The Anglican Church began when the Church of England separated from the Roman Catholic Church under the influence of the Reformation and at the decree of King Henry VIII. Anglican beliefs came primarily from Reformation theologians, especially the ideas of John Calvin coming out of Geneva. Anglicans are also called "Episcopalians" after the episcopal form of church government.
Anglicans believe in one God manifested in three "persons": the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Anglicans believe these three are of "one substance, power and eternity." This is known as the doctrine of the Trinity, which is common to all Christian denominations. God is infinite in goodness, power and wisdom, according to Anglicans. They believe Jesus Christ had both divine and human natures, and that he died and rose again. They believe the Holy Ghost participates in the life of the Church, and is equal with the Father and the Son.
The Holy Scripture contains everything necessary to salvation, according to Anglican belief. They consider the 66 books comprising the Old and New Testaments to be Holy Scriptures. Anglicans also esteem the Apocrypha, 14 additional books often distributed with the Holy Scriptures. Anglicans view the Apocrypha as useful but not as authoritative.
Anglican beliefs are expressed through a number of creeds and other documents. Anglican churches believe and regularly recite the first two ecumenical creeds, the Nicene Creed and the Apostle's Creed. The Chalcedonian formula, which expresses orthodox beliefs about Jesus Christ, including Christ's divinity, virgin birth and resurrection, is another important document to Anglicans. Anglicans have 39 Articles of Faith, defined in the 16th century, which articulate many Anglican views. Many of the 39 articles reflect historic Christian beliefs held by other denominations, as well. The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral is a more recent statement articulating the beliefs and principles of today's Anglicans. Most Anglicans hold to the four principles in the Quadrilateral, which include belief in the Bible as the Word of God, acceptance of the Nicene Creed, practice of the two sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion, and the historic episcopate.
Anglicans believe human beings are born into original sin. This means people have a natural tendency to disobey God. They believe that God punishes sin via an eternity in hell, and that every person deserves that punishment. They also believe that the death of Jesus Christ on the cross provides a pardon for sinful humanity. Those people who believe in Jesus Christ and repent are justified before God through Christ's work and receive a heavenly reward, in Anglican doctrine. Like other Christians, Anglicans refer to this by many terms such as "salvation," "justification" and "redemption."
While the Church of England was the first Anglican church, there are dozens of denominations today that bear the title of Anglican. Anglicans of many nations fall under the umbrella of the Anglican Communion. Churches with episcopal forms of government that accept Anglican creeds and statements of faith are admitted as part of the worldwide Anglican movement. Anglicans believe the church has the power to create rites and ceremonies and settle controversies of faith. They follow an episcopal form of government, which is a hierarchy with laity at the bottom and archbishops at the top. Bishops are considered one among equals, with special deference (though no extra authority) given to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Baptism and the Lord's Supper are the two sacraments Protestant churches typically practice. Anglicans are no exception. Anglicans believe that the sacraments are signs of God's grace, through which God works invisibly to strengthen the believer's faith. Anglicans also refer to the Lord's Supper as Holy Communion or the Eucharist. They reject the Roman Catholic view of the Eucharist, in which the bread and wine are transformed invisibly and literally into the body and blood of Christ.