Why I Am Not An Episcopalian

For readers who do not know, I am a former Episcopalian. My personal history of religious affiliation goes something like the following. I was baptized Catholic but raised in the Episcopal church until my teen years. From then I’d attend the Episcopal church on Sunday and then Calvary Chapel for “Bible study” on Friday evenings with their youth group. This was on account of a number of reasons, not the least of which was that the youth group at the Episcopal church voted that I should leave since I wanted to read the Bible and not have pizza parties and such. The youth directors agreed given that the kinds of questions I was asking really required a “professional” response. This was after I became exasperated with the whole approach of, let’s sit in a circle and go around the room asking what each person thinks such and so verse means “to me.” At the ripe old age of 13 I blurted out, “I don’t care what it means to me, I just want to know what it means!”

To sum up, I eventually ran into the Horton/Riddlebarger crowd when I was about 17 and then became Reformed for a number of years. I then moved towards a more high church Anglican view, returning to what I had been raised with, ending up in the then, Anglican Catholic Church (ACC). Fortunately I met my wife in the ACC, who was also a life long Anglican, though her family had left the Episcopal church (TEC) earlier than I did and joined the then forming ACC. After a few schisms in the ACC and/or theContinuing church movement and a deepening in my grasp of Christology through an exposure to the teaching of Maximus the Confessor, my wife and I were received into the Orthodox Church.

Recently, I was reminded once again why I am not an Episcopalian. The reminder doesn’t explain why I am Orthodox but it does I think point to something that is worth thinking about and discussing. So the reminder came in a post on another blog that I saw through the WordPress blog feature of Tag Surfer. It allows me to see other recent blog entries across WordPress with similar topics as my own.

The post was by an apostatized Baptist of sorts who returned to “Christianity” through the Episcopal church. The post was an expression of his thoughts on “reformulating” the doctrine of the Trinity. What the post was, was in fact not a reformulation, but more an expression of his rejection of the Trinity and an expression of its perceived uselessness. I didn’t take the post to be overtly hostile, (I am sure he’s a nice fellow) but it wasn’t something that amounted to Christian thinking on the subject and that’s the point. This post expresses the typical adoptionistic Christology found among classical Unitarians and contemporary liberals. Jesus is the man who was more open to the divine or “Spirit” and so is a means by which one is in contact with “God” or “Spirit” and so moved or inspired to “social justice.” The other posts on Hell and other doctrines pretty much fall into the typical liberal, that is Unitarian teaching.

It used to be the case that, say about twenty years ago, you could meet an Episcopalian and chances might have it that the person was a professing Christian in the historic sense of that term. They believed the Scriptures were divinely inspired, Christ rose from the dead and all the other theological goodies expressed in the Creed. Now given the exodus from TEC this is far less likely.

For the most part when I meet people who are professing Episcopalians now I don’t expect them to be professing Christians. I expect them to think that what they are professing is Christianity, but it isn’t. It is that “other religion”  that is now dominant in TEC. And this post was a perfect example of what I mean. The terms are Christian, but the meaning of those terms is anything but. One could hear any given sermon in the Episcopal church using traditional terms and phrases with absolutely no Christian content whatsoever. The content now is poured into the wineskins of Christian terminology and rites from Left wing political causes and academic ideologies, which are usually in one form or another, just a repackaging of older Gnostic errors. (Just read the exchange in the comments after the post to see what I mean.) This is why there is a perceptible shift in the art work (and will continue to be) and what religious art work is from the figural to the symbolic in TEC. If the body doesn’t matter (since after all the incarnation and resurrection are “cultural symbols”) then any symbol is more or less just as good as any other, perhaps within a given range. The “other religion” expresses itself with a modification of older images.

So when I meet professing Episcopalians now and Christianity comes up, I usually don’t argue about this or that thing TEC is doing or said is Christian or not. The TEC is essentially now a Unitarian body. One can be a member in good standing, clergy or laity and deny just about every teaching of Christianity. Now I ask professing Episcopalians why should I think that the body you are a member of counts as Christian? What is distinctly Christian about it? Why think its Christian at all?

Moves to redefine don’t really count since the meaning of words are at least in part established by their historical usage, representative and authoritative sources. Regardless of what particular theory of meaning one endorses, one just can’t change the meaning of terms willy-nilly. To illustrate, I was once in a grad seminar with another grad student who was LDS. We were discussing some issue related to the doctrine of God relative to analytic philosophical theology. He was irked that such and so terms and views attached to them were privileged as Christian, whereas his weren’t. He expressed his view that his views were Christian as well. I interjected that they weren’t and he challenged my right to exclude his views under that term.

In our Epistemology seminar earlier that day, we had been discussing Contextualism, roughly being the thesis that the standards on knowledge change with the context. (I am not a Contextualist btw but the Zebra Mule is an inside joke for those who have the philosophical gnosis. ) So given a certain situation, the standards that you know something might be low, but if you happen to meet someone who expresses skeptical worries or doubts, the standards shift and become more difficult to meet and then you don’t know what you did. So I retorted to my LDS friend that suppose I profess to be a Contextualist in Epistemology, but I don’t think the standards on knowledge change or anything else associated with Contextualism. He responded that I wouldn’t be a Contextualist because that is not what the term means. And the meaning of the term is established by those who initiated the usage and how it is used by professional philosophers. Someone who used the term as I had proposed simply wouldn’t be a Contextualist and wouldn’t know not only what the term meant, but how natural languages work or they would be lying. Exactly.

The same is true for Episcopalians who profess that their church is a Christian body or that they are professing Christian. Once we define the terms, it becomes obvious that there is semantic legerdemain going on. The only major difference between their position and classical Unitarianism is one of prettier accoutrements. (And of course, even this is ceasing to be true. )

I think it is important to push this issue of Christian identity for a variety of reasons. People who profess to be Christians in this context need to be confronted with the idol that they have created and the deception that they have suffered, whether they are complicit in it or not. Apologetically they are accustomed to arguing from the other direction, that such and so view can be interpreted differently. But the position that they unwittingly have put themselves in is a position where there is nothing distinctively Christian at all about their position. Anything they profess usually along moral lines can be professed by some other secular ideology or some other non-Christian tradition such as Judaism, Islam, Shintoism, etc. The same is true with respect to the place of Jesus. Jesus is just a figure of sorts and its just a fluke that he functions in that way, since it was more or less a fluke that he ended up being more open to “Spirit” than the other men of his time since. Its simply parochial. Other cultural have their figures and Episcopalians in western culture have theirs.

The employment of the Nicene Creed and various Christian rites and symbols doesn’t imply that the body is Christian since liberals have argued that they mean something else and have imbued them with a different meaning in order to make them more “inclusive.” One can deny all of their Christian content and use them and be a member in good standing. But that is the hidden problem with inclusivity. Eventually the inclusivity is so exclusive of the established meaning that eventually the terms no longer retain their previously established meaning and no longer imply anything Christian. There is no reason then to take such bodies as Christian. Under such conditions, why couldn’t a member of the church of Satan be an Episcopalian?

Sooner or later reasonable people figure out that they can believe everything in such a view without being a member of said “church” and can sleep in on Sunday morning, giving their cash to other organizations. They can then use their own time in ways that they find aesthetically “fulfilling.” Why after all should I maintain the pretence of Christianity every Sunday by watching people use terms, objects and rites from long past and I am going to give money to this? What’s the point? This is supposed to give my life “meaning?” They can use the time in other ways and give money to established charities or causes that lack the wasteful bureaucratic structures of “815.” (Let the reader of That Hideous Strength understand.)

And this is one reason why more liberal bodies decline. They eventually become so inclusive like contemporary Unitarian bodies that they become socialization groups for the extremely idiosyncratic (freaks) and lose practically all cohesion. Such bodies do not make converts and they don’t have significant reproductive output. (It is not like Gay “weddings” will improve this.)  This is why theologically liberal movements are parasitic on traditional bodies. They cannot go out and create a liturgy and produce a socially cohesive body of people with a view of the world that binds people together in a deep commitment from scratch. They are expressions of a lack. Frankly, I wish such persons would just be more honest about rejecting Christianity and go on down to their local Unitarian church and save us all a lot of trouble and heartache.  What they do strikes me as seriously disingenuous.

The problem for those few in TEC who still in fact profess Christian doctrines is more serious. Sometimes there are pockets of resistance and people comfort themselves with the idea that at this parish, we are professing Christian. That may be true. Your rector may be perfectly orthodox in terms of the virgin birth, the resurrection and so forth. The question is then, with whom does he commune?

At the parish in TEC where I was raised, I was prepared for confirmation by the priest who is still rector there. We spent a good amount of time on the person of Christ and the Trinity in the context of the Arian controversy.  And the priest there of course depicted Athanasius in such glowing terms that I was deeply attracted to the saint. Athanasius was my teenage hero.  As I grew older and more theologically aware and educated, the problem of remaining in TEC became more acute in light of my familiarity and esteem for Athanasius. He not only refused to commune with open heretics but considered doing so to make one complicit in the heresy.

This principle is not limited to the tradition of the Eastern Christianity but has a long history in English Christianity as well, both prior to and after the Reformation.(Not to ignore its Biblical foundation.) Even if you are a professing Christian in such a body to remain in communion with open heretics makes you complicit with their heresy and immorality. If you don’t agree, you are either on the side of the “revisionists” (Scripture is more direct with the term “apostates.”) or you are living in denial.

Consequently, you need to make a choice and a very hard one. Please do not mistake my writing here for opportunism. I’ve been where these people have been. I know how hard it is to leave a tradition that had so much good to offer. The experience is very similar to experiencing the death of a family member. When I finally gave up the ghost on Anglicanism, I sat in a parking lot and cried my brains out for a few hours. People in that situation need to make a choice and in order to do that, they have to leave Anglicanism (whatever they thought it was) behind.

This of course assumes that there are no viable Anglican alternatives. I don’t take the Continuing churches to be so. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in them at various levels. They repeat the same kinds of problems that led to the issues in TEC to begin with or they are so small that they are sectarian and in some cases personality cults. They consequently attract former clergy who are not beyond reproach. This does not imply that all or most of the clergy in such bodies are such, but the percentages in my experience tend to be higher.

The choices are essentially these. You can go to a more conservative Lutheran body such as the LCMS if you’re inclined towards Lutheranism. But of course the LCMS is going through it own liturgical identity crisis right now. (Happy Clappy or a Liturgy?-The Happy Clappers seem to be winning.) That leaves untouched the more serious distinctive theological claims made by Lutheranism. Much the same can be said of the Presbyterians.

Then its either Rome or Orthodoxy. I am not going to lay out the argument for one over the other here. I’ve done that before. What is important as I have noted before is that once you make a decision, you choose to be what you convert to. It does you no good to be a disgruntled Episcopalian in the Catholic or Orthodox Church. You have to leave one behind and embrace an option.  And this means you sincerely need to be convinced that you would have made the same decision even if here had been no problems in TEC. This will help give you some stability and peace wherever you end up. And that will be good for you and all those around you.

127 Responses to Why I Am Not An Episcopalian

  1. I’m glad, Cyril, and hope that God will use that interview. Mother Nectaria McLees does a wonderful job in her interviews and she spend 2 days with me. We had stimulating conversations and she is so interesting. She is back in Russia right now, but plans to return soon. I’m sure she would appreciate prayer for her safety.

  2. stinkling1 says:

    Alice,

    I also found your interview in the latest issue of “Road to Emmaus” very lively and helpful.

    Cyril

  3. Alice,

    You were an Episcopal “priest” and are now Orthodox. I am amazed and I would love to hear why. If you would like to share the story then please place a comment on my blog, which will not be published unless you wish it to be. Thanks.

    In Christ.
    Hierodeacon Patrick.

  4. The Orthodox who want to slip women into the holy place via “deaconesses” are sadly deluded. The idea that women may serve at the altar represents a break with Holy Tradition and those who persist in this rebellious innovation will discover what the Prophet Samuel meant when he stated: “Rebellious is as the sin of withcraft.”

    I regret the years I spent as an Episcopal “priest” because I contributed to the general confusion concerning the Son of God. I pray God will have mercy on me.

  5. Ed: Of course I didn’t refute what you wrote… because the truth is I generally agree on the particulars. I’d tend to wonder whether we are right to fault catechesis – when that’s simply the beginning and chrismation a commitment to start along the path… rather than point to failure to follow it up in many cases with consistent continuing education/formation. More than that, I’d simply admit to thinking perhaps the implied vulnerability of the Church is consistent with allowing the view that loss is gain. I don’t want to face this any more than the next guy, but maybe it’s the way.

  6. The Bible is preserved through oral tradition and ancient writings. It is indeed 66 books, but all reflect the cosmology of Abraham’s ancestors going back to Eden. That cosmology involves blood and perpendicular intersecting lines (segments) that form a cross. These are the signs of a unique individual, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whose coming was promised in Gen. 3:15.

    Before Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri died at age 108, he left a signed note indicating Messiah’s identity: Yeshua – Jesus. His manuscripts, written in his own hand, have cross-symbols painted all over the pages. Many Jews have attempted to explain away the crosses, arguing that the great Rabbi Kaduri was not a Christian.

    Whether or not he believed in the Incarnate Son who died on the Cross to save sinners, only God knows. We can say that as one of the world’s authorities on Jewish mysticism, Rabbi Kaduri knew the Tradition of Abraham’s people, especially as expressed in concealed symbols.

