This Anglicanism definition is adapted from the four characteristics that were written by J.I. Packer, author of Knowing God.
Anglicanism is catholic Christianity. By catholic, it doesn’t mean Roman Catholic, but the universal communion of churches in the global church seeking cooperation, discernment, and integration of the full history of the faith. This inclusive view seeks to incorporate the rich traditions of our faith with the mission inspired by Jesus Christ. Anglicanism seeks to maintain the belief and practice, being in-sync with the first followers of Jesus and their examples.
Anglicanism is canonical Christianity. Quite simply this means that the Anglican faith tradition, absolutes, and doctrine are based solely on the Bible. The Word of God confronts the world and the church in challenging ways. This means that if there is something in the Bible that we aren’t teaching, we will teach it; and if there is something that isn’t in the Bible and we teach it as absolute truth, we will drop it. Everything essential for salvation comes from the Bible, and that is what we teach.
Anglicanism is creedal Christianity. This means that the two ecumenical creeds agreed upon by the whole church, the Nicene Creed and the Apostles’ Creed, are not only foundational in the constitution of the church, but also play an important role in professing our beliefs during our worship services. Anglicans strive to keep before their hearts and minds the truth of God, made known to us through Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit. We remain united together with our brothers and sisters around the world through Christ’s work within us as we confess our core beliefs passed down by the generations before us.
Anglicanism is comprehensive Christianity. This means we make a distinction between what is primary and essential and what is secondary and non-essential. We embrace essential truths like the doctrines of the Creed, or the basic ethics that Scripture teaches following from those doctrines (repentance, obedience, loving service within biblical parameters, and so on). As such, we hold on to the faith the church has always believed. Where we disagree on secondary issues there is tolerance as long as those issues do not contradict Scripture.
James I. Packer was an Anglican priest, and a professor of theology at Regent College in Vancouver, BC. He was the author of many books, and was a well-known speaker around the world.