Anglican? How do you identify yourself?
St Augustine’s Church is an Anglican Church firmly committed in its constitution to the gospel as contained in the 39 Articles of Religion of the Church of England. We are an independent Anglican Church and not part of the Diocese of Sodor and Man. How is this possible?
1. Historically, global Anglicanism was inextricably intertwined with the colonies of the British Empire. This ceased with the end of colonialism and the newborn independent countries formed Anglican churches independent of Canterbury's rule, although many of these churches chose voluntarily to remain in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Others, like the Church of England in South Africa (CESA) are Anglican but maintain no links with the Archbishop of Canterbury.
2. Anglicanism is a generic term; Church of England is a specific term. St Augustine's Church is Anglican but not Church of England. The Latin term Ecclesia Anglicana (Anglican Church) appears in the 1215 Magna Carta—long before the Church of England was established. Halsbury's Laws of England, an authoritative legal text, defines an Anglican as someone who adheres to the 39 Articles of Faith. Anglicanism is a pluriform, global branch of Christianity which is remarkable for its amorphous nature and its diversity. Neither the Bishop of Sodor and Man nor the Archbishop of Canterbury has a monopoly on this nomenclature or practice.
3. The 39 Articles of Religion do not state that to be an Anglican one has to be a member of the Church of England or be licensed or recognised by the Bishop of a particular diocese, or be in communion with Canterbury. Rather, it calls for steadfast allegiance to God's truth as revealed in the Holy Scriptures.
Article 23 states: OF MINISTERING IN THE CONGREGATION
It is not lawful for any man to take upon him the office of publick preaching, or ministering the Sacraments in the Congregation, before he be lawfully called, and sent to execute the same. And those we ought to judge lawfully called and sent, which be chosen and called to this work by men who have publick authority given unto them in the Congregation, to call and send Ministers into the Lord's vineyard.
The claim that Article 23 enshrines the authority of the Diocesan Bishop over an Anglican Church is entirely flawed and highly misleading. The Article actually contradicts what this says by affirming the New Testament truth that the minister’s authority comes from the approval of his congregation and not from the Diocesan Bishop.
4. A person can be an Anglican without being part of the Church or England. The Anglican Mission in England (AMiE), for example, exists to support Anglicans in the British Isles outside the structure of the Church of England.
5. In the New Testament, the terms bishop (episcopos) and priest/elder (presbyteros) are used interchangeably. Hence a priest is the bishop of his congregation and a bishop is an elder within his congregation together with other elders. The concept of monarchical bishops only emerged in 2nd century and is not directly supported by New Testament evidence.
6. Given biblical, historical and legal precedent, it is indisputable that St Augustine’s Church, Douglas, is an Anglican church and does not require the approval of the Church of England’s Bishop of Sodor and Man to define itself as such.