2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Religious movements, traditions and organizations

The term Anglican (from medieval Latin ecclesia Anglicana meaning 'the English church') is used to describe the people, institutions, and churches as well as the liturgical traditions and theological concepts developed by the established Church of England, the Anglican Communion and the Continuing Anglican Churches (a loosely affiliated group of independent churches which have seceded from the Anglican Communion as a result of doctrinal and liturgical differences with its various provinces). In some parts of the world, an Anglican is known as an Episcopalian.

The Anglican Communion considers itself to be part of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church and as being both Catholic and Reformed. For some adherents, it represents a non-papal Catholicism, for others a Protestantism without a dominant figure such as a Luther, Knox, Calvin, or Wesley. For many Anglicans, self-identity represents some combination of the two. The Communion is a theologically broad and often divergent affiliation of thirty-eight provinces that are in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Anglican Communion is one of the larger Christian denominations in the world, with approximately 73 million members .


Part of the series on
Anglican Communion

English Reformation
Apostolic Succession
Roman Catholicism
Episcopal polity


Thomas Cranmer
Henry VIII
Richard Hooker
Elizabeth I
John Wesley

Instruments of Unity

Archbishop of Canterbury
Lambeth Conferences
Anglican Consultative Council
Primates' Meeting

Liturgy and Worship

Book of Common Prayer
High Church · Low Church
Broad Church
Oxford Movement
Thirty-Nine Articles
Saints in Anglicanism


Anglicans traditionally date the origins of their Church to the arrival in England of the first Archbishop of Canterbury, Saint Augustine of Canterbury at the end of the 6th century. However, the origins of the English Church extend farther back, Christianity having first gained a foothold during the Roman occupation prior to the 5th century, possibly as early as the 1st century. The first recorded Christian martyr in Britain, Saint Alban, is thought to have lived in the early 4th century, and his prominence in Anglican hagiography is reflected in the number of parish churches of which he is patron. Irish Anglicans also trace their origins back to the founding saint of Irish Christianity ( Saint Patrick) who was a Roman Briton and pre-dated Anglo-Saxon Christianity.

Anglicans consider Celtic Christianity a forerunner of their church, since the re-establishment of Christianity in the early sixth century came via Irish and Scottish missionaries, notably Saint Patrick and Saint Columba. This distinctive form of Catholic Christianity remained, even after the Synod of Whitby in 664 decided that the church throughout Britain should conform to the contemporary Roman customs introduced by Augustine and other missionaries to the Anglo-Saxons. This persistence of Celtic traditions, along with the implementation of Pope Gregory I's instructions to Augustine to incorporate pagan customs and festivals into religious life and practice, meant that English Christianity assumed a distinctive indigenous character


While Anglicans acknowledge that the repudiation of papal authority by Henry VIII of England led to the Church of England existing as a separate entity, they also stress its continuity with the pre-Reformation Church of England. Quite apart from its distinct customs and liturgies (such as the Sarum rite), the organizational machinery of the Church of England was in place by the time of the Synod of Hertford in 672– 673 when the English bishops were for the first time able to act as one body under the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The effect of Henry's Act in Restraint of Appeals ( 1533) and the Acts of Supremacy ( 1534) was simply to declare that the English crown was "the only supreme head in earth of the Church of England, called Ecclesia Anglicana," and that the Bishop of Rome had no "greater jurisdiction in England than any other foreign bishop." The development of the Thirty-Nine Articles of religion and the passage of the Acts of Uniformity culminating in the Elizabethan Religious Settlement resulted in a Church that is both Catholic and Reformed with the English (later British) monarch as its Supreme Governor.

The English Reformation was initially driven by the dynastic goals of Henry VIII, who, in his quest for a consort who would bear him a male heir, found it expedient to replace papal supremacy with the supremacy of the English crown. A close reading of the early legislation, limiting itself as it does to questions of temporal and spiritual supremacy, suggest that it was not Henry's intention to found a new church. He was well-informed enough about history to know that the powers he was claiming were those which had been exercised by European monarchs over the church in their dominions since the time of Constantine the Great, and that what had changed since then had been the growth of papal power. The original Acts sought to reverse this by placing Henry at the head of the church. Subsequent legislation put a decidedly Protestant spin on Henry's agenda, however. The introduction of the Great Bible in 1538 brought a vernacular translation of the Scriptures into churches, and the Dissolution of the Monasteries by 1540 brought huge amounts of church land and property under the jurisdiction of the Crown, and ultimately into the hands of the English nobility. This created vested interests which made a powerful material incentive to support a separate Christian church in England under the rule of the Crown.

By 1549, the process of creating a new and distinct national church was fully initiated by the publication of the first vernacular prayer book, the Book of Common Prayer, and the enforcement of the Acts of Uniformity, establishing English as the language of public worship. The theological justification for Anglican distinctiveness was begun by the Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer, the principal author of the first Prayer Book, and continued by other thinkers such as Richard Hooker and Lancelot Andrewes. Cranmer had studied in Europe and was influenced by the ideas of the Reformers John Calvin and Martin Bucer, as well as the Roman Catholic theologian Desiderius Erasmus.

During the short reign of Edward VI, Henry's son, Cranmer and others moved the Church of England significantly towards a more Protestant Calvinist position, which was reflected in the development of the second Prayer Book ( 1552) and of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion (originally numbering forty-two). This reform was reversed abruptly in the subsequent reign of Queen Mary, a Roman Catholic who re-established papal supremacy. Only under Queen Elizabeth I was the English church established as a reformed Roman Catholic Church incorporating aspects of Protestant theology.


