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Diagnosis and cure in the ECUSA: No accurate Diagnosis – No lasting Cure
The Prayer Book Society [1928] ^ | 12/14/2006 | The Rev. Dr. Peter Toon

Posted on 02/14/2006 12:21:22 PM PST by sionnsar

Reflections on the sickness of the Episcopal Church

Amongst Anglican conservatives there is universal agreement that the Episcopal Church of the US as a corporate body is sick – some would say very sick. In contrast, the leadership of this Church proclaims that it is just the opposite, it is filled with prophetic zeal and has both a message and an agenda that are relevant and acceptable to a post-modern society. Thus it is not sick but rather committed to curing the sicknesses of alienation and discrimination in society to make an inclusive community.

One salient fact for all to bear in mind is that in the late 1960s around three million people attended Episcopal Churches on Sundays while in 2006 the number is down to around one million. The actual membership of the Church has more than halved in forty years whilst the general population has increased by at least a third. So there is a real problem within the Episcopal Church!

Back in the early 1990s I heard several explanations for the demise of the Episcopal Church both in membership numbers and in the walking away by its leadership from Anglican orthodoxy into a progressive liberalism.

The Anglo-Catholics placed much emphasis upon the change in the doctrine of the ordained Ministry, with the introduction of women priests in 1976 and women bishops a decade later. In general, they accepted women as deacons, but saw the placing of women into the ministerial priesthood as a major innovation and a rejection of catholic orthodoxy.

The Evangelicals saw a serious departure by the leadership from the Lordship of Christ and the authority of Scripture for faith and conduct into theological relativism and the embrace of a social gospel. However, few of them had any problem with the ordaining of women, which they accepted as fine, as long as the women in question were creedally orthodox, and evangelical in commitment.

The Charismatics saw a serious lack of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the corporate life of the churches and in the lives of members. They called for renewal, inspiration and guidance by the Holy Spirit and the use of his gifts and graces.

Members of the Prayer Book Society of the Episcopal Church proclaimed that the major ills of the Church were caused by the rejection of the historic Book of Common Prayer (edition of 1928, itself a successor of the classic 1662 edition) in 1979 and its replacement by a new kind of Prayer Book, a book of varied services and erroneous doctrines.

From a few, who tended to speak quietly, came the suggestion that the originating problem of the Church was the revision of the Canon on Marriage of 1973 and the acceptance in all but name by the ECUSA of the divorce culture, which had been intensified by the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

Also from a few came the message that the real problem with the ECUSA was that the House of Bishop as a body and diocesan Bishops as individual pastors were failing truly to lead the flock. They had ceased to function as father-in God and as pastor, evangelist and missioner and had become bureaucrats, managers and counselors. And the clergy were following these trends. (The present AMiA may be traced in part to this conviction.)

In the early 1990s most of the Anglo-Catholics, Evangelicals and Charismatics, along with those who saw a leadership problem, were more than happy to use the new Prayer Book of 1979. For the Anglo-Catholics it gave them certain liturgical possibilities for which they had campaigned (e.g., the Gloria in excelsis at the beginning of the “Mass” not the end, and a rite for private confession to a priest). For the Evangelicals and Charismatics, it gave them services in modern English that were short and simple and could be used in mission and evangelism. None of these groups seems to have carefully analyzed the Book to see whether it was identical in basic doctrine with the historic and classic Prayer Book tradition of the Anglican Way. Most were taken in by the propaganda for it from the Liturgical Commission via seminary professors and clergy conferences. (This propaganda is now basically rejected by current liturgical scholarship – see The Oxford History of Christian Worship, OUP 2005, chapters 1-2.)

In the twenty-first century, most conservative groups (but not the Prayer Book Society) have united in claiming that the acceptance by the ECUSA of the rights of Lesbian, Bisexual and Gay persons to full membership, their holding of church offices and their partnerships being blessed, is such a serious innovation and error that it overshadows all the previous errors of this Church. Further, and importantly, the impression given by the Anglican Communion Network (which represents a good proportion of the conservative movement in the ECUSA) and its friends oversees is that if the Episcopal Church at the its June 2006 General Convention accepts that it erred and went too far in its embrace of the LesBiGay agenda and takes a few steps backwards (or does a kind of U-turn) and returns to say where it was in 2000 or 1997, then it will be restored to being an “orthodox” province of the Anglican Communion – or at least a province wherein the “orthodox” can dwell securely.

I personally reject this analysis and position. Why? Because, in medical care, physical or spiritual, where the diagnosis is false or incomplete then there can be no true and lasting cure. My belief is that conservative Episcopalians have not been given a full, candid and proper diagnosis of the sickness of the ECUSA. Rather, they have been given partial diagnoses which being incomplete are probably dangerous!

