Tag Archives: anglican

Anglican BCP MMXII

Here continues the discussion of traditional Anglican liturgy in contemporary modern English–without the blandness one generally finds in contemporary English.  As the preface says:

This book is intended for Anglicans regardless of ecclesial affiliation and churchmanship, yet it is the product of two converging paths. The first path is the desire of some for an Anglican liturgy that is truly traditional yet in a contemporary idiom, a liturgy largely for those to whom the Shakespearean style of English in worship is perceived to be a barrier. Several attempts along this path have been made by various groups, yet the products seem invariably unsatisfactory at best and inappropriate at worst to be an offering of praise and thanksgiving to the Most High. The second path is the desire of many for a liturgy that although expressing orthodox theology yet profits from the last century-plus of liturgical scholarship and stands squarely in the Anglican tradition.

In crafting this liturgy, it soon became apparent that both these paths could converge in one book as well as in one text. Following decades of precedent, the contemporary idiom employs, wherever possible, the texts of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, specifically those corrected after the promulgation of Liturgiam Authenticam and intended for the third edition of the Roman Missal. In using these texts, the Church as a whole will be praying again (in English at least) with one voice. Thus this Anglican Book of Common Prayer does what liturgy at its best ought to do, it fosters unity horizontally, in space as it were, and expresses unity vertically, across the centuries of our tradition stretching back as far as the bringing of Christianity to the British Isles in the earliest days of the Church.

To address the first priority, that this book is intended for all Anglicans, the Eucharistic Liturgy offered the greater challenge, especially dealing with wide variations of churchmanship. In order to meet this challenge, the liturgy includes practices widely found yet makes liberal use of the permissive rubric (“may”) so that practices can be tailored to suit each location. The celebrant is free to use or omit many of the practices that in the past caused such strife and unnecessary division in the Church. In order to express the universal nature of Anglicanism, the first Eucharistic Prayer contains elements from Prayerbooks around the world, specifically the U.S.A. (1928), England (1928), Scotland (1970), Canada (1962), South Africa (1954), and the West Indies (1959). Two additional canons are provided, one from the historic source of all Anglican liturgy, the Sarum Missal, and the other from the first BCP, edited to eliminate reduplication of petitions and intercessions from the General Intercession.  The Divine Office is taken from the original BCP, re-sourced, and finally conformed to the wider Church’s practice. Again, note the prevalence of the permissive rubrics; the Eucharist and Office can be as spare or as ornate as desired without violating rubrics.

The book may be examined here, (Anglican_BCP_2012b) and your comments are invited.

Quo Vadis?

A common question amongst Anglicans these days—indeed, it has been for many years now—is “where ought we to go?”  As a matter of fact, I ran an online discussion forum for over a decade where this was the most discussed topic. The landscape has changed quite a bit in the last couple years, however; not only have the options mutated, but conditions within the options have been reshaped.  Even for Anglicans who thought these were settled issues, the question bears re-asking and conditions need re-examination.  There appear to be six basic possibilities, more or less, depending on where in the world one lives.

Anglican Communion

The first possibility is just staying put in the Anglican Communion. That is, of course, the Church of England, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Anglican Church of Australia, and so forth.  These ecclesial assemblies are in undisputed communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury and therefore Anglicans who do not believe in the Virgin Birth, Deity, or the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus belong in these groups. It has been said that one might consider the Anglican Communion the Sadducees of our day—deniers of all spiritual reality.


The second possibility for Anglicans, at least in North America, is the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).1 There are four difficulties with this possibility, however. The ACNA requires acceptance of charismaticism as if it were a legitimate part of Christian tradition despite the obvious historical and theological objections. Secondly, the ACNA has a loose understanding of liturgy, leading to the third difficulty that the most objectionable trendy liturgies are officially accepted by this body. The fourth and most profound difficulty is that the ACNA claims to be in communion with Canterbury. By being in (or even just claiming to be in) communion with Canterbury, the very validity of their sacraments are therefore questionable.Anglicans who have no problem with these difficulties would find a ready home in the ACNA.


