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Anglicanism Alive and Well - Brian Miller

Anglicanism Alive and Well

by Brian Miller
February 3, 2014

Anglicans have never been very showy people. There was once that G.K. Chesterton fellow, but he eventually moved on. Not that Anglicans don't talk about their faith or excel in their given fields. If it weren't for Anglicans, Anglo-American culture as we know it simply would not exist.

However, it remains a curious fact that most famous Anglicans are not necessarily famous for being Anglicans. Edmund Burke, and even the theologian Richard Hooker, are remembered as great political thinkers. John Donne, Samuel Johnson, W.H. Auden, T.S. Eliot, and countless others are remembered as poets. Even great Anglicans who are remembered primarily for their Christian works are hardly ever remembered as Anglicans per se. The Wesley brothers and George Whitfield are remembered as evangelicals. C.S. Lewis, depending on which circles you run in (and I run in both), is either a great evangelical or an almost Catholic. Similarly, it is often taken for granted that the works of men like John Henry Newman and G.K. Chesterton are all "Catholic Works" when the reality is decades of their writings were produced while they remained members of the Church of England.

It sometimes seems that Anglicans, at least in America, are like something out of a fairy-tale. We read about them occasionally, but when pressed we would have a hard time saying who they are and what exactly they have done for Christianity. It doesn't help matters that much ink has been spilled, including by myself, about the demise of the Church and its never ending controversies. But this is really only half the picture. Conservative Anglicans are ever present, and influentially so, in our current public discourse.

Like their forebears, the Anglicans of today are not known for their denominational affiliation. Perhaps this curious fact is representative of their success in walking the via media. Whatever it is, our social witness today is certainly healthier because of their work.

Eric Metaxas is well known for his biographies of William Wilberforce and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and if you've ever listened to his testimony or any of his other speeches it is easy to see his passion is derived from a charismatic evangelicalism. Like C.S. Lewis, he has come to represent a sort of mere Christianity in the public square. Also like C.S. Lewis, he is a member of the Anglican Communion and lists his home Church as St. George's Episcopal.

Alan Jacobs is a professor at Baylor University and his Biography of the Book of Common Prayer is a must read, not only for those who regularly use it, but for every Christian whose prayer life has undoubtedly still been shaped by the great book. His blogs are also excellent, and should be high on your reading list.

Wesley Hill is a professor at Trinity School for Ministry and one of the few people making thoughtful contributions as to how the Church should minister to gay people.

Roger Scruton is possibly the most important conservative philosopher alive today. His book Our Church: A Personal History of the Church of England, is a must read, but then again, I say that about everything he writes. The man wrote an entire book on faces - yes, faces - and changed the way I look at the world.

This is far from an exhaustive list. Anglicans Alister McGrath and John Lennox are well known for their apologetics and for going toe to toe with Richard Dawkins and the New Atheists. If you are restless and reformed you have probably heard the names of men like N.T. Wright and J.I. Packer, and if you really like to read, you may have heard of the political theologian Oliver O'Donovan.

So while many others and myself continue to lament the squishiness of Canterbury and the apostasy of the Episcopal Church, remember that reports of the Church's death are greatly exaggerated.

Brian Miller is currently studying Law at George Mason University where he also works as a Research Assistant in the field of Law and Religion

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