Thursday, September 29, 2005

Confessing sins properly

Have we lost the art of confessing sins aright, whether we use a classic or a modern liturgy?

Modern liturgists have given the impression to many Anglicans that the content of the classic Book of Common Prayer [BCP] is far too much focused on sin and penitence for sin and not enough on what they call “Celebration.” If the righteous dead could speak to these creators of modern liturgy, they would say with one voice: “the humble confession of sin is the beginning of the praise of God because it praises his righteousness and holiness and looks to his mercy and grace; also confession of sin is truthfulness before the God of all truth; and, further, did not the only-begotten Son of God enter space and time, become man, in order to die for our sins and be raised for our justification before God the Father?”

Let us look at the beginning of Morning/Evening Prayer as we find them in the classic edition of the BCP, that of 1662.

The first thing to note is that the Penitential Introduction (Sentences, Exhortation, Confession of Sin & Absolution) was added in 1552. The first BCP of 1549 began at the Lord’s Prayer without this introduction. Since it was obvious that this service was to become a public service (an not merely an office to be used before Holy Communion), the authorities decided that it needed an introduction to prepare people both for the fullness of praise through Psalm and Canticle and for the hearing of the two Lessons from the Old and New Testaments.

The Sentences are presented as a Call from God to his people to assemble together before him, the Almighty Lord, and to recognize who and what they are in his presence. The Exhortation by the Minister continues the Call of God and specifically calls for confession of sins as the people assemble to praise and thank God and to hear his holy Word.

Then there is the Confession – a general confession, meaning a confession of many different sins rather than of one particular sin. The rubric before it (also found in the American BCP1928) states: “A general Confession to be said of the whole Congregation after the Minister, all kneeling.”

To the Anglican traditionalist this instruction may seem not to be abnormal. Does it not require all present, Minister and People, to say the Confession and do so kneeling rather than sitting or standing? And is not kneeling the normal and customary Anglican way to pray (unless infirmity of body prevents)? The answer to both questions is yes, but there is more here in this rubric than at first meets the eye.

The people are to say the confession after not with the Minister. That is, he is to read a portion and then they are to repeat it, and so on from beginning to end. In contrast, in other prayers, e.g., the Lord’s Prayer, Minister and People say it together, he with them and they with him! The places where the Minister is to stop are indicated by a Capital Letter (upper case) of the word beginning the next portion. Thus:

Almighty and most merciful Father [repeat], We have erred and strayed from they ways like lost sheep [repeat], We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts[repeat], and so on.

Why this method? Not because the people in 1662 could not read and needed to be prompted! But in order to provide more time for self-examination, reflection and genuine involvement in confessing one’s sins to Almighty God, the Father, in genuine sorrow and with penitence. After this, the Absolution from God by the Priest, as he declares that those who truly believe and repent will be pardoned and absolved, truly sounds like music from heaven.

It would seem that the sixteenth century reformers in the ecclesia anglicana, the Church of England, both knew their Bibles and the hearts of men better than do we, and certainly better than those who claim to provide divine liturgy for our use, in the continual stream of new services for public use from liturgical commissions of the western provinces of the Anglican Communion.

These sincere male and female liturgists and all of us need to learn from the Psalmists and Prophets, from Jesus and his Apostles, and from Archbishop Cranmer and the standard divines of the Anglican Way, that the humble confession of sin before God is the beginning of the true praise of God, the Holy One.

“Let us confess our sins unto Almighty God….”

The Revd Dr Peter Toon Michaelmas 2005

Saturday, September 24, 2005

PRAYER. Does it matter HOW we address God in public prayer?

Peter Toon (September 24, 2005)

If we are to address God, the LORD, in praise, thanksgiving, confession, petition and intercession within public worship in the same way that we talk one to another over lunch or in the classroom or on the street, then there are in essence few rules to follow. We must be well-mannered, decent, amicable, clear and hearty – or something like this combination (depending on circumstances of course). Speaking to God within this frame of reference, means that we shall have little concern for the massive difference between us (i.e., between God and man) and great concern for avoiding formal, traditional, and liturgical forms and phrases, so that we can speak in familiar, relevant and reasonably simple terms to a God whom we believe is near us and likes familiarity. Here God is first the immanent One, alongside to help, before he is the transcendent Holy One.

However, if we are to address God in public worship in a similar way to how subjects address their Emperor, citizens their President, and soldiers their General, then there are specific rules to follow. First of all, there will be profound respect and reverence, shown in words, attitude, deportment and dress. Then the words themselves will contain phrases which make clear that it is the “inferior” addressing the “superior” and he is doing so to ask for gifts or favors from him, as well as to honor and thank him. Speaking to the Almighty Father, the LORD, within this frame of reference means that our whole form of address proceeds from and assumes that God is the Creator and we are the created, that God is the Judge and we are the condemned, that God is the Savior and we can be saved and that God is the Redeemer and we can be redeemed. Reverence, awe, respect, humility and submission together with adoring love are the primary affections of the soul in this relation to God. God is first the transcendent HOLY ONE before he is the ever-present Friend alongside his covenant people. He is not “a Father” but the “Holy Father.”

Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of the Father, made a distinction between, on the one hand, his own communion with the Father in prayer (e.g., see John 17) and, on the other hand, the prayer of his disciples, and prayer in the synagogue and temple. The intimacy of Jesus with the Father was a holy and reverential intimacy and it was Person to Person, not public prayer. The disciples were taught not to pray, “My Father, who art in heaven…” but “Our Father….” which is corporate prayer. And the Lord’s Prayer is certainly not the language of the street or as between friends. It is profoundly formal, reverential and petitionary, the way we address the truly Superior and Transcendent One – “hallowed be thy Name.”

In general terms, we may say that much – but not all -- of what is called “modern” or “contemporary” liturgy belongs to the “be familiar with God” type and often is characterized by “dumbing-down” so that it will appeal to the lowest common denominator. Music accompanying it and the way folks dress suggest that it is a kind of special leisure activity! The pursuit of excellence is regarded as not appropriate for it will cause a barrier to many people. In contrast, the traditional Book of Common Prayer presents a form of excellence both in language and in doctrine. Here the idea is to raise up people to where the Bible says they ought to be, reverent and submissive, joyful and committed before the Holy Lord.

Lessons from history

The famous evangelical churchman of the early 19th century, Charles Simeon, whose powerful preaching and pastoral care in Cambridge University for many years was a great stimulus to the missionary movement and to the reviving of the Church of England, preached a series of sermons that he afterwards published as, The Excellence of the Liturgy. The series was on the content of The Book of Common Prayer (1662) and he proclaimed that in its language and address to God it was most appropriate for guilty sinners and adopted children of God to use; and in its doctrine it was a perfect summary and proclamation of primary biblical revelation and teaching. What Simeon declared was echoed not only by evangelical leaders after him (e.g., J.C.Ryle) but had been proclaimed before him by the great Caroline divines of the C of E. in the 17th century. Further, leading high-churchman of the 19th century commended enthusiastically the evangelical and catholic qualities of The Book of Common Prayer. And so have many 20th century worthies, including C.S. Lewis and leading novelists.

How would these “fathers in the Faith” describe the post 1960s attempts to write liturgy. Would they use “excellence” of any of it? Do well-informed and sensitive persons of today pronounce modern liturgies – Roman or Anglican – to be “excellent”? The most common word uttered in charity is “acceptable”! Even those who write and commend and use the new forms of worship in the West and North do not even think that they are working to produce excellence. Often dumbing-down is part of their strategy and follows from information gained in opinion surveys. They produce for today only, for they expect to have something now to present tomorrow.

And all this at a time when the biggest of the African Churches are clearly stating their commitment to the Book of Common Prayer of 1662 (which of course is available in various African languages).

Now a final comment.

It is possible, I believe, to have excellence even when the traditional English language of prayer is not used (see further, Neither Archaic Nor Obsolete by Tarsitano & Toon from for study of the genuine English language of common prayer). That is, it is possible to pursue excellence in a Liturgy that uses the vernacular of today (this is an aim that the present Pope has much in mind for current R C Liturgy). So there is no reason why there should not be, for example, in contemporary English the very same content, structure, doctrine and style as is found in The Book of Common Prayer (1662 and later editions). It is possible to do such a job that the result can be declared to be “in pursuit of excellence” because done for the totally excellent LORD JESUS CHRIST.” Such a Liturgy would be superior to the liturgies produced by liberal liturgists and found in the Canadian BAS and the American “BCP” of 1979 and Enriching our Worship of 1991.

The “orthodox” constituency of North America happily has the classic Liturgy of excellence in the 1928 USA and 1962 Canadian editions. It could have very soon a contemporary equivalent if there is the will to have such! Where there is a will there is a way.

[For frank details of the liberal characteristics of the 1979 Rite II services from an insider see: Urban T Holmes, “Education for Liturgy”, in WORSHIP POINTS THE WAY (ed. M.C.Burson) New York 1991. See also Neither Orthodoxy Nor a Formulary by Tarsitano & Toon,

Friday, September 23, 2005

Episcopalianism in the USA – cause for optimism in next decade?

Are the centripetal forces going to overcome the centrifugal ones?

Apart from the endless variety of types of Baptists, probably no type of church exists in the USA is so many different forms and manifestations as the Episcopal or the Anglican. And this is the more remarkable since there are probably 20 million Baptists present in churches on Sundays whereas there is only about one million Anglicans!

Let us first consider the forces which prize apart Episcopalians/Anglicans in the USA and then turn to consider what forces do and can unite them. But first let us set the scene.

