Anglicanism is an historical contingency but an historical contingency which, in the last two centuries, has proved to possess qualities which the modern church happens to need rather badly. William Temple identifies the distinctiveness features of that ethos as follows:
“Our special character and as we believe, our peculiar contribution to the universal church, arises from the fact that, owing to historical circumstances, we have been enabled to combine in one fellowship the traditional faith and order of the Catholic Church with that immediacy of approach to God through Christ to which the evangelical churches especially bear witness, and freedom of intellectual inquiry whereby the correlation of the Christian revelation and advancing knowledge is constantly effected.”
Here, William Temple does not provide a definition or theological justification of Anglicanism. Rather, he is concerned with identify, the distinctive shape of the movement, the peculiar strengths and gifts which it might make available to the church as a whole. Perhaps an awareness of these localized historical origins has prevented Anglicans from committing the ultimate act of theological arrogance, and declaring that Anglicanism is the universal church or is somehow a definite forum of Christianity. As William Temple put it, Anglicanism has a contribution to make to the universal Church. A theology of Christian interdependence and mutual enrichment nestles within this approach, which is prepared to concede that Anglicanism has no claim to being the universal church, yet wishes to enrich and contribute to that greater whole.
Anglicanism represents an attempt to ground the Christian vision in a specific culture, at a specific time. Its distinctive feature may be agreed to line in its application of the gospel to a specific historical situation – England and subsequently the British Colonies. Louis Weil states this point carefully.
“The gospel in Anglicanism is … one facet in a vast mosaic. It is essentials; it corresponds to the gospel as it has been proclaimed and believed all over the world. Yet it is also characterised by its peculiarity as an experience of God’s saving work in particular cultures, and is shaped by the insights and limitations of persons who were themselves seeking to live the gospel within a particular context.”
While I have no intention of belittling the sacrifices and efforts of earlier generations of Anglican missionaries, I cannot fail to point out how there was often a shocking failure to appreciate the sensivities and values of the cultural contexts in which they sought to establish Anglicanism. Too often, Christianity and middle class English Cultural values got muddled up. The word ‘heathen’ was often used indiscriminately to mean ‘non-European’ or ‘strange’. Bolaji Idowu writes of the consequences of this colonialist attitude.
“If, at the beginning, anyone had enough vision to suggest that while accepting Christianity, Nigerians did not need to throw away what was good and valuable in their own culture, such as a person would have been accused of rank ‘hearthenism’ by the European religious educators whose set purpose was to exterminate as of the Devil anything that had no meaning for them!”
It is not simply that early Anglican missionaries assumed that their British values and approaches were intrinsically correct; they also ignored or suppressed the cultural and social roots to which they ministered. The most sensitive exploration of these issues is in the writing of the Ghanaian author Kwame Bediako, who point out how African Christians were often put in the intolerable position of being obliged to turn their backs on their own traditions and cultures and rely on European heritage. This served to reinforce the perception that Christianity was culturally alien to Africa – a perception which was particularly acute in the case of Anglicanism, which retained ample outward manifestations of its English origin (for Example, the virtually universal use of Book of Common Prayer until the second world war).
The dominance of Western Anglicanism and more specifically English Anglicanism probably ended around 1980.
Traditionally, Anglican understanding of the nature of the Church have been grounded on the presumption that the church is situated within a largely settle Christian context, and is thus primarily concerned with pastoral care and teaching. The growing influence or African and Asian Anglican and the increased relevance of its agenda to Anglicanism in the West, was evident at the 1988 Lamberth Conference. A direct result of this has been explicit statement on the part of that conference to the effect that the primary task of the church is now to be seen as ‘evangelism’ – that is ‘a dynamic missionary emphasis going beyond care and nurture to proclamation and service. This new direction in Anglican ecclesiology has taken many by surprise.
The 1988 Lamberth conference gave Anglicanism a new sense of direction and purpose through its firm long-term commitment to evangelism throughout the communion. In an increasingly secular age, evangelism was adopted to be seen as of decisive importance in reaching out beyond the bounds of the Church and bringing men and women the good news of Jesus Christ.
