Going Anglican: An (only somewhat) Unexpected Journey

Ecclesiology personal

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I’m coming out. Yes, I’m going Anglican, no, I haven’t lost my mind, and here’s roughly how and why it happened (and is still happening).

As I indicated in my last blog post (on entering the Anglican fray on marriage), my family and I have begun to attend the Anglican Church. I say “attend” because nothing has been signed in blood and no dark ceremonies have been performed to make anything official, but I’m sure that will happen in due course. I’ve even redecorated the blog in honour of this move.

This will be a surprise to some people. My Catholic friends may even think (wishfully!) that this is one step in the journey “home to Rome.” Far from it. This is more of a Vatican II move: Taking a step to a position that has the appearance of being more conciliatory while reaffirming your commitment to what you already believed. Sure there are some similarities in form between the Anglican and (Roman) Catholic Churches. We even use some of the same liturgy. But that’s just because we have some beliefs and values in common, and it would be concerning to me if we did not. Anglicanism by design is the catholic tradition rolled back to a state without the elements that Protestants found objectionable. If you’re a Microsoft Windows fan, think of it as a system restore.

If you’re a Microsoft Windows fan, think of it as a system restore. 

That’s a concept that resonates with me. The Anglican form of Christianity holds that Scripture is the supreme authority for matters of doctrine and morals.

I also appreciate the more liturgical form of worship because it requires participation. You’re not allowed to sit silently throughout the service, dozing off or being distracted. And you’re not just involved, you’re also regularly verbally affirming and expressing your faith. Some Christians have to look up the Creed if they want to know what it is and what it contains. I never did, because I was saying it every week at twelve years old (I was Roman Catholic). Some people don’t like the liturgy because they think it’s mechanical and forced. And yet they have no problem with a church service that follows an unwritten liturgy week in and week out:

For me the question is not whether or not your church will form routines. Of course it will. The question is: What will those routines be? Why not form them by design, centred around what you believe to help you to focus on Christ? That’s what the liturgy is. What’s more, it has been done over a long period of time and done well. It is not just true but it has aesthetic beauty too.

But the truth is, this sort of thinking for me is a justification after the fact. If there was nothing appealing about Anglicanism then I wouldn’t be making this move, but the appeal is not, as far as I can tell, what served as the catalyst for this change. Maybe it should have been, but it didn’t. Years ago (in 1996), before I went to Bible College and before Ruth and I were married (but at a time when we were pretty sure we would be), I asked her what she would think of being a pastor’s wife. I knew that I wanted to do something God related and I wasn’t really all that sure what, but being a pastor seemed to be in the right neighbourhood. So after we were married I went to Bible College, and because I tend to go all the way with things, I didn’t stop at an undergrad degree but just kept going until I ended up in 2008 with a PhD, and not even a PhD in theology (although my field of study was a close cousin, and in some quarters the degree could have been completed within a theology department). In the years since then I’ve worked in a desk job, occasionally made an application for a teaching job, blogged, written and had a number of speaking gigs. Apart from the desk job I’ll probably do these things until I return to the dust whence I came.

Those who know me well might call me a cynic when it comes to the supernatural. Sure, I’m a Christian. But there are forms of Christianity that I’ve seen my fair share of and that I cannot identify with. Specifically, I mean the overtly charismatic / Pentecostal form of Christianity. For all the good it might contain (good that can also be had in more historic forms of Christianity, I think), I think it goes wrong theologically and practically in some ways. But without getting into all the details of that (I have commented on some of it here before), I generally have little time for people who think that God is always talking to them. “I have a word from the Lord!” No, you very probably do not. “God is giving me a message for you!” Really? And he chose you to deliver it, knowing that I think you’re a flake? That’s not the most effective delivery method.

“God is giving me a message for you!” Really? And he chose you to deliver it, knowing that I think you’re a flake? That’s not the most effective delivery method.

“I’m a prophet!” In that case, I’m a not-for-prophet. You get the picture, I trust. I try not to be gullible, or to have a falsely exalted view of myself where God goes out of his way to speak directly to me. Do I think God is able to speak to people? Sure. Do I think he does it? You bet. But I’m someone who thinks that most of the time when people think they are hearing from God, they are hearing from themselves. Quite possibly they’re hearing a good idea from themselves, too, and sure, given my high view of providence, I’m going to attribute it to God who works in all things. But a miraculous voice in your ear? I’m not one to think so. You’ve got the Bible and you’ve got the Church. That’s usually how God speaks (and if the church thinks it’s speaking for God, they better able to back it up with Scripture). You’ve also hopefully got some common sense and wisdom, and if you are lacking, as St James told his readers, you can always ask God for help in getting more and you can also learn from the example of others. That’s where I stand – I still do and I hope I always will.

Can you hear a “but” coming?

This attitude is a safeguard against foolish credulity – a safeguard that I think we should all have and one that not enough people – especially (sorry) Christians within the Pentecostal churches – have. But it is not a declaration about what God cannot or will not ever do. It certainly doesn’t mean that I don’t believe anyone is really “called” by God to a particular vocation. For the last year or so I’ve had an eye on the Anglican Church, and I haven’t even been one hundred percent sure why. I even remarked on Facebook some time last year (I forget exactly when), “I could totally go Anglican.” I haven’t thought a lot about the sorts of factors I’m talking about in this blog post, but maybe they were lurking in the subconscious. But just recently – in the last few months – I’ve been overcome with the impression, not an audible voice (that would be annoying and creepy), but something more influential. Go into ministry. And just as a person who believes in God usually doesn’t just believe in a generic concept of God but in a particular God (in my case, God as revealed in the person of Jesus of Nazareth), so too this was not just a generic “ministry” but a specific embodiment of ministry: Go into Anglican ministry.

And just as a person who believes in God usually doesn’t just believe in a generic concept of God but in a particular God (in my case, God as revealed in the person of Jesus of Nazareth), so too this was not just a generic “ministry” but a specific embodiment of ministry: Go into Anglican ministry.

I forget who mentioned it first, me or Ruth (me, I think). The first conversation was a testing of the waters, but the affirmation was immediate. There was nothing to negotiate; As soon as the idea had been brought up it was accepted. I had been thinking: I’m really sure of this and I hope she’s OK with it. But there’s nothing quite as encouraging as the reaction of your better half telling you that this isn’t just in your head.

The first step in that direction is becoming Anglican, so that’s the process we’ve started now. How long will the transition take? I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. We have a clear sense of where we are going.

“But you don’t agree with everything they teach!”

Probably not, especially given the range of things that they teach. They don’t all agree with each other about what they teach! This would be the case no matter what church I went to, because I think too much (some would say). But I agree with the things that both they and I agree are the most important things. We affirm them every week as we proclaim the Creed together (the Nicene Creed, which is a summary of Christian teaching).

One of the things that I appreciate about the Anglican Church – the Evangelical Anglican Church that takes its faith and Scripture very seriously – is that it is a generous orthodoxy in the true sense. While holding to the essential elements of the historic Christian faith, there is a genuine respect for learning and intellectual exploration and the fact that this will take sincere, orthodox Christians to a range of different places on a range of issues. Think about some of the bright lights in modern Anglican theology past and present: N T Wright, John Wenham, John Stott, C S Lewis and numerous others. One of the factors that allows for this sort of intellectual breadth is the climate of freedom beyond the essentials that Anglicanism provides.

“But they baptise babies!”

