Ask an Anglican: The Future of North American Anglicanism

Ethan writes:

I’m a seminary student and recent convert to Anglicanism from charismatic non-denominationalism. Since marching down the Canterbury Trail, I have been involved with an Anglican Mission church that is part of the realignment movement. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog as part of my transition and only noticed today that you minister within TEC. I respect your thoughts on classical Anglicanism as a back-to-the-Fathers kind of Christianity, thus a good balance of Catholic and Protestant sentiments, and so I would love to hear what you think about the realignment (ACNA, AMiA, etc.). Obviously the historical fact of the Reformation implies the need to separate from corrupt ecclesiastical authority, but I’ve also encountered many orthodox Christians, such as yourself, who are committed to TEC. Any wisdom/perspective you have on the issue would be of great value to my journey, if you have the time.

Though this question came in a while ago, it seems fitting to answer it this week as the sparks continue to fly in South Carolina, leading many of us to wonder if there really is a place anymore for traditional orthodox Christians in the Episcopal Church.

The Good, the Bad, and the Reformation

Ethan mentions the Reformation as a touchstone which proves that sometimes schism is necessary. If this is the lesson that the Reformation has taught us, we are quite far from the truth and love of God. We can and should celebrate the Reformation for the ways in which it clarified and inspired Christians to return to ancient truths of the faith that had become obscured, but we should also mourn the Reformation, just as we mourn the Great Schism, as a moment in time when the Body of Christ was ripped apart and Christians became even more walled off from one another than they already were. To turn a phrase from Luther, we might even say that the Reformation was both justified and sinful. Much like the crucifixion, it was an unavoidable tragedy that God has used in His mercy to shower the world with His grace and love.

Anglican Alphabet Soup

I do not feel qualified to say much about the Anglican churches that exist outside of the Anglican Communion as my familiarity with them is limited. What I can say is not much different than what I have said in the past. I remain a loyal and faithful priest of the Episcopal Church and I will continue as such, unless the official doctrine of the church is changed so as to be no longer recognizably Christian or I am asked to leave. Despite the fact that the corner I have been shoved into in the current Episcopal Church is getting smaller and smaller, my calling as a Christian is to be a witness to Christ within that small corner for as long as such a thing is possible. I win no brownie points with God for this. I curry no favor. It is, quite simply, what God calls all of us to do, and the fact that we all fail at it does not make us any less culpable for it. If nothing else, it should make us want the Gospel that much more when we realize just how sinfully schismatic we are, how quickly and easily we make orthodoxy itself into an idol.

It is a dizzying array of options that greets the person who discovers the faith of classical Anglicanism and then goes searching for a church, and frankly we should be embarrassed by how quickly and how often we have been willing to break ties with one another. I say this not as a condemnation of those who have left the Episcopal Church, but as an indictment upon all of us for not believing in Our Lord’s promise and call that we all should be one (John 17:22). Every schism is a sin, just as every divorce is a sin, even though there are sometimes mitigating circumstances that might make such things necessary in our fallen world. Our proper attitude towards our own contribution to schism must always be one of repentance. And if you do not think you have contributed at all to schism, you are self-deluded and need to repent all the more.

A Plan for Renewal

But Ethan’s question is about the future, and it is difficult for anyone to look at the Episcopal Church as she is today and see bright things. Truth be told, it is difficult to look at any American church today and be sanguine, but the situation in the Episcopal Church is particularly dire. At the rate we are losing members, it is unlikely that there will be an Episcopal Church for my grandchildren. We are broken from top to bottom, and the problems are insurmountable without God’s grace and mercy. So here is my plan for the renewal of the Episcopal Church: constant prayer for God to be merciful and to use our tiny little mess of a church to bring people to Him. That should be the prayer of every Episcopalian and probably also of those who have gone on to form their own purer churches that have almost always turned out to be not quite as pure as expected. We are Nineveh and we ought to be in sackcloth and ashes.

