Why We Love the Anglican Way (pt. 2)
Anglicanism Exalts Scripture
The second reason we love Anglicanism is that it exalts Scripture—certainly in theory, but especially in practice! The Articles of Religion explain that “Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.” What does this flowery, Elizabethan-era language mean? It means that what we need to know about salvation God has revealed in Scripture. While Christians may believe doctrines traditionally held by the Church (e.g. that Mary was perpetually a virgin), if those doctrines are not proved from Scripture, one need not believe them to be saved or to be a member of an Anglican church.
This exaltation of Scripture is clearly manifested in our services. In our Morning and Evening Prayer services (as found in our Book of Common Prayer), we read at least one Psalm (usually more), an Old Testament reading (usually a whole chapter), and a New Testament reading. That’s just the Scripture readings—the Prayer services themselves are laden with prayers and canticles (liturgical songs, such as Mary’s Magnificat) that are, themselves, repetition of various Scripture passages. Depending on the church, we use a lectionary that takes the Christian through most of the Bible each year and the Psalms every 30 or 60 days.
Our Divine Liturgy (or Holy Eucharist Service) is even more-Scripture heavy. Each Sunday, we hear the Word of God read from the Old Testament and New Testament. We also pay special attention to a Gospel reading each Sunday, when the priest moves among the congregants to read the events and teachings of Jesus’ life. This action by the priest is meant to remind us that Jesus went among the people to teach and preach. On top of this, we sing a Psalm each week. Then there’s the homily, which is focused on Scripture. All in all, about 85% of the words, phrases, and language of our weekly worship service are directly from the Bible. Our homilies (or sermons) may be a little shorter than those in a typical Protestant evangelical church, but we more than make up for it with a super-abundance of Scripture reading. God’s Word is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword—we believe this truth and it is reflected in our practice. And it’s one more reason we love Anglicanism.
(The preceding post was freely adapted from a series presented to Christ the Redeemer REC in Owensboro, KY)