What Debates in Other Faiths Reveal About Their Theology

I’ll begin this by saying that I mostly try to ignore what is going on in the Anglican world.  I am no longer a member of the Episcopal church(ECUSA), so I have no stake in their internal disagreements.  On the other hand, perhaps mine is not the right attitude.  I still have a number of people that I care about who are still in that group, and so, perhaps I should care about what is going on there more, especially as it pertains to mistaken doctrine, and even simply mistaken attitudes that would be dangerous for those still there.

At the same time, reading things coming out of the ECUSA can also provide an opportunity to reflect on what the Orthodox perspective would be, both on the subject, and on the arguments being made.  Just such an opportunity was afforded me last week when the latest issue of the Diocesan Messenger from the San Diego diocese arrived (for some reason, I seem trapped on their mailing list in perpetuity).  Apparently there is a topic up for debate, at least at the Diocesan level, or perhaps at the national level, and the Diocese felt it appropriate to have several pastors from different parishes in the Diocese write their  arguments regarding the topic.  As they were not responding one to another, you were presented with four different position papers, which seems like a reasonable way to hold a discussion without it devolving into an argument.

The topic being discussed is what they are describing as “Open Communion”.  I’ll start by noting that Open Communion, as commonly understood, refers to permitting Christians who are not members of that particular denomination to receive Communion.  When I was young, that was the debate ongoing in the ECUSA.  However, in 2016, to the ECUSA, the term refers to permitting non-Christians to receive communion.  The four pieces revealed some interesting insights, both into the theology of the four pastors, as well as the position of the ECUSA within the Christian milieu.

Some Background on the Parishes Involved

The four parishes involved, or rather the three parishes and mission, are Holy Cross and St. Michael’s in Carlsbad, All Soul’s in Point Loma, and St. Andrew’s in Pacific Beach.  Given the level of theological diversity allowed within Anglicanism, it is not surprising that these parishes represent very different theological foundations.  For instance, Holy Cross, which was founded as a mission by St. Michael’s was, like St. Michael’s used to be, rather Anglocatholic.  That is, believing in doctrines that would cause little to separate them from Roman Catholics of perhaps two or three centuries ago.  Since I left the Episcopal Church a decade ago, Holy Cross underwent a significant shift when its Vicar and many parishioners left for the continuing Anglican movement in 2006.  Similarly, St. Michaels also shifted.  Although their rector is a graduate of what historically had been an Anglocatholic seminary, the seminary has been under the leadership of a priest who had come from the Charismatic (i.e. Evangelical) movement.  Drawn to the conservatism, I suppose, of Nashotah, he really had never been an adherent to Anglocatholicism.  I’m not sure that he changed the seminary as much as his being hired reflected how much it had changed.  At any rate, the current rector at St. Michael’s never really struck me as particularly Anglocatholic.  Yes, he likes “tradition”, yes he is a bit conservative, but like Munday, his perspective always felt more Evangelical than Catholic.  When the more Catholic elements in the parish either left for Orthodoxy (at least a handful) or the larger exodus to Rome, all that was left was basically Evangelical leaning, or, more traditionally Protestant if not Evangelical.  Holy Cross now appears to be a typical modernist mission, St. Michael’s a traditional leaning Evangelical parish, and the other two I’m not entirely sure of.  Their pastor’s positions then reflect this diversity.

The Mind of the Church

The goal within Orthodoxy is for everyone to obtain and operate with the “Mind of the Church”, or phronema.  This encompasses not only the doctrinal elements but also the more practical life lived within the practices of the Church, and seeking to grow in our likeness to God, and the continued acquisition of the Holy Spirit (Met. Hierotheos Vlachos).  Decisions about what is acceptable reflect, then, this mind.  It is a common misconception that Church councils always just reflected a voted based on opinions of the bishops present.  What happened, instead, especially beginning with the first ecumenical council, was that the bishops were seeking to understand the mind of the Church as reflected by what had been believed and practiced since the time of the Apostles.  Doctrines live and die by the degree to which they reflect the received tradition across the board.  This tradition is most notably transmitted via the liturgies and hymns as those represent the communal life of the faithful.

Thus, a question such as the one posed, would be addressed by priests and bishops in the Orthodox Church by reference to the canons that had been passed at the various councils.  Then, if that was not sufficient, we look to the liturgical traditions and the hymnography for more guidance.  For instance, we know that the historical practice was for all non-baptized individuals to be sent out of the Church before the part in the service when the Holy Spirit is called down onto the bread and wine to turn them into the Body and Blood of Christ.  Although this no longer happens, the liturgy retains a call by the Deacon to attend to the doors (that is close them so that only the faithful remain) prior to the recitation of the Creed.  Given this, there is no question that non-baptized would not be permitted to participate.  Further, we also know that those who had separated themselves over doctrinal matters (heretics, although the word has become unpopular) would also not be permitted in until a suitable period of penance had occurred.  So even the question of baptized Christians who do not belong to the Orthodox Church is answered.

This answers the question in part, but of course, if one wants to understand at a deeper level, we would reflect on the nature of the Church and the nature of the Sacrament, which I will do a bit further down in response to specific points raised in the article.

I should point out here that this notion of the “Mind of the Church” figures into the question of Apostolic Succession. In order to be in that succession, besides needing to be ordained by an ordained/consecrated bishop, as agreed to universally, the Orthodox Church understands that the bishops and priests under discussion must also still exist within the Mind of the Church. That is, they cannot have left the Church in some fashion and yet still claim to be in succession.

Personal Opinion

Now that we’ve addressed the general issue of the mind of the church, we come to the first piece, which is penned by the Vicar of Holy Cross. After she finishes praising the “roominess” of Anglican theology, she then moves on to the discussion at hand. The purpose of the discussion of the roomy theology is to simply argue that there is no formal Eucharistic theology in play from an Anglican perspective and thus opens the door for her to “share my own Eucharistic theology.” Although she briefly asserts a shared perspective with Augustine (without any support), the entire article is based on her views, her feelings, etc. There is no attempt to engage the mind of the church. This is very much consistent with the modernist thread of Anglicanism, where personal opinions and feelings are as valid as any doctrine or received tradition, if not more so. Besides being inconsistent with any Christian worldview older than the 16th century, it also smacks of the sort of lack of humility that is spiritually dangerous for all of us.

Catholic or Not?

The piece by the rector of St. Michael’s also quickly touches on a personal opinion about the rightness of what he refers to as the “Anglican” view that communion is to be offered to all baptized Christians regardless of denomination. I’m not entirely sure that this is an Anglican view as much as it is strictly an Episcopalian view, but to be sure, it is not a catholic view. Yet, immediately after this comment, he trots out the famed Vincentian Canon (named for St. Vincent of Lerins), using it to state that the “catholic faith which we profess is described… as, “that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all”. This then becomes the foundation for his argument that to offer communion to non-Christians would be non-catholic. He leans on Fr. Alexander Schmemann representing Orthodoxy, then St. Irenaus, representing the ancient church to defend his position. However, his argument is without merit, as he just finished proclaiming the modern and erroneous practice of communion to all baptized Christians, regardless of denomination. How can he use catholicity to prevent one practice, while ignoring it to support another one? At best, this is some form of special pleading, at worst hypocrisy. He furthers undermines his case by a veiled reference to 1 Corinthians 11, where St. Paul indicates that partaking of communion in an unworthy manner can result in illness in death. Instead of agreeing with his assertion, he creates a straw man argument that God will not strike someone dead for taking communion when not baptized (did St. Paul say that? no), but by dismantling the straw man he effectively denies St. Paul’s teaching. Once again, he seems to be disagreeing with the very catholic faith he asserts should drive this decision.

