Discussion in 'Navigating Through Church Life' started by Achilles Smith, Nov 3, 2017.
I got asked this by my Catholic friend through e mail. Not really sure how to respond to this..
That is a perfectly good question, and it comes down to certain basic tenets of each tradition.
Orthodox Anglicanism is fundamentally the Catholic Faith, received from the Apostles, reformed of abuses.
Roman Catholicism is also the Catholic Faith, however, they err in many different ways that many cannot allow themselves to indulge in.
Several examples of these include the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary (such as the 5th Commandment argument, which is that Christ must abide by the prayers of the Virgin Mary with no questions asked), the infallibility of the Pope, the doctrine of transubstantiation, and the doctrine of purgatory. In the Roman Catholic tradition, these are dogmatic and are not disputable. Within orthodox Anglicanism, we view these as abuses and changes to the original faith. They are alien to scripture, tradition, and reason.
Basically, orthodox Anglicanism is Roman Catholicism purified of all the errors. Like, sure, the Archbishop of Canterbury is preaching heresy, and Pope Francis is preaching heresy. Except for us this is upsetting, whereas for Catholics what is happening right now is apocalyptic. I see so many of them speaking that this must be the end times, because for them a heresy from Francis is the end of Catholicism itself, whereas for us neither the heresy of the See of Rome nor the See of Canterbury spell the end of Anglicanism.
To be Anglican is to be part of the catholic church. The catholic church is not limited to that part of the church which is in communion with the Bishop of Rome. As an Anglican I would gain little by abandoning the historic roots of my faith tradition and attaching myself to the Roman tradition.
Both of our traditions support the catholic principle that the informed conscience must never be denied. There is however a difference in how we perceive that the conscience is informed. For the Anglican the conscience is informed on the bedrock of Scripture, Tradition and Reason, and for the (Roman) Catholic it is the teaching of the Catholic Church as pre-eminently expressed in the words of the Holy Father spoken ex-Cathedra.
For me it represents a poor value transaction. The cost is too high and the reward too small. I am happy to talk of unity, (as I believe all Christians should) however I do not see the road to unity being one of takeover or abandoning deeply held convictions of faith.
The late, and IMHO great , Ab Fulton Sheene once said, "We may not be able to meet in the pews, but we can meet on our knees"
There was a legend in a rural European village where people claimed a ferret was curing whoever touched it and that it was an angel. The public venerated it every day and this worried some of the local clergy. They came to ask what was going on and expressed their concern that the people were committing idolatry. Then they asked a renowned local theologian for his advice on this, and he replied, saying:
"Some people come to God through the Holy Spirit, others, the Holy Ferret. Who am I to judge and put God in a box?"
Most of my parish's recent growth has come from lapsed Catholics. Occasionally a visitor will come back and want to argue about whether we confect a valid sacrament; or, to a greater extreme, whether we have the right to administer a sacrament. I always respond with a discussion of Holy Orders, and how the RCs recognize the Orthodox and various dissenting factions from their own church like the PNCC and SSPX, and that it is inconsistent for them to invalidate Anglican Holy Orders (at least in the Continuum) since our bishops typically share in those lines.
I always respond, "I am Catholic, just not Roman. All Romans are Catholic, but not all Catholics are Roman."
Then we can usually have a decent conversation.
I've never denied that Anglicans are Catholic. But certain people who claim to be Anglican are not - those who accept sodomy, women's ordination, etc.
I agree with @Aidan and know the quote well. "We may not be able to meet in the pews, but we can meet on our knees" - Ven Fulton J Sheen.
God is our creator, and He knows our purpose and hearts.
Oh course you are correct about that.....just as there are Roman Catholics who support those same things are also not Catholic.
Here is a link to a Roman Catholic news site about a quiet rebellion brewing in the Roman Church. Well, not so quiet to those who know
where and what to look for. I pray the Orthodox Bishops quash this quickly.
What the fudge.. I've never seen that before, I hope it never happens.
Father, it is frightening how these groups prop up for the sake of renewal - but I get a kick out of the age demographic. God love them, but I don't see a face under 60 nor a thread of new hair.
I find the same is true within both Anglican and Roman traditions - the orthodox tend toward a younger, older, mean average, but with a growing popularity with the youth (thankfully, since the youth are the future). But, the more liberal/broad church following is ageing with the polyester chasubles.
