Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Vancouver Canada, Anglicans divided

A press release from ACiC:
Bishop Attempts to Evict Orthodox Congregations
26th June

The Anglican parish congregations of Christ the Redeemer Anglican Church, Pender Harbour (formerly St. Andrew's) and St. Simon's, Deep Cove received notices threatening eviction from the Rt. Rev. Michael Ingham, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster. Bishop Ingham told the leadership of these churches that, unless they "reconsider the actions" taken, they are "to seek alternate worship space for those whom you lead." A third congregation, Richmond Emmanuel Church, (formerly Emmanuel Church, Richmond) received a "Notice of Closure" threat. Earlier in the Spring, the leadership of all three churches, in response to the actions of the Bishop and Diocese contrary to Holy Scripture, and with the unanimous support of their congregations, ended their relationships with the Diocese and Bishop. In letters dated March 29, 2004, the Priests and Wardens of these parishes said, "Therefore, and regrettably, as of this date, your services as our Bishop are no longer required and our relationship with you and with the Diocese of New Westminster is hereby severed. We are in a state of broken communion."

Two congregations (St. Simon's and Pender Harbour) who bought and paid for their church land and buildings have claimed ownership of their respective properties and resources. The Pender Harbour congregation told Bishop Ingham that..."Given that the trust relationship between the people of the Parish of St. Andrew's, Pender Harbour, (now Christ The Redeemer Anglican Church, Pender Harbour) and the Bishop and the Diocese of New Westminster has been broken by the actions of the Diocese and Bishop, and given that the land, church building and resources have been acquired, built and maintained wholly by the Anglican constituency of this community, it is our congregation's intention to retain the beneficial ownership of the said properties, buildings and resources for present and future orthodox Anglican ministry in this locale." The congregation at St. Simon's made a similar decision.

In the June 23rd letter Bishop Ingham claims that, "Parishioners may choose to leave the Anglican Church of Canada and worship elsewhere, but a Parish may not "leave" a Diocese nor declare that it is no longer part of the Anglican Church of Canada." He has made this claim before in demanding compliance with unorthodox positions he has taken. However, never before have three entire congregations chosen to break communion with their Diocese and Bishop, and be threatened with eviction for doing so. It is without precedent in Canadian Anglican history.

While the Diocese holds the property deed for Pender Harbour in trust for the parish, it is the people of that congregation and the community who have resourced, built and maintained the church and properties. St. Simon's, a separate legal entity, owns its church property and building, and the Diocese has no legal interest in it. It is the intention of both these congregations to retain the places of worship and ministry that they have worked so hard to build. Given that there are no remaining parishioners in either locale, the threatened eviction action of the Diocese and Bishop can only be seen as vindictive, punitive and financially manipulative, revealing a priority of possessions over people. Having been rejected by the Anglican constituency in these communities, the Diocesan leadership is now attempting to financially inhibit any continuing ministry by taking the congregations' buildings and resources.

All three churches remain Anglican congregations as members of the newly constituted Anglican Communion in Canada (ACiC), a missionary body formed under the gracious sponsorship and legitimate Anglican authority of the Archbishops of Rwanda, SE Asia, Congo, Kenya and Central Africa in response to the present crisis of faith in the Anglican Church of Canada. These congregations, along with three other British Columbia congregations, presently continue their worship and community work under the temporary adequate episcopal oversight of the Rt. Rev. Thomas Johnston, an Anglican Mission in America Bishop. The ACiC is providing a place of spiritual integrity and safety from which congregations persecuted and threatened by their Diocesan government can continue authentic Anglican ministry, and a platform from which new churches, faithful to the true Anglican tradition, can be planted.

For further information please contact:

the Rev Ed Hird+, ACiC Acting Media Contact Person, ed_hird@telus.net 604-929-5350

the Rev, Barclay Mayo, ACiC Acting Coordinator, Mission Strategy at 604-883-1371.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

St Peter & St Paul or St Peter alone on June 29?

In the modern Calendar of the Roman Catholic Church and of most Anglican provinces, on June 29 is the festival to celebrate “Saint Peter & Saint Paul”. In the Calendar found within The Book of Common Prayer (1662) June 29th is the festival called “Saint Peter’s Day” and Saint Paul is duly celebrated on another date – The Conversion of Saint Paul, January 25.

The reformers in the Church of England of the mid-sixteenth century were fully aware of the long tradition of celebrating the apostles Peter and Paul together on June 29. They were also well aware, being careful students of Holy Scripture, that the Acts of the Apostles presents first the apostolic ministry of Peter and then that of Paul. Further, they knew the ancient tradition that the two suffered martyrdom under the rule of the Emperor Nero in Rome, the one by the cross and the other by the sword.

Also they were aware of the Collects for June 29 naming both Peter and Paul in the Sarum Missal and the earlier Sacramentaries:

O God, who hast consecrated this day by the martyrdom of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul: Grant unto thy Church, which is spread throughout the world, that, as her religion took its rise from them, so by their governance she may ever be guided. Through Jesus Christ. (Leonine Sacramentary)

O God, whose right hand did lift up the Apostle Peter when walking on the waves, lest he should sink therein; and who didst deliver from the depths of the sea his brother Apostle Paul, when thrice he suffered shipwreck; Mercifully grant that by the merits of both we may win the eternal favour of the [Blessed/Holy] Trinity. Through Jesus Christ. (Gelasian Sacramentary)

O God, who hast consecrated this day by the martyrdom of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul: Grant unto thy Church that, as her religion took its rise from them, so she may in all things follow the precepts which they gave. Through Jesus Christ. (Sarum Missal)

The English Reformers apparently came to the view that to commemorate two “heavyweights” and “chiefs” (the senior apostle to the Jews and the apostle to the Gentiles) on the same day was too much of a good thing and so they decided to restrict June 29th to Saint Peter. Thus there arose the tradition in the Church of England & Anglicanism of “Petertide” and of holding ordinations at this time.

The Collect which was written for the commemoration of the Apostle Peter is found in The Book of Common Prayer (1549, 1662):

O Almighty God, who by thy Son Jesus Christ didst give to thy Apostle St.Peter many excellent gifts, and commandest him earnestly to feed the flock; Make, we beseech thee, all Bishops and Pastors diligently to preach thy Holy Word, and all thy people obediently to follow the same, that they may receive the crown of everlasting glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Probably the “excellent gifts” are those to which the promise made by Jesus Christ to Peter points (see Matthew 16:18-19 – the right confession, the keys and the binding & loosing). The commission to feed the flock is found in John 21:15 –17 and the reference to preaching is from 1 Peter 5:2 & Acts 20:28. Finally, the crown of glory is from 1 Peter 5:4.

The Collects used in modern Anglican Liturgy for the double commemoration are loosely based upon the Leonine Sacramentary:

Almighty God, whose blessed apostles Peter and Paul glorified you by their martyrdom: Grant that your Church, instructed by their teaching and example, and knit together in unity by your Spirit, may every stand firm upon the one foundation, which is Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. (1979 Prayer Book of the ECUSA, drafted by Massey H. Shepherd, Jr. with an allusion to 1 Corinthians 3:11)

Almighty God, whose blessed apostles Peter and Paul glorified you in their death as in their life: grant that your Church, inspired by your teaching and example, and made one by your Spirit, may ever stand firm upon the one foundation, Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God now and for ever. (2000 Common Worship of the C of E)

For anyone who is both deeply committed to The Book of Common Prayer, which includes its Calendar, and to ancient tradition, it is perhaps appropriate that he should use both the Collect for St Peter from the BCP and the Collect for St Peter & St Paul from the Leonine Sacramentary or the Sarum Missal (that from the Gelasian Sacramentary is hardly reformed Catholic!).

