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 Issues | Salvation | The Peter Toon Lecture

The Peter Toon Lecture 2013

Justification by Faith - Orienting the Church's teaching and practice to Christ.



                 Peter Toon

Contents on this page:

Lecture audio


Report by Lee Gatiss

Link to Churchman articles



Click here for audio file of lecture by Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali.

Introduction by Lee Gatiss (1-3 minutes).

Presentation by Alistair Macdonald-Radcliff (3-8 minutes).

Lecture by Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali (9-53 minutes).

Click here to purchase CD of Lecture.




Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali


Mrs Vita Toon presented with a copy of the title page from one of Cranmer’s own library books (which has been repaired and rebound by the British Library in Peter Toon’s honour). Pictured with Lee Gatiss, Director of Church Society, Alistair Macdonald-Radcliff, Prayer Book Society USA, and Bishop Michael.


The Inaugural Peter Toon Lecture. Report by Lee Gatiss

Peter Toon was a Yorkshireman, an Anglican minister, theologian, and church historian. Former librarian of Latimer House in Oxford, curate of St Ebbe's, and later a tutor at Oak Hill, after a brief spell in County Durham he was poached by the Americans and served 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.

Dr. Toon died in April 2009. He left behind around 40 books and 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, like all good theologians he 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 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.

He also left his beloved wife of more than 48 years, Vita, and their daughter, Deborah, and it is with their help that a new annual lectureship — the Peter Toon Lecture — has been established, in the hope that it will contribute to the strengthening of God's church, and particularly the Reformed Catholic faith of the Church of England.

The inaugural Toon Lecture on 16th April was preceded, appropriately, by Evening Prayer in the chapel at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. It was led by Canon David Wheaton, former Principal of Oak Hill Theological College, with involvement from several others including the preacher, Lee Gatiss, Director of Church Society, who had organised the occasion.

Before the lecture itself, as a special honour to Vita Toon, who had travelled all the way from California for the event, Alistair Macdonald-Radcliff made a special presentation to her on behalf of the Prayer Book Society USA. In Peter’s honour they had paid for the refurbishment and repair of one of Thomas Cranmer’s own library books (his copy of Primasius’ commentary on Revelation, from 1544) and so presented her with a copy of the title page of this rare volume, alongside a special inscription.

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!

There were a significant number of younger people and those who had never met Dr. Toon personally who came, as well as friends, family, and former colleagues. Interest in the Anglican Reformed tradition, which Peter Toon expounded so well in his writings, is alive and well in the next generation. It is greatly to be hoped that this new endeavour will serve them well, far into the future, that they may be confident and equipped to defend and promote the theology of grace, for the glory of God and the good of his kingdom.


  Click here for link to Churchman articles by Peter and Vita Toon.

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