  7. In response to a previous comment about finding what you want in the Canons if you read enough of them. Here is a nineteenth century English translation of part of an English canon of the 10th Century:

    “Sunday is to be highly honoured, therefore we forbid any man to undertake any work, except dressing his meat on that holy-day….”

    So, it is clear that it is expected, when we have visitors over after church, that we dress our food in its Sunday best, potatoes with bow ties, else why except it from work on Sunday. Of course, no pious Christian would dream of presenting undressed food to their guests.

  8. Jerry,

    🙂

    The reason for the note was not to make the point that the Orthodox churches are a faithful continuation of Apostolic mission from Jerusalem but that there is nothing inherent in any local Orthodox church to absolutely prevent it, or an extensive group of Orthodox churches, falling into heresy, even though the Holy Spirit’s presence is a great help in preserving each church, especially the Patriarchates. Heresy and schism has separated a large number of churches many times before.

  9. Jerry Cornelius says:

    Monk Patrick

    Just a little historical note – what are now Orthodox Chrches, were once a meeting in Jerusalem at Pentecost.

  10. Jnorm888 says:

    Ed R,

    I agree with you about the issue of Catechesis. However, modernity and feminism only has power/influence as long as our country stays afloat as a super power. We(America and Western Europe) are the power behind extreme secularism, and when we fall, extreme secularism worldwide falls as well. Our country won’t have the resources to keep conservative religious groups marginalized forever.

    And as China and Russia continue to rise in power, the influences(both positive and negative) on all of our churches and religious groups will change too.

    But yes, I agree with you about Catechesis, but the power behind modernity and feminism can only last when we(America and Western Europe) last as super powers.

    Christ is Risen!

  11. JLB says:

    Mr. Tundra Man,

    That which is preserved by tradition is, by definition, tradition. That seems an inescapable conclusion to me.

    If you recall, Christ promised the Holy Spirit to the Apostles to lead them ‘into all truth.’ The Apostle Paul later describes the Church as the ‘pillar and ground of the truth.’ Sounds to me as if the Holy Spirit is continuing to guide the Church from then until the present day, yes?

    Where do we see God promising to lead the pre-Christian Israelites ‘into all truth?’

    The reason that ‘fences,’ as you say, are ‘set up,’ is that holy things are easily desecrated. What else are those in Christ to do?

  12. Ed R says:

    James,

    Nothing you said refutes anything I said. I said that the EOs should not be too sanguine, that a major schism makes appeals to Tradition a little problematic if enough bishops are on the wrong side, and that many arguments won’t stand up to the egalitarian and feminist critique unless one is already wed to one’s tradition.

  13. “I love my Protestant friends, especially “evangelicals” because they say that the Bible is their authority but they don’t realize that the Bible is about one thing from beginning to end – the Tradition concerning the appearing of the Son of God.”

    I think this is an equivocation. The Bible is not about tradition (content), the Bible as a historical document was preserved by oral and other traditions (preservation). Two different categories of things.

    In another sense, the Bible (as a collection of individual books) may well be a product of faith communities in that they chose what was canon and what was not canon, but choosing canon is not the same as authoring Scripture (an apostolic function) or holding a sole right to interpret Scripture (as I read it, the Holy Spirit’s function) any more than preserving canon is.

    The Old Testament was preserved by a body distinct from the current church and continues to be preserved by bodies other than the church (namely the Jews who do not have faith in Christ). Paul makes this distinction when he speaks of Israel as preserving the word of God, but states that’s not justification for salvation.

    Only faith in Christ is justification for salvation. Putting church attendance as a requirement is just another accretion to the faith. One man’s “holy tradition” is another’s “addition to the faith”.

    If there’s one message I get from the Gospels it’s that the Jews added their commandments to the Word of God and Jesus condemned them for that. Why should I expect the church to do anything else? It’s human nature to put up fences around what we consider as holy.

  14. Visibilium says:

    1) The EP is pro-abortion? Rather, he’s pro-Greek politicians. I don’t blame him. Maybe we should pray for right-wing Greek politicians.

    2) I always get a trifle nervous when Orthodox and RC chums get together to dump on Anglicans. Let’s not forget that the Caths and Anglicans are both received into Holy Orthodoxy in the same fashion–the Greek or Russian. Their beliefs are both deficient, whatever the integrity of their respective mechanistic hand-layings. Incidentally, vesting of convert papal clergy is more of a marketing “oeconomia”, given the high regard with which the papalized clergy hold themselves.

    3) You can say what you want about the secularity of the head of Anglicanism, but don’t forget that Pope B is a secular ruler–a status that he’s been milking to avoid testifying about Old Rome’s RICO activities.

  15. Just a little historical note. What are now the Roman Catholic churches were once Orthodox churches, what are now the Anglican churches were once Orthodox churches, what are now Oriental Orthodox churches were once Orthodox churches.

  16. Nancy Weres says:

    Kevin: Please document your assertion that Patriarch Bartholomew is pro-abortion. I agree he hangs with ultra-liberal Marxists. His tour of the US was partly sponsored by George Soros’ Center for American Progress. The GOA newspaper praises pro-abortion Greek politicians such as Dana Titus of Nevada. Archbishop Demitrios, a holy man, for some reason would not sign the Manhattan Declaration. I also hear liberal drivel from our OCA deacon and anti-Israel statements are commonplace. Many immigrants are rooted in the Democrat Party. See Norman Podhoretz’s “Why Jews are Liberal” for a thorough discussion of this theological confusion.

  17. Ed:

    I’d note a few things:

    1) Plenty of barely catechized dudes have made their way into heaven… starting with the thief on the right who got there the first day it was reopened… which is to say I’m not sure as much as we tell ourselves about “right worship” how much our Lord stresses that as much as a right fullness we can scarcely fathom how to measure and so leave to Him. Sometimes we get lost in the details to keep ourselves from getting lost in other parts… or fairly, to avoid the bigger issues.

    2) The Church has been lost over and over but for one or two stalwarts. The faith has been strengthened each time. As my bishop says, “If this is to be a time of mild persecution, it will also be a time of saints. Bring it on.” If we’re not willing to be martyrs in some way, then we’re not reading Acts very faithfully or trusting Holy Tradition to feed the life that builds recovery after we’re gone.

    3) FWIW, modern warfare today celebrates the indestructibility of the cellular organization, and much as the ecclesiology of the Orthodox Church appears weak by similar construction (as opposed to more monarchical models elsewhere), it is more widely recognized today that this is a far stronger base than others presume. If the Romans couldn’t destory it and they were far worse than the Nazis ever; if the Communists can’t destroy it, and so on… are we really to worry about the impact of modernity, of Gidget, the Beatles/Beach Boys etc. on a similar scale? It is very, very, very hard to overcome a place where there are no commanding heights to take control of. I’d agree this vulnerability exists elsewhere in spades, but almost maddeningly… it is not here. Fact is… we want a little modernity to help us solve our ethnic/phyletism battle… and we can’t seem to get it done in spite of almost universal recognition that it needs to be done among the hierarchs and people. So while this may be an evil twin if you will, it suggests how hard it is to respond to siren songs in an organization of this construction. So I don’t see us falling for the drift problem with essentials if we can’t manage to drift our details.

    4)Many of us Americans came here from a Europe that persecuted Protestants. My forebears fled France at the time of the St. Bart’s Massacre. They had in fact been marked out by the authorities. I think Protestantism survived for as long as it did and as dominant as it was here in the States for these reasons. I suspect the surviving diaspora of 20th century persecutions among the Orthodox in East Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere provide us a similar insulation for longer than we suspect.

    Having made those points, I’ll venture that it is likely the seeming invincibility of modernity has passed it’s prime. A number of demographers suggest the same. Many churches are going to come out of this stronger, too… not just the Orthodox. I’m too geezing for this to help me elsewhere, so I went to higher ground. My solution may not be yours. You may in fact not like Orthodoxy or the Orthodox Church or her people, and that’s fair. But that doesn’t mean we’re doomed to repeat errors others have fallen into… nor does that mean I’m Pollyanish either. Instead it means we simply have our own errors and battles to fight. I suspect if and when we’ve dealt with them that if there is still some sort of magnetism to modernity, we’ll manage it, too… because that will then be our battle at that point, but not now. In the meantime, that means we have you to count on to take care of this thing. It’s your battle. Good luck!

  18. Ed R says:

    Jnorm,

    “Our advantage is being late comers, for the same arguments that were used in other traditions are now being used here.”

    It also means you have not really been tested by the acid of modernity yet.

    I am not saying that anything will happen to the EOC based upon necessity, nor am I arguing that EODoxy will disappear. I do think though that arguing from Tradition against e.g. WO runs smack up into the emotional appeal of egalitarianism and the prevalent ideology of feminism. It doesn’t matter if there are a lot of conservatives in the pews, it matters if the custodians of the Tradition faithfully preserve it. It matters if enough people are catechized–and based on my admittedly spotty sample not too many are. (The same for my church, BTW, I am not throwing stones…) If people are not sufficiently catechized–and that includes knowledge was well as praxis–then the tools to fight a hierarchy run amok are lacking. Should there be a serious schism (and that is not at all unheard of in Church history) there is no guarantee that the majority will go with your side of the argument. In that case it is not at all inconceivable that an EO will be left saying “that doesn’t happen in my parish, thank God…” Once there is a schism with bishops on both sides it can become difficult for an EO to choose.

    In other words, I wouldn’t be too sanguine.

  19. Jnorm888 says:

    Alice and Ed R,

    Our advantage is being late comers, for the same arguments that were used in other traditions are now being used here. And alot of us who converted to EO from conservative backgrounds already know what’s going on. It’s like deja vu. They will have to develop new arguments over here as well as try to ignore or pretend that such things weren’t already tried in other traditions. And they will have to ignore it’s track record in other traditions too.

  20. Kevin says:

    In the Byzantine church is Patriarch Bartholomeos’s support for abortion considered to be heretical, or simply an opinion? Would being in full eucharistic communion with such a church leader be considered problematic? Or is the fact that he is a Greek an absolution from even asking the question?

  21. Jerry,

    The Bible is more true than we are able to grasp. It speaks of a Holy Tradition older than Abraham, one that Abraham received. The tendency is to think that Christianity was invented by the Apostles and corrected by the Reformers.

    Personally, I rely first on what Scripture actually says. Then I look for support of biblical claims and statements in linguistics, anthropology and archaeology. One example: Nimrod was Kushite and a kingdom builder who migrated from Sudan to Mesopotamia. The biblical claim is supported by data on the eastward migration of Chadic peoples in linguistics, anthropology, genetic studies and archeaology. That said, most sola scriptura people have trouble accepting that Abraham’s ancestors came from west central Africa. They read the Bible on a superficial level most of the time.

  22. Jerry Cornelius says:

    Perry

    Surely you mean your non-doxastic states. Your treatment of Sola Scriptura is non-doxastic and I find that interesting – treating Scripture as a self-referential tautology is not a meaningful summing up of Scripture Alone – but I really like your statement:

    “Sola Scriptura is more than admitting all and only those theological concepts that areconsistent with Scripture”

    Can I say that?

    Yes it is more, as it reveals those theological concepts which are not capable of reconciliation with Scripture to be speculative conjecture.

    Joking aside – personaly I prefer ‘simplicity’ rather than ‘complexity’ in engaging Sola Scriptura – but I agree there is a lot of work below the surface in terms of ever more complex readings of Scripture which appear to make it look simple – but the problem could be in the properties of those readings, like the hammer in ‘The Ninth Configuration’…

  23. Jerry,

    If I were a holy fool, thenI have certainly moved up in the world and seemingly unknowingly, at least with respect to my own doxastic states.

    As for Sola Scriptura, I’d argue that it looks simple because either there is a whole lot more work being done just below the sufrface to make it appear that simple or it isn’t that simple.

    As for contradicting scripture, at best that will only take you so far, since the *formal* canon of scripture is not capable of either affirmation or contradiction by scripture. Neither are other doctrines like whether and in what way God is simple. Sola Scriptura is more than admitting all and only those theological concepts that are consistent with scripture.

  24. Jerry Cornelius says:

    Alice

    Speaking as an Evangelical, we are absolutely clear that if Tradition is capable of retrogression into the ‘Intentionality of the Trinity’ and that Intentionality is governed by the Incarnation, then their ‘revealed purpose’ is embedded in Scripture – the Reformation Formula of ‘Sola Scriptura’ [Scripture Alone] is very simple in operation – we will not acccept anything that contradicts Scripture -the only reason Perry Robinson has a special dispensation to say what he does is because he is entertaining….and a HOLY Fool and so he is exempt from the normal criteria governing Discernment and Intention.

  25. James,

    I love my Protestant friends, especially “evangelicals” because they say that the Bible is their authority but they don’t realize that the Bible is about one thing from beginning to end – the Tradition concerning the appearing of the Son of God.

  26. Alice – thank you for the zing. Of course you won’t get an argument from me on that… sloppy use of a code word on my part.. my bad. Thanks for catching it. On the other hand, I think our experience of it… however… I think that’s a different thing, finite, temporal and as if it unfolds for each of us. Collectively as the Body of Christ… back again to constant. But yes, Tradition remains constant. I think our RC friends have a somewhat more nuanced view since the contend their innovations were really there inherent at the start… only hidden somehow, and our Protestant friends don’t bother with it unless it helps an argument.

  27. Holy Tradition does NOT evolve. It is as fixed at the Sun’s rising in the east.

  28. Wasn’t it Evagrious of Pontus who wrote, “Be attentive to yourself”? I think sometimes when we wax on the virtues of one church (ours) over another, we’re too comfortable focusing elsewhere. I think it is very difficult to have these discussions without falling into the trap where one’s concern for the other sounds more like condemnation for their part and triumphalism on ours. Surely someone knows how to walk that line… but most of us, probably not.

    Somehow, the same holds true with respect to modern vs. ancient cultures within the Church, and the respective roles of men and women. Tradition does evolve… because it lives in time, and I am told you can pretty much find what you want to find in the Canons if you read enough of them. I’ve found some pretty odd stuff. People have always worked clever ways around rules that constrict what they want to do. And I have absolutely no illusions that the old days were any different than today… only more NOMINALLY Orthodox, faithful, etc. – however you want to term it. The idea that there was some golden age has got to be a snare and delusion… I’ve never read anything that has ever suggested the problems of a prior day seemed easier to the people living through them at the time. David McCullough calls it “the hubris of the present”. Our educations are just that much more narrow today and our lives more separated from each other that we are more vulnerable to “ideas”.

    My guess is that our difficulty is that if we live with Tradition, it is often reconstructed from what we read or what someone remembers rather than absorbed from a living experience of it in this modern throw-away world. And so often we have only part of it, and we think it’s the whole. And we try to live it… and fail to comprehend its context, or that without the fullnes of its context… a context that may be gone, the revival may do more harm than good. This seems unbalanced to me. And some of the traditions we have, we hold with the sort of grip mountaineers use… only we find that as the ledge crumbles and falls out from under us… we end up similarly frozen in place sometimes. It may take a long time to regain the flexibility to move our limbs again once rescued… but if we do, we have a deeper understanding. There are roadblocks and setbacks, but few real deadends.

    My observation as a newcomer to this Orthodox faith is that these are the things which the Church is undergoing now as it emerges from persecutions in the East and phyletism in the West. And yet no doubt it is also always doing something similar… as each new generation grows to where it must needs be converted or be lost. This, too, is not new, but it is a trial. What encourages me is the love which folks seem to bear this Church and her people and her traditions and that they want more not less… and that for the most part this is done to the Glory of God rather than themselves. There are still a lot of rough edges, and we’re still limbering up as this discussion amply shows… but hey… we’ll get there.

  29. […] Leave a Comment Perry Robinson, a philosopher in the Orthodox Church, wrote an interesting article Why I am Not an Episcopalian. It’s a fairly sharp response to an Episcopalian struggling with the […]

  30. Don Bradley says:

    Monk Patrick,

    It comes across, to Prots, like you’re telling them they will fry in hell eternally based upon their ecclesiastical affiliation. That may not be your opinion, but that is what they hear, and they recoil from it. It was only 12 years ago that I was in their shoes, and without a few breaks and a lot of study I still would be. There’s thousands of factors that go into converting to Orthodoxy, or not. There’s thousands of factors that will be judged by God to determine our individual eternity, so I don’t want to venture beyond my pay grade by fantasizing about how He’ll handle it. I truly believe the Orthodox Church is the only one, but I strongly suspect God will be gracious to those outside of her on Judgement Day.

    I converted alone, initially, despite being the head of a large family. The rest of the family was repulsed, quite correctly, by the blatant xenophobia that was thrown in their face. Correct doctrine won the day, but the heresy of xenophobia has done its damage. Can I, or dare I say even God, blame a Protestant for correctly recognizing and fleeing from xenophobia? I truly think there is doctrinal heresy, to some degree, inside every single RC and Prot; otherwise they would be Orthodox. I also think nominalism and xenophobia, which Prots see on their very first visit, are prevalent and nurtured and blessed in Orthodox parishes in this country. We, the Orthodox, end up being the very reason many Protestants remain Protestant….. or worse, the reason many Orthodox children leave to become Protestants. I empathize with their plight.

  31. That’s true, Ed. However, the Tradition is about one thing only – the Son of God who came in fulfillment of expectation from the time of Eden, who died, rose and ascended and is coming again.

    There is no other Holy Tradition. Loopholes and rationalizations have no power to change what is real. Further, even the “plausible” serves Holy Tradition.

  32. Ed R says:

    Alice,

    The advantage is directly proportional to the number of Orthodox who respect tradition. I think you underestimate the ability of clever people to find loopholes and make plausible claims about tradition which are, in fact, not tradition.

  33. Orthodoxy has an advantage – the honor of Holy Tradition. I discuss this here:

    http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com/2010/04/were-in-big-trouble.html

  34. Ed R says:

    Jnorm888

    “And so to me, it’s a matter of degree. It is worse in Protestantism than it is in Rome, and it is worse in Rome than it is with us.”

    I suppose one could draw some minor, cold comfort from that. However there is nothing intrinsic to Orthodoxy (or any other communion) which would guarantee that this would not become a major reason for schism in the future as it has among the Lutherans and even the RCs. I do wonder, though, if the kinds of arguments against WO used by the few Orthodox with whom I have discussed this can stand up to modernity’s critique of tradition based upon egalitarianism and/or theories of societal development. I am not saying I wish this to happen or that they are invalid or wrong arguments, just that a lot of people simply will not buy them. Then in a few short decades one could see an “Orthodox Church” much like TEC. Indeed, “liberal” protestants and “liberal” RCs have a lot in common, chiefly because the confessional standard is buying into a leftist or modernist doctrine of egalitarianism, coupled with a denigration of what most would call Christianity.

  35. Don,

    Some parts of Anglicanism were quite sacramental. Iwas raise with things like a clacker, monstrance and such,but many were not. Anglicanism is a mix of high, low and broadchurchmen. It wasn’t that uncommon for episcopalians to go to matins and then have communion once a month. Anglicanism since the Reformation has always been more or less a mix.

  36. Don,

    The reason for the statement is based on the understanding of the Church as having an essential physical as well as spiritual presence. Thus, for someone to be a member of the Church then there is required a physical as well as a spiritual connection; the argument seems to be required from Christ’s statements: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless someone is born of water and of Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” and “Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.” I am sure you know this. Are you suggesting that we are saved by faith alone? Even Protestants believe that we must be part of the Church and even physically so, if only on the ground that the body will be resurrected. So, this statement in itself doesn’t shut Anglican’s off.

    The idea that does is that once someone is outside the Church then they cannot self enter the Church without being physically reconnected by one in the Church, even if they repent of the heresy. This seems consistent with the traditional practice and ruling of the Church. The history of the Anglican communion was highlighted to show that, from nearly any perspective, that the churches in England were separated from the Church, other than it being only themselves, for a considerable period of history and there is no evidence of them being reconnected as above. Thus, even though they claim to be Catholic, how can they justify this? I was trying to develop an argument about the situation based on shared grounds and claims.

    What is implied by comparing Anglicans and Jehovah’s witnesses? Is there a level of heresy that is too much heresy? Is there a type of heresy that is allowed and another that is not? This is not to say either is wrong or not but ask why should Anglican’s be given a better position, at least Jehovah witnesses all believe in God, well at least on the public face, and they have concern that right belief and participation are important. I instinctively agree with you but on what grounds is this so?

    Children of tyrants are not the cause of being in positions of abusive power but this does not excuse abusive actions. Being born in the wrong situation is one of the aspects of being human. We have no control over our birth and upbringing; this is the responsibility of the parents and, if a cycle is perpetuated, the responsibility rests more heavily on the initiators. Each is, nevertheless, free to break the cycle, if they decide to do so, perhaps against incredible odds. Do we not give children of tyrants ultimatum’s to stop being tyrants, i.e. stop or be executed for your crimes, even though they are essentially bred for this and know nothing else? This is not to equate Protestants morally with tyrants but to critique the logic of being innocent by inheritance and upbringing. Does not the Gospel of Christ give an ultimatum? How is is any more an effective ultimatum than someone struggling within an atheist family, with its own rubbish, may get reading the Gospels?

    Even, if I can justify my position there is still the issue of speaking respectfully and with love and on this point I may have failed in pursuit of logic and argument.

  37. Don Bradley says:

    Monk Patrick made the most blatant allusion to the status, or non-status, of Anglicans; so I would like him to further elaborate. Anglicans come closest to approximating Catholicity amongst Prots, and Monk Patrick effectively shut them off like they are no better than a Jehovah’s Witness. Let’s highlight a sentence:

    “Your faith is of no avail unless you are physically part of the Church.”

    The average Prot was not the cause of their schism; they inherited it. They are an individual struggling with the BS fed them and trying to make sense of it all, and you effectively give them an ultimatum. Justify your position.

  38. Jnorm888 says:

    David L,

    A number of clergy, as well as laity of that generation went to liberal/modernist protestant and Roman Catholic schools for higher education, and so, it shouldn’t be a surprise when you see stuff like that. And so to me, it’s a matter of degree. It is worse in Protestantism than it is in Rome, and it is worse in Rome than it is with us.

    Christos Anesti

  39. Fr. Yousuf Rassam says:

    Dear Perry,

    Christ is Risen!

    Tangentially related to this post, but I don’t have an e mail address for you. Our friend Bill Zuck, who tried to be both Continuing Anglican and RC, died during Holy Week. I thought he would have liked to have lived to see the Ordinariates.

    Pardon the digression. I assume that as website owner, you have my email now.

    Fr. Yousuf Rassam

    Fr. Yousuf,

    I was aware of Bill’s passing during holy week. I’ll post something later about it. Thanks for contacting me.
    Perry

  40. David L says:

    New Orthodox bishop sets his goals

    By Rich Barlow | December 31, 2005

    Q: What is your view of the role of religion in political life?

    A: From the Orthodox viewpoint, we don’t tell people how to vote or who to vote for. Our hope is that we have instilled in them a moral value. On some political changes, such as gay marriage, this is not something that the church can bless at this time. But we don’t say, ”Vote for this person” because they are for or against abortion or gay marriage” -Bishop Nikon

    [I wouldn’t feel comfortable calling my former bishop a heretic or anything close but it alarms me that by implication his grace seems to think there could be a time. I am from New England so it doesn’t surprise me a bishop from there would be a tad liberal. The church can never bless this though correct? If he did indeed bless gay marriages I should stop communing with him correct? What about the parishes in SF that commune active homosexuals and the priest that claim there is nothing wrong with the activity? It seems the things I thought I left behind are still there. I hate picking sides but it seems like the Antiochians and Russians are more Orthodox than say the Greeks. How does one call a person who funds the promotion of abortion and gay marriage a “Good Man”? (Metropolitan Anthony of Blessed Memory).

    I totally understand why you choose Orthodoxy over Anglicanism. The Anglican priest would quote Billy Graham and even Joyce Meyers a Word Faith Heretic. However we have our own problems, often unlike yourself we aren’t honest about them. Whatever church I choose it is going to be imperfect just by my presence but where I find comfort and express my faith is in the knowing that Christ perfects the church. Do we say that Anglicans are not part of the church and therefore not perfected but damned. Do we not say anything but have that thought in the back of our mind (which is why we try to get people over to Orthodoxy even though Orthodox Bishops such as Bishop Nikon say we are not to proselytize people with a “Christian Base”? Before I became Orthodox I did what I was told, read the fathers, scripture and a lot of testimonies on why people converted. It was pretty clear reading the fathers that they were as divided as the Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Copts, Orthodox, etc. I think the Antiochians were also the most honest about the difficulty of fitting in having experienced rejection.

    I absolutely believe everyone should be Orthodox, I am not so sure it is a branding but a condition one is in by the grace of God.

  41. Fr Andrew,

    Thank you. Although, I cannot find the work online, so it may take a while before I can read and comment on it, if I can afford to purchase the book. If you can post a quote of the appropriate Canon(s), it will help, assuming that you may have access to the book. Thanks.

    Fasting on Saturday was an officially and canonically approved practice in Rome but it did not stop the Fathers forbidding it in the Council of Trullo and so also was enforced clerical celibacy and having only seven deacons. This does not permit us to follow these practices of Rome today.

    I think that a distinction needs to be made between women singing with the laity, for which there is abundant evidence, and women singing solo, or in choirs, as ordained Chanters. Also, another distinction is between nuns and other women. There is evidence of some singing by nuns in some non-convent churches but again not as a general rule or common practice.

    While cultural associations tend to influence particular practices and make culturally acceptable in one place and time what is not acceptable in another, this should not be used to explain the establishment of Ecumenical Canons, although it may explain some local canons. Your argument can easily move to the position that tradition is a product of human culture and not of God and there remains little or no argument to prevent women priests in the present culture. My argument would that the overwhelmingly common acceptance of women singing is a product of the changed culture but this is not consistent with tradition. The question needs to be raised whether this is indeed acceptable at all levels of Orthodox theology and tradition, or do we need to rethink what is happening and bring things back into canonical order? I tend to argue the side for the latter and so raise the issues from this perspective but I am happy to be shown a consistent Orthodox theology and tradition that says it is acceptable. I don’t fancy the conclusion that a consistent tradition doesn’t exist and really anything goes on the arbitrary will of a Bishop or council of Bishops.

  42. Fr. Andrew says:

    Fr. Patrick: You can read about the Arabic version of those canons in Johannes Quasten’s Music & Worship in Pagan & Christian Antiquity (1983), pp. 80-81.

    That this was an “approved practice,” at least locally, is clear, given the existence of canonical legislation regulating it. The association of women singing with paganism (which was the basis for most of the objections to their singing in church) held much more sway in areas dominated by Hellenistic paganism. It seems to have been much less of an issue in other areas, and it’s clearly not much of an issue in our own time, when women singing in church is overwhelmingly common.

