- Anglicanism is the name given to the gestalt of beliefs and practices brought together in the Church of England in the post-Reformation era. Prior to the Reformation, the British Isles were united religiously by the Roman Catholic Church. From the pre-Reformation period, Anglicanism continues its adherence to the Bible, the Apostles and Nicene Creeds, the sacraments of the Lord's Supper and baptism, and an episcopal leadership with apostolic succession. During the 16th century, it underwent vast changes, veering from its most Protestant era during the reign of Edward VI (1547-53) to its near return to the Catholic fold during the reign of Mary I (1553-58). During the lengthy reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1603), the policy of VIA MEDIA between the two extremes was articulated. The essence of the via media was embodied in the Prayer Book, the guide to worship, and in the Articles of Religion adopted in 1563.protestant elements of the via media include an emphasis on biblical authority; a rejection of all sacraments apart from baptism and the Lord's Supper; and repudiation of a variety of Roman Catholic beliefs and practices as delineated in the church's 39 Articles of Religion. Roman Catholic elements include the three-fold ministry (deacon, priest, and bishop) and the emphasis on a formal liturgy and church tradition.This new form of Christianity was severely challenged by puritanism in the middle of the 17th century, but solidified its position following the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. Anglicans have always taken pains to ensure their status as bearers of an unbroken succession of bishops from Jesus' apostles. As a result of efforts to Protestantize the church during the 16th century, Roman Catholics have frequently questioned Anglican claims of retaining an apostolic succession.With the growth of the British Empire, Anglicanism took root in countries around the world. The many autonomous Anglican churches are united in the Anglican Communion.The Lambeth Conference of 1888 proposed the most commonly cited doctrinal commitments of the Anglican Communion - the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral. The Quadrilateral affirmed four basic principles: the Holy scriptures of the old and New Testaments as the revealed Word of God "containing all things necessary to salvation" and as the rule and ultimate standard of faith; the Apostles' Creed as the symbol of baptism and the Nicene Creed as the sufficient statement of the Christian Faith; the two sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist as administered with the unfailing words and elements used by Christ; and the historic episcopate locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of Christian peoples. This faith finds expression in the Book of Common Prayer, which includes the liturgical text for sunday worship and the 39 Articles of Religion. These principles could, it was believed, facilitate union with other churches.In the last decades of the 20th century, Anglicans have been plagued with controversies over issues such as the ordination of female priests, changes in the liturgy, and the status of homosexuals in the church and in the priesthood.Further reading:■ John Booty and Stephen Sykes, eds., The Study of Anglicanism (Minneapolis Minn.: Fortress Press, 1988)■ The Church of England Yearbook (London: Church Publishing House, published annually)■ William L. Sachs, The Transformation of Anglicanism: From State Church to Global Communion (Cambridge: Cambridge university Press, 1993)■ Andrew Wingate, et al., eds., Anglicanism: A Global Communion (London: A. R. Mowbrays, 1998).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.