Welcome to the Global Anglican Theological Institute. An important purpose of this site is to provide you with materials for the reformation of the church. Why do we need reform in the church? Let me offer a few reasons as introduction to this web site.
First, let me say that I write as an Anglican. Anglicanism took characteristic form in the sixteenth century as a Reformed Catholicism. As such, Anglicans hold to the final authority of Scripture and look to the traditions of the undivided church of the first five centuries as presenting the fullness of the faith. Further, although Anglicans hold to Scripture and tradition in conformity with Scripture, we also recognize the importance of reason, that is, the recognition that God has given us minds to interpret Scripture, and further, we are called to investigate the world as created and sustained by God. In other words, Anglicans have always taken philosophy, politics, science, and all facets of life seriously.
The materials offered on this web page are the fruit of many years of study and living the Christian life. I have not only studied Scripture, theology, and church history, but non-theological disciplines such as science and literature. In fact, my doctoral work involved studying theology in relation to psychology, science and mathematics, economics, and political issues such as nuclear war. All this informs this web site. Now to return to a previous question, Why do we need reform in the Church? There are at least four significant reasons.
As is well known, the Christian churches since the Reformation have split and split again. At times these divisions were over matters of substance. At other times, personalities or insignificant issues were paramount. As these divisions took place, important practices, perspectives, theological emphases, and institutional forms were left behind by those who broke away. At the same time, by not listening to those who left, important reforms were not implemented in the churches that remained. The result is a fractured and impoverished Christendom. As the fracturing took place, however, the various churches rediscovered and preserved vital aspects of the Christian faith which are now found throughout the scattered bodies of Christendom. This web site is dedicated to gathering these vital aspects insofar as they reflect Scripture and the best of the ancient traditions of the church.
Second, the church in recent centuries has been profoundly challenged by discoveries in fields such as geology, psychology, and astronomy, as well as challenges presented by what has been termed the critical study of the Bible. Theology and biblical studies have sought to meet these challenges, but the results have not always been adequate to the challenge of modernity and the truth of the faith. In fact, powerful theological systems and approaches to Scripture were developed that undermine orthodox Christian faith. We cannot go back to a pre-scientific era, nor can we ignore the work of the critical study of the Bible. Nevertheless, there is such a thing as theological and biblical orthodoxy that can respond to these challenges. Many excellent theologians and biblical scholars have met these challenges. This web site will address these challenges, drawing on the work of others, especially in the critical areas of theology and biblical studies.
Third, the Christian faith is not simply a matter of individual salvation. Christians are a society, and Christians are saved as members of the church. Vast numbers of people throughout the world do not have the basics necessities of life, and even in wealthy countries and churches, many people do not have the pastoral resources to meet the challenges of life. I have lived and worked in some of these countries. Put simply, the world, the political and economic systems of this world, are not meeting the needs of the people in many, many countries. I am convinced that the church needs to be an alternative society, one that becomes a place of healing and hope, where members care for one another and help each other with their basic needs. All too often, this sense of corporate responsibility is lacking in the churches, especially in the West with its extreme individualism. A number of the essays on this web site will be dedicated to forming Christian communities that address the basic needs of people.
Fourth, a great deal of Christian writing tends to fall into one of two camps. Either it is highly academic written by scholars in seminaries, universities, and graduate schools, or it is in a popular style, written by persons with limited academic training. I have a Ph.D. in theology, and further, I have been a parish priest for many years as well as a missionary and a teacher in various theological schools. When I was a mathematician, we learned that the simplest and most elegant proofs were the best, and my goal is to write as simply as possible so that anyone can understand, while bringing to bear as much of my studies as possible.
Finally, I have been a missionary and lived in very poor countries whose societies and ways of living the Christian life are different from my home country the United States of America. As I write, I have in mind the people of other countries and cultures, seeking an approach that does justice to the faith and the varied communities that comprise the great family of God.
To this end, we have, at present, the following topics: Scripture, worship, theology, pastoral theology, theological resources, and Christian testimony. You will find these six sections in the left hand column of your screen.
Finally, my goal is to build up the church, and in that context, to bring persons to know the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords. That is my final goal.
This web page is an ongoing project and some of these sections are not yet complete.
May God bless you richly as you study these web pages.
Thank you for your interest.
Ecclesia Semper Reformanda
The Rev. Robert J. Sanders, Ph.D.
Welcome to the Global Anglican Theological Institute, sponsored by Virtueonline.org.
Monday, August 17th, 2009