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All Saints Pasadena to Consider Revising Prayer Book

Tuesday, May 8, 2007 • 7:18 am

The Rev. Ed Bacon, formerly dean of St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Jackson, Mississippi and currently rector at All Saints Pasadena, has decided that substitutionary atonement is too icky for him and his parishioners, so they need to start talking about changing the Book of Common Prayer to reflect their enlightened theology [link in PDF format]:

I would like for us to make some occasions to discuss these matters as a faith community. In our reassessment of an injurious theology certain
hymn texts and Eucharistic prayers need to be examined.

What’s the problem, exactly? You’ll be shocked to learn that Marcus Borg and Giles Fraser - not Holy Scripture - figure prominently in Bacon’s thinking:

Much of institutionalized Christianity has taught a theology that disagrees with Jesus. Rather than seeing God with a powerful eagerness to forgive simply because of the nature of God’s love, which has no need for bloodthirsty sacrifices, the church has often expressed a competing theology (based on an 11th century theory of St. Anselm referred to as “substitutionary sacrificial atonement”). That theology has held that the very essence of Christianity is that without Christ’s sacrificial
death on the cross, “we would forever be guilty, ashamed and condemned before God.” (Mark Dever, “Nothing but the Blood,” Christianity Today, May, 2006, p. 29, quoted in Borg, Marcus, Jesus; Uncovering the Life, Teachings, and Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary, pp. 267-268)

The Rev. Dr. Giles Fraser, says about this theology, “the idea of God murdering his son for the salvation of the world is … morally indefensible. It turns Christianity into cosmic child abuse.” (Giles Fraser, “Cross Purposes,” The Guardian, April 4, 2007) Furthermore, Dr. Fraser (the Vicar of St. Mary’s Church, Putney,
in London and lecturer at Oxford) argues that it promotes a heretical theological basis for the death penalty, refusing to believe that pure and simple forgiveness without punishment can ever be a proper response to sin. Such a conditioned form of forgiveness is the basis of retributive understandings of justice (a debt has to be paid off in full) instead of restorative understandings of justice.

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How about God sending His greatest gift, His Son, to be with us, to suffer what we suffer as fallen humanity.  Enduring the ultimate suffering and humiliation of a death on trumped up charges; then defeating death and coming back to offer His peace and love to those who will follow Him. 
The shame and cruelty of the cross informs the infinite, unconditional character of His love.  I am daily speechless at some of the stuff I see and hear.

[1] Posted by Capt. Father Warren on 05-08-2007 at 08:39 AM • top

This is also Susan Russell’s (of Integrity) church. On her website, she is always bragging about how it is growing and that they have added a new service as evidence for that growth. The reality is that it has held constant in ASA, see here which shows a small drop of ASA in 2001-3 and small increase in 2004-5 for a “push” between 2001-5. I wrote to her that to point out that in the times of polarization, churches on the extremes benefit (like CANA and AMiA churches are seeing true growth) but that her advocated liberalization of the church is failing as evidenced by the tanking of ASA in her very liberal diocese of LA, see here which shows a 7% steady drop since 1996. Somehow she didn’t see fit to print my comment!

[2] Posted by rob-roy on 05-08-2007 at 08:42 AM • top

God murdering his son for the salvation of the world is … morally indefensible

I COMPLETELY AGREE ... It is outrageous, completely morally indefensible! That is why the Son had to do this willingly!

“Father, not my will, but yours be done.”

[3] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 05-08-2007 at 08:44 AM • top

God did not murder His Son. He and the Son are one, so this whole business in which God the Father becomes the cosmic child abuser is pure bunk. I’ve heard Spong say the same thing; only those who don’t believe in a real incarnation of God as Christ have a problem with the atonement theory, or so it seems to me. If you believe in the incarnation, you know that God the Father suffered there on the cross too, in some way we mortals can’t fully comprehend.

[4] Posted by DavidSh on 05-08-2007 at 08:53 AM • top

This is not a surprising development. As the Episcopal Church moves away from a Bible-based theology to a theology based upon humanism, we can expect to hear more calls for the revision of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. Church Publishing has been encouraging the use of the supplemental liturgical materials with the young people of the church for a number of years. The Diocese of Kentucky and other diocese are using supplemental forms of the Prayers of the People that reflect the Episcopal Church’s liberal social, political, and economic agenda. The liberal “Open Communion” movement is promoting its own particular theology of the Eucharist. Prayer book revision is cerainly in the air.

[5] Posted by AnglicansAblaze on 05-08-2007 at 08:55 AM • top

“All Saints Pasadena to Consider Revising Prayer Book”

Well, why not??  They’ve already revised the Bible.

[6] Posted by st. anonymous on 05-08-2007 at 08:56 AM • top

Just wait. There is a new national revision of the 79 Prayer Book waiting in the wings. I am told that if you couldn’t stomach the 79 revision, the new one is really really going to make you toss your cookies.

the snarkster

[7] Posted by the snarkster on 05-08-2007 at 08:59 AM • top

To say that Jesus did not have to die on the cross to pay the price for our sins is to say that sin and evil don’t count.  I’ve been reading Miraslov Volf’s book “Exclusion and Embrace” and I am fascinated by it.  Volf is a Croatian man who lived through the Balkan wars and had to reconcile his Christianity with his experience and anger and the anger and hatred of many people there.

Evil cannot be done away with by saying it doesn’t matter.  We constantly break our covenant with God through sin, but God desires us so much that he paid the penalty that we could not so that we could be restored to the covenant. 