  43. Fr Andrew,

    If you could point me to a copy of the text, in English preferably, of those Arabic Canons, it would be appreciated. Nevertheless, these canons are not consistent with the rest of material nor with the collections in Greek nor anything else that I have seen. I am aware that there is evidence of various practices throughout the history of the Church that are not always consistent but this does not mean they were approved practices nor that an exception can be used to overturn an otherwise consistent tradition. Also, many early diversities were later unified, such as the date of celebrating Pascha, and we are no longer at liberty to celebrate Pascha at diverse times as they had been earlier. This is further evidenced in Socrate’s Ecclesiastical History, where ordaining catechumens to the offices of Reader and Chanter was done contrary to the rest of the churches. The rulings of the Ecumenical Councils are there to sort out many of the inconsistencies and their rulings trump local custom, no matter how ancient. However, it is wise to be cautious and trying to make the exceptions fit is a good way of getting a deeper understanding of tradition and to be patient with various inconsistencies today.

  44. Fr. Andrew says:

    Mr. Orr,

    Are you suggesting that the Holy Spirit has dogmatically led the Church to forbid women from singing during church services? If so, we have a lot of heretics on our hands.

    Anyway, my comments were not meant to suggest a “buffet” approach to Church life—the opposite, really, though in this case, the one thing being picked out of the buffet is somehow believed to be the only dish that has ever been available. I am pointing out that what has been done “somewhere, by some” or even “most places, by many” is not necessarily sufficient to demand that it be done “everywhere, by all.” It is one of the curious afflictions of certain quarters in the ecclesiastical world to assume that one’s local custom must necessarily be revealed dogma (especially liturgical dogma). Reading some history can be a helpful remedy for combating such chauvinistic rigidity.

    In the end, it’s a difficult thing to try to lay out in codified terms exactly what it is the Spirit is telling us to do in terms of praxis. Is it what the majority is doing right now? If so, then that means that Orthodox Christians should rarely go to church, get their children baptized then disappear, almost never commune, completely disregard traditional canonical territory, sing uncanonical music, etc.

  45. orrologion says:

    …the history of the Church is far from monolithic on the question of who, exactly, is qualified to serve in the minor orders (whether formally or simply functionally).

    While “the history of the Church may be far from monolithic”, what does the Spirit-led consensus of more recent centuries tell us? has there been a consensus in more modern times? Is any more modern diversity formal or functional? Is any more modern diversity a function of decline, e.g., such as was idiorythmia in monasticism?

    I’m always suspect of statements that play at a sort of historical/liturgical buffet whereby anything that was anywhere practiced or said anywhere in pre-Schism or ‘early’ Christianity is up for being revived, out of context, today. It seems to assume a sort of Protestant paradigm of the fall of the Church from a state of grace; it assumes that the Church really is the creation of men (maybe even ‘inspired’ men’, though as often quite the opposite) rather than the divine-human Body of Christ guided and enlivened by the Holy Spirit. Is it really appropriate for Orthodox Christians to so easily ‘jump over’ centuries of belief and practice to various outliers and blind alleys of Christianity – all in the name of grounding some supposedly ‘necessary’ change, addition, etc.? That is a conversation I have been far more likely to have with Protestant over the years.

  46. orrologion says:

    Regarding women chanting or reading, my experience has been that this is due to not just a lack of men, but of men that are willing, able, and regular in their attendance and service. I don’t think women being involved preceded this, but followed this – at least in my experience. So, even when I, an ordained Reader, am present, I am essentially a visitor and I am most likely unfamiliar with a whole host of things in that parish. Just because a man is present, does not mean he can just step into a given minor clergy role that has, due to necessity, been fulfilled by a more dedicated woman in the parish. So, in a convent where a nun is given altar responsibilities because of a lack of men, would not then step aside on a feast day in favor of a visiting a man simply because he is there and available.

    All that being said, I agree we have gotten very loose regarding the proper order of the services on the laity’s side of the iconostasis. Chanting and reading should not be used as mere participation vehicles; they are the life’s blood and core of what we do, and they should be done well and in good order. That is, the readings are not primarily about getting the teenagers ‘involved in worship’ or making women feel like they are ‘included’.

  47. Fr. Andrew says:

    This comment thread seems to have gone in many interesting places. One thing that’s worth noting, with regard to Fr. Patrick’s comments about female chanters, is that the history of the Church is far from monolithic on the question of who, exactly, is qualified to serve in the minor orders (whether formally or simply functionally).

    The Arabic version of the Canons of the Apostles, for instance, includes canonical regulation of not just deaconesses, but also subdeaconesses and lectresses.

    One may even find references to catechumens serving as lectors and cantors in 4th c. Alexandria in Socrates’ Ecclesiastical History.

  48. William Tighe says:

    This is not my blog, and so if this is an inappropriate comment, please delete it — but this posting of Perry’s has been picked up here:

    http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/29465/#comments

    and if you want to see a response superlative in its morosophism, see #5.

  49. In a quarter-century of following this stuff it seems to me that all the pressure in the Catholic world East and West for women’s ordination comes from a minority living in Protestant countries – so it’s obvious where the idea comes from, outside the church – and is weakest among the Orthodox (thanks to strong Old World ethnic cultures – Orthodoxy runs on a smidgen of doctrine and lots of customs).

    Oh, yes, the women eucharistic ministers and altar girls are this Western protestantised minority of worldwide RCs trying to soft-sell the laity on WO (or ‘it’s about power’; liberals are the biggest clericalists) but Rome obviously can’t (not won’t – can’t) budge on the issue. Lately that activist fringe have been leaving for the vagantes; for cultural/ethnic reasons they don’t become Episcopalians (they don’t like WASP culture or high churchmanship; Episco-liberals can be high liturgically).

  50. Perry,

    I agree that the situation is much better in Orthodox Church than elsewhere but with other modernist thinking in parts of the Church, I am always wary of how things may develop.

    Regarding examples, I have seen in Greece, and elsewhere, a growing permission of allowing women to enter the Sanctuary, (Chancel) even where men are available and present to do so. This is canonically forbidden to laymen and to women, but due to a perceived necessity in some place, it was allowed and now seems to be an accepted behaviour. I have seen an otherwise traditional Bishop have a nun as his personal liturgical assistant to help him vest in the Altar and to lead processions in a Cathedral, with the censer, as if she was a subdeacon and it wasn’t as if there were no men to assist instead. I have seen instances of girls being involved with leading possessions even if they start outside the Altar. It is now common place in Greece and elsewhere to see women on the chanter’s/reader’s stand in Church, an area and functions only canonically permitted to ordained male clergy; not even laymen are permitted to be there. I have seen women read old testament texts or the Epistle in Russian churches when the Bishop is present and when ordained Readers were also present. Women are now permitted to teach publicly in seminaries and Orthodox theology at University, thus undermining St Paul’s commandment for them to not teach, which Chrysostom and other Fathers interpret to mean in all situations and only make exceptions for teaching women or in a private setting but then not too much to a man, lest she assume authority over him. Not only are women teaching men, they are teaching and training future clergy. Women are often now presidents of parish communities, while a couple of centuries ago, it would be unthinkable for women to be on the council, since it is man’s role to govern not the woman’s according to Chrysostom. Teaching and governing are the primary roles of a priest and once these roles are permitted to women in public situations involved with the Church coupled with being present in the Altar, taking “minor” liturgical functions, speaking in the churches, (much of this also forbidden to laymen) then it gets hard to argue why not to permit them to do so in a liturgical situation because the Scriptural commands against women priests are compromised, hence my point about trying to maintain a consistent theology once these things are permitted. The qualification of Paul’s commands applying only in a liturgical situation, that I have heard and seen incorporated into modern Greek paraphrases of the Scripture, is inconsistent to the Father’s understanding and also contrary to consistent Scriptural interpretation but it seems to have become part of the present way of thinking for many Orthodox.

    I am just completing my Master’s dissertation on the canon law regarding minor clergy, which addresses many of these issues in depth and I will post a copy on my blog soon. The paper has yet to be marked but my supervisor said that it is a good piece of work.

  51. Branford says:

    Thank you for your post, Mr. Robinson. It was Easter Vigil 2009 that I was received into the Roman Catholic Church after several years of prayer and discernment about TEC. Being a southern cradle Episcopalian with generations before me, it was a difficult decision. Like you, I realized I couldn’t leave TEC just because I was angry at their actions and join another church carrying that baggage. I left because I saw that there was no immediate hope there and I didn’t want my child growing up in that environment. When as a family we were visiting various churches to try and figure out where God wanted us to be, I found myself in tears during the RC mass – I wasn’t sure if it meant that I was in the right place or the wrong place! But in deciding to become a Roman Catholic, I wasn’t just leaving TEC, I was entering a new relationship with other Christians and with my church.

  52. Fr. Patrick,

    There are no women ordinands and none on the foreseeable future. This is not comparable to the situation in TEC or even the situation in Rome.

    As for the encroachments, I am not trying to play them down, but we have no lay Eucharistic ministers and no female acolytes/altar servers. Consequently, the problems can be corrected. If you have examples in mind, please put them forward.

    As for the deaconess = female deacon, I am quite aware of this opinion. There are some reasons for this. This has been making the rounds not only in Orthodox academic circles but more widely in Catholic circles. They sneeze and we catch a cold as it were. I am aware of the few sources for this idea in America in GOARCH and I plan to kill it. That said, in recent years there have been some significant victories. Some of the few adamant advocates for the ordination of women to the presbyterate have now given up the academic ghost in print on this ever having been a practice. This is why they have shifted over to the diaconate.

    For the record I have no opposition to the biblical and patristic office of a deaconess, I just don’t think that a deaconess is the equivalent to a deacon. And you and I both know that if there was some introduction of female deacons, there’d be a jurisdictional and ecclesiastical blood bath across all levels.

  53. […] Perry isn’t an Episcopalian April 15, 2010 — dpc+ An interesting article with much to (continue to) think and pray about… Posted in Uncategorized. Leave a Comment […]

  54. William Tighe says:

    I thank Monk Patrick for his cogent posts, and will add only, that I have been astonished and dismayed to see (especially in the last 5 years) how many intelligent Orthodox (and some Eastern Catholics) have picked up the idea that “deaconesses” = “female deacons,” and from this conclude that the ban on “deaconesses” ministering in the altar is merely a product of “social conditioning.”

  55. Chip Harper,

    Having an orthodox faith is not enough. Your faith is of no avail unless you are physically part of the Church. If you are separated from His Church then you are apart from Christ, you have not gathered with Him.

    The churches in England (Anglican) do not fit either a Papist catholicity nor an Orthodox catholicity. The branch theory is not catholicity as recognised by either Papists or Orthodox and so the only options are: to say that the Anglican churches are the only local churches remaining in the Catholic Church; that they are not local churches of the Church; or to deny being catholic and the need of being so. If you think at a set of churches of one nation, who accepted Rome, first as the Apostolic See and then as the head of the Church then rejected him and instead recognised a king as their head, and which went from Orthodox Catholic to Papist Catholic to Protestant Catholic and now permit Bishops to remain in office who deny the Creed or make a mockery of its meaning, are the only remains of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church then feel free to stay. Otherwise, if you wish to be a member of the Catholic Church of St Augustine and St Patrick then you must choose and physically attend a church with coherent Catholic teaching and history: Papist Catholic Old Rome; Orthodox Catholic New Rome; Orthodox Catholic Miaphysite (Monophysite) Alexandria; or the Orthodox Catholic Nestorian Church of the East, and all those in communion with them respectively.

  56. Don Bradley says:

    Monk Patrick says:

    “….but alter it to fit them.”

    Herein lies the real adjustment to becoming RC or EO. In the RC or EO you get to alter nothing, it is a strictly take it or leave it proposition. In the RC you swear to the Pope, and in the EO you swear to Holy Tradition. You don’t get to alter anything.

  57. Perry,

    I wouldn’t be too quick to say that the ordination of women is not a practical problem that EO have or may soon have. In recent times, I see that there has been a rapid encroachment by women (and laymen), without any ordination, into functions and places that are only permitted to clergy, especially those of minor clergy, whom have been quietly forgotten as being clergy (male only) and not laity. Also, it may not be long before we see deaconesses, who are legitimately ordained women, functioning as male deacons, contrary to tradition. This is due, I think, to both to a minimising of the need for maintaining practical (i.e. canonical) tradition, and little work being done on the theological understanding of clergy, below a Priest, to cope with the same pressure of modern heretical ideas as the Anglican’s have had. If I am correct then we may find it difficult, having allowed these encroachments, to provide a consistent theological reason why women cannot be Priests or Bishops.

  58. It seems to me that many people do not convert because they cannot give up the faith of their ancestors, and if they do give up the faith then it seems that often they don’t want to give up the faith community but alter it to fit them. This may be because our faith and faith community are part of our identity and we are reluctant to die to our old selves and separate from our forefathers in the flesh.

  59. Just want to clarify my commment regarding a Lutheran priest: the stress of potential conversion is reported unofficially to have overwhelmed him. It’s like divorce and remarriage: Long ago and far away, a college pastor of mine once counselled precisely that his experience of divorce was like a death in the family and he wept for a year. If you love your congregation, if you love your denomination… leaving it over matters of faith – even if they are concrete, material, etc. – is not an abstraction… it is annhilation today in view of the importance of one’s fear in not escaping it later. And it is painful. You may not be rebaptized… but I think you certainly feel the real experience of death of the old and rebirth of the new. So indeed, no one “killed” the fellow. I hope this helps.

  60. William Tighe says:

    “I’m not so sure the WR isn’t on offer so much as that OCA doesn’t have one to offer.”

    That’s what I meant, and should have said.

  61. I’m not so sure the WR isn’t on offer so much as that OCA doesn’t have one to offer. And that’s a rub. Do you ask your synod to do something for folks not actually IN the Church yet? I doubt it.

    Besides, I think conversion to the Church of Christ is of more interest to the good Met. Jonah than simple recognition… and by this I mean conversion to Christ’s Body… the real Catholic and Apostolic Church rather than the boiled down version that fits on a 3 X 5 or in 39 Articles that we grew up with. Ain’t no Army of One. Many haven’t seemed to grasp that yet judging from the (now undoubtedly out-of-date) podcasts on Ancient Faith. I don’t doubt their love of Christ, but He also says He doesn’t just want us to have Him our way – like He’s some sort of Burger King. But my guess is also that a busy hierarch wouldn’t be still squirreling around if he thought this was a dead end. So there may be more afoot than we know (certainly more than I know), or at least Met. Jonah may have more patience than we do. I should hope.

  62. Nancy Weres says:

    Perry, perhaps you should write a book a la Norman Podhoretz, “Why Episcopalians Are Liberal.” I recently tried to discuss “social justice” with some liberal Christians but gave up because they were clueless. You are correct that they shape Christ into a kind of Phil Donahue, according to their political beliefs. No wonder they all think Obama is the Messiah.

  63. William Tighe says:

    Waht’s with this Rev’d Harper? He can’t make a coherent argument that to be in communion with those who practice WO is just as intolerable, if not apostatical, as to be in communion with those who practice WO — (he himself says “We teach that WO is wrong, clearly and openly,” and yet he is in communion with those who practice and promote it?) so then he “picks up his marbles,” says he’s going home, and asks that his comments be deleted.

    What he has proven, and for all I know he may well be unperturbed by it, is that ACNA is just as much a thoroughly Protestant denomination as any of those (the UMC, the LC-MS, the REC) that I mentioned in my original posting on this thread. Once one takes this to heart, once one realizes that a “Catholic veneer” doesn’t a Catholic church make, one can wish him and his denomination well, while discounting any claims that it may make about “catholicity” — and if individuals like +Ackerman, +Iker and +Schofield can live with that, then, that brings a certain clarity, too.

    But, in that case, what is one to make of the ongoing game of footsie between +Iker’s Fort Worth and the OCA, for which see this:

    http://apostolicity.blogspot.com/2010/04/diocesan-anglican-orthodox-dialogue.html

    Is there any more of a realistic chance that FtW, having explored the “Roman option” and found it too inconvenient to pursue (+Iker himself said at last October’s annual Forward-in-Faith meeting in London that there were too many divorced-and-remarried ex-Catholic laypeople in his diocese’s churches to make such a move feasible), will embrace Orthodoxy in the Byzantine Rite (since a Western-Rite outcome seems not to be on offer from the OCA)? I wouldn’t care to bet on it myself.

  64. Phil says:

    Rev. Harper,

    I don’t think you’ve been unedifying at all.

    God Bless, my brother.

  65. Chris:

    Save you the trouble: I would imagine that our (EO) “errors” are the obverse of what we claim are the errors of the Roman Catholic church: 1)the Filioque, and 2) Vatican I (Papal Inerrancy and Immaculate Conception). Lots of other stuff flows from this (like divergences on the Garden, Hell, Purgatory), but “an exhaustive study” would take two or three lifetimes if not more. I think that’s the tip of the iceberg in terms of difference between subscribing to a Confession and Believing in a Church: “Belief in the Church is less a matter of intellectual choice and more of God gathering His people.”

    Been where you are. Didn’t like the implications either. But sometimes we find our position changes. Slowly perhaps, but surely. It is wrenching, it is stressful, it is awful (literally killed a Lutheran pastor recently) and yet at the same time it is wonderful and you wonder how you could have been so blind before. Truth is you’re right, you don’t have time. I know I don’t and didn’t… but my time is not my own either.

  66. Chip Harper+ says:

    Oops. Too fast…too much multi-tasking. I meant to say that I did not want to do an exhaustive study of EO to find its errors in order to make the point we are not unfaithful to the Lord.

    Please excuse the interruptions, gents. And Perry, please sir, if you would not mind kindly deleting my posts, I would be very grateful, my brother.

  67. Chip Harper+ says:

    Perry, et al.

    God bless y’all. We had to make a judgment where to go. TEC is not it. The Continuum was not it, at least for us. The emerging Anglican provinces were our only option. We love the Lord and are doing our level best to follow Him. Jesus said you were either for Him or against Him. We are for Him and are not heretics. And I don’t want to have to do an exhaustive study in order to point out its faults to prove it, gents.

    That’s my whole point.

    Now, I’ve got to go to work. After you read these posts, would appreciate it, please Perry, if you wouldn’t mind deleting mine. I think I have not been edifying here.

    Blessings, everyone!

  68. I find the puzzle of doctrinal drift… of continuous change in “the church of what’s happening now (or next)” that it seems to be done on the basis of inclusion. Informally, inclusion seems to proceed on the basis of including the outsider. And a couple of things might seem to get missed in the process. Changing the Church for the benefit of the outsider suggests someone thinks the medicine of salvation must have lost its effect. What happens when we do this is that some measure of the insiders who don’t change to the new doctrine but stay with the old, are suddenly in a state of broken communion. This robs the weak insiders are robbed of their inheritance. But there are equally adverse consequences for those we claim intention to help: Folks on the outside in need of the medicine of salvation are instead receiving something different, perhaps even something watered down. Will they be changed? or left unchanged? If the latter, then what’s the point? I think even the FDA would suggest there’s no way of telling whether the new concoction will be effective consistent with past expectations. It’s like going to a quack, or a doctor who’s Board Certification has been yanked. Gonna do it? Nah.

    If we accomplished nothing else, 2008 should have shown us the value of stability and the way in which having rules and paying attention to them, even keeping them when they’re inconvenient isn’t something we do to protect the powerful, but to protect the little guy. Somehow, the rhetoric gets the whole all twisted and folks get confused as to when a power grab is a power grab, and seeking earthly acclaim has come at the expense of the heavenly.

    Those of us raised in ECUSA were used to its claims as a “branch” of the one true church. Unfortunately, it’s not until you leave and graft yourself into the one true tree and experience all its riches that you realize those good folks… and no one would suggest they aren’t good – for they are… were led by those who cut the branch off behind them, it withered, and feel to the earth…leaving their growth to become more like a creeping vine. Even at its most anglocatholic, TEC -> was ECUSA -> was PECUSA… and where the P stood most accurately of all the other letters: P = Protestant. Catholic faith is not elemental, but corporate and of a whole cloth.

    IMHO, the best of the best of the Continuum repeats the errors of the Church of England in its isolation and inherent instability. Thus I think the best news for any of the Affirmation of St. Louis crowd is communion with Rome… seeking some stability. As an Orthodox, I may have preferred another for them, but this is probably best for all.

  69. Phil says:

    Rev. Harper,

    I mean no antagonism in this, but I think you have to examine your last comment carefully and consider that you might as well be writing about SS “marriage” as WO vis-a-vis ECUSA itself. The justifications are the same as those used by Christians remaining within ECUSA. To further the comparison, the witness of the Church throughout its history is just as clear on WO as it is on the question of whether a man can marry a man.

    Either something is wrong, or not. De facto if not de jure, you cannot really think WO is that big of a deal if you’re willing to remain in communion with bishops who sanction it. Practically speaking, it means as much to you as, say, sharing a church with those who eat steak on Friday or wear the wrong liturgical color: not something you would do, but, hey, it’s a free country.

  70. Chris Harper,

    I don’t think I argued that right ideas per se converts people or makes them virtuous so your remarks on what will get “folks there” seem to be grounded in a straw man. Second, your remarks seem to smack of utilitarianism. Third, I can’t see how the Word and the Spirit are divorced from the Apostolic Ministry and its teaching via the councils of the church. So I see no cleavage where you apparently do.
    If you commune with open heretics that makes you materially complicit and perhaps formally so in their heresy. If I am wrong here, please point it out to me. The fact that you won’t serve with them is immaterial. The mark of union is with whom do you eat, the eucharist. If you sleep with a chancred whore, guess what you get? Last I checked there was no mild form of Syphilis.

    You seem to make WO a matter of theological indifference while trying to play up allegiance to the apostolic ministry and tradition. I don’t see how this is possible. Is it false doctrine or no?
    I have no doubt of the sincerity of Arius in reacting against Sabellianism, but Arius was still a heretic. The same goes for the nice Mormons down the street. Sincerity isn’t exculpatory or relevant to whether the teaching is Christian or not.

    Second, you gloss heresy too widely to make your case. Not all errors are heterodox, some are more serious than others. Articles of the Creed like the apostolic ministry are not on the same level as others. If the error of WO is not serious, why not serve with those women and men who think you are wrong? If it is serious. Why commune with them?
    I may not have a perfect understanding scripture, but it doesn’t follow that I don’t have an adequate one on this point. Nor would errors on my part excuse rank heresy on theirs. So I can’t see how your comments really do the kind of work you wish them to do or speak to the issue.

    As for making a choice, I am well aware of the real life situations people find themselves in, but your mention of Rome does no work for me. In case you haven’t noticed, I am not prone to argue for conversion to Rome. Its part of being Orthodox.
    If you think a sufficient amount of time would license the conclusion that any body is heterodox in its teaching, then this capitulates the point that the body you are in now is heterodox in its teaching. Second, it seems to convict Jesus of lying given that the gates of hades would not prevail since your remarks would imply that the church entire has lost the gospel.

    You teach openly that WO is an error of sorts, but not one to break communion over. In your own words you do not condemn it. If so, then the apostolic ministry is not de fide for you, but it clearly has been or so I would argue since the time of the Apostles. You mean something different then when you recite the creed and it speaks of the church being “apostolic.”

    I do think you would fight manfully, which is why I am trying to win you over.

    No need to apologize. I didn’t take it as insulting, I just wished to be clear.

    I perfectly grant that the Orthodox have our share of practical problems, but WO and other theological problems isn’t among them. The thrust of my post was about faith and morals and not the practical failures of individuals. If you think there is a comparable theological failure in Orthodoxy, please by all means point to it and we can discuss it.

    We have good clergy and bad clergy and the same goes for laymen like everyone else but this is not what we are discussing.

    As for liking people in other traditions, liking has nothing to do with what I say about Anglicanism. I have the closest of friends and family members across the theological landscape. My remarks are two pronged. On the one hand TEC is clearly and openly heterodox. The Anglican communion is in serious trouble if not complicit in heresy. These are more or less recent troubles that require separation.
    Second, there are things retained in Anglicanism that I’d argue are theologically deficient in light of the teaching of the 7 councils of the church. This is an independent reason to be Orthodox and not Anglican regardless of the recent problems with liberalism.
    My remarks are not directed to the question to whom God has given grace. So I make no judgments as to a persons’ destiny. I am only speaking of what a body professes since that is all I can go by. It’s all anyone can go by.

    I don’t think I am sniping but trying to speak the truth. Love is in part at least willing the good for another and being Orthodox is a good I wish for you, to be in that faith once and for all delivered. I just don’t think there is some general church out there that we all somehow tap into more or less. X-Files ecclesiology isn’t an option.

  71. Chip Harper+ says:

    Perry,

    I think we live in a world that needs the Lord Jesus Christ powerfully, by His Spirit as a supernatural matrix for their lives. The councils of the Church, whereas powerful, won’t get folks there. The Word and Spirit will.

    Yes, we are in a larger communion with those that ordain women. We don’t agree. Although I love my sisters and support their call to serve the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, I will not serve with them in liturgical settings, as I believe they are inappropriate objects of Ordination. There are others who share this view.

    This, in no way, diminishes or indicts the sincerity of those (at least that I know) who disagree with me. They don’t see my point; I don’t see theirs. But heresy is a slippery slope… a term that means basically doggedly adhering to a false doctrine. So, for Christians, then, anything that conflicts with Scripture…doggedly adhered to is heresy. Are we all perfectly aligned to the Word? I think not. Are we all heretics? I think you get my drift.

    So we operate separately, under the umbrella of the Church. We had to make a choice, since I came from the Continuum–could not ascribe to Roman theology or business practice, and the overriding spiritual atmosphere, in my limited experience, was more about form in orthodoxy than personal holiness and ministering/worshipping in Spirit and Truth. I mean this with all respect to those who are still there. I could have remained there, but…as you say…heterodoxy. I think we could say that about anywhere we go, given enough time to analyze what they do…and why.

    We all have to go where we believe the Spirit leads us. For me, I had to align with someone who understood the spiritual nature of our battle more deeply. There are things I disagree with there, to be sure.

    We teach that WO is wrong, clearly and openly. All due respect, my brother, if you think that I don’t fight manfully for what I believe to be true, just talk to my bishop–I can give you his number. For that matter, come on down, and talk to me, face-to-face, brother. I’ll even buy your lunch.

    I need to ask you to forgive me for being less than clear about abandoning the field. I was speaking for myself. I could not take the action you suggest but have no doubt you are fully sincere, prayerful and thoughtful about your decision. I simply have no such dispensation. If it sounded like I was busting you around about that…please excuse me. Mea culpa.

    I completely understand your move to the Eastern Church. Makes perfect sense. But they are not at all perfect, either.

