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Anglicanism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paperback – 22 Jun 2006
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About the Author
Mark Chapman is Vice-Principal of Ripon College, Oxford, and is a historian and historical theologian. He is also Reader in Modern Theology, University of Oxford. He has written extensively on religion and its role in society. He is editor of numerous books and journals, and his publications include By what authority? Authority, Ministry and the Catholic Church (1997), Liturgy, Socialism and Life: The Legacy of Conrad Noel (2001), and Building Community in South Africa: A Christian Perspective (2003).
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The strain, however, became increasingly unbearable. From monarchs with little real Christian interest, the Anglo-Catholic Oxford movement, the evangelical movement and the more modern international aspects of the church, the fault-lines are showing clearly. How will the Anglican church deal with the 2nd quarter of the 21st century: with English kings/queens who have no declared Christian faith, with a multi-faith society, with differently defined sexuality and national mass-ignorance of the Bible?
Anglicanism has developed a multitude of faces, a whole spectrum of beliefs. Are we on the brink of a complete split between the conservative, Bible-based Anglican church and a more politically progressive Anglican church? Who knows. But this book will certainly give the background and the context.
The book explores various aspects of Anglicanism. I found the analysis of Cranmer a very interesting and poignant one, as also the question between Church (and faith) and state (both monarchs/Supreme Governors and Parliament). But in the middle of the book, after many studious pages, suddenly the style changes and the author displays a great enthusiasm for Evangelicalism. He is somewhat less enthusiastic about Anglo-Catholicism.
The chapters on the development of Anglicanism worldwide are interesting, as is the somewhat vexed issue of the freedom of the various Churches in the Anglican Communion to do their own thing. The subject of women priests is, of course, covered, but the strains caused and the small but high-profile desertions to Rome in its wake do not feature much. The difficult issue of homosexuality is handled objectively.
It is interesting to see how Anglicanism has overcome many stresses and strains over the centuries, and continues to do so. (The book was written before the current Women Bishops impasse, and before the implicitly anti-Anglican papacy of Benedict XVI including the high profile but ill-starred establishment of the "Personal Ordinariate").
The book is scholarly and informative. I learned quite a bit from it.
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