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Article: Anglicanism


Terminology and Definition

  • The word 'Anglican' originates from 'Anglicana ecclesia libera sit' in Magna Carta.
  • Adherents of Anglicanism are called Anglicans.
  • As an adjective, 'Anglican' describes the people, institutions, churches, liturgical traditions, and theological concepts of the Church of England.
  • Anglican is also used as a noun to refer to members of a church in the Anglican Communion.
  • The term 'Anglican' is sometimes extended to any church following Anglican traditions.
  • Anglicanism represents a middle ground between Lutheran and Reformed varieties of Protestantism.
  • Anglicans base their faith on the Scriptures, traditions of the Apostolic Church, historical episcopate, ecumenical councils, and early Church Fathers.
  • The Old and New Testaments are seen as containing all things necessary for salvation and the ultimate standard of faith.
  • Reason and tradition are valuable means to interpret scripture, but there is no full mutual agreement on how they interact.
  • Anglicans affirm the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed as statements of the Christian faith.

Anglican Communion

  • Anglicanism is the third-largest Christian communion in the world, after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.
  • The Anglican Communion consists of autonomous provinces in full communion with the See of Canterbury.
  • The Archbishop of Canterbury is the primus inter pares, calling the Lambeth Conference and chairing meetings of primates.
  • Some churches not recognized by the Anglican Communion also call themselves Anglican.
  • The Book of Common Prayer is a principal tie that binds the Anglican Communion together.

Historical Development

  • Anglicanism declared independence from the Holy See during the Elizabethan Religious Settlement.
  • The mid-16th century reforms of Anglicanism navigated a middle way between Lutheranism and Calvinism.
  • Anglicanism later developed as a middle way between Protestantism and Catholicism.
  • The distinction between Protestant and Catholic tendencies within Anglicanism is a matter of ongoing debate.
  • Anglicanism spread through the expansion of the British Empire and Christian missions.

Anglican Identity

  • Anglicanism is characterized as representing a via media between Protestantism and Catholicism.
  • The Anglican tradition is expressed in the description of Anglicanism as catholic and reformed.
  • The Book of Common Prayer is a significant component of Anglican identity.
  • After the American Revolution, Anglican congregations in the United States and British North America became autonomous churches.
  • The term 'Anglicanism' was coined in the 19th century to describe the common religious tradition of Anglican churches worldwide.


  • Supper, or the Mass in Anglicanism: The Eucharist is central to worship for most Anglicans. It is a communal offering of prayer and praise, proclaiming the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The consecrated bread and wine are considered the true body and blood of Christ in a spiritual manner. Anglicans have liturgical freedom in celebrating the Eucharist.
  • Book of Common Prayer: The Book of Common Prayer is a collection of services used by most Anglican churches. It was originally intended for use in all Church of England churches and has undergone many revisions but still binds Anglicans together. Worship styles range from simple to elaborate.
  • Early history of Anglicanism: Christianity in Britain is attributed to Joseph of Arimathea and commemorated at Glastonbury Abbey. Early Church Fathers wrote about the presence of Christianity in Roman Britain. Saint Alban is venerated as the first Christian martyr in the British Isles. The British Church formed a branch of the Catholic Church in the fourth century. Celtic Christianity emerged in the British Isles with distinct traditions and practices.
  • Development of Anglicanism: Pope Gregory I sent Augustine of Canterbury to evangelize pagans in the British Isles. The Synod of Whitby in 663/664 led to the acceptance of Roman usage in England. The Church in England became Anglo-Roman-Celtic after assuming Roman usages. Anglican Christianity has a distinctive quality due to its Celtic heritage. The English Church maintained Roman Catholic doctrines and liturgical celebrations despite its separation from Rome.
  • Elizabethan Settlement and Anglican identity: The Elizabethan Settlement affirmed the Protestant identity of the English and Irish churches. The Book of Common Prayer played a significant role in developing religious traditions. The Elizabethan church combined elements of radical Protestantism and conservative Catholicism. Protestantism in the Church of England was in a state of arrested development after 1559. Anglicanism was influenced by scripture, the historic episcopate, the Book of Common Prayer, and informed reason.

Anglicanism Data Sources

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