Anglicanism is a living tradition rather than a petrified fossil which bears only the marks of the past and has lost any ability to grow and develop in response to present conditions. It is a dynamic body which is open to renewal and revitalization as an essential part of its communal life and development.
Anglicanism has long been committed to an Augustinian, rather than Donatist, view of the church that is, to an understanding of the church as a ‘mixed body’ including both believers and non-believers, rather than a society of saints’ from whose rank those who were yet to come to faith or whose faith is faltering or uncertain are excluded as a matter of principle.
In laying claim to a common heritage of Christianity and declaring that it is uniquely and normatively ‘Anglican’. There is a literary which Anglicans are prone to recite
President: The Protestant Church has erred grievously, in that they attribute authority to the scripture alone. The Church of Rome hath also erred grievously because it attributeth authority only top Tradition, as the Rationalists who ascribe authority only to Reason. But the Anglican Church hath got it right, because it disperseth authority amongst scripture, Tradition and Reason.
People: A threefold cord will not be quickly broken (Anglican and the Bible by Witton, CT: Morehouse, 1984)
THE PLACE OF THE SCRIPTURE, TRADITION AND REASON IN ANGLICAN CHURCH
The Anglican Church is generally believed to be very strong administratively. This stance can hardly be faulted. It is also widely agreed that Anglican beliefs and practices, their authority derived from an integration of the scripture (Holy Bible), Reason and Tradition. This three legged stool is said to demonstrate a ‘balance’ in the Anglican approach of faith contrasting it with Roman Catholic and the Protestant doctrines.
That Anglican pays great attention to the unique place of scripture holds in the correct understanding of the Christian faith. A major shift from the pre-reformation era that credited the clergy with the monopoly of the interpretation of the scriptures. The fundamental principle of the reformation was that the Bible should be made available to all believers.
The emphasis of Anglican on the scripture is clearly expressed in Article VI which places emphasis on the sufficiency of the scripture. This is corroborated by Article VIII that stresses the compatibility of both the Old and New Testament. The Anglican Church in time and space regards the Scripture as the supreme authority for the doctrine of the Christian Church.
Collaborated by Article VII that stresses the compatibility both of the Old and New testaments. The Anglican Church in tune and space regards scripture as the supreme authority for the doctrine of Christian Church.
While the place of scripture is incontrovertible yet, scripture must be made intelligible in the context of the worship community that has a history. Tradition is a veritable tool for the substance of Anglican Spirituality. There is no denial that the fact that the church community gave a destructive identity to the emergence of the scripture is the instrumentality of the apostolic tradition. In a way, the authority of the church in its formative period (even now) is inseparable from the apostolic Tradition which was jealously guarded by the Church fathers and to which the scriptures bore authentic witness. In other word, the use of scriptures and traditions are indispensable tool for the sustenance of the ‘faith once for all delivered by the saints’.
The Anglican traditions are the well tested, properly tried and proven opinions, doctrines, beliefs, custom which have lasted centuries with little or no modification. These traditions are strongly linked with the history of the Church. This fact of history is particularly responsible for unity why the Anglican Church is referred to as Established Church. Part of the contents of the Anglican Traditions is contained in the creeds. This is stated in Article VIII of the Thirty nine Articles of faith. It also touches the church year with the concomitant teaching; the ordained ministries of Deacon, Priest and Bishops and the two dominical sacraments ordained by Jesus Christ, namely Baptism and the Lord Supper (Eucharist). The Church tradition also related with some established conservative and dogmatic interpretations of certain major bible doctrine such as the Incarnation, the virgin Birth, the Trinity, the Cross of Christ, the Resurrection of Christ etc. At times church Tradition involves architectural design of church edifices and liturgical inheritance which further enforces the idea of Anglican identity. Moreover, Tradition provides interpretation of scriptures acting as vanguard against all forms of heresy and false doctrines. The church of God is built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Jesus Himself is the Chief Corner Stone (Eph. 2:20). In Acts 2:42 says “those who believed” continue in the Apostles’ Doctrine.