The third possibility for Anglicans today, again at least in North America, is the Anglican Mission, originally the Anglican Mission in the Americas. The AM appears to be in the process of separating, whether voluntarily or not, from the Anglican province in Rwanda, the body through whom the AM had claimed connection with Canterbury. If this separation is indeed complete, then one major difficulty with the AM fades, but the AM shares similar difficulties with the ACNA in the AM’s nearly complete abandonment of liturgy and tradition in favor of promulgation of charismaticism as if it were a legitimate part of Christian tradition despite the obvious historical and theological objections. Again, like the ACNA, Anglicans who find these difficulties no barrier would do well to choose the AM.3

The three options above all consider that apostolic order is secondary to following the spirit of the age in that all three of the above have abandoned the apostolic succession. Anglicans for whom this is not a problem should consider only the first three possibilities above. Anglicans who value apostolic succession should consider only the three possibilities that follow.

Catholic Church–Ordinariate

Fourth in the paths for Anglicans is the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict XVI has made a very attractive offer in Anglicanorum Coetibus, and the first two personal ordinariates for former Anglicans are up and running: in the UK the personal ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, and in North America the personal ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter. The difficulties with the ordinariates is perhaps more subtle than those with the preceding possibilities. Although some cite issues with Marian dogmas, there is support within the first seven Ecumenical Councils for all of them. Remaining difficulties would be the issues with the papal dogmas, especially those of universal jurisdiction and infallibility. Anglicans who have no difficulties with these dogmas certainly should feel the spiritual obligation to connect with the ordinariates. A problem one might encounter here is the relative sparseness of distribution—outside of Texas and the south of England, ordinariate parishes and missions are few and far  between, although numbers are expanding.

Anglican Catholic Church

Fifthly we should consider the older, so-called “continuing churches,”4  the original group of separatist Anglicans. There are two difficulties to weigh here, however. The liturgical issue is narrowly defined, and the only options are for older style English.5 Admittedly, like other difficulties, for some this is a plus, not a minus. The second difficulty is, like the ordinariates, the sparseness on the ground.

Orthodoxy–Western Rite

The sixth possibility facing Anglicans today is the Western Rite of Orthodoxy. This option has recently grown considerably, with two canonical Orthodox jurisdictions offering a Western Rite: the Antiochian6 and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. Both these orthodox churches offer a Western Rite vicariate with a structure and liturgy very familiar to Anglicans. The difficulties faced here are identical to those facing the ACC: sparseness and language. The Western Rite in ROCOR face an additional difficulty, however, and that is the Old Calendar—not many Anglicans can get worked up over Calendar questions. We have enough to worry about without it. There seem to be a rapidly growing number of WR parishes and missions all over the US. This may be the most attractive option for many.

One additional difficulty is shared by all the options—and that is the attitude of being embattled in the culture wars. To what degree will bitterness and what my mother used to call “contrariness” fill the ecclesial bodies to which we flee? And how will attitudes afflict our ability to grow and attract others? This final question is one that will need to be answered with specific congregations in mind, in order to make the preceding paths’ evaluation complete.

I hope this short summary may make planning simpler for some.  For all, happy hunting!

1This is the second body to be called by that name. The first body was formed by the St Louis Congress in 1978, later changing their name to the Anglican Catholic Church.

2This point is too complex to be gone into in detail in this venue, but put succinctly, the necessary parts of a sacrament involve matter, form, minister, and intent. Any body claiming communion with any other body that has abandoned apostolic order demonstrates its intent to be party to that abandonment, thereby declaring, whether explicitly or implicitly, that the orders they hold are to a ministry other than apostolic.

3It should be noted, however, that with the AM’s abandonment of liturgy and embrace of charismaticism there doesn’t appear to be any real justification for the AM to remain apart from, and real advantages to joining with, organizations such as the Assemblies of God.

4Pundits have talked about “hundreds” of tiny splinter groups, but the truth is that there are really only five. Of those five, two are talking about intercommunion, and three have already achieved it, so the reality boils down to the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC) or one of the two ecclesial bodies in communion with them.