The Sacrament Itself

Both of the first two writers seem to believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It is at best unclear about the remaining two author. The rector from All Souls discusses what the Eucharist is at great length before finally indicating that perhaps he thinks it is the body and blood of Christ (what he actually says is the “desire … (of someone else) to receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ”, so it is unclear). He discusses a great many things about the Eucharist, that it is mechanism by which we are united, by which people receive God’s grace, etc., all of which is true, but I don’t think he really accepts that God is, in fact, actually present in the Sacrament. The rector of St. Andrew’s doesn’t even come close.

The sense that God is truly present in the Sacrament would, you think, give everyone great pause and concern that people are prepared to receive it. In the Orthodox Church, even though we are baptized members of the Orthodox Church, we are expected to prepare to receive the sacrament each week, by special prayers, fasting, and periodic confession. Such practices are consistent with the view that God is present.  The issue is not so much that God would “strike us dead” as St. Michael’s rector asserts, but that our state would mean that we would not react well to His holiness.  Following is a quote from a lecture given several years ago by a doctor and lay theologian from Greece that expresses the essence of the Orthodox view of judgment:

God is Truth and Light. God’s judgment is nothing else than our coming into contact with truth and light. In the day of the Great Judgment all men will appear naked before this penetrating light of truth. The “books” will be opened. What are these “books”? They are our hearts. Our hearts will be opened by the penetrating light of God, and what is in these hearts will be revealed. If in those hearts there is love for God, those hearts will rejoice seeing God’s light. If, on the contrary, there is hatred for God in those hearts, these men will suffer by receiving on their opened hearts this penetrating light of truth which they detested all their life.

All four authors support some level of open communion. the Vicar of Holy Cross is the most clearly in support of this. I was pondering why this was the case. Especially since she proclaims a belief in the real presence. Then it occurred to me, after listening to a talk on heresies and their manifestation today, that perhaps she doesn’t actually believe that Christ is God. Then his presence in the Eucharist wouldn’t raise questions about being worthy to approach.

Patristics and Context

As a final note, a couple of different quotes of St. Augustine are trotted out. In both cases, I’m pretty certain that the authors have not actually read the sermons that those quotes are from (the Vicar from Holy Cross wrongly asserts that her quote was a standard part of St. Augustine’s liturgy). Both miss the fact that the reference to becoming what you see is in fact a reference to the Orthodox understanding of theosis. The rector of St. Andrew’s asserts that St. Augustine’s phrase “Behold what you are” indicates that we are “fully accepted” by God, the phrase fully accepted is usually taken to mean, wallowing in our sins without need of repentance. Instead, he misses that the “Behold what you are” is a reference to the body of Christ, which is what we, as baptized, professing members of the Church are.

Apostolic Succession and Anglicans


The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) recently was invited to Russia to meet with the Patriarch.  Kevin Allen at Ancient Faith Radio, after this meeting, interviewed Keith Ackerman, a bishop in the ACNA, and Fr. Chad Hatfield, Dean of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary.  Both are actively engaged in interfaith dialogue between Anglicans and the Orthodox, and Ackerman had attended the meeting in Moscow (I’m unclear as to whether Fr. Hatfield attended or not).  As time permits, there are a few points raised during the interview, that I hope to address.  For now, I will limit myself to one point.

Kevin raises the question of the branch theory and Apostolic Succession.  He wonders if the ACNA still holds that it is, in fact, one of the branches of the original church.  This theory is widely held by Anglicans, and in particular by Anglocatholics, of which Ackerman is one (or at least used to be, I haven’t spoken with him in years).  Ackerman responds by saying he is, in fact, looking at his apostolic succession while participating in the interview.  That is, he is looking at the line of bishops, presumably leading back to the apostles, and beginning with the bishop who ordained him as a priest in the Episcopal Church (ECUSA) many years ago.

