Anglican/Orthodox Pilgrim Newsletter
Vol. 3, No. 1
ANGLICAN OPTIONS: ROME OR ORTHODOXY
by Fr. Chad Hatfield
I can still remember the confusion and pain at Nashotah House
Seminary when the news began to spread that the 1976 General
Convention had passed, by a razor thin margin, a canon to permit
the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate. The
100th Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, was teaching
theology at the seminary in the fall of 1976. His powerful
presence had an almost spell-like effect on everyone and we all
looked to him for guidance and wisdom. In true Anglo-Catholic
fashion, most, but not all of us, decided to stay and suffer
through! We rallied around Lord Ramsey and other sound bishops,
like Robert Terwilliger, and we made our threats to stay and not
There are days now, when I wish that I had been able to
recognize that the Anglican house was no longer
"inclusive" enough to find room for orthodox
Christians. It would take me another 18 years before it became
clear that I truly no longer had a place at the family table in
the Anglican Communion, which had been the very place where I had
been formed as an orthodox Christian.
In my case, I fell victim to an Episcopalian bishop who
totally ignored the Eames Commission, Lambeth pronouncements and
the so-called conscience clause by trying to force me to stand
with a "woman priest" to renew ordination vows. This
action was not long after his promise not to force the issue with
his clergy who held theological objections to female ordinations.
The scene was set at the 1993 Convention of the Episcopal
Diocese of Western Kansas, meeting in Dodge City (a great place
for a show-down). When Canon Joseph Kimmett and I failed to show
for the renewal of vows with the "woman priest", we
were charged with "breaking communion with our bishop and
the rest of the diocese". This is a serious charge by
bishop, who admitted that no canons had been violated, but his
own rules had been broken! Faced with this charge, Canon Kimmett
and I found ourselves alone, with absolutely no support from the
small group of orthodox bishops who were left in PECUSA. I had
watched this sort of thing happen, time and time again. My family
and I now knew that we would soon be joining the ever growing
list of orthodox Anglicans who were being forced from their
ecclesiastical home. We were truly victims of the PECUSA policy
of "ethnic cleansing"!
When your house is on fire, you have a moral obligation to
warn as many as possible who are in the house with you, but you
do not have a moral obligation to stay with those who refuse to
leave and to burn up with them! The question was which road would
we walk? Like most traditionalist Anglicans, I had been checking
out my options.
I had watched the pitiful hissing and fighting within the
Continuing Anglican churches for years. I had come to the
conclusion that the main vocation of these various groups was to
serve a kind of chaplaincy to small elderly congregations. I had
admired Bishop A. Donald Davies for his courage in starting the
Episcopal Missionary Church, but again, for a younger priest,
this body was a cul-de-sac.
The real issue was becoming more and
more clear for me. It was really an ecclesiastical issue. I
wanted to be, without any debate, a member of the Church of the
Apostles. The curse of Henry VIII had become active and I had to
admit, with much regret, that Anglicanism is now and always had
been a Protestant Church. 
Rome has been the answer for many former Anglicans who have
reached an understanding of this truth about our Anglican
heritage. There are many who have walked in the footsteps of
Cardinal John Henry Newman, and the 11 November 1992 vote in the
General Synod of the Church of England to approve the ordination
of women is converting this steady stream into a fast flowing
river. Recent converts include Charles
Moore, the editor of The Sunday Telegram, the Duchess of
Kent, author and priest William Oddie and, of course, the most
senior prelate ever to have left the Church of England, Graham
Leonard, sometime Bishop of London. Surely then, this is the
logical road to walk for people who, according to the
"branch theory", are part of the Western Catholic
Church?  Personally speaking, as a
former member of the Society of the Holy Cross, re-union with
Rome was a formal part of the rule of life which I faithfully
I had learned from Archbishop Michael
Ramsey that the Anglican Communion was "provisional" by
nature. I had heard the 102nd Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert
Runcie, say that "our vocation as Anglicans was to put
ourselves out of business."  We
were a part seeking to be united with the whole.
The efforts towards corporate re-union in the last century,
under the leadership of Lord Halifax and the Malines
Conversations, were a rightful inheritance. In our own time we
watched our hopes rise and fall with the Anglican/Roman Catholic
International Commission. The work of ARCIC is now dead. The Pope
has made it clear that the ordination of women is a most serious
obstacle to re-union, calling it "a new and insuperable
barrier to Christian unity."
