Sunday, August 31, 2014

North Transpennine Electrification

We are going to take a little break from matters ecclesiastical, partly because I need to write about something else for once, and secondly, because I need to vent.

Northern England is straddled by a belt of fairly large cities - Liverpool, Manchester, Bradford, Sheffield, and Leeds - with an appropriately dense rail network. At the east end this fans out to serve a series of smaller cities and towns on the East Coast - Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Scarborough, Hull and Grimsby-Cleethorpes, along with the significant rail/industrial centres of Scunthorpe and Doncaster. These have been linked for over a century by a series of well defined routes which collectively formed what was franchised as "Transpennine Express" when the operation of the railways system was privatized in the late 1990s.

The Traditional Route Pattern.
The main routes across northern England are products of the Victoria explosion of railway construction. In order of construction they were:

* The Manchester and Leeds railway, via Rochdale and Wakefield which became the core of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (1841).
* The Manchester and Huddersfield Railway, which linked Manchester and Leeds via Huddersfield and Dewsbury, and quickly became part of the London and North Western Railway. This so-called "Diggle Route" opened in 1845.
* The Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway became the first railway to link Manchester and Sheffield directly via Penistone in 1845. This route, usually called "Woodhead" after the mountain pass it used to pass into Yorkshire.
* Lastly, there is the Hope Valley Route, opened by the Midland Railway in 1898 to link their lines in South Yorkshire with Manchester, and Liverpool.

Prior to 1948 most Transpennine services were jointly run by two railway companies. Latter this was the London, Midland and Scottish to the West, and the London and North Eastern to the East following the 1923 Grouping of Britain's Railways. Prior to 1923 the pairings had been more complex, producing the rather notorious situation in Hull where three Liverpool trains left via three different routes within half an hour each morning.

The three routes from Hull to Liverpool were the North Eastern and LNWR route via Selby, Leeds, Dewsbury, and Huddersfield to Liverpool Lime Street; the Lancashire and Yorkshire via Goole, Wakefield, Rochdale, and Oldham to Liverpool Exchange; and the Great Central via Doncaster, Sheffield, Penistone, Manchester, and Warrington. Newcastle to Liverpool traffic tended to run via Sunderland, Stockton, Northallerton, and Harrogate to Leeds, then via Diggle and the LNWR to Lime Street; whilst Scarborough was served by good connections at Leeds.

The other Transpennine route was from New Holland (later Grimsby) via Brigg, Gainsborough, and Retford to Sheffield and Manchester, with a few trains passing over the Cheshire Lines Committee to Liverpool Central.

After the grouping, the Hull-Manchester-Liverpool traffic remained competitive with routes via Leeds (ex-NER/LNWR) and Sheffield (ex-GCR) retaining service. Grmsby to Manchester and Liverpool via Sheffield continued little changed, and the old NER-LNWR route between Newcastle and Liverpool saw a steady increase in the number of trains running over it, with some travelling via York and the ECML rather than via Ripon. AND, this was to remain very much the pattern until the late 1960s.

British Rail's Rationization.
Writing in 1965 the author of 'The Future of Britain's Railways' commented that the Beeching Plan "seems to believe there was one city in Yorkshire, namely Leeds, and one in Lancashire, namely Manchester." Maybe this comment got through because when the Modernisation Plan deal with the Northeast to Lancashire long distance services in 1966/7 the new route structure turned out to be more diverse than originally though. Trains from the Northeast and Scarborough were funnelled along the old LNWR route from Leeds, through Hudderfield, to Manchester Victoria before taking the historic Liverpool and Manchester Railway into Lime Street. Services from Humberside operated from Hull (5 trains a day) and Grimsby-Cleethorpes (4 trains a day) via Sheffield to Manchester Piccadilly, and then, increasingly, over the CLC route via Warrington to Liverpool Lime Street. The Hull/Cleethorpes to Manchester service were augmented by a limited number of trains from the East Midlands and East Anglia and the Northwest to give an hourly service between Sheffield and Manchester/Liverpool. This was, in 1970, transferred from the electrified Woodhead route to the slower Hope Valley line so that all passenger trains in Sheffield could serve the Midland station. However, a series of improvements to the Hope Valley line has reduced the journey time from 63 minutes to 52, and allowed Stockport to be served via the Hazel Grove curve. This period also saw the transference of mainline trains from Grimsby-Cleethorpes from the old mainline via Brigg and Retford, to the newer, more heavily populated, but slightly slower route via Scunthorpe and Doncaster.

Subsequent developments have built on this plan, but with a couple of significant changes.
Firstly, Hull-Liverpool trains were cut back to Manchester and diverted to run via Leeds in the mid-1990s. This was accompanied by an increase to an hourly service as part of a three trains per hour service from Leeds to Manchester introduced by Regional Railways during Sectorization. The other two trains were an hourly Scarborough-York-Leeds-Manchester train, and an hourly Newcastle-Darlington-York-Leeds-Manchester-Liverpool train. At the same time all long distance trains were diverted to Manchester Piccadilly station, with Victoria being downgraded to mainly suburban status.
Initially Grimsby-Cleethorpes lost its through service to Lancashire with the Sheffield - Manchester - Liverpool service being provided by the hourly East Anglia to Nottingham - Sheffield - Manchester and Liverpool service. However, the advent of the Manchester Airport rail link led to an hourly Grimsby-Cleethorpes - Scunthorpe - Doncaster - Sheffield - Manchester Piccadilly - Manchester Airport service being introduced in 1998.
On the NTP route, a fourth Leeds - Manchester service was added in 2000, with the addition of a Middlesbrough - Northallerton - York - Leeds - Manchester train running via what was left of the old Leeds Northern Railway between Northallerton and Eaglescliffe.

Electrification
With its extremely dense service over the Pennines, the route between Leeds and Manchester has been an obvious candidate for electrification for many years. However, the spread of services at the eastern end making an economic case for this has been difficult due to the high cost to benefit ratio of wiring to York and possibly Hull. Rather than break the traditional cross-Pennine links, electrification has been deferred repeatedly, until now.

