much because of the larger context of the women’s liberation movement – and it has been very successful to date even though it has had to fight hard. The blessing of same-sex partnerships, while involving less people than the women’s movement, has also a momentum of its own – again very much in the context of claimed human rights by lesbigay activists – and those who are involved intend to work and fight hard for their cause. A “gay person” who is in a “faithful relationship” with another such person and is also a baptized Christian desperately desires to have the Church tell him/her that God loves him, that what he/she is involved in is being true to his/her nature, and that it is approved by Jesus & his Father. He or she will go to great lengths to get that full acceptance and thus the Lesbigay movement is using and will use the doctrine of reception amongst other means to promote and solidify its cause and ends.

In comparing the strategy of the Lesbigay and women’s movements I am not suggesting that they are in their basic claims of equal worth or value. I am merely pointing out that a strategy used by one is apparently being used by the other.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Dr Giddings and the Bishop of Oxford

What do we know about the man who has led the opposition to the appointment of the new Bishop of Reading?

Who is this Dr Giddings, who has emerged from obscurity into the limelight in the past few days? We have been told that he is a member of General Synod and a 'lay minister' (i.e. a Lay Reader) from Reading, and that he is an evangelical.

His background is, however, much more interesting and significant than this might imply....

As a former Chairman of the House of Laity of the Oxford Diocesan Synod, member of the Bishop's Council in Oxford and Vice-Chairman of the House of Laity of the General Synod, Giddings was very much an establishment figure - the Bishop of Oxford's personal friend and right-hand man. Indeed, he has always been widely regarded as a liberal evangelical, and thoroughly mistrusted by many traditionalists. ('Don't vote for Philip Giddings - he's a liberal', a friend was advised, when it came to the House of Laity elections. And so, having no better information at that stage, she didn't...)

In other words, Giddings (unlike the members of the conservative evangelical Reform, Church Society, etc.) is NOT among the ranks of the 'usual suspects' when it comes to opposing the liberal ecclesiastical establishment. He certainly cannot be portrayed as an 'extremist' or a 'fundamentalist'.

This surely makes his warnings the more powerful, and underlines the depth of the fissure now dividing the Church of England. For someone like Philip Giddings to oppose publicly his (former?) friend the Bishop of Oxford, is pretty shattering. And if the Bishop will not listen to Giddings, to whom will he listen?

(Thus the more one gets to know about this appointment the more it appears that the Bishop of Oxford knew what he was doing and somewhat anticipated that it would cause a tempest; likewise the Archbishop who had to approve also must have known that it was likely to generate great contreoversy. Thus one cannot escape the possibility that one of them or both of them were half intending at least to test the waters and perhaps change the doctrine of the C of E by a fait accompli. Both men are very intelligent and are fully aware of the emotions and convictions generated by gay partnerships and the like. If only Jeffrey John would state that he does not desire to go forward to consecration, this would save the C of E and Communion from more pain... but of course there are powerful human rights and liberal and gay lobbies pressing him to stand firm and go right ahead. This issue may well be as a poisoned spear in the side of the C of E.)

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

What the Archbishop could have said.

In his much publicised Letter of 23rd June, in writing of the appointment of Jeffrey John as Suffragan Bishop of Reading, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, could have said:

1.It was a mistake because the man is obviously not wholeheartedly committed to the received doctrine of the Church of England on sexual relations. His true beliefs include the acceptability of same-sex partnerships for clergy and this doctrine is not that of the Church of England. Thus he should step down. OR

2. It was a mistake because the Church of England has not yet come to a common mind on whether or not it is right or wise to have as a Bishop an openly "gay man" living in a same-sex partnership. Thus at best it may be called a premature act and he should step down. OR

3. It was a good thing for it was prophetic and courageous act and it blazed a trail of toleration and inclusiveness in the Church of England. Thus he should stand firm and we should all support him. OR other possibilities.

But he chose instead to accept and affirm that each side (those who support and those who oppose the consecration of a gay priest as a bishop) has worthy principles and to call them both to set their minds and hearts and attention on BIGGER and more IMPORTANT things and to exercise understanding and charity with respect to this appointment and to those who support and oppose it.

