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Why I Left Anglicanism
gkupsidedown.blogspot.com ^ | Sunday, November 22, 2009 | Fr. Longenecker

Posted on 11/23/2009 10:44:25 AM PST by GonzoII

Why I Left Anglicanism

I'm often asked why I left the Anglican Church to become a Catholic. Was it women's ordination or some other issue? Well, the debate over women's ordination was an influence. It made me re-examine the question of authority in the church. I have written about my conversion several places, and these articles can be found on my website under the 'articles' tab.

However, the more I think about the reasons for my conversion, the more I realize that the real problem was not women's ordination, nor was it, at depth, the question of authority in the church. Women's ordination was a problem and the authority of Rome was the answer, but there was a deeper, underlying problem with the Anglican Church as I experienced it. The problem is modernism -- a philosophical and theological position which is deeply opposed to historic Christianity.

The foundational problem with modernism is that it is anti-supernaturalist. The most foundational difficulty with the anti supernaturalism of the modernist is that he has an anti-Christian conception of God. For the modernist God is either totally immanent.  That is He is 'down here' and not transcendent, or he is so totally transcendent as to be a sort of deist God who is 'out there' and does not intervene. What the modernist theologian cannot believe in is a God who is both immanent and transcendent--a God who is 'out there' but who touches this world and ultimately enters this world through the incarnation.

The modernist cannot believe in this kind of God because that would introduce miracles and the supernatural, and for the modernist such things are impossible. The effect of this distorted deity is also an un-Christian view of man. If there is no supernatural, if God is either totally 'out there' or totally 'down here' then man is definitely a creature limited to this world only. His only hope is to find the God who is 'down here' which means he invariably goes on a search for the 'God within each of us' or he decides that religion is about making this world a better place.

From the distorted deity of the modernist and the un-Christian anthropology comes an un-Christian understanding of Christ and the gospels. The modernist cannot accept the old supernaturalist understanding of a Virgin Birth, the Incarnation, the Atonement and the Resurrection. These events must be 'de mythologized' and re-interpreted. Consequently, the whole understanding of the salvation of souls is totally eviscerated. Jesus Christ's death on the cross is nothing more than the martyrdom of a good man. For the modernist it cannot be a saving sacrifice. Such metaphysical and medieval concepts are impossible given his faulty theology and anthropology. At most the sacrifice of Christ is a symbol of human selflessness and sacrificial love, but even this is a nonsense if all we have is the senseless death of a political prisoner.

If this is true--if Jesus' death is no more than symbolic image, then the entire ecclesiological structure and sacramental system is no more than an archaic symbolical structure. It is a historic mythology that, at best, unlocks something within the human subconscious. It is a human construct that helps people to transition through their lives. Indeed, the vicar in the next door parish to me in England in the late 80s said as much. He said, "I see myself as a sort of shaman of the tribe. I'm there to offer them rites of passage."

What strikes me now is how honest my fellow clergy were about their paganism. Unfortunately, their honesty was rare and usually not conscious. More often they indulged in a kind of dishonesty which I can only now admit is really a lie from Satan himself, for what they did was to use the traditional language of the historic Christian faith while not believing the historic Christian faith at all.

So when they said they believed in the Incarnation they actually believed that "Jesus Christ was the most fulfilled human who ever lived. He was so self actualized that he achieved a kind of divine status. He, more than anyone else, was one with the god within." When they 'affirmed' the Virgin Birth they really meant that Mary was an especially pure young woman before she had intercourse with Joseph or a Roman soldier. When they proclaimed from their pulpit on Easter Day, "Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed!" what they meant was, "In some sort of wonderful way I would want to say that Jesus Christ continued to inspire his followers after his tragic death."

I used to think that his lie was simply being told in the halls of academia, that the rot was really only in the universities, but of course it was not only there. It had been disseminated throughout the Anglican Church through the education of the clergy for the last fifty or sixty years. Of course there were pockets of true belief and there are still. In making this critique of Anglicanism I am not damning all Anglicans.