Tearing Down and Building Up

All of this probably sounds rather grim, but in actuality I am filled with hope for the future of Anglicanism in North America. And that’s because I believe that the best thing that will come out of the current crisis in North American Anglicanism is an abandonment of institutional idolatry.

One of the great strengths of Anglicanism is its preservation of the doctrine that the Church is more than just a fellowship of believers, that she is an incarnational reality, an organic and tangible means by which Our Lord makes us one with Him. Yet this has also been our Achilles Heel as too often Anglicans have confused the mystical reality of the Church with the accoutrements of church life. We have worshiped the clerical collars and the vestments. We have celebrated our property and preached our pension plan. We have glibly pointed to our apostolic succession, as if it were a mechanical process, and we have said to the world and to the rest of the Christian Church, “This is who we are!” In short, we have celebrated ourselves instead of Christ. Is it any wonder we have split into so many pieces?

Yet I am hopeful because the collapse of broken institutions makes it possible for us to rediscover, in all humility, the true glory of Anglicanism which is found in the revelation of Jesus Christ. What Anglicanism has to offer to North America and the world is a surprisingly simple, holy, and beautiful path that leads right to the foot of the cross. It is the ancient and living faith of the apostles running through our liturgy and articles, pulsing within the pages of the greatest works of our theologians, and characterizing the pastoral relationships of countless clergy and people through the centuries that gives us the ability to proclaim that we are inheritors of the Catholic faith. I have no clairvoyance, but my strong suspicion is that the renewal of North American Anglicanism will happen far away from the places where ecclesial machinery is churning out one resolution after another, advocating this and anathematizing that. It will happen in parishes where Word and Sacrament are faithfully preached and administered by priests who find their calling not just in wearing fancy robes and standing in the pulpit but in the regular visitation of the people and in the continuous offering of prayer in the Daily Office. It will happen in small groups of young people who come together in far flung places to form new parishes and to build for the future. It will come in the late night reading of long forgotten books by long dead heroes of the faith who became heroes not through self-initiative but through total surrender to God.

Our Hope for an Anglican Future

Of course, the renewal of Anglicanism could take many forms, but one thing I am certain of is that a renewal is coming. I am certain of it because Anglicanism, at its core, is no less and no more than the Gospel delivered in the clearest way possible. In the end, it really does not matter what we call it. Perhaps the very names Anglican and Episcopalian will die. It will not matter if they do. The death of our structures is inevitable, as much as the crumbling of the Temple was inevitable. Nothing made with human hands, no matter how glorious it may seem, will exist forever. Only God is eternal and only Christ is our refuge. The heart of Anglicanism is Christ. No sin, even one as large as our ongoing institutional idolatry, can even come close to exhausting the saving power of Jesus.

About Fr. Jonathan

Your average traditional crunchy Christ follower with a penchant for pop culture, politics, and puns.
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38 Responses to Ask an Anglican: The Future of North American Anglicanism

  1. mattarino says:

    This is your magnum opus. Fantastic post!

  2. mattarino says:

    Reblogged this on the gospel side and commented:
    Father Jonathon at Conciliar Anglican put up a fantastic post today regarding the schism, re-schism and more schism occurring in North American Anglicanism. The last 3 sections call for us to “repent and return to God, that times of refreshing might come from the Holy Spirit.” Acts 3:19. http://www.conciliaranglican.com is well worth following.

  3. Wandering to Anglicanism says:

    “I remain a loyal and faithful priest of the Episcopal Church and I will continue as such, unless the official doctrine of the church is changed so as to be no longer recognizably Christian or I am asked to leave.”

    But hasn’t the official doctrine changed if women can be priests & bishops; actively practicing homosexuals can be ordained; and Bishops & priests can deny Christ our God without fear of defrocking?

    Not trying to “attack,” I’m just confused as a layperson on how TEC hasn’t changed doctrine?

