I recently re-read a very interesting submission by Dr. Eugene R. Schlesinger, Phd titled How the ACNA helped me become an Episcopalian. If you are an Anglican in the United States, I highly recommend it, and you can find it at this link: https://covenant.livingchurch.org/2017/11/15/how-the-acna-helped-me-become-an-episcopalian/.
Let’s take a deeper dive into Eugene Schlesinger’s journey. Keep in mind, that I am Anglican (part of the the Anglican Communion, but not a member of the Episcopal Church).
The Liturgical Pull and Theological Richness
Eugene R. Schlesinger, armed with a PhD in Theology, embarked on a spiritual journey marked by depth and intellectual rigor. His transition from the Roman Catholic Church through the Baptist faith to the Anglican tradition is not merely a change of denominations but a quest for a theological home that resonates with his understanding of Christianity. Schlesinger’s attraction to the Anglican liturgy, despite his initial reluctance towards the Episcopal Church, underscores the magnetic power of tradition and ritual in Christian worship. His appreciation for the Book of Common Prayer and the Episcopal Church’s liturgies reflects a deep longing for a faith expression that balances sacramental worship with reformed theology.
The ACNA Experience: A Catalyst for Broader Understanding
His involvement with the ACNA, initially seen as a bastion of conservative theology, served as a critical lens through which Schlesinger reevaluated his perceptions of the Episcopal Church. This phase of his journey is crucial. It signifies a transformative period where Schlesinger, with his theological background, began to discern the complexities and nuances within the Anglican Communion.
The Episcopal Church: A Mosaic of Faith Expressions
Schlesinger’s eventual gravitation towards the Episcopal Church is a profound realization of the diversity within Anglicanism. His journey reveals the Episcopal Church as a community where various theological and cultural expressions coexist. This diversity is a hallmark of Anglicanism, offering a space for both conservative and progressive Christians. His decision to join the Episcopal Church, informed by his scholarly background and personal experiences, validates the church’s capacity to accommodate a broad spectrum of Christian beliefs.
Implications for Schismatic Anglicans
For Anglicans who have parted ways with the Episcopal Church (or more so, the Anglican Communion), Schlesinger’s story is a compelling invitation to reexamine their assumptions. His journey illustrates that the Episcopal Church, contrary to being a singularly liberal institution, is a complex and inclusive body. This revelation is crucial for those within the ACNA or other breakaway groups, prompting a reevaluation of the potential for reconciliation and unity within the Anglican Communion.
A Theologian’s Affirmation of Episcopal Inclusivity
In sum, Eugene R. Schlesinger’s theological expertise and spiritual journey are a testament to the Episcopal Church’s broad theological spectrum and its capacity to embrace diverse Christian experiences. His story encourages a rethinking among schismatic Anglicans, advocating for a more inclusive Anglican Communion that cherishes diversity as a strength. His embrace of the Episcopal Church, grounded in theological acumen and personal exploration, is a beacon of hope for unity and understanding within the broader Anglican tradition.
The Necessity of Unity within the Anglican Communion
Dr. Eugene R. Schlesinger’s transition to the Episcopal Church highlights not only the diversity within this denomination but also the rich variety of the Anglican Communion as a whole, the sole tradition and historically authentic Anglican body worldwide. His choice to join the Episcopal Church, while a personal decision, also underscores the importance of being part of the Anglican Communion. This membership is somewhat necessary for several reasons:
- Historical Continuity: Being part of the Anglican Communion ensures continuity with historical Anglican traditions and practices, preserving the rich heritage of the church.
- Global Unity: Membership in the Communion fosters a sense of global unity, connecting individual believers and churches to a larger, worldwide family of Anglicans.
- Theological Diversity: The Communion provides a platform for engaging with a broad spectrum of theological perspectives, enriching one’s own faith through exposure to diverse viewpoints.
- Ecclesiastical Accountability: It offers a framework of accountability and shared governance, ensuring that churches and their leaders maintain certain standards of doctrine and practice.
- Mission and Outreach: Being part of this global body enhances opportunities for mission and outreach, enabling churches to participate in larger, coordinated efforts to address global issues.
In this light, Schlesinger’s journey is more than a personal spiritual quest; it is a testament to the importance of remaining within the Anglican Communion for a holistic and historically grounded Christian experience.