- Nicene Orthodoxy
- Apostolic Succession & Episcopal Polity
- A Sacramental & Liturgical Spirituality
I resonate with the reasons why Caleb was able "to break the glass ceiling of 'TULIP Calvinism'" for Anglicanism. Increasingly, I, too, share "an appetite for catholicity":
... a real, tangible sense that I believed and worshipped in a manner that was representative of the whole scope of the Church’s life in history. That was really the impetus for it all: I wanted to be a Catholic Christian.
Perhaps it’s more than a desire; I often view it as nothing less than an obligation and a conviction to find the most catholic expression of Christianity I can and submit myself under it. The sad fact of our present moment is that the Church is visibly divided and we shout “I am of Apollos” louder and more fervently than ever in history. But there are still some simple criteria for those desiring true catholicity to consider. Some of my readers may be wondering, with all this talk of catholicity, why I haven’t “gone all the way” and become Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox. Well, that is a valid concern but quite frankly, it is because neither the Roman Catholics nor the Eastern Orthodox are catholic enough that I have chosen to become Anglican. It isn’t because the Anglican Communion in its comprehensive, institutional state embodies the full breadth of catholic Christianity; some of the most foolish and poorly-disguised wolves to presently claim the name of Christ are Anglicans. It is rather that within Anglicanism, there exists and can exist, in my estimation, the most catholic expression of Christianity available to us today. It is by no means perfect — show me a church or a denomination that is — but the criteria for catholicity that I maintain can be found within her.
I agree: at its best, Anglicanism is the purest expression of catholic Christianity in the West.
Caleb continues with some excellent reflections on the centrality of the Nicene Creed for any genuinely catholic expression of the Christian faith that this Creedal Christian can't help but quote:
To be a Nicene Christian is to be a Catholic Christian in the most basic sense because the Creed is the foundational litmus test of true belief. Whereas one can disagree with the various statements of faith of today’s denominations and still remain a faithful Christian, to oppose any article of the Nicene Creed is to necessarily advocate heresy. Because the conditions of orthodoxy/heterodoxy are so simply defined in relation to the Creed, a Catholic-minded Christian keeps it always in view as the standard of doctrine and resists any temptation to place additional confessions and statements of faith alongside it to narrow the scope of orthodox belief to that of his particular affiliation. ... As a result, the Anglican standard of doctrine is ultimately a positive one; it reaffirms the beautiful simplicity of the Nicene Creed and only distinguishes itself from other communions in those areas where innovative doctrines have burdened authentic Christian belief.
Caleb's reflections remind me of a section in one of my earliest blog postings entitled "The Radical Creed":
The mysteries of God cannot be contained by rational explanations. But like a compass that always points north, the Nicene Creed points us in the right direction. The compass is not the destination just as the Creed is not God. But it would be much easier to get lost as to what is truly essential for reaching the goal of the Christian journey without it. Anglicanism agrees. Beginning with the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral in the late 19th Century and reaffirmed by subsequent Lambeth Conferences and General Conventions of the Episcopal Church during the 20th Century, Anglicanism maintains that the Nicene Creed is "the sufficient statement of the Christian faith" (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 877).
It's worth pausing for a moment over that word "sufficient." The Nicene Creed is "enough." We don't need anything more to express the core of the Christian faith. But at the same time, we can make do with no less. This is why Anglicanism - unlike the Reformed tradition - is a creedal rather than a confessional tradition. Anglican bishop Charles Harris put it well when he said:
"The Nicene Creed aims at promoting unity, the later confessions at justifying division; the former states only what is essential, the latter descend into detail and include a large number of disputable and highly contentious propositions" [from Creeds or No Creeds (1927), quoted by Frank E. Wilson in Faith and Practice Revised Edition (Morehouse-Barlow, 1967), p. 71].
It's a very heartening sign to see folks like Caleb join the Anglican fold. May there be many more like him!