5Of course the advantages in poetic language must be weighed against the corresponding changes, good and bad, in appeal to an unchurched mission field. To what degree is traditional language a barrier to evangelism? Or isn’t it?

6Scholars, please bear with this, for although the usual and customary term in academia is “Antiochene,” the church itself chose to coin the term “Antiochian,” so “Antiochian” it is.

Praying the Office (part two)

As I noted earlier in part one of this series, praying the Office is a daily requirement for Anglican clergy, and a valuable and recommended practice for laity as well.  For some Anglicans, it’s a simple matter of just picking up their BCP and Bible. Alas, for most of us, it’s trickier than that.

American Office Book 1990For those Anglicans who are remaining in the continuum of Anglican ecclesial bodies, there are easier ways. In the US, back in 1990 the Anglican Catholic Church published the American Office Book (pictured to the right) which contains the Daily Office from the US 1928 Book of Common Prayer with additions from the Canadian 1962 Book of Common Prayer and the full text of all the scripture readings for the year from the Revised Standard Version.  (If you don’t already own one of these, they’re out of print so you’re out of luck, but one seems to be available on Amazon, used, for $200—a bit pricy, right?)  This was a great book, and I still return to it from time to time, but it had three major drawbacks in addition to poor proofreading yielding a ton of errata.  The first drawback is that it follows the straight BCP Office for Morning and Evening Prayer, so it will get, well, stale in time.  (As a liturgics professor once said, “if you don’t find the prayerbook office to get boring, it’s because you’re not doing it right.”) The second drawback is that it uses the Psalter of the 1928 (US) BCP. To some that is a plus, not a minus, but many find that psalter to be stilted and awkward, as well as inaccurate in many places. The third drawback is simply size: the book is just plain big. It’s not easy to carry about with you.  Still, if you know a priest who was in the Anglican Catholic Church in 1990-91, he probably has one of these in his sacristy or study and might just part with it, if you’re interested. If you find one, I have an errata page you might find handy; just leave a comment.

A second alternative is of course the magnificent Anglican Breviary, first published in 1955 by the Frank Gavin Liturgical Foundation, publisher of the Anglican Missal, and reprinted privately in 1998. The book is a handsome volume, a sensuous delight to see and hold if you’re a bibliophile like me, and it offers the Office following the Roman Catholic breviary the way it was prayed in Latin in 1955, but translated into the traditional English of the BCP. The AB was aimed at the Anglo-Catholics who felt the moral force of praying the Office together with the wider Church, and in order to do that now one would need to use this book together with the changes made in the 1962 Roman Breviary. If you’re interested in applying those changes to the AB, I have a copy of the directions for that; again, leave a comment.  The two biggest drawbacks to this book are the incredibly steep learning curve, and the traditional Coverdale psalter, known for its awkwardness and inaccuracy. There is a users’ group that will help with the learning curve, and step-by-step instructions that will help the neophyte AB user.

A third option is the Monastic Diurnal, originally published in 1963 by the Oxford University Press, and reprinted by the wonderful people at the Lancelot Andrewes Press. It was edited by Canon Winfred Douglas, the man largely responsible for the American Missal and The Hymnal 1940 in the old Episcopal Church. The MD at 4” x 6” is the smallest of the books mentioned in this article and will fit easily in a jacket pocket or a purse.  There is a users’ group for this book, also, to help folks learn how to use it.  The down sides: again, the awkward and inaccurate Coverdale psalter, and the fact that this is a “diurnal,” in other words, day hours only; no Compline, no Matins, which is available in a separate volume.

Finally, we come to the Franciscan Office Book, edited by me. It takes the Office from the 1928 (US) Book of Common Prayer and supplements it with enrichments from the 1962 (Canadian) BCP and the wider Catholic Church, as Anglo-Catholics have done for generations. This book is largely an update of the Prayer Book Office of 1963, long out of print, with additions and simplified rubrics. The two down sides here are that a Bible is needed in addition to this book, and that even I used the Coverdale psalter. There are prayers in each office that are part of the Franciscan, especially the Anglican Franciscan tradition. Users who are not Franciscans will find it easy to skip those prayers.

