Sunday, October 11, 2009

The journey away

My radio presets include a Protestant station (Family Radio) and Catholic station (EWTN). Flipping to EWTN on consecutive Mondays, I heard the weekly show “The Journey Home” (5pm PT, 8pm ET). The website lists the future schedule, while the EWTN RSS feed (podcasts) has links to MP3 files of past programs.

The theme of the show is that those (mostly Protestants) who convert to Catholicism are “coming home.” Like all inter-Christian evangelism, this is a theologically touchy topic, but I thought the (obviously Catholic) host handled the subject with dignity and respect.

That said, it was depressing that the two programs I heard were Anglicans (both with an Anglo-Catholic bent) who gave up on ECUSA/TEC and chose Rome over one of the Continuing Anglican groups. They (perhaps in keeping with the overall show theme) are highly intelligent, educated and articulate converts to Rome.

The September 28 show was an interview with Mary Moorman, who did her PhD dissertation at Southern Methodist U on the sale of indulgences — an improbable choice for a proto-Catholic if there ever was one. Apparently now she’s a prominent speaker in the Anglican Use movement of the US Catholic church.

Last week’s (Oct. 5) show was an interview with Dr. Scott Carson, a philosophy professor at Ohio University. Depressingly, when Carson was doing his PhD at UNC Chapel Hill, his parish priest was Bob Duncan — the same Bob Duncan who’s now the primate of ACNA. Carson thought Rev. Duncan was a great preacher, but that wasn’t enough to keep him in the Anglican faith.

Tomorrow’s (Oct. 12) show is said to be “Fr. Trevor Nicholls, Former Anglican Minister [sic].” (Side note: by denying the priesthood of Anglican clergy, the webmaster seems to minimize the decades of Anglo-Catholic dialog over recognition of Anglican orders.) Ordained a Catholic priest in 1990 by Cardinal O’Connor, Rev. Nicholls is one of the few Catholic priests with grandchildren.

This reminds me of how torn my wife and I have been facing the lousy choices presented by TEC’s recent theological decay. Of all the couple friends we have had since we were married, nearly all came from the ECUSA parish where we spent nearly 10 years of our earliest married days. Of the friends we made,
  • One family is Roman
  • Another is Greek Orthodox
  • Another is at a nondenominational Bible church
  • Another (the most “liberal”) moved away and is at a TEC parish
  • A few remain at our former ECUSA parish, which is becoming less orthodox and more “moderate”
The first rector has retired and his replacement is still there. Of the assistants who moved on, one is Antiochian Orthodox, one is a Catholic layman, one is a TAC priest who (with the rest of TAC) may become Anglican Use Catholic, one went to Ft. Worth (and I hope on to ACNA), and one is no longer in the ministry.

I think we’re the only ones among this group trying to stay Anglican by hanging on to the thin thread of Continuing Anglicanism — the rest would rather switch than fight. Will we give up Anglicanism too?

More generally, after 400+ years is this the beginning of the end of the historic Anglican faith in North America? And what does it say for the Anglo-Catholic faith elsewhere in the world — Australia, New Zealand and even England? The Anglican expression of the Christian faith may continue in the Global South, but much/most of this has an Evangelical rather than Anglo-Catholic orientation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The goal of Continuing Anglicanism is not to continue forever... the goal is to return home to Rome... To confirm this, one only needs to read the Affirmation of St. Louis-the founding document of continuing churches. —GT+ (TAC)