Reason is power of the mind to understand or form opinion or position. Ability to think in practicable terms; use of common sense, being able to make sensible deduction, to order argument convincingly. Ability to marshal or express argument logically is persuasively. All these guide Anglican reasoning.
Reason gave birth to the generation of reformers with reformative activities. The age of reasoning brought intellectual Renaissance and liberation to man. Men became freed from the intellectual religious and conscience bondages brought about by the popeish pretence, hypocrisy, deceit and heresies. People started to question the status quo. People stopped taking things at their face value. In-depth investigation, research and deep probing started. Reformers like martin Luther Zwingli and (alum emerged).
Reason gave birth to thirty Nine Articles of Faith and the entire Book of Common Prayer. The various constitutions operative in the Church are all products of reason.
This was the kerigma, (a collection of teachings (doctrines) taught by the apostles on the Holy Communion, Paul says 2For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you (1 cor.11:28). He reprimanded certain group of Christians who failed to walk according to tradition given by the church leadership in 2 Thess.3:6 & Phil 3:6. Paul again asked his son in the faith – Timothy, to hold fast the FORM of sound word (doctrines) which had been given to him (1 Tim.1:13-14; 5:21;6:13). The Apostolic strongly enjoined the Thessalonians Christians to “Stand firm and hold the TRADITIONS (Plural) taught either by word or our Epistle. (2 Thess.2:15). Article 34 says whosoever through his private judgements, willingly and purposely does openly break the Tradition and ceremonies of the Church, which be not repugnant to the word of God and be ordained and approved by common authority ought to be rebuked openly.
In his book KNOWING THE FUNDAMENTALS OF ANGLICANISM Authored by Most revd. Dr. M. Olusina Fape explained very clearly the three stands of the Anglican tools.
THE NATURE OF ANGLICANISM
Anglican Church has some unique physical, spiritual, administrative qualities and characteristics which are peculiar to her. Among the major traits peculiar to Anglicanism, Orthodoxy, Pentecostalism, Charismatism, Evangelism, Democratic and communionship.
This is to possess opinion, belief, doctrines etc which are regarded as sound, standard and generally accepted or approved to a people. The Anglican Church possesses the qualities or position that is clearly documentarily stated which are back up with scripture, History of the church and the scripture. This Church has a well tried and proven written liturgy as well also its thirty nine Articles of Religion. The Anglican Book of Common Prayer contains all the belief systems and major doctrines doggedly held unto by the church. The content of the prayer are either directly or indirectly derived from the scripture. In fact, many of the materials in the Book of Common Prayer are sentences, clauses and phrases directly from the scripture. The Church year calendar start from advent and ending with trinity Seasons with their various Christian essence doctrinically and their relevance to the Bible passages systematically lay out. Christmas, Easter and Pentecost are parts of the major events which the Christian faith is centred with various levels of celebration observations and reference. The Eucharist is central and precedential in its liturgy which feast is celebrated universally in the Holy Communion.
The concept of Pentecostal faith is not just belief in the Anglican Church but tenaciously held unto and celebrated. Pentecost is the celebration and extolling the central place of the Holy Spirit in the church of Christ.
The Anglican festival of whit Sun tide corresponds with the Jewish festival of Pentecost as Easter corresponds with the Passover. As Pentecost was instituted to commemorate, the giving of the law on Mount Sinai and a day of thanksgiving for harvest, so also Whitsuntide commemorates the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the ingathering of the first fruits of the Church of Christ.
The Anglican Church believes in the effectual place and effects of the Holy Spirit in the inward grace of regeneration at baptism and the conferment of the paraclete at the imposition of Episcopal hand at confirmation service.
This is derived from the word charisma which means personal, powerful; quality possessed by some people to attract, influene and challenges other people. Charistmatism makes one warm, buoyant, lively and being able to elicit positive response and involuntarily cooperation from people. It provides originality, ingenuity, resourcefulness, protectiveness and dynamism in people.