There is also the Franciscan Office Book, Text Edition (Vol. 1), which includes the Office as described above, plus the texts of the scriptural readings as well. The text edition comes in two volumes, one for each half of the year: the first volume from Advent through Pentecost (available now), and the second volume for Trinitytide will be available in Spring 2012.

For those who have a Kindle, (I do, and I love mine!) I have released my Franciscan Office Book, Text Edition (Volume One) for the Kindle at only $2.99, the price I believe should be the maximum for an ebook as a philosophical point. Those who are Amazon Prime members may borrow the book for free between now and 12/31.

God bless, and happy praying!

Praying the Office (part one)

Praying the Office is a daily requirement for Anglican clergy, and a valuable and recommended practice for laity as well.  For some Anglicans, it’s a simple matter of just picking up their BCP or DOB (the Daily Office Book, pictured here, which contains not only the Office, but all the readings from the lectionary, in order—a very handy book.)

For those Anglicans who are (or may be) headed into the Catholic Church’s Ordinariate for Anglicans to be erected on January 1st in the U.S., things might not just be that easy. The approved office liturgy (Liturgy of the Hours, if you will) for the Ordinariate is yet to be released, but until that time, years hence, probably, the Ordinariate liturgy is the Book of Divine Worship, a corrected version of the 1979 BCP.  (If you don’t already own one of those ten pound wonders, trust me, it’s too big to use for anything other than pressing leaves and maybe a booster seat for the little ones.)  To use the approved liturgy for praying your daily office, the simpler path is just to make the necessary corrections to your 79 BCP or better, your DOB.  With that need in mind, I’ve drawn up a list of the necessary corrections.

Here are two PDF files, BCP office conformed to BDW and DOB office conformed to BDW.

God bless, and happy praying!

Well–I Think

I’ve been thinking for a while about resurrecting this blog, and for the last week or so article theses have been flying at me from, it seems, all directions.

First, a little background.  There is a Sunday morning adult education class at St George’s, the CANA parish in Colorado Springs, entitled “The Kingdom.”  The theme for this class is, “if Jesus isn’t Lord of all, he isn’t Lord at all.”  I was invited to be one of the presenters.  After the rector presented the concept and a couple of brilliant PhD biblical scholars presented Jesus’ Lordship in OT and NT, I got to  race hell-for-leather through twenty centuries of “the Kingdom in History” with weekly subtitles of “Jesus as Lord of Truth,” “Jesus as Lord of Christendom,” and finishing off with “Jesus as Lord of the Church.”  Because of a RL scheduling difficulty for the next presenter, he took yesterday to bring the focus onto “Kingdom and Culture” in the current day.  It was great sitting in the class and spotting the metaphorical lights go on around the room as people realized  why I had spent three weeks with the first millennium, detailing its heresies that had plagued the church.

So the idea that needs desperately to be conveyed to all of today’s Christians but especially to Anglicans is actually a simple one.   To get there, let’s recall a few basics:

  • Catholic means “according to the whole.”
  • Orthodox means “right teaching” and “right worship.”  That’s right, both, not or.
  • The opposite of Catholic is heretic, which means “I choose.”
  • The opposite of Orthodox is heterodox, which means “different teaching” and “different worship.”

Tying these together can be straightforward.  To be Catholic and Orthodox, one accepts the whole Christian faith, all the right teaching and practice.  By inserting one’s own rationales, preferences, and worst of all, preconceptions, one picks and chooses out of the whole faith and thereby substitutes  teaching and worship that is not right, that is different from the truth.

In other words, the concept we use with children to prepare them for confirmation comes into play: objective reality.  Objective reality are just a couple of big words we simply explain as meaning “real thing.”  The sacraments have objective reality = the sacraments are real things.  Likewise, truth has an objective reality = truth is a real thing.   To quote one of my brilliant daughters: “some things are just true, whether you think they are or not.”  The truth is a reality.  Reality doesn’t need my agreement in order for it to exist; likewise, truth doesn’t need anyone’s agreement in order for it to be true.