Oh well, nobody’s perfect. (Said with tongue in-cheek) I currently think they are probably wrong about this, just as I think other churches are wrong about many things. I am not able to just change my mind at will about this, and I do not, at present, see myself changing my mind on this any time soon (although stranger things have happened), but it seems to me to be a silly reason to not worship as part of their community. I also take the view that sometimes it is better to concede to the practices of a community you trust, believing that it will not make an ultimate difference. So I don’t know how this issue will play out.

“But there are liberal Anglicans!”

Yes there are, plenty of them! But I will not be one of them. The presence of pockets of theological liberalism is a reality in any of the mainstream churches. They are large, well-established institutions of society, and like many such institutions, there are people who feel that such institutions have a duty to keep changing in order to “keep up to date” rather than to preserve an ancient faith, and to cater to what people want (or at least, what people like themselves want) rather than to serve as an agent of transformation and redemption for people. Even in the Catholic Church, that bastion of resistance to such influences, liberalising forces are slowly at work, and for all the talk of papal authority being the major force holding them at bay (and yes at a practical level this explanation makes good sense), their influence is only kept at bay with much persistent hard work – work that cannot be stopped any time soon. The thought that we have a right to have the Church create for us an intellectual and moral context of our own design seems to be a very attractive one to some people. I don’t share their view. Either you embrace what the Church represents: A community of people committed to following Christ as revealed in the Scripture (both in the essentials of what we find there to be taught as true and in the way we are called to live), or you do not. You may have difficulty with that. So do I sometimes – more than I like to admit, to be honest. But it is what I have embraced and I’m working at it with God’s help (and the Church’s help). If you don’t want to be a part of that, then the Church is currently not for you – although you are always welcome, nay, called, to enter and embrace that life. That is what it means that the Church is inclusive: Everyone is welcome to come and take part in this life.

What should we do about this? Should we abandon any church in which such liberalism arises? Should we declare that liberalism automatically has the trump card, guaranteed to win all takeover battles and receive the keys of any institution it decides to occupy? Or should we love the Church and want to be a part of it and work to contribute to its mission, including maintaining its integrity?

Should we abandon any church in which such liberalism arises? Should we declare that liberalism automatically has the trump card, guaranteed to win all takeover battles and receive the keys of any institution it decides to occupy? Or should we love the Church and want to be a part of it and work to contribute to its mission, including maintaining its integrity?

I choose the latter, which I understand is not the path of least resistance, but which seems to me to be clearly the better option. I could have continued to worship at the Brethren church and all would have been fairly well, both for my family and the church. But that church was fine before I came along and it will be fine without me, as far as these struggles go. I want to be in a place where I can be a part of the work to make things better, and you don’t make things better by staying away because things aren’t perfect. Of course not everyone is called to get involved in this way.

So there you have it. I’m becoming Anglican. Because in essentials, I believe as they do. Because I find beauty there. Because in its best form, it is a Church that encourages the sort of intellectual exploration and intellectual charity and breadth that someone like me needs (and which I also think is good for people in general, including my children). Because I believe I can be used for good there. And because this is where I believe God has led me.

Glenn Peoples

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{ 72 comments… add one }
  • Giles May 16, 2014, 1:47 am

    Having been baptised and confirmed Anglican I am glad for you. And the C of E gaining your mind. But surely you will have to baptise babies? Is there the option of not doing so? I know you only have to affirm the spirit of the 39 articles now.

  • Ben May 16, 2014, 8:57 am

    All the best with the move Glenn!

    In regards to Pentecostalism, I share similar reservations. I shared my concerns with a pentecostal friend and he reminded me that sometimes God works through means that are a little strange to us (that we don’t consider to be the most “effective delivery method”). Take Jesus’ healing of the blind man for example :

    [Jhn 9:6 NIV] 6 After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes.

    I think my mate makes a good point (I’d probably have walked away from Jesus disgusted). So I try not to dismiss a “word from God” too quickly, even if the means of delivery isn’t ideal.

  • Glenn May 16, 2014, 10:18 am

    Giles, the 39 articles affirm what is basically a Calvinist soteriology too, but I know there are many vicars who are not Calvinists (even among the Evangelical / conservative ones). So there’s evidently not a strictness about everything on that list. The Archbishop of Canterbury is certainly friendlier to Rome than some of the more pointed comments in the 39 articles too.

  • Chris May 16, 2014, 11:03 am

    Justin Welby according to an interview in The Telegraph, has a Roman Catholic spiritual advisor, supports women bishops, thinks the RC eucharist is great and doesn’t believe you must have a personal conversion experience to be a true christian! Then again, what do you expect from a political appointee? My suggestion to born again bible believing christians in the Anglican church would be to exit it as quick as you could. And anyone considering joining I would consider as crazy. Just my 2 cents worth 🙂

  • Glenn May 16, 2014, 12:37 pm

    Chris, I think that’s an understandable instinctive reaction for many (just as flight is an instinctive reaction, rather than fight, for many). However, as I suggested here, albeit very briefly, I think there may be better options than surrender.

    From your own conservative Evangelical perspective, wouldn’t you think that an influx of these Bible believing Christians you speak of into the Anglican Church should probably be the recommendation here? Come to her aid, rather than deride the decline. That’s more loving, right?

  • Max May 16, 2014, 12:43 pm

    Welcome to the fold Glenn. It is a wonderful and diverse Church, and I encourage you to embrace all of the different views and opinions you will encounter!

  • Glenn May 16, 2014, 3:12 pm

    Thanks for the welcome Max…. but how can I embrace all the opinions I encounter?

  • Chris May 16, 2014, 3:53 pm

    Glenn-the problem I see is that an institution founded as it was for an ungodly reason and currently headed by a man who doesn’t even seem to think a personal conversion experience is necessary will only go from bad to worse as history has proven with Anglicanism-therefore trying to change it from the bottom up will not work. Unless Anglicanism radically shifts back to the Word of God, throws away it’s unbiblical practises and tosses out those who quite clearly oppose the scriptures ie the homosexual lobby etc, any efforts will sadly be in vain.

  • Glenn May 16, 2014, 5:39 pm

    Chris, a good deal of what is said about the origin of Anglican Christianity is a myth alongside the myth that Columbus’ foes thought the earth was flat. Over the coming months I’m sure I will have something to say about it.

    There are many wonderful Evangelical Anglican dioceses where the historic Christian faith is proclaimed. Largely thanks to coverage, a lot of Christians only hear about and focus on the more liberal ones. But I just reiterate: There is work to do, and I mean to be part of it.

  • Giles May 16, 2014, 8:08 pm

    Thanks Glenn, yes the articles are certainly compatible with Calvinism, I think Wright sometimes regards himself at that end. Just wondering if, as a pastor, you can get away with not baptising infants. I think it is done, I believe pastors of your ilk offer a christening, or call in another if someone wants full baptism. But you may want to check it out if you are going that way. Of course Calvin favoured infant baptism, as you know.

  • Glenn May 16, 2014, 9:33 pm

    Oh, the articles aren’t merely compatible with Calvinism, I think they require it. It’s just that many ministers don’t hold to it.

    And yes, Calvin was a paedobaptist.

    We’ll see what eventuates. 🙂

  • Max May 16, 2014, 10:31 pm

    “Thanks for the welcome Max…. but how can I embrace all the opinions I encounter?”

    No worries. Embrace was probably be the wrong word! But certainly embrace all of the Anglicans who hold such a vast range of opinions. It is a strength of the church, and not a weakness. The Anglican church would be weaker if all of the liberals vanished, and it would be weaker if all the conservatives vanished. The tension between different views creates, ideally, a tolerant, loving, and thoughtful community. If only one view is allowed/held (as in some churches) then the opportunity to explore one’s own faith is diminished in some way.

  • Glenn May 16, 2014, 10:46 pm

    Oh yes – embrace the people, absolutely. 🙂

    I don’t think the Church would be weaker without the liberal wing, if I’m honest. I think the more liberal-minded people would be weaker without the Church. Naturally, many views should be allowed on a range of things, beyond a broad core of agreement. But tolerance isn’t a virtue in and of itself. There are many areas where only one view should be tolerated among clergy. “Was Jesus really, historically raised from the dead” would be a good example of a question where only one answer is acceptable. I think the same is true when it comes to the question of marriage (although this is not to say that the two questions have all other things in common as well).

    I guess it depends on what you mean by liberals. You might mean “Social Gospel” types on the one hand (in which case I say yes, sure) or on the other you could mean those who want to overturn the Church’s teaching on very important matters and replace it with their own.

  • Max May 16, 2014, 11:40 pm

    I guess you get people who want to replace Church teachings with their own bugbears on all ends of the spectrum! Holding them all together is what we do best 😉

    The Anglican church provides a home to people with a vast vast range of different political, social, theological, views. Something which I think could not be said about, say, Destiny Church.

    Rather than just deciding on one particular interpretation of Scripture and tradition, and saying this must be adhered to by all, the church allows quite a broad range within certain limits as you say. What those hallmark questions are is of course also up for debate!

    If one were to rid the church of churches unlike ones own (and sadly again people on both ends of the spectrum sometimes want to do this) this would be destroying the homes of many faithful, and many people seeking faith.

    It does worry me a little when I hear people at either end of the spectrum implying that the Body of Christ would be better without this part of it.. or that part of it! We who are many are one body 🙂

  • Glenn May 16, 2014, 11:48 pm

    I guess I worry when you say it’s great to have a range of theology that is “vast.” That sounds pretty big.

    As I’ve said, yep, it’s great to have liberty in what we believe – beyond a common core. But if everything is non-essential, then I think you’re painting the church you want rather than the church that is and should be (I mean the proverbial “you”).

    Of course as an Evangelical I affirm that we who are many are one body. That’s St Paul’s comment. But when he said it, he was not talking about sets of beliefs. he was talking about gifts or talents that we use to edify the wider church. When it comes to matters of theology Paul stressed unity far more than diversity.

    If memory serves, Max, I know you don’t like “meta” comments about comments. (I remember you being driven wild when Matt would suggest that your comment set out a standard that the comment itself failed to meet, for example.) But a meta-comment does apply here. You say that the right thing for us to do is to celebrate a vast range of beliefs within the Church and not just those that I consider to be compatible with the historic Christian faith (or it least it looks like that’s what’s going on). But that is a pretty liberal perspective itself. In other words, that comment itself does not stand above the fray of liberal / Evangelical disagreements, but rather it expresses one of them. No doubt you do think that the wider church should adopt this liberal perspective, just as I think the Church should be Evangelical (and I say that historically in the relevant sense, it was). It’s all my conscience will allow me to think. 🙂 (Here I stand, I can do no other etc)

  • Mick May 17, 2014, 12:19 am

    I used to attend an Anglican church. Sometimes I wondered whether I was part of it or infiltrating it. The worship had a beautiful gravity but seriously evangelical ministers got clobbered. The dividing points were new birth, baptism in water and the Holy spirit.
    That’s about as foundational as you can get. Maintaining christian traditions and pastoral service is one thing, but you don’t learn your way into the kingdom. Its more a crisis than process but people were rarely if ever challenged on that. There was no great decision to leave on my part as work took me to another area.
    I wish you well and pray your decision is fruitful, but if ever the hierarchy try to reach accommodation and compromise with the very liberal minority instead of rebuking their nonsense….well, live chicks do not do well under a dead hen.

  • Glenn May 17, 2014, 12:30 am

    “The dividing points were new birth, baptism in water and the Holy spirit.”

    Mick: In what way? Some people think that if a person doubts that there needs to be a kind of “magic moment” when a person gets saved, then they don’t believe in the new birth (which I think is a seriously mistaken diagnosis).

    As for the baptism in the Holy Spirit, many Evangelicals are Pentecostal in their view of that, and others (the majority? not sure) are not. I am not, so I’m just curious what is meant here.

    And yeah, with all due respect to other commenters, it really is about the “hierarchy” (those who have been given the responsibility) having a a bit of tough love towards the liberal wing – and about the mainstream majority speaking out more so that the world knows their voice exists.

  • Max May 17, 2014, 12:32 am

    I don’t recall what I discussed with Matt several years ago!

    In this situation: I am not sure I was saying it is the right thing to do, as much as I was saying this in fact what is done. As I pointed out, liberals can be just as guilty of wanting to shut down certain voices as conservatives can be – so I am not convinced it is a liberal value to want to accept all ideas at all. Theoretically? Perhaps – but it is not my experience.

    I certainly think some things are essential. And certainly when one is baptized (or if it is a child being baptized if one is a guardian of the baptized) , confirmed, ordained, married, (etc.) a person affirms publicly an essential statement of faith. The common core is what is shared by everyone, and it is what holds together such a vast (I think that is the right word) body. I think there are actually more essential things in Anglicanism than in a lot of protestant churches. Certainly this is true of liturgy, which has quite strict rules, but the church also of course adheres to the creeds, has a canon book the size on a small encyclopedia, a catechism which lays out the essential beliefs of the Church. By no means do I think Anglicanism is a free-for-all think what you want kind of church. If it WAS then the sort of debabes which take place ay synod would not be needed at all. I wonder if the rather rigid set of things one has to sign up to allows for far ranging debate? There is perhaps a certain amount of security which hold everything together and allows for exploration and diversity.

    At General Synod one of the speakers pointed out that the reason why the debate (about same sex unions) was so hard was because of how much everyone (whatever opinion they held) valued the shared tradition of Anglicanism. It was not the differences which were most evident, but rather the shared common bond. A faith in the tradition we share, and a desire to love God and one another as Jesus loved us. How exactly to do this, and what Scripture says about it, and what tradition says about it (and in a three Tikanga church this gets very complex), was up for much debate (I imagine.. it was all in closed sessions) … but the common shared strength of being one body really did shine through. The fact that people with so many views ate together, had communion together, and socialized together, was wonderful to see.

    I hope you do feel at home, and that you feel that you have found a place to further explore your faith and to continue your ministry.

  • Glenn May 17, 2014, 12:49 am

    Max, I did think you were saying it was the right thing to do. Or at any rate, you said that you “encourage” me to do, and you’ve described it as being beneficial.

    But I’m glad we agree that there actually is a fairly rigid common core. And yes I share the desire for unity – but you know I’m a details person, and I just wouldn’t want anyone to think that “we who are many are one body” should ever be construed as a kind of endorsement of theological diversity. Context and all that. 🙂 It’s also not really enough (say I) to say that we are united and that’s the heart of it. We’re not just united to each other, but we’re united around someone (Christ) who is also an authority over us. I really do think the liberal wing so often takes issues that are about (or should be about) submission to Christ’s authority (and yes I think particular of the public comments from St Matthews in the city on same sex marriage) and makes them instead about accepting each other and being one, truly leaving the question of submission to biblical authority out of the issue entirely. We should want to be one under that authority and within the parameters it sets for us.

