The Continuing Anglican Communion: A Call to Arms

When I was six weeks old my family was forced to leave our home and find a new one. The decision to move was a difficult one but the winds of change had come to the Episcopal Church, and my father, his family, and the 1,000 member parish he led were necessary casualties on the road to “utopia.” Our parish had been going through a tragic legal battle over who actually owned the property, but there was a far more fundamental question looming. At its heart, the question which haunted the Episcopal Church of the 60s, 70s, and beyond has been, “Who is the church?” The battle over St. Mark’s Denver pitted a congregation committed to the faith and tradition entrusted to them by Christ, His apostles, and the Communion of the Saints, against the revisionist bishops committed to becoming the official chaplains of the late 20th-century cultural revolution. The courts sided with the revolutionaries, and the church I was baptized in is now a night club. This outcome was the ultimate victory of the progressive forces that rule the Episcopal Church and desire to rule all others. In that building, God is dead—certainly the God St. Mark died for—but the love of the revolution lives on.

Of course, God is nod dead, no matter how many bathroom hookups occur within this new temple to Aphrodite, just as the Living God is not snuffed out when other churches find new and exciting ways to prostrate themselves before the idols of modernity and relevancy. As the Episcopal Church continues its depressing slide into apostasy and triviality—joined by its mainline sisters—it is truly distressing to see how many Christian churches and denominations are heading down the same path.

For Evangelicals, a sudden and desperate interest in “wokeness” has all the familiar symptoms of a sick patient reaching for the wrong medicine — of a church so used to baptizing the outside culture and bringing it into its sanctuaries that it thinks it can survive just a little bit of the revolution. A church may be able to survive throwing away the ancient worship of the saints, but it won’t survive a worldview which says those saints were evil. For conservative Roman Catholics, the confidence of the John Paul II and Benedict XVI pontificates has been replaced with a growing sense of uneasiness at the power invested in the modern papacy. In both groups, compromised leaders are finding that earthly power comes through progressivism, and whether one wants to somehow hold lightning in a bottle or build temples to Jove, these two forms of polity—one whose hierarchy is based upon status and success (Evangelicalism) and the other on the longevity of an office (Roman Catholicism)—will have leaders who seek greater and greater conformity to the sources of earthly power. Conservatives will be in their way, and they will need to be crushed, sacrificed on the altars of progress.

My family was crushed by the Anglican Communion in 1985, and we were forced to move from city to city as my father tended to small faith communities trying to survive the bitter assaults of the American expression of that communion: The Episcopal Church, but in that wilderness wandering my family and I were blessed to meet and help many wonderful people. What the progressives meant for evil, God used for good. Further, I saw many different kinds of churches and the men and women who loved and worshipped within them. The churches which will survive this storm are those bodies who have access to a radical and conservative Christianity which sees the forces of modernity as soul-deadening enemies with whom no truce can be wrought. Unfortunately, for Evangelicals, the goal of cleansing their churches of what they deem “Romish practices” has created a vacuum in which Woodstock and Oprah have crept in to write their liturgies—theology is following. One need simply listen to the average Baptist’s extemporaneous prayer to hear more Dr. Phil than Edwards or Spurgeon.   For Roman Catholics, while traditionalists fight a rearguard action, the hierarchy of their church is quickly being replaced by bishops and cardinals loyal to the progressive vision of Francis I. This story will end in tears. There are two paths to follow, become the chaplaincy of the dying world or joyously receive its rebuke and disdain in the name of Christ. The Continuing Anglican Communion is the space in which men and women of faith can take up their cross and die. Join us.