However, Catholics who are involved in ecumenism should be aware that this is the real nature of the people they are talking to. The Anglican theologians will talk a Catholic language, but they mean something totally opposed to Catholicism when they do. They will talk a Christian language, but they mean something totally opposed to Christianity when they do. We must not imagine that this modernism is held only by radical theologians and heretical bishops. It is the mainstream.

Finally, allow me to say why it is the mainstream. It is the mainstream because it fits so perfectly with the philosophical and theological foundations of Anglicanism. The Elizabethan Settlement established Anglicanism for what it is, and that is that it must not be a dogmatic religion. It is to be a flexible religion. When you read Anglican history you will find the principle of dogmatic compromise in every age. From its conception Anglicanism has been wedded to the spirit of the age. From the beginning Anglicanism has adapted its language according to its practical needs. From the first Anglican reformers onward the heritage of Anglicanism has not been a fearless search for truth and a proclamation of the truth at any cost, but a fearful search for compromise and a proclamation of any truth that would please as many people as possible.

I want to say, "Ah, but these are only the members of the liberal wing of the church. The Anglo Catholics and Evangelicals, they have not bowed the knee to Baal." Unfortunately the rot of modernism has also touched many who follow the Anglo Catholic and Evangelical modes of being Anglican. Furthermore, another whole essay could be written about the philosophical underpinnings of the Anglican Evangelicals and Anglo Catholics. Are they not able to stay within a church where both parties hold diametrically opposed beliefs because they too believe that theological language is merely metaphorical and that the language of belief is provisional? While they profess to believe in a dogmatic religion, they can only remain Anglicans recognizing the ministries of one another (while believing opposing things about sacraments and ministry) because they too really believe that dogma is unimportant.

I realize these are harsh words. I also realize that there are many of our brothers and sisters in Christ who have true faith, who love the historic faith and are unaware of the depth of deception at the heart of their most beautiful and venerable religion. I do not wish to offend them, but I offer my thoughts on why Anglicanism is at once so desirable and yet so often dishonest.

PS: I am well aware that the same sort of modernism has poisoned the Catholic Church too, and will post on this soon.


TOPICS: Catholic; General Discusssion; Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS: anglican; anglicanism; catholic; frlongenecker
 Who is like unto God?........ Lk:10:18:
 And he said to them: I saw Satan like lightning falling from heaven.
1 posted on 11/23/2009 10:44:27 AM PST by GonzoII
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To: GonzoII

Bump for later


2 posted on 11/23/2009 10:53:18 AM PST by frogjerk
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To: GonzoII

Cake or death?


3 posted on 11/23/2009 10:55:03 AM PST by Deb (Beat him, strip him and bring him to my tent!)
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To: GonzoII
Fr Longeneker’s analysis of Anglican clergy is pretty much spot on.

However to say that Anglicanism is without dogma is wide of the mark - not least the 39 articles that clergy should assent to at ordination and induction into parishes.

How could he have responsibly been ordained if he did not agree with these delightfully protestant articles?

Methinks he was part of the problem every bit as much as those he castigates.

Let the Catholics go - the Anglicans are better off without them subverting it's historic statements of faith.

4 posted on 11/23/2009 10:57:07 AM PST by vimto (To do the right thing you don't have to be intelligent - you have to be brave (Sasz))
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To: GonzoII
The foundational problem with modernism is that it is anti-supernaturalist. The most foundational difficulty with the anti supernaturalism of the modernist is that he has an anti-Christian conception of God. For the modernist God is either totally immanent. That is He is 'down here' and not transcendent, or he is so totally transcendent as to be a sort of deist God who is 'out there' and does not intervene. What the modernist theologian cannot believe in is a God who is both immanent and transcendent--a God who is 'out there' but who touches this world and ultimately enters this world through the incarnation.

Fr. Longenecker is engaged in building a strawman here, based on the dread word, "modernist." (Whatever that means....)