    But I’m pretty sure you already knew I think this way. 🙂

  • Max May 17, 2014, 1:05 am

    Sigh.. I forget to put my name in… click submit… click back.. and all the text (2 pages worth) is gone. Not gonna retype it tonight! Is this normal???

  • Max May 17, 2014, 1:13 am

    I will ask one question though before I go to sleep (I may retype stuff tomorrow):

    When you say ” those who have been given the responsibility, of having a a bit of tough love towards”.. I assume you are saying that in an episcopal church such as ours, the Bishops should man (and woman) up and just make a decision.

    Out of curiosity, what do you think the Bishops in our province would vote for if all other considerations were removed and they went with their own beliefs?

  • Francesca R May 17, 2014, 12:06 pm

    I am extremely taken aback that you’re going Anglican. What parish are you attending? How do you reconcile your views on women in leadership (iirc you’re a complementarian) with Anglicanism? One of my difficulties as a complementarian attending an Anglican church was/is that I have to sit in the services while a woman preaches.

    Also, as an aside, you believe that Jesus turned water into wine, walked on water, healed the lepers, died and was raised from the dead and then departed into the sky, but you think it is ridiculous to believe in the Pentecostal phenomena of speaking in tongues and hearing from God? Haha.

  • Max May 17, 2014, 12:11 pm

    And not only preaches but presides at the Eucharist. We also have female Bishops now as well.

  • Glenn May 17, 2014, 12:29 pm

    Francesca, given your laughter I’m not sure if you were really looking for a reply or mocking. (No offence intended. It’s hard to tell, but “Haha” is not a promising introduction)

    Why are you taken aback? I don’t necessarily try to reconcile everything I believe with everything believed and taught at the church I am with. I just say “Oh well, we do not see eye-to-eye and that is that, but I can live with it.”

    Your comments on Pentecostalism seem to miss the mark. It’s not that I think that God is not powerful enough to do those things. As you say, God can do all sorts of miraculous things. He’s pretty powerful. The issue is that I don’t think the people’s claims are genuine. There’s quite a difference.

    I mean, I could defend snake handlers using the method you used, saying “you believe that Jesus turned water into wine, walked on water, healed the lepers, died and was raised from the dead and then departed into the sky, but you think it is ridiculous to believe that God’s people handle snakes? Haha.”

  • Glenn May 17, 2014, 12:35 pm

    “Is this normal?”

    Yep. It’s a browser feature, not a feature of my blog. If you type text into a box at some point and then navigate (using forward and back arrows) back to that page, the text will be gone. You can get browser extensions that save text though. Maybe it’s providential though, because two pages of text is a bit of a drag to interact with in one hit in a blog conversation and I generally prefer not to.

    “what do you think the Bishops in our province would vote for if all other considerations were removed and they went with their own beliefs?”

    I don’t know at this stage. I’m new, and I haven’t yet gotten a feel for which dioceses are the liberal ones and which ones are the more historical / conservative ones. I should also point out that I didn’t say anything about just going with their beliefs (i.e. detached from church, Scripture etc). Indeed, that is exactly the problem that created the liberal tendencies in the first place, so I would not advocate that. Bishops, Archbishops, all of them, are likewise called to submission to Christ and Scripture.

    I also don’t labour under the illusion that right now at this moment, all of the Church leadership *has* that tough love and that submission to Christ and Scripture in order to hand it out to the parishes. Do they? Don’t they? I don’t know and wouldn’t presume to comment. I was talking about the ideal, not necessarily the reality as it is on the ground at present. Healing the structure takes time.

  • Francesca May 17, 2014, 12:51 pm

    Glenn, I didn’t say that I was taken aback in order to hurt your feelings. I have a lingering affiliation with the Anglican Church myself, as I alluded to in my post. But in my experience of Reformed churches Anglicans are a bit looked down on. I am happy that you don’t share these views.

    And, I am delighted that you are going to be joining the fray on marriage. We need people like you! The majority of the Anglican laity are conservative, but unfortunately liberal clergy have disproportionate representation at Synod. If you are going to pray one thing for the Anglican Church, I suggest praying about that, as I am. We cannot get rid of such people as they are going to have to vote themselves out, but anything is possible with God.

    And my comment on Pentecostalism was also not intended to hurt your feelings. I could have been much more offensive if I was actually trying to be offensive. But, to be blunt, the Anglican Church has been profoundly influenced by the Charismatic Renewal of the 1970s. All of the main evangelical parishes in Auckland are charismatic, and so are the evangelicals in the Affirm movement (which is essentially the Anglican evangelical alliance) who opposed same-sex marriage and blessings at Synod recently. If you’re going Anglican you are going to have to work with such people.

  • Max May 17, 2014, 1:10 pm

    A lot of “conservatives” tend to claim that they are the ones take Scripture seriously, and take the historical church seriously. It can be quite a surprise to them to find that the so called “Liberals” take an equally serious attitude to these things!

    People can, in your words, submit to Christ and Scripture and yet still come up with diametrically opposed conclusions. This is a blessing!

    Also historical and conservative are by no means always paired together in my experience.

  • Max May 17, 2014, 1:12 pm

    I also hear this line over and over that the “liberals” in the Anglican church are this small minority which is just over represented. I would love to see the statistics to back this up!

  • Francesca May 17, 2014, 1:28 pm

    “I also hear this line over and over that the “liberals” in the Anglican church are this small minority which is just over represented. I would love to see the statistics to back this up!”

    Well they are. I have no idea where I would find the statistics, but I can tell you off the top of my head that of the Auckland churches in Auckland St George’s, St Margaret’s, St Chad’s, St Paul’s, Birkdale Anglican and St Mary by the Sea are evangelical, while only St Luke’s and St Matthew’s are liberal (St Andrews is on the way though.) The vicar of St George’s told me recently that it has over 400 churchgoers, and I know from having attended it that the 6pm service of St Paul’s alone attracts at least 500 people (probably more.) That’s not counting the morning services which I have not attended. By contrast, I am told St Matthews’ congregation numbers only 100. Dead Christianity has never held much fascination for most people. Look at the Episcopalians in the US.

  • Glenn May 17, 2014, 1:33 pm

    FWIW…. there were no hurt feelings. I just thought I detected a bit of scorn and clearly I misread that. Glad to see I was wrong, Francesca.

    “historical and conservative are by no means always paired together in my experience”

    Perhaps not, Max – although I’m pleased you said “always.” Generally (i.e. in the majority of instances) they are paired together. I hope we can all see with relative clarity that on the issue of same sex marriage, the conservatives are absolutely the ones who uphold the historical Christian position. They also take the biblical position.

  • Max May 17, 2014, 1:45 pm

    I would be reluctant to call the faith of fellow Christians “dead” or their church “dead” as long as their are people gathering together to worship.

    I don’t think that anecdotal evidence is of much use in any case. The odd thing you find in a lot of large Anglican churches which have a lot of young people in them is that the youth tend to be quite open to gay marriage and other so-called liberal values, but attend the Evangelically styled worship because it has a musical style they prefer… but again – this anecdotal evidence is not very informative.

    I think the idea that it is just a small number of agitating liberals in an otherwise conservative church needs to be backed up rather than just stated with no evidence.

  • Max May 17, 2014, 1:50 pm

    “I hope we can all see with relative clarity that on the issue of same sex marriage, the conservatives are absolutely the ones who uphold the historical Christian position. They also take the biblical position.”

