What is Anglicanism?
Felicity O’Brien 2013
Thank you for asking me to come and talk to the U3A group today. My name is Felicity O’Brien, and I am a deacon in the Tawa Anglican Parish. Today’s talk is on the topic “What is Anglicanism?” We will start by looking briefly at the history of the Anglican Church, both in the UK and here in NZ, then we will look at the doctrines and liturgy that underpin it, noting the way doctrine is treated. We will look at what holds it all together, and then consider the way Anglicanism accords authority to Scripture, tradition and reason, the three ‘pillars’ of Anglicanism. Finally we’ll have a brief look at some of the new ways Anglicanism is responding to our times.
What is Anglicanism? To put it in context, we will have a quick lesson in English history -‘Anglican’ comes from the Latin word for English. There had been Christians in Great Britain since Roman times but after 1066 England was more integrated with Europe and the church was ubiquitous and powerful. In the fourteenth century John Wyclif started to distribute an English-language version of the Bible to his followers. Many people had little respect for the church, which required heavy taxes, and rulers throughout Europe resented the money going to Rome. King Henry VIII, a very devout man, had a problem. His wife was not able to give him a son, and he wanted the Pope to allow a divorce so he could marry again. He had an Act of Parliament written severing all ties with Rome, setting up what was in effect a new church, with himself as head. 
England’s break with Rome was not isolated – Martin Luther had published his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517 nd religious Reformation was happening all over Europe. The Church of England simplified worship, allowed easy access to the Bible and outlawed worship of relics. The church affirmed its “apostolic foundation through the historic episcopal succession” and ministry of priests and deacons were continued. Thomas Cromwell masterminded the legal documentation and Thomas Cranmer the worship material, notably the Book of Common Prayer. Thirty-Nine Articles of Faith were developed which set out the Church’s Protestant position. Reformers sought to preserve continuity with the past while reforming the church “in the light of scriptural truth and the challenges of the age.” Richard Hooker was perhaps the most important theologian in this early period. In addition to Scripture he acknowledged church tradition and “recognized human reason as a divine gift for discerning the mind and will of God,” developing an essential of Anglicanism which we’ll look at more a bit later– Scripture joined by tradition and reason.
The term ‘Anglican’ began to be used in the mid-seventeenth century and ‘Anglicanism’ became current in the mid-nineteenth century. ‘Anglican’ also described the colonial churches.  Several major movements have influenced the church – Evangelicalism, Latitudinarianism,Anglo-Catholicism and the Charismatic movement. These strands still feature prominently, often in an ‘uneasy alliance.’
New settlements often had a distinct denominational identity, notably Canterbury, which was intended as a ‘cross-section’ of English society. NZ Anglicanism struggled because it was not ‘established’ as in the UK but had to rely on voluntary contributions.
We turn now to examine how doctrines and liturgy fit into Anglicanism. A distinctive characteristic of Anglicanism is its doctrinal fluidity stemming from the earliest Reformers who “refused to tie the Church of England to particular forms of dogma or discipline.” While the ‘essentials’ of Anglican belief are common to Christianity, when Anglicans “confess their faith in the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church” they do not all mean the same thing,” and theological statements are always seen as “to some extent provisional.” The Thirty-Nine Articles have traditionally been binding on ordained ministers but Anglicanism does not possess definitive interpretations of the elements of authority such as the Councils and Creeds. “Resemblance rather than concurrence of belief is the basis of identity” and doctrine can be inferred from practice and worship. Anglicanism therefore has the potential for a wide range of doctrinal positions from across the Catholic-Protestant spectrum, which expresses its essential historical nature, and its liberal-mindedness leaves it open to new ideas and creativity. An outworking of this is that “the edges of membership have always tended to be open-ended” and congregations tend to include seekers as well as committed members.
How then does it maintain its unity? The Book of Common Prayer, being the only authorized rite, was accessible to all and has nourished many generations. In keeping with modern requirements and the diversity of the Church there many recent revisions of BCP including ANZPB/HKMOA and there is a strong ‘family likeness’ between the newer liturgies. Symbols are important in Anglicanism – “liturgical action of sacramental quality,… by being experienced over and over again [goes] deep into the soul.”
Anglican spirituality is diverse, encompassing monastic, contemplative, Celtic and charismatic traditions, shaped by the rhythm of the church calendar. Music forms an integral part of worship, with hymn-singing which shapes the theology and spirituality of lay people flourishing from the Reformation and further developed by the Evangelicals and the Tractarians. Modern choruses, part of the Charismatic Movement, focus more on personal response. The singing of psalms has been more problematical –Anglican Chant was developed but is more suitable for a trained choir than for a congregation. The architecture of Anglican churches is distinctive, owing much to the Gothic revival of the Victorian era. 