I seriously doubt that Fr. Longenecker is truly unable to find even a single "modernist theologian" who is able to believe in a "God who is both immanent and transcendent." It sounds like wonderful reason to leave ... but I suspect that the good Father is telling a lie.

Don't get me wrong: there's plenty wrong with what passes for theology in the Anglican churches (on both the "revisionist" and "orthodox" sides, it must be noted). But to simply condemn Anglicanism on the basis of an ill-defined epithet is not helpful; and it's not honest, either.

Over the past few years I've had the unpleasant opportunity to see at close hand the sorts of arguments that are unleashed by clergy engaged in self-justification. Fr. Longenecker's screed positively reeks with it.

5 posted on 11/23/2009 11:06:33 AM PST by r9etb
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To: GonzoII

A very interesting article. The Anglican Church does have a long history of compromise, and it has taken its via media role seriously. However, it is a Church that because of this stance is for the most part no longer Christian. Having been a member of Episcopalian churches from my youth till less than a decade ago, I have seen it led by individuals who do not believe in Scripture as foundational to the faith, nor do they really believe in Jesus Christ. They go through the motions of tradition, but even the tradition is jaded. The language of the Book of Common Prayer has been modernized and sanitized, and the heart of the CHristian message destroyed in favor of some pagan distortion. There are many faithful and Orthodox Episcopalians who want the CHurch to go back to its reformer roots, and they have left the ANglican communion to join with other like minded and conservative Episcopalians. I am not sure why this gentleman, Fr. Longnecker did not go in that direction. It is true that many Anglican churches are so Anglo Catholic as to be indistinguishable in practice from ROman Catholic ones. That is another reason I left the Episcopal Church. I am not a Roman Catholic. I do not ascribe to popery in any form, and the contemporary Episcopal church has in many ways gone straight over to Rome. Anyhow, I think there is are other Protestant alternatives to becoming a Roman Catholic when you are disillusioned by Anglicanism.


6 posted on 11/23/2009 11:10:09 AM PST by sueuprising
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To: r9etb
based on the dread word, "modernist." (Whatever that means....)

For a good, complete definition, you may wish to read Pope Pius X's encyclical letter, Pascendi Dominici Gregis. Written back in 1907, it really forecasts a lot that has happened within the Church.

7 posted on 11/23/2009 11:10:49 AM PST by markomalley (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus)
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To: vimto

“However to say that Anglicanism is without dogma is wide of the mark - not least the 39 articles that clergy should assent to at ordination and induction into parishes.”
You have said eloquently in a few sentences what my original rambling response did not say half so well in many. Anyhow, The 39 Articles are indeed Reformed in dogma, but do modern Anglican clergy pledge to uphold them? I know there is something called the Reformed Episcopal Church that uses the articles in their statement of faith, but in all my years as an Episcopalian, I never once heard these nearly Calvinistic points of doctrine discussed.


8 posted on 11/23/2009 11:18:38 AM PST by sueuprising
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To: markomalley
For a good, complete definition, you may wish to read Pope Pius X's encyclical letter, Pascendi Dominici Gregis. Written back in 1907, it really forecasts a lot that has happened within the Church.

Perhaps so. But Fr. Longenecker's strawman remains.

9 posted on 11/23/2009 11:21:59 AM PST by r9etb
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To: zot

pint


10 posted on 11/23/2009 11:29:11 AM PST by GreyFriar (Spearhead - 3rd Armored Division 75-78 & 83-87)
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To: sueuprising
I appreciate your remarks - especially as how no Welshman has ever before been praised for using few words!!

I left the Anglican church over these issues of historic doctrinal issues.

When I was inducted (by Rowan no less then archbishop of Wales - and a really nice though liberal-to-his-toes type of guy) I was told that he would ask me about the 39 articles but he would not look at me when I answered, so there was no need to take it seriously.

But I did. And I was virtually hounded out of the church for it (another story) and I am now a minister to a delightful small reformed evangelical church.

