“I’m Anglican in my heart”. That’s what a 250 lb., 6 foot 2, balding Christian leader whispered to me last week.
“Guess you’ve heard that one before”, he smiled. He was a self-confessed recovering mega-pastor who now runs a spiritual retreat center on 35 acres.
Well, yes, I’ve heard that line a lot, particularly in non-denominational circles. Burned out by hi-octane mega-ministry, this leader had drunk the Kool-Aid of a Benedictine rule of life (American style).
I had one reflection on this. Why do people associate Anglicanism with the inner life rather than with missions?
Perhaps a steady diet of non sacramental, ahistorical, solipsistic Christianity makes some people hungry for the bread and wine of creeds, confessions, and corporate prayer. Advent can heighten that desire. Maybe after all that there’s no more bandwidth left over to consider what Anglican missions has to offer? With heroes like St Augustine of Canterbury, Henry Martyn, John Wesley, George Whitfield, Henry Venn, Samuel Schereschewsky, Channing Moore Williams, Temple Gairdner and so forth, there’s much that can inspire our global mission efforts.
If we, or anyone, is an Anglican “in my heart”, then we might gently urge them to be Anglican “in my mission”, too. Over the past two hundred years or so, Anglicans have traveled to the ends of the earth to preach the gospel. After all, being Anglican is merely a way, a legitimate way, to be a follower of Christ. We reject legalism and license as we champion grace and beauty. We reject dualism, but embrace both the physical and spiritual. We seek creation’s redemption as much as the conversion of someone on the frontiers of civilization.
We pray that the Lord’s way be known upon earth: “Thy saving health among all nations”. So why are Anglicans not known for living that out?