With increasing pressure to make the railway "greener" two projects have become very attractive to the long term planners. The first was the Northwest Electric scheme to wire the routes from Manchester to Liverpool; and Manchester to Bury, Bolton, and Blackpool. This would allow the conversion of Liverpool-Manchester, and Liverpool/Manchester to Blackpool, Glasgow, and Edinburgh services to electric traction as well as a nest of suburban services. The second scheme that was attractive was York-Leeds-Manchester which would allow Transpennine to go electric, but this scheme has come with a hefty price tag in terms of dislocating existing traffic patterns, though undoubtedly, electric traction will be a major boon on the steeply graded route over Diggle.

In the UK, Railway investment schemes need to meet an hypothetical 8% cost to benefit ratio in order to get government approval, and whilst the Leeds - Manchester core meets this criterion handsomely, the feeder routes at the east end have difficult producing an economic case. Once the ECML was electrified, the Leeds to York section was a shoo-in mainly due to it allowing the conversion of the key Newcastle to Liverpool service to electric traction. Fringe benefits include offering better access to Leeds for East Coast trains, who could run some Northeast/Scotland trains via Leeds to offer an improved Leeds to Scotland service. It was also felt that the relatively under used Scarborough service could be switched to the ex-L&Y line via Rochdale without generating too much ill-feeling. However, the Hull Line was a different matter.

Hull-Leeds loadings are fairly healthy, and with the addition of Hull to London 'Hull Trains' services it was felt that there was a chance that the ministry would say 'yes' to Hull electrification, especially with the fringe benefit of "free" Leeds to Selby suburban electrification. However, with the less rosy economic climate post-2007, the man from the ministry said 'no' so that only the main Manchester-Leeds-York electrification, plus a short additional stretch from Micklefield to Selby for West Yorkshire PTE will go ahead. This has necessarily caused a complete rethink of Trans-Pennine services.

Instead of the present fork-like route structure, it seems likely that the new pattern with be:
2tph Newcastle-York-Leeds-Manchester-Liverpool 2tph York-Leeds-Manchester-Manchester Airport
Hull-Manchester trains will be diverted via Sheffield, which produces about the same end-to-end timing as Hull to Manchester with a change in Leeds. There will be a connecting service to Leeds, but the real loosers are Middlesbrough and North Lincolnshire, both of which will loose their through service to Manchester, and Manchester Airport altogether. Additionally, there is a strong chance that Grimsby will loose its through through service to Sheffield in favour of changing into the Hull-Sheffield-Manchester service at Doncaster, or worse still, the Sheffield service will become an extension of the all-station Sheffield to Scunthorpe service operated by Northern Rail for South Yorkshire PTE. Admittedly carryings from west of Sheffield to east of Doncaster (and vice versa) have never been as high as anticipated, but the Grimsby-Meadowhall/Sheffield traffic has always been fairly brisk. In spite of what some pundits believe, adding another train crossing from East Coast Mainline from Northeast to Southwest at Doncaster does not seem to be an option, even though there will shortly be a third fast Manchester-Sheffield path available. So Northern Lincolnshire looses out again, having lost its through services to the East Midlands and London with privatization in the 1990s, and North Transpennine Electrification proceeds as the usual 'bean counter project' within the great tradition of British electrification schemes.

Electrification in England
Suburban electrification in England has a long history starting with the Tyne electric scheme in 1904-06. This was followed by a host of small scale projects around Liverpool, Manchester, and London between 1907 and 1930. However, mainline electrification was slow in coming mainly due to the complex traffic patterns in Britain, and the inherent conservatism of railway managers.

The first major project was the main Sheffield - Manchester line over Woodhead was proposed for electrification by both the GCR and the LNER, but was only approved at the third attempt in the late 1930s. It was electrified on the 1500V DC system, as the first stage of a much bigger project, but it was 1954 before this project was finished. The original intention had been to follow this up with the electrification of the East Coast Mainline south of York, but that scheme was shelved during WW2, leaving Woodhead isolated as the technology moved on.

By the time the Woodhead project was completed, Britain was in the process of adopting 25kV AC as its standard overhead electrification system as being both cheaper and more efficient than 1.5kV DC. After the initial pilot schemes between Morecambe and Lancaster, and London and Shenfield, the first major 25kV scheme was the London - Birmingham, Manchester, and Liverpool scheme of the early 1960s. This was expanded to Preston in 1972, and Glasgow in 1974, but this scheme was done somewhat on the cheap, with no wires for the routes taking train north out of Manchester and Liverpool to Scotland - a parsimonious policy that was to be followed on all subsequent electrification scheme.

Wires on the East Coast followed in 1991 again with some notable gaps, then to Norwich in 1994, with various small fill-in projects taking place. Extensive suburban electrifications have taken place in Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds, and Birmingham, but there are still large areas of Britain with dense traffic where diesel is likely to be the main traction source for at least another generation.

The present NTP scheme seems to follow in this penny-pinching tradition, but it is to be hoped that within a few years pressure from Hull and East Riding Councils, Hull Trains and rail users in the area will bring about an add-on electrification between Selby and Hull. In the meantime, they are in the process of creating an enormous dog's breakfast for medium and long distance travellers between the Northeast, North Lincs., Yorkshire, and Lancashire.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Anglican Identity

One of the difficulties with being an Anglican in the first quarter of the twenty-first century is that of identity. I cannot help but feel that the last four decades have been somewhat of a wild ride during which a number of Anglican identities have evolved which bare some sort of resemblance to historic Anglicanism. However, it is arguable whether any of them actually is historically Anglican. One is reminded somewhat of the attempts of early mediaeval kings to attach something of the grandeur of Rome to their petty kingdoms.

On thing that is pretty clear is that fifty years ago, Anglicanism already had something of a problem. The Catholic, Evangelical, and Liberal streams had been interacting for over a century without things going critical, but with the development of both the 'God is Dead' theology of the likes of Don Cupitt, and the siren song of liturgical revision it was clear that something was going to happen, and it was not going to be good. By the 1960s Anglicanism increasingly identified itself not by the Book of Common Prayer, the Articles, and the Episcopate, but by the looser standard of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral (CLQ) of 1884/88. The snag with this is that the CLQ was never intended to be an internal definition of what Anglicanism is, but a document governing Ecumencial encounters and inter-church relationships. The trouble with this looser formula - adopted to try and contain the pressures building between Catholics and Liberals - was that it was just too loose. It said something about what it meant to claim an heritage from the early church, but there was nothing specifically Anglican or Catholic about it, and herein lay the rub. Without a strong centre Anglicanism gradually devolved into a loose alliance of national, episcopally governed, Protestant Churches, several of the more influential of which had a pronounced liberal Revisionist bent.

