Anglican Reading Recommendations

The Anglican Communion is the third largest body of Christians in the world, and the largest Protestant denomination. According to J. I. Packer, Anglicanism possesses “the truest, wisest and potentially richest heritage in all Christen­dom.”

Serving as Canon for Vocations for The Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida, I get asked lots about resources on Anglican studies.  I started keeping a list of all the tools and books I find helpful.  It is a growing list, so I’m not claiming these are the best or only books that should be read.

Anglican Heritage and Tradition

Anglican Theology

Book of Common Prayer

Where to start? Start with a copy of the the Book of Common Prayer. The Book of Common Prayer is packed with devotional and teaching resources for individuals and congregations. The Book of Common Prayer (1979) is the latest, complete BCP used by the American branch of Anglicans, the Episcopal Church.

Liturgy

These books serve as guides to the use of the Book of Common Prayer that is sensitive both to its liturgical and theological backgrounds and to the practical and pastoral issues surrounding public worship.

The Episcopal Church

Anglican Spiritual Tradition

Thomas Cranmer

  • Divine Allurement: Cranmer’s Comfortable Words by Ashley Null investigates Cranmer’s gospel of divine allurement. Because justification by faith emphasized personal faith, persuasion was important to the Protestant Reformers. The verb “allure” was thus closely connected with their expression of the Gospel, and this is reflected in the liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer.
  • Thomas Cranmer: A Life by Diarmaid MacCulloch is the definitive account, by an English Reformation scholar, of Thomas Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, architect of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, King Henry VIII’s guide through three divorces, and ultimately a martyr for his Protestant faith.
  • Thomas Cranmer’s Doctrine of Repentance: Renewing the Power to Love by Ashley Null.  Null is one of my favorite Anglican theologians.  In this book, he explores Cranmer’s cultural heritage, why he would have been attracted to Luther’s thought, and then provides convincing evidence for the Reformed Protestant Augustinianism which Cranmer enshrined in the formularies of the Church of England.
  • The Collects of Thomas Cranmer by Paul F. M Zahl and C. Frederick Barbee presents the Collects (prayers) written by Cranmer in  their original form and order.  Cranmer’s Collects are each followed by succinct commentary on their historical context and an insightful meditation crafted with contemporary Christians in mind.
  • “Thomas Cranmer’s Reading of Paul’s Letters” by Ashley Null in Reformation Readings of Paul: Explorations in History and Exegesis, eds., Michael Allen and Jonathan A. Linebaugh
  • “The Texts of Paul and the Theology of Cranmer” by Jonathan A. Linebaugh in Reformation Readings of Paul: Explorations in History and Exegesis, eds., Michael Allen and Jonathan A. Linebaugh

Priesthood

Thirty-nine Articles

  • The Thirty-nine Articles: Their Place and Use Today by J. I. Packer and R. T. Beckwith aims to show how the sixteenth-century Articles should be viewed in the twenty-first century. They argue that the Articles should be given a voice within the Church, not merely as an historical curiosity but an authoritative doctrinal statement.
  • “Thirty-nine Articles of Religion” in Know the Creeds and Councils by Justin S. Holcomb provides a short overview of the  historical background, content, legacy, and relevance of the Articles. As the Church of England found itself in a sort of middle ground between the papacy of Rome and the Protestant Reformers, it recognized the need to set out its general beliefs. It is this need that the Thirty-nine Articles addresses.

Welcome to the Episcopal Church

The series “Welcome to the Episcopal Church” is a helpful place to start.  It covers all the main distinctive elements of the Episcopal tradition:

Canterbury Trail

  • Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail by Robert Webber and Lester Ruth focuses on Anglicanism’s “six gifts”, as Webber puts it: mystery, Christ-centered worship, sacraments, historic identity, catholic traditions, and holistic spirituality.

Non-Anglicans on Sacraments

Here are some introductions to  the sacraments from non-Anglicans.

  • For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy by Alexander Schmemann.  As a seminary professor, I assign this book as much as possible because it is a compelling presentation of sacraments by an Orthodox priest. He discusses secularism and Christian culture from the perspective of the Church’s liturgy — “the sacrament of the world, the sacrament of the kingdom.”
  • Eucharist and Eschatology by Geoffrey Wainwright, a Methodist minister and seminary professor focuses on an eschatological understanding of the eucharist for the mission and unity of the church.

Logos Anglican Library

The Logos Anglican library is packed with amazing and helpful tools for Bible study and exploring the resources of the Anglican tradition. I use Logos for preparation for preaching and teaching, personal Bible study, and academic research. If you purchase it, use this coupon code (HOLCOMB6) to receive a 15% discount.