Thomas Cranmer (1489–1556), Henry VIII's Archbishop of Canterbury and principal author of the first and second Books of Common Prayer.
Thomas Cranmer ( 1489– 1556), Henry VIII's Archbishop of Canterbury and principal author of the first and second Books of Common Prayer.

In the 16th century religious life was an important part of the cement which held society together, and formed an important basis for extending and consolidating political power. Differences in religion were likely to lead to civil unrest at the very least, with treason and foreign invasion acting as real threats. Elizabeth's solution to the problem of minimising bloodshed over religion in her dominions was the religious settlement most compellingly articulated in the development of the 1559 Book of Common Prayer. This version of the prayer book combined elements of the Calvinist 1552 version with the traditional Catholic liturgy of Sarum, as transcribed in the 1549 version. The prayer book revision was buttressed by a revision of the Articles of Religion and mediating rubrics concerning vestments and liturgy. Elizabeth's goal was a church with a fixed form of worship in which everybody was expected to participate, but a belief system that was formulated in such a way that most in the theological spectrum would be able to give assent. Article VI of the Thirty-Nine Articles, by the use of negative terminology, subtly inverted the Protestant principle that all things must be proved from the Scriptures so that only those things which could be proved by an appeal to the Scriptures must be believed as articles of the faith. The bulk of the population acceded to Elizabeth's religious settlement with varying degrees of enthusiasm or resignation, but more militant Protestants (the so-called Puritans) and those who continued to recognise papal supremacy opposed it, and cracks in the façade of religious unity in England appeared.

For the next century, through the reigns of James I and Charles I, and culminating in the English Civil War and the protectorate of Oliver Cromwell, there were significant swings back and forth between two factions: the Puritans (and other radicals) who sought more far-reaching reform, and the more conservative churchmen who aimed to keep closer to traditional beliefs and practices. The failure of political and ecclesiastical authorities to submit to Puritan demands for more extensive reform was one of the causes of open warfare. By continental standards the level of violence over religion was not high, but the casualties included a king, Charles I and an Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud. Under the Protectorate of the Commonwealth of England from 1649 to 1660, Anglicanism was disestablished, presbyterian ecclesiology was introduced as an adjunct to the episcopal system, the Articles were replaced with the Westminster Confession, and the Book of Common Prayer was replaced by the Directory of Public Worship. Despite this, about one quarter of English clergy refused to conform.

With the Restoration of Charles II, Anglicanism too was restored in a form not far removed from the Elizabethan version. One difference was that the ideal of encompassing all the people of England in one religious organisation, taken for granted by the Tudors, had to be abandoned. The religious landscape of England assumed its present form, with an Anglican established church occupying the middle ground, and Roman Catholics and those Puritans who dissented from the establishment, too strong to be suppressed altogether, having to continue their existence outside the national church rather than controlling it. Restrictions and continuing official suspicion continued well into the nineteenth century. The Elizabethan Settlement failed in that it was never able to win the assent of the entire English people, let alone the other peoples of the British Isles. Yet as the Anglican form of Christianity is now found all over the world it may possibly have succeeded beyond the wildest expectations of anybody alive in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Spread of Anglicanism outside England

The history of Anglicanism since the 17th century has been one of greater geographical and cultural expansion and diversity, accompanied by a concomitant diversity of liturgical and theological profession and practice.

At the same time as the English reformation, the Church of Ireland was also separated from Rome and adopted articles of faith similar to England's Thirty-Nine Articles. However, unlike England, the Anglican church there was never able to capture the loyalty of the majority of the population (who still adhered to Roman Catholicism). As early as 1582, the Scottish Episcopal Church was inaugurated when James VI of Scotland sought to reintroduce bishops when the Church of Scotland became fully presbyterian (see Scottish reformation). The Scottish Episcopal Church enabled the creation of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America after the American Revolution, by consecrating in Aberdeen the first American bishop, Samuel Seabury, who had been refused consecration by bishops in England, due to his inability to take the oath of allegiance to the English crown prescribed in the Order for the Consecration of Bishops. The polity and ecclesiology of the Scottish and American churches, as well as their daughter churches, thus tends to be distinct from those spawned by the English church - reflected, for example, in their looser conception of provincial government, and their leadership by a presiding bishop or primus rather than by a metropolitan or archbishop. The names of the Scottish and American churches inspire the customary term Episcopalian for an Anglican; the term being used in these and other parts of the world. See also: American Episcopalians, Scottish Episcopalians

The arms of the US Episcopal Church.
The arms of the US Episcopal Church.

At the time of the Reformation the four Welsh dioceses were all part of the Province of Canterbury, and remained so until 1920 when the Church in Wales was created as a province of the Anglican Communion. The intense interest in the Christian faith which characterised the Welsh in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was not present in the sixteenth, and most Welsh people went along with the Reformation more because the English government was strong enough to impose its wishes in Wales, rather than out of any real conviction.

Anglicanism spread outside of the British Isles by means of emigration as well as missionary effort. English missionary organisations such as USPG - then known as the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge (SPCK) and the Church Missionary Society (CMS) were established in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to bring Anglican Christianity to the British colonies. By the nineteenth century, such missions were extended to other areas of the world. The liturgical and theological orientations of these missionary organisations were diverse. The SPG, for example, was influenced by the Catholic Revival in the Church of England, while CMS was influenced by the Evangelicalism of the earlier Evangelical Revival. As a result, the piety, liturgy, and polity of the indigenous churches they established came to reflect these diverse orientations.