Those first seven Ecumenical Councils were doing something pretty amazing: under the guidance of the Holy Spirit they were defining Truth.  That’s not to use the word “defining” in its sense of making but to use the word “defining” in its sense of describing.  The Councils didn’t make the Truth; they merely described it.

So for example, refusing to honor the Blessed Virgin with the title “Mother of God,” makes one anathema.  The Council Fathers didn’t make up this rule and apply it willy-nilly, they observed that those who reject that Truth have themselves chosen to follow a different teaching and a different worship, and therefore are following the path to perdition.  Yes, it is that serious.  Every Truth described by the Ecumenical Councils is important–and they all are binding.

Therefore, the words that must spring to the Christian’s lips are “credo” — “I believe.”  How often do we hear people who are otherwise seemingly intelligent or apparently faithful use those three little words “well, I think…” ? Usually they’re preceded by a more or less accurate summation of some aspect of the Truth and used to precede some load of, well, codswallop (keeping it rated PG here.)

Frankly, friend, those unfriendly-seeming words “heresy” and “heterodox” are signposts of warning…when you hear them, turn back onto the true path.  “Heretic” and “heterodox” after all, are not words that mean “quirky Christian” or even “bad Christian” (although we certainly in our society don’t think there is such a concept as “bad”).  No, friend, those words mean “non-Christian,” “pagan,” and they mark the double center line of the highway to hell.

Anglican Mass in Modern English – Beta

I have received numerous comments privately and on the Anglo-Catholic Central forum, for which I am very thankful.  Please accept my gratitude, all who passed on your thoughts to me.

As a result, please see the second draft of the Anglican Mass in Modern English.  Again, I welcome your critique.

Anglican Mass in Modern English

After seeing the products of attempts to translate parts of the 1662 BCP and the U.S. 1928 BCP into modern English with varying degrees of success, I was about to give up, as have so many, the idea that liturgy could be written in modern English without sounding either pedestrian or trendy – or horrible.  (Imagine if you will, beginning every prayer with “We just want to praise you, Father God….”)  So I thought I might give it a try myself.

Now, I’m no Shakespeare or Eliot.  The last poetry I wrote resides in my wife’s dresser, written when I was courting her and was less critical.  Thank goodness it isn’t shown to anyone.  After all, being critical, not creative, is my strong suit.  But as I contemplated the attempts out there, a little voice whispered “heck, even I could do better than that!”  So here it is. 

Anglican Mass in Modern English

Here is the Eucharist from the U.S. 1928 BCP, translated into current modern English, following the principles of Liturgiam Authenticam, and using the most up to date ICEL texts, which will be in sync with the next Roman Missal to be issued in English, probably 2010 or so.  It is set up to work with either the 3 year Ordo Lectionum Missae and the Daily Lectionary or the older lectionaries in the various BCPs.  I think the former the better choice, of course.


Because Anglicanism is an international body these days, I have edited the base text in three ways,

  1. By incorporating some features of other national Anglican BCPs (Canada 1962, Scotland 1970, South Africa 1954, West Indies 1959),
  2. By eliminating some of the vague areas that have been patient of heresy, and
  3. By streamlining the whole to make it possible to have a short weekday service for working folk.

I have prepared this text for discussion purposes only, and it has not been authorized for public use by anyone, anywhere.  I haven’t even tried it out by myself. 


I would be glad of any comments.

How GAFCON Ended Anglicanism

The Global Anglican Future Conference (www.gafcon.org) has finished. The semi-conservative attendees have produced a statement, the Jerusalem Declaration, for which they commend themselves and assert that they have chosen not to split or leave the Anglican Communion, but to reform it.

