After 13 years in a Continuing Anglican Parish, I have decided to actually try to figure out what it means to be anglican. (Yes, I’m a little slow :whacky: ) My studies of the early church fathers and the current state of anglicanism has my husband and me really questioning if we should stay where we are. I have had more “lightbulb moments” than I can count as I have read about the early church - how they lived, worshipped, and believed - and the truth is I am really being drawn to Rome. My question for any anglicans reading this (specifically those who consider themselves anglo-catholics) is** how do you explain your willingness to stay within a denomination that continues to splinter and fracture**? I fear that sounds judgemental and that’s not my intent at all. I sincerely want to understand how a person can reconcile staying in such a fractured church with Jesus’s prayer that the church would be one as he and the Father are one. I sincerely appreciate any help in understanding this. I truly hope I have not offended anyone.
Good question. The answer, I suppose, is what the grounds are for the various splintering. If the grounds are based on doctrine, and you believe that the latest splinter is accurately teaching that doctrine while the larger Church is not (or has become apostate), then splintering is not necessarily bad. (Not necessarily good either since Christ willed us all to be one…as our Catholic friends will no doubt remind us). On the other hand, if the reason for the splintering is just a manifestation of personal politics and jurisdictional battles (which, while I am not very knowledgeable about the Continuing Anglican Communions, I have heard sometimes to be the case), then it is not very justifiable, is it? From my perspective, I left ECUSA more on theological grounds than because of the splintering of the Anglican tradition.
Good luck. There are a lot of very learned folks at these forums, Catholic, Anglican and Protestant, who can provide additional insight on your question.
I’m not Anglican, but I can refer you to someone who is: Edwin Tait. He’s a moderately traditional Anglican, and has written an article on his blog on why he remains within the Anglican communion, in spite of his misgivings:
I was born and raised as an orthodox Anglican, and am now Catholic. There are quite a few notable folks on the net who have good materials regarding the relationships and reasonings behind Anglicanism and Catholicism. Here are a few of the sites I enjoy:
Well, the best reason for staying anywhere is precisely to prevent further splintering. However, I do understand how difficult the situation is. I have not become a Continuing Anglican in large part because of their splintering (also because I believe in women’s ordination, though that wasn’t as much of an issue when I first considered the possibility). But since you already are one, arguably you can best serve the cause of unity by staying put.
I won’t quarrel with you if you choose to become Catholic or Orthodox, though. I myself am considering switching my official affiliation to Methodism (my wife’s denomination and my family’s original tradition–in fact my parents have returned to Methodism and this influences me considerably), though I would have to continue to attend Anglican churches in order to receive the sacraments more often than once a month!
And Catholicism and Orthodoxy never go away, do they? They’re always live options.
If you have any specific questions, I’d be happy to address them.
Pondering what you have just proposed, along with reading Acts 15 and other passages in the bible that convinced me of unity and authority, are the reasons I left the Anglican communion and became a Catholic 15 years ago.
I could not justify remaining separated from Rome.
Oh, hello Edwin. I didn’t know you were on this board. It’s good to see you here. I don’t think I’ve ever interacted with you, but I’ve read several of your posts on Steve Ray’s old Catholic Convert board- not the present one, but the one that was around 4 or 5 years ago, as well as several of your blog posts. In my opinion, your writing is very thoughtful, and I appreciate it.
I’m curious, since you’re considering changing your affiliation to Methodism (my parents’ denomination, btw), would you still stand by what you said in your post “In Defence of Rown Williams,” or have your views changed since then? Here’s the relevant part:
“My understanding of Anglicanism–the understanding that drew me to Anglicanism and has kept me precariously Anglicanism in spite of my many misgivings–is that Anglicanism affirms catholicity as the consensus of the entire People of God, ordered visibly according to the historic polity of the Church (i.e., the threefold order of bishops, priests, and deacons) but not vesting authority in any particular institution or organ within the Church. Bishops do not have the authority to invent their own faith.”
I would stand by it. I think the Methodist lack of episcopal succession is a serious defect, but I do not think (and did not think when I wrote those words) that it’s a fatal defect. In my opinion all communions have defects of one sort or another. Perfection is unattainable. I wouldn’t become Methodist because I think Methodism is superior to Anglicanism, but because the particular defects of the Wesleyan tradition are those I was handed when I embraced the Christian Faith (i.e., in my religious training in childhood), while I took on Anglicanism’s defects willingly.
On the other hand, I am Anglican now, and sometimes I think I should just stay put. I’m a very indecisive person, obviously. And practically speaking, this diocese (Northern Indiana) is pretty good.
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