The Anglican Church is a world church. It originated in England in the sixteenth century and from there spread to much of the world. The Church of England is the mother church within the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Church sees itself as a church that stands between the Roman Catholic Church and Protestantism in terms of faith and beliefs. The Bible is important to Anglicans as a source of faith and life. The structure of the Anglican Church is more like the Roman Catholic Church with its archbishops and bishops.
The Origin of the Anglican Church
Augustine of Canterbury is seen by the Anglican Church as the founder of the Christian Church in England. This Roman Catholic cleric led a group of 40 monks to Britannia to spread the Christian faith and convert the local population from paganism to Christians. In 597 he founded the first English Archdiocese in Canterbury. He himself was ordained archbishop there. Many people were converted to Christianity during that period. For example, more than a thousand people are said to have been baptized during a massive church service on Christmas Day in 597. For the Anglican Church, Canterbury is the center of the church, just as Rome is for the Roman Catholic Church.
The break with the Roman Catholic Church
At the time of the Reformation, many groups split from the Roman mother church. The church in England also broke with Rome. This rupture was initially not so much caused by differences in faith and confession. It was King Henry VIII who broke with the Roman Catholic Church due to a personal conflict with the Pope. King Henry VII entered into a marriage to which Rome could not agree. In the eyes of King Henry VII, papal authority and the interference of Rome through church law and all kinds of rules was a corrupt event. The Act of Supremacy officially made King Henry VII the leader of the church in England, the Church of England . This made the independence of the Anglican Church, the Ecclesia Anglicana , a fact.
The Anglican Church and the Reformation
When Henry VII’s son came to the throne, Protestant principles were implemented in the Anglican Church. King Edward VI was drawn to the Protestant faith at an early age. During his reign from 1547 to 1553, the young Anglican Church increasingly took on Protestant features. During that period the two volumes of prayer book, Book of Common Prayer , were printed. Here the new religious positions were described. The Book of Common Prayer still has an important status within the Anglican Church.
Church of England – Church of England
The Anglican Church is closely linked to the English state. King Henry VII was the first official head of the church. The head of the Anglican Church is formally the head of state of the United Kingdom. The close relationship between the Anglican Church and the state is reflected in the fact that the bishops and archbishops sit in the upper house of the United Kingdom, the House of Lords. It is also striking that new church rules and regulations must be approved by the Parliament of England in order to be legally valid. No financial support from the state goes to the church. The Anglican Church is therefore financially independent of the state.
The Anglican Communion
The Anglican Church is a world church. The Church of England has approximately 25 million believers. The Church of England is the mother church within the community of Anglican churches. This community is called the Anglican Communion . In this global community there are 38 church provinces, all of which are independent. The total number of believers in the global Anglican Communion was estimated at over 85 million in 2018. Once every ten years, all bishops and archbishops of the entire Community come together to discuss the meaning of the faith.
The Faith of the Anglican Church
The Anglican Church believes that there is only one God. This God reveals himself in three persons, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Anglicans believe that people have chosen to reject God by not living by his commandments, but that God wants to give new life through his son, Jesus Christ. This Jesus died on the cross and was raised again to new life. For Anglicans, the Bible is the foundation of their beliefs. They believe that through baptism people become part of the church of God. Sunday is the day for Anglicans to go to church to honor God. They celebrate Holy Communion, which is also called the Eucharist. At Communion, bread and wine are shared as signs of Christ’s broken body and his shed blood.
Important writings for the Anglican Church
In addition to the Bible, a number of scriptures are important to the Anglican Church when it comes to formulating faith. For example, the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed have an important status. The Book of Common Prayer is invaluable for church services and prayers .
Between the Roman Catholic Church and Protestantism
The Anglicans see themselves as a third way between the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant churches, such as the Lutheran Church and the Reformed traditions. The Roman Catholic Church emphasizes the apostolic transmission of tradition. The Protestant churches find the basis of their faith in the Bible. The Anglicans seek a middle ground in this regard. For them, the Bible, reason and tradition are the three foundations on which their faith is based. They see this as a sturdy three-legged chair. Unlike the Protestant churches, the Anglican Church is led by bishops and archbishops. From 2014, the Anglican Church also has female bishops.
Mary the mother of Jesus
A good example of how the Anglican Church lies between the Roman Catholic and Protestant faiths is Mary. In the Roman Catholic Church, Mary has an important place as the mother of Jesus. There is also a lot of veneration for Mary in the church. Protestant churches generally do not want to know anything about Marian worship. The Anglican Church does, but Mary has a less prominent place there than in the Roman Catholic Church. There is a rapprochement between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Church regarding the teaching about Mary. A report on these similarities in the view of Mary was released in 2005 by the ARCIC, Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission on Mary. The two churches consulted with each other for five years about this report. One of the conclusions is: ‘The tendency in Western Christianity to upgrade the place of Mary is resisted: no interpretation of Mary’s role should obscure the unique mediatorship of Christ. At the same time, the Blessed Virgin Mary is jointly recognized as Teotokos , the Mother of God, and the importance of the Marian feasts and the special place among the saints are confirmed’ (ARCIC, 2005, Marian Grace and Hope in Christ, p. 3-4) .
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