The Episcopal Church of the USA (ECUSA) is a divided house, where dioceses are not in communion with others dioceses, where parishes look for flying bishops rather than the local, canonical one, and where there is open warfare over doctrinal and ethical matters. Outside the ECUSA there are many different jurisdictions, affiliations and groups of churches. One goes back to the 19th century (the REC) and some go back to the civil rights struggle (e.g. SEC) while others go back to the walk-out of ECUSA in 1977 (e.g., the ACA, ACC, APCK). Then others are splits from the latter or new creations on similar principles to the latter. Yet others are evangelical and charismatic in style (e.g., AMiA, and those parishes which are independently linked to overseas bishops). Add to these groupings of Nigerian churches, Indian Churches and other ethnic associations, together with charismatic Episcopal churches that have arisen independently and you have a real assortment! And there are others also, a new one each month or so.

Here are some of the Centrifugal forces at work dividing those who inside or outside the ECUSA desire to be orthodox and genuinely Anglican as biblical, Reformed Catholics.
  1. The presence of real heresy and error within the Anglican Way in the USA.
  2. The tendency amongst too many to major on minors and to cherish minors so that the essentials are not in focus sufficiently.
  3. The tendency for certain human beings to want to run their own show and empire and thereby to cherish division for providing a source of empire. See for example, the vast amount of bishops, many of whom have flocks that are very small, but they seem to cherish titles and uniforms.
  4. The vastness and the culture of the USA which supports individualism, selfish autonomy, variety and competition, novelty and innovation, and so on.
  5. The problem that once an organization or jurisdiction has been set up then it has a life of its own and it is easier to keep it going then to shut it down or unite it with another or others.
  6. Major differences in style of worship, from 1950s anglo-catholicism with much ceremonial, to 1990s style generic charismatic expressions of music and dress.
  7. Use of different Rites for services, ranging from Rite II of the 1979 prayer book, via Indian and Nigerian prayer books, to the Anglican Missal, and with no agreement on what is the Formulary of the Anglican Way.
  8. Different attitudes as to the way to regard and treat the official ECUSA – is it to be treated as reformable or as apostate and lost?
  9. Different attitudes to the See of Canterbury and to the Anglican Communion and whether or not they are truly orthodox in faith and morals?
  10. Possible unity with Rome – parts of the Continuing Anglican movement (anglo-catholic) are seeking to be accepted under the pastoral direction of the Church of Rome while others see this as a betrayal of the whole Anglican Way.
  11. Different approaches to church discipline, especially to the marriage of divorcees in church and the ordaining & consecrating of divorcees, or those married to divorcees.
  12. Different views and doctrines of the ministry and deployment of women in the churches.
    Different canon law.
  13. Not a few believe that competition and variety is a good thing and that there is no problem for God or for man with a divided and confused Anglican phenomenon in the USA. It is truly Americanized by its division and competitive character!


Now here are some of the Centripetal forces present in the Anglican and Episcopalian phenomenon in the USA.

  1. All the participants speak and use English.
  2. All value in varying degrees the Anglican tradition of worship, doctrine and discipline.
  3. All seem pleased or grateful to be known as Anglican or Episcopalian in contrast to being Presbyterian or Lutheran or whatever.
  4. All recognize that the Anglican witness in the USA was in earlier times a united one, the PECUSA even survived the civil war.
  5. All believe that Jesus Christ prayed that his Church should be one (John 17) and that all the metaphors used by the apostles of the Church presuppose that it should be a unity.
  6. All agree that doctrinal and liturgical integrity are important.
  7. All accept that there has to be a basic moral code for the life of the churches, a code that is derived from Holy Scripture and one that points to maturity and holiness of faith.
  8. A few people here and there, a few organizations here and there, and a few churches here and there, are definitely taking every opportunity to unite in activity and discussion Episcopalians/Anglicans from different streams. They see themselves as doing what many more ought also to be doing now and also as the first-fruits of a harvest yet to be.

What is very obvious to the observer, as well as to the student of Anglican affairs, is that the centrifugal forces seem to be more powerful than the centripetal ones and that the tendency to pull apart is more evident that a tendency to pull together.


If one takes the New Testament seriously, one must believe that Christians are to be united in Word and Sacrament, in worship and fellowship, in doctrine and in morals. And especially if they are of the same “kith and kin” called “Anglican.” Therefore, one must believe that the Holy Spirit, “the Lord and Giver of Life,” is supportive of genuine centripetal forces that move to unite believers in the one Christ and one Faith.

What else can be done to assist, as it were, this work of the Holy Spirit, and for us all to be “co-workers together with God” in this enterprise of unity for Christ’s sake?

I suggest that it would be beneficial for all the forms of Anglicanism in the USA that claim to be orthodox to accept, as a discipline and as a sweet offering to the Lord our God for say a decade, the use of the historic Anglican Rites for worship – that is the Rites of the 1662 BCP (or its modern equivalents) and to use them either in the original traditional English or in a dignified form of contemporary English (yet to be produced). Of course there would be local ceremonial and local specialities and emphases in each parish (with music and vestments and the like) but this proposal to be effective requires all parishes to use this One Rite, or else its power to unite would not be available everywhere.

The Anglican Way from 1549 through to the 1970s was glued together in a unity with comprehensiveness of churchmanship by the use of the one BCP used in 150 or so local editions around the world. To recapture this unity through One Rite seems to be the only way immediately available of beginning to unite the schisms and divisiveness within the bruised Anglican Way in the USA.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon MA., D.Phil (Oxford)

Rite II of the 1979 Prayer Book. Is it really orthodox?

Thousands in the USA, who claim to be biblically-based and orthodox in their Episcopal Faith , use the Rite II form of the “Holy Eucharist” from the 1979 Prayer Book weekly. They address the “You-God” in language which is supposed to be how people talk one with another. Further, the two supposed “orthodox” seminaries of the ECUSA use it and teach that it is an OK Rite. And most of these people who use and teach it have no personal experience of the use of a classic Anglican Book of Common Prayer (e.g., the edition of 1662, 1928 [USA] or 1962 [Canada]). Thus their Anglican perspective is rather limited in depth and width.

I invite all users of Rite II to consider what I write below.

I wish to suggest that these two propositions are true:

  1. In and of itself, and by itself, and also within the covers of the 1979 Prayer Book & Formulary of the Episcopal Church of the USA, Rite II Eucharist exhibits serious dumbing-down together with doctrinal error.
  2. Interpreted by and in the context of the classic American BCP of 1928, the Formulary of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the USA, Rite II Eucharist can be understood by charitable supposition as a modern, temporary experiment in liturgy and thereby judged as favorable for short-term use only.

What a word or a phrase or a sentence means depends to a large degree on context. “Eye” for example has a different meaning in these two statements: “The eye of the storm is compact” and “the human eye is a marvelous organ.”

What a specific service/Rite for Holy Communion means can be decided by a careful examination of what it contains and a judgment as it were, at face value, can be made in terms of how it is constructed in terms of its shape, its content, its emphases and its conclusions.

The same Rite can be set in a larger context – e.g. in the Prayer Book in which it appears and its relation therein to a Catechism and other Rites – and its meaning decided not only on its particular shape and content but also on its relation to other liturgy and doctrine.

In and of itself

On its own the Rite II material for the Holy Eucharist reveals that it is a production that could only have occurred after the 1960s and before the 1980s. This judgment is based on where the developing and changing mindset of liberal liturgists was in the second half of the twentieth century. Its general structure and the “shape” of the Eucharistic Prayer belong to a period when Gregory Dix’s, Shape of the Liturgy was in vogue and when the liberating impact of post Vatican II changes within the R C Church was strong. Also, it belongs to the beginnings of the acceptance of the feminist agenda by liturgists but is not yet at the stage seen in later Liturgy (e.g. Enriching our Worship from the 1990s with its advance feminism). Further, it belongs to the period of the first impact of the employment of the dynamic equivalency theory of translation of ancient texts, a theory which allows an ancient text to speak as if it were written today. Then, its use of ecumenical agreed texts from supposedly international bodies (e.g. ICEL) for the major canticles and translations of the Creeds points to the acceptance of an ecumenical form of dumbing-down of meaning to make them generally acceptable in the whole of the English-speaking world. [historical note; most of these agreed texts have been updated and changed, sometimes substantially, since the 1970s]

Anyone who goes through Rite II now, and who is aware of where liturgists have moved, can see why there is a universal agreement amongst liturgists that the texts are out of date and a new Rite or set of Rites, incorporating new insights and texts, is urgently required. (This is why the C of E abandoned its 1980 ASB in favor of its 2000 Common Worship and why the ECUSA is now urgently preparing a wholly new set of forms of worship to replace the ones from the twentieth century.)

So Rite II is out of date by the judgment of its creators.

As Rite II stands now in terms of doctrine it is imprecise. That is, because of its dumbed-down English and use of dynamic equivalency and the liberalism if its creators, it contains weakened doctrines of virtually every fundamental doctrine of the Faith, from the Trinity, through the Person and Work of Christ, to Salvation, Sin and Judgment. And recalling that it was put together by liberal theologians and liturgists, who wished to remove much of the clarity of Reformed Catholic doctrine in the 1662 BCP & 1928 BCP, such an observation makes good sense. [Note, the point being made here may be missed by those who are not very familiar with the classic content of BCP of 1662 and its North American editions.]

