... some Anglicans are basically Catholic without the Pope while others are so Reformed they’d make the Puritans blush. Some think it’s not Anglicanism without bells, smells, and vestments. Others prefer electric guitars, projection screens, and priests who wear blue jeans. Some love homilies. Others want full-blown exegetical sermons. Some insist upon using words like “sacristy.” Others say, “For the love! It’s a closet with a sink where they store the robes. Get over yourself.” Some speak in tongues. Others don’t speak a word unless it’s directly out of the Book of Common Prayer. Some worship in cathedrals that are a thousand years old. Others worship in incomplete houses. Some think the Thirty-Nine Articles should be seen as the official, enduring statement of belief. Others think it little more than a historical document, a relic of the past. Some believe all seven ecumenical councils are authoritative. Others affirm the first four alone, or even hedge away from acknowledging any ecclesiastical “authority” outside of Scripture. Some see the Archbishop of Canterbury as the spiritual leader of the global communion. Others believe Anglicanism has no central leader. Some ordain women. Others have built their identity around not ordaining women. Some use the title “pastor.” Others are adamant that office be called the priesthood. Some believe geographical dioceses are the bedrock of Anglican polity. Others think that model is outmoded.
Carson proposes the following seven markers of Anglican identity that provide unity in the midst of this diversity:
- Sacramental Theology
- The Bishopric
- Historical Orientation
- English Culture
- Scripture's Authority
- Prayer Book
- Via Media
I'm a little surprised that the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds are not included in this list (perhaps they get included within #6?). Unlike the Reformed churches, Anglicanism has tended to be more of a creedal than a confessional tradition. And so, writing as an Episcopalian in his book Understanding the Faith of the Church, Richard A. Norris kicks off the very first chapter by claiming: "The church's creeds are the starting point for our enterprise of understanding the faith."
Regardless, Carson has a written a thought-provoking article. I encourage you to read it all.