Alas, what they have in mind is no reform-of-the-reform to reverse the damages of the last 450 years. What this declaration does is create something that has not existed in Anglicanism since 1558 – a magisterium. Unfortunately, instead of accepting the proper magisterium of the Western Church, this magisterium creates a confessional standard, an innovation. What are the bases of this confessional standard? They specified, inter alia,

3. We uphold the four Ecumenical Councils and the three historic Creeds as expressing the rule of faith of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

4. We uphold the Thirty-nine Articles as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s Word and as authoritative for Anglicans today.

6. We rejoice in our Anglican sacramental and liturgical heritage as an expression of the gospel, and we uphold the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as a true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer, to be translated and locally adapted for each culture.

Let’s look at these three sections one at a time. Section three, while it doesn’t explicitly repudiate councils after Chalcedon, by intentional omission does not acknowledge the authority of the rest of the ecumenical councils, either the seven acknowledged by all Anglo-Catholics, or the twenty-one acknowledged by the Western Church and accepted by many Anglo-Catholics. Such an implicit disavowal removes the GAFCON denomination from the mainstream of the Catholic Faith. Section four undoes the progress made since the inception of the Oxford Movement 175 years ago by requiring submission to the anti-Catholic articles of the reformation era, granting them explicit authority over even ecumenical councils. Or at least over seventeen of them. Section six enshrines the English prayerbook, with the intentional deviations from and denials of Catholic truth found in that book’s bowdlerized eucharist.

The GAFCON participants couldn’t have made any clearer their intention to reshape Anglicanism into just another protestant sect. What once was a place where Catholics could rejoice in their Catholic and Anglican heritage has made the final departure call. Can there be any doubt remaining about the proper path for real Anglicans?

What will we see as the results of GAFCON play out? I suspect there will be a sorting – the protestants into the GAFCON denomination (this “Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans” –FCA?), the trendy secularists fading into humanism, and the Catholics into some future hoped-for enclave under the Holy Father.

Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us!

Newman Beatification to be Announced!

According to the Sunday Times of April 20, 2008

Victorian cleric put on path to sainthood

Christopher Morgan

AN ANGLICAN priest whose conversion to Catholicism shocked Victorian England will this week take a big step to becoming the first new British saint for almost 40 years.

The Vatican will announce the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman after accepting that he was responsible for a miracle in which an American clergyman was “cured” of a crippling spinal disorder.

Newman will be given the title “Blessed” after a ceremony later this year, leaving him one step away from full sainthood.

Continue reading

A Critique of a Reaction to an Announcement

The issuance of a statement by the College of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion has incited a heated response from Dr Peter Toon that was uncommonly quick even by his standards. The operative section of the statement is reproduced below as an aid to my readers as I endeavor to evaluate Dr Toon’s response:

“The Bishops and Vicars-General unanimously agreed to the text of a letter to the See of Rome seeking full, corporate, sacramental union. The letter was signed solemnly by all the College and entrusted to the Primate and two bishops chosen by the College to be presented to the Holy See. The letter was cordially received at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Primate of the TAC has agreed that no member of the College will give interviews until the Holy See has considered the letter and responded.”

Dr Toon’s article – issued on October 16, 2007, the same day the TAC Bishop’s statement was released – is being circulated on the internet under the title, “Seeking Unity with Rome: Traditional Anglican Communion’s Bishops hope for acceptance.” While about a third of it is something of a commercial for a new edition of Richard Hooker’s Learned Discourse on Justification, the remainder in many particulars distorts and misrepresents the TAC Bishops’ statement.

Indeed, and ironically, Dr Toon’s response (or perhaps more accurately, his reaction) is an example of the documentary eisegesis that he has rightly condemned when it is practiced by his theological opponents: The TAC statement is interpreted not in its plain and literal sense, but according to a pre-existing set of what can only be called partisan prejudices and ad hominem presuppositions. Because of this, it should not be taken as a serious contribution to the debate (which makes it a relative rarity among its author’s writings) but instead should stand as a monument to the result of not allowing one’s first reaction to be released for public consumption until it has been considered in an objective, calm and recollected state of mind. It may be that he who hesitates is lost, but it is probably more true – it certainly not less so – that he who believes will not be in haste.