The Anglican Church was born through the efforts of Charismatic leadership originated in martin Luther. Archbishop Thomas Grammer who could be referred to as the real father of Anglicanism, who authored the first English prayer Book, was a charismatic church father. Most of the early translators of the Bible and Reformers who brought Reformation to the Church were people with great Charisma. Through the ages, the Anglican Church has enjoyed the contributions of charismatic leaders such as David Living Stone, William Wilberforce and host of others. Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther was centrally charismatic. His Grace, the Most Revd. Dr. Jasper Peter Akinola led the crusade for contending the faith once delivered and in his charismatic ministry formed what today called GAFCON.
Many of our archbishops, bishops, clergy and some laity in our churches carry a lot of charisma, especially some of our youths. Charisma in the church is distinguished by the presence, gifts and the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of Christian in their generation.
This is central to the proclamation of the gospel of Salvation for the purpose of winning souls into the kingdom of God. This is in pursuance of the Great Commission of making disciples for Christ. (Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 24:48).
In the Anglican yearly celebration, in the season of Epiphany, it is the celebration of the commemoration of the manifestation of Jesus Christ to the magi in the East by the appearance of a peculiar star (Matt. 2) Officially, the season is dedicated to the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ. At the Lambeth Conference of 1989, the Decade of Evangelism was declared. The Church of Nigeria follow the Lambeth declaration also draw up vision 1-1-3 that was the age of double Anglican membership within three years. The vision then was “The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) shall be Bible based, spiritually dynamic, united, disciplined, self supporting and committed to pragmatic evangelism. In fulfilling this vision many missionary dioceses were created. Part of the strategy employed was building of schools, hospital and vocational centres. Church planting was one of the ways adopted to drive this vision.
Ordinarily, democracy is the principle of governance or administration in which all adult citizens share active participation through active participation through their representatives. It encourages and allows right of speech, religion, opinion and association. It is the society where everyone is important. All these democratic principles have their roots in Anglican Church. It allows membership registration for both functioning (active) or dormant. An annual vestry meeting is held at every parish to elect people to various positions and offices. Just like the secular, the Anglican Church share authority by names, there are levels of authority which does not allow absolute powers to any part. There is orderliness at services, meetings, worship because everything would have been liturgically set out. Anglican is also governing by constitution either as a diocese or the national communion. There is also canon law that states the role of every segment of people and consequences if any provision is violated. The process of electing bishops also follows democratic principle and divine guidance.
Anglican members are one throughout the world, a spiritual rendezvous for all Christians. The Anglo catholic, the Pentecostals and the Evangelical have their place of togetherness in the Anglican Communion. It is in the Spirit of this communionship that the Anglican commits itself to playing pivotal role in Ecumenism. History has it that it was Anglican Church who laid the foundation of CCN, WCC and even CAN.
LEADERSHIP IN ANGLICAN CHURCH
EPISCOPAL AUTHORITY: Anglican is known to possess ecclesiastical authority and power. The Episcopal authority in Anglican Church is a combination of administrative, doctrinal and liturgical powers. He is the Vicar de jeur i.e. Vicar of Christ, the Lord Bishop and president of the Synod. He is the Ordinery of his Diocese, ordaining, licensing and assigning duties within his diocese. Preferment of clergymen is personally and solely done by the Diocesan Bishop. He is the mouthpiece of the diocese on matters of faith and public issues, final authority on matters of doctrine, liturgy and worship. All Clergymen within the diocese are directly under Episcopal authority of the Bishop. He possesses some veto powers, although seldomly applied. His mitre and throne (in the cathedral) signify him as king, the Episcopal ring worn on his right hand makes him the Vicar of Christ and His representative, and He therefore governs and administers the diocese on behalf of Christ as the human head and leader of the terrestrial churches.
CLERGY: An ordained Anglican Minister is regarded as PANACEA that is An Anglican priest is considered ambivalent; he is not just a priest playing sacerdotal functions only, but seeing as a man of God who plays multi-various spiritual roles in the Church. He is seen as pastor, the prophet, the teacher, councillor, and evangelist, an administrator while to the bishop is added the Episcopus, Apostleship.
Although, the Anglican Church has its own peculiarity and unique liturgy, doctrine, rites, ceremonies, architecture and other feature, yet it bears with and accommodates Christians of various level of faith, keeping the unity of the faith in the bond of peace. (Rom.14:1-13; Eph.4:1-6).
DOCTRINE AND PRACTICES
The doctrine of Anglican Church is an interesting mix of Catholicism and protestant reformation theology. The Apostles’ Creed and Nicene Creed are authoritative declarations f belief for the Anglican Church and are typically recited in worship services. The 39 Articles, developed during the reign of Elizabeth I, laid out the protestant doctrine and practice of Anglican Church.
Anglicans believe that there is only one God, but there are three elements of this one God. God the father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit; that human beings decision to reject this eternal truth and live according to their own standard (sin) causes a relational breakdown between them. That God the Son, Jesus Christ lives and die to give people a model and a way to be reconciled with God. Anglican considers the Bible to be fundamental to life as a Christian and believe that it contains all things necessary for Salvation.
Anglicans believe that the Christian life involves regular praise and prayer, both private and public and that Christian must practise what they preach or pray.
INSTRUMENT OF THE CHURCH
THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER
This is the authorised compilations of Anglican Instrument of worship and belief. It is the first of all bases for corporate prayer. It is the book that speaks of the common experience of the Collects, psalms, or text of various rites and private devotion link the individual Anglican at prayer with the Common prayer of the larger fellowship. It is an instrument of teaching. It is far more than a collection of rites. It is a living expression of the profound union between what we believe and what we pray for. It is a document of doctrine and a common ground for profession of All Anglican believers. After the Holy Bible, the Book of Common Prayer serves as a guide and it expresses Anglican Faith. Therein we have order of worship of every kind as approved by the Church e.g. Matins, Holy Communion, Occasional Services, Catechism, Articles f faith. It covers the spiritual of Anglican from birth to burial.
The Thirty Nine articles of faith is the proclamation of the Church as part of the one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. It can be classified into
Articles relating to the Godhead
Articles relating to the rules of faith
Articles relating to man, considered individually and to his salvation with special reference to Lutheran and Calvinistic.
Articles relating to the church in its corporate relationships with special reference to divergences from Rome.
Articles dealing with relating the Church and individual to the state.
HOMILIES: The origin of the book of Homilies can be traced to that of the Articles of faith. Basically, the office of preaching and teaching as divinely approved ways of taking the truth of the gospel to the minds hearts and wills of the people. It was strongly believed that man who was to preach or teach the Church must not himself ignorant of but should be well grounded in the word and doctrine.
THE CATECHISM: is all about Christian Education, the word is derived from the Greek word which means ‘repeat’, like an echo. It may have been used to describe a leader pronouncing a sentence to his pupils and then asking them to repeat. It also seemed to have been applied first to elementary types of teachings and later to all kinds of instruction. It is suppose to be an oral instruction from the teacher to the students. Catechism emphasises a strong and consistent Anglican Conviction that the members of the Church are to be encouraged to grow with personal understanding of the faith, in the devout practise of worship and ion godly ways of life.
THE CALENDAR OF THE CHRISTIAN YEAR
The calendar of the Liturgical Year is the list of commemoration and specific activities observed throughout the Christian year. It identifies every week of the Christian year in relation to the beliefs and practices of the Church. These are the temporal, indicating the passing of time in a series of Christological festivals of Easter and Christmas
The Christian year begins with the Advent and ends with the twenty-fifth or the twenty-sixth Sunday after Trinity. It should be noted that great festivals of the church are normally preceded by solemn period of preparation. The Christmas for instance, is preceded by the advent season.
The word “Advent” in an etymological root of the Latin word ad-venire meaning “before the coming”. It is a period that prepares the mind for the coming of Christ.
The word Epiphany has its roots in Greek word. There are five or six Sunday in the season. The Epiphany season empties itself into the pre-lent season as we celebrate the Septuagesima, the Sexagesima and the Quinquagesima. These days prepare the Christians for the Lenten period of forty days.
There are five Sundays in the Easter season; the fourth Sunday is Rogation Sunday. Believers are urges to pray for all works of life and especially for the fruits of the earth.
Beside the Rogation Sunday, Monday, Thursday proceeding the Ascension Day (Thursday) are also specific rogation days.