    Well… no… because this is the very question up for debate! lol. You are declaring victory before the starting pistol has fired! (Or was this just a wind up?)

    Of course liberals also claim to have Biblical support for their view! Of course liberals claim that their views best reflect church traditions!

    So no.. we don’t all agree on this at all! lol. Or there would be no debate.

  • Francesca May 17, 2014, 1:59 pm

    Any form of “Christianity” which claims that the Resurrection is a metaphor and that God is the “idea of love” is dead as far as I am concerned, Max.

  • Max May 17, 2014, 2:09 pm

    I believe that God’s presence is in all of our churches, and that when people take communion together in all of our churches they encounter Christ. When they share the peace with one another, Jesus shares his peace with them. When they pray together, God hears them. Whatever the people in the church happen to be thinking, and even what the priest may happen to believe does not undermine the power of God in that place.

    So – no – I don’t think that even your hypothetical church is dead.

  • Giles May 17, 2014, 2:18 pm

    Well I would go further than Max, and out myself as a heretic. I would say that wherever Love is there is God also. I believe God is essentially love (sometimes tough love) and if you haven’t concluded that you have just missed the punchline of the Bible, with all respect to such brilliant exegetes as Glenn and NTWright. True religion is to succour widows and orphans, and to keep oneself unsullied by the world. Jesus didn’t say to the sheep “blessed are you because you believed the doctrine of the Trinity”. But Liberals can’t go around changing the bases of faith. If you are a Spong or a Cupitt you are in the wrong job.

  • Chris May 17, 2014, 2:21 pm

    Why don’t Anglicans play chess? They can’t tell the difference between a bishop and a queen.

    Sorry 😉

  • Glenn May 17, 2014, 3:27 pm

    “Well… no… because this is the very question up for debate! lol. You are declaring victory before the starting pistol has fired! (Or was this just a wind up?)”

    No, not at all. I was just hoping (genuinely hoping) that we could all see that the “conservatives” actually do uphold the historic Christian position on marriage (and the biblical one).

    I didn’t realise that this was being debated between the two of us (in fact thus far it hasn’t been the subject of debate in this thread at all), and was hoping that you do see this. Do you not? Most people do – even many liberals, actually, who take the stance that it may be historical and it may be biblical, but it’s wrong, because, they may maintain, Scripture and tradition can err, so we need to move on and develop a faith that meets today’s needs.

  • Max May 17, 2014, 3:51 pm

    “I didn’t realize that this was being debated between the two of us (in fact thus far it hasn’t been the subject of debate in this thread at all)”

    It is not being debated between the two of us. It is certainly being debated though. I think that conservatives uphold a position which is consistent a reading of Scripture. I don’t necessarily think it is the only position consistent with Scripture. I know many liberals who would say their position is supported by scripture, tradition, and reason.

    But no – I don’t really want to get into a debate about it. I am happy with the tension which exists at the moment. Personally I think there are a lot more important issues for the Anglican church to concern itself with and am rather weary of this debate after years of it. I will be even more weary of it by next Synod I expect.

  • Glenn May 17, 2014, 4:22 pm

    Agreed on the last point – it shouldn’t keep coming up for debate. 🙂

  • James May 18, 2014, 6:03 am

    I have intended on going into ministry for several years now, and after some thinking over the past year I have decided to change from the Baptist rout to the Episcopalian one. The topics you have brought up in the last two posts cover a lot of what I have been concerned with since becoming involved in the Anglican tradition.

    I did have a bit of a crisis of conscience recently concerning the prevalence of heavy liberalism, which is especially manifest at the Episcopalian Student Center at my university. There is someone who is adamantly pro-choice, another who is an open lesbian, and it is led by a female priest. When taking communion and participating in services there, I really question if that is how the Church is supposed to look. When I took a look at the doctrines of the Orthodox Church, I found it very appealing that they actually took stances on these issues without adding too much outside the basics of Christianity like the RCC does (such as celibacy for ordination, Papal authority, no contraception, and no divorce). However, I’m pretty uncomfortable with their intercessory prayers through the saints, as well as with their harsh rule on exclusive access to the Eucharist. Something tells me I would not be able to be an Orthodox priest and get away with not participating in those intercessory prayers!

    I have joined a parish I really like and still keep good relations with my Baptist friends. It was a nice surprise to see my favorite blogger have a shared experience, and I look forward to your future posts concerning the Anglican Church.

  • Glenn May 18, 2014, 12:30 pm

    Somebody via social media has claimed that in this blog post I have “rubbished” other denominations.

    I’m pleased that nobody here in this discussion thread has suggested this, and on reviewing the blog post itself I am absolutely certain that this never happened.

  • Kenneth May 18, 2014, 12:55 pm

    Rubbished other denominations?

    Wow… some people will look for a negative (whether real or imagined) in everyone’s positive story.

  • Max May 18, 2014, 12:55 pm

    I don’t think you have. You have said that Anglicanism appeals to you personally, and described why… don’t worry about it.

  • Blair May 21, 2014, 3:08 pm

    When I took a look at the doctrines of the Orthodox Church, I found it very appealing that they actually took stances on these issues without adding too much outside the basics of Christianity like the RCC does (such as celibacy for ordination, Papal authority, no contraception, and no divorce). However, I’m pretty uncomfortable with their intercessory prayers through the saints, as well as with their harsh rule on exclusive access to the Eucharist. Something tells me I would not be able to be an Orthodox priest and get away with not participating in those intercessory prayers!

    I think in a Western context, Anglicanism is the closest one can get to being Orthodox. So I think Glenn’s move is positive from that perspective. I think joining a church to be a priest is probably one of the crappier reasons for joining a church – just saying – but okay, whatever, it’s better than staying put.

    James – In becoming Orthodox, I actually found the intercession of the Saints a pretty easy doctrine to take on (the Mariology, Soteriology, and the doctrine of Theosis were much harder). If God is the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob, the God of not the dead but of the living, are they really preserved in amber, or can they be part of our existence? Do they see and hear us or not (or at least, are they capable of it?). If not, then what are we saying? Do the dead not rise? Does Christ not save his elect? It was easy for me to negate these ideas and say that of course, the reposed are with the Lord, and if they are with the Lord and moving about and capable of hearing and seeing us, is it really any different to ask for their prayers than to ask our living, God-fearing grannies to pray for us? Of course it is not. In fact, it is better (unless your granny is super-spiritual!).

    You might be surprised to know that as an Orthodox Priest, there’s very little invocation of Saints in a liturgical context. There is more of the Theotokos (Mary), but even then, not excessive. The prayers to the Saints are sporadic, and generally taken by the choir/congregation, not the Priest, and the language is not careless but specific to give Glory first to God. You can search any of the hymns to Orthodox Saints online. The Priest does not really deal with it. In my personal prayers, most of them are directly to the Godhead. Any prayers to Saints mostly follow the pattern “Pray unto God for me, Holy Saint Philip, well pleasing to God, for I turn unto thee, who art the speedy helper and intercessor of my soul.” Nobody treats them like gods or godesses.

    As for the zealous guarding of the Eucharist – believe me, I have spent nearly a year and a half attending an Orthodox church without being able to join the conga line, and it has been hard. But if I can paraphrase my Priest – if you can’t have sex with someone else’s wife, why should you partake of another Church’s sacrament? It’s the same thing. You have to be in a covenant relationship to partake – in both cases. It is freely offered, but you have to be part of the Church first. Nobody who truly seeks is refused.