The train wreck when it came was a double collision. From the point of view of the laity, the more frustrating angle was the liturgical fidgets that developed from the early 1960s onwards. The Church of England, which fully embraced the process, set forth new liturgies in three series starting in 1961, 1967, and 1972 respectively; and this was followed by the Alternative Service Book in 1980, which was supplemented by 'Patterns for Worship' about ten years later, and completely replaced by 'Common Worship' in 2000-2007. Ireland, which was relatively unenthusiastic about liturgical reform, produced an alternative Eucharistic liturgy in 1976; the Alternative Prayer Book in 1984; and a new "BCP" in 2004. ECUSA was initially rather keen on the idea of revision - with the Green Book appearing in 1967; the Zebra in 1973; and the first draft of the 1979 BCP in 1976 pending final approval three years later. This would have registered more as a nuisance than a disaster had it not been for the fact that the Ordination of Women debate was raging at the same time, and the ECUSA was revising its positions on abortion, contraception, divorce, and remarriage, and discover that in some case, like civil rights for homosexuals, that it actually had a position for the first time in its history. The result was considerable unsettlement, and it was inevitable that there would be protest movements both internal and external.

However, there has been a tendency for the cure to be almost as bad as the disease. The older Continuing Anglican groups tended to summarize their "grievances" in the form of a Solemn Declaration, and/or Declaration of Principles. The former had been pioneered by the Church of Ireland and the Church of Canada at the time of the dissolution of the union to the Church of England. The latter came from the Reformed Episcopal Church, which had draw its version up to protest Tractarianism in 1873. For the most part, these early efforts affirmed their believe in the authority of Scripture, the three ancient Creeds, the two Domincial Sacraments, and the Church in question's Anglican heritage whilst specifically repudiating modern errors concerning Holy Orders, and Morality. For the Broad Church majority of lay continuers this was sufficient, but there was a feeling - at least on the Catholic leaning wing - that something more systematic was needed, and that appeared in the form of the Affirmation of St Louis in 1977.

I have written about the Affirmation several times in this blog, so I am not going to bore you with a reiteration of my observations, except to say that it went somewhat beyond a restatement of the traditional Anglican position. Certainly many of its provisions have common sense on their side - such as the provision that a 'non-political' method of electing bishops be found. However, what seems to have slipped by, almost totally unobserved, was a small provision which if consistently followed would revolutionize the Church. It is the simple provision that all pre-existing formularies be interpreted in accordance with this Affirmation. On the face of it, this is a very simple and sensible declaration, but its implementation effectively side-lined the Reformation inheritance of Anglicanism by justifying and making normative the Anglo-Catholic rejection of the Articles and Homilies. It also created a second, Catholic, string of revisionism within the Anglican tradition, and led to enormous conflict within the new Continuing Church as it became clear that although diversity of liturgical practice would be tolerated - at least for the time being - the theology was going to be Anglo-Catholic, and those who held a differing point of view could put up or shut up.

For those whose roots were more in the "orthodox middle" of Episcopalianism the new situation was a difficult one, and it was clear that not all would remain within the new Anglican Catholic Church. The United Episcopal Church was the initial fruit of the post-1980 brake up of the St Louis Continuum, which in some respects is a heavy burden to bare. However, the UECNA hit upon a middle course - more by accident than design. A return was made to an only slightly modified version of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church as they had stood in 1958, the only significant change to which was a specific protest in favour of the Articles of Religion in declaration of Conformity, coupled with a tendency to accept the moral and polity provisions of the Affirmation of St Louis. This neatly side stepped the "Catholic Revisionist" element of the Affirmation, but also committed the UECNA to the broad framework erected at St Louis.

The legacy of the 1960s and 70s remains with us in form of a great deal of unclearness about what constitutes Anglicanism. The worst aspect of this is that in addition to Liberal and Catholic Revisionists; we know have three streams Anglicans; Confessional Anglicans, and a half dozen other variants. At the end of the day, what we need more than anything else is a return to "mere" Anglicanism, an awareness of where we came from historically that can inform where the church should be going in the future. One of the beauties of Anglicanism has always been how it manages to be simultaneously both Catholic and Evangelical, and I suspect many of us are acutely aware of just how close we have come over the last forty years to loosing that side of our inheritance. Anglicanism, even orthodox Anglicanism, is always going to be a little bit frustrating for "Pure Ponders" who cannot cope with mess and differing ways of doing things, but it is that very messiness that makes Anglicanism so appealing for so many. Even in the days of rigid orthodoxy, Anglicanism always allowed different schools of thought to survive, even thrive, and it is that acceptance of a broad orthodoxy that we need to recover once more in order to thrive.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Thou shalt not steal!

I have no objection to anyone reading my articles on the internet, but I do object to folks copying material that I have published on the interest and turning it into book form so that they can make money. So for the time being there will be no further articles on this blog until I have had the opportunity to clarify the issues involved including whether the publisher of the book that bears my name has broken Google's T&Cs and U.S. Laws concerning intellectual property by reproducing my articles without permission.

Peter D. Robinson

Monday, February 24, 2014

High Churchmen as Evangelists

The fastest growing diocese in first forty years of the 19th century was that of New York. There was a combination of factors in play. Benjamin Moore began the practice of the bishops going upstate to visit the parishes along the Hudson Valley, and as the population was following the river routes northwards, new congregations began to be formed to supplement those from colonial times. A second factor was 'cold hard cash' - Trinity Wall Street had plenty of it, and could afford to make grants to new churches as well as pay wages to the Bishop, as rector of the parish, his assistants, and support a number of Chapels in New York City. The remaining factor was a series of remarkable men who held the post of Bishop of New York. Provoost may have been unorthodox, but he was well connected and not prepared to see the Church decline. Moore, his successor as Bishop and Rector of Trinity, began to cautious push the church forward, no doubt encouraged by his able assistant John Henry Hobart.

