What is Anglicanism?
Thomas McKenzie describes Anglicans exceptionally well in his work The Anglican Way. He notes that Anglican churches have the following characteristics:
Trinitarian – Anglicans believe that there is One God who exists eternally in three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Furthermore, we believe that Jesus Christ is completely God and is also completely human. If a religious group does not teach these two doctrines, we do not recognize them as Christian.
Primacy of Scripture – Anglican churches hold that Old and New Testaments together are the Word of God and contain all things necessary for salvation. We believe that the Bible holds authority in questions of God and humanity over all other traditions, arguments, decisions, and values.
Salvation – Anglicans believe that every human being on earth is in need of the saving help of Jesus Christ. We believe that salvation is in Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone.
Word and Sacrament – Anglicans believe that a church is a community that gathers around the proclamation of the Word of God and the celebration of the sacraments of Christ. We believe in preaching the whole of the Gospel. We teach that the sacraments are external signs of interior grace, signs commanded by Christ for the building up of his church.
Common Life – We believe that God has called us to live our lives together in Christ. We engage in liturgical disciplines of prayer, worship, and repentance. Anglicans embrace a full life of seasons and hours, fasts and feasts. We are called to lives that are both ordered and creative.
Mission – Anglicans have a mission to the world. This mission is one of both proclaiming the Gospel and living it out. This means that we believe in starting new churches, evangelizing our neighbors, ministering to the poor, and caring for the world.
Apostolic Succession – The church preserves and protects the Gospel through our bishops. They are the successors of the Apostles through heritage, teaching, and character. Our bishops were consecrated by other bishops, who were consecrated by other bishops, all the way back to the Apostles. They have the responsibility of guarding the faith that has been delivered to us, and of serving those whom God has put under their care.
Semper Reformanda – Anglicans are never finished. We are, as the Latin phrase above puts it, “always reforming.” Although we are stabilized by tradition, we are nevertheless looking for ways to better proclaim the Gospel in our own day.
Via Media – This Latin term means “the middle way.” The Anglican Way lives at the center rather than the extremes. In a time that was quite contentious, Anglicanism intentionally charted a route between the extremes of Roman Catholicism and the overreaction of some of the Protestant Reformation.