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.),
Christ Church, Biddulph Moor & St Anne's, Brown Edge

Thursday, June 24, 2004

St John Baptist Day -- June 24

In western culture, we make a lot of the anniversary of births but little of the anniversary of deaths. The way of the Christian Calendar is different.

In the Reformed Calendar of the Church of England printed in The Book of Common Prayer (1662) there is one festival commemorating the birth of a saint (St John Baptist), one commemorating the new birth of a saint (St Paul) and many commemorating the birth by death of saints into eternal life [“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” Psalm 116:15.]

In the medieval Calendar of the Ecclesia Anglicana (Church of England), there were two festivals for St John the Baptist, one for his birth (June 24) and one for his death (August 29, the Beheading of John the Baptist).While the commemoration of his death is noted in the Reformed Calendar it is not made into a festival there.

Thus why did the Reformers choose to retain the festival of his birth rather than that of his beheading?

The answer is suggested by the Collect composed to replace that in the medieval Sarum Rite. First, the Sarum Collect:

God, who by the nativity of the blessed John [the Baptist] hast made this day honourable amongst us; Grant unto thy people the grace of spiritual joys, and direct the minds of all the faithful into the way of eternal salvation. Through the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

Second, the BCP Collect:

Almighty God, by whose providence thy servant John Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of thy Son our Saviour, by preaching of repentance; Make us so to follow his doctrine and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and after his example constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth’s sake; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The key is in the statement that John was “wonderfully born”. The first chapter of the Gospel of Luke presents the story of his conception and birth. His mother was past child-bearing age but she conceived after his father was visited by an angel from heaven who announced that he would have a son, who would have a unique vocation. Further, this son had already been the subject of prophecy from prophets of the old covenant. The Epistle Reading from Isaiah 40:1-12 for this Day is one of these prophecies and the other is from Malachi (3:1 & 4:5). Thus John the Baptist was miraculously born, to be the last prophet of the old covenant to prepare the way of the Messiah, a vocation which had been prophesied by O T prophets and declared supernaturally by an archangel.

To continue with an application to Anglicans.

The petition which at the center of this Collect is well suited in 2004 to be a fervent prayer of Anglicans in the West/North and especially in North America. Make us so to follow his doctrine and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and after his example constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth’s sake.

There surely needs to be repentance on a deep and large scale by all Episcopalians and Anglicans [even the so-called orthodox] as they turn away from the errors, heresies, immorality, imperfect liturgies and bad canon law into which their provinces have plunged. Then, cleansed by the blood of Jesus, prophets amongst them need to speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, as need are prepared to suffer patiently for the truth as it is in, with and through Jesus Christ the Lord.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.),
Christ Church, Biddulph Moor & St Anne's, Brown Edge

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

To what extent should we [Anglicans] imitate the Early Church?

(a discussion starter from Peter Toon)

The Church of God exists through space and time; it is one, holy, catholic and apostolic; it is militant here on earth, expectant in the intermediate state and triumphant in Christ in heaven.

Further, the Church of God as based on the new covenant established by the shed blood of Jesus Christ, began with his Resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit. The primitive period of the history and existence of the Church is therefore unique for it was the period when not only foundations were laid but the gospel message first went out from Jerusalem and Judea to Samaria and on to the Gentile world.

Looking back from the 21st century to the Church in its first period of existence, its first three centuries or until the time that Constantine become Emperor of Rome, we may ask, To what extent are we bound by the Faith of the early Church? And also, To what extent should we imitate the practices of the early Church?

There has been for a long time, and there still is, a general agreement within the Anglican Way that the Anglican province of the twenty-first century is committed to:

1. The Canon of Scripture, especially the New Testament Canon, the books which were tested, collected and approved by the early Church and became the standard, that which the Church calls “The New Testament.”

2.The Creeds of that Church, the careful summaries of the basics of the Faith, in particular what we now call The Apostles’ and the Nicene Creeds.

3. The Threefold Ministry of Bishop, Presbyter and Deacon, with the Church divided into provinces and dioceses.

4. The Lord’s Day as the primary day of Christian worship in celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus, together with the observing of the Christian Year.

5. The use of the two dominical Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion and the preaching and teaching of the Word of God written.

6. The gathering of the Church leaders together in local, national, provincial and universal synods or councils.

7. The general principle of liturgical, structured worship and the general principle of canon law to preserve order and discipline.

This list could perhaps be shortened or lengthened but as it stands it indicates a general agreement.

Imitating the Early Church

Pressure groups from time to time seek to add to this list out of a desire and determination to cause the modern church to imitate what is presented as a fixed rule of the Early Church. In recent times, the liturgists (organized in provincial liturgical commissions) have been the ones to add to this list and then to insist that what they have added is as binding as those items listed above.

What have they added? The need for a specific shape to the Liturgy, specific posture & gestures in participating in the Liturgy, and a specific interpretation of the Church/Christian Year.

(a)Rejecting the shape, structure and content of the Order for Holy Communion found in The Book of Common Prayer as not being authentic and not hallowed by use through four centuries of time, they insisted that the modern Eucharist must have the same basic shape and content as the known liturgies from the third century. In this enterprise Gregory Dix’s book, The Shape of the Liturgy, was very influential. The new shape made space for “the passing of the peace” wherein everyone present is encouraged to show some outward sign of peace to others near to or around him. (It is conveniently forgotten that in the third century congregations were divided into women on one side and men on the other and the kiss of peace did not cross from male to female or vice versa and so the modern form is very different from the ancient.)

(b)Rejecting the long established practice in the Western Church of kneeling to pray and especially kneeling during the Prayer of Consecration in the Eucharist, they insisted that the proper stance was to stand, symbolizing the redeemed people of God standing at the Banquet of the Lamb. And they further insisted that since the Early Church called for standing in worship during the fifty days from Easter to Pentecost, that custom should apply without exception today. They even wrote Eucharistic Prayers that included a commitment to be standing – “we thank you for counting us worthy to stand in your presence and serve you” (Common Worship, C of E)!

(c)Rejecting the very long-standing division of the period from Easter Sunday to Pentecost as a period of 40 plus 10 days (that is 40 days to the Ascension and ten days from the Ascension to Pentecost) they insisted that the Church of today imitate that of the third century and speak of “the fifty-day Easter” and “the great fifty days” and include no change of emphasis and piety from Ascension Day to Pentecost. The Easter Candle must therefore remain lit through Ascension Day (when it used to be extinguished as Christ is lifted up into heaven) to Pentecost.

(d)And together with these innovations (“restorations” they would say) within the Anglican jurisdiction and its long established rites, the same liturgists insisted at the same time on two other things – that the long established English language of prayer be also discarded in favor of their attempt to create “a contemporary language of prayer”, and that the words of the liturgy be printed as if it were poetry not prose (which is actually is!). Thus their revolution has been a mighty one – new shape and content to the Liturgy and a new language in which it is celebrated. No wonder the Anglican Way has been unstable since the 1960s!

