The Episcopal Church: Catholic and Protestant

I am an Episcopalian, which means that I am neither Roman Catholic nor, and this is where people usually start getting confused, properly Protestant.  Yet, and this is where the confusion continues, the (Anglican/)Episcopal tradition is both Catholic and Protestant.

Catholic and Protestant. Via Media.  The Middle Way.  The Episcopal Church.

We are Protestant inso much as Protestant means “not Roman Catholic.” However, Protestant also, and as it is more often used, means “any Western Christian who is not an adherent of a Catholic, Anglican or Eastern Church.” Because we and the Eastern Church did not separate from the Roman Catholic Church under Protest.  (Neither did we leave simply because of Henry VIII’s divorce–the history is slightly more complex.  But that’s another post.)

I am not Roman Catholic.  I do not acknowledge the supreme authority of the Pope (even if only when speaking ex cathedra); I do not agree with many of the other teachings of the Roman Magisterium, although I love their work on social justice.  I am not Protestant.  I do believe in the Apostolic Succession; I do believe in the authority of Bishops and the tradition of the Church held in tension with Scripture, rather than the supremacy of either.

It’s not simple.  As an Episcopal Church we are constantly trying to figure out what it means to be the via media anew in each generation.  On specific topics like how we read the Bible, understand our tradition, homosexuality, marriage (two topics that are separate and related), the family, the institution of the church, politics, and many more.

We don’t always get it right.  And we don’t always know what to do when that happens.

I think that it is a struggle worth continuing.  That there are truths born between the authority of the Magisterium and the solas of many Reformed traditions.

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An Anglican/Episcopal priest, bibliophile, dog owner, and Montanan

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