Thursday, September 27, 2007

Converts to Anglicanism

I had the opportunity recently to talk at length with three men who are converts, or on the path to conversion, to Anglicanism. They had lots of questions about a variety of doctrines and practices, and had had interesting faith journeys. One of the things, I think, that is so important for us to communicate to converts and help them grasp is that our tradition appeals ultimately to that of the undivided Church. Classical Anglican Reformers, such as Cranmer, Laud, Hooker, Taylor, and others, sought to conform their thought and praxis to the ancient church of the Seven Ecumenical Councils. So when they ask (as they often do), "Do I have to believe X to be an Anglican?" Or, "Can I be Anglican and believe X?" (and it is always some "hot button" issue), they really have to ask themselves if it is a doctrine that has an ancient, catholic precedent to it. That is the ultimate test. When we do that, certain "extreme" beliefs and practices can automatically be ruled out as un-Anglican.

4 comments:

Nicholodeon said...

Dear Father

This problem would not exist in Orthodoxy. You get the whole menu or nothing.

I think you have a connexion with Baltimore. I just remembered I have actually BEEN TO Baltimore, since I spent a week end with the All Saints Sisters of the Poor...and Anglican Order of Sisters...back in the 60s.

I recall the Sisters but for the life of me cannot summon forth a recollection of Baltimore itself.

J. Gordon Anderson said...

Yeah, I'll bet you're right. With us it is obviously a holdover from the muddledness of Elizabethan Settlement, and the effect of stressing one part of the tradition at the expense of another part.

Yes, I lived in Baltimore for many years, and the All Saints Sisters are awesome. The convent is a great and historic place! I have taken a number of retreats there. Mother Virginia's sister, I am told, attends the local Episcopal parish here in Vero Beach.

An Anglican Cleric said...

I'm afraid the comment about Orthodoxy is a bit optimistic. There is debate over things like the Benediction of the Sacrament, the influence of the West, Ecumenism, the use of the Rosary, the use of Western rites at all, the nature of the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, etc. If you read various theologians in Orthodoxy some will sound downright "Anglican," some will sound Roman, some will sound mystical and existential and engage in long discussion about the Toll Houses. Some are pro-just war, some are pacifist. . .if you read different texts of Orthodox dogmatic theology you will see differences in emphasis. The idea that "this problem does not exist in Orthodoxy" is not accurate. If you visit the Greek parish and ask about how one is to view the "monophysite" Christians, you will be told they are heretics; if you visit the Russian parish you will be told they were misunderstood. If you visit the Greek parish you will be told that the "Western Rite" folks are not fully Orthodox, while the Russian and the Syrian will tell you something different. So, the conclusion/answer to the questions addressed by Father Anderson is the same for the Anglican who holds to the 7 Councils as for the Orthodox who hold to the 7 Councils. On this I think Father Anderson admitted "defeat" to quickly in his reply. While I considered becoming Eastern Orthodox, I found there to be just as much ambiguity and debate on the same issues that plague the traditionalist Anglicans.

An Anglican Cleric said...

http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/phronema/review_toc.aspx

For some of the debates in Orthodoxy. . .