A Liberty Student Finds Anglicanism

By

I reached a spiritual breaking point when I started college at Liberty University. Everyone seemed to be talking directly to Yahweh except for me, yet I couldn’t shake this feeling that something was off and that we were chasing not Christ, but a feeling, and that I was doing the same.

Son of a Baptist Pastor

For many years, I had felt discomfort concerning Baptist doctrine. And this is coming from an individual who was reciting sections of the Baptist catechism as part of his homeschool curriculum. Every time I heard my dad or some other pastor preach out of Titus and Timothy to talk about church government, every time we did the Lord’s Supper, and every time we spoke about salvation, something seemed off. This is not to reject the individuals above; on the contrary, I mention these to emphasize that God used their commitment to Christ and the scriptures to draw me deeper into the faith.

Sponsored

In the thick cloud of my Baptist background, I distinctly remember a small thunderbolt of reformed catholicism etching its way into my life. My dad had a conversation with a Lutheran friend about the Sacraments and was explaining the conversation to the rest of the family; this specific conversation was the beginning of my conversion to Anglicanism. I was only 14 then, but little did I know that Yahweh was using this moment as a springboard to lead me in the spiritual direction that He wanted me to go. Another formative influence was my good friend Ryan, a Roman Catholic, who was always ready to provide an alternative opinion.

During my high school years, I was spiritually struggling and frustrated. I felt like I couldn’t get closer to Yahweh no matter how hard I tried, how often or long I prayed, how many Bible studies I participated in, and what kind of schedules I created for myself. Soon, I had trained myself to fall into a habit of legalistic Christianity in pursuit of this connection with Christ that I felt that I was sorely missing. Perpetually, I could feel this deafness, as if Christ was giving me the silent treatment, but He was talking to everyone around me.

Research at Liberty University

This reached a breaking point when I started college at Liberty University. Everyone seemed to be talking directly to Yahweh except for me. Yet, I couldn’t shake this feeling I got every time I went to Bible studies, heard the doctrines expounded upon, or heard someone give a topical sermon. This feeling that something was off, and that we were chasing not Christ, but a feeling, and that I was doing the same.

I suddenly felt a unique urge to research why I believe what I believe about the Bible, not just the hard stuff, even the basic stuff like baptism, salvation, or even how the Church should operate. To this day, I believe this was Jesus utilizing how I think and process information to lead me closer to Him.

This research quickly led me to Anglicanism. I read To Be a Christian, Anglicanism: A Reformed Catholic Tradition, Concise Theology, The Heritage of Anglican Theology, Simply Anglican, and The 39 Articles of Religion. Armed with the Anglican Compass, the ACNA website, and the 2019 Book of Common Prayer, I went to work. However, it was hard to wrap my head around this sudden influx of information, which often contrasted with my presuppositions. My friend Ryan chucked to himself as he heard me consider many ancient interpretations he had given me years ago!

Encountering the Anglican Church

Eventually, I decided there was no substitute for face-to-face conversation. I tried desperately to set up a conversation with anyone willing to talk to a Southern Baptist in crisis. I got a call back from my current priest, Fr. Morse, Rector of the All Saints Parish in Lynchburg, VA. He met with me, heard all of my struggles, and answered all of my questions.

This led to me attending one Anglican service, which felt overwhelmingly Catholic to me then, and I reluctantly marked the Anglican experiment as a mistaken venture on my part. At the time, I was still trying to make Anglican doctrine fit in with my Baptist doctrine instead of approaching it with the question, “Could I be wrong?” 

I considered that question the following year when my friend Ryan and I decided to have a formal debate. This debate lasted two very long phone calls. However, it ended with me profoundly stuck with the questions that he posed to me on the authority of the Church, apostolic succession, the significance of the Lord’s Supper, and that challenging practice of infant baptism.

Soon, I found myself dusting off those old books that I had long since put away, flying through podcasts like The Classic Anglican and Word & Table, and ingesting the theological conversations between Matt Whitman and various Christian faith traditions contrary to my own on his Learning About Other Churches series on Youtube.

Finally, I felt like my eyes had been opened, and I was understanding my faith for the first time, or beginning to anyway. Since then, I have been entirely devoted to learning more about Christ through the lens of the Anglican tradition while also being subject to Ryan’s constant “told you’s” as I tell him about my constant doctrinal realizations!

The Value of Anglican Compass

As I look back at the variety of resources that led me here, Anglican Compass stands out.

Being a Southern Baptist in Virginia, finding any resources on Anglicanism was as challenging as it sounds without paying a pretty penny for a book or scheduling a meeting with an actual Anglican priest. But Christ blessed me with a lucky Google search that brought me to a site with a plethora of information on specific topics that I struggled to understand.

To this day, Anglican Compass is my go-to for quick information, whether for my own research on topics such as confirmation or where I recommend my fellow Baptist friends to go when they ask me a question that I know the Compass will have a better answer for.

I want to leave with a verse that has stuck with me throughout this journey and that I think should be a verse that all Christians, regardless of faith tradition, should strive to imitate:

“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).

We are thrilled to share Jaden’s story as part of our True North series, which demonstrates the missionary impact of Anglican Compass. Please help us serve Jaden and many others by supporting us on Patreon.

Author

Jaden Casteel

Jaden Casteel is a young entrepreneur who is dedicated to furthering Christ’s truth in a broken world. Currently pursuing his Bachelor’s in Theology at Liberty University, he is happily married to Noelle Richards.

View more from Jaden Casteel

Comments

Please comment with both clarity and charity!

Subscribe to Comments
Notify of

2 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments