In case you haven’t heard, we recently published Simply Anglican: An Ancient Faith for Today’s World by Winfield Bevins (#1 New Release in Anglican Christianity!).

It’s an easy-to-read introduction to Anglicanism, prompting many of our readers to ask “What’s the difference between Simply Anglican and The Anglican Way: A Guidebook by Thomas McKenzie?”

Similarities

This is an excellent question, because these two books are, on the face of it, pretty similar.

  • They are both easy-to-read, one-stop-shop introductions to Anglicanism.
  • Both authors are priests within the ACNA.
  • Both authors have written for Anglican Pastor/Compass!
  • Both books present what I would call a “clarity & charity” vision of Anglicanism. That is, they emphasize the strengths of Anglicanism and, while they both get into some of the divisions within global Anglicanism, neither book bashes opponents or defines itself by what it’s not.

Put simply: these are complementary books. If you’ve got the time and money, you should buy and read them both!

Differences

As far as differences go, it might be helpful to begin by comparing the tables of contents.

Here’s the TOC for Simply Anglican

  • Introduction
  • 1. Story: A Brief History of Anglicanism
  • 2. Orthodoxy: Anglican Beliefs
  • 3. Prayer: The Book of Common Prayer
  • 4. Liturgy: How Anglicans Worship
  • 5. Sacraments: Baptism and Eucharist
  • 6. Scripture: Anglicans and the Bible
  • 7. Order: Holy Orders and Structure
  • 8. Mission: Anglican Mission Today
  • 9. Charity: Embracing the Anglican Via Media
  • Conclusion
  • Glossary of Anglican Terms

Here’s the TOC for The Anglican Way

  • Ch. 1 Welcome to the Anglican Way
  • Ch. 2 A Brief History of the Anglican Church
  • Part I. The Compass Rose
    • Ch. 3 Introducing the Compass Rose
    • Ch. 4 Anglicans Are Evangelical
    • Ch. 5 Anglicans Are Catholic
    • Ch. 6 Anglicans Are Charismatic
    • Ch. 7 Anglicans Are Orthodox
    • Ch. 8 Anglicans Are Activist
    • Ch. 9 Anglicans Are Contemplative
    • Ch. 10 Anglicans Are Conservative and Liberal
    • Ch. 11 Anglicans Are on a Mission
  • Part II Walking the Anglican Way
    • Ch. 12 The Four Hours
    • Ch. 13 The Daily Office
    • Ch. 14 The Anglican Home
    • Ch. 15 Saturday Evening
    • Ch. 16 Liturgies for The Four Hours
    • Ch. 17 The Church Calendar
  • Part III The Anglican Church
    • Ch. 18 The Theology of the Church
    • Ch. 19 The Sacraments
    • Ch. 20 Sacramental Acts
    • Ch. 21 Introducing Anglican Worship
    • Ch. 22 Eucharist: The Liturgy of the Word
    • Ch. 23 Eucharist: The Liturgy of Communion
    • Ch. 24 Organizing and Leading the Church
    • Ch. 25 What Is a Priest?
  • Part IV. Anglican Help Desk
    • Ch. 26 Timeline of the Anglican Church
    • Ch. 27 Anglican or Episcopal?
    • Ch. 28 Finding a Church
    • Ch. 29 Women in the Clergy
    • Ch. 30 The Catechism of the Anglican Church
    • Ch. 31 A Glossary of Anglican Terms
  • Appendix
  • A Brief Bibliography 

Some Differences Worth Noting

  • Thomas McKenzie has his great “compass” framework, while there’s no such organizing framework in Winfield Bevins’s book.
  • Winfield spends more time summarizing Anglican history and talking about Anglican mission(s).
  • Thomas has more nitty-gritty “how to” content. (Liturgies for the four hours; catechism; timeline; etc. Though both books have a glossary.)
  • Since it was published, The Anglican Way has become something of a cult classic among newcomers to Anglicanism in the USA (like myself! This book was recommended to me when I was a new Anglican and it was very helpful).
  • However, Simply Anglican, due to later publication date, is able to reference the content of both the 2019 BCP and the ACNA Catechism throughout.

What the Authors Themselves Had to Say

Since I figured it would be helpful to hear directly from the authors how they would describe the differences between their two books, I emailed both Winfield Bevins and Thomas McKenzie.

Winfield said that Thomas’s book

seems more practical and offers more details of living out the Anglican Way as you mentioned. While my book is more theoretical and narrative (at times telling stories of people who have embraced Anglicanism) and focuses more on the broad brushstrokes of Anglicanism (history, theology, liturgy, mission, etc). Thomas goes a little deeper into explaining how to actually use the BCP, liturgy, etc, while I go a little deeper into the history and theology, including the via media, using footnotes and offering recommended reading so readers can go deeper if they choose. His is kind of a “how-to manual,” while mine is more a “what and why we do what we do.” His is more comprehensive, while mine is more focused on a few key themes.

They both seek to accomplish similar goals of introducing people to Anglicanism but take different approaches, which I think is very Anglican! I think they can and do complement each other in a unique way.

Thomas had this to say:

I think you all are correct. I’d say that the subtitle of The Anglican Way, “a Guidebook” is helpful. It’s about how to live and worship in the Anglican Way. It’s not nearly as concerned with history, but rather with practicalities. It’s also meant to provide an entry point for people from different backgrounds. They can (hopefully) understand how their tradition interacts with and is incorporated by Anglicanism.

As you can tell, the authors are friends and are supportive of each other’s work!

Bottom Line: Read Them Both!

Like I said above, Simply Anglican and The Anglican Way are complementary books. You should buy and read them both for an excellent introduction to the Anglican tradition.

That being said, if you like Simply Anglican, please consider helping us promote the book! The most helpful thing you can do to help the book succeed is to buy a copy from Amazon and, if you like the book, leave a 5-star review!

(By the way, if you’d like to read a free sample of Simply Anglican before buying, please go here!)