Category Archives: Anglican Catholic

Three Streams?

Below is a comment I left on Virtueonline’s website, but it was not approved by their “moderator” because it was negative about charismatics. I stand by what I wrote and reproduce it here for your reading and commenting.

I’m afraid using the “three streams” approach is both misleading and inaccurate. The historic three “streams” in Anglicanism was loosely labeled “high,” “low,” and “broad” church, terms that actually did not well describe the positions of each school. The old broad churchmen, or latitudinarians, have faded into the mainstream of today’s C of E, P/ECUSA/TEC (or whatever 815 calls itself this week), AC of Canada, etc., the folk for whom what one believes, teaches, or practices is not nearly so important as being seen to be in the mainstream of today’s western civilization’s decline. The graciousness and broad-mindedness of Anglicanism, once one of our hallmarks, morphed into a total abandonment of morality now capped by a viciousness enforcing their new standards. This decline is no secret or surprise to any reader here.

With the third school’s abandonment of the Catholic and Apostolic faith and discipline, and one could argue, a total abandonment of Christianity altogether, there was a gap in terminology that some thought needed filling. The Catholic and Evangelical schools of Anglicanism had found their natural affinity when the non-Christians began tinkering with the liturgy and discarding Apostolic order so that the revisionist agenda could be achieved in Anglicanism. The resultant two-sided coin is the natural state of Christianity, the mutual interdependence of Word and Sacrament that is Anglicanism at its best. I disapprove of using the labels “evangelical” and “catholic” as both apply to the Anglican way, each without diminution of the other. But what about that “third stream?”

When the enthusiast movement began at the turn of the twentieth century, it found a ready home among the protestant fringes, but Anglicanism withstood its attacks for decades, until the erosion of the practice of weighing faith and practice by the Vincentian Canon—that which has been found in the Church everywhere, always, and by all. As some Anglicans fell to the attacks of the enthusiast movement, they believed and taught, falsely, that they were exhibiting the gifts (charismata) of the Holy Spirit in accordance with the phenomena seen at Pentecost, thus they labelled their movement as “charismatic” or “pentecostal,”  even though the hallmark of their movement is glossolalia and ecstatic utterances, practices from paganism sometimes seen in mental illness but that have never been part of historic Christianity.

Anglicanism. The fullness of the Christian faith in Word and Sacrament.


Parish Life

The other day I was looking for something–what, I now don’t recall–and I stumbled across the website of a parish we attended in the days B.S.–Before Seminary, that is. As I admired it and remembered with fondness the Episcopal Church that used to be, I happened to recall a conversation I once had with Brother John-Charles, the Franciscan who was also a bishop.

The good friar, may he rest in peace, observed that we Anglicans needed to recreate the old devotional societies that had fallen under the control of the new religion of 815. I allowed that he was correct, and the conversation moved on to other areas, but my wandering on the web reminded me of that conversation and more. Yes, we need versions of the old devotional societies that haven’t bent the knee to baal, but we need something else more urgently.

Before we work on those devotional societies, I contend that we need even more two organizations that are essential to the growth and health of a parish. First and most important is a women’s group analogous to the old ECW, an “ACW,” if you will. An ACW or Mothers’ Union is the backbone of a healthy parish and gives the women of a parish, who do, let’s face it, most of the work, a place to connect. I spoke about this need to a Jewish friend, who said, “you need a Hadassah.”

The second group that helps structure a parish is a men’s group. In one parish I attended as a layman, the men had affiliated with the Brotherhood of St. Andrew, a fine group we could emulate, without the pentecostal streak, of course. Or we could look to St. Joseph Covenant Keepers as a model.

A parish I once knew had an Anglican Catholic version of the Knights of Columbus, another good model to emulate.

Perhaps as we work for unity amongst Anglo-Catholics in the “G-4” we could develop some of these parish stand-bys.

G-4, or, a rose by any other name…

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

2017_Anglican_Joint_SynodsAlas (once you start quoting Shakespeare, it has an effect on your own word choices), the Bard may have just got this one wrong. To give some perhaps unneeded context, the four largest and most stable of the church bodies that form the majority of the so-called Anglican Continuum, the groups which trace their heritage through the St. Louis meeting over forty years ago, met last October in simultaneous synod and agreed in complete communio in sacris, full sacramental intercommunion and mutual recognition of validity of orders. There was more, but this was the big news eleven months ago. Some wag began referring to these four church bodies as the “G-4,” and the humorous nickname has stuck.