In the context of the whole of the 1979 Book

If the Rite II is interpreted alongside the Psalter, the Baptismal Service, the Catechism and Rite I, then its character as described above is the more clear. It is to be seen as an attempt to incorporate into the worship of God and the doctrines of the Christian Religion various insights and emphases that came to the fore in the 1960s and became afterwards part of the permanent “faith” of progressive liberals – e.g., pursuit of justice and peace, God’s kingdom is realizable in this world, the Church is the “community of those whose priority is peace and justice on earth,” God is more immanent than transcendent and so on. Thus (as the history of the ECUSA from 1960s to 2005 shows) the Church is committed to the incorporation of the rights of the divorced to be remarried in church, of the full use of contraception in pursuit of self-gratification, to the full rights of women, minorities and homosexual persons, to the calling of evil good and the affirmation that sin is holiness, and so on. Rite II Eucharist was until the 1990s the major means of the advancement of this total agenda in the ECUSA. Then Enriching our Worship took over for the advanced guard! Rite II never has been and cannot by its nature be the godly means and vehicle of the maturing of the faithful and their growth in godliness and true piety.

In the context of the BCP of 1928

If the PECUSA (which became the ECUSA after World War II) had retained its historic and inherited Formularies (BCP, Ordinal & Articles) and had not abandoned them as it did in 1976/79, and had it set forth a Book of Alternative Services (ASB or BAS) in 1979, and had that book been like what is now wrongly called the BCP of 1979, then (and only then) the content of the 1979 book could have been interpreted generously and charitably through the prism of the doctrine of the received Formularies of the Anglican Way. Hence suspicions of error and of dumbing-down could have been seen as experimental and open to correction later. In other words, Rite II as it now is, could have been interpreted within a very large context, and benefits of the doubt applied widely and kindly. Regrettably this possibility is near impossible since Rite II is a major part – let us note this carefully – a major part of the Formulary of the ECUSA, providing form and substance for what it believes, teaches and confesses! No wonder ECUSA is built upon sand and it is a constantly experiencing big cracks and falling apart because of its foundations.


In that the ECUSA knowingly and deliberately set aside its received, classical and historic Formularies and created new ones (all inside the 1979 Prayer Book) then Rite II has to be seen (a) within the limited context of the 1979 book and (b) the liturgical and theological context out of which it came and which it served. Much of that context is the progressively liberal Episcopal Church itself.

As such, the greatest amount of charitable supposition and the giving of the benefit of the doubt is needed to make Rite II texts speak biblical theology and Anglican Reformed Catholic doctrine. And this judgment would apply even if the texts addressed the “Thou-God”!

The time has surely come for the would-be orthodox of ECUSA to ask for a Rite that is within the genuine shape, content and doctrine of the Anglican Eucharist and Order of Holy Communion. As a starter, a truly contemporary version of the Service in the BCP 1662, 1928 and 1962 (Canada) is needed for those who desire to address the LORD as “you”! Then the One Rite would be available it is traditional and in its contemporary form and there would be the basis for biblical and Anglican orthodoxy and from this for growth in maturity and membership.

September 23, 2005

Thursday, September 22, 2005

On Recovering Anglican Identity

A real contest is necessary
Will David challenge Goliath again?

If ever the U.S.A. is to see again in this century a genuine expression of the Anglican Way that is culturally American (rather than Nigerian or Rwandan or Indian – via missions from these groups) then a battle must be fought at the liturgical and doctrinal level.

True enough, American Episcopalianism has had recently more than its fair share of controversy and dissension, but there is yet another contest to come, another war to be fought, and the sooner the better.

The historic Rites/Forms of Service contained in the classic editions (e.g., 1662, & 1928 [USA] & 1962 [Canada]) of The Book of Common Prayer (lst edition 1549) must rise up to do battle with the modern Rites/Forms of Service found in the 1979 Prayer Book (falsely called “The Book of Common Prayer”), the 1985 BAS of Canada and in the 1997 ECUSA book called “Enriching our Worship.”

It seems right now in 2005 that the battle has been fought and the modern Rites have won conclusively. Virtually all the churches of Episcopal Church and, amazingly, virtually all the churches who confess to being the “orthodox” minority in this Church (and who belong in most cases to “The Network” and the American Anglican Counci and Forward in Faith) use the modern Rites -- and more often than not, Rite II of the 1979 prayer book.

The number of parishes in the ECUSA that still use the classic Book of Common Prayer for all, or some of their services, is exceedingly small, probably not more than seventy. And even in the Anglican Mission in America, the use of the 1979 prayer book and Rite II dominate, with not more than one congregation in twenty using the authentic Book of Common Prayer.

So where is an authentic edition of the historic Book of Common Prayer currently widely used in America? The answer is in what are called The Continuing Anglican Churches and in the Reformed Episcopal Church. There are several hundreds of these but they are mostly small congregations.

One thing is clear, the use of Rite II for Daily Prayer and for Holy Communion, and the use of the Baptismal Service of the 1979 book (a service which is the source and guarantee of major innovations in the Episcopal Church via its “baptismal covenant”) do not provide America with an authentic form of the Anglican Way. They provide instead a kind of modern generic form of ecumenism, from which the teeth of the Gospel and the sword of the Word God have been all but removed. Of course, in good hands they can be used to achieve good things, but in essence they present a dumbed-down ecumenical liturgy, that was invented by progressive liberals for the cause of the abandonment of historic biblical and creedal orthodoxy! If the aim is to be relevant, accessible, acceptable and inoffensive to modern secular minds and ears, then Rite II works well, for it has a weak doctrine of sin and a weaker doctrine of the holiness and righteous judgment of Almighty God.

So why a contest?

In order to establish their character as truly of the Anglican Way, the Network and AMiA parishes must surely recover really and practically (and not merely nominally) the historic Liturgy of the classic Formularies of the Anglican Way, as the basis of their doctrine and of their worship. It may be noted that the historic, classic Book of Common Prayer can be recovered in two forms – obviously in its received form as Formulary and Liturgy (in the historic form of the English language of public prayer) & also in a strict equivalent form in contemporary English (so that the shape, content and doctrine of the original is wholly preserved). Then congregations will have the original as Formulary and available for use and also may use the contemporary version for worship if they choose to do so. (The full contemporary version does not yet exist but could be made available reasonably quickly, for where there is a will there is a way.)

The contest then would be between the present occupant of the Anglican ground, the 1979 prayer book with its assisting prayer books, and the occupier of part of the perimeter, the classic Book of Common Prayer (available in two complete versions, the traditional and contemporary forms).

This contest must be fought for the soul of the Anglican Way in North America and if the 1979 book (= 1985 in Canada) triumphs and retains its virtually total dominance, then what is called Episcopalianism will merely continue to strengthen in character (even as it diminishes in numbers) as an ecumenical, generic, liberal expression of modern liturgy and church polity (often with a charismatic overlay).

The contest has yet to begin for the leadership of the Network and the AMiA seem satisfied with the dominant use of the 1979 texts. Yet there is the beginnings of much stirring in the parishes and missions and from the battle has to start.

Will David arise to challenge Goliath? Will copies of the classic Book of Common Prayer in its original form and in a contemporary language form be made available, examined and put to real use in the parishes and missions this year?

The unity of the Anglican Way in America is only possible through a basic agreement on a common formulary and rites. Right now the Anglican or Episcopal Household in the USA is a much divided House (“by schism rent asunder, by heresies distressed”); and there must be a contest within this Household to decide whether or not it is to regain its authentic and original Name, Integrity and Faith. Unity will only come through a contest wherein the progressive liberalism of the 1979 prayer book is banished from the Anglican Household and Way and right order and doctrine and worship are restored!

[Visit for details of books to give more information and perspective]

Peter Toon

Pax to all

THE PEACE - often chaotic and noisy in practice, but, when appreciated, most important for the salvation of our souls

Those who are old enough to remember public worship before the 1970s are able to recall how their own parish was introduced to the “Passing of the Peace”, what reasons were given by priests to justify the novelty, and how they felt about the innovation. To this day there is a minority who do their best to avoid this activity! Of course, where the Service is either the Tridentine Latin Rite or the Order for Holy Communion from the classic Book of Common Prayer then there is no such thing to” endure” or “enjoy”.

Let us note the basics of this innovation.

In the modern Roman Mass, after the Eucharistic Prayer and before the receiving of Communion, the Priest says:

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum (The peace of the Lord be with you always.)

And the faithful respond:

Et cum spiritu tuo (And with your spirit – “And also with you”.)

Then the Priest says:

Offerte vobis pacem. (Let us offer [to each other the sign of] peace.)

And then either in an orderly way (from the ministers at the altar to the congregation row by row) or in a less orderly way (each moves about as he or she desires) people offer a sign (handshake, hug or whatever) of peace.

Not too long ago, the Pax Vobiscum was offered by the Priest but there was no actual invitation to the congregation to offer of a sign of peace, and people stayed on their knees.

Those who have visited a variety of R.C. churches in recent days report that the exchange of peace takes many forms and can take an extended time in some.

In the Anglican, Lutheran and Methodist Churches, which share a common shape to their modern Eucharistic Liturgy, the exchange of the sign of peace occurs in a different place to that of the Roman Church. It comes at the end of the Ministry of the Word & Prayer and before the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer. However, though in a different place, the way it occurs in terms of handshakes and hugs is much the same as in the modern Roman Catholic parishes. It can devout and quiet or it can be a long, noisy and involved affair (including as I saw recently, drinking coffee and having a donut!)

Doctrinal Meaning

Its place in the Roman Rite is long-standing, going back to the late patristic period. The basic idea of it is that the peace (= the salvation and reconciling love) of God the Father through Jesus Christ and by the Holy Ghost made manifest in the Eucharist/Mass brings baptized believers together as one in Christ, and thus, as children of God and as brothers and sisters, the baptized share a sign of peace/salvation. They do not need to share a sign for the peace/reconciliation is given by God as a gift to all present, who are penitent and faithful; but the sign helps to make the gift of God real.

