Saturday, May 2, 2009

Lo! How the Mighty Have Fallen

I just read in the Christian History blog that a Greek Orthodox couple in Los Angeles have endowed a center for the study of the early church at Wheaton College. In the announcement mention was made of the Orthodox, Roman Catholics and Evangelicals, but there was no mention of Anglicans at all. I was hurt.

You see, in the nineteenth and twentieth century it was Anglican scholars who were the great and consistent students of the earliest Church. Indeed, it was the basis for who we were and what we believed and taught. But now through the treason of the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada and the way in which the Anglican Church in the British Isles have followed them in their heresies and embrace of immorality, it as if we have disappeared from the whole of the Christian world. Indeed, we have become a laughingstock, an embarrassment where once we were stupor mundi.

The worst of it is that we in the Continuum don't know who we are. Our parishes and missions, such as they are, reflect either the opinions of those who would have destroyed Anglicanism after the assession of Elizabeth I by their refusal to obey the Book of Common Prayer or those who decided that the only way to be either Anglican or Catholic was to substitute the use of missals and customs based upon the post-Tridentine liturgy of the Roman Church for that of the traditional Book of Common Prayer and the ceremonial and uses which the best liturgical scholars of the last two hundred years have determined was proper to it.

And that leaves me with a further question: do we really want to be Anglicans or are we just playing with religion because once the faith and practice of Anglicanism was that of the social and intellectual elite of the English speaking world? I am, let me admit it, a very high churchman who loves the fullness of English use. The language, the music, the vestments and ceremonial all move me, reminding me of the richness of the worship which God commanded for Himself in the Old Testament and for the protection of same which drove our Lord to violently drive the money changers from the temple. But I am equally made aware of the majesty of our Creator when I recite Morning Prayer and the Litany by myself on a cold morning without vestments, music or incense. Consequently, when I read something like the post in Christian History where Anglicans and Anglicanism is left out, what I hear ripping through my heart and soul is our Lord's cry from the cross: "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me?