The growth of the twin "revivals" in nineteenth century Anglicanism - Evangelical and Catholic - were hugely influential. The Evangelical Revival informed important social movements such as the abolition of slavery, child welfare legislation, prohibition of alcohol, the development of public health and public education. It also led to the creation of the Church Army, an evangelical and social welfare association and informed piety and liturgy, most notably in the development of Methodism. The Catholic Revival, arguably, had a more penetrating impact. It succeeded in transforming the liturgy of the Anglican Church, repositioning the Eucharist as the central act of worship in place of the daily offices, and reintroducing the use of vestments, ceremonial, and acts of piety (such as Eucharistic adoration) that had long been prohibited in the English church and (to a certain extent) in its daughter churches. It also had an impact on Anglican theology, especially through the Christian socialism of such Catholic Revival figures as Frederick Denison Maurice, Charles Gore, and - later - William Temple.


Principles of governance

Contrary to popular misconception, the British monarch is not the constitutional "Head" of the Church of England, nor does he or she have any role in provinces outside England and Wales. The role of the crown in the Church of England is practically limited to the appointment of bishops, including the Archbishop of Canterbury. This process is accomplished through collaboration with and consent of ecclesial representatives (see Ecclesiastical Commissioners). The monarch has no constitutional role in Anglican churches in other parts of the world, although the prayer books of several countries where she is head of state maintain prayers for her as sovereign.

A characteristic of Anglicanism is that it has no international juridical authority. All thirty-nine provinces of the Anglican Communion are independent, each with their own primate and governing structure. These provinces may take the form of national churches (such as in Canada, Uganda, or Japan) or a collection of nations (such as the West Indies, Central Africa, or South Asia). Within these Communion provinces may exist subdivisions called ecclesiastical provinces, under the jurisdiction of a metropolitan. All provinces of the Anglican Communion consist of dioceses, under the jurisdiction of a bishop. In the Anglican tradition, bishops must be consecrated according to the strictures of apostolic succession, which Anglicans consider one of the marks of catholicity. Apart from bishops, there are two other orders of ordained ministry: deacon and priest. No requirement is made for clerical celibacy and women may be ordained as deacons in almost all provinces, as priests in some, and as bishops in a few provinces. Anglican religious orders and communities, suppressed in England during the Reformation, have re-emerged since the mid-nineteenth century, and now have an international presence and influence.

Government in the Anglican Communion is synodical, consisting of three houses of laity (usually elected parish representatives), clergy, and bishops. National, provincial, and diocesan synods maintain different scopes of authority, depending on their canons and constitutions. Anglicanism is not congregational in its polity: It is the diocese, not the parish church, which is the smallest unit of authority in the church, and bishops must give their assent to resolutions passed by synods. (See Episcopal polity).

The Archbishop of Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury has a precedence of honour over the other primates of the Anglican Communion, and for a province to be considered a part of the Communion means specifically to be in communion with the See of Canterbury. The Archbishop is, therefore recognised as primus inter pares, or first amongst equals even though he does not exercise any direct authority in any province outside England, of which he is chief primate. The current Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, as former Archbishop of Wales, is the first appointed from outside the Church of England since the Reformation.

As "spiritual head" of the Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury maintains a certain moral authority, and has the right to determine which churches will be in communion with his See. He hosts and chairs the Lambeth Conferences of Anglican Communion bishops, as well as the Anglican Communion Primates' Meeting. He acts as president of the secretariat of the Anglican Communion Office, and its deliberative body, the Anglican Consultative Council.

International bodies

The Anglican Communion has no international juridical organisation. All international bodies are consultative and collaborative, and their resolutions are not legally binding on the independent provinces of the Communion. There are three international bodies of note.

  1. The Lambeth Conference is the oldest international consultation. It was first convened by Archbishop Charles Longley in 1867 as a vehicle for bishops of the Communion to "discuss matters of practical interest, and pronounce what we deem expedient in resolutions which may serve as safe guides to future action." Since then, it has been held roughly every ten years. Invitation is by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
  2. The Anglican Consultative Council was created by a 1968 Lambeth Conference resolution, and meets biennially. The council consists of representative bishops, clergy, and laity chosen by the thirty-eight provinces. The body has a permanent secretariat, the Anglican Communion Office, of which the Archbishop of Canterbury is president.
  3. The Anglican Communion Primates' Meeting is the most recent manifestation of international consultation and deliberation, having been first convened by Archbishop Donald Coggan in 1978 as a forum for "leisurely thought, prayer and deep consultation."

United Churches

In the Indian subcontinent most Anglican churches have entered into formal union with Protestant denominations while remaining part of the Anglican Communion. These agreements, which date from the 1940s and 50s, led to the creation of the Church of North India, the Church of South India, the Church of Pakistan and the Church of Bangladesh. The united churches maintain an episcopal and synodical structure and consecrate bishops in apostolic succession. As a percentage of the total population in the region, these united churches are not significant, but aside from Bangladesh, they are numerically very substantial.

Those which did not join with the union agreements in South Asia retained the name Anglican Church of India or adopted a similar one using the word "Anglican." The total membership of these churches has been estimated at 800,000. Most have recently entered into communion with churches of the Continuing Anglican Movement and have North American parishes.

Anglican Churches outside the Anglican Communion

There are a number of jurisdictions which identify themselves as "Anglican" but are not in communion with Canterbury. They therefore are outside the Anglican Communion. Several, such as the Free Church of England and the Reformed Episcopal Church in the United States left the Anglican Communion in the 1800s in reaction to the inroads of the Catholic Revival and the controversy over ritualism which it produced in the church.

