Skip to comments.Why I Have Left Anglicanism for the Orthodox Church
Posted on 07/12/2006 7:29:49 PM PDT by sionnsar
[All, I bid your prayers for FReeper Alice Linsley. I have never met her in person, but know her "online." I sense a lot of stress in this piece -- and can guess the source of at least some of it, from my own experience of leaving ECUSA so long ago. She's rejected both Roman Catholicism and Continuing Anglicanism (which saddens me) as destinations, but if nothing other than what my observations of those who have "swum the Bosporus" tells me -- they will be happy. (And they can leave the rifles behind.) --sionnsar]
I discovered the Orthodox Faith at the same time I discovered the Anglican Church. My earliest experiences of both came while I lived in Isfahan, Iran in the late 1970s. There I visited St. Lukes Anglican Church and also the Armenian Orthodox cathedral in Jolfa. St. Lukes had an English-speaking congregation comprised mostly of American and British expatriates. The Orthodox services were beautiful and moving, but I couldnt understand a word. So, taking the path of least resistance I ended up an Anglican. The same situation arose when I moved to Athens in 1979. There was an English-speaking expatriate church and although I visited the local Greek Orthodox church, I wasnt able to understand what was being said.
Although I didnt join the Orthodox Church, I was nevertheless deeply moved by my experiences. I vividly remember the Armenian childrens delight at receiving their Pascua eggs so beautifully decorated. And I remember the white bearded Greek Orthodox priest standing in the street in front of his church with a torch that blazed in the night. He had just lit the new fire and was preparing to carry the Light into the dark church for the Great Easter Vigil.
Leaving Anglicanism has been a difficult decision and I believe that part of me will always be Anglican, but it is the part that embraces Orthodoxy. I can see how it was that the Anglicans and the Orthodox were once so close that they actually discussed being in communion. Of course all that changed with the ordination of women priests and the prayer book revisions in the USA, Canada and the UK. The classical Book of Common Prayer is something most Orthodox people would feel comfortable with because Thomas Cranmers liturgy is rooted deeply in the liturgy of St. Basil the Great, which is one of the liturgies used in Orthodoxy. Also, until recent decades most Anglican parishes offered Matins before the Sunday Eucharist, a custom the Orthodox Church has maintained.
My journey to Orthodoxy began by visiting both Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches where I found a striking contrast. I discovered that the ECUSA 1979 liturgy has the same shape as the Post-Vatican Catholic liturgy and I was at first very comfortable with that. I was less comfortable at first with the Orthodox liturgy, but I was spiritually fed by the rich Psalmic material of the Orthodox Matins (also called Orthos), and shocked that I could stand for the better part of 2 hours and not be tired.
I have great appreciation for the Roman Catholic Church, although I am not moved by most of the Vatican II liturgical reforms. I admire the depth of Catholic scholarship, but am troubled by theological arguments designed to reinforce innovative papal claims. It seems to me that the Roman Church has backed itself into a corner and now feels it necessary to pontificate more boisterously than ever. I sense some arrogance there. I also sense some suspicion of mysticism, yet the western saints that I identify with are mostly mystics: John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, Aiden and Cuthbert. They were people of humility, and it is their humility that convinces me that they are Gods friends. I know that the Orthodox Church is not perfect, but I find in it a healthy balance of intellect and kenosis, of spiritual strength and humility. It is a church that has suffered and through suffering has wrought holiness, and its saltiness has been preserved through a lively mysticism.
The liveliness of Orthodoxy has been sustained also by a healthy monasticism. Recently a friend of mine visited two monasteries, one right after the other. One was Anglo-Catholic and the other was Romanian Orthodox. She found the experiences to be as different as night and day and said that she would never return to the Anglo-Catholic monastery. In her words, there is a dark spirit there now. Im not sure exactly what she meant, but at the Anglo-catholic monastery she experienced harshness instead of kindness and a judgmental attitude instead of generosity.
