Randomness, Years 3 & 4
Issue 64
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Issue 64
Issue 66
Issue 67
Issue 68
Issue 69
Issue 71
Issue 72
Issue 73
Issue 74

Why I Am Anglican

What I am about to say must be said. I have being wanting to say this for a while, but I have not had a chance. In the light of certain events in the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster in British Columbia, I felt it necessary to write this. I am an Anglican and I love the Anglican Church--let me tell you why.

First and foremost, I am a Christian. This fact is of utmost importance. I count myself first as a follower of Jesus. I may not always reflect this in my attitudes, but that is my fault. I strive to follow Jesus more than anything else. I love Him. He is immensely great. He is good. He is God. He is worthy of all glory, honour, and praise. But as a Christian, I follow Jesus as an Anglican. The way I am a Christian is Anglican. The sort of Christian I am is Anglican. Just as I am, first and foremost, human, I am also one of English descent. The sort of human I am is English. I am biologically human and racially English. I am spiritually Christian and . . . spiritually Anglican--but Anglican is a sort of sub-category.

I am not an Anglican for the same reason I am racially English--that is, my parents were, and their parents before them, and so on and so forth. My parents are Anglican, and their parents before them, but that is not a reason. Nor am I Anglican because I have attended the Anglican Church for my whole life. Although my Anglican upbringing may have influenced my decision to be Anglican, it is not my sole reason for being a member of the Anglican Church of Canada and attending an Anglican church. Nor am I Anglican simply because I attend an Anglican church every Sunday. A Baptist or a Catholic could attend an Anglican church every Sunday for a year and be as Baptist or Catholic when she leaves.

Some people choose to attend a church because they are "comfortable there", they "like it", they "have friends there", "enjoy the worship", "can walk there in five minutes from home", or something of the like. In Ottawa, I attend St. Alban the Martyr Anglican Church. I went there for the first time because it had been recommended to me by my parents who received a recommendation from its rector and someone else. I went there the second time because I slept in and I could walk there in five minutes from home. I continue to go there because I prayed about it and felt the Spirit of God directing me to St. Alban's. I continue to go there because I really like Rev. George's preaching. I continue to go there because I can grow in God there, I find worshipping God easier there than at some churches, I have opportunities to serve there, there is a strong Godly community there. While it is true that I "am comfortable there", "like it", "have friends there", "enjoy the worship", "can walk there in five minutes from home", these are not my original, primary, or ultimate reasons for going to St. Alban's each Sunday while in Ottawa. Choosing a local church must rely on more than whims, preferences, or emotions. One of my friends started attending St. Alban's because she felt God calling her there, despite the fact that she didn't really want to, that she was a little confused there, slightly uncomfortable with the liturgy, et cetera. She attended for a few months at the traditional service, then started attending the contemporary service when it started up. One day, she went to the traditional service and commented to me later that she missed that service. Now, it is certain that she wants to attend St. Alban's and is no longer confused or uncomfortable. But she chose the church she felt God calling her to. I don't know why God called her to that church, but we must always pay attention to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

A few of my reasons for attending St. Alban's are the same as the reasons why I am Anglican. I feel a call to this church. I believe that the Anglican Church of Canada needs not only a strong body of orthodox clergy but a large, firm body of orthodox laity to serve as a bulwark for the clergy and as defence against the Enemy's attacks. I feel called to serve God in such a capacity. I am Anglican because I like the preaching of true Anglicanism, and the style and approach both to preaching and Scripture the Anglican Church traditionally takes. I can grow in God as an Anglican and find worshipping God easier in Anglican settings than in non-Anglican settings. I have opportunities to serve in the Anglican Church; there is a strong Godly community in the Anglican Church of Canada. While all of the more subjective reasons I mentioned earlier are true of my attitude towards the Anglican Church, they are not my primary or ultimate reasons for being Anglican. Choosing a denomination must rely on the same sorts of demands as choosing a local church.

Critics of the Anglican Church may look at it and say that it is too religious. Non-critics may look at it and say that they would be distracted from worshipping in some of the somewhat elaborate churches or by the ceremonies. Ceremony itself is meaningless. Ceremony itself does not make us holy. Ceremony itself does not show us God. In Leviticus 10, Aaron's sons are killed by the Lord for performing the right ceremony at the wrong time (it was also in disobedience to God). Under the Old Covenant, salvation does not come from the sacrifices but from a contrite heart. Under the New Covenant, praying the sinner's prayer or getting baptised does not guarantee salvation. Having Jesus living in one's heart guarantees salvation. Many ceremonies are involved in Anglican worship. We have liturgies as the structure for our main worship services. We have various prayers for various occasions. For myself and many Anglicans, the ceremonies and liturgy are tools that bring us to God. God uses them in our hearts and minds to pull us to Him. But without God, the ceremonies are bankrupt and meaningless. Will Ferrey says, "The liturgy is not God, but God is in the liturgy." I am Anglican because God uses the ceremonies to draw me to Him and grow in knowledge and love of Him.

I am Anglican because I find that I agree with Anglican doctrine. One thing to note about Anglicanism is its lack of complete, concrete doctrinal statements. In an essay by Richard Holloway (not sure if this is the one who just retired as Archbishop of Edinburgh), he talks about theology and doctrine as a sort of dart-board, with some darts falling closer to the bull's eye of Truth than others. He says that at its best, the Anglican Church cuts through the other issues and penetrates to the heart of Truth. The official doctrine of the Anglican Church is found in the 39 Articles of Religion. True Anglicanism follows the 39 Articles of Religion. These articles all line up with biblical truth and do not leave room for non-biblical practice or teaching. Article XX, "Of the Authority of the Church", reads:

The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in Controversies of Faith: And yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God's Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of Salvation.

Article XXI makes mention of something similar, saying a that things ordained by General Councils "as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of holy Scripture." The Articles have, throughout, mentions of Scripture, saying some practices are condemned because they are "repugnant to the Word of God" and that other things may be practised unless they go against the Word of God. One of the reasons I like Anglican doctrine (such as it be) is the fact that it stays with the Word of God and essentials, yet allows for liberty in non-essentials. I choose to be an Anglican in part because of this diversity.

I feel that, at their best, Anglicanism and the Anglican Church are like Christianity and the catholic (universal) Church at their best. Anglicanism allows for disagreement yet calls for love. The only disagreement that true, traditional, historic, doctrinal Anglicanism has room for is the disagreement over non-essentials. All Anglicans must agree on the essentials of the Gospel of Christ, the supremacy of God, the authority of Scripture, the power of the Holy Spirit, the Trinity, evangelism, etc. Some people would disagree with me on these points. I would ask them to re-evaluate their status as Anglicans by rereading their Holy Bibles and the 39 Articles. Anglicanism demands the following of Scripture. Anglicanism is open for communion with other believers. Anglicanism should be open to revision of practice if such a revision would make the presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ more effective to the people to whom we minister without forfeiting the truth and beauty of that Gospel. When the Church of England was reformed, created, and organised, it was created with the view in mind that the local church is free to modify things to local practice, custom, and situation so long as the Truth is not compromised.

I could easily go into more detail about what the Anglican Church is or should be. Many of those facts are what make it attractive to me. I am attracted to this church that strives to be a holy, catholic (universal, historic), and apostolic (based on the teachings of the apostles, the early Church, and evangelism) church. I am drawn to the doctrine and practice of the Anglican Church. Certainly, there are other churches whose doctrine I agree with wholeheartedly, but I am most comfortable worshipping in an Anglican setting, and I feel called to be Anglican by God. And who am I to argue with Him?

Copyright 2002, Matthew Hoskin