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Anglicanism is the term used for the doctrine, religious belief, faith, system, practice and principles of the Church of England and its overseas churches. Anglicanism is a Protestant form of Christianity. The term at its broadest includes those who have accepted the work of the English Reformation as embodied in the Church of England or in the offshoot Churches which in other countries have adhered, at least substantially, to its doctrines, its organization, and its liturgy. It is sometimes seen as being the middle way, between Roman Catholicism and extreme Protestantism. This is because, in the English Reformation, the English Church kept the early Catholic ministry of bishops, priests, and deacons. The critical point which led to the Anglican Church was the outright rejection of the Pope, and so of the Catholic Church as an organisation.
The term Anglican derives from a Medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 - ecclesia anglicana -meaning 'the English Church'. The noun Anglican is used to describe the people, institutions and churches as well as the liturgical traditions and theological concepts developed by the state established Church of England and the Anglican Communion, a theologically broad and often divergent affiliation of thirty-eight provinces that are in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Anglican beliefs range from the bread and wine becoming the actual Body and Blood of Christ in the course of worship, to the idea of these two being shared at Holy Communion only as a memorial of the life that Jesus Christ gave for all humanity on the Cross. The first ('High Church') is in the minority. It is similar to the belief of Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy. The second (the majority 'Low Church') is like the belief of most Protestants. It is fundamentally a Protestant church because the Bible is the source of authority, not the Pope.
The name Anglican for this Church comes from the Latin word for English because the Church started in England. In the British Isles, Anglican has been the official or State religion in all parts at one time or another. Anglican Church leaders, and the State, worked together in what is called the alliance of Throne and Altar or Church and State. Together, they tried to make the Anglican denomination as broad and welcoming as possible to a wide range of Christian believers.
They did this to try to get as many citizens as they could to worship in the official church.
Origin in Britain
In the British Isles, and early British colonies, this was done to try to defeat both the followers of the Roman Catholic Church and all the kinds of Protestants too by including their best ideas, traditions, and practices in the Anglican Church. Now, the only place in the United Kingdom where Anglicanism is still the official religion is England, where the monarch, Queen Elizabeth II is the Supreme Governor on Earth of the Church of England. The effective government of the Church is by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the legal Church Parliament known as the General Synod.
Spread of Influence
In the rest of the world, Anglicanism was spread by overseas colonisation, settlement, and missionary work. It functions there as an ordinary denomination of Christianity without special status. Anglicans around the world join together in a group of national churches in countries where there are Anglican Churches to make the world-wide Anglican Communion. There are more than 80 million Anglicans in the world today. Most live in Africa and Asia and are not of British ethnic heritage anymore. There is a great chance that the Anglican Communion will not survive the stress of these serious issues, and will split into liberal and conservative groups. Already, there are Anglicans who have broken from the main Churches to form their own separate groups of believers. Some use the term Anglican combined with the word Catholic, Christian, Reformed, or Episcopal.
At the same time, leaders from the Anglican Communion hold talks with the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches to try to work toward Christian unity. At times, there has been some progress. Also, the Anglican and Lutheran Churches have agreed to a high level of shared beliefs, leadership, and practices called intercommunion.
- Movements and denominations
- Prominent Anglican Thinkers
- Encarta dictionary under Anglicanism
- Amercian Heritage Dictionary under Anglicanism
- Catholic Encyclopedia under Anglicanism
- Hein, David, ed. (1991) Readings in Anglican Spirituality. Cincinnati: Forward Movement.
- Hein, David, and Gardiner H. Shattuck Jr. (2005). The Episcopalians. New York: Church Publishing.
- Jasper, R.C.D. (1989). The Development of the Anglican Liturgy, 1662-1980. London: SPCK.
- More and Cross. Anglicanism.
- Neill, Stephen. Anglicanism.
- Sachs, William L. (1993). The Transformation of Anglicanism: From State Church to Global Community. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Sykes, Stephen, Booty, John, & Knight, Jonathan, (eds.). The Study of Anglicanism. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.
- Temple, William. Doctrine in the Church of England.
- Anglican Communion - The official site of the Anglican Communion.
- What it means to be an Anglican: Official Church of England site
- Anglican Historical Texts
- Anglicans Online - An unofficial site of the Anglican Communion. One of the biggest resources of Anglicanism in the world.
- Anglicanism: ReligionFacts.com - Articles on Anglican history, ritual, and organisation, plus an image gallery of people and places.