What is Anglican Christianity?

Probably the three best ways to talk about Anglicanism is in terms of where the church came from, what the church believes, and how the church worships/behaves. 


Where did Anglicans come from?

Anglican Christianity is the 3rd largest family of orthodox Christians in the world. Its roots trace back to the Roman Empire. Although there are legends of Christians in England within a few years of Christ's death. We know for certain that the faith was present in England by the 2nd century (probably coming through the Roman army). 

Christianity shrank with the fall of the Roman Empire and was reinvigorated with the sending of missionaries by Pope Gregory the Great. The Christians still present in England chose to come under the Authority of Roman Christianity, but at the same time geography always left Christianity in England distinct from its continental counterpart. 

In the time of the reformation, the church in England did reform away from the church in Rome and became one of the major Protestant families of the Reformation. 

To this day Anglicans have many of the externals of its Roman Catholic past, while being doctrinally a protestant in its beliefs. In this way Anglicans chart a middle course. 


What do Anglicans believe?

Anglicans are part of the "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic" faith. Holding catholic and apostolic faith means that we believe what other Christians believe. We believe in the trinity, that God is three persons yet once essence. We believe that Jesus is the only begotten son of God. That the Bible in its 66 books is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice. Salvation is by faith which gives way to works. 

Anglicans also see sacraments (baptism and communion) as essential parts of Christian Life. Baptism and communion not only point to the work of Christ in our lives, they are effective in themselves. Jesus Christ talks about the grafting of branches to a larger vine as a metaphor for Christian life. God work of grafting is done through the sacraments, mainly baptism, and the nutrients given in Holy Communion. 

Anglicans are episcopal. That means we have bishops who oversee priests and are served by deacons. For more on Anglican Beliefs here is a link to the 39 Articles of Religion. 


How do Anglicans behave?

Anglicans use the Book of Common Prayer to guide them in worship. The BCP are portions of the Bible and ancient prayers of the church assembled to be used for prayer and worship. Some major sections of the BCP are the orders for morning and evening prayer, the communion service, and the entire Book of Psalms (Psalter)  broken up into 30 days of reading.  There is also the instructions for ordaining clergy, a catechism and the 39 Articles of Religion.

The most recognizable part of Anglican Spiritual life is the communion service. It is like the fence posts anchoring the rest of Anglican Spiritual practice. 

Many Anglicans also pray morning and evening prayer. These act like the two rails between the posts. And like all Christians Anglicans can come before the God of the universe with their own conversational prayers acting like chicken wire mesh between the fence rails. 

Anglican Christianity has a strong connection to a time when England was full of monasteries. This means that there are many monastic prayers and practices that some Anglicans continue to practice to this day.  These monastic practices play a prophetic role in calling the rest of the church to a higher spiritual practice.