Hobart was a remarkable figure. His portrait tends to show him as a youngish, slightly rotund man, with spectacles - he always puts me a little in mind of Schubert - yet there was no doubt as to his sheer ability. He had studied theology under William White, where he learned the dry orthodoxy of the mid-eighteenth century, and then the Cutler, who introduced him to High Church Principles. Now we have to remember that this is the old High Churchmanship, with its strong emphasis on the efficiency of the two Dominical Sacraments, its enthusiasm for Episcopal governance of the Church, and its love of the Book of Common Prayer. However, Hobart was not a conventional High Churchman. For a start, High Churchmanship had a reputation for being three parts starch, one part morals, and one part theology. Hobart was not like that. If anything, he shared the activism of the early Episcopal Evangelicals, but unlike them he chose not to participate in non-denominational efforts, but created various societies for Episcopalians - such as "the Bible and Prayer Book Society" because he wished to use them to advance the cause of Anglicanism. He was also a stirring preacher, turning his affliction - he was myopic - into an advantage, as finding it difficult to read a manuscript in the pulpit, he largely memorized his sermons, giving him a freer more spontaneous style of preaching. Yet for all the Evangelical form, there was a small but significant shift towards more 'churchly' uses. The word diocese begins to appear. Under Provoost, the diocese had always been styled 'The Protestant Episcopal Church in/of the State of New York. Hobart favoured churches which placed the altar at the east end, and had a separate chancel area for the Communion service, rather than making the Table an adjunct to the three decker pulpit. The pulpit was placed at the head of the nave, dominating that part of the church, and effectively dividing it into two room - one for the Office, the other for the Lord's Supper. He also systematized Episcopal visitation and confirmations so that the Bishop became a presence in the whole diocese, not just in the City of New York and the down state counties. This made his final attribute essential - he had a lot of energy, and although he alternated between feverish activity, and moods of depression where he retired to his country residence in New Jersey, he carried the heaviest work load of any Episcopal bishop, without assistance, for almost 20 years.

However, although 'the Hobart Effect' was considerable, it was aided by the presence of many able men in the diocese. Richard Channing Moore, an Evangelical, had built up a considerable ministry at St Stephen's which, until his departure to Virginia in 1814, was the hub of the Evangelical Movement in NY. Hobart was lucky in his assistant at Trinity - B. T. Onderdonk - a clever, plodding, fastidious man, who was more than able to hold the home front when the Bishop was upstate. The advent of General Seminary in 1817 also aided the diocese, though Hobart was a bit suspicious of it at first as it was not under his control, and it was becoming evident that a lot of the success of the diocese lay in its institutional strength, and the quality of the men that Hobart could attract into the ministry. Basically, through his ministry the Church in New York was energized, and as Episcopalians went up the Hudson, and along the Erie Canal they vowed to take the Church with them. They could be sure that when they did get upstate and organize their Grace Church or Trinity Church among the woods and hills of upstate New York, it would not be too long before a rotund man in glasses arrived to preach to encourage and to confirm their children.

Hobart's heavy workload eventually killed him. In the late spring of 1830, he headed upstate once again on another cycle of preaching, visiting, and confirming, which was to take him through the whole summer. Three months later, feeling low and feverish he tied up at a Rectory in Upstate New York in early September 1830. At first there were considerable hope for recovery, but as the condition of the worn out man declined, his friends prepared for the worst. Almost as an after thought, the rector celebrated Holy Communion for the dying man, who passed on 12th September 1830, just two days short of his 55th birthday.

As was so often the case in Hobart's later life, his assistant Benjamin Treadwell Onderdonk (1791-1861), stepped in to do what the Bishop could no longer do. He was elected to follow Hobart by the Convention of PEC in NY. B. T. Onderdonk was of Dutch descent, and his clergy said he could also be 'a bit Dutch' - stubborn, difficult, and inclined to waste too much time on trifles. However, the Diocesan Convention's choice was absolutely sound, as Onderdonk was committed to following his old chief's principles. He may have fussed about the size of the bread cubes for the Communion service, prescribed how much wine would be needed for each two dozen communicants. He may also depreciated the classical architecture of so many New York Churches and pressed the Gothic revival style on unwilling vestries, but he had the redeeming quality of being a plodder.

Now plodding is not usually considered a virtue, but when compared to his old boss Hobart, Onderdonk comes across as the consummate plodder. His fussiness was the down side of this painstaking personality - the vice of a man who did things well (not brilliantly) and thoroughly. Undeterred by his old chief's death through fever brought on by poor sanitation and overwork, Onderdonk followed the same routine as his predecessor spending the cold months in or close to New York City, then heading north each summer to visit the upstate parishes. In those days there was no New York Central railroad, never mind a Freeway or Turnpike to speed you on your way, you took to the riverboats, and worked your way upstream at a steady three or four knots calling at each town and village in turn. The river boats were also noted for their vice and gambling, but even though respectable men, especially the Protestant Episcopal bishop, may have preferred to avoid their pernicious influence, they were the only practical and economic way to travel upstate. When the river system ran out, then the Bishop had to take to the stage coaches, and jolt his way at so much a stage across country until he reached his destination. It was an exacting life, but one which B T Onderdonk sustained for some 15 years, no doubt reading some of the new 'Tract for the Times' out of Oxford, England, which his friends would have sent to him from time to time. Sadly, it was these Tracts that were to ignite the conflict that brought down Bishop Onderdonk. However, he was to have his moment of triumph first.

At the time of his consecration in 1830, the diocese of New York had around 130 clergy, 68 parishes, and probably a 110-120 missions. Unlike his three predecessors, Onderdonk was not Rector of Trinity Church, but although this somewhat lightened his load, the slack was soon taken up by the demands of the largest diocese in the Protestant Episcopal Church. By 1837, the plodder was shepherding 239 clergy in 232 parishes, which was a test of even his stamina. This made the division of either Episcopal authority, by the appointment of an assistant, or of jurisdiction by a division of the diocese essential. Onderdonk plodded his way through this, like he did everything else, smoothing the way in the diocesan convention; then making the necessary approaches to the House of Bishops and the General Convention. There was a lot of controversy, as the dioceses were then all co-terminus with the states they served, and this division was seen as crossing some sort of great organisational rubicon. In the end, the state was divided almost equally with both dioceses containing about one million people and 21,000 square miles of land. The new diocese contained 40 parishes, 50 missions, and not quite a hundred clergy, and Onderdonk had the pleasure of presiding over its first diocesan convention and of seeing the election of William Heathcoate DeLancey as its first bishop. He was probably less happy about the name "Western New York" - as a High Churchman he undoubtedly would have preferred to have the diocese named after one of its major cities. This small caveat aside, the division of the diocese of New York is a testament to Onderdonk's administrative ability, but unfortunately, it proved to be the calm before the storm.