    • Fr. Jonathan says:

      The official doctrine is what is expressed in the prayer book, the articles, and the hymnal. To a lesser extent, the canons contain doctrine, in as much as they shape some of how the prayer book is supposed to be interpreted. It is true that the ordination of women is part of the doctrine of the Episcopal Church now, albeit with the understanding that this is a development still being tested and “received” around the Communion. I’ve written a bit about this recently. While I think the theology behind the ordination of women is somewhat problematic, I do not believe it is worth schisming over and I am generally comfortable working with women in orders.

      In terms of sexuality, what we have is a crisis precisely because the actions that have taken in terms of ordinations and same-sex blessings are at odds with our official doctrine. Nonetheless, the official doctrine remains unchanged. I say this not to make light of the crisis, as it is very serious, but there is still ground on which to stand. The wind is all blowing in one direction, making it much harder to stand than it would be otherwise, but I have no intention of allowing a little wind to prevent me from preaching the Gospel. I can, however, sympathize with a feeling of confusion amongst the laity. The whole thing is very confusing, and unnecessarily so.

  4. DJ says:

    Fr. Johnathon,

    I’ve always appreciated your commitment to your calling and your unwillingness to jump ship despite the facts on the ground. This post reminds me of the seed of the tree of Israel after cleansing by fire in Isaiah. That being said, what would you say to those of us outside of the Anglican Communion thinking of coming in?
    I am a committed member and lay leader in a conservative presbyterian churh (PCA), where our leadership relentlessly pushes grace, the gospel, and Christ, where we have a hand in ministering to our surrounding city, and where the sacrament of communion is observed weekly. I am not feeling called away from this church; however the tenents of classical Anglicanism are becoming more and more compelling, and I imagine that if fundamental circumstances were to change, I would be looking to an Anglican Church for fellowship and worship.
    For your readers in a similar position, who have not committed to any one Anglican congregatoon (but are considering it) would you make a case for the TEC in general over any one particular classical Anglican Church not in Communion with the worldwide AC?

    • Fr. Jonathan says:

      DJ, that’s a really great question and it deserves further treatment. Allow me to hold onto it for a future post?

    • Cadog says:

      DJ,
      I was in a very similar position prior to joining a TEC congregation almost 2 years ago. We (wife and I) had also visited a congregation that was formerly in the Charismatic Episcopal Church and is now in ACNA — very good and orthodox people but my research into CEC and the way it folded into ACNA dissuaded us from staying. While I would say we did not seek out TEC in general — we did find a TEC parish, quite by accident (! thanks be to the Holy Spirit !) whose rector is very orthodox; it also happens to be one of the few growing parishes in the diocese. I think it very important to point out — and it sounds like this may be the case for you — that there were a number of antecedent events that led to our joining an Anglican church. Among these — none of which we felt were properly observed in our previous evangelical affiliations — were: 1) the centrality and weekly observance of the Eucharist in worship'; 2) the regular and public reading of Holy Scripture in a systematic manner (lectionary); and, 3) the respect for apostolic tradition and authority, particularly when interpreted through a conciliar perspective as Fr. Jonathan instructs. I urge you to read and view his posts related to these topics — they will help you.
      I think it is TEC’s departure from #3 in my list that is most troubling, even more so in some ways than TEC’s ever-diminishing respect for Scripture — because, as recent events demonstrate, the national body has devolved into Orwellian newspeak and arbitrary enforcement/interpretation of so-called canon law that would make a first-year law student or high school debate club member wince. In a word — what a mess!
      But — and here is where I landed — Anglicanism is not TEC. It is not the Church of England. As in the time of Elijah, God has and will always preserve those who do not bow the knee to Baal. The majority of the worldwide Anglican Communion is orthodox, and it seems somehow fitting, if ironic, that the realms formerly subjegated by Western powers (i.e., England, U.S., others) — the Global South — are where the leaders and voices of orthodox Anglican practice reside. But there are also voices in the TEC wilderness — Fr. Jonathan and my priest among them. They — and you, and I — are not alone. Best wishes and prayer with you as you seek Him who promises to be found.

      • DJ says:

        Fr. Jonathan – my aplogies for initially misspelling of your name. And yes, I’d be more than happy to wait for a response in whatever manner you deem most appropriate.

        Cadog – thank you very much for your follow up. As mentioned I’m not at the point that I feel God is calling me away from our current fellowship. Nor am I necessarily hoping that to be the case. Quite the contrary. In fact, if my family left right now, I would feel it nothing short of irresponsible and self-serving; however, apostolic succession is my biggest hang up right now. That being said, I have the hope and belief that grace covers a multitude of sins. Furthermore, I would like to believe that it also covers a multitude of defecits. It has to. There must be a limit to this, of course, and if a church not maintaining true apostolic succession is, in fact, a real defecit (which, I’m willing to concede, may be – even as a faithful presbyterian) I do not believe it can make the cut of things that cannot be covered by God’s saving grace, especially in individuals and congregations that profess true saving faith. To believe otherwise would be to reject the doctrine of sola fide. I’ve even heard NT Wright say something similar in regards to churches that reject sacraments as being instruments of grace. Something like “God has ways of making it up to them.”
        This is in no way an argument. As mentioned, I’m finding the tennents of Classical Anglicanism attractive, compelling, and biblical. But i must work these things out with faith and obedience, and I am thinking much about a future in Anglican fellowship (if and whenever and however that happens. Thank you again for your thoughts and comments. More are always welcome.

    • Cadog says:

      DJ –
      Thanks for your reply and my apologies if I presumed a direction or path that you are not on. I love that you mention NT Wright, who was the featured guest and literally THE agenda at a May 2010 conference I attended in Wheaton IL. It was a few months after this that the unexpected result of my long and private reflections was to find myself moving towards the Anglican Communion. A trip to the UK in Fall 2010 also helped — the Church of England has huge problems, but the tradition of Christian faith and practice there is very rich. But I can also tell you that after being received into TEC in April 1011 – I had some pretty immediate misgivings — and then found Fr. Jonathan’s site. I have spent many, many hours reading his posts, links, and viewing his videos. Nothing has done more to instruct me, and ratify my decision, than this website.

      Peace and richest blessings to you and your family, especially in the coming Advent season.

      • DJ says:

        No worries, Cadog. I didn’t receive your comments as presumptuous in the least.
        Peace to you as well. (Or as we Peesbyterians say, “Have a good one. Talk to you later.”)

      • MichaelA says:

        Hi Cadog, this is just a peripheral matter from your post but something I am curious about – I thought that only one bishop and a few congregations from Charismatic Episcopal Church went over to ACNA, plus a few also went to the Roman Catholic Church, and many stayed in the CEC? The bishop as I recall who went to ACNA was a military chaplain.

        I don’t really know much about CEC so I have probably got this all wrong, but always happy to learn more!

      • Cadog says:

        MichaelA –

        I don’t know much either, probably less than you do. The CEC church I mention is actually (I think) a mission of a larger body, that calls itself a Cathedral, having formerly been the seat of a CEC bishop, who is now a Suffragen Bishop in ACNA. I am not sure why they still call it a Cathedral. I think they are terrific people, and I know former cradle Episcopalians who have joined them. But I am a little uncomfortable with what (albeit little) I understand about CEC’s origins — that they seem to sort have invented their own church to express their charismatic and catholic perspectives. I suppose in some ways it is good if they have found greater unity by joining with ACNA. But the multiple originating bodies of ACNA make we wonder about how cohesive they will be going forward. As to the CEC congregation I mentioned — I would not have been surprised if they had joined the Ordinariate. But they did not, and I am not well enough acquainted with them to know why. Peace.

      • Fr. Jonathan says:

        Cadog, I believe I’m all too familiar with the parish that you’re talking about from my time spent on the eastern shore.