Its present place in the modern Liturgies of the Anglican Lutheran and Methodist Churches is based on what modern liturgists claim to find in the practice of the Church of the second and third centuries. Here (with women and men separated) there was, it is said, “a passing of the peace” and its purpose was to not only to accept God’s reconciling love offered in Christ and in the Eucharist, but also to provide opportunity for reconciliation between believers before the service moved along to the Communion.

So whether we take the meaning as from the early patristic era or from the medieval Latin Church, we have to admit that it is, in both cases, by no means at all a flippant matter; and it is certainly no occasion for idle conversation or silly remarks. It is an opportunity to receive the reconciling love of the Lord and to begin to know and feel what it is all about. Observation would seem to suggest that this activity called the passing of the peace though relatively new is already in need of reformation and renewal for it has become in so many places and ways a means for the expression of what we may call “the flesh” rather than of the humble and contrite spirit. Further, and this is worrying, for some people it assumes a position of primary importance in their experience of worship and they would find it hard to do without it. (Let us remember that the Church managed for most of her existence without a public “passing of the peace” and its revival between 1970s and 2005 has not universally been the means of reconciliation and salvation for congregations.)

Historical Note: In the C of E Order for Holy Communion from 1552, the Pax Vobiscum was removed but – and this is important – the Peace of the LORD was given to the people of God through the extension of the Blessing at the end of the whole Service. “The Peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your heart and mind in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord: And the Blessing…..” However, in the Canadian BCP of 1960/62 the actual Pax Vobiscum is found at the same place as in the Roman Mass but without any indication that there is to be the giving of a sign one to another.
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon MA., D.Phil (Oxford)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Liturgical Variety – is variety the spice of congregational life?

Has the time arrived for variety to give way to uniformity? Please read on.

For eighteen or nineteen centuries the local congregations of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church worshipped the Father through the Son and with the Holy Ghost using basically One Rite, one basic form of the Eucharist. Of course, this Rite was regional and there were differences from one region to another and between jurisdictions (East and West, for example). However, each region or jurisdiction had its own basic Rite.

That is, the local priest did not have to decide before, or on each, Sunday which of several available Rites he would use. The shape and content of the Service were fixed for him as also were the Lectionary, Collects, Psalms and Canticles.

Let us ask the question. Was great harm done to the people of God in East and West, in North and South, because in the Orthodox Churches, the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Churches there was (until the 1970s) only one basic service, one form of the Eucharist, available in each region/nation/jurisdiction? They had no variety (except that the Collect and Lessons and Psalter changed each week). Were they spiritually starved without the opportunity to have a different Rite every week or month?

Anyone who argues that they were starved spiritually will have a hard time convincing anyone, for, it appears that the use of one excellent Rite certainly helped to form genuine piety with a Christian mind in millions of baptized believers. And what great examples of Christian writing, music and art were produced within this uniformity of excellence?

In the 1970s, after the Vatican Council of 1962-1965 and the tremendous social and cultural effects of the era of the 1960s, church leaders within the R C Church and the Anglican Churches (not to mention Lutheran & Methodist!) decided that variety is not only the spice of fleshly life in this evil age and sinful world, but is also necessary as preparation for eternal life in the kingdom of heaven. They decided that not only did the people of God need new forms, shapes and types of Liturgy but that within the new provisions there should be variety in terms of Rite. Thus in the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. there are now multiple Rites approved (via 1979 prayer book and publications since) for the Eucharist, and in the RC Church its modern Sacramentary contains a dozen Rites for the Mass.

In 2005, despite the available variety of Rites, in practice most Episcopal congregations choose one or two, print them, and then use only these – simply because it is too much work and bother to keep on changing (as liturgists would like them to do). In practice also, most Roman Catholic priests generally use only two of the possibilities, the traditional Rite on formal occasions and a shorter one when they have limited time available to say Mass before hurrying off to another parish or engagement.

Perhaps it is politically incorrect to ask the question: Does the availability of multiple Rites with the accompanying lack of any basic uniformity actually militate against the formation of genuine piety, devotion, Christian mindset and sense of the unity of the Body of Christ? Nevertheless a case can be made for an affirmative answer to this question. Certainly there is little evidence in the West that the availability of New and Varied Rites has actually helped in the evangelization of the populace and the edification of baptized believers.

Perhaps, after nearly 40 years of experiment and confusion, it may be suggested that it is time to do a major U-turn. That is to return to the One Rite, the traditional Rite, of both the Roman and Anglican Churches, with its availability for Rome in Latin and English and for Anglicans in traditional and contemporary English.

Variety has not been the spice of congregational or eternal life; the time has arrived for uniformity of a comprehensive kind to be restored!

Let us dig again the wells of Abraham and be refreshed by the water of life.

Peter Toon September 21 2005

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

DUMBING DOWN by Episcopalians – and of the Central Dogma of the FAITH

A call to Trinitarian Orthodoxy

Do you realize that at every ordination of a bishop, priest and deacon in the Episcopal Church since the 1970s there has been a dumbing-down of the central dogma of the Christian religion at the very beginning of the services? (See 1979 prayer book, pages 512, 525, & 537)

Do you realize that at every baptism since the 1970s there has been also a dumbing down of the central dogma of the Christian religion at the beginning of the service? (See 1979 prayer book, page 299)

Do your realize that at every Rite II Eucharist (except during Lent & Easter season) there has been since the 1970s a dumbing-down of the central dogma of the Christian religion? (See page 355)

In 1967 someone on the Liturgical Commission came up with the idea of beginning the Eucharist with an Acclamation and produced one, based upon the Blessing given by the priest in the Orthodox Liturgy. Let us first of all note what is the original Blessing from the ancient Liturgy of St Chrysostom of the patristic period.

At the beginning of the “Liturgy of the Catechumens” within the Divine Liturgy, the priest, holding the Gospel Book, intones:

Blessed is the kingdom of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now, and ever, and unto ages of ages.

This Blessing is Praise of God and secondly blessing of the congregation. It affirms that that there is one and one only divine kingdom, but that there are three divine Persons in the One Godhead. Thus the kingdom is the kingdom of each One and of all Three, evn as there is one Divine Nature and each Person possesses this wholly and completely. The whole liturgy celebrates the Kingdom and provides entrance to the heavenly banquet of the Kingdom through Communion.

Let us now note the abbreviated & dumbed-down version created by the Liturgical Commission in 1967 and used ever since, first in trial liturgies and then in the 1979 prayer book.

Celebrant: Blessed be God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
People: And blessed be his kingdom, now and for ever. Amen.

To the untrained ear this may sound fine. To the average priest, with little education in classic doctrine and dogma, this may sound fine. To the priest or layman who desires to think the best of his church then this form of words can be charitably reckoned to pronounce the Christian dogma of the Trinity. But at the level of straight, clear analysis of the form of words used, and the form of words compared with the original, this Acclamation is obviously a dumbing-down.

Why is it so?

It appears to be designed to obscure the clarity of the original Blessing that there are Three distinct Persons in the One Godhead. It does so by allowing the interpretation that there is One God who is One Person and who, as One Person, has three principal names – “Father, Son and Holy Spirit”. We all are perhaps aware that various alternatives to Trinitarian Theism were taught in the Episcopal Church (and liberal Churches) after World War II and that amongst these were forms of Unitarianism and Panentheism(= the world is in God). The force of the colon in the first line of this 1967 formula is to offer the possibility that “God” equals “Father, Son and Holy Spirit”. If the first line had been, “Blessed be God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”, then the meaning would have been clearly Trinitarian Theism, but the progressive liberals were not happy with such clarity. They preferred to allow for a variety of possibilities for they saw the dogma of the Trinity from patristic times as a kind of hellenization and corruption of the simple Gospel of Jesus.

It is worthy of note that for the last decade and more many progressive liberal parishes in the ECUSA have changed line 1 to be, “Blessed be God: Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier,” which is clearly a form of Unitarianism.

It is also worthy of note that in the Catechism of the same prayer book (see page 852) the answer to the question,” What is the Trinity?” is as follows: “The Trinity is one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” Note again the use of the colon, suggesting that the one God has three Names or three Modes of being. The Commission could have given as the answer, “The Trinity is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God.”

If there is one area of Christian use of words where great care and precision is necessary, it is surely the area of the way we speak of and address The Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, Three Persons One Godhead! Here dumbing-down and carelessness are nearly unforgivable!

I suggest that those who must use the 1979 texts say: “Blessed be God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” in order to make clear they do accept the teaching of the Bible and of the Dogma of the ecumenical councils of the Early Church.

The modern R C Mass begins, “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” making clear that there are Three Persons of the One Godhead. The people respond, “Amen.”

(For the history of and the doctrinal decrees of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, see Peter Toon, Yesterday, Today and Forever. Jesus Christ and the Holy Trinity in the Teaching of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, 1996, 224 pages paperback. Officially out of print but obtain a copy for $10.00 by e mailing, )

September 20, 2005 Peter Toon

Monday, September 19, 2005

A contemporary language Rite: Explaining myself to enquirers and critics

In your charity and kindness, please read…

In various tracts/essays/articles over the internet and during the last ten days or so (i.e. in mid September, 2005), I have proposed and suggested that one basic way of uniting “orthodox” Episcopalians/Anglicans in North America is to make available a contemporary language form of the classic Book of Common Prayer (in the edition of 1662, USA 1928 or Canadian 1960 – or one text that takes account of their minor differences). This then could be used by those who prefer to address God as “You” alongside those using the original texts and addressing God as “Thou”. Hereby there would be unity in Rite and Doctrine and also a means created of uniting over a decade or so the various divided parts and streams of the Anglican Way that are in play right now.

To some this proposal seems very odd coming from one who has not only campaigned for the use by congregations of the classic editions of the historic BCP in their original form of English, but who also has defended vigorously this form of English as the genuine English language of prayer – see further, Neither Archaic Nor Obsolete: the English Language of Common Prayer by Lou Tarsitano & Peter Toon (available from ).