  • James May 21, 2014, 7:31 pm

    I’d like to think I’m not just choosing churches to be a priest in. It’s just that the call to church ministry has made it a more urgent issue since I have to go through the process of seminary and ordination in the upcoming years. My current religious studies also bring up the issue naturally.

    Here’s the issue I have- Even if the intercession of Saints is valid and real, it is not an essential doctrine of the Christian faith and it is not a central part of the Christian life. If that were the case, the practice would have been mentioned somewhere in the large collection of scriptures we have in the Bible covering thousands of years of interaction with God from the perspectives of many people. Yet, I don’t think I could join the Orthodox Church without participating, and because of that I am cut off from your Eucharist. So it seems like you restrict people from the Eucharist for matters of conscience that are not essential to the Christian faith.

    You can accuse this of being subjective, but I’m still going to say it so you can better understand my reservations. From what I have experienced in my faith life, it is very difficult for me to accept that I am not one of God’s covenant people. I have many Christian friends in whom I have recognized that shared experience. Not a single one of them is Orthodox. I think it is wrong to refuse the communion to members of the Body, and to sever myself from every brother and sister in Christ I have ever personally known. I’d even prefer to run the risk of being too inclusive to avoid the danger of being too exclusive.

    I’ve actually been working on a master plan that would be interesting if followed through. Have a breakoff group from the Anglican Church and call it the Western Orthodox Church, then seek communion with the Eastern Orthodox Church. Doing so would grant historical-Christian Anglicans the legitimacy they would need to form a breakoff group, as well as grant the Eastern Orthodox Church the international status it needs to better represent the Body of Christ. Brilliant, isn’t it? 🙂

  • Kenneth May 21, 2014, 9:47 pm

    Glenn related:

    For the last year or so I’ve had an eye on the Anglican Church, and I haven’t even been one hundred percent sure why. I even remarked on Facebook some time last year (I forget exactly when), “I could totally go Anglican.” I haven’t thought a lot about the sorts of factors I’m talking about in this blog post, but maybe they were lurking in the subconscious. But just recently – in the last few months – I’ve been overcome with the impression, not an audible voice (that would be annoying and creepy), but something more influential. Go into ministry. And just as a person who believes in God usually doesn’t just believe in a generic concept of God but in a particular God (in my case, God as revealed in the person of Jesus of Nazareth), so too this was not just a generic “ministry” but a specific embodiment of ministry: Go into Anglican ministry.

    So there had been a previous inkling to go into ministry, there had been a fondness for Anglicanism, and then, Glenn believes, a clearer call to pursue ministry in an Anglican setting.

    James then shared this:

    I have intended on going into ministry for several years now, and after some thinking over the past year I have decided to change from the Baptist rout to the Episcopalian one. The topics you have brought up in the last two posts cover a lot of what I have been concerned with since becoming involved in the Anglican tradition.

    So here there was a desire to go into ministry, and then a desire to be part of the Anglican tradition.

    I’m really encouraged to see the call of God in the lives of people like this. And then this from Blair:
    “I think joining a church to be a priest is probably one of the crappier reasons for joining a church – just saying – but okay, whatever, it’s better than staying put.”

    I hope that the gift of taking a dump in other people’s punch bowl isn’t something they teach in Orthodox Churches (I doubt it), but Blair, you’ve got the gift.

    What is more, you can’t (shouldn’t) go into the ministry outside of a church, so if you have the desire to do so, becoming part of a church certainly looks like the way to go. And if these men should not do it in the church to which they feel drawn, then pray tell, where should they do it?

  • Paul May 21, 2014, 11:38 pm

    Hi Glenn,

    I was wondering how the Anglican church in New Zealand compares to Sydney. In our diocese, Anglicans are very evangelical, though I hear that’s not the case in many parts of Australia.

  • Glenn May 22, 2014, 4:23 pm

    Paul, yes, the reputation of the Sydney Diocese reaches far and wide. 🙂

    I’m still getting a feel for which patches are evangelical and which are liberal over here. Our local parish is certainly evangelical, and I know the Nelson Diocese is very Evangelical, but I’m still a bit green.

  • Max May 22, 2014, 8:08 pm

    My impression is that the battle war over gay marriage/ordination has been won by those in favour. There are still some battles going on, for sure, but inevitably the Anglican church will end up ordaining and blessing gay couples (possibly marriage.. but not sure on that).

    I expect that the more extreme Evangelicals will end up leaving the Anglican church, but most moderate parishes (which are the majority, with a small number of very Evangelical or very Liberal etc churches on the side) will stay and accept if not fully embrace the new status quo.

    I am not saying this is what should happen – but from the way things are panning out this is my prediction.

  • Francesca May 22, 2014, 9:15 pm

    The liberals have influence at synod, six out of seven bishops, the majority of the clergy and the support of secular society and the media. We have God. I’ll take those odds.

  • Max May 22, 2014, 9:31 pm

    So you are saying the Anglican Bishops are not doing God’s work?

  • Glenn May 22, 2014, 10:00 pm

    Max, my take is that they want to do God’s work, part of what they do is God’s work, but they are certainly fallible. You can certainly maintain this and believe that on this issue, some of the bishops have God against them (I know you were asking Francesca, but meh).

  • Max May 23, 2014, 3:12 am

    I am sure God is not “against” any of our Bishops, or indeed any of his children. It is us who create divisions and camps and sides… not God. To claim that “we have God on our side” (presumably with the implication that “they” don’t) is a dangerous road to start down. It risks not listening to others, or indeed not listening to God – for none of us know where he is leading his Church.

  • Brian May 23, 2014, 9:01 am

    Glen, I read part of your post and did not have the time to read all of the comments. I see that part of your reason for this decision is based on impressions. I would like to highly recommend a book called “Decision Making and the will of God” by Gary Friesen. In it he demonstrates how impressions cannot be biblically equated to biblical experiences were past believers have had devine direction from God. Please forgive any misspellings as I am typing this on my smart phone at work.

  • Blair May 23, 2014, 3:46 pm

    Kenneth, you said: “So here there was a desire to go into ministry, and then a desire to be part of the Anglican tradition.

    I’m really encouraged to see the call of God in the lives of people like this. And then this from Blair:
    “I think joining a church to be a priest is probably one of the crappier reasons for joining a church – just saying – but okay, whatever, it’s better than staying put.”

    I hope that the gift of taking a dump in other people’s punch bowl isn’t something they teach in Orthodox Churches (I doubt it), but Blair, you’ve got the gift.”

    I’ll confess to saying it with a bit of snark. Forgive me for being judgmental. I should not be questioning anyone’s motives. But if we’re going to talk in general terms (and not about Glenn or anyone else specifically), I could have been a lot more forthright.

    Seriously, to join a church with the motive of being a Priest or Pastor in that church is just disgusting. Immoral. Prideful. And very much putting the cart before the horse. That someone would want to teach and lead a group of people before they are even a member or a communicant with that group? That’s just arrogant!

    I’m pretty sure if I had told my Priest that I wanted to be Orthodox because I wanted to join the clergy, he would have politely told me that perhaps I should spend more time as a catechumen so that I could better understand what following Christ meant. Christianity 101 is to humble oneself before God and before your brothers and sisters in Christ, to build relationships with God and with them, to serve them. Only having served can one deign to lead.

    I’m not suggesting at all that Glenn has this attitude, but I hope that anyone wanting to become a Priest would first worry about being a good layman in that church. Pay your dues, in other words.

