Since I shared a couple weeks ago about the newest chapter in my faith journey, I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback and questions from friends, family, and followers wanting to know more about Anglican Christianity. In this new video post, I share more about that. Click the link below to watch, or scroll down for the transcript. Also, be sure and subscribe to the blog to keep up with future posts!
Find an Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) parish near you: https://anglicanchurch.net/find-a-con…
The 39 Articles of Religion: http://justus.anglican.org/resources/…
Check out the Book of Common Prayer (1928 edition) online here: http://justus.anglican.org/resources/…
Hopefully you’ve seen my previous video, where I talked a little bit about some of the personal developments in my own faith journey recently, exploring different denominations. And I wanted to do kind of a little follow-up giving some more information, adding a bit more color to that, and talking about Anglican Christianity, which I’ve been exploring lately.
My wife and I have been attending an Anglican church for about the past month or so and have been really enjoying it. It’s been quite delightful; the community there has been very welcoming; and so far we’ve been finding it to be a very vibrant and welcoming place for us. It seems to be a pretty healthy church. And so I thought it’d be good to talk more about what Anglicanism as a denomination is like — especially since I got a lot of questions about it after my last video! I had a lot of friends and family start asking me, “So, what is Anglicanism?? What’s that like? What does that involve?” So here are a few points about that — some of the things I’ve learned about it and why it’s been attractive to me.
But first, also, I wanted to mention why I hadn’t looked into Anglicanism before now! It’s really only recently that I’ve learned more about it and discovered the good things that it has to offer. For a long time, I simply thought that Anglicanism was one of the many big, mainline Protestant denominations that have gone very liberal and moved far away from the Scriptures and from biblical values. And I was surprised to learn just recently that that’s not the case — at least not here in America. The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is a theologically conservative denomination that actually broke off from the Episcopal Church in about the 1970s, with further reorganizing in the early 2000s. That was something I didn’t know about until a few weeks back, when I did a little more research on it. So that was my first glimpse of “Oh, hey! This might actually be worth checking out!”
Because as I mentioned last time, there was a lot about my study of church history that really drew me into wanting a more historical form of church — something a little more rooted in tradition; more rooted in a broader, worldwide Christianity and Christian culture. Something besides the non-denominational, “Bible church” feel that I’d grown up with. Not to bash that at all, but there were just some things about it that I personally was finding were actually recent developments that throw out a lot of good stuff that I appreciate now. Good stuff like liturgical worship, a high view of the sacraments, and good organization of church hierarchy. (Those are all topics I’d like to talk about more in the future, but not here or this will go way too long!)
So here’s a little more about what Anglicanism is in a nutshell! Bottom line: It comes from the Church of England [hence Anglican, i.e. English], and traces its history back all the way to the ancient, undivided church [Christianity arrived in Britain very early, perhaps even within the first two centuries]. And if you asked an Anglican to summarize what it is in a single sentence, chances are they’re gonna say it’s “Reformed Catholicism.” Anglicans consider themselves to be “Reformed Catholics.”
And what that means is they trace their lineage back to the ancient catholic (i.e. “universal”) church, before there was any split between east and west, or between Roman Catholic and Protestant. But the English Church went through the Protestant Reformation and, well, reformed! They adopted the Protestant Reformation’s emphasis on keeping Scripture primary and correcting traditions in light of Scripture. But they tried to achieve a sort of balance between the more extreme manifestations of Protestantism on the one hand (e.g., Baptists, Calvinists), but then also not being Roman Catholic on the other hand.
So Anglicans don’t follow the Roman Pope, and they leave behind a lot of the Roman Catholic traditions that aren’t very helpful. Anglicanism is Protestant in its theology. But if you go to an Anglican church, you’re going to find more of a formal, structured worship style — the priests wear vestments, and the Eucharist is the most involved part of the service — so it almost feels like going to Catholic Mass, just not quite to the same extremes of tradition.
It’s certainly different from what my wife and I have been used to, but in a way that’s been kind of refreshing. Anglican worship is very reverent. And another thing that’s important for understanding Anglicanism is a little thing called The Book of Common Prayer. It’s sort of the “heartbeat” of Anglican Christianity. As the name implies, it’s a book of prayers that Anglicans pray daily, and it also contains the instructions for the worship services on Sundays. So one of the distinctives of Anglicanism vs. other Protestant denominations is that pretty much every Anglican church is going to be worshiping the same way as all the others throughout the world each Sunday morning, by following some version of the Book of Common Prayer.