This points to an issue that will prove to be a major problem.  You see, the Orthodox Church does not accept that Ackerman, or any Anglicans are in the “Apostolic Succession.”  Even Rome doesn’t accept it, and they hold to a view of Apostolic Succession somewhat more in line with the Anglican view.  The Anglican perspective is that Apostolic Succession is merely about the laying on of hands by subsequent generations of bishop.  That there is something magical in that act that keeps one perpetually a member of the historic church.  This goes along with their belief that once you are ordained a priest you are always a priest.  Nothing you do changes this.  If you were to become a bishop, then decide to become a buddhist, you would still have the ability to pass along this apostolic succession to someone else – even, presumably, if they were not Christian.  Anglicans would argue that it is nothing “magical” but rather God’s grace, but the Orthodox don’t believe that God’s grace is permanently affixed to someone such that they can’t turn away from it and leave it behind.

The Orthodox perspective on Apostolic Succession includes the laying on of hands, but also requires a continuation in the teaching of the Apostles.  Following is from a piece by Metropolitan Hierotheos of Vlachos on Rome, but it applies here:

Apostolic Succession is not simply a series of ordinations, but at the same time it is the sharing of revealed truth.  When a church cuts itself off from the trunk of the Orthodox Church because of doctrinal differences, this means it no longer has the mystery of the priesthood.  That is, when revelatory truth is lost and heretical opinions are adopted, this has implications int he Apostolic Succession.  The Apostles transmitted the gift of the priesthood, but at the same time they gave, through regeneration, the entire revelatory tradition.

In his book on the Person in the Orthodox Tradition, he goes into some more detail, and I will attempt to post some of that later.  However, this requirement to continue in the revealed truth is then problematic for the Anglican churches.  Ackerman can claim that he holds entirely Orthodox beliefs (which obviously he doesn’t, at least not on this count), but in order for him to still be in succession, the requirement is that he be continuing in that stream.  That is, nobody in his line of succession cut themselves off from Orthodox doctrine prior to their laying hands on him.  I think he would be hard pressed to establish that all of his predecessors held even AngloCatholic beliefs, let alone Orthodox, so there is no practical way for him to still be in that line of succession.

As an addendum, we have several instances that I was aware of back in my Anglican days, where an individual would wander off and establish his own branch of Christianity that bore little semblance to historic, Orthodox Christianity.  For amusement, you may want to read this.  You can see several examples of sects arising out of this mistaken notion of Apostolic Succession, to whom the word heretic could be applied, but that might not go far enough.


One of the greatest difficulties in discussing Anglicanism is in understanding what the beliefs actually are. I recall when I briefly attempted to do an “Ask the Catechist” page on our website, that often I would get a question of the sort, what does the Episcopal Church belief about…? The answer needed a caveat about the challenges of defining doctrine in the Episcopal Church. Anglocatholicism, as a subset of Anglicanism, suffers from the same problem, although to a lesser degree.

When I first returned to the church, I had never heard of the term Anglocatholicism. Over time, of course, that changed. What I came to learn, both by reading what would become the core text of our adult formation (to be renamed the Catechumenate later on), and by simple observation, was that we were basically very Roman, both in practice and in belief. In fact, outside of Papal infallibility, and perhaps indulgences, there is nothing I can recall that would separate us from Rome. We had a Mary altar, occasionally the benediction of the sacrament, including the annual vigil before the sacrament on Maundy Thursday, and many other practices that would remind one of being in a Roman Catholic parish. In fact, in the post Vatican II era, we could be described as more Catholic than many Roman parishes. We sold rosaries in the gift shop (we never had a formal rosary recitation, although it was discussed). Even at that, we weren’t as bad as some parishes. One that I attended in London, still had significant portions of the service in Latin.

I would come to adopt the Anglican Breviary – the book of hours companion to the Anglican Missal. Both books could be found amongst more “hardcore” AngloCatholics and AngloCatholic parishes. The breviary celebrated all of the Roman Catholic Saints and Feast Days established prior to the start of the 20th century. I struggled at times with some of this – for instance the Immaculate Conception, and some of the teaching on transubstantiation which appeared in the Breviary.

