Why be Distinctively Christian, Distinctively Anglican?
true of individuals and institutions that what is often a great strength can
become a great liability. The Anglican/Episcopal Church is no different. I come
to the Anglican Church not by chance, but by theological choice. I see in the
Anglican Church the opportunity to say yes to the deepest richness of all the
Church of Christ.
decades, the Anglican/Episcopal Church has struggled with its identity.
Embracing both protestant and catholic traditions, the Anglican/Episcopal
Church has, through the centuries, struggled to distinguish itself. It is from
this ambiguity, I call us to be distinctive for Christ; distinctively Christian
and distinctively Anglican. I am a definitively Anglican priest. I come to this
denomination for the expressed purpose of embracing all the theology of the
orthodox and catholic traditions, and all the evangelical and biblical purposefulness of the protestant traditions. I have come to be Anglican for a
distinctive reason, and yet I find I have come into a tradition that has
equivocated on its call. And it need not.
is the best of both the protestant and catholic worlds. Anglicanism is a
protestant-catholic tradition; a bridge between the two worlds that need not be
opposed. Anglicanism has something distinctive to offer the ecclesiastical
landscape, without which the world would be less. I have been Roman Catholic,
Orthodox, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Evangelical and Baptist (not necessarily in
that order). I am decidedly Anglican. And in the fullness of all that is
Anglican, I believe I have the best of all that is offered in the Roman Church,
the Orthodox Church, the Lutheran Church, the Presbyterian Church and the
Baptist Church (and the multiple other denominations within the protestant and
catholic traditions which, for mere lack of space, I have not mentioned).
private faith with personal answers to life’s basic questions is NOT Christianity.”
– Rev. Peter Moore, (One Lord, One Faith, p. 10.) Karl Barth, the noted German theologian,
spoke not only of one’s need for conversion to Christ, but also of a conversion
to Christ’s Church. While faith is personal and I need make it my own,
Christianity is, by definition, a shared experience with all who have found
Jesus to be the way, the truth, and the life. Christianity is, by Christ’s
design, corporate. It is in the Church, with the Church and through the Church.
The question therefore, is not “if” the Church, but “which” church.
the heart of the Anglican distinctiveness is its comprehensiveness in devotion
and doctrine. At the core of our Anglican denomination is the richness of the
universal Church; the ability to embrace that which has been believed
everywhere, always and by all. The Church is called to be ever traditional in
teaching, yet contemporary in leading people into all the fullness of the
Gospel of Christ. From the first century to the twenty-first century, in the
Anglican Church I believe one can say yes to that which has been the richness
of all of Christ’s Church.