Topics are arranged alphabetically in the INDEX.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Kierkegaard on Abraham, a "Knight of Faith"


Dr. Alice C. Linsley

Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) was a brilliant philosopher who was critical of Romanticism’s emphasis on naturalism and Empiricism’s claim that moral judgment must be based on reason and verifiable data. He believed that the basis for forming moral judgment is always subjective and that it requires surrender to God.

Although the term “existentialism” never appears in Kierkegaard’s writings, he is regarded as the founder of Christian Existentialism. Kierkegaard believed that the value of philosophers’ thoughts should be judged by their lives rather than by their intellectual conceptions because ultimately, the individual’s life is the basis upon which he is judged by God. As important as a writer's work is to his existence, it is his life as a whole that ultimately matters to God. This is why Kierkegaard was attracted to the lives of saintly figures, especially biblical Abraham, who he called a “knight of faith.”

Kierkegaard and Nietzsche shared the realization that anything decided to be meaningful must come from within the individual. It is the human race itself that attributes meaning. In Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling and in Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals, each philosopher sets out to discover the importance of subjective human emotion, and the role of human freedom in the universe.

While Nietzsche’s immoral Superman is the embodiment of his philosophy, Abraham is the embodiment of Kierkegaard’s existentialist philosophy. For Kierkegaard, true individuality comes through surrendering one’s individuality. Abraham discovers his meaning in the cosmos through losing himself in God, but when one tries to explain this to another person, the explanation seems absurd.

Kierkegaard recognizes an existential duty to a Creator whose moral authority outranks all social norms. He views Abraham's near sacrifice of his son as a consequence of a “teleological suspension of the ethical” rather than as an expression of obedience to social norms (this assumes that child sacrifice was practiced among Abraham’s people). From Kierkegaard's perspective, the distinction between good and evil is dependent exclusively on God. Therefore, it is possible for Abraham to live and act beyond the prescribed norms of his day to fulfill a spiritual destiny that he alone could fulfill.

In Kierkegaard's scheme it makes little difference whether the son bound was Isaac (as Jews claim) or Ishmael (as Muslims claim). The story is not about recognition of the firstborn son, but about the surrender of Abraham's very being in an existential sacrifice that by faith overcomes despair.

Ethical cases such as Abraham's are problematic since we have no public policy to guide our decision about whether Abraham is obeying God's command or is delusional. For this reason Kierkegaard’s existential philosophy can’t be used to formulate specific ethical guidelines for society. It is simply too personal and too subjective. However, for Christians it is extremely relevant because it points to the necessity of spiritual ascent, divine enlightenment, and a deepening of communion with God.

Kierkegaard found inspiration in both Abraham and in the lives of the saints, especially the sixth-century monk, John Climacus, who spent his days in solitude, prayer and fasting at the monastery on Mount Sinai. Climacus wrote “The Ladder of Divine Ascent,” a work arranged into thirty chapters or “steps.” Each step details the vices that the individual must conquer and the virtues that the individual must perfect in order to ascend the spiritual “ladder” to the Kingdom of Heaven. Here are some of his famous sayings:

Step 1: A Christian is one who imitated Christ in thought, word and deed. A lover of God is one who lives in communion with all that is natural and sinless.

Step 5: Repentance is a contract with God for a second life. A penitent inflicts his own punishment upon himself.

Step 9: If you forgive quickly, you, too, will be quickly forgiven.

Step 15: Purity is putting on the nature of angels. It is the longed-for house of Christ and the earthly heaven of the heart.

Step 17: He who has tasted the things on high easily despises what is below. He who has not, only finds joy in possessions.

Step 25: Humility is a divine shelter which prevents us from seeing our achievements.

Step 50: There remain three virtues that bind and secure the union of all: Faith, Hope and Love--- and the greatest of these is Love.

Kierkegaard published Philosophical Fragments using the name “John Climacus”. In this work, he poses 3 questions:

What is the relationship between history (temporal existence) and human consciousness (eternal existence)?