My point in describing all of this, is in order to compare this information against the writings of the Oxford Movement. It is interesting to note, especially when compared to Tract 38, which 9.West quoted, the degree to which this sort of Anglicanism would have been objectionable to the early Tractarians. Of course, by the time Tract 90 came along, some of these beliefs would have been less problematic, as John Henry Newman was actively trying to make excuse for his beilefs in light of the 39 Articles, which, until the 20th century, had been binding upon Anglicans. Just a few years later, of course, he would write “On the Development of Christian Doctrine,” which would effectively justify every Roman Catholic Doctrine (and any other innovation they would seek to introduce).

John Henry Newman’s point in Tract 38 was to seek to return Anglicanism to its roots in the reformation, In 1834, at the time of the writing of Tract 38, that seemed reasonable. By 1841, at the writing of Tract 90, the contradictions both between Newman’s beliefs and the writers of the 39 articles were becoming apparent, and the contradictions between ancient Christianity and the English reformation were becoming apparent, as well.

It is interesting to note that in the late 19th century, a series of books was published called the Library of AngoCatholic Theology. In it was much of the material of the early Anglican Divines. According to the John Henry Newman of 1834, this was the stuff of authentic AngloCatholicism. When I decided that the near Roman Catholicism of 20th century AngloCatholicism wasn’t really the right path, I decided to go the way of the early Anglican Divines, and was able to locate one of these volumes vs. bookfinder (perhaps the most dangerous websites for bibliophiles). It was a book called Hammond’s Practical Catechism. I figured a Catechism was a good place to start.

Unfortunately, Hammond’s Practical Catechism, while holding a lot of “catholic” views, wasn’t entirely that way. Nor was it entirely in agreement with AngloCatholicism of any stripe. It took me all of a minute to discover that. I couldn’t remember when I was thinking about it the other day, what i ran across that convinced me of that. A review of Hammond’s work quickly led me to at least one such disagreement. Hammond, like Zwingli, believes that the Eucharist is merely symbolic. In no manner is Christ present in the Sacrament. That is in stark contrast to both Tract 38 and 90, and most certainly to 20th Century AngloCatholicism. My recollection is that there are other problems, as well.

The question in all of this, then, is, what is AngloCatholicism? Is it the nearly Roman Catholic views of 20th Century AngloCatholicism? Is it the Via Media that John Henry Newman espoused in 1834? The version he espoused in 1841? Or is it the Anglicanism of the Reformation?

It is not enough to simply assert that all of these are valid positions, as they are, at times, opposed to one another. For example, according to Tract 38, invocation of Saints and veneration of Icons is idolatry. By Tract 90, not so much, by the 20th Century , not at all. The problem is that if something is truly idolatrous, then to engage in it is quite simply not permissible as a Christian. If you attempt to take a position that is in the middle, you are still saying that those holding the Reformation view have to be wrong. So the middle position isn’t really quite in the middle. That is the situation with most of the conflicting views between Protestantism and Romanism that AngloCatholics, at least those of the Tractarian stripe, find themselves in.

9.West holds out hope that Anglicanism, specifically AngloCatholicism, might be the mechanism for ultimate reunification of Rome and the East. In other words, the Via Media of AngloCatholicism might actually be the Via Media between Rome and the East. This is a familiar view – I used to believe that myself. The assumption was that AngloCatholicism was Orthodox in much of what it believed, but of a Western flavor. I’ll look at that notion in a future entry.

Fundamentalist Christianity – Producer of the Finest Anti-Christians

Over the past 30 years or so, two of the most effective opponents of Christianity have been former fundamentalists. The first is the somewhat infamous John Shelby Spong, now the retired Episcopal Bishop of Newark. The other is Bart Ehrman, professor of Religious Studies at UNC, Chapel Hill.