I make this proposal in the context of it becoming clearer week by week that the doctrinal unity of the Anglican Family and Communion and Way is going to be in the future what it has been in the past (and forgotten from 1960s to 2005 by many), and that is commitment to the classic Formularies – the BCP1662 (or equivalent), the Ordinal and the Articles of Religion. The large Anglican Churches of Nigeria and Uganda are making this clear to us.

Please allow me to explain what seems to some to be confusion of mind on my part. I hope you see that I am consistent in what I have proposed.
  1. As far as one can tell, there is always going to be a minority in the Anglican Way who desire to worship the Lord in the traditional language of English Public Prayer. These will therefore want to use the King James Version of the Bible and a classic edition of The Book of Common Prayer. They will normally avoid modern rites be they in the 1979 USA prayer book or the 1985 Canadian prayer book. They will also avoid Rite 1 in the 1979 USA prayer book for they know it is not in real terms a genuine equivalent to the original text in the 1928 BCP.
  2. As far as one can tell, there is always going to be a majority in the Anglican Way who desire to worship God in the same way as they speak one to another, that is addressing the LORD as “You.” Right now they are using inferior texts (in the 1979 and 1985 prayer books) which both are poor English and have a different doctrine from that contained in the BCP editions of 1662, 1928 & 1960.
  3. In order to bring the minority (1) and the majority (2) into the beginnings of a basic unity in Christ and in practical terms, one way forward is for the minority and majority to use one and the same Rite, with the same structure, content and doctrine, and to use the same basic lectionary, at least on Sundays and major feasts for The Order of Holy Communion.
  4. The only possible way to do this, and to remain firmly within the Anglican Way and to be seen so to do, is for the majority who wish to address God as “you” to use the classic BCP Rites in contemporary English. That is they are provided with a good and straight equivalent text in a readable and meaningful form of contemporary English – and a form that will last for a decade, in which time there will be opportunity and time for fellow Anglicans to learn from each other and forge a common way forward under Christ the Lord.
  5. Using One Rite allows for unity with comprehensiveness and unity with different churchmanship, as long as charity prevails. Local distinctives can be seen and explained as merely local and not of the essence of the genuine Anglican Way.
  6. There are in existence attempts here and there in England, Australia and North America to provide the beginnings of such a contemporary form of the classic BCP, but nowhere is there yet a complete text of the major services of the BCP in an acceptable form. (For more information see e.g., Worshipping the Lord in the Anglican Way. Parallel texts…., from ).
  7. To produce such a TEXT is not the same as producing a new Liturgy from scratch! It is a matter of using available skills to produce an equivalency to the classic text and doing so as well as possible as soon as possible.
  8. The Prayer Book Societies of Canada and the USA by their charters are committed to the preservation of the historic, classic texts and so they cannot do this task officially. It needs to be taken on with the support of a society or institute or organization or large church that can raise the money to pay for the typesetting and printing in a suitable form of the text, and then distributing it to the churches of the Network, AMiA etc. I have offered to be a coordinator of such a project because I have acquired a little expertise in this area over the years and have the time, I think, to do it between now and the General Convention of June 2006. (I estimate that $20.000.00 – twenty thousand would be sufficient for the enterprise if labor is free, and much of this would be recoverable when the book was sold to congregations at a wholesale price.)
  9. For this proposal to work churches would need to drop the use of the 1979 and 1985 prayer books on Sundays and use only the genuine BCP in contemporary language.
  10. Churches would also need to decide to use one form of the Rite or the other consistently without mixing the two for each form of language (the “Thou” and the “Thee”) has its own logic and style and mixing them harms communication and piety. If God is “Thou” he cannot in the same sentence also be “You.”

I realize that more than a Common Rite is necessary to unite the many streams that now flow in North America. But we have to start somewhere and that somewhere has to be at ground level, not in talks of leaders here and there.

I shall be honored to receive serious correspondence about this or make visits to speak about it. Finally, may I say that I speak only in my own name, no Board of any group has as yet considered it and endorsed it. Thank you again for your patience.

September 19, 2005 The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon MA., D.Phil (Oxford)

Fifteen Years without Common Prayer in the Church of England

And Nearly Thirty Year without Common Prayer in the Protestant Episcopal Church of the USA.

From 1559 through to 1645, The Book of Common Prayer was used weekly, often daily, in the cathedrals, churches and chapels of England and Wales.

From 1645 to 1660 under the Long Parliament and then of the Protectorate (Oliver Cromwell) The Book of Common Prayer was a forbidden Liturgy. Thus the Prayer Book was used only in private and where clergy, having memorized its prayers, prayed those prayers as if ex tempore.

With the restoration of Charles II as King in 1660, The Book of Common Prayer was restored and thus the edition of the Prayer Book of 1662 became the standard edition that went all over the world with the British Empire and the missionaries of the Church.

Not all the clergy of the Church of England were prepared to accept the use of the Prayer Book and from 1660 to 1662 there was an exodus of nearly 2000 clergy, who formed what has been called Nonconformity and Dissent – Congregationalists, Baptists, Presbyerians.

The point being made is that England in the mid 17th century provides an example of a Church that rejects the classic Book of Common Prayer; for fifteen or so years experiments with various kinds of Puritan forms of services, where there was little if any formal liturgy; and then restores the very Book (in a slightly edited form) that it had used earlier.

From the seventeenth century through to the 1970s, the Anglican or Episcopal parishes of the USA used The Book of Common Prayer – first in the 1662 edition and then, after Independence, in the American revision of 1789, 1892 and 1928 (while over the border at the north the Canadians also used the same 1662 BCP, as also did the West Indians south of Florida.)

From 1979 the Protestant Episcopal Church of the USA ceased officially in General Convention, Diocesan Conventions, and most parishes to use The Book of Common Prayer, as received in the Anglican Way. Rather, they used a book of the same name but of a very different content, structure and doctrine. They had publicly forsaken and set aside The (classic) Book of Common Prayer (1662, 1789, 1892 & 1928 editions).

This absence of The Book of Common Prayer in the Episcopal Church has now lasted for at least 26 years, nearly twice as long as the period it was absent from the Church of England. This is an immense tragedy for the Church and the nation. Happily it has been kept in use by a small number of churches inside and outside the PECUSA.

The majority in England in 1660-1662 wanted to see the recovery of the use of the Prayer Book. Regrettably only a minority in the Episcopal Church desire to see a recovery of the classic Prayer Book, even if only as one of several alternatives.

However, that minority within the Episcopal Church represented by The Network and related groups (e.g. American A C) desires to be accepted by and acceptable to the majority of the member churches of the Anglican Communion. Further, the churches of the Network sorely need a major unifying element in their own ranks other than opposition to the modern homosexual agenda.

The recovery of the classic Book of Common Prayer together with a carefully prepared contemporary language version of it (maintaining same structure, content and doctrine) is what is needed to be both a sign of commitment to true Anglicanism and of desire for internal unity in Rite and Doctrine. Such a standard of worship and doctrine would suffice for traditionalists and modern charismatic/evangelical types, for it would be available in two forms but have one basic content and doctrine.

Twenty-six years or more is too long for American Episcopalians to be without the use of the genuine form of the Anglican Prayer Book! Let the leaders “dig again the wells of Abraham.”

Sept 16, 2005 The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon MA., D.Phil (Oxford)

Tolerating Nonsense: “With You” or “With Your Spirit”?

Roman Catholic as well as Protestant (e.g., Lutheran, Methodist and Anglican/Episcopal) congregations have become so used to saying, “And also with you,” to the Priest or Minister (after he or she has said “The Lord be with you”) that few of their members realize what an odd and strange way it is to speak!

This response came into usage in the period after Vatican II when the Roman Catholic hierarchy was using commissions (often of liberal theologians) to render the Latin Mass into English – and not the English of the UK, or the English of the USA, but a kind of English that would represent the “English” of the whole English-speaking world. That is, one which would do what the English of Hollywood films seeks to do, to be understood wherever English is used from one end of the earth to the other.

And what the R C hierarchy hastily allowed into its new vernacular Mass, the Protestants hastily allowed into their new services/liturgies. It was a period when the wind blew and churches were blown by it, and only began to consider seriously of what the wind was about when it was too late! (The Vatican is now working on correcting & renewing the English of the Liturgy!)

Thus all the rules of basic translation of Latin as taught in schools to children were set aside in the interests of relevance, simplicity and novel linguistic theory. Here is the Latin of the Mass.

Priest: Dominus vobiscum
Congregation: Et cum spiritu tuo

As long has English had been spoken (and in the BCP of the C of E from 1549, and in translations of the Tridentine Mass from the 17th century) this had been universally rendered literally as:

Priest: The Lord be with you [you plural]
Congregation: And with thy spirit [thy, singular]

However, in the new fit-all occasions and types English of the 1970s the response of the Congregation became: And also with you [you here singular].

What happened to “spiritu tuo” (“thy spirit”, or ‘your [sing.] spirit’)? And where did “also” come from?

The answer is found from two directions. First, from the supposed academic area where some scholars argued that this ancient conversation in the Liturgy between priest and people was in reality just a simple greeting taken from what often occurred on the street. Thus it has no special meaning other than a friendly exchange of greeting and response. So a literal translation of “Et cum spiritu tuo” is not required; but rather (and here is the second direction) what is needed is a dynamic equivalent statement – thus “and also with you.”

So a theory of an exchange between priest and assembled faithful in the Mass together with a post 1960s theory of translating original languages come together to provide what is, in reality, an expression that one cannot imagine hearing in the real world as a form of greeting. “And also with you” sounds odd to this day to the person who is not used to it!

Is there another explanation of this exchange where the faithful say “And with thy/your spirit”? Of course there is! Here it is.

The exchange occurs within the Mass at given points and it is first of all an expression of a prayer-wish [ perhaps also an affirmation] by the priest for the (realized) presence of the Lord Jesus with his people (the Lord Jesus be with you) by His Spirit (the Paraclete); then, secondly, it is a prayer-wish [perhaps an affirmation] of the faithful that, as he performs the office of Celebrant in the Mass, the Lord (through His Spirit) will activate, as it were, the gift given to him in ordination and give him the divine unction, rightly before God to perform the office of priest and Celebrant on this solemn occasion. And then the whole assembly will be raised to heaven and feast at the heavenly Banquet!

How can so many intelligent people each Sunday use this silly modern form of exchange? Why this dumbing-down? Why this obvious rejection of simple rules of translation? Why this removal of a meaningful prayer-wish and affirmation from the Eucharist?

Regrettably, this is but one example of serious error in the modern forms of the Mass, Eucharist and Lord’s Supper in both the Roman and the Protestant Churches. Why are we satisfied with standards less than those of our grandparents and great-grandparents when it comes to basic English expression and simple doctrinal truth?

(see further Neither Archaic nor Obsolete by Lou Tarsitano & Peter Toon from or )

The Revd Dr Peter Toon September 19, 2005

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Enquiries in a Letter from a Priest

Dear Peter,

It would help me if you were to illustrate the substantive difference between Rite I, prayer I and 1928. I am ignorant, without context. Most Episcopalians who have remained with ECUSA feel that Rite I is similar enough to 1928 as to be acceptable.

Do you have any carefully prepared contemporary language versions of 1928? I could and would use it right now.

In response:

The differences between 1928 BCP (or 1892 or 1789 or 1662) and Rite I of the 79 Book of Varied Services are in brief as follows (but see in detail NEITHER ORTHODOXY NOR A FORMULARY, by Tarsitano & Toon, 2004, from ) Here are ten points, as a starter, but the more closely one examines the more differences one sees. Further the style is very different as any celebrant who has used the classic and then turns to Rite 1 knows in his soul.

  1. The shape or structure of Rite 1 is based on that of Rite 2 and is very different from that of the classic BCP Service of Holy Communion. That is, it is made to allow for the walk about and greetings in the center called the Peace.
  2. To use Rite 1 fully you have to mix with it material from the inclusive language Psalter in YOU language, and so there is a mixing of two very different forms of addressing God. This in principle is bad liturgy and policy for the THOU language has its own logic and sacred history of usage (see NEITHER ARCHAIC NOR OBSOLETE by Tarsitano & Toon , from
  3. The Lectionary in use with the Rite I is very different from the Eucharistic Lectionary printed in the classic BCP. The latter is very ancient, from the 4th century or so.
  4. The Collects for Rite 1 are not identical with those for BCP 1928, and some of them are contrary to the style of 1928.
  5. The Church Year for Rite 1 is different from that of BCP 1928 (Notice Sundays after Trinity, Sundays after Easter in BCP and note the usage in Rite 1 – Pentecost and then Sundays of Easter)
  6. The BCP is based on the 40 plus 10 days for Easter to Whit-Sunday (Pentecost) whereas Rite 1 is committed to the so called “great fifty days,” where Easter is 50 days and there is a diminution of the importance of Ascension Day and of preparation for Whit, thereafter. When do you extinguish your Easter Candle – with 1928 Ascension Day, or with Rite 1 Pentecost Day?
  7. Rite 1 is tied to a theology & doctrines are very different from those of the BCP 1662, 1928.
  8. The opening Acclamation of Rite 1 and 2 is a definite attempt to lower or change the doctrine of the Trinity and this dumbing down is seen in the Catechism and elsewhere. (See my book on The Seven Ecumenical Councils)
  9. Rite 1 offers two Consecration Prayers and so breaks the rule of Common Prayer as that is seen in the classic BCP.
  10. Most of the Prayers in Rite 1 which are taken from 1928 have been edited to reduce their doctrines; and only by putting the two in parallel can this be seen to be a doctrinal revisionism.
In short, when a majority in the House of Bishops insisted in 1975 or so that there be a traditional language service incorporated in the new “Book of Alternative Services”, the Liturgical Commission provided Rite 1 edited to fit their current view of the right shape of the Liturgy, and making it in such a way as requiring use of other parts of this Prayer Book to do it fully. So it can never be done or used in the true spirit of the classic worship of the Anglican Way for it is always a compromise. Thus sensitive and informed souls have resisted the use of Rite 1 and used 1928 or 1662 in their integrity.

Modern Language BCP?

The Prayer Book Society released in August 2005 a book of parallel texts – that is the BCP1928 text on the left and a contemporary language equivalency on the right. This is called WORSHIPPING THE LORD IN THE ANGLICAN WAY and is at It is not a complete BCP.

As yet there is no complete version of the whole of 1662 or Canadian1960 or USA 1928 in so-called contemporary English. This is surely a job for The Network assisted perhaps by the Prayer Book Societies, for there if there is to be a return to orthodoxy then the 1979 book has to be repudiated as a genuine BCP, for it is really and truly, only and merely, a book of varied services and does not belong to the genuine family of editions of the BCP. Thus 1979 is not a genuine Formulary of the Anglican Way.

Various attempts have been made in Britain, Australia and the USA to make a genuinely contemporary language equivalent of this and that service in the classic BCP. Yet nowhere has the job been yet done wholly and fully and competently. Again the Network or a large church or a group of churches is the group to sponsor in the USA.

What could unite American Anglicans/Episcopalians – at least in the short term – would be the use of the One BCP, available either in its classic edition or in a carefully prepared contemporary equivalent version. This would bring unity of Rite, shape of liturgy, doctrine and ethos. For, as long as 1979 dominates then biblical orthodoxy and genuine renewal will always be at least an arm’s length away, for 1979 is the production of a church (as we now see) well on its way to apostasy ( so likewise the BAS, 1985, of Canada, which is based on the 1979 of the USA).

I hope this all helps to stimulate your thoughts and prayers,

Peter Toon (Sept 18th, 2005)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity

18/9/2005 Author:The Revd Dr Peter Toon


LORD, we pray thee that thy grace may always prevent and follow us, and make us continually to be given to all good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Collect Commentary

Here we address the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ as the LORD, in Hebrew YHWH, the revealed Name of God given to Moses at the burning bush in the wilderness (Exodus 3). He is “I AM WHO I AM” and “I AM WHO I SHALL BE” and “I AM & SHALL BE WHO I WAS”. He is the utterly faithful One from generation to generation and from age to age. And his Son, the One Mediator between God and Man, who also shares the name of “LORD” is “the same yesterday, today and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8).

To this eternally existing, infinite and ineffable God, who came to us in Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of the almighty Father, we are most highly privileged to be able to bring our petitions and to offer our praise and thanksgiving.

Here we use a verb “Prevent” whose meaning in this context is the old one – to anticipate, to forestall, to be beforehand with. And we make two petitions which are connected to each other. First of all, we ask that the grace (the personal presence and unmerited mercy) of God (that is as the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete, present in the world as the Spirit of Christ) may always both go before us and come behind us, so that we are always surrounded on all sides by the divine omnipresence and infinite care. In the second place, being thus placed within the gracious favour of God, we ask that we shall continually respond in faith and faithfulness to be and do that which is pleasing in his sight -- loving God with all our being & loving our neighbour as ourselves.

There is great strength in the word “always”. We need God’s personal presence and assistance not sometimes, not even often; but, rather, always. We may wish to compare this Collect for Trinity XVII with the Fourth Collect at the end of the Order for Holy Communion where we pray, “Prevent us, O Lord, in all our doings with thy most gracious favour…” That is, we ask God, as it were, to bring up the rear as his Church moves through space and time. The same Collect also asks, “Further us with thy continual help”. Here, we ask God to surround us and to go before us with his Presence.

Let us be clear that the LORD, the Blessed, Holy and Undivided Trinity of the Father, together with the Son and the Holy Ghost, is wholly desirous of being with his children in a complete and satisfying way for their salvation and their general good. His promises of his presence and his help are many. What he looks for in us is faith and faithfulness so that we are truly, consciously and continually his people and he is known by us always as our covenant God.

The Epistle reminds us of the Christian vocation which always includes maintaining the unity of the church. The Gospel proclaims the virtue of humility before God and amongst men.

Epistle: Ephesians 4.1-6

I THEREFORE the prisoner of the Lord beseech you, that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Gospel: S. Luke 14.1-11

IT came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath-day, that they watched him. And behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy. And Jesus answering spake unto the Lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath-day? And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go; and answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass, or an ox, fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath-day? And they could not answer him again to these things. And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms, saying unto them, When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; and he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Nigeria & ECUSA

The following statement by the Church of Nigeria is most significant:

The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) hereinafter called The Church of Nigeria or This Church shall be in full communion with all Anglican Churches Dioceses and Provinces that hold and maintain the Historic Faith, Doctrine, Sacrament and Discipline of the one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church as the Lord has commanded in His holy Word and as the same are received as taught in the Book of Common Prayer and the ordinal of 1662 and in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion.

Let us note that the re-worded Constitution of the Anglican Church of Nigeria is explicit in its claim that it belongs to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of God and further that it is Reformed Catholic in its jurisdiction and fellowship. It states the latter by its commitment to the Holy Scriptures and then to the Formularies of the Anglican Way [the classic BCP, Ordinal (Ordination Services) and the Articles].