It has been my experience that we can say “What” with God and theology, but we cannot (with certainity) say “how” or even “how not.”  We know that the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and his resurrection put to death sin and death and puts us into a right relationship with God.  We cannot say how this particularly works.  There are several metaphores in Holy Scripture and I submit that all are true.  Subsitutionary Atonement is only one of those metaphores and is readily understood in many cultures - particularly those with commonly accepted rules for behavior.  In a culture such as the USA where commonly accepted rules of behavior don’t exist, different models could be used (such as redemption or Christus Victor).

Phil Snyder

[8] Posted by Philip Snyder on 05-08-2007 at 09:00 AM • top

The word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing but to those who are being saved it is the power of God.  1 Corn. 1:18


[9] Posted by rreed on 05-08-2007 at 09:05 AM • top

So let me get this, when God did that whole thing with Abraham and Issac which we have, mistakenly it seems, believed to prefigure the sacrifice He would not call on us to make, but would make for us he was just jerking our chain?

Please, my six year old daughter has a better grounded theological education than these clowns.  Maybe our church and we as parents have been concentrating on the wrong things, she does not celebrate homosexuallity as a Gift, divorce as a sacriment, nature as God, or socalism as the Gospel. 


[10] Posted by R S Bunker on 05-08-2007 at 09:07 AM • top


There is a perfectly good revision out now, although I do not believe TEC will ever adopt it…the modern language 1662 BCP, under trial use by some of the AMiA congregations.  I have several copies for our mission to study; and, although it is a good revision, I still like the original language, of the 1662, or 1928, or 1892, or 1789 versions, along with the KJV for lections.  Just my own stubbornness, I guess. 
Novel is not always better.

[11] Posted by Fr. Chip, SF on 05-08-2007 at 09:10 AM • top

Here is another one:  “In latter days, men will…holding the form of religion but denying its power.  Have nothing to do with them”  2 Tim. 3:1, 5-6.  Read all six verses.  I wonder if Paul was thinking of ECUSA.

[12] Posted by rreed on 05-08-2007 at 09:11 AM • top

Makes me wonder how these people’s children will grow up, enjoying “pure and simple forgiveness without punishment.” 

What kind of a generation will be growing up from here?  A generation where love is cheap and selfish, requiring no sacrifice or courage.  Just indulgence.  To them, love means never having to say you’re sorry.  I pity them.

“Greater love has no one than this, than he lay down his life for his friends.”  John 15:13

[13] Posted by Cindy T. in TX on 05-08-2007 at 09:26 AM • top

The Rev. Dr. Giles Fraser, says about this theology, “the idea of God murdering his son for the salvation of the world is … morally indefensible. It turns Christianity into cosmic child abuse.”

Somebody get the word to Dr. Fraser. God didn’t murder his Son. We did. Guess he missed that day in class. And, of course, why would he actually read the Bible to find out. He’d rather “feel” it.

[14] Posted by oscewicee on 05-08-2007 at 09:27 AM • top

When I read Ed Bacon’s comments, I can’t help but be saddened by what seems to be a willful desire NOT to understand what the Scriptures and the Church have revealed to us about the nature of the Atonement.  The Atonement is a heart-breaking story of love and self-giving, accomplished completely and selflessly as only God could do.  The Rev’d Bacon uses the language of “murder” to box the conversation into a corner.  If you need some gloves with which to box yourself out, read John Stott’s classic “The Cross of Christ”.  I would challenge Mr. Bacon and anyone else to finish the book and not be moved to tears by the beauty of the Cross.

Fr. Darin Lovelace
Durant, Iowa

[15] Posted by Fr Darin Lovelace on 05-08-2007 at 09:28 AM • top

I can’t help but be saddened by the fact that Ed Bacon has any connection at all to the Diocese of Mississippi. My God, have we all been totally asleep for the past 25 years?

the snarkster

[16] Posted by the snarkster on 05-08-2007 at 09:37 AM • top

I think DavidSh is exactly right.  You always suspect the progressives think of Jesus as just a cool philosopher who, if alive today, would probably be the webmaster for, right?  This kind of thing - “cosmic child abuse” - less-than-subtly reveals that to be more or less the truth, since it can’t be reconciled with the truth that the Father and Son are one in substance.

[17] Posted by Phil on 05-08-2007 at 09:38 AM • top

The doubts the rest of us may have aobut penalisms might begin with earthly matters. 

Many of us for different compelling reasons, have come to doubt the presupposed innate ethical-spiritual merits of any subsequent violence that claims to be a sufficient good best response to prior violence.  We put offenders in prison, because frankly we have at that moment been rendered helpless to do anything else helpful, and because it gets them off the streets and temporarily protects the community from their violence - not because imprisonment and the sufferings prison violence imposes in much of any way innately assist the offender to reliably and predictably become a better person.

Even when such incarceration interrupts the violence cycles in which many offenders have indeed been caught up, by itself the incarceration disrupt is a prelude to changing for the better, not the sure foundation and essence of how the goods of rehabilitation/change necessarily by closed definition, happen.

One lives with these and other related earthly penal questions.  The presuppositional glue that claims penal things are all of one, good piece grows ever more odd, ever less certain.  Especially one lives with doubts and questions about the core claim, that penal suffering does innate good, period - provided it is imposed or required by the so-called just, upon the so-called unjust.

Over time one realizes one is also living with questions about heavenly and spiritual things.

James Alison comments that we begin with a presuppositional penal notion which is, after all, weak and inadequate in its starting comprehensions of the scriptural meanings of sacrifice.  From that weakness, much of the subsequent penalism gets its grip.

