Friday, January 15, 2010

The Yea Sayers

"For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us." II Cor. 1:20

If I were a Baptist I would gladly work for the spread of the Gospel in Baptist terms, or in Eastern Orthodox terms if I were Eastern Orthodox. I am glad for the success of each portion of Christ's Church wherever and whenever people come to God and receive grace through faith in Jesus Christ. I have an article ready to come out in Touchstone magazine for the unhappy occasion when the greatest of modern preachers, the evangelist Billy Graham (with his truly ecumenical and Mere Christianity appeal) departs this life to be among the saints in glory. I am full of joy when people find the mercy of God in a Roman Catholic venue, having myself been graced to have a Roman Catholic priest as a wise and helpful confessor regularly in my time in Arizona, willing to hear my confessions (as I have heard confessions from people who are not Anglicans).

However, having but one life to give for my Lord, I believe that the best way to serve Him, to heal my own sinful soul, and to spread His Gospel in the world, is as an Anglican. I believe we have the best way, combining all that is true from the riches of our Evangelical and Catholic (forgive the redundancy) heritage. I do not need to squint my eyes at Anglicanorum Coetibus, trying to see in it all the wonderful things that others imagine. Nor do I need to pretend that we are simply Western Orthodoxy. We have a good and healthy heritage as Anglicans; and while I hope that the Church will some day come together in a visible polity of unity that expresses the underlying truth we all adhere to, I do not delude myself into imagining that we need a blood transfusion from Rome or from Constantinople in order to survive.

When I come across other Continuing Anglican blogs, too often I see gloom and despair, usually cloaked by superficial but desperate appeals to "unity" so-called. I see Anglicanism itself disparaged by Anglicans who have bought the lie that their own patrimony is worthless, and that without intervention from someone else they will perish. Instead of concentrating on a positive message, that we have our own spiritual resources to build the Church and spread the Gospel to the four corners of the earth, they have become so demoralized that they react to our positive message on The Continuum as if it were somehow negative, as if we have no right to talk about evangelism and mission. Don't we know, they seem to think, that we are destined to die out? Frankly, the answer is, no we don't know that. In fact, we know the opposite.

The success I have seen here at St. Benedict's in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in less than ten months since my arrival, with more growth than anyone ever expected, is related to the grace God has given me to be a Yea Sayer. You can be a Yea Sayer too. To begin with, stop apologizing for being an Anglican, and instead be Anglican very openly. Follow the Book of Common Prayer, and do not apologize for doing so. Accept no substitute for telling the story the way your fathers handed it down to you. Stop falling for the old lie that they were heretics, and that what we have is somehow in spite of who we are, and who they were, rather than because of it. Preach the Gospel in the terms it has been given to you, terms of the Book of Common Prayer as it teaches the deepest and enduring truths of the Bible in powerful words that reach the human heart.

Who told you that we cannot evangelize and grow? Who fooled you into thinking that we need to be to rescued from the outside? Who convinced you that talk of evangelism and mission is futile, the idealism of those dreamers in the ACC, or those crazy writers at The Continuum blog? The truth is, we are growing, not just in one country (the U.S.), but all over the world. Our churches have people of all ages, with a lot of youth and children, people of different colors and from various cultures. We have, believe it or not, a future. We are building for that future even now, not hoping the Holy Father in Rome will save us from extinction, or the Ecumenical Patriarch; we love them as fellow Christians; but we are going ahead as Anglicans. Our growth and vitality has not come from burying the Book of Common Prayer in the sand, or by apologizing for our Anglican Fathers. Just the opposite; it has come from being very, very Anglican, which means, very Christian, very Catholic, very Evangelical (forgive the redundancy).

If this seems unreal to you, drop in down here some time, or visit our missions in Africa, our churches in Asia, or somewhere. We are the Yea Sayers; you can join us.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Evangelical Catholic" is not quite redundant (although I wish it were).
"Evangelical" relates to the doctrine of salvation, "Catholic" pertains to tbe doctrine of the Church and sacraments.
Some Evangelicals fail to be sound Catholics, and some Catholics fail to be really Evangelical. A sad but undeniable reality.
LKW

Canon Jerome Lloyd OSJV said...

God bless you Father!

Canon Tallis said...

I could go shouting Anglican for the moment and quite happy-clappy while singing "Amen, Alleluia, Amen!" This is what I want and lots, lots more of it. Please, please!

