What do anglicans believe?
The Fundamental declarations
The fundamental declarations, sections 1, 2 and 3 of the Constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia, set out the basis of Anglican Belief and practice.
- The Anglican Church of Australia, being a part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ, holds the Christian Faith as professed by the Church of Christ from primitive times and in particular as set forth in the creeds known as the Nicene Creed and the Apostles’ Creed.
- This Church receives all the canonical scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as being the ultimate rule and standard of faith given by inspiration of God and contacting all things necessary for salvation.
- This Church will ever obey the commands of Christ, teach His doctrine, administer His sacraments of the Holy Baptism and Holy Communion, follow and uphold His discipline and preserve the three orders of bishops, priests and deacons in the sacred ministry.
Anglicans hold the Christian Faith
Anglicans hold the Christian faith that finds its origins in the person and teaching of Jesus Christ, as mediated by the Scriptures (the Bible) and summarised in the Creeds of the early and undivided church. In this, Anglicans are on common ground with most other Christian traditions – including that of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches. With Christians everywhere, Anglican’s believe in one God, eternally existing in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; that God the Son entered the world in a decisive way and lived among us as Jesus of Nazareth; and that the dying and rising again of Jesus of Nazareth is the means by which all persons might be reconciled to God, having been separated from God by sin.
Anglicans receive the Holy Scriptures
The most important source of belief, for all Christians, is the self-revelation of God, contained in the Holy Scriptures as the authoritative story of God’s interaction with the world and with human beings. This story begins in the 39 books of the Hebrew Bible (or ‘Old Testament’) and continues in the 27 books of the New Testament, making up a library of 66 ‘books’. Within this library of books, Anglicans believe, are “all things necessary for salvation”.
The three-legged stool: a balanced approach
The analogy of a “three-legged stool” has often been used to describe the uniquely Anglican approach to matters of faith and belief. The three legs of the stool are:
The books of the Bible, understood as being the foundational “rule and standard of faith” and “containing all things as necessary for salvation”.
In addition to the traditions of the early church, and the deposit of faith summarised in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, Anglican also embrace the reforms of the 16th century, which produced the Book of Common Prayer and the 39 Articles of Religion.
Anglicans accept that the ability of human beings to think for themselves is a necessary and important part of continue to define and interpret the content of the faith for each other and each generation.
The analogy suggests that the three legs are all needed. Take one away, and the stool topples over. If one is under-valued, or over-emphasised, the balance may not be right. A particularly Anglican approach to matters of belief is, then, to attempt to hold all three legs together in a balanced way.
What makes an Anglican Anglican?
The four “articles of the agreement known as the Chicago-Lambeth quadrilateral come closest to something resembling a summary of the fundamentals of Anglicanism. The quadrilateral was prepared in the 1880s to succinctly restate the foundations of the Anglican tradition. The quadrilateral is the benchmark for embodying the distinctively Anglican approach to belief and practice. Its four “articles” are:
Holy Scripture as “the rule and ultimate standard of faith”
The Apostles’ and Nicene Creed as “sufficient statements of Christian faith”
The two sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion
The historic episcopate (bishops)