So far, I agree with Alison more than I agree with most verisons of penal sub atonement I have heard or read.


[18] Posted by drdanfee on 05-08-2007 at 09:45 AM • top

People are fascinating.  We were dear friends with the Bacons when they were in Mississippi.  My favorite memory of Ed is his frequent, great big belly laugh, that would fill the room.  (Reportedly, his father, a Baptist minister, NEVER laughed.  I can’t help but wonder if Father-Son relationships are being worked out at multiple levels in this theological undertaking, but I’ll never know.)
I still love Ed & Hope, even though they are Worthy Opponents and this undertaking heretical.  They have big hearts.  I have prayed we will all be seated at the marriage supper of the Lamb (ironic, that). 
May God have mercy on us all.

[19] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 05-08-2007 at 09:50 AM • top

This theology is not only a rejection of the theology of St. Anselm; it is a plain repudiation of the teachings of St. Paul.  Here are some related thoughts and quotes on this subject that I pulled out of my notes from John Stott’s book, the Message of Romans.

“If God justifies sinners freely by his grace, on what ground does he do so?  How is it possible for the righteous God to declare the unrighteous to be righteous without either compromising his righteousness or condoning their unrighteousness?  That is our question.  God’s answer is the cross.”  —John Stott

Substitutionary atonement, or propitiation, is an act that appeases God’s anger.  In pagan religion, the gods are angered either capriciously, or based on wrongdoing by their worshipers, and it was up to the worshipers to perform some act, such as a sacrifice, to appease the angry gods.  This notion that our God, the true and only God, can get angry and needs to be appeased is offensive to many Christians.  The argument goes:  God is a God of love; he doesn’t get angry.  And while this is neither a trivial nor a baseless argument, it is quite wrong. 

God is wrathful, and His wrath is directed at one thing only: evil.  He cannot stand evil and remain righteous.  He cannot but remain righteous.  Therefore He must be wrathful.  His wrath is not capricious.  And it is not we who must undertake the propitiation.  Indeed, we are quite powerless to do so.  Only God has the power to appease Himself.  Only God has the power to perform an act of propitiation that will satisfy His righteousness.  And that is the reason He sent Christ to walk among us, and to die on the cross. 

“God, because in his mercy he willed to forgive sinful men, and being truly merciful, willed to forgive them righteously, that is, without in any way condoning their sin, purposed to direct against his own very Self in the person of his Son the full weight of that righteous wrath which they deserved.”  [God cannot forgive our sins lightly because to do so would have been] “to have compromised with the lie that moral evil does not matter and so to have violated his own truth and mocked men with an empty, lying reassurance, which, at their most human, they must have recognized as the squalid falsehood which it would have been.”  Charles Cranfield

“They are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus. “Romans 3: 24-26

“We can only marvel at the wisdom, love and mercy of God, and fall down before him in humble worship.  The cross should be enough to break the hardest heart, and to melt the iciest.” John Stott

[20] Posted by Rick H. on 05-08-2007 at 09:51 AM • top

“All Saints Pasadena to Consider Revising Prayer Book”

Is it legal for them to do that? I thought this type of action could only be done by GC vote. Can soeone enlighten?

[21] Posted by TLDillon on 05-08-2007 at 09:56 AM • top

What this is all coming from, however the apologists explain it away, is a refusal to believe that there is anything at all amiss in human nature - when we are up to our eyeballs in all that is wrong with human nature. So much easier to say, hey, God got it all wrong. We’re really just great and all those ways that we hurt each other, hey, that’s really nothing to do with any fundamental wrong in us. Jesus didn’t die to save us because we’re so perfect we couldn’t possibly need saving. And hey, we didn’t kill Jesus on the cross anyway, God did.

I thank God especially for every priest who still believes the Christian faith and speaks out against this great spiritual emptiness that is overwhelming the Episcopal Church. Your testimonies are healing balm in the wilderness.

[22] Posted by oscewicee on 05-08-2007 at 09:58 AM • top

we can expect to hear more calls for the revision of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.

I would also call for its elimination but with a return to the prayerbook of 1928. I didn’t like it when it was introduced, but I really didn’t know why.

Now, from information gleaned from posts here, I understand that my objection/rejection was based on its permissiveness which was deliberately planned and included to support TECs incremental move toward heresy.

Church leadership also quickly squelched objections and complaints, moving ahead and virtually running over those who objected…and there were many.

When I complained, my priest said, “don’t worry about it. It’s no big deal. Besides, you’ll like it better because it makes services shorter and less tedious.”

I finally got used to it, but for several years, I kept feeling I was missing something.

[23] Posted by Forgiven on 05-08-2007 at 10:00 AM • top

Rick O.P., spend some time with progressives, and you’ll learn that St. Paul’s writings are troubled meanderings that don’t have the authority of the things Jesus said.  (This is why, IMO, the line, “Much of institutionalized Christianity has taught a theology that disagrees with Jesus,” has more significance than one first thinks.)

Of course, to progressives, Jesus didn’t say everything he said, but that’s another problem.

[24] Posted by Phil on 05-08-2007 at 10:05 AM • top

Is it legal for them to do that? I thought this type of action could only be done by GC vote.

I suspect that if All Saints’ intent to revise the BCP were questioned by TEC, their response would be that they are an autonomous church and can do what they please. Further, they could say, “The Epicopal Church doesn’t understand our polity and has no auotrity to tell us what to do.”

