What is evangelical Anglicanism?

What is evangelical Anglicanism? Is it, in actual fact, a contradiction in terms? If evangelical is all about 'sola scriptura' etc but the Church of England is about scripture, tradition and reason, then how do the two sit together? How far is the Bible divinely inspired or inerrant? What about when one church's inerrancy is not the same as another church's or in other words their interpretations differ, yet both think that they have it right? If the Bible is authoritive but I use my reason to interpret it and look at the way it has been interpreted over time and I come to an opinion, then that opinion is going to differ to someone else's. All things need testing, I suppose. How?

Whose hermenuetics are hot and whose are not, or am I just losing the plot?

(Thinking provoked by the coverage of the potential split in the Kirk and from reading Molly Aley's latest blogpost.)


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rachel
A disturbing thought, that I may have been a contradiction all my life! (Perhaps I am but for other reasons ...).

I understand 'sola Scriptura' not to mean 'Scripture is sufficient unto itself in respect of all matters of theology and ethics; so no need of tradition and reason' but 'Scripture is all one needs for knowledge of salvation; church, priests, sacraments, tradition and reason being helpful assistants in the matter, but not required for the bare minimum.'

Any evangelical thus needs some assistance to understand the application of Scripture to the complexities of life; tradition and reason being particularly helpful in this respect ... and being evangelical and Anglican is, well, kind of off to a good start in life!!!

David Ould said...

I would have thought even a brief reading of the 39 Articles would persuade the unbiased reader that the Church of England is a thoroughly evangelical beast, at least in its formularies.

PamBG said...

It depends on how you define 'evangelical' of course. The problem is that this word has taken on many shades of party politics.

Methodists have always considered ourselves to be 'evangelicals' and have always used 'Scripture, tradition, reason and experience' as a hermenutic whilst still insisting on the primacy of Scripture.

Being more precise about definitions: I see 'Sola Scriptura' as a subset of Evangelicalism. 'Sola Scriptura' defines a certain kind of evangelicalism but it does not define evangelicalism per se. Methodists are not 'Sola Scriptura' and neither, I think, are Anglican Open Evangelicals (with whom Methodists probably have the most in common).

If you are moving in the 'Oak Hill' circles, then I know from experience that there will be people who will insist that a particular Reformed way of being Evangelical is the only right way of being Evangelical. I disagree with these people. From my experience, they seem to have a need to Be Right about everything; they seem to fear that if they get their doctrine wrong that it threatens their relationship with God.


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A little background reading so we might mutually flourish when there are different opinions