Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Who or what is the GOD of the modern, western Anglican Churches?

A discussion starter

The Rev’d Dr. Peter Toon

I want to suggest that there is a vast contrast between the doctrine of God proclaimed in the official Formularies and Creeds, and the God of the practical theology which dominates western, Anglican Churches.

Dr. Philip Turner, who has such a penetrating and clear mind and a ready pen, has provided for all who are willing to be instructed, in a recent essay, a description of the God who is named and invoked by a majority of clergy and institutional leaders of the Episcopal Church, U.S.A. (See the website of The Anglican Communion Institute for the essay.) I showed this essay to lay folks in leadership positions in the Church of England, and they said that it also well describes what is the prevailing practical theology (in contrast to the doctrines in the official formularies and church texts) of the dear, old Church of England, and the clergy who lead it.

In short, this Deity invoked by modern Anglicans is “the God who accepts” rather than the “God who saves and redeems.” That is, in accepting us, this God is saving and redeeming us. Here is a brief summary of the message in my words:

“God is love and God loves all people. This divine love is particularly expressed in the acceptance of people as they exist in their normality, self-worth, dignity, orientation and searching for God. Thus the Gospel is the message that God in Jesus announces that all are welcome, that all are accepted just as they are, and that the Church is a community of celebration of human acceptance of people of all types. In Christian fellowship, the uniqueness, dignity and worth of all persons, just as they are, is affirmed and practiced. And the Eucharist is the family meal, the means whereby unity is created by sharing in a common meal and affirming one another in the “Peace” and the receiving of the same symbolic food.. It is open to all, whether or not they have been baptized and whatever be the state of their heart and mind. The mission of the Church concerns human dignity and worth, peace and justice for all, since God is the God who accepts all creatures, whoever and whatever they are. So Baptism is the entry into this community of celebration and represents a commitment to the mission of peace and justice.”

In this scheme, Deity, who accepts people as they are, is often described (theologically speaking) in terms of a Trinity (e.g. Three Modes of Being or Three Expressions of Divinity), where Trinity becomes a model for human, fellowship, cooperation and acceptance in the Church on earth. However, in reality this God is more the God of Unitarianism or even Deism, and in some cases even Panentheism, than the traditional Trinitarian Theism of classical orthodoxy. Likewise, Jesus is the Son of God in the sense that he was adopted by God, filled with the Spirit and vision of God, and supremely involved in the mission of God.

Further, the estimate of human beings in this approach is a modern form of the ancient doctrine of Pelagianism. Thus a human being as a creature of God has an inherent worth and dignity, is the possessor of human rights whatever his or her status, condition or orientation, and does not need to be saved from sin. Rather he or she needs to be affirmed, accepted and blessed by God through the missionary work of the people of God. Conversion is being accepted by God and recognizing this. In Baptism each child of God is affirmed, given the right to the possibility of all ministries in the Church (as called to them), and commissioned to work with others for peace, justice and dignity for all. Then in the Eucharist each child of God is affirmed and strengthened for mission. At any stage he or she may feel a call to “the ministry” and thus lead the community in proclaiming the message of acceptance of all by God.

Sin is redefined through the categories of counseling and psychotherapy and thus repentance also has a new meaning – accepting who you are and how much God loves you as you are.

So the Church is a community of celebration, not celebration of the mighty works of God in redemption, salvation and especially in the Incarnation, Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus the Christ (though this is mentioned); but, rather, celebration of human community and worth, that God accepts us all whatever be our condition, need and desires.

There is no doubt but that this message and this form of religion is acceptable to many middle-class people for it accords well with much that is taken for granted in culture and society these days. It seems to be so widely embracing, tolerant and affirming of all. It requires little change of heart and mind even if it requires time and commitment, as if it were a primary leisure activity.

There is however one group that it will not tolerate. This is the group who not only hold to the doctrines set forth in the classic Anglican Formularies (BCP, Ordinal and Articles) but also believe them and accept them as summaries of biblical doctrine and morality. These traditionally-minded folks represent an enemy, a threat and a challenge for they undermine the Gospel of acceptance by seeking to proclaim a Gospel of redemption and a Christ of salvation.

And there is one practice that is not tolerated – the attending of the Eucharist and not communicating. This is seen as a rejection of the celebration of community and of everyone who participates. It is not only bad behavior, it is also the rejection of the God who accepts. Clergy who do this in ECUSA can be prosecuted under canon law!

In summary, the real problem facing the Anglican Churches of the West/North is not the arrival of same-sex blessings and the like, it is the rejection of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, as he is known to us through sacred Scripture, holy tradition, devotional and worship experience and in the power of the proclaimed Gospel to save and redeem sinful man.

Kyrie eleison.

Peter Toon, January 27, 2005, Septuagesima.

Remembering Lou Tarsitano

To all my friends and correspondents:

Greetings in the week of Septuagesima as we head for Sexagesima and the preparation for Lent continues.

As most of you know, Lou Tarsitano died at home under hospice care on Saturday 15th January 2005, age 53. His mortal remains are now buried in the family grave in Chicago. His heart, which had been diseased for 9 years after a viral infection, simply stopped working.

I miss and shall miss a most valued colleague with whom I shared many thoughts and wrote many pages on the Web, in magazines, to people asking questions and in books. We believe he is enjoying the sound of the great angelic choirs, praising and magnifying the Blessed, Holy and Undivided Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost (Ghost not Spirit, as Lou often emphasized).

