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About Anglicanism

About Anglicanism

I recently spotted a letter to the editor (above) in our local newspaper, The Press.

What struck me was that pretty much every suggestion for improvement of the Anglican Church is already a reality.

The letter suggested that scriptures be read with an eye on the ancient context in which they were written – tick ✓.
That Anglicanism not be the established church in New Zealand – tick ✓.
That language, especially religious language, be understood to be metaphorical – tick ✓.
That reason be understood as a way that God communicates – tick ✓.
That atheists can have values which are akin to theists – tick ✓.
And that we have contemporary words and tunes in our singing – tick ✓.

It is a good list of misunderstandings of church by a genuinely interested, intelligent person. We can respond that the letter writer is poorly informed – or even make such a response a stronger attack against the writer. Or we can hear this as a genuine challenge to ourselves and the way we communicate.

When we come across a parish or diocesan website, in the “about” section of the site is there a simple explanation that we are an independent church, governed locally, not established…? Are there simple, attractive introductory (say) folded A4 sheets provided in our church buildings that explain our history, beliefs, and practices? Where do we provide easily accessible outlines of such things?

How often I hear preachers use tight theological language (“unbegotten Son of God”, “The Body of Christ”, “The Risen Christ”, “The Immaculate Conception”) or refer to Adam and Eve, or the Flood, without even the slightest acknowledgement that what is in the preacher’s head is significantly different to what is being understood by a lot of the hearers.

Tell me the name of the mother of Siddhartha Gautama. Some will not even be able to tell me who Siddhartha Gautama is. What is the essence of Siddhartha Gautama’s teaching? When did he live? Give me a quick outline of Siddhartha’s understanding of Dukkha.

If many people struggle to answer those questions, or (say) similar questions about Muhammad, why do we have the arrogance to assume that people will readily know the answers to that type of question when it comes to Jesus, Christianity, or the relatively-tiny number of Anglicans?

If we want information about Jesus and Christianity (and Anglicanism) known and understood, it is our responsibility to present that and to present it well and in an easily accessible manner.

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6 Responses to About Anglicanism

  1. It is interesting the issue of the Head of State (HM The Queen) is also the Head of the Church of England.

    But in the context of a Constitutional Monarchy, it makes sense to me, if not to those who live far away.

    The Queen’s power in the Country is held in tension with that of Parliament, which is supreme. She signs of legislation passed by them, which is her duty.

    She is the titular head of state, and Governor of the Church of England, which gives space for her insight in the private conversations that happen weekly with HM Government (PM etc) and no doubt her advice will be listened too, whether or not the Politicians agree with her. In that role, she is the ‘Defender of the Faith.

    There is no issues arising from the Established Church as our future ruler has already said that he would prefer the title of “Defender of the Faiths” meaning that his position as Governor of the Church of England, will be also about protecting other faiths and the freedom of their adherents to practice their religion.

    • Thanks, “UkViewer” – the culture of this site is that we just use our ordinary names, not pseudonyms. It encourages us all to realise these are real people we are having a discussion with.

      I think it is incorrect to say in England for the CofE there are “no issues arising from the Established Church”. The CofE has to marry all comers, and so there is special parliamentary legislation forbidding same-sex marriage by the CofE. The Prime Minister (whatever their own faith) chooses the bishops. From beyond those shores – such parliamentary involvement and lack of independence between church and state has such unusual features that may be taken for granted by such as yourself.

      Easter Season Blessings.

      • I think some of the royal family anachronisms will be better accepted in the UK once House of Lords reform is passed and all the bishops are properly elected.

        Change drips slow in an old country but the positions do have to be filled by women bishops now where there is a woman bishop.

        Hopefully by 2025 full reform will be in place.

        The Royal Family will not I think occupy the central position held by the Queen or previous heads, well Prince Charles should not, since he is divorced…and his son’s fiance is a divorcee. According to a BBC article last year CofE permissions for divorced people to remarry:

        ‘The breakdown of the previous marriage must not be “directly caused” by the new partner, and the new marriage should not “cause hostile public comment or scandal”.’

        Public opinion has changed somewhat regarding individual relationships but I remember the scandals Charles and Camilla brought to the Royal Family and I doubt my generation and younger look to them as spiritual leaders in the way the Queen is affectionately tolerated.

  2. Thanks Bosco.

    At a time in the UK, where politics is so divided the Queen represents to us, stability and continuity. And within the Church of England (and Wales) many of us would welcome Same Sex Marriages being celebrated in Church, but we also live with the fact that many people with traditional views find that difficult to accept.

    So, for the time being, we live with legislation that prevents the celebration of Same Sex Marriage, and it would need primary legislation in Parliament to change that – an Act of General Synod (Measure) wouldn’t be enough. But I hope in my lifetime that this will change as people come to see that love and committed relationships are not the sole preserve of straight people.

    The biblical and theological arguments continue to dominate the conversation, ignoring the human relationships and lived experience and continuing witness of the many committed Christians in same sex partnerships who are excluded from a full and fruitful relationship being recognized by the Church, although they are accepted by wider society and their family and friends.

    Even in our parish, the older generation can’t see why the fuss? and perhaps want to welcome people into the family of the church, particularly as some have children or grand children who are gay, and they love them just the same.

    And of course, I am one of that older generation.

    I will change my identity next time I post to real names, just don’t have time to do it now.

    • Thanks, UkViewer. Just adding your name at the bottom of your comment is all that’s needed – no need to change your computer stuff if you find that difficult. Easter Season Blessings.

  3. Thank you, U.K. Viewer, for your eirenic posts. I, too, am a born and bred Brit. I, too, value the godly example of a Queen who – at the very breginnign of her reign – acknowledged God’s place in her life and is still an active worshipper in the Church she nontioally heads.

    I, too, could wish that the Church of England would be more welcoming of – and proactive towards people of the You-Know-What orientation who just want to feel fully part of the Church. However, we here in N.Z. have not yet overcome the prejudice that still exists among wome of our clergy and congregations who feel that SSBs would signal the end of the Anglican Church around the world – except for Africa, of course, where GAFCON reigns.

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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