The Anglican Movement
By Bishop Tom Brown
church has experienced great synergy by combining the Anglican heritage
with the vibrancy of our evangelical, charismatic worship. Our church
has grown faster since we merged with the historic Christian faith. We
no longer consider ourselves just Protestant but also a continuation of
the historic Christian faith.
The fastest growing segments of the church has been the
charismatic and Pentecostal movements, but if there could be one
legitimate criticism—and this goes for Protestantism in general—is it
lacks a foundation of history going back to the original apostles.
Pentecostals often trace their history to Azusa Street while various
Protestants trace their history to when their denomination started, such
as Lutheranism tracing itself to Martin Luther or Presbyterianism
tracing itself to John Calvin. But Anglicanism traces itself in an
unbroken apostolic line to the apostles. So in a real sense, Anglicanism
is not Protestant, yet it is not “Roman” Catholic either. It is often
called the “middle way” between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. It
ingeniously bridges the gap between the two. It takes the best of both
worlds, combining it into a solid, historic movement within the church.
Anglican means England. However Anglicanism goes back
further than the breaking away of the Church of England from the Roman
Pontiff. It traces itself to the first century when Rome conquered
Britain in 44 AD. It is about this time that Christianity arrives in
Britain. Many are converted. Britain is part of the early Christian
Christianity the official religion in 312 AD and as a result the Britons
as Roman citizens are Christianized. At the important Council of Nicene
in 325 AD it is quite likely that bishops from Britain joined in this
landmark Council. It is at this council that the famous Nicene Creed is
Within a few decades
Britain is conquered by Pagan Anglo-Saxons from Germany and Scandinavia.
They begin to lose their way in the faith. However men like Saint
Patrick helps return the people toward Christ. He successfully confronts
the Druids and leads the people back to Orthodoxy.
The church world-wide gradually develops into five major
ruling patriarchs. These patriarchs are bishops in large metropolitan
cities. The word “patriarch” means “father.” In Latin it means papa or
famously, pope. In Britain the church isolates itself from the
patriarchs, partly in due to being on an island but also hatred toward
foreign invaders. In the Latin city of Rome, Pope Gregory the Great
recognizes the need for the Briton Christians to be more organized. He
begins the efforts to bring the Brits into the Roman fold. He orders the
arch-bishop, Augustine, to develop a liturgy for the Britons (597 Ad).
Eventually the Britons submit themselves to the Patriarch of Rome. This
synergy works great for a while. The Briton Christians emerge as some of
the strongest Christians in the west. With the power of their nation,
Anglicanism spreads throughout much the world.
In time the relationship with the Pope and the Kings of
England begin to sour. Many in England feel that the Church in Rome
exerts too much influence over the governance of the Nation of England.
It turns vial under the reign of King Henry the VIII. He feels that the
Pope’s powers are too much for England, and with his desire to remarry,
which the Pope will not allow, he cuts off the Church of England from
the patriarch in Rome. The Church of England becomes autonomous in 1529
The past connection
with the Rome Catholic Church explains why the traditions, liturgy and
garments of Anglicanism resemble Roman Catholicism. But make no mistake
about it, the 39 articles of the Anglican Church contains some very
anti-papist views. Do not confuse Anglicanism with Roman Catholicism.
There is much to be
commended concerning Anglicanism, yet, unfortunately modern headlines
distract from the great contributions of Anglicanism. Today, when people
think of Anglicanism they often deliberate on the ordination of the
first, openly, practicing gay bishop. While the ordination was
deplorable it would be wrong to summarize Anglicanism as a liberal,
unorthodox church. It’s unfair to categorize Anglicanism based on one
foolish action as it would to categorize Pentecostals as immoral, money
grabbing preachers simply because of Pearly-gate; the fiasco with Jim
Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart, no more defines Pentecostals as the
ordination of Gene Robinson defines Anglicanism. I am sure Roman
Catholics don’t want to be defined by pedophile priests. So also
Anglicanism cannot be defined by an unorthodox ordination.