The lead he gave was to ask us all to direct our attention to Greater and more Central Things and that when we do this the matter of sexuality will not be so absorbing. (One response is that this whole matter would never have been in the public attention if he, Rowan, had blocked it when it came upon his desk for approval weeks ago! At that stage he did not think sufficiently clearly & deeply of what the Bishop of Oxford was recommending and what would be the reaction in terms of this particular priest.)

We may note that each side certainly does have principled positions - the one is based on Scripture and the Tradition of the Church which is very clear on the matter of sexual relations; the other is based primarily on the modern doctrine of human rights and specifically that of a person having the right to live out in practice and with God's blessing his sexual orientation, as long he is in a faithful partnership. (These two positions it will be observed are miles apart!)

Regrettably, this issue will not go away (for it is a big issue to many people) and what it will probably herald is the beginning of vast changes in the Church of England as to how parishes and dioceses are funded. Evangelical parishes will probably lead the way in putting their money into self-supporting parishes and sending nothing to the diocese since they do not want it to be used for supporting what they believe to be wrong. The whole deployment and funding of the clergy will be affected by this matter and many parishes, in the inner-city and in the countryside, will suffer in the long term. Parishes of conviction and with money will survive and others will wither away or be joined with others......

Of course Jeffrey John, for whom we all feel most deeply, is under great pressure from various sides. He may decide to stand down voluntarily. This would be a most welcome thing for his own true good and that of everyone else; if he does then he will need much brotherly love and compassion shown to him. Let us pray for him that God will be gracious unto him and give him His peace.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Letter from Archbishop of Canterbury to English Bishops concerning the appointment of the Suffragan Bishop of Reading.

23rd June 2003

Dear Brothers in Christ

None of us will need any persuading that the recent appointment of Canon Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading has proved a controversial and challenging one. It has become a focus for a great deal of debate, in which differing views of the appointment and its significance have been widely aired, inside and outside the Church here, and indeed much further afield.

At this point in the debate - particularly since some of you have already voiced serious concerns - it is important that I try to clarify basic issues, in my capacity as Archbishop of Canterbury and Chairman of the House of Bishops.

First, about the appointment process. As you know, the appointment of a suffragan bishop is made by the Crown, on the advice of a diocesan as forwarded by the Archbishop of the province. And that is what has happened on this occasion. It is not for me to recount the diocesan process. But so far as my own involvement is concerned, you should know it is an appointment I have neither sought to promote nor to obstruct.

I was informed that Canon Jeffrey John was regarded as a highly gifted candidate, was acceptable to the diocese, that he had given explicit assurances on various matters, including his personal circumstances and his willingness to work loyally within the framework of doctrine and discipline as expressed in Issues in Human Sexuality. With these assurances, since repeated very publicly, and in keeping with the principle that the integrity of the process within the diocese should be respected, I raised no objection to forwarding his name.

Despite what some have claimed, I do not believe this overall process weakens the commitment of the House of Bishops to what we have declared as our common mind. Nor do I believe that Canon John's appointment either subverts current discipline or forecloses future discussion. It would certainly be deplorable if it were assumed that the existing approach has been abandoned by stealth, or that the forthcoming guide to the debate on sexuality that we have agreed to publish, was slanted towards a change in that policy. So, let us be clear: there can be no question of trying to pre-empt, undermine or short-circuit the reflection of the Church as a whole.

It is also important here, to stress to the wider Anglican Communion that we are not embarking on or colluding with any policy of unilateral local change, which I have more than once deplored elsewhere.

Two final and important points. The concerns of many in the diocese of Oxford are theologically serious, intelligible and by no means based on narrow party allegiance or on prejudice. They must be addressed and considered fully. Confidence in the ability of a new bishop to minister to those in his pastoral care is a centrally important matter, and it is clear that serious questions remain in the diocese. To consider these with prayerfulness and maturity needs time and a measure of calm. It is not for anyone outside the diocese to override or pre-empt what is obviously a painful and complex process, and I can only ask your prayers for the diocese as it struggles with this and tries to find a right discernment.