Ive been asked how I see myself serving in the Orthodox Church. I am not sure. Perhaps as a teacher, or maybe I will take up the monastic life. In Orthodoxy I have felt more affirmed in my feminine role by the Churchs teachings. I appreciate the Orthodox emphasis on the role of women in the church, and am deeply moved when I hear of the apostolic women and the holy myrrh-bearers. In Orthodoxy there is also talk of spiritual mothers and holy virgins, and through veneration of the Theotokos, the most blessed state of womanhood is esteemed. The Orthodox Faith affirms the value of womens contributions without distorting Gods design. Orthodoxy makes it clear that women do not need to serve as priests to contribute to the life of the Church. They need only to be humble, holy and prayerful. (In the Greek Othodox Church, the ancient order of deaconess is being restored under strict guidelines.)
Orthodoxy has preserved the teachings of and the traditions surrounding the fathers and mothers of Egypt, Syria and Palestine. For example, I had never heard of Saint Photini, the Samaritan women at Jacobs well, until I began exploring Orthodoxy. In Orthodoxy Photini is a spiritual mother as are many others, even into contemporary times. I think of Princess Ileana of Romania who, as Mother Alexandra, founded the first Orthodox monastery for American women in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania. She began her repose in the Lord in 1991.
The Episcopal Church is so removed from the Church Fathers that the word tradition on revisionists lips causes me to shudder. ECUSAs new gospel is madness, and this same madness is sweeping through the liberal mainline denominations. It is not the gospel of Jesus Christ once delivered to the Church. Many will be fooled by this counterfeit gospel, but in the end falsehood begins to stink like the rotten fruit it is.
As I read how people are being led astray, I am reminded of something St. Anthony of the Desert said that describes our day. He said, A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, You are mad, you are not like us.
My dreams have been helpful in pointing me back to the Fathers teaching. Here is a dream I had on March 27, 2000. I was in an educational building and my old and very kind husband took me to a concrete wall. There we got on our knees because He wanted to show me something that was buried in the foundation. He told me that He had hidden riches for me and then lifted a thin metal plate from the ground. As He removed it to reveal the treasure, I noticed that even the metal cover was dotted with droplets of pure silver.
The Church Fathers are part of that treasure and they form a strong foundation for the Churchs teaching. Having said that, I should add that I remain ignorant of the patristic writings. I attended a Lutheran Seminary where the Lutheran Confessions were emphasized over the early Church Fathers. About 6 months ago I began serious study of the patristic writings. I recently finished St. Basils tract On the Holy Spirit and found it very profound. I am now reading St. John of Damascus On Holy Images. These fathers have opened new horizons before me.
Consider how apt for our present conflict are these words of John of Damascus: I see the Church which God founded on the Apostles and Prophets, its corner-stone being Christ His Son, tossed on an angry sea, beaten by rushing waves, shaken and troubled by the assaults of evil spirits. I see rents in the seamless robe of Christ, which impious men have sought to part asunder, and His body cut into pieces, that is, the word of God and the ancient tradition of the Church.
The teachings of the Church on the qualifications for ordination are clear both in the Bible and in the Tradition. The two are interwoven and cannot be separated without destroying the cloth. Jesus alluded to this when he spoke of putting new wine in new wine skins and mending a torn garment properly. We are to preserve things. We must avoid foolish actions that result in tearing things apart. Orthodoxy has preserved the Tradition. That is why there is continuity going back to even before the time of the Apostles, to the prophets and to the patriarchs. This continuity is not as evident in the western Church where the apostolic tradition came to be read through Scholasticism rather than through the Fathers.
Leaving the Episcopal Church became necessary when I realized how it had destroyed the Tradition. Imagine if the Orthodox were told they could no longer pray Matins. Now add to this a contemporary liturgy required to be used in place of the liturgies of St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil. Now place a women at the altar posing as a priest. You can see that the continuity of the Faith once delivered has been destroyed.
I don't think Jesus will be too upset. As long as she knows who her savior is she's fine.
Love the Easter Vigil (Catholic and Orthodox). good article - God bless
The Orthodox church is not as exclusively ethnic as it used to be. A friend of my father's fell in love with a beautiful Greek girl, but her family would not even consider the marriage because he was not Greek. The Orthodox here used to be very stand-offish unless you had an entree through a Greek friend (I did . . . I also am Black Irish (or Scottish) so I didn't stand out like a sore thumb - like my red-headed daughter < g >)
I hope she finds a home.