Is there any purpose or meaning to events in our temporal existence other than historical interest?

Is it possible to base eternal happiness upon historical knowledge?

Kierkegaard’s solution was to find a link between the historical/temporal and the eternal/non-temporal. He does that by explaining knowledge as miraculous. He agrees with the Socratic-Platonic view that there is no learning, since one can’t learn what one already knows. Drawing on John Climacus’ understanding of spiritual enlightenment, Kierkegaard argues that learning involves a mysterious change that takes place in the learner at a specific moment of his existence - a moment of enlightenment. In this moment, the learner is absolutely certain that he/she has grasped eternal knowledge. Kierkegaard maintains that this is miraculous and supernatural because it can only be initiated by God through a series of historical/temporal events. This learning (or enlightenment) is individual, subjective and unique for every learner.

Kierkegaard argues further that individuals are unable to know anything that is certain except through this supernatural intervention in history. In this sense, Kierkegaard is a Skeptic who doubts that humans are able of our own faculties to learn or know anything.

So what makes learning or enlightenment possible? Kierkegaard recognizes that human existence involves suffering, anguish, pain, sickness and death. That being our plight, we naturally desire an escape. This desire is very powerful. It is a yearning for the eternal that leads us to “leap into absurdity”.

What is the absurdity? For Kierkegaard, it is the supernatural intervention of the divine Person Jesus Christ entering history, making it possible for us to know that God exists. The existence of God cannot be proved by reason, by experimentation, by logic or through observation. Only by faith in this divine intervention can one hope to escape the suffering of this life and move from ignorance to enlightenment. Here we see how Kierkegaard’s “supernaturalism” is clearly the opposite of the naturalism of Nietzsche and the Romantics.

Whereas Nietzsche rejected the prevailing morality in favor of his unique brand of “immoralism”, Kierkegaard presents social norms as "the universal" measure of service to the community. Even human sacrifice is justified in terms of how it serves the community, so when Agamemnon sacrifices his daughter Iphigenia he is performing a tragic sacrifice in order that the Greek expedition to Troy may succeed. Were Abraham’s intention in sacrificing Isaac to gain worldly success, he would simply be another tragic hero like Agamemnon. But as Kierkegaard understands the story of Mount Moriah, it is Abraham’s absolute surrender to God that makes possible his receiving back his offering and much more. Kierkegaard explains, “Infinite resignation is the last stage before faith …for only in infinite resignation do I become conscious of my external validity, and only then can one speak of grasping existence by virtue of faith.”

Kierkegaard's philosophical approach to the "Binding of Isaac" does not take into account the Horite Hebrew understanding of what happened in the Lamb-to-Ram sequence. The biblical narrative today is best understood through the science of anthropology, not philosophy. What Abraham discovered on Mount Moriah concerned the solar symbolism of his religion. 

As Abraham and Isaac ascended Mount Moriah, Isaac asked his father, "Where is the lamb for the sacrifice? Abraham replied that God would provide the lamb. However, God provided a ram instead. To understand what this would have meant to Abraham, we must investigate the early Hebrew beliefs concerning the expected Righteous Ruler who would die and overcome death on the third day.

For Abraham the Horite Hebrew, the lamb was associated with the east and the rising sun. The ram was associated with the west and the future. The solar boat that makes its daily journey from east to west was ridden by Horus and his father. The boat of the morning hours was called "Mandjet", and the boat of the evening hours was called "Mesektet". While Horus was on the Mesektet, he was in his ram-headed form. Horus was the Lamb in his weaker (kenotic) existence, and he was the Ram in his glorified resurrection strength. Both are associated with the death and resurrection expectation of Abraham's Horite Hebrew people. 

Sunday, July 30, 2023

The First Lords and Messianic Expectation


Dr. Alice C. Linsley

My book, The First Lords of the Earth: An Anthropological Study, is available on Amazon. The book identifies the social structure and religious beliefs of the early Hebrew ruler-priest caste (6200-4000 years ago), their dispersion out of Africa, their territorial expansion, trade routes, and their influence on the populations of the Fertile Crescent and Ancient Near East. 