Finally, it would be a tragedy if these issues, in the Church of England and in the Communion, occupied so much energy that we lost our focus on the priorities of our mission, the priorities given us by Our Lord. What we say about sexuality (and not just on the same-sex question) is a necessary part of our faithfulness, but the concentration on this in recent weeks has had the effect of generating real incomprehension in much of our society, in a way that does nothing for our credibility. In the world where we are called to offer the Good News of Jesus, we need to reflect on this dimension of the situation - not to surrender to alien standards, but to keep our eyes on those central revealed truths without which other matters of behaviour and discipline will never make sense.

In a few weeks, I shall be making a pastoral visit to West Africa. Some of our local issues are there too, of course, but so are most of the greatest wounds of our age, afflicting millions - violent conflict, epidemic disease, instability and poverty. Faithful Christian witness shines through all this, and we are deeply thankful for it. It does us no harm to think about our own priorities against such a background, and perhaps to learn in some matters to give each other a little more time and space for thought as we try to find how we can walk in step as the Body of Christ - not falling over ourselves because of anxiety and suspicion.

+Rowan Cantuar

Lambeth Palace
23rd June 2003

Monday, June 23, 2003

The Second Sunday after Trinity


There is a profound petition in the Collect for the Second Sunday after Trinity. Please read on.

"O Lord, who never failest to help and govern them whom thou dost bring up in thy steadfast fear and love: Keep us, we beseech thee, under the protection of thy good providence, and make us to have a perpetual fear and love of thy holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

The Epistle: 1 John 4. 7-21 The Gospel: St Luke 14. 16-24

Previous to the 1662 edition of The Book of Common Prayer this Collect was similar but shorter:

"Lord, make us to have a perpetual fear and love of thy holy name; for thou never failest to help and govern them whom thou dost bring up in thy steadfast love."

Let us focus on the petition in both these Collects.

As baptized Christians, members of the Household of God, we ask from God to have perpetually in our souls - minds, hearts and wills -two profound affections towards God the Father through Jesus Christ our Lord.

And, further, we ask that we may have these two affections in our souls concurrently, not one for a while and then the other for a while, but both there together and always. We ask both for a perpetual fear of God's holy Name and for a perpetual love of God's holy Name. In biblical terms, the Name of God stands for the revealed Character of God, thus for God himself, for God the Father or God the Father together with his only begotten Son and the Holy Ghost.

Most of us have no difficulty in thinking that we ought constantly to love God's holy Name for the first and great commandment is that we are to love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength.

But perhaps some of us have real difficulty in thinking it a duty to fear God constantly. Does not perfect love cast out fear (see 1 John 4:18)? Yes it does, the fear of punishment by God the holy Judge, the fear of hell-fire and the fear of condemnation - for there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.

But there is another meaning of fear in the Bible and it is a profound sense of awe, submission and reverence of the creature before the all-Holy, all-Majestic God, Creator & Judge of heaven & earth, the Blessed, Holy and Undivided Trinity. This filial and godly fear in the soul of the child of God is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom in terms of God's ways, will and purposes - as the Psalmists testify. Even those who within the new covenant are brought near to God by the blood of Christ Jesus, and in whom the Spirit testifies to their spirits that they are the children of God the Father, ought never be other than filled with reverence and awe in their relation to God, who is always and ever the Infinite, Eternal Glorious and Holy One.

Love with filial fear is like a ship without ballast; it has no steadfastness and it is wavering, fluctuating, unstable and uncertain.

When we love God in reverence and filial fear, our love is not sentimental and sloppy but solid and secure.

When we fear God in love toward him, this fear is not fear of hell-fire or everlasting condemnation, but deep and profound humility & awe before his overwhelming greatness and holiness.

The more ardently we love God the more we fear him with filial reverence and
awe: and the more we ardently fear God the more we love him with all our being.

Thus let us pray all next week...

"Make us to have a perpetual fear and love of thy holy Name."
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Saturday, June 21, 2003

Reading the Bible With the Church Fathers

Interview With Historian Robert Louis Wilken

ROME, JUNE 19, 2003 ( Interest in the wisdom and writings of the Church fathers has exploded recently among Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Christians.