And if I sound silly, I am not going to apologize for it. I am just that much tires od those ashamed of Anglicanism and all things Anglican. Our ancient churches and shrines may now be in the hands of almost pagans, but every time we get the opportunity to recite the prayer book office or sing the Eucharist we put the world back together again.

Anonymous said...

Indeed. I tire of attempts that downplay Anglicanism in order legitimize our existence. We are sufficiently catholic and need no apology. We can offer an apology to them who ask, to be sure, but it shouldn't be our constant posture. I for one love the Anglican ethos and theology handed on to us. Rome or the East has nothing to compare. Their respective treasures to be sure are beautiful, but offer me nothing better.

Thanks, Fr. Hart.

St. Worm

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Their respective treasures to be sure are beautiful, but offer me nothing better.

That is the best way to put it.

psalm ciii said...

Thank you, Father Hart. I really needed to read that.

BCP Anglican said...

A good post to start with, and an even better nugget of wisdom from St. Worm. There will always be some disagreements- among Christians in general and among Anglicans in particular, but we continuing Anglicans do need to focus on the positive aspects of our godly heritage. After a generation of wandering in the wilderness, it's time for more "yea sayers".

David said...

It's true I see huge Anglican growth in the capital of California. There are Anglican churches sprouting up everywhere. Wait that is true of Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Churches but not amongst the Anglcans. I am not happy that it is so but I have lived around the country from Maine, to Oregon, the Alaska and California. Anglicanism was not growing in those places, mostly it was cannibalizing itself. I really wish it was as rosy out there as some tell themselves.

David Gould said...

Having had His Grace Archbishop Haverland, Acting Primate of the ACC visit us in Australia in the last two weeks, I am excited to see the vision of a vibrant, missionary focused and confident Anglicanism still lives in the continuum.

Reunion with Rome and the East must be something that we all pray for and desire, but we must come to the table with confidence in the gift of Anglican Christendom to humanity, the witness of many holy men and women of God to the primacy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

David (not Gould):

I speak from experience including what I am living with every day. I have told myself nothing; I see the facts that elude your notice, and I am not about to pretend that I don't. You may be gloomy if you wish; but, I have no reason to share your point of view, since what I see is very much the opposite.

RC Cola said...

There is a such thing as "holy shamelessness." We need to put ourselves out there and not apologize in anyway for being what we are.

Each person in the Church has a mission, in the proper sense, to evangelize. If there was something good one can say about the RCC's Second Vatican Council it was the reminder that the faith isn't something done by clerics and paid for by the laity, but faith is to be lived by all. (Granted, that is more honored in the breech than the observance, but at least the thought was there.)

As for the ACC, every person has a BCP and a Bible. The BCP and the KJV contains nearly everything we need to practice the Faith as handed down from the Fathers. Therefore, every Anglican can, in some capacity, work to build up the Church. God has given us all talents, and those talents are to be invested, not buried.

Imagine being an Anglican in a new place, hours from the nearest parish. There is an opportunity, not misfortune. Let's say that you are the sole ACC member in your city, no your state. You go to the local RC parish for Mass(because there's nothing else) and you pray the offices in the BCP daily. You put an ad in the paper: "Anglo-Catholic looking for friends to pray using the 1928 BCP and study the Bible with on Wednesday nights. Call Fred: (XXX)XXX-XXXX

That fellow will have a few phone calls from interested people. The first time, they can meet in a Starbucks or something, and once he knows they are not cuckoos, invited them to sit around the kitchen table. That kitchen table become the ground floor of a new ACC parish. As the interest grows adn deepens, as more members join for good prayer, discussion, and coffee, then someone will find that a local church is friendly enough to rent the small parish hall for the monthly visit from an ACC priest. A man or two in the mission group start reading for orders. Wednesday remains Bible Study night, but the group adds Sundays for Evensong even when the priest can't come. After some years, the men who read for orders are ordained and the mission group has saved up enough to buy an old store. People make fun of the storefront Anglicans, but that's OK because you've done what you can to make the place look like a "real" church and the parish is continually saving to buy another property. Meanwhile, the parish has grown, there is religious education for children and adults. Baptisms are now fairly regular because younger couples have been attracted to the ACC because it is orthodox--which is what people really want if given the chance to get it.
Sadly, some members have had to move on, but that's Ok because they have taken the Faith with them to where ever they have gone. They start a prayer and Bible study group, and the Church continues to grow.

I say "Yea! God, give me the Grace to help build up your Church!"

My veriword is "hyllyhor" which must mean something in Welsh. Why else would it have all those Ls and Ys?

