July 18, 2013
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ
Today, I begin a series on the reasons why I am an Anglican.
After eighteen years of ordained ministry, and more than ten years of working to change the Episcopal Church from inside out - serving on every commission and committee I could get on to - I made the choice to leave the Episcopal Church, lock stock, and barrel. As I made my exit, I was asked many times why I wanted to be an Anglican. This question was asked most poignantly, perhaps, by my brothers - one a faithful Roman Catholic, and the other a faithful Lutheran (Missouri Synod) - who asked if I would like to join one of them.
I have to admit that my initial response to their questioning was no, of course not "I'm Anglican." They kindly asked me why, and I had to take some time to think about that - it was not sufficient simply to say, "Because that's what I have always been." I would like to share in my Bishop's Notes why it is that I am an Anglican, and perhaps some of these reasons will resonate with you; though assuredly you will have other reasons why you are an Anglican.
In order to define why it is that I am an Anglican, it is important to say that I am a repentant and redeemed sinner, made a child of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, first and foremost, I am a Christian who has his expression of Christianity in Anglicanism. That means that I am a Catholic and Reformed. This is not to say that I am undecided about whether I am Catholic or Protestant. Rather, the Anglican Church was born with the understanding and intentionality to maintain the very best of Creedal Catholic faith, depending on the revelation of the Holy Spirit through the Church Fathers and the Councils of the Church, while at the same time receiving the evangelical call of the reformers to unabashedly proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
When I speak of the Anglican Church, I am referring to the Anglican Communion world wide that uses the Book of Common Prayer - based on the 1662 Book of Common Prayer (including the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion), which was a light revision of the 1552 Book of Common Prayer, which was largely authored by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer
Notably, the Anglican Church is estimated by Sociologists of Religion to be about 75 million strong. Of those 75 million, on any given Sunday you will find approximately 5 million in church on the Lord's Day in the "West" - Europe, North America, Australia & South Africa. You will find 40-50 million in church on the Lord's Day in what is referred to as the Global South - Africa, Asia, and South America. That statistic is remarkable, and speaks to a church that is rapidly growing and healthy in the Global South versus an anemic church in the West. You may be saying to yourself, 75 minus 55 leaves 20 million - what of those others? That number represents people who self identify as Anglican but only attend their wedding, occasionally Christmas and Easter with their grandmother, and their funeral - and some may argue that they don't attend their own funeral.
I mention this because some of the very reasons that I am an Anglican are the same reasons why the Anglican Church in North America and the churches of the Global South are growing and vibrant. Some of those reasons are that Anglicanism is: Biblical, Historical, Liturgical, Ecclesiastical, Episcopal, Ecumenical, Pastoral and Rational, to list just a few and to provide the source of my following Bishop's Notes.
May The Lord bless you!