When Jerry and I were at Oxbridge with the C.S. Lewis Foundation, worshiping in Anglican churches, our experience was rich with meaning. What to those raised in a higher church tradition might be only formality and rote repetition was expressing our common faith as the saints had expressed it down through the centuries.
I told Carol once that her Catholic faith seemed so rich and fulfilling that for her to convert to Protestantism would be to lose something, to be more impoverished. I kept thinking I was supposed to get her to say the sinner’s prayer and be born again but she seemed to have a much deeper grasp of repentance and worship than I did. It wasn’t just going through the motions or working her way to heaven. She knew Him. Shortly before ovarian cancer took her Home she confided to me that her prayers had been reduced to one: “Lord, take care of your little lamb.”
She lived by the liturgical calendar, though she celebrated Jesus’ birth well into January, even February. Meditating on His life and the lives of His servants (“saints”) through those special dates, through the writings of the contemplatives, and through the stations of the cross, publicly affirming all the truths of our faith in church every week–I liked that!
If someone dropped into one of our evangelical services some Sunday, he might learn about tithing or some aspect of the Exodus or the possible interpretations of the word “vessel” in I Thessalonians 4:4 but would he hear God’s whole grand scheme from the foundation of the world to its corruption through sin to its ultimate restoration under His eternal reign? Rehearsing our common creeds would do that.
To be honest, I really want to come under the authority of the true church, the original church, the church which Jesus Christ planted. The idea of being part of that tradition flowing from Matthew 16 through Peter down to us is very attractive to me. I don’t want to be part of a splinter group or a resistance movement, even one that intended only to bring the true church back into alignment with its roots.
BUT the irreconcilable differences prevent it! I cannot in good faith believe doctrines which are not only not in the Bible (that I could accommodate) but those which are actually contrary to Scripture, those which are heretical. The biggest one of course is the role of Mary–and the growing minority of Catholic leaders who claim she is co-redemptrix with Christ, that together the two of them save us, is utter anathema, undermining the uniqueness of the blood of Christ as our only remedy for sin.
So here I stand, wanting to be reunited with Mother Church and prevented by its own doctrines from doing so.
“Unless I am convinced by Scripture and by plain reason and not by Popes and councils who have so often contradicted themselves, my conscience is captive to the word of God. To go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me.” Martin Luther