It Isn't Easy Being Anglican
At the heart of the various difficulties in embracing the Anglican world is the brokenness of Anglicanism itself. While this church is as historic as any, more prolific than most and wonderfully rich in its liturgy, it is today a broken church. Once merely the church of the British Isles, the empire took this way of faith around the world. The Anglican way grew to be a large body of Christians second only to Rome and Orthodoxy.
Even today, Christians of the Anglican faith are on the front lines geographically in the global south. Every day, Anglicans spread the Gospel, form parishes, teach the faith, and make converts of unbelievers. In a few short years, the number of Anglican Christians in Nigeria, the Sudan, Congo, Indonesia and many other places have swelled to be counted in the tens of millions. It may be said with integrity that Anglicans are taking a back seat to no other Christian tradition in spreading the faith of Jesus Christ in the 2/3 world. In Latin America, where Anglican Christians had little more than a few scattered chapels just a decade ago, the church is vibrant, robust and growing by leaps and bounds.
Meanwhile, these same vibrant Christians have witnessed the scandal of what passes as Anglican Christianity in the “material west”.
With deep respect I say, Rome has not captured my heart, nor has Orthodoxy taken hold of my soul. But it would be unfair to characterize my own choice as merely one of default, that is, having examined both of the other sisters of apostolic faith and having found myself identifying with the Anglican way solely because I would not or could not choose one of them. I am not Anglican merely because I found myself having to “settle” for some supposed lesser thing.
No, I am orthodox, catholic, but Anglican.
Rome and, to a much lesser degree, Orthodoxy are more magisterial, more hierarchal and appear better equipped to make things “tidy”. The Anglican way is no place for those who cannot live within tensions. It is an impossibly challenging and difficult place for those who desire or need “tidy”. The Anglican way is freer, but it is messy. It just is what it is. Some say that is both the magic and the limp of the Anglican way.
Yet, where would the Christian faith be without her? There would have been no King James Bible, no Book of Common Prayer, and while I won’t flesh out my complete thoughts here, no civilization as we know it in the west. This is my opinion, I grant you, but the Anglican contribution to the western world simply cannot be measured.
The best I can likely do in this broken family, this Anglican Church, is to find a place of honesty and integrity. First, I must recognize how messed up this group is, and this I honestly confess. Secondly, whenever I hear of the difficulties that Romans have or the Orthodox have (or the troubles among the free church Evangelicals, for that matter) nothing in me sees the need to gloat. Humility should always forbid it, but for Anglicans, this is a particularly humbling era.
I choose to walk in the Anglican way because I honestly believe the Lord has led me to walk in this way. I believe He ordered my steps. I know. I know there is a risk in making such a statement. It may appear that I “fix blame” for my love for the Prayer Book on the Lord and dodge my own responsibilities in the matter of my Christian witness.
Yet, I testify that my prayer life finds its home in the Prayer Book the way the swallow finds her home near the altar in Jerusalem. I am Anglican.
There is work to do wherever one finds oneself planted by the Lord in His vineyard. There is pruning to do, weeds to pull, walls to rebuild, marauders to defend against, plants to husband, fruit to grow and a harvest to bring in. Perhaps some vineyards are harder to work than others, this I grant you, but none are the Paradise of God, not yet. This is the cry we hear, even now, emanating from the Eschaton.
+Frederick G. Fick MSJ
February 18. 2009