Why I Became Anglican (And You Should, Too!)

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After nearly four years of prayer, discernment, and hard discussions with friends and mentors, I officially left the Southern Baptist life I had grown up in to be confirmed into the Anglican Church of North America. This was a difficult decision for me. I had grown to love the biblical commitment of the SBC and the spot-on work of so many of my favorite theologians within it. I had no ill will towards the SBC (and still do not). However, my convictions of catholicity and ecclesiology sent me on a discernment journey. This ultimately led me, with great joy, to the Anglican Church. Below are five reasons why I became Anglican (and why you should, too).

1.   Anglicanism is Catholic

The Anglican Tradition has roots as far back as the early 4th century (some say even earlier), with mentions of a Christian presence in Britain. The Church of England officially found its place in 597 A.D., after Pope Gregory sent a priest named Augustine (not that Augustine) to start a church. Augustine would become the first Archbishop of Canterbury.

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While the Church of England officially split from the Roman Church in 1534, they maintained their catholicity through their allegiance to the early Church’s ecumenical councils and creeds and the episcopal hierarchy that had led Christ’s Church for over a millennium. Anglicans follow the liturgical calendar, recognize saints, and embrace the ancient doctrine of Christ’s “real presence” in the Eucharist. While there is undoubtedly a “start date” for the Church of England splitting from Rome, the Anglican tradition is married to the ancient Church in a way other Protestant traditions are not.

2.   Anglicanism is Reformed

Aside from King Henry VIII’s infamous quest for a divorce, many leaders in the Church of England were genuinely questioning the evolving teaching of the Roman Catholic Church (such as the doctrines of Purgatory and justification). The Reformation influenced leaders in the Church of England to push for their own reform.

This return to the authority of Scripture, headed by figures such as Thomas Cranmer, ultimately led to the Church of England breaking communion with the Roman Catholic Church in 1534. This resulted in many changes. One of these is the establishment of the 39 Articles of Religion, which is strikingly similar to other reformational confessions. For this reason, many Anglicans have called themselves “reformed Catholics” to express the necessity of reforming the Church while maintaining their connection to the catholic and apostolic tradition.

3.   Anglican Liturgy is Beautiful

One of the greatest gifts of the English Reformation is the Book of Common Prayer. Compiled by Thomas Cranmer (and revised numerous times throughout Anglican history), this book is full of prayers, liturgies for the Church, and LOTS of Scripture! This was even more impressive at the time because it was written in the native language, a novel implementation of the Reformers (the Catholic Church did not allow non-Latin worship services until 1969).

One can not find a more beautiful and poetic worship service than that found in an Anglican Church. This is true not merely within Protestantism but within Catholicism as well. The Anglican Church not only maintained the beautiful liturgical tradition of the ancient Church after the Reformation but got a 500-year head start on Rome in writing liturgy in the native tongue.

*3.5. Anglicanism is Biblical!

Every Anglican worship service includes a reading from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the New Testament, and a Gospel book. The Book of Common Prayer contains almost the entire Bible. It also includes the Daily Office for personal prayer/devotion. In this, the reader goes through the Holy Scriptures in a two-year period. The Bible, and all of it, is inescapable in the Anglican Church!

4. Anglicanism is Diverse

Depending on whom you ask, this may be a negative or a positive trait. Unlike most Protestant denominations, Anglicanism strongly emphasizes catholic unity over doctrinal unity, with the early creeds and councils as a general guide. Of course, this has its own flaws, but it also works beautifully to unite Christians. In the Anglican Church, you will find reformed readers of Calvin, charismatic continuationists, sacramental Anglo-Catholics, and plain old Evangelical Protestants, all worshiping under the same roof! This sort of unity makes it more challenging to fight harmful teachings within the Church (a relevant issue in the Anglican Communion today). However, it also unites Christians in a unique way that looks toward that day in paradise where we will overcome our theological differences as we worship our Savior face to face.

5.   Anglicanism is Global

The Apostle Paul reminds us that, in the Kingdom of Heaven, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:25-28). The Anglican Church is unique in that it is globally united. While its roots are unmistakably English, the Church has grown and evolved over the last five centuries to become an impressive multicultural body. Continuing the catholic tradition of the ancient Church, Anglican bishops from all over the world gather to represent their dioceses. The global Church meets to discuss theological issues, reaffirm their unity through communion, equip themselves to effectively preach the gospel, and prepare the next generation of leaders.

The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) has been meeting since 2008 to address issues within the Church. They have met in places such as Jerusalem, Kenya, and Rwanda. The Anglican Communion is no longer a Western expression of the faith that has simply spread worldwide. It is a global expression of World Christianity where all voices are heard.

Conclusion

These are some of the primary reasons that led me to join the Anglican Church. While we are not perfect, I have found great joy and peace in the Anglican Church and a strong and tangible connection to the Great Tradition. I hope you consider some of these reasons as you continue your own pursuit of Christ.

Photo “Anglican Cross Backlit By Sun” by Nathan McDaniel for Getty Images, courtesy of Canva.

Author

Andrew Bass

Andrew Bass is the Director of Student Ministries for St. Francis Anglican Parish in Sanford, NC, and a master’s student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

View more from Andrew Bass

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