Anglicanism is a stream emerging from Christianity, closely linked with the Church of England, its worship practices, beliefs and structure. Along with Catholicism or Roman Catholicism, Protestantism and Eastern Orthodoxy, Anglicanism completes the various traditions in Christianity. Anglicanism is a midway between the other two traditions.
Anglicanism history goes back a long way. In fact, the word Anglican has originated from the Latin phrase ecclesia anglicana, meaning English Church. However, even if it is a via media between the other two traditions, Anglicanism has its own forte, and set of differentiating faiths and beliefs. The following is an explanation of Anglicanism beliefs.
Furthermore, Anglicans believe both the testaments have all the 'things necessary for salvation'. They consider them as the final pedestal of faith. Inclined towards reforms related to religion and church, their beliefs are based on the same ground.
So, one of the things that they believe in is individual churches and regions, giving a certain freedom to the people in charge. To illustrate, the Archbishop of Canterbury is the first amongst equals, but this does not give him sole authority over the Anglican churches all over the world, like Pope Benedict XVI has.
With regards to practice, the fundamental custom in Anglicanism is related to worship and church related activities. One of the major differences is in Liturgy, that is the formal and communal worship of the church, and a prayer at the personal level.
Anglican worship services are not restricted to the Anglicans. They have their Book of Common Prayer, and have their Communion as well. Not to forget, that apart from the worship, Anglicanism beliefs also include the sacraments. These sacraments are:
- Confession and Absolution
- Holy Eucharist
- Holy matrimony
- Holy Orders
- Anointing of the Sick
It was Thomas Cranmer who paved the way for these changes in Anglican worshiping methods through different reformist ideas. The expanse and the interpretations of beliefs in Anglicanism is like an ocean, you can delve deeper and deeper into them. Thus, this was just a glimpse of what Anglicanism is all about with regards to its beliefs.
As mentioned before, Anglicanism has a close relationship with Roman Catholicism, in spite of the distinctions. Just as there is a connection, Anglicanism and Orthodoxy also have a distinct linkage. Following is an overview of the differentiations and similarities between Anglicanism and Catholicism.
Anglicanism vs Catholicism
Origin: This point has a convergence of similarity, as well as a difference. Anglicanism and Catholicism originated from the same roots laid down by Christ in Judea thousands of years back. But, with changing times, these two branched into different forms of Christianity.
The Anglican Church was founded during reformation, and was progeny of Henry VII. It was formalized during the reign of Elizabeth I. On the other hand, Catholicism or the Catholic Church was established immediately after the death of Jesus Christ, when his apostles started preaching.
Leadership: There is no central hierarchy in the Anglican Church. Although the Archbishop of Canterbury is somewhat the central head, he is not in charge of the churches outside his region. This reflects the reform-inclined characteristic of Anglicanism.
Contrary to this, the Catholicism, in its full orthodoxy, is an entrenched hierarchy. There are (in an ascending order) parish priests, bishops, arch bishops, cardinals, and ultimately the Pope. In the issues of the church doctrine, the pope is the final authority, and is held to be the successor of Apostle Peter.
Celibacy and other Practices: Catholic priests adhere to celibacy. It is mandatory for them, as it is for monks and nuns. However, on the contrary Anglican priests are permitted to marry. The communion is believed to be symbolic by the Anglicans, while the Catholic Church embraces the fact that communion is accompanied by a miracle of transubstantiation.
To summarize, Anglicanism and Catholicism are two branches of the same tree, growing in different directions. But they have maintained their identity through this. It is difficult to gain a complete understanding of a vast topic such as Anglicanism beliefs, or any other system of religious beliefs for that matter.