Anglicanism is a Christian denomination, the emergence of which dates back to the Reformation in the English Catholic Church.
The word “Anglicanism” derives from the expression “ecclesia anglicana”, which was first used in 1246. This translates from the Latin as “The English Church”. Adherents of this direction of Christianity are called Anglicans or Episcopalians. Mention of the Anglican religious denomination dates back to the 16th century, but the term became widespread only in the 19th century.
Anglicanism is a derivative of the Western branch of Christianity, which was isolated from the Roman Catholic Church (the largest Christian church in the world) during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603). Some religious scholars consider Anglicanism to be a form of Protestantism, without the dominant components expressed by Martin Luther, John Knox, or John Calvin.
In the 17th and 18thcenturies, two internal movements stood out in Anglicanism. The Low Church is the first of these, which has tried to minimize the role of rituals in the divine worship. The High Church is the second movement, which adheres to traditional rituals and the superiority of the pre-Reformation form of the divine worship. Vestments, the use of medieval music during the service, and the architectural and historical heritage of church buildings have been fundamental religious attributes of the High Church.
In terms of the internal structure of the church, theology, and forms of divine worship, the Anglican churches share common features with the state Christian Church of England.
The following movements of Anglicanism are distinguished however – Evangelism (literal fulfilment of the gospel), Anglo-Catholicism (the Oxford movement for the restoration of the lost aspects of the faith), liberal Christianity (the desire to bring more modernity to the faith), and Anglo-Orthodoxy.
The Book of Common Prayer (public worship) is a definitive aspect of the Anglican Church. The Book has been the fundamental basis of divine worship for many centuries and contains a list of the main prayers for services and liturgy. The content of the Book of Common Prayer has been revised several times. Alternative Order of Service and prayer books have been written by other churches in England, however this Book has continued to play a key role as a guide in the pillar of the faith and religious worship. It should be noted that the original purpose of the publication was to bring all liturgical forms to one form in English, while moving away from the use of Latin. The first edition of the book was released in 1549 by Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, and it became the only official form of religious worship of the Anglican Church. In 2000, the Common Worship Prayer Book was released and approved for services as a modern supplement to the Book of Common Prayer.
The Anglican community includes the world association of Anglican churches, and has a large number of worshippers. All churches are united by full canonical unity with the state Christian church in England (the mother church) and the See of Canterbury (the diocese within the ecclesiastical province of Canterbury, the headquarters of the Church of England). Canonical unity suggests that there is agreement among all the churches of the Community on the most important church canons. In this case, the sacrament of the Eucharist is provided to Anglican believers in each of the Unification Churches.
Due to the form of church services and the structure of the church, Anglicanism is related to the Protestant form of Christianity. However, the church is Catholic in essence. Therefore, Anglicanism can be considered a separate branch of Christianity, a middle path between Catholicism and Protestantism. The essence of Anglicanism is based on the first four Ecumenical Councils, the traditions of the Apostolic Church, the Holy Scriptures, the teachings of the early Church Fathers, and the historic episcopate. The Books of the Old and the New Covenant provide the law and the highest standard of faith for Anglicans. Anglicans consider the Apostolic Creed as the baptism symbol. The Nicene Creed is a sufficient expression of the Christian faith.
Also, in terms of church canons, all clergymen are required to accept articles of the Anglican Creed (thirty-nine in total). In modern times however, this requirement is not a prerequisite.
It should be noted that members of the clergy are allowed to marry.
All Christian sacraments are recognized by the Anglican Church, but the Eucharist (Holy Communion, Lord’s Meal, or Mass) stands out: this is a sacrament with the consecration of wine and bread and their subsequent symbolic use.
Unlike Lutheranism and Calvinism, the religious doctrine of Anglicanism was not approved from the position of the dominant church. This contributed to an increase in the number of prayer books among different churches. Thus, the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral has become the religious basis of Anglicans. It includes four main points: the Bible, which is the Scripture of Salvation, the Apostolic, Nicene-Constantinopolitan, and Athanasian Creeds, the evangelical status of the sacraments of Baptism, and the Eucharist – the historical episcopate.
In the Anglican Church, as a direction of Protestantism, the episcopate, the hierarchy of the clergy in the form of deacons, presbyters, and bishops have been preserved. It should also be noted that the church left the apostolic succession, i.e. it retained a continuous series of ordinations. An ordained person must express in writing his agreement with the Book of Common Prayer, a creedal document with thirty-nine articles. The oath of loyalty to the monarch (as he/she is the supreme leader of the English Church) and the oath of obedience to the bishop is mandatory.
Additionally, there is a tradition in England that originated in the Middle Ages. When priests are appointed, they are proposed as candidates by other persons – the so-called patrons. The British monarch, government ministers, aristocrats and representatives of universities, or cathedrals can be patrons. The English monarch has the exclusive right to appoint archbishops, bishops, and provosts. The Prime Minister selects candidates for vacancies in episcopal sees.
There are Christian communities in Russia which have joined the Anglican Episcopal Church. There are about 77 million adepts worldwide in total. The Anglican Communion is the third-largest Christian community after the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox Christianity.