In Ireland, we have two SSPX priests in their mid twenties and quite a sizeable group of people aged thirty and under attending Mass
The way I understand it:
The idea of Vatican II's alleged universalism leads us to one thing: that you may be able to be saved outside of the church so long as you don't find out that the Roman (or even Eastern, as they teach something similar) is the true church. If you do, you can be the most successful and upright evangelist and all your works for the Lord are nullified, you will be damned, and not even get purgatory, while someone who believes the Church but has a mediocre relationship or commitment to God CAN get purgatory. This is ironic and absurd from a sect that is always bashing Protestants and claiming superiority because allegedly they don't encourage one to believe in good works or do them. I had one Reformed apologist scold an RC who converted from Protestantism on this. The RC convert admitted that he knew enough upright Protestants who were on the same level as the upright Catholics, since after all, he was fellowshipping with them on that forum. But some objections were raised so as to question the RCC's relevance to their evangelism and living. He and a few others argued that only Roman Catholics (or Orthodox) can become saints in their respective churches because only their church has the capacity to recognize and canonize them. It was then pointed out that very few people become saints, and it is even taught as a precaution by a lot of theologians and maybe even saints themselves that the worst way of becoming a saint is to consciously want to be one. This is because you may prematurely assume you have what it takes to live a holy life to become one and find out it was too much, constantly stumble, and just end up in purgatory like every other Roman Catholic, which makes the whole effort and point of even joining the church to be a saint a joke to begin with. Most people do not even want to become saints by that definition; most just want to get in to heaven. Everything else makes it substantially harder to focus on just basics of Christian life and is a terrible argument for getting people to become Catholic. So basically, being an advocate of the RCC if it is true, may actually send many good people to hell for something that has nothing to do with works.
Personally, almost all my encounters with the Roman Catholics who attempted to evangelize were significantly more condescending and hurtful than what I've experienced growing up in the Protestant Church. And yes, I know how people within the church can fail to act as a Godly role-model and deal with people in a Christ-like manner. But there have always been enough evangelicals I've met during my trials and often in unlikely situations, that I know where my spiritual home and loyalty belongs. Roman Catholics never really evangelize and as I showed you, they do a poor job whenever they have tried. I would say that they were very smug, very temperamental and cut-throat when correcting you on common misconceptions such as whether they literally worship Mary or venerate her. Also, they seem ecstatic about how complicated and expansive most of their church's theology is, and in this sense are no different than my encounters with atheists who are knowledgeable and could pass as academic but very cold, and not worth engaging with because of their rotten disposition. I've grown up being taught that Roman Catholicism is more humanistic than other Christian sects and this often confirmed it.
Most Catholic resources (Orthodox included, and to a much lesser extent, Anglican) are catered to the elite. You are expected to understand a lot of formal, academic jargon to try and know what is being said. I too was really getting immersed in philosophy and similar things but recently came to realize why Paul and others warned against being caught up in the philosophy of men, or why the beauty of the KJV's language does not necessarily entail depth or substance in granting understanding of the word, and why the New Testament was written in simple, layman's Greek, Koine Greek, and not the elaborate Attic and other dialects spoken of by the literary poets such as Homer, among others. Christ came so humbly into the world, and it's more common that a person of lower status attracts attention when he or she becomes very renowned in their reputation, or rank and status. This is characteristic of God trying to impress us and show us we don't need all the bells and whistles to have miracles or experience him. Protestants do get flack from unbelievers for spouting 'christianese' but in the Catholic word the curve is much steeper. Basically, God can allow anything to be a starting point to dialogue regarding God and Christ. We don't need rigid or formal 'systematic theology' which is infested with futile humanistic rationalism. God can work miracles in simplicity. So although Protestants seem shallow, if we understand the Holy Spirit is like a magical sort of power, maybe people would grasp that we don't need to be showy or 'sophisticated' to fulfill God's work or learn sound theology.
Evangelical TV is filled with pretentious and heretical prosperity teachers and embarrassing, baseless theology that has the Protestant world constantly groaning. However, EWTN (the Catholic station) again suffers from that spirit of theologically esoteric pomposity that is characteristic of Catholicism in the eyes of this Protestant. I have actually almost pulled my hair out and gave up reading about Christianity and the bible because of such dialogues, but now I've found relief by tearing up laughing whenever I hear all of this convoluted nonsense thrown around because it gets so saturated and bombast, that it starts to look like a game.
But on a brighter note: usually what happens is that whenever I've had a positive encounter with a Roman Catholic, it was because they knew enough of us and realized that we were doing well enough to fulfill the great commission without what they claimed was essential (that is, that only the RCC and its sacraments/priesthood offer salvation or work). This challenged a lot of their views. Likewise, some Protestants have seen evidence that there may in fact be legitimate (by our definition) saved Catholics in the RCC despite our strong disagreements, so long as they did not allow those faults to lapse them into full-on heresy. But usually my positive encounters were with Roman Catholics who were more ecumenical and pro-Protestant. I have catholic relatives who may fall into this camp and they never saw it as necessary to create any conflict over why one side of my family, despite being raised RCC, became devoted Protestants. We've prayed with them during hard times and never saw any real animosity.
To turn the question around, why be Catholic and not Anglican. Especially if you live in a predominately Anglican country as most English speaking countries are. Alright there may be a few valid points to make, certainly many Anglican Churches have gone astray somewhat on issues such as women's ordination, but balance that against the thousands of Catholic doctrines that are just unbiblical, opinions of men elevated to the level of "infallible" dogma. The real question is, where can one find true religion and virtue?