So, why did I not walk the "Newman path" to Rome?
Why did I not take the Pastoral Provision for married clergy, now
provided by the Vatican? Surely, Episcopal laity would feel more
at home in the Roman liturgy, when comparing it to the Byzantine
Rite, now used by my convert laity?
When wrestling with these questions, I was often reminded of
the old Anglican cure for "Roman Fever". The cure was
always simply to attend a Roman Mass! Post Vatican II Catholicism
has a liturgical style, which most Anglicans find simply dull and
uninspiring. I too was reminded of something a priest friend
often said, which was: "I liked Rome better when Rome didn't
Those Anglicans looking to join the
Church of Rome need to remember that the much touted book Ungodly
Rage was written not about the state of The Episcopal Church,
but of the Roman Catholic Church . While
exploring the Roman Church, with my own ears I had heard radical
nuns invoking Sophia and the Mother God. Time and again, in
theological conversation with Roman Catholics, priests, nuns and
laity, I would find myself defending the Pope and Cardinal
Ratzinger! Did I want to spend the rest of my life doing what I
have been doing in The Episcopal Church, only in a larger circle?
As I contemplated my concern that a
jump to Rome was from the fat to the fire, I was reminded of a
saying from the Eastern Orthodox Church "Rome is simply
the flip-side of the Protestant coin". It seems to me, and
many others, that Rome is experiencing a re-discovery of the
Protestant Reformation with people like Archbishop Weakland of
Milwaukee, Anna Quindlen, Rosemary Radford-Reuther and Richard
McBrien leading the charge much like a new vision  of Luther,
Calvin, Zwingli, and Cranmer!
I remember one Roman priest telling me that Anglo-Catholics
were "medievalists caught in a time warp". My own
Anglican theological formation by-passed the Council of Trent,
looking for roots in the Fathers and the Ecumenical Councils.
Being a "Patristics man" was far more natural for an
Anglican than to be a "medievalist". I had to remember
that the Western Patriarchy, the Papacy, has been in schism since
1054. Any Church historian can tell you that the vote at the time
of the Great Schism was four to one. If schism is sin, as several
Episcopalian bishops have told me, then the Western Church has
been in this sin for nearly a thousand years!
In 1992, I was asked to present a paper at the special
convocation marking the 150th Anniversary of Nashotah House
Seminary. The focus of this paper centered on two great bishops,
Charles Chapman Grafton and the newly canonized St. Tikhon of
Moscow. Grafton was deceiving to the eye. He looked every inch a
Roman prelate, but to read his theology is to find a strong
anti-Roman strain of thought. Grafton wrote that in times of
theological confusion it is natural for Anglicans to turn to the
East to find our way. Both Grafton and St. Tikhon shared a common
vision of Anglican/Orthodox unity in the Faith, but Grafton had
few fellow Anglicans who shared his vision.
There were, and still are, a handful of great Anglican
bishops who professed that a strong East wind had affected their
own theological thought. Men like Michael
Ramsey, Robert Terwilliger and Stanley Atkins come quickly to
mind. Canon H. Boone Porter, writing in a forum published in The
Evangelical Catholic wrote: "... the Eastern Churches
embody many of the unachieved goals of Anglicanism.";
I believe that the great Anglican bishops
have known this to be true.
Orthodoxy is not strange and foreign
reading for classical Anglicans. Father Carl Bell (now Father
Anthony Bell, an Orthodox priest), again writing in the options
forum in The Evangelical Catholic, makes a strong case
showing that the "Anglican way" and the "Orthodox
way" are one and the same with the appeal to Sacred
Scripture and Holy Tradition. Orthodoxy is the best of classical
Anglicanism preserved in our day, with an unquestioned link to
the Apostolic Church .
Anglicans have sought the stamp of
approval and validity from the Orthodox Church, almost from the
very beginning of the Church of England. Great progress was made,
especially in the early part of this century, but, as with Rome,
our own actions dashed any formal Orthodox recognition of
Anglican validity .
Modern Orthodox theologians had become an anchor for so many
orthodox Anglicans, and I was no exception. Lossky, Schmemann,
Meyendorff and Hopko are only a few of the Orthodox theologians
quoted often in traditionalist Episcopalian circles. I cannot
count the number of times I have heard traditionalists repeat how
much they felt at home reading Orthodox theologians but they
could never become Orthodox because the Byzantine Rite was just
There was a time when I would also nod my head in an
understanding gesture when this kind of comment was made, so I
expect many doubters when I now, in all honesty, after six months
as an Eastern Rite priest, write what follows. I understand your
concerns, but I can tell you that the Liturgies of St. John
Chrysostom and St. Basil no longer seem complicated and long.
They are now exciting and re-newing. Having made a choice between
the modern Roman Rite, formal BCP worship, and the Byzantine
Rite, I am now delighted and thankful to worship with the
Fathers. Orthodoxy is right belief and right worship.
As a married priest, my wife and
family also had to look at options. The Roman Pastoral Provision
would have made my wife an "exception". She is, indeed,
exceptional, but she is not an exception! That she is a vital
part of my life and ministry is fully understood in Orthodoxy. In
the Orthodox tradition the priest's wife is, in fact, highly
exalted. My wife is learning the wonderful role of being the
"Khouria" . So often the
married Anglican priest who takes the Pastoral Provision is not
given a parish. In Orthodoxy, parish priests are normally
Children are also normative in Orthodox clergy families and
what a joy it is to see the high priority that young people have
in the Orthodox Church. My eldest son was excluded from
Episcopalian campus activities due to his conservative Christian
views. He found the Roman campus ministry just as secularized and
strange as Canterbury House. The only difference was that it was
so much bigger. Now, as an Orthodox student, he finds that he is
in complete theological harmony with his fellow Orthodox students
and faculty. He is, in fact, the President of the University of
Kansas Orthodox Student Fellowship, which is a far cry from the
reception he got in the other places. In Orthodoxy I no longer
worry about what my children will experience or be taught when
they attend a church function away from their own parish. I could
not say the same if we were part of the Roman Catholic Church.
Who can guess what strange ideas Roman nuns promote these days at
Catholic Youth events?
In a reflection paper, written by Fr. Peter Geldard, former
General-Secretary of the English Church Union, three questions
are put to Anglicans who are looking at their options. They are
- Does the Church in which I wish to be sustained guarantee
me the continual grace and comfort of the sacraments as
they were instituted by Christ?
- Does my choice work for the building-up and the unity of
the Church or its further disintegration?
- Is it a Church into which I wish to inculcate my children
and grand-children because I am convinced of its future
and its ability to convert our nation ?
In Holy Orthodoxy I can give a most vigorous YES to each of
these questions. I could not give the same response if I were
part of the current American Roman Catholic scene. In the Roman
Church, I would still be defending the Church of God. I would be
finding like minded groups striving to be the "Church within
the Church". As a member of the Orthodox Church, I no longer
defend the Church; She defends me.
1. For a recent theological history on the nature of
Anglicanism see: Aidan Nichols, O.P., The Panther and
the Hind; Edinburgh 1993.
2. See Fr. Gregory Mathews-Green,
"Whither the Branch Theory", The Anglican/Orthodox
Pilgrim, Vol. 2, No. 4.
3. Comments made at the 1989 North
American Conference of Cathedral Deans in response to questions
regarding ecumenism. See also: Robert Runcie, The Unity We
Seek; London 1989.
4. Donna Steichen, Ungodly Rage: The
Hidden Face of Catholic Feminism, San Francisco 1994.
5. See E. C. Miller, Jr., Toward A
Fuller Vision, Wilton, Ct. 1984, for a complete development
of this Anglican/Orthodox vision.
6. H. Boone Porter, "An Unexplored
Territory," The Evangelical Catholic, Vol. XIV, No.
8, March/April 1992, p. 14.
7. Fr. Carl Bell, "A New and
Unknown World," The Evangelical Catholic, Vol. XIV,
No. 8, March/April 1992, p. 11.
8. See address by Ecumenical Patriarch
Bartholomaio to the Church of England General Synod, November
1993. Eastern Churches Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1, Winter
9. "Khouria" is the Arabic
term for the wife of a priest. "Presbytera" is the
common term for Greek Orthodox Christians and "Matuska"
for Russian Orthodox. Thus, just as I would be addressed as Fr.
Chad, my wife would be addressed as Khouria Shelley.
10. Unpublished paper written by Peter
Geldard; "Exploring the Future", 1994.
IS ORTHODOX WORSHIP TOO EXOTIC? CONSIDER THE IMPLICATIONS!
by Franklin Billerbeck
Some Anglicans view the Orthodox liturgy as too exotic.
