Understanding Anglicanism

Understanding Anglicanism February 7, 2012

If anyone is interested in understanding the heart of Anglicanism I leave you with this quote from Vic–a very nice fellow who is an Anglican priest who visits this blog.

 …two positions within that church that might appear to be contradictory should perhaps not be contrasted with each other, for each will exist only as an attempt to relate to that perfect truth about God that is still in process of being revealed. Two people, looking at different sides of the same coin, may offer descriptions of what they see that appear to have no correlation with each other at all. And all of us in this life see only as in a glass, darkly; and different expressions of the same truth, as St Paul well knew, are needed for different people.

He sums it up nicely. Allow me to recount what this means in real life within the Anglican Church: at St. Margaret’s Fr.Spike reserves the Blessed Sacrament, leads Eucharistic Adoration and believes that the consecrated host really is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. At St Luke’s Bob the Vicar, who is a committed Evangelical, pours the leftover wine down the vestry sink and puts the leftover bread out for the birds.

I have deliberately chosen the two extremes of churchmanship in the Anglican Church to make my point. It is nevertheless a reality. Most every deanery in the Church of England will have such extremes. If you are an Anglican you must therefore conclude that Fr.Spike and Bob the Vicar are simply “two people looking at different sides of the same coin.” They are offering two different descriptions of that same ineffable truth that no one can really define.

To put it another way, they are climbing the same mountain, but by different (and we must assume equally valid) paths. This is because, for the Anglicans, Christianity is not essentially a dogmatic religion. Even the creeds were only one way of saying it–written at a particular time in history when certain things needed saying.

Anglicans therefore not only adapt the Christian faith according to the place and time in which they live, but they believe this to be not only inevitable, but necessary. Truth for the Anglican, is constantly morphing into new expressions and new formations.  Societal pressures on Christian truth are to be welcomed. They help the Anglican Christian to ‘see things from a new perspective’. The Holy Spirit, after all, blows where it wills.

All of this, the Anglican sincerely believes, is good and healthy and vital. This is the life of faith! The adventure is not to be bound by dogma and canon law and regulations, but to live in a free flowing exchange of ideas, and if we sometimes stumble and fall and make mistakes it is so much better than being bound by outdated dogmas, rules, regulations and something as arcane and out of touch as an infallible authority.

There. So now you know.

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