In a recent post I invited agonizing Anglicans to consider again the claims of the Catholic Church, and to climb aboard the great cruise ship Queen Mary (Captain Peter at the helm) rather than their own lifeboat solution.
David Gustafson is the old friend (and very smart guy) with whom I wrote Mary–A Catholic Evangelical DebateDavid happens to be a member of the vestry at the Falls Church–one of the Episcopal Churches in suburban Washington DC who have recently voted to pull out of their Episcopal Diocese.
The clergy at Falls Church were offered a similar invitation by a fellow Catholic, and one of their number, Revd Nicholas Lubelfeld, gave a gracious reply. Mr. Lubelfeld referred his potential host to an answer given some time ago by the more well known Anglican pictured here.
The correspondence follows:
From: [A Roman Catholic]
Sent: Sunday, December 17, 2006 8:54 PM
To: John Yates; Rick Wright; Nicholas Lubelfeld; David Glade
Subject: Greetings from —
Good Evening Gentlemen,
We have not had the pleasure of meeting, so please allow me to introduce myself. My name is — and I’m an army Major from –. I sat down this evening after a very arduous week working here in –, and I could not help noticing the news articles regarding your churches making a difficult and very significant decision.
I have just returned from Sunday evening mass myself and felt compelled to write you this short note. One of my heros (yes at 35, I still have them) is a certain Fr. John Corapi. You may not have heard of him; however, I would strongly recommend you check out his story. (cf www.fathercorapi.com/) His story is an absolutely amazing tale of Gods incredible grace. A constant theme of his talks is how evil introduces itself under the guise of “the good”. I for one commend you for not falling for this all too common deception. I see the extreme of this deception every day at our camps and the incredible hatred of anything “infidel.”
With this said, may I suggest one thing (outside of constant prayer). Your courageous stance has made a wonderful statement against this attack on Christians everywhere. Jesus prayed “that all may be one” and I humbly suggest that we take this opportunity to make a step in this direction. It is a most radical suggestion, but i will make it anyway … take this opportunity to lead yourselves and your congregation home to the Catholic Church. Despite individual weakness and somtimes poor leadership, the rock of Peter still exists today and still stands against these continious attacks.
As you consider this (hopefully more then a few seconds 😉 ) you may want to check out those of similar experience. Scott Hahn is a outstanding example and has written several books. You may find his book “Rome Sweet Home” of use.
As you continue this struggle, be assured of my prayers and solidarity (gotta love those John Paul II phrases … I call them JP II-isms) now and in the future. God bless you in your work and should you wish to discuss further, I would be happy to avail myself.
From: Nicholas Lubelfeld
Subject: RE: Greetings from —
Date: Mon, 18 Dec 2006 00:50:46 -0500
Many thanks for your kind email of encouragement and invitation. The assurance of your prayers and solidarity is encouraging, and your suggestion that we lead ourselves and our flock home to the Catholic Church is, given your heartfelt conviction, generous.
I welcome the encouragement but am unable at present to accept your invitation. In view of my opinion that I am already at home as a catholic I can however pray for that unity in faith, order, and mission of this little reformed catholic Church with your great Roman Catholic Church for which our Lord prayed and which he alone can accomplish.
Please remember us in your prayers for the same.
May 9, 1945
Dear Mr. Stebbins,
My position about the Churches can best be made plain by an imaginary example. Suppose I want to find out the correct interpretation of Plato’s teaching. What I am most confident in accepting is that interpretation which is common to all the Platonists down all the centuries: What Aristotle and the Renaissance scholars and Paul Elmer More agree on I take to be true Platonism. Any purely modern views which claim to have discovered for the first time what Plato meant, and say that everyone from Aristotle down has misunderstood him, I reject out of hand. But there is something else I would also reject. If there were an ancient Platonic Society still existing at Athens and claiming to be the exclusive trustees of Plato’s meaning, I should approach them with great respect. But if I found that their teaching was in many ways curiously unlike his actual text and unlike what ancient interpreters said, and in some cases could not be traced back to within 1,000 years of his time, I should reject their exclusive claims — while ready, of course, to take any particular thing they taught on its merits.