In an effort to describe the spiritual and theological vision of the fathers, University of Virginia Church-historian Robert Louis Wilken has published a new book, "The Spirit of Early Christian Thought: Seeking the Face of God" (Yale). He discussed his book with ZENIT while in Rome as a McCarthy lecturer at the Gregorian University.

Q: The title of your book brings to mind Étienne Gilson's book "The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy." Was this a conscious decision on your part?

Wilken: I would not want to compare myself with the great Catholic philosopher and historian of philosophy Étienne Gilson, but there was a sense in which I hoped to do for the world of the early Church what Gilson had done for medieval philosophy.

Of course there are large differences between early Christian thought and medieval thought. But Gilson hoped to give readers a feel for what animated the whole, hence the term "spirit" in the title.

Also, though he dealt with Christian thought in a particular historical period, the Middle Ages, he intended his book to say something about the ongoing significance of medieval philosophy....

My aim was to depict the pattern of Christian thinking as it took shape in the first centuries, how Christians thought about the things they believed. I try to see things whole, to present persons and ideas as part of a common tradition rooted in a specific historical period yet not bound to time. Though long dead, the Church fathers maintain their ground.

Q: It is apparent in your book how central the Bible was for the Church fathers. Why is this fact often obscured in the histories of the early Church?

Wilken: There has been a major shift in the study of the early Church in the last two generations. In the 1940s a group of French Jesuits, most notably Jean Danielou and Henri de Lubac, began to publish a series of early Christian texts entitled "Sources Chrétiennes," or Christian sources.

Danielou and de Lubac were reacting against the way theology was being taught in Catholic seminaries and schools of theology in the early part of the 20th century. They felt that theology had lost contact with the imaginative world of the Bible, a world of images and metaphors, of story and history, and believed that the way to recover this aspect of Christian thinking was to publish modern translations of classical Christian texts.

Today, "Sources Chrétiennes" is approaching 500 volumes and many are of works that had never been translated into a modern language. Some were biblical commentaries, for example, a large commentary on the Gospel of John by Origen of Alexandria, the first great Christian biblical scholar.

In the book I give many examples of how the Bible shaped Christian thinking, for example, the doctrine of the Trinity, the person of Christ, the moral life. Even a topic such as the freedom of the will, something that had long been discussed by Greek philosophers, became for Christians a discussion about the proper interpretation of key biblical texts.

As I tell my students, in reading the Church fathers one should always have a Bible open on one's desk.

Q: The title of your McCarthy lecture at the Gregorian was "The Inevitability of Allegory." Many people today believe that "allegory," giving a passage another sense than the plain sense, has no place in modern biblical interpretation. Isn't the historical approach to the Bible one of the most important developments in Catholic thinking in the 20th century?

Wilken: It is indeed. And again a little history might help clarify things. The same year that "Sources Chrétiennes" began publishing, 1943, Pope Pius XII issued the encyclical, "Divino Afflante Spiritu." This encyclical was the magna carta for Catholic biblical scholarship.

However, just at the moment that Catholic biblical scholars believed they had won the right to study the Bible historically, another group of Catholic scholars were urging a reappropriation of the classical Christian way of interpreting the Bible.

So there is some tension between how the Church fathers interpret and use the Bible and how modern historical scholarship views things. Yet I don't think that they are in fundamental conflict, and in many respects they complement one another.

Q: Could you give an example?

Wilken: You will remember the well-known passage in Romans 10 where St. Paul says it is not possible to believe unless one has heard, and one cannot hear without a preacher. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the preaching of Christ. Then he quotes from Psalm 19, "Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world."

In its original setting the first part of Psalm 19 -- Psalm 18 in the Vulgate -- celebrates the silent witness of the heavens to the majesty of God. "The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. ... There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard."

Paul, however, interprets the text not in relation to the knowledge of God displayed in creation but as a psalm about the mission of the apostles. He understands the psalm in relation to the new thing that had happened, the coming of Christ and the preaching of the Gospel. In other words, he gives the passage another sense than its obvious or plain meaning.

Paul's interpretation of the psalm had large consequences, for it passed over into the Church's worship, most notably in daily prayer. Whenever we celebrate the feast of an apostle, one of the psalms appointed to be read in the office of readings is Psalm 19 whose words "their voice has gone out to the limits of the earth, their words to the end of the world" are used as the antiphon.