Later, during the 1960s and 70s, disagreements with certain provincial bodies — chiefly in North America and in the United Kingdom — over such issues as prayer book revision, the remarriage of divorced persons, the ordination of women, and the acceptance by the church of homosexual relationships led to another and quite different schism. These Anglican churches are usually termed " Continuing Anglican churches" because of their determination to preserve (or "continue") the episcopate in Apostolic Succession, whereas the older Reformed Episcopal churches maintained the lineage of bishops without accepting the idea that sacraments are valid only if administered by clergy in such a lineage.

There are also independent jurisdictions unrelated to the preceding schisms. The Church of England in South Africa is conservative, long-established, and has a substantial membership. It is separate from the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, which is part of the Anglican Communion. Other churches, however, have adopted the Anglican name, the Book of Common Prayer, Anglican vestments, and — in some cases — the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion, but have no historic connection to the Anglican Communion. Unlike the socially conservative Continuing Anglican churches and the Church of England in South Africa, some of these tiny jurisdictions are openly oriented towards the Gay and Lesbian community and do ordain women clergy.

Given the range of concerns and the grounds for schism, there is as much diversity in the theological and liturgical orientations of the Free Churches, the Continuing Anglican churches, and the independent Anglican bodies as there is among churches of the Anglican Communion. Some are Evangelical, others charismatic and Evangelical, and yet others are Anglo-Catholic. What they have in common is a conviction that mainstream Anglicanism in North America, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere has departed from acceptable principles of belief and/or practice.


Catholic and Reformed

Rather than theological disagreement, the origin of Anglicanism was based on questions of jurisdiction - namely, the belief that national churches should be autonomous. The effort to create a national church in continuity with its traditions, but inclusive of the doctrinal and liturgical insights of the Reformation was joined by a real concern to make the institution as hospitable as possible to people of different theological inclinations, so as to maintain social peace and cohesion. The result has been a movement with a distinctive self-image among Christian movements. The question often arises whether the Anglican Communion should be identified as a Protestant or Catholic church, or perhaps a distinct branch of Christianity altogether.

The distinction between Protestant and Catholic, and the coherence of the two, is routinely a matter of debate both within specific Anglican Churches and throughout the Anglican Communion by members themselves. Since the Oxford Movement of the mid-19th century, many churches of the Communion have embraced and extended liturgical and pastoral practices dissimilar to most Reformed Protestant theology. This extends beyond the ceremony of High Church services to even more theologically significant territory, such as sacramental theology (see Anglican sacraments). Nevertheless, while Anglo-Catholic practices, particularly liturgical ones, have become much more mainstream within the denomination over the last century, there remain many areas where practices and beliefs remain on the more Protestant or Evangelical side.

Guiding principles

Richard Hooker (1554–1600), one of the most influential figures in shaping Anglican theology and self-identity
Richard Hooker (1554–1600), one of the most influential figures in shaping Anglican theology and self-identity

Unlike other Christian movements, Anglican doctrine is neither established by a magisterium, nor derived from the theology of an eponymous founder (such as Lutheranism or Calvinism), nor summed up in a confession of faith (beyond those of the creeds). Instead, the earliest Anglican theological documents are its prayer books, which were themselves the products of profound theological reflection and compromise. It is within the Book of Common Prayer that Anglican doctrine was originally expressed in the selection, arrangement, and composition of prayers and exhortations, the selection and arrangement of daily scripture readings (the lectionary), and in the stipulation of the rubrics for permissible liturgical action and any variations in the prayers and exhortations. The principle of looking to the prayer books as a guide to the parameters of belief and practice is called by the Latin name lex orandi, lex credendi ("the law of prayer is the law of belief"). Within the prayer books are the so-called fundamentals of Anglican doctrine: The Apostles' and Nicene Creeds, the scriptures (via the lectionary), the sacraments, daily prayer, the catechism, and apostolic succession in the context of the historic threefold ministry.

Beyond the prayer books of various provinces, however, there are other important principles that have had an impact on Anglican belief. The earliest are contained within the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, as they appear in their final, 1604 form. Historically, Anglican clergy had to take an oath of subscription to the Articles, although the practice has become uncommon. Despite this, they have never been considered binding, but rather advisory. The degree to which each of the articles has remained influential varies. Arguably, the most influential of them has been Article VI on the "sufficiency of Scripture," which states that "Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation." This article has informed Anglican biblical exegesis and hermeneutics since earliest times.

Anglicans also look for authority in their so-called "standard divines" (see below). Historically, the most influential of these - apart from Cranmer - has been the sixteeth century cleric and theologian Richard Hooker. Hooker's description of Anglican authority as being akin to a three-legged stool of Scripture, informed by reason (the intellect and the experience of God) and tradition (the practices and beliefs of the historical church), has influenced Anglican self-identity and doctrinal reflection perhaps more powerfully than any other formula.

Finally, the extension of Anglicanism into non-English cultures, the growing diversity of prayer books, and the increasing interest in ecumenical dialogue has led to further reflection on the parameters of Anglican identity. Many Anglicans look to the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1888 as the "sine qua non" of Communal identity. In brief, the Quadrilateral's four points are the Holy Scriptures, as containing all things necessary to salvation; the Creeds (specifically, the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds), as the sufficient statement of Christian faith; the dominical sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion; and the historic episcopate, locally adapted.