Doubtless there had always been a little bit of grumbling among Evangelicals about Onderdonk's High Church views and - shall we call it - attention to detail, and I imagine everyone got a little 'bent out of shape' when the bishop was being a tadge difficult, but there was no major explosion until the Carey Case in 1843. Young Arthur Carey was a student at the General Seminary, who held what might be politely called 'advanced views.' With the aid of the Tracts he had travelled a long way along the road to Rome, and some of his professors had expressed concern about this. Onderdonk listened to the objections, but was determined to ordain him anyway. Instead of waving aside the opposition as Hobart would have done, he got drawn into the controversy, and this in turn stirred up further opposition. In the end it devolved into the first out-and-out faction fight in the diocese of New York and in the PECUSA as a whole, and it was to make Benjamin Onderdonk some very determined enemies.

Onderdonk was to have another year of relative peace, then rumours began to circulate of indecent conduct with a variety of women. Those long unaccompanied journeys had caught up with him in an unexpected way. The trouble was that Onderdonk was a 'touchy-feely' in an age when such familiarity could be regarded as a breach of social etiquette at best, and as a downright liberty at worst. In Onderdonk's case, it was viewed as conduct unbecoming of a clergyman, and seized upon by his enemies, resulting in a trial before the House of Bishops. The trial was a nasty tempered and rancorous affair which ended in a pretty much party line vote of 11-6 against the Bishop, who was accordingly suspended. Sadly, Bishop William Meade of Virginia, leader of the Evangelical opposition to Onderdonk, having tasted blood, decided to try for the double and take down Henry U. Onderdonk, Benjamin T's elder brother, and the second Bishop of Pennsylvania. The elder Onderdonk had been prescribed laudanum to alleviate chronic pain, but as laudanum is nothing but opium dissolved in brandy, Benjamin T's elder brother soon found himself faced with allegations of intemperance from certain Evangelicals in the diocese. Again the trial was a nasty display of party feeling, ending with a down the line vote convicting the Bishop leading to his serving an 11 year suspension from the exercise of his ministry. No-one won any advantage from these actions. The Evangelicals garnered a reputation for intolerance and partisanship which weakened them greatly later in the century. The dioceses of New York and Pennsylvania were majorly disrupted for a decade, and the High Churchmen found they had to circle the wagons in order to survive, leading to a period when High and Low were often at loggerheads with one another.

However, we still need to answer the question, why were these High Churchmen successful as Evangelists?

In the first instance, emigration into New York was still largely a British affair in the 1820s and 1830s. This meant that many of the new Americans were at least nominally members of the Church of England. However, that was only a slight 'leg-up' - far more determinative was the fact that these High Church preached the Gospel of redemption through Cross and Passion of Jesus Christ, and they also gave to the men and women that heard them the means of grace. They may have laid their emphasis on the sacraments, and virtues not far removed from the old Benedictine principles of poverty, stability and conversion of life, but in doing so they taught people how to be holy. In an age when folks were looking for salvation this thoroughness and lack of individualism could be a great strength for those looking for an identity in the New World. A further factor was cultural. Romanticism as a literary movement, with its appeal to mediaevalism, was at its height, and the Protestant Episcopal Church with its fine buildings, and solemn (rather than elaborate) ceremonial, and history fitted in perfectly with the cultural priorities of the time, just as in a sense we should be able to fit in with the counter-cultural priorities today. In short, the Protestant Episcopal Church was every bit as "romantic" as Roman Catholicism, but without its disadvantages. The time was ripe for the Church, and the men were there who God had ordained for the task!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Revisionists on Both Sides

One of the things that has become increasingly evident to me during my almost 20 years of ministry in the Continuing Church is that not all the Revisionists are liberal Episcopalians. One of the reasons why the Continuing Anglican Movement has preformed relatively weakly is that at least two of the major jurisdictions, the Anglican Catholic Church and the Traditional Anglican Communion have had a significant element within them who wished to reform, and not just continue Episcopalianism. They are hostile to the very notion of a broad Scriptural orthodoxy, under the traditional threefold male ministry, which would be inherently part of a simple continuation of the old PECUSA, and as a result they have tended to try and narrow the boundaries.

One major motivation behind this has been the desire to prevent Anglo-Catholics ever being a 'persecuted minority' within the Church. Now whilst I would freely admit that Anglo-Catholics occasionally got the dirty end of the stick, by-and-large they gave as good as they got. Certainly, much of the run-up to the formation of the Reformed Episcopal Church was set against the background of activist High Church and Anglo-Catholic opposition to what they perceived as Evangelical irregularities, and they were not shy about using the ecclesiastical courts to enforce their point of view. Conversely, the Evangelicals had not been too "nice" about their methodology when they had gone after Henry Onderdonk, Bishop of Pennsylvania, and Benjamin Onderdonk, Bishop of New York in the 1840s. The charge against Henry of Philadelphia, one of intoxication, was particularly difficult to prove, especially as he had been prescribed laudanum following a painful, and his eventual conviction owed more to party-feeling and a well-orchestrated smear campaign, than the actual merit of the allegation. There seems to have been a little more substance to the allegations of improper conduct against his brother, but even then it seems that the fact that he was a High Churchmen, sympathetic to the Oxford Movement, seems to have been the actual crime. The sentences imposed on both men seem excessive. Henry U. was suspended for 11 years, and his brother until his death in 1861. Both the diocese of Pennsylvania, and that of New York suffered a serious setback because of the limbo into which the suspension of their respective bishops placed them.

Unfortunately, the party spirit that the trials of H.U. and B.T. Onderdonk, or for that matter the Rev. Mr Cheney in 1868, demonstrated has never wholly departed from the Anglican Tradition, and we can all point occasions when party spirit has got the better of common sense. Episcopal elections seem to be one of the most frequent manifestations of this tendency, and I do not think any of us can honestly say that it strengthens the Church - unless, of course, we believe that the survival of the Church depends on our party surviving.

The Rev. Sydney Smith (1773-1845) famously defined orthodoxy as "one's own doxy" and heterodoxy as "another man's doxy" - a verdict which earned him no friends among the more theologically rigid. However, there are times when one is tempted to take Prebendary Smith's words as having more than a grain of truth to them. Clergymen seem to be very good at this type of argument, even when the preponderance of the evidence is against them. I never cease to be amazed by the number of Anglican priests I encounter who hate the Reformation, reject the Thirty-nine Articles and will fight to the death to retain the 1928 BCP only if they never have to use it, not do I ever cease to be amazed by those who swear by the Articles, but have little use for the BCP or clerical dress. Neither side seems to appreciate the balance inherent in the Anglican position.

I took the time not so long ago to listen to the tape recording made in 1977 of the proceedings of the Congress of Concerned Churchmen held in St Louis in September 1977. Most of recording were as boring as only Church meetings are apt to be. There were a lot of expressions of hope about the new Anglican Church, and a great deal of distaste expressed for the direction the Episcopal Church had been going in since 1964, but there was no call for a complete overhaul of what it means to be Anglican. If anything, most of the speaker wanted the Affirmation of St Louis to serve as a minor corrective to the ambiguities that had crept into PECUSA in the years since 1945 by reiterating the Church's commitment to the Scriptures, the Fathers, the Early Councils, and the traditional understanding of Holy Orders. However, there was an opening in the Affirmation of St Louis for a form of Orthodox revisionism to take place, mainly through its provisions for alternative liturgies, and a thorough revision of the Constitution and Canons.

There is an old adage about 'give them an inch, and they'll take a mile' and the Revisionist element among the Continuers took their opportunity to do just that. Unfortunately, in doing so they fostered strife and division. The Constitution and Canons that emerged from the revision process proved unacceptable to three dioceses of the new Church for a variety of reasons. Some protested that the provisions on doctrine "undid the Reformation" others grumbled about over-elaboration, and centralization. However, their complaints came down to the same essential contention - that the new Church was not the old one without the heresy and goofiness, but something subtly, yet radically different. At that point, the Continuum entered its winter of discontent from which it is only slowly emerging. However, we need to be very careful about how this occurs.

At the Victoria Conference, at Brockton later in the same year, and in subsequent discussions, it became evident that the agenda for the 'united Continuum' is very largely being set by those who embrace the Anglo-Catholic Revisionism of the late 1970s. If their interpretation of Anglicanism prevails, what will emerge out of the reunion of the various Continuing Jurisdictions will not be recognizable as the old Episcopalianism, but will be an exotic hybrid of Old Catholic theology with Anglo-Catholic liturgics that rejects two-thirds of the Anglican inheritance. Anglican theological dialogue has rested since the time of Richard Hooker (1554-1600) on the notion that Scripture, tradition, and reason work together to maintain orthodoxy. However, it is very important to understand that Hooker has been glossed by the Tractarians as placing equal weight on each of the three-legs of the stool. This misreads Hooker in a significant way, because for Hooker Scripture was supremely important and eclipsed the other two. The analogy I often use is that of a child's tricycle, with Scripture being the big wheel at the front providing the power and direction, whilst tradition and reason are the small wheels providing stability.

Unfortunately much of modern Anglo-Catholicism has also absorbed an increasing amount of high mediaeval and modern RC thought, and along with it practices such as Marian devotions, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and the cultus of the saints, though at least, so far, they have stopped short of Purgatory and the Treasury of Merit, though a few rattle-on about "the intermediate state." Its theological tradition is not so much Anglican as Henrician. Now Martin Luther used to call Henry VIII Hanswürst, and poked fun at him for his matrimonial adventures, and making himself his own Pope. The worst sort of modern Anglo-Catholicism often resembles this "Hanswürst Catholicism." It is not the real thing, neither is it really Anglicanism, but a synthetic creation dependant on what certain folks choose to cherry pick from the history of the Anglican Church, its doctrinal statements, and liturgical traditions to create its own plastic Pope. The approach that it promotes is certainly is not the same as Matthew Parker (1504-1575) - Elizabeth I's first Archbishop of Canterbury's advice to the clergy to interpret the 39 Articles and the third Prayer Book in the most catholic sense according to the Scriptures, and the writings of the ancient Fathers.

Before you run away with the idea that I am hostile to Anglo-Catholicism I must point out that I grew up in a largely "modern Catholic environment" and was involved in the early days of the ACC in England. Later on I was a member of the Priestly Fraternity of St Martin, which was dedicated to upholding the English Catholic/Prayer Book catholic tradition in Anglicanism. However, the Catholic Movement within the Continuum needs to be very careful about guarding its Anglican identity, or it will end up going the same way as Hunswürst's bishops. Many, such as Cranmer and Latimer completed their journey into Protestantism becoming the fathers of the moderate Protestant Anglicanism of Queen Elizabeth I. The others - like Gardner, Bonner, Stanley, and Pursgrove returned to the old religion and died in communion with the Pope.

I would therefore make the plea, that as we seek a united future as traditional Anglicans we return to our roots, not engage in further revisionism. I would suggest that instead of committing ourselves to theologies that are partial, and Constitutions and Canons that have proved divisive we look once again at the old Anglican tradition. I have always been particularly impressed by the way in which both the Church of Ireland (1871,) the Free Church of England (1876,) and the Church of England in Canada (1892) dealt with the question of theological identity. That model, with a protest against modern innovations such as the ordination of women, and in favour of the sanctity of marriage and the sanctity of human life, would prove far less divisive than adopting lock, stock, and barrel the programme of the revisionists to the right of us.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Anglicanism and Episcopacy

I am constantly surprised by the degree of hostility that the idea of Episcopal governance of the Church still arouses with some folks. Whilst I can understand people getting a little exercised about the Papacy's claims of universal jurisdiction and ex cathedra infallibility, it really takes minimal effort to discover that the office of Bishop has its origin in the Bible, and that until the 1520s, with the exception of a few heretical sects, all churches were governed by some form of Episcopacy. One of the problems that one encounters is that the proponants of Episcopacy can often do it as much damage as its opponants. The major problem seems to be that having proved the historical case, they then go on to make extravagant spiritual claims which have little support in Holy Scripture.

