Both St John’s and St Paul’s are Christian churches in the Anglican tradition. What makes an Anglican Christian? Let’s work backwards.
A Christian is someone who believes the gospel. The gospel is the good news of the kingdom of God. In the first century Jesus of Nazareth went about preaching and teaching this good news, that the kingdom of God had come (Mark 1:15).
Rooted in the Old Testament prophets, the kingdom of God is the long awaited victory of the God of Israel over evil and the rescue of his people. It means the full and final reign of God over all of his creation, and the peace of his people (Isaiah 40; 61; Revelation 21:1-4). However, the gospel isn’t just the message of Jesus, it’s also the message about Jesus.
Jesus takes the words of the Old Testament (Isaiah 61:1-2) and says that in him these words are fulfilled (Luke 4:16-18). Jesus is God’s anointed one (i.e. Messiah, Christ) in and through whom the “year of the Lord’s favour” has been ushered in for the poor, the prisoners, the blind, the oppressed, and the sinner.
Christians believe that God is with us in the flesh of Jesus Christ. Thus, in the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, a sick world is healed, sinners are forgiven, and the poor are vindicated. Christ has promised that he will return at which point the world will be set right (i.e. judged) and the reign of God will be made known fully and finally.
There are more than 2 billion Christians in the world of which the Anglican Communion claims over 80 million members in over 165 countries around the world. This makes Anglicanism the third-largest branch in Christianity behind the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox churches.
While its origins are rooted in the teaching, liturgy, and sacraments of the early undivided Church of the first millennium, Anglicanism developed a peculiar identity through the 16th century English Reformation. At that time they translated the Bible into the language of the people and organized themselves around the authority of the Holy Bible, The Book of Common Prayer and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
This focus on community, study, and mission continued as Anglicanism expanded beyond the Church of England. Today the Anglican Communion is found on every continent and recognizes its vocation to promote unity among all Christians.
- Anglican tradition affirms three historic creeds: the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed.
- The Solemn Declaration (1893) united the Anglican Church of Canada as a national church and defined its relationship to the worldwide Anglican Communion.
- The Lambeth Quadrilateral (1888) defined the commonalities of churches in the Anglican Communion and has also served as a basis for ecumenical discussion.
- The 39 Articles of Religion were a foundational document for the Church of England during the Reformation.