Are Anglicans protestants?

Sometimes I see places where it says Anglicans are not Protestants, but a distinctive branch of Christianity, but then other times I see places where it says that Anglicans are Protestants. Isn’t the full name of the Episcopal Church the Protestant Episcopal Church of America? Does that show Anglicans are Protestants? But then you will hear a lot of Anglicans disavow Protestant and refer to themselves as a distinct branch… I’m really confused…

The answer depends on who you ask. And, to a certain extent, on which Anglicans you might be looking at.


Prior to the 1960s lots of people used the term “Protestant” to refer to their Churches and themselves. Some local orphanages had the word “Protestant” right in their title. Nowadays you hardly find any person, church, or organization identifying itself as Protestant. The only ones who use that word seem to be Catholics when referring to those other Christians.

I wonder why that change happened. It’s unusual to find any trend that the most liberal mainline Christians, the most fundamentalist, and most moderate Christians seem to have in common. They all are called Protestant, and call themselves that, less than they used to be. In any event, my preference is to call people (as individuals) whatever they want to be called. If Anglican individuals want to be called Catholic, or Protestant, or some other term, as they express their personal faith, so be it, regardless of where they happen to worship or what they belong to.

I am not thrilled about every organization defining (or branding) their title however they want. If a congregation is in union with the Pope - such as the Ordinariate - the term Catholic is in order. I am not sure about Anglican organizations defining themselves (that is, the congregation, denomination, or other corporate entity) as Catholic, if they aren’t in union with the Pope. The factors that define a person are different from the factors that define a group.

I think at one time there were some kind of “standards” for (a church) being considered Protestant, at least in the USA. For instance, Methodists were “in”, Mormons were “out”. I think persons labelled Protestant have gotten so diffuse it is hard to rule anyone out now.

I know some would say there are many other criteria that define Catholicism - the sacraments, succession, Tradition, liturgy, devotion, etc - not just the Papacy. I can accept that, self-definition by individuals. But for organizations and churches, I would prefer rigid categories, not self-definition. I would hate to see the word “Catholic” used in so many ways that it becomes useless, like the word Protestant. C. S. Lewis described this process of losing valuable words by indiscriminate use, referring to gentleman, and Christian, as 2 examples.

MERE CHRISTIANITY, Preface, pp. IX-XI, 1st American ed.


Does a bear…you know…in the woods?

Of course he does.

Most certainly. All of the Reformation formularies of the Church of Englnad are Protestant and Reformed, the Church of England is considered Protestant in English statute, the Archbishop of Canterbury makes the Monarch at her coronation swear to uphold the “Reformed and Protestant Religion”. If Anglicanism is a via media, it is a via media between Wittenberg and Geneva!

For a definitive Protestant statement, read the Homily “On the Salvation of Mankind”, whose doctrine is so plainly Protestant it could have come from the pen of Luther or Calvin, but was, indeed, appointed to be read with authority from the English pulpit.

The Prayer Book of 1662 as well as the Thirty Nine Articles are a Protestant liturgy and confession.

It is only following the nineteenth century that this nebulous “Anglicanism” started trying to divorce itself from the Protestant fold. This began with the Oxford Movement and other revisionist movements, and culminated with the Chicago-Lambeth quadrilateral, which purports to state that the Anglican churches will seek Christian unity based on common episcopacy, rather than holding to the common gospel of the Protestant reformation. This is demonstrably ahistorical.

See? There’s one sort of Anglican, there.

Church of England and Anglicanism not synonymous, of course, and the Articles no sort of Anglican Confession, but that’s one viewpoint.


Is Puerto Rico a State within the United States?

Well, it depends on your viewpoint. It’s the size of a state. It shares many of the laws of the states. It sends men to the armed services like a state. Many of the people there consider it to be, de facto, a state.

What if someone just started claiming Puerto Rico was a state? How would you dispute their claim? Think about it. You could cite the rolls of congress, the census bureau, the department of the interior, or any other authority…and they just might not care.

