Thursday, 24 April 2014

ORDINARIATES, PROTESTANTS AND THE NEW EVANGELIZATION: Canterbury Protestants on the Road to Rome.



Fr. Longnecker, former Anglican

In light of the recent conversion of Swedish Lutherans like Ulf Ekman and others it is interesting to review Fr. Dwight Longnecker's  article entitled: 


"A NEW ECUMENISM -  Anglican Ordinariate Presents an 'End Point' to Catholic-Anglican Dialogue and Could Include Other Denominations" 


Fr, L. makes the following points about the ecumenical role of the (Anglican) Ordinariates in the NEW EVANGELIZATION: 


"Benedict XVI’s Anglican Ordinariate scheme was something sudden, solid and stupendous. It can be compared to Ronald Reagan’s decision that the Russian regime was about to fall, and his call “Mr Gobachev. Tear down this wall!” Reagan’s decision to stop talking and take action knocked over the first domino.  Likewise, Benedict XVI’s erection of the Anglican Ordinariate may well be the first domino to fall in the eventual realignment within Christianity.


This is because the Anglican Church has always been a kind of bridge between Protestantism and Catholicism. Many Evangelical Protestants begin following Christ in Baptist churches or independent ‘house churches’.  Once they begin to study the faith more they are often drawn to liturgical worship and the historic church.  Typically they would migrate to more formal churches like the Methodist or Presbyterian and often they would continue to ‘come up higher’ by moving to the Lutheran or Anglican traditions.


In the past they would find in these churches the simple faith of the Apostles combined with liturgical worship and ancient traditions that were derived from the fullness of the Catholic faith. Now, however, when these conservative believers try an Episcopal or Lutheran church they are likely to find a woman minister, homosexual marriage, radical theology and left wing politics. 



Because of their upbringing they are still very biased against the Catholic Church, but should they enter a Catholic Church they may very well find the same liberalism they found in the Episcopal Church combined with the honky tonk music, dumbed down religion and wishy washy self help teaching they ran away from in Evangelicalism. If they don’t encounter these sad phenomena in American Catholicism they are likely to be met with elements of ‘cultural Catholicism’ which they find alien and unattractive.


This is exactly why the Anglican Ordinariate congregations will become the first light of the new ecumenism. They will not be only a refuge for disenchanted Anglicans who want to keep their lovely old traditions, but they will be a door through which many other Protestants can come into the Catholic Church and feel at home. 


The Anglican Ordinariate may also be the first light of a new ecumenism because the new model established by the Holy Father could be a stepping stone for other Ordinariates. If an Anglican Ordinariate is the answer for Catholic-minded Anglicans, why not a Lutheran Ordinariate for Catholic minded Lutherans or even a Methodist Ordinariate for Catholic minded Methodists? If this is not a realistic scenario, then it would certainly be realistic for Catholic minded Christians in these other denominations to enter the Anglican Ordinariate as converts. 


Furthermore, what is even more exciting is that if we look to the East, the Ordinariate could provide a creative model for groups of Eastern Orthodox to come into full communion while retaining their patrimony and a measure of autonomy. If this opens up, then the Ordinariate will turn out to be the most promising initiative of this papacy. Through the Ordinariate we will see stunning progress of the Great Re-alignment through which those who believe Christianity is a divinely revealed religion (rather than a human construct) may come together as one flock under one shepherd.


Finally, the new ecumenism is not a dismissal of the old. ARCIC and the other instruments of discussion and concord between the Catholic Church and other Christians will continue to have their uses. The great difference is now they have a real and concrete end point for discussion. Real progress has been made. There are real, positive ways for non Catholics who have come to agreement with Rome, to come into full communion, bringing their own traditions with them.

Fr. Longenecker's blog, radio show, books  at: www.dwightlongenecker.com 

Blog: Standing on My Head

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