Anglican teaching is rooted in Holy Scripture and flows out of our astonishment before the majesty, beauty, and saving power of the gospel. We don't claim to have cornered the market on truth. Still, sound doctrine matters more than you might think, because if the teaching goes to seed, the Church stops being the Church of the gospel. Smells and bells, smoke and mirrors, polished performances and prosperity promises can only get you so far. But the teaching gives life, because Jesus Christ is the Truth.
Besides, confessing the truth of the gospel is one way we love and praise the true and living God, who sent his Son into our flesh and blood to be our Savior and who sends his Holy Spirit to raise us up from death into life.
If you read Genesis, the Psalter, Isaiah, St John's Gospel, Romans, and Ephesians, you'll start getting a handle on what we believe. Seriously. Anglicanism is a Bible-reading, Bible-believing, Bible-teaching, Bible-preaching Church.
Our doctrine is also summed up in a few places: the ancient Creeds (which might sound familiar if you have a Roman Catholic or Lutheran background), The Book of Common Prayer, the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, the Catechism, and the Jerusalem Declaration.
Here are some highlights that speak to questions folk often ask about what Anglicans believe.
What do you believe about God?
I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven & earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit & born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
-The Apostles' Creed
IS YOUR TEACHING TAKEN FROM THE BIBLE, OR from tradition too?
Holy Scripture contains all things necessary to salvation: so that whatever is not read in it, or may be proved by it, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought required or necessary to salvation.
The Three Creeds, the Nicene Creed, Athanasius's Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles' Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed: for they may be proved by most certain warrants of holy Scripture.
-The 39 Articles, #6 & 8
Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
-The Book of Common Prayer, collect for the Sunday nearest 16 November
Do you teach justification by faith alone?
We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works or deservings.
-The 39 Articles, #11 Of the Justification of Man
For all the good works that we can do be unperfect, and therefore not able to deserve our justification: but our justification doth come freely, by the mere mercy of God; and of so great and free mercy that, whereas all the world was not able of their selves to pay any part towards their ransom, it pleased our heavenly Father, of his infinite mercy, without any our desert or deserving, to prepare for us the most precious jewels of Christ's body & blood, whereby our ransom might be fully paid, the law fulfilled, and his justice fully satisfied. So that Christ is now the righteousness of all them that do truly believe in him. He for them paid their ransom by his death. He for them fulfilled the law in his life. So that now in him & by him every true Christian man may be called a fulfiller of the law; forasmuch as that which their infirmity lacketh Christ's justice hath supplied.
-Thomas Cranmer's A Sermon of the Salvation of Mankind by only Christ our Savior from Sin and Death everlasting
what do anglicans believe about baptism?
Question. What is the outward visible sign or form in Baptism?
Answer. Water, in which the person is baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Question. What is the inward and spiritual grace?
Answer. A death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness: for being by nature born in sin, and the children of wrath, we are hereby made the children of grace.
Question. What is required of persons to be baptized?
Answer. Repentance, whereby they forsake sin; and Faith, whereby they steadfastly believe the promises of God made to them in that Sacrament.
Question. Why then are Infants baptized, when by reason of their tender age they cannot perform them?
Answer. Because they promise them both by their sureties; which promise, when they come to age, themselves are bound to perform.
We thank you, Father, for the water of Baptism. In it we are buried with Christ in his death. By it we share in his resurrection. Through it we are reborn by the Holy Spirit. Therefore in joyful obedience to your Son, we bring into his fellowship those who come to him in faith, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Now Father, sanctify this water by the power of your Holy Spirit. May all who are baptized here be cleansed from sin, be born again, and continue forever in the risen life of Jesus Christ our Savior.
-The Book of Common Prayer, prayer from the liturgy of Baptism
What about the lord's supper or Eucharist?
Question. Why was the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper ordained?
Answer. For the continual remembrance of the sacrifice of the death of Christ, and of the benefits which we receive thereby.
Question. What is the outward part or sign of the Lord’s Supper?
Answer. Bread and Wine, which the Lord hath commanded to be received.
Question. What is the inward part, or thing signified?
Answer. The Body and Blood of Christ, which are verily & indeed taken and received by the faithful in the Lord's Supper.
Question. What are the benefits whereof we are partakers thereby?
Answer. The strengthening & refreshing of our souls by the Body & Blood of Christ, as our bodies are by the Bread & Wine.
We celebrate the memorial of our redemption, O Father, in this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Recalling Christ's death, resurrection, and ascension, we offer you these gifts [i.e., bread & wine]. Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be for your people the Body & Blood of your Son, the holy food and drink of new and unending life in him. Sanctify us also, that we may faithfully receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy, and peace; and at the last day bring us with all your saints into the joy of your eternal kingdom. All this we ask through your Son, Jesus Christ.
-The Book of Common Prayer, prayer from the liturgy of the Eucharist
What is the church? how can i tell it when i see it?
The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of believers, in which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments are faithfully administered according to Christ's ordinance.
-The 39 Articles, #19
O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably upon your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquillity the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
-The Book of Common Prayer, collect at ordinations of bishops, priests, and deacons
Where do anglicans stand on marriage & sexuality?
We acknowledge God’s creation of humankind as male and female and the unchangeable standard of Christian marriage between one man and one woman as the proper place for sexual intimacy and the basis of the family. We repent of our failures to maintain this standard and call for a renewed commitment to lifelong fidelity in marriage and abstinence for those who are not married.
-The Jerusalem Declaration
Do anglicans care about social justice?
God, and not man, is the creator of human life. The unjustified taking of life is sinful. Therefore, all members & clergy are called to promote and respect the sanctity of every human life from conception to natural death. The Church is called upon to show Christ-like compassion to those who have fallen into sin, encouraging them to repent and receive forgiveness, and offering the ministry of healing to all who suffer physically or emotionally as a result of such sin.
-The Canons, Anglican Church in North America
We are mindful of our responsibility to be good stewards of God’s creation, to uphold and advocate justice in society, and to seek relief and empowerment of the poor and needy.
-The Jerusalem Declaration