Now, there are different editions of the BCP. But it is one cool thing about Anglicanism that, by and large, there is a big sense of commonality and community in the fact that Anglicans share the same worship. The BCP is very Protestant in its theology — everything in it is very biblical; the prayers are very steeped in Scripture (which is important to me). And it also contains things like prayers for special occasions and a guide for daily Scripture readings [called the Lectionary] which you can do individually or as a family, which is really neat. That’s something that Ainslee and I have really enjoyed, using it for our daily quiet times! Before, we’d often say, “Okay, so which book of the Bible do you want to read next?” “I don’t know, what do you wanna read??” So the Book of Common Prayer has helped us by giving us a structure to follow.
There is also a doctrinal statement for Anglicans at the back called “The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion.” One thing I like about the Thirty-Nine Articles is that it’s fairly broad on non-essentials and focuses primarily on things that are essential for all Christians. With a lot of different church doctrinal statements, I find that there are certain things that are spelled out so specifically that you either buy the whole thing or you’re not fully in. If you want to join a Presbyterian church, for example, their main statement of faith (the Westminster Confession) is very detailed, everything’s very spelled-out according to a very particular interpretation, and you have to sign off on the whole thing! Whereas the Thirty-Nine Articles allow for a diversity of views on secondary matters. You could be a Calvinist or an Arminian, for example, and still agree to the Articles. And personally I like that! I think it allows more Christians to come together on what’s most important and worry less about things that are very debatable, and that Christians tend to divide over too much (in my opinion, just being frank — I know not everyone feels similarly, and that’s okay!).
So that’s basically the core of Anglicanism — liturgical worship, common prayer, the Thirty-Nine Articles (which you can check out online if you want to learn more about what Anglicans believe), and a high view of the sacraments (baptism and the Lord’s Supper). That last one was a bit different from my own background, but also something that I was already being drawn into and finding lacking in my previous churches. There’s really a high respect for those things in Anglicanism.
Now, a question I’ve been getting a lot from my family, since I come from a charismatic background, is: Are Anglicans charismatic? And so far, I would say the answer is yes. There’s a big emphasis on the role of the Holy Spirit in the prayers that Anglicans pray and in the worship on Sunday mornings. You’ll find very Trinitarian language throughout the service. You won’t find anyone speaking in tongues publicly/loudly in an Anglican service, but hey, that’s something Paul gives instructions against anyway (see 1 Corinthians 14)! But I would say there’s definitely a lot of teaching on the Holy Spirit and an emphasis on his role throughout the liturgy. It’s the Holy Spirit who enables our worship and our participation in Christ. So I’ve found it to be charismatic in a healthy way — a way that’s not prone to extremes.
And it should be said that there’s a lot of diversity among Anglican congregations! Some are going to be a lot more heavy on spiritual gifts; others are going to be a bit more formal, more “Catholic”-feeling; and then there are ones that are more evangelical, “low-church” feeling! It really depends on who’s the pastor at each one! Here where I live, we have two different Anglican congregations — one is more low-church feel, with instruments and PowerPoint slides and that kind of stuff, but still following the Book of Common Prayer. And then the one that Ainslee and I have been attending recently, it certainly feels a bit more Catholic-flavored. It’s more traditional, we have a choir and no instruments (which is different for me!). But yeah, Anglicanism is diverse. Which I think is a cool thing, too.
So that’s a bit more about Anglican Christianity. Again, I think that the big appeal to me has been the reverent worship combined with a really vibrant community — at least the one that we’re a part of — along with common prayer as something that I appreciate. Funny enough, I talk to a lot of people who may not know much about Anglicanism but are familiar with the Book of Common Prayer and they go, “Oh yeah! I really like using that, it’s really helpful! I didn’t know it was Anglican!” And then of course also the emphasis on drawing from church history and tradition has been really cool.
And that’s why I’ve been interested in Anglicanism and have been getting more involved in it! Hopefully it’s been interesting to you. If so, be sure and subscribe to keep up with more videos! I hope to share more about my interactions with other denominations recently, as well as some more about church history here soon.
See you down the path.
I began attending an Anglican church a few years ago, and it has been such a blessing to me for so many reasons. I hope you and your family continue to be blessed by the community that you have found!
Thank you for the encouraging words, Rebekah! So far we’ve been very blessed. Celebrating Advent this year as a family in the traditional manner has been really enriching, so it was good timing.
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I love reading about people’s “Anglican journeys”! If you’d like to share your story (and let our audience know about Theology Pathfinder) on anglicancompass.com, please let me know!
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