What is an Anglican/ Episcopalian?

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  • What is an Anglican/ Episcopalian?

    What do they believe, what is their take on theology and what is the history of Anglicanism? Are there more than one recognized branch of the religion, or are the churches aligned with Canterbury the only ones recognized as " really" Anglican?

  • #2
    Originally posted by ConfessionalLutheran View Post
    What do they believe, what is their take on theology and what is the history of Anglicanism? Are there more than one recognized branch of the religion, or are the churches aligned with Canterbury the only ones recognized as " really" Anglican?
    The key document that distinguishes Anglicans from other denominations is the Book of Common Prayer which specifies, for example:
    • The supremacy of Scripture in all matters of theology
    • Concurrence with the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed
    • Liturgies for regular services such as Holy Communion, Morning Prayer, and Evensong
    • Liturgies for special events such as Baptisms, Marriages, Funerals, and Ordination of clergy
    • A table of Bible readings for every day of the year
    • Thirty-nine Articles of religion that clarify how Anglican theology and practice differed from Roman Catholic theology and practice in 1662.

    Anglicanism in the United States is represented by the Episcopal Church which is part of the Anglican Communion and which takes its name from the episcopalian form of its polity. There are some controversies between Anglicans and American Episcopalians that have made rather recent headlines: Episcopal Church suspended from full participation in Anglican Communion | Religion News Service

    Look and feel of Anglicanism

    A newcomer to Anglican practice will observe the following "look and feel" to the services and the organization:
    • Large portions of each service follow a formal liturgy where members of the congregation recite prayers together (traditionally from the Book of Common Prayer), listen to scripture read from the front of the church, and sing hymns or modern songs together;
    • The clergy wear traditional vestments or robes, the design of which can date back to the early centuries of the church
    • the church is hierarchical and episcopal, with authority ascending roughly as follows:
      • Junior priests report to the senior priest or "rector" of a parish;
      • Rectors and all other priests in a "diocese" are appointed by, and report to, the bishop of that diocese;
      • That bishop is elected by a "synod" of lay people and clergy from the diocese, but once in office is relatively autonomous
      • the church recognizes ecclesiastical "provinces" (often associated with specific nations) made up of many diocese and presided over by an archbishop. The archbishop has very limited power to give direction to one of the bishops
    • Church business is supervised by a church council or "vestry" predominantly made up of lay people. Some of the leaders are designated as "wardens." This is particularly true in The Episcopal Church of the United States. The parish structure varies by province.
    • Anglicans claim an unbroken line of Apostolic Succession from the 12 Apostles. Each bishop is ordained through the laying on of hands of other bishops and Anglicans believe that this tradition represents a thread back through the pre-reformation Roman church to Jesus Himself.

    Diversity within Anglicanism

    The practices and effective theology of the Anglican church vary dramatically from church to church and around the globe. Very generally, practices can be classified as follows:
    • Liberal Anglicans: see theological authority as a Three Legged Stool where the bible, church tradition, and reason are equally authoritative, contrary to the Book of Common Prayer. Practically, this means they emphasize grace and communion, shy away from discussions of sin and judgement, and are often drawn to a " social gospel."
    • Orthodox Anglicans: give Scripture supreme authority over all other documents and traditions, in accordance with the Book of Common Prayer. Among orthodox anglicans there are a variety of traditions, which (at least in North America and Britain) include:
      • Evangelical Anglicans: emphasize scripture teaching, bible study, and discipleship;
      • Charismatic Anglicans: emphasize the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the expression of the gifts of the Spirit in regular worship;
    • Liturgical Practice - It has been said that Anglicans are catholic in sacrament and protestant in theology. While that does not capture the breadth of Anglicanism, it reflects an attempt at a "via media" (middle way) that has been a hallmark of Anglicanism since the English Reformation.
      • Anglo-Catholic Anglicans: These Anglicans tend to emphasize historical rites and liturgical details, often including for example plainsong chants, incense, and Elizabethan English. Most Anglo-Catholics stress a continuity with the pre-Reformation Church of England. Some regard the Thirty-nine Articles as non-authoritative because of their negative tone toward such Roman beliefs as purgatory. Some Anglo-Catholics promote communion with Rome (they are sometimes referred to pejoratively as 'Anglo-papists').
      • Low-Church Anglicans: Many evangelical and charismatic Anglicans tend to be far less liturgical, although the use of the sacraments from the Book of Common Prayer is still standard. These Anglicans are less concerned with liturgical rigor and tend to be more protestant in outlook.

