By Robert Lundy, the American Anglican Council
I interviewed for a position at the American Anglican Council in 2007. When I saw the job posting I immediately Googled “Anglican.” Images of old cathedrals, coats of arms and British royalty were among the top hits. When I came to the AAC’s page I read their statement of faith. It was lengthy and a bit arcane to me at the time but I didn’t have any major problems with it. Everything I read seemed consistent with what I believed. Sure there was lots of flowery language and some old-school churchy words but I essentially didn’t have any problems. So when I actually got the job I didn’t think there would be a conflict between my convictions as a life-long Southern Baptist and the Anglican Communion’s teaching.
As I continued working, I encountered some things that gave me pause. Number one, this Southern Baptist was a little wary when the Anglicans drank alcohol. Not as upsetting but equally foreign to me were the positions of priest, bishop and archbishop. In the Baptist church the leader is the pastor and the deacons (and the choir sometimes but that’s an unofficial leadership role). When you add in the clothes they wear; collars, cassocks, cinctures, stoles, surplices, mitres (oh, the mitres!), albs all the way to the occasional zucchetto, I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.
I remember one time we were reciting the Apostles Creed at morning prayers. This was right after I was hired, I left out that part in the creed about the “the holy catholic church.” At the time I thought the Anglicans were somehow pledging allegiance to the Pope or something. Looking back now, I should have asked instead of just keeping quiet. One of the priests who worked with me eventually pulled me aside and asked why I didn’t say it. When I told him why he smiled and told me how they were talking about the unity of the church in Christ and that it was small “c” catholic.
Since those early days I’ve come to appreciate many things about Anglicans. The way they worship on Sundays and in the daily office has a built-in mechanism that guarantees the worshiper will hear the gospel and have an appropriate description of God before them in the Eucharist as well as the words of the liturgy. I appreciate the God-ordained advantages of being under authority. Provided the bishop and priest are acting in step with a true Christian walk, there is a lot to be said for being under authority and having leaders who are themselves under authority.
Now I still don’t agree with every aspect of Anglicanism but those areas where I am in disagreement are secondary and not ones of primary or communion-breaking importance. Don’t get me wrong, there are some Anglican leaders that espouse a false doctrine. That’s a big reason the AAC exists – to renew orthodox Anglicanism in the face of false teaching. But those false teachers in no way speak for the majority of Anglicans and in no way reflect the roots of Anglicanism.
Early this week I was in Washington D.C. for a meeting of the Common Ground Christian Network (pictured above).