Firstly, the Prayer Book ordinal's assertion that
It is evident unto all men, diligently reading holy Scripture and the ancient authors, that from the Apostles' time there have been these orders of ministers in the Christ's Church; Bishops, priests, and deacon
says about as much as can incontrovertibly asserted about the New Testament pattern of ministry. The existence of these three orders is amply attested to in Scripture. Firstly, there is the account of the Apostles setting apart the seven deacons in Acts 6. St Paul's Pastoral Epistles - 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus - contain the required qualifications for overseers - bishops; elders - Presbyters; and deacons. This demonstrates that the three orders were already an established part of Apostolic practice within 25 years of the Resurrection. However, the amount of information that we have about the roles these three orders had in the first century is pretty limited, so we have to take a quick look at extra Biblical sources including contemporary Jewish practice, and then look at the Sub-Apostolic Fathers for more detail.

That said, we are not working in a vacuum, as in many respects the Early Church had "baptized" an existing institution. First century synagogues had an 'overseer' and 'elders' who ran the affairs of the congregation, but I am afraid that I could not tell you to what degree the offices of overseer and elder overlapped with that of rabbi in the first century. This model was taken over, adapted and given an Apostolic mandate. What is very apparent though is that the ministry of Word and Sacrament rapidly became attached to these offices once the church had grown to the point where the Apostles themselves could no longer over see every congregation. By the time St Paul was writing to Titus in Crete, most Gentile Churches would have been familiar with the threefold ministry, and this pattern was to become universal by the mid-second century and remain so for some 1400 years. Writing in 1843, Christopher Wordsworth comments in 'Theophilus Anglicana' that the overwhelming major of Christians live under some sort of Episcopacy and that it is the Presbyterian and the Congregation systems that are of late invention, though he is prepared to concede that in some cases they were necessary due to the refusal of the existing hierarchies to accept reformed doctrine.

What about the functions of the three orders? How did they develop?

It seems that from very early on the fullness of the Ministry of Word and Sacrament was seen as laying with the Bishop. Bishops were the rulers of the local churches, the usual celebrant at the Eucharist, and the principle public teachers of the Faith. Presbyters exercised these functions when the Bishop was absent, or when asked to by the Bishop. The Deacons remained the 'welfare offices' of the Church, but acquired liturgical functions in that they waited on the Lord's Table, taught the youths, and prepared folks for baptism, as well as at the daily distribution to the widows and orphans of the Church. It seems that the relationship between presbyter and bishop was one of degree rather than order in some provinces of the Early Church. There is some suggestion that in both Rome and Alexandria, the Elders elected one of their own number as Bishop and set him aside for his new functions by the laying on of hands. On the other hand, in Ephesus and Antioch bishops were treated as the fundamental order, and presbyters had only certain ministries delegated to them. In the end, probably no later than 200AD, it was the Antioch pattern that won out.

As a result of this process and the increasing number and variety of heresies, the Church decided that there was a need to regulate the ordination of Bishops, by legislating that the consecration of a bishop be undertaken by several (usually three) bishops. This was to prevent one bishop, who had gone off the rails theologically, going off and ordaining a slug of new bishops and starting his own church in competition with the Catholic and Apostolic variety. On one level, this was nothing mystical, it was a 'quality control' exercise. The basic idea was that if the bishops of a province could accept as orthodox the man elected to be consecrated Bishop then the orthodoxy of the Church would be preserved. These early Canons also allowed Bishops to signify their consent in writing. The whole process was codified in the Canons of the I Council of Nicaea - along with the Canon of the New Testament. Apart from the importation of a good deal of Roman administrative machinery into the Church to help it cope with being a large scale institution, the mechanics of the ministry remained all but fixed for over a thousand years.

This was so much the case that the abandonment of Episcopacy in the Middle Ages was always an adjunct to abandoning Creedal Christianity. The Bulgars, Cathars, and Albegensians all created their own forms of ministry to replace that of the Church Catholic, and to better fit their concept of the Church being divided between the Perfecti and the Hearers. The acceptance of non-episcopal ministries by Creedally orthodox Christans is a relatively late development forced upon Martin Luther by the failure of the Bishops to accept the Reformation. Luther's solution was to effectively put the Episcopal Office into commission. The jurisdictional functions of the Bishop passed to the Prince, and the ministerial to a Consistory made up of ministers. Calvin also had to deal with this problem, he did so in a more systematic manner creating a whole system of Church Sessions and Presbyteries to administer the Reformed Church. However, both Luther and Calvin allowed Episcopacy to survive wherever it adapted to the Biblical theology of the Reformation. Scotland retained the office of Bishop alongside the Presbyteries from 1570 to about 1592, and the historic episcopate was reintroduced under the Articles of Perth in 1610. The Lutheran Church of Sweden retained the historic Episcopate, whilst the Office of Bishop survived in Denmark-Norway, and the Baltic States.

In the Church of England and the Church of Ireland, episcopacy continued because enough of the Bishops accepted the Reformation for the Historic Episcopate to continue. Matthew Parker was consecrated in 1559 by four Bishops consecrated under the old Ordinal back in the reign of Henry VIII, or just at the beginning of Edward VI's. A casual glance down the succession list will show that the Church preserved the historic Episcopate and made it a tool for maintaining Reformed doctrine in the Church of England. Early English Protestants believed that Bishops existed either for the 'well-being' (for example Jewel) of the Church, or as part of the fullness of the Church's ministry (Whitgift and Hooker.) That Episcopacy "makes" the Church was not an idea that gained much currency in the Church of England until the time of Charles I, and even then Archbishop Laud was furious when his tame historian could not "prove" the de jure divino argument. By the 1660s, most Anglicans were convinced that Episcopacy was normative, but not essential. This meant that when the Scottish Church was cut off without a shilling by William III, they made every effort to maintain Episcopal worship and ministry in Scotland, but by the same token, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel was happy enough to use Danish Lutheran missionaries in the Church of England's missions in India.

However, whilst a spirit of cooperation remained in the mission fields of India, the situation in England was somewhat different, and a broad distinction was made between English Dissenters, and Foreign Protestants. English dissenter were regarded as not having valid ministries because they dissented from the Church of the land. Any English Presbyterian minister who conformed was therefore ordained from scratch when he came into the Church of England. On the other hand, foreign protestants were allowed to minister in the "Stranger's Churches" in London, Canterbury, and elsewhere without any objection being made by the Church of England. This was because they were the accredited representatives of their respective National Churches. However, the was largely a matter of discipline, not doctrine. It is only in the late-17th century that some High Anglicans begin to un-Church those who have no bishops. After 1689, this position was associated principally with the Non-Jurors, and "High-Fliers" like Henry Sacheverell. That said, mainstream Anglican theologians, such as Daniel Waterland, definitely had a high view of Episcopacy, though it is difficult to decide whether their views were the "plene esse" of Whitgift, or the "esse" of the more radical Caroline Divines. However, the Caroline Divines were far from uniform in their view, so, for example, John Cosin was perfectly happy to receive communion from Huguenot ministers when in exile in France.