In a 64 page large booklet, EPISCOPAL INNOVATIONS 1960-2004, Theological and Historical Reflections on the Episcopal Church, I suggest that ALL the doctrinal, liturgical and moral innovations in ECUSA since the 1960s are inter-related and inter-connected and that they have a common origin. What this common origin is was first clearly suggested in seminars by Professor Charles Caldwell when he taught at Nashotah House in the late 1980s and early 1990s (where he was often a voice crying in the wilderness). After much conversation with him in the 1990s, I have developed and clarified the thesis which he first articulated there, -- a thesis which he created from his reading of Scripture with the help of the Greek Fathers of the Church, and in particular, of the Apostolic Constitutions from the fourth century (but containing much third century material).

Put simply, there has been a sustained rejection of divine order by ECUSA as that is given by God the Holy Trinity in the created order and in the order of the new covenant. Each and every major innovation from the marriage canon of 1973 to the consecration of Gene Robinson in 2004 is a rejection of divine order. Further, there is a lineal relation also between the major innovations for certain had to occur before others could occur – e.g., the Church had to make Christian marriage an option, rather than a requirement and doctrine, before the Church was ready to see the “justice” of blessing same-sex partnerships and ordaining persons in such; and the Church had to reject the Reformed Catholicism of her inherited Formularies in order to open the door to radical, progressive liberalism with a liturgical face

My view is that simply asking the ECUSA to return to its position of the 1997 or 2003 General Convention is like making an incomplete diagnosis and thereby giving the patient the wrong medicine, medicine which does not cure the sickness but makes it worse. The ECUSA needs surgery and medicine which will deal truly with its real and death-threatening sickness.

Episcopal Innovations 1960-2004 will be published by the Preservation Press of the Prayer Book Society on March 2nd 2006 and be available at soon after that date. Individual copies including postage and packing are $7.50 each and may be ordered by sending a check to PBS, P. O. Box 35220, Philadelphia, PA. 19128-0220. Multiple copies (5 or more) are $5.00 each, postage included.

The text may be accessed now at the following websites -- in the theology section; &

I do hope that you will both pay a visit and also order copies to distribute amongst concerned persons to read and ponder. Unless we get the diagnosis right, there can be no real cure. My essay is meant to assist in diagnosis.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant

1 posted on 02/14/2006 12:21:24 PM PST by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; AnalogReigns; Uriah_lost; Condor 63; Fractal Trader; Zero Sum; anselmcantuar; Agrarian; ..
Traditional Anglican ping, continued in memory of its founder Arlin Adams.

FReepmail sionnsar if you want on or off this moderately high-volume ping list (typically 3-9 pings/day).
This list is pinged by sionnsar, Huber and newheart.

Resource for Traditional Anglicans:

Humor: The Anglican Blue (by Huber)

Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

2 posted on 02/14/2006 12:21:53 PM PST by sionnsar (†† | Libs: Celebrate MY diversity! | Iran Azadi 2006 | Is it March yet?)
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To: sionnsar

I don't think the patient is worth saving at this point.

3 posted on 02/14/2006 12:36:58 PM PST by Flavius Josephus (Enemy Idealogies: Pacifism, Liberalism, and Feminism, Islamic Supremacism)
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To: sionnsar

It's almost enough to drive a Bishop to drink...

4 posted on 02/14/2006 12:43:08 PM PST by ken5050 (Ann Coulter needs to have children ASAP to pass on her gene pool....any volunteers?)
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To: sionnsar


The Southern Baptists reject progressive liberalism and now have double the members they had in the 1960's.

The Episcopals who have hugged every leftist cause that has come along in the past forty years show this result:

"One salient fact for all to bear in mind is that in the late 1960s around three million people attended Episcopal Churches on Sundays while in 2006 the number is down to around one million."

Sure looks like the Episcopals enjoy shooting themselves in the after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade.

When will they stop????

5 posted on 02/14/2006 3:41:42 PM PST by Presbyterian Reporter
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To: sionnsar

"In contrast, the leadership of this Church proclaims that it is just the opposite, it is filled with prophetic zeal and has both a message and an agenda that are relevant and acceptable to a post-modern society."

"It's just a flesh wound. . .I've had worse."

6 posted on 02/14/2006 9:28:57 PM PST by kaehurowing
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To: kaehurowing
"In contrast, the leadership of this Church proclaims that it is just the opposite, it is filled with prophetic zeal and has both a message and an agenda that are relevant and acceptable to a post-modern society."

We had a bishop come to our church to discuss his view of the Robinson uproar.... (he'd voted for the sodomite). The guy was truly a mixed up boob, and his arrogance that he was right --according to exactly the logic in the quote above was breathtaking. This guy actually had the audacity to say he believed in the authority of scripture as well. Either he is stupid, deceptive, blind....or all three, in my opinion.

Blessedly the next week a scholar came from one of the only evangelical Episcopal seminaries. His realism, humility and gentle biblical clarity were outstanding. The contrast between the fog of the week before and the sunshine of that week were remarkable.

7 posted on 02/15/2006 4:03:26 PM PST by AnalogReigns
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