Is there any kind of formal doctrine throughout the Anglican Communion?

The Anglican Communion has a heavy amount of theological pluralism. Some Anglicans are conservatives, and so they are opposed to gay marriage and abortion. Some are liberal and are open to gay marriage and abortion. Some Anglicans are Anglo-Catholic, believing many of the same doctrines that the Catholic Church professes such as transubstantiation (as it’s defined in the Latin west). Other Anglicans hold to a bit more Evangelical theology sometimes sharing a similar faith that Methodist have. Anglicans share a wide variety of theological opinions and belong to a wide variety of theological schools of thought some of which are more Protestant and others which are more Catholic. However, I want to know if there is any kind of formal doctrine in the Anglican Communion at all such as the Trinity? I hope the Trinity. Now, every single Anglican I have ever met or seen or heard of does believe in the Trinity. Anglicans recite the Nicene Creed at their services. I know Anglican provinces are allow to establish their own formal doctrine, but is there any kind of formal doctrine, at least one such as the Trinity, that all Anglicans believe? If so, do Anglicans who no longer believe it face any kind of excommunication? If not, are there Unitarian Anglicans?

Wouldn’t surprise me at all.

But perhaps the Trinity is your best bet.


Bp. Spong is at least as liberal as a “Unitarian Anglican”. Atheist, if I’m not mistaken.

Actually he’s retired now, but to my knowledge, was never excommunicated.

I would imagine the 39 articles and Book of Common Prayer would be common to all. Please note, I imagine this.

Yes, as you would imagine with Anglicans, there are multiple different interpretations.

Yes of course the 39 Articles are common to all Anglicans, but they are considered historical documents and not doctrine.

The Book of Common Prayer is also what binds us all. However, each Province adapts and updates it as they see fit. The US has the 1979 BCP, for instance, and it is somewhat different from the New Zealand BCP (which is one of my favorites). Although the texts may differ somewhat, any Anglican will know what it is and how to use it.

Philosopher, just because there is a wideness in Anglican belief and practice, doesn’t mean that we have gone Unitarian. One of the joys of being in this branch of the Church is that there is room for us all - the Anglo Catholic, the Broad Church member, the evangelical, the charismatic, and the social justice members.

The Creeds will tell you what is bottom line beliefs and the Catechism in our BCPs will begin to unpack it. The Constitution and Canon Law will tell you how we hold the Church together practically. Our theologians will expound on various beliefs, as do yours.

I understand that you want Anglicans to be like Roman Catholics in that there are a clearly defined set of rules/doctrines, and if you obey them, you are in a state of grace, and if you don’t, then there are serious consequences such as excommunication.

We don’t work that way. The Church holds the beliefs (which are of course there in the creeds and catechism) and sometimes makes changes in its understanding and practice of those beliefs. The members? Well, we are free to think and practice as much of that or as little of that as we can.

I remember reading the works of Madeleine L’Engle (a good Episcopalian). She said that some days she just could not recite the Nicene Creed during the Liturgy because she did not believe it. And that’s perfectly ok, because the Church was saying it for her, believing it for her. And when she was ready to say it again, it was there to recite. Day after day, week after week. Year after year.

I think that is the beauty of my tradition. The Mysteries are there, the Sacraments are still there, and I am allowed to participate with all my being or I am allowed to let it carry me when I can’t. I am free to hammer out my theology in the way of Bishop Spong, and that is all right, or Bishop N.T. Wright, and that is also all right. The creeds are still there, being said every day, and the Sacraments are still being performed. None of that is going away.

Excommunication? It doesn’t happen much at all in TEC. There is only one instance I can think of and that happened about 10 years ago when a priest converted to Islam. The Presiding Bishop said she could not practice both faiths.I cannot think the Bishops would ever excommunicate a lay person. It just isn’t done.

Because you see, if you don’t have a check box list of what one must believe and practice - no ifs, ands, or buts - there is no need to excommunicate.

