Goodbye, Edinburgh; Hello, Canterbury.

About nine months ago, I wrote a document (intended for various official and unofficial audiences) explaining my reasons for leaving the South Texas Presbytery of the PCA and pursuing Holy Orders in the Anglican tradition, in the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.

This list included three sets of reasons: theological reasons, “local / institutional / missional reasons” (having to do with the PCA churches here in Austin, and their missional outreach to the city), and “personal / providential / vocational reasons” (having to do with where Bouquet and I are personally in life, career, etc.).

Below I am pasting the theological reasons from this document. It seems that there is now, several months after demitting my ordination in the PCA (in my former presbytery), enough emotional distance between my Presbyterian brothers and me that it is not unwise to do this at this time.

The only caveat I would add is that, in addition to these reasons below, an additional “watershed issue” leading to my move was the nature of the church’s connection to the apostles. Beyond the standard PCA view that the church is apostolic simply in the sense that her doctrine is (hopefully) apostolic, I believe that the church is also apostolic in the sense that we have a living, organic connection to the apostles through the liturgy / sacraments and through the historic episcopate.

The current crises in the PCA have helped to clarify my views. I now realize that I am not comfortable in American Presbyterianism, which sees the principle of unity in the church as the system of doctrine known as the Westminster Standards.

Note: much of this conviction has grown out of reading Schmemann, Ziziuolas, and de Lubac, or rather the Fathers through de Lubac (and discussing them with others, I might add). And not just reading them, but reading them in the light of the current controversies in the PCA having to do with “the Federal Vision” and “the New Perspective on Paul.”

A. Liturgy / full sacramentality.

  1. We worship god through the material stuff of creation. (Adam in garden.)
  2. Thus, worship is radically embodied & participatory.
  3. Baptism is way more mysteriously important than our tradition seems to think.
  4. Liturgy is primary theology, which means that our theology is based not only on the Bible, but also on the liturgy. But American Presbyterianism cannot embrace this.

B. Ecclesiology.

  1. The church is an extension of the incarnation in and to this world.
  2. The church is a family, and therefore not bound by ideology / correct doctrine beyond the level of the creeds (see below: this makes me a non-confessional Christian).
  3. Bishops versus courts.
  • a. If the church is a family, then it makes sense that a person (like a father … or a divine Father) is what constitutes the church and holds it together. (Zizioulas)
  • b. If the church is unified primarily by doctrinal agreement, however, then it does make sense that it should be governed by “courts.”

C. All of this can be thought of as catholicity, as opposed to confessionalism.

  1. Catholicity does not downplay doctrine, but it does prioritize creedal doctrine.
  2. Confessionalism elevates sectarian doctrines, held by only one branch of the church, to the role of ecclesial boundary marker. I now know that I cannot embrace this.

D. All of this makes me a historic Anglican. As of right now, the Episcopal Church is the best expression of historic Anglicanism, given that:

  1. It is in communion with Canterbury;
  2. The Windsor Report provides a path forward for orthodox Christians within TEC. Note: Bp. Don Wimberly, bishop of TX, strongly supports the Windsor approach.
  3. My bishop is orthodox, and beyond this is even committed to the Windsor Process.
Share

1 Comment so far
Leave a comment

[…] friend, who is transitioning from the Presbyterian pastorate to priesthood in the Episcopal Church (in New York City), was interrogating me about the relative importance of the mystical body […]

TrackBack URI

Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>