For those who pray with the Church the apostolic interpretation of Psalm 19 is as familiar and natural as the original or plain sense of the psalm.

This does not mean that the original meaning of the psalm is abandoned. It stands confidently as a testimony to the witness of creation to the mystery and majesty of God. At the same time the allegorical or spiritual interpretation became a precious and fixed part of the Church's life and worship. The two interpretations live comfortably side by side.

Q: It is interesting that the example you chose comes from the Church's prayer, from worship. What is the relation between liturgy and the interpretation of the Bible?

Wilken: The Church fathers were men of prayer and even when writing learned treatises in their studies they were never far from the Church's worship. In the liturgy they came to know Christ not so much as a historical figure from the past, but as a living person present in the Eucharist.

When they opened their Bibles they discovered this same Christ not only in the writings of the evangelists and St. Paul but also in the Old Testament. In the liturgy the words of the Scripture are alive and filled with the mystery of Christ.

For example, in the great Vigil of Easter in ancient times, when the newly baptized were preparing to receive communion for the first time, Psalm 42 was sung: "As the deer yearns for living waters, so longs my soul for you, O Lord."

The regular reading of the Scriptures in the liturgy and the recitation of the psalms in daily prayer worked powerfully on the minds of Christian interpreters. One might say that the Bible provided a lexicon of words for Christian speech and the liturgy a grammar of how they are to be used.

Q: What is the enduring significance of the early Christian understanding of the Bible?

Wilken: In spite of its many accomplishments, a strictly historical approach to the Bible can only give us a medley of documents from different times and places in the ancient world. It cannot give us the book of the Church, the Scriptures as heard by Christians for centuries, the psalms imprinted on the Church's soul, the words and images that bear witness to the Holy Trinity.

If we ignore the first readers of the Bible we are left with a collection of fragments, interesting in their own right, but lacking the unity that only the living Christ can give.

Friday, June 20, 2003

Thought for the Day as propaganda


I got this message from a member of the General Synod of the C of E today. The Thought for the Day is meant to be devotional! But the Bishop used it for propaganda.

Friday morning 20th

Did you hear the Bishop of Oxford's 'Thought for the Day' on Radio 4 this morning? It amounted to moral blackmail, in my view, and neatly conflated the distinct issues of sexual leanings and sexual practice.

You can find the text of the talk at:


The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Letter to the Church Times

My letter is printed in the Church Times in pride of place on the letters page. I expect some angry calls and messages...

From The Revd Dr Peter Toon


In your editorial of 13 June on the nomination of Jeffrey John to the bishopric of Reading, you write: "People might have questions about his earlier life, but sexual history is not usually something with which the Church concerns itself. Most couples now cohabit before marriage, and yet the Church does not consider marrying them confers some approval of this."

You are suggesting that it is not necessary or appropriate to consider the (publicly known) sexual history of one who is either to be ordained/consecrated or married in church. Perhaps in most cases with respect to marriage it is "not necessary"; but, in the former case of consecration to the episcopate it is "necessary". How a priest has behaved publicly and what he has taught in the Church certainly ought to be "something with which the Church concerns itself" in choosing a bishop.

Your argument may well fit into a modern church morality based on human rights and be the norm in some dioceses for the choosing of ordinands. However, the Church of yesterday had a different approach. One has only to look at canon law to see this. Not only was repentance of heart and mind looked for but also public penance was imposed for sins, offences & irregularities against God's law and Church law. Such penance included non-admission to Holy Communion and/or suspension or removal from an office of ordained ministry.

Fornication and adultery of any kind are still sins as far as God, the Bible and the Formularies of the Church are concerned. And they are still sins when committed by affable, attractive and gifted persons.

What is not considered in your editorial is this possibility - that for the eternal salvation & spiritual health of the person himself, as well as for the holiness, edification and good name of Church of God, he who has been a fornicator or an adulterer [or involved in a sexual partnership] while ordained, be not considered for any preferment, even if he has turned from that sin, sought forgiveness and has been through a period of penance.