    Anglican Churches in the United States, Canada, and to a lesser extent Great Britain are currently dominated by liberal bishops. In response to this, the "continuing Anglican" movement has come about, wherein many TEC parishes are leaving for more conservative communions, such as the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Catholic Church. The majority of Anglicans however are in the "Global South" (Africa, Asia, Australia) where orthodoxy is dominant. There is a small but significant group of orthodox bishops in the United States, most notably associated with the Anglican Communion Network led by Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh. - Theopedia
    God bless,
    William
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    • #3
      Thank you for clearing that up for me, William. :)
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      • #4
        Originally posted by William View Post
        Anglicanism in the United States is represented by the Episcopal Church which is part of the Anglican Communion and which takes its name from the episcopalian form of its polity.
        There is also a new group called the Anglican Church of North America. I don't know much about them except they reject many of the unBiblical practices and beliefs of the Episcopal Church.
        Clyde Herrin's Blog
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        • #5
          From my understanding the history of the Anglican/Episcopal church stems from a disagreement that the British crown (King Henry VIII) had with the vatican in regard to divorce. King Henry didn't like his wife anymore and wanted out of his marriage, the vatican wouldn't let him. So, Kind Henry started the Anglican/Episcopal church with him at its head. It was modeled after the catholic church to a large extent, which why the worship services feel pretty much the same.

          Over time the main Episcopalian church has become more liberal. Something else to note is all of the churches belong to the denomination as a whole. This actually caused a problem, in at least one case that I know of, where a local church wanted to split off of the larger church, but the larger church would not cede the building they were using to them. So, they had to find a new place to worship.
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          • #6
            So, one might be well- advised to look at splinter groups of the Anglican tradition such as the Anglican Catholics Anglican Catholic or the Anglican Church in North America Anglican Church in North America, rather than the more mainstream Episcopal Church in the United States The Episcopal Church | Welcomes You for classically Anglican practice.
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            • #7
              The church I attend is Anglican Church in North America; we meet Sunday afternoon in a Baptist church. I really like it.
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              • #8
                I'm Church of England, but the only option on the drop-down is Anglican. There are differences between churchs in the Anglican communion particularly the Episcopal church (which has been suspended from Anglican communion) and the US Anglicans, compared to the CofE. The CofE and its member diocsese can be surprisingly conservative. There was a joke that the church I grew up in spent 300 years debating whether they should replace services from the Great Bible with that modern KJV version.

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                • #9
                  I was an Anglo-Catholic for MANY years, and almost ended up a Monk and Priest in that Faith tradition. I went through A LOT, and finally had my theophany in a Lutheran church. Anglicanism can be lovely if you can find an orthodox form of it. And saying it formed because Henry wanted a divorce is FAR too simplistic. That was HIS reason. The English people had a multiplicity of reasons for going along with it.
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Diego View Post
                    I was an Anglo-Catholic for MANY years, and almost ended up a Monk and Priest in that Faith tradition. I went through A LOT, and finally had my theophany in a Lutheran church. Anglicanism can be lovely if you can find an orthodox form of it. And saying it formed because Henry wanted a divorce is FAR too simplistic. That was HIS reason. The English people had a multiplicity of reasons for going along with it.
                    Diego, check this out for a laugh!

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                    • #11
                      Now that was genuinely FUNNY!
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                      • #12
                        The one about Luther and the English Christmas hymns is even funnier!
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Diego View Post
                          The one about Luther and the English Christmas hymns is even funnier!
                          There are some gems at LutheranSatire's website and Youtube channel.

                          God bless,
                          William
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ConfessionalLutheran View Post
                            What do they believe, what is their take on theology and what is the history of Anglicanism? Are there more than one recognized branch of the religion, or are the churches aligned with Canterbury the only ones recognized as " really" Anglican?
                            As is generally well known, when Henry VIII had his row with the Pope, over his desire to divorce Catherine of Aragon, he decided to break with Rome, and make himself head of the church in England. Inspite of falling out with the Pope Henry's theology remained basically Catholic. When Henry died, and his son came to the throne, there was a more definite move towards Protestantism. However Edward was short lived, and when his sister Mary came to the throne, there was a blood bath, as she tried to return England to Roman Catholicism, and woe betide anybody who got in her way. However, Mary was also short lived, and, following her death, there was the long reign of Elizabeth I.

                            Eizabeth decided that the time had come to knock heads together. The result was the Anglican Church, with a Protestant theology, but with a Catholic style episcopate and liturgy. Its theology in those days was basically that of Calvin. As the British Empire expanded in later centuries, the Anglican Church expanded with it, and became a worlwide communion, with the Archbishop of Canterbury as a figure head.

                            Today it is almost no exaggeration to say that there are almost as many Anglican theologies as there are Anglicans to hold them. In America the main Anglican Church is the Episcopal Church, but there are more splinter groups which have broken away from it than anybody could possibly count.

                            The various national churches are self governing, but in order to preserve some semblance of unity, there is a ten yearly Lambeth Conference, held in London, with representatives from all the churches in communion with Canterbury attending.
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                            • #15
                              Learning this background is interesting -- thanks for sharing. And today is June 1 -- a new month. :D
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