Why I’m Rebuilding Up from Mere Christianity: The Follow-Up to “Am I Still an Anglican?”
C.S. Lewis once mused that mere Christianity makes for a better hallway than a room. It’s helpful and necessary, but you wouldn’t want to live there. I tend to think of it more like food. 1.This post is kind of a conceptual follow-up to the recent “Am I Still an Anglican? Honestly, I Don’t Know.” It’s not entirely necessary, but this post will probably make much more sense if you read the first.To my mind, mere Christianity can probably sustain a low-level spiritual life, but doesn’t nourish a full and healthy spiritual life. It won’t enable and equip a vigorous pursuit of God. It just doesn’t provide enough well-rounded nutrition to do so. Yet by committing to a particular faith tradition one can be cultivated by its principles, formed by its community, gain depth through its insights, and help sustain its future. It’s not just me and “buddy Jesus.” It’s about being a part of something larger.22.It’s a rejection of radical autonomy in favor of a healthy dependence upon others. To be human is, after all, to be in community. That’s why I refuse to end up as an eternal ecclesiastical vagabond like a Roger Williams.
So why am I questioning my commitment to the Anglican tradition and re-exploring other christian traditions? Isn’t that more than a bit hypocritical? Honestly, I don’t think so. For almost three years I’ve given all my heart, mind, soul, and strength to the Anglican expression of Christianity despite constant difficulty. Why? Because of my conviction away from mere Christianity.33.The plain truth is that, with some openly admitted errors along the way, I’ve surpassed every reasonable expectation. Even one of my former bishops has acknowledged that he almost certainly wouldn’t still be Anglican had he been in my shoes. There comes a point in which it’s perfectly reasonable to ask, “Is this just spiritual oppression or is the Lord shutting doors?” I’m actively searching for that answer. Moreover, there’s the psychological angle. When you’ve been neglected, however inadvertently, well past abuse to the point of experiencing PTSD, I think it necessary and wise for your own health and that of your marriage to ask, “Have I misunderstand the Lord’s leading?” and “Has the path before me changed?”
Why am I rebuilding up from mere Christianity? Precisely because the above kinds of questions are compelling me to do so. I’m reexamining those second-tier principles, beliefs, and presuppositions that are built upon the foundation of biblical, historical orthodoxy.44.i.e. Creation and fall, Trinity, virgin birth, bodily resurrection… Ya know, mere Christianity. The issues at stake are no less than my emotional stability, intellectual honesty, marital health, physical condition, and spiritual peace. After two devastating flash floods in less than a year, maybe it’s not a bad idea to check the structural stability of your house and visit a realtor. That doesn’t automatically mean you’re moving. It just means you’re doing due diligence in checking everything out. It seems to me you’d be a bonehead not to, especially if you were about to take out a second mortgage as I am.55.Being confirmed an Anglican is one thing. Being ordained an Anglican is something else.
A number of onlooking friends and acquaintances have expressed grave concern. They seem to fear that I’m on the verge of losing my faith.66.I see where they’re coming from, but that’s almost laughable. I would assure them that my faith is as healthy as ever. For me such questioning isn’t frightening or worrisome but invigorating and life-giving. Also, another group of folks77.Many of whom aren’t even Anglican, strangely enough. have expressed profound frustration about the appropriateness of sharing this journey. It would seem I’ve inadvertently challenged some implicit sacred cow of public fidelity to one’s tradition. In the name of truth-speaking they’ve been using a great deal of harsh language while making misguided assertions and offering unsolicited counsel.88.Terms they’ve privately been lobbing my way for a few days include: arrogant, asshole, bitchy, classless, cowardly, destructive, dick, divisive, foolish, ignorant, implacable, maniacal, martyr complex, narcissistic, petty, pompous, proud, retarded, ruthless, self-absorbed, short-sighted, vain, vengeful, and wrathful. All of which they consistently insistent is said in love and with a spirit of grace. And no less than 1/3 of that list comes from three mental health care professionals who I’ve now blocked on Facebook… I really wish I were makin’ this stuff up. Unreal. In closing, there’s just three things I would say to these people. First, to my core I’m a writer. Second, you’ve truly no idea how the Lord has been using my story. Lastly, I hope you’ll take one of my favorite quotes to heart:
Too often in life we proceed with a hermeneutic of self-assuredness and criticism of those for whom we disagree rather than a hermeneutic of self-criticism and grace for others. – Richard Mouw