Anglicanism and Its Historical Identity

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One of the odd things I have noticed in recent years is the historical isolationism of certain streams of Anglican evangelicalism.   It manifests itself in a number of ways: a disparagement of the Book of Common Prayer; the downplaying of systematic theology as a vital component of the church's ministry and witness; and the occasional strange intervention on matters like the doctrine of scripture.  For example, i recently came across an Anglican who claimed that inerrancy was `an American issue' who cited, as evidence that Anglican evangelicals were different, J. I. Packer's great little book, 'Fundamentalism' and the Word of God.  To me, the latter book, far from being evidence of the distance between the inerrantist position of, say Old Princeton, would be the first piece of evidence for which I would reach in order to show the basic identity of the two positions.  Sometimes I suspect that `It's an American issue' should be translated as `It is not an issue I personally want to address; and everyone in the non-USA English speaking world has it in for the Americans, they are a soft target, so let's blame them.'

Given all this, readers should check out the work of Lee Gatiss, an Anglican vicar, who is doing great work in recovering the historic confessional roots of Anglicanism and encouraging a new generation of Anglicans to think more theologically.  He runs The Theologian webpage, and is involved with the Latimer Trust,who have published a number of his books.  Most notable are the recent collection of St. Antholin's Lectures, with contributions from distinguished Anglican thinkers such as Alister McGrath and Ashley Null, entitled Pilgrims,. Warriors, and Servants: Puritan Wisdom for Today's Church; and his monograph on Augustus Montague Toplady, The True profession of the Gospel: Reclaiming Our Reformed Foundations, where he highlights a stream of Anglican thinking that went beyond the evangelical pietism of Charles Simeon and, of course, his modern heirs.

He also has an interesting article in the September-October edition of The Gospel Magazine (not online as far as I can tell) where he discusses Toplady's use of the term `the unerring word of God.'  Can you believe those Americans?!?  They were obviously corrupting the Anglicans even before 1776, imposing their theologically imperialist innovations upon the C of E.

Not enough to make me become an Anglican -- I may be mad, but I'm not that mad -- Gatiss's material is still a welcome contribution to debates about the historic identity of Anglican evangelicalism.

Posted November 5, 2010 @ 10:20 AM by Carl Trueman

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