Posted by: dacalu | 11 April 2013

Episcopal Theology 101

During Lent, I conducted an Episcopal 101 class that introduces students to the peculiarities of Anglican faith.  In the section on theology, I gave them a handout that presents a cartoon version (the merest sketch) of how we think about God, creation, church, etc.  I’ve reprinted some of it here.


The Creed

Anglicans usually start with scripture, the Lord’s prayer, the Nicene and Apostles Creeds.  Because we value prayed theology over academic theology, we meet these in worship.


Catholic v. Anglican v. Protestant Beliefs

|                                     Protestant              Anglican                  Catholic

Salvation is                   Personal                     Both                            Communal

Church is                       Creedal                       Pragmatic                   Universal

Sacraments no.                 2                                  2 (+5)                         7

Sacraments are             Divine                        Useful                          Effective

|                                    Commands               Rites                            Signs

Prime Authority            Biblical                      Scripture thru           Apostolic

|                                    (scripture)                Tradition thru          (tradition)

|                                                                  Reason

Leaders                           Pastor (job)               varies                         Priest (identity)

|    highest level              Elder                           Bishop                       Pope

Commitment to             no mediator              local church          communion of saints

|                                                                 (diocese)               (Roman Catholic Church)


Specifically Anglican Commitments

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi – What we pray is what we believe

Via Media – “The middle way” – giving attention to all authorities, but weighing each according to its merits

Praxis over Doctrine – We define ourselves as the people who worship, work for, and think about God in the same way, rather than the people who belong to a particular group, do a particular act, or adhere to a particular doctrine.

Creation Oriented Spirituality – The good of creation is greater than the evil of any sin and, though we struggle, God always wins through creation, not over it.

All May, Some Should, None Must – Private confession and many other practices are done because they help some (but not all) achieve a closer relationship with God.  They are not enforced or prohibited, but encouraged.

“The Beauty of Holiness” (Ps 96:9) – Worship should engage all the senses and include the fullness of our reason, art, and science.  Thus, we are in favor of vestments, icons, candles, incense, stained glass and all manner of aids to worship – but only when they turn our attention to God.

Unity with Autonomy – National churches should be free to pursue their faith and polity free from outside coercion, but they should also strive for common understanding and connection.


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