What Is An Anglican Catholic?
Our church is a family of believers committed to living the faith delivered to the Saints and received by the Church throughout the centuries. The Anglican Church celebrates the tradition of the early church. Sometimes traditional Christians are accused of being stuck in the past, but a danger for Christians today is the blind acceptance of new teaching, practices and philosophies.
One thing that sets us apart from many other churches today is the ritual and ceremony with which we worship God. At the heart of the worship is the Incarnation of Christ. Just as Jesus came down from heaven to assume our flesh and redeem humanity, he continues to work through the Holy Spirit by means of earthly, tangible means which he instituted –– namely, the sacraments. A sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. There are two sacraments ordained by Christ: Holy Baptism, and The Holy Eucharist. Additionally, there are five others: Confirmation, Penance, Holy Matrimony, Holy Orders, and Unction of the Sick that were not ordained by Christ. Christ came into the world to redeem the whole man: mind, body, and spirit. Consequently, our worship engages all of the senses in the same way worship has since the Old Testament.
The Bible: The early church, guided by the Holy Spirit, selected the writings and compiled them to form the Bible. We naturally believe that the Bible is the Word of God.
The Creeds and Traditions: When issues of biblical interpretation arose in the early undivided church, the Church’s met to decide the issues under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. These meetings are called The Ecumenical Councils. Seven councils of the undivided church were held between 325 AD and 787 AD. They produced the three Creeds – The Nicene Creed, The Apostles Creed and The Athanasian Creed, which we believe to be the definitive statements of the Church’s faith.
The Apostolic Ministry: Before the Apostles died, they appointed certain men in the church to succeed them in their apostolic ministry. These men were called bishops. The New Testament also mentions elders or presbyters who ultimately became known as priests and deacons. We maintain the apostolic ministry of bishops, priests and deacons that continue today in an unbroken line of succession all the way back to the apostles –– Apostolic Succession.
The Sacraments: Jesus continues to be present in his Church through visible signs called sacraments and through which he delivers grace to his people in the form of Holy Water for Holy Baptism, in the form of bread and wine of the Holy Eucharist (the Mass), through Holy Oil, and through the Laying-On of Hands.
So, What Are We?
Anglican: We are Anglican (Latin for English) because our faith, worship, and orders were received through the Church of England. At the beginning of the sixteenth century during King Henry VIII’s reign, he and other church leaders of his day, Martin Luther, for one, began to challenge the authority of the Church of Rome. King Henry instituted a series of acts that collectively split the English church from the Roman church in much the same way the Orthodox Church had split from the undivided church five hundred years before.
We are sometimes called “Traditional Episcopal” because most people in America know of the Anglican Church through the Episcopal Church, which was formed by Church of England parishioners after the Revolutionary War. After the war, these parishioners needed to separate from the Church of England because the Anglican clergy are required to swear allegiance to the British monarch as the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. After all, we had just kicked the English out of the country, how could the clergy pledge alliegence to the British monarch?
In the 1970s several traditional conservative church leaders decided to left the Episcopal Church because it began to ignore traditional faith and practice, and instead chose the popular philosophies and ideas of the day, namely, feminism, and carelessness toward marriage, sexuality, and abortion. These church leaders began the Anglican Communion.
Catholic: We are Catholic because we believe and practice the ancient catholic faith of the Church. The word “Catholic” is not synomonous with Roman Catholic, however. For example, Greek and Russian Orthodox churches are by all definitions “Catholic,” but they, like us are not under the authority of the Pope. Like all Catholics, however, we preach the faith as it has been handed down through the ages and we center our worship on the Holy Eucharist, typically called the Mass.
Excerpted from the pamphlet, “What is an…Anglican Catholic?” from the “WHAT IS — ? SERIES”, The Anglican Catholic Church, www.anglicancatholic.org