    What is more, you can’t (shouldn’t) go into the ministry outside of a church, so if you have the desire to do so, becoming part of a church certainly looks like the way to go. And if these men should not do it in the church to which they feel drawn, then pray tell, where should they do it?

    Well I’d hope anyone wanting to be in ministry would already be part of a church! And being part of that church, why not be in ministry in that church? To jump to another church suggests political problems with entering ministry in that church, which, again, suggests the requisite humility is not in evidence.

    I’m not trying to crap in anyone’s punchbowl here, just pointing out some things that I thought were obvious, or should be obvious. Join a church not because you want to be a Priest, but because God is there and because it is where God will heal your soul and body. “Then will you teach transgressors His ways, and the impious shall be converted unto Him”.

  • Max May 23, 2014, 4:05 pm

    “Seriously, to join a church with the motive of being a Priest or Pastor in that church is just disgusting. Immoral. Prideful. And very much putting the cart before the horse. That someone would want to teach and lead a group of people before they are even a member or a communicant with that group? That’s just arrogant!”

    But surprisingly common. I have met several people who follow exactly this path. I have also met several people who are happy to be in training for Anglican ordination while rejecting or seeing as irrelevant the majority of Anglican tradition. One interesting fact is that in New Zealand people seeking ordination in the Anglican church can get (i) free education (ii) stipends. These are harder to come by in some other christian traditions. If I were a cynical person, I am not sure what conclusion I would reach. But I trust God knows what he is doing in calling these people.

  • Max May 23, 2014, 4:50 pm

    To see it from another perspective, however: It is not impossible that God would be choosing to strengthen the Anglican church by drawing in people from other traditions, and that he has given these people a clear calling that it is within this organization that they are called to be ministers or even priests. If that is the calling a person genuinely feels.. I wonder if it is arrogant to tell people this?

  • Blair May 23, 2014, 5:48 pm

    James said: “Even if the intercession of Saints is valid and real, it is not an essential doctrine of the Christian faith and it is not a central part of the Christian life. If that were the case, the practice would have been mentioned somewhere in the large collection of scriptures we have in the Bible covering thousands of years of interaction with God from the perspectives of many people. Yet, I don’t think I could join the Orthodox Church without participating, and because of that I am cut off from your Eucharist. So it seems like you restrict people from the Eucharist for matters of conscience that are not essential to the Christian faith.

    I could continue to argue this point, but I don’t want to veer off topic on the thread. But I will say that you could, in theory, not participate in prayers and hymns to Saints, as this is not, in itself, a core dogma of the Orthodox Church. Really, if you have any interest in Orthodoxy, I would say that rather than read up on doctrines, practices and theology, the best way to learn about it is simpy to go to a Divine Liturgy service. Orthodoxy is very much an experiential Tradition of the Faith which can only truly be understood by participation, rather than intellectual exercise. (I’d recommend Antiochian churches, as their services are usually mostly in English). And you will receive the Blessed Bread at the end, which comes from the same loaf as the Eucharistic Lamb, even if you won’t yet be able to partake of the Eucharist itself.

    You can accuse this of being subjective, but I’m still going to say it so you can better understand my reservations. From what I have experienced in my faith life, it is very difficult for me to accept that I am not one of God’s covenant people. I have many Christian friends in whom I have recognized that shared experience. Not a single one of them is Orthodox. I think it is wrong to refuse the communion to members of the Body, and to sever myself from every brother and sister in Christ I have ever personally known. I’d even prefer to run the risk of being too inclusive to avoid the danger of being too exclusive.

    As Orthodox, we believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist (supposedly, so do Anglicans). We believe it has real power to heal the worthy and condemn the unworthy. In that sense, we’d rather run the risk of being too exclusive for the good of those who seek it. We don’t give it to everyone because (and there really is no other way of putting it) not everyone is in communion with us! If you believe the same Orthodox dogma that we believe, then come on in, we’ll Chrismate you, and you can commune. If you don’t, and you hold to heterodox or heretical views about Christ or the Trinity, then you are by definition, not “in common”, in communion, with us, and to offer you the Eucharist would be a grave sin on our part. It would be pretending that the communion is there when it is not.

    This is, it must be stressed, not a judgment at all on the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of any heterodox Christian, their salvation, their eternal destiny, or anything like that. My parents remain Brethren and they, from what I can tell, are far better Christians, and probably far closer to God than I am, and I would say the same of many other Protestants I know. The grace of God and the Spirit of God is definitely at work in those churches. But we do not believe in the invisible Church in Orthodoxy, we believe in the visible, One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, and that membership of that Church consists of orthodox (and Orthodox) faith.

    I’ve actually been working on a master plan that would be interesting if followed through. Have a breakoff group from the Anglican Church and call it the Western Orthodox Church, then seek communion with the Eastern Orthodox Church. Doing so would grant historical-Christian Anglicans the legitimacy they would need to form a breakoff group, as well as grant the Eastern Orthodox Church the international status it needs to better represent the Body of Christ. Brilliant, isn’t it? 🙂

    There have already been several congregations in the Anglican communion who have become Orthodox, and personally I would be delighted to see more. But to be Orthodox is to be orthodox, of course – you can’t just “agree to disagree” on stuff, which seems to be the hallmark of Anglicanism these days. There are actually quite a few Western Rite churches within Orthodoxy that do an “Orthodoxified” version of the Anglican/Catholic Mass (rather than the Byzantine Divine Liturgy as is the norm) so any breakaway Anglican group could potentially fit right into that.

  • Blair May 23, 2014, 6:40 pm

    To see it from another perspective, however: It is not impossible that God would be choosing to strengthen the Anglican church by drawing in people from other traditions, and that he has given these people a clear calling that it is within this organization that they are called to be ministers or even priests. If that is the calling a person genuinely feels.. I wonder if it is arrogant to tell people this?

    Arrogant to suggest that someone’s “feels” might just be their feels and not God talking to them? Nope, I’m just asking the questions. Fill in the blanks and wear the cap if it fits.

    People should be Anglican if they believe those 39 doodads (I’ll confess to not even knowing what they are at this point!) and if they believe God is there and will use the Anglican church to heal their soul and body. If you don’t, then what are you doing anywhere near it?! I mean, sheesh, have some standards! Would you join a mosque just for the paid tuition? Well don’t become Anglican then!

    Honestly, I believe that this gay marriage/gay bishop stuff has crept in precisely because people have looked at the Anglican church and seen a vehicle for their own agenda, not because they see the Truth of the Gospel in its precepts. If you are going to be Anglican, then really, truly believe in Anglicanism, not some vague notion that here is an empty vessel that one can fill with whatever one wants and get a fancy ecclesiastical title therein.

  • Glenn May 23, 2014, 6:51 pm

    “not some vague notion that here is an empty vessel that one can fill with whatever one wants and get a fancy ecclesiastical title therein.”

    Who said that’s what they wanted? Presumably you are responding to somebody here. And I’d rather not have some vague, “Oh, I formed that impression.” Who said it? You’ve been a bit of a negative Nancy here (and I say that partly because you tend to be fairly hostile often when you comment on various posts, and at other blogs too) – Kenneth summed it up well. But honestly, Blair, whoever suggested anything like what you’re proposed in this graceless remark?

    “Join a church not because you want to be a Priest, but because God is there and because it is where God will heal your soul and body.”