    But to imply all Anglican Christians are some kind of heretics simply is not true. Let’s drop those stones until we are all perfect, then, shall we? From what you say above, you don’t really seem to like anyone in the larger Church. I think we’ll all be surprised who is in Heaven.

    The bottom line: there are so many folks out there in Satan’s grip…we have work to do, as the Church. Sniping at each other over matters not central to the Faith won’t get us far. If I am guilty of sniping, I will ask everyone reading this to forgive me and hold me in your prayers. I actually wanted to encourage everyone that we are standing fast.

    We want to see the Kingdom advanced, people set free from the Enemy, healed and living lives that trump the World. I think that’s what I’m trying to say. We are earnest and honest servants of the King. Not perfect…trying hard, as God gives us grace. There is no perfect Church…not yet. But it’s coming.

    Not all Anglicans have compromised, though. Not hardly.

    Grace and peace,

    C+

  72. Chris Haper,

    Thanks for commenting. Please allow me to offer something for you to chew on. I used to make the same kind of arguments back when the ESA was formed. I’ve heard them repeatedly.

    I wonder how heretical does TEC have to get before communion is broken?

    The comparison with Baal and the remnant is not apt for a few reasons. First because some have remained with the Baal worshippers and have not separated themselves. You’re not a remnant if you still commune with Arians. Second, many of those who have, have taken in part of the gross heterodoxy with them such as WO as Dr. Tighe pointed out. There are other inherited problems as well along the lines of inspiration of the scriptures for example.

    With those continuing bodies that do not accept WO, their orders at times are questionable and their allegiance to the teaching of the 7 councils is brittle if present at all. In most cases it functions as a slogan and a varnish and not much else.

    As for the faith once delivered, I don’t take Protestant distinctive to be that faith (and certainly not the Filioque either.) How many sacraments are there? Are you justified by faith alone? How about baptismal regeneration? What about invocation and comprecation relative to the saints? Is the Theotokos ever virgin and are images rightly to be venerated? Even when I was in the ACC, people still strenuously objected to having a corpus on the processional cross or above the altar.

    And frankly I take charismatics to be contemporary Montanists. As for your parish, you may not favor the ordination of women, but you seem to commune with those who do. And you do not take it to be heterodox. Where is the faith and practice once delivered? Was women’s ordination once delivered or no? I say no and I say its heterodox. So when you say you have not compromised, it sure seems like it since you do not teach what has always and everywhere taught. It is the opinion of a sect.

    As for a standard to rally to, God also let the Northern tribes go into oblivion. And he exiled Judah. Why isn’t that an apt comparison in terms of biblical precedent?

    It may not be a fight you will win in courts, but if you can’t excommunicate people who open teach falsely with respect to the nature and scope of the apostolic ministry, I can’t see how prayers will be honored. I think a better biblical passage of Revelation 18:4, “Come out of her my people that you be not partakers of her sins.”

    I am not trying to be rude, but to just say things as they are. I am well aware of the strategy of a parish oasis, but in reality it’s a pipe dream at best and at worst a sect. You make it clear that with respect to WO “This in no way implies condemnation to those Anglican congregations that employ females in clergy roles—but is our faithfulness to our heartfelt convictions—our “integrity” as our bishops like to say. We love them—they love us—and we agree to disagree and let the Lord sort it all out at His perfect time.” http://www.allsaintsanglican.net/index.php?s=women+ordination

    If you don’t condemn it, then it must not be a false doctrine but a theologically permitted teaching. But your parishes remarks seem to say just the opposite. You remark that you let the Lord sort it out, but the Lord did from the get go and through 2,000 years of consistent teaching on the matter across languages, cultures and continents. What else could possibly be necessary? Good Lord, I am grateful that Athanasius, Cyril or Basil didn’t take this attitude but fought manfully for the true faith. I am sincerely inviting you to do the same.

    You invoke Acts 2:42 but you left something out, namely the teaching of the apostles.

    As for myself, I didn’t leave the field and I didn’t abandon ground to the enemy. I did what Scripture enjoins me to do and I followed Athanasius example.
    And even on completely independent grounds it is far from clear to me that traditional Anglicanism, whatever one wishes to think that is, maps on to the teaching of the seven ecumenical councils.

  73. I was thinking specifically of two leading founding fathers with many good ideas: Washington and Jefferson. Not bad as statesmen but not worth following as theologians. Both were nominally Anglican. Their unbelief has been fairly normal in the Anglo ruling classes since the ‘Enlightenment’ shattered their faith.

  74. Young Fogey,

    I am not sure its safe to say that all of the founding fathers were deists. In fact a good many weren’t but of a Calvinistic stripe and I take to be genuine and sincere professors of a faith in Christ.

    As for the professors in the 1960’s in some cases it was surely a matter of culture, then again, we’d need to explain all the people who left in the 1970’s who didn’t do it for cultural reasons or cultural adherence.

  75. Don Bradley says:

    There is a practical reason many TEC clergy don’t go REC or EO: What would they do for a paycheck? They went through 7-8 years of school, have student loans, wife, kids, car payments, mortgage, etc. Rome would possibly take them as clergy, but then Rome doesn’t budget for married clergy. It’s even rougher to go EO, as the process to be EO clergy could take years. GOARCH has the cash to pay them, but they are wary of recieving converts and moving them into the clergy quickly. The OCA is more receptive, but they have smaller parishes that lack the cash to pay them. Can a guy whose paycheck depends upon his beliefs arrive at an objective decision about leaving TEC cesspool? Many of the laymen under TEC clergy hang on because their priest does, which explains why pockets of traditionalists remain in TEC.

    It’s easier for us laymen to move on and remain objective. But once money is involved in any equation it changes everything. In fact, whenever money is involved, follow the money and you’ll find many answers to why things are the way they are.

  76. Ralph,

    The designation of Unitarian is used mostly with the classical sense of Adoptionistic or non-Trinitarian. Though the situation is a mix since some locations tend more to the modern UU type context.

    I think there are a lot more bishops in the TEC who are like Spong, but not as radical or outspoken. I know Fred Borsch was when I was in the OC Diocese. He was just more savvy. Shall two walk together unless they have agreed? Either way, it’s a functional Unitarianism since they are materially complicit with Spong whether their views are exactly isomorphic or not.

    I grant that they self identify as Christian, but so do lots of non-Trinitarian sects and that’s the point. What does the term mean? Most sects are adept as using Christian terminology but sell you a different Jesus. The EC is selling a different Jesus and another Gospel. So they can claim to be followers of Christ and it means about as much as the Jehovah’s Witnesses saying the same at my front door. (Of course the JW’ don’t come to my house for some reason anymore. 🙂 )

    Pike was disciplined not for theology if memory serves but for having a sexual affair with his secretary, which was deemed more scandalous than having séances and denying every single Christian doctrine. He got lost in the desert I believe with the woman with whom he had an affair. The had a six pack of soda in the Israeli desert. (Sodium contributes to dehydration-not smart.) He made the mistake of leaving her there with the jeep to go look for help. They found here a few days later kept alive by drinking her own urine and he had fallen off a cliff of sorts and burst open being consumed by maggots. Beelzebub indeed.

  77. Atlas,

    Apostle to the Episcopalians eh? Well I suppose thats a move up from when I was in the REC when Bp Grote designated me St. Perry the Evangelist. 🙂

  78. David L,

    I don’t think the situations are comparable. The functional Baptist ecclesiology in the continuing groups is an ongoing problem. As for the situation with the Patriarch of Jerusalem, one swallow does not make a spring. And secondly, is there anything comparable with a patriarch of an apostolic see in the continuing groups? Obviously not.

    As for TBN, its not dominantly charismatic, but Pentacostal, but it is a mix of charismatics, evangelicals and pentacostals and last I checked they were all species of Protestantism. And for evangelicals, how about David Hawking or Chuck Smith or Swindoll with their adulteries or overlooking adulteries of ghost writers supporting their personality cults? The same could be said of the “watchdogs” like Hannagraaf who is a complete and utter fraud. I know of what I speak first hand. I worked for the latter for about two years. I could give a legion of “evangelical” examples but I think the point is made.

    I agree that there was been inflated membership with the OCA. But this is why I choose to be Orthodox on grounds that transcend these practical problems. Even if everything in Anglicanism were peachy keen, there are still significant theological problems and differences between Orthodoxy and Anglicanism.

    You are quite right that many of the continuing groups can’t seem to get past the TEC. They use it as a recruiting tool for disaffected Anglicans at times. I grew tired of it. It wasn’t like things were good when Bp Pike was in office. Things were bad too, but plenty of people played the let’s pretend game. They should have excommunicated Pike and a mess of others and cleaned out the seminaries then when they had a chance, but they settled for “dialog.” Either you get the cancer or the cancer gets you and the cancer got TEC. Where there is a dead body, the vultures will gather.

  79. Andrew ,

    Yes I was referring to the Haverland group when I referred to the ACC. Their claim to valid orders is better, but when you start digging around, in my judgment certain things made me nervous. Dr. Tighe I think has aptly described the situation with Clavier and Falk. This is one of the major reasons I joined the ACC at the time and not the ACA.

  80. William Tighe says:

    Perry,

    Thanks for the correction; “the tale,” then, “grew in the telling,” as Tolkien wrote in a [preface to one of the editions of LOTR.

    I respect Fr. Harper’s views, but cannot really understand them, as it is the clear witness of “the Orthodox Catholic Church” that communion is to be severed with heretics — and that means, or should have meant, in 1977, once WO became a reality in ECUSA, not in 2003, when SS (= sanctified sodomy) became no disqualification for becoming a bishop; and in any event it is now 2010, not 2003.

    Of course, if one accepts (or even professes) that Anglican churches in general, and the Episcopal church in particular, is a “Protestant denomination” in exactly the same sense that the “United Methodist Church” or the “Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod” or the “Reformed Episcopal Church” is, then all this talk of “the Orthodox Catholic Church” is beside the point; but if not, then, as Alexander Pope wrote:

    “Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
    As to be hated needs but to be seen;
    Yet too oft, familiar with her face,
    We first endure, then pity, then embrace.”

  81. Chip Harper+ says:

    Thank you, Perry, for your article.

    Just a a few thoughts, if I may, please:

    There are faithful Anglican Christians that remain. We are orthodox. We defend the Faith. We are doers of the Word. We teach and live the “Faith once delivered.” Whereas I don’t blame Perry a bit for leaving, and can understand exactly what he says, this is not over…we have not all bowed the knee to Baal. There is a remnant.

    Ask anyone at All Saints Anglican Church of San Antonio, Texas if we have compromised one iota. Jesus is Lord and we teach what has always and everywhere been taught. And, if we can do it, anyone else can.

    Praying for all the sojourners out there. When the Enemy rushes in like a flood…our God will raise a standard we can rally to. I would say first, to be in prayer for that standard. Then, flock to it without hesitation. There are Anglicans out there who are faithful…find them!

    This is not a fight we win in courts, per se. Or with reason. Or with argument. And certainly not with anger…Scripture teaches us that man’s anger does not accomplish God’s purpose.

    We win it on our knees, being committed to personal holiness, remaining under the Blood and calling down the Holy Ghost and the Heavenly Host to engage the real Enemy. We take the land with the weapons of warfare that are not carnal, but spiritual, and mighty for the pulling down of strongholds. We ask the Holy Ghost to empower us to stand up and be the Church Militant in the Spirit, fixing our spiritual bayonets and refusing the line for the Lord. There is, indeed a ministry for the reformed catholics…but we need ask the Lord of All to send us Courage to fight spiritually for it. Then we stand fast…resisting the Devil, so he will flee. And we worship, in real orthodoxy–Spirit and Truth, being inside our parish doors and getting involved with parish ministry inside and outreach in our community as often as God provides the opportunity.

    In short, we aren’t going to get there with an hour a week in worship. We have to be, as the disciples were in the first century, continuing in fellowship, prayer and the breaking of bread TOGETHER. This means we may have to miss some soccer or scouts in favor of spending our time with God’s people in worship or fellowship.

    I deeply respect Perry’s moral courage to move to a new place he feels the Lord has sent him. But this is not the answer for me. We don’t leave the field–or our wounded–to the Enemy. We put on our full armor and stand together. After all, Scripture teaches that one us can put a thousand to flight! Blood and Spirit!

    Scripture also teaches us that we are to encourage each other to good works. I pray this post does just that.

    Victory in Jesus,

    CB Harper+
    Rector
    All Saints Anglican Church of San Antonio, Texas

  82. Jnorm888 says:

    David L,

    Hang in there. I know a number of people in your situation…..both OO and EO. Some have to drive 7 hours to get to their church. And so, what some OO’s I know have done is drive to their local GOA parish.

    If you can, try visiting the Antiochian parish one hour away. Also, don’t give up on the people from your original mission. Contact as many as you can, you all maybe priestless for a time, but don’t stop gathering.

    When some immigrants came over, they didn’t stop gathering, they stayed together, and when they saved up enough money, they brought some of their clergy over.

    And so don’t give up. You will have to act like a family. Contact the local Antiochian parish for advise….since it’s only one hour away.

    You will be in mt Prayers!

    LORD Have Mercy!

  83. What a lively essay and comments thread!

    I think I pass the test as I see past the current Episcopalian unpleasantness to its cause.

    My readers have already seen this:

    Anglican history summed up
    Schism + Erastianism (fallible church: the king’s whim is all that matters) + Calvinism (importing the ‘Reformation’) -> the ‘Enlightenment’ shattering most English people’s faith = deep freezer of latitudinarian moralism* -> pigging out on granola = Episcopalianism.

