This is a bit of an interaction with a post I found on Mike Bird’s Facebook page, an ex-Baptist post-Presbyterian Anglican. It’s the journey of one Sophia Sinclair, a Baptist pastor’s daughter.
“Eight years ago I attended an Anglican church for the first time. As a Baptist pastor’s daughter I was suddenly transplanted into a church community where men sometimes wear dresses, people sprinkle water on babies’ heads, drink real wine at communion, and recite familiar phrases aloud together during their services.
Today, Sophia is part of a new church plant (non-Anglican). However, over her eight-year Anglican experience–visiting different Anglican churches both professionally and personally–according to Sophia, God used this journey to nurture her as a believer.
Sophia goes on to list three takeaways as an “honorary Anglican”:
1. The encouragement of being part of something bigger. “A sense of belonging is important to Anglican Christians. For some this is a desire to remain traditional in practice – the songs they sing, the phrases they repeat and the way they conduct their services… The Anglican Church is structured in a way that allows for a greater awareness of the denomination’s global scale. I would argue that this sense of oneness and shared identity is something Christians in more autonomous congregations sometimes lack.”
2. The importance of the Bible. “The Thirty Nine Articles are historically defining statements affirming the various beliefs of the Church of England. Staying true to these is considered very important for many in the Anglican Church. One of these statements affirms ‘sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for salvation’.
At every Anglican church I attended I saw at least two passages read aloud with clarity. Some churches even stood up out of reverence for the gospel reading. Practically I appreciated the way the Bible was acknowledged and built into structures and traditions.
I was encouraged to love and understand the Bible. God’s word guided me as I made important life decisions. Scripture comforted me when I was in despair. The Bible answered my doubts and illuminated the darkness of life…”
3. The beauty of liturgy. “In an Anglican context liturgy is the set structure of a church service and typically involves one person (usually a minister) reading out statements and the congregation responding – verbally, in silent prayer and by standing and/or kneeling at certain points.
I confess I was not an immediate fan of this rather repetitive and often monotonous-sounding practice!
But it grew on me…
The Anglican liturgy reminds me that repetition can help me to recall the good God has done. It reminds me that there can be beauty in disciplining myself to say aloud the truths of my faith.”
I do agree with Sophia. As a Baptist, a member of the so-called free church movement, I too had to experience the same outside of the Baptist experiment.
But as a Baptist I’ve since learned that I DO NOT have to convert to Anglicanism or any such mainstream denomination–to experience the same (1. a sense of belonging part of something bigger; 2. the importance of the Bible; and 3. the beauty of liturgy).
In fact, Southern Baptist Timothy George, founding dean and professor of Divinity, History, and Doctrine at Beeson Divinity School, has taught me over the years that not only can I be both cconfessional and creedal as a Baptist, but (1) I do belong to the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church; (2) historically, Baptists have always held a high view of the Bible, even to the point of bibliolatry; and (3) yes, to enjoy the beauty of liturgy. But I must confess that this is where Baptists are most lacking, though they have a form of liturgy.