The Promise of Anglicanism
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Anglicanism is one of the largest and most widely dispersed of all religious traditions. How it reached this status is replete with irony and with conflict. The origins of Anglicanism lie in the Church of England, still its largest branch and arguably its defining center. But the majority of Anglicans now reside in sub-Saharan Africa and do not speak English as their primary language.
Given Anglicanism's roots, and its integration into British colonialism, the expansion of this branch of Christianity seems puzzling. Moreover, intramural Anglican conflict, from the end of colonialism onward, seemingly has torn the fabric of Anglican life. It seems problematic that this tradition, and the church bodies that represent it, will remain intact.
By looking at the Church through the lens of the biblical theme of promise, this book seeks to offer neither lament for a tattered tradition nor facile hope for an expanding one. It considers the key phases of Anglican history, each defined by clear intentions, from securing English national life, to mission, to finding contextual roots in various locales.
Whilst not denying that the ongoing contestation about the proper shape of Anglican faith and practice has become central, the book highlights the emergence of fresh consensus among Anglicans, centered on grassroots initiative and innovation, creating informal patterns of collaboration that can transcend context and overlook divergence.
Introduction: Anglicanism’s Dilemma ix
1. The Meaning of Promise 1
2. A Contested Genesis 26
3. Catholicity and Contextualization 57
4. Catholicity and Communion 84
5. Testing Anglican Coherence 117
6. Renewing Communion in Mission 150
7. Distinctive and Faithful Practice 182
“The heart of Anglicanism is forged in inter-cultural encounter. This book tells that story, and challenges the Church of today to embody its calling afresh .” -- Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury
"This is an exceptional book by two of the most gifted commentators on Anglicanism today. Robert Heaney and William Sachs have crafted an outstanding volume that explores the coherence of the global Anglican Communion, and look afresh at the challenges and opportunities presented in mission and ministry. Intellectually stimulating – and yet admirably accessible – this book is a must for all in the field of ecclesiology and those engaged in the study of Anglican polity today." -- Martyn Percy, Dean, Christ Church, Oxford, UK
"If Anglicanism were a person, this would be an honest biography that embraces both hope and struggle. This biography doesn’t romanticise the early years, nor does it skip over the awkward adolescent phase that Anglicanism stalls in at times: worried about relationships, authority, and, of course, sex. It is in these growing pains and inner contests, alongside worship, mission, and ministry, that the promise of Anglicanism is to be found. For as this hope-filled tour de force of Anglicanism makes clear, Anglicanism is a tradition shaped by lived experience of Christ, whose incomplete identity continues to unfold in a complex world. On the cusp of a Lambeth Conference and entering a new decade of Anglicanism, The Promise of Anglicanism could not be a better placed, nor more challenging, text for all to read." -- Jennifer Strawbridge, University of Oxford, UK
"A succinct, well crafted and edifying account about our identity as the Anglican family. I commend this apt resource to all who want to catch a glimpse of identity , promise and vocation as Anglicans. A timely book." -- Thabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa
"...a compelling, wide-ranging and deeply informed account of the development of Anglicanism from the beginnings of Christianity to contemporary post-colonial critiques. Sachs and Heaney offer a refreshingly upbeat vision for the future of a global Communion that so often seems riven by conflict. Re-imagining Anglicanism as Catholicity from below, they emphasize the importance of context in building the community of faith. Anglicanism grows through the inevitable contestation between context and catholicity as it responds to new situations. This offers a hope-filled promise for the future as Anglicans continue to work together despite their many differences in mutual service of the Gospel." -- Mark Chapman, Ripon College Cuddesdon, UK
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