The Anglican Way: A Guidebook by Thomas McKenzie

Summary: A readable, recent introduction for those new to Anglicanism.

Fads are a reality of the world, Christian as well as not. In my world right now, converting to Anglicanism seems to be almost the level of a fad. Not that I think there is anything wrong with returning to a more liturgical practice of Christianity, or participating in the second largest global body of Christians. Honestly, if the Parish were on my side of town, instead of the opposite side of town, I would be seriously considering it.

Over the past couple of years as I have been reading James KA Smith (not Anglican) and gaining a greater understanding of the Liturgy (and maybe just getting older), more people in my extended digital world have been doing the same. Eddie Kirkland, former worship director at my church has started the Parish, Glenn Packiam as formed an Anglican congregation inside of New Life Community Church in Colorado, Scot McKnight has been ordained Anglican, Aaron Niequist, while not officially moving toward Anglican ordination as far as I know, has started a Sunday evening service at Willow Creek that by description seems to lean Anglican.

Personally, my theology has become much more sacramental and much less Baptist over the past 10 years or so years since I stopped working for the Southern Baptists in Chicago. I am also far less interested in arguing minor points of theology and much more interested in a Christianity at accepts all that hold to the Nicene Creed or other traditional Creeds.

So The Anglican Way is exactly right type of book for me. Thomas McKenzie is a parish pastor in Nashville (and the exact same age as I am I assume since he graduated from high school the same year I did according to one of the stories). He grew up in an Episcopal church, but was not really active until he went to college and was introduced to a charismatic form of Anglicanism.

The first section of the book is about the balance within the Anglican Way (illustrated by the Compass Rose) between Charismatic and Orthodox, Conservative and Liberal, Activist and Contemplative, Evangelical and Catholic. Temperamentally, that type of focus of relationship within theological and practical tension appeals to me. I want to be around, and worshiping with Christians, that are different from me, while still broadly holding to the orthodox tenets of Christianity.

The second section of the book is about basic practice of Anglican Christianity, personal devotion, worship, etc. The third section is on the particulars of Anglican practice, leadership and tradition.

The fourth section is basically the stuff that didn’t naturally fit earlier. What was most interesting in the fourth section is the recent history of the Anglican church, both in the US and around the world. McKenzie is on the conservative wing of the Anglican church, which is where all of the growth in the US that I am aware of is happening. One of the things that I like about Anglican (and Catholic) historic practice is the concept of the parish. That has never really worked in the US because even those traditional parish ideas that worked in other places have been corrupted by US church shopping mentality.

However, the recent controversy in the Anglican world has resulted for the first time in non-geographical diocese with many churches, first falling underneath African bishops and then later non-geographical diocese have been set up to allow more conservative Anglican to either start new churches or switch their allegiance away from the Episcopal Church in the US.  McKenzie is part of the Anglican Church in North America, so he is telling the story from the perspective.

Honestly, the ability of the Anglican church to not split in the face of some pretty major disagreement is one of the things that is attractive.  Although I think I am probably not as conservative as some of the new Anglican groups and not as liberal as the older US Episcopal Church, the focus on unity in spite of difference is appealing.

Regardless, if you are interested in a theologically orthodox understanding of what the Anglican Way is all about, this is a good place to start. The book is only a few months old and has very good reviews from those that are Anglican themselves from what I can tell.

A note about format. I listened to this as an audiobook read by Thomas McKenzie. While I love audiobooks and McKenzie did a fine job reading, some of the parts of the fourth section are not audio friendly. Timelines and glossaries are really best read and not listened to.  I listened to it all, however, and learned lots.

The Anglican Way: A Guidebook by Thomas McKenzie Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audible.com Audiobook

One Comment

Hey Adam. Thanks for the kind words! I’m glad you found the book helpful.

I’m commenting because I totally agree with you about the section of the audiobook in which I read the timeline and glossary. As I was reading it, I kept saying to myself “no one is going to listen to this.” I wouldn’t. But, I did it because the audiobook distributer needs the audiobook to be unabridged.

Anyway, thanks so much.

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