Let me share with you
the contributions of Anglicanism1.
Anglicanism contributed to the popularity of the English language.
The word Anglicanism
comes from Anglicism which means English. This one language has united
the world. In almost every country, people can speak English
Anglicanism contributed the King James Bible.
My protestant friends
think I went bonkers by becoming an Anglican Bishop2, yet on
Sunday they open their Anglican Bible. Make no mistake about it; the
King James Version is an Anglican Bible.
Anglicanism contributed to the worship in the vernacular of the
Prior to Anglicanism,
all churches in the West worshipped in Latin. But the Anglican Church
changed that practice by using the English language in worship. Soon
this concept would spread even to Rome. It took a few centuries to catch
up, but Vatican II opened up worship in the language of the people.
Today most Christians worship in their own language, thanks to
contributed to the foundation of America.
America would be a
very different country without Anglicanism. While it’s true that the
Puritans, who broke away from the Church of England, landed in Plymouth
Rock it was Great Britain that provided the governmental foundation of
America. Eventually our first president, George Washington, would lead
America into independence, but remember; even George Washington was a
committed Anglican. Many of our presidents and forefathers were
Anglicans. I find it inconsistent that some evangelicals may think our
church has gone “backward” into Anglicanism, yet they go “backward” to
the founding fathers to prove our present rights. There is nothing
inconsistent in going back to the past to draw waters for the present.
Anglicanism has done this for me.
Anglicanism contributed to the abolition of slavery.
a devout Anglican and fierce politician, helped end slavery in England.
His work provided the inspiration for America to follow suit. Today
lawful, government sponsored slavery3 is all but gone in our
world thanks to Anglicanism.
Anglicanism contributed to the civil rights movement.
fundamentalists’ churches used the Bible to endorse separate but equal
concept, not so for American Anglicans. They came out early with
statements supporting full, equal rights for black Americans. They were
there marching with African Americans.
Anglicanism contributed to women’s rights.
Today, many churches,
Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches included, still struggle with the
ordination of women. But the Anglican Church ordains women in all
offices. Of course, Pentecostals have been supportive of women ministers
before Anglicans because they held fast to the promise in Joel 2:28-29,
“I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters
will prophesy…Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out
my Spirit in those days.” They saw in this passage the emancipation
of women. God is pouring out His Spirit on “both men and women.”
I can say that I am proud of the many Anglicans that went
before me, and I am thankful to God for their lives and the heritage we
enjoy today as a result of their hard work.
Everyone has two lineages: moms and dads. So it is with our
church. We have the spiritual lineage of Pentecostals. We trace it to
Azusa Street and even before that with the Holiness movement. But now,
our church has a second lineage—Anglicanism. We trace our heritage all
the way back to the original apostles. And for us, we actually are
grounded in apostolic succession.
These two parents—Pentecostals and Anglicans—has created a
wonderful baby called Word of Life Church. We are products of both
heritages. I appreciate what both have done in contribution to our
I am proud to say that I am a Pentecostal Anglican.
Always an Anglican
I was being interviewed by Patriarch John Githiga for
ordination as an Anglican Bishop. After answering several questions, John
Githiga laughed. He said, “Pastor Tom, you are already an Anglican!” He
already saw my Anglican ways. For example, I have believed for many
years that communion and baptism were sacraments, not merely ordinances.
I saw in them, the grace of Christ being poured out on us, not simply as
symbols. One member of my church criticized me because I did not place
as much stress on the sinner’s prayer as she think I should have; it was
because I do not think the sinner’s prayer has replaced baptism as the
means of washing from sins. I do believe God saves us upon calling on
His name, but the normal pattern was through baptism. “Whoever
believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16). “Get up, be
baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.'” (Acts
Concerning Holy Communion I have written an old article
arguing for the real presence of Christ in Communion. (see
my article) The point I am bringing is that Anglicanism believes in
these two sacraments.
