It is easy to beat up on the Anglican Communion these days, and especially its American wing, the Episcopal Church. But we ought to keep in mind that the Anglican Church has been a remarkable 500-year experiment in combining the best of the Christian heritage with the distinctive insights of the Protestant Reformation. Anglicans have blessed the larger Christian community in many ways. The chief reason that the Anglican Church continues to deserve our respect and supportive prayers is that it has been a remarkable effective missionary church. And rumors of its death may be greatly exaggerated.
Years ago the Archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual head of Anglican Christians worldwide (and of Episcopalians in
But then I remembered that just about every First Nations hamlet in
It is easy to beat up on the Anglican Communion these days, and its American wing, the Episcopal Church, in particular. Frankly, it deserves some of the scorn heaped upon it in those British Monty Python sketches, and more recently by sneering evangelicals from other denominations. Sadly, some people seem drawn to positions of Anglican leadership less by biblical conviction and the call to costly Christian discipleship, and more by the appeal of dressing up in fancy vestments and having people kiss their ring. Some may be more excited by the way their organ bench vibrates when they press the bass pedals than they are by the power of the Gospel to transform lives. We are embarrassed by the turf wars now between bishops, as though we were talking about Coca-Cola protecting its market share against intrusions by Pepsi.
But these are recent aberrations. The Anglican Church has been a remarkable historic experiment in combining the best of the Christian heritage with the distinctive insights of the Protestant Reformation. It has bequeathed to the English-speaking world through its greatest literary productions, the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer, the fundamental grammar of our faith and our worship. It has given us such giants like the abolitionist William Wilberforce and countless hymns like
But the chief reason the Anglican Church continues to deserve our respect and supportive prayers is that it has been a remarkable effective missionary church. The most Christian nations in Africa—
Two weeks ago I re-visited the oil-rich Islamic Sultanate of Brunei on the north-west coast of
Last week I was in Kuching, the capital of Sarawak
How did this doctor ever end up in