Not Off to Rome

Not Off to Rome November 10, 2014

The obscure corners of American Christianity department: A friend asked if a higher percentage of the graduates of Trinity (the Evangelical Anglican seminary in this country) or of Nashotah House (the high church one) had become Catholic. A surprisingly high number of Trinity’s graduates have become Catholics, with a handful becoming Orthodox. “I wonder if Nashotah grads stay Anglican in larger numbers, because the choice is not so obvious for catholic-leaners,” he wrote.

I’d bet a small amount of money that the percentage of Trinity graduates becoming Catholic is much higher than that of Nashotah graduates. On their side, Evangelicals have a kind of earnestness and theological drive that high churchmen don’t, or don’t have as intensely. They tend to press questions farther than other people and act on their conclusions more readily, which is a point in their favor. And it may be that they have a more propositional understanding of the Faith, which makes their logic starker and more compelling than it is for those whose understanding includes the liturgy and culture in which they’re grounded.

On the high church side, I think there are two types of Anglo-Catholicism, one of which really is proto-Catholicism and the other of which is very much Protestant, big on individual choice and private judgment even while talking about being Catholic (often pronounced Caahthlic) because they hold a personally selected range of Catholic beliefs and practices.

The second is and has been the great majority of that movement in this country. They’re not likely to convert, because they do not want to cease being Protestants. They’re much less likely to convert than Evangelicals because Evangelicals know they’re Protestant.

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