While Anglicanism can vary widely depending on the continent where it is expressed, there are a general set of character traits that are common to it. The most common trait is that we Anglicans desire to live out the very faith that we have received from the historic Christian church of the apostles and church fathers in a way that engages people today. The following characteristics describe Anglican Christianity.
Evangelical, but not Protestant
Anglicanism is Evangelical because, like all Evangelicals, our main focus is on the salvation of the individual and of the world, and we believe that our salvation comes by the power of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. We also place a high value on the power of biblical preaching, and on the centrality of the word of God. In fact, we see the word of God as the canon and the ultimate authority over all that is necessary for faith and salvation. Yet, unlike the Protestants, we do not look at the bible alone for instruction in the Christian life; we also look to the Holy tradition out of which the bible came. For this reason, Anglican Evangelicalism does not protest against everything that occurred before the Protestant Reformation. We believe that the traditions of the church handed down to us by those who came before us is “Holy Tradition,” and therefore, we believe that it contains the practical aspect of living the Evangelical faith.
Catholic, but not Roman
Anglicanism is also Catholic because, like all Catholics, we are Trinitarian, Episcopal, Sacramental, and Liturgical. The episcopacy of our clergy is of apostolic succession. Our sacramental practices involve signs, gestures, vestments, bells, art, incense, and water, bread and wine. Our worship practices involve the same liturgical ceremonies and music of the ancient church. Enter an Anglican church and there will be little doubt that you are in a Catholic Church. However, this does not mean that Anglican Catholicism is identical to Roman Catholicism. Anglican Catholicism rejects many of the innovations of the Roman Church. We see the required celibacy of clergy, indulgences, purgatory, the treasury of merit, the planks of salvation, and many other medieval inventions as innovations and not as Catholic.
Orthodox, but not Eastern
Anglicanism also holds to the Holy Orthodox faith, because like the Eastern Orthodox, we see the one faith that existed in the first 1000 years of the church as containing the fullness of apostolic truth. As Orthodox, we believe that the doctrine, or dogma of the faith is best expounded in the documents produced by the seven ecumenical councils, and that they alone contain the teachings that can be considered undisputed. It is in these seven councils that the church has spoken with one voice. However, unlike the Eastern Orthodox, we are distinctly western. We believe the same essential truths as the Eastern Orthodox, yet, we express these truths by way of a western liturgy, western sacred art, and western music.
Anglican Christianity is Evangelical, Catholic, and Orthodox.