[25] Posted by Forgiven on 05-08-2007 at 10:07 AM • top

Marcus Borg will love it.

[26] Posted by Going Home on 05-08-2007 at 10:08 AM • top

Of course, to progressives, Jesus didn’t say everything he said, but that’s another problem.

I know the question has been asked a million times, but why, why, why don’t they go start their own religion? They throw out the Bible and all of its central teachings - why do they cling so desperately to the name of Christianity when they can’t even say Jesus is Lord or agree that Jesus is the Way? What do they think Christianity is about if it’s not about Christ and the atonement? This clinging to the cloak of Christianity - more and more it seems that it’s cowardice, a lack of conviction to really stand up and do this “brave new thing” that smacks of very old things.

[27] Posted by oscewicee on 05-08-2007 at 10:12 AM • top

They need to hook up with the person whose letter in the current Episcopal Life attacks the tithe as economically regressive—do away with that concept at the same time.

I may be a little cynical, but I think that tithing as a concept has a certain institutional appeal that will cause it to endure, even at All Saints’, Pasendena, long after substitutionary atonement has been kicked into the gutter.

[28] Posted by Kevin Babb on 05-08-2007 at 10:17 AM • top

In our reassessment of an injurious theology

Apparently Ed and Susan have gotten together and done a root-cause analysis of spiritual violence.

[29] Posted by Piedmont on 05-08-2007 at 10:18 AM • top

Anselmic Alone?

Theologically worthy of Matt’s reading (chuckle)

The Christians of the East have a centuries-old theology of atonement and propitiation that is not “Anselmic Alone” but much fuller. Some Eastern Orthodox theologians go so far as to find fault with the Anselmic theology of atonement - but before you place an anathema on them, read their theological position. They are about as far from modern revisionism as you can get, but they have a theology that is more ancient than Anselm that critiques him.

The Eastern liturgy does not in any way shy away from speaking about the Passion of the Christ, or the holy and life-giving cross…

But Eastern Orthodox theology in general is more concerned with an actual healing and transformation of the human person in Christ, rather than juridical abstractions that often characterize Western theology equally both of the Roman Catholic and Protestant kinds.

Some Protestant theologies describe the atonement as if it is some kind of “loophole” that God used to get around having to do what the Law required Him to do… and I think it is fair for orthodox Anglicans to ponder if this is the fullness of the Christian Gospel.

Eastern theology tends not to describe God as problematized by His own Law. Rather, it tends to focus upon humanity as problematized by their seperation from God-the-Life-Giver. God did not so much solve His own problem (i.e. how to find a loophole in His own Law), but God solved humanity’s problem (i.e. their seperation from God). People are brought near to God in Christ, because the Son of God assumed human nature thus making it possible for human nature to be truly brought near to God.

The Son of God did not go down into the place of death in order to suffer the fully furry of God’s wrath for sin (i.e. the loophole that solved God’s problem inasmuch as the Law required Him to poor out the full furry of His wrath)... but rather, the Son of God went down into the place of death in order to destroy that enemy of humanity which is death itself. As is often sung in ancietn hymns, death swallowed LIFE ITSELF and could not contain what it had swallowed, so it burst open and thus death itself was put to death. This was a victor won by the Son of God going to the cross, by death defeating death. The Son of of God went on a rescue mission, and saved all those dwelling in the shadows and brough them into the Divine Light of Life.

When Protestant theologies seem to paint God’s own Law as the problem, and that it is God Himself who has the problem of trying to “get around” and find a “loophole” for the requirements of His own Law in order to actually be forgiving - then I have to wonder if that is truly the manifest beauty of the Christian Gospel?

One need not be a liberal revisionist to ask questions like this.

And many orthodox Anglicans have found the catholic theological tradition on atonement of the Christian East to be a nice “complement” to Anselmic theological emphasis.

[30] Posted by Clann Donald on 05-08-2007 at 10:36 AM • top

Been There…
refering to the 79 BCP:

I didn’t like it when it was introduced, but I really didn’t know why.

I had trouble defining the problem I had with the ‘79 prayer book until I found 10 pretty good reasons to dislike it.  I would refer you to the Ten Commandments, as enunciated in the “Catechism” of the ‘79 prayer book. 
As to the “reexamination” of Eucharistic prayers….perhaps this is a case where they would do well to remember who “holds the copyright” on “This is my body, which is given for you….”  I would recommend consulting Him before making any changes.
I am amazed to have come to the point where individual churches can change the liturgy and it is welcomed by this “hierarchical” church.  Apparently, this does not rise to the level of importance of real estate law.

[31] Posted by tjmcmahon on 05-08-2007 at 10:38 AM • top

I suppose we are not that far from a TEC “Wiki-liturgy” where anyone with a computer will be able to log in and make what changes they think appropriate (according to their personal “spiritual discernment, of course), and it will read out on a tablet PC on the altar in real time (to make certain you are using the latest update) on Sunday morning.  We will all receive virtual communion in our offices and rec rooms- set your mouse down over a wafer laid on the mousepad and wait for the correct computer readout, and you’ll be good to go.  The webmasters will set things up to make sure no reasserter sneaks in anything from St. Paul or the OT, and you will get to select the version of the Creed you like.

[32] Posted by tjmcmahon on 05-08-2007 at 10:49 AM • top

“the idea of God murdering his son for the salvation of the world is … morally indefensible. It turns Christianity into cosmic child abuse.”

