This is a question that is really bugging me at the moment.  The question of what is an Anglican?  Sadly I don't currently have time to sort this out and do the necessary research that would require but I can post a few initial thoughts in the hope that you can direct my future reading and thinking.  I'm not having a go at anyone, just trying to express my thoughts and feelings.  In the words of Tony Abbott, nothing I say here is necessarily gospel truth on my views and should not be taken as such.  If you get offended, I'm sorry my intention is to work out what I think, not offend you.

Let me first say that there is a large part of me that doesn't actually care.  I don't care what makes an Anglican different from a Baptist or a Presbyterian just so long as everyone is doing the best they can at working out what the Bible is saying and trying to take the message of Jesus' salvation to the millions/billions in Australia and around the world who don't know Him.  I could probably happily do fruitful ministry in any denomination as long as it had the right things at the core.

However, as someone who ministers in an Anglican church and has always gone to one, there is part of me that does care, because frankly, I'm sick of been led to believe that I'm not a real Anglican because I'm not very traditional.

Without being well versed on this issue the way I see it the Anglican church was founded by people who had a great love of scripture and had a great concern for the average man on the street being able to engage with God in a common, ordinary way.  So the Book of Common Prayer was just that prayer for the common man, in everyday language, a truly breath-taking idea when compared to obtuse Latin speaking Roman Catholic mass at the time.  At it's core then, I think you could make an argument that Anglicanism is about being culturally relevant when delivering the good news of Jesus' salvation to people.  I also know that the 39 Articles are important, as are Bishops and both these are their to help us share the Gospel, and remain on track, not to hinder it.

Probably my biggest frustration then is with those who seem to pick a random date in the past, be it 50-100-200 years ago, and put a peg in the ground there and say something like, "The 1850s defined true Anglicanism and we cannot move away from it."  I also get frustrated with those who seem more concerned with preserving the methods of the first Anglicans and not look at the reasons behind what they did and set up.  Those who make no attempt to understand the founding fathers culture.  I am fairly sure that had the Anglican church being formed today by the same people it would not have come up with the Book of Common prayer as we now have it.  That doesn't mean that book is bad, or not a great part of our history, but we need to put our 21st Century hats on and work out how to take their message, that of Jesus Christ crucified and raised again, to people in the here and now.  Let me say for some people in some places that could actually still involve prayer book services.  I'm not against that, I'm against forcing it into everything we do.  For the average suburban teenager, the prayer book is alien and when left unexplained, as it almost always is when it's used in church, often makes no sense of God or of their world around them.

But here's what I don't get... For some, it seems their Anglican identity is more important than their Christian one.  They'd rather be Anglican at all costs than Christians without compromise.  Who cares if someone who becomes an Anglican Bishop hasn't always been an Anglican?  Who actually cares about much at all except holding to the founding doctrine and scriptures (aka the Bible) of our church, respecting our leaders and getting on with our task; making disciples by spreading the good news to all?

So on one level my question is not so much what is an Anglican? As why is it that traditional interpretations of Anglicanism are often seen as more validly Anglican than those who are seeking to reinvent Anglicanism?  Why if you wear robes, collars, sing hymns to an organ, use lots of liturgy are you more Anglican than me who is uncomfortable with robes, not a big fan of clergy collars, dislikes for the most part hymns and liturgy?  What is it about our history that makes me less Anglican than the traditional person?  The fact is I've been an Anglican all my life and I love this church, even if I don't care much for some of its forms.

Your thoughts on this will be much appreciated!