Therefore, they write off Orthodoxy as a viable option. Such a
view has implications: it is Protestant in perspective, denies
God's power and love, and ignores other aspects of reality.
Accepting that Orthodoxy is what it claims, the Church
(and remember that we can only point to where the one Church
isnamely Orthodoxy), then one makes Truth subordinate to
personal taste when one rejects Orthodoxy because of the liturgy.
One rejects Church (the necessary Ark of Salvation) because he
does not like the worship style. This is very Protestant, for it
places the individual above the Church.
Moreover, such a view denies God's love and power. Jesus
said: "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matt.
11:30). Would a loving God call a person to His Church and make
it impossible to endure the worship? Concern about
"liking" or feeling at home at worship, or being
accepted by an "ethnic" congregation, are cares of this
world (like food and clothing)the wrong things to worry about.
Our Lord said: "Seek first the kingdom of God and His
righteousness, and all these things will be added to you"
(Matt. 7:33). Will not God, in His love and power, provide the
grace needed to be in His holy Church?
At a different level, the view that "I can't become
Orthodox because the Liturgy is too exotic" ignores reality.
For over a thousand years the eastern liturgy has well served
people with a variety of ethnic backgroundsfrom Russians, to
Arabs, to Ethiopians and Ugandans, to Japanese and Eskimos. Of
late it has served well for many Anglican converts (e.g., Frs.
Hatfield, Olnhausen, Rearden, Reeves, Mathewes-Green, etc. and
their congregations. See Coming Home and Anglican/Orthodox
Pilgrimage [Conciliar Press]) and for converts from
Protestant Evangelicalism (Gillquist, Zell, Caldaroni, Heilman,
Johnson [the latter two being Black Americans, see AGAIN,
Vol. 17, No. 2]). Eastern worship is embraced by a multitude of
culturesincluding that of mainstream America!
Of course, a few visits will not necessarily make one
comfortable with eastern worship. Often it takes a year or so of
consistent exposure to and participation in eastern worship to
feel comfortable (just as it does for non-liturgical Christians
to feel comfortable with a "high" Episcopalian
service). At some point, one's liturgical categories begin to
break down and one just relaxes, stops rationalizing and
thinking, and starts simply worshiping. If eastern worship seems
exotic, give it time and don't try to understand it
allultimately, the mystery of the Liturgy is beyond the grasp
of our human understanding.
Finally, there is a western rite. Though it is numerically
small, some have found a true home here (Frs. Heers, Connelly,
Walinski, McCauley, Bell, etc. and their congregations. [see, Intro.
to Western Rite Orthodoxy, Conciliar]). Because the western
rite has many characteristics in common with, for example, a
"high" Episcopal service, it may seem more familiar.
However, given current Anglican liturgical practice it may
require the convert to make some changes. For example, Divine
Liturgy is not celebrated facing the people and one does
use the traditional propers (including tract, gradual, sequence,
etc.). Make no mistake, the western liturgy is alive and well in
the Orthodox church and its presence is but another sign of the
catholicity of the Orthodox faith.
Orthodox worship is for all Orthodox Christians. To
accept or reject Orthodoxy based on her ways of worshiping has
very serious implications. One should not choose Orthodoxy based
on whether he likes her forms of worship, but one should decide
whether or not he is Orthodox. If one truly accepts Orthodoxy,
then, with God's love, the worship will follow.
ST. PATRICK, CELTIC BISHOP OF THE FIFTH CENTURY: A WESTERN ORTHODOX SAINT
by Fr. Lester Bundy
The early Christian Church in Western Europe was legitimately
Orthodox; it represented the fullness of Christianity in complete
communion, faith, and practice with Eastern Byzantine
Christianity. In a short article like this it is impossible to
explore why this ceased to be true. Suffice it to say that the
this relationship changed because the Western Church changed.
A manifestation of the blending of early Orthodoxy and Celtic
traditions is seen in the development of a particular style of
religious art, music, and poetry. We have very little evidence
today in regard to ancient Celtic music and liturgy, but Celtic
art and literature verify the Orthodoxy of the early British
Looming large in the tradition of the early Celtic Church is
the sometimes bigger than life figure of St. Patrick. Sometimes
referred to as the "Apostle to Ireland," Patrick was
born into a Christian British family about the year 390. At the
age of sixteen he was captured by Irish pirates and spent six
years as a slave in Ireland. After escaping and returning to
Britain, he underwent a rudimentary training for ministry and was
ordained. Eventually he was sent, as a missionary bishop, back to
Ireland where he remained until his death, about 460. Patrick's
life has become so overlaid with legend and folklore that it is
difficult to separate fact from fiction. Nevertheless, it is
clear that he was a major figure of great power and strength in
the early Celtic Church.
The famous Breastplate of St. Patrick, which is roughly
reproduced in hymn 268 of the 1940 Hymnal (Episcopal), was
undoubtedly written much later than Patrick's life. Nevertheless
it reflects the spirit of the early Celtic Church and Patrick's
tradition. As such it is a powerful demonstration of the
Orthodoxy of that tradition.
"I bind unto myself today the strong name of the
Trinity, By invocation of the same, The Three in One, the One in
In Celtic religious art the "binding" of the
interlacing forms of decoration are more than merely decorative.
They are a visual representation of the universality of the
Triune God interweaving and penetrating all of Creation. It can
be noted of course, that the interlacing motif is also seen in
Northern European pagan art before Christianity. A close look at
history, however, shows clearly that Christianity, from the very
beginning, had its strongest appeal and significance in the
conversion, and not in the extinction of indigenous culture. St.
Paul's arguments against the Judaizers reflects this fact. Thus
the early Christian missionaries and their converts found the
prevenient Grace of God already intuitively reflected in Celtic
art. An excellent example of both the art and poetry of the
Celtic tradition can be found in David Adam's The Edge of
Glory (Morehouse-Barlow, 1985).
The willingness of Orthodox jurisdictions to recognize the
Orthodoxy of the Celtic Church is demonstrated in several ways.
The existence of Western Rite parishes in the Antiochian
Archdiocese argues in favor of this idea, as does the inclusion
of several "western European" saints such as St. Aidan
and St. Boniface in the Orthodox Church in America calendar and
the Antiochian calendar.
The early British Church and her Celtic bishops, priests,
monks and nuns serve as visible reminders of a kind of
"Western Orthodox" heritage worthy of veneration and
celebration. Additionally their stories inspire us to continue to
struggle to make sense of our religious faith and experience in a
world that seems indifferent and hostile, knowing that
inevitably, the Church is in the hands of God.
JOURNEY INTO ORTHODOXY
by Anthanasios Scott Tonk
After all the searching I was finally home. I had been
starving for God, for Love, for Truth, and I found Him who is
Love and Truth in the Orthodox Church. It was so powerful that
for months thereafter I would not get through the Liturgy without
weeping for joy.
I had been an Episcopal priest for twelve years when I
seriously began searching. Oh, I had encountered the Orthodox
Church years before through my parish youth group and had read
Ware's The Orthodox Church in college but then had
forgotten about it - and all I had ever wanted was to be an
In 1983 I providentially got a job selling church
directories. Naturally, I had to visit every church in my
territory. I talked to pastors, laypeople, and read everything I
could get my hands on. I was hungry. I suppose I was shopping,
but I also had to visit every Orthodox parish in my territory,
even though I was thinking more in terms of Western Christianity.
Finally, in response to an article I had written, a man from
Pensylvania, an ex-Episcopalian who had converted to Orthodoxy,
wrote me and included two books by an Anglican theologian
sympathetic to Orthodoxy, E. L. Mascall. They finally pushed me
over the edge.
After much study, especially Mascall, I accepted the claim of
the Orthodox Church to be the One Holy Catholic and
Apostolic Church of the Creed, the True Church of Christ. My last
Eucharist as an Episcopal priest was March 31, 1984. After a
year's catechumenate (my choice) I was chrismated on Orthodox
To me Orthodoxy came as a life raft thrown to a drowning man,
and I have since discovered that, indeed, Orthodoxy is Life and
Freedom in Christ. Today I am at peace and feel blessed and
grateful to be an Orthodox Christian.
Mr. Tonk is a layman at Sts. Peter
and Paul Greek Orthodox Church, Glenview, IL.
by Franklin Billerbeck
Much ink has been spilled looking at options, as The
Evangelical Catholic proves. The theological diversity of the
recommendations (ranging from Protestantism to Orthodoxy) reveals
serious differences among Anglicans which mirror the diversity of
20th century denominational Christianity. In 1976 I too started
looking at these options. While I am home now, my 16 year search
was very costly emotionally, personally, spiritually, physically,
and financially. Perhaps what I have to say may be of some small
help for those who are now in the very painful process of looking
By what criteria will you choose? One option is convenience
and comfort. Where is it easiest to fit in and where will you
have a good salary? If you believe there are a variety of
options, then convenience and comfort are good criteria for
choosing amongst those options.
