Classic Reformational Anglicanism

In the diversity of Anglicanism in North America, there is one stream that is largely unknown – classic, reformational Anglicanism that is found in some of the significant churches in England and in Australia. Let me explain by way of a personal note.

Personal. In 2000 Tim Keller invited me to start a new church in New York City. He commented that both Presbyterianism and Anglicanism are important facets of the culture in New York and the North East. He said at the time that there would be many in the city with Anglican associations whom Redeemer would not reach. To this end, I was invited to New York to set up a new church. To quote my appointment letter, I was ‘seconded as an Anglican minister from Sydney’.

In the early stages of Christ Church New York City, people who joined us came to learn of the distinctive features of ‘RefBook of Common Prayer. For historical and theological reasons this is something largely unknown in North America.

Classic Reformational Anglicanism is committed to the unique authority of the Scriptures as God’s Word written, to the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for our salvation, and to the ministry priority of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. My focus on ‘Reformational Anglicanism’ in New York was not simply for the sake of continuity with the work of the English Reformers of the 16th century but for the sake of the gospel.

Gospel-centered Anglicanism has always insisted that the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is ‘the word of the truth’ (Colossians 1:5b). This is what lies at the heart of the work of the English Reformers in the 16th Century, and more recently in the work of J.R.W. Stott and J.I. Packer. It is a Christianity that engages both head and heart in study, debate, and worship.

Because Anglicanism has a recognized place in American culture, a number of us have recently been developing the ‘Anglican Connection’, a partnership of gospel-centered ministers and churches whose ministry is founded on the theological principles of reformational Anglicanism.

As the Anglican Connection is not part of the formal structure of Anglicanism in North America it is drawing together ministers and lay-leaders from the various Anglican structures, as well as from The Episcopal Church. (Yes, there are Episcopalians who are committed to the unique authority of the Scriptures and the priority of God’s gospel.) Interestingly, there are also ‘non-Anglicans’ who have expressed great interest.

Gospel Need. Recent research reveals that less than twenty percent of Americans are now regularly committed to church. Yet, at the same time many people are in search of meaning. The Anglican Connection offers a fresh, reformational Anglican partnership that is committed to helping people of all ages to explore the deeper issues of life.

Our aim is to have churches working together in developing effective Bible-based ministries so that people who believe can grow in the riches and joy of their faith, and people who do not know what to believe can find answers about life. Making disciple-making disciples is key to our work. To do this we aim to bring together the riches of biblical theology and effective ministry thinking and practice.

The Anglican Connection, an American Gospel Partnership:

  • affirms the Jerusalem Declaration of GAFCON (the Global Anglican Future Conference) of June 2008.
  • is Gospel-centered – the services of ordination and the Catechism (teaching) commit ministers in the Anglican Connection to ministries that are gospel-centered and pastoral;
  • affirms The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Anglican Church as setting out the essential doctrine of the church;
  • is liturgical – affirming the theological and liturgical principles of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer (grounded in Thomas Cranmer’s second Prayer Book of 1552);
  • is Protestant – affirming that whatever cannot be found in Scripture is not required of anyone as an article of faith, and that while creed and custom are helpful, God’s Word is the final Word in matters of faith, doctrine and morals; and
  • is Reformed – affirming the great biblical insights of Luther, Calvin and Cranmer.

We are keen to bring into the life and ministry of churches today the truth of the Scriptures framed by the riches of our reformational heritage. Rather than returning to the past we want the best of the past to speak into our life and gospel ministry today.

* John Mason is Commissary to the Archbishop Sydney in the USA; Provisional Chairman of the Anglican Connection; Founding Rector, Christ Church New York City.