Both men would certainly declare themselves Christian, but, since most of their work is focused on removing the Divine nature of Christ, its hard to agree with their description of themselves. I find myself wondering how it is they arrived at their current positions. Is it because of their fundamentalist backgrounds that they have become such ardent non-believers? How many other people, born fundamentalist, have arrived in the same place? Spong and Ehrman, of course, are somewhat unique as they hold positions as Christian educators. Spong, as a retired bishop, is still a bishop of the Episcopal Church, and thus is responsible for teaching Christians. Ehrman, as professor of religion holds a similar responsibility. I won’t make any arguments about the appropriateness of them holding their current positions, but it is because of their positions that they have such an impact on the Christian world.

Let’s begin by a brief description of fundamentalism. I am referring to the specific Christian movement of the early 20th Century, not to the overuse of the term to apply to anyone of a conservative religious bent (with violent overtones, I might add). You can read something about the movement at Wikipedia, with the caveat that the article has been flagged as not being sufficiently neutral, and lacking sufficient citations. I think the background material in the article is pretty solid, but it probably goes astray as it begins discussing the rise of the Christian Right in the U.S. As an aside, that probably doesn’t belong in the article other than as a passing reference to a separate article. Christian Fundamentalism came about as a reaction to a number of factors, but most notably to 19th century scholarly developments – most notably Darwinism and so-called “Higher Criticism” of Scripture which developed in Germany. The movement developed 5 “fundamentals” which all orthodox (note the small o) Christians must adhere to in order to properly be considered Christians: Inerrancy of Scripture, the virgin birth and divinity of Christ, the second coming, the vicarious atonement, and the resurrection.

Unfortunately, the movement came to have a reputation as being anti-intellectual. Although I have not read the 12 volumes of “fundamentals,” which may, indeed, not have been anti-intellectual, the movement clearly became that over time. It is fine to have a basic formulary which describes the faith, the Orthodox Church, in part, relies on the Nicene Creed for this. However, at the same time, we are required to be able to give a defense, an apologia, for our faith. Fundamentalism largely failed to do that, and many groups that adhered to the fundamentals became known as churches that required one to check their brain at the door.

I think it was this phenomenon that produced Ehrman and Spong. The excessive reaction to liberalism, which certainly challenged basic precepts of traditional Christianity, itself caused the pendulum to swing even farther away and we end up with those who don’t believe in anything that would resemble Christianity. In fact, I would argue that the views of Ehrman and Spong are not so much liberal as anti-fundamentalist. In an odd twist, they have adopted an essentially religious dedication to 19th century scholarship that results in them holding those opposed to such views in disdain in much the same way that their fundamentalist forebearers held liberal theologians in disdain.

Spong relies very heavily on his somewhat limited knowledge of Darwinism ( a view of evolution that is not universally held, even by the most atheistic evolutionists in academia), Newtonian physics absent any knowledge of quantum mechanics, and, of course German higher criticism. The problem is that all of these schools have since gone their way. While Newtonian mechanics are still valid, they are only valid within certain limited contexts. Quantum mechanics and subsequent developments have made it obvious that the universe is much more complex than previously understood. Whereas Newtonian physics would not allow for things like the warp engines of Star Trek, modern physics tells us that such things are not so impossible. I recall once reading an article by Spong dismissing the accounts of the Ascension simply because its absurd, in a purely Newtonian world, to posit that heaven is up in space somewhere. It completely escaped him that Christ’s rising into the sky and disappearing into a cloud could have been an essentially sacramental act. That is, a physical act describing a spiritual reality. Could it have indicated his moving into a higher state (such terminology being commonly used in Quantum physics)?

Ehrman, similarly, relies on 19th century scholarship, apparently unaffected by modern developments. I ran across a very interesting review of one of his books at this site. He and Spong have much in common.

Unfortunately, Ehrman and Spong have trapped themselves in a very limited view of the world. They, too, appear to have come to place where in order to visit, one has to check their brain at the door. I wonder if their arrival in that place is merely because after a youth spent among fundamentalists, they sought out a different place that looked pretty much the same as the place they came from.

