Scripture, Tradition and Reason
3 Key Ingredients for our Common Life in the Confraternity
Anglicans share a love and respect for Holy Scripture (the Holy Bible inclusive of both the Old and New Testaments). One of the ways we describe the importance of Scripture is by saying that we believe it “contains all things necessary for salvation.” Enter any Anglican Church anywhere in the world on any day of the week and readings from the Bible will be central in the worship service.
Anglicans hold the tradition of the church to be of high value. It is an important vehicle for passing along the faith of the church from one generation to the next. Tradition carries our beliefs, values and customs as the church has understood them since the days of the Apostles. It makes known the story of God’s continuous activity and presence among his people.
By it, we grasp the hearts and minds of Christian leaders before us. By it we are linked with Christians in the past and in the future as well as with those around the world today.
Because of tradition we understand that the Holy Scripture is the Word of God. And because of tradition, we have the historic Creeds of the Church, the Nicene and the Apostle’s. These together make up the essential expressions of the Christian faith.
Because of tradition, Anglican Christians are able to continue to offer worship that has been shaped through history. Through tradition we have well established and well tested liturgies, rites, and prayers that have been passed down from the earliest days of the Church.
Our liturgy (the way we worship) speaks to our understanding of God as Trinitarian – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and of Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah who, through his life, death and resurrection, continues to give us new life.
It draws us to focus on the holy and merciful God. In it we make time for the reading and proclamation of God’s word. We recognize our sinfulness and the merciful forgiveness of God. We respond in confession and praise. We offer ourselves to his service. We gather to receive the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. After we receive God’s blessing, we go out into the world to serve in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Tradition teaches Anglicans to hold the Sacramental life as an essential to Spiritual formation where from birth to death, the Sacraments of the Church mark and strengthen us for the journey of faith in this life. Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist are known as the Sacraments of Initiation into the Christian community; through them we share in the death and resurrection of Christ and receive new life in him. On Sundays when you visit you will experience the community gathered for the Holy Eucharist. The outward sign of bread and wine reflects the inward grace of receiving the Body and Blood of Christ; in the sharing of the bread and wine in the Eucharist we are united to Christ and one another. The other four Sacraments are Penance, Anointing the Sick, Marriage, and Holy Orders.
Faithfulness to Scripture and tradition doesn’t mean the Anglican church is static! Rather, God gives us reason–imagination, critical thinking, inventiveness, and compassion–to respond to a changing world: Tradition is never static. It needs both the ancient texts for grounding, and reason – imagination – to give it life. And so we use the gift of Reason to help us to have spiritual discipline and guideposts in our freedom to explore how the faith can be lived. But it needs both Word and Tradition to give it a strong and faithful foundation to function.