But there are pockets of grand historic Anglicans - in the UK the Church society and Reform, and in Australia the diocese of Sidney. And of course most African clergy.

I love Anglicanism, but it has been defeated from within. Cranmer Latimer Ridley to name but a few, we are not worthy of them. It breaks my heart.

11 posted on 11/23/2009 11:37:20 AM PST by vimto (To do the right thing you don't have to be intelligent - you have to be brave (Sasz))
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To: r9etb
If you read the above-referenced document, you will find that it does cover a lot of the so-called strawman. I am not in a position to talk about Anglicanism, but Longenecker does effectively describe Modernism.

L: The foundational problem with modernism is that it is anti-supernaturalist.

PDG: But how the Modernists make the transition from Agnosticism, which is a state of pure nescience, to scientific and historic Atheism, which is a doctrine of positive denial; and consequently, by what legitimate process of reasoning, starting from ignorance as to whether God has in fact intervened in the history of the human race or not, they proceed, in their explanation of this history, to ignore God altogether, as if He really had not intervened, let him answer who can. Yet it is a fixed and established principle among them that both science and history must be atheistic: and within their boundaries there is room for nothing but phenomena; God and all that is divine are utterly excluded. We shall soon see clearly what, according to this most absurd teaching, must be held touching the most sacred Person of Christ, what concerning the mysteries of His life and death, and of His Resurrection and Acension into heaven.

L: For the modernist God is either totally immanent.

PDG: 7. However, this Agnosticism is only the negative part of the system of the Modernist: the positive side of it consists in what they call vital immanence. This is how they advance from one to the other. Religion, whether natural or supernatural, must, like every other fact, admit of some explanation. But when Natural theology has been destroyed, the road to revelation closed through the rejection of the arguments of credibility, and all external revelation absolutely denied, it is clear that this explanation will be sought in vain outside man himself. It must, therefore, be looked for in man; and since religion is a form of life, the explanation must certainly be found in the life of man. Hence the principle of religious immanence is formulated.

L: or he is so totally transcendent as to be a sort of deist God who is 'out there' and does not intervene.

PDG: But how the Modernists make the transition from Agnosticism, which is a state of pure nescience, to scientific and historic Atheism, which is a doctrine of positive denial; and consequently, by what legitimate process of reasoning, starting from ignorance as to whether God has in fact intervened in the history of the human race or not, they proceed, in their explanation of this history, to ignore God altogether, as if He really had not intervened, let him answer who can.

As far as whether this has infected the Anglican communion, I can't answer, as I am not an Anglican. But the effects of modernism, a relativistic ethic that denies any transcendent mores, cannot be denied. At one point in time, the Anglicans rejected contraception. They then flipped on the issue. At one point in time, the Anglicans rejected abortion. On that issue, there was a flip, as well. They rejected female clergy. Guess what? They rejected homosexual clergy on a doctrinal basis. And guess what?

Maybe it's because I am not an Anglican, but it seems apparent that Modernism crept into that community based on the effects, alone. Just as with the bulk of credal Protestantism (...and, in all candor, far too much of Catholicism, as well. At least with Catholicism, it hasn't had a doctrinal impact on the Magesterium)

12 posted on 11/23/2009 11:40:56 AM PST by markomalley (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus)
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To: markomalley
I am not in a position to talk about Anglicanism, but Longenecker does effectively describe Modernism.

Thanks for that... If we accept that discussion of "modernism," then we can see that Longenecker's analysis is therefore quite incorrect.

Modern-day Anglican revisionism (and Christian revisionism in general) depends rather strongly on the idea of intervention by the Holy Spirit; and as such their theology is strongly "immanent and transcendent."

There is much that is wrong with this approach, in that it deals emotionally with theological issues, and that often leads to a rejection of Scripture in order to justify whatever "the Holy Spirit" has supposedly led them to.

