Doing theology to the sound of church bells

Michael Ramsey

Archbishop of Canterbury, Arthur Michael Ramsey (1961-1974)

Once a Presbyterian, now an Anglican, I am learning about what makes my ecclesial tradition distinct. In The Anglican Spirit, former Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, writes:

It is important to notice that while other churches on the Continent with Reformation roots also had their sets of articles, the Anglican Settlement as now defined had not only a confession, a set of articles, but also a Prayer Book. It is this foundation that was, and remains, so very characteristic of the Anglican paradosis. And it is true to say that while there are churches in Christendom where, when you ask, “Now, tell us what you stand for?” they will say, “Well, here are our articles, that is what we stand for,” it has always been characteristic of Anglicans to reply, “Yes, here are our articles, but here is our Prayer Book as well – come and pray with us, come and worship with us, and that is how you will understand what we stand for.”

For Anglicans, Ramsey observes, there is a “close connection between theology, doctrine, and Christian worship.”

[Anglican theologian Richard Hooker] describes what we believe very much in terms of how we worship. That has remained a characteristic of Anglican theology right into the present century, and German theologians, very rigorous in their academic method, have sometimes laughed at Anglican theologians for doing their theology to the sound of church bells. Well, continue to do theology to the sound of church bells, for that is what Christian theology really is all about – worshiping God the Savior through Jesus Christ in the theology of the apostolic age.

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