The lesson to Orthodox is that, while we have a well established definition of the faith, we need to not be afraid of engaging new trends in academia. While a purely intellectual approach to life leaves one open to spiritual delusion, we do not need to automatically dismiss such endeavors. For sure, we need to evaluate new developments in the context of our faith. Sometimes, in fact probably frequently, we’ll find such developments consistent with the faith. Where it is not, we need to (as a Church – I don’t think every Christian needs to become some sort of scholar who is an expert on everything) examine it closely and see where it has gone astray. Once we know that, we can make intelligent arguments and hopefully lovingly lead people closer to God. I fear that the back and forth between Fundamentalism and the followers of Spong and Ehrman has not resulted in anyone growing closer to God. I think the example we need to look to is St. Catherine of Alexandria, not the Spanish Inquisition.

Who Left Whom

News today that two San Diego County parishes have failed in the legal battle to retain their property was truly sad. Holy Trinity, Ocean Beach, and St. Anne’s, Oceanside, both former parishes in the Episcopal Church, chose to leave the ECUSA over a variety of issues, not the least of which was the the ECUSA’s embrace of both modernism, and of homosexuality as an acceptable, if not even honored, lifestyle. The oft cited argument is that the Episcopal Church, itself, left the “orthodox” behind, and not the other way around. Although I am unsure if this had any bearing on the courtroom arguments, I found myself wondering if this was really the case. A while ago, in the wake of the GAFCON meetings, I had questioned whether what was being accomplished was much more than simply hitting a reset button that would lead the program back to the current state of affairs, but just a little bit further in the future. In exploring this question, my assertion was that Anglicanism, itself, was from nearly the outset, designed to tolerate mutually exlusive positions. Catholic and Reformed are really contradictory. The repetition of the phrase from certain members of Anglicanism doesn’t make it otherwise. Anglicanism, at its heart, is an attempt to create the first Unitarian denomination within Christianity. Although, early on, it would not tolerate truly Catholic ideas within its fold, the day would come when it would. While Newman and Pusey, et al., would receive challenges, they would ultimately be tolerated, then welcomed, within the Anglican fold. Roman Catholicism is distinctly contradictory to Protestantism (regardless of which one may be wrong or right with regard to historic Christianity). One cannot maintain a belief that confession is necessary and unnecessary, that a prepared reception of the the Body and Blood of Christ is required and that the ceremony is simply a memorial of something that happened 2,000 years ago, and so grape juice and crackers work just fine. This only scratches the surface of all of the contradictions that are tolerated within Anglicanism. St. Paul exhorts us 5 different times in his epistles, to be of one mind, yet the Anglican response is not to ensure a uniformity of belief, but rather to expand the definition of what that uniformity entails. 400 years ago, that meant dismantling loyalty to ecclesiastical authority in lieu of loyalty to secular authority. It meant the addition of human reason to God’s revelation, it ultimately meant that a day would come when one parish in the ECUSA was telling us in their newsletter how evil the “apocrypha” was, while another, literally 5 miles away, was teaching how they were part of Scripture. When modernism started to creep into the world, it could find no more fertile ground than that of Anglicanism. By that time, every contradiction within the vast milieu of those who called themselves Christian was tolerated. Now a moral relativism, a doubting of the divinity of Christ, and a tolerance of behaviors previously understood to be condemned by God Himself would need to find a home. They became part of what reasonable Christians could be understood to believe. That meant they needed to be accepted within Anglicanism. So, if finding a way to tolerate all views is traditional Anglicanism, then who is not being traditional when the assert the need to conform to a particular subset of beliefs? Isn’t it the so-called orthodox? I think that it is. So, if the court cases ever turn on who is actually being more “Anglican,” then I think it is the ECUSA that would win that argument. Those who have decided that it is the early 20th century collection of beliefs that define the boundaries of Anglicanism are being dishonest. Those who would assert that such a broad range of beliefs has always been acceptable within the bounds of historic Christianity are, quite frankly, delusional.