As far as North American Episcopalians are concerned, this means that there is no Communion between the Church of Nigeria and the Episcopal Church of the USA. As is well known, the latter rejected the Formularies in 1976/79 when it adopted a wholly new form of Prayer Book, Ordination Services and Catechism and confined the received Formularies to “historical documents.” (Regrettably the Church in the West Indies followed this example in the 1990s – I wonder whether the Nigerian realize this?)

The Nigerian Church states what truly unites the real Anglican Family. It is not what these days are called “the Instruments of unity” but rather the common Formularies (adapted locally to respect the nature of government and culture). From the earliest days of the spread of the Anglican Way around the world, the Formularies, and especially the Book of Common Prayer, were the glue that bound the (now) provinces together. And the weakening of this glue since the 1970s has been a major cause of the continuing crises of the Anglican Communion of Churches.

I cannot see how the dioceses and churches within the American Anglican Council and the Network (as it is called) in the ECUSA can escape being also placed out of communion with the Nigerian Church. For despite all protest of orthodoxy, this part of the ECUSA still accepts the 1979 Book as its Formulary and has not repudiated it in favor of the classic Formularies. Whatever claims it makes with regard to the classic tradition of the Anglican Way, the fact is that it still accepts the 1979 Book as the Formulary, and does so knowing that its adoption means in real terms the rejection of the received, historic Formularies.

It is in this context that I have made the proposal that the Network recover the classic Anglican Way by making two Rites and two only available in its churches for the next decade, in order to stabilize and order its common life. And the two Rites are essentially one, for the first is the text of the classic Formulary, the BCP, and the other is a contemporary language form of it, providing strict equivalency in terms of structure, doctrine and content. After all, in living memory all the ECUSA parishes used the one Rite – admittedly with different forms of churchmanship, but one Rite nevertheless. What once united can unite again!

Peter Toon September 16, 2005

Judge Roberts & Empathy

An attempt to understand, but not the last word!

Here I want to reflect upon a matter that some of those who oppose or have doubts about Judge Roberts have articulated, usually with emotion, over the last three days. I refer to the conviction and feeling of some people that he does not have sufficient empathy for the disadvantaged, disabled and victims of discrimination.

[But, first, to set the context: Two days ago I circulated a “discussion starter” on “Judge Roberts and the Christian Mind” (which as I predicted was both much appreciated and also attacked with vigor). In this act of thinking aloud, I suggested that by his own commitments Roberts intended not to allow the Christian Faith to enter substantially into his mindset as he performed the duties of a Justice on the Supreme Court. Now, 2 days later, having heard the whole of his testimony and the statements of those called by the Senate as witnesses, I am quite clear that this is truly his position. And it is one that most commentators think is perfectly normal and which even the “Christian Right” seems to think is appropriate.

At the same time, I want to affirm that there seems to me no doubt but that he is an impressive human being with the kinds of skills one looks for in top-class lawyers. And I want to state again what I wrote two days ago that as far as I can tell he is a man of Christian faith and morals, who is a devout Catholic. Yet, as with many of us, his faith seems to be privatized – it is for home and family and church but not for the public square, except minimally. In his case the “mindset” that he will bring to the Court is to be one that does not allow considerations/doctrines which are part of Catholic Faith to enter substantially into his judgment. Never once in any of his replies or statements did he intimate that as a Christian man he would be guided or influenced by the Christian Faith. This said, he is amongst the best of the those available and I sincerely hope he is confirmed by the Senate.]


I have had the experience on several (for me) important occasions of being required to face the question as to whether or not I truly understand, feel, have a real sense of, the pain of a person who for no fault of her/his own endures discrimination. For example, I was once interviewed for a position of professor of theology in an institution where a third or more of the students were women. And this was just before the C of E embraced the ordination of women. Certain questions to me sought to ascertain whether (without regard to my own beliefs about women in orders) I really understood their aspirations, feelings, and sensibilities and thus whether I could be sensitive to them in my teaching and attitudes. One asked if I would be willing to take therapy to ensure that I would be sensitive to these women at this stage in their lives.

Much the same kind of question has been, and is being, asked of John Roberts Esq. He has made it very clear that as a matter of law all people are equal before the law and that discrimination of various kinds is against the law. There is no problem of where his rational mind is – it is firmly in the position of equality for all. Yet the mind is not the whole soul and some people want to know where the rest of his soul is, especially where “his heart” is. Does he actually feel the pain of people who are obviously still in modern America the recipients of discrimination? What certain people are looking for is to see in him, to sense within him, genuine empathy with the real victims of discrimination. If they see this, then, I guess, they will see him as a full human being and have a wholly different evaluation of him.

Let us be clear. Roberts never said one word to suggest that he is a racist or a bigot or a hard-liner or a separatist or anything like this. At the level of propositional statement and intellectual clarity, he made it clear that he is all in favor of equal treatment before the law for all people. At the same time, he showed no special empathy for those who, in the American situation, have not been always fully included within the American dream, liberties, rights and opportunities, and who fear that the present trend of the Court is to erode the “freedoms” they have gained through painful experiences.

I suggest that to have such empathy is not of necessity to be biased or to judge a case in advance; rather, it is to allow all the faculties of the soul (the affections and will as well as the intellect) to function together in the way one looks at people and hears what they say. In court, any case must be judged according to the constitution, the law, precedents, arguments offered etc; yet this does not exclude the exercise of the imagination and emotions in feeling a special identification with the disadvantaged, poor and outcasts. After all, God as the Judge, is portrayed in the Bible as the One who judges righteously but who has a special place in “his heart” for the poor and needy.

Peter Toon September 15 2005

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Thoughts expressed to promote better thoughts by others

It so happens that I have been re-reading the book, The Christian Mind (1963) by Harry Blamires, at the same time as listening with great care to the Senate hearings with respect to the Presidential nominee for Chief Justice, Judge Roberts. And the question that I could not avoid facing was this: Does Judge Roberts, the Roman Catholic layman, reveal a Christian mind in his answers to the many questions put to him over 6 hours or so on Tuesday, September 13? [It may be suggested that this question is most appropriate because the political “Christian right” is spending millions of dollars supporting his nomination since he is reckoned to be a conservative and Christian judge.]

I am using the expression, “the Christian mind,” as Mr. Blamires uses it. That is, a mind whose thinking, structure and basis is formed by the sure facts of the Christian Faith, that is from the Divine Revelation recorded in the Bible and affirmed in Tradition. In other words, a mind that it not secularized (conditioned by this- worldly realities) but that sees everything in terms of the living God, the Creator, Judge and Redeemer, of heaven and hell as ultimate and final realities, of the salvation given through and in Jesus Christ, of the Church of Jesus Christ against which hell cannot prevail, and of this world and its norms as an evil age and under the just judgment of God.

Mr. Blamires recognized and lamented (back in 1963) that the Christian mind as such seemed not to exist, since Christians in public life tended to think and act in secular terms. He wrote: “As a thinking being, the modern Christian has succumbed to secularization. He accepts religion – its morality, its worship, its spiritual character; but he rejects the religious view of life, the view which sets all earthly issues within the context of the eternal, the view that relates all human problems – social, political, cultural – to the doctrinal foundations of the Christian Faith, the view that sees all things here below in terms of God’s supremacy and earth’s transitoriness, in terms of heaven and hell.”

Now we turn to John Roberts, aged 50, a Judge and a fine legal mind. It is difficult to dislike him for he is so well mannered and pleasant; and it is easy to admire him for in all areas, of intellect and speech, for example, he is attractive as a human being. The professional associations of lawyers speak very highly of him and his track record as a lawyer is first class. I would vote for him, if I were a Senator!

Judge Roberts makes it clear that he is a Christian, a Catholic Christian. Thus we may regard him as a possible test case to see whether the Christian mind is present in a Christian lawyer, who is strongly supported for very high position by many who profess to be Christians, evangelicals and R C’s, in the USA.

Let it be said first of all, that there is every reason to believe that in his private life and the way he relates to his wife and two adopted children he acts as a Christian. The same observation may surely also be made of how he relates to his neighbors and colleagues and friends, and to the poor. He gives the impression of being not only a decent man but also a genuine Christian man.

Now, back to Harry Blamires for a moment. He accepted that thousands of people he knew in the USA and England had a Christian ethic, piety, morality and spirituality; but, he also argued with abundant examples to make his case that in most Christian persons the Christian mind or mindset (as different from a Christian ethic, piety and spirituality) is missing.

Now let us return to Judge Roberts. In the Senate hearings he made it absolutely clear that the Christian Faith (the Catholic Faith) would have no bearing on his work at all as a Justice, as the Chief Justice, on the Supreme Court. He said that he would look to the Constitution, to the tradition of interpretations of the Constitution, to precedence, to the arguments presented by the lawyers appearing before the Court, to reason, and so on, but he would not allow the tenets and revealed facts of his Christian Faith to be any part of any decision-making or judging.

In Mr. Blamires terms, if I understand his argument right, here is an example of a Christian who has decided that in the workplace, and here it is in the Supreme Court, the Christian Faith has no part or place in the thinking of the Justices. Judge Roberts does not intend to bring a Christian mind to bear on the Judging in which he will be intensely involved. This may be called in American terms “separation of church and state.” But for Mr. Blamires it is a clear example of a conservative secularism, in contrast to the progressive secularism of his Democratic questioners and of four or so of the Justices on the Court now.

Perhaps the argument will be made that the Constitution is a Christian document and so to interpret the Constitution aright is to have a Christian mind and perform a Christian duty. If so then “Christian” is being used in terms of the Deism of the eighteenth century Enlightenment which was religiously held by many in the USA in the period from 1760-1800. It is hardly being used in terms of how the R C Church in its recent Catechism defines Christianity.

The relation of Christianity to the “Public Square” through the presence therein of the Christian mind in action is a major and important topic. I have merely commented on a small part of it.

