Monday, October 31, 2005

The Third Anglican Global South to South Encounter

Notice amongst other things that they now talk of a Covenant to bind Anglicans which has within it the Formularies of the ANGLICAN Way….Wow…


The Third Anglican Global South to South Encounter

Red Sea (Egypt), 25-30 October 2005

The Third Anglican South-to-South Encounter has graphically demonstrated the coming of age of the Church of the Global South. We are poignantly aware that we must be faithful to God's vision of one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. We do not glory in our strengths but in God's strength. We do not shrink from our responsibility as God's people because of our weaknesses but we trust God to demonstrate His power through our weakness. We thank God for moving us forward to serve Him in such a time as this.

A. Preamble

1. A total of 103 delegates of 20 provinces in the Global South (comprising Africa, South and South East Asia, West Indies and South America), representing approximately two-thirds of the Anglican Communion, met for the 3rd Global South to South Encounter from 25-30 October 2005 at Ain El-Sukhna by the Red Sea in Egypt. The theme of the Encounter was "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church: Being A Faithful Church For Such A Time As This".

2. We deeply appreciated the Archbishop of Canterbury for the time he spent with us, his listening ear and encouraging words. We took to heart his insight that the four marks of the Church are not attributes we possess as our own right, nor goals to attain by human endeavour, but they are expressed in us as we deeply focus on Jesus Christ, who is the Source of them all (John 17:17-21).

3. We were really warmed by the welcome that we received here by the President, the government and the people of Egypt. We valued the great efforts made by the state security personnel who are making the land of Egypt a secure and safe place to all her visitors. We were touched by the warm hospitality of the Diocese of Egypt.

4. We have witnessed in Egypt a wonderful model for warm relations between Christians and Muslims. We admire the constructive dialogue that is happening between the two faiths. We appreciated the attendance of the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Dr Mohammed Said Tantawi, the representative of Pope Shenouda III and other religious leaders at the State Reception to launch our Encounter. We were encouraged by their wise contributions.

B. We Gathered

5. We gathered to seek the face of God, to hear His Word afresh and to be renewed by His Spirit for total obedience to Christ who is Lord of the Church. That is why the gathering was called an "Encounter" rather than a conference. The vital question we addressed was: What does it mean to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church in the midst of all the challenges facing the world and the Church?

6. The world of the Global South is riddled with the pain of political conflict, tribal warfare and bloodshed. The moral and ethical foundations of several of our societies are being shaken. Many of our nations are beset by problems of poverty, ignorance and sickness, particularly the HIV and AIDS that threaten millions, especially in Africa. In addition to that, thousands of people have suffered from severe drought in Africa, earthquakes in South Asia, and hurricanes in the Americas - we offer our support and prayers to them.

7. Apart from the world condition, our own Anglican Communion sadly continues to be weakened by unchecked revisionist teaching and practices which undermine the divine authority of the Holy Scripture. The Anglican Communion is severely wounded by the witness of errant principles of faith and practice which in many parts of our Communion have adversely affected our efforts to take the Gospel to those in need of God's redeeming and saving love.

8. Notwithstanding these difficult circumstances, several parts of our Communion in the Global South are witnessing the transforming power of the Gospel and the growth of the Church. The urgency of reaching vast multitudes in our nations for Christ is pressing at our door and the
fields are ready for harvest.

9. Surrounded by these challenges and seeking to discover afresh our identity we decided to dig deeper into God's Word and into the tradition of the Church to learn how to be faithful to God's gift and call to be His one, holy, catholic and apostolic people. We deliberately chose to meet in Egypt for two reasons:

a. Biblically, Egypt features prominently in the formative period of the calling of God's people (Exodus 19). Moreover, Egypt was part of the cradle that bore the entry of the Savior into the world (Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:13-15).

b. Meeting by the Red Sea, we could not help but be inspired by the historic crossing of God's people into the realm where He purposed to make them a "light to the nations" (Isaiah 42:6). Part of that blessing was fulfilled when Alexandria became a center of early Christianity, where church fathers formulated and held on to the
Christian faith through the early centuries.

C. We Discovered Afresh

10. We discovered afresh the depth and richness of our roots in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. Carefully researched papers were presented at the Encounter in the context of worship, prayer, Bible Study and mutual sharing. We recognize the dynamic way in which the four marks of the Church are inextricably interwoven. The salient truths we encountered inspired us and provided a basis for knowing what God requires of us.

The Church is One

11. The Church is called to be one. Our unity is willed by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, who prayed that we "all might be one." (John 17:20-21) A great deal of confusion has arisen out of misunderstanding that prayer and the concept of unity. For centuries, the Church has found unity in the Person and teaching of Jesus Christ, as recorded in Scripture. We are one in Him, and that binds us together. The foundation and expression of our unity is found in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.

12. While our unity may be expressed in institutional life, our unity is grounded in our living relationship with the Christ of Scripture. Unity is ever so much more than sharing institutionally. When we are "in Christ," we find that we are in fellowship with others who are also in Him. The fruit of that unity is that we faithfully manifest the life and love of Christ to a hurting and groaning world (Romans 8:18-22).

13. Christian unity is premised on truth and expressed in love. Both truth and love compel us to guard the Gospel and stand on the supreme authority of the whole Word of God. The boundary of family identity ends within the boundary of the authentic Word of God.

The Church is Holy

14. The Church of Jesus Christ is called to be holy. All Christians are to participate in the sanctification of their lives through submission, obedience and cooperation with the Holy Spirit. Through repentance the Church can regain her rightful position of being holy before God. We believe concurrently that holiness is imparted to us through the life, ministry, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ (Heb 10:21-23). He shares His holiness with us and invites us to be conformed to His likeness.

15. A holy Church is prepared to be a "martyr" Church. Witness unto death is how the Early Church articulated holiness in its fullest sense (Acts 22:20; Rev 2:13, 12:11).

The Church is Catholic

16. The Catholic faith is the universal faith that was "once for all" entrusted to the apostles and handed down subsequently from generation to generation (Jude 3). Therefore every proposed innovation must be measured against the plumb line of Scripture and the historic teaching of the Church.

17. Catholicity carries with it the notion of completeness and wholeness. Thus in the church catholic "when one part suffers, every part suffers with it" (1 Cor 12:26). The local church expresses its catholicity by its devotion to apostolic teaching, its attention to prayer and the sacrament, its warm and caring fellowship and its growth through evangelism and mission (Acts 2:42-47).

The Church is Apostolic

18. The Church is apostolic in its doctrine and teaching. The apostolic interpretation of God's salvation plan effected in Christ Jesus is binding on the Church. God established the Church on the "foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone" (Eph 2:20).

19. The Church is apostolic in its mission and service. "As the Father has sent Me, so I send you." (John 20:21) In each generation He calls bishops in apostolic succession (Eph 4:11-12) to lead the Church out into mission, to teach the truth and to defend the faith. Accountability to God, to those God places over us and to the flock is an integral part of church leadership.

D. We Commit

20. As a result of our Encounter, we emerge with a clearer vision of what the Church is called to be and to do, with a renewed strength to pursue that vision. Specifically, we made commitments in the following areas.

The Authority of the Word of God

21. Scripture demands, and Christian history has traditionally held, that the standard of life, belief, doctrine, and conduct is the Holy Scripture. To depart from apostolic teaching is to tamper with the foundation and to undermine the basis of our unity in Christ. We express full confidence in the supremacy and clarity of Scripture, and pledge full obedience to the whole counsel of God's Word.

22. We in the Global South endorse the concept of an Anglican Covenant (rooted in the Windsor Report) and commit ourselves as full partners in the process of its formulation. We are seeking a Covenant that is rooted in historic faith and formularies, and that provides a biblical foundation for our life, ministry and mission as a Communion. It is envisaged that once the Covenant is approved by the Communion, provinces that enter into the Covenant shall be mutually accountable, thereby providing an authentic fellowship within the Communion.

23. Anglicans of the Global South have discovered a vibrant spiritual life based on Scripture and empowered by the Spirit that is transforming cultures and communities in many of our provinces. It is to this life that we seek to be formed and found fully faithful. We reject the expectation that our lives in Christ should conform to the misguided theological, cultural and sociological norms associated with sections of the West.

Mission and Ministry

24. Churches in the Global South commit to pursue networking with one another to add strength to our mission and ministry. We will continue to explore appropriate structures to facilitate and support this.

25. Shared theological foundations are crucial to authentic fellowship and partnership in mission and ministry. In that light, we welcome the initiative to form the Council of Anglican Provinces of the Americas and the Caribbean (CAPAC). It is envisaged that CAPAC will not only provide a foundation on the historic formularies of Anglican faith but also provide a structure with which member churches can carry out formal ministry partnerships with confidence.