Memory Eternal, Arlin!! You are missed!
Re this part of what she wrote: "I have great appreciation for the Roman Catholic Church, although I am not moved by most of the Vatican II liturgical reforms. I admire the depth of Catholic scholarship, but am troubled by theological arguments designed to reinforce innovative papal claims. It seems to me that the Roman Church has backed itself into a corner and now feels it necessary to pontificate more boisterously than ever. I sense some arrogance there."
This is really the nut of the problem, isn't it?
I very much want to face this issue, address it frankly, and use history - specifically the history of WHAT HAPPENED to the Eastern Church and the Western Church BECAUSE of the different views of authority. WHY that authority ultimately matters when it comes right down to literal, physical war with the Devil. God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit weren't operating in the dark as to the future when they inspired what they inspired.
Men are quarrelsome and divisive. We read it in spades in the Epistles of Paul. They can mean very well, but they will divide and fight if there isn't clear authority.
Does that matter?
Yes, it matters.
It matters when it comes to literal, physical war with the Devil. I do not speak of merely intellectual war. I speak of the necessity to buckle on literal armor, pick up a literal sword, get on a literal horse, and go literally off to war to literally fight other armored men riding horses who literally are striving to annhilate Christianity and replace it with some demon-inspired religion. I am specifically thinking of the Islamic invasion of the Christian East. But I am ALSO thinking of Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Vandals, Alars, Avars, Langobards, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Scoti, Picts, Hibernians, Mauretanians, Vikings, Wends, Huns, Mongols, Magyars...all of the OTHER 18 or 20 barbarian invasions that exploded upon the WEST, in particular. The West faced physical invasion after physical invasion after physical invasion from pagan horde after pagan horde. The entirety of civil government in the West foundered, but there was the Church, the One Church, with its center in the See of the Bishop of Rome. And it was the Church that provided the ONLY possible centering, ballast and leadership for Western Civilization during hundreds and hundreds of years of relentless darkness and invasion, as pagan (and Muslim) horde after horde after horde made literal physical war. The little broken bits of Western Kingdoms didn't even have literate warlords, and but for the clergy, there was no learning and no light.
The Catholic Church was the leader in literal, physical war, the spiritual center and administrative guide for the eventual defeat of every single invasion, West, East, North and South of all of the various legions inspired by various forms of demonism, shamanism, or the particular organized aggression of Islam.
And what was key about that is what is vital in war: leadership, a center, A man who stands above all others because of his office, who has a power of spiritual command without peer, who is NOT equalled, and who CANNOT be rivalled or striven with. In literal, physical war, there has got to be an ultimate leader, particularly in the morale-based war of mobs that was the dark ages and High Middle Ages.
And it was the one Church, with that one leader, and that one center, that ended up causing 17 of those 21 invasions -- all except the Huns, Mongols and Avars, who disappeared from European history - and the Muslims - who were driven completely out of Catholic Europe - to settle down and adopt Catholicism.
The Papacy mattered.
Consider the alternative.
Eastern Orthodoxy refutes the claim of the See of Peter. They still recognize the Pope as "First Among Equals", but they accord no command-and-control function to the Pope. When it comes right down to it, the Eastern Patriarchal claim is that the See of Peter has the power to advise, but not to command and compel.
The ENTIRETY of Orthodoxy fell to Islam, except for Russia, which fell to the Mongols, and then to the Communists.
The lack of a center, a literal power to literally command, in literal physical war, resulted in the loss to Islam of the entire Orthodox East. All of it. All of the ancient lands of the Bible were lost. Yes, a Christian remnant remained. 10% in some places. 2% in others.
So, when God and the Holy Spirit spoke through Jesus and named Peter the head of the Church, they foresaw this result.
Did They intend Peter and his heirs to have the command that the Papacy has claimed since the days of Pope Victor in the 200s AD (as recounted by Eusebius). Or did They intend the diffuse, multipolar supreme authority, with no ultimate center, claimed by Orthodoxy.
Put another way, did God the Father and the Holy Spirit, and Jesus, with the full foreknowledge of all that was to be, INTEND for the entirety of Catholic Christendom to be preserved from pagan and Muslim invasion, and to be preserved in its geographical integrity under an overreaching, "arrogant", final commander in the Pope...or did They INTEND for Orthodox Christianity, with its positive refusal to acknowledge a final authority in the Pope to fall IN ITS ENTIRETY to Islam, and the Mongols?
Was God's intention to cause physical Christendom to be lost and ruled by pagans, with but a remnant of Christians in most of those original Orthodox Christian lands, so that the long-suffering Christians in their diffuse Church could be purified?
Or was God's intention really to make Peter the literal head of the Church, the Rock, the Center...the POPE, with all of the final and ultimate spiritual authority that Popes claim...because God foresaw the trials and tribulations of Christendom, and INTENDED for Christendom to have a battle commander, a spiritual monarch capable of commanding the diverse parts of Christendom through spiritual authority, and thereby maintaining the territorial integrity of the whole?
The final authority claimed by the Pope is the source of the unity that is the REASON that the entirety of Catholic Christendom, the whole West, was preserved for Christianity against 21 pagan or demonic invasions. The LACK of any final authority asserted by the four Eastern Patriarchs is the REASON that the entirety of Eastern Orthodoxy was unable to coordinate itself to repel, in war, the Muslim invasion.
Which was God's intent?
Is the final authority claimed by the Pope, which saved the West, an arrogant sin?
Was Catholic Christendom INTENDED to fall to the Muslims or barbarians, just as all of Eastern Orthodoxy did?
If the Pope's claim is an arrogant sin, then the West, too, should have suffered the fate of the East, with Christianity as a minor sect in a Muslim sea.
If the Patriarch's claims are correct, God INTENDED for Mohammed to smash Christendom down to a remnant, when he DIDN'T give Peter and his heirs the authority that Catholics sinfully claim for him.
That's really what is at issue.
It is a matter of authority.
What did God intend?
It cannot be shied away from.
God knew the future history when he inspired the Church.
Did He intend for the Pope to claim the authority he claimed, and used, to coordinate the survival of the West?
Or are the Patriarchs right when they claim that no ultimate authority reposes in the Pope...with the inevitable lack of final leadership in warfare...spiritual and physical...that such division inevitably entails.
History bears the fruit of the two choices.
I believe that the history compellingly shows that the Papal claims are correct. I do not believe that God intended for half of Christendom to be smashed to pieces. The loss of the East, I believe, is the true fruits of the sin of arrogance. By contrast, the claim of the Papacy to final authority is not, I believe, arrogance, but Truth. God knew what Christianity was going to face, in literal battle. Jesus at the last supper said that now his followers, too, would have to buy swords and buckle them on.
In short, I believe that the historical record of the preservation of the West but the destruction of the East demonstrates that God fully intended to vest the Papacy with the powers that it claimed, for only a Pope with that very final, and unassailable authority could hold together a poor and benighted Christendom against 21 invasions. The East, who rejected that authority, fell to the first one.
That, too, is part of the story.
I believe that it is the most telling part of the story.
And I think it should be put onto the scales whenever one weighs the relative claims of Pope and Patriarch.
God foresaw the challenges of the Church in a thousand years of war. I believe that is why he gave Christendom a literal commander, for when it came to that. No human organization has ever won a war without an ultimate commander. Western Christendom defeated 21 pagan invasions.
Eastern Christendom fell to one. God knew that was going to happen. That's why he made the Pope, and why the Pope really does have the full power to loose and to bind given to Peter, he really is the final, supreme head of the Church.
If he wasn't, England would be a Muslim country, just like Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Constantinople and Edessa are. It's not an accident. Ignore the will of God, and the Church dies.
That's what I think.
This was an inappropriate place to post it, but it did follow directly from what that woman said.
I think that the same problem with authority in war, this time spiritual war, is seen today. What is the MORAL complaint against Pope Benedict, or John Paul II, or the Johns and Pius' who preceded them? There cannot be one. These are good men who preach a powerful and true Christian message. So, what is the complaint? That they claim an authority they do not have. Because they have that authority, Catholic Christianity remains a bulwark against relativism and Communism and immorality, and all of this IN SPITE of the irruptions of the Devil within the Church itself. Because the Pope is supreme, and the Devil hasn't claimed him, and everybody knows that the acts of a bad bishop or priest is not the Church.
But in the other Churches of the West?
In the terrible crisis of Episcopalianism, who has the ultimate authority? God? So, does God intend for the Church to celebrate the diversity of homosexuality, and to fall apart in schism because NOBODY has command? Does God intend for what happened to Orthodoxy at the hands of the Muslims - that it should fall to be but a remnant - is to be the fate of Episcopalianism too, because the strong center claimed for the See of Peter is the sin of arrogance?
Is the claim of the Papacy REALLY the sin of arrogance?
Or is it the refusal of men to submit to the authority of a particular office Jesus made because God KNEW, beforehand, that men in crisis without a commander CANNOT PREVAIL?
Isn't that REALLY the lesson of Orthodoxy versus Catholicism? And isn't that the lesson being taught again by the lack of final authority in Episcopalianism?
Think about it.
Great article Vicomte13. Bookmark for later.
Very well done. after my conversion, I struggled to choose between the Orthodox and the Catholic church. On my own, I had talked myself into becoming Orthodox. But after a lot prayer, things like what you have written became very clear to me. Viva Cristo Rey, Viva il Papa. God bless.
Supreme authority has always resounded first in Christ, then in the ecumenical councils, and has been more than efficient at keeping Orthodoxy unchanged for 2000+ years.
There is an approach in this posting by Alice Lindsey that I find alien to the Catholic (and Orthodox) mind. To me it seems Protestant. It is the idea that one shops around for a Church that is most congenial to one, that suits one's predilections, and has the best mix of ingredients or combination of accessories. Some mysticism, Sunday morning Matins, Easter eggs for the children, and a pinch of "saltiness". The traditional Catholic (and I suspect Orthodox) does not ask, "what Church do I like best?" He says, "Christ founded one Church, and this is it. So it is the Church to which I am bound by the will of Christ to belong. There is no choice in the matter once I recognize that it has the marks of Christ's Church: one, holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. I take delight in the beauty, holiness, and truth that I find therein. I feel sorrow for those things that mar or obscure her beauty. But it is not a matter of choice once one realizes what she is. The Church has a claim on me; I do not select her." I have no doubt that Alice Lindsey is indeed choosing on the basis of what she sincerely believes to be the true Church of Christ, and not on the basis of her "religious preference" as they say. But she has an odd way of saying it.
I got that feeling as well.
I always joke with my friends that after going to work for a Protestant organization I suddenly became a Roman Catholic instead of just an ordinary old Catholic, the Lords Prayer got longer and the Bible got shorter.
I've always been taught that "Roman Catholic" is a reformation slur and that I should identify myself as "Latin Rite Catholic" (which I do).
I also got the impression from seeing their Liturgy (I think they would be called High Church) that the focus was very horizontal instead of the verticle I was used to as a Catholic (I'm sure our Orthodox brethren would agree)...though in bad Catholic Masses you get the same thing.
And this is why I remain Catholic, in spite of having lived through some of the worst abuses of the post V-II modernist revolution.
Where shall I go, Lord? You have the words of eternal life."
And it may well be. She does not talk of her history prior to becoming Episcopalian. My limited experience of cradle Anglicans who leave Anglicanism (and all of them went either Orthodox or Roman Catholic) is more along the lines of what you describe.
A good, even though long read. This is why we need to pray for the unity of all the Christians, as Christ did the night before he died. Also it is good the B16 is talking more to the Orthodox Christians in order to prepare for this reunion.
Thank-you for that wonderful post. It made my day. Now I have hope for Europe. Also keep a close eye to the global south. Christianity is in a boom and over the course of time more missionaries are going to go to the west to re-Christianize the west. Slowly people in the west are starting to wake up to the dangers that Islam shows and are rediscovering their Christian heritage. God Bless.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.