Those familiar with the work of writer John O’Sullivan will know his famous “O’Sullivan Rule,” which simply states that any organization that is not essentially and doctrinally conservative will eventually become liberal. This rule explains why organizations like the Boy Scouts of America and the American Association of Retired People are becoming more and more politically progressive. Unfortunately, the same holds true for the all too human organizations we call churches. All Christian churches should be fundamentally conservative because the Bible expressly claims that the greatest revelatory moment in human history happened 2,000 years ago—we are a people always looking to the past to understand the present and the future (basically the definition of a good conservative); however, in this present age—an age in which all new things are deemed good or useful—a church must be radically committed to the conservation of the apostolic deposit or it will trade it away to be last on the firing line. A church is either progressing or conserving, there is no neutrality in the 21st-century war between evil and good.

The Continuing Anglican Communion is small, and we are belittled by our neighbors and enemies who have imbibed the metrics of McDonald’s to determine the work of the Holy Spirit. We are small, but we are growing as an international communion that maintains the medium and message we have been tasked with safeguarding. Our smaller size frees us of the crushing institutional weight which hamstrings the radical conservation our world desperately needs. Further, our catholic bishops are doctrinally and sacramentally linked with the twelve chosen by Christ, and we are the blessed recipients of a reformation spirit that focuses our piety in Word and Sacrament. I am a priest in the Anglican Catholic Church, and I am happy to report that traditional Anglicans are coalescing to stand firm on the Catholic Christian foundation that survived the fall of Rome, the Black Death, and two world wars. Four of the largest continuing jurisdictions are now in full communion and are preparing for organic unity within the next two years. Churches are banding together to build schools and form alternative communities to protect and promote the next generation of saints.

At this exciting time, I ask my fellow Christian brothers to consider joining us in the fight. I do not care where you come from; I do not care if we were enemies in the past. First, traditional Anglicans, evangelical and anglo-catholic alike, must band together to stand firm against our common enemy. To my evangelical Anglican brethren, you will find that there are “high churchmen” in the Continuum, but these are men who care scrupulously about serving as a living link back to the apostles; men who believe that rules matter. Are you not better off with a brother who prefers Tract 90 and the first prayerbook of Edward VI than you are with a Montanist or progressive moved by the spirit of the age? Why not band together with reformed catholic Christians who truly value the Word? To my anglo-catholic brothers, the progressive Christians in Canterbury and Rome (and other American Anglican bodies) are simply waiting for you to die off so they can build one more temple dedicated to suburban Christianity-lite. Why stay with people who have such disdain for what you hold dear? Why not band together with catholic Christians who truly value the Eucharist?

Beyond traditional Anglicans, here in the Continuing Anglican Communion, there is a home for all Christians who want a church devoted to saying, “Enough, we will stand against the tide—especially if it kills us.” A church attempting to recapture the comprehensive catholicity of the first 1500 years of the faith. To my Evangelical brethren, I say here is place in which a reformed catholic is protected, where he knows the rules will be cherished and followed. To my Roman Catholic brethren, unhitch yourself from the papal experiment before it is too late. To all, rather than spending your time trying to evangelize the members of your elder boards and presbyteries and bishops’ conferences, why not join a church that is outward focused because it knows what it believes and why? Why not trust in a tradition that has actually survived the worst the world can throw at it? I realize this call is asking clergy and their families to make financial sacrifices, and I know some among the laity will be forced to lose prestige and the comfort of the crowd, but for those who are called to this path of righteousness—this way of the cross—please contact me, and let us continue the fight together.

Finally, as my first and last Episcopal bishop was embracing the innovations of the last century, my late father told him that one day the progressives would demand that he cross a line he could not. Years later, as my father was preparing to enter his eternal reward, the retired bishop called our home to beg for forgiveness and tell my father he had been right. He realized far too late that progressivism can only survive as a movement when it has conservatives to devour. May all Christians know this truth before it is too late, and in these dark times, may we rally to a standard that bears the light.

 


Fr. R. R. Tarsitano

The Rev. R. R. Tarsitano is the rector of St. Michael and All Angels Anglican Church: a parish of the Anglican Catholic Church. He is a former Navy Chief and holds a B.A. in English from the University of North Florida and an M.Div from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He regularly blogs at saintmichaelsanglican.org/blog


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