Monday, September 24, 2007

Conversions
  • +Rio Grande is resigning and going to Rome. The Protestant majority at Stand Firm are like Queen Victoria both in their no-popery and their not being amused. (Most of the conservative side in the Episcopal row is of the Protestant persuasion.) I knew Dr Steenson before he became a bishop and the only surprising thing really, based on his long-held beliefs and feelings (which I thought he’d given up but I could have been wrong), is it’s taken him this long. Culturally he’s quintessentially Anglican though which may be why. He’s a gentleman.
  • The Orthodox convert boomlet firsthand. Last night I heard and met Fr Peter Gillquist of Orthodox-convert fame. (Long story short: parallelling Anglo-Catholicism, and much like the Charismatic Episcopal Church more recently, he and a group of other unchurched conservative Protestants read the Church Fathers on their own and based on that unprotestantised and started their own church; most of his group became Orthodox about 20 years ago.) Challenged him publicly but politely on many Orthodox changing the faith on contraception (which undermines the claim that ‘we haven’t changed nor do we follow trends’) and he didn’t really answer me. He said ‘it just doesn’t come up’ then retreated into condemning abortion and Protestant theological liberalism — his ‘sales pitch’ (he used to be in advertising). The host priest and I later had a long, lively but friendly discussion on it. (He was born Reformed and I think retains some anti-Romanism from the larger Anglo-American culture but he argued well.) Nice men, both — Fr Peter’s conversion story both to Christ in the late 1950s American Mid-West and to catholic, apostolic Christianity are moving. His presentation was mostly positive. He did not bash Rome although of course he disagrees on some points (the scope of the Pope for example). He also made the good point that the main mission of the church is to preach the gospel not be sucked into culture-wars battles (preaching ‘Christianity and...’ as C.S. Lewis warned). Seeing this 6-foot-4, clean-shaven ethnic Swede in a black cassock preaching essentially the Catholic religion was like going back in time to the biretta belt.

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