Christian tradition developing out of the practices, liturgy and identity of the Church of England

Anglicanism most commonly refers to the beliefs and practices of the Anglican Communion, a world-wide affiliation of Christian Churches, most of which have historical connections with the Church of England.

Catholic and Reformed
Cyril Garbett


  • No thoughtful Churchmen will deny the existence of anomalies and defects which should be dealt with as soon as possible. But recognition of the necessity of reform should not lead to forgetfulness of the true greatness of our Church, both Catholic and Reformed, and of the special contribution which God has called it to make to the Church throughout the world.
  • I have always impugned the Roman hierarchy, but I have never had the intention of opposing the ecclesiastical polity of your Anglican Church. I wish and hope that the sacred and holy society of your bishops may continue and maintain forever the right and title to the government of the Church with all Christian equity and moderation.
    • Theodore Beza to the Archbishop of Canterbury, John Whitgift (March 1591), quoted in John T. McNeill, The History and Character of Calvinism (1957), p. 315
  • I have been baptised and educated in the Church of England; and have seen no cause to abandon that communion. ... I think that Church harmonises with our civil constitution, with the frame and fashion of our Society, and with the general Temper of the people. I think it is better calculated, all circumstances considered, for keeping peace amongst the difference sects, and of affording to them a reasonable protection, than any other System. Being something in a middle, it is better disposed to moderate.
    • Edmund Burke, letter to an unknown correspondent (26 January 1791), quoted in Alfred Cobban and Robert A. Smith (eds.), The Correspondence of Edmund Burke, Volume VI: July 1789–December 1791 (1967), p. 215
  • The king's majesty desires nothing more than concord...; he knows there are those who would stir up strife, and that in many places in his field tares have sprongen to harm the wheat. The forwardness and carnal lust of some, the inveterate corruption and superstitious tenacity of opinion of others, excite disputation and quarrels most horrible to good Christian men; one side calls the other papists, and the other again calls them heretics, both naughty and not to be borne; and that the less so because they miserably abuse the Holy Word of God and the Scriptures which the same most noble prince of his gentleness and for the salvation and consolation of his people has permitted them to read in the vulgar tongue. They twist God's sacred gift, now into heresy and now into superstition. [The king] favours nor one side nor the other but, as becometh a Christian prince, profess the true Christian faith [therefore the king desires the] true doctrine and rule of the Gospel shall be published clear and established [and] the pious observation of ceremonies shall be distinguished from the impious, their use taught and their abuse abolished.
    • Thomas Cromwell, Speech to the reassembled Parliament (12 April 1540), quoted in Journal of the House of Lords, Vol. I, pp. 128-129
  • A wise Government, allying itself with religion, would, as it were, consecrate society and sanctify the State. But how is this to be done? It is the problem of modern politics which has always most embarrassed statesmen. No solution of the difficulty can be found in salaried priesthoods and complicated concordats. But by the side of the State in England there has gradually arisen a majestic corporation wealthy, powerful, independent with the sanctity of a long tradition, yet sympathising with authority, and full of conciliation, even deference, to the civil power. Broadly and deeply planted in the land, mixed up with all our manners and customs, one of the main guarantees of our local government, and therefore one of the prime securities of our common liberties, the Church of England is part of our history, part of our life, part of England itself.
    • Benjamin Disraeli, speech in Aylesbury (14 November 1861), quoted in William Flavelle Monypenny and George Earle Buckle, The Life of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield. Volume II. 1860–1881 (1929), p. 96
  • [T]he Anglican Church...was at the heart of England's – and so Britain's – separation from the Roman Catholic, supranational Continent. It was an important symbol of the restoration of monarchy after a brief and unhappy period of Republicanism under Cromwell, and so part of the structure which resisted the ideas of the French Revolution. It was the core of the United Kingdom, Catholic and Reformed, open-minded yet governed by rules, intensely English, rooted in the distant past. Its version of the divine order was a mirror of the English state at the end of the seventeenth century.
  • Having myself been a priest of the Church of England, and knowing... the disputes as to whether that Church really has the apostolic succession or not, I was naturally interested in discovering whether its priests possessed this power. I was much pleased to find that they did... I soon found by examination that ministers of what are commonly called dissenting sects did not possess this power, no matter how good and - earnest they might be. Their goodness and earnestness produced plenty of other effects which I shall presently describe, but their efforts did not draw upon the particular reservoir to which I have referred... When the priest is earnest and devoted, his whole feeling radiates out upon his people and calls forth similar feelings in such of them as are capable of expressing them. Also his devotion calls down its inevitable response, as shown in the illustration in ThoughtForms and the downpouring of force thus evoked benefits his congregation as well as himself; so that a priest who throws his heart and soul into the work which he does may be said to bring a double blessing upon his people, though the second class of influence can scarcely be considered as being of the same order of magnitude as the first. Ch. 8
  • The Church of England depends, for its existence, almost entirely on the solidarity and conservatism of the English ruling class. Its strength is not in anything supernatural, but in the strong social and racial instincts which bind the members of this caste together; and the English cling to their Church the way they cling to their King and to their old schools: because of a big, vague, sweet complex of subjective dispositions regarding the English countryside, old castles and cottages, games of cricket in the long summer afternoons, tea-parties on the Thames, croquet, roast-beef, pipe-smoking, the Christmas panto, Punch and the London Times and all those other things the mere thought of which produces a kind of warm and inexpressible ache in the English heart.
  • Perhaps one explanation of the sterility and inefficacy of Anglicanism in the moral order is, besides its lack of vital contact with the Mystical Body of the True Church, the social injustice and the class oppression on which it is based: for, since it is mostly a class religion, it contracts the guilt of the class from which it is inseparable.
  • We do not pretend that any Church is Infallible, and therefore not ours: But this we dare say and we can justifie; that if we take our measures concerning the Truths of Religion from the Rules of the Holy Scriptures, and the Platform of the Primitive Churches, the Church of England is undoubtedly both as to Doctrine and Worship, the Purest Church that is at this day in the World; the most Orthodox in Faith, and the freest on the one hand from Idolatry and Superstition, and on the other hand from Freakishness and Enthusiasm of any now extant.
    • John Sharp, A Sermon Preached on the 28th. of June, At St. Giles in the Fields (1691), pp. 7-8
  • Isn’t it desperately sad that, at a time when we face formidable problems – poverty, HIV/AIDS, conflict – that the Anglican Communion can invest so much energy on disagreements about human sexuality? A communion that used to boast that one of its distinctive characteristics was something called comprehensiveness, that our communion, the Anglican Church, included just about everybody. Even if you had the most weird theology you could come in, you were allowed. And now we, who used to be held up in admiration by many because of this inclusiveness, are now spending time working out how we can excommunicate one another. God looks on and God weeps. God weeps.
    • Desmond Tutu, "And God Smiles," sermon preached at All Saints Church, Pasadena, California (6 November 2005)

See also

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