Peter Toon Lecture 2013
The inaugural Peter Toon Lecture was given by Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, in April 2013.
Peter Toon was a Yorkshireman, an Anglican minister, theologian and church historian. He was formerly librarian of Latimer House in Oxford, curate of St Ebbe’s, and later a tutor at Oak Hill College. He went on to serve in churches in the United States until almost the end of his life. He was President of the Prayer Book Society in the United States, but eventually returned to serve as Priest-in-Charge of a Staffordshire village church. He died in 2009.
He left behind some 40 books, together with numerous essays and articles on a wide variety of topics, from Puritanism and popular doctrinal works, to spirituality and liturgy. As well as editing The Concise Evangelical Dictionary of Theology and The Compact Bible Dictionary, he also wrote on the great Puritan, John Owen, publishing his Oxford Orations, his surviving correspondence, and a biography, God’s Statesman. But the burden of much of Peter Toon’s writing was for the importance of the historic formularies of the Church of England: the 39 Articles, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal.
The inaugural lecture itself was delivered by Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, former bishop of Rochester. A personal friend of Peter and Vita Toon, Dr Nazir-Ali is of course no stranger to Oxford, to Reformed Catholicism, and to controversy. His latest book, Triple Jeopardy for the West, examines the very hot topics of aggressive secularism, radical Islam, and multiculturalism.
He is currently the President of the Oxford Centre for Training, Research, Advocacy, and Dialogue, and his subject for the lecture was what the 39 Articles call the “most wholesome doctrine” of justification by faith.
In a tour-de-force , Bishop Michael tackled the subject exegetically, historically, theologically and pastorally. It was stretching, though intelligible for the ordinary lay Christian, and demonstrated good evidence of keeping up with contemporary scholarship on this subject, which is of course vast. The packed lecture room at Wycliffe Hall (standing room only) greatly enjoyed his thoughtful, earnest, yet also occasionally witty presentation which ranged widely from Genesis 15 and Galatians 3, to Augustine, the Reformers, the Council of Trent, Tom Wright, John Piper, and Benedict XVI.
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