Monday, 6 August 2012


The word Anglicanism is a neologism from the 19th century; constructed from the older word Anglican. The word refers to the teachings and rites of Christians throughout the world in communion with the see of Canterbury. It has come to be used to refer to the claim of these churches to a unique religious and theological tradition apart from all other Christian churches, be they Orthodox, Roman Catholic or Protestant; and is entirely distinct from the allegiance of some of these churches to the British Crown.

The word "Anglican" originates in ecclesia anglicana, a Medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 meaning the "English Church". As an adjective, "Anglican" is used to describe the people, institutions and churches, as well as the liturgical traditions and theological concepts, developed by the Church of England. As a noun, an Anglican is a member of a church in the Anglican Communion. The word is also used by followers of separated groups which have left the communion or have been founded separately from it, though this is sometimes considered as a misuse.

Although the term "Anglican" is found referring to the Church of England as far back as the 16th century, its use did not become general until the latter half of the 19th century. In British parliamentary legislation referring to the English Established Church, it is described as the "Protestant Episcopal Church", thereby distinguishing it from the counterpart established "Protestant Presbyterian Church" in Scotland. High Churchmen, who objected to the term "Protestant", initially promoted the term "Reformed Episcopal Church"; and it remains the case that the word "Episcopal" is preferred in the title of the Episcopal Church (the province of the Anglican Communion covering the United States) and the Scottish Episcopal Church. Outside the British Isles, however, the term "Anglican Church" came to be preferred; as it distinguished these churches from others that claimed an episcopal polity; although some churches, in particular the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church of Ireland and the Church in Wales continue to use the term only with reservations.