The book traces the antecedents of the Messianic Faith that we call "Christianity" back to its earliest known adherents, the Horite and Sethite Hebrew. The oldest known site of their worship was at Nekhen on the Nile, and it predates the step pyramid of King Djoser (Third Dynasty) who ruled for 75 years. Djoser inaugurated an era of monumental stone buildings that inspired the Great Pyramids. The oldest known tomb at Nekhen, with painted mural on its plaster walls, dates to c.3500–3200 B.C.

This is a paradigm-shifting book!

The research took 40 years, but I was able to make a rather complex subject easy to understand. I hope you will buy the book and discover answers to some perennial questions, such as:

  • Who were the Horite Hebrew and the Sethite Hebrew?
  • Where is the oldest known site of Horite Hebrew worship?
  • Why did many Hebrew men have two wives?
  • What was the difference in status between wives and concubines?
  • What types of authority did the biblical Hebrew recognize?
  • How did their acute observation of the patterns in Nature inform their reasoning? 
  • If Judaism is NOT the Faith of the early Hebrew, what did they believe?

Given what is known today about the biblical Hebrew, we must make a distinction between the doctrine that the Godhead is fully revealed in Jesus Christ, and the chronological snobbery of believing that only after his appearing can the Gospel be understood. These are two distinct assertions.

The book questions the assumption that the biblical writers did not have a grasp on the significance of what they wrote and that the true meaning is only is apparent in the light of events which happened after they were dead. (This is asserted by many commentators on the Bible, including C.S. Lewis.) The evidence set forth in my book indicates that this is not an accurate assessment. The Hebrew writers had a better grasp of the pattern of the Gospel than many Christians do today. They believed in God Father and God Son, and they hoped for bodily resurrection. This pattern of belief implies that the core dogmas of Christianity have very deep roots.

One evidence that the early Hebrew expected the Son of God to come in the flesh was their belief that his victory over death would be proclaimed first to those who rested in anticipation of his appearing. This happened when Christ descended to the place of the dead to proclaim glad tidings. A Horite Hebrew song found at the royal complex at Ugarit speaks of HR descending to the place of the dead "to announce good tidings." HR in ancient Egyptian means "Most High One".

Purchase options include Kindle, paperback, or hard cover and all are priced to accommodate the book lover on a tight budget. 

I hope you will find the book helpful and informative. The sequel "The First First Ladies" will be available in July 2024.

Best wishes,

Alice C. Linsley

Related reading: The First Lords and Their AuthorityJesus Christ in the Hebrew Scriptures; Binary Reasoning Informs Christian Morality and Ethics; C.S. Lewis on "Pagan Christs"

Friday, July 14, 2023

The Value of Studying Philosophy


Alice C. Linsley

I enjoyed reading Shannon Rupp's article Be employable, study philosophy. He believes that "The discipline teaches you how to think clearly, a gift that can be applied to just about any line of work."

This is an excerpt from that essay:

The philosophy of science was also surprisingly useful. That's where I learned about journalism's misunderstood concept of "objectivity." Journalists borrowed the notion from science in the 19th century, but by the late 20th century many people confused it with being fair or denying personal bias. As newspapers began introducing advertorial copy and advertiser-driven sections, they retrained their staff to talk about "balance" instead of objectivity. As if printing opposing opinions somehow makes up for running half-truths.

What objectivity really means is to test for accuracy -- regardless of what you suspect (or hope) might be true. In science they test knowledge by trying to poke holes in each other's research. News reporters were taught a variation summed up by the cliché, "If someone tells you it's raining, look out the window."


I agree that "disciplines that train us to think more clearly in any field never lose their value." I have seen the benefits reaped by former students who learned to think clearly and to articulate their thoughts in a thoughtful way. They are successful in their lines of work. Some work in the Thoroughbred horse industry. Some are secondary school teachers, marketers, recruiters, business owners, investment advisors, and journalists.