Unfortunately, Dr Toon’s prominence as a commentator does not permit allowing his reaction to pass without comment. My critique of it will progress more or less from item to item in the order in which it appears in Dr Toon’s article.


Dr Toon remarks that, in light of his reading of the teaching of Hooker, others, and the “the fundamental Formularies of the Anglican Way, with their rejection of the excesses of Romanist teaching, it is most strange that a whole group of Bishops from the Continuing Anglican Movement (having seceded from the Global Anglican Communion) should feel so confident about the orthodoxy and biblical basis of Roman Catholicism that they seek full communion with Rome-on Rome’s terms and according to Rome’s doctrine and dogma.”

Several things here merit comment. The first, though not the most important, is the use of the term “Romanist.” While it is still heard from anti-catholic evangelicals (who have bought into the false equation of “catholic” with “Roman Catholic”) and, more strangely, from anti-Roman high-church Anglicans (who have bought into the dubious notion that because Rome has erred through excess on certain doctrinal matters, it is no longer a catholic church), the use of this term has become almost wholly pejorative and partisan. In other words, it has become a slogan designed to elicit emotion (and thereby substitute for thought) rather than a description useful for fostering thought.

Next is the parenthetical description of the TAC Bishops (or the Continuing Anglican Movement as a whole – the exact reference is not entirely clear) as having “seceded from the Global Anglican Communion.” One is tempted to ask what GAC is being referred to here: Is it the one which looks – in an anglicized version of the ultramontane ecclesiology that it finds so offensive in the Roman Church – to communion with the See of Canterbury as its defining element? (If so, this entity hardly qualifies as a communion any more: Since clearly it has neither a common faith nor a common ministry, it is at best an association based on historical descent.) Or does he mean the nascent association rooted in the Anglican Churches of the Global South, which in the first place has not yet taken its final shape and in the second place has among its members a variance on the matter of the ordained ministry that may either prevent it from coalescing or call into question its own catholicity when and if it does so?

Next, Dr Toon alleges that the TAC Bishops are seeking “full communion with Rome – on Rome’s terms and according to Rome’s doctrine and dogma.” Presumably in support of this claim, he reproduces the full text of the official statement. The problem for him here is that there is nothing in the statement that gives a single shred of support to his extraordinary claim. (For me, this is strong prima facie evidence that this reaction was written in the white heat of emotion rather than in anything approaching scholarly objectivity.)

After helpfully supplying the reader with the text, Dr Toon then continues to attempt firmly to fix the spin he has put on the statement by wondering, “why, if these men are so sure that the Roman Way is totally superior to the Anglican Way, they are not already in the Roman Way.” But, again, the text gives no support to the assertion, and to anyone familiar with the context out of which it speaks – which, it seems to me, is a restoration of the search for “communion without absorption” begun in the archiepiscopate of Michael Ramsey and the pontificate of Paul VI – it is almost nonsensical.

The suggestion that the TAC bishops are “hanging around the periphery of the Anglican Way constantly talking of heading off” is another tendentious distortion. One might question whether anyone still in formal connection with The Episcopal Church and the Canterbury Communion, given their accelerating slide into doctrinal dissolution and institutional chaos, has a moral right to talk about peripheries at all. And so far as I am aware, no one in the TAC Council of Bishops is talking – constantly or even occasionally – about “heading off.” The talk seems to be about talking with a view toward fulfillment of the Lord’s expressed desire for unity in his truth – not Rome’s version, not ours, but his.

Dr Toon goes on to insist that, “If these Bishops believe that there is no integrity to the Anglican Way and that its only future is in the Roman Way then by all spiritual, rational and decent principles they ought surely to cross the Tiber now and find on the other side rest for their souls-and we wish them well in their voyage.” Again, his premises are assumptions grounded neither in the plain words of the text that has provoked him nor, indeed, in any official utterance of which I am aware by any bishop of the TAC. If the diagnoses – that the bishops believe that the Anglican Way has no integrity and that there is no future outside the Roman Way – are incorrect (and they are) then the remedy proposed is, at best, inappropriate.

