The sections on Sunday worship, the sacraments, and the church year are of most interest to me personally. These sections will guide people into a basic, mostly descriptive, understanding of these areas. Very few of us know how to explain worship and sacraments without unintentionally removing the sense of mystery, or accidentally becoming overly theoretical. Thomas shows his pastoral side here, but undergirding it is a broad knowledge of the tradition and of basic Christian sacramental theology. Many new Anglicans reading this will want to do further study, and some will feel that they’ve received enough explanation”“but all will be inspired to actually receive the sacraments reverently as a mystery and to focus on God and his presence in worship.
Some readers will wonder why Thomas doesn’t spend a lot of time on inter-Anglican wars and controversies. He doesn’t have three chapters devoted to the Instruments of Communion or various views on women’s ordination (although they are discussed briefly). Instead, he chooses to focus on what’s really important: our faith in Christ, our worship of God, and our life together. Some will wish he had more material on these arguments, but I think he made the right choice. Its time for us to move forward, not as an opposition group, but as a Christian communion. Thomas doesn’t ignore the reality of a fractured Communion, but he doesn’t unnecessarily focus us on it.
What are my gripes?
First, Anglicanism is not “a protestant denomination” except as a comparative descriptor. Use a sharpie to cross out that phrase on the two pages where it exists. Then write in “a Christian communion” instead. But don’t burn the book over this. We’ll create an online petition to change it for the second edition.
Second, I have to admit that I want the Sunday worship service at the front.