Below are the titles of four books that we wrote together:

THE WAY THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE. THE ANGLICAN WALK WITH JESUS CHRIST, St Peter Publications, Box 713, Charlottetown, P.E.I.,Canada, 1988, 116 pages


NEITHER ARCHAIC NOR OBSOLETE; THE LANGUAGE OF COMMON PRAYER AND PUBLIC WORSHIP, Prayer Book Society of the USA, P O Box 35220, Philadelphia, PA 19128-03220, & Edgeways Books of the UK, 2004, 96 pages (ISBN 0907839754)


The last two are easily available by calling 1-800-727-1928 in the USA or visiting or writing to Philadelphia.

I particularly urge you, in memory of Lou, to order a copy of the Book on language for he was particularly proud of it, in the sense that it puts forth a case for the nature & use of the classic English language of prayer which is virtually unanswerable (but which is totally ignored by those who press only for so-called modern English Liturgy). People in the UK etc can buy directly from Edgeways Books (

His own book, a kind of expanded Catechism, AN OUTLINE OF ANGLICAN LIFE, is available from the Publications Dept of the Reformed Episcopal Church.

The Prayer Book Society of the U.S.A. plans to publish in 2005 a book of essays by Lou. These will be in commendation of the classic Anglican Way. Also it expects to print several pieces by him in a forthcoming issue of The Mandate.

In my judgment, he possessed the clearest, traditional Anglican mind that I had the privilege of encountering in the USA from 1991-2005.

Let us pray for his wife, Sally, daughter and two sons, plus Grandma, who lived with them. As they live in a church rectory, they will have to move soon. May the Lord bless them and keep them....

Thank you for your interest and prayer.

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

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


Report from the Chairs of the Theological Group and the Faith and Order
Advisory Group of the Church of England House of Bishops
(Jan 24, 2005)

Following the publication of the Windsor Report[1] on 18 October 2004, the
House asked the Chairs of its Theological Group and the Faith and Order
Advisory Group, the Bishops of Rochester and Chichester (assisted by the
Vice-Chair of FOAG, the Bishop of Guildford and the House's theological
consultant, Dr Martin Davie ), to prepare a paper to help guide its own
deliberations at its January 2005 meeting, with a view to this document
forming the basis of the Church of England's response prior to the Primates'
Meeting in Belfast on 20 -26 February. This document, which was also
informed by discussion at a meeting of bishops at Lambeth on 1 December, is
attached. The House was mindful that the issues which the Windsor Report
seeks to address have significant implications for Anglican ecumenical
dialogue and inter-faith relationships.

In considering the Report, the House was very conscious of the critical and
urgent issues addressed by the Windsor Report for the cohesion of the
Anglican Communion, and the need to support the Archbishop of Canterbury in
his dual role both in terms of the leadership of the Anglican Communion and
as the representative of the Church of England at the forthcoming Primates'
Meeting. This meeting is potentially of great significance for the future
unity of the Anglican Communion and its ecumenical relationships, and with
this in mind the House decided to focus on questions of particular immediacy
for this meeting (rather than, for instance, consider points of detail about
the illustrative Covenant set out in Appendix 2 of the Report).

With the foregoing in mind, the House therefore:

a Affirms the basis of faith and life that binds Anglicans together as
set out in paragraphs 1-11 of the Windsor Report and illustrated by the
Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral and accepts the basic principle of
autonomy-in-communion exercised within the constraints of truth and charity
set out in the Report[2].

b Supports the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates in taking all
steps necessary to seek to achieve reconciliation by persuading all within
the Anglican Communion to comply with the mind of the Communion as expressed
by the Instruments of Unity,[3] in the light of the recommendations of the
Windsor Report.

c Supports the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates in requesting
ECUSA and other parts of the Communion that have taken similar decisions to
provide for the rest of the Communion the thought-out theological rationale,
based on Scripture and Tradition, for the actions that have been taken that
has been requested in the past but which so far has not been forthcoming.

The House also recognises that there are structural issues that will need to
be resolved with some urgency in relation to how the Anglican Communion
expresses its mind. The House supports the drawing up of an Anglican
Covenant and commends an enhanced and properly resourced role for the
Archbishop of Canterbury in fostering the unity and mission of the Anglican

Finally, the House upholds the Primates in its prayers as they prepare for
their meeting in Belfast later this month.

(on behalf of the House of Bishops)

Sunday, January 16, 2005

The Revd Dr Louis Tarsitano Dies

I'm sorry to inform everyone that my father passed away at 0530 on Saturday, January 15. He had a very peaceful end in the presence of his family. A visitation period will be held at 1300 on Monday, January 17 at St. Andrews Church in Savannah, GA. The visitation will be followed by the Burial Office and Holy Communion at 1500. An internment service will be held at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois on Saturday. Please contact the cemetery for exact times later in the week. God Bless.

Richard Tarsitano

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

God’s Calendar & Diary: A brief reflection

We all live in Space and exist through Time.

We move here and there as the clock ticks away. We look to the Calendar to tell us where we are in terms of the Time of the Year.

Then we keep a record in our daily Diary of where we have been in Space and what we have been doing in Time on each day.

The keeping of a Diary can be a major enterprise or it can be a minor one. If a major one, then to read it at a later time can be a most interesting experience for we shall be made aware not only of events and persons but also of our mental and emotional experience through those events and with those persons. How much more difficult would be the writing of history and biography if people had not written diaries and left them behind for others to peruse and read!