      • Cadog says:

        MichaelA and others –

        Your comment had me wondering — and with apologies to all, I see nothing on either the ACNA or CEC websites that indicates affiliation at the denominational level. I either mistakenly read something amongst ACNA’s and/or this local (fromerly CEC) congregation’s statements, or drew the wrong conclusion based upon this congregation’s alignment with ACNA.

        There may be a message here somewhere in the midst of all this organizational complexity … but suffice it to say I misstated the facts.

        Thanks MichaelA for raising the question, and I would love to hear more from someone in CEC, as I do not entirely understand the denomination and its origins, nor its claim to authority. — Cadog

  5. Father Jonathan: Could you instruct us about the Traditional Anglican Communion?
    Javier in PR

    • Fr. Jonathan says:

      I’m not sure there’s much I can tell you about it, other than that it exists and that large swathes of it are going to Rome. But if there are any TAC readers, perhaps they can say something more coherent than I can.

  6. Stephen says:

    Looks as though you might have been granted a slight reprieve, Father J.
    Just saw on BBC News where the CofE in general synod voted against allowing female bishops.
    While the measure was passed by the synod’s houses of bishops and clergy it was rejected by the House of Laity and opinion seems to be that it may be 5 years before it comes to the front again.

  7. Joshua says:

    I am part of a Traditional Anglican Parish within the TEC. I inquired about becoming a Priest and was told that the odds of me becoming a priest in our diocese was next to none. I was told that my best bet was to go ACNA. So I do not know what other options I have if i want to seek ordination.

    • Matt Marino says:

      Hi Joshua,
      I have friends who were told that in my diocese as well. They went to ACNA. I showed up and a place that “wouldn’t ordain another traditionalist” ordained me. They are pretty bummed out now.

      I think most diocese’ want to ordain Christian leaders who can grow a church and “play well” collegially with other clergy…regardless of their stance on the issues du jour. I would encourage you to follow your call prayerfully and with humility.

    • Fr. Jonathan says:

      Joshua, what diocese are you in? Send me an email. I may know some folks who could help.

  8. Jesse Reese says:

    Your paragraph on the tendency for Anglicans to get caught up in “churchy things” rather than the Church itself resonates deeply with my recent experiences. On the one hand, one of the reasons I came to Anglicanism was out of an appreciation for how some of these things point us to the significance of the Church. But since moving out of small-town Kentucky and having to find a church in a city, I’ve realized that I do not care at all for the big, beautiful, wealthy churches that “have it all together.” I would much rather be part of an imperfect church that deeply understands what it means to be the Church. My Kentucky church was a struggling mission that had been in the town for years and still hadn’t reached 50 attendees on any day aside from Easter or interdenominational services. It was a hodgepodge of Christian outcasts and mutts that didn’t fit into the overwhelming conservative Baptist consensus of the town. But boy, did they know what it meant to be the Church. We need more places like that, church plants AWAY from those places with historic Anglican presence that cannot depend upon their established nature for survival. I think that those small, off-the-beaten-path churches could be a powerful key to rediscovering our true identity.

  9. Robbie says:

    Thanks so much for this encouraging post, Father Jonathan.

    I think you’re absolutely correct here: “I have no clairvoyance, but my strong suspicion is that the renewal of North American Anglicanism will happen far away from the places where ecclesial machinery is churning out one resolution after another, advocating this and anathematizing that.”

    Although there are many headwinds now, I do think the liberal wing is waning, however slowly. People in our diocese are at last discovering that the message of liberalism, the one that resonates so well with folks in their 50’s and 60’s, is falling on death ears when it comes to younger people, myself included. Partly because the liberal message isn’t all that liberating at the end of the day, in that it rejects the possibility of a common life (vs. merely tolerating difference).

    However, I do think that younger generations are also rejecting the break-away wings of the TEC for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the overemphasizing of the protestant principle over and against the catholic body.

    Really, the younger folks are eagerly looking for Priests like yourself! And therein lies the signs of renewal.

