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02. A Letter From Our Bishops

LETTER OF COMMENDATION
FROM THE COLLEGE OF BISHOPS
OF THE ANGLICAN CHURCH IN NORTH AMERICA

Why an Anglican catechism? Anglicans are heirs of a rich tradition of Christian faith and life. That tradition stretches from today’s worldwide Anglican Communion of millions of believers on six continents back centuries to laymen like William Wilberforce, who led the abolition of the slave trade in England, to the bishops and martyrs of the English Reformation like Thomas Cranmer, and to missionaries like Augustine of Canterbury and St. Patrick, who spread the Gospel throughout the British Isles.

Throughout these centuries, Anglicans have articulated their faith in reference to classic sources of doctrine and worship. These include:

  • The Bible – All true doctrine, Anglicans believe, is derived from the Bible. St. Paul instructs the Church, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). Further, Article 6 of the Articles of Religion states: “whatever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man that it should be believed as an article of the Faith.”
  • The Early Church – Anglicans have always held in high regard “such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the Scriptures,” and which are summarized in the Apostles’ Creed, Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, and Athanasian Creed.
  • The Articles of Religion (1563) – The Articles, also known as the “Thirty-Nine Articles,” summarize the biblical faith recovered at the Reformation and have become the doctrinal norm for Anglicans around the world.
  • The King James Bible (1611) – The translation of the Bible into English, begun in the 16th century by William Tyndale, achieved its classic form in the 1611 translation and remains the basis for many modern versions, such as the Revised Standard Version and the English Standard Version. In keeping with the principles of the English Reformation that promote speaking in language that the people understand (Articles of Religion, 24), the Bible has been translated into many languages. Anglican Christianity has now spread to encompass people of many races and languages all over the world.
  • The Book of Common Prayer (1549-1662) – The Anglican Prayer Book is known worldwide as one of the finest expressions of Christian prayer and worship. The 1662 Prayer Book is predominantly comprised of scriptures formulated into prayer. It has been the standard for Anglican doctrine, discipline and worship, and for subsequent revisions in many languages.
  • Music and Hymnody – Hymns, from writers like Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, John Mason Neale and Graham Kendrick, have formed the spirituality of English speaking Anglicans around the world. Today, composers in many languages continue in this powerful tradition of catechesis through music.
  • The Lambeth Quadrilateral – Resolution 11 of the Lambeth Conference (1888) affirmed four marks of Church identity required for genuine unity and fellowship. These are: the Holy Scriptures containing “all things necessary for salvation,” the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds as “the sufficient statement of the Christian faith,” two sacraments ordained by Christ – Baptism and the Eucharist – and “the historic Episcopate, locally adapted.” These serve as a basis of Anglican identity as well as instruments for ecumenical dialogue with other church traditions.
  • The Jerusalem Declaration (2008) – This statement from the Global Anglican Future Conference in 2008 has become the theological basis for the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, of which the Anglican Church in North America is a part.

In keeping with this rich and historic tradition of doctrine and worship, we receive this catechism and commend its use for the building up of the Church today.

We envision this catechism being used for courses, shorter or longer, based on groups of questions and answers. The degree to which it is used directly for instruction, and the amount of memorization asked of individual catechumens, is left to the catechist to determine by context and circumstance. What is more, the resources of modern technology open up multiple possibilities for its use in creative new ways.

A catechism is ideally to be used in the context of a relationship between the catechist (the discipleship instructor) and the catechumen (the one being instructed) to foster the process of catechesis (disciple-making). The catechumen is invited by the catechist to a new identity in Christ and into a new community, to the praise of God’s glory, the practice of stewardship, and to sharing in the ministry of making disciples of all nations.

May this book serve to build up the Body of Christ, by grounding Anglican believers in the Gospel.

The Most Reverend Robert Duncan, DD
Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America
On behalf of the College of Bishops,
January 2014

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