On the other hand, there is almost always a kernel of Christian truth at the center of the revisionist impulse: truly the leading of the Holy Spirit on some topic or other. (As an example ... how should Christians treat homosexuals?)

13 posted on 11/23/2009 12:37:25 PM PST by r9etb
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To: GreyFriar

Thanks for the ping. This is an excellent article, and not only applicable to Anglicans. All the so-called “mainstream” Christian denominations of which I am aware also have this basic disbelief. He calls it “modernism” but it comes from materialism and humanism.


14 posted on 11/23/2009 1:24:33 PM PST by zot
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To: vimto

You wrote:

“However to say that Anglicanism is without dogma is wide of the mark - not least the 39 articles that clergy should assent to at ordination and induction into parishes.”

“should”? That’s the problem right there. Anglicans have no real dogma. What ‘dogma’ they have was handed them by a monarch and the parliament. It can change any minute of any day. That’s not dogma.


15 posted on 11/23/2009 1:50:04 PM PST by vladimir998
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To: sueuprising

You wrote:

“Anyhow, I think there is are other Protestant alternatives to becoming a Roman Catholic when you are disillusioned by Anglicanism.”

Alternatives? So it’s like picking up any other consumer item? Does truth happen to have anything to do with it?


16 posted on 11/23/2009 1:55:56 PM PST by vladimir998
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To: vladimir998

What I meant by alternatives is that one need not go over to Rome when one is disillusioned by Anglicanism. The doctrine of the reformers is alive and well in many evangelical Protestant churches like Baptists or Orthodox Presbyterian. I did not mean to insinuate that choosing one’s church is like picking an item off a menu. The truth of scripture is given in many churches that are not Roman Catholic. If the church is Bible based and the Word of God is preached in spirit and truth then you are in the right place. My curiosity was why this man decided to embrace Roman Catholicism that is all.


17 posted on 11/23/2009 3:35:06 PM PST by sueuprising
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To: sueuprising

You wrote:

“What I meant by alternatives is that one need not go over to Rome when one is disillusioned by Anglicanism. The doctrine of the reformers is alive and well in many evangelical Protestant churches like Baptists or Orthodox Presbyterian.”

Okay, so let me get this straight. You think Anglicans who are leaving Anglicanism for the catholic faith are doing it because they are interested in embracing the “doctrines of the reformers”?

“I did not mean to insinuate that choosing one’s church is like picking an item off a menu.”

So the “doctrine of the reformers” isn’t making doctrine into a menu item?

‘The truth of scripture is given in many churches that are not Roman Catholic.”

No, actually none of the Protestant sects do so.

“If the church is Bible based and the Word of God is preached in spirit and truth then you are in the right place. My curiosity was why this man decided to embrace Roman Catholicism that is all.”

Because he wanted the truth. And he found it. He found Christ’s Church - the Catholic Church.


18 posted on 11/23/2009 3:46:39 PM PST by vladimir998
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To: GonzoII

**The problem is modernism — a philosophical and theological position which is deeply opposed to historic Christianity.**

So true. Even the Catholic Church fights modernism within its realm.


19 posted on 11/23/2009 9:14:09 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: vimto


“To: GonzoII
Fr Longeneker’s analysis of Anglican clergy is pretty much spot on.
However to say that Anglicanism is without dogma is wide of the mark - not least the 39 articles that clergy should assent to at ordination and induction into parishes.

How could he have responsibly been ordained if he did not agree with these delightfully protestant articles?

Methinks he was part of the problem every bit as much as those he castigates.”

Modern Anglicans (and Episcopalians) pay about as much attention to the 39 Articles as Congress does to the Constitution.


20 posted on 11/23/2009 9:39:08 PM PST by BnBlFlag (Deo Vindice/Semper Fidelis "Ya gotta saddle up your boys; Ya gotta draw a hard line")
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To: BnBlFlag

Isn’t Anglicanism all about smoke and mirrors?
More mirrors.


21 posted on 01/21/2011 5:28:43 PM PST by Saint Foraday
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