The Anglican Church has a rich theological heritage filled with a diversity of views and practices. Like a river with a main current and several offshoot streams, Anglicanism has a main body with many distinct, smaller communities. So what constitutes mainstream Anglicanism?
Influential Anglican theologian J. I. Packer makes the case that “authentic Anglicanism” is biblical, liturgical, evangelical, pastoral, episcopal (ordaining bishops), national (engaging with the culture), and ecumenical (eager to learn from other Christians). As he surveys the history and tensions within the Anglican Church, Packer casts a vision for the future that is grounded in the Scriptures, fueled by missions, guided by historical creeds and practices, and resolved to enrich its people.
“The Anglican Church is evangelical. That means that our worship and our thinking about Christian life, testimony, and influence center always on the gospel, a full-orbed gospel, which includes the incarnation, atonement, bodily resurrection, present reign, and forthcoming return of Jesus Christ.” (Page 32)
“The Bible—interpreted from within, by itself, and interpreted as a whole—must always have the last word. That has been an ingredient of the Anglican mainstream ever since the Reformation.” (Page 30)
“They were establishmentarians. Even in their own day, they began to be called High Churchmen, and so they were. Maintaining the church—that is, the ongoing pattern and structure of worship and parochial togetherness and diocesan togetherness and national church togetherness, this pattern of institutional togetherness—that was the heart of Christianity for them.” (Page 164)
“There are those who think that the Anglican mainstream—the truly Christian mainstream—flows clearly within the world of Protestant and Reformed evangelical thought. (I am one who inclines to think so.) The constant and controlling reference point of Anglican thought is thus: the true gospel as set forth in the Bible.” (Page 18)
“The Roman idea of catholicity reaffirmed by the Council of Trent is that the Catholic Church is that which is in communion with the bishop of Rome. That is the definition. The Anglican counter-definition is that the catholic church is the whole fellowship of all those who embrace the faith of the apostles.” (Page 69)