“How can you feel kindly toward the Episcopalians?” one asks. “Don’t you know that the Anglican Church started when King Henry VIII wanted another wife and the Pope wouldn’t agree, so KH-8 started his own Church of England?”
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Most Protestant churches would be greatly enriched by a hearty dose of Anglican eucharistic liturgy (the Communion service) — and few Protestants have a better statement of Reformation principles at their disposal than those reflected in the Thirty-Nine Articles and the Catechism found in the Book of Common Prayer. Nor do I know of any church which regularly reads more from the Bible, Sunday after Sunday, than the Anglican-Episcopalian.
Because Anglicanism has such solid historical, liturgical and creedal footings (not perfect, of course, or above room for criticism), it can safely open the windows to winds of spiritual renewal (whether Oxfordian, methodistic or charismatic) without fearing that the house will blow away. And, because the Lord’s Supper is the central element of worship every Lord’s Day — involving profoundly meaningful language contained in the Book of Common Prayer — one can expect a Scripture-filled and God-centered worship each week regardless of the quality or even the faith of the preacher.
At its best, Anglicanism remembers what historical Christianity rightly proclaims in both Gospel and doctrine, the moral life to which that calls us, what it means to live holistically in God’s world, and how to be “Christian” in all that we do. Here one thinks easily of C.S. Lewis, J. I. Packer, John W. Wenham and others. Unfortunately, the media do not usually focus on that best part but rather on the aberrations — whether the late Bishop James Pike or today’s Bishop Spong and Bishop Righter, renegade clerics whose outrageous shenanigans and blasphemous pronouncements embarrass that great host of Episcopal laity, clergy and other bishops who believe and proclaim the Gospel and attempt to live responsible moral lives before God in response to it.