The term Anglicanism is one that is not well understood by those outside of the Anglican Church. It is best to look at some related definitions in order to fully understand the term Anglicanism.
The word Anglican originates from the Medieval Latin phrase, ecclesia anglicana, which means the English Church. The English Church became the Church of England in 1534. An Anglican is an individual who adheres to and follows the core beliefs and traditions of the Church of England.
The term Anglicanism was first used in the 19th century. It is the combination of the words Anglican and ism. The term Anglican is used to define the core beliefs and traditions of the Church of England and ism meaning a distinctive belief and doctrine.
It is not a special form of Christianity. It is a preservation of the authentic Christianity as given to the Apostles by our Lord Jesus Christ and passed down from generation to generation (Jude 1:3). Anglicans understand the Word of God as set forth in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible to contain all things necessary for salvation and to be the rule and ultimate standard for Christian living. In other words, the Bible is the anchor of our faith and everything Anglican is tied to it.
The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion are a doctrinal statement developed and written by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, along with other clergy, in the mid 16th century and approved by Queen Elizabeth I in 1571. The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion helped to define Anglicanism, along with the first four Councils of the Church, the Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed, the Creed of Saint Athanasius, and the Book of Common Prayer. The authority of the Thirty-Nine Articles comes as a result of their agreement with Scripture.
The Anglican Church is a liturgical church. The word liturgy comes from the Greek leitourgia, which means “participation of the people in the work of God.” Our liturgy is one in which the whole congregation participates. Not only does the liturgy provide order and sequence for the service, but it also reminds us of the great traditions of the Early Church that we have maintained for hundreds of years.
The centerpiece of the Anglican worship service is the Eucharist or Holy Communion. Anglicans focus their worship on communion because the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was instituted, indeed commanded, by Christ Himself for the continual remembrance of His life, death, and resurrection, and of the promise that He will come again. It is a very powerful and uplifting sacrament that renews us to serve the Lord with all our heart, mind, and spirit. It is Anglicanism at its best.
It has been said that Anglicanism is a container for Christian truth to be passed along from generation to generation. That is our mission.
Anglican House Publishers (anglicanhousepublishers.org)
Anglican House Publishers is an Affiliated Ministry of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). Anglican House Publishers presents materials of interest of interest on Anglicanism for congregations, other Christians and seekers. Two Diocese of Western Anglican authors of note that produce educational materials for congregations are Ron Speers, author and executive producer for Surprising Merrily – The Movie, and Bud Davis PhD, author of Celebrate Anglicanism.