Ordination or consecration is not a human right but a gift of the exalted Lord Christ to his Church for the edification and holiness of that Church, and it has always been the case that certain irregularities constitute the possibility of exclusion or expulsion from the sacred Ministry. In this day and age, it can surely be argued that for the true good of the Church of God and for the man's own spiritual and moral progress, a priest who has been in a homosexual partnership or an adulterous relationship or is divorced [and remarried] ought to be excluded from preferment to the office of bishop. He may be an excellent person in terms of gifts, abilities and energy but he has no right to preferment because of them.

Let him in penitence excel in the presbyterate and therein reveal the mercy of God.

Peter Toon,
The Rectory,
Biddulph Moor, ST8 7HP

Thursday, June 19, 2003


The Status of "The Book of Common Prayer" in the Constitution of the Episcopal Church.

There appears to be since 1979 a double meaning to "The Book of Common Prayer" in the Constitution of the Episcopal Church. It is referred to in the important Preamble and then is the subject of Article X where its use and revision are discussed.

The Preamble to the Constitution of the Episcopal Church is as follows:

"The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, otherwise known as the Episcopal Church., is a constituent member of the Anglican Communion, a Fellowship within the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces, and regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer. This Constitution, adopted in General Convention in Philadelphia in October 1789, as amended in subsequent General Conventions, sets forth the basic Articles for the government of the Church, and of its overseas missionary jurisdictions."

The first American Prayer Book, a revised form of the English 1662 Prayer Book, was created in America, approved in the Church of England and then adopted for use in the new Protestant Episcopal Church of the USA in 1789. The American Church wanted the approval of the English Bishops for their new edition of the classic Prayer Book, even as she wanted consecration of her nominees for bishops by them. That is, the Church in the former 13 colonies wished to begin on a sound footing sharing the same worship, doctrine, polity and discipline of the mother Church.

So the reference to The Book of Common Prayer in this Constitution refers to that Book whose first edition was in 1549 and whose major edition has been that of 1662. This edition has been translated into over 150 different languages and used with minor changes to accommodate different political & social settings all over the world. The English Bishops agreed that the 1789 American edition was a true Book of Common Prayer, propagating the same historic Faith and Order contained in the English 1662 edition (wherein are also the Ordinal and the Articles of Religion).

It is common knowledge that the Protestant Episcopal Church made gentle and minor revisions of its Prayer Book in 1892 & 1928. In both editions the historic Faith and Order were maintained.

But in the 1970s the same Church, now calling herself "The Episcopal Church" , engaged in liturgical revision. Instead of doing a gentle revision of the received Prayer Book (edition of 1928) or instead of producing (as in Australia, England, Canada etc.) a "Book of Additional/Alternative Services" to exist alongside the Prayer Book of 1928, the Episcopal Church produced a Book of Varied & Alternative Services, which included some edited texts from the 1928 BCP as part of the choice, and then without sense of propriety and in a great act of piracy, proceeded to call the result, "The Book of Common Prayer, edition of 1979".

In other words, the nature, shape, content and doctrine of Common Prayer, as understood in the Anglican Communion and by the See of Canterbury since 1549, was rejected and replaced by a Book containing a totally new approach to the definition and meaning of Common Prayer. The classic Book of Common Prayer was set aside and replaced by the new Book, as if the transition were like that from the 1789 edition to that of 1892 or from 1892 to 1928. Piracy was thus disguised.

In other words, without consultation with Canterbury or with the whole Communion, the American province, the ECUSA, deliberately changed the meaning of Common Prayer and thus provided for itself a novel reading of its own Constitution, and especially the Preamble thereof. If the Preamble is read as if it refers to the 1979 book then there is a major problem in interpreting the Constitution for in Britain and at Canterbury "The Book of Common Prayer" is the name of the legal Prayer Book of the National Church and such editions and translations as are in strict conformity to it. And its name cannot be pirated by another book, however similar or different it maybe. The same applies in Wales, Scotland, Canada, Australia, and so on.

However, in the ECUSA in Article X of the Constitution the expression, "The Book of Common Prayer", which once referred to the classic editions of this Book, must now be taken to refer to the 1979 Prayer Book and to any official revisions of the same.

