Denominations: Anglican and Episcopal Churches (part 2)

Authority

1.  The Bible

“The Bible is acknowledged as the ‘ground’ on which any expression of Christian faith must be founded” (A Building With Foundations, anglicancommunion.org).  “Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, or may be proved to be thereby, is not to be required of any man, that is should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation” (Article 6 of the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion). 

Concerning the Apocrypha, “the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish doctrine” (Article 6).

Concerning the Old Testament, “as touching ceremonies and rites, do not bind Christian men, nor civil precepts… yet notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called moral” (Article 7). 

2.  Three Creeds (ancient)

“The Three Creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius’ Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles’ Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed: for they may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture” (Article 8).

3.  Thirty-Nine Articles

“In 1571, Parliament made adherence to the 39 Articles a legal requirement, and though the statue no longer holds, they remain the basis of Anglican Faith in England to this day” (The 39 Articles, britainexpress.com).  “In 1571, the Thirty-Nine Articles were finalized and placed in the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer… The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion were established to show the difference between the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England” (The 39 Articles of Religion, englishhistory.net).

4.  Catechisms

“There are also catechisms in which a series of questions and answers are posed to young people or adults who seek baptism or confirmation normally set out, in context of teaching, key beliefs which a professing Anglican might be expected to hold.  “To Be A Christian” is the latest Anglican Catechism.  It is copyrighted 2020. 

Beliefs and Practices

1.  Original Sin

They believe in original sin.  “Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam… but it is the fault and the corruption of the nature of every man.  Man… is of his own nature inclined to evil… every person born into this world… deserveth God’s wrath and damnation.  And this infection of nature doth remain, yea in them that are regenerated… although there is no condemnation for them that believe and is baptized” (Article 9). 

They believe that man of his own lacks free will.  “The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself by his own natural strength and good works to faith… without the grace of God by Christ preventing (going before – B.H.) us, that we may have good will” (Article 10).

2.  Justification

“We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by faith, and not for our own works of deservings.  Wherefore, that we are justified by Faith only, is a most wholesome Doctrine, and very full of comfort” (Article 11). 

3.  Predestination

Article 17 concerns predestination.  It was not especially helpful to me.

Who do they believe is elect?  “If you want to know whether you are elect, all you need to know is whether or not you have been baptized” (The Anglican View of Predestination, Part IV, conciliaranglican.com). 

4.  Two Sacraments

“Sacraments ordained of Christ be not only badges or tokens of Christian men’s profession, but rather they be certain sure witnesses, and effective signs of grace, and God’s good will toward us, by which he doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken but also strengthen and confirm our Faith in him.  There are two sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, baptism and the Supper of the Lord” (Article 25). 

5.  Baptism

“Baptism is not only a sign of profession… It is also a sign of Regeneration of New Birth… that they receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church.  The Promises of the forgiveness of sins, and of adoption to be the sons of God” (Article 27).  Notice that their justification by faith only does not exclude the necessity of baptism.  

The young are baptized.  “The Baptism of young children is… to be retained in the Church” (Article 27).

Sprinkling is common.  “Baptisms by immersion are not common in the Episcopal Church” says Rev. Lisa G. Fischbeck, Vicar, The Episcopal church of Advocate, Carrboro, North Carolina (Baptism by Immersion, theadvocatechurch.org).   

6.  Lord’s Supper

“The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves one to another; but rather it is a sacrament of our Redemption by Christ’s death” (Article 28).

“Transubstantiation… in the Supper of the Lord cannot be proved by Holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture… and hath given occasion to many superstitions” (Article 28). 

“The Cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the Lay-people: for both parts of the Lord’s sacraments, by Christ’s ordinances and commandment, ought to be ministered to all Christian men alike” (Article 30, Note: The Roman Catholics have at times offered the bread alone to the Laity and have withheld the Cup arguing that the blood was in the flesh.  The intent may been to prevent members from spilling the cup – B.H.).

“The offering of Christ once made is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all sins of the whole world… wherefore the sacrifices of Masses, in which it is commonly said, that priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables, and dangerous deceits” (Article 31). 

