With the arrival of Eastertide, I thought I might mention the fact that my wife and I, after years of wandering the eclessiastical halls of Jesus’ Kingdom, have embraced the Anglican Way. There are a number of reasons for this, but perhaps the most important is, as J.I. Packer writes, that “Anglicanism embodies the richest, truest, wisest heritage in all Christendom.” Of course, I don’t intend here to provide an ecclesial apologetic for the Church of England. Others have done that quite well. What I would like to point out is the way in which Anglicanism happily admits that it is not the final form of Jesus’ church. Anglicanism envisions itself as a diaconal presence within the wider body of Christ. It is a gracious, ecclesial generosity in the midst of tired theological prejudice, suspicion, triumphalism, and ancient sectarian exclusivism. Yes, Anglicanism has a distinctive set of theological and historical commitments that both define and distinguish it. But these boundaries do not delimit its ethos of happy participation in the Kingdom of Jesus (especially when that Kingdom seems to be coming in communions other than our own). While we pray the Book of Common Prayer, confess the 39 Articles, read the reformers and divines, and teach the catechism, we celebrate the pluriform ways that God is working through His Spirit today. Our worship and our doctrine are ancient. But we do not demand other communions trace their origin to the See of Canterbury.
Anglicanism is Reformational Catholicism, which is to say—we are evangelical Protestants in the great tradition of the ancient, apostolic church. And while there is an unsavory amount of bad ‘via media’ sloganizing (such that ‘Anglicanism’ is a theological choose-your-own-adventure), Anglicanism remains, in fact, a ‘via media’. “It hath been the wisdom of the Church of England,” as the preface to the 1662 BCP goes, “ever since the first compiling of her Publick Liturgy, to keep the mean between the two extremes, of too much stiffness in refusing, and of too much easiness in admitting any variation from it.” It is this discerning circumspection, in addition to its calculated generosity toward the non-Anglicans in Jesus’ Kingdom, that I found so attractive. Like many minimalistic evangelicals, I began craving a deeper sacramental and liturgical life in the Lord. I wanted reformation doctrine with ancient, apostolic worship. And in a rather interesting twist of divine providence, this Easter morning, while visiting family in Houston, my wife and I found ourselves as reformed evangelicals in a rather Anglo-Catholic parish, praying the 1662 BCP, and kneeling in celebration as we received the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.