I’m sure this is EXACTLY what Abraham was thinking to himself, as he led Isaac up to the altar…

Lucky for him (and for us), He provided an alternative sacrifice…

Too bad for the folks in Pasedena… 

[Abraham of Pasedena: “What, now you want me to kill that poor defensless Ram, caught in the brambles?  That would be cosmic cruelty to animals!”]

Without blood, there is no forgiveness.

[33] Posted by Marty the Baptist on 05-08-2007 at 10:51 AM • top

I know the question has been asked a million times, but why, why, why don’t they go start their own religion?

Where’s the fun in that?  Remember Kaeton, Russell, VGR and most of their colleagues are Baby Boomers, and many are probably former hippies too: they’re anti-establishment, rabble-rousing types who are never really happy unless they’re protesting something.  They have to Change Things, Stick It to The Man, Overturn the Status Quo.  Boomers may well be the greediest, most materially acquisitive generation in history, but many still persist in viewing themselves as tireless champions of Peace and Justice, out to change the church/government/world. 

Because ultimately it’s all about them: their self-esteem hinges on the flattering self-image that they’ve carefully crafted.  It’s actually self-delusion, but they need it in order to feel good.  That’s why we’re seeing all these tears and tantrums from the revisionists, instead of reasoned arguments.  We haven’t bought into their beloved PR image, and nothing could hurt them more.

[34] Posted by st. anonymous on 05-08-2007 at 10:54 AM • top

Well said St. Anonymous! Well said indeed!

[35] Posted by TLDillon on 05-08-2007 at 10:57 AM • top

Remind me once again . . .

What’s so heinous about crossing geographic boundaries?

And why is it right for ECUSA’s revisionist bishops to enforce rules so strictly against orthodox clergy and congregations?

[36] Posted by Irenaeus on 05-08-2007 at 11:03 AM • top

Might Ed Bacon be vying with John Shelby Spong, James Pike, and Lester Kinsolving for Heretic of the Year? The year 1957, that is.

[37] Posted by Irenaeus on 05-08-2007 at 11:05 AM • top

Let me repeat what has been said in a different way .... God didn’t murder His Son but The Rev. Dr. Giles Fraser certainly had a lot to do with it.

[38] Posted by Anglican Paplist on 05-08-2007 at 11:10 AM • top

Irenaeus, you don’t think they’re hypocrites or anything, do you?

[39] Posted by oscewicee on 05-08-2007 at 11:11 AM • top

If they can revise the Prayer Book without a General Convention, why can’t others do the same?  Like maybe, rewrite the Baptismal Covenant?

[40] Posted by cliffg on 05-08-2007 at 11:12 AM • top

“Boomers may well be the greediest, most materially acquisitive generation in history. ... Because ultimately it’s all about them: their self-esteem hinges on the flattering self-image that they’ve carefully crafted.”—-St. Anonymous

Unlike the Gen X folk with record-low levels of savings, charitable giving, and civic participation?

Unlike the Gen Y folk who think they’re doing their employers a favor by showing up for work? Or who think that anything they do is so exceptionally good that no employer or professor should find fault with it?

Perhaps Anonymous needs a timeout and a reminder to think and write more like a grownup.

[41] Posted by Irenaeus on 05-08-2007 at 11:21 AM • top

And they call this ‘progressive’,another example of 2 Tim.3:8-9:
(1.)they ‘defy’ and ‘oppose’ the truth,set their ‘pet theology’ up ‘in rivalry against the truth’
(2.)show the corruptness and distortion of their theological thinking
(3.)show themselves and their creation to be ‘counterfeit’ and ‘utterly worthless’ in relationship to ‘the Faith’
(4.)their ‘progressiveness’ will be shown to be actually regression

[42] Posted by paddy on 05-08-2007 at 11:28 AM • top

Somebody please answer the question, “Can a local parish unilaterally adopt a revised lectionary not found in the current BCP?”  Thanks.

[43] Posted by Widening Gyre on 05-08-2007 at 11:35 AM • top

Before it left, WG, The Falls Church did it all the time.

[44] Posted by Phil on 05-08-2007 at 11:37 AM • top

Ushers handing out tablet PCs instead of bulletins, TEC churches becoming WIFI hotspots, the week’s hymns downloaded to your IPod.  That’d get ‘em out of bed on Sunday morning, I’m sure!

[45] Posted by johnd on 05-08-2007 at 11:41 AM • top

Somebody please answer the question, “Can a local parish unilaterally adopt a revised lectionary not found in the current BCP?” Thanks.
Why not? It seems the only rule in TECusaCORP is that there are no rules. Except when it comes to border crossings, that is.

the snarkster

[46] Posted by the snarkster on 05-08-2007 at 11:42 AM • top

I still love Ed & Hope, even though they are Worthy Opponents and this undertaking heretical.  They have big hearts. 

Jill: Just another of those really nice, big hearted people who are doing terrible things to Episcopalianism in the name of really bad theology.

the snarkster

[47] Posted by the snarkster on 05-08-2007 at 11:47 AM • top

Dear Irenaeus,
Exactly where did generation X & Y stem from? Perhaps the teaching and raisings of the Boomer generation???

[48] Posted by TLDillon on 05-08-2007 at 11:53 AM • top

Irenaeus, Generations X and Y are merely following the Boomers’ lead.  The latter, remember, are the Boomers’ own children.

Like it or not, since the Baby Boom generation with its mania for “reform” rose to positions of power, Western society has become less religious and more materialistic than ever before.  Check the soaring divorce and the plummeting church attendance.  You’ll find these all coincide exactly with the Boomer era.  Coincidence?  Hardly.

[49] Posted by st. anonymous on 05-08-2007 at 11:55 AM • top

On the lectionary- TEC’s current lectionary is (per the volume used in our little church), of course, revised to begin with.  Or, at least I can state as fact that it does not agree with my version of Fuller’s commentaries on the lectionary (sorry, not in front of me so I can’t quote specific title, year of publication, etc.) Now, if you go to TEC’s own site, you will find not the prayer book lectionary, but the “Revised Common Lectionary”, although I am not entirely sure who or what it is in common with.  And I do believe there are some dioceses here and there that still recognize (although they do not require the use of) the ‘28 BCP lectionary.  And, of course, there are a number of readings where sections that are considered repetitive or not politically correct or “obsolete” are “optional”. So, there is already a lot of variance on what you will hear on a given Sunday morning in a given place.

[50] Posted by tjmcmahon on 05-08-2007 at 11:58 AM • top

Snarkster, I believe they believe they are doing the right thing, the big-hearted thing.  They are under a strong delusion, and I imagine they believe the same about me. 
We are not wrestling with flesh and blood, but with powers and principalities (Eph 5:12).  We Americans tend to frame this debate as a culture war, and it is.  But more importantly, it is spiritual warfare, and our most effective weapons are prayer and fasting and alms-giving.
Yes, their actions are heretical.  Yes, much destruction in the church has resulted from these heresies.  But nothing will make me stop loving them.  If we can’t go through this in a Christ-like manner, then what’s the point?  I firmly stand against this heresy, and I firmly love Ed and Hope.

[51] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 05-08-2007 at 12:09 PM • top

I have an idea for a new book “Why does bad theology happen to good people?”.  The answer - there are no good people, only God is good.  However, there are forgiven people.

[52] Posted by Harry Edmon on 05-08-2007 at 12:12 PM • top

Well said, Jill.  We know that unless we can speak the truth in love, all they can hear is the sound of clanging gongs and crashing cymbals.

[53] Posted by more martha than mary on 05-08-2007 at 12:18 PM • top

P. S. Snarkster, I firmly love you, too, and I treasure your presence on this blog.

[54] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 05-08-2007 at 12:35 PM • top

Group hug now?

[55] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 05-08-2007 at 12:41 PM • top

I think alot of the difficulty is not with the atonement itself, or even the concept of “substitution,” but it’s more with some of these crude analogies that folks use to define the work of the cross. Jesus did not somehow have to pay God off. As if we worship a vengeful, violent god who demands his shylockian pound of flesh.

The truth is that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. God entered into human life and suffering, and absorbed the consequence of sin and evil into Himself so that we could not only be “justified,” but also enabled to share in His life.

This whole matter is a mystery to our finite human understanding. Any words that we use.  Any analogy used to define the atonement of our Lord falls miserably short, and can never do justice to the thing itself, the reality of the redemption we have in Christ Jesus.

But, why oh why, can’t so many of these revisionists discern what I’m sharing right now. Instead they often seem to turn to thinkers such as Marcus Borg or Spong who basically reject the work of the cross, and pretty much every central tenet of the Christian faith. It’s incredibly sad!

[56] Posted by Grace17033 on 05-08-2007 at 12:44 PM • top

I would like to know why people mistake firmness with non-lovingness! I perfectly understand and agree with you Jill in regards to loving the sinner. But we also told 2 Peter 2:1-3
  “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. [2] And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. [3] And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”
I don’t think that God wants us to be exploited by these types of heretics, and that does not included to stop loving them. We are as Christians called to love everyone even our enemies/heretics, but it doesn’t mean that we attach ourselves to them either. God leaves them to their own destruction, unless they have a revelation, repent and return. And I don’t thinkanyone here is saying that we don’t love them but what is beingsaid is that their actios and heresies are not loved and very much against God & His Word! and lstly we are instructed 2 Thes. 3:6
  “Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.”

[57] Posted by TLDillon on 05-08-2007 at 12:53 PM • top

Much of institutionalized Christianity has taught a theology that disagrees with Jesus.

Is he referring to those folks in asylums wearing straightjackets or the people in the institution headquartered at 815 Second Ave. in Manhattan that put dog collars on their lunatics?

[58] Posted by Piedmont on 05-08-2007 at 12:54 PM • top

All Saints, Pasadena, will be able to revise its liturgy however it wants, because they are “progressives,” and hence cannot be mistaken in any thing that they do.

[59] Posted by AnglicanXn on 05-08-2007 at 01:36 PM • top

RE: Somebody please answer the question, “Can a local parish unilaterally adopt a revised lectionary not found in the current BCP?”

A parish may use a liturgy not found in the BCP with the approval of the local bishop.  Which is prcisely why the Tanzania Communiqué asked the bishops not to authorize any rites for s-s blessings. Under our “polity” bishops do have the power to authorize (or not) any liturgy not found in the BCP.

[60] Posted by Maria Lytle on 05-08-2007 at 01:39 PM • top

Hi Jill. My comment was just an observation and I certainly hope you didn’t take it as a personal criticism of you. I would never presume to do that (to you, anyway).

Having said that, it is people like the Bacons who are bringing me, kicking and screaming, to the realization that I can no longer be a part of a church that tolerates toro-poop such as he is advocating. I’m sure he is a prince of a fellow and really believes in what he is doing but I just can’t get past the fact that what he is doing is flat out wrong/heretical and is destroying the Episcopal Church. I have several really good friends who have done terrible things. Truth be known, they are real scumbags, but I have known them all my life. I speak to them on the street, return their phone calls and occasionally defend them. I don’t hide when I see them coming as some do. But I don’t have them over for tea and I sure as hell keep my kids away from them.

