Thursday, March 10, 2011
So What is Anglicanism Anyway?
When I explain Anglicanism I typically describe it as a middle way between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. A combination of the central insights of the reformation with Catholic order, piety and discipline. A shortcut (that I learned from a good friend) is: Anglicanism, at its best, is the best of Protestantism combined with the best of Catholicism.
Of course a church scholar or theologian would want to nuance all those statements. But these are designed to be pithy shortcut tags that capture the heart of the tradition - the kind of thing you say in a three week church introduction class.
But I recently had someone ask me if Anglicanism, in light of this description, is just a set of compromises and not a tradition in its own right. Wow. That was a very good and challenging question. My way of explaining can sure sound that way.
So I have been thinking about a better answer and want to try this one on for size:
Anglicanism, at its heart, is a western (as in western Christianity) expression of the faith, life and worship of the ancient undivided Church. I like this. The ancient Church is a big tent and there is room for different accents and emphasis within it, but I am wondering if this is a better, good and helpful one sentence way to explain Anglicanism.