Although humorous, “G-4” is hardly descriptive and far from euphonious. One bishop has pointed out that this historic action has in effect already made us in these four jurisdictions into one church, sacramentally.  Think of it, already “one church, sacramentally.” It’s enough to give a simple country parson goosebumps. Thanks to the efforts of one parish, we even have a “G-4” parish cycle of prayer! The plan going forward, we are told, is that when the four bodies become one, none of the existing four heads of the bodies will be the head of the unified body. Such an agreement was probably necessary, simply for the sake of success. We’re all familiar with the quip that every time two church bodies merge, there emerge not one but three groups: the new merged body and two rumps! We pray that those days are behind us. (Pun intended.)

What hasn’t been discussed is what name might this new church body take? Forty years of history have seen tiny splinters and phony garage operations eating up nearly every possible combination of names and acronyms. Is there anything left, we have to ask? The odds are every desirable name is possessed, whether by a real organization or not, probably by a litigious attorney.

So can a name be chosen without any hint of triumphalism? Our history wouldn’t seem to suggest we are capable of such mature behavior. But if God is good–and He is–we can avoid crashing on this reef and act like Christians.

The bishops of the G-4 are meeting next month at St. Mary’s, Denver, a parish distinguished by a long history.  If I could whisper in their ears, I would suggest that a name should be chosen for the G-4 as soon as possible, so that we all have time to acclimate to it and maybe even begin using it.

Such a name must be both descriptive and accurate. Some might consider words like “Traditional” or “United,” both of which have been trademarked and made unavailable. Some would suggest “Anglo-Catholic,” but the prefix “Anglo-” looks to hispanic eyes as a racial designation, “whites only” sign that has no place in Christian life. Some might suggest the least complicated choice would be “Anglican Church in America.” Sadly, the Canterbury communion has so tarnished the word “Anglican” as to make its unmodified use untenable, forcing us to constantly distance ourselves from the organizations that have abandoned apostolic order and biblical morality.  I have a friend who thought out loud “American Catholic,” yet that, too, is taken and gone, probably for the best.

Our name must be simple. I would venture to be so bold as to hold that the best choice is for the new body to be called the “Anglican Catholic Church.” I suggest this not because I am a priest of that body, for I am not: I am a priest of the Anglican Church in America. I suggest it because it is what we are: Catholics of the Anglican variety. If the present Anglican Catholic Church could be persuaded to allow all of us to use that name, surely that would be a happy solution.

SSM Prays for Unity

This week, the four largest and most stable of the continuing Anglican jurisdictions are meeting in synod together in Atlanta. As a way of supporting this monumental event, the Society of St Michael encourages all its members and all other Anglicans to pray and offer the Holy Sacrifice with a special intention for intercommunion that leads to reunification of all Continuing Anglican bodies.
The Society of St Michael (SSM) is a Fraternity of Anglican Clergy, organized as a Society of apostolic
life. The SSM’s special charism is dedication to the Catholic faith and practice in its Anglican tradition. The Society of St Michael exists for mutual support, encouragement, and fellowship, and witness to Anglican tradition in its Catholic fullness.
Be it resolved:

That we, the Council of the Society of St Michael, on behalf of the entire membership of the Society of St Michael, with members representing multiple jurisdictions, fully support the unity of Christ’s Church and strongly urge our Continuing Anglican communities diligently to work together for unity, in the spirit of the Affirmation of St Louis and with deep respect for our common heritage.

Be it resolved:
That we the Society of St Michael pray that all Primates, Metropolitans, Bishops and Leaders of Continuing Anglican communities will show the way to greater unity, that we may be one, as our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ intends.

