Anglican, for the Love of God – Emanuel Burke’s Anglican Journey

By |2018-08-13T15:44:14+00:00March 19th, 2018|Categories: Anglican Life|Tags: , |5 Comments
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Early Days

The summers of my youth were spent in swimming pools, summer camps, and Southern Baptist “tent revivals.” I often felt pressured by those gatherings. There was always an expectation, though sometimes unspoken, to “make a decision,” or pray at the “altar,” or announce a “calling,” or say “just a few words” about your spiritual experience.

This spiritual climate persisted throughout every season, though in the lesser forms of Vacation Bible School, AWANA, and, in my middle and high school years, “youth group.”

After hearing about how believing in Jesus can get me into heaven, feeling the heated flames of hell licking my feet, I asked the pastor’s kid next to me if I should go forward to ask Jesus into my heart. My friend said it was a good idea, so I went for it. I repeated a simple prayer, and it was a done deal. Flames of hell extinguished.

The pressures I felt from such experiences became a “silent passenger” within me. It was a sin so secret that I was unaware of its existence in my heart. It would stay there for years, haunting each step, while I knew none the better.

I announced that I felt a calling into ministry fairly early in life. Folks in that community began working to shape me into their image. They were certainly well intending. However, I became a kind of religious yes-man. While there were areas of Baptist theology and practice where I perceived problems, I was unable to sort out exactly why they were problems, so I just agreed with whatever teaching would grant acceptance within the community.

Tugged Toward the Ancient

All of this came to a climax a couple years ago when a friend turned me to “The King Jesus Gospel,” by Scot McKnight [affiliate link]. I was unaware of his affiliation with the Anglican tradition at the time. I was shaken to the bone by that book. It turned everything I believed upside-down (or rather, right-side-up), and yet provided a sense of direction.

Unaware as I was at the time, I was feeling my way toward the ancient. I needed something real, deep, and wide. I needed, and deeply wanted, to be saturated with the love of God. I wanted the gospel coursing through my veins. But my ego was in the way… my silent passenger.

I kept reading men like McKnight, and eventually N.T. Wright (who I am sure are familiar names to those who have become Rookie Anglicans themselves from other traditions). I also started digging further into the Scriptures. In a very peculiar way, I began to discover God, and consequently, myself. I began to see that I never actually bought into the tradition within which I was raised. I just went along with it to save face, and to avoid the pain that comes with losing friends.

Anglican Beginnings

After discovering that N.T. Wright is Anglican, I decided I would find out what exactly that meant! The Baptist tradition was all I ever knew (though I was relatively familiar with Presbyterians). While scouring the web, I quickly discovered there are seemingly innumerable opinions on what exactly it means to be Anglican. Though that was discouraging, I did end up finding the Anglican Pastor website, and the Rookie Anglican Daily Office prayer book.

I felt torn in so many directions, but I was absolutely convinced God was leading me to something good. I desperately needed a better life of prayer, so my wife and I started praying the Rookie Anglican daily offices together. We became stronger as a couple, our faith grew exponentially, and our desire for experiencing heaven on earth multiplied. Finding the prayer book was a breakthrough discovery. It became to us a great treasure because of the way it applied the word of God to our hearts through prayer.

I began reaching out to other Anglicans to get more info. One of the first is Fr. Joshua Drake, a priest in California. I heard about his journey into the Anglican way from the Baptist tradition on a podcast. I was able to connect with him, and am happy to say we talk fairly often, and he has been a formative guide in my pursuit of a life of prayer.

Later, I read “The Anglican Way” by Thomas McKenzie [affiliate link], and used the information in that book to search for a local parish on the ACNA website. As it turns out, there is only one ACNA parish in my area: Redeemer Anglican Church of Asheville, NC.

After chatting about some theological issues with Fr. Gary Ball, he invited me to just come and see. So, I attended— on Trinity Sunday. I felt the warm embrace of my Creator as I observed, participated, and received. The liturgy, the homily, the Eucharist, all of it breathtaking. The glory of God rang out in that place in a way I had never experienced.

Anglican, for the Love of God

Since Redeemer Anglican is currently meeting on Sunday evenings, my family continued attending the Baptist church in the morning, and Redeemer in the evening. After a couple months of this, we decided it was time. Merely tasting the Anglican way was not enough. We were compelled to live in it.

It was not an easy transition, and in many ways, it is still difficult. There has been much for us to learn, and spiritual hurdles for us to jump. For myself, I had to confront my silent passenger. There is no place for ego in the Anglican way. I had to deal with the fact that I’m often afraid of what people think of me. Fortunately, there is no safer place to deal with your sin.

With every office prayed, and every Eucharist attended, I am being conformed to the image of God, no longer being shackled to my former self. The dross of my ego is melting away, though admittedly, as some may attest, at a slow rate.

There are many things I could go on to praise about the Anglican way, but the love of God moving through his people in this tradition is ultimately what brought me here. My hope is that as I experience this proverbial transfiguration, I too will be an expression of God’s love for others.


Emanuel Burke is a Western North Carolina native. He is in his first term of service with United World Missions. Though currently raising ministry support in the United States, Emanuel and his wife will be ministering in Bangkok, Thailand with their two children. You can learn more about their ministry at http://uwm.org/missionaries/31573/ You can follow Emanuel on Instagram at @mannybcreative.


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5 Comments

  1. Denise Siino March 19, 2018 at 9:58 am - Reply

    Because of your introductory paragraph, you make it sound like “making a decision” is bad…and the “Baptist culture” continues to sound like a bad thing throughout. I expected you to come back to this point later and was disappointed to come to the end without your explanation about this, or explaining why shedding this philosophy has been a good thing in your life (though that is insinuated). I came out of the Jesus Movement of the 70s which held the same philosophy, and it came out of Jesus’s proclamation that “If you confess me before men I will confess you before my Father who is in heaven.” I feel like you owe Baptists (and others like me raised on this idea) an explanation as to why their practice of asking people to make a public profession of faith is a bad thing.

    • Emanuel Burke March 19, 2018 at 11:15 am - Reply

      Hi Denise,

      Because this is a story of how I came into the Anglican way, I didn’t feel it was necessary to get into ALL of the theological, ecclesiastical, and philosophical issues that I believe are present in the Baptists denomination, as well as other broad evangelical traditions. There are men much more intelligent and succinct who could explain those things better than I can.

      My intention was to communicate that those things, combined with my own failures and misunderstandings, resulted in the development of a sinful condition. And that sinful condition has/is being addressed now that I’m living as an Anglican. I’m finding solace in this tradition.

      Lastly, I did not intend to mean people should not proclaim their faith. I am, after all, a missionary. People have all sorts of different ideas about what exactly it means to proclaim Christ before men.

      Hope that helps.

  2. Doug Bodde March 19, 2018 at 12:34 pm - Reply

    I grew up in a founding ACNA church and married a Kansas Baptist. The English Baptist tradition is without a doubt one of the greatest gospel forces this continent has seen. Perhaps only the Jesuits matched their holy efforts and blessed results. You should start there.

    The Baptist tradition has slumped into several traps that Anglicanism may speak to. Its adherents are the fuel for consumer Christianity, rejecting participatory worship. Worship has a physicality to it—a kneeling, a rising, a singing, a dancing, an arm raising, a visual, a lifting-up-of-things nature. Noone will stop the Spirit filled person from this sort of worship.

    Second, they have Bible problem. Them is fightin’ words, but I think it’s true. The Bible is not great because each book has only one author or because a manuscript exists somewhere at some time with no “errors”. The Bible is great, as Newbigin points out, because it is the beginning of all other wisdom and knowledge. Denying evolution and saying other ridiculous things is a specific problem but the problem goes deeper. The Bible is greater than they imagine.

    There is also a prosperity gospel so ingrained that it goes on even while the worst examples of it are violently denounced. Every time a church moves to the suburbs and, in all but official policy, removes itself from the poor, they practice the prosperity gospel.

    The Baptists are great (and numerous) because they went after the poor. Their prohibitions on alcohol aren’t ignorant, un-Biblical superstition. They are born out of practical deference to the generations of drunks they converted.

    If ACNA doesn’t go after the poor and decides to take its place amoung the Rockefeller Episcopalians, it will be a disappointing rebirth of the tradition.

    • Denise Siino March 19, 2018 at 5:18 pm - Reply

      Hi Emanuel, I totally understand that your post was more a “musing” than a defense of any kind, but I felt your criticisms were pretty harsh and this is the internet, and you left your readership pretty puzzled. Don’t you owe your Baptist friends and former mentors a reason for the *new* hope that lies within you? How can you, I, or anyone talk with Baptists if we can’t offer some reason why (for instance) we Anglicans don’t provide an altar call? Not that we need to convince our Baptist brothers and sisters of anything, as reader Doug pointed out Baptists have done wonderful things throughout history. So when you offer a criticism I think it ought to be a bit more objective, or if purely subjective perhaps you can at least describe why “it didn’t work for me.” Sorry but I didn’t follow the bit about the silent partner…are you referring to guilt or shame? That bit of explanation would have been helpful. Just my thoughts.

      I really appreciated Doug’s comment…it put some flesh to the discussion. Very helpful.

      • Emanuel Burke March 19, 2018 at 6:11 pm - Reply

        Denise,

        Again, because of the format of this post, I don’t feel what you’re suggesting is necessary. I provided a window through which someone could look into my negative experience, and then see how I found resolve and healing in another Christian context, specifically, the Anglican tradition.

        The picture I provided was one of experience, and is therefore not intended to be a scholarly investigation of the Baptist denomination. I intentionally glossed over those points because it is nonessential information for the purposes here.

        I explained the “secret passenger” in the same paragraph it is first mentioned. If you’re familiar with the book, “Darkly Dreaming Dexter,” or the show, “Dexter,” this is an artistic allusion to the concept of indwelling sin in those works. In short, it’s a personification of my personal sin.

        I’m not sure any reader was puzzled than you- no one has reached out to me indicating otherwise, so I wouldn’t know.

        I’ve also had extensive conversations with the leadership of the Baptist church to which I previously belonged prior to leaving. That’s something between me and them, and is not something I believe needs to be addressed on a public platform.

        I still maintain relationships with Baptist brethren. In fact, I’ll be hanging out with some tomorrow night. I recognize God has used Baptists to do wonderful things in His Kingdom. I also recognize there are differences that are significant, and often sensitive. I’ll let more qualified people sort those things out. I’m little more than an arm chair theologian.

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