Anglican divines

Within the Anglican tradition, there have been certain theological writers whose works have been considered standards for faith, doctrine, worship, and spirituality. While there is no authoritative list of these Anglican divines, there are some whose names would likely be found on most lists - those who are commemorated in lesser feasts of the Church, and those whose works are frequently anthologized.

The corpus produced by Anglican divines is diverse. What they have in common is a commitment to the faith as conveyed by Scripture and the Book of Common Prayer, thus regarding prayer and theology in a manner akin to that of the Apostolic Fathers. On the whole, Anglican divines view the via media of Anglicanism, not as a compromise, but "a positive position, witnessing to the universality of God and God's kingdom working through the fallible, earthly ecclesia Anglicana." These theologians regard Scripture as interpreted through tradition and reason as authoritative in matters concerning salvation. Reason and tradition, indeed, is extant in and presupposed by Scripture, thus implying co-operation between God and humanity, God and nature, and between the sacred and secular. Faith is thus regarded as incarnational, and authority as dispersed.

Among the early Anglican divines of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the names of Thomas Cranmer, John Jewel, Richard Hooker, Lancelot Andrewes, and Jeremy Taylor predominate. The influential character of Hooker's Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity cannot be overestimated. Published in 1593 and subsequently, Hooker's eight volume work is primarily a treatise on Church-state relations, but it also deals comprehensively with issues of biblical interpretation, soteriology, ethics, and sanctification. Throughout the work, Hooker makes clear that theology involves prayer and is concerned with ultimate issues, and also that theology is relevant to the social mission of the church.

The eighteenth century saw the rise of two important movements in Anglicanism: Cambridge Platonism, with its mystical understanding of reason as the "candle of the Lord," and the Evangelical Revival, with its emphasis on the personal experience of the Holy Spirit. The Cambridge Platonist movement evolved into a school called Latitudinarianism, which emphasized reason as the barometer of discernment and took a stance of indifference towards doctrinal and ecclesiological differences. The Evangelical Revival, influenced by such figures as John Wesley and Charles Simeon, re-emphasized the importance of justification through faith and the consequent importance of personal conversion. Some in this movement, such as Wesley and George Whitefield, took the message to the United States, influencing the First Great Awakening, and also created an Anglo-American movement called Methodism that would eventually break away from the Anglican churches.

By the nineteenth century, there was a renewed emphasis on the teachings of the earlier Anglican divines: Theologians such as John Keble, Edward Bouverie Pusey, and John Henry Newman had widespread influence in the realm of polemics, homiletics, and theological and devotional works. Their work is largely credited with the development of the Oxford Movement, which sought to reassert Catholic identity and practice in the Anglican Church. Through such works as The Kingdom of Christ, Frederick Denison Maurice played a pivotal role in inaugurating another movement, Christian socialism. In this, Maurice transformed Hooker's emphasis on the incarnational nature of Anglican spirituality to an imperative for social justice. Also in the nineteenth century, Anglican biblical scholarship began to assume a distinct character, represented by the so-called "Cambridge triumvirate" of Joseph Lightfoot, F.J.A. Hort, and Brooke Foss Westcott. Their orientation is best summed up by Lightfoot's observation that "Life which Christ is and which Christ communicates, the life which fills our whole beings as we realise its capacities, is active fellowship with God."

A priest in Anglican choir habit.  Normally worn at non-Eucharistic liturgies and offices, the vesture is also worn by many "low church" or evangelical Anglicans to preside at the Eucharist
A priest in Anglican choir habit. Normally worn at non-Eucharistic liturgies and offices, the vesture is also worn by many "low church" or evangelical Anglicans to preside at the Eucharist
An Anglican priest in eucharistic vestments. Many Anglican clergy vest in a similar way to Roman Catholic clergy, especially at the Eucharist. While the chasuble is often considered to be more "high church" by some Anglicans, the alb and stole have become common vesture.
An Anglican priest in eucharistic vestments. Many Anglican clergy vest in a similar way to Roman Catholic clergy, especially at the Eucharist. While the chasuble is often considered to be more "high church" by some Anglicans, the alb and stole have become common vesture.

The twentieth century is marked by figures such as Charles Gore, with his emphasis on natural revelation, William Temple's focus on Christianity and society, and J.A.T. Robinson's provocative discussions of deism and theism. Outside England, one sees such figures as William Porcher DuBose, William Meade, and Charles Henry Brent in the United States. More recently, theologians such as Jeffrey John, N.T. Wright, and Rowan Williams have added to the mix.

Ordained ministry

Like the Orthodox and Catholic churches (but unlike most Protestant churches), the Anglican Communion maintains the three-fold ministry of deacons, priests, and bishops. Bishops of the church are members of the historic episcopate, and derive their authority through apostolic succession — an unbroken line of bishops that can be traced back to the apostles of Jesus of Nazareth. The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches either do not recognize the apostolic succession in Anglican orders or do not consider that any existing line of succession among Anglicans confers validity. In contrast, the Anglican Communion recognizes Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox ordinations as valid. Outside the Anglican Communion, Anglican ordinations (at least of male priests) are recognized by the Old Catholics, many Lutherans, other Protestants, and various Independent Catholic Churches.


An eastward-facing high mass, an Anglo-Catholic liturgical phenomenon which appeared in Anglicanism following the Catholic Revival of the nineteenth century
An eastward-facing high mass, an Anglo-Catholic liturgical phenomenon which appeared in Anglicanism following the Catholic Revival of the nineteenth century

"Churchmanship" can be defined as the manifestation of theology in the realms of liturgy, piety, and - to some extent - spirituality. In Anglicanism diversity in this respect has tended to reflect the diversity in the movement's Protestant and Catholic identity. Different individuals, groups, parishes, dioceses, and provinces may identify more with one or the other, or some balance of the two.