Be it resolved:
That we the Society of St Michael humbly beseech St Michael the Archangel and Our Lady of Walsingham to pray and intercede for us to Almighty God, for the restoration of Catholic Unity, that we may walk together bonded by our Catholic faith and share our Anglican tradition in Christ’s One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
Be it resolved:
That we the Society of St Michael pray without ceasing for unity.
O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst say unto thine Apostles, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: Regard not our sins, but the faith of thy Church, and grant unto it that peace and unity, which is agreeable to thy will; who livest and reignest with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
Dated: The Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi
October 4th, 2017
Signed by the Council of the Society of St Michael

Important Old Testament Stories

In the last few weeks I’ve had a number of events, conversations, and even random thoughts pop into my head, all dealing with one topic: Old Testament stories. As a result of a recent conversation with a brother priest, I found myself thinking about these stories, specifically along the lines of which Old Testament stories should Christian children learn? In other words, what is the literary canon of Old Testament stories for our children–or what ought it to be?

I grew up, as millions did, hearing these stories in Sunday School and Vacation Bible School, seeing them dramatized with greater or lesser effect on flannelboard, and when old enough, reading them for myself.

Just as the broader literary canon gives each generation the context of our civilization, so the literary canon of Old Testament stories gives each generation the context of our Judeo-Christian history and our Christian faith.

I consulted a few published collections of biblical stories for children, but most seemed dumbed down too little or far, far too much. Without dealing with questions of the actual texts, I’d like to propose a list of stories to begin this discussion. Below is a starting point:

Old Testament Stories All Children Should Know.

1. Creation
2. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden
3. Cain and Abel
4. Noah’s Ark
5. The Tower of Babel
6. God’s Promise to Abraham
7. The Sacrifice of Isaac
8. Isaac and Rebecca
9. Jacob and Esau
10. Jacob’s Ladder and Jacob Wrestles with God
11. Joseph and his Brothers
12. Joseph in Egypt
13. Joseph’s Brothers in Egypt
14. Moses in the Bulrushes
15. Moses and the Burning Bush
16. The Plagues of Egypt
17. The Passover and Exodus
18. The Manna in the Wilderness
19. The Ten Commandments
20. Aaron and the Golden Calf
21. The Land Flowing with Milk and Honey
22. The Battle of Jericho
23. Gideon and the Fleece
24. Samson and Delilah
25. Ruth
26. Hannah Prays for a Baby
27. God Speaks to Samuel
28. David and Goliath
29. David and the Ark
30. David and Bathsheba
31. Wisdom of Solomon
32. Elijah on Mount Carmel
33. Isaiah in the Temple
34. Israel in Captivity
35. The Hebrew Children in the Fiery Furnace
36. Daniel in the Lions’ Den
37. Job is Tested.
38. Queen Esther
39. Jonah and the Great Fish
40. Dedication of the Temple

This looks like quite a list. Perhaps I’ve included too many. Perhaps there are some I’ve inadvertently left out. I’d be happy to read your comments on this.

Let’s Talk about Evangelism

No, seriously. I just finished listening to a two-part podcast over on Ancient Faith Radio, where the speaker detailed his journey from being a Methodist-who-didn’t-go-to-church, through dedicated Calvinist, and to Orthodoxy. Not the Western Rite of Orthodoxy, either, all the way Eastern and ordained a deacon. The first part of the podcast was his journey, and well worth hearing, but the second part was his discussion of evangelism today. He spent some minutes examining the next generation, so-called.
This generation is a big part of our mission field, the people in their thirties and forties. That’s not to write off my own generation, the baby boomers, but let’s face it, mine is the generation that left church!
The “next” generation has different traits than mine. Boomers wanted material things, success, wealth, and they valued certainty, logical proof, and scientific evidence. Next gen values stories, relationships, and even mystery, although not as much as the generation after them, the gen X folk, but let’s not rush things. I once asked a next gen what was the most important thing in picking a church, truth or whether she liked the people. I thought it a no brainer question, and so did she. “The people, of course,” was her reply, which stunned me.
We boomers know that was wrong, of course, but that doesn’t matter in evangelism. As long as we focus on facts, we’ll lose the next gen. We won’t convert any of them with our old Campus Crusade four spiritual laws tracts, because that’s just not how they think. Not that those tracts were correct, of course, but every Anglican knows that!
So how do we evangelize the next gen?
The answer, like most things Anglican, is kind of muddy. We need to begin our approach relationally. We need to befriend them first. We need to listen to their story, because it’s story that matters to them. We’ve all heard the tired phrase “they won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I guarantee that 90% of you readers just cringed, but alas, it seems to be true. Invite the young couple next door over for dinner. Listen to them. Be nice. Not the phony nice of the church lady, but just simply pleasant. Don’t be the first person to mention religion. Just become their friend. And when you get the sort of snide comment like Nathaniel’s, try the response that worked for him: “come and see.”
In the Orthodox podcast, the deacon was quick to point out that orthodoxy has all the things the next generation wants; they have sounds, sights, and smells in the worship, the original multimedia experience. And they have mystery. My friends, the same is true of us. Anglicans have sights, sounds, and smells. If your rector is cautious with the bells and stingy with the incense, nag him until he comes around. Not only are these the sights and sounds and smells of heaven (ever read the Revelation?), but they will increase our attractiveness to the next generation.
Come and see.

Continuing Church Bishops Send Open Letter to ACNA

L-R: Abp Robinson (UECNA), Abp Haverland (ACC), Bp Marsh (ACA), and Abp Grundorf (APA)

The ACC has joined with four other Continuing Church jurisdictions in calling on the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) to return to its classical Anglican roots.

Signed by Archbishops Grundorf (APA), Haverland (ACC), Marsh (ACA), and Robinson (UECNA), as well as Bishop Paul Hewett of the DHC, the letter is further evidence of the renewed sense of unity that is becoming more and more common among the continuing jurisdictions.  While admitting that “the Continuing Church has failed to present a united front,” the letter notes that the tendency of its signatories “is towards greater unity and cooperation.”

Though the letter commends the ACNA for its efforts to remain faithful to Scriptural teaching, it is also very frank about the issues that divide it from the Continuing Church members.

We call upon ACNA to heed our call to return to your classical Anglican roots.  We commend to your prayerful attention the Affirmation of Saint Louis, which we firmly believe provides a sound basis for a renewed and fulfilled Anglicanism on our continent.  We urge you to heed the call of Metropolitan Jonah, whose concerns we share.  Anglicanism in North America cannot be both united and orthodox on a partially revolutionized basis.  We call upon you to repudiate firmly any claim to alter doctrine or order against the consensus of the Catholic and Orthodox world.  We call upon you to embrace the classical Prayer Book tradition.  The 30 years between our formation in 1977 and yours in 2010 were years of sharp decline in TEC numbers and of growing aberrations in all areas of Church life.  We call upon you to look upon all the works of those years with a much more critical eye, and to join us in returning to the doctrine, worship, and orders that preceded the intervening decades.

It is hoped that a realistic assessment of differences and a clear statement about fidelity to Anglican heritage will provide the basis for further discussion between the various parties involved.

The full text the common letter is available here.

from the website of the Anglican Catholic Church

Quo Vadis?

A common question amongst Anglicans these days—indeed, it has been for many years now—is “where ought we to go?”  As a matter of fact, I ran an online discussion forum for over a decade where this was the most discussed topic. The landscape has changed quite a bit in the last couple years, however; not only have the options mutated, but conditions within the options have been reshaped.  Even for Anglicans who thought these were settled issues, the question bears re-asking and conditions need re-examination.  There appear to be six basic possibilities, more or less, depending on where in the world one lives.

Anglican Communion

The first possibility is just staying put in the Anglican Communion. That is, of course, the Church of England, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Anglican Church of Australia, and so forth.  These ecclesial assemblies are in undisputed communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury and therefore Anglicans who do not believe in the Virgin Birth, Deity, or the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus belong in these groups. It has been said that one might consider the Anglican Communion the Sadducees of our day—deniers of all spiritual reality.


The second possibility for Anglicans, at least in North America, is the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).1 There are four difficulties with this possibility, however. The ACNA requires acceptance of charismaticism as if it were a legitimate part of Christian tradition despite the obvious historical and theological objections. Secondly, the ACNA has a loose understanding of liturgy, leading to the third difficulty that the most objectionable trendy liturgies are officially accepted by this body. The fourth and most profound difficulty is that the ACNA claims to be in communion with Canterbury. By being in (or even just claiming to be in) communion with Canterbury, the very validity of their sacraments are therefore questionable.Anglicans who have no problem with these difficulties would find a ready home in the ACNA.


