The last couple of years have been theologically challenging in many ways other than concerning the faith itself, which remains rock steady. I’ve recently described myself as a sacramental, paedobaptist, Catholic-leaning, Orthodox Anglican, which is just about normal for an Anglican walking the via media.
I am firmly an Anglican, worshipping in the Church of England, yet find it difficult to think of myself as Protestant, as my protests were addressed five hundred years ago (in my absence I stress) with the worst of results. I know that the real point of reform was not to create an extra 28,000 denominational differentiations, nor was it supposed to send people back to a barely post-Apostolic primitivism, though there is much about the house church movement I like. No, the Reformation was supposed to fix that which was broken, not reinvent it. Unfortunately a good portion of baby disappeared with the admittedly murky bathwater.
For me the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church will both be mother Churches. Much as they both consider Anglicans apostate, I love them both, and like most Christians I wish for a unity that seems to slip further and further away. This, I suppose, is why I’m an Anglican. The Church of England has retained huge chunks of the Church’s historical past, and those links keep me rooted in the faith. Between you and me, I also like to keep track of the Pope, not that I feel he needs my ever-watchful gaze to keep him in line, but because I like the idea of a historical line of accountability for things being the way they are in one of my Mother Churches.
When it comes to worship I confess to being a liturgical fan. The language of the Book of Common Prayer, even in its updated Common Worship form, engenders in me a spirit of reverence and awe. That part of me which I’ve always identified as Catholic with a large “C”, Orthodox with a capital “O” or Wesleyan with a big “W” is the sacramental me; the me who understands God at work in a real sense in Baptism and the Eucharist. For me, baptism is regenerative, even in infants, where the healing and cleansing power of God washes away the stain of sin and brings the recipient to a new birth and a new life in Christ, restoring the sanctifying grace lost when we, as a race, threw it away in our rejection of God. Most of my friends online, which is where I really live, are Reformed in either the Calvinist or Arminian sense, united in their condemnation of the Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and, of course, each other.
When it comes to the sacrament of the Eucharist, or Communion in my church, or the Lord’s Supper in most Protestant churches, I find myself firmly on the side of awe and reverence and as far removed from the sliced bread and grape juice in plastic shot-glasses crowd as it’s possible to get. I make no apology for cringing when, in a previous church, the blessed bread was distributed to the children after the service and ended up trodden into the floor in the church lobby. I understand how some think it borders on superstition, but there you are. For me, both in Baptism and the Eucharist, Christ is present and acting, and the sacraments go far beyond mere ordinances or memorials. For me, the fact that Baptists have desacramentalised the act of baptism seems the ultimate irony. And yes, I appreciate that I probably made up the word “desacramentalised”.
So, now you know a little more about the author of this blog, and you might understand why I’m not in a denominational box, but free in Christ to explore, question and study. Hopefully you’ll join us in our Facebook Group, Christian Free Thinkers, and contribute to the journey.