As the quote goes, “All that is necessary for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing. We have all done nothing for far too long and it is time to admit that we are, in truth, two radically different religions and move on. Love them, YES. Tolerate them, NO.

the snarkster

[61] Posted by the snarkster on 05-08-2007 at 01:50 PM • top

Why am I not surprised at this move?

No sin = no need for punishment.

I read somewhere else recently that Bishop J.C. Ryle once wrote:
<blockquote> A scriptural view of sin is one of the best antidotes to the extravangantly broad and liberal theology which is so much in vogue at the present time…The atonement and substitution of Christ, the personality of the devil, the miraculous element of Scripture, the reality and eternity of future punishment, all these mighty foundation-stones are cooly tossed overboard, like lumber, in order to lighten to the ship of Christianity and enable it to keep pace with modern science. </blockquote>

Ain’t it the truth.

[62] Posted by Rom 1:16 on 05-08-2007 at 02:03 PM • top

I have several really good friends who have done terrible things. Truth be known, they are real scumbags, but I have known them all my life. I speak to them on the street, return their phone calls and occasionally defend them.

Snarkster, I know some folks like that.  There are some people that have never been in my house and never will.  However, if they asked me to drive them to the airport which is over an hour away I probably would.

[63] Posted by Piedmont on 05-08-2007 at 02:43 PM • top

The attack on the Biblical doctrine of penal substitution is old news.  The Socinians of the 16th century (pro-Unitarians) were loud on the point.  I have known quite a few conservative Anglo-Catholics who willfully omit the word “satisfaction” in the Prayer of Consecration.  Leon Morris wrote two masterful volumes (The Cross in the New Testament, and The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross) which settle once and for all what the Scripures teach.  Stott’s book is also excellent (although I would differ with his negative view of eucharistic sacrifice). One reason I have always found Rite I of the 1979 book theologically unacceptable is that it replaces “propitiation” with “perfect offering” in the Comfortable Words.
Saying that God “murdered” His Son is a straw-man which reveals profound ignorance of the Trinity.  On the other hand, if the death of Christ was anything other than a sacrifice of propitiation and satisfaction, His Father must have been deeply abusive to allow it to happen at all.  Even if the “theory” of penal substitution is set aside, the event of the cross is still a bloody fact.

[64] Posted by Laurence K Wells on 05-08-2007 at 03:17 PM • top

I can’t help but be saddened by the fact that Ed Bacon has any connection at all to the Diocese of Mississippi. My God, have we all been totally asleep for the past 25 years?


Those who were awake 25 years ago went to the Continuing Church movement and, more recently, the AMiA and, still more recently, CANA.

All of this was forseen—and warned about—by those who were awake 25 years ago. Sadly, far too few took them seriously, prefering the happy fantasy of a salvagable Episcopal church. Now comes the rude awakening, made all the more unpleasant by the delay.


[65] Posted by LP on 05-08-2007 at 04:17 PM • top

set your mouse down over a wafer


But who would consecrate the wafer? Would we stop by the church (uh, temple) once a quarter or a couple of times a year and pick up a box of pre-consecrated wafers and a bottle of pre-consecrated wine so that we can self-administer from the latest liturgy picked up off the wiki-church website?

This is so Orwellian that I am actually concerned it could happen in TEC…especially after they’re cut loose to operate without being held back by its association with an orthodox church.

Kinda reminds me of the drive-in churches in Caliafornia back in the ‘50s.

I agree with your observation on the 79 BCP. So many of the changes were extremely subtle but incredibly meaningful. Their impact was never brought to the attention of the average pewsitter and I suspect that some clergy problably didn’t immediately pickup on them.

This has been a well-planned and well-executed theft of an entire church and most of us (pewsitters) didn’t realize it was happening until it was far too late to stop it.

[66] Posted by Forgiven on 05-08-2007 at 04:26 PM • top

I have known quite a few conservative Anglo-Catholics who willfully omit the word “satisfaction” in the Prayer of Consecration.

That’s sad but true. 
But, I’m glad you commented, Fr. Wells.  I actually came to solid belief in substitutionary atonement praying at Calvary Shrines in Anglo Catholic and Roman Catholic (often Mexican) churches.  Only later did I put more developed theological language on what those shrines conveyed - that Christ suffered and died for (not just “because of”) my sins.

[67] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 05-08-2007 at 04:28 PM • top

Tragically, it is time to stop the pretense and allow a split to happen. There are two different “religions” trying to exist in one Church. It can’t happen. One or the other will be destroyed.

We need to allow the American Church to split into a Christian Anglican Church and a Church doing it’s own “new thing.” If the Church doesn’t split orthodox Anglicanism will die in these here United States.

While it is a sad commentary it is obviously, day by day, more necessary. Of course, as CHristians, we should not hate the worthy opposition, but on the other hand, we simply cannot remain part of them and NOT but our own salvation in danger. If we listen to their heresy long enough it will contaminate our own faith.

I certainly wouldn’t want my grandchildren listening to this garbage. Yes, let the separation begin, and let the chips fall where they may.