It also includes
belief in “episcopal” church government. The word “episcopal” is the
Greek word for Bishop. I had always believed in the church being
governed by the bishop or, in my former case, the senior pastor.
Although the board of “elders” should be respected for legal reasons,
the spiritual governance of the church is best led by the top pastor. In
Anglican tradition this would resemble the bishop. A bishop ordained
under apostolic succession is best equipped to lead the church. In
America, most churches are governed by a board of elders. The word
“elders” is the Greek word for Presbyters. In this type of church
government the board of elders selects and ordains pastors, and hires and
fires them. This is called a Presbyterian form of government. With all
due respect, I do not think this is the scriptural way. So as you can
see, I was already an Anglican and did not know it.
Earlier I mentioned that the synergy of Pentecostalism and
Anglicanism has done wonders for our growth. Synergy is the concept that
when two separate entities are brought together, they increase each
other’s effectiveness. Pentecostalism is effective; Anglicanism is
effective. But put them together, and they can become more effective. I
feel that the ancient past and certain traditions of Anglicanism have
increased the effectiveness of our Pentecostal message. At the same
time, I do think Anglicanism could benefit from joining more in the
Some wonder if the style of our church services has changed.
In other words, do we practice the old liturgy of a formal Anglican
Church? The answer is no. There are three styles of worship that are
accepted in Anglicanism. The first is well known; it is the “high
church” formal liturgy. The second is a middle ground, incorporating
formal liturgy with informal. Then there is ours: we are an informal
Anglican Church4. The services resemble the excitement and
Bible centered teaching of evangelicalism. Yet we are rooted in the two
ancient creeds of the church—apostle and Nicene. We trace our ordination
in an unbroken line of succession to the apostles. In my case, the
apostolic succession goes back to the Apostle Peter. (see
our line of apostolic succession)
The important thing to remember is as an Anglican
Pentecostal, I see the church Jesus Christ is building as catholic,
meaning universal. It has existed from the Day of Pentecost to now.
There has always been a group of faithful Christians throughout the
history of the church. I do not believe as some that the church
disappeared until the reformation. This would go against Christ promise
Who said, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not
overcome it” (Matt 16:18).
His church has never
been taken completely over by the devil. For sure there were dark
periods of church history, but even then, God had His remnant of
faithful followers. So to be an Anglican is to accept the universality
of the church. It is to find yourself related to all your brother and
sisters in Christ, no matter where and when they lived or what they were
called—Roman Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants. As an Anglican you
recognize, without compromising your convictions, that the church is
ancient and that you are a part of this ancient church.
Maybe you are a Pentecostal, yet like me, you want roots
deeper than 1904. You want roots in places older than Azusa Street or
America. You long for roots taking you back to the apostles. If you have
this interest, I understand it. As a Pentecostal/charismatic pastor you
might want an ordination more than from a church or denomination without
apostolic succession. You want an episcopal ordination, tracing itself
in an unbroken line to one of the original apostles. Yet, you do not
want to change the worship style. You don’t have to. Your church can
maintain the vibrancy of the charismatic movement. You simply need to
embrace the apostolic, catholic5 church. In doing so, you are
embarking on a journey back home. Home to the historic faith that was “once
for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3).
If you have an interested in being ordained under apostolic
click the link
for more information.
In no way am I
attempting to disregard the contributions of other Christian faiths or
of the contributions of other nations. I acknowledge the contributions
of others. I also condemn the heretical and racists teaching that
promote the supremacy of any racial groups.
I was ordained under a “continuing Anglican Church.”
state sponsored slavery has ended, there is still underground slavery
such as the sex slave trade.
generally informal during normal Sunday services and Bible studies.
However during communion I wear an alb and stole in accordance with the
respect to the Lord’s Supper. For ordination services everyone wears
full clerical vestments. I also wear clerical shirts for weddings,
funerals and special services.
not mean “Roman” but “universal”, existing at all times in all places.
Other related articles:
39 Articles of
the Anglican Church
Why I got ordained as an
more articles by Tom Brown
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Brown come to your area
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