With the LORD our God, a thousand years is but a day and the expanse of the universe is but a tiny area.

The LORD, it may be said, has his own Calendar which sets forth the Creation of the cosmos, the development of the cosmos, the relations with mankind and his revealing and saving deeds of its behalf, the Incarnation of the Son, the expansion of his Church, and closes with the Judgment of the nations and peoples and the arrival of the “new heaven and earth”. Then the Calendar of Heaven takes over!

Also the LORD has his own “daily” Diary, a vast one – so vast that only an eternal and infinite mind can comprehend it – wherein He keeps a record of everything that occurs to all his creatures in anticipation of the reading of that Diary at the end of Space and Time when He judges the cosmos.

Wise human beings, sinful creatures desiring to be saved by grace, live as those who know that the LORD our God has his Calendar and keeps his Diary!

The Revd Dr Peter Toon January 11th, 2005.

Anglican Tsunami Relief

ACNS 3930 | SOUTH ASIA | 10 JANUARY 2005

Sri Lanka and India give thanks for Tsunami relief, Nicobar Diocese fights for survival

By Michael Craske

A communiqué from the Church of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) has set out the challenges the Church faces in overcoming the devastation caused by the Asian Tsunami disaster two weeks ago. It has also praised the level of support and aid received and stressed the need for continued assistance (both material and spiritual) from the worldwide Anglican Communion and the international community.

The news update from the Diocese of Colombo - part of the two-diocese Church of Ceylon, which is extra-provincial to the Archbishop of Canterbury - highlights the latest statistics. As of 8 January, 30,718 people are known to have died, with one district alone losing 50 per cent of its children. Some 4,900 are still missing and 515,234 are now homeless.

The update states that the Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera, the Bishop of Colombo, has travelled to the affected areas - including areas controlled by the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam). The church's parishes and communities have come together, it adds, utilizing reliable state agencies. In addition, the diocese has set up a Relief and Rehabilitation desk to co-ordinate work. "Bishop Duleep personally oversees the work," it says, adding, "He, along with Roman Catholic Bishops and the Heads of the Churches of the National Christian Council recently met with President Chandrika Kumaratunga...this provided an opportunity for clarification, dialogue and co-operation."

The communiqué also provides a summary of relief programmes that are already underway, and emphasises that one of the most pressing needs is the clean up of the vast "unimaginable mass of debris", to which the Church has despatched 12-18-year old youth teams from across the country, who are concentrating on "destroyed schools and hospitals" as well as housing. Relief is also being distributed ecumenically, it states, according to local clergy and community needs. Church buildings are currently being used to house those directly affected.

The diocese has also asked that the Communion continue to pray for Sri Lanka and all those affected by the disaster, and to pray for clergy at all levels, as they are taking a leading role in the rehabilitation process. In addition, church leaders have underlined that food and clothing consignments are of lesser importance, with direct financial support encouraged instead. Those who wish to give support but prefer not to send money, can contact the diocesan office to gain an update on items that are in short supply (see below).

Funds can be transferred to the Diocese through the following account: Bishop of Colombo Account Number 01-102324101 with Standard Chartered Bank, Fort Branch, Colombo, Sri Lanka (SWIFT Address: SCBLLKLX)

In addition to the communiqué from Sri Lanka, the Church of North India (CNI) has also sent the Anglican Communion Office a letter stating that it has been overwhelmed by the response to its appeal for tsunami victims in the Diocese of the Andaman and Car Nicobar Islands. The Revd Enos Das Pradhan, the Church's provincial secretary, said that the responses had been "a great source of we have a gigantic task ahead of us to reconstruct a diocese, which has lost everything." The Andaman and Car Nicobar Islands, in the Indian Ocean, is one of the world's most remote areas.

The Revd Pradhan stated that a Disaster Management Committee had been set up with the Rt Revd PSP Raju, the Bishop of Calcutta, as Chairperson, and that the committee had been working day and night to oversee rescue and relief work in Port Blair and Car Nicobar. On 31 December, six relief workers arrived in Port Blair with 110 boxes of medicine, clothes, and dry food, with a second consignment arriving from Calcutta shortly afterwards. In addition, the Rt Revd PK Samantaroy, the Bishop of Amritsar, is currently camping in Port Blair, supervising the relief work. The CNI Disaster Management Committee has been allotted one of the largest camps in Port Blair, and is catering for some 2,000 people

The Church of North India is additionally running two relief camps in Car Nicobar for about 4,000. A camp requires a large number of items, including dry foods, tents/tarpaulins, medicine, mosquito nets, and cleaning materials.

Currently, the Bishop of the Andaman and Car Nicobar Islands, the Rt Revd Christopher Paul, is sheltering in a jungle relief camp at Chukchuka. All of the diocese's buildings have either been destroyed or are near collapse. The Bishop was able to get a hand-written note out to the Church's relief workers thanking all for their gratitude and help but appealing for further assistance.