So, you are judging Anglicanism thru a Roman lens. That doesn’t work so much. If you want to judge us, you must see things thru the Anglican lens, which motley as we are, could be any number of lenses. That’s the way of it, I’m afraid.

That actually sounds horrible, and one of the reasons I’m no longer involved in the Anglican Communion.

One of the joys of being Catholics is our shared faith, we are one body, with many parts indeed. But one body, with one head, with one truth. That is an amazing work of God. More amazing than the madhouse that the Anglican Communion is.

Now, there are different theological opinions in the Church but they can in no way be compared to that of the Anglican Communion. Our different opinions are no matter of basic doctrines and principles of the Christian faith as it seems within Anglicanism, rather we all share one faith but we do have room for different opinions on things such as predestination. But even there we don’t venture into heresy’s such as Calvinism.

I am judging Anglicanism through a Christian lens. A Christian lens that Catholics and Orthodox hold and have held for 2000 years. As Christ said,

“that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” - John 17:21

And as Ignatius of Antioch, an Apostolic Father once said,

*“I give you these instructions, beloved, assured that you also hold the same opinions. But I guard you beforehand from those beasts in the shape of men, whom you must not only not receive, but, if it be possible, not even meet with; only you must pray to God for them, if by any means they may be brought to repentance, which, however, will be very difficult. Yet Jesus Christ, who is our true life, has the power of this. But if these things were done by our Lord only in appearance, then am I also only in appearance bound. And why have I also surrendered myself to death, to fire, to the sword, to the wild beasts? But, he who is near to the sword is near to God; he that is among the wild beasts is in company with God; provided only he be so in the name of Jesus Christ. I undergo all these things that I may suffer together with Him. He who became a perfect man inwardly strengthening me.”

Not the case.

True. The Articles are not normative for Anglicans generally, except as they theoretically affect the clergy of the Church of England, IAW the 1571 Act of Subscription. The attitude of Anglicans toward them may vary from total affirmation, through partial acceptance, to completely ignoring, to cutting them from the prayer book and using them to kindle the new fire at Easter. Much of them, of course, is common to Trinitarian Christianity, but their existence, in the form Elizabeth I chose to govern her fractious Church, is an artifact of theology as particular history.

And there is no, as you say, common book of Common Prayer.

My journey to Roman Catholicism was ultimately prompted by desiring to belong to a church with an official unified teaching.


The simple answer would be, truth is not relevant.

Seems to me that the Episcopal Church in the USA is sort of “theology lite.” This surprised me, coming from a Pentecostal background, because I assumed that somewhere was an "official"big book of what Anglicans HAD to believe (sort of like the Catholic Catechism). I didn’t find one. I was actually disappointed reading the Episcopal Church’s Catechism because it was so vague, and I got the feeling that whoever wrote it felt was all too troublesome to actually specify what they actually believed. :shrug:

Having said all that, I actually was impressed by the new catechism of the Anglican Church in North America, which was formed a few years ago from conservative evangelical and Anglo-Catholic Anglicans in the US and Canada. It actually looked like they were attempting to provide an actual theological framework for their church.

I could be wrong, but it seems to me Anglicans place more emphasis on “common worship” than any “common theology.”

You will certainly find people who call themselves Anglican, that would tell you there used to be formal doctrine within the CoE, however there has always been some form of diversity. Over time that formal doctrine has become muddled and thus the term “Anglican” along with it. Even so, the old traditions of Anglicanism and its history are rich and full of beauty, worthy of being upheld, by virtue of what it upholds.

The diversity that was captured in the CoE, ab origine, was a diversity beneath an umbrella of plain, mere Christianity, in the essentials. Muddled it now is. Or some other term starting with “m”.

Thus was it ever. Even more so today.

As to the ACNA, yes. They are trying.

Indeed, a word that rhymes with “hotly.”

I believe you are correct. Worship is at the very core of how we express our theology. That means Sacrament is central of course, but add ‘all things for the glory of God.’ It is what we do best.

And that is why you SHOULD be there. But it doesn’t mean that any other church is less a church.

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