26. Global South is committed to provide our recognition, energy, prayers and experience to the Networks in the USA and Canada, the Convocation of Nigerian Anglicans in the USA, those who make Common Cause and the Missionary District that is gathering congregations that circumstances have pressed out of ECUSA. We are heartened by the bold witness of their people. We are grateful that the Archbishop of Canterbury publicly recognized the Anglican Communion Network in the USA and the Anglican Network in Canada as faithful members of the Anglican Communion.

27. As for the other provinces and dioceses around the world who remain steadfastly committed to this faith, we look forward to further opportunities to partner with them in the propagation of the Gospel. We will also support those orthodox dioceses and congregations which are under difficult circumstances because of their faithfulness to the Word.

We appreciate the recent action of the Primate of the Southern Cone who acted to stabilize the volatile situation in Recife, Brazil.

In this regard, we take this opportunity to acknowledge the immense contribution of the Primate of South East Asia to the development of the Global South and to the preservation of orthodoxy across the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Theological Education

28. In order to provide teaching that preserves the faith and fits our context, it is crucial to update the curricula of our theological institutions in the Global South to reflect our theological perspective and mission priorities. We note from the All Africa Bishops Conference their concern that far too many Western theological education institutions have become compromised and are no longer suitable for training leaders for our provinces. We call for the re-alignment of our priorities in such a way as to hasten the full establishment of adequate theological education institutions across the Global South so that our leaders can be appropriately trained and equipped in our own context.

We aim to develop our leaders in biblical and theological training, and seek to nurture indigenous theologians. We will provide information on institutions in the Global South, and we will encourage these institutions to explore ways to provide bursaries and scholarships.

The Current Crisis provoked by North American Intransigence

29. The unscriptural innovations of North American and some western provinces on issues of human sexuality undermine the basic message of redemption and the power of the Cross to transform lives. These departures are a symptom of a deeper problem, which is the diminution of the authority of Holy Scripture. The leaders of these provinces disregard the plain teaching of Scripture and reject the traditional interpretation of tenets in the historical Creeds.

30. This Encounter endorses the perspectives on communion life found in sections A & B of the Windsor Report, and encourages all Provinces to comply with the request from the Primates' Communiqué in February 2005 which states:

"We therefore request all provinces to consider whether they are willing to be committed to the inter-dependent life of the Anglican Communion understood in the terms set out in these sections of the report."
31. The Windsor Report rightly points out that the path to restoring order requires that either the innovating provinces/dioceses conform to historic teaching, or the offending provinces will by their actions be choosing to walk apart. Paragraph 12 of the Primates Communiqué says:

"Whilst there remains a very real question about whether the North American churches are willing to accept the same teaching on matters of sexual morality as is generally accepted elsewhere in the Communion, the underlying reality of our communion in God the Holy Trinity is obscured, and the effectiveness of our common mission severely hindered."
32. Regrettably, even at the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) in Nottingham in 2005, we see no evidence that both ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada are willing to accept the generally accepted teaching, nor is there evidence that they are willing to turn back from their innovations.

33. Further, the struggles of the Communion have only been exacerbated by the lack of concrete progress in the implementation of the recommendations of the Windsor Report. The slow and inadequate response of the Panel of Reference has trivialized the solemn charge from the Primates and has allowed disorder to multiply unnecessarily. We recognize with regret the growing evidence that the Provinces which have taken action creating the current crisis in the Communion continue moving in a direction that will result in their "walking apart." We call for urgent and serious implementation of the recommendations of the Windsor Report.

Unscriptural and unilateral decisions, especially on moral issues, tear the fabric of our Communion and require appropriate discipline at every level to maintain our unity. While the Global South calls for the errant provinces to be disciplined, we will continue to pray for all who embrace these erroneous teachings that they will be led to repentance and restoration.

Spiritual Leadership

34. Our on-going participation in ministry and mission requires godly and able spiritual leadership at all times. We are encouraged that many inspirational leaders in our midst bear witness to the Scriptures and are effectively bringing the Gospel to surrounding cultures. We commit ourselves to identify the next generation of leaders and will seek to equip and deploy them wherever they are needed.

35. We need inspirational leaders and accountability structures. These mechanisms which we are looking into must ensure that leaders are accountable to God, to those over us in the Lord, to the flock and to one another in accordance to the Scriptures. This last aspect is in keeping with the principle of bishops and leaders acting in council. In this way, leaders become the role models that are so needed for the flock.


36. The Global South emphasizes the involvement and development of youth in the life of the Church. The youth delegates encouraged the whole gathering by the following collective statement during the Encounter:

"Many youths in the Global South are taking up the challenge of living in moral purity in the face of the rising influence of immoral values and practice, and the widening epidemic of HIV and AIDS. Young people will be ready to give their lives to the ministry of the Church if she gives them exemplary spiritual leadership and a purpose to live for. Please pray that we will continue to be faithful as the Church of 'today and tomorrow'. It is also our heart's cry that the communion will remain faithful to the Gospel."

37. As the church catholic we share a common concern for the universal problem of debt and poverty. The inequity that exists between the rich and the poor widens as vast sums borrowed by previous governments were not used for the intended purposes. Requiring succeeding generations of people who never benefited from the loans and resources to repay them will impose a crushing and likely insurmountable burden. We welcome and appreciate the international efforts of debt reduction and cancellation, for example, the steps recently carried out by G8 leaders.

38. A dimension of responsible stewardship and accountability is the clear call to be financially self-sustaining. We commend the new initiative for financial self-sufficiency and development being studied by the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA). This is not only necessary because of the demands of human dignity; it is the only way to have sustainable economic stability.


39. A holy Church combines purity and compassion in its witness and service. The population of the world is under assault by the HIV and AIDS pandemic, but the people of much of the Global South are hit particularly hard because of poverty, lifestyle habits, lack of teaching and the paucity of appropriate medication. Inspired by the significant success of the Church in Uganda in tackling HIV and AIDS, all our provinces commit to learn and apply similar intentional programmes which emphasize abstinence and faithfulness in marriage. We call on governments to ensure that they are providing adequate medication and treatment for those infected.


40. The holy Church will "show forth fruits that befit repentance" (Matt 3:8). Many of us live in regions that have been deeply wounded by corruption. Not only do we have a responsibility to live transparent lives of utmost honesty in the Church, we are called to challenge the culture in which we live (Micah 6:8). Corruption consumes the soul of society and must be challenged at all costs. Transparency and accountability are key elements that we must manifest in bearing witness to the cultures in which we live.

Violent Conflict

41. Many of us from across the Global South live juxtaposed with violent conflict, most egregiously manifest in violence against innocents. In spite of the fact that the conflicts which grip many of our provinces have resulted in many lives being lost, we are not defeated. We find hope in the midst of our pain and inspiration from the martyrs who have shed their blood. Their sacrifice calls us to faithfulness. Their witness provokes us to pursue holiness. We commit ourselves to grow to become faithful witnesses who "do not love their lives even unto death"
(Rev 12:11).

E. We Press On

42. We emerge from the Encounter strengthened to uphold the supreme authority of the Word of God and the doctrinal formularies that have undergirded the Anglican Communion for over four and a half centuries. Communion requires alignment with the will of God first and foremost, which establishes our commonality with one another. Such expressions of the will of God which Anglicans should hold in common are: one Lord, one faith, one baptism; Holy Scripture; apostolic teaching and practice; the historic Creeds of the Christian Church; the Articles of Religion and the doctrinal tenets as contained in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. Holding truth and grace together by the power of the Holy Spirit, we go forward as those entrusted "with the faith once delivered" (Jude 3).

43. By the Red Sea, God led us to renew our covenant with Him. We have committed ourselves to obey Him fully, to love Him wholly, and to serve Him in the world as a "kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exodus 19:6). God has also helped us to renew our bonds of fellowship with one another, that we may "stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man in the faith of the Gospel" (Phil 1:27).

44. We offer to God this growing and deepening fellowship among the Global South churches that we might be a servant-body to the larger Church and to the world. We see ourselves as a unifying body, moving forward collectively as servants of Christ to do what He is calling us to do both locally in our provinces and globally as the "scattered people of God throughout the world" (1 Peter 1:1).

45. Jesus Christ, "that Great Shepherd of the sheep" (Heb 13:20, Micah 5:4), is caring for His flock worldwide, and He is gathering into His one fold lost sheep from every tribe and nation. We continue to depend on God's grace to enable us to participate with greater vigour in Christ's great enterprise of saving love (1 Peter 2:25, John 10:14-16).

We shall press on to glorify the Father in the power of the Spirit until Christ comes again. Even so, come Lord Jesus.

The Third Anglican Global South to South Encounter

Red Sea, Egypt, 25-30 October 2005

ACNSlist, published by Anglican Communion News Service, London

Christian FREEDOM in the USA context: “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

A discussion starter.

