EDITOR’S NOTE: That is the second in a series of articles on the varied denominations in North America, written by Robert W. Caldwell III, who serves as professor of church historical past at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Typically if you wish to perceive one thing it’s important to dig deep to get on the roots. In an effort to perceive the complexity of right this moment’s American denominations, we should dig deep into the roots historical past looking for a sound place to begin. Lengthy earlier than the American Revolution, the Nice Awakening, and even the Pilgrims, the Church of England, in any other case often known as the Anglican Church, emerged within the wake of the English Reformation. This denomination will function an entryway into our survey of the American spiritual panorama just because the origins of many denominations we all know of right this moment—Presbyterianism, Congregationalism, Baptists, Methodism—partially started as actions that initially rejected key options of the Anglican Church. What’s Anglicanism, and the place did it come from?
Anglicanism (Anglo merely means “English”) emerged throughout England’s tumultuous Reformation within the sixteenth century. Within the 1530s King Henry VIII’s quest for a male inheritor, in addition to many different components, led him to sever ties between the English Church and Roman Catholicism. This separation, nonetheless, was not a whole success and over the next a long time the Church of England went via a remarkably turbulent energy wrestle the place its allegiances generally veered strongly towards Reformed Protestantism (underneath Edward VI) after which strongly towards Roman Catholicism (underneath Queen Mary). In the long run, it was the lengthy, regular reign of Queen Elizabeth I (r. 1588-1603) who helped set up Anglicanism in a kind that proved each profitable and enduring.
From a Baptist perspective, essentially the most placing function of Anglicanism is maybe the best way it combines each components of Catholicism and Protestantism. On the one hand, the Anglican Church took a powerful stand on central Protestant issues. We are able to see this in its confession, The Thirty 9 Articles (1563). There, we see a powerful affirmation of the sufficiency of Scripture and the doctrine of justification by religion alone. We additionally discover the express denial of sure Roman Catholic teachings, together with purgatory, transubstantiation, the invocation of saints and adoration of pictures and relics. These factors positioned the Church of England clearly in alignment with the Protestant Reformation.
Alternatively, pre-Reformation patterns of worship and church polity remained outstanding options inside the Church of England. First, Anglicans stress the centrality of the workplace of the bishop. Just like Roman Catholicism, Anglican bishops declare that the traces of apostolic authority run via the historic chain of its bishops (a doctrine often known as apostolic succession). Second, Anglicans prominently function the sacraments. Many Anglicans perceive Baptism to be intently related to regeneration, and the Lord’s Supper is the end result of the weekly worship service the place members obtain the bread and cup from the hand of an ordained priest whereas she or he is kneeling on the entrance of the sanctuary. Third, Anglican worship providers observe a structured liturgy-guide often known as The E-book of Frequent Prayer, a guide which prescribes the order of each weekly church providers in addition to baptism, marriage, ordination, and funeral providers. This “Prayer E-book,” as it’s typically recognized, follows the traditional calendar of the church yr, prescribes particular prayers to be learn at weekly providers, in addition to Scripture-readings for day by day of the yr. The E-book of Frequent Prayer has influenced the English language as a number of well-known phrases related to the wedding providers discover their origin in its pages (see the inset).
Many Baptists may discover Anglicanism, and its American counterpart Episcopalianism, to be a puzzling combine. They could resonate with its Protestant issues, however in addition they discover its pre-Reformation sympathies to be considerably out of step with the ethos that pervades a lot of contemporary evangelicalism.
Anglicanism was a outstanding denomination in America’s colonial interval. Lots of America’s founding fathers, comparable to George Washington, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton, had been related to the Church of England in various levels previous to the American Revolution. After the Revolution, when American Anglicans may not help the English monarchy, the American church buildings broke official ties with the Church of England and shaped the Episcopal Church in America within the 1780s. At this time, although America’s Episcopal Church remains to be a self-governing entity, it sees itself as a glad participant within the worldwide Anglican Communion which at present has a membership of about 85 million.
Worldwide, not all Anglicans are the identical. Varied identifiable sub-groups have been recognized within the historical past of Anglicanism. First, there have been “Excessive Church” Anglicans who’ve cherished the historic roots of Anglicanism: its Episcopal polity, its connection to the traditional church fathers, and its creeds, liturgy, and affirmation of orthodoxy. Second, there have been a big group of Evangelical Anglicans who’ve prized the Protestant options of its heritage. These “Low Church” Anglicans, as they’ve generally been recognized, cherish stable biblical preaching, evangelical piety, evangelism, and missions and embody a number of well-known evangelists, ministers, and writers that Baptists may pay attention to, such because the First Nice Awakening evangelist, George Whitefield and the well-known medievalist and fantasy author, C. S. Lewis. Third, there has emerged a “Broad Church” motion in Anglicanism which has sought to align Anglican thought with present mental and social traits. The openness that American Episcopalians have lately displayed towards the ordination of girls and homosexuals derive partially from the continuing affect of this group. Extra lately, there has emerged a bunch of charismatic Anglicans, a subset of the evangelical group, who’ve discovered the blessings of Spirit-filled worship to be of major concern. Collectively, these varied groupings reveal the nice variety inherent inside fashionable Anglicanism.
At this time, the worldwide Anglican Communion boasts roughly eighty-five million adherents, of which two million are American Episcopalians. Clearly, its distinctive mix of Catholicism and Protestantism has appealed to many. But traditionally, this combine has maybe repelled simply as many people because it has attracted, for as we will see within the upcoming articles, a number of main denominations emerged when many Christians couldn’t come to phrases with what many got here to view as Anglicanism’s Roman Catholic holdovers. We are going to start that story within the subsequent essay once we flip our consideration to Presbyterianism.
- Effectively-known phrases that originated in The E-book of Frequent Prayer:
- “Converse now or perpetually maintain your peace” from the wedding liturgy.
- “Until demise do us half” from the wedding liturgy.
- “Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, mud to mud,” from the funeral service.
- Anglicans you might pay attention to:
- George Whitefield (1715-1770) – preacher and revivalist of the First Nice Awakening.
- John Newton (1725-1807) – hymn author, former slave-trader, and writer of “Superb Grace”
- John & Charles Wesley – founders of Methodism
- S. Lewis (1898-1963) – Christian apologist, essayist, and creator of The Chronicles of Narnia
- John Stott (1921-2011) – worldwide bible trainer and author.
- I. Packer (born 1926-2020) – writer of the best-selling e-book, Realizing God.