Bishop Mead said...

An excellent post. I continually remind my folk that we have to start somewhere and the advantage of being as small as we are is even small growth can be significant and statistically outstrip the decline in the modern Anglican Churches.

Years back in one Parish I had, I remember an 'ecumenical' venture being planned by all the local Churches for Good Friday - a walk of witness. The local Church of England and the Roman Catholic's were worried that their turnout would be low and that instead of a walk of 'witness' it would be one of 'weakness'.

On the day their concerns at low numbers seemed justified ... but my folk turned out ... all 10 of them and brought friends and family and for us it was a tremendous sign of witness!

One wonders with their worry about numbers who their witness was ultimately intended for!
+DM

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Some parishes that started off as small missions have grown rather large. It does take patience, commitment, faith and work.

Canon Tallis said...

I like both RC's and Bishop Meade's posts. A good friend of a number of years ago asserted that every one of us has a mission and should regard ourselves as a missionary, even the baby still wet from the baptismal water. Holy Scripture tells us that when we hear God's voice (and if we listen in prayer rather than attempting to do all the talking) our answer should be the same as Samuel's. RC has given us an outline of how to begin and what needs to be done. Now he needs to flesh it out just a bit so that it can be in the tract rack in every Anglican parish.

I am especially proud of Bishop Meade's parish that actually got out there in the present British scene made their presence known. i expect they had a good time doing it and were even surprised at how easy it was. I pray that it brought others to join them.

Perhaps one good thing that we could all do is add to our prayers and especially to our office and mass intentions, a prayer for the growth of a parish or parishes other than our own. My intentions are going to be for the growth of Bishop Meade's parish in particular but also for all of the Missionary Diocese of the United Kingdom. I started today.

My hope is that if I pray as hard as I can for growth somewhere else, someone else's prayers will help my tiny parish grow as well.

Veriword: intio

Bishop Mead said...

Thank you for your prayers Canon Tallis and for the others I know are offered for us here to win the UK for Christ.
Be assured of my prayers for your too.
+DM

Canon Tallis said...

Bishop Meade,

It is my privilege and pleasure though I know that at times it is going to be harder work that it was today. I spent part of my afternoon gathering names, titles and places from your website. I should warn you that one of your priests looks a little too like me so I will have to pray a little harder for him, poor fellow.

Save for the conversion and re-conversion of my own country, there is nothing closer to my heart that the return Great Britain to classical Anglicanism.

I now have all of you posted on cards on my prayer desk and will remember each of you by name daily.

David said...

Father, I remember working on the Dole/Kemp Campaign thinking, wow we have so many yard signs we are going to win this election for sure. If you travel a little you'll see that outside of your world it ain't so. It isn't gloom. As a salesman the best thing I could do for my sales was create an honest assessment. Anglicanism is not healthy at this period in time. I know more about Anglicanism than most of the Anglicans in my area. What a shame.

I have tried and tried to get Anglican prayer groups started, you face the same troubles the Orthodox and Roman Catholics face, relativism. Why go to a boring church when the 5,000 member mega church worships the same Jesus and so long as you believe in Jesus nothing else matters. At the local mega church I could join the hunting ministry, the hiking ministry, etc. etc. I know three Anglicans who within the last year left their parishes for the mega church www.baysideonline.com

I am not saying give up, I implore my Orthodox brethren to allow Anglicans to have missions in their parishes like many Anglicans allowed the Orthodox in the years past. Part of the problem is trying to determine who is Anglican and who is a potential cult. I have been approached by a number of "Anglican" churches that were willing to make me a flippin' priest just so I could start a mission. That isn't true with APCK, the ACC, etc, but if I am the priest at a local Orthodox Church how do I know who is really Anglican. So I show up Father David of the Holy Anglican Catholic and Truly Orthodox Catholic church with how should I expect the local Roman Catholic Priest to respond?

Don't let me hamper your efforts to grow I just think you have a harder row to hoe than the Orthodox for sure. Even we are losing the ethnic identity, slowly but it is happening. Your Anglo identity has already been forgotten. How many evangelicals even know C.S. Lewis was Anglican? What your branding needs to be is Western Orthodox Christianity.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

David:

Thank you for the perspective from whatever planet you are on. Here on Earth, when we decide to be unashamedly Anglican, and use the Book of Common Prayer, congregations grow in size. Either that or I am living in a great big hallucination that has been going on for quite some time now. Yes, those other fellows have a hard time figuring out who and what we are. That's just part of the fun. For the EOs and RCs it is fun to let them know that we broke all ties with the Anglican Communion over 30 years ago, while they were still playing ecumenism with the Episcopalians. To the Evangelicals it is great fun to show that we know the Bible second to none.

And, everybody still knows who C.S. Lewis was. Even the unchurched; If Anthony Hopkins made them forget, Disney reminded them.

Fr. John said...

David (not Gould) wrote:

"At the local mega church I could join the hunting ministry, the hiking ministry, etc. etc. I know three Anglicans who within the last year left their parishes for the mega church..."

Well God bless them. I am curious as to what a "hunting ministry" would be like though.

Dave, I have to tell you what fun it is to be in the Anglican Catholic Church, even though I don't think we have any "hunting ministries" yet. I can travel to many large and small cities and link up with people I have never met before and socialize with them just like they were old friends.

Just a few years back I was traveling all over the U.S. (Two cities per month) and I was rewarded several times by being able to link up with local Anglican Catholics.

Also, anyone will tell you that an ACC synod is more fun than work.

I do not envy the "mega churches."

John A. Hollister said...

Fr. John has lived his whole life in the South and he doesn't know what a "hunting ministry" is?

Think of it as a "football ministry" with couture by Eddie Bauer or L.L. Bean instead of Adidas or Nike and cuisine by Lodge Cast Iron instead of tailgating....

Also, it's a lot more fun to play with guns than with those silly ovoid balls. It's more Scriptural, too. The Old Testament tells us that Nimrod was a mighty hunter, but I defy anyone to produce one reference where the Bible acknowledges team sports.

Does that make it all come clear?

John A. Hollister+

Fr. Robert Hart said...

but I defy anyone to produce one reference where the Bible acknowledges team sports.

What about this reference to ancient Football?

"And Abner said to Joab, Let the young men now arise, and play before us. And Joab said, Let them arise. Then there arose and went over by number twelve of Benjamin, which pertained to Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, and twelve of the servants of David. And they caught every one his fellow by the head, and thrust his sword in his fellow's side; so they fell down together: wherefore that place was called Helkath-hazzurim, which is in Gibeon." II Sam. 2:14-16

It also reminds me of ecumenical dialogue.

Fr. John said...

Father Hart,

The story you recite from Holy Scripture sounds more like the culmination of a "combat ministry," if I may coin such a term. The sentence of a drum head court martial being carried out.

Might have been a war crime. Were these guys Roman Catholics by any chance?

David Gould said...

Having read much conjecture and argument about the health or otherwise of Anglicanism in the continuum, as I sit in my dining room on a sunny warm summer's day in Hobart about to prayer Mattins from the 1662 BCP that we Aussie traditionalists still use, is cause for me to give thanks to God for the gift of the ACC. Having no other continuum here in Australia except the dead in the water TAC, I cannot comment on anywhere else.

In Hobart the Annunciation Mission is half a dozen people saying Mattins and reading Scripture,and sometimes only me if folks are away etc. In varying degrees that is the story in Australia. We are a mission land from the ground up, with perhaps less infrastructure than you see in Africa or the other missions.

Now I could give up in depression - after all we are not a month old, or I could realise that the Psalmist David says it all: "I will say unto the Lord, Thou art my hope, and my strong hold: my God in him will I trust". (Psalm 91:2.

What we have though is real faith in the Church of God, and belief that our Church offers real spiritual life, real spiritual direction and absolutely rock-solid Catholic, Apostolic and orthodox Christian faith.

How long will the ACC pay for the sins of the Anglican Communion? We have been separated for 30 years. They are in heresy - separated from Catholic faith, order and with diminished sacraments, and their use of the name "Anglican" is as unfortunate as the fact they they occupy the cathedrals that rightfully belong to the continuum.

John A. Hollister said...

I suppose the duel between a dozen each of selected representative champions of Saul and David's respective armies could be viewed as a sort of sporting tournament, althouth I had never seen it that way.

It always seemed to me that it wa an attempt to avoid a battle, by relying on the outcome of the champions' fights, but that when each of them both killed his own opponent while himself being killed by that opponent, there was no outcome which could be referred to for "the wager of battle".

Thus the general engagement between the two armies that followed that incident.

Hardly sport, to my way of thinking. An early form of trial by combat, perhaps, but definitely forensic, not recreational in nature.

Also, the twelve men from each side do not seem to have been acting as a team, but as each fighting his own individual combat, very similar to the melee in the later Medieval tournaments.

John A. Hollister+