The suggestion that, if they had any integrity, the TAC bishops would swim the Tiber forthwith and cease troubling those are portrayed as real Anglicans is interesting to me as one who has been around the Anglican church wars for thirty years: It contains clear and loud echoes of the “go away and God bless you” attitude long expressed toward traditional and conservative Anglicans in The Episcopal Church by hard-core revisionists such as Barbara Harris and contemporary TEC corporatists (including some who are soi disant conservatives, such as the current TEC bishop of Central Florida). It makes one wonder whether similar tactics might be adopted at some point by those who agree.

A relevant postscript

For some time, and at least in two articles circulated on the internet, I have made reference to what I call a fundamental difference of perception between what I call “mainstream Continuers” (those who adhere to the Affirmation of St Louis, such as TAC) and “new traditionalists” (such as the AMiA and the majority of the Common Cause Partership) on the nature of the Reformation, both in general and in its Anglican form. It is my belief that these differences go a long way toward explaining the matters which have exercised Dr Toon’s concern.

Simply put, the difference is this: Dr Toon, together with a significant body of opinion among those new traditionalists who have given the matter any thought, at least implicitly regards the English Reformation as being a completed work. Seemingly on account of this, the Church of England’s formularies – in particular the 39 Articles of Religion and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer – have assumed a hermeneutical authority which sets them on a par with, or even above that of the Ecumenical Councils. By contrast, mainstream Continuers regard the Reformation as a work still in progress. In this view (which I believe accords with the mainstream of classical Anglican practice), it is the Articles and the BCP which need to be evaluated in light of the Councils and of Scripture rather than the other way ‘round.

(The reality of the situation is actually a bit more complex and confusing than one which simply sets the new traditionalists on the one side with the 1662 BCP and the Articles and the mainstream Continuers on the other with the 1928 BCP and the Seven Councils. Within the institutional camp of the new traditionalists are a number of people whose core convictions naturally place them in the ecclesiological orbit of the mainstream Continuers. Specifically I am thinking of those FiFNA dioceses, parishes, and people who make up a significant, albeit a minority, component of the Common Cause groupings.)

When responding to Dr Toon’s allegation last year that to accept the authority of seven rather than four Ecumenical Councils (and particularly that of the Seventh) was to go beyond genuinely Anglican principles, I expressed what I deem to be the mainstream Continuum position as follows:

… I think that the Reformation – including the English Reformation, which was far and away the most reforming and least revolutionary of the group – was an unfinished business, an opus interruptus, if you will. There are few things more frustrating than the movement which largely succeeds, yet remains incomplete in important respects, mostly having to do with the practical application of the triumphing principles (as my fellow Reagan revolutionaries in the political arena can testify). That being so, I do not believe that the Elizabethan Settlement of religion, for all its genius, is something the restoration of which ought to be pursued, not least because it is no longer possible to do so, since the idea of Christendom which it took for granted has long since passed from the status of a living reality to that of a poignant memory. The upheavals involved in the Great Rebellion (1637-49), the Commonwealth, and the Restoration Settlement (which produced the 1662 BCP) effectively stalled the completion of the English Reformation, and the process was not effectively re-started until the ecclesiastical reform movements of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Even then, it was a matter of “fits and starts” that had to await the collapse of Post-Constantinian Christendom to have a hope of fulfillment. …
[Samuel L. Edwards, “Dr Toon, the Anglican Churches,
and the 7th Council” (1 August 2006).]

In the end, it may be that only when the varied attitudes toward the Reformation heritage of the Anglican Church are confronted – with specific reference to whether its objectives were or were not attained by 1662 – that both new traditionalists and mainstream Anglicans can sort out what it is they really want and with whom they have the most genuine affinity. In the meantime, (as Bishop Jack Iker) is fond of quoting, the challenge is to remember that, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” A major component of “the main thing” is this: “Ut unum sint.” No one’s arms are long enough to box with the one who makes that prayer.

Fr Samuel L. Edwards, SSM
Waynesville, North Carolina
18 October 2007