SFC Short Course: Being Anglican

Here's the second SFC Short Course!  Using it is easy: just watch each video and reflect or discuss the questions. 

Working on your own? Try watching a video and then reflect using the questions.  You might like to jot down your answers.  That can help you to focus your thoughts. A cup of tea could help too!

Working with a group? You could gather, watch the videos and then discuss using the questions.  Or you could watch a video a week and gather just for the discussion, if your time is tighter.  It's up to you! (But remember the tea!)

Start below with Episode One or click on the title to head to where you're up to...

Episode 2: Tradition & Order?

Episode 3: A Scriptural Emphasis

episode 4: Reason & Experience

episode 5: The Middle Way


Episode 1: Anglicans Before Henry VIII?

a.       This SFC Short Course explores some important ideas about the Anglican Church. What do you hope to learn from your time with this course?

b. You’re at a BBQ and it emerges in conversation that you’re Anglican. You’re asked what that means. How would you explain/define Anglicanism to someone?

c.      Imagine that you had to describe the Anglican Church in terms of a personality. What words would you use?

d. What stands out /surprises you most about this Anglican pre-history?

e.      How does this information make a difference to your concept of Anglican identity?

f.      Describe a time when it was clear to you that the Anglican Church had its own identity/flavour. How did this realisation come about?

g.      What elements of Anglican Christianity do you value the most?

h.      Archbishop Phillip read a quote from a former Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple which describe Anglicanism as having three rich elements:

  • The faith and order of Catholicism

  • The immediacy of approach to God through Christ: evangelicals – reformed, protestant

  • Freedom of intellectual enquiry which constantly balances Christian revelation with advancing knowledge.

In what ways does this complexity add to your experience of Anglicanism/to what Anglicanism can offer the world?

i. These three rich elements often used to summarise Anglicanism are sometimes described as the three legs of a stool. What can this metaphor teach us about the Anglican Church?

Episode 2: Tradition & Order

a.       What are some of your family traditions? (e.g. We always put the Christmas tree up together, etc) How did they arise? How have they developed? What can that teach us about the nature of tradition?

b. Make a ranked list of five words that, in your experience, describe Anglicanism. Did “traditional” appear? How high up?

c.      If you’re new to the Anglican church, identify a couple of traditions that you’ve noticed and are puzzled about. Who might you ask for answers to the questions about tradition?

d. If you’re familiar with the Anglican Church, list 5 Anglican traditions that you value.

  • Choose one of these and play with the idea of explaining it to a new Anglican.

  • What words would you use, what connections to their life might you make?

  • Next time you participate in an Anglican service, be aware of these traditions and sense of order and invite the Holy Spirit to work in them.What strengths (or otherwise) do you see in the emphasis on tradition and order in Anglicanism?

e.       How do you see this emphasis expressed in the life of your Anglican context? (Parish/School/Agency/etc)

f.      Archbishop Phillip describes a time when Church was linked with the State, part of the ruling organisation of that part of the world. List three strengths and three weaknesses of such a situation.

g. What does having a prayer book to guide worship bring to the Anglican Church?

h. Some describe tradition as “a living breathing thing, where important ideas are regularly re-expressed for new generations”. What do you think? How often might ‘regularly’ be? How should that be decided, if at all?

i. What is the place of the Holy Spirit in discussions about tradition and order?

Episode 3: A Scriptural Emphasis

a.       Lay people (non-clergy) did not always have access to the Bible for their own use and interpretation. Many people around the world today can’t access a Bible. If we looked at Bible reading as a gift, a privilege, then how would that change our perception/understanding?

b.      Placed in a hierarchy, scripture often comes first before tradition and reason.  Explain how that makes sense (or otherwise) to you.

c. Some suggest that whenever we read scripture, we do it through lenses provided by tradition and reason, often without realising it. What do you think?

d.       How do you see the emphasis on scripture expressed in the life of your Anglican context?  (Parish/School/Agency/etc)

e.      What does the APBA mean to you?

f.      How would you describe the role that scripture plays in your life?

g.      Create a list of rights and responsibilities that come with accessing the Bible. What points would you include in each list?

h. What extra strengths/benefits does reading the bible in community bring, as opposed to only ever doing so on your own?

Episode 4: Reason & Experience

a.       When we say to someone, “Be reasonable”, what do we really mean? What can we learn from that towards our discussion here about reason and experience?

b. In what ways is reason an important aspect of Anglicanism for you?

c. Is reason as discussed in the video the same as ‘common sense’? Or is it different? In what ways?

d. John Wesley of the Methodist movement listed experience separate to reason in his thinking about these aspects of faith. What do you think? How is experience linked to reason?

e.      How do you see the Anglican idea of reason and experience expressed in the life of your Anglican context (Parish/School/Agency/etc)

f.       In this section, Archbishop Phillip discusses “an openness to advancing knowledge and truth...including intellectual, artistic, scientific and intuitive apprehensions”. What kind of issues do you think this refers to currently?

g. What issues do you detect making themselves known in the next few years in this regard?

h.      In your experience, what are the limits of the role of reason and enquiry on matters of faith?

Episode 5: The Middle Way

a.       What strengths (or otherwise) flow from the Anglican Via Media approach?

b.      How do you see this “inclusive balancing approach” to faith expressed in the life of your Anglican context? (Parish/School/Agency/etc)

c.       Archbishop Phillip uses the image of an atom or Solar System in balance to describe the via media.  What are some other appropriate analogies?

d.      In what ways is the Middle Way a new concept for you?

e.      How does it inform/enrich your understanding of the role of Anglican Church in the world today?

f.        What areas of your life could use an approach like the Middle Way: to provide balance, insight or peace?

g.       A key concept in the “Via Media” is “comprehensiveness” – this demands agreement on fundamentals while tolerating disagreement on matters in which Christians can differ without feeling the necessity of breaking communion. Take this concept with you today and be conscious of its possibilities in your life.

h. A common question asked during discussions about The Middle Way is this: “What is more important - unity or truth?” What do you think? Or is this an unfair question? Is it necessary to choose one over the other?