The following is a recent article I wrote for the parish news letter at Holy Trinity Church in Santa Fe, NM.
I grew up in an evangelical family who attended the local Methodist church where I was taught that the Bible and prayer are necessary parts of one’s daily life. The spiritual grounding that I received from my evangelical spirituality gave me a good foundation to build on in order to grow into a deeper Christianity.
What I found troublesome about the evangelical Christianity of my youth was the watered down theology and the sentimental thread that seemed to run through its spirituality. The evangelical Methodist church that I grew up in taught me absolutely nothing about church history.When I went off to college, I met some friends who were learning about Reformed theology in a Presbyterian church. Reformed theology is the theology that has been built on the theology of the Protestant Reformer John Calvin and is found today in conservative Presbyterian churches. Reformed theology is very logically rigorous and deeply rational, which I found as an improvement considering the watered down sentimental theology of my youth.
I also learned about 500 years of church history that I had heard nothing about in my evangelical days. While my theology seemed to be deeper my spirituality became cold and dry. I also longed for a more historic and liturgical form of worship.
I went to a Reformed seminary in California where my wife and I started attending a Reformed Episcopal Church. It seemed to have some of the things that had been lacking in the Presbyterian Church. The theology was not sentimental and the worship was liturgical and reverent, which was something that was lacking in the Presbyterian Church. They also quoted the church fathers like St. John Chrysostom more than John Calvin.
The spirituality seemed to be more alive than the cold Presbyterian spirituality. We really thought we had found our home so I transferred to a Reformed Episcopal Seminary in Louisiana where I graduated. I served an Episcopal parish in El Paso, Texas for one year and a Reformed Episcopal parish in Alpine, TX for 5 years.
Over time I began to realize that there is a plurality of theologies in the Anglican Church and what I believed to be true was not the core of Anglican belief but merely one of many options. I was basically teaching Orthodox theology in an Anglican parish and the more I grew to appreciate Orthodox theology the more I felt like a hypocrite in the Anglican Church. (The high church school of Anglican theology is very close to Orthodox theology, but it is only one of many schools in Anglicanism).
I began to think about the future of my parish in Alpine and thought that the next priest that followed me could be an evangelical Anglican and tear down everything that I had built at Holy Cross in Alpine. I then understood that the parish’s theology was dependent on me rather than the Church and Christ, so I asked the vestry (parish council) if they might consider becoming a western rite Orthodox parish.
I also was concerned about the faith of my three children. If they moved away from my little Anglican parish would they find an Anglican parish somewhere else with the same high church theology?
I also was dissatisfied with all Anglican attempts at defining the church as One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic in a way that was consistent with the Nicene Creed.
The filioque clause in the Nicene Creed (and the Son) did not sit well with me either as well as many other things. In the end the vestry decided not to pursue Orthodoxy and so I resigned as their priest and Cathy and I left Alpine to pursue Orthodoxy in Alabama where we grew up.
Our family has found the fullness of the Faith that has been “once and for all delivered” in Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy has the best of all worlds without the extremes of evangelical sentimentalism or the cold rationalistic theology of the Reformed world. We have found the proper balance of spirituality connected with deep theology which is expressed in Orthodoxy as a faith of the “mind in the heart”.
We have discovered a faith that treats Tradition and the Saints as alive rather than dead ideas that existed only in the past. We have been blessed with a Church which believes the best things that we believed as High Church Anglicans but now these beliefs exist at the heart of the Orthodox Church.
We now have a faith that we can pass on to our children and hopefully they will pass that same faith down to their children. On February 18, 2006 we were baptized and chrismated as Orthodox Christians at St. Symeon’s Orthodox Church (OCA) in Birmingham, AL.
“We have seen the true light, we have received the heavenly Spirit; we have found the true faith, worshipping the undivided Trinity: for He hath saved us. “