What are the 39 Articles of Religion?
The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion (seen in full here) contain the particulars of our Anglican faith and practice. Most of them are self-explanatory, and all contain some sort of description to assist the reader in his or her understanding of their meaning. The following contains a brief overview for each of the articles of our faith.
Article I: Defines our faith as Trinitarian as we believe in a triune Godhead of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit ( see St. Matthew 28:19).
Article II: Speaks of God the Son as having two natures: both fully man and fully God, who was virgin-born, and whose death on the cross reconciles all true Christians to the Father (see St. John 1:14).
Article III: Makes mention of Christ going down into “Hell.” While there remains some debate concerning his actually going into the portion of the underworld where the evil and notorious are held until the Great White Throne Judgment, it is accepted that he did descend to the lower world (see Ephesians 4:9).
Article IV: Teaches us about the resurrection of Christ and that he will return and judge all people at the last day. (See Revelation 22:12.)
Article V: Defends the inclusion of the filioque as found in the Nicene Creed, which states that the Holy Ghost does indeed proceed from both the Father and the Son (see St. John 14:16, 15:26, and 16:7).
Article VI: Affirms the sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for salvation. It also confirms the canon of Scripture in the sixty-six “commonly received” books of the Old and New Testaments. It also states that the Apocryphal books are outside of the established canon of the church (see II St. Timothy 3:16, 17).
Article VII: In this article, we learn that the Old and New Testaments are not contrary to one another but are two halves of a whole. From its sacred pages, we read of not onlythe Law, and its attendant ceremonies which are but a shadow of things in heaven (Hebrews 8:5), but of the prophecies and promises regarding not only the redemption of Israel, but our redemption as well through the atoning work of the coming Messiah whom we know from the New Testament as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ ( see Galatians 3:24).
Article VIII: Affirms our use of the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. The Apostles’ Creed is the oldest, probably being used in some form in the early Second Century A.D. The Nicene Creed came out of the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D.
Article IX: Refers to our birth in this world under original sin. Original sin was given to us by our first parents. On its account, our flesh is drawn to satisfy its lustful desires. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and are baptized, yet our flesh still contains this malady. Only by the workings of the Holy Spirit within the believer will he or she produce the fruits of repentance that are pleasing and acceptable to God.
Article X: Rejects the concept of “Free-Will.” Our sinful natures are in open rebellion against God and without the working of the Holy Ghost within us, we will never turn to God on our own accord.
Article XI: Affirms the concepts of justification by faith alone, in Christ alone.
Article XII: Affirms the notion that we cannot work our way into God’s good graces. Only after our acceptance into the fold of Christ will our works bear fruit that is acceptable to God and will reveal that we are in possession of a true and lively faith.
Article XIII: States that all of our works prior to receiving the grace of Christ and the inspiration of his Spirit are not acceptable to God (see Isaiah 64:6).
Article XIV: Contradicts the notion that we could ever do more than what God expects of us in the first place (see St. Luke 17:10).
Article XV: Affirms our belief in the sinless nature of our Lord Jesus Christ (see Hebrews 4:15).
Article XVI: In this article we learn that not every sin willingly committed after baptism is a sin against the Holy Ghost and unpardonable. It is by God’s grace that we repent and withdraw from sin, amending our lives through the work of the Holy Spirit within us. This article also condemns those who say “they can no more sin as long as they live here [in the world], or [who] deny the place of forgiveness to such as truly repent.” Such are unbiblical and should be rejected as heresies (see Romans 7:14-25; I St. John 1:7-10 and 2:1-2).
Article XVII: Affirms the doctrines of Predestination and Election (see St. John 6:37, 44; 8:44-47; 10:14-16; 17:5-10, 20; Acts 2:47; Romans 8:28-30; I Corinthians 1:2, 4, 9, and 26-31; Ephesians 1:4-5 and 9; 2:1, 8-10; Colossians 3:12; I Thessalonians 1:4; II St. Timothy 1:9; St. Titus 3:3-7; Hebrews 2:10-13; I St. Peter 1:2, 15, 17, and 20-21; St. Jude 1).
Article XVIII: Condemns those who say one can be saved apart from the atoning work of Jesus Christ (see St. John 3:23; 11:25-26; Acts 4:10-12; Philippians 2:9-11; I St. John 5:13; Revelation 22:4).
Article XIX: Sets forth the parameters for a true Christian church.
Article XX: States that the church has the power to establish its order of worship and such ceremonies as it sees fit within the framework of”God’s Word written” (see II St. Timothy 3:15-17).
Article XXI: This article is self-exclamatory: “General councils may not be gathered together without the commandment and will of princes. And when they be gathered together, (forasmuch as they be an assembly of men , whereof all be not governed with the Spirit and Word of God,) they may err, and sometimes have erred, even in things pertaining unto God. Wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of holy Scripture.”
Article XXII: Concerns several unscriptural beliefs and practices of the Roman Church at the time of the Reformation (see Hebrews 9:27; Colossians 2:8-9 and 18-19; Exodus 20:4-5; Psalm 34:17-18; Psalm 49:7-8; St. Matthew 4:10, 17; 5:17-18 and 16:26; Revelation 12-15; 19:10; 20:1-6; and 22:8-9).
Article XXIII: Affirms the authority of the Vestry of a respective congregation to call such men as are duly qualified, via the episcopate, to the office of minister. This article precludes the ordination of women, the immoral or other degenerated persons (see I St. Timothy 3:1-16; 4:14 and St. Titus 1:5-9).
Article XXIV: Prohibits speaking in a tongue that the people clearly would not understand.
Article XXV: Addresses the issue of Sacraments within the church. A sacrament is defined as an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. Anglicans have traditionally recognized only two sacraments: Baptism and the Supper of the Lord.
Article XXVI: Denies that an unworthy minister will hinder the effect of the Sacraments upon the faithful. It also permits the removal of any godless, or profane man from his position as deacon, priest, presbyter or bishop within the Church if it can be objectively demonstrated that he is of such a character.
Article XXVII: Addresses the Sacrament of Baptism.
Article XXVIII: Affirms that the Lord’s Supper is consumed only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. We also learn that the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is not supposed to be set aside for common purposes, carried about, and it is not to be worshiped as the actual body and blood of Christ.
Article XXIX: Addresses the issue of the those of the unregenerate and wicked who partake of the Lord’s Supper.
Article XXX: Affirms the offering of the communion cup to the laity because our Lord instructed that we should both eat of the unleavened bread and drink of the cup until he comes again.
Article XXXI: Affirms that our Lord Jesus Christ made one offering of himself for the sins of the whole world. It goes on to point out that the use of the Roman Mass is contrary to Scripture because it attempts to communicate the very body and blood of Christ to those present for worship even though our Lord is physically present in heaven at the right hand of God (see Hebrews 9:24-28).
Article XXXII: Permits the marriage of bishops, priests and deacons within the Church.
Article XXXIII: Reminds us as Christians to avoid the ungodly and those in error (see II Corinthians 6:14-18).
Article XXXIV: Accepts the various traditions and ceremonies that exist across the Anglican Communion as long as they agree with God’s word written.
Article XXXV: At the time of the Reformation there was a shortage of clergy who were properly trained in Protestant doctrines, so it was necessary to have a set of teachings which were to be read to the people that defined the exclusively Protestant ideals of the Anglican Church. The Homilies provided such doctrine in a specific form which were to be read to the people.
Article XXXVI: Affirms the order for consecrations of bishops and ministers as being by the approved formularies of the Church and that all such as have been consecrated or ordained will be recognized as being legitimate ministers of the Church.
Article XXXVII: States that the clergy of the church are subject not only to ecclesiastical courts but to the civil courts of the state.
Article XXXVIII: Dispenses with the socialistic notions that all men’s goods are held in common or ought to be among all Christians.
Article XXXIX: Affirms that a Christian can take and oath in court or other place and swear to do this or that without violating God’s word written.