The Holy Father Looks for the Best

Back in 2004, we wrote an article entitled Think Before You Convert. In it we went through the pros and cons of Anglicanism vs. Roman Catholicism. We also said the following:

One thing that gets kicked around in Anglican circles is the idea of an “Anglican Rite” within Roman Catholicism. From a Roman Catholic viewpoint, this doesn’t make a lot of sense, and if I were in their shoes, I wouldn’t pursue it for the following reasons:

  • The Maronite and Byzantine Rites came from Eastern Churches with independent apostolic succession. Anglicanism, like the Confederacy, seceded from Roman Catholicism. That’s why they don’t really accept the apostolic succession of Anglican orders. (what that has to do with apostolic succession is hard to understand.)
  • The Episcopal Church has shown a real talent in shedding membership. Why go to the trouble of setting up another rite when you can just wait and pick up the pieces on your own terms?
  • The existence of a married clergy in any “Anglican Rite” would create serious problems with the rest of the church.

Now it looks like the Roman Catholic Church is shifting from a purely defensive strategy to a more offensive one by starting a programme to actively recruit Anglicans who are unhappy with the way the Communion is going.

Given the high level of Anglo-Catholicism out there, this is a sensible strategy for the Catholic Church. In addition to liberals and women in ministry at home, many of the conservative protagonists in the Communion outside North America and Europe have a decidedly Protestant bent to them, especially the Africans. Picking up Anglicans in the U.S. has one more advantage: they tend to be at the top of the socio-economic ladder, which would be a boost for the offering.

But our warning remains: think before you convert!

Virtue Online Features LifeBuilders Essentials

In a recent digest, Virtue Online says the following about LifeBuilders Essentials:

LIFEBUILDERS ESSENTIALS. A discipleship course for men, co-authored with Patrick Morley, author of The Man in the Mirror. Wrote Don C. Warrington: “We use the 39 Articles as part of our instruction on the church and on its doctrine. The relationship between Anglican and classical Pentecostal doctrines is not well understood but is important in the development of non-Catholic Christianity after the Reformation, especially as it relates to perseverance and sanctification.” Their website can be located at: www.lifebuilders.to

    You can get more information on this book (with ordering) by clicking here.
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    Also: click here on some material on prayer walking that is connected with us.

    Learning It the Hard Way

    I recently had the privilege of addressing the Minister’s Meeting of the Church of God in Ontario, under the leadership of its Administrative Bishop, the Rt. Rev. George Peart (that’s right, Anglicans, Rt. Rev.) It was a really wonderful gathering, and I was able to address the ministers about lay and men’s ministries.

    We have always said that one of the great things about Pentecostal churches is that they are inherently multicultural, and the Churches of God in Ontario reflect that. The majority of them are West Indian, with additional contributions from East Indian and a few Caucasian churches.

    Most North Americans consider the West Indies a great tourist destination but not much else. However, working in the Church of God, I have found our West Indian bretheren some of the best, and their culture a treasure, and so this meeting was a special treat. Those of you who spend time on this site know that the "islands" are something of an obsession to me, from my stories of cruising in the Bahamas to The Island Chronicles. But being with these people brought back memories of an interesting incident that took place on a visit to England thirty years ago.

    When things were slow, I watched the BBC. Now they were covering a "test match" of cricket between the English team and the West Indian team. (The photo I use as a cover for the Positive Infinity New Testament, shown above, shows the Nassau harbour lighthouse with the cricket ground in the foreground.) The West Indians were consistently the victors, so the Beeb dispatched a reporter to find out why they were being beaten at their own game. They interviewed the West Indian captain and his answer was simple: "We learned it the hard way." Without the fancy cricket grounds of England, the West Indians were forced to do with what they had, and the result was that they were better at the sport than the people who invented it.

    Americans’ attitude towards people who learn "the hard way" is decidedly mixed these days. On the one hand we love an underdog story of someone who comes with many disadvantages and achieves something great. On the other hand we are afraid for our children to have to experience any hardship. For the last quarter century the Boomers and their successors and assigns have been obsessed with getting the children they have into the "best" schools and driving them (literally in many cases) from one high-commitment activity to another. Some of our schools have banned certain sports (like dodgeball and tag) to make sure that neither their self-images nor their bodies suffer any injuries. The environments that children are raised in are so clean that their immune systems are impaired, leading to growing rates of asthma, food allergies and other auto-immune conditions.

    Such trends are reflected in our churches. In conservative churches, we see the growth of "prosperity teaching" and other like trends which tell us that we don’t have to "suffer for Jesus" or anything else, that prosperity is our right. Liberal churches continue their drift into sappy universalism (click here to find out how I was cured of that) and "anything is okay" morality.

    But the truth is that the world we live in is as imperfect and sinful as the one that Our Lord came into many years ago. And, although we affirm that Jesus Christ’s sacrifice was one and sufficient for the remission of sins, we also recognise that while in the world bad things will happen and that we must respond to them rather than go into denial and pretend they do not exist. In this respect the Islamic challenge is a healthy reminder of this, but it’s sometimes hard to see what lessons we are learning from it.

    But while the West wallows in its own effeteness, the rest of the world struggles with economic deprivaton and a daily challenge to survive. More of this world is Christian–evangelical and Pentecostal–than many realise. Those who come to North America bring energy and desire that is decidedly lacking in the natives. In spite of the fact that those natives are given the best opportunities on the planet, there’s no guarantee that they will prevail in the world marketplace, which is one reason for the lacklustre opposition to illegal immigration.

    It works this way in the church, too. Christianity is becoming a Third World religion faster than those in the "West" care to admit. It is no longer the "white man’s religion" because, as I was reminded in Ontario, white people are abandoning at as the rest of the world embrces it. In the Anglican world, the Africans and others–including, not accidentally, the Province of the West Indies–are giving the Episcopal, ACC and CoE a fit, and justifiably so. If missionaries followed weapons and traders in the West’s colonial exploits, what’s to keep the reverse from happening from the Third World? The Islamicists are hoping it will be them, but they’d first better deal with the erosion of their position in places such as Indonesia. There is a serious possibility that the West will lose its nerve in defending its own civilisation against the Islamic onslaught. But same Islamicists need to watch their backside, too, as they face the real "crusaders" in the world, the people that learned it the hard way.

    No, Bishop Lipscomb, We Are Not Going to Shut Up

    The recent call by Bishop John Lipscomb, Episcopal Bishop of Southwest Florida (a neighbour for the diocese I grew up in,) for a “40 day fast” from blogs will fall on deaf ears here at Positive Infinity.

    We don’t claim to be high on the list of Anglican/Episcopal blogs. We do carry Virtue Online’s news feed. And recently, when we expressed the opinion that the Diocese of South Carolina was not acting in its best interests by suing All Saints at Pawley’s Island, we were attacked by “moderate” Episcopalian from California. So we are a problem to somebody.

    Perhaps the most incendiary thing we do here is to carry the 1662 and 1928 Books of Common Prayer for download, which make the 1979 one look bad.

    So we will continue, working under the assumption that the truth is more important than aesthetic considerations or some kind of imposed unity. After all, “And you find out the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.” (John 8:32, Positive Infinity New Testament) No one will find out anything as long as those who speak the truth are silent.