It may be true that students who study philosophy do better in science and math. Or perhaps it is the other way around? Students who excel in science and math are more likely to be attracted to the study of Philosophy.

I have taught Philosophy to high school students and to university students. Most took my courses as an elective which means that they came into the classroom voluntarily. Most came with a desire to learn. Many were surprised by how much they gained from the courses.

My classes exposed students to the major thought trajectories of history from 3000 B.C. to the 20th century. For some students an effect of this overview was intellectual humility. All their great ideas had already been played with by greater minds.

Another effect was a broadening of their worlds. Beyond their circles of family and friends, beyond their gaming and devices, there is an expansive world full of fascinating people and provocative ideas.

I am reminded of something that Albert Einstein wrote in 1944. "So many people today—and even professional scientists—seem to me like somebody who has seen thousands of trees but has never seen a forest. A knowledge of the historic and philosophical background gives that kind of independence from prejudices of his generation from which most scientists are suffering."

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

C.S. Lewis on "Pagan Christs"


Dr. Alice C. Linsley

In his book Reflections on the Psalms, C. S. Lewis explores various themes such a judgement, death, and praising God. In Chapter Ten, titled "Second Meanings", he writes about how Christians have believed the Psalms to "contain a second or hidden meaning, an 'allegorical' sense, concerned with the central truths of Christianity, with the Incarnation, the Passion, the Resurrection, the Ascension, and with the Redemption of Man. All the Old Testament has been treated in the same way. The full significance of what the writers are saying is, on this view, apparent only in the light of events which happened after they were dead."

This appraisal of how the Psalms have been interpreted in the Church is accurate, especially in regard to the Church Fathers who often allegorize Bible passages when speaking of Jesus Christ. Allegory and typology are also evident in the hermeneutics of Eastern Orthodoxy. Bible scholars of the twentieth century have been critical of this method of interpretation and have urged readers not to read New Testament views back into the Old Testament texts.

Lewis does not endorse allegorizing or the imposition of Christian beliefs upon the Psalms. He expresses his belief that the Hebrew Psalmists were not aware of the "full significance" of their writings.

Christianity holds that the Godhead is fully revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. One can affirm that without embracing the assumption that the writers of the Psalms did not grasp the pattern of the Gospel. They certainly did.

The early Hebrew believed in God Father, God Son, and the living-giving Spirit. They believed that the Father and Son are one. In John 14, Jesus explains to Phillip, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father." The Father-Son relationship is expressed in the son's recognition of his Father in others. Horus was said to recognize his father in the deceased king. "Horus is a soul and he recognizes his Father in you..." (Pyramid Texts, Utterance 423)

In the Egyptian Book of the Dead, Horus is called the "advocate of his father" (cf. 1 John 2:1). They believed that the Son of God would be born of a woman of their ruler-priest caste and that he would crush the serpent's head (Gen. 3:15). This early Hebrew expectation was expressed in the Pyramid Texts, (Utterance 388) dating to B.C. 2200: "Horus has shattered (tbb, crushed) the mouth of the serpent with the sole of his foot (tbw)."

They believed that the Woman would conceive by divine overshadowing, as the Angel declared to the Virgin Mary in Luke 1:35: "the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God."

They hoped for a Righteous Ruler who would overcome death and lead His people to eternal life. Jesus descended to Sheol to announce his victory over death. A Horite song found at the royal complex at Ugarit speaks of the descent of Horus, the son of God, to the place of the dead "to announce good tidings."

Why must we assume that the significance of what the Psalmists wrote is apparent only in the light of events which happened after they were dead? These were Hebrew writers, and the Hebrew writers had a better grasp of the pattern of the Gospel than many Christians do today.