This exclusivist tendency becomes even more marked in the 19th century with the rise of Tractarianism, and especially so in the USA where the assertive High Church Movement of the 1870s used Episcopacy de jure divino as a wedge to unprotestantize the Protestant Episcopal Church, and claim a basic identity with Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy that negated the basically Reformed nature of Anglicanism. So extreme did this insistence on manual transmission of Episcopal Orders become that the institution of the historic episcopate became divorced from Apostolic doctrine, and an apostolic succession of hands on heads became more important than the doctrine taught. The ultimate manifestation of this peculiar understanding of Apostolic Succession is the un-churching by those who according to Scripture and the Early Fathers are no bishops of those who teach the doctrines of Scripture and the Early Church but have no bishops. This is a complete negation of the idea that an man ordained into the historic threefold ministry of the Church should be a teacher of Apostolic doctrine. In short, it is a reversal of the proper order of things which would be laughable if it were not so sad.

Anglicans adhere to Episcopacy not as an end in itself, but as a Biblical institution, However, it is not a bit of good unless the faith which is taught is that of the one Catholic and Apostolic Church as contained in those same Holy Scriptures and taught by the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church. Furthermore, given our history, and our right to exercise commonsense, I believe that Anglicans should refrain from unchurching those who teach the Faith, but have no bishops. Episcopacy is a good thing, if it accompanies sound teaching. On the other hand, if a bishop teaches error he misleads the Church, and is the worst sort of false teacher. We need, therefore, to heed the advice of St Paul, and select as Bishops (and clergy in general) only those who 'rightly divide the word of truth.'

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Why I cannot accept the Redefinition of Marriage

It will be May before the House of Bishops can meet and issue a formal statement on the topic of marriage, but I think I can 'in the safety of my own blog' do some of the preliminary reasoning ahead of the discussion. There is absolutely no doubt that the UECNA will come down in the orthodox camp, but the "hows and whys" may well get left out of the final statement.

The first reference to marriage in the Bible is in Genesis in the second account of creation. God makes the animals and beings them to Adam and he names them, "but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him." (Gen. 2.20) So God causes Adam to fall into a deep sleep, he removes one of his ribs, and makes woman. Adam is delighted with the result

"And Adam said, 'This now is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man.' Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh." (Genesis 2. 23-24)

God bids the Man and his wife to be fruitful and multiply. St Paul's references to marriage are rooted in the doctrine of marriage expressed in Genesis - so this is important!

At this point I need to bring is Noah. Now this may seem a bit surprising, but there is a reason for this (underlined by the fact that this evening's OT at Evening Prayer was Genesis 19) having to do with the commands that God gives to the descendants of Noah. Now remember that according to Biblical history, Noah is the common ancestor of all those now living. This makes God's instructions too him very important in that God's moral requirements of Noah and his sons are binding on all humanity i.e. the Gentiles. Noah is given seven 'commandments' forbidding among other things idolatry, the taking of meat with the blood, theft, and sexual immorality. It is this last which ties into story of Sodom, where sexual mores seem to have been lax to say the least. Noah and his sons, like Adam and Eve before them are bidden to be 'fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth.' (Gen 9.1)

The third aspect takes us back to Adam and Eve once more, and it comes from his delighted comment, "At last, bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh...." St Paul makes a lot of this in his references to marriage. For a start, let's look at what is taken as one of the classic "anti-woman" passages in his Epistles - Ephesians 5.22. Now if you are still listening after St Paul's initial exhortation "Wives be subject to your husbands" what you actually have is an extraordinary passage (Ephesians 5, 22-33)in which Paul glories in the mutual interdependence of husband and wife. His key exhortation is "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church and gave himself for it. This points to a very high doctrine of marriage indeed, even though St Paul is usually portrayed as being anti-woman!

Now you may be wondering where I am going with this...

In the 1789 preface to the Book of Common Prayer we are assured that 'this Church is far from the intending to depart from the Church of England in any essential point of doctrine, discipline or worship; or further than local circumstances require." (1928 BCP page vi)

Sadly, the 1789 Marriage Office is a bit anaemic, mainly because the causes of Matrimony contained in the revisions of 1549, 1552, 1559, and 1662 are omitted. These ran as follows:

"First it was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and the nurture of the Lord, and the praise of his Holy Name. "Secondly, it was ordained as a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ's body. "Thirdly, it was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that one ought to have to the other, both in prosperity and adversity."

Now these points are echoed elsewhere in the service, so I assume, based on the disclaimer above, that the omission of the causes of matrimony was to make the service shorter. Certainly there was no desire on the part of the Church to alter the nature of the institution of marriage.

The State has a different appreciation of marriage. If you look at Roman Law, marriage is about property, legitimacy, and inheritance. The two institutions - the sacramental relations of Holy Matrimony and the State's marriage contract - coalesced into a single institution. This, I firmly believe, tended towards the greater stability, integrity and morality of society, but I believe we need to be clear what belongs to which aspect of the institution of marriage.

So far as the Church is concerned marriage is routed in Genesis. Man and woman are complimentary and help meets the one to the other. Marriage is instituted - and here the BCP makes a sideways reference to Genesis - "in the time of man's innocence" for the procreation of children, the avoidance of sin, and the mutual help and comfort of the one to the other. These causes of Matrimony - which are contained in the inerrent Word of God constitute an immoveable bar to the Church redefining marriage. Holy Matrimony is what it is. No amount of judicial activism will alter this, and if this means that the Church no longer can accept the State's definition of marriage, then so be it. Christians answer to God, not man!

Like I said, these are preliminary thoughts, and have yet to be systematically worked out. With not quite a third of States allowing "Gay Marriage" I thought it was time to lay out the bare bones of the argument that undergirds the traditional - that is, God given - position on what constitutes Marriage.

+PDR