The range of Anglican belief and practice became particularly divisive during the 19th century when some clergy were disciplined and even imprisoned on charges of ritualism while, at the same time, others were criticized for engaging in public worship servuces with ministers of Reformed churches. Resistance to the growing acceptance of so-called Catholic ceremonial by the mainstream of Anglicanism and the unwillingness of the mainstream churches to require adherence to the existing regulations against certain of the elements of this Catholic "Revival" ultimately led to schism, with the creation of the Free Church of England in England (1844) and the Reformed Episcopal Church in North America (1873).

Anglo-Catholic (and some Broad Church) Anglicans undertake public liturgy in a fashion that resembles that of the contemporary Roman Catholic Church, in sometimes an even more traditional manner (e.g., an "eastward orientation" at the altar). The Eucharist may be conducted by priest, deacon, and subdeacon dressed in their traditional vestments, using incense and sanctus bells, and with "secret prayers" said by the presiding celebrant. Such churches may practice Eucharistic adoration, such as solemn benediction of the reserved sacrament. In terms of personal piety, such Anglicans may recite the rosary and angelus, be involved in a devotional society dedicated to "Our Lady" (the Blessed Virgin Mary), and seek the intercession of the saints. In recent years, prayer books of several provinces have, out of deference to a greater agreement with Eastern Conciliarism (and a perceived greater respect accorded Anglicanism by Eastern Orthodoxy than by Roman Catholicism), instituted a number of historically Eastern and Oriental Orthodox elements in their liturgies, including introduction of the Trisagion and deletion of the filioque clause from the Nicene Creed.

For their part, those Evangelical (and some Broad Church) Anglicans who emphasise the Protestant nature of the Church stress the Reformation theme of salvation by grace through faith. They emphasize the two dominical sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist, viewing the other five as "lesser rites." Such Anglicans tend to take the inerrancy of Scripture literally, adopting the view of Article VI that it contains all things necessary to salvation in an explicit sense. Worship in churches influenced by these principles tends to be significantly less elaborate, with greater emphasis on the Liturgy of the Word (the reading of the scriptures, the sermon, and the intercessory prayers). The Order for Holy Communion may be celebrated bi-weekly or monthly (in preference to the daily offices), by priests attired in choir habit rather than Eucharistic vestments. Ceremonial may be in keeping with the restrictive provisions of the Ornaments Rubric of the historic English prayer books — no candles, no incense, no bells, and a minimum of manual action by the presiding celebrant (such as touching the elements at the Words of Institution).

In recent years, there has been a surge of charismatic worship among Anglicans. Both Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals have been affected by this movement such that it is not uncommon to find typically charismatic postures, music, and other themes evident during the services of otherwise Anglo-Catholic or Evangelical parishes.

The spectrum of Anglican beliefs and practice is too large to be fit into these labels. Many Anglicans locate themselves somewhere in the spectrum of the Broad Church tradition, and consider themselves an amalgam of Evangelical and Catholic. Such Anglicans stress that Anglicanism is the " via media" (middle way) between the two major strains of Western Christianity. Via media may also be understood as underscoring Anglicanism's preference for a communitarian and methodological approach to theological issues rather than relativism.

Social issues

Anglican concern with broader issues of social justice can be traced to its earliest divines. Richard Hooker, for instance, wrote that "God hath created nothing simply for itself, but each thing in all things, and of every thing each part in other have such interest, that in the whole world nothing is found whereunto any thing created can say, 'I need thee not.'" This, and related statements reflect the deep thread of incarnational theology running through Anglican social thought - a theology which sees God, nature, and humanity in dynamic interaction, and the interpenetration of the secular and the sacred in the make-up of the cosmos. Such theology is informed by a traditional English spiritual ethos, rooted in Celtic Christianity, and reinforced by Anglicanism's origins as an established church, bound up by its structure in the life and interests of civil society.

Repeatedly, throughout Anglican history, this principle has reasserted itself in movements of social justice. For instance, in the eighteenth century the influential Evangelical Anglican William Wilberforce, along with others, campaigned against the slave trade. In the nineteenth century, the dominant issues concerned the adverse effects of industrialisation. Frederick Denison Maurice was a leading figure advocating reform in this respect, founding so-called "producer's co-operatives" and the Working Men's College. His work, instrumental in the establishment of the Christian socialist movement, influenced later Anglo-Catholics such as Charles Gore, who wrote that "the principle of the incarnation is denied unless the Christian spirit can be allowed to concern itself with everything that interests and touches human life."

Anglican focus on labour issues culminated in the work of William Temple in the 1930s and 40s. The effects of the two world wars led to a growing interest in issues of peace among some Anglicans, such as Vera Brittain and Evelyn Underhill. While never actively endorsed by the Anglican Church, many Anglicans unofficially have adopted the Augustinian " Just War" doctrine, reinforced by Article XXXVII of the Thirty-Nine Articles, which states that "it is lawful for Christian men, at the commandment of the Magistrate, to wear weapons, and serve in the wars." Lambeth Conference resolutions, along with those of various provinces, have in recent years sought to provide a clearer position by repudiating modern war and have developed statements asserting a preference for non-violent resistance.