Many have noted the parallels between the ancient Horus myth and the story of Jesus, yet strangely, Lewis does not refer to the myth of the Horite and Sethite Hebrew. Instead, he speaks of "Pagan Christs" and notes resemblances to narratives of Adonis and Balder. He asks, "What are we to say of those gods in various Pagan mythologies who are killed and rise again and who thereby renew or transform the life of their worshippers or of nature?"

The late Joseph Campbell, the most notable mythologist of the twentieth century, would explain this "hero's journey" as an aspect of the great "monomyth", a universal narrative archetype. Campbell does not offer a detailed explanation for how this emerges universally, but he suggests that it is deeply rooted in Mankind's collective unconscious (Campbell, The Hero's Journey, p. 57).

This might explain why the resemblance between Pagan heroes and Jesus Christ are not accidental. However, Lewis explores other explanations. He speaks of anthropologists who might argue that such commonalities come from the experiences and imaginations of primitive and superstitious peoples.

Not so, say the early Church Fathers. They believed that such Pagan myths are intended to mislead people; that these are counterfeit narratives that parody the truth of the Gospel. 

Lewis, a professor of Classical and Medieval literature, believed that the divine and the diabolical play a part along with the human imagination (p. 123). He does not believe that the resemblances between the Christ event and the overcoming Pagan heroes is accidental. He writes, "The resemblance between these myths and the Christian truth is no more accidental than the resemblance between the sun and the sun's reflection in a pond, or that between a historical fact and the somewhat garbled version of it which lives in popular report..."

Another explanation is that the Pagan distortions are distilled from the primitive myth of Re, Horus, and Hathor which spread throughout the lands where the early Hebrew had dispersed in the service of the first lords of the earth, the great kingdom builders like Nimrod, the Kushite (Gen. 10).

In ancient Egyptian, Re means "Father". The Greek "Horus" comes from the ancient Egyptian HR, meaning "Most High One" or "Hidden One". Horus' mother is Hathor who always is shown overshadowed by the Sun in ancient Nilotic iconography.

Lewis speaks of how the Romans viewed the age or reign of Saturn as something equivalent to the Garden of Eden before the Fall (p. 117). Among the Horite and Sethite Hebrew, Saturn was called "Horus, Bull of the Sky." Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn were depicted with the falcon-head of Horus (Krupp 1979). According to the Pyramid Texts (Utterance 205), the Great Bull smites the enemies of his father Re.

According to the Coffin Texts, Horus is "the great Falcon upon the ramparts of the house of him of the hidden name" and he says: "my wrath will be turned against the enemy of my father" and "I will put him beneath my feet." (Utterance 148) This text is at least 800 years older than the Messianic reference of Psalm 110:1: The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”

The Bull is to be sacrificed so that the deceased king may eat the sacrifice and become one with the Celestial Bull. The king is urged to rise, to "gather his bones together, shake off your dust" and enter into immortality.

Given what is known today about the biblical Hebrew, a ruler-priest caste whose point of origin was the Nile Valley, we must make a distinction between the belief that the Godhead is fully revealed in Jesus Christ, and the chronological snobbery of believing that only after His appearing can the Gospel be understood. These are two distinct assertions.

C. S. Lewis cannot be accused of chronological snobbery, which he despised. Nor should we find fault in his failure to compare the Gospel and the Hebrew beliefs concerning the Son of God. Lewis' book Reflections on the Psalms was published in 1958, eleven years before the publication of R. O. Faulkner's English translation of The Ancient Pyramid Texts. The Pyramid Texts present many of the prayers that were offered at the royal tombs and are evidence that the Hebrew hope for resurrection was connected to their belief in the Son of God. Their prayers were written on the walls of the tombs and can be studied today.

Related reading: Signs Given That We Might Believe; Jesus Christ in the Hebrew Scriptures; Abraham's Faith Lives in Christianity; The Hebrew Were a Caste; Early Resurrection Texts, Horite and Sethite Mounds

Sunday, June 4, 2023

ChatGPT Failed Me


Dr. Alice C. Linsley

AI is a digital tool that is able to save time, but it has limits. It draws on language, but not on the latest information. 

