This discussion is on classic, orthodox Anglicanism. Like some other mainline denominations, Anglicanism in some circles is redefining itself around modernist thought. Modernist theology sees truth as relative and considers the Apostolic witness to Truth as revealed in Scripture as potentially outmoded, depending on modern experience and knowledge. The central feature of the modernist faith is “comprehensiveness” and “inclusiveness,” with theological barriers discounted or removed altogether. This is very different from orthodox Anglicanism and the great majority of worldwide Anglicanism. This is very different from what is believed and expressed at the Church of the Holy Trinity.
Anglicanism is susceptible to a modernist re-interpretation of the faith because of its history of comprehensiveness dating to the Protestant Reformation. This, however, requires a redefinition of what we know of as Anglican Comprehensiveness. Dr. J.I. Packer and The Rev. John Stott, Anglicanism’s foremost contemporary theologians, have distinguished between two kinds of comprehensiveness. Dr. Packer refers to Principled Comprehensiveness and Unprincipled Comprehensiveness. Classic Anglicanism is based on Principled Comprehensiveness, which insists on agreement and unity in the biblical fundamentals of the faith while allowing liberty on issues of secondary doctrine and practice. This is what Post-Reformation theologian Richard Hooker, in helping forging a “Via Media” between Puritan and Catholic factions in England, described as “Adiaphoa,” (Greek meaning “things indifferent”,) by which he meant those things beyond what is attested to in Scripture and open to choice and preference.
Anglican Calling and Destiny
Our calling and destiny as Anglican Christians is not distinguishable from that of all Apostolic Christians everywhere and throughout time:
· Our calling is to be formed into the Image of Christ through the Holy Spirit working in us.
o 2 Corinthians 1:2022 For in him every one of God’s promises is a ‘Yes.’ For this reason it is through him that we say the ‘Amen’, to the glory of God. 21But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us, 22by putting his seal on us and giving us his Spirit in our hearts as a first installment.
· To become a New Creation in union with the God who created us for that purpose
o Ephesians 1:10-14 In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14this is the pledge of our inheritance towards redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.
· To know ourselves as a people redeemed by the blood of Christ.
o Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
· Submitted to the Lordship of Christ
o Philippians 2:10-11 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
· We are called to share the Good News of Christ
o Matthew 28:19 …make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
· To carry out the continuing work of Christ in the world
o Ephesians 3:10-12 …so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.
· To be in the fellowship of believers and part of the Body of Christ
- Acts 2:42-47 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Life among the Believers
- Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous* hearts, 47praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
· And finally, to be counted among the eternal Communion of the Saints of God.
o Ephesians 2:19-20 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.
· We are part of the one, holy, catholic (universal), and apostolic Church
o One: Ephesians 4:4-6 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
§ We see ourselves as one tradition among many in the Body of Christ
o Holy: 2 Peter 2:5,9 …let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ… you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people…
§ Sanctified by the presence of the Spirit of Christ… called to be holy in the presence of a holy God.
o Universal: Mark 16:15 And Jesus said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.
o Apostolic: Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
§ Committed to receiving and passing on to future generations the Faith once delivered to the Apostles.
· We are Trinitarian.
o John 14:16-17 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17This is the Spirit of truth…
· We are Biblical.
o Romans 10:8 …The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart…
§ As Anglicans we see Scripture as…
· We are Sacramental.
o Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…
o Luke 22:19 Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’
· We are Creedal.
o Credo, meaning “I believe…The creeds are an ancient summary of our basic biblical beliefs:
§ The Nicene Creed is the creed of the universal Church and is used at the Eucharist.
§ The Apostles’ Creed is the ancient creed of Baptism; it is used in the Church’s daily worship to recall our Baptismal Covenant.
· We are Liturgical and in the Prayer Book Tradition (The Book of Common Prayer)
· And finally, Anglicanism is Comprehensive
o Reformed (Evangelical)
§ Reformation heritage- roots in the English Reformation
§ Look to the authority of Scripture
§ Know the priesthood of all believers.
§ See ourselves as Justified before God (saved) by grace through faith in Christ.
o Catholic (Anglo-Catholicism)
§ Continuity with the Ancient Church
§ The efficacy of traditions not contrary to Scripture
§ Sacramental grace
§ An expression the “Patristic” and “Creedal” Faith of the universal Church.
§ Apostolicity expressed in the doctrine of Apostolic Succession and Historic Episcopate.
§ The process of sanctification through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.
- Expecting God to act among his people.
- Emphasis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit
- Emphasis on God’s immanence