Thus the situation is that in the Preamble, if it is to make sense and be a valid historical statement, the Book of Common Prayer must refer to the editions of 1789/1892/1928, wherein is the historic Faith and Order contained in the services, while in Article X, the reference which is internal to the ECUSA must be to that Book of this Name which is currently authorized by the General Convention.

REGRETTABLY, there was not sufficient protest from within the ECUSA or from abroad (from the C of E especially) in the late 1970s concerning the terrible act of PIRACY whereby the American Province took a hallowed name, and a name full of historical meaning, and gave it to a new creation of the post 1960s world. By this act of piracy the ECUSA has caused deep confusion as to her true identity and vocation in the USA and the world, and she has led many souls astray. How much better and simpler it would have been had the 1979 Prayer Book been called "An American Prayer Book" and the 1928 edition of The BCP left intact!

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

The 74th General Convention 2003 & Continuing Change within the ECUSA


A few thoughts on...

The 74th General Convention 2003 & Continuing Change within the ECUSA

The Blue Book (Reports to the 74th General Convention) now published in preparation for the July 30th meeting in Minneapolis provides only one indication of possible, further dramatic and substantial changes in the worship, doctrine and discipline of the Episcopal Church - a Church that been involved in innovation in major areas since the 1960s. Other indications of change come through surprises in necessary business and through resolutions submitted by dioceses.

One indication of a major change that many people are aware of is the probable acceptance by a majority in both the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies of that person approved by a majority within the Diocese of New Hampshire to be its new bishop. The confirmation of persons duly elected by dioceses is commonplace at Conventions; but, this one will be different in that the candidate is not only a divorced man (once a barrier but no longer) but is also a gay man, living in a sexual partnership with another man. If he is approved then the ECUSA will have - by the back door as it were - made it clear that it is acceptable for a bishop (and therefore for a priest or lay person) to be active homosexually, while serving as a bishop. In one stroke of the pen, as it were, the received doctrine of the Church of God of the Old and New Testaments will have been set aside.

If this bishop-elect were not approved there would be a revolt within the Convention, the like of which we have not seen in recent years. For there is a vocal minority that intends to have gay partnerships approved one way or another NOW, not tomorrow.

In terms of continuing changes in Liturgy (structure, content, doctrine & style) what seems to be the intention of the Standing Commission on Liturgy & Music is as follows:

Do studies of what is going on now in the churches and of what people say they need and of what the Commission thinks that people need.

Use these studies to call for innovation.

Do not set aside the 1979 prayer book as yet, but supplement it with a growing corpus of alternatives. Also use the 1979 prayer book in a revised form - introducing a full agenda of non-excluding or inclusive language into it.

Keep on producing new services for every conceivable perceived need in a multi-cultural, multi-generational etc. church. Take note of innovations being developed around the church and publicise the best of them.

Call that which is evolving nationally and locally by the term "Common Worship" and so give it a kind of historically-based respectability and of a kind of tie to the Church of England where the new Directory of Services if called "Common Worship".

When there is the production of so much material and where the general claim is made that "the law of praying is the law of believing" (i.e. that liturgy creates doctrine) and where that which is produced bears little relation to historic texts in terms of the theological content and syntax/style, then a revolution is occurring and all without the production of a new prayer book. That is "Common Worship" is said to exist and to do so in a vast corpus of materials, the full scope of which only a few truly are aware of.

In the Reports of other Commissions - Mission & Evangelism, Ecumenical Relations and so on - there is likewise innovation being pursued in many major areas but only a careful examination of the proposals in the context of knowing what have been the doctrines of the Church, the Sacraments, and Salvation in the Anglican Way will lay bare what these are. And this requires a long essay.

It would appear that most Episcopalians, brainwashed since the 1960s by constant innovation and change, do not generally recognize how far away from classic doctrine and practice their Church has moved. It is only in such areas as accepting gay partnerships that they really note innovation these days. The changing doctrines of God, the Holy Trinity, the Person and Work of Christ, Salvation, Christian Hope and so on seem to occur and arrive with little notice! Pantheism, Panentheism and Unitarianism, for example, enter the door and people clap, not recognizing that without the Confession of the Trinity as a Unity and a Unity in Trinity there may be religion but there cannot be Christianity.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)