I have been pioneering the science of biblical anthropology for forty years and have numerous publications in this emerging branch of anthropology. I decided to use ChatGPT is create content, but it failed. It does not recognize the distinction between theological anthropology which calls itself "biblical anthropology" and the science of biblical anthropology.

Theological anthropology considers what the Bible says about human nature, a rather speculative subject.

Biblical anthropology investigates the customs, religious beliefs, material culture, and kinship patterns of the many biblical populations. This discipline takes an empirical approach to the biblical texts by identifying anthropologically significant data to gain a clearer understanding of the ethnic and cultural diversity of biblical populations.

The technology eventually will recognize the distinction between two disparate subjects with the same label, but that may take another 40 years. 

Sunday, April 30, 2023

The Welcome Demise of American Fundamentalism


Dr. Alice C. Linsley

Yesterday I had a conversation with a young man who told me that he is not religious. When I asked him about that, he said he had been raised by Fundamentalist parents and he had decided that Christianity must be nonsense at best, or at worst a pack of lies. 

I have heard similar stories from other former "Christians", and I wonder if their youthful experiences of religion might serve as an excuse to not examine real Christianity, the oldest known religion.

Fundamentalism began as a movement in the late 19th century within American Protestant circles to defend the "fundamentals of belief" against the liberal theological speculation that had taken hold of the Mainline Protestant denominations. In particular, the movement opposed higher critical scholarship, the dismissal or minimization of the central truths of the Incarnation, the atoning death of Jesus Christ, and his bodily resurrection.

In reacting to Protestant liberalism, the Fundamentalists failed to resource the Tradition of the Church where they would have discovered their most valuable arguments against the growing apostasy of Protestant Liberalism. Rarely did a Fundamentalist leader consider sources earlier than the 16th century. 

Over time American Fundamentalism took on new doctrines such as the Rapture, Progressive Revelation, and Young Earth Creationism. These doctrines are claimed to be "biblical". However, a deep study of Scripture does not lend substance to that claim. The concept of the Rapture is cobbled together from disparate texts. Progressive Revelation ignores that fact that the Messianic Faith we call "Christianity" aligns perfectly with the beliefs of Abraham and his Hebrew ancestors who believed in God Father and God Son. We have evidence of that in the Bible and in extra-biblical sources. The idea that the earth is 6000-10,000 years old is not accepted by Bible-believing Christians in the sciences. 

The literalism of American Fundamentalism has been its undoing. The Fundamentalists insist on six 24-hour days of creation though even the early Church Fathers did not agree on that interpretation. They insist that Noah's flood was universal against the substantial evidence to the contrary in the Bible and in the geological, archaeological, and anthropological record. They perpetuate a false understanding of the early Hebrew, pitting Cain's (evil) line against that of his (righteous) brother Seth. Today we know that both Cain and Seth were early Hebrew rulers whose descendants intermarried (caste endogamy).  Endogamy is common trait of castes, and the early Hebrew were a ruler-priest caste

The role of myth in reading Genesis 1-3 is lost on American Fundamentalist for whom the term "myth" suggests untruth. They lack insight into the lasting nature of myths. Fundamentalists, who favor the ever-approachable C.S. Lewis, overlook the fact that he championed myth as a way for eternal truths to be presented.

American Fundamentalism has taken on the characteristics of a cult. There is no opportunity for reasoned debate with this highly defended community. They have patented replies to every query. They claim that dating methods are flawed. They designate all who reject Fundamentalist interpretations as non-believers. They pit their belief system against the evidence of many sciences: anthropology, genetics, linguistics, archaeology, earth science, etc. They claim Scripture as their only authority but fail to read it apart from their preconceptions. 

Thousands of former Fundamentalists are floundering spiritually because they were indoctrinated in this false religion. They welcome the demise of Fundamentalism. The political alignment of Fundamentalism with Trumpism has further eroded Fundamentalism's clout.

Tragically, American Fundamentalism joins the list of false religions exported from the USA. These include Mormonism, Jehovah's Witness, Christian Science, the Prosperity Gospel, Second-blessing Pentecostalism, and Scientology.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

An Anglican I Remain


Dr. Alice C. Linsley

I make no apology for being an Anglican Traditionalist. However, I will be an apologist for the Anglican Way of Christianity.

Our confession as Anglican Christians is Christ crucified, risen, and coming again. Until His arrival, we make disciples, strengthen one another, and receive Him in the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist. The kerygma and the Nicene Creed express Anglican dogma, and the Bible informs and shapes our doctrine and practice. We require nothing to be believed that is not attested by these our authorities. That is why we reject innovations, be they from Rome, the Episcopal Church, or the Church of England.

Unfortunately, some who call themselves "Anglican" have departed from this confession, aimlessly wandering the trails of modernism, process theology, feminism, and social activism. These give Anglicanism a bad name. They leave a foul smell wherever they go. It is no wonder that some seek to escape the reek. 

Some Anglicans who have left for greener pastures include G. K. Chesterton, John Henry Newman, and more recently Michael Nazir-Ali, and Gavin Ashenden. Their departure to Rome meant gain for Roman Catholics and loss for Anglicans. However, the Roman pasture has not proven to be much greener.

Recently an Eastern Orthodox friend asked me, "Why not just head east, and become Orthodox?" Here is my response:

Because our history, our ethos, some doctrines are quite distinct. As you know I spent 6 years with the Antiochian Orthodox and value those years because they renewed me after the Anglican "wars". They also connected me with sacred Tradition whereby I can identify dangerous innovations.

The friend replied that it didn't make sense that people choose to be outside the One True Church, and had I tried the Western Rite, to which I replied:

The tendency to triumphalism among some Orthodox is troubling. It is so contrary to the Orthodox emphasis on humility as a primary virtue. Also, the Orthodox exclusive use of the Septuagint for study and as the text behind the Divine Liturgy is a problem since it leans into the Greek perspective of the soul rather than the biblical Hebrew understanding of the Soul-Body unit. Further, a detailed study of the planting of Christianity in the British Isles reveals a patrimony easily as old as that of Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, and Constantinople. With the Great Schism of 1054, Constantinople became the seat of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Byzantine liturgy, which I prefer greatly to the Western Rite, developed contemporaneously with other early liturgies of the Church and is not objectively superior to them, only different.

The friend then pointed to brilliant men who left the Anglican Way for Orthodoxy, including Jon Braun, Peter Gilquist, Patrick Henry Reardon, and Stephen Freeman. She asserted that these men were "on a search for the truth. For the TRUE Church."

It should be noted that some Orthodox are not orthodox in every aspect of their theology. David Bentley Hart and Alvin Kimel, both former Anglicans, are examples. Kimel has waffled a great deal over the years. He was a priest in the Episcopal Church who left for Rome and then converted to Eastern Orthodoxy. He and Hart have been promoting apocatastasis, a belief that the restoration of creation to a condition of perfection will involve escape from eternal separation from God for those who have willfully rejected God.

The departure of great Anglican thinkers for either Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy suggests that Anglicanism is a natural pad for launching people in different directions. However, it seems that former Anglicans rarely go to Protestant denominations because what we have found satisfying in Anglican Christianity is lacking among Protestants. We are conscious of divine mystery, the efficacy of the Sacraments, the importance of sacred tradition in the interpretation of Scripture, the beauty of holiness expressed in reverent worship, the wisdom of the Church Fathers, and the necessity of the universal Creeds.

A Crisis of Authority and the Burden of Central Authority

The confusion within Anglicanism is the result of a crisis of authority. Our collegial polity has been weakened by a club mentality among the bishops. None wish to give offense to their fellow members. When they should have stood in defense of the Faith once delivered, they showed themselves complacent. Complacency leads to decline and decline leads to decadence.

Some who were raised by modernist Anglican clergy wandered far from the orthodox faith and led others astray. Alfred North Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne are examples. Both were raised in the Church of England. They put forward a view of God as one affected by temporal processes. In Hartshorne’s process-based conception God always changes. This is not the orthodox view of God as eternal and immutable.

For Anglicans the authority of Scripture and Tradition is central to our identity. While we share a rich heritage of reason and intellectual acumen, we do not disregard these authorities in favor of philosophical speculation about God and humans. That is fatal to our identity.

Some Anglican clergy dabbled with spiritualism. James Pike was raised Roman Catholic and became an agnostic. After WWII, Pike and his second wife, Esther Yanovsky, joined the Episcopal Church and Pike became an Episcopal priest. He was charged with heresy three times, though the charges were dropped. He rejected the central dogmas of the Christian Faith touching on the Incarnation and the Trinity. In October 1966, he was formally censured by his fellow bishops, but he was never deposed. That same year his son James Jr. committed suicide, an event that prompted Pike to try to communicate with his dead son using a medium.

The crisis of authority within Anglicanism is also demonstrated in the liturgical revisions of the Episcopal Church in the 1970s. The Episcopal priest and theologian, Urban T. Holmes, understood that ECUSA's liturgical revisions drew more on Process Theology and modern philosophy than on Scripture, Tradition, and the Church Fathers. In reference to the Episcopal Church 1979 Prayer Book, he wrote, "It is evident that Episcopalians as a whole are not clear about what has happened. The renewal movement in the 1970s, apart from the liturgical renewal, often reflects a nostalgia for a classical theology which many theologians know has not been viable for almost 200 years. The 1979 Book of Common Prayer is a product of a corporate, differentiated theological mind, which is not totally congruent with many of the inherited formularies of the last few centuries. This reality must soon ‘come home to roost’ in one way or another."

Holmes added, "The church has awakened to the demise of classical theology."

If Holmes believed that "classical" or orthodox theology is not viable, he should have left the priesthood.

Hoping to Escape the Chaos

The crisis of authority in Anglicanism has led many to seek refuge with other sacramental bodies. The departees have gone to churches where authority is either centralized, as with the Pope and the Magisterium, or is sustained by synods of Orthodox bishops who resist modernism and innovation. Within those churches, there are rebellious persons who try to impose their will. There are feminists campaigning for women priests. There are reactionaries demanding the Latin Mass as their right. There are theological and liturgical debates, and jurisdictional conflicts among the Orthodox ethnicities. The necessary imposition of ecclesial authority tends to homogenize and invariably some people will resist conforming.

Anglicans excel at resisting homogenization. It comes of our history under Rome, the bloodshed of the 16th century in England, and the iconoclasm of the Puritans. Some regard the Thirty-Nine Articles as their Confession. Others regard the Articles as important to Reformed theology but take the universal Creeds as the only proper reflection of the catholic Faith. Some use the Book of Common Prayer as a resource out of which they pick prayers and rites. Others uphold the liturgies of the 16th century through the mid-20th century as the historic Anglican formularies which are not to be tampered with. 

Some Anglicans ordain women and believe this practice does not impinge on the Gospel. Others believe rightly that this development stabs at the heart of the Gospel since the priesthood ultimately is about the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, and this innovation breaks with catholic tradition, and is without the consent of the Church worldwide. 

There also is a huge range of aesthetic expressions in Anglican churches. Some maintain the elegant architecture of the great cathedrals. Some are scrubbed clean of embellishments and resemble Congregational places of worship. Some are warehouses with big screens and platforms for praise bands. These variances express different theological perspectives, yet all claim to be “Anglican”.

Let us consider also the great intellects who remained Anglican in the face of this crisis of authority: C.S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, Evelyn Underhill, William Temple, Austin Farrer, Matthew Green, and John Stott. Additionally, the Anglican Way of Christianity has many millions of adherents in Africa and Asia where there has been less pressure from their cultures to adopt modernism, feminism, and innovations that break with tradition.

I remain an Anglican in good company! An Anglican I remain against the currents.