In 2008 I decided to leave the Presbyterian Church in America and become a part of what was then the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA). There were many antecedents leading up to that decision, some theological and some personal. For the last six years I have served as a minister of the Gospel in the Anglican Church, but for various reasons, I have decided I do not belong in Canterbury (Anglicanism), but rather, my theological home rests squarely in Geneva (Reformed Presbyterianism). Make no mistake, my time in Canterbury has been an extremely beneficial part of my spiritual journey, but I will finish out my ministry in Geneva. Here are few things I've picked up while dwelling in Canterbury that I would like to briefly share.
- Anglicanism reminded me that very church is a liturgical church. Liturgy has to do with worship. The liturgy is either good (and teaches sound biblical truths about the nature and work of the God who both creates and redeems), or it is a poor teacher of those things. Anglican liturgy taught me that the most important things about God are His holiness and His covenant faithfulness. Everything else about Him follows from those things. Anglicanism has given me a real love for good liturgy.
- Anglicanism taught me the necessity of the people of God gathering weekly at the Table of God to renew our covenant with Him and to be spiritually nourished by the body and blood of our Lord. This has become such a part of my understanding of worship and my own piety that I do not believe I could ever be a part of a congregation that did not celebrate this precious event weekly.
- Anglicanism taught me that God loves beauty and precision of language in worship. I have come to appreciate the beauty and power a well written prayer. I love Anglican collects, the Creeds, the written confessions of sin. Anglicanism has taught me that there are people in the Kingdom who can say and pray things so much better than I. And by submitting myself to these written prayers I have learn how to pray more efficiently.
- Anglicanism reminded me that humans are not simply brains with legs. As I return to Geneva, I am keenly aware that this is a risk for us in the Reformed tradition, because we place such an emphasis on knowing the truth. And what exactly do I mean by this statement? I mean we run the risk of equating the increase of knowledge with growth in true sanctification. Don’t misunderstand, the way to the heart is through the mind, but knowledge without the work of the Spirit is useless. Anglicanism reminded me that spiritual growth is the work of the Spirit, but it is also intentional. Just like I eat (intentionally, on purpose) three times a day, I should approach my spiritual life intentionally (with discipline) every day. I have experienced this through Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer and other spiritual disciplines, including the daily reading of the Psalms.
I was going to write about some things that trouble me about Canterbury, but I have decided against that. I do not wish to leave the impression that Geneva is the only city from which to seek the City of God (the New Jerusalem). It isn't. The only point I'm making by this announcement is that I am leaving Canterbury because I now know for certain, experientially, that I belong in Geneva. The signs have been there for some time and I have been ignoring them. I will miss my friends in Canterbury and I hope to maintain many of those relationships. I know I will see them in the New Jerusalem, the City we're all striving to arrive at safely!