Desmond Tutu (born 1931), former Primate of the Anglican Church of the Province of South Africa, and a leading figure in the successful fight against apartheid
Desmond Tutu (born 1931), former Primate of the Anglican Church of the Province of South Africa, and a leading figure in the successful fight against apartheid

After World War II, the focus on social issues became increasingly diffuse. On the one hand, the growing independence and strength of Anglican churches in the global south brought new emphasis to issues of global poverty, the inequitable distribution of resources, and the lingering effects of colonialism. In this regard, figures such as Desmond Tutu and Ted Scott were instrumental in mobilising Anglicans worldwide against the apartheid policies of South Africa. On the other hand, rapid social change in the industrialised world during the twentieth century compelled the church to examine issues of gender, sexuality, and marriage.

This led to Lambeth resolutions countenancing contraception and the remarriage of divorced persons. It also led to most provinces approving the ordination of women. More recently, it has led some jurisdictions to permit the ordination of individuals in same-sex relationships and to authorise rites for the blessing of same-sex unions. More conservative elements within Anglicanism (primarily African churches and factions within North American Anglicanism) are opposed to these changes. Some liberal and moderate Anglicans see this opposition as representing a new fundamentalism within Anglicanism. The lack of social consensus among and within provinces of diverse cultural traditions has resulted in considerable conflict and even schism concerning some or all of these developments.

These latter trends reflect a countervailing tendency in Anglicanism towards insularity, reinforced perhaps by the "big tent" nature of the movement, which seeks to be comprehensive of various views and tendencies. The insularity and complacency of the early established Church of England has tended to influence Anglican self-identity, and inhibit engagement with the broader society in favour of internal debate and dialogue. Nonetheless, there is significantly greater cohesion among Anglicans when they turn their attention outward. Anglicans worldwide are active in many areas of social and environmental concern.

Religious life

A small yet influential aspect of Anglicanism is its religious orders and communities. Shortly after the beginning of the Catholic Revival in the Church of England, there was a renewal of interest in re-establishing religious and monastic orders and communities. One of Henry VIII's earliest acts was their dissolution and seizure of their assets. In 1841 Marion Rebecca Hughes became the first woman to take the vows of religion in communion with the Province of Canterbury since the Reformation. In 1848, Priscilla Lydia Sellon became the superior of the Society of the Most Holy Trinity at Devonport, the first organised religious order. Sellon is called "the restorer, after three centuries, of the religious life in the Church of England." For the next one hundred years, religious orders for both men and women proliferated throughout the world, becoming a numerically small but disproportionately influential feature of global Anglicanism.

Anglican religious life at one time boasted hundreds of orders and communities, and thousands of religious. An important aspect of Anglican religious life is that most communities of both men and women lived their lives consecrated to God under the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience (or in Benedictine communities, Stability, Conversion of Life, and Obedience) by practising a mixed life of reciting the full eight services of the Breviary in choir, along with a daily Eucharist, plus service to the poor. The mixed life, combining aspects of the contemplative orders and the active orders remains to this day a hallmark of Anglican religious life. Another distinctive feature of Anglican religious life is the existence of some mixed-gender communities.

Since the 1960s there has been a sharp decline in the number of professed religious in most parts of the Anglican Communion, especially in North America, Europe, and Australia. Many once large and international communities have been reduced to a single convent or monastery comprised of elderly men or women. In the last few decades of the 20th century, novices have for most communities been few and far between. Some orders and communities have already become extinct. There are however, still several thousand Anglican religious working today in approximately 200 communities around the world, and religious life in many parts of the Communion - especially in developing nations - flourishes.

The most significant growth has been in the Melanesian countries of the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. The Melanesian Brotherhood, founded at Tabalia, Guadalcanal, in 1925 by Ini Kopuria, is now the largest Anglican Community in the world with over 450 brothers in the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and the United Kingdom. The Sisters of the Church, started by Mother Emily Ayckbowm in England in 1870, has more sisters in the Solomons than all their other communities. The Community of the Sisters of Melanesia, started in 1980 by Sister Nesta Tiboe, is a growing community of women throughout the Solomon Islands. The Society of Saint Francis, founded as a union of various Franciscan orders in the 1920s, has experienced great growth in the Solomon Islands. Other communities of religious have been started by Anglicans in Papua New Guinea and in Vanuatu. Most Melanesian Anglican religious are in their early to mid 20s — vows may be temporary and it is generally assumed that brothers, at least, will leave and marry in due course — making the average age 40 to 50 years younger than their brothers and sisters in other countries. Growth of religious orders, especially for women, is also marked in certain parts of Africa.


Anglican interest in ecumenical dialogue can be traced to the rise of the Oxford Movement, with its concern on reunion of the churches of "Catholic confession." This desire to work towards full communion with other denominations led to the development of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, approved by the Third Lambeth Conference of 1888. The four points (the sufficiency of scripture, the historic creeds, the two dominical sacraments, and the historic episcopate) were proposed as a basis for discussion, although they have frequently been taken as a non-negotiable bottom-line for reunion.

World Council of Churches

Ecumenical dialogue has been particularly fruitful in three realms. The first is the World Council of Churches and its predecessors, in which Anglicans have been involved from the first. Anglican representatives were particularly engaged in the development of the seminal Faith and Order paper, Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry, which sought to develop common ground concerning these issues.

Roman Catholic Church

Michael Ramsey, 100th Archbishop of Canterbury, meets with Pope Paul VI in Rome, March, 1966.
Michael Ramsey, 100th Archbishop of Canterbury, meets with Pope Paul VI in Rome, March, 1966.

The second concerns dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church. Long-term hostility between the two Communions was engendered by resistance among some English to the declaration of royal supremacy, and attempts to coerce conformity to Anglican worship. This culminated in the brief restoration of papal supremacy during the reign of Mary I. Subsequently, Pope Pius V's excommunication of Elizabeth I in 1570 and authorisation of rebellion against her contributed to official suspicion of the allegiances of English Catholics. This, combined with a desire to assert the claims of the established church, led to the promulgation of restrictive laws against their civil and religious rights. These restrictions were only relieved through legislation in the 19th century, cumulatively known as Catholic Emancipation.

At the end of the nineteenth century, the Catholic Church rejected the Anglican claims of apostolic succession, and in response to such claims made at the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral published Apostolicae Curae, an 1896 papal bull, which declared Anglican ordinations "absolutely null and utterly void." Despite the agreement reached by the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) on the doctrine of the ministry in their Elucidation of 1979, this judgement was reaffirmed by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, when he asserted Apostolicae Curae as an example of the infallible teaching office of the Catholic Church.

Some attempts at dialogue began in 1915, when Pope Benedict XV approved a British Legation to the Vatican, led by an Anglican with a Catholic deputy. However, discussion of potential reunion in the ' Malines Conversations' eventually collapsed in 1925. Continued efforts resulted in the spread of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in both churches (and others), and the visit of George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, to Cardinal Montini of Milan, later Pope Paul VI .

Real rapprochement was not achieved until the warming of Catholic attitudes to ecumenism under the leadership of Pope John XXIII, whose foundation of the " Secretariat for the Promotion of Christian Unity" encouraged Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher to make a historic, though not entirely official, visit to the Vatican in 1960. Subsequently the Bishop of Ripon, John Moorman, led a delegation of Anglican observers to the Second Vatican Council. In 1966, Archbishop Michael Ramsey made an official visit to Pope Paul VI, and in the following year, the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission was established. Its first project focused on the authority of Scripture, and the Commission has since produced nine agreed statements. Phase One of ARCIC ended in 1981 with the publication of a final report, Elucidations on Authority in the Church. Phase Two has been ongoing since 1983. The most recent agreed statement dealt with Marian theology, and was published in 2004.

Despite the productivity of these discussions, dialogue is strained by the developments in some provinces of the Communion primarily concerning the ordination of women, and the ordination of those in public same-sex sexual relationships as priests and, in one case, a bishop ( Gene Robinson). More progress has been made with respect to Anglican churches outside the Communion.

Pope John Paul II made Pastoral Provision for a small number of Anglican Use parishes in the United States. These are Roman Catholic parishes which are allowed to retain some features of the Book of Common Prayer in worship. Additionally, one of the Continuing Anglican Churches is currently attempting to achieve the recognition of Rome without abandoning its independence as the Anglican Use parishes chose to do.

Roman Catholic Canon Law forbids Catholics to receive the Anglican Eucharist (canon 844 §2) and permits Roman Catholic ministers to administer to an Anglican the sacraments of Eucharist, Penance and Anointing of the Sick, only in danger of death or some other grave and pressing need, and provided the Anglican cannot approach an Anglican minister, spontaneously asks for the sacrament, demonstrates the faith of the Roman Catholic Church in respect of the sacrament and is properly disposed (canon 844 §4).

Lutheran and Old Catholic Churches

In 1994, the Porvoo Communion was formed, bringing the Anglican churches of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland and the Episcopal churches of Portugal and Spain into full communion with the Lutheran churches of Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, and Lithuania. In 2001, the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada achieved full communion , as did the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America . In addition, full communion agreements have been reached between various ecclesiastical provinces and smaller, mostly Catholic denominations, such as the Old Catholic Church after the Bonn Agreement of 1931.

Other Protestant denominations

Outside the context of the World Council of Churches, direct consultations with Protestant churches other than Lutherans have, for the most part, been less fruitful. Movements toward full communion between the Anglican Church of Canada and the United Church of Canada were derailed because of the issue of episcopacy and the mutual recognition of ordained ministry (specifically, apostolic succession). The same issue blocked the first attempt at a covenant between the Church of England and the Methodist Church of Great Britain, but such a covenant was eventually signed in 2003 .

The issue of apostolic succession, as well as the willingness of some North American dioceses to offer partnership blessings and priestly ordination to people in same-sex sexual relationships, have hindered dialogue between Anglicans and evangelical Protestant denominations.

Orthodox Churches

Dialogue has also been less fruitful with churches of the Orthodox Communion. The International Commission of the Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue was only established in 1999, and the Anglican Oriental Orthodox International Commission was established three years later. So far, most common ground has been established only concerning matters of the historic creeds. In a move parallel to the parishes of the pastoral provision in the Roman Catholic Church a small number of United States Anglicans have been received into certain jurisdictions of the Orthodox Church while retaining the use of a revision of the Prayer Book liturgy authorised for use in the Orthodox Church by Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow in the early twentieth century.

Regarding mutual recognition of ministry, the Eastern Orthodox Churches are reluctant to even consider the question of the validity of holy orders in isolation from the rest of the Christian faith, so in practice they treat Anglican ordinations as invalid. Thus the favourable judgement expressed by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople in 1922 and communicated by him to other Eastern Patriarchs (some of whom, including the Russian Patriarch, signed a contrary declaration in 1948) is in practice without effect. The Eastern Orthodox Church classifies Anglican clergymen who join it as laypeople, and, if they are to function as clergy, administers ordination to them.

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