Peter Toon Sept 13 2005.

Monday, September 12, 2005

What unites Anglicans? And What can unite Anglicans?

A discussion Starter

Until the 1960s what primarily united Anglicans was the use of the Book of Common Prayer. While there was a comprehensiveness in terms of how used, there was unity in the use of the BCP not only in English but also in 150 other languages. There was a common shape, common content, and common basic doctrine, even whilst there were differences in style and ceremonial.

Related to the use of the BCP was the acceptance of it along with the Ordinal (inside its covers) and the Articles of Religion (inside its covers), each as a Formulary of the Anglican Way. That is, giving form and substance to the Anglican expression of Reformed Catholicism.

Related also to the use of the BCP were historical ties to the Church of England with “bonds of affection” and an acceptance of a common Ministry (because of the use of the One Ordinal).

Since the 1960s with (a) the production of Books of Alternative Services and the developing right of choice in local liturgy, and (b) the assertion of autonomy by Anglican Provinces in order to go ahead with innovations, there has been less and less common glue to hold the now 38 provinces together and within provinces to hold dioceses and parishes together. In this context much has been made of the “instruments of unity” [ the Arch of Cant., the Lambeth Conf., the A.C.C., and the Primates’ Meeting], but they are unable to hold together the Anglican Family in its current dysfunctionality and disarray.

Nowhere is this confusion clearer than in North America, where there is not only a great variety of rites and services but there is also a growing number of jurisdictions/denominations and groups. In this “each man does what is right in his own eyes” and claims that his way and opinion is as good as anyone else’s. Here Anglican unity is a concept that if taken seriously is then put on the back burner for the problems relating it to it are so severe. Centrifugal forces simply are more powerful than centripetal forces and the autonomous individualism of the culture and the emphasis on rights and the like reinforce the centrifugalism.

In another essay I have proposed that to begin to unify “orthodox” or “would-be orthodox” North American Anglicans/Episcopalians (inside and outside the two official Provinces of the Anglican Communion) one way is to dig again the wells of Abraham (see Genesis!) and to get all to agree to use the same Rites for services, but allowing for the use of the same Rite in both its traditional English form and in a contemporary equivalent – so that the same content and doctrine are preserved. Thus the One God would be addressed in doctrinal and liturgical harmony but under the two ways of “Thou art” and “YOU are”! These would of course not be mixed in the one service but be available as the two forms of the one service.

Without one Basic Rite there cannot be unity in the Anglican Way. Merely to agree on the authority of Scripture places Anglicans alongside thousands of groups; agreement on the Creeds places Anglicans alongside hundreds of groups; raising the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral to be the unifier gives no unity, for this short statement is intended to say wherein Anglicans will unite with other jurisdictions and it presupposes for Anglicans the traditional Formularies.

Some say what we need to unite is not a complete Rite but a common shape or structure for the Rites so that each parish puts into the common shape what it seems appropriate. This is a recipe for confusion and division and the majoring on minors!

Belonging to a specific tradition – the Anglican Way – brings with it a certain commitment to what it is that has made the Anglican Way what it is and what it can be. The Common Prayer Tradition is uniquely the primary tradition of the C of E and the Anglican Way!

If the separated brethren of the Anglican Way in North America could agree for a ten year period to use a Common Rite (i.e. the classic BCP or the classic BCP in contemporary language) this would provide a common basis for negotiating further means of unity in practical matters and in real terms.

A contemporary language version of the classic BCP (as used in North America) could be produced reasonably quickly and this proposal could be ready to be set in place after the General Convention of June 2006.

The Revd Dr Peter Toon Sept 12 2005

Thinking Aloud

Thinking aloud – about uniting liturgically the Essentials Movement of the Anglican Church in Canada, The ECUSA Communion Network and some if not all of the streams of Anglicanism outside of the Anglican Church of Canada and the ECUSA

I am thinking aloud! I am speaking alone (but yet with I know the support of not a few individual persons who have a great heart for the Anglican Way). And, in the emotionally charged reality of modern Anglicanism, I expect to be misunderstood, for either I shall not explain myself sufficiently clearly, or my reader will pick out a sentence or phrase here or there and treat it as if it were all I have to say. Yet, knowing I walk into a minefield, I press on, because I believe the topic needs to be aired and aired now, for obvious reasons (e.g., the present Anglican crisis where centrifugal forces are much stronger than centripetal ones).

Right now in North America within the Essentials Movement, the Network movement, and the thirty or more streams of Episcopalian and Anglican expression (that may call “the Diaspora” or “the Continuum” or “the Extra-Mural Anglicans” or other names) there is no real unity in Liturgy, doctrine or discipline, but there is a unity in what is opposed (the apostasy of the ECUSA and Anglican Church of Canada), and there is a general agreement as to the final authority of the Scriptures for matters of faith and conduct. Happily there is active dialogue between Canada and the USA at the leadership levels.

To bring all these Anglicans/Episcopalians into a situation where they pull in the same direction, cooperate in basics like evangelization and social service, and find a common goal will require “an act of God” together with the hearty cooperation of all groups involved. For this we must pray heartily and fervently as led by the Holy Ghost.

Happily local efforts are being made to work towards this general goal and, as an example, I cite the work of the Rev John Roddham of Seattle, who acts as a facilitator for the regular meeting of the varied streams in the North West of the USA and in Vancouver. I believe that we need more and more of such local efforts for the moves towards a working unity must rise locally and cannot be forced from above. Of course conferences and meetings of leaders cannot do any harm and may help to create centripetal forces to overcome the centrifugal ones!

Here I want to make one proposal that if worthy needs to be done, as it were, from the top in a cooperative way and offered humbly and in an attractive and meaningful way from there to the local churches in Canada and the USA.

To work towards the situation where there is One Rite in use in the North American Anglican Scene and that this One Rite is available in traditional English and contemporary English, as well as in French and Spanish.

Where are we now?

1. Canada. The first Prayer Book of the Anglican Church of Canada is the classic BCP in its edition of 1960/62. Subordinate to this is the 1985 BAS [Book of Alterative Services]. Anglicans outside the Anglican Church of Canada use the BCP of 1960/62 or its older sister, that of 1662.
2. USA. The official Prayer Book of the ECUSA is called “The Book of Common Prayer, 1979” but in shape and content and doctrine it is very much like the Canadian BAS of 1985. The authentic BCP of the American tradition is that of 1928 which was set aside in 1979. So most of the groups outside the ECUSA either use the 1928 BCP or they list it as their Formulary along with the edition of 1662.

So there is real division in worship not because of differences of churchmanship and ritual but because of the texts used. There is no doubt but that the 1979 & 1985 prayerbooks have a different doctrinal emphasis to that of the 1928 & 1960 classic editions of the BCP. Indeed, it may be argued that the major innovations since the 1970s have been made possible (or easier) because of the theological content of the new form of prayer books.

Two points are clear. First, that there is a continuing desire amongst a sizeable minority for the use of the classic editions of the BCP whether 1662, 1928 or 1960/2. Second, there is a continuing desire amongst a majority for the use of contemporary English in texts that are sound.

Therefore, what is needed – if unity is really desired – is for the churches which desire to be orthodox as reformed-Catholics (= Anglicans) to use One Rite for M P., E P., Holy Communion, etc (with of course local ceremonial and ritual emphases). And this One Rite be available in two forms, the received traditional form and the new contemporary English form, and that these two versions of the One Rite be identical in structure, shape. Here the new would be a straight literal & functional equivalency and not a similarity as in some modern liturgical texts produced in England, Ireland and Australia.

Thus in all the churches desirous to be orthodox and truly Anglican the same services would be held and experienced, with some addressing God as “Thou art” and others as “You are”, and with some being high-church and others low-church and some charismatic and others ordered. (Also the same would apply to the French speaking churches of Canada and the Spanish speaking churches in the USA and in missions.)

I think that after all the disorder and innovation since the 1970s, the Anglican Way needs a DECADE at least of order and unity. The proposal is intended to further that goal.

However, to make this goal even a possibility, what is needed right away is a carefully prepared set of texts in contemporary English, which are, as far as is possible, a functional and literal equivalent to those in the Canadian and American editions of the classic BCP. (And where there are differences between the two editions, the new contemporary edition can offer local options.)

This task if worthy is crying out to have been completed already. It is obviously urgent and needs to be ready for the aftermath of the June 2006 G C of the ECUSA. Thus, it would be good for a small working team to be established of Canadians and Americans and to be sponsored by the some of the major players in the present North American desire to recover Anglican wholeness and vitality. I think that to cover travel expenses and printing costs for an initial run of say 5,000 copies (which texts could be “tested” in the churches for a time after June 2006 before a revised edition is produced for use in the next decade) not more than $20.000.00 is required (if the team of liturgists/translators is not paid).

Anyone who wishes to know what the contemporary services could or would look and sound like is encouraged to obtain the recently published, Worshipping the Lord in the Anglican Way: Texts and Prayers from the 1928 BCP in Parallel with functional Equivalents in Contemporary English. It is available on line from or by calling 1-800-727-1928. This does not offer texts for worship but rather texts in contemporary English as a door into the appreciation of the classic texts.

I stand ready to do all I can to make this goal into a reality.

May I say in closing that I am not speaking for the Prayer Book Societies of Canada and the USA, even though I am intimately involved with them and their cause (of keeping in print and use with understanding the classic BCP).

I look for the other participants in the renewal and reform movement to support this proposal initially. I am optimistic that they will. Where there is a will there is a way. The LORD will provide if this be his will.

Please join me in meditation and prayer to discern the will of God in this regard.

The Rev’d Dr. Peter Toon Sept 11, 2005