Anglican and Anglicanism: Church, Beliefs, Quotes and Facts

Anglican and Anglicanism

Anglicanism (from Anglia, the Latin name for England) describes the Protestant denominations that follow the religious traditions developed by the established Church of England. Anglicanism was founded by King Henry VIII (an ex-Catholic) in the year 1534. Henry VIII decided to create his own church when Pope Clement VII would not grant him a divorce with the right to remarry.

General Information

Although King Henry VIII opposed Protestant doctrines, his action in ending the Pope's role in England contributed to the advance of Protestantism under Henry's successors. Before the breach with Rome under Henry VIII there was absolutely no doctrinal difference between the faith of Englishmen and the rest of Catholic Christendom, and "Anglicanism", as connoting a separate or independent religious system, was unknown.

The name Ecclesia Anglicana, or English Church, was of course employed, but always in the Catholic and Papal use of the term as signifying that part or region of the one Catholic Church under the jurisdiction of the Pope which was situated in England, and precisely in the same way as the Church in Scotland was called the Ecclesia Scotticana, the Church in France, the Ecclesia Gallicana, and the Church in Spain the Ecclesia Hispanica. That such national or regional appellations were a part of the style in the Roman Curia itself, and that they in no sense could have implied any indication of independence from Rome, is sufficiently well known to all who are familiar with pre-Reformation records.

The events that led to the formation of the state Anglican Church are a curious mix of ecclesiastical, political, and personal rivalries. Henry petitioned Pope Clement VII for a divorce from Catherine of Aragon, but was denied. When Protestant Thomas Cranmer became Archbishop of Canterbury, Henry saw his chance to bypass the Pope's authority and get what he wanted. In 1531, Henry manipulated the English clergy into accepting him as head of the church in England. In 1532, Henry forced the national convocation to agree in The Submission of the Clergy that they would not promulgate any papal bull in England without the king's consent. In 1534, Henry led Parliament to pass a series of laws depriving the Roman Catholic Church of any authority in England. The Act of Supremacy declared the king to be "the supreme head of the church in England," thus giving Henry the same legal authority over the English church that the Pope exercised over the Roman Catholic Church.

The Anglican Communion has 80 million members worldwide in 38 different church organizations, including the Episcopal Church. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the recognized spiritual head of the church, though each church organization is self-governing under its own archbishop. In addition to those churches, the Continuing Anglican Communion, established in 1977, is composed of churches which share the historic Anglican faith, but reject the changes in the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, as well as the "ordination" of women and gays/lesbians to the "clergy", and have thus severed their ties with the main church.

Beliefs and Doctrines

Historically, Anglicans have regarded the Bible, the three Creeds (Nicene Creed, Apostles' Creed, Athanasian Creed), the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, and the Book of Common Prayer (1662) as the principal norms of doctrine. Thus, some have said that the Anglican Church retains much of the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church, but is tolerant of Reformed doctrine. This state of affairs is a consequence of the Elizabethan Religious Settlement. The traditional liturgy of Anglicanism, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, has been considered "too Catholic" by those of Puritan leanings in the sixteenth century and Evangelicals in later periods, and "too Evangelical" by those of Anglo-Catholic leanings.

To form a general idea of Anglicanism as a religious system, it will be convenient to sketch it in rough outline as it exists in the Established Church of England, bearing in mind that there are differences in detail, mainly in liturgy and church-government, to be found in other portions of the Anglican communion.

  • The members of the Church of England call themselves Christians, and claim to be baptized members of the Church of Christ.

  • They accept the Scriptures as contained in the Authorized Version, as the Word of God.

  • They hold the Scriptures to be the sole and supreme rule of faith, in the sense that the Scriptures contain all things necessary to salvation and that nothing can be required of anyone as an article of faith which is not contained therein, and cannot be proved thereby.

  • They accept the Book of Common Prayer as the practical rule of their belief and worship, and in it they use as standards of doctrine the three Creeds — the Apostles', the Nicene, and the Athanasian.

  • They believe in two sacraments of the Gospel — Baptism and the Lord's Supper — as generally necessary to salvation.

  • They claim to have Apostolic succession and a validly ordained ministry (although they have not (see Pope Leo XIII, Apostolicae Curae)), and only persons whom they believe to be thus ordained are allowed to minister in their churches.

  • They believe that the Church of England is a true and reformed part, or branch, or pair of provinces of the Catholic Church of Christ.

  • They maintain that the Church of England is free from all foreign jurisdiction.

  • They recognize the King as Supreme Governor of the Church and acknowledge that to him "appertains the government of all estates whether civil or ecclesiastical, in all causes."

  • The clergy, before being appointed to a benefice or licensed to preach, subscribe and declare that they "assent to the Thirty-nine Articles, and to the Book of Common Prayer, and of Ordering of Bishops, priests, and deacons, and believe the doctrine of the Church of England as therein set forth to be agreeable to the Word of God".

  • One of the Articles (XXV) thus subscribed approves the First and Second Book of Homilies as containing "a godly and wholesome doctrine necessary for these times", and adjudges them to be read in churches "diligently and distinctly".

To these general characteristics we may add by way of corrective that while the Bible is accepted much latitude is allowed as to the nature and extent of its inspiration; that the Eucharistic teaching of the Prayer Book is subject to various and opposed interpretations; that Apostolic succession is claimed by many to be beneficial, but not essential, to the nature of the Church; that the Apostles' Creed is the only one to which assent can be required from the laity, and that Articles of Religion are held to be binding only on the licensed and beneficed clergy.


If you belong to the Church of England, your religion was founded by King Henry VIII (an ex-Catholic) in the year 1534. Henry VIII decided to create his own church when Pope Clement VII would not grant him a divorce with the right to remarry. How can one belong to a sect that is so obviously man-made? Only Catholicism traces back to the Apostles. One will not be saved unless one realize that and convert to the Catholic Faith. Anglicanism rejects core teachings of the Christian faith and is a man-made religion. Only the Catholic faith is Christian and biblical, that Jesus set up the Papacy, and that there is no salvation outside the Church. See the book, The Bible Proves the Teachings of the Catholic Church for the biblical evidence for Catholicism.

Anglicanism Unbiblical

Free Videos
Free DVDs, Articles and Books