Anglicanism? Whaaaat's So Special?
Anglicanism is known for the via media, which is a Latin term that means “the middle way.” The middle way allows us to synthesize great Christian truths into a central core, rather than focusing on extremes. The different streams of Anglicanism remind us that not everyone looks, acts, or thinks alike. Anglican churches come in all shapes and sizes and are very diverse; ranging from Anglo-Catholics who are more high church, employing a more ceremonial and expanded liturgy, to Evangelical Anglicans who are typically more low church, employing fewer ceremonial practices. Regardless of which camp you are in, Anglicans are united in the essential “catholic” (universal) doctrines of the Christian faith. Although we don’t always see alike, we can agree on the essentials of the faith and join together for the common cause of Christ. In Anglicanism, one finds a place to live out these diverse dimensions of the faith together in a beautiful tapestry. When these dimensions are woven together, they offer us a balanced model for the Christian life and practice. Walking this balance isn’t always easy. The Catholic, Evangelical, Broad, and Charismatic divide is just the beginning of the diversity within Anglicanism. There are, of course, many other issues and ways in which the church is deeply divided. Whether it is between conservatives and liberals, over women’s ordination, human sexuality, or the meaning and nature of the sacraments, Christians can and do disagree. If we must disagree, then let us do so in a loving, Christ-like way. Sometimes we must be willing to lay aside our personal and institutional biases for the sake of Christian unity and mission, learning how to live and work together to reach a radically unchurched world with the gospel message of Jesus Christ.
(Excerpts from “Reclaiming the Via Media” by Dr. Winfield Bevins, the Director of Church Planting at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky)