Skip to comments.Why I Am Remaining an Anglican
Posted on 09/11/2006 7:42:50 PM PDT by sionnsar
Given the disarray of the Episcopal Church some of my friends and colleagues are jumping ship, abandoning ECUSA to join the Roman Catholic Church, one of the Eastern Orthodox Churches or perhaps the Continuum. Yet I for one have no desire or intention of becoming a Roman Catholic or, for that matter a Lutheran or a Methodist or a Baptist, or even a Buddhist, Druid or Mohammedan.
I have always been an Anglican in the Episcopal Church. God immersed me in this Church - into its various dioceses and particular parishes. I know nothing else. From Episcopalian priests and teachers I learned the Christian faith and came to know Jesus Christ. From within the Episcopal Church I received the Catholic religion - a religion that courses through my veins, and is in the very air I breath. The Catholic religion informs all my thinking, it moves my heart towards others when I would rather stay within myself and to do what is right when it would be easier to do what is wrong or nothing at all. Catholicism defines my character. I can be nothing else. No-one can take it away from me, no argument can dissuade me from my inheritance, no church can betray who I am.
Should we all then stay where we are and be content with whatever church or religion God has been pleased to place us? If so then those are right who say that one religion is just as good as another. But this betrays the Lordship of Jesus Christ, makes conversions obsolete by denying the Great Commission and deprives all evangelists of their mission.
Surely this cannot do and few if any really believe it in their heart. There must be some way of evaluating one religion over another, some standard for deciding that some other religion or church may be better than the one I now confess. What shall it be? As a Catholic Christian the only standard I can find is catholicity, wholeness, completeness or, in plain English, comprehensiveness.
Where beyond Ecclesia Anglicana may I find a greater Catholicity? As an Anglican I am already fed by what other churches have to offer: Scripture and the Catholic doctrine of the undivided church, sacraments given by Jesus Christ and His church through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, a spiritual discipline formed by saints and mystics. I need nothing more; I can be satisfied with nothing less.
Catholicity or comprehensiveness is Anglicanisms primary characteristic. This is its virtue; it is also its danger. For it is easy to confuse Catholicism with a vague universalism and comprehensiveness with an eclecticism that believes that differences make no difference. Without some kind of control, bizarre doctrines and esoteric rituals can run rampant. From time to time we must reign in the wild horses of heresy with the use of scripture and the apostolic tradition. Yet even when we think that we have defeated the enemy at the gate, the stampede of secular paganism still continues to assault the church, knocking on the doors of the faithful, rapping at the windows of officialdom, and gathering up uninstructed innocent converts in its embrace.
Within the confines of the Episcopal Church fighting the battle for Catholic orthodoxy these days can be very difficult, and I shall sometimes have to disassociate myself from many of ECUSAs official actions and perhaps even place myself in a different Anglican province. Yet I cannot be anything other than an Anglican. As a follower of Jesus Christ I cannot become a pagan secularist. Nor can I abandon the apostolic ministry and sacraments by associating myself with one of the Protestant sects. My only alternative is to join up with some group of Christians who, like me, lay claim to Catholicity. So all that is left is Eastern Orthodoxy or Roman Catholicism.
But both these options are out of the question. As a thorough going Catholic I am bound to deny all denials and negate all negations. Yet if I should join one of the Orthodox Churches, I would have to deny that I have ever been part of a real church, and if I became Roman Catholic I would have to deny that I have ever been a real priest or received and given real sacraments. But my Catholicity and my priesthood I can never deny. And even if I should leave the Episcopal Church, what difference would it make in the continuing battle for orthodoxy? Not one less women would continue to act as though she was a Catholic priest, nor would the Diocese of New Hampshire be shaken to its foundations.
No, it is not easy these days being an Anglo-Catholic in the Episcopal Church. For that matter it is not easy being a Christian wherever we are. We are under attack on all sides, the enemy often turning a churchs pastoral attempt to protect the faithful from error into a rigid legalism in which passive obedience becomes a substitute for the virtue of faith, and in which pastoral care is transformed into an ecclesiastical imperialism in which Western Christendom acts as if it still had powers long past, and the courtly splendor of a faded Byzantium continues to haunt the East. In reaction, the enemy turns the generosity of the liberal into little more than permissiveness towards the libertine, and the quest for the freedom of autonomy into an arrogant self assertion. Enthusiasm becomes emotional self expression, and formality a stifling formalism.
The Lord never said it would easy. He warned us that without His intervention the devil would fool the very elect. With St. Paul we must put on the whole armor of God and stand firm where we are. As an Anglican I must continue to fight for the Catholic Faith against all assaults of the enemy in whatever guise these may show themselves.
"No-one can take it away from me..."
It's not an "it", it's a "Who".
Christian first, everthing else second.
"and the courtly splendor of a faded Byzantium continues to haunt the East."
Oh, good heavens!
Shoot the messenger, and soon you get no more messages. *\;-)
I believe it is quite possible to parse this statement in a way that does not equate "pagan secularist" with "Protestant sect". If you think otherwise, I invite you to say so.
But, please, must you lump Baptists in the same group with Methodists and Budhists? Have some decency!
What if the person who exacts from you vows of conformity to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church -- what if he himself admits that there is not standard by which such conformity can be measured?
For non-anglicans, I had to declare two times -- I had to sign, and my signature had to be witnessed by two people -- that I would so conform.
Then I found that nearly everyone thinks that, despite constitution, canons, rubrics, and the rest, that what actually constitutes doctrine, discipline and worship is anyone's guess. If Bishop Pike becomes a necromatic spiritualist, if Bishop Spong denies the Resurrection, well, "We are not a confessional church."
If, despite the rubrics, a priest flushes the consecrated wine down a common sink, another priest pours it on the flowers, and another feeds the consecrated host to dogs, and no one is there to rein him in, then there is no standard of "worship" by which we can say that one thing is acceptable and another not.
And, as for discipline, as far as I can tell, the only thing that really gets Episcopalians looking at their canonical obligations, the standard of their professions of obedience, is real estate. If it looks like dissenters are going to take their real estate with them, THEN a bishop will get rowdy.
To follow Christ is to walk out of your will into His. To follow Christ means living like a stranger in a strange land.
But to be an Episcopalian seems to mean to cling to the way "we did it when I was young," and, in general, to present one's own opinion as settled doctrine of the Church Catholic -- anything as long as it suits one's own preferences and whims.
As a Catholic, I ache for those days when, in great, if not entire, sincerity I thought I was consecrating the sacrament and presiding at a miracle as a priest in the Episcopal Church. But in the tawdry hymnody and irritating bureaucracy of the Catholic Church I find some security in knowing that inputting up with this stuff, I am walking out of my will, challenged to practice humility and patience, and blessed beyond my expectaion or hope with the Lord himself, pouring out his life for me.
It hurt, it still hurts, but it was worth it.
I always appreciate your posting these Episcopal/Anglican threads, sionnsar. Keep up the good work!
Look at his exact statement..."As a follower of Jesus Christ I cannot become a pagan secularist. Nor [implying the second part of a pair] can I abandon the apostolic ministry and sacraments by associating myself with one of the Protestant sects."
Clearly the implication is that for him to "associate himself" with the Protestants would be similar in nature to becoming a pagan because he feels that "as a follower of Jesus Christ" he can not dare do this.
Why don't you ask his to stop by and clarify?
But then, muddling is the "Episcopal way" after all.
Come to think of it, I would imagine that he should have a far harder time "associating himself" with those puerile, Park Avenue heretics. You know, the one's who brought the most stinking, flithy reproach upon the name of Christ and His Church that Christendom has ever seen.
Elevating sodomy to the level of a sacrament and all that.
IOW, his bottom-line reasoning for rejecting both Rome and Constantinople revolves around pride -- to accept either of them would mean admitting that his ministry was illicit and invalid, and that's something up with which he will not put, because it's all about him.
St. Paul said he accounted all things as rubbish next to the surpassing knowledge of his Lord, Jesus Christ. He didn't say, "Well, I would have become a Christian, but that would have meant admitting that my former life as a Jewish rabbi was not really serving God, and I can't stand that idea."
LOL you beat me to it.
"...the courtly splendor of a faded Byzantium..."
Oh, good heavens, indeed. This takes waxing nostalgic to a new level (where I imagine the air is a lot thinner).
Ugh, what twaddle.
I'm not sure that the author is equating pagan secularism with Protestantism.
When I read it, he says that his faith in Jesus prevents him from becoming a pagan secularist. However, his faith in Jesus doesn't directly prevent him from becoming a Protestant, but rather from abandoning his apostolic ministry, which would be a result of becoming a Protestant.
Furthermore, I don't think he's making a comparison so much as he's saying, here are two alternative routes, and here's why each is unacceptable. For the first, he seems only to say that he can't become a pagan secularist because that is to abandon Jesus. For the second, he's saying that he can't become a Protestant because that would be to abandon his apostolic ministry.
It may not be a whole heck of a lot of distinction, but it's something.
Well, yeah, and all of us laymen who thought we were receiving the Body and Blood of Christ all these years had to acknowledge that, no, we weren't.
But the accident of being born into a particular denomination is not destiny. "By their fruits shall ye know them," and it is clear that ECUSA has borne bitter fruit.
It's hard to admit that one has been wrong (or, if you prefer, misled, or that your church has been cut out from under you by heretics.) But, really, the alternative is to stay in a church that has clearly rejected the Gospel and tradition . . . you just have to swallow your pride and take that first big scary step into the waters of the Tiber. (Come on in, the water's fine!)
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