All contributions for Tsunami victims in the Diocese of the Andaman and Car Nicobar Islands are to be sent to the following Bank account:

Church of North India Foreign Contribution Account
Saving Bank Account no. 13073
Indian Overseas Bank, F-47 Malhotra Building, Janpath, New Delhi 110 001
Swift Code no. IOB AIN BB 065

The following information has also been received from the Diocese of the Andaman and Car Nicobar Islands:

1. Harmander Bat at Hut Bay, Little Andamans
Church and residences have been destroyed.

2. Car Nicobar
Out of 15 villages, 12 villages have been washed away.

3. Chwra Island
The Church has been washed away and 70 per cent of the population is missing.

4. Terressa Island
Also 70 per cent of inhabitants missing.

5. Katchal Island
Ninety per cent of its inhabitants missing.

6. Nancowrey Island
Less damage compared with other islands.

7. Kondul, Pillowmillow, Pillobabi, Trinquet Islands
Seventy per cent of inhabitants missing and Church Buildings washed away.

8. Campbell Bay
Houses and the church building have been damaged.


Diocese of the Andaman and Car Nicobar Islands

Church of North India (United)

Church of Ceylon

ACNSlist, published by Anglican Communion News Service, London, is
distributed to more than 7,500 journalists and other readers around
the world.

For daily updates on local, national and communion-wide news stories
please visit the ACNS Digest page:

Saturday, January 08, 2005

The Rev'd Dr Louis Tarsitano

To friends and correspondents:

Greetings in this Epiphany Season, January 7th.

Yesterday I told you about Lou Tarsitano (see below) and asked for your prayers for him, his wife, daughter, two sons and family (his mother lives with them).

Today I was able to speak with him in the Savannah Hospital where he is receiving pain relief and care but no aggressive medical action to deal with his heart and his kidneys which are failing. He is expecting to be placed under the care of the local hospice (1/2 mile from his home) and even be cared for at home for as long as he lives, be that a day or week or whatever.

He is very conscious of being a pilgrim on his way to the City of God, an exile going to his heavenly home and a forgiven sinner looking forward to the heavenly banquet and the vision of the Father in the face of Jesus Christ, the Saviour.

I told him of the high privilege that has been mine to share a lot of thinking, debating and writing with him over the last decade on the Anglican Way and such basics as the Catechism and I thanked him for sharing much with me and others.

Two faithful priests in Savannah have visited him for sacrament and prayer and one or two laymen have also gone along to offer their prayer and concern. Several others are on their way to Savannah to see him. The nurse said that he seemed to so many friends.

His relatives have arrived from Chicago and all the family is gathered in Savannah for him. His wife, to whom I spoke also, is acting with grace and faith.

Unless there is a miracle it seems that Lou will be called home very soon. His doctors seem surprised that he is lasted this long, but he is in the hands of the Lord, who gives and takes away according to his perfect will and good pleasure. Please continue to thank God for him and to pray for him and all the family, which is a close, loving family.


The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon)
NOTE of 6th Jan.

To all my friends and correspondents:

Greetings on the Feast of the Epiphany.

Today, my learned and good friend, Lou Tarsitano, lies in a bed in the hospital in Savannah, GA, where his heart is ceasing to work aright and the doctors do not know of any cure but a transplant. He may not live into the 7th of Jan.

We commend him into the care of his and our heavenly Father and into the bosom of his Master and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

If he is to go to be with his Lord then may it be as the passing of Simeon,

"Lord lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word."

It has been my high privilege to work with Lou on many projects and to publish with him books and booklets. He has the finest Anglican mind I have encountered in the USA.

Pray with me for him, his wife Sally, his children John, Richard, Mary Margaret, and his mother who lives with them all.


Aid sought

Greetings on the great Feast of the Epiphany.

The Prayer Book Society of the USA is keen to make available for general use a study of HOW TRADITIONAL CHURCHES GROW -- I mean churches which use the classic prayer book and Bible version.

By growth we mean of course growth in both numbers and in maturity of faith, hope and love.

We look for real examples and for the explanation given by those who have witnessed growth of this kind. (We are of course aware of the church growth movement and the massive popular literature and aids but most of the principles of this movement can hardly be applied to traditional churches -- be they Anglican, Lutheran or Roman -- if they believe it their vocation to stay "traditional".)

The reasons for growth may seem obvious but nevertheless we want to hear of them & state them togther with stories of real growth so as to encourage others.

Please contact me or

Please visit also the PBS websites -- and

Let us pray for a Year of true growth in holiness and converts.

Many thanks


The First Sunday after the EPIPHANY

O Lord, we beseech thee mercifully to receive the prayers of thy people which
call upon thee: and grant that they may both perceive and know what things they
ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil the same;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle: Romans 12.1-5 The Gospel: St Luke 2.41-52

Having prayed since the Feast of the Epiphany to be given the grace to contemplate the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ in heaven [“the fruition of thy glorious Godhead”], the Church makes two further and inter-connected petitions of her heavenly Father, the Lord our God, in the name of her Saviour and Mediator, Jesus Christ our Lord.

The first is that God will receive in mercy and compassion the desires, vows and prayers of his people who supplicate, with bended knee, before him. However, the Church does not ask God to answer them as asked, but rather to receive them and then in the judgment of his perfect wisdom and mercy to respond to them for the true good of his people. For, if God gave to his people merely what they desired and asked for, he would not be a merciful or wise God, since we often desire and ask for that which is not for our short-term or long-term good!

The force of the verb “grant” in prayer is that of “give and supply for no other is able to do so.” Of God the Church asks that she will be inspired by the Holy Ghost to recognize and see what is her duty according to the divine will, and that, further, she will have the will and strength to perform that duty in its totality.

In relating to God, we need to know him, to perceive by his inspiration what is his will and then knowing the will, to perform and do the same. It is so easy for us to assume that our own best human wisdom and insights are in fact God’s will for us and his Church, when they may be merely and only secular and worldly. Such an assumption is best avoided at all times, and, in its place there should be a humble recognition that we need to know from God what is his purpose and plan, and then we need his help to fulfil the same!

