Tuesday, January 01, 2019

It's next year already so soon?

In recent years I have not been writing much in the way of apologetics. I suppose that is because I consider the main battle to have been won years ago, that is, the battle against aggressive Roman Catholic missionaries who were posing as Anglicans to draw people away from the Continuing Church. Of course, their efforts were somewhat hindered by the fact that they were members of Continuing churches, and not Roman Catholics at all. To some degree they presented an interesting psychological study in the complexity of identity confusion. Nonetheless, after that time of strife I grew weary of apologetics and controversy. I prefer to write for the purpose of edification. In essence, I am a parish priest, a rector who lives to carry out pastoral care. So, I would rather write as what I really am: a Preacher.

The situation in which this blog was created, by Albion Land in 2005, was one of unhappy and even bitter division, mostly among bishops and clergy who paid more attention to jurisdictional distinctions than did most of the laity. The people of the Church have wanted something remarkably simple. They have wanted orthodox Anglican churches in which they can worship God, receive valid sacraments, hear sound preaching, and raise their children in the Faith. It did not help that some of the clergy failed where St. Paul had wisely succeeded: “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices (II Cor. 2:11).” Those early years of the Continuing churches remind me not only of the forty years in which Israel wandered in the wilderness, but also of the Book of Judges. Sometimes I find myself calling them the Wild West days of the Continuing Church. But they are over, and really have been over for more than seven years.

Yes, the “G-4” unity became official in 2017; but it was all really very much a reality beginning in 2011, right after the above mentioned non-Roman Catholic “Roman Catholic” Missionaries got out of the way, and took with them the confusion with which they had bullied and troubled the minds and consciences of faithful people. Once they were out of the way, a newer generation of Continuing Anglican bishops began to repair the breaches in unity, led by Archbishops who had themselves never created the division. They had inherited a divided church, and knew that their pastoral responsibility was to heal and correct that condition. This they have done. It is now a fact by the grace of God.

I imagine that some of the other jurisdictions, outside of the unity of the “G-4” bishops, will remain divided from this new unity. But, I pray that, in the long run, they will join with us as one united Continuing Church. In the case of the shrinking and dwindling Anglican Province of Christ the King, that will require new leadership. I would not want anyone to think that I fail to respect their archbishop’s office: But, when they have a new archbishop someday, I hope their exclusive “One True Churchattitude will vanish. Indeed, it is a matter of attitude, not doctrine. There are some good parishes, good priests and good people in that jurisdiction, and it is certainly orthodox in doctrine. But sheep without a shepherd cannot be led into unity. So, we wait and pray.

I appreciate the wisdom with which this unity is being restored. It is happening at a pace that does not cause confusion; that does not tear up existing dioceses and the relationship of bishops to parishes and clergy. But it is moving forward nonetheless. This may bring us to a time when some rearranging will take place, when dioceses in one united Continuing Church will exist over smaller geographical territory. In some ways that is a change I do not look forward to. I am comfortable and happy as things are in this diocese. But, I know that we are moving into the future, only in one direction as time travelers all. Because of the restored unity we move into that future as a church, not as lone individuals who have lost their way. Thanks be to God.


Paul said...

Fr. Hart, you and others on this blog served as excellent "war time consiglieres" (borrowing that term from The Godfather). I came into The Continuum after nine years in a non-Catholic minded Anglican church (which has since joined the ACNA), and this blog provided me much needed news, information and insight into what was going on. I'm glad you have kept it active even in "peace time." If skirmishes start up again, this is the first place I will come. Fr. Paul Beutell

Nick F. Behrens said...

Fr. Hart,
Very well said! I hope folks from the APCK leadership might see your comments and reflect on them. I have a unique perspective. For several reasons two years ago I left an Omaha Anglo-Catholic church which went to the Ordinariate after I had been the musician there close to 25 years. We had been part of the ACA so I enrolled my membership at an ACA church in Wisconsin which I visit regularly. But I now also attend and provide music for a APCK mission congregation here in Omaha. Both churches use the same Missal and the same 1928 Prayer Book. And both churches (along with my former church) help support an ACA mission church on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. There seems to me to be no rational reason for these separations. I hope and pray the G -4 will become the G-5, but eventually just one ecclesial body. Nick Behrens, OL

Canon Tallis said...

Father Hart,
Brilliant and beautifully written. This is what is needed and needed as quickly as possible. Those of yus who regard ourselves as being in and of the Continuum need to prove that we are truly Anglicans by our loyalty, first to the fullness of Holy Scripture and then to a full obedience to the prayer book and its tradition.