The debate over the 1960s and its moral legacy (in the area of personal freedom) often confuses two different phenomena. One is the freedom to choose how to live. The other is the freedom to consider oneself unbound by moral rules. However, when pressed Americans usually make a distinction between them. The former, they usually insist, is something worth having and is part of the American ethos. The latter, most of them feel, is something worth avoiding, for it destroys social cohesion.

It may be suggested that the debate over the origins of the Republic and to what extent the freedom/liberty envisaged was based on Christian or Enlightenment principles has confused two further and different phenomena. One is the ideal of the individual, personal freedom and rights associated with life in the Republic that is available to people of any religion or none; and the other is the ideal or perfection of individual, human freedom as presented by Jesus and his apostles.

The words of some preachers, televangelists, Christian action groups and politicians sometimes give the impression that the “freedom/liberty” for which the USA stands in the world, and which is part of the American way of life at home, is basically what “Christian freedom” based on the New Testament is all about when embodied in a state and culture.. And they seem to mean more than that it is compatible with Christian principles.

The main point, I suggest, about the biblical presentation of personal freedom in Christ is that it is available from God anywhere in the world at all times and under any kind of government or social situation. That is, a fully committed Christian is as free before God and in Christ in North Korea or Iran as in the USA and Canada. For the Christian is as free when being persecuted as when being rescued from physical danger by the state.

In brief, the following may be said in explanation of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience.

1. Freedom/liberty has been purchased by Christ Jesus in his Cross for all who live under the Gospel.
2. The liberty consists of freedom from the wrath of God against sinners, from the curse of the Law of God, and from the guilt of sin.
3. It also consists in being delivered from this present evil age/world, from bondage to Satan, from the rule and dominion of sin, from the sting of death and from everlasting damnation.
4. Further, it includes, positively, access to the Father through the Son, with desire and power to obey the Lord not out of slavish fear but with a willing and loving mind.
5. Finally, it is free to be led by the Holy Spirit in the way of Christ Jesus and in boldness of access to the throne of grace in the name of Jesus.
In short it is a freedom to be what God calls his children to be because one is set free from the power of the world, the flesh and the devil and given the desire to walk with the Lord. This freedom is given to and available to all believers in all countries, under all governments, in all social contexts, in sickness and in health, in poverty and riches, and from all tribal and racial identities.

Regrettably, some believers are not wholly aware of this gift of freedom in Christ and so do not avail themselves of it, and also other believers long only for the “freedom of the West” and cannot see that they are free already in everything that really and truly matters (from the perspective of eternity!).

To state all this is not to repudiate or to make to be of no importance the ideal of personal freedom with rights that is found in western countries like the USA. It is to remind ourselves that however highly we evaluate it, it nevertheless belongs to this world and this age, both of which are severely affected by sin and are under the just judgment of God.

To return to individual freedom in Christ. It must be emphasized that the Lord Jesus Christ frees a person, not by releasing him from his obligations and by allowing him to do whatever he may think is right or good, but by providing the inner strength and motivation to keep the commands of God the Father and the Lord Jesus in letter and spirit. Of course, the perfection of this freedom, where the believer desires and does the will God every moment and habitually, is not immediately realizable after his baptism/conversion and will only be fully experienced in the age to come. There is always the struggle for the believer in this world/age between what he is – a being saved, forgiven sinner – and what he is called to be – the person wholly conformed to Christ. Thus he is never completely and wholly free for there is always a part of him yet to be purified, renewed and sanctified. Yet in freedom he seeks to love the Lord his God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength and to do so in whatever social and political structure in which he lives.

The Christian who is free in Christ is in this world/age but not of this world/age (not even when it is in the form of a Republic or Democracy), even as he desires to be for (in terms of evangelization and loving care) this world/age.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides for ever. (John 2:15-17)

October 29, 2005

Friday, October 28, 2005


When I wrote and circulated a short essay on October 27, 2005 on Counseling and Concupiscence I was not aware of a recent book which some of my readers may find helpful – not with understanding the denial of concupiscence as such, but with the absorption with counseling in the USA and in churches in particular who tend to follow the dominant culture.

It is ONE NATION UNDER THERAPY: How the helping culture is eroding self-reliance (St Martin Press, 2005, 310 pages $23.95), Christian Hoff Sommers and Sally Satel define and explain THERAPISM and its influence on America.

If you want to know about the pursuit of self-esteem, of getting in touch with your feelings, of relying on counselors for all problems in life, then here is a place to start – and if you want more there are references to hundreds of books and articles.

Therapism valorizes openness, emotional absorption and the sharing of feelings and it presupposes an anguished and apprehensive public that requires a vast array of therapists, self-esteem educators, grief councelors, workshoppers, healers, traughmatologists and CLERGY to lead it through the trials and challenges of everyday life.

When clergy get involved they tend to forget the biblical doctrines of sin and of concupiscence in the soul!

October 28, 2005

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Dis-ordered Desires that are off target! Counseling and Concupiscence

Most forms of Christianity in America have absorbed to some degree or another aspects of the psycho-therapeutic revolution that occurred in the culture in the 1960s and 1970s.

This is seen in the great amount of time spent in seminaries in psychology and “counseling” courses, the number of counselors on the staff of large congregations, and the very use of the word “counseling” for classes in marriage preparation, comforting the bereaved and dealing with pastoral problems. It is rare these days to hear of a pastor giving spiritual direction or godly advice; rather, he is more often involved in counseling. In fact his/her two chief roles are often said to be “counselor” and “manager”.

It is also seen in the way that Christianity is presented in terms of church programs and the content of teaching in books, videos, sermons and the like. The human being, it is said, has needs to be met and the Gospel is adjusted to meet these perceived needs. Then it is assumed that the human being has need for self-worth, self-fulfillment, self- realization and self-knowledge and so church life is designed to make these personal goals attainable.

I am not offering a critique of this situation which makes church life very different in 2004 than it was in 1954 or even 1964. Rather, what I want to suggest is that in this situation where the psycho-therapeutic evaluation of man is usually more obvious and powerful in the churches than is a biblical evaluation ( or more commonly the biblical is interpreted through the “insights” of psychology and therapy), certain basic truths about human nature are in danger of being forgotten or denied. In fact, they have in some cases been wholly overlooked and are not on the agenda! This appears to be so in both liberal Catholicism and generic, popular, evangelical Protestantism.

That is, absent from many contemporary Christian estimates of man is the presence and influence of what St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas knew as concupiscentia and what in English has been called concupiscence, with the basic meaning of “inordinate desire.” When used in theology with reference to human nature, concupiscence points to the strong tendency of our nature to desire, long and search for that which is contrary to God’s known will and thus is evil.

Key biblical texts are found throughout the New Testament (see e.g., Matthew 15:19; Romans 7 & Galatians) but none is clearer than the statement of the apostle John who wrote:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides for ever. (John 2:15-17)

The “world” is not the cosmos as such for God made this and it was/is good. “World” refers to human society as it is organized on wrong principles, and characterized by base desires, false standards and egoism with selfishness, In this context appears concupiscence and lust (forbidden by the Tenth Commandment). Concupiscence is expressed in three ways by the apostle.

First, “the desires of the flesh”. This obviously points to the appetites of human nature, the desire for food, warmth, lodging, clothing, work, pleasure, recognition by others and much more. But, in this context of a sinful world, it is inordinate and excessive desire of an impure heart and mind.

Secondly, “the desires of the eyes” which is the tendency or bias to be captivated by outward show and thinks that happiness is always in material things. It is the spirit that sees nothing without wishing to acquire it and when acquired flaunts it before others. Its value-system is materialistic.

Thirdly, there is “pride in possessions”. The Greek word in use here points to a person who lays claim to possessions and to achievements which do not truly belong to him/her and does so as to impress others and to boast of them.

So John speaks of the person here who is in the world, of the world and for the world in that he judges everything by his appetites, is a slave of lavish ostentation and a boastful braggart. Of course not all of us are like this all the time but most of us are like this part of this all the time for we suffer from disordered desire, that is, desire which is ordered not by reason to God’s will but by strong feelings to what God forbids and what the world constantly advertises and justifies.

Some theologians have said that the strong desire itself is sinful because it is the product of a sinful human nature; others have said that sin only truly occurs at the point where the desire becomes a practical reality in experience. But all major orthodox theologians of both the Catholic and Protestant traditions have insisted that it is present in us from birth and remains there till death.

The effect of genuine conversion to Jesus Christ (spiritual regeneration & Baptism) is to introduce into the soul a new nature, a new creation, a new principle of life, which by God’s grace and the guidance of the Holy Spirit enables the baptized believer not to follow the “desires of the flesh” but to do the will of God. Yet concupiscence remains in all of us as the many stories of over-eating, over-drinking, committing of fornication, adultery, pedastry and sodomy, and unlawful financial gain by Christian pastors and leaders regrettably reveal [How much has this cost the R C Church in the USA in the last decade]. Further, each and every one of us knows experientially, if we are honest, that temptations associated with inordinate desire do not always arise from external sources (the world and the devil) but from within ourselves, from our own natures.

