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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars belief and boldness within the anglican framework....., 12 Nov 2011
By 
J. DOUGLAS "Johnny Douglas" (Nr London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: What Anglicans Believe: An Introduction (Paperback)
If you want a robust tour of contrasting tendency with a wise and generous spirit, then Anglicanism finds a gifted diagnostic here. Samuel Wells grants us a pathway through the earliest formularies of faith, with clarity and definition. As disagreements threaten once again to separate one Christian from another, here is a succinct and timely reminder of the core beliefs and values that unite all Anglicans so powerfully. What Anglicans Believe is ideal for new and seasoned but weary believers. A refreshing and inspirational guide, it is arranged in four parts: The Faith - what we believe, The Source of the Faith - the famous 3-legged stool of Scripture, reason and tradition, The Order of the Faith - how our worship and mission reflect our beliefs, and, The Character of the Faith - how our history equips us to deal with new challenges. Orthodox clear and engaging, if a little pedestrian and lacking in sparkle.

I wanted more breadth and longevity from the character of the faith segment as much was offered but not completed. Stiff, buttoned-down and alas lacking in spirit...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview, 10 July 2013
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This review is from: What Anglicans Believe: An Introduction (Paperback)
As you would imagine a thin book, but thoughtful and masterly in its understanding of the Church of England's foundations and life, as well as a helpful vtake on the current wider issues in Anglicanism.
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5.0 out of 5 stars More than expected, 3 Feb 2014
By 
anka (Bensheim, Hessen, Deutschland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: What Anglicans Believe: An Introduction (Paperback)
You want to know something about anglicanism? Whether you are Anglican or not - here you will find all you need for the first look at the believe of the Anglican Communion. Of course, you will find books with more pages, more details, more historical explanations. But do you want this or do you only want to have a short survey?
If you want so, this book will tell you all you want to know. Samuel Wells will help you to understand the differences between anglicanism and other kinds of believe; but he will slao help you to seee and understand the common believe of all Christian believers.
This book is really a good start!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly sensible..., 12 Jan 2014
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Samuel Wells portrays Anglicanism in a winsome manner, and I learned just how thoroughly sensible it is. The author is pretty sensible too. From the start he asserts that even though there is always a crisis looming somewhere, and there will always be personalities who thrive on such tension by portraying such circumstances as potentially disastrous, we are not living in especially momentous times; and that the key events in Christian history have already happened. Good! No date-setting or scare-mongering, but rather a call to worship, ministry and mission. Very sensible indeed. (The author believes in the consummation of all things, by the way.) Christ will one day return in glory, but we're not meant to be gazing into heaven in the meantime!!

Other attractive features of Anglicanism touched on in the book are that it has no 'revered' founder, or pivotal interpreter, or pivotal item of doctrine, or egregious error against which it is ever to be defined. It is (uniquely) both Catholic and Reformed. This makes it ideally placed to facilitate ecumenical discussion, and provide a home for those of various temperaments, backgrounds, and convictions. In the midst of today's needless little battles and sectarian bias, the author brings out the best of the Anglican tradition in a most attractive way: common prayer, and a general commitment to the well-being of all, including non-members of the Church. Thoroughly sensible, once again.

The way in which Samuel Wells tackles the Bible itself is downright sensible too. Anglicans tend to be less disturbed by various forms of scrutiny of the Bible such as historical and textual criticism. This is because they are not rigid literalists. The word of God bears witness to the Word of God (i.e. Jesus). Getting bogged down with the question of whether every historical detail is historically accurate is an exercise in missing the point, and plays into the hands of militant atheists. Ironically, today's fundamentalists are singing from the same hymn sheet as those atheists who aggressively challenge the veracity of every point of minutiae. As Wells observes, Scripture is not always a precise record of historical events. To expect it to be such is one dimensional, and lacks imagination. The Anglican emphasis outflanks those pernickety types who read the Bible the same way that fundamentalists do. This book helped me to see that fundamentalists have a tremendously unnecessary burden to bear in defending the 'inerrancy' of Scripture. This is due to the fact that a reduction to bare historical veracity is a relatively recent notion largely unknown to the scriptural authors themselves. Literalists risk making the Bible a focus of idolatry. For it is God - who has been fully revealed in Christ - who should be truly venerated, not the scriptures themselves. Scripture is sufficient, yes, but to this end. How difficult it is for bogged down fundamentalists to get their heads around this! Wells also touches on the role of tradition and reason in the life of the Church, and makes the point that those who object to this overlook the fact that all reading of Scripture is an act of interpretation. It would be naive to think otherwise. Consider the hundreds upon hundreds of different denominations all differing with one another on various points based on the 'plain meaning' of Scripture!!!

On the subject of hell, I liked very much what Wells had to say. He suggests that both everlasting agony and total annihilationism are problematic when set against the two key attributes of God: all-loving and all-powerful. There's a hint of Universalism in the following statement: "Jesus in his suffering on the cross transforms the ugliness of human sin into the beauty of God's grace; and this is a more demanding and laborious process for some sinners than it is for others." Certainly, says Wells, there was a reticence among the early creeds to make reference to damnation, which has been the custom in many parts of the Anglican Communion too. He makes the point that restoration, redemption and reconciliation is evidently God's will for all creation, and brings out the wonderful 'banquet' imagery that is found in Scripture on the subject of heaven.

The first two chapters were particularly helpful regarding the above issues, and on that basis I would highly recommend the book.

Edit: Since writing this review I've had a re-think. I do believe that we are living in momentous times, and that the return of Christ will be a "key event" of the greatest magnitude.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Christian Priesthood Today, 23 Jan 2012
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This review is from: What Anglicans Believe: An Introduction (Paperback)
The Christian Priest Today

I haven't completed this book yet, but am nearly at the end. I recently visited the London church where Ramsey went during his lunch breaks during his military service in London during the Second World War. This made a tangible connection with a very solid and spiritual man who is the author of this book and I felt a connection with his church and faith journey made written in his book. It is very catholic in the truest and broadest sense of the Anglican Church, which is shared heritage that is part of our Church history. I would have to say it is excellently composed, clear and concise. Plain speaking and direct, almost as if Ramsey his having a personal conversation with the reader. One is able to pick up and dive straight in without feeling daunted. I cannot wait to complete the book and it certainly as a Christian, let alone an Anglican made me realise and consolidate my Christian faith as the Word Incarnate, carried out in mission to those around us. Ramsey was definitely as man of Word and Sacrament, believing in the Truth of the Gospel identity of the mission that comes from this Anglican Christian understanding of faith without getting tangled up in politics and debates of Canon law, doctrine and spiky critical analysis which so often permeates the Anglican Church today. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone, not only those who are searching their vocation journey but any Christian who wants to appreciate the gospel of love in which we proclaim to be and act in community and in our own lives
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What Anglicans Believe: An Introduction
What Anglicans Believe: An Introduction by Samuel Wells (Paperback - 30 Sep 2011)
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