[68] Posted by FrRick on 05-08-2007 at 04:34 PM • top

St. Anonymous,
“They” are founding, have founded, will continue to found, their own religion and everybody, “them” and the rest are charged with paying for it. If not card-carrying members of ECUSATEC, Inc., then at least share depositors and diocesan line-place-holders…

[69] Posted by southernvirginia1 on 05-08-2007 at 04:40 PM • top

set your mouse down over a wafer
But who would consecrate the wafer? Would we stop by the church (uh, temple) once a quarter or a couple of times a year and pick up a box of pre-consecrated wafers and a bottle of pre-consecrated wine

I had figured that the Church of What’s Happening Now would just do online consecrations (that’s why you put your mouse on the wafer) and webcast the service.  Wine might be harder, perhaps TEC could sell blessed swizzle sticks on their website- or something that plugged into a USB port for the purpose.  Never leave your easy chair, and it would save you sharing a cup with all those icky people down at the church.

Of course, why consecrate at all if you don’t believe consecration is anything other than waving your hands and saying some old poetry- or in the case of the church in the article, new poetry.

[70] Posted by tjmcmahon on 05-08-2007 at 04:55 PM • top

Love the apostates, yes, but understand that God is giving them over to thier own depravity.  Love them, yes, but do not have communion with them.  Love them, yes, but have nothing to do with them.  A church that cannot discipline is no church at all.  If TEC cannot discipline this sort of apostacy (which they can’t), then what have Christians to do with TEC?

[71] Posted by Philip Bowers on 05-08-2007 at 05:04 PM • top

Picard to Star Fleet Command: The Borg is on his way.

[72] Posted by MKEnorthshore on 05-08-2007 at 05:05 PM • top

This is almost enough to make one long for the days when Anglicanism was seen as

a body quite remarkably intolerant in regard to devotional practice, and bordering on the incoherent in central matters of faith.

—Henry Chadwick in The Study of Anglicanism, chapter on Tradition, Fathers and Councils

[73] Posted by Rom 1:16 on 05-08-2007 at 07:54 PM • top

RE: “All Saints Pasadena to Consider Revising Prayer Book”

If someone has already asked this, I apologize. 
Are they going to publish it in 3-ring binder form so that there can be supplements, additions and corrections as times change?

[74] Posted by ElaineF. on 05-08-2007 at 07:57 PM • top

The problem with the 79 BCP is the so-called “An Order for Celebrating the Holy Eucharist” on page 400. While the rubrics say “it is not intended for use at the Principal Sunday or weekly celebration of the Holy Eucharist,” rubrics in ECUSA are notoriously not followed. And this particular order leaves it open from anything from the 1928 to the Roman Mass to anything some left-wing liberal cares to develope. It is in my estimation one part of the 79 PRayer Book that needs to be eliminated.

There are two other more decent rites for the Holy Eucharist. And both are flexible enough to meet the needs of any congregation that has even an ounce of Christian Faith left in it.

[75] Posted by FrRick on 05-08-2007 at 08:42 PM • top

When All Saints Pasadena says they’re “considering” prayer book revision, I interpret this to mean not that they are considering whether or not to revise, but how, exactly.  I’d be willing to bet they’ve made up their minds to revise, the only question remaining is what they want their revision to say.  A Rite for gay marriage has got to be in, total gender-indeterminate language is definitely in, a lectionary excluding anything written by Paul is very likely, a liturgy for gay men to unmarry their wives would be good, and maybe they’ll bring back that raisin cake thing.

[76] Posted by DaveW on 05-08-2007 at 09:16 PM • top

It is in my estimation one part of the 79 PRayer Book that needs to be eliminated.

Why not just eliminate the BCP ‘79 altogether and go back to BCP ‘28?

It’s still in print and I guarantee that if the demand increases, the printing presses will run.

[77] Posted by Forgiven on 05-08-2007 at 09:57 PM • top

The three-ring binder idea is a smart move.  It could have tabs and sections for not just the Daily Offices and Holy Communion, but for all those new liturgies for life’s transitional moments that are/have been developed, like learning to walk and chew gum or whatever.

[78] Posted by Rom 1:16 on 05-08-2007 at 10:23 PM • top

Yeah, follow this trajectory, and The Establishment Clause (TEC) will jump all over it, and crank out a BCP-Lite that tastes familiarly christian (Yep, small “c.”), yet can be used by Reform Jews, Unitarians, or Ba’hai with ease.  The HOB will keep redefining propriety until it becomes uncouth not to discuss and condone the most shameful sins.  ABC will keep waffling, and the whole Communion will be sick from the “leaven.”  We all see that coming, even the most liberal contributors on this site.  That’s not much of a question- that’s not really even the problem.

The real question is this:  Are each of us truly seeking God to sanctify and enable us to really unite and work in whatever part of this field we find ourselves to see God’s holy love prosper in the lives around us?

[79] Posted by Robert Easter on 05-08-2007 at 11:24 PM • top

Which Canticle will speak to “Mother Jesus”?

[80] Posted by Intercessor on 05-09-2007 at 08:20 AM • top

I have always liked Mark Dever. He is a good man and an insightful teacher of theological depth.

[81] Posted by JonC on 05-09-2007 at 10:46 AM • top

Everytime I think it can’t possibly get worse . . . . someone remind me why I’m still here?

[82] Posted by JerryKramer on 05-09-2007 at 11:25 PM • top


Thanks for answering the question I intended (revised liturgy) and not the one I typed (revised lectionary).  The hands are quicker than the mind…

[83] Posted by Widening Gyre on 05-10-2007 at 01:11 PM • top

Mark Denver? “Rocky Mountain High” was way cool .......

[84] Posted by Anglican Paplist on 05-10-2007 at 02:07 PM • top

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