One cannot turn back the clock and do the whole process of revision over again. However, one can plead in 2004 for greater space and much more positive commendation and toleration within the Anglican Way of the use of the classic, historic Anglican Liturgy with its own shape and content and with its own special language of prayer and worship.

(see further Common Worship Considered, 2003, by Peter Toon [Edgeways Books of Great Britain ISBN 0-907839-78-9, www.edgewaysbooks.com)

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.),
Christ Church, Biddulph Moor & St Anne's, Brown Edge

Saturday, June 19, 2004

The Origins & Content of the Creed of Athanasius

What has been called in the West since the fifth century “the Creed [or the Faith] of St. Athanasius” was not actually composed by St.Athanasius (296-373) of Alexandria. It was named in honour of him as the great defender of the Catholic Faith against the heresy known as Arianism, a form of tritheism. Often it is referred to by means of the opening words of the Latin – Quicunque Vult.

The language in which it was composed was Latin not Greek and it belongs to a period after St. Augustine of Hippo for it makes use of his teaching in its exposition of the doctrines of the Trinity and the Person of Christ. It was not translated into Greek until the twelfth or thirteenth centuries and thus it was known to the English Reformers (e.g. Archbishop Thomas Cranmer) of the sixteenth century in both Greek and Latin – and they thought that its original language was Greek, because they mistakenly believed that it was written by Athanasius himself.

No one knows for certain who actually composed this Creed, where and when it was written. It was most probably written in the fifth century in Gaul as a means of instruction in the Catholic Faith, at a time when the Arian heresy had once again reared its ugly head. Thus it is to be seen as a commitment to faithfulness in receiving and guarding the Faith once delivered to the saints!

What is clear is that by the eighth century it was widely known in the Latin-speaking church and its prestige as a summary of orthodox teaching stood very high in what we now call western Europe. Further, by the ninth century it had moved into the divine office itself where it is found in psalters, to be sung as if it were a canticle or psalm and concluding with the Gloria Patri. Then, by the thirteenth century the custom began of regarding it as a Creed, along with the Apostles’ and Nicene, and thus speaking of “the three creeds” (tria symbola, triplex symbolum).

So we find that in The Book of Common Prayer (1549 & 1662) it is both regarded as a Creed and also it is printed as a canticle, with the Gloria Patri at its ending. In The Thirty Nine Articles (1562) it is said to be one of the three Creeds. Also in his reform of the Breviary in 1568 Pope Pius V confirmed its use at prime every Sunday. Further, the Lutheran Churches included it in their Book of Concord (1580) alongside the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds.

Here is the Athanasian Creed in the translation made by J.N.D. Kelly [1964]. (For a translation to be used for chanting see the BCP of 1662 or the Canadian BCP,1962.)

Whoever desires to be saved must above all things hold the Catholic Faith. Unless a man keeps it in its entirety inviolate, he will assuredly perish eternally.

Now this is the Catholic Faith, that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, without either confusing the Persons or dividing the Substance. For the Father’s Person is one, the Son’s another, the Holy Spirit’s another; but the Godhead of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is one, their glory is equal, their Majesty coeternal.

Such as the Father is, such is the Son, such also the Holy Spirit. The Father is increate, the Son increate, the Holy Spirit increate. The Father is infinite, the Son infinite, the Holy Spirit infinite. The Father is eternal, the Son eternal, the Holy Spirit eternal. Yet there are not three eternals, but one eternal; just as there are not three increates or three infinities, but one increate and one infinite. In the same way the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, the Holy Spirit almighty; yet there are not three almighties, but one almighty.

Thus the Father is God, the Son God, the Holy Spirit God; and yet there are not three Gods, but there is one God. Thus the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, the Holy Spirit Lord; and yet there are not three Lords, but there is one Lord. Because just as we are obliged by Christian truth to acknowledge each Person separately both God and Lord, so we are forbidden by the Catholic religion to speak of three Gods or Lords.

The Father is from none, not made nor created nor begotten. The Son is from the Father alone, not made nor created but begotten. The Holy Spirit is from the Father and the Son, not made nor created but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits. And in this Trinity there is nothing before or after, nothing greater or less, but all Three Persons are coeternal with each other and coequal. Thus in all things, as has been stated above, both Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity must be worshipped. So he who desire to be saved should think thus of the Trinity.

It is necessary, however, to eternal salvation that he should also faithfully believe in the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now the right faith is that we should believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is equally both God and man.

He is God from the Father’s Substance, begotten before time; and he is man from his mother’s substance, born in time. Perfect God, perfect man composed of a rational soul and human flesh, equal to the Father in respect of his divinity, less than the Father in respect of his humanity.

Who, although he is God and man, is nevertheless not two but one Christ. He is one, however, not by transformation of his divinity into flesh, but by the taking up of his humanity into God; one certainly not by confusion of substance, but by oneness of Person. For just as rational soul and flesh are a single man, so God and man are a single Christ.

Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose from the dead, ascended to heaven, sat down at the Father’s right hand, whence he will come to judge living and dead: at whose coming all men will rise again with their bodies, and will render an account of their deeds; and those who have behaved well will go to eternal life, those who have behaved badly to eternal fire.

This is the Catholic faith. Unless a man believes it faithfully and steadfastly, he will not be able to be saved.

Since the teaching includes the “Double Procession”, that is the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son, it obviously belongs to the western Catholic way of stating the Mystery of the Holy Trinity. For those who are willing to get through its precision and meditate upon the truth of the propositions there is the real possibility of contemplating and adoring the One God who is Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity, beholding the glory of the Father in the face of Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.),
Christ Church, Biddulph Moor & St Anne's, Brown Edge

The Athanasian Creed & the PECUSA

When you look at Article VIII of The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion printed in The Book of Common Prayer (1662) of the Church of England you find the following:

The Three Creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius’s Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles’ Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed: for they may be proved by most certain warrants of holy Scripture.

However, if you look at the same Article in The Book of Common Prayer (1928) of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. you find something similar but different:

The Nicene Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles’ Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed: for they may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture.

Then, if you return to the BCP (1662) and look at the pages immediately after Evening Prayer, you will find that the Athanasian Creed (or the Quicunque Vult from its opening Latin words) is printed in full, all forty-two verses. Further, it is ordered that it be said or sung instead of the Apostles’ Creed at Morning Prayer on the six great festivals (Christmas, Easter, Ascension, Whitsuntide and Trinity Sunday) and on seven other holy days – St.Matthias, St. John Baptist, St. James, St. Bartholomew, St. Matthew, St Simon & St. Jude, and St Andrew – so that it is recited about once per month.

However, if you look at the BCP (1928) in the same place you will find there is no trace whatsoever of this Creed. And if you go back through the other two American editions of the BCP, those of 1892 and 1789, you will not find the Creed there also.

The question arises: Why was it left out of the first American edition of the BCP in 1789? The answer is simple. A majority of the leadership of the Episcopal Church at that time believed that it was too harsh and dogmatic in terms of what it stated and required. The opposition focused on several verses, and on its propositional content.

Here are the verses which particularly caused offence:

1. Whosoever will be saved: before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith.
2. Which Faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled: without doubt he shall perish everlastingly….
[Then come expositions of The Trinity and The Person of Christ.]