The Epistle calls for wholehearted commitment to the Lord and his service by each and every member of the congregation of Christ’s flock and that all be conformed, as individual members and as a body, to his perfect will. The Gospel provides us with an example of the developing consecration of Jesus to the Father’s will and his growing sense of being uniquely the Father’s Son. Thus he is the One to whom we go in order to know and come to the same Father for grace, salvation, knowledge and wisdom..

Because of the Gospel lesson, this Sunday is sometimes called “A Feast of the Holy Family”.

A final comment. If the original Latin prayer in the Gregorian Sacramentary had been translated literally by Archbishop Cranmer, it would have been something like this:

“O Lord, we beseech thee, regard with the compassion of a heavenly Father the
fervent desires of thy people, who make their supplications unto thee,
that they may both see what things ought to be done, and may have strength to
fulfil what they see. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

Anglicans, Episcopalians & Insanity

"Why might not whole communities and public bodies be seized with fits of insanity, as well as individuals? Nothing but this principle, that they are liable to insanity, equally at least with private persons, can account for the major part of those transactions of which we read in history." (Bishop Joseph Butler, died 1752)

If it were true in 1750 that not only individuals but also groups of people were liable to insanity, it remains true in 2005. We can point to more examples in 2005 than was possible in 1750 for we have seen the ravages of National Socialism & Communism.

With respect to the Anglican Church, of which Joseph Butler was the distinguished Bishop of Durham, England, insanity appears to be evident in 2005 not only in the leadership of not a few bishops and synod-persons but also in national and diocesan synods & councils themselves. The Episcopal Church of the USA provides the clearest examples but it does not stand alone. Even the ancient Church of England displays this insanity from time to time, while the Anglican Church of Canada walks behind the Episcopal Church.

Unsoundness of mind due to brain/mind disease has characterized the synods of Anglican provinces in the West/North since the 1970s and more especially over the last ten to fifteen years. And, as is often the case with brain/mind disease, those suffering from it are blissfully unaware of their strange and crooked thinking. Indeed they see themselves as prophets and pioneers, blazing a trail for all to follow, and failing to appreciate why they are followed by so few outside their own circles.

The nature of the disease lies in the adoption by the mind of individuals leaders, and then of the group-mind, of structures or paradigms of understanding and interpretation which are wholly different from the classic, received heritage of understanding prized within the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of God. Precisely how the mind (singular and plural) catches the disease is difficult to state but where it comes from is easy to see – from the secularized, modern and post-modern culture of the West. Thus, to state it in the simplest terms, instead of the paradigm governing the mind being God-centered (Holy Trinity centered) it is humanity-centered and this a humanity which vaunts its autonomy, dignity and self-sufficiency over against God as the LORD!

The effects of the disease are total (what Calvinists used to call “total depravity”) and thus everything that makes up what we normally think of as the Church, her worship, her prayer, her mission, her doctrine, her polity, her discipline and her morality is profoundly affected – not in the same degree and at the same speed in all areas but yet, nevertheless in all areas.

Worship becomes the celebration of an immanent friendly God and autonomous human beings; prayer becomes the building up of the self-sufficiency and self worth of androgynous humanity; mission becomes a political and social program of justice & peace with human rights; doctrine becomes the adding of the word “God” to the tenets of modern ideology; polity becomes the means by which the program is effectively introduced and executed, and morality becomes the norms and mores of modern, secular culture, again given the prefix of “God”.

So a new “Church” is created, and though much of the ceremonial, ritual, music and socializing continue much as before, it is a Church that – in comparison with say 1950 or 1900, or 1850 or 1800, and in comparison with Anglican provinces in the South – is insane.

Happily insanity can be cured, not instantly but slowly. The mind of Anglicanism needs to drink deeply of the water of life from the fountain of the LORD and to eat fully of the bread of life which is Christ Jesus and his written Word, the sacred Scriptures, so that the mind is regenerated, renewed and reformed.

The Rev’d Dr. Peter Toon January 5, 2005

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Generation X and the Turn to Christian Orthodoxy

Journalist Colleen Carroll on a Surprising Trend

WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 29, 2003 ( The growth of evangelical "mega-churches" has long been a focus of media attention.

Much less noted has been the embrace of traditional Christianity by Generation X and the rejection of the religious and cultural values of that generation's parents, the baby boomers.

A Gen-X journalist, Colleen Carroll, set about to document this trend. The result was a highly acclaimed book, "The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy" (Loyola Press).

Carroll described the phenomenon of "the new faithful" in an interview with ZENIT.

Q: How did you ever launch upon this project of finding out about "the new faithful"?

Carroll: I first saw signs of the trend toward orthodoxy in the mid-1990s, when I was a student at Marquette University. The students there were not necessarily of the "new faithful" mold, but they also defied the "cynical slacker" stereotype of Generation X. Many had an almost visceral attraction to God, the Church, and self-sacrifice.

Later, as a young newspaper journalist, I continued to see a disparity between media portrayals of my generation and the young adults that I saw all around me. Not all young adults are attracted to orthodoxy, but a growing number are seeking truth and embracing a demanding practice of their faith.

Their stories were not being told in the mainstream media, and many religion experts seemed to be tone deaf to their voices. So, with the help of a grant from the Phillips Foundation and a book contract from Loyola Press, I set out to explore this trend and tell their stories.