Forty days after the Easter is the Ascension Day, it is celebrated to commemorate the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ preparatory to the Pentecost Sunday.
Otherwise called White or Whit Sunday, the Pentecost Sunday is the birthday of the Church. It is the day, the Holy Spirit as recorded in Act 2, descended on the disciples of Jesus.
The following Sunday is the TRINITY SUNDAY. There are twenty-five or twenty-six Sundays in Trinity. The Trinity is regarded as the second part f the Christian year. The Sundays commemorate the celebration of the three Person in one God.
LITURGY COLOURS AND SYMBOL
There are four major liturgical colours used at different season in the Anglican Church. The liturgical colours are usually set on the altar table on the lectern on the pulpit and are also worn by Priests as the occasion demands. They express the meaning and the message of each season. They are equally symbols. These colours provide beauty in worship.
The colour white symbolizes purity, joy, innocence and peace. It is used during the Christmas, Easter, seasons and on Trinity Sunday. Ceremonies like wedding, birthday services and ordination are occasion for white colours. The Red colour symbolizes the gift of the Holy Spirit as it occurred on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). It is an emblem of martyrdom for the gospel; used on the day of Pentecost and the fast of the Apostle such as saints days.
The Green symbolizes hope and production. The colour is used between the Epiphany and Septuagesima Sunday and between Trinity Sunday and the Advent Sunday
The violet or purple symbolize royalty, humanity, self abasement and penitence. The colour features at lent and Advent. Occasional service like burial attracts the use of the colour.
A symbol is used to explain things beyond our immediate knowledge. Symbols communicate faster than mere talk in religious circles.
In the Anglican Communion, Images in form of pictures, stature and photographs are used to represent the original person, material, or situation. In the high churchmanship, genuflexions are common, especially as signs during the Eucharist.
These symbols have their place and functions in Anglicanism. While they are used in worship and meant to point beyond themselves and their immediate effect to the object of worship, they help the worshippers to be more conscious of the presence of the ultimate being. Beside, symbols have very suggestive parts which enable them to express or evoke the mysterious.
THE LAYOUT OF THE CHURCH
The Anglican Church is well organised and well structured. Whether the simple proto-type or the gothic, each church building would always exhibit the following: the belfry, the tower(s), the western door, the stained glass in the altar area, the altar, the chancel, the central aisle, altar table, the prayer desk with kneeler, the pulpit, the lectern, the vestry, the choir stall, the Vicar’s vestry, the choirs vestry, the baptismal fonts, altar rail, altar flowers.
CHURCH SERVICES IN THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION
Anglican Communion church services or worship can be categorised into the Liturgical and non Liturgical services.
The Liturgical relates to using a fixed order of words, prayer, and usually written type of services. The non-liturgical services have no fixed order.
These laid down formats are to be found in the Book of Common Prayer. They include the Holy Communion Services, Mattin, Even Song, Office of Compline, Marriage Blessing of Civil marriage and marriage, Burial, Litany, Ordination and Consecration of bishop.
The non-liturgical worship may include naming ceremony, home dedication, dedication and rededication of members of church societies at anniversary programmes, etc.
The beauty in the liturgical order is the assurance of uniformity and clarity in worship. The rubrics in the Book of Common Prayer provide easy guideline to the minister who conducts the services.
In every Church procession in worship is led by the cross bearer closely followed by the choir, well dressed in Anglican Church Tradition or either black cassock or white. Recent introduction is the golden colour.
Following the choir, organist/choirmaster are the lay-readers, followed by the catechist or church agent, the Verger goes before the Vicar of the church. Behind them are the two wardens. In some churches, the Vicars allow their vergers to verge their curates and other priests, whist the vicars come last. But the unwritten order is very clear that the incumbent minister and vicar is the rightful owner of the verger.
The only person who could run errands, or move about when necessary is the verger; and this is done with the Vicar’s permission. Worship should be done in the Church, in holiness, in spirit and in truth. Unless otherwise stated, it is the Bishop of the Diocese that can change the Order of procession. He may wish to reverse the order at the end of the service.