The purpose of this session is to consider Anglicanism.
In 1534, King Henry VIII separated the English Church from Rome. The English Reformation gained political support when Henry VIII wanted an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon so he could marry Anne Boleyn. Pope Clement VII, considering that the earlier marriage had been entered under a papal dispensation and how Catherine's nephew, Emperor Charles V, might react to such a move, refused the annulment. Eventually, Henry, although theologically opposed to Protestantism, took the position of Supreme Head of the Church of England to ensure the annulment of his marriage. He was excommunicated by Pope Paul III.
Henry maintained a strong preference for traditional Catholic practices and, during his reign, Protestant reformers were unable to make many changes to the practices of the Church of England. Indeed, this part of Henry's reign saw the trial for heresy of Protestants as well as Roman Catholics.
Mary also died childless and so it was left to the new regime of her half-sister Elizabeth to resolve the direction of the church. The settlement under Queen Elizabeth I (from 1558), known as the Elizabethan Settlement, developed the via media (middle way) character of the Church of England, a church moderately Reformed in doctrine, as expressed in the Thirty-Nine Articles, but also emphasizing continuity with the Catholic and Apostolic traditions of the Church Fathers. It was also an established church (constitutionally established by the state with the head of state as its supreme governor). The exact nature of the relationship between church and state would be a source of continued friction into the next century.
For the next century, through the reigns of James I, who ordered the creation of what became known as the King James Bible, and Charles I, 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 Protestant reforms, and the more conservative churchmen who aimed to keep closer to traditional beliefs and Catholic 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.
With the Restoration of Charles II, Parliament restored the Church of England to a form not far removed from the Elizabethan version.
There are two parallel streams informing doctrinal development and understanding in Anglicanism.
- Firstly, there is an appeal to the historical formularies, prayer-books, ordinals and the "standard divines". Most prominent of the historical formularies are the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, principally authored by Thomas Cranmer.
- The second stream of doctrine is contained in the formally adopted doctrinal positions of the constitutions and canon law of various national churches and provinces of the Anglican Communion.
The Thirty-Nine Articles list core Reformed doctrines such as the sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for salvation, the execution of Jesus as "the perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world", Predestination and Election. Some of the articles are simple statements of opposition to Roman Catholic doctrine, such as Article XIV which denies "Works of Supererogation", Article XV which implicitly excludes the Immaculate Conception, and XXII which explicitly rejects the concept of Purgatory. Catholic worship and teaching was at the time conducted in Latin, while the Articles required church services to use the vernacular.
The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral is a summation of the Anglican approach to theology, worship and church structure and is often cited as a basic summary of the essentials of Anglican identity. The four points are:
- The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as "containing all things necessary to salvation," and as being the rule and ultimate standard of faith.
- The Creeds (specifically, the Apostles' and Nicene) as the sufficient statement of Christian faith;
- The dominical sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion;
- The historic episcopate locally adapted
A characteristic of Anglicanism is that it has no international juridical authority. All thirty-nine provinces of the Anglican Communion are autonomous, 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), or geographical regions (such as Vanuatu and Solomon Islands) etc. Within these Communion provinces may exist subdivisions, called ecclesiastical provinces, under the jurisdiction of a metropolitan archbishop.
Anglican worship is as diverse as Anglican theology.
- A contemporary "low church" or Evangelical service may differ little from the worship of many mainstream non-Anglican Protestant churches. The service is constructed around a sermon focused on Biblical exposition and opened with one or more Bible readings and closed by a series of prayers (both set and extemporized) and hymns or songs.
- A "high church" or Anglo-Catholic service, by contrast, is usually a more formal liturgy celebrated by clergy in distinctive vestments and may be almost indistinguishable from a Roman Catholic service, often resembling the "pre-Vatican II" Tridentine rite.
Only baptized persons are eligible to receive communion, although in many churches communion is restricted to those who have not only been baptized but also confirmed. In many Anglican provinces, however, all baptized Christians are now often invited to receive communion and some dioceses have regularized a system for admitting baptized young people to communion before they are confirmed.
Material for this session was taken from Wikipedia.