Here I Go Again...
Why I Am Not A Roman Catholic.... From the Broken Record Album
I really need to learn to keep my mouth (fingers?) shut. I said in passing that I was an Anglican over at this post at the Cornell Society for a Good Time, and people jumped on me like vultures on carrion. So for those of you just tuning in, here is the reason why a guy with the Mexican name of Arturo Vasquez, once a Roman Catholic and son of a Roman Catholic, is no longer a Roman Catholic. Take notes this time, so we don't have to go through this exercise again:
Truth is manifested and not proven, according to the Russian theologian, St. Pavel Florensky. For me, this summarizes the ancient Christian approach to truth. This is because it has everything to do with life in all of its rawness and splendor. Christianity is about life and death, simply put. Christ means life, beautiful life, everlasting life. And "no Christ" means death. Abstract categories such as "truth", "certainity", "sin", "law", "grace", etc. must be read against this definition, and not vice versa.
Now, the immediate experience of Christ is in the Church, which is His body in pilgrimage here on earth. Through the Church, particularily in the sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist, we receive the life of Christ. These two sacraments constitute the Church, for they came from the side of the Lord on Calvary in the form of blood and water flowing from His side. Therefore, the Church is primarily the synaxis of God's people around the table of the Lord to receive this life. Without this, there is no Church, no matter how much organzation and letter-head is created.
Now, for me at least, this icon of the Church necessitates laity, deacons, priests, and bishops transmitting the "mysteria" of Christ in an apostolic manner. While this can have a number of forms and God is not strictly bound to work in this manner, the people must constitute the Church by right belief and right worship. The guarentee of the indefectibility of the Church is the people and their sensus catholicus, not an abstract office or legalistic checks and balances.
Many agree that most Christian denominations in this country are suffering from a huge crisis in many respects. This is especially sad in the Roman Catholic Church, since it used to be so traditional. Many conservatives and traditionalists of this church, however, tend to say that while they might despise their bishops and priests, they are still "with the Pope, since the Pope is infallible". This is neither a traditional nor a very sound view of the Church. For even in contemporary Catholic theology, the parish priest is the immediate representative of Christ over his flock, and the bishop is even moreso. You cannot love one part of the Body of Christ and hate another. You cannot say that one part of the body will always be healthy, and the rest of the body will rot from gangrene. The Church is not a set of legal relations that binds people to the one infallible source of truth. If the Church is not the true Church on the ground level of the immediate liturgical assembly, it is not the true Church. Here, one's own criterion is involved in this very confusing time. And thus, we cannot a priori say that this is or is not the true Church just because of such-and-such a reason. There is uncertainty involved, and one must pray for discernment. But like Newman, we must toast to conscience first and then to the Pope (if there is anything left in your glass after the first toast). This is not the easy way out, but it is certainly the most honest.
My Anglicanism is a very loose thing still very much in formation and who knows if it will ever really be truly formed. The bottom line is: if it looks Christian, one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, trust your gut instinct and stay there. If it doesn't, try to leave on the very best of terms and don't burn your bridges. THE CHURCH is what you see and experience every Sunday. If you are in full communion with those people, then you are home. I am home every Sunday, but that is just the very beginning of the fight to save my soul. And that is what is most important.