The Middle Way: Christianity in the Anglican Tradition

By Father Chris Harris

Why is the Episcopal Church such a wonderful blend of the ancient and the modern?

What brought you the Episcopal Church?   

Was it our unique blend of traditional liturgy and music, amidst contemporary and uncompromising preaching?  Is it our open and inclusive theology? Our ability to be common ground in the midst of a world that seeks to divide?  Is it because we are a church where you don’t have to check your brain at the door – nor any other part of who you are?  Our commitment to putting our faith in action – even alongside those of different faiths? Is it that we not only worship the post-Easter Jesus, but strive to follow the pre-Easter Jesus?  Is it our understanding of salvation to about this life as well as the afterlife?  Is it our belief that God calls us to not only care for souls, but for creation as well?  Or something else entirely?

Whatever has drawn you to the Episcopal Church, my guess is that we can probably trace it back to a guiding principle that has been with us since the beginning:  The Middle Way.

Christianity in the Anglican tradition was born not out of religious purity or perfectionism, but out of compromise as we sought to find a via media – or middle way — between Roman Catholicism and the
Protestant Reformation.  As the head of the church during a bloody theological and political struggle in England between reformers and those loyal to the Pope, Queen Elizabeth I famously concluded, “I have no desire to make windows into men’s souls.” Common prayer, rather than common belief, would be the basis for holding together the various factions of the church, and would become a hallmark to this day of what it means to be Christian in the Anglican tradition.  Much of what makes the Episcopal Chruch so special, are arguably the fruits of that early “both/and” ethos, which allowed Anglicans to keep the best of both Roman Catholicism and the Protestant Reformation.

Today, Episcopalians share a wide variety of differing beliefs about a variety of topics, yet we are bound together in common prayer to a common God so that we might be sent out in common mission to love and serve the world.   The middle way has never been about watering down or compromising beliefs but has instead sought to build an ever larger table, where all are welcome, all have a place and all have gifts, and where together, we might see a more complete picture of God.   

If you would like to learn more, join us for, “What is an Episcopalian?” A four-part series beginning Wednesday, April 24 at 6pm.  For more information about this series or if you are interested in
becoming an Episcopalian through Confirmation or Reception on May 11, contact Rev. Chris Harris at
charris@christchurchcranbrook.org or 248-644-0148 x15.