42. This is the Catholic Faith: which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved.

In the Age of Enlightenment, few believed that it was necessary to believe ancient forms of doctrinal statements in order to be faithful to Jesus Christ and to be the recipient of God’s salvation through and in him. The same sense of anti-dogmatism led to the changing in the 1789 Prayer Book of the Venite in Morning Prayer (Psalm 95) by leaving out the last four verses and substituting from Psalm 96 verses 9 & 13. Verses 8 – 11 of Psalm 95 speak of hardness of heart and God’s wrath and did not seem, at that time, suitable for reasonable people to recite in morning service.

The fact that it was left out of the American editions of the BCP did not mean that it was never used within the PECUSA. It was, and still is, sung as if it were a psalm in a few Anglo-Catholic parishes in the USA.

At the back of the 1979 Prayer Book of the ECUSA there is a collection of what are called historical documents. In very small print indeed we find there the Athanasian Creed along with the Definition of the Person of Christ from the Council of Chalcedon (451) and other documents.

It is surely to be regretted that this important western Catholic statement of the two basic Catholic dogmas – the Holy Trinity and the Identity & Person of Jesus Christ – has not been widely used in Anglican doctrine and worship within the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. When you understand its origins (in a time of crisis) then you understand why it is so firm and clear in its statements and affirmations! And if ever there was a time for there to be courageous and clear witness to the Truth of the Triune God and the Truth of Jesus Christ, One Person made known in two natures (human and divine) in the ECUSA, it is now, 2004!

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.),
Christ Church, Biddulph Moor & St Anne's, Brown Edge

Apologetic for the Common Prayer - How Received: Neither active Opposition Nor gracious Support

Those who seek to commend and defend the received Anglican Way with its tradition of Common Prayer are an isolated group within the western/northern provinces of the Anglican Communion of Churches. On the one hand, the apologetic that they produce and the positive presentations that they offer are apparently rarely noticed – by design or by accident – both by those who belong to another tradition of worship & piety (e.g., the modern liberal, evangelical, charismatic, anglo-catholic use of modern liturgies and styles), and, surprisingly perhaps, by those who claim to be within and support the tradition of Common Prayer, using the classic editions of the BCP.

Let us ponder this for a moment!

First, those who apparently have no interest in the classic BCP. The attitude of some, who lead those who use modern texts and styles for worship, seems to be – “what these traditionalists write belongs to another age and we do not need to read it, even less to begin to answer it.” And where the few in these camps actually do begin to read the apologetic and recognize that there are serious considerations and arguments in favour of the traditional liturgies and style, then by an act of will they decide to put all such thoughts from their minds in order to stay comfortably where they are. The net result in these camps is that those who defend and commend traditional faith, liturgy and style are generally treated as “non-persons” by fellow Christians; it is as though they do not exist. It has even been suggested that they are like those in the final stages of degenerative disease and should be left to die in peace.

Second, those who claim to be supporters of the Common Prayer. It is a strange and disappointing fact that few of those who claim to love The Book of Common Prayer and to be within the tradition of Common Prayer actively & practically support those who, from within their own tradition, seek to offer an apologetic for, and expositions of, the tradition of Common Prayer. It is not as though these many persons are illiterate for they are usually middle-class and reasonably well educated. Rather, it seems to be that they are satisfied if they get their local Sunday service from the BCP; and in getting this they do not see that they have any part in the defence and commendation of the tradition of Common Prayer. If such is necessary then they can safely leave it to others. They apparently do not think of the real possibility that, if they actually buy what the Prayer Book Societies of England/Australia/Canada and the USA, together with other Publishers (e.g., Edgeways Books) produce to propagate this Cause, then they not only encourage those publishers and authors, but they also keep the unit cost per book down and make it more probable and easier to produce further books/booklets/CD’s/tapes etc. Further, they seem to have no evangelistic or missionary sense in that they do not obtain copies to give to their local priest or lay leader.

Perhaps, it will be the joy of a future generation to appreciate what a few members of this generation are doing to commend, defend and propagate the tradition of Common Prayer and to wonder why what they produced in book, booklet, tape, video and CD was so little valued especially by those within this Anglican Way who claimed to love the BCP!

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.),
Christ Church, Biddulph Moor & St Anne's, Brown Edge

The Second Sunday after Trinity

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 our Father that we shall 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 the Name represents God himself – that is either God the Father or God the Father together with his only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.

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

Yet 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 Psalter testifies. 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 Christians also 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.

"Make us to have a perpetual fear and love of thy holy Name."

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.),
Christ Church, Biddulph Moor & St Anne's, Brown Edge

Submission from the Archbishop of Cape Town to the Lambeth Commission


The Most Revd Njongonkulu Ndungane
Archbishop of Cape Town and Primate of the Province of Southern Africa

The Life of the Anglican Communion: A Way Ahead

14 June 2004

As the Lambeth Commission on Communion prepares to meet, I want to put forward three perspectives from my part of the 'Global South' which I hope will offer support to the Commission in its challenging task. My prayer is to find restorative processes that open doors beyond painful division. We must develop new means for handling conflict and finding new beginnings, to share with the world for the good of the gospel.

First is the question of Church Order, the way we structure ourselves as the Anglican Communion. We recognise that the Commission members tackle the difficult questions before them within the context of the existing organisational framework of the Communion, with all its complexities and ambiguities. They must deal with the autonomy of provinces alongside the weighty, but non-binding, authority we give to the Instruments of Unity, that contribute to the 'bonds of affection' that tie us to our common life. They must address these constraints and, though they may suggest changes, we cannot expect them to make unfeasible proposals.

It is for us, who watch and pray while the Commission do their work, to acknowledge their duly constituted mandate - given by the Archbishop of Canterbury following his meeting with the Primates. Our support and contributions to their deliberations must respect the process they pursue. We cannot prejudge their conclusions - but must give them the space to address their task in whatever ways are most useful to them as they work towards their October report. I look forward to responding to that report in due course - through whatever channels will contribute most constructively to a way forward.

In what I say, I do not downplay the seriousness of what we are facing. There is such tremendous pain surrounding the issues of sexuality that gave rise to the Commission - though its mandate focuses on questions of koinonia, communion. Actions have been taken and statements made that have fallen far, far, short of building up our common life. I keep praying that when each of us speaks or acts, we will have the grace to consider the wider, and longer-term consequences - and have the courage to hold back when we may be bringing further distress.

My second concern is to underline once more the perspectives which theological reflection offers to us. All the Bible teaches us about creation resonates with both unity and diversity. We know these give rise to inescapable tensions, which we must face head on. There will inevitably be times when we disagree, and I do not think we have yet fathomed all the dimensions of how we hold together in Christ. The 'bonds of affection' that hold us together are both human and God-graced. Our human frailties in relationships are interwoven with transcendent possibilities of reconciliation and forgiveness.

Where injury has been done, we must respond in ways that help heal the breach. The secular world is increasingly turning to restorative justice, in place of retributive justice, as a way of not just dealing with wrong-doing but making it the stepping stone to something better.

Restorative justice is a systematic response to conflict or wrongdoing, that emphasises healing the wounds of all parties concerned - whether offended against, or offending - while also pursuing whatever makes for greater wholeness in the community. It is a process that certainly upholds the need for justice, expecting those who have caused injury to take steps to repair it (and may sometimes run in parallel with other judicial processes). Yet this happens as an intrinsic part of genuine deep encounter between the concerned parties. All sides must be willing to engage openly and honestly, and be prepared to contribute appropriately to help bring resolution, in ways that may only emerge as this holistic process unfolds. The desired outcome is that everyone involved will become contributing members of a community that grows and shapes itself to minimise the possibility of similar harmful actions finding fertile ground.