  10. Rob Scot says:

    Father Jonathan,
    I’d like to second Robbie’s comment, first and foremost by thanking you for this post. In the wake of the whole South Carolina thing, I have been discouraged, to put it mildly. I agree that “it is difficult for anyone to look at the Episcopal Church as she is today and see bright things” (despite the nearly delusional optimism we occasionally hear from some of our leadership), and that “we ought to be in sackcloth and ashes.” That is an attitude that seems to be pretty absent, both in TEC and the various breakaway churches. Truthfully, I don’t think there is anything you’ve written here that doesn’t resonate with me, including the hope with which you end the post. Your words have been a welcome encouragement. Thanks again.

    I do have question. I’m part of that “younger generation” that is turned off both by an unchecked (and often secular) liberalism in the Church as well as the confidently righteous breakaway groups. I was raised in and have remained a member of TEC. After a period of discernment, I’ve just recently made the decision to seek ordination. I’m excited about the future, but I do sometimes find myself worrying about tomorrow (despite our Lord’s injunction). After a lot of soul searching, I was feeling really good about moving confidently into the future. Then South Carolina happened, and it kind of shook me up. Anyway, my question is this: is it exhausting, being “a witness to Christ in that small corner”, when “the wind is all blowing in one direction”? I do believe that this is where God has called me, and it is also where I feel at home. Maybe I am being irrationally pessimistic, but my fear is that as I go deeper and learn and experience more, I will feel less at home. I want to be faithful to Christ, but to be honest, I don’t know if I could be in “battle-mode” everyday within the Church. For if I cannot find consolation there, I don’t know where else I could expect to find it.

    • jaym4481 says:

      “I’m part of that “younger generation” that is turned off both by an unchecked (and often secular) liberalism in the Church as well as the confidently righteous breakaway groups.”

      Rob, let me tell you that you are not alone brother. I think among 20 and 30 somethings there is a small army of us that feel this way. I too will be seeking ordination in TEC. The way I see it, if I can use the resources of the Episcopal Church to preach the Gospel at the local parish level than I will. My former Rector has been doing it successfully for years, growing every TEC parish he has ever been in just by preaching the Gospel. He is an SSC brother and as traditional as they come. It’s possible to fight the good fight from within. My Rector and Fr. Jonathan are a testament to that.

      Whenever I get worked up about the problems in TEC or the Anglican Communion in general I just try to remember John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” No matter how bad things get in our church, our country, our modern world, etc. let’s remember that we worship a Savior who fought a battle that has already been won. We just need to stay faithful…..

  11. Matthew the Wayfarer says:

    “The official doctrine is what is expressed in the prayer book, the articles, and the hymnal”.’ To a lesser extent, the canons contain doctrine, in as much as they shape some of how the prayer book is supposed to be interpreted.’
    Where is this dogmatically declared as the official doctrine of The Church of England, The (Protestant) Episcopal Church (in the U.S.A.) and Anglican Communion? Upon whose authority? I have never heard or read it before anywhere.

    “I remain a loyal and faithful priest of the Episcopal Church and I will continue as such, unless the official doctrine of the church is changed so as to be no longer recognizably Christian or I am asked to leave”.
    I Praise GOD for your faithfulness and I hope their are many others ‘who have not bowed the knee to Ba’al’ but consider this – what if you are wrong? What if your contention that the ‘official doctrine’ has changed and you refuse to acknowledge it? The 1979 Prayer Book may be valid according to your doctrinal perception but how do you know? The Articles? They are no longer a part of the BCP but are an appendix discarded, not to be used (all well and good I say, Calvinist tripe!) but you need them as doctrine? ‘The Hymnal’? The 1940 hymnal has been passed to the Continuing Churches and the Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter! The new hymnal has been so watered down as to make Contemporary Christian Music the norm! Doctrinally flushed and weak.
    Is your personal opinion what keeps you TEC?

    As far as being asked to leave that is not The TEC way and you know it. When the time comes and it grows shorter each day, you will simply be told to leave with only the clothes on your back – minus the clerical collar of course. The Harlot (Schori) of Babylon (TEC HQ NYC) is heading your way.

