Category Image Why We Are Doing This

It's at times challenging to discuss our reasons for leaving the ECUSA. Yes, we haven't left yet, but its the likely outcome. People ask me what led us to the decision, and I have an answer - usually several. However, I always feel that I come off a bit acrimonious.

The most common reaction people have is that I must be leaving in response to the departure of both St. Anne's in Oceanside from the Episcopal Church , and Christ the King in Alpine . There is a certain amount of truth to that, especially St. Anne's, but for reasons other than you might guess. For a long time it has been obvious that the Episcopal Church, by and large, believes things not only other than what I believe, but often in direct contradiction. This is in reference to all of the usual suspects, a disbelief in the Bible, dismissal of traditional Christian views on morality, etc. This has been going on for a while, and I was willing to stay and fight the fight. Keep on teaching an Orthodox/Catholic style of Anglicanism. However, the Lord placed along the way, people who were willing to raise some critical questions about what I was willing to do to fight the fight.

I found myself a member of the American Anglican Council for quite a while, buying off on the notion that at least we agree on some things. But then I began to think that no, I can't support women's ordination, I can't really support evangelicalism. I can only agree to the statement of faith that the AAC requires you to agree to if I sort of close my eyes and plug my nose. So, I left that organization, and decided to support Forward in Faith again. This supposed AngloCatholic group I left several years ago over frustration that they seemed to be a two issue group. The issue was not women's ordination, nor morality, but in fact the Catholic Faith. If you adhere to that, including all that comes with it, peripheral issues like who can be a priest are effectively decided already. So I went to return only to discover that they now only really needed you to support two sacraments (per the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral). Agreeing to the statement, however means that you are tacitly approving of people who think there are only two sacraments. Holy Orders, Marriage, Unction, Confession, and Confirmation are no longer considered important. That's not AngloCatholic. That's ecumenical hogwash. But I joined anyways - intent on remaining blind to where I was at.

So what St. Anne's did for me is that they made me realize something important. At first, when they left, after Christ the King, I realized that the whole thing is coming apart at the seams. However, as I reflected on St. Anne's departure, the thing that struck me was that I simply didn't care. Can you imagine? A "biblically orthodox" parish leaves the Episcopal Church and I don't care. The problem is that I don't believe much of what they do, any more than I believe much of what the rest of the Episcopal Church does. I don't believe in the Bible alone. I don't believe in Faith alone. I believe in Baptismal regeneration. I believe in the real presence. I believe that we are saved through the Church. St. Anne's wouldn't agree with me on any of these I'm willing to bet. These are all serious, fundamental issues. I realized that I lacked intellectual integrity when I pretended that I was mostly like these people.

As I reflected, I realized that I don't agree with most of the Angican Communion on these key issues, and many more. I then looked around at my own "AngloCatholic" parish which for two years had done Lenten programs based on popular non-denominational works. I got to listen to Rick Warren proclaim that it doesn't matter how you worship. I listened to John Ortberg proclaim sleep as a spiritual discipline. Then I knew that this year we would be doing the Alpha program. I would be in another room somewhere on the campus teaching about Confession, or fasting, about the need to be alive in Christ (therefore in his Church) and grow or that we would end up not being one of the wheat when things are sorted out at the end. And I know that in that other room the group would be taught that they just needed to say the sinner's prayer, and they would be saved for all eternity. Not only is that belief wrong, it is outrageously dangerous.

I reflected on issues we've faced as a parish over the last several years and realized that there was a large contingent of folks who don't seem to believe much, just that they want things to be the way they were when they were growing up. So now we have a Church made up of "conservatives" and evangelicals, and I began to wonder where the AngloCatholics had gone. Surely there are some left, but many have gone to other places. Rome. Constantinople, mostly.

So then I had to ask, am I really Anglican anymore. Maybe there was a time 1,000 years ago, when I would have been a good Anglican. Back when Anglicanism was Orthodox. When the faithful worshiped God in Church because it was important to do so. When nobody questioned whether or not Jesus was truly present in the unbloody sacrifice of the altar. When everyone knew that baptism saved you. But realistically, not in the Church that arose from the rubble of the reformation. No, I'm not really that at all.

So finally I realized that maybe if it was just me, I would fight. I would stay and fight and maybe the day would come that Anglicanism would return to its roots. Not the roots of Peter Toon, but the real roots of the Church. However, I realized that the day would likely come, and relatively soon, that my children would ask why it is we don't believe the same things as the bishops we're called to obey. Why we don't believe the same things most everyone else at Church believes. I would have to answer, "because Dad is right and they're wrong." And we all know that every teenager in existence will agree with that, don't we.

So I've left some stuff out, because I do know this is a blog, and so it could be read by anyone. The theological chasm which divides Orthodoxy from the ECUSA is vast, so there is more I can say, but won't. If anyone has questions, they can e-mail, and I would be glad to discuss things further.

Posted: Tuesday - March 07, 2006 at 10:33 PM