I think we have one of those here.

It depends on your definition of protestant. If you define it broadly (and therefore essentially worthlessly) as any western non-Catholic Christian, well then yes, they are protestant.


You might find this link interesting the speech given by the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury in England.

If by protestant we mean strict adherence to the doctrines of Sola Fide and Sola scriptura, then it seems to me they are rightly called protestant, heirs of the reformation.

That sort of thing happens to all sorts of folk.


(Just sharing my opinion–any Anglicans out there–please don’t hate me. :wink: )

The answer to your question TrueChurch is HISTORICAL REVISIONISM. There are several things to consider:

  1. Anglicans always have considered themselves a continuation of the Catholic Church in England.
  2. Prior to the Oxford Movement, Anglicans also considered themselves Protestants and were not offended by the term. As you point out, the American Episcopal Church’s first official name was the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America.
  3. The Oxford Movement (which gave birth to present-day Anglo-Catholicism), wanted to distance Anglicanism from Protestantism. So, you get the rather amusing insistence by many Anglicans today that Anglicanism is neither Protestant nor Catholic but some kind of mythical unicorn of the Christian world, a “middle way” between the two.

In my not so humble opinion :D, a type of political correctness is at work here. For illustration:

Clueless person: “Hey Dan, your an Episcopalian right? That’s cool. It’s Protestantism with all the Catholic pageantry. Awesome.”

Angry Anglican: “How dare you call me a Protestant. My church, the Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA–ugh, I mean–The Episcopal Church, has nothing to do with Protestantism whatsoever. We are a Middle Way, and the best way.”

Clueless person: “Well, excuse me. I meant no offense. :o”

I’m not an angry Anglican. Though I have met some, of a variety of stripes.


You might refer them to

Yes, sadly, Anglicans are Protestants. Arguably, Henry VIII did more for Protestantism than Martin Luther ever dreamed of.

Yes, they are Protestant. While Henry VIII may have meant to simply go into schism, the reformers under Elizabeth I altered the theology enough. And even if one ignores the differences they have from the Orthodox and Catholics, once they allowed female ordinations, they became 100% protestant.

Post Vatican I schism groups have turned to Protestantism too as some groups have begun to ordain women.

But all Anglicans do not permit female ordinations. Motley, those Anglicans.


I am not sure why one would care-referring to the original poster

we certainly are not Roman Catholics and certainly not Orthodox -nor are we any of those “slipped down Catholics” -the Old catholics -the PNCC- and we are not Byzantine Catholics

this may shock people but we could not care less whether the term is applied to us or not-I do not view the word “Protestant” as a bad thing & I would hope that an enlightened Roman Catholic would view it the same-

however we are not defined but what we are not but by what we are-we are a sacramental Church who have retained many of the traditions of Roman catholicism-ambiguity in some theological areas are fine with our memebers-we are certainly not defined by any labels that another Church would put on us

I view our Church as a continuation of the Christianity taught to us and passed down thru the Apostles-we are a member of the holy catholic apostolic church-by the way so are the Lutherans - Methodists -Baptists and the other branches of Christianity

The term “via media” often is used by members of the ECUSA-often this is used to stop an arguement as the persons engaged in such a discourse usually get confused when the term is used-Confusion is a natural state for many Anglicans-

the recently deceased comedian actor Robin Williams was a member of our Church -he has a standup on the 10 reasons to be an Episcopalean -it is somewhere on you tube-he wold have been a great Archbishop of Canterbury

Thank you Itwin.

The ordination of women and Protestantism have no connection to one another. None of the churches at the time of the Reformation made the non-ordination of women part of their “protest”. That some churches have gone on to ordain women is not evidence of Protestantism - rather, it is evidence that they have moved away from the Reformation doctrines, especially sola scriptura (which the Anglican formularies teach).

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