Q: Is this "new faithful" phenomenon a part of the new springtime in the Church?

Carroll: Yes, I believe the new faithful are at the heart of the Church's new springtime and are a driving force behind the new evangelization. I interviewed a mix of young Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox Christians for "The New Faithful."

The Catholics I interviewed certainly stand at the forefront of renewal in the Catholic Church. They are committed to spreading the Gospel -- a commitment instilled in many of them by their hero, Pope John Paul II.

Q: Who are the new faithful? Did they have any previous religious background?

Carroll: As I mentioned earlier, the New faithful come from denominations across the Christian spectrum, though most are Catholics or evangelicals. They range in age from about 18 to 35. They are united by firm, personal, life-changing commitments to Jesus Christ.

Their religious backgrounds vary. Many grew up in secular homes or fallen-away Catholic homes. Many others were raised in evangelical or mainline Protestant churches or Catholic parishes. Nearly all of them faced a reckoning in young adulthood that forced them to decide if they would make following Christ the central concern of their lives or not.

These young adults have chosen to take Christianity seriously, and have decided that embracing Christian orthodoxy is the way to do that. Their faith commitments have led them to make countercultural decisions about everything from who and how they date to which careers they pursue and which political causes they embrace.

Q: Your title suggests that the new faithful are embracing Christian orthodoxy. Does that mean Catholicism?

Carroll: The orthodoxy embraced by "The New Faithful" is a small "o" orthodoxy that encompasses more than one denomination. Many, many Catholics have embraced an orthodox practice of their faith, and my book focuses a great deal of attention on them. But this trend crosses denominational borders.

To draw boundaries for this book, I borrowed a definition from G.K. Chesterton, who said orthodoxy means "the Apostles' Creed, as understood by everybody calling himself Christian until a very short time ago and the general historic conduct of those who held such a creed." Or, as one young man told me, "orthodoxy means you can say the Apostles' Creed without crossing your fingers behind your back."

Q: Are the new faithful receiving good catechesis? From where are they receiving such teaching?

Carroll: Yes and no. Most of the New faithful, particularly the Catholics in this group, did not receive good catechesis as children. Many were raised by parents who did not know or teach the faith. Many others attended Catholic schools and parishes where they learned "God is love" -- and little else.

These twenty- and thirty-something Catholics grew up in the years after Vatican II, when the American Church was still struggling to make sense of the changes. They suffered the effects of a religious education crisis, and many never learned even the most elementary Christian teachings.

The good news: Many young adults have taken it upon themselves to learn the faith and study Church teaching, by forming parish groups to study Scripture, the Catechism, or the teachings of the Holy Father. And many have benefited from the new boom in Catholic apologetics materials and the rise of such popular apologists as Scott Hahn.

The Catholic apologetics craze -- driven in large part by the catechetical demands of this generation -- reflects the deep and widespread hunger for truth among today's young Catholics.

Q: What aspects of Catholicism did the new faithful feel drawn to? Why have they chosen the Church or Christian orthodoxy rather than the New Age spiritualities the Church recently addressed?

Carroll: The New faithful Catholics are drawn to precisely those aspects of Catholicism that repelled many of their baby boomer elders. They love Church tradition and history. They relish devotions like the rosary, and they line up for confession in droves. They are committed to eucharistic adoration and evangelization. And they love the Pope -- not simply because they admire his personality, but because they admire his commitment to defending the truth in season and out of season.

These young Catholics grew up in a society saturated with moral relativism and dominated by the idea that they should "do whatever feels good." They see orthodoxy as a fresh alternative to those values, an oasis of truth and stability in a world gone mad.

While many of their elders criticize Church teaching as rigid or retrograde, these young adults love the Church's time-honored teachings and countercultural stands. To them, it is New Age spirituality -- not orthodox Catholicism -- that's empty, boring, and yesterday's news.

Q: What factors within the culture and the larger society do you think gave rise to the new faithful?

Carroll: The rise of the new faithful is partly the result of a pendulum swing. Many of these young adults are the sons and daughters of the hippies, children of the flower children. These young adults think that authority and tradition make more sense than free love and no-fault divorce.

Many suffered ill consequences from baby boomer experimentation in morality and religion, and they want their own children to experience a more stable life. They crave stability for themselves, as well. But sociology only gets us so far in this analysis. In the end, each of these young adults tells a story far richer, and far more complex, than the story of the pendulum swing.

I met doctors, lawyers, Hollywood writers, and cloistered nuns who told me amazing conversion stories, stories of faith and hope and a love that reached out and grabbed them when they least expected to find God.

For a Christian, the only way to understand those stories is to take these young adults at their word, and judge God by his works, and see this as the amazing grace of the Holy Spirit being poured out on a generation once considered lost.

Q: Do you have any sociological data to back up your findings? How widespread is this phenomenon of the new faithful and why is it largely found among young, educated, professional people?

Carroll: The book overflows with statistics -- from the Gallup poll that shows a growing number of teen-agers identifying themselves as "religious" instead of "spiritual but not religious," to the UCLA freshmen poll that shows approval for abortion and casual sex dropping year after year. This trend has not swept over the entire generation, of course.

The new faithful still constitute a fairly modest segment of the population. But their influence extends well beyond their numbers because so many of these new faithful are educated professionals with a disproportionate amount of cultural influence.