Another criteria is Truth. This is potentially painful and
costly. You might have to change your beliefs, admit error, and
give up many material things. At any rate, this criteria requires
much careful and prayerful investigation. If you find the
fullness of Truth in one place, then that is where you must go.
If the fullness of Truth is in many places, convenience and
comfort can be the basis to decide which option to take. For me,
eventually I found the fullness of Truth only in Orthodoxy.
Therefore, I had no options.
Once criteria is established, the next question is
orientation. To start with the 20th century is to confront a
bewildering array of optionsso many you cannot possibly
investigate them all (some 23,000 according to recent estimates).
I suggest starting at a different placethe one, undivided
church. Surely that is what you want to be a member of!
Therefore, look to Scripture and the early church fathers.
Because the gates of hell will not prevail, the Church of
Pentecost still exists today in an identifiable, locatable form.
The key iswhat did the undivided church believe and practice
and where do I find all of that today.
In the course of investigation, be prepared to be challenged
and to look at things with a different perspective. Take your
time. While anger may be good reason to leave one denomination,
it is not enough to sustain a person in another denomination.
Leave only when you are sure of your decision.
For me, Protestantism was not an option. While it had Jesus
Christ and the Bible, it lacked the fullness of the sacraments
and the communion of the saints. Therefore, it was not doing
everything the undivided church did and it did not believe what
the undivided church believed about Holy Communion. Its roots
were not apostolic and I had to believe the Holy Spirit let the
church go astray for some 1,600 years until a reformer came
along. As for unity, a scriptural hallmark of the church, the
multiplication of denominations spoke volumes. Moreover, I did
not believe that I, by myself, could interpret Holy ScriptureI
needed the church to do that.
Were I to have used anything other than a theological basis
for my decision, I would have become Lutheran. Being in northern
Wisconsin (Lutheran territory), I could easily have married a
Lutheran woman, been a Lutheran pastor and, in many ways, life
would have been very good. The Lutherans had liturgy (and a solid
musical heritage) and emphasized a shared faith. But they
rejected Holy Orders (the priesthood), confession and unction.
Luther himself would have eliminated parts of the bible (e.g.,
the Epistle of James) and, as near as I could tell, had
deliberately changed other parts when he translated the Bible
into German. Besides, that 1,600 year gap still bothered me!
I turned to the "branch theory". Firmly believing
in Anglicanism as a full and true branch of the Catholic Church,
I looked at where I could go if that branch was destroyed. There
were only two other viable options: Rome or Orthodoxy. Somehow
the Holy Spirit clouded my thinking so I did not investigate the
"continuing Anglican" movement until later, otherwise I
would have certainly gone with them.
Though I shared a common western and liturgical heritage with
the Roman Church, I could not theologically become a Roman
Catholic. As an Anglican I believed the undivided church did not
accept papal infallibility (that the pope, when speaking to the
entire church, from the throne of St. Peter, on a matter of faith
and morals, cannot errordeclared dogma by Vatican Council I and
reaffirmed by Vatican II). The Scriptural basis for this is
largely from the text: "Thou art Peter and upon this Rock I
will build my Church." The Roman teaching is that this
invested St. Peter with infallible authority. The majority of
church fathers had not accepted this teaching! A Roman Catholic
Scholar, Launoy (1603-1678), collected the teachings of the
church fathers on this passage. Of 85 fathers, 17 said Rock meant
Peter, 44 that Rock meant the faith Peter had just confessed, 16
for Rock meaning Christ Himself, and 8 for Rock meaning all of
the apostles. Moreover, when had the pope spoken infallibly?
Estimates differed and no pope gave an infallible answer to the
question. It is, for example, debatable whether the recent
pronouncement by John Paul II concerning women's ordination is or
is not an infallible pronouncement. Granted, the pope was
"first among equals" and that, from time to time,
disputes were voluntarily submitted to him for resolutionbut
that did not make for infallibility!
