What has the Church of England achieved
What distinguishes Anglicans from Catholics and Protestants
The Church of England is the mother church of the Anglicans, independent since 1534. Therefore, Anglican churches are most widespread in the English-speaking areas and the countries of the Commonwealth. The special thing about it: The Anglicans are both Catholic and Protestant. What are the similarities and major differences between these three denominations?
1. Bible understanding:
The Bible - for Christians the book of books
The primary source for what is important for faith is of course the Bible, underlines Reverend Christopher Easthill, "but we read it through two glasses, so to speak, the glasses of tradition - what the Church Fathers and Mothers of the Church have already written down, the early church creeds - and we read it through the lens of reason, "said the pastor of the Anglo-American congregation in Wiesbaden.
On this point the Anglican community is close to the Catholic Church. It also teaches that in addition to the Holy Scriptures, the Roman Catholic tradition is also binding for Christians.
The churches of the Reformation are quite different, for which only the authority of the Bible counts. For Protestant Christians it has been clear since Martin Luther: The Bible is God's only source through which he supplies people with revelations that bring them back into communion with him.
2. Understanding of the Church:
Anglicans and Protestants have almost identical views of the nature of the church. "The Anglicans see themselves as part of the one, holy, catholic, apostolic church. However, like the evangelical churches - they regard all churches as having equal rights and equal status.
The Catholic Church is completely different (Catholic = all-embracing): It sees itself as the sole true Church - worldwide, under the leadership of the Pope.
3. Papal Office:
Two church leaders - Pope Francis (r.) And Queen Elizabeth II.
Catholics see in the respective pope the successor of the apostle Peter - and thus the head of their church determined by Jesus Christ. This is justified with an allegedly uninterrupted chain of ordinations (apostolic succession), which extends from the first century to the present day.
The Anglican Community does not have such a centralized worldwide structure of authority. "Every country, every province has a head of the church," says Reverend Easthill, "but all our churches are episcopal and synodal at the same time." The Protestant churches are of the same opinion: for them the papacy is incompatible with the statements of the Bible.
The primate of the Church of England, i.e. the respective Archbishop of Canterbury, is the chief spiritual director of the church. However, he has no right to give instructions to the other churches of the Anglican Communion. He does, however, convene important conferences of the bishops of all Anglican churches.
The fact that the Queen is the secular head of the Church of England is to be understood purely symbolically today, according to Easthill. In this capacity it was incumbent on her to appoint bishops.
4. Understanding of ministry:
Ordination in the Munich Liebfrauendom
The apostolic succession or apostolic succession has a general meaning for the spiritual office in the Catholic Church. With the Sacrament of Orders, bishops, priests and deacons receive a special stamp of God for their service forever. That is why the ministry of the priest takes precedence over that of the Catholic laity. Only men can receive this ordination.
The Anglican Community also has this chain of consecration. However, it is not recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. The tripartite office - bishops, priests, deacons - has taken over the Anglicans from Rome, but the offices in most Anglican churches are open to men and women. "The priests are not above the laity," says Reverend Easthill: "We believe, like the Protestants, in the priesthood of all believers." One is a little closer to the Catholic Church, however, because the offices in both denominations are offices for life.
The Protestant Church appoints a temporary bishop. There one sees no consecration of the person in the ministry. For them, the office is a function willed by God, which in principle can be transferred to every believer - including women.
5th Eucharist or Lord's Supper:
Eucharist: a priest distributes the hosts
Anglicans and Catholics are very close together with a view to the Eucharist or the Lord's Supper. Both terms stand for that act in the worship service that is supposed to bring to mind the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It goes back to the last meal that Jesus ate with his disciples on the eve of his crucifixion.
In both churches only one ordained priest is allowed to preside over the Eucharist. Only he can transform the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ in the name of Jesus. While non-Catholics are not admitted to the Eucharist in the Catholic Church, all baptized Christians are allowed to participate in Anglican church services.
In the Protestant Church, every baptized person is generally invited to take part. An even bigger difference: anyone and everyone baptized can preside over the sacrament.
In addition, the Lord's Supper is filled with different contents. Anglicans and Catholics see it as a constant repetition of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. In their interpretation, the host becomes Jesus and can then be worshiped.
For evangelicals, the Lord's Supper only commemorates the death and resurrection of Jesus. Particular emphasis is placed on the community of those who celebrate the Lord's Supper.
Reverend Easthill baptizes a baby
In the Roman Catholic Church there are seven ordinances, so-called sacraments: Eucharist, baptism, confirmation, confession, marriage, ordination and anointing of the sick. The Church is convinced that God brings about salvation through these sacraments, signs of God.
The Anglicans see it in a more nuanced way. "We have two plus five," says theologian Christopher Easthill. "We are talking about two sacraments and five sacred acts." Baptism and the Eucharist were instituted by Christ himself. The five others are special, but special actions that perhaps not everyone wants to claim.
In the Evangelical Reformed Church, only two sacraments apply: Baptism and the Lord's Supper (Eucharist). In the Evangelical Lutheran Church also confession. They are understood as symbolic-ritual acts through which God speaks the gospel to man. It has to be accepted by faith.
7. Adoration of Mary and saints:
Mary statue in Equador
The Roman Catholic Church venerates Mary, the mother of Jesus, as the "Queen of Heaven" and sees her as equal to Jesus in many ways. Since there is no biblical evidence, especially for the dogmas of Mary, they are rejected by the Protestant side. These dogmas are Mary's salvation from original sin and her incarnation into heaven.
"We also have Marian devotion," says theologian Easthill. This is particularly the case with the so-called High Church, the strongly Catholic Anglican tendency, but hardly with the Low Church, which is more evangelical.
In addition, the Catholic Church practices the veneration of saints. Deceased religious models that have been canonized in church history are asked to convey them to intercede with God for the believer. In the Anglican Church there is a key difference in this regard, said Easthill: "We venerate them for what they have done, but we do not see them as mediators or worship them. They are role models for us."
The Protestant Church also categorically rejects the veneration of saints as unbiblical. According to the Reformation understanding, everyone can and should turn to God directly in prayer.
Wedding - a taboo for Catholic priests
In the Catholic Church, celibacy is mandatory for priests and religious. It is understood as a sign of the undivided following of Christ.
There is no compulsion to be celibate among Anglicans. This is optional, but "most of our clergy are married," emphasizes Reverend Easthill of the Sankt Augustine of Canterbury Church in Wiesbaden. However, priests belonging to the Anglican order were celibate.
The Protestant churches also reject celibacy as a duty. Martin Luther demanded its abolition as early as 1520. However, anyone who consciously wants to be celibate can do so.
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