They are rising stars in politics, the arts, the entertainment industry, in medicine and law and journalism. They are the sort of bright, culturally engaged young adults that their peers tend to follow. And they are uniting -- across denominational lines, in many cases -- to bring the Gospel to every realm of American life that they touch.

Q: Do you see this phenomenon continuing for the foreseeable future?

Carroll: This phenomenon is on the rise, and for the reasons mentioned above, it has considerable room to grow and serious staying power.

As this movement grows, the new faithful will be tempted to fall into extremes of either isolation from the culture or capitulation to it. Both extremes could undermine this movement and hamper the spread of the Gospel by these believers. Those who want to be "salt and light" in the world will have to keep those dangers in mind, and strive to be "in the world, but not of the world."

Q: How has the secular media responded to your findings? Has your book received much attention outside of Christian media?

Carroll: The secular media has given this book a good deal of attention, which has been gratifying. "The New Faithful" has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, Washington Post, National Review, PBS, Canada's National Post, and dozens of other regional newspapers and secular radio outlets.

Many secular journalists still struggle to understand this trend: It's counterintuitive for those who assume religion is on the wane and orthodoxy is on life support.

But to their credit, a fair number of baby boomer journalists in the secular media have been willing to consider that the excesses of their generation may have made today's young adults reluctant to follow in their footsteps, and attracted those young adults to orthodoxy.

(the book is easily available from a Web Search either new or secondhand - Loyola Press)

BCP & Church Growth - how to grow


What are the principles by which - in reasonably normal circumstances - a church using the 1662, 1928 or 1962 (Canada) Book of Common Prayer will grow slowly and surely?

Since I circulated my piece entitled, "Dignified & simple worship [in the Anglican Way] leading to mission and ministries of compassion in the U S A" on December 31, 2004, several Ministers have called me from the USA or written to me to express their belief that I was on the right lines and to keep at it. In that piece, I set out a set of basics which it seems to me must be in place if a church desires to and will grow in a healthy and consistent way. Of course, it was only a starter. It is clear to me that what works in the USA will not work in Canada or Britain in the same way for the mindset and cultures of Canada and Britain require different strategy to that of the USA.

There are plenty of books on Church Growth based on principles which have worked in the USA in terms of creating large congregations; but they require in one way or another too much compromise with the Faith received, too much submission to modern forms of marketing & communication and too little genuine adoration and worship of God as the LORD our God.

Evidence is now available to suggest that this slick form of creating church growth has reached its end and new ways are being sought to attract a new generation. Apparently what seems to be working for the new generation are principles and means which are much nearer to traditional ways than has been the case in church growth teaching and practice in the last decade or two. Traditional churches, which desire to grow in numbers and in maturity, should take heart from the latest evidence of how churches grow amongst the under 30s.

Wayland Coe of the PBS Board has suggested that the PBS itself or via another publisher should look to creating an attractive small paperback book wherein is the collective wisdom of those who have been engaged in such mission/evangelization and who have learnt by experience what appears to work. This is a splendid idea.

I can think of two ways of doing this --- by interviewing up to 12 leaders or groups of leaders from six traditional churches that have seen some growth and printing these interviews in a dialogue form. Then, closing the book with an essay wherein the information they supply in what may be called basic lessons and principles are discussed and commended.

The other way is to do the same research but do not include the interviews - rather print a "How to" book based upon the practical experience of the persons interviewed and upon what we know of how the church has grown and should grow from Bible and history and also what has happened both to extra-mural Anglican Churches and ECUSA parishes since the 1970s in terms of both growth and schism.


The Rev'd Dr Peter Toon January 4, 2005

Sunday, January 02, 2005

The Wise Men & their Worship

Why did the wise men travel from Iraq to Judea? What made them make the long and difficult journey from the East to the Middle East?

According to Matthew 2 it was not merely to see the new-born King of the Jews and it was not only to give him precious gifts. Rather in their own words, “We have seen his star in the East and are come to worship him” (v.2). And on arriving in Bethlehem and finding the King, “they fell down and worshipped him.”

The Greek word used is proskuneo. This verb was used amongst the Greeks for the adoration of the gods, for bowing down before them, for prostrating oneself and for kneeling before them. It was also used with the arrival of the deification of the Roman Emperor of the external act of prostrating oneself before him. Thus it meant “ I worship, I adore, I bow down and I prostrate myself” and it is used in the New Testament for the adoration and worship of God the Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So the wise men have in mind and intention the act of adoring, worshipping and prostrating themselves before an infant boy whom they judge to be both King of the Jews and also divine. Certainly they brought gifts appropriate for a King but these gifts were signs of adoration and worship, not the primary purpose of their hazardous and difficult journey and pilgrimage. That is, they did not primarily travel to give the precious gifts but they gave the gifts as a sign and seal of their acknowledgement of the identity and of the worth of the person they knew as King of the Jews.

It is in the Book of Revelation that this verb is used distinctly of adoration and worship in contrast to thanksgiving. In the hymns addressed to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ the worship is of God as God in terms of his unique attributes, nature and character as well as of his mighty works of creation, redemption and consummation ( see chapters 4, 5, 7, 11, 12, 15,16,19 for these hymns).

Of course, worship begins inside the person but it overflows into external behaviour and attitude – thus obeisance, prostration, bowing down, kneeling and uttering songs of pure praise flow from an adoring heart & mind.

To jump over the centuries…. Is it not the case that the modern church in much of its “relevant” liturgy and services has lost the dimension of proskuneo, “I worship and adore thee, O LORD God”? It has held on to prayer as thanksgiving to God and to prayer as containing praise; but, in the main, it has tended to see prayer as a means to an end, and the end is not the pure worship of God as God, but rather the cultivation of what may be called a religious ethos and/or attitude or a mindset for Christian mission or community or the like.

What we can learn from the Wise Men, and from the Greek verb used to describe them, is that the basic and primary calling of Christians individually and corporately is “to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” Everything else is subordinate to this and all good things actually flow from this.

And further, and here is a dimension lost virtually completely, with true worship comes “the fear of the Lord” the reverence and awe due to the Almighty God. “FEAR GOD AND GIVE HIM GLORY” (Rev. 14:7).

The Revd Dr Peter Toon January 1, 2005


(some churches are celebrating the Epiphany on Jan 2)

If we think that the Feast of the Epiphany is only about the visit of the (three) kings or magi or wise men “from the east” then we only partially appreciate it!

Obviously the word EPIPHANY is Greek and it means MANIFESTATION. It is a Greek name because the Festival was in origin and for its first period of celebration an Eastern Mediterranean feast, not a Roman one. Originally the Greek-speaking Church celebrated both the Birth of Christ and the Manifestation on one and the same day, January 6, while the Latin-speaking Church celebrated Christmas on December 25.

From the early fifth century, the West celebrated the Nativity on December 25th and the Manifestation to the Gentiles on January 6. It is probably the case that the focusing of the feast of the Manifestation particularly on the visit of the magi/kings is related to the moving of their relics from Constantinople to Milan in the fourth century, when Milan was capital of the western half of the Roman Empire.

Related to the Manifestation of the Son of God incarnate to the Gentiles are two other central Manifestations observed at this time (and very particularly so in the East) in the Christian Year – and found in the Readings for Morning & Evening Prayer or for the Eucharist on the feast or the Sunday after the feast in the West.

These other two are (a) the Manifestation of the Holy Trinity at the Baptism of Jesus when the Father speaks to the Son, and the Spirit from the Father descends upon the Son; and (b) the Manifestation of Jesus as the One Person made known in two Natures, divine & human, when he performed the “sign” at Cana of Galilee – the miracle of water into wine.

If we put these three Manifestations together we have in biblical, narrative form what was achieved dogmatically by the first four Ecumenical Councils of the Church in their setting forth by Gentile Christian bishops the dogma of the One, Blessed, Holy and Undivided Trinity and of the One Person of Christ Jesus made know in two natures, divine and human.

Returning to the Western celebration of the Epiphany feast proper on January 6, it is an old tradition that states that there were three visitors (because three gifts) and that they were kings. In fact reading of prophecy encouraged the idea that they were kings, “The Gentiles shall come to thy light and kings to the brightness of thy rising” (Psalm 72:10 & Isaiah 60:3). Further, the belief that the new king should be born in Canaan was seen in the prophecy of Balaam (Num. 24:17).

The Manifestation to mankind by the Holy Trinity has for its ultimate purpose the deification of man through salvation, sanctification and glorification. Thus the Collect for Epiphany in The Book of Common Prayer prays that “we may have the fruition (= enjoyment) of thy glorious Godhead” – the beatific vision, the seeing of the glory of the Father in the face of the Incarnate Son.

THE EPIPHANY or The Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles
January 6

O God, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thy only-begotten Son to the Gentiles: Mercifully grant, that we, which know thee now by faith may after this life have the fruition of thy glorious Godhead; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

[This Collect is to be used daily until the First Sunday after the Epiphany.]

Epistle: Ephesians 3:1-12 The Gospel: St Matthew 2:1-12

The magi were certainly non-Jews and thus as representatives of the Gentile peoples, they made the long pilgrimage to Bethlehem via Jerusalem – probably) from the country we now call Iraq. Their pilgrimage provides a model of the Christian pilgrimage through this life where we walk by faith until we are transported into the age to come where we walk by supernatural sight, the light of the exalted Lamb.

This Collect in its original Latin wording is based upon (a) the biblical narrative of the visit of the magi as recorded in Matthew 2; and (b) the thought that “we walk by faith and not by sight” on earth ( 2 Corinthians 5:7).

The translation in the BCP, however, does not bring out as clearly as possible, the second of these themes, the walking by faith now towards the future contemplation by sight in heaven. The petition in Latin may be more literally translated: “Mercifully grant that we, which know thee now by faith, may be led onwards until we come to gaze upon thy Exaltation [Majesty] by sight…”

It seems that Archbishop Cranmer had in mind the writings of St. Augustine of Hippo and others, who spoke of the beatific vision in heaven as “the fruition of thy glorious Godhead.” So he used this expression rather than literally translating the Latin before him. The translation provided above points to the same glorious conclusion as Augustine & Cranmer had in mind, but it picks up more clearly on the theme of “being led onwards” (in the case of the magi by a star and of ourselves by faith) and of “contemplation/gazing” (the magi gazed at the heavens and then upon the Only-Begotten Son Incarnate, while we shall see the glory of the Father in the face of the exalted Jesus Christ).

What this Collect asks of God in Latin or in English is of course the important thing. The people of God make petition for divine assistance so that, after being faithful sojourners and pilgrims here on earth in this evil age, they will be experience the full realization of Christian hope and see the Glory of the Father in the face of Jesus Christ in the glorious age to come. But we must first walk by faith in order later by grace to walk by sight!

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