Being a Christian in the Anglican faith tradition means being baptized into the church, which is the body of Jesus Christ in the world today. We share communion with Christ and with one another in the Eucharist, the family meal of the Christian community.
The Anglican Communion bring together traditions from the early centuries of Christianity, ancient Celtic Christianity, medieval Catholicism and the European Reformation of the sixteenth century ACSQ, n.d.). The name “Anglican” refers to the tradition’s roots in the Church of England and involves being in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Most churches with which Anglicans are in dialogue recognise the Nicene Creed as a foundational statement of faith (ACC, 2020). Expanding on the Apostle’s Creed, which is an early creed used at baptisms, the Nicene Creed was worked out at the Councils of Nicaea (325) and Constantinople (381) and names what are often known as the ‘marks of the Church’: the Church is One, it is Holy, it is Catholic, it is Apostolic (ACC, 2020). Anglicans therefore understand themselves to be part of the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church, but recognise that this is not an exclusive claim (ACC, 2020). Other churches also share in and help to constitute the church (ACC, 2020). This recognition should underlie but also inform the ways that we work together with other Christians.
Anglicans hold the Christian faith that finds its origins in the person and teaching of Jesus Christ, as mediated by the Scriptures (the Bible) and summarised in the Creeds of the early and undivided church. In this, Anglicans are on common ground with most other Christian traditions – including that of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches. With Christians everywhere, Anglican’s believe in one God, eternally existing in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; that God the Son entered the world in a decisive way and lived among us as Jesus of Nazareth; and that the dying and rising again of Jesus of Nazareth is the means by which all persons might be reconciled to God, having been separated from God by sin.
The fundamental declarations, sections 1, 2 and 3 of the Constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia, set out the basis of Anglican Belief and practice.(Anglican Archdiocese of Melbourne, 2022).
The Anglican Church of Australia, being a part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ, holds the Christian Faith as professed by the Church of Christ from primitive times and in particular as set forth in the creeds known as the Nicene Creed and the Apostles’ Creed.
This Church receives all the canonical scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as being the ultimate rule and standard of faith given by inspiration of God and contacting all things necessary for salvation.
This Church will ever obey the commands of Christ, teach His doctrine, administer His sacraments of the Holy Baptism and Holy Communion, follow and uphold His discipline and preserve the three orders of bishops, priests and deacons in the sacred ministry.
The analogy of a “three-legged stool” has often been used to describe the uniquely Anglican approach to matters of faith and belief. The three legs of the stool are:
The books of the Bible, understood as being the foundational “rule and standard of faith” and “containing all things as necessary for salvation”.
In addition to the traditions of the early church, and the deposit of faith summarised in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, Anglican also embrace the reforms of the 16th century, which produced the Book of Common Prayer and the 39 Articles of Religion.
Anglicans accept that the ability of human beings to think for themselves is a necessary and important part of continue to define and interpret the content of the faith for each other and each generation.
The analogy suggests that the three legs are all needed. Take one away, and the stool topples over. If one is under-valued, or over-emphasised, the balance may not be right. A particularly Anglican approach to matters of belief is, then, to attempt to hold all three legs together in a balanced way (Anglican Archdiocese of Melbourne, 2022).
“Anglicans seek to work with the Holy Spirit to overcome divisions between churches, so that all Christians may be one.” The worship of God is central to religious and spiritual lives of Anglicans.
There is variety in Anglican worship: contemporary and informal, or traditional and formal.
A special place is given to the Eucharist, in which we share the sacrament (the visible sign with spiritual meaning) of the body and blood of Christ. A committed prayer life, reading and meditation on the Holy Bible plays a major part in Anglican life and belief.
Today, Anglicans embrace a variety of languages and cultures from many different parts of the world, giving distinctive features to our worship, church life and theology. Anglicans in Australia today are actively exploring how our own land and multicultural heritage enrich Australian Anglicanism. Anglicans world-wide are seeking to reflect something of the unity-in-diversity of God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit: three persons in one God.