Posted by: AJ the Irish Lass | September 16, 2007

Christianity is a Paradox: Anglo-Catholic AND Evangelical

I’m sure a lot of you are probably going to wonder if I’ve lost my mind altogether just by the title of this post alone. It would seem as though the terms Anglo-Catholic and evangelical are polar opposites. After all, different Anglican “camps” are often divided along these lines.

Yet, these two terms aren’t really, and shouldn’t be, opposites.  I consider myself Anglo-Catholic (or possibly Anglo-Catholic Lite, by some definitions!) in that I have a “high” view of the  sacraments, Church, liturgy, and communion of saints. However, I also consider myself evangelical in that I believe strongly in the Scriptures as the final authority, realize the importance of evangelism, and believe that one must have a personal relationship with Christ in order  to fully serve Him.

Regardless of one’s denominational background, I believe these three points of evangelical thought are something most of us can agree on, and here’s why.

<> Scripture as the Final Authority-Regardless of whether a Christian group has a  “Scripture alone” stance on doctrine  or does defer  to tradition,  Scripture has a primary place.  Even as much as tradition  plays a role in Roman Catholic theology, for instance,  all teaching must be in harmony with Scripture.  The word canon, used to describe the books that make up the Bible, means “rule”. The Scriptures give all Christians a “rule of life” to live by.

Evangelism-Although evangelism often puts people in mind of coercive conversion attempts, at heart it’s something all  Christians are obligated to do. The Church of the apostolic era was VERY evangelistic. True evangelism is about sharing the Good News of Jesus’ offer of redemption, not bullying someone into a decision.

Personal Relationship-last, but certainly NOT least! True sacramental theology does not teach that the mere “motions” of receiving a sacrament save.  Sacraments are, after all, an “outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace” (Book of Common Prayer 1979). We don’t receive the  sacraments to earn God’s  redemption, we receive them because we’re responsive to God’s redemption.

For any fellow “evangelical Anglo-Catholics” out there, you’re not alone.


  1. Absolutely!
    The Catholic Faith can’t survive without evangelicalism. Likewise, without it’s Catholic roots, evangelicalism will wither like the seed that fell on the stony ground.
    -Rob of the Angels

  2. Well-said Rob, and welcome!

  3. I’ve been a minister for nigh over 40 years, and the older I get the more I realize that religion in itself doesn’t seem to matter much to the Lord. Certainly I’m not speaking of the flocking of God’s children. My concern is when our religion ends up becoming our Savior.

    It sort of goes like this — [Religion speaking] ‘We are the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through us.’

    So, is Christianity a paradox? Yes indeed. It is best seen when we understand that there is the church visible and there is the church invisible, and that they are not one and the same.

    The church invisible has no boundaries. As a nondenominational pastor I surely thank the Lord for that. : )



  4. Hi all,
    What would you say is the biggest paradox in Christianity as a whole? I think Pastor Buddy’s comment on the visible vs. invisible Church was a good example.

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