For me, Papal Infallibility ruled out Roman Catholicism. As I
learned more about Orthodoxy, I also rejected the Roman Catholic
doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
and its attendant conception of original sin. I was also troubled
by Roman Catholic teaching on birth control and their practice of
annulments. I also found the Roman Catholic approach very
legalistic and judgmental. For the Catholics, Anglican orders are
absolutely null and utterly void. Only because of an "old
Catholic" strain, would an Anglican priest be ordained
While I desired reunion with Rome, as an Anglican I could not
accept Roman teaching. However, if I you accept Roman Catholic
teaching, I think the only option is to become Roman
Catholiccertainly you can't remain an Anglican and could not
become Orthodox. When push comes to shove, one is either
Anglican, Roman Catholic, or Orthodox and there is a clear
theological division between them! If Rome is what she claims,
the one true Church, and you agree with her, then all the horror
stories about Rome are irrelevant! You must go to Rome and defend
With Rome out of the question, I had only one option.
Fortunately, but for the eastern Liturgy, Orthodoxy was clearly
the closest branch to Anglicanism. So I started reading the
Orthodox authors. Time and again I found myself saying: of
course! Naturally! Any Anglican believes that!
As I read, my thinking gradually become more
"eastern". Soon I was too Orthodox! I accepted the
Orthodox teaching that marriage did not dissolve at death (it
was, after all, a sacrament done in the church and sacramental
action exists foreversins are not unforgiven at death, one is
not unordained at death!), though one did not get married after
death. (See Marriage: An Orthodox Perspective, by John
Meyendorff. Available from Light and Life.) Economy made
senserules are the norm but must be applied in particular cases
as is best for the soul in this fallen world. The Church is
Eucharist and only with agreement on the fullness of the faith,
can one share Communion (which was the practice of the undivided
church). Simply believing Communion is somehow the Body and Blood
of Christ is, contrary to Anglican practice, not enough! The
church is one because of Eucharist and schism is not a
division in the church (the church cannot be divided anymore than
Christ can be divided) but a departure from the church. The filioque,
of course, I had already conceded on historical grounds.
When I looked back at my Anglican upbringing, it was so close
to Orthodoxy! But now there were three big differences. First,
was Article VIthat "Holy Scripture contains all things
necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein,
nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that
it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought
requisite or necessary to salvation." Literally, of course,
Scripture does not teach this view as both the ending of St.
John's Gospel (John 21:25) and Paul's admonition to "stand
fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by
word or our epistle" (2 Thess. 2:15) should make clear.
While Article VI may be interpreted in an Orthodox manner,
frankly, it troubled me.
Second, clearly Anglicans were sharing Communion with people
who rejected the faith and practice of the undivided churcheven
with those who rejected parts of the Creed! This was simply not
the practice of the undivided Church.
Third, the "branch theory" did not sustain itself
(see AOP, Vol. 2, No. 4) and when it fell, there went
Anglicanism's claim to apostolic authorityto be the same as the
undivided church! Thus, when I finally examined the
"Continuing Anglicans" it was too late! I wanted
unquestionable apostolicity and nobody, especially no Anglican,
could ever dare question Orthodoxy's claim to apostolicity
without destroying their own claim in the process. I had always
feared being a "traitor" and deserting the Church. Even
with the branch theory, however, going to Orthodoxy was not being
traitor to the churchonly jumping to a branch that was not
about to be cut off from the trunk! Without the branch theory, I
was joining the Churchthe one church which alone had the
fullness of the faith "once delivered". By now, there
was, for me, no branch theory left! Indeed, the branch theory
leads naturally to disunity in the faith.
Was Anglicanism ChurchI don't know. That is a question up
to God. Frankly, I don't worry about it much. I do know that
Orthodoxy is Churcha claim I can't make about
Anglicanism because Anglicanism's faith and practice are not
identical with that of the undivided Church (and the Continuing
Anglican inclusion of the filioque seperates them from the
undivided Chuch)and that is enough for me. I also know that God
loves mankind and desires our salvation. Thus, while there is no
salvation outside the Church, we may not be able to determine the
totality of where the Church is, for Church is the Body of Christ
and it is Christ Who determines who is part of His Body.
For me, after 16 painful years, I had no choice other than to
become Orthodox. And Orthodox LiturgyI gave it time and came to
In looking at options there will be much pain and many
difficult decisions. However, do not simply lament the past and
"cry in your beer" (as some seem want to do) but
examine the key issues and PRAY! Move when you are fully
convinced of the Truth. I pray that your search may be guided by
the Holy Spirit and may be much shorter and less painful than