7.  Sin after Baptism

Man may depart from the grace he has received.  Thank God, he can also be forgiven.  “We may arise again, and amend our lives” (Article 16). 

8.  Purgatory, etc.

“The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping and Adoration, as well as Images as of Relics and also the Invocation of Saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented and grounded upon no warranty of scripture, but rather repugnant to the word of God” (Article 22). 

9.  Marriage of Priest

“Bishops, Priests and Deacons, are not commanded by God’s Law, either to vow the estate of single life, or to abstain from marriage: therefore it is lawful for them, as for all other Christian men, to marry at the own discretion” (Article 32). 

10.  Tradition

It is not necessary that Traditions and Ceremonies be in all places one, or utterly alike… Every particular or national Church hath authority to ordain, change, abolish, ceremonies or Rights of the church ordained only by man’s authority, so that all things be done to edifying” (Article 34). 

Differences: Anglican v. Episcopal

1.  Slightly different prayer book and 39 Articles of Religion

While they are close, there are slight differences.  One difference is that the U.S. version of the 39 Articles omits reference to the king (Article 37).  The Anglican version reads, “The King’s Majesty hath chief power in this realm of England, and other his Dominions… The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of England.”  The U.S. version reads, “The power of the civil magistrate extendeth to all men… in all things temporal; but hath no authority in things purely spiritual.”

 2.  Doctrine   

“In regards to doctrinal beliefs, the Anglican Church is far more conservative than the Episcopal Church” (The Anglican Church and The Episcopal Church, differences.net).  In 2016, the Anglican communion decided to temporarily suspend the Episcopal Church U.S.A. from full participation in the Anglican Communion.  “The move comes at the behest of conservative bishops – mostly from Africa – who are unhappy with the American church’s stance on same-sex marriage and gay clergy” (Tom Gjelten, Anglican Communion Temporarily Suspends U.S. Episcopal Church, January 15, 2016, npr.org).

Organization

1.  Anglican Communion

“The Anglican Communion is an organization of autonomous national (or regional – B.H.) churches connected with the Church of England” (Anglican organization, religiousfacts.com).  There are 38 provinces which make up the Anglican Communion.  Each province is overseen by a chief Bishop or Archbishop, also known as a Primate (Jessica Elgot, What is the Anglican Communion and Why is it Under Threat?, theguardian.com).  Each province is made up of Dioceses or districts of churches called parishes.  Each Diocese is overseen by a Bishop (The Episcopal Church: Who We Are, Past and Present, stjohnsroanoke.org).  In each parish is under a priest called Vicar or Rector (vocabulary, anglican.org).

2.  Church of England

“The Church of England is headed by the King or Queen of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury”  (Anglican Organization, religionfacts.com).  “The role (of King or Queen – B.H.)  is primarily symbolic, but the King or Queen of England does have a hand in selecting the Archbishop of Canterbury as well as legal jurisdiction over all properties of the Church of England.  The British Prime Minister plays a more significant role, as he nominates his choice for Archbishop of Canterbury” (ibid).  The Archbishop is considered the spiritual and moral leader of the Anglican Communion.  He is considered first among equals.  He has no direct authority over other Provinces.  “His authority is similar to that of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople with respect to Greek Orthodox churches” (ibid). 

3.  Episcopal Church U.S.A.

The Episcopal Church is organized much the same way.  It has a presiding Bishop or Primate.  It is organized into Diocese which are overseen by Bishops.  It is explained, “In the English colonies of North America, the Church of England was often referred to by other Christians as ‘that church with Bishops.”  The Greek word for bishop is episkopos, and in the common speech the colonial Church of England became known as ‘the Episcopal Church”… Thus, our very name means that the Episcopal Church is structured around bishops.  Episcopal bishops, like bishops in the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, trace their authority all the way back to the generation of Christ’s apostles, through a historical process of the laying on of hands known as apostolic succession” (The Episcopal Church: Who We Are, Past and Present, stjohnsroanoke.org).

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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