This is the absolutely essential question for our time. I think each age suffers with different challenges. Right now we are blessed to not be burned at the stake or fight in endless wars over Christian politics. But, we are struck with a spiritual and intellectual malaise which sickens us in a much more pernicious ways as we hardly recognize it is happening.
I've been ambiguous about joining any Anglican church due to on-going issues within the communion, but if I run away then I'm part of the problem. We have to struggle to fix the errors- and the church has been doing this since its inception. Like the quote says, "be the change you want to see", so even standing as one witness to true religion is helpful.
I think many people have not been introduced to the beauty of the Anglican faith in America. I don't think I've been approached by an Episcopalian to visit their church or to pray for me. I think that evangelization just "isn't done" by the TEC in a way that reaches people. Which is a true shame as you see many stunning churches and charities which could draw people in who are searching for tradition and meaning. However, the ACNA seems to be focusing on church planting which is a good change http://www.always-forward.com/plant-a-church/
I refuse to join the Anglican communion because they keep saying one thing about where they stand on certain issues clearly defined a certain way in the articles, then tolerate deviations from them like it's no big deal on practices and theology that I still believe are thoroughly unbiblical even if they do them to a lesser extent than the EO or RC. Also, I addressed a few of these issues indepth on the forum and no one could come up with a sound answer or said a word that was worth glossing over.
I remember though, meeting a RC nun once, who was somewhat nice but again, smug as most of the encounters I describe with them usually are. It always began with the simple desire to want to discuss something I believed that Protestants and RCs had in common, and it was always the RC person who turned it into a mess, far beyond what I intended.
Anyways, I remember playing the devil's advocate from the position of an atheist once I began to get tired of her smugness. We were discussing something a long the lines of holiness and fruit-bearing in the Catholic vs. Protestant church because allegedly the idea of a saint canon proves RC's superiority in producing holy people in its body. We were able to find instances where both groups have erred and produced extraordinary people as well as rotten ones, but in terms of works, I said that Mother Teresa was a poor example because she admitted extreme doubts and skepticism towards God and said in documented statements that she didn't see a need to convert people, that she only wanted to make them better hindus, muslims, catholics, etc. and nothing more. I said this actually means that when she was doing the most works in her life and charity, she was the least religious and this is an argument in favor of new age humanism that teaches if we didn't make such a big deal over other people's alleged sins and faults then we'd stop being so cynical and hateful and love them more rather than the opposite. And the fact that the testimonies of the ancient saints' goodness was more apocryphal and superstitious, that Teresa's capacity to do good was often exaggerrated and still limited, again proved the idea of some inner God-force common in everyone, rather than the need for an actual savior. I said, "Sure, if you think Protestants who produce good works despite claiming Justification by Faith are not really believers of it, then I'll go ahead, and based on my experience, say that Catholics who actually bear fruit, are not really believers in Catholic dogma either." In fact, I even said that maybe neither of the groups believe in the bible much at all and are becoming better because of less religion than more of it, and the only Jesus we need is the humanist new age Jesus as an example of powerful living. Then, when she tried to mention the communists who did so much damage in the name of atheism (which is true) I just said that we all know the same atrocities have happened through the ancient churches. Then I ended with a somewhat "Flee from religion" kind of note. Of course, I am no atheist or humanist (it was a test of sorts), but I can understand their impression of these kinds of fiascos between people of faith, and I do believe it is ironic for Teresa to be a spokesperson of the need for Jesus, when we consider how she thought and her life during that time. I have read accounts of protestant missionaries in poor countries, who witnessed her interaction with the natives and found that she was one of the greatest enemies of evangelism they had in the region, since they treated her as being almost above Jesus Christ in their salvation.
IMHO Theresa isn't a good example of a saint. I'm also aware that my opinion is very much a minority one although traditionalists would agree with me.
Friend, I think it's quite a useless exercise to argue a case when the judge has already rendered his ruling prior to hearing any evidence.
Perhaps noone answered your earlier post because no one thought it was worth the trouble. If Anglicanism isn't for you, then I wish you God's blessings on your journey. Anglican Christianity is what it is and is not here to please you. It's purpose and goal is to please God and God alone. We are flawed creatures. We often miss the mark in this endeavor. But it will be God's verdict that will matter in the end. I hope, flaws and all, God in his mercy will remember us poor Anglicans.
As for me, I must borrow a line from old Winston. I believe Anglicanism to be the worst religion....except for all others.
I am not doubting this, and I wish you well, but in my attempts to follow my conscience, I cannot bring myself to join this denomination. Again, I am not saying I am doing this for me only, but to answer what I believe God is telling me to do. As I've said before, there are indeed Godly people within the Anglican communion, and certainly no other Protestant denomination is entirely perfect, either, but although I was initially enthusiastic about investigating and discovering Anglicanism, I have changed course because of my convictions, but it's all part of my spiritual journey, and yours too.