    *Dr Tighe came up with that expression.

    So unbelief is nothing new with these people. They’ve been in a holding pattern since the 1700s (the ‘Enlightenment’): lip service to the content of the creeds (so Episcopalianism is still a Christian denomination until further notice but a Protestant one) but widespread personal scepticism. ‘Don’t believe in that crap?’ Neither did America’s founding fathers.

    You’re right that in the good old days around 1960 you were more likely to find nice old WASPs who were credally orthodox but that was a matter of culture and custom not doctrine. Their wishy-washy theology was bound to self-destruct as the Bovina Bloviator has said.

    Credally and liturgically orthodox congregationalism – the last resort of some people – is not Catholic.

  84. Dr. Tighe,

    I think I have to disagree with the latter part of the account. At the meeting in question that you refer to, the Bp from Kansas City threw a pen across the room. There was no gun bandied about. What there was, was a remark by him that he could settle the matter with a weapon he owned during a heated exchange. I know this because I know a number of non-episcopal eye witnesses on both sides of that dispute that were in the room at the time. This got blown up into a rumor that said bishop had bandied about a weapon.

  85. “Deluded” is accurate, and the father of delusions is Satan. “Apostate” is true for many. The Presiding Bishop of TEC isn’t a Christian since she has publically stated that Jesus Christ is one of many paths to God.

    David, May God show you and your daughter great kindness as you journey on the Royal Highway.

  86. ralph says:

    Does your use of the label ‘Unitarian’ for the TEC leadership mean to imply the classical version (theist but rejection of trinitarian dogma) or a shorthand for a belief system, or lack thereof, that falls somewhere within the continuum of most current UUs?

    As a born and raised Unitarian, later Episcopalian, now Orthodox, I would argue that the use of this label isn’t really descriptive. Outside of John Shelby Spong it’s probably hard to find any Episcopalians who explicitly reject the Trinity, although there are probably quite a few who are universalists. The revisionist Episcopal ministers I have known really do self-identify as Christian and whatever universalist and pan-religious equivalence notions they hold and preach, they see themselves as followers of Christ. This alone would make one a virtual pariah in most UU fellowships, regardless of one’s politics and lifestyle choices.

    I think ‘Deluded’ is probably the best term for the bulk of the TEC leaders; I have been told that in scriptural contexts the Greek word for ‘delusion’ implies being lost or lead astray. What comes to mind is the story of former Episcopal Bishop James Pike (quite the radical, and the last Episcopal bishop to my knowledge to have been censured for his theological musings), while on a trip to Israel researching a book he was writing on the origins of Christianity, getting lost and dying in the Judean desert. The Episcopal church as a whole is following his example.

  87. Atlas Lifting Up the World on His Shoulders says:

    Perry

    Whether they receive you or not…you are still an Apostle to the Episcopalians.

    Galatians 2:2a I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles.

    …one of your Evangelical Associates.

  88. David L says:

    I once asked an APCK priest why not become part of the Western Rite and get broader support and the prayers of the larger church? I was told that the Bishop at that time doesn’t like ecumenicalism. I thought to myself well okay if your Bishop trumps Jesus there is a problem. I believe APCK is fully Orthodox it will remain tiny and less effective because again Bishops are not going to give up their rule. I think that applies to both sides East and West.

    Part of my problem is that I was heavily influenced by Antiochians such as Fr. Jack Sparks, Fr. Polycarp Whitcomb, Fr. Richard Ballew, Fr. Thomas Zell, Fr. Peter Gillquist, and Metropolitan PHILIP when I was studying and coming into Orthodoxy but I did not attend an Antiochian parish. In my parish I kept hearing how uncanonical these people were, even cultic. I was told to stay away from them. Well they were why I was interested in Orthodoxy. Thanks to Fr. Joseph Honeycut and his book “One Flew Over the Onion Dome” I stuck with Orthodoxy and now almost pitty cradles who don’t know the pearl withing their midst.

    My mission ended last year and we became church homeless at the same time I became deathly ill again. It has been lonely and scary being so sick and not having a parish. When I had my heart attack at 36 I had a priest who would administer the sacrament of unction, I had a parish family praying for me. After the mission died I was priestless and very ill from the medication for the heart attack. I nearly bled to death and even now I am still anemic. The families from the mission disbanded, I am not even sure the people remained Orthodox or gave up in frustration. Bishop Nikon didn’t return calls or e-mails. I am pretty certain my daughter and I will start attending an Antiochian church about a hour away but at such a distance it is going to be difficult to make a solid commitment. I really wish I could do more, I wish I could visit a monastery or find a mentor who could demonstrate to my daughter and I when to bow, etc, etc. If I get yelled at one more time for a breach of etiquette I am going to go go off on someone. Please pray for me and forgive me for hijacking your blog with my comments. I did ad it to my favorites as I find your reasoned thoughts to be good for me.

  89. Ad Orientem says:

    As I was saying… 🙂

  90. William Tighe says:

    The ACC (under Haverland) doesn’t seem to be interested in “going to Rome,” and at the moment it seems to be tending towards trying to reunite some of the major fragments resulting from the break-up of the original “Anglican Church in North America” (ACNA) in and after 1980: itself, the Anglican Province of Christ the King (APCK), and the United Episcopal Church (UECNA).

    ACNA changed its name to the Anglican Catholic Church in 1980, after the departure of the founding bishops of the APCK and the UECNA, but then itself split in 1991, when its archbishop, Louis Falk, led it into a union with the American Episcopal Church, a body that originated in 1968 in a split from the arch-conservative Anglican Orthodox Church (AOC) founded in 1962 by James Parker Dees, an ECUSA clergyman, segregationist and John Bircher. The AEC was led by that English clerical adventurer, Anthony Clavier, who after passing through various ecclesiastical purlieux and being ordained or reordained on various occasions, is now a priest in the Episcopal Church. The new united body took the name of the ACA; that half of the ACC that refused to to go along with the union kept the name ACC (and is now headed by Abp. Haverland). A couple of years later, when Clavier’s misdeeds caught up with him and he had to resign as bishop, a dispute occurred over the selection of a successor, and the disappointed candidate (Grundorf) left the ACA with a lot of former AEC clergy and parishes and founded the Anglican Province of America (APA).

    The ACC itself under went a schism in 1997, when after an episcopal synod at which threats of physical violence were uttered, a bishop waved a pistol, and police were summoned, the minority faction of its bishops left to found the “Holy Catholic Church – Anglican Rite,” which seems to be a rather inconsiderable body, but the ACC itself seems to have been doing well since 1997, even if it no longer advertises itself quite so boldly as a Western “Church of the Seven Councils” as it did before that date; and it now boasts a new “Reformed Catholic” faction which offers its ideological packet at “The Continuum” blog.

  91. Ad Orientem says:

    Andrew,
    I can’t tell you much about the ACC. To be honest I don’t really keep up with the ever shifting alphabet soup that is the Anglican Continuum. The person I would refer you to for information on all things Anglican or quasi-Anglican is Dr. William Tighe. That’s where I get all my Anglican dirt.

    Christ is risen!
    John

  92. Andrew B. says:

    Thanks John. I understand that. I just thought the ACC (under Haverland) didn’t want anything to do with going to Rome like the ACA (TAC) did.

  93. Ad Orientem says:

    The TAC is the Traditional Anglican Communion. It is a worldwide communion of self governing churches from the so called Anglican Continuum of the High Church or Anglo-Catholic tradition. The ACA is the Anglican Church in America and it is a member of the TAC.

    The TAC has been for sometime in serious discussions about entering into communion with the Pope of Rome. Several years ago a formal request to this affect was sent to Rome by their bishops who also signed a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a symbol of their complete acceptance of all Roman doctrine. Pope Benedict XVI has within the last year ordered special provisions to permit the mass conversion of the TAC and any other disaffected Anglicans who wish to swim the Tiber. Among these provisions are a broad tolerance for the use of Anglican styled liturgy as also the preservation, at least for the current generation, of a married clergy (priests only).

    Christ is risen!
    John

  94. Andrew B. says:

    JLB,

    Yes, they are distinct bodies, I think both fragments of the original split from the Episcopal Church in 1979/80 when the St. Louis Affirmation was made for the original Anglican Church in America before it fragmented. I think the ACC and ACA are a couple of those fragments but I’m not sure of the exact history.

    My concern is about the validity of the ACA (TAC) orders as I had always thought they were.

  95. JLB says:

    Andrew,

    If I were to guess (which I am about to do), I would say that ACC is Anglican Catholic Church, ACA is Anglican Church in/of America, and TAC is Traditional Anglican Church.

    From what Perry has written, I take it that TAC and ACA are distinct bodies.

    Doubtless, Perry can correct or clarify my understanding of an apparently murky situation, of which I know little to nothing.

  96. David L says:

    “Each parish now is owned by the parish and so they can (and do) get up and leave when ever it suits the vestry or the rector or both” Hmm, sounds like the Jerusalem Patriarch folks. In my area a parish left and got itself a priest and started it’s own parish. Again nothing distinctive, not shocking but just like everyone else. TBN isn’t evangelical btw, it is charismatic. We have an evangelical church in town with 10,000 people, a Charismatic church with about 3,000. They don’t care for each other that much.

    I didn’t mean to beat a dead horse, I just think if we are honest with ourselves moving forward we won’t repeat the mistakes of the past. I agree with one thing about the continuing groups. They have websites listing parishes that haven’t existed for years, but then so does the OCA. Some seem to have more Bishops than laity. Another thing I did not like about continuing parishes is that they were always preaching about how bad TEC was, move on for goodness sakes. Ultimatley the divisions are a result of what St. John Chrysostom calls the “Mother of all heresy” which is “the desire to rule”.

  97. Andrew B. says:

    Perry,

    Above when you were talking about the ACC and ACA. Are you talking about the Anglican Catholic Church (the one under Haverland? http://www.anglicancatholic.org

    Because if so, when you said:

    “And can we talk about the lines of succession among the Contimnuing churches? I mean even in the ACC is far from normal. Outside its even worse. This was the main reason why the ACC refused intercommunion with the ACA.”

    …why would Haverland’s group refuse communion with the ACA (TAC)? Does the ACA (TAC) have faulty lines of succession?

    Also, you said:

    “Scarlett is essentialy a broad churchmen, which is why if the TAC and the ACC go to Rome”

    …did you use the wrong acronymn here or am I misunderstanding the complex situation?

  98. Brad says:

    Dan L.,

    I’ve seen my Antiochian priest deny communion to non-chalcedonians and other non-orthodox. I think ROCOR was slightly different — I think laity were allowed to commune in my area before we had a ROCOR church. In College Station, TX, Orthodoxy is pretty much limited to an Antiochian mission (www.st-silouan.org), a ROCOR mission (www.theotokos-lifegiving-spring.org), and a few student organizations (2 of which tie back to those churches).

  99. Andrew,

    Scarlett is essentialy a broad churchmen, which is why if the TAC and the ACC go to Rome, he’ll jump ship. He talks up the 7 councils but when you point out discrepancies between them and his teaching, he’ll balk. On Mary isn’t the only place. For years he was repulsed by the term “Catholic” in the ACC name, preferring “Traditional Episcopal” instead.

    I was aware of the Marr’s reception into the Church. We saw them last time I was back home and we went to St. Barnabas, which is an awesome parish. The Marr’s are much better Christians that I have ever been.

  100. Samn! says:

    In most of the Patriarchate of Antioch, the official policy towards intercommunion with lay anti-Chalcedonians as well as Catholics and Assyrians is rather much more loose than most other Orthodox realize or would be comfortable with…… but then, given their specific circumstances…..

  101. Chris Jones says:

    Dan,

    there is at least someone out there who is liberal (in the political arena at least [first amendment and all that]) and episcopalian who also is a confessing Christian

    There is certainly nothing wrong (and perhaps a good deal right) with being politically liberal and a confessing, orthodox Christian. However, it has to be reiterated what Perry wrote in the original post:

    Even if you are a professing Christian in such a body to remain in communion with open heretics makes you complicit with their heresy …

    That is, no doubt, a hard saying for someone in your position. Nevertheless it is the truth; you are who you are in communion with.

    If you are indeed an orthodox Christian (and I have no doubt that you are such), the question becomes: why do you remain in communion with those who deny and deride the faith which you confess? We are to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”; but how can there be unity of the Spirit among those who do not confess the same faith?

    It is perhaps understandable that a political liberal would be more comfortable in a Church body in which his political outlook is respected and prized. But for a Christian it is better to kneel at the altar rail with those who confess the same faith, even if you abhor their politics (and they yours).

    What does the Episcopal Church have to offer that the Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, or a confessional Protestant Church does not offer? And what in particular does the Episcopal Church have to offer that can possibly make up for its abandonment of the Apostolic faith?

  102. Andrew says:

    Perry,

    I have many friends that attend St Matt’s in Newport Beach. To my knowledge, they are unaware of Scarlett’s heterodox views re: the perpetual virginity of Mary. I am sure they would be shocked to hear that this is so.

    Better news that you may have been unaware of: Michèle Marr’s husband Mike has been received into the Orthodox Church. Both attend St Barnabas in Costa Mesa.

  103. Fr. Andrew says:

    I’m sure that many folks have “heard” a good many things. I do what my bishop directly tells me to do.

  104. orrologion says:

    I have heard quite the opposite as being the real policy from at least some Antiochian bishops regardless of those same bishops’ public statements. The same can be said of the OCA and the GOA. The argument boils down to the belief that they already are Orthodox, much in the way that laymen were regularly allowed to intercommune between ROCOR, the OCA, etc. when they were all out of communion with each other.