The reason why the word concupiscence, and associated words such as mortification and sanctification (not to mention “original sin”, lust and chastity) are not common in modern preaching and teaching, retreat addresses, devotional and spirituality books, is that most of our pastors and congregations (ourselves) either do not believe in the presence of concupiscence, or we choose to think and live as though it is not what the apostles and saints have said it is. That is, being enlightened through modern scientific discovery and study, we see fulfillment of desire as more often than not the true development of our natures rather than the way into sinfulness – thus the emphasis on self- realization and associated themes.

The refusal to accept chastity as a virtue, together with indulgence in sexual excess, have often been used to illustrate the presence of concupiscence in the soul. In parts of the contemporary Church in America and Europe, one does not have to look far to find such and to find it as boldly proclaiming itself as good and holy! However, in the abundant evidence in our midst of over indulgence in food, in alcohol, in drugs, in pleasure and in a variety of pursuits to satisfy the self , concupiscence cries out for recognition. Those who do not see it and recognize it for what it is are fools, for, as John puts it, “the world is passing away, and so is its desire; but he who does God’s will abides for ever.”

Concupiscence is recognized as real in many of the old hymns found in the traditional hymn books. It is put into careful words in prayers of penitence and contrition in the traditional Prayer Books & Liturgies – e.g. the classic Book of Common Prayer. It is given precise formulation in the old Confessions of Faith and Catechisms, as well in the R C “Catechism of the Catholic Church” (2000). But it is absent from or passed by quickly in modern hymnody, liturgy and statements of Faith (difficult to find in Rite Two material of the ECUSA prayer Book).

Its absence affects everything that makes up the individual Christian life and the corporate life of congregations, not to mention the evaluation of man in society and in the public square. No concupiscence in the soul means no need for mortification of sin and sanctification by the Spirit: in fact it takes away the reason for the atoning death of Jesus on the Cross and his exaltation to heaven as our Prophet, Priest and King. The Gospel is addressed to sinners and part of their sinfulness is concupiscence, whatever the wisdom of psychology and therapy and counseling and like things may say and do!
Almighty God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

October 27, 2005 The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Which comes first - Christian or Evangelical or Episcopalian [Anglican]?

Are Episcopalians who are evangelical primarily one sub-type of the broad type, Evangelical? Is their Anglicanism merely their brand name?

I face these questions after I received several letters today from evangelical clergy in response to my short essay on Anglican identity of this morning [Oct 26].

One wrote:
Peter, I think that you have hit on the essential issue. Is the Anglican way necessary or relevant? I have many North American evangelical friends from a variety of denominational expressions. Some use liturgy, others don't. Most have vibrant ministries, and many of them are far more successful in bringing people to faith and raising up disciples for Jesus than any Anglican that I have ever known. There certainly won't be a denominational test for access to the kingdom. When I tell people that I am an Anglican today, they roll their eyes, and I am forced to fight an uphill battle for authenticity before I can even begin to minister to the Gospel. What is the point?
Let me respond by recalling meetings in England in the 1970s.

Thirty years ago in England when conservative evangelicals in the Church of England were cooperating with other evangelicals from the Dissenting or Nonconformist Churches as well as from the National [Presbyterian] Church of Scotland, I recall discussions by Anglicans on the question of the status of Anglican identity. It came in answering this question: What relation does being a Churchman [Anglican] have to being a Christian and an Evangelical?

I further recall that in the British situation the answer of the evangelical leadership was that we are Christians first, Evangelicals second and Churchmen [members of the State Church] third but that the third was nearly equal second. This left us free to co-operate happily with Evangelicals outside and Anglo-Catholic Anglicans inside the Church of England.

But what theological principles guided this approach for, let us be clear, those who said these things were well educated in both the liberal arts and in theology.

First of all, they were committed to the priority in the churches of the Gospel of the Father concerning his only-begotten Son, who for us and for our salvation became Man and in our place, lived, died, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven to reconcile God to man and man to God.

Second of all, they were committed to the need for individual conversion to God the Father through the Incarnate Son and by the Holy Ghost. That is, the response by the sinner of repentance from sin and belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. So to be a Christian, a person who is united in faith to the Son of God and through HIM to the Father, must come first. But church membership follows on immediately.

Thirdly, they were wholly committed to the Church of God but they made a clear distinction between the Church as Visible and the Church as Invisible. That is, they saw the One Church of God present in all the congregations where the Word of God was preached and the Sacraments faithfully administered. Yet they accepted that not all members of the visible churches are true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, for they are nominal Christians or not Christians at all. Further, they saw the One Church expressed in a variety of forms – the National Churches of England and Scotland, the Baptist churches, the Congregational churches and so on.

At the same time, they also saw the Church as being invisible in the sense that God is invisible and grace is invisible. The total number of people from all ages and places who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and were united to the Father through him by the Holy Ghost (= the elect of God) they understood to be the true Church, known to God, but invisible to man. So they could happily work with and cooperate with Christians from outside the National Established Church for the invisible Church of God reached everywhere.

Fourthly, being Christians they had to make prudential judgments of what kind of Christianity (from amongst the options known through history) they wanted to be a part of and to manifest. They decided that to proclaim the Gospel and to make disciples was a clear priority in the Church because of the Lord Jesus’ Commission in Matthew 28. Thus they identified themselves as Evangelical Churchmen or as Evangelicals for they believed that there was no way into the kingdom of God and the Church invisible but by being embraced by the Gospel of the Father concerning his Son. Thus, being Evangelicals they could cooperate with fellow Evangelicals from Presbyterian, Baptist and Congregational churches and being Churchmen they could work with devout anglo-catholics with whom they had much in common even though their emphases were different.

So they had no doubt but that first and foremost they were Christians by the grace of God; and they also had no doubt but that as Christians they must be Evangelical with a Gospel to treasure and proclaim. However, they did not want to lose the important idea of being “Churchmen” or Anglican, that is members of the ancient (going back to the 3rd century) Church of England. This is one reason why when the great preacher, Dr Martin Lloyd-Jones of Westminster Chapel, London, made the call for Anglicans to leave the State Church virtually none did. They had this sense of the continuity of the visible Church through space and time and did not want to give up this aspect of commitment to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church of God. Further, some commented, was not the C of E the best ship to fish from?

During all this period there was, as far as I remember, no imitation of Free Church worship or borrowing of non-Anglican ceremonial within Evangelical Parishes of the Church of England. No-one thought that this was necessary. The usual way of public evangelism was to have Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer with Hymns and then to preach a hearty evangelical sermon.

Now to the year 2005.

Today – and especially in American Anglicanism but also in the UK – things are viewed differently by Evangelicals. In the USA Evangelicals cannot belong to an ancient National Church and they compete for members within a powerful supermarket of religion. Thus in the spirit of capitalism and a free market, they look around to see what works to create a successful, growing congregation and they borrow techniques and principles from fellow Evangelicals in a wide variety of churches. Evangelicals in ECUSA and AMiA have seemingly lost confidence (without really having tried it!) in the use of Morning Prayer with hymns followed by a hearty sermon and then opportunity for fellowship. Their Anglican identity has been very much subordinated to their admiration of generic Protestant Evangelicalism. In fact their Anglican identity seems only important now because of ties it supplies to other parts of the world to vibrant Anglican evangelical provinces there (and, at home, apparently in some cases, because of its heritage of respectability in society and its first class retirement and health benefits).

So they are Christians first, then Evangelical in terms of a necessary adjective to go with Christians, and way back third they are Anglicans. This is so because they believe it is impossible to be successful in church life by being genuine, full-blooded Anglicans who follow the discipline of the Daily Office, seven days a week, and who celebrate the Sacrament after Morning Prayer on the Lord’s Day in genuine Anglican style -- preaching the Gospel both within the forms of Anglican worship and wherever possible outside as well.

What Anglican identity can supply - as experience in Africa and Asia reveals -- is a solid, reliable and stable way of being the Visible Church of God on earth wherein the pure Word of God is preached and the dominical Sacraments administered, so that persons can be converted to Jesus Christ and all disciples of Christ therein edified and sanctified by Word, Sacrament, Discipline and Fellowship. It is not the only identity for the Visible Church but it is one that seems to work well in Africa. Why can’t it work for Evangelicals in the USA? Have they really tried in the present century?

October 26, 2005 The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon

Have we as Anglicans in the West lost confidence in The Anglican Way?

For reflection and discussion,

One way of assessing the way that Anglicans in the West, and in America in particular, present themselves to a bird’s eye view is to say that they have lost confidence in “things Anglican” and put their faith in “things non-Anglican”.

Whatever do I mean?

I mean that over the last forty or so years Anglicans/Episcopalians have looked around for things to adopt and to make their own; and many have done so in order to feel confident that they have a product that they can “sell” in the competitive supermarket of American religions, and in the secular markets of the West in general. Others want a product that they feel will meet their own internal longings and aspirations.

What do we see?

On the evangelical side, there is a sense that to be related to generic evangelicalism, and to imitate the “successful” forms of “church” and “church planting” and “church growth” and “music” and “books of how to do this and that” is the way to go. At the forthcoming meeting in Pittsburgh (Nov 10) of this group, The Network, the major speaker is a Baptist whose books are much studied and views adopted by evangelical Episcopalians. He is as far away from classic Anglicanism as the East is from the West. And the language used by the rectors and leaders in this constituency is much the same as in generic evangelicalism and many in their congregations have little or no knowledge of the historic Anglican Way or its vocabulary and ethos.

On the progressive liberal side, there is an admiration of some of the enlightened ideas and programs of secular society, a desire to interpret them as the revelation of God to this generation, and an intention to give them “God-names” and make them part of the program of the Episcopal Church. And to do so while preserving, as a kind of external garment, much of the musical and literary heritage of the historic Anglican Way (visit the Cathedrals of ECUSA on East and West Coasts).

On the Catholic – that is anglo-catholic side – there is a sense that the only way to go, as the Anglican Communion becomes more “liberal” in the West and ordains more “priestesses”, is towards Rome, to be accepted there in some special capacity as separated brethren. Led by Archbishop Hepworth, this is the way that the Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion [of continuing Anglican churches around the world] have decided to go (and they all are meeting in a synod in Rome in Feb 06 to move on with this agenda). In the UK the Forward in Faith is looking for either the establishment of a new Province in the Church of England or for acceptance by Rome as a group – or both.

In all three examples, there is evidence of a major or total loss of confidence in the Anglican Way as Reformed Catholicism with its own distinctive worship, doctrine and discipline, and with its tradition of religious culture around these of music, of poetry, of literature, of devotion and piety and of theology and ethics. That is, there is the intention to replace Anglican content with other content while retaining the name of Anglican, at least for the time being.

Both the evangelicals and the progressive liberals retain Common Prayer but on their own modern definitions. That is, it is not longer an inherited Common Text that all use and adapt to local circumstances and needs, adding hymns, music and ceremonial; but it is rather a shape or a structure of a service into which can be inserted varied material of local choice, be it from generic evangelicalism, generic charismaticism or liberal Protestantism, as local choice determines.

The anglo-catholics on their way to cross the Tiber either use the modern Roman Rite, as if they were already Roman Catholics; or they use the Text of Common Prayer and add to it at crucial points texts from the old Roman Texts in order to remove its Reformed Catholic character and make it Roman Catholic in character and doctrine.

The major liturgical developments and innovations of the 1960s and 1970s revealed a general lack of confidence in Anglican worship, style, devotion and ethos. It was not merely the change to addressing God as “You” , it was the desire to borrow from other sources (chiefly liberal R C and liberal ecumenical) shapes, structures, translations of ancient canticles & Creeds etc.) to create new texts for liturgies which had little in common with the classic, received Texts within Common Prayer. There was a sense that to be relevant and to keep and win youth everything had to be new from Bible translations to texts for services to ways of presenting doctrine and ethics. Strangely, there was no serious attempt made to put the classic BCP & Ordinal as a whole into a dignified contemporary English; and the primary reason why this was not done was that its doctrine was judged to be unattractive to the post World War II generations.

Confidence in the Anglican Way with its own distinctive forms of worship, doctrine and discipline went into major decline from the late 1960s and it has continued to go down in the West. So, if anyone suggests that Anglicans should consider returning to their own distinctives, style and commitments in a way appropriate for the 21st century, that person is often laughed out of court or treated as a non-person.

Regrettably and sadly, those evangelicals who look to African Archbishops for help do not seem as yet to realize that these men would be more than glad to see the evangelicals recapture their full Anglican identity, even as they retain a commitment to evangelization and church planting. Those who look to Rome for acceptance do not realize that many in Rome cannot understand why they are not seeking to be better Anglicans now and more proud of their inheritance as “separated brethren”. And those who look for enlightenment from the secular world do not realize that the world mocks them as fools because they are in the world, for the world and of the world (and their deity is the world).

A final comment. Those in the West, who claim to have kept faithful to Anglican identity in worship and doctrine, have a tremendous duty and opportunity to witness attractively to their Lord and this tradition of serving him. Let them not be distracted by majoring on minors, by tendencies to schism, by living in the past, by excessive churchmanship of one type, and by caring more for the form than the reality. Let them arise in unity of comprehensiveness and be faithful, joyful and gracious ambassadors of the historic, classic and more importantly biblical Anglican Way.

October 26, 2005 The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


The Two Books of Homilies & the Protestant Episcopal Church
“Let us dig again the wells of Abraham.”

It may seem odd to some people that a part of the doctrinal foundation of the Reformed Catholicism of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion of Churches are two Books of Homilies. Few people read them in the twenty-first century, but some of us are hoping to increase the number of those who do so in 2006, howbeit slowly and surely. This will be possible in part because of a new edition of the two Books as one book, to be released by Edgeways Books of the U.K. in 2006 (

Where does it state that the two Books of Homilies are Formularies of the Church of England?

The answer is in Article XXXV of The Thirty-Nine Articles (which with the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal) is a major Formulary of the Church. The first Book was published in the reign of Edward VI in 1547, and the second in the reign of Elizabeth I in 1563 and both are stated “to contain a godly and wholesome doctrine” and most suitable “to be read in churches by the Ministers, diligently and distinctly that they may be understanded of the people.” Further, the titles of the 21 sermons of the second Book are listed in the Article. Book One is shorter with only twelve sermons, not a few of which are by Archbishop Cranmer.

Wherever the Anglican Way has gone and The Articles have been received as a Formulary in the new Province then the two Book of Homilies have naturally been included. Thus, for example, they are now part of the Standards of Faith of Churches in West and East Africa, from Nigeria to Uganda.

There was even a Prayer Book and Homily Society in the early nineteenth century, founded May 20, 1812 to make available copies of each for the people of the expanding British Empire. It stayed in business until the 1870s.

The Protestant Episcopal Church of the USA received the Articles and, after a little editing, made them a Formulary of the Church in 1801. Included in the editing was the addition of this paragraph into Article XXXV:

This Article is received in this Church, so far as it declares the Books of Homilies to be an explication of Christian doctrine and instructive to piety and morals. But all references to the constitution and laws of England are considered as inapplicable to the circumstances of this Church; which also suspends the order for the reading of said Homilies in churches, until a revision of them may be conveniently made, for the clearing of them, as well from obsolete words and phrases, as from the local references.
As far as I know, a specifically American edition of the two Books of Homilies was not prepared and any copies used in the PECUSA were imported from Britain. In fact, apart from scholars and a few earnest Evangelicals in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries few American Episcopalians appear to know of, let alone, to have read, the Homilies. This may be said to be regrettable for within them there is provided in great detail a portrayal of Reformed Catholicism, which may be called the Catholic Protestantism of the Church of England, and of Churches founded from her.

Article XI, named “Of the Justification of Man,” was received by the PECUSA intact from the C of E, and this points specifically to one Homily in the first Book of Homilies for more exposition of what it means to say that we are justified by faith only, and that this is a most wholesome doctrine. How many people who are faithful Episcopalians inside or outside the ECUSA of today have read this powerful Homily and taken its message to heart? It has been reprinted from time to time but is not in print right now as far as I know.

Regrettably and disastrously, in 1979 the Episcopal Church set aside its Formularies and created new ones, all within the 1979 Prayer Book; and by this act it made not only the Articles but also the Books of Homilies into merely historical documents of this Church. Today the ECUSA is much advanced in progressive liberalism with a religion markedly different from Reformed Catholicism!

If the remnant of this Church is to be renewed evangelically by the Scriptures and the Gospel therein, then the Books of Homilies will provide a tremendous resource of exposition of the Gospel and of Reformed Catholic Faith for those with the seriousness of mind and patience to study them for their souls’ health.

Perhaps there ought to be a Conference in 2006 [repeated in various centers] to introduce the two Book of Homilies to the doctrinally awakened Anglican and Episcopal constituency of North America! Personally I would be most happy to see such a thing happen, to join the Conference on the Articles already planned for NYC on April 21-22, 2006 and arranged by the REC there in Manhattan.

Be sure to look out for the Edgeways edition of the Homilies, edited by Ian Robinson, a meticulously careful scholar and an expert in the origins of the English language and of its religious use in the Reformation era.

Second-hand copies are rare but you may find one by a search on the web.

October 25, 2005

Did the PECUSA get off to a bad start - doctrinally?

And is this legacy a root cause of the present distress of the ECUSA?