    This is surely a false dichotomy, as though people can desire to be in full time ministry, or they can desire to be where God will heal you, but a person cannot desire both. This does not make sense. And again, if a person feels called to go into ministry, what should they do? Start a new Church? Really? Or maybe they should look to do it in a Church where they believe God is, etc.

    “Seriously, to join a church with the motive of being a Priest or Pastor in that church is just disgusting. Immoral. Prideful.”

    Blair, your remarks in that post make it sound like you are intentionally misconstruing what I have said. Your view that God doesn’t call people to a vocation and to a new place where they should live out that vocation seems to me to be inconsistent with the Orthodox belief in the work of the Holy Spirit. It’s also not really fair to suggest that I don’t even so much as know what Anglicans believe and teach. Why make such an uncharitable assumption of me? How could I even entertain these plans unless I realised that? I assume your comments on this blog post are related to it (namely to my own situation).

    I’m happy to report that every Anglican clergy person with whom I have explained what I explain in this blog post – historically orthodox, evangelical Anglicans as it turns out – was delighted. They are people who have a strong belief that God does indeed call people into ministry, and people don’t earn a right to it by virtue of pedigree, provided they are willing to be taught and trained as needed. It’s interesting that somebody without an interest in Anglicanism is so troubled by the fact that people could see things this way.

  • Kenneth May 23, 2014, 7:23 pm

    I do find it somewhat interesting that Blair ostensibly hails from the orthodox tradition where experiencing God is emphasised, and even in this thread he stresses the experiential nature of his faith – but when it comes to people outside of the Orthodox tradition sharing the call of God as they believe they have encountered it, he flippantly dismisses it as “feels.”

    Blair, God works outside of the Orthodox Churches. That may be counterintuitive to you. Maybe, I don’t know. But it just might be true.

  • Max May 23, 2014, 7:55 pm

    Not sure why you took exception to the word “feels”. When people get married it is because they feel they are called to that vocation, when they are baptized it is because they feel that god is calling them into the body of Christ (or confirmation if you please…)

    I am not sure how else one would discern a call from good apart from via ones own perceptions. I personally did not have a voice boom down from heaven, but did have to rely on “feelings”… with of course the conviction that my feelings, as with the rest of my life, is in under God’s control.

    Yes it is always possible, I suppose, that ones own feelings might be just that – and nothing to do with God. In the same way that it is possible to confuse lust and love and thing we are called to be with someone joined in marriage when really it is something else.

    And so in the Anglican church, we have a discernment process, which involves spiritual reflection, mentorship, and an examination of our relationship with God. Some people will enter this process and then later decide themselves that they are actually called to serve the church as lay people. Others, the Church decides are not ready for ordination. Others are sent for training of various kinds… as I am sure is the practice in the Orthodox church.

    To say “I feel this” therefore I am certain I will be a priest might be arrogant. No one has said this though. To do the opposite, and reject everyone who senses a call without testing it, because to sense of feel this is “arrogant” would mean we have seen the last generation of clergy…

  • Giles May 23, 2014, 8:47 pm

    Glenn has said he embraces Anglican doctrine. I read the 39 articles and the bit on salvation certainly did sound Calvinist. You don’t have to accept all 39 anyway, just the spirit. Some take the piss like Spong and Cupitt, denying letter and spirit but Glenn will be far closer to Anglican orthodoxy than most. He’s so obviously not after the pitiful stipend, why even raise that?

  • Glenn May 23, 2014, 10:10 pm

    It’s a coincidence (if there be any such thing!) that this sort of comment should come up today. Since posting my last comment here, the parish vicar paid us a visit. We had chatted with him previously and tonight was the first serious talk about us coming over to the Church and also about my ministry inclination. It really did underscore for me that the response is one of welcome and encouragement, both of our decision to start worshipping here but also to move toward some form of ministry here (like all people who show an interest in ministry, there would be a period and process of discernment that the Church would engage in with the potential candidate).

    If the reaction I had been getting from the Church itself was to find my approach and desire to be sinful and prideful etc then that would give me significant pause. But the reverse is true, as it turns out, which I may even be tempted to feel (gasp!) is supportive and maybe even offers some confirmation of our “feels.”

  • Mick May 23, 2014, 11:33 pm

    Glen, according to Paul in his letter to Timothy you desire a good thing…
    “1This is a trustworthy saying, that if a man desires Eldership, he desires a good work. 2And an Elder ought to be one in whom no fault is found and is the husband of one woman, is of a vigilant mind, sober, orderly, loves strangers and is a teacher; 3And he does not transgress concerning wine and his hand is not swift to strike*, but he should be humble, not contentious, neither a lover of money, 4And he governs his house well, and holds his children in subjection with all purity. 5For if he does not know how to lead his own household well, how can he lead the Church of God? 6Neither should he be a young disciple*, lest he be lifted up and would fall into the judgment of Satan*; 7He ought to have an excellent testimony from outsiders, lest he fall into shame and into the trap of Satan.”

    The qualifications of your desire are there for you and the appropriate others to evaluate. There are people who need you, and people who will oppose you. They will be both ‘above’ and ‘below’ you, but if you enter the field as a servant of God, not of ambition, who can gainsay anything?

    Honour Him, He will honour you.

  • Blair May 24, 2014, 1:15 am

    I’m genuinely shocked at the response to my comment, which was in response to max’s description of the reason SOME people train for Anglican ordination. I’m even more shocked nobody has an issue with people like that. Then Glenn, for reasons beyond me, took it to be all about him. This is all very weird stuff. I’m just trying to have a very general conversation and people are taking it so very personally. Please don’t. That wasn’t the purpose or spirit in which I wrote.

    Furthermore, I thought my simple statement that sometimes a feeling is just a feeling, and not God talking to you, was more than obvious. But no, more disproportionate outrage, and I get accused of all sorts of badness. Very curious.

  • Glenn May 24, 2014, 2:18 am

    “Seriously, to join a church with the motive of being a Priest or Pastor in that church is just disgusting. Immoral. Prideful.”

    Blair, this was in response to Kenneth (you even quoted him), who was describing what I and James had related about our own decisions and journey. It was not in reply to Max speaking of some hypothetical people. Go back up and have a look.

    Is this latest comment your way of taking back that reaction? I do hope so.

  • Blair May 24, 2014, 2:40 am

    Yes and I made it clear (twice) in the same comment that my strong views on that motivation for joining a church in no way necessarily applied to you. My apologies if that was inadequately conveyed. If you feel an earnest call to this ministry, then all blessings to you!

  • Glenn May 24, 2014, 1:15 pm

    Thanks Blair.

  • Rodney June 6, 2014, 1:53 pm

    Good on you Glenn! Thanks for sharing your heart in this post – it’s nice to get to know you better through it. May the changes ahead for you and your family bring you all closer to God and allow you to better serve His Church for His Glory.

  • Nolan June 11, 2014, 5:07 am

    Congrats Glenn!!!

    Here’s to hoping though that you do make a ‘return to Rome’ 🙂

  • James June 23, 2014, 7:02 pm

    Hey Blair, I thought you might be interested in knowing that I’ve gone ahead and decided to join the Orthodox Church. Your comments may have even been a helpful nudge. I actually just started a blog with the first post covering my reflections on that decision, which should be linked to my name now. I’ve been wanting to start a blog for a while, but was worried I wouldn’t be able to come up with enough valuable material to justify it. Looking at the Orthodox Church has set off a catalyst in my thought life, so now I have sufficient motivation.

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