What Makes Anglicans & Evangelicals Different?
29 SEP 2017
Anglicans and Evangelicals both trace their roots to the Protestant Reformation. The Anglican Communion -- and its affiliates, including Episcopalians -- sought to follow a middle road, holding to many of the traditions of the Catholic Church while adapting or forbidding teachings that were deemed unscriptural. Evangelicals, who tend to be on the opposite side of the spectrum among Protestants, include many Protestant denominations that emphasize preaching and individual conversion to Christ.
1 Styles of Worship
Both Anglicans and Evangelicals have considerable flexibility in the way they conduct their worship services. Most Anglicans use a "high church" style of worship that involves a prescribed liturgy (a call and response form of worship), Scripture readings and regular celebration of the Eucharist (Communion). Evangelicals are more likely to use a "low church" style of worship, which involves more spontaneity. Low church worship typically encourages worshipers to pray in their own words. While both types of worship include a sermon or homily, the sermon plays a more significant role in the low church style of worship.
One of the defining traits of Evangelicals is their belief that a person must be converted, often referred to as being "born again," in order to truly be a Christian. In the Evangelical way of thinking, this includes making a conscious decision to acknowledge your sinfulness and to receive Jesus Christ as your savior. Most Anglicans believe that a person becomes a Christian at the time of baptism, whether they converted to Christianity in adulthood or were presented for baptism by their parents as babies.
3 Sacraments vs. Symbolism
Both Anglicans and Evangelicals practice water baptism and communion, but they have significantly different beliefs regarding the practices. Both believe that the practices are outward signs of a deeper spiritual work in the heart of believers, but Evangelicals tend to view the practices are being entirely symbolic, while Anglicans believe that God's grace -- his undeserved favor -- is given to the believer in a tangible way while celebrating baptism or communion, which they generally refer to as Eucharist.
Both Evangelicals and Anglicans have traditionally taken a high view of Scripture. Anglicans' "Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion" -- one of their founding documents -- forbids practices that are "repugnant to the Word of God." The main difference in Anglicans' view of Scripture compared with Evangelicals' view of Scripture is that Anglicans tend to believe we should allow that which Scripture doesn't expressly forbid, while Evangelicals tend to believe we should adhere to that which Scripture expressly teaches.
Anglicans follow an apostolic successionist form of church governance. They believe their bishops and priests have received their authority by the laying on of hands by previous bishops and that this line of succession has been unbroken since the time of the Twelve Apostles whom Jesus Christ appointed personally. Most evangelicals follow either a congregational or a Presbyterian form of government. Congregational governance allows members of local congregations to make all of the church's decisions, usually by democratic process. Presbyterian government is similar to congregational government, but involves more controls and includes overseeing bodies of supervising ministers (sometimes called elders, presbyters, bishops, superintendents, etc.) at local, regional and national levels.