An Anglican triad

In a recent sermon, Tobias Haller mentions three characteristics of Anglicanism that he values, and that he believes are under threat: humility, locality and variety.

Humility: “What attracted me most was the fact that Anglicanism is one of the few Christian traditions that says, right up front, “The church makes mistakes.” One would think, looking at the church history, that this would be obvious — but many people want a religion that will tell them what to believe, give them answers instead of questions. Whether it’s the fundamentalist’s, “The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it” or “The Pope is infallible” — some people want that kind of security, to know that they are Right.

Anglicans, however, accept that just as the people of Israel made mistakes — and boy did they make mistakes — so too the Christian Church is not immune from its own failures and errors.”

Locality: “This aspect of Anglicanism has come under a lot of pressure lately, as disagreements between the individual national churches have come to the foreground. What should be our strength is becoming an additional challenge. The strength lies in the fact that the Episcopal Church in the US doesn’t have the right to tell the Church in the Sudan what to do in the Sudan, nor does the Church in the Sudan have the right to tell the Episcopal Church what to do here in the US. The problem is, quite a few of the churches outside the Episcopal Church have in fact been trying to tell the Episcopal Church what it ought to do, indeed what it has to do if those other churches are going to continue to have any kind of relationship with it.”

Variety: “One of the things the Church of England recognized when it became independent from the Church of Rome was that not only could the form of church government differ from place to place, but also the form of prayer and worship. For instance, two changes the Church of England made at that time were to worship in English instead of Latin, and to allow the congregation to drink from the Cup. (And isn’t it interesting that some 400 years later the Church of Rome caught up?)

When the Episcopal Church became independent from the Church of England — back at the American Revolution — we Episcopalians also took advantage of the opportunity to change our liturgy — not just dropping the prayers for the royal family, but adopting a form for the Eucharist based on what was being done in Scotland instead of England. After all, it was Scottish bishops who ordained our first American Bishop!”

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