Many of us in America, who are committed to the Common Prayer Tradition of the Anglican Way and to the doctrine and ethos of Reformed Catholicism, naturally commend, defend and use sincerely and reverently the last American edition of Common Prayer, the BCP of 1928. However, this does not mean that we necessarily think it is the best edition of the BCP ever produced, or, importantly, that it is the best edition to use as the basis for a future, united, and renewed Anglican Reformed Catholicism in North America in the next decade. We use it as an edition of THE Book of Common Prayer and therefore interpret it within the continuity of editions of this One Book, whose first edition was in 1549.

And some of us face the possibility that, if the future of Reformed Catholicism in North America is to be linked with the Anglican Provinces of East and West Africa, then it will make more sense to return to the English edition of 1662 (or the 1962 Canadian editing of this). Why? Because the BCP 1662 is the most widely used edition in Africa and it has also been translated into 150 or more languages worldwide. In returning to this edition, it is understood, of course, that there will be need for use in the USA to change the references to the government and holidays and so on, and that there will be a few more options here and there to accommodate developments since 1662 in churchmanship.

So one reason to go back to the BCP 1662 (which was used in the Colonies for a long time) is fraternal relations with the brethren in Africa. Another reason will emerge as we proceed with this reflection.

When the Protestant Episcopal Church was formed in the 1780s, a dominant theology amongst its intellectual leadership was what we call “latitudinarianism” or “broad church”. And this made a strong impression on the editing of the Book of Common Prayer (1662) to create, after a bungled attempt, what we know now as the first American edition of the BCP in 1789. This edition is obviously like 1662 but it has the changes one would expect for use in a Republic. Further, and importantly for the future, it reveals its mild latitudinarian flavor in such things as the omission of the “third Creed” known as the Quincunque Vult or the Athanasian Creed, the changes to the Venite in Morning Prayer, the new Preface for Trinity Sunday, the reducing of the Preface in the Marriage Service concerning the purpose of holy matrimony, and the removal of “to obey” from the promise made by the woman, and so on. Further, it adopted the Scottish form of the Prayer of Consecration in the Order for Holy Communion.

It has been said that “the American Prayer Book as ratified by the first General Convention of the whole American Church in 1789 preserved the Church’s continuity with its inheritance without destroying its freedom of growth and development.” If we accept that some of the impetus for growth and development came from Scotland and some from eighteenth century latitudinarianism (within the context of Enlightenment thinking then powerful in the new Republic), then we can move on to suggest that the latter source, in its twentieth century manifestations, actually was a major contributor to major structural and doctrinal changes both in the American Prayer Book – that is, if we see the 1979 “Book of Common Prayer” as a late 20th century edition of the American Prayer Book – and also in the Church itself (now known as ECUSA not PECUSA). In other words, the 1979 Prayer Book has been a major means by which (or instrument through which) the Episcopal Church has moved away from the center of the Anglican Way to the sidelines, there to immerse itself in a denial of much of the received biblical and traditional Faith and Morals of the Catholic Church of God, as it continually embraced a series of innovations in worship, doctrine, morality and discipline.

It may be claimed that the impoverished Marriage Service of the American Prayer Book (1928 & 1979) did nothing to prevent and actually aided the growth of the divorce culture, of serial monogamy and same-sex unions in the ECUSA. It may also be claimed that the absence of the Athanasian Creed [and thus the absence of both a strong Trinitarian dogma and clear teaching on the Person of Christ from the American Prayer Book] opened the door for the entry of such doctrines as Panentheism, Modalism and Unitarianism on the one side, and Adoptianism and, Nestorianism on the other (all in suitably modern forms). Then it may be claimed that the general latitudinarian influence of this Prayer Book tradition allowed the weakening of the doctrine of sin and contributed to the denial of concupiscence and a bias towards evil in the human soul (needed for there to be a change in sexual morality and the loss of the doctrine of chastity).

As there is no obvious latitudinarian & Enlightenment influence within the BCP edition of 1662, and as the African Provinces are committed to this edition, then the proposal that it become the Formulary and the Standard of worship of any renewed, reformed Anglican Province is not without merit!

Of course, until the BCP 1662 is adopted by a renewed North American Anglicanism, those of us who use the BCP 1928 will do so fervently and reverently, but setting it doctrinally within the context of its being AN edition of the classic BCP and expression of Reformed Catholicism!

October 24, 2005

Monday, October 24, 2005

ONE ONLY: One Eucharist at the One Altar on the Lord’s Day for the One People of God

A Proposal for Sunday morning Worship in a Parish where there are currently two services of Holy Communion, one in traditional and one in contemporary language.

What is proposed below will only be possible after there has been careful educational preparation and where there is charity, and, further, where it is agreed, in principle, that the one people of God should meet together on the Lord’s Day under the One Word of God and at the One Table of the Lord in the one sanctuary. (See below No 6 for the happy circumstance where there are too many people for one Service.)

Right now the problem (rarely perceived as a problem because usually accepted as a given) faced in both the USA and Canada can be put in these terms – as one capable priest clearly stated it to me recently:

“Agreed! There should be no need for two Eucharists in our churches [on Sunday morning]. There is, however, the small matter of the traditionalists who absolutely refuse to worship with anything other than an organ, ancient hymnody and the formal language of the BCP. Anything thing else just isn't proper! And on the opposite side of the fence, those who place no value whatsoever in ancient things and wish to worship only with contemporary forms and music. Neither has a lot of charity for the other, and both are the bane of pastors and priests who are called to lead them.”
  1. To move these two sets of people, who both belong to the One Body of Christ and pray to the One Father in the Name of the same Christ, towards seeing their unity in Christ by the Holy Spirit as fundamental and the Rite they use as important but secondary, is a task that must be faced courageously and wisely and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (Regrettably I know of no literature available to help pastors perform this sacred task.)
  2. I suggest that the aim of the education will be to lead them to agree to a new Format for Sunday mornings which at the same time will provide them on every Second Sunday, and every alternate Feast Day, with their preference; or alternatively will provide them with one part of their preference each Lord’s Day.
  3. The new Format would be to recover the ancient and beneficial Format of having on Sunday Morning – Morning Prayer, the Litany and then the Order for Holy Communion. Right now Morning Prayer and the Litany are too rare but they are part of the offering to the LORD of Anglican Christians on the Lord Jesus’ Day. There could be a short break after Morning Prayer for visits to toilets and for people to come and go. So each group, the traditionalists and the progressives would enter into something new that would be enriching for all.
  4. One week the three Services as One could be in traditional language and the next week in contemporary language; or, Morning Prayer could be in traditional and then the Eucharist in contemporary one week and then the reverse the following week. Either way, it would be a fair division and the one people of God would be together as Anglicans (not abandoning either the Daily Office or the Litany) who are also Reformed Catholics (with the weekly Eucharist). Of course, there would be many matters to sort out and much charity needed, but it is something that can be done. Where there is a will there is a way.
  5. It is important that the integrity of each form of prayer language, the traditional and the contemporary, be kept separate for each has its own logic and style. Yet it is even more important that the local congregation of Christ’s flock be seen as one and actually be one in practice. Anglicans and Episcopalians have gotten too used to the idea of multiple services to suit specific tastes, and they have lost the ideal of the One Service in the One Place on the One Day for the One LORD.
  6. Where there are too many people to fit into the One Sanctuary, and where there are presently multiple services (say at 7.30 ; 9.00 and 10.30) there is a real problem. One solution is to start a new congregation and build a new church so that there are not too many for the one Sanctuary (this was the medieval method) and another is to do what is recommended in 4 above, but to do it twice on the Lord’s Day – once in the morning with Morning Prayer and again in the evening with Evening Prayer instead of Morning Prayer as the starter, making the effort to get people to be present sometimes in the morning and sometimes in the evening. No priest should normally celebrate more than once on any given day.

Happily, those churches which use only one form of prayer language do not have to bridge the gap of different languages; however, they too must surely face the call to have One Eucharist, prefaced by Morning Prayer and Litany! Being finished in the hour may suit nominal Christians; but for the Lord’s Day morning more than one hour is surely required to worship HIM in spirit and in truth. And to leave His courts with praise and rejoicing.

October 24, 2005

Is Rite One in the 1979 prayer Book a Rite with integrity?

In the ECUSA Prayer Book there is a Rite One (traditional language) for both the Daily Office and for the Holy Eucharist. Also there is a Rite One form of the Burial Office.

Does this Rite possess internal consistency? Should it be used by the faithful?

Let us first recall that this type of Rite is based upon, but is not exactly the same as, the services in The Book of Common Prayer (edition of 1928), which Book belongs to the family of editions of the one basic Prayer Book of the Anglican Way. Generally speaking the texts taken over from the BCP1928 for Rite One were edited and restructured so as to fit into the basic philosophy of worship adopted by the ECUSA Liturgical Commission in the late 1960s. The latter may be termed both ecumenical and liberal Catholic, for it received much from the interest in liturgy in the ecumenical movement of the 1960s/1970s and also from post Vatican II Roman Catholic progressive scholars and sources.