  105. Dr. Tighe,

    This to some extant or another, minus the express episcopal order, has been more or less my experience in GOARCH. It varies. Some clergy forbid it in GOARCH and some take it on a case by case basis and some ignore it and play the Let’s Pretend Chalcedon Never Happaned game.

    Frankly most of the Copts in my direct experience, (Eritreans) have no significant knowledge of the Christological issues, ot even the slightest awareness of a schism or even if they do, why there was one. I am not excusing, I am just noting.

  106. Fr. Andrew says:

    Dr. Tighe:

    Receiving non-Chalcedonians by confession, including a profession of faith, is indeed the standard in our Archdiocese. It is also to be made clear to them that doing so puts them out of communion with their former church.

  107. William Tighe says:

    Well, Fr. Andrew, an Antiochain Orthodox priest whom I know somewhat well told me in 2001 that his bishops had ordered him some time earlier to treat Copts, Armenians and the like who came to his church and sought confession and communion as though they were Orthodox, and to “ask no questions” about it.

  108. Fr. Andrew says:

    David L., you wrote: The Antiochians will commune those who aren’t Orthodox so what does their profession mean?

    I am an Antiochian priest, and all our clergy are absolutely forbidden from communing anyone who is not an Orthodox Christian belonging to one of the Chalcedonian Orthodox churches. Non-Chalcedonians must be received from their church into ours before they can be communed.

  109. Dan says:

    Just wanted to say there is at least someone out there who is liberal (in the political arena at least [first amendment and all that]) and episcopalian who also is a confessing Christian (believe in the trinity, the divinity of Christ, the bodily resurrection, etc…). Just wanted you to know there are some of us out here!

  110. Megan,

    Yeah. Its kind of funny now. He’s got a big church built in newport beach and I’m Orthodox. I think I got the better deal. Given that I sided with Bp Sealand he decided to kick me out because I was a “loose cannon.” He did the same with the Marr’s which was really sad. Michelle made that parish run…well. He then preceded to take his whole congregation over to another bishops without their consent or knowledge. He did the same thing with the then DCK, But hey, *I’m* the loose cannon! LOL.Ok, whatever dude. His whole aim of having me and Michelle Marr on the Standing Committee was to pack it for the schism that he knew was being planned for a year or so before. What he didn’t realise was that when I said with respect to church gov’t that I wasn’t a baptist that I’d side with my bishop when there was no heterodoxy or gross immorality on the Bp’s part over against my local cleric. Its that whole Episcopacy thing, ya know? Scarlett had his hand in trying to co-opt the diocese for years or to be the puppet master for other parishes like St. Mary’s in LA or Mary Magdalene’s in Orange. You don’t get a dozen deadlocked votes for a new bishop for no reason. And I mean a dozen at one synod.

    I am suprised that he isn’t BISHOP Scarlett by now. I fully expect that to happen sooner or later. Maybe he’s learned his lesson, but I doubt it.

  111. Megan says:

    Perry, I am so sorry to hear about what happened to you at the hands of father Scarlett. I had no idea it had gotten so bad since by then I was no longer visiting his parish. Banned you from the table and threatened arrest?? This just makes me sad to read.

  112. […] This entire site Copyright 1997-2010 Don C. Warrington. All rights reserved. Appearances of certain advertisements on this site do not constitute an endorsement. Why I’m Not an Episcopalian, Either13 April 2010, me @ 0848Perry Robinson puts it at its simplest: […]

  113. David L,

    We need to be known by both, but good works with heresy isn’t what we are to be known by. This post was centered on TEC. If you want my reasons for not being in the ACC or whats left of it I can give you those and my reasons for being Orthodox.

    The ACC gives nice lip service to the 7 ecumenical councils, but when it comes to the theology of those councils they either have no clue or fudge on it in the case of specific Marian teachings or other areas. The Affirmation of St. Louis sounds nice on paper. Structurally and practically they function like Baptists. Each parish now is owned by the parish and so they can (and do) get up and leave when ever it suits the vestry or the rector or both. When I was on the diocesan standing committee for my bishop, my rector, Steve Scarlett did just that because he didn’t believe Mary was perpetually a virgin, among other things. Then he banned me from the table and threatened to have my wife and I arrested if we set foot on church property. He made the switch in less than a week. We were members in good standing for years and had devoted ourselves to building then, his little parish in Newport Beach. Its the only time in my life I’ve been under event he pretense of church discipline.

    And can we talk about the lines of succession among the Contimnuing churches? I mean even in the ACC is far from normal. Outside its even worse. This was the main reason why the ACC refused intercommunion with the ACA. Clavier among had no valid succession. And let’s be honest, four bad coughs and a heart attack and the ACC will have no bishops at all. Thats the one holy catholic and apostolic church? Really? As for the newer kids on the block from TEC, they still accept women’s ordination and while they reject the gross immorality there were lots of other serious theological problems in TEC than this. Most of these clergy are party men who went through the established seminaries of TEC. Can you guess what they learned?

    As for erring priests, its one thing to have a bad apple. Its another thing to just suck up practically anyone who comes to the door, like taking defrocked priests from Rome or the TEC and they weren’t defrocked or lost their positions for what they taught but for gross theft from their parish or diocese or the unthinkable and then try to make them a bishop! I’ve seen that more than once in the ACC.

    And what the newer groups from TEC haven’t figured out yet that people in the TAC and the ACC have is that once you start splitting it is practically impossible to stop. And I didn’t even mention the PCK. In the TAC or the ACC you frankly never know theologically what you are going to get from a rector. I mean in a world where they are cuddling up to the REC and the REC has practically dumped, in a space of less than ten years what it tenaciously held to theologically for over a hundred just pretty much for numbers and money, there are some serious problems and they aren’t the run of the mill practical problems.

    As for the problem with the Antiochians, if it’s the particular problem that I think you are speaking of it’s a local problem. One swallow doesn’t make a spring. A few Pascha’s ago, as long time readers will know, someone knowingly who wasn’t Orthodox tried to present themselves for the eucharist ON PASCHA at my parish. When I informed the priest, the priest strenuulsy refused to commune the person. It took less than ten seconds. Fr. Achillies didn’t even flinch. Of course, the person graced us by flipping me the bird and stepping out of line.

    I am all for cleaning out the practical problems. Things could be better. Good, Lord, I wouldn’t have Ochlophobist here if I didn’t think so and didn’t want to move in that direction. Ask Owen if I ever complain about the practical problems! I never have sold Orthodoxy as some secret entrance back into Eden. I know some do and they are wrong to do so and I have called them out on it before. Every body has practical problems but what I picked out in the TEC is a far cry from these.

    As for your evangelical associates, in a big world they are going to see such things because pretty much practical problems have always happened. Just think, Jesus own people handed him over to the Romans and the Apostles fought among themselves too, and that was AFTER the Resurrection. Just start reading the canons my friend! They aren’t there unless someone tried to do some of that stuff. Augustine complains of people picking pockets during the sermon! Besides, the evangelical friends might wish to remove the Siberian forest of TBN from their own eye first. So I can handle the problems you mention but I can’t handle replacing Christian teaching whole sale for flat out Unitarianism or paganism. The two are not comparable.

  114. Don,

    I am being honest. I don’t know what most Greek parishes are like. I know what those are like that I have been to. The two ends of the spectrum are either FOB’s who are far more devout and care little about being Greek or “Hellenism” and then second or third generation Greeks who care little about the religion but worry they might not be Greek anymore so they over compensate by forgetting that they aren’t living in North America.

    And I haven’t sugar coated it ever. If you read my piece “Anglicans in Exile” I’ve made that clear. But cultural insularism is problematic, but it isn’t like hearing your bishop tell you that you can’t be a priest because you don’t believe in the ordination of women or homosexuals. Or hearing him come to your parish and flat out deny the resurrection on easter Sunday. The former is a practical problem and the latter is something different altogether. I’ve lived both.

    As I have always said you have to choose with practical problems you can live with. I can live with those in Orthodoxy.

  115. David L says:

    I am not looking for utopia, I just wish more Orthodox were a little more humble. My mother was refused entrance into a parish because she had pants on. That happened and yet I still became Orthodox because I know it is the extreme. I guess my beef is that hey the heretics will let my disabled mom in, not only that they would be willing to send a car to bring her to church. We as a church have to be better, I am Orthodox in an office full of evangelicals. First thing they did was investigate what the EO church was. Sadly they did so online so they are able to read about gays being murdered in Russia, monks fighting each other in Jerusalem, etc. One parish in town has a menu of sacraments along with prices to have them administered. How does a priest go to seminary, read his bible, and have faith in God get off thinking that it is okay to do that? On the other hand how do we as converts remain sensitive to the cradles who are nominally Christians. We would get old country people into our mission and they would flee the church afterwards because we didn’t have the rules and regulations that have nothing to do with the faith. I have read “One Flew Over the Onion Dome” and it was great. I do not agree as much that we should thank the Greeks or the Russians, and so on. We need to be thanking God. Those people are there because of faith which was foreign to them as it is to us all while others sought to maintain a vestige of the old country.

    There is no perfect church, if I found one I would ruin it. Do apply that charity to the ACC for instance? If not aren’t we hypocrites?

  116. David L says:

    Are we to be known by what we profess or by our fruits? I hate to say it but talk is cheap. We are both converts, apparently we both have dabbled in the Continuum. How are we distinct from the ACC? Okay if they have erring priest I am sure it is a smaller number (perhaps not in percentages) than the Orthodox church. I am not trying to argue that Orthodoxy is wrong but rather not that all distinct than the ACC for instance. They have problems with their clergy, we have problems with ours. The Antiochians will commune those who aren’t Orthodox so what does their profession mean? BTW I agree with the practice of communing copts. Maybe these are questions asked in house, I only dare ask these questions because many have been able to figure out what I have learned being Orthodox.

  117. Don Bradley says:

    “Phyletism was condemned by the Orthodox as heterodox about a century ago.”

    Be honest, though, Perry. Xenophobia runs pretty rampant in Greek parishes, and that is putting it rather kindly. I think it is safe, very safe, to say that 25-50% of the Greeks don’t really understand why us nutty converts are there, but I’m thankful to those same Greeks for providing a parish for me to go to. Let’s not sugar-coat it; if you convert to a GOARCH parish you will have cultural and social hurdles.

    David L,

    About 50 years ago many displaced Greeks were counseled to go to TEC parishes if they didn’t have access to an EO parish, and people have long memories. Many don’t know that TEC is now a pigpen, many don’t have the first clue how doctrinally different the EO and TEC are, and many don’t know what they believe in the first place without parroting what their priest tells them to say. Many in the EO were sucked into ecumenism, a wicked battle that appears to have been won (for now) by traditionalists.
    Welcome to life, David. If you venture into the EO you will have problems. All of us converts have experienced difficult issues. It should not surprise you that obstacles will be in your way. The EO doesn’t offer Utopia. If you walked into a crappy parish with a drunk priest that thinks he is saved by Greek culture, then vote with your feet and consult another priest in another parish. What you found is NOT the norm.

  118. David L,

    Personal individual failings are one thing. That is common to humanity and the Orthodox have our fair share. Trust me, I know. There are good clergy and bad clergy no matter where one goes. Thats the way the world is.

    The point, in part, as I pose it is what does such a church profess? One of the ways you can tell is by what it denies or prohibits.

    The idea that Greek churches are for Greeks and so forth, phyletism was condemned by the Orthodox as heterodox about a century ago.

    If some Orthodox clergy are FOBs and think that the Episcopal church is for Americans and such, then they simply need an education as to what the Episcopal church openly permits and what its clergy officially and openly sanction.

    If my comments do not get at what you are asking, please clarify and resubmit and I’ll give it anothe go.

  119. David L says:

    What does it mean when you arrive at an Orthodox parish where the priest is an alcoholic who is nominal at best and not at all interested in coming under the microscope of converts with their “misplaced” zeal? What if you are in a parish where TEC is considered the same church as the Orthodox church just for Americans (just like Greek parishes are for Greeks, Romanian for Romanians, etc.)? I have my own ideas but would love to hear someone like yourself who has done the Anglican Continuum thing for instance.

  120. Don,

    The branch theory is proposed on the assumption of the truth of Christianity and an apostolic ministry. While I think its wrong it is a whole another breed of cat. I can understand why Anglicans have confessed that notion within the context of professing Christianity. What the other religion is professing is…well…another religion. I can at least talk to people in the former group without having to get them to profess major Christian teaching.

  121. Don Bradley says:

    How much deviation is allowable? Is Anglican “branch theory” acceptable so long as they are “OK” on everything else? Is Luther’s systematic separation of sanctification and regeneration acceptable, so long as they are “OK” on everything else? Where would the Fathers tell us the dividing line is between orthodox and heterodox?

  122. Terrific post! Thanks for speaking the truth. I’m going to direct readers at Ethics Forum to it.

  123. Ad Orientem says:

    Perry,
    Brilliant post. One of the best I have read on this subject. Bumping it on A/O

    Christ is risen!
    John

  124. Orro,

    True enough, but I was assuming they’d wish to stay in a Chalcedonian tradition.

  125. orrologion says:

    Then its either Rome or Orthodoxy.

    I have heard others also list Non-Chalcedonianism (Coptic, Armenian, Ethiopian, Jacobite), though no one ever seems to list Assyrian (Nestorian) Church of the East.

%d bloggers like this: