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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"The Accidental Anglican" - A Book Review

The Accidental Anglican: The Surprising Appeal of the Liturgical Church
Todd D. Hunter
InterVarsity Press
P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515-1426
http://www.ivpress.com/
Copyright: 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8308-3839-4; $15.00
3 1/2 stars

Wayfaring through the Ecclesiastical wilderness is becoming a hot past-time for many wanderers in North America. Todd Hunter’s small, 138 page paperback, “The Accidental Anglican: The Surprising Appeal of the Liturgical Church” is another story of such a journey. This book is written to tell his tale in a way that may resonate with others who are floundering in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

“The Accidental Anglican” breaks down into two sections. The first portion recounts the author’s pilgrimage through the Jesus People of the early 1970s, then Calvary Chapel, later the presidency of Vineyard Churches USA, afterward into a non-churchly church plant, and most recently into the episcopacy of The Anglican Missions in the Americas (TheAM). In the second segment, Hunter relays several of the salient reasons he likes Anglicanism, touring through a few of his heroes, and then briefly admiring the colorful variety of flora and fauna of the Anglican garden. The writer’s account and admiration is an easy read, told from his low-church perspective, striving to address the concerns and questions “seekers” might have as they gaze on the scene with him.

Though the book is nicely written, it becomes obvious quite quickly that Hunter has been on a experiential journey for a while, looking for something that will firmly grip his spiritual ADHD. One of the questions that kept niggling at the back of my mind while I read the book is, “Where will he go next?” There seems to be an unsettledness, or fickle searching that has driven the author from one ecclesiastical shop to another, out of each he staggers exhausted, but eager to grope after another consumer experience, singing with Bono, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”

A second troubling question cropped up repeatedly, “How could TheAM’s leadership promote him so quickly?” By the author’s own account, he went from non-Anglican, to deacon, then priest and finally bishop within roughly 2 years. And underneath this, the fast and furious movement began with the offer to plant a Church for that denomination before he was even a card-carrying Anglican. I must confess my perplexity! This reviewer can’t help but wonder if the leadership has been kidnapped by the American quasi-divinity “Pragmatism”.

“The Accidental Anglican: The Surprising Appeal of the Liturgical Church” is a comfortable piece to read. Many readers will find that Hunter’s questions on his journey are theirs, and his findings will likely catch their attention. I mildly recommend the book, and hope the author has found his permanent home.

Michael Philliber is pastor of Providence Presbyterian Church (PCA), Midland Texas. He earned his Doctor of Ministry from Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in 2007.

[Permission to reprint & re-post is hereby given as long as credit is given to the author of this book review and notification is sent to the reviewer-MWP]

3 comments:

Reformation said...

Michael:

Your observations about this drifter are well-taken. I had the same question, e.g. Bishop within 20 months? What Anglican Bishop pressed this item forward?

For this Anglican-in-exile, hunkered down and holding the small fort.

Good review.

Reformation said...

Mike:

Posted with attribution at www.reformationanglican.blogspot.com.

No surprise to me re: AMiA.

Regards.

Phil

aaytch said...

Perhaps the title to Hunter's book should be "The Accidental Christian". Listening to him talk at the Anglican 1000" conference, I was struck by the nonchalance with which he approaches his Christian life. It's as if he thinks that God is equally surprised as he is at what Christianity is turning out to be. He seems to be saying that what he likes about Anglicanism is that it is defined not by its content but rather by its form. That is of course not what I think of Anglicanism, but it is surely what AMIA thinks.

Religion whose form is accidental is also moldable into any shape man that deceives himself into believing is its true form.

Followers