In Morning Prayer the changes from the 1928 text include at the beginning, the addition of opening sentences, a new exhortation to confession of sin and worship, an edited form of the General Confession, and a new Absolution. Then there are not a few other changes in the rest of the service, which would take too much space to detail here. Further, the Psalter that is provided addresses God as “You” and is inclusive in style, and so it does not at all fit with the traditional wording and texts of this service. In the matter of the reading of the Bible, it is possible to use the KJV, RV. ASV and RSV, but churches often only have the NRSV, which is an inclusivist translation and addresses God as “You”.

In the Eucharist, the text of the 1928 BCP has been adapted to fit into the “shape of the liturgy” of the Rite II texts, which means the addition of the so-called passing of the Peace, the Breaking of the Bread with added words after the Prayer of Consecration and Lord’s Prayer, and the transfer of the Gloria from the conclusion to the beginning of the Service. Further, the traditional Collect, Epistle and Gospel (liturgically the most ancient part of the Service in the classic BCP] no longer are provided for the Christian Year, since the Lectionary used is the same as that for Rite Two. And also an alternative prayer of Consecration is provided that is more in conformity with the doctrine within the Rite Two alternatives. The version of the Bible used is often that printed on the inserts for each Sunday used by Episcopal Churches and this is usually the NRSV. Finally, various prayers from the 1928 BCP are edited in order to remove from them unacceptable words/doctrine.

The Rite One Service for the Burial of the Dead is a much expanded form of the 1928BCP Service and shares the same basic structure as Rite Two (for details see M.J. Hatchett, Commentary on the American Prayer Book, NYC, 1980, pp.477ff.)

Returning to Morning Prayer, we may observe that it is possible, and indeed was planned, that the whole of this service, including Psalm and Bible Readings, in its Rite Two form, can be offered to the Father through the Son and with the Spirit in so-called contemporary English, addressing God and man as “you.” So one can say that there is logic here, as there is in the doctrine that confession of sins, if it is to be done, is to be done at the beginning to get it over with (as it were) before the celebration of praise and thanksgiving begins. [In contrast, for the historic texts of the BCP the confession of sin is the praise of God and so is an essential part of worship wherein God is praised as the Judge and Holy One, as well as the Merciful One!]

In the Rite One form of Morning Prayer, it is difficult to see any logic of language because it is impossible within the provisions of the 1979 Book to do this Office in whole in traditional English and with consistent doctrine. The Psalter is not provided in traditional form and to find the traditional form one has also to have the 1928 BCP available. Further, if there is the desire to fit a Baptism into a Service of Morning Prayer, then there is no way of doing this in traditional language for the Baptismal Service (by the design of the Liturgical Commission) is only in Rite Two form and with a distinctively modern doctrine built into it.

Turning now to the Eucharist, we may also observe that it is possible and was indeed planned that the Rite Two form of this service, including Psalter and Bible Readings, would be all in contemporary language. Further, in the 1982 Hymnal there are plenty of hymns addressing God as “You” to be chosen – although some traditional language ones, often edited a little, are also available (and if chosen disturb the logic of language of the service).

Rite One can never be satisfactory as a whole for to do the service in full means moving from the logic of language involved in the use of “Thou” to that involved in “You” (see further for details of this logic, Neither Archaic Nor Obsolete by Toon and Tarsitano from Further, the Psalter of the 1979 Prayer Book hardly lends itself to a Christological use of the Psalter (because of its inclusivism) and the use of the NRSV or similar modern versions make traditional worship difficult, if not impossible.

What to do!

The present major crisis within the ECUSA and Anglicanism in general surely allows Episcopalians in the ECUSA and AMiA who want integrity and wholesomeness in their worship of God to abandon Rite One altogether (after all the Liturgical Commission did not want this provision but made it under pressure from the Presiding Bishop and to satisfy traditionalists, who were often generous donors). Then they can go in the direction of Rite Two and be contemporary in language and doctrine; or, better, they can return to the major source of Rite One, the historic and classic Book of Common Prayer, using this with its Psalter and along with the KJV, ASV or RSV so as to have a consistency of style and doctrine in the facing of Almighty God in worship. When they do this may they be so purified in heart that they will worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!

Another alternative, that I have suggested, is to make available the text of the classic Services in the historic Book of Common Prayer in a carefully presented contemporary form of English, so as to preserve the doctrine and style of the authentic Anglican Way or those who believe that the right way today is to address the Lord as “You.”

Peter Toon October 23, 2005

Have we screwed up Sunday worship?

One Lord’s Supper [Eucharist] in the Lord’s House on the Lord’s Day for the Lord’s People – prefaced by the Daily Office!

If you look at the schedule of services for the Lord’s Day in most Episcopal or Anglican parishes, they follow no spiritual logic but rather appear to be for arranged for convenience or comfort – of clergy or people or both!

The built-in logic of the provision for the Lord’s Day of the classic Book of Common Prayer (1662 England; 1962 Canada & 1928 USA) is that the Day begins with Morning Prayer, is followed by the Litany and then by the Order for Holy Communion. The provision of only the Epistle and Gospel in the BCP Communion Service presupposes that the Old Testament has been read in Morning Prayer. The Daily Office is a daily offering to God and thus not only is there Morning Prayer but also Evening Prayer (Evensong as well) on the Lord’s Day; and the Litany is to be prayed at least on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. [Of course the offering of this series of Services by the local parish does not automatically presuppose that everyone will be present at all four related Services.]

Very few parishes keep to this original order and spiritual logic, but at least in some anglo-catholic parishes the clergy and some laity meet for Morning Prayer before they celebrate the Eucharist, and they do not have the Litany and the Eucharist before Morning Prayer.

More often, even in small parishes, both where the classic BCP or the new ECUSA Prayer Book of 1979 are used, there is provided a couple of Services, both the Order for Holy Communion. The first “said only” or with “minimal music” is around 8.a.m., and the second is with hymns and may be partially sung and is usually around 10.00.a.m. Unless those attending the Eucharist read Morning Prayer at home before setting off, or arrive early and read it in their pews, the Daily Office (required daily) is not offered to the Lord – and further, Evening Prayer is, in this scheme, rarely offered also. [Sometimes there is the oddity of an early Service of Communion and a later sung Service of Morning Prayer with sermon!]

Why are there two Services of Holy Communion at the One Altar when the Lord’s Day is all about being together as the Lord’s people in the Lord’s house to hear the Lord’s word and to offer worship unto him at his Table and from his Word? Truly, should not the only for two be if everyone cannot fit into one and two are genuinely required for reasons of space?

However, there are two Services in many parishes for various reasons – whether any of them are acceptable to the court of heaven I do not know. Here are several of the reasons provided:
  • Two Rites are used – Rite One (traditional language) at the early service [for the oldies] and Rite Two (contemporary language) for people of all ages.
  • Some people prefer a quiet service and others a more celebratory service.
  • Some people prefer to attend early so that their duty to God is completed and they can plan to use the day for other good purposes [not golfing or sailing or gardening or home improvements!]. Further, families with children prefer a later time in the morning to give them time to get everyone ready.
  • Sunday School can be fitted between two Services and so can be available to people who attend the early or the late service.

If we analyze the reasons offered for two services (or in cathedrals more than two) they are essentially to take into account human preferences, conveniences and expressed needs. Very rarely, it appears, does a church begin (in planning services) from the basic foundation that in each congregation of the faithful there is to be One Eucharist for the one people of God on the Lord’s Day in the Lord’s House in order to please Him, and that this is to be prefaced – in church or at home – by the Daily Office.

Perhaps it will be said that modern life is so complicated, that the church is so divided (e.g. into Rite One and Rite Two mindsets), that people today require choice and convenience, and that churches should appear to be accommodating and relevant, that Services must be provided when it seems most people – for whatever reasons – are most likely to come. But are these sound reasons before the Judge of heaven and earth?

There is the further question to face and it is this: Ought a priest (presbyter) to stand as Celebrant at the Holy Table more than once on the Lord’s Day – indeed on any day? Is it right and good in terms of divine order to require a priest to celebrate twice or thrice and further is it good for his own soul? In general the saints have said it is not right or good.

The ancient discipline of the Church, maintained in the Orthodox Churches still, is One Eucharist on the One Lord’s Day for the One people of God in the One holy place.

Is there not something odd about multiple Eucharists at the one Holy Table on the one Lord’s Day for the one parish of the one people of God in the Lord’s House? And is it not a serious deficit of the churches of the Anglican Way that Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer are not public services at least on the Lord’s Day in the Lord’s House?

