What is an Anglican?

What do Anglicans believe?  What even is an "Anglican"?

The term "Anglican" may be unfamiliar to you, but perhaps you know an Anglican Christian or two!  Famous Anglicans include C.S. Lewis (author of the Chronicles of Narnia, Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity, and a host of other books), John Newton (wrote the classic hymn "Amazing Grace"), and anti-slavery advocate William Wilberforce.  Other Anglicans in history have names like Jane Austen, Dorothy Sayers, and Christina Rossetti.  Modern-day Anglicans include such luminaries as N.T. Wright, John Stott, and the author of the 20th century classic Knowing God, J.I. Packer, who at the time of his death in 2020 was a leader in our very own Anglican Church in North America!

"Anglican" (think "Anglo-Saxon") essentially means "English."  Anglican Christianity as we experience it today is shaped by the 16th century English Reformation, which was unique in early Protestantism for maintaining much of its ancient Catholic identity, while also embracing needed reforms, such as the primacy of Holy Scripture.  Anglicanism has sometimes been called a "middle way" between the Roman Catholic and Protestant traditions.

Anglicans believe in the historical creeds of the Christian Church, with emphasis given to the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed.  These ancient statements confess the three persons of the Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  They affirm God as creator of all  They affirm the coming of his Son, born of the Virgin Mary to die for the sins of the world.  They affirm the Holy Spirit as sent to lead the Church into the fullness of the Kingdom of God.

What about the Anglicans and the Bible?  Anglicans gave the world the King James Version of the Bible!  Our Sunday worship includes three to four readings from the Scriptures.  The Anglican Church in North America confesses "the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments to be the inspired Word of God, containing all things necessary for salvation, and to be the final authority and unchangeable standard for Christian faith and life."

Anglicans are known especially for the use of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) as our guide for worship.  The BCP has been called "the Bible arranged for worship."  The liturgy of the BCP teaches and reminds us of who God is, his favor towards us, and who he calls us to be.  We believe the sacraments of the Church, especially those of Baptism and Holy Communion, are "means of grace," ways that God uses to give of himself to his people.  For this reason Holy Communion is our regular mode, indeed the pinnacle, of our Sunday worship.  All who have been baptized in water, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are welcome to receive Communion at St George's.

Further, the Anglican tradition invites us to a full life of prayer beyond private prayers, not limited to Holy Communion on Sunday morning, but also the daily BCP services of Morning and Evening Prayer, which can be done alone or with others.