The South African experience shows something of what can be achieved. When political change came, we were so fearful of the potential for a bloodbath as sworn enemies had to overcome bloodshed, even murder, and work together under democracy. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, drawing on principles of restorative justice, made a vital contribution to the ongoing process of building and rebuilding a new South Africa.

Within the Church we should not be slow to follow this lead! How much greater should be our optimism that with God's grace we can overcome even painful division. Lasting discord and separation can never be God's plan for us - rather, as Paul tells the Corinthians as they dealt with the aftermath of rift, 'Satan must not be allowed to get the better of us; we know his wiles all too well.' On whatever side of dividing lines brothers and sisters in Christ find ourselves, our greater task is to fight together against the evils of the world.

This underlines for me my third concern, that we must always bear in mind the demands upon us as servants of God's mission in his world. We are the disciples of the Prince of Peace, called to be his peacemakers wherever there is strife. Sent by the God of all compassion, we are to be messengers of love and mediators of mercy.

The Anglican Communion worldwide has had such a good track record, both in public advocacy and behind the scenes, in helping bring lasting peace with justice in the conflicts of the world. There are so many challenges around us today - in my own continent, in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to name but two, as well as farther afield. I fear that if we struggle to deal maturely with our internal differences, we will undermine our standing and ability to act in other areas of conflict. Our calling to bring good news to the poor, in a world where half the population live in poverty, must not be jeopardised. Faith communities are uniquely placed to give a lead, and among them the Anglican Communion must play its part - learning how to handle our own divergences can only be a help within our diverse world.

As the Lambeth Commission meets, my prayer is that the God who promises to make all things new, will lead them into creative solutions that will help heal not just our own pains, but the pains of the broken and hurting world in which we live.

Cape Town
14 June 2004

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Damnation & the Athanasian Creed: On How to recover the use of this Christian “Psalm”

What has the title, The Creed of Saint Athanasius or Quicunque Vult [its first two words in Latin], has been little known in American Anglicanism/Episcopalianism, and for a very good reason. Though it is found in The Book of Common Prayer (1662), which was used in the American colonies until independence, it is NOT found in the American editions [1789,1892 & 1928] of the traditional Anglican Prayer Book. However, it is included as an historical document in an appendix in the 1979 Prayer Book of the Episcopal Church.

Apparently, the reason why it was left out of the first American edition of the Anglican Prayer Book in 1789 was because of what are known in technical terms as the “minatory” or “damnatory” clauses which are found in its opening sentence as well as later in the text. In the 1662 Prayer Book, the opening lines of this Creed are:

Whosoever will be saved: before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled: without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

Then, after an exposition of the dogma of The Holy Trinity it is stated:

He therefore that will be saved: must thus think of the Trinity.

Further, after an exposition of the dogma of The Person of Christ it is stated:

This is the Catholic Faith: which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved.

One can see why, especially in the rationalistic age of the late eighteenth century, such statements would be offensive to “enlightened” man. Indeed, the same offence is felt by many today for few believe that holding to the precise [patristic] doctrine of The Trinity and The Person of Christ is necessary unto eternal salvation.

Perhaps some people will be relieved to learn that it is reasonably certain that the translation of these clauses in the Prayer Book of 1662 is misleading, and for two reasons. First of all, those who originally translated The Athanasian Creed actually believed that it had been composed by St Athanasius of Alexandria in the fourth century. Thus they used in their translation not only the received Latin text of the Western Church but also a Greek version, which they believed was a superior text since Athanasius was Greek-speaking. And it is from the Greek text rather than the Latin that they appear to have made their translation of these “minatory” clauses. In the second place, this “Creed” was originally composed not so much as a statement of orthodoxy but rather as a commitment to fidelity in persecution and hardship, to the holding fast to the “faith once delivered to the saints”. [In the fifth century, those who invaded Spain and North Africa were Arians and they sought to impose upon the churches there a brand of Arianism (the heresy against which Athanasius had fought). This “Creed” from that period is a call for the genuinely orthodox to stand firm, to hold fast, to endure and to persevere.]

In The Book of Common Prayer (1962) of the Church of Canada there is a translation which is based upon the Latin text (for we know now that it was written in Latin) and also, while using traditional English, has taken account of the changed meaning of words. Thus:

Whosoever would be saved / needeth before all things to hold fast the Catholic Faith.

Which Faith except a man keep whole and undefiled, / without doubt he will perish eternally.

He therefore that would be saved, / let him thus think of the Trinity.

This is the Catholic Faith, / which except a man do faithfully and stedfastly believe, he cannot be saved.

It will be observed that the emphasis here is not upon holding orthodoxy as such but on being committed, faithful, steadfast and persevering in the received Christian Faith. It is about passing on the “deposit” of the Faith to the next generation and thus being faithful to God and his Church. Also “would be saved” is used instead of “will be saved” to take account of changed meaning in English. The biblical call to hold fast is pronounced -- see 1 Thess. 5:21; Rev. 2:13, 25; 3:11; Coloss 2:19; 1 Cor. 11:2; Hebrews 4:14 & Mark 7:8. – and this is surely the background here.

However, even with these explanations, it remains a very strong statement of the need for right and true faith and faithfulness if one is desirous of receiving God’s eternal salvation. Also a clear connection is made between the defining of dogma by the Ecumenical Councils of the Church (Nicea, Constantinople, Ephesus and Chalcedon) and personal faith, trust and fidelity.

But there is one further piece of information that needs to be borne in mind in the evaluation of this “Creed”. It was treated in the Western Church as if it were a Psalm and it is named, “Psalmus, Quicunque Vult” in the various manuscripts of the liturgy. This heritage and tradition is still seen in the Prayer Book of 1662 where it is divided into verses, the musical symbol of the colon is used (:), and it ends as a psalm with the Gloria. (Note in the Canadian Prayer Book of 1962 this same tradition holds except '/' is used not ':')

Treating it not as a Creed like the Apostles’ and Nicene Creed but rather as a Christian Psalm written in a time of persecution as a way of rallying Christians to endurance and faithfulness, places it in a special category and makes it easier for all to use it – even those who have doubts about patristic orthodoxy, if they are prepared to call upon their historical imagination as they surely do with Psalms from ancient Israel.

Happily there still remains a tradition of singing “The Psalm, Quicunque Vult” in some churches (e.g., St Timothy, Fort Worth, TX) and of reciting it in others on the days required by the Prayer Book (1662).

I believe that if more can see it as a Christian Psalm and bring in back into the Liturgy then western liturgy will be enriched!

I would like to see a CD or DVD made of recordings of the several music settings to this Christian Psalm, along with perhaps an explanatory talk on the same CD/DVD of the origin and meaning of it. But, maybe there are recordings in existence in archives – if so I would like to know. [Please contact me at peter@toon662.fsnet.co.uk if you have any suggestions.]