Let’s now consider the structure of Anglicanism. Global Anglicanism is not highly centralized or controlled like the RC Church or the Salvation Army. The Archbishop of Canterbury, ‘first among equals,’ is a “symbol of unity” in diversity. The global communion meets in Lambeth Conferences and Anglican Consultative Councils. Indigenization has occurred – provinces are autonomous while still holding to the ethos of the wider Communion. The development of an official voice of the laity in the church structures such as Synods has been an important feature of Anglicanism, and this development was notable in the 1857 Constitution of the Church in NZ.
The Anglican Church’s dispersed authority  is a vital component of its identity, as the Lambeth Conference of 1948 states.
“Authority is distributed among Scripture, Tradition, Creeds, the Ministry of the Word and Sacraments, the witness of the saints, and the consensus fidelium, which is the continuing experience of the Holy Spirit through his faithful people in the Church. It is thus a dispersed rather than a centralized authority, having many elements which combine, interact, and check each other.”
In this Anglicanism differs markedly from Pentecostal churches. The three ‘pillars’ of Anglicanism are thus Scripture, tradition and reason,–which helps determine which things are adiafora – not central – and it is a feature of Anglicanism to “deal charitably with those who [take] a different view.” Different ideas are held together without being merged and scholarship is welcomed. There is ongoing debate about how to regard Scripture, and churches vary across the Evangelical – Liberal spectrum. Some however see this variety of belief  allowed as ‘flabbiness.’ From the seventeenth century as the Church moved away from the Protestant edge a ‘via media’, a middle way between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism developed where Anglicanism is a church of compromise but not synthesis, seeing many sides of any issue in the challenges it has faced – in recent decades the re-marriage of divorced persons and the ordination of women were debated and currently homosexuality and church leadership is on the agenda.
Anglican churches vary greatly in terms of their worship style and theology. In the Victorian age as the social range of the clergy and congregations was becoming increasingly professional middle-class the churches played a vital role in helping the poor and preserving ‘social and moral order,’ leading to an ethos of ministering to rather than through the urban poor. The Methodist church which split away from Anglicanism ministered more to the poor. In NZ the working classes were largely ‘lost to the churches.’
What does Anglicanism look like now? New initiatives are arising such as Fresh Expressions in the UK, which differ from traditional ‘church’ because they only ask people to “face the stumbling block of the cross” rather than that of church culture. New monastic movements such as Urban Vision are forming in poor communities. Technology like Twitter, Facebook, blogs and of course email helps foster closeness.
Ecumenism has been explored by the Anglican Church but the movement has stalled formally, although there are many Cooperating Parishes which are practicing it in NZ. Many people no longer adhere to strict denomination boundaries, ‘shopping’ for a church that suits them.
So, what is Anglicanism? It is a Christian denomination with deep historical roots, formed when Henry VIII broke with Rome, encompassing both Catholic and reformed theologies. Its sources of authority are dispersed and are open to interpretation, valuing Reason to see our way forward. This means that what works for one generation may have to be set aside for another. A sense of being the ‘middle way’ describes how Anglicanism can hold different ideas in juxtaposition, open to debate and new knowledge. Anglicanism is held together by common worship materials derived from the Book of Common Prayer and a sense of a world-wide communion, which is consultative not legislative. We have bishops, priests and deacons, and lay people have important roles both in ministering and in governance. There is great variety, which is a source of creative engagement and strength, and also of tension. Desmond Tutu described a recent Lambeth Conference in words that could well sum up Anglicanism as “totally untidy, but very, very loveable.” 
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(And a note of humour to finish with)
Top 10 Reasons to be an Episcopalian
(from the comedian Robin Williams, who is an Episcopalian, on a recent HBO special)
10. No snake handling.
9. You can believe in dinosaurs.
8. Male and female God created them; male and female we ordain them.
7. You don’t have to check your brains at the door.
6. Pew aerobics.
5. Church year is color-coded.
4. Free wine on Sunday.
3. All of the pageantry – none of the guilt.
2. You don’t have to know how to swim to get baptized.
And the Number One reason to be an Episcopalian:
1. No matter what you believe, there’s bound to be at least one other Episcopalian who agrees with you.
Copyright © 2002 St. Augustine by-the-S
 Gregory the Great used it in his letters of Augustine of Canterbury in the seventh century. Avis 1988 p.460
 Neil 1997 p.9
 Neil 1997 p.13
 Neil 1997 pp.22, 23
 Neil 1997 p.18
 with aim of restoring the position of Scriptures “as the unique and sole authority for life and doctrine in the Church” Neil 1997 p.21
 known as Lollards, humble men and women. Haugaard 1988 p.3
 “in 1502 Erasmus said that a layman was insulted unpardonably if he were called a cleric, priest, or a monk.” Chadwick 1964 p.21
 “Henry VIII was said to hear three masses on days when he was hunting and sometimes five on other days.” Chadwick 1964 p.23
 Chadwick 1964 p.99
 Doran 1991 p.1
 Brown 2012 p.19
 This is why our current monarch is head of the Church of England.
 Wiki Martin Luther
 Chadwick 1964 p.97
 Doran 1991 p.3
 Avis Sykes 1988 p.465
 Doran 1991 p.2
 He was married to a niece of Andreas Osiander, a follower of Luther. Haugaard 1988 p.7
 ‘Bloody Mary’ burnt him at the stake in 1556. MacCulloch 1996 p.27
 These were formally accepted by parliament
 These stated the fundamentals of faith and renounced heresy, “rather than laying down what should be believed down to the last detail.” Green 1994 p.170
 Davis 1995 p.30
 Davis 1995 pp.30,31
 Runcie 1988 p.36
 Avis 1988 p.473
 referring to a distinct theological position
 Green 1994 p.168
 “The growth of the Anglican Communion (the term first appeared in 1851) stimulated a desire for closer links between its parts. From the 1850s a growing pan-Anglican consciousness was becoming apparent.” Butler 1988 p.41
 English commercial interests saw the initial spread of the Church, with the first Church of England parish in America established in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. The Caribbean was also settled early, to be followed by activities in the Levant and India. (Butler 1988 p.39)
 Davis 1995 p.31
 who “favoured latitude of opinion in religious matters and an end to religious controversy.” Butler 1988 p.37
 or the Oxford or Tractarian Movements, which “called the church to its catholic heritage and fostered sacramental and liturgical reform.” Davis 1995 p.31 This movement had great influence on Architecure with Gothic revivalism.
 Brown 2012 p.13
 Cadwallader 1994 p.11
 Maori Christians administered to each other (Davidson 1991 p.17) with Rota Waitoa the first deacon ordained in 1853. (Brown 1990 p.59)
 Brown 1990 p.59
 Brown 1990 p.60
 Brown 1990 p.68. In Waipu Presbyterians (Davidson 1991 p.53) and in Albertland Nonconformists (Davidson 1991 p.54)
 Canterbury Association in Davidson 1991 pp.51,52
 Brown 1990 p.62, and see Davidson 1991 for a full account of the church in NZ
 McGrath 1993 p.10
 Brown 2012 p.56
 Thomas 1988 p.254
 McGrath 1993 p.11
 Davis 1995 p.112
“although more recently the terms of assent have varied in some provinces.” Brown 2012 p.13
 Hannaford 1995 p.109
 Hannaford 1995 p.112
 Hannaford 1995 p.107
 Cocksworth 1991 p.49
 Cocksworth 1991 p.50
 “The Church hath authority to establish that for an order at one time, which at another time it may abolish, and in both do well.” Richard Hooker in Dawson 2011 p.18
 Stephenson 1992 p.108
 McGrath 1993 p.19
 Brown 2012 p.13
 Brown 2012 p.83
 Cocksworth 1991 p.49
 BCP persists most in Evensong, where Cranmer’s beautiful language continues to inspire. MacCulloch 1996 p.30
A New Zealand Prayer Book/ He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa – the Maori rite was not translated from English but was an “original Maori production.” Brown 1990 p.62
 Stephenson 1992 p.109
 Perham 1995 p.7
 Brown 2012 p.100
 Dunstan 1992 p.509
 Who translated ancient Greek and Latin hymns. Dunstan 1992 p.516
 The two main traditions of church music have been the Cathedral Choir tradition, where beautiful and technically difficult music is offered by a trained choir on behalf of the congregation, and the parish tradition, where the congregation are able to sing simple orders of service.
 Davidson 1991 p.59
 While the Oxford Movement contributed to worship, Cambridge was the source of much architectural inspiration. Yates 1991 p.150
 Pickering 1988 p.405
 Pickering 1988 p.406
 Davis 1995 p.190
 although a recent measure – the Covenant – is seen as a mixed blessing. Church times 2011
 Pickering 1988 p.407
 Runcie 1988 p.47
Constitution of the United Church of England and Ireland in New Zealand 1857
 Avis Sykes 1988 p.475
 Brown 2012 p.49
 Green 1994 p.171
 Avis 1989 p.2
 Pickering 1988 p.414
 Pickering 1988 p.415
 MacCulloch 1996 p.29
Avis 1988 p.63
 Davis 1995 p.142
 where the change of women’s status in society meant that it was no longer a barrier – this is an example of reason in action. Brown 2012 p.67
 Baker 1996 p.110
 Smyth 1962 p.159
 Gilley1994 p.304
 Davidson 1991 p.72
 Cray 2012
 Groups meet to explore Christianity in cafes, pubs and police stations, to bake bread, and even Goth services have been held. ibid
 See Duckworth for an account of Urban Vision in the Wellington region.
 See rev.felicity.org, anglicandownunder.blogspot.com, liturgy.co.nz
 Kaye 2009
 Davis 1995 p.54
 Tutu in Davis 1995 p.200