4 August 2023 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. 17If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. 18He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him. 19Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?”
Gospel of St. John 7:16-19 (KJV)
Please do not panic – I do not intend to cover the whole subject of the doctrines contained in the Articles in this brief devotion. Having made that disclaimer, I will proceed to simply discuss why we need the Thirty-Nine Articles as a doctrinal basis for our Church.
First of all, each and every proposition of the Articles is based sounded on Biblical Truth. If any could be shown to present a scripturally invalid belief, that Article would be dispensed with and the veracity of Scripture defended. So far, no one has presented any argument worthy of note to deny any one of the thirty-nine Articles. I am presently working on a detailed course for our seminary that will give an in-depth study of the Articles as they relate to their Scriptural foundation. This course will cover each in detail and provide biblical proofs for each.
Secondly, a ship without a compass may proudly sail the seas but its destination will be a random one. The Church is like that ship. It needs a device to point the way and to prevent course diversions. That is what the Articles do. The bible, of course, is the authority underlying the Articles; but some make imaginative interpretations of what the Bible texts means in various places which creates descension and an inaccurate understanding of the Bible being preached.
So, the Thirty-Nine Articles were adopted to define Biblical doctrine and truth across the whole spectrum of Scripture. Learned men of God whose lives reflected a deeply devout understanding summarized the great doctrines of the Church so that the adherents of the Church of England could all agree as to a common understanding of our view of Scripture and how to interpret it apart from the demeaning imaginations of men. Each cleric of the Church must not only assent to the Thirty-Nine Articles as a full expression of our view of biblical truth, but also subscribe in true faith to adhere to those truths in all expositional or subjective preaching.
Archbishop Cranmer’s object in promulgating the Articles was clearly expressed in his letter to John a Lasco, 1548: – “We are desirous of setting forth in our churches the true doctrine of God, and have no wish to adapt it to all tastes and to trifle with ambiguities, but, laying aside all carnal and prudential motives, to transmit to posterity a true and explicit form of doctrine agreeable to the rule of the sacred writings.” [Original Letters, vol. I, p. 17.]
The intention is to prevent false doctrine such as the ‘name-it-and-claim-it’ gospel; the unknown tongues movement of the pentecostalist; the Oneness Movement, and a host of other ancient heresies that are re-emerging today in modern churches. The Articles are in harmony with the Continental Reformers as well as those of England.
Every church should have a well-constructed doctrinal statement that is based on biblical proofs; but today, we have some churches that are founded by men whose greed and imagination sets the stage in lieu of biblical doctrine. Solemn reverence and worship of God is replaced by musical entertainments and false doctrine that actually refute the very word of God. Man-centered worship has replaced God-centered worship.
Oneness in Christ is the ultimate objective of the Articles. We have all, in the Reformation Churches of England, agreed upon the validity of the Articles. We all worship according to the same understanding of biblical Scripture each worship service. We should not be open to innovation where the Bible is concerned. We must understand that absolute truth is the only path the Church should follow – and what is absolute truth? It is the truth of the Bible rightly discerned and understood.
Our Church has a beautiful resource in unity under the Thirty-Nine Articles. We may enter any Reformed Church and experience the same biblical truths being preached from the pulpit with Christ at the central point and not the praise of men or women entertainers.
In the AOC, the Articles are not simply documents of historical record, but of living faith. So might it always be so. The Articles keep our faith focused on biblical doctrine and guards against the frivolous innovation of silly men. Any Church that rejects the authority of the Articles is not an Anglican Church.