The third possibility for Anglicans today, again at least in North America, is the Anglican Mission, originally the Anglican Mission in the Americas. The AM appears to be in the process of separating, whether voluntarily or not, from the Anglican province in Rwanda, the body through whom the AM had claimed connection with Canterbury. If this separation is indeed complete, then one major difficulty with the AM fades, but the AM shares similar difficulties with the ACNA in the AM’s nearly complete abandonment of liturgy and tradition in favor of promulgation of charismaticism as if it were a legitimate part of Christian tradition despite the obvious historical and theological objections. Again, like the ACNA, Anglicans who find these difficulties no barrier would do well to choose the AM.3

The three options above all consider that apostolic order is secondary to following the spirit of the age in that all three of the above have abandoned the apostolic succession. Anglicans for whom this is not a problem should consider only the first three possibilities above. Anglicans who value apostolic succession should consider only the three possibilities that follow.

Catholic Church–Ordinariate

Fourth in the paths for Anglicans is the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict XVI has made a very attractive offer in Anglicanorum Coetibus, and the first two personal ordinariates for former Anglicans are up and running: in the UK the personal ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, and in North America the personal ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter. The difficulties with the ordinariates is perhaps more subtle than those with the preceding possibilities. Although some cite issues with Marian dogmas, there is support within the first seven Ecumenical Councils for all of them. Remaining difficulties would be the issues with the papal dogmas, especially those of universal jurisdiction and infallibility. Anglicans who have no difficulties with these dogmas certainly should feel the spiritual obligation to connect with the ordinariates. A problem one might encounter here is the relative sparseness of distribution—outside of Texas and the south of England, ordinariate parishes and missions are few and far  between, although numbers are expanding.

Anglican Catholic Church

Fifthly we should consider the older, so-called “continuing churches,”4  the original group of separatist Anglicans. There are two difficulties to weigh here, however. The liturgical issue is narrowly defined, and the only options are for older style English.5 Admittedly, like other difficulties, for some this is a plus, not a minus. The second difficulty is, like the ordinariates, the sparseness on the ground.

Orthodoxy–Western Rite

The sixth possibility facing Anglicans today is the Western Rite of Orthodoxy. This option has recently grown considerably, with two canonical Orthodox jurisdictions offering a Western Rite: the Antiochian6 and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. Both these orthodox churches offer a Western Rite vicariate with a structure and liturgy very familiar to Anglicans. The difficulties faced here are identical to those facing the ACC: sparseness and language. The Western Rite in ROCOR face an additional difficulty, however, and that is the Old Calendar—not many Anglicans can get worked up over Calendar questions. We have enough to worry about without it. There seem to be a rapidly growing number of WR parishes and missions all over the US. This may be the most attractive option for many.

One additional difficulty is shared by all the options—and that is the attitude of being embattled in the culture wars. To what degree will bitterness and what my mother used to call “contrariness” fill the ecclesial bodies to which we flee? And how will attitudes afflict our ability to grow and attract others? This final question is one that will need to be answered with specific congregations in mind, in order to make the preceding paths’ evaluation complete.

I hope this short summary may make planning simpler for some.  For all, happy hunting!

1This is the second body to be called by that name. The first body was formed by the St Louis Congress in 1978, later changing their name to the Anglican Catholic Church.

2This point is too complex to be gone into in detail in this venue, but put succinctly, the necessary parts of a sacrament involve matter, form, minister, and intent. Any body claiming communion with any other body that has abandoned apostolic order demonstrates its intent to be party to that abandonment, thereby declaring, whether explicitly or implicitly, that the orders they hold are to a ministry other than apostolic.

3It should be noted, however, that with the AM’s abandonment of liturgy and embrace of charismaticism there doesn’t appear to be any real justification for the AM to remain apart from, and real advantages to joining with, organizations such as the Assemblies of God.

4Pundits have talked about “hundreds” of tiny splinter groups, but the truth is that there are really only five. Of those five, two are talking about intercommunion, and three have already achieved it, so the reality boils down to the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC) or one of the two ecclesial bodies in communion with them.

5Of course the advantages in poetic language must be weighed against the corresponding changes, good and bad, in appeal to an unchurched mission field. To what degree is traditional language a barrier to evangelism? Or isn’t it?

6Scholars, please bear with this, for although the usual and customary term in academia is “Antiochene,” the church itself chose to coin the term “Antiochian,” so “Antiochian” it is.