"The article seems to entirely miss noticing its most egregious innovation, to be found neither in tradition or scripture, that moves from noting diverse historical and cultural practices to the assertion that “every particular or national Church” is where the authority in matters of tradition lies. It is this complete blurring of the social and ecclesial orders that has always been the Church of England’s biggest problem, and which lies at the root of many of its contemporary issues, whether adjusting to post-Christian society, or creating and responding to bizarre concepts of “provincial autonomy” across the Anglican Communion."
At the least I take this to mean that the 39A do not steer Anglican tradition well in respect of authority of or over, and autonomy of Anglican churches in the era of the Anglican Communion.
There is a case for a 40th Article of Religion (and, yes, I know, also a case for revising the 39A): one which sets out the nature of authority for Anglican churches in communion with each other. My sense is that this involves a new appreciation of the role that councils have played, and can continue to play in the life of a global movement. That is, citing 'councils do err' is unhelpful if we wish to improve on the current situation.
The remedy for the poor ecclesiology expressed through the 39A lies in developing a theology of the church as communion ('communio ecclesiology') with attention to conciliarity ('conciliar communio ecclesiology').
Ah, yes, the 39 Articles of Religion! That curious admixture of Catholic truth and Calvinist error! Frankly, I don’t think that they are, as a whole, any more a relevant statement of Anglicanism today than are the 10 Articles of 1536, or the 6 Articles of 1539 or the 42 Articles of 1552. To me, they are of historical interest only.
And to tell you the truth, it’s not just me: the Articles of Religion (whatever the number) have never been very popular in the American Church; no Episcopalian, neither clergy nor lay, has ever been required to “affirm” them.
In the Proposed American Prayer Book of 1785, the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England were dissected and cut down to twenty. In our first standard Prayer Book of 1789 they were left out altogether. The question of their reinstatement proved