A final comment – the Lutherans use it as Creed and it is printed in their service books, but it appears they do not use it as a Psalm.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.),
Christ Church, Biddulph Moor & St Anne's, Brown Edge

Monday, June 07, 2004

On Prayers which supplement those in The Book of Common Prayer

There exist not a few books of prayers, using the same traditional English language of prayer as is found in The Book of Common Prayer itself. They provide prayers to be used in an after the services of the BCP as well as for mid-week meetings and private use. Examples are Parish Prayers, edited by Frank Colquhoun (1967), After the Third Collect edited by Eric Milner-White (1955) and The Prayer Manual edited by Frederick B.MacNutt (1951). However, these books of prayers, and others like them, are no longer in print. The reason is because in the 1960s most of the English-speaking churches ceased to address God as “Thou/Thee/Thy/Thine” and thus the demand changed for books of prayers addressing God as “You/Your/Yours”.

But the change from “Thou” to “You” was more than merely a change of words. It was also a change of style, of mood, even a change in doctrine. How so?

If an examination is made of the structure of the collects and prayers first in the BCP and then in the books of prayers composed to be used along with the BCP, there is much use of a special structure of sentence. This is the use of the relative clause, after the addressing of God, in order to recall some aspect of God’s nature, character, revelation or redemption that will become the basis of the petition to be made in that prayer. For example:

Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid; Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


O God, who hast prepared for them that love thee such good things as pass man’s understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards thee, that we, loving thee above all things, may obtain thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Here God is not being told what he already knows to perfection but rather we are reminding ourselves in God’s holy presence of what we have learned from him. It is a device by which one remembers, recalls and utters in a reverential way what is necessary to be said in order rightly to make the petition. And it is used very widely in the supplementary books of prayers, so much so as to allow one to make the general statement that this use of the relative clause is endemic to traditional, classic English public and private prayer.

Modern liturgists have judged that the use of the relative clause generally sounds odd in the “you” form of prayer, especially when God’s name is immediately followed by “who…”, and so they have used it infrequently. In its place, in their modern liturgies they have often chosen to go for the direct address to God in the form, “ O God, you have/you are….” This way of praying sounds as though the petitioner is telling the Lord God what he [the All-Knowing One!] needs to know in order for him to consider answering the petition! It runs the danger of lacking awe and reverence and also of changing the Christian doctrine of humility before God. One of the worst examples is the modern “Agnus Dei”. “Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us.”

Part of the reason why there has not been a greater attempt within modern liturgical writing to capture what is contained in the use of the relative clause in traditional liturgy and prayers is the general change in the perception of the nature and character of God. Today we are less aware of his transcendent glory than we are of his friendly local presence, and so we can talk to him much the same way as we talk to one another!

If modern liturgy and prayers are to stay with the “You-God” and not to make more use of the relative clause (however odd it may sound to untrained ears) then they surely – in the long term -- must find a grammatical, stylistic way to communicate reverence before the Majesty of the Holy Blessed and Undivided Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

[See further Neither Archaic Nor Obsolete: The English Language of Common Prayer by Peter Toon & Lou Tarsitano from the Prayer Book Society, 1-800-727-1928. Further, the Society is promoting a Godly Competition for the writing of prayers in the classic English language of prayer – details from 1 800 727 1928]

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.),
Christ Church, Biddulph Moor & St Anne's, Brown Edge

The Athanasian Creed as a Psalm

(after using this "Creed" on Trinity Sunday I am led to ponder...)
Together with the text of “The Creed of Athanasius” (Quicunque Vult) in The Book of Common Prayer (1662) there is a rubric which instructs that this Creed be used on certain feast days instead of the Apostles’ Creed at Morning Prayer. Regrettably this ancient confession of faith has never been printed in editions of the American editions of The Book of Common Prayer in 1789, 1892 & 1928, but it does come in an appendix in very small typeface in the 1979 Prayer Book of the ECUSA.

We now know that this “Creed” is not by Athanasius of Alexandria but was composed in Gaul in the fifth century during the period when a minority who held to Nicene orthodoxy had to hold firm to the doctrine which they had received because of the aggressive Arianism of those (Goths/Vandals) who were invading the Roman Empire from northern Europe. The association of the name of Athanasius is because of his stand for orthodox belief concerning the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ against Arianism.

If we look at the Latin versions of this “Creed” as they appear in medieval sources such as The Sarum Breviary, it is called, “Psalmus, Quicunque Vult” (the last two words being the first two Latin words of the text). It was then treated liturgically exactly like a psalm; it had its varying antiphons, and was followed by the Gloria Patri.

This liturgical use is still to be seen in The BCP (1662) where it is divided into verses like the Psalms, and each verse is punctuated with the music symbol, for the guidance of the choir, which is represented by a colon -- : and it ends with the “Glory be to the Father….”

If today we could see this Latin composition as a Christian (doctrinal) Psalm and recover the singing of it in an improved and more accessible translation to that in the BCP (1662) then perhaps we would see current opposition to its use diminish and at the same time Christians learning from it more thoroughly and carefully the great doctrines of The Trinity and The Person of Christ. (Note there is an improved translation prepared by the English Bishops in 1872 – Report of the Committee of Bishops on the Revision of the Text and Translation of the Athanasian Creed, and see also the most useful book, The Athanasian Creed by J N D Kelly.)

There was a tradition in the Church of England (and perhaps in Canada and Australia) in the 19th and 20th centuries of chanting/singing this “Creedal Psalm”. Does anyone have recollection or knowledge of this and access to the music used?

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.),
Christ Church, Biddulph Moor & St Anne's, Brown Edge

Sunday, June 06, 2004


Saturday, June 5th, 2004, 2:20 EST

YOUR PRAYERS are urgently requested for Bp. Terry Kelshaw of the Diocese of the Rio Grande. He was on a flight which had to be diverted to Newfoundland, Canada, due to his laboured breathing. He has since been diagnosed with a severe case of double-pneumonia.....

HEAR us, Almighty and most merciful God and Saviour; extend thy accustomed goodness to this thy servant Bishop Terry who is grieved with sickness. Visit him, O Lord, with thy loving mercy, and so restore him to his former health, that he may give thanks unto thee in thy holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
1928 American BCP

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.),
Christ Church, Biddulph Moor & St Anne's, Brown Edge

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Trinity, the mystery of

(or why we need to have eagle eyes in reading the work of modern liturgical commissions)

Words and expressions matter, especially when one is seeking to name, to adore, to address and to describe the One true and living God, who, for the orthodox Christian, is a Trinity of Persons in Unity.

One difference between modern western liturgy (and hymn writing) and traditional liturgy of East of West is that the former usually lacks the precision of the latter in terms of expressions naming and addressing the Holy Trinity. This can be demonstrated by the careful examination of the Acclamations, Blessings, Collects & Prefaces in such prayer books as the 1979 ECUSA and the 2000 C of E, against the background of the way the same material is handled in the traditional Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Anglican liturgies.

Now it is true that the Being of the One God is a Mystery which we can never plumb. However, because of the Revelation recorded in Scripture and the penetrating devotion and studies of the Fathers in the early centuries of the Church, at least it is possible to state that this or that way of stating this holy matter is to be preferred to another way -- if for no other reason that the one way is less open to misunderstanding than is the other.

To illustrate. In the Orthodox Liturgy we hear: “Blessed be the kingdom of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit now and always even unto ages of ages.” Here there is one and only one kingdom or kingly reign which is equally and wholly the kingdom of three Persons, each of whom is related to it entirely and possesses it wholly.

Simplified by the ECUSA liturgists in their 1979 Book this becomes: “Blessed be God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And blessed be his kingdom now and for ever.” Here simplification has opened up various possibilities of error. One would be to think that God is One Person with Three Names or Three Modes of Being, and that this One Person has an everlasting kingdom. The force of the colon is to suggest that God has three identities or names or modes of operation.

