Regrettably, we are compelled to respond to a statement on the website of the Diocese of Sodor and Man and in the Manx Independent newspaper questioning our claim to be Anglican.
The Bishop of Sodor and Man's definition of 'Anglican' is blatantly colonial and patently fallacious. Historically, global Anglicanism was inextricably intertwined with the colonies of the British Empire. This ceased with the end of colonialism and the new-born independent countries formed Anglican churches that become independent of Canterbury's rule, although many of these churches voluntarily chose to remain in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Others, like the thriving Church of England in South Africa (CESA) are Anglican but maintain no links with the Archbishop of Canterbury.
As more and more independent countries formed their own Anglican provinces, the Lambeth Conference of 1930 asked in what sense they remained Anglican. Resolution 48 asserted that the characteristic feature of Anglicanism is to ‘uphold and propagate the Catholic and Apostolic faith and order as they are generally set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.’ Thus any congregation committed to the catholic and apostolic faith, and which worships within the BCP tradition, can become an Anglican province, and by implication an Anglican congregation.
Anglicanism is a generic term, Church of England is a specific term. St Augustine's Church is Anglican but not Church of England. 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.
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. The claim by Bishop Robert Paterson that Article 23 enshrines his authority over an Anglican Church is entirely flawed and highly misleading. The Article actually contradicts what the Bishop says by affirming the New Testament truth that the minister's authority comes from the approval of his congregation and not from his authority as the Diocesan Bishop.
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.
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. Eldership of the local congregation is always exercised by plurality of elders in the New Testament. Astonishingly, this reading of the Greek is supported by eminent Roman Catholic theologians like Hans Kung in his book The Church.
The concept of monarchical bishops only emerged in 2nd century and is not directly supported by New Testament evidence. It is an institution which is open to the abuse of power and corruption as church history - and our present circumstances - demonstrate.
Given biblical, historical and legal precedent, it is indisputable that St Augustine's Church, Douglas, is an Anglican church and hardly requires the approval of the Church of England's Bishop of Sodor and Man to define itself as such.
Web editors note:- 'Resolution 48' should have read 'Resolution 49'