    Sad. I wish you well.

    • Fr. Jonathan says:

      Hi Matthew,

      There are a number of places where one finds reference to the sum of our core doctrine being that which is found in the formularies. For the Church of England, this can be found both in their canon law and in the declaration of assent made by clergy at their ordination where they acknowledge the faith “uniquely revealed in Holy Scripture and set forth in the catholic creeds,” and that this faith has been “borne witness to” in “the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, The Book of Common Prayer and the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons.” The preface of the American prayer book sets forth that our doctrine is not to differ from that of the Church of England, despite differences in the way we organize ourselves. The constitution of the Episcopal Church begins, “The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, otherwise known as The Episcopal Church (which name is hereby recognized as also designating the Church), is a constituent member of the Anglican Communion, a Fellowship within the One, Holy,
      Catholic, and Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces, and regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.”

      Given that, I think it is fairly demonstrable that the core doctrine of the Episcopal Church continues to be that of the historic faith, despite the reality that much (perhaps most?) of the church no longer believes or practices certain aspects of that faith. I do not say that lightly. The situation is dire. But it is not lost. So long as this church is still discernibly the Catholic Church, I have no business leaving her, especially when she is in crisis.

      It is not my personal opinion that keeps me in TEC but my vows as a priest and my conscience which is bound by the Word of God. I may not rend the Body of Christ–even when it seems like a little rending might be a good idea–and expect to be judged lightly for doing so. It is not really a matter of me being personally right or wrong. I am sure I am wrong about all sorts of things, but that does not change my relationship to my brothers and sisters in Christ. I cannot be the hand saying to the foot, “I have no need of you,” even if I think I am much better at being a hand than they are being feet.

      This is also, incidentally, why I have to continue to cultivate and engage in relationships with my brothers and sisters who have departed for other places, even though the rupture that exists between us is devastating to me and it would be much easier for me to just sit in my corner and pretend nothing has happened. They are also my brothers and sisters in Christ. They were baptized into the same Body of Christ that I was. Nothing can change that.

      I realize that all of this is probably fairly unsatisfying as an answer. But I think that it’s in the midst of the mess that God is often most active to humble us and draw us closer to Him. If it is His will to move me here or there, so be it. I am not afraid. But I will not chase after opportunities elsewhere for the sake of avoiding suffering where God has planted me.

      • Matthew the Wayfarer says:

        Thank you. I get a clearer picture of where you are coming from. You are a better man than I Gunga Din! Do hope things work out but I am not optimistic.

    • Cadog says:

      Hey Matthew, I can’t help but wondering where you are coming from, background-wise? I gather TEC, pretty traditional, and fed up with the nonsense in TEC? You seem well informed. But your comments back to Fr. Jonathan seem, well — sanctimonious, frankly. Whatever faulty reasons he may have for staying in TEC (and I am not saying there are any at all) — his confusion over doctrine surely is not among them.

      I have had multiple conversations with my own rector, who holds a similar position to Fr. Jonathan’s. His heart aches for what is happening in TEC, and he is not optimistic. And my heart aches as I see him and other shepherds like him grieve for the church they love, all the while faithfully tending the flocks entrusted to their care. I am profoundly grateful for this, and humbled by their sense of purpose and sacrifice, to a degree that I am not sure I would be able to match.

      Peace. Cadog

      • Matthew the Wayfarer says:

        Not being ‘sanctimonius’. Came close to being Episcopalian in the late 60’s early 70’s and continuing Anglican in the late 70’s early 80’s. Just not right then or now.
        I’m just bewildered by so many clergy and laity accepting the total destruction of the Church they claim to love. GOD’s will? O.K. maybe so.

  12. Eugene Durkee says:

    I keep reading this site — and others like it — in an attempt to convert to Anglicanism. It would be a heck of a lot easier for a person of my WASP background to be Anglican than to remain Orthodox, as I do. It pains me to be in a minority, and I mean that quite genuinely. It’s very difficult. But I keep bumping into the reality that Orthodox Christianity doesn’t have to call itself “classical Orthodoxy” or “liberal Orthodoxy” or anything like that, or explain itself in any way. It is what it has always been: the early Church, Orthodox. If classical Anglicans were Orthodox, they’d be Orthodox; but they’re not. They have no real illusion that they are. The “differences” mentioned by you, Fr. Jonathan, over the role of Scripture, justification by faith, need for reformation and so forth, just do not raise themselves as issues or questions in the early Church. You probably read the Fathers more than I do, so you must know this (at least, e.g., from St. Basil and St. John Cassian). These questions are I think what people call straw men.

    Please continue to try to convince me of the truth of this thing “classical Anglicanism” which doesn’t sound to me like Orthodoxy at all. I would so much rather be part of a church located in all parts of the U.S.

    • Fr. Jonathan says:

      Hi Eugene,

      It’s always a pleasure to have you comment here and add your voice to the conversation.

      You said, “Please continue to try to convince me of the truth of this thing ‘classical Anglicanism…'” It is perhaps worth mentioning at this point that the purpose of this site is to explore the classical Anglican tradition and all the beautiful ways in which it brings us closer to Christ, as well as to promote and defend the truth of classical Anglicanism. Its purpose is not to try to push or cajole anyone to change church bodies. Go where Jesus sends you. I would much rather see reunion between the Anglican and Orthodox churches than I would like to see every single Orthodox become an Anglican (or vice versa for that matter).

      You’re commenting largely on matters not discussed in this particular post, but rather discussed here: http://conciliaranglican.com/2012/08/14/ask-an-anglican-escaping-into-eastern-orthodoxy/

      As a general rule, I prefer the conversation to stay on topic to the thread at hand, to avoid confusion, so I won’t go into any detail here on the matters that you raise from that previous thread, but suffice it to say that I am convinced not just by Scripture but also by the witness of the early Church of the truth of things like solafideism. The problem with modern Anglicanism is not that we have spent too much time on our own doctrine, but too little. The Orthodox churches have a similar set of problems, though expressed differently. There is very little, from what I can tell, that is “Orthodox” about the erastianism of the current Patriarch of Moscow, for instance.

      • DJ says:

        Fr. Jonnathan,
        “Go where Jesus sends you.”
        As an Protestant, I love this sentiment, and am fighting to believe this. This week I gave the same advise to a cradle Roman Catholic friend who is trying to to find a new place to worship as a compromise with her (incorrigible) evangelical partner.
        Would you concede that Jesus could be sending us to any Christian church (Anglican, Orthodox, Lutheran, or otherwise)? If so, how might this square with Christ’s prayer that we all be one?
        Not a gotcha question. I’m genuinely interested in your thoughts.
        Happy Advent.

  13. Eugene Durkee says:

    Thanks, Father Jonathan. I think I’m just frustrated with things in general.

  14. Thomas says:

    I’m a on&off reader of this blog, and a growing lover of Anglicanism (I was paedobaptized ACC)
    Thank you Fr. Jonathan for the posts- I too am praying for the future of Anglicanism. When my wife and I married and moved to another state for her education, we spent much time searching for a home church. We landed in the LCMS (a rather catholic congregation) and I am very pleased. I am glad that the LORD organized events and led us to a church that faithfully confesses the gospel without either of us having to “leave” a home church- both of us left home churches in the move, but there was no feeling of rejection on either side.
    Again, I pray for the future of Anglicanism, and would be happy to see it reunite in a evangelical, catholic, orthodox way. I love reading the prayers and Psalms in the 1928 BOCP that I stole/borrowed from my mother (she has little use for it at the Bible Church) But I absolutely understand why one like Fr. Jonathan would not leave his church for greener pastures- the act of leaving is like divorce- never good (though in a few cases necessary).

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