Dr Geoffrey Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1945 to 1961, said that we Anglicans
….“… have no doctrine of our own; we possess only the doctrine of the Catholic Church.”
The Constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia sets forth in its Fundamental Declarations that
….“The Anglican Church of Australia, being a part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ, holds the Christian Faith as professed by the Church of Christ from primitive times …”
Anglicans therefore believe the Catholic Faith. This may be summarised as follows:
Jesus Christ, who is truly God, became man. He died for us to take away our sins and rose again from the dead. He did this to save us and restore us to God and enable us to live in friendship with God forever. He calls us to a living relationship with himself in the community of the Church here and now which will endure for eternity. In this world that relationship is nourished and sustained by God’s grace, especially in the scriptures and the sacraments.
THE HOLY SCRIPTURES of the Old and New Testaments are relied upon as the word of God: the authentic record of God’s revelation of himself, his saving activity, and his moral demands—a revelation for all people of all time.
THE CREEDS are ‘thoroughly received and believed’ in the sense they have always had in the Catholic Church. These are:
The Nicene Creed
The Apostles’ Creed
The Creed of St Athanasius
HOLY TRADITION is the ongoing life of God’s people, the total experience of the Church as it has been handed down from Christ and the Apostles, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Anglican formularies make special reference to ‘the ancient catholic bishops and doctors’, and the Ecumenical Councils of the undivided Church.
THE SACRAMENTS are objective and effective signs of the continued presence and saving activity of Jesus Christ our risen Lord among his people. They are a means by which his grace is received. There are seven Sacraments:
Baptism with water and in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19) is the means by which we are joined to the death and resurrection of Jesus. We are ‘born again’ (John 3:5; Romans 6:4) and our sins are forgiven (Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21). We become part of the Church (1 Corinthians 12:12).
The Holy Eucharist also called the Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper and the Mass was instituted by Jesus on the night before he died (1 Corinthians 11:24; Matthew 26:20-28) is the great Sacrifice in which we and all for whom we pray are joined to the perfect offering of Jesus to the Father, and in which Jesus feeds us with his Body and his Blood (John 6:53-58).
Confirmation through the laying on of the Bishop’s hands (and the anointing with the oil of Chrism) is the sacramental completion of Baptism when Jesus strengthens a baptised person with the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8: 14-17 19: 1-2, Ephesians 1: 13).
Penance (or the Sacrament of Reconciliation) is when we ‘go to confession’ and Jesus works through his priest to release us from sin and reconcile us to God the Father and to the Church (John 20:23; Matthew 16:18-19).
Marriage is when God makes a man and woman ‘one flesh’ and gives them the grace to be faithful to each other until death (Mark 10:7-9). This relationship is a sign of the relationship between Christ and his Church (Ephesians 5:31-32).
Holy Order is the Apostolic Ministry of bishops, priests and deacons. Jesus commissioned the Apostles and their successors (the bishops) to proclaim his work of salvation (John 20:19-23; Matthew 16:18-19; 18:18; Acts 6:1-6).
Anointing the Sick with holy oil is a special meeting with Jesus in which he gives healing for the sick and strength for the dying. The Bible tells us to ask for this sacrament whenever we are sick (James 5:14:15).