However, Jesus himself said: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all nations….and baptize them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit….” Here there is One Name (YHWH) and three Persons, each one declared so by the use of the article, “the”.

Turning to the English liturgists we may look at their Collect and Post-communion prayer for Trinity Sunday in Common Worship (2000):

“Almighty and everlasting God, you have given us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity and in the power of the divine majesty to worship the Unity: keep us steadfast in this faith, that we may evermore be defended from all adversities; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reins with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.”

“Almighty and eternal God, you have revealed yourself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and live and reign in the perfect unity of love: hold us firm in this faith, that we may know you in all your ways and evermore rejoice in your eternal glory, who are three Persons yet one God, now and for ever.”

Here we have the amazing audacity in both prayers of mere creatures daring to telling the ineffable God of glory what he has revealed and given to us and how he lives and reigns! He knows infinitely more than we can ever know of these matters and needs not our information!

But leaving this on one side, the scriptural record is that the Father sends the Son who becomes incarnate, and the incarnate Son [the Lord Jesus] reveals the Father and the Holy Spirit; then, after the exaltation of the incarnate Son, the Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit to the Church so that the Spirit can lead the apostles and disciples into the truth of the Gospel, including the truth of God the Holy Trinity.

Looking at the two prayers --- the first is obviously addressed to the First Person, the Father, in the Name of the Son and it celebrates the revelation of God as Holy Trinity, praying that we shall remain steadfast in this knowledge and faith. Apart from the way it addresses the Almighty Father (!!!) it is orthodox in intention.

The second of the prayers is addressed like the first to “Almighty God” except that here the adjective “eternal” is preferred to the “everlasting” of the first. But then this “God”, whom we expect to be “the Father” because of the first collect and because of the Eucharistic Prayer addressed to the Father, is then said to “have revealed yourself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” Does this mean that there is One Person, the Father, who appears in three different modes with three different means?

Or is this second Prayer addressed to “God” meaning something Other than “the Father”, that is “the one Godhead/Divinity/Deity”? But this can hardly be so for the revelation of the Triune Nature of God came – as we have noted -- through the total revelation and redemption given by and provided in Jesus Christ, Incarnate Son. It did not come through the One Godhead making known that He is present wholly in Three Persons fully and simultaneously.

Liturgically and doctrinally speaking, the strange thing is that we have these two prayers (from two different committees) alongside each other for the one day; and they seem not to have been carefully scrutinized to see whether they fit together and contain the one and the same doctrine. The first one can be read as orthodox in the western way of stating the doctrine of the Trinity (for it is essentially a rewriting of the classic Western collect) but the second is odd, to put it kindly, and probably proceeds from writers who know little of the Bible or of Patristic doctrine.

There are many more examples in modern liturgy of this kind of thing – but so few people seem to care for precision in the naming and adoring of the infinite, eternal, blessed, holy and undivided Trinity of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!

(See further my Common Worship Considered [Edgeways Books, UK, 2003 -- www.edgewaysbooks.com )

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.),
Christ Church, Biddulph Moor & St Anne's, Brown Edge

A GODLY COMPETITION: The Common Prayer Tradition In Living Use

The Board of the Prayer Book Society of the U.S.A. firmly believes that in the new millennium there is need to help our contemporaries, especially the young, to understand and use with ease the traditional language of Common Prayer. It also believes it right to encourage the creation of prayers and hymns as part of a larger determination to encourage and experience Anglican Common Prayer as a tradition in living use. To this end, it has decided to sponsor a godly competition to encourage the revival of the production and provision of contemporary prayers and hymns in the traditional religious language found in The Book of Common Prayer and the hymnody of Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley and John Keble (to name but three).

Until the 1970s, there were constantly being printed books of prayers, collects and litanies for use alongside The Book of Common Prayer, especially for use at the end of Morning and Evening Prayer, at mid-week meetings, in family prayers and for private devotions. Also there was a continual appearance of hymns to be used in association with the services within the Prayer Book or for communal hymn-singing.

With the advent of modern liturgies and the insistence that God be addressed as “you” and that the second person singular (thou/thee) for God and man be no longer used, the publication of books of prayers and new hymns in the traditional English style of prayer gradually ceased. Since the 1970s very few have appeared.


There will be six categories – collects, prayers, litanies, hymns, liturgies and homilies. And there will be two age-groups – those who have not yet reached their eighteenth birthday and those over eighteen years. All entries must be in English and may be submitted from any part of the world with British or American spelling. Each entrant shall make a statement to the effect that the submission is his own work.

Collects: a minimum of three in the style and of the length found in the Collects for Sundays and Holy Days in the Prayer Book. They must be connected with a season or festival of the Church Year, with a strong biblical theme, related to the Eucharistic Lectionary in the BCP 1662-1928. To supplement not replace the BCP Collects.

Prayers: a minimum of two in the style and of the length of the General Confession and the General Thanksgiving, or of the Prayers at the end of Morning and Evening Prayer. They must be connected with modern life and be in the form of petition, intercession, confession, praise or thanksgiving, or a combination of two or three of these themes.

Litanies: a minimum of one about 2/3 of the length of the Litany in the Prayer Book. It/they must be connected with modern life and may be general or specific in content.

Hymns: a minimum of two of the kind of length of the hymns found in the Episcopal Hymnal of 1940 or the English Hymnal of 1933. They must be rooted in a biblical or Christian festival theme and connected with modern life. It will be necessary to indicate what tune each one is to be sung to or to provide new music. If the latter, two persons may co-operate to produce words and music.

A Liturgy: the outline of a form of service for an important occasion not provided for in The Book of Common Prayer (e.g., Service on Cruise Ship, Service at a Youth Camp, & Graduating Service at a College or School), with any special prayers, litany, versicles and responses given in full.

Homilies: a minimum of one sermon of not more than 1,500 words on a theme of current personal, Christian, moral concern (e.g., the use of money, the nature of temperance, the place of discipline & relations with persons of other religions). Biblical quotations to be from the KJV.

The Entries must be submitted to the Prayer Book Society Office in Philadelphia no later than January 1, 2005.

Godly Competition
Prayer Book Society
P.O. Box 35220
Philadelphia, PA 19128-0220

There will be three judges who will make their report by March, 2005.

The best entries will be published in The Mandate in mid 2005 or, if there are sufficient of good quality, they will be published in a booklet.

If the judges believe that a contestant reveals a special gift for this kind of creative, godly writing, they will prepare a special note for that person offering encouragement and advice.

Contestants are advised to read, Neither Archaic Nor Obsolete: The Language of Common Prayer (2003) by Peter Toon & Louis R. Tarsitano [Edgeways Books, UK, & Prayer Book Society, USA]. Further, the following books may be found helpful in terms of indicating the kind of collects and prayers produced in the recent past.

  • J.W.Suter, The Book of English Collects, 1940.

  • F.B.McNutt, The Prayer Manual, 1951.

  • Eric Milner-White, After the Third Collect, 1955.

  • E Milner-White & G.W.Briggs, Daily Prayer, 1959.

  • Frank Colquhoun, Parish Prayers, 1967

  • Church of South India, Book of Common Worship (1963).

  • Society of St John the Evangelist, A Manual for Priests, 1944.

