When Evangelicals go Anglican or Presbyterian

When Evangelicals go Anglican or Presbyterian February 3, 2019

The phenomena of Evangelicals (usually of a non-denominational, baptistic, low-church variety) converting to Presbyterianism, Catholicism, Orthodox, or Anglicanism is interesting on theological and sociological levels.

Much has been written about the surge of evangelicals into liturgical churches (see here and here, plus the book Journeys of Faith: Evangelicalism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Anglicanism) and this phenomenon shows no signs of abating, if anything, it is picked up steam.

For those want to know more (or just keep their disgust fresh), I recommend a few things.

First, Scott Swain discusses his move from Baptist to Presbyterian on the podcast Church Grammar.

Second, a great article Ask an Anglican Pastor where Tish Harrison Warren answers some questions on evangelicals who want to go Anglican. She answers one question with these words:

When I first began attending an Anglican church, there were things I didn’t completely get or resonate with, like making the sign of the cross. I didn’t have a theological problem or any crisis of conscience about these parts of the liturgy; I just didn’t totally understand them, but I simply began to do them anyway, and I’m now very glad I did. Pick 2-3 new liturgical practices and practice them.

I was a Presbyterian for a long time and one thing that always amuses me is that when many (not all) Presbyterian churches start to be more “liturgical,” they stop before each practice or part of the liturgy and give a long theological explanation for it. But this is not how liturgy works.

It’s like dancing. If you stop to explain each step, you won’t ever learn to dance, much less forget the dance altogether to think about the dance partner (to use Lewis’s analogy). But I think there can be an anxiety about entering into practices if you don’t completely understand each theological nuance.

But rest in the liturgy. You will grow to understand it more bit by bit and, also, there is so much mystery in this life of faith that you won’t ever understand it. We are partaking in “holy mysteries” as the Eucharistic liturgy itself says, so throw yourself into that and be okay with trying new things just because your older brothers and sisters in the faith have done this for thousands of years.


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