As a Traditional Anglican Catholic Christian, What do I Believe?

4 Comments

The Theotokos of Vladimir, one of the most ven...

The Theotokos of Vladimir, one of the most venerated of Orthodox Christian icons of the Virgin Mary. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The American philosopher William James, in his classic book, The Varieties of Religious Experience,¬† pointed out that a belief has to be a “live option” for a person in order for that person to seriously consider that belief. Other beliefs are closed options–and everyone, whether or not they are willing to admit it, have closed some options to serious consideration. As a traditional Anglican Christian, a member of the Anglican Catholic Church, there are certain beliefs I have about the nature of reality that close off other beliefs:

I believe in one God in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three persons in one substances. He is a personal God, both transcendent of the universe and immanent in it, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, all-loving. He is the personal ground of all existence and the source of all value.

I believe that God created the universe and thus that the universe is contingent.These two beliefs rule out pantheism. I will not consider it as a live option–period. I am open to versions of panentheism that preserve Christian orthodoxy if such could be found.

I believe that Jesus Christ is fully God, fully man, “God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten not made, being of one substances (homoousias) with the Father.” Jesus is qualitative different from the Buddha and the great Hindu teachers. Although non-Christian religions can and do contain truth and Christians can learn from them, ultimately Christianity has the fullness of the truth. Although non-Christians can be saved, everyone who is saved is saved through Jesus Christ.

I believe that Jesus came to earth as “very God of very God,” yet fully human as well. I believe that he taught in Palestine in the 30s of the so-called “Common Era,” that he was crucified, died, and was buried, and “on the third day rose again.” That is, I believe Jesus’ body was really dead, cold, dead by any standard, and had been dead for three days–then he was raised from the dead–literally. No Bultmann or Tillich or Crosson game playing allowed. I believe the literal bodily resurrection of Christ.

I believe that Jesus “ascended into Heaven,” though I do not fully understand what that means. I accept it through faith. He remains fully man and fully God, and is literally present in the Eucharist (the Mass or the Lord’s Supper) in both His human and divine natures. This takes place in a church in the apostolic succession that holds to catholic and orthodox teachings. What God does with other churches’ Eucharists is up to God, but His real presence is guaranteed in the Catholic Church (Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, some Old Catholic groups, and the Anglican Catholic Church and some continuing Anglican groups).

I believe that we are born with the capacity to sin, a capacity that will inevitably be actualized once someone is of the age of accountability (which will vary from person to person). “Original sin,” the capacity to sin, is a reasonable concept. “Original Guilt,” Augustine, Luther, and Calvin’s idea, is not.

I belief in salvation through Christ that is normally given at the point of baptism.

I believe that one day we will be raised in physical, bodily form, from the dead–but with glorified bodies, physical bodies under the complete control of the spirit.

I believe in Purgatory as a place of continued sanctification after death, in Heaven as an actual place of eternal life in the presence of God, and in Hell as a possibility, praying that if possible God might save everyone, but realizing this may not happen.

I believe in the traditional moral teachings of the Catholic Church, including:

The duty to perform corporeal works of mercy.

The sinfulness of hatred, wrath, jealousy, and envy.

The sinfulness of adultery and of premarital sex.

The sinfulness of abortion at any stage of pregnancy.

The sinfulness of practicing homosexual activity.

The sinfulness of most wars.

The sinfulness of ALL torture.

The need to hate sin for its destructive power but still loving the sinner.

I am a Christian, certainly not a good one, whatever that means. Lord knows I have violated some of the Ten Commandments, but that is where God’s grace comes in. Grace is not a totally private matter but is mediated through the Catholic Church; Protestants may receive grace as well because their church is imperfectly in fellowship with the Catholic Church and retains the sacrament of baptism. If anyone asks why I try to put other systems of belief in a Christian framework, it is because I think there is something to those beliefs, and I am trying to find a niche for them in Christian orthodoxy. Any belief that is not able to be reconciled with the teachings of the Catholic Church is a false belief, period. Am I closed-minded to some options? You betcha. So is any reader of this blog.

Voting Straight Republican in Academia

4 Comments

English: A female African Bush Elephant raises...

English: A female African Bush Elephant raises her trunk as a warning sign in Mikumi National Park, Tanzania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Donkey Face

Yesterday I stood in line over an hour and a half to vote on the first day of early voting in North Carolina. I voted straight Republican, the first time I have voted straight party since 1984. The reaction of liberal academics when I tell them of my vote is interesting (and I admit I enjoy telling them to see their reaction). Most know me so they later laugh about it, but the initial reaction is something like “You’re an idiot.” That can be said in good fun by a true liberal, but the more dogmatic liberals who believe that “the political is the personal” are not saying that in good fun. They truly believe that anyone who votes right of center is either a fool, insane, or a moral reprobate. Now this attitude is not confined to the left–to be fair, I have been castigated in a personal way for not buying into Christian-Israelism or the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Yet overall I have found conservatives, other than a few rabid Neoconservatives, to be more open to disagreement and to discussion than academic liberals. Liberals in the arts also tend to be intolerant in my experience. I try to avoid saying anything political in a group of writers because their reaction makes hostile reactions by academics look like¬† a kiss on the cheek. Although I strongly disagree with my Democratic friends and family members, I do not consider them morally reprobate. I do believe that they should examine the economy and debt and carefully reconsider their position, but if they stick with the Democrats and with Mr. Obama I do not think less of them as persons. Most Republicans, except for some Evangelicals and the more dogmatic Neocons, react the same way. On the left, older liberals, the working class unionized liberals, may fuss and fume with me, but they will be happy to have a drink with me afterwards. Academic liberals, especially those who are Marxist (most, not all Marxists) tend to divide the world into the class of good left wingers and evil right wingers, and the politics becomes the personal. That is a shame since life is more than politics and people may have other things in common. Democrats have to eat, raise families, make it through everyday problems–and so do Republicans. We are all human beings worthy of respect and, as a Christian, I would say that we are all created in God’s image. Both Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives should get out of the trap of making politics so large in their lives that it becomes a lens to evaluate people’s morality or intelligence.