  • Loren Gavitt, Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book, revised edition 1967.

  • W.H.Frere, Black Letter Saints’ Days, 1938.

The Rev’d Dr. Peter Toon for the Directors of the Prayer Book Society of the U.S.A. June 2004.

Friday, June 04, 2004


(A prayer in responsory form to add to your prayers for Trinity Season)

V. Let us bless the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost;

R. Let us praise and exalt him for ever.

O give thanks unto the lord, for he is gracious;

For his mercy endureth for ever.

Who hath loved us from all eternity;

For his mercy endureth for ever.

And remembered us when we were in trouble;

For his mercy endureth for ever.

Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven;

For his mercy endureth for ever.

And was incarnate by the Holy ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man;

For his mercy endureth for ever.

Who by his Cross and Passion hath redeemed the world;

For his mercy endureth for ever.

And hath washed us from our sins in his own Blood;

For his mercy endureth for ever.

Who on the third day rose from the dead;

For his mercy endureth for ever.

And hath given us the victory;

For his mercy endureth for ever.

Who ascended up on high;

For his mercy endureth for ever.

And opened wide for us the everlasting doors;

For his mercy endureth for ever.

Who sitteth on the right hand of God;

For his mercy endureth for ever.

And ever liveth to make intercession for us;

For his mercy endureth for ever.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

For the gift of his Spirit,

Blessed be Christ.

For the Catholic Church,

Blessed be Christ.

For the means of grace,

Blessed be Christ.

For the hope of glory,

Blessed be Christ.

For the triumphs of his Gospel,

Blessed be Christ.

For the lives of his saints,

Blessed be Christ.

In joy and in sorrow,

Blessed be Christ.

In life and in death,

Blessed be Christ.

Now and unto the end of the ages,

Blessed be Christ.

Blessing and honour and thanksgiving and praise more than we can utter, more than we can conceive, be unto thee, O holy and glorious Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, by all angels, all men, and all creatures, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.),
Christ Church, Biddulph Moor & St Anne's, Brown Edge

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Canadian Synod defers decision on blessings

ACNS 3839 | CANADA | 3 JUNE 2004

[ACNS Source: Anglican Church of Canada]

By Marites N Sison
Staff Writer: Anglican Journal

St Catharines, Ont. - Deeply divided over liberalizing church attitudes toward homosexuals, Canadian Anglicans meeting at their triennial governing convention here voted to defer a decision on whether gay relationships should be blessed in church.

Members of the General Synod approved a revised version of a resolution that originally would have given dioceses the authority to allow same-sex blessing ceremonies.

The new version asks the Primate's Theological Commission to "review, consider and report by spring 2006 whether the blessing of committed, same-sex unions is a matter of doctrine." Established in 1995, the Primate's Theological Commission has studied questions of biblical interpretation and produced several books on Anglican expressions of the Christian faith.

In earlier sessions of debate, several delegates and table groups noted that if the issue is a matter of doctrine, or faith interpretation, then General Synod, not the dioceses, should deal with it. They also asked whether it is merely a matter of practice, or pastoral care, that could be left to individual dioceses. The decision would have given dioceses a so-called "local option."

The resolution passed also requests "that the issue of the blessing of committed same-sex unions be considered at the meeting of General Synod in 2007." The original motion approved "the authority and jurisdiction of any diocesan synod, with the concurrence of its bishop, to authorize the blessing of committed same-sex unions."

Robert Falby, chancellor (legal expert) with the diocese of Toronto, introduced the revision. "We perceived that the house wished to have the question of doctrine clarified," he said. Members of General Synod agreed, but not overwhelmingly. Clergy and laity voted 142-118 and bishops voted 22-12 in favour of deferral.

Synod voted to postpone until Thursday debate on a motion brought by Canon Garth Bulmer of Ottawa that would "affirm the integrity and sanctity of committed adult same-sex relationships." He added that the church can say to gay couples, "yes, we care." The Revd Michael Li of Central Newfoundland argued against the addition, saying, "it is a mistake to pass this motion; to me it is not much different from a same-sex blessing."

Those supporting deferring the local option vote included the Revd Gene Packwood of Calgary, who said "we get to stay in communion with the worldwide Anglican Communion, work toward consensus, protect Anglican minorities worldwide and, personally, I won't have to do pastoral damage control when I get home." The Ven Larry Beardy, Archdeacon of Keewatin, who is Cree, said some of the concepts in the text "are foreign to us" adding, "if you approve it we will once again be left behind."

Those who spoke in favour of immediate action on the local option included the Ven Pat Johnston, Archdeacon of Ottawa, who asked, "What is it we are afraid of and how long shall we wait?" The Most Revd Terence Finlay, the Archbishop of Toronto said that delay "dissipates energy and leaves some of my priests and lay people in a wilderness of secrecy and hypocrisy." The Revd James Pratt, of Western Newfoundland, noting that "Cow Head is not Vancouver," said 90 per cent of the people in his parish have never met an openly gay or lesbian person and will not be any further in favour of blessing same-sex unions three years hence. He urged action now.

Integrity, an organization of gay Anglicans and supporters, said in a statement following the vote that postponing a decision on blessings means the church "is refusing to respond to an increasingly urgent pastoral need in our community and hindering any evangelistic work or witness among the lesbian and gay community."

In a press release, Integrity added, "We have to ask what three more years will add to the decades of work that the church has already been engaged in. . This horse has been led to water again and again and again, and now is complaining that it is thirsty."

A spokesman for Essentials, a coalition of conservative Anglicans, the Revd James Wagner said he was "pleased with the motion to defer because it represents the theology of this matter and the unity of the church."

Since the motion does not address the question of diocesan authority, the Rt Revd Michael Ingham, the Bishop of New Westminster, the only Canadian diocese officially offering blessings to gay couples, said his diocese would continue on its course. "It's a reasonable compromise," he said of the revised motion, and "reflects where we (New Westminster) were in 1998," when his diocesan synod first considered the question. At that time, he withheld his consent, only giving it in 2002 when a wider margin of the synod approved.

Bishop Ingham also said the motion does not prevent another diocese from offering blessings. Toronto is scheduled to consider the question of same-sex blessings in November at a special meeting of synod and Ottawa and Niagara dioceses are expected to do so in the near future.

Archbishop Finlay said, "It is up to the (diocesan) synod to decide. A number of us have supported a local option. Some congregations would like to seek permission from the bishop (to offer same-sex blessings)."

The vote came during the third session of debate on the contentious issue currently dividing the worldwide Anglican church. Anglican churches in Africa and Asia, who consider homosexuality contrary to biblical teaching, have condemned the Canadian church and the Episcopal Church in the United States.

At the opening of synod, the Revd Canon Gregory Cameron, director of ecumenical affairs and studies at the Anglican Communion Office in London, acknowledged the Canadian church's right to decide the matter but warned that a "yes" vote to same-sex blessings means "the Anglican Church of Canada refuses to hear the voice and to heed the concerns of your fellow Anglicans in the global south."

Other parts of the motion - which were passed - affirmed that "through our baptism we are members one of another in Christ Jesus" and promised to strive for communion, noted the value of "continued respectful dialogue and study" of the issue, affirmed respect for the pace of dialogue in indigenous communities over the issue and requested the house of bishops to continue its work on alternate episcopal oversight for those who are disaffected by church decisions.

The full text of the motion is available on the church's web site: