OUR VALUES: HERITAGE
BY THE REV'D CANON ART GOING
MARCH 31ST, 2017
The third stated value of our diocese is Heritage.
One young Anglican theologian has written, “The classical vision of Anglicanism is a people formed by God through common worship, common prayer, and common reading of the Scriptures, growing together in wisdom, holiness, and love, and sent out into the world to witness to the gospel of Christ.”
Anglicanism is an expression of Christianity born in the English Reformation and rooted in the ancient faith and practice of the historic Church. The Anglican Church has been about the work of making disciples for over 500 years and through its missionary focus has expanded into a global church called the Anglican Communion which numbers some 85 million members in over 165 countries.
Anglicanism—ever ancient, ever new.
Bishop Steve likes to remind us that we do not have anything that we have not received (1 Cor. 4:7). Here’s what we have received—three heritages:
The heritage from the early church—the apostles, the Church fathers, the great councils: from them, we have the gospel, the means of grace, the right confession of Jesus Christ, true God and true man. We rediscover the freshness and vitality of the early Christian movement first of all by learning simply to trust in all that God has given us already. A heritage that lives in liturgy, church year, ancient hymns and prayers. We are called to leave behind any nostalgia for the past, but we gladly receive the faith handed on to us and the spirit of praise embedded in ancient liturgy.
The heritage from the Reformation: the deep insight of the Reformers into the work of Christ as Savior and Redeemer; the solas—Christ alone, grace alone, faith alone, Scripture alone; worship and the Word in the vernacular. 2017, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, gives us an opportunity to celebrate and reclaim this part of our heritage.
The heritage of the great revivals and renewal movements: the witness of those who made faith in Christ alive and urgent, accepted as true not just because others have believed so, but rather because it became the most personal thing of all, so that one could not live without it. Our continuing partnership with the Anglican Church of Rwanda keeps us connected to the faithfulness and vitality of the Church in the Global South. We are the grateful recipients (via the East African Revival) of a legacy of “walking in the light” that helps us step out of entitlement into repentance, out of self-indulgence into service, and out of consumerism into a life of mission for the sake of others.
We will not run away from the forms and patterns by which believers have praised God and celebrated the beauty of grace for centuries. But we know that the newness of the gospel always calls for new forms of expression. So we will aim for creative fidelity: faithfulness to the “great tradition” gives us incredible imagination and freedom to respond to the demands of the present. We want to be part of a global movement of thriving, reproducing Anglican churches and missional communities.
Hold fast what you have. (Rev. 3:11)