October 23, 2005

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Return of Jezebel

On Touchstone Magazine's Mere Comments Blog (October 14, 2005 ), Dr Russell Moore writes:

A few years ago, when the evangelical book fad The Prayer of Jabez was in full swing, I joked that the feminist revisionists would respond with their own small devotional volume: The Prayer of Jezebel. Well, now it is here.

Fortress Press, the publishing house of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, has announced the publication of The Jezebel Letters, which "combines top-notch biblical scholarship with a fictionalized first-person account of the biblical character." According to the Fortress press release, the book "transforms the stereotype of the notorious biblical queen into a more historically based portrayal of a powerful, literate royal woman."

How is she "transformed"? Well, in this reading, Jezebel is the protagonist. According to a Hebrew and Old Testament professor at the University of Amsterdam, the book uses "fictional but not fictitious letters and memoirs written by the ancient Queen herself," allowing us to "reverse our "cultural opinion of 'Jezebel' and see her for what she probably was: a regal, wise, politically active wife, mother and queen in Israel." A biblical studies professor at Claremont laments that "biblical narrative castigates Ahab and his Queen Jezebel as depraved idol worshipers who led their country to ruin." In fact, he writes, she was "the urbane and thoughtful Queen of Israel who gives voice to her efforts and those of her family in guiding Israel through one of its most challenging, and least understood, periods."

So I suppose the biblical narrative about Jezebel was not fictional but fictitious? The reclamation of Jezebel has been ongoing for several years in liberal theological academia. I first noticed it at meetings of the American Academy of Religion a couple of years ago, in papers seeking a "feminist reading" of the Jezebel texts.

This rehabilitation actually tells us much about the revisionist project of feminist theology. When confronted with the authority of the word of God regarding a rebellious and idolatrous reign, these theologians would rather have the role model of a "strong woman," whatever the cause. They listen then to whatever archaeological "findings" might show in a positive light. Such has always been the case, so much so that the prophet Elijah wondered if he was alone in not bowing the knee to Jezebel's idols (1 Kings 19:10). But the gods and goddesses of Ahab and Jezebel never answer. All that one hears are the chanting of the cultists around the altar. Sometimes the chanting is on Mount Carmel, and sometimes it is in an academic symposium. But the fire from heaven never comes.

Years ago, I heard a politically-incorrect preacher refer to the goddess-worshiping feminist theologians of some "mainline" Protestant seminaries as "a group of Jezebels." That might have seemed a bit harsh at the time. What what does one say when the feminist theologians call themselves "Jezebels," and mean it as high praise?
Posted by Russell D. Moore at 01:08 PM Touchstone Blog

Is the ancient disease of Concupiscence now cured? Is there now “health” within us?

Is Concupiscence assumed or taught in the Rite II parts of the 1979 ECUSA Prayer Book? Even in Rite I?

Concupiscence, like chastity, is a word rarely used these days either in general conversation or in theological talk. However, when the Church in the West was much more focused, than it is now, on Jesus Christ as the Lord of all and the Saviour of men from their sin, the word was used often with reference to part of the total moral and spiritual disease and condition from which God in Christ saves his adopted children.

For example, Roman Catholic and Protestant theologians of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were agreed that each and every human being experienced concupiscence as a condition of his soul. That is, he possessed a strong desire, or inclination, to embrace and do evil, that is to act contrary to God’s holy law and commandments. Thus in all provision of teaching, sacraments, means of grace and pastoral care for baptized Christians this strong desire to support self rather than God had seriously to be taken into account, if they were to be led into holiness and sanctification of life.

But is this inclination and desire towards evil sinful in and of itself; or does it become sinful when wrongful action flows from it? While some schools of Roman Catholic theology taught that concupiscence in and of itself is not sinful, most Protestant theologians taught that it is so because it is arises from the “diseased”, sinful, “fallen” nature of man.

Article IX of the Thirty-Nine Articles (England 1571; USA 1801) states:

Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk); but it is the fault and corruption of the Nature of every man, that is naturally engendered of the offspring of Adam; whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God’s wrath and damnation.
This assumes the historicity of Adam and Eve, their possession of an original righteousness, their loss of it, and the passing on by procreation of a human nature that does not possess original righteousness but rather is lacking a natural communion with God. Thus each and every baby that is born into this world is born with a human nature in which because there is no communion with God, there is an inclination to evil, and therefore there is present in his soul a constant battle between this evil inclination and any opposing “pressure” from God’s providence and grace to do what is good and right in His eyes. This inclination against God and towards evil is concupiscence.

In the Confession of Sin within Morning Prayer in the classic Book of Common Prayer (1662; 1928 USA) the acknowledgement is made by repentant sinners that “there is no health in us,” meaning (in the context of the prayer) that there is no power of saving ourselves from the sins of omission and commission just referred to, or from the consequences of those sins. Most significantly, this clause is omitted from the Rite I adaptation of this Prayer in the 1979 Prayer Book.

In fact, the problem within man is so serious (for the classic Anglican Formularies and the New Testament) that it will only be totally solved when the whole man is redeemed at the final resurrection of the dead when each believer is given a body like unto Christ’s glorious body. For even after new birth, spiritual birth from above in regeneration, the diseased nature and the inclination to evil remain. However, the difference after regeneration from before is that there is now present within the soul a new principle, a new nature, to resist and mortify the old nature and to enable the believing child of God to walk with the Lord in holiness and righteousness. Article IX continues:

And this infection of nature doth remain, yea in them that are regenerated; whereby the lust of the flesh, called in Greek, phronema sarkos, which some do expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the affection, some the desire, of the flesh, is not subject to the law of God. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized, yet the Apostle [Paul] doth confess, that concupiscence and lust hath of itself the nature of sin.

We may assume that those who wrote this Article were well read in Augustine’s teaching on human sinfulness and also were deeply committed to the teaching of the Apostle Paul in Romans 1 – 7 & Galatians, in the context of the teaching of our Lord (see Matthew 5-7; 19:17; John 2:24-25; Mark 16:16) and of the Old Testament (see Genesis 8:21; Jeremiah 17:9).

To recognize the continuing presence of concupiscence in the soul after conversion to Christ is to be realistic in terms of what the analysis and examination of the human mind, heart and will reveals, what the exhortations of the New Testament to holiness imply, why the gift of the indwelling Spirit is given to believers, and what the experience of the saints confirms.

However, if we absorb too much of modern theories for counseling and of psychotherapy, and we accept the view that the weaknesses of man are due to the continuing evolution of the human species, than we shall find that the evaluation we make of concupiscence is different – e.g., that it is natural, strong desire, part of our self-expression and self-development, and is to be carefully encouraged and guided.

From St Paul’s perspective and the whole Biblical perspective, man is both a glorious creature – made in God’s image and predestined to glory -- and also an imperfect, sinful creature to be saved and redeemed by gracious and costly action. It may be regretted that modern Anglican liturgists tend either to downplay or to omit the recognition of the presence of concupiscence in the souls of worshippers in congregations, and thus to compose prayers of confession that are inadequate and dishonest, and to promote forms of absolution, and of prayers and intentions in general, that are also inadequate or even deceptive. Indeed, modern liturgists have often boasted of paying little intention to received doctrines of sin and at the same time have criticized the traditional forms of service in the classic BCP for their heavy doctrine of sin.

It may be noted that to find in the 1979 prayer book concupiscence as strong desire to do evil as belonging to human beings before and after Baptism is like finding a needle in a haystack. It may be there but not by the design of the Commission that produced it. It seems to be absent from their “Outline of Faith.”

With no concupiscence, then there is no need for chastity and all desires of the soul can be seen as potentially good and to be fostered and fulfilled for the self-worth and self-fulfillment of human beings – which begins to sound like the “practical theology” of the ECUSA today.

But, we ask, is it possible to become mature in Christ and sanctified in heart, mind and will without recognizing the depth of sinfulness within human nature, as it is exposed to the searching light of God arising from meditation upon God’s Word written and to the atoning blood of Christ the Saviour in penitence and absolution?

October 21, 2005

Thursday, October 20, 2005

A Treasure in Modern Format – with extras!

In 1999 the famous Everyman’s Library published in modern format and in hardback the whole text of THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER (1662) in a book of over 500 pages.

This is the classic edition of the Anglican Prayer Book and has been translated into over 150 languages.

Within the covers of this new edition is also an Introduction by Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch, the leading authority on Archbishop Cranmer and his biographer.

Also there are in Appendices significant portions of the first edition of the Prayer Book, that of 1549, along with other notable historical Commemorations.

The Prayer Book Society has obtained a limited number of copies of this book. They cannot be bought on the web at but must be ordered directly by sending a check for $20.00 (plus $2.50 for post) to

The Prayer Book Society (attention Mrs D Remenyi)
100 East Avon Road,
PA. 19015-3306.

(1 610 490 0909)

I do not expect the stock to last longer than a week. Please post your order today and if you delay call first to check availability.