What is an Anglican?

41zS2T5e9+LI have just picked up, from the IVP bookstall, The Accidental Anglican by Todd Hunter. Hunter came to faith through the Jesus Movement, then planted churches with Vineyard, before becoming an Anglican bishop with the Anglican Mission in the Americas, the ‘protest’ Anglican church supported by Anglicans from Uganda [correction: Rwanda]. I was most fascinated to see a book advertising the ‘surprising appeal of the liturgical church’ published by someone like IVP—and it promises to be a fascinating read.

The Foreword is written by J I Packer, a ‘cradle Anglican who is now one by conversion and conviction’. It offers a profound and concise definition of what it is to be Anglican:

The first thing to say is that it is Bible-based and Bible-oriented in the magisterial sense formulated 50 years ago by Bishop Stephen Neill: show us anything the Bible teaches that we are not teaching, and we will teach it; show us anything we are teaching that the Bible does not teach, and we will cut it out.

Then, Anglicanism is catholic, in the sense of being determined to preserve and practice the faith in its fullness, and to that end learn all that can be learned from the Christian past (the Creeds and the theologians), and also from what goes on in the Christian present within and outside the Anglican fellowship. With that, however, Anglicanism is Protestant, in the sense of being committed to use Scripture to correct past mistakes and reformulate distorted beliefs.

Furthermore, Anglicanism is resolutely Christ-centred, focusing always on his death and resurrection, his kingdom and his church, his gospel and the mission of the triune God, in which he himself and his claims are central. Also Anglicanism appreciates the devotional depth of its inherited liturgy, the didactic fruitfulness of its set lectionary, and the need in nurture to promote in parallel both the inward journey of deepening fellowship with God, and the outward journey of witnessing with wisdom, reaching out with love into our lost world, pointing the spiritually blind to Christ and setting forth a rational Christian humanism to counter the dehumanising secular humanisms that the world constantly comes up with.

Ideal Anglicanism is both pastoral and practical, linking together spiritual worship, work, wisdom and warfare, and looking first and foremost to its bishops for leadership in fulfilling this agenda.

todd-hunterI am particularly looking forward to Hunter’s account of his journey, since I too made a deliberate decision, as an undergraduate, to be Anglican, and primarily because of the liturgical nature of its worship, having been brought up Roman Catholic, Baptist and Anglican in my teenage years.

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5 thoughts on “What is an Anglican?”

  1. Thanks, Simon. I think I am guilty of using a kind of shorthand; the book mentions the fact that Hunter was ordained by bishops in Uganda.

    But hasn’t AMiA also changed its name?

  2. Ok – let’s start with monarchial episcopacy. Not in the NT, but foundational to the ‘catholic orders’ of Anglcianism. Cut that out first and we’ll talk about the long list of other things that Stephen Neil’s quote invites a conversation about.

    • Thanks Mark. Is it possible to separate the ‘monarchical’ from the ‘episcopacy’? I find it intriguing that those who argue for the distinct, three-fold order are now talking about the presbyterate as exercising episcopal ministry in the light of reduced numbers of clergy. This rather undermines the distinctive importance of the three-fold order, which I think is actually there in the ordinal. It is difficult to draw hard-and-fast lines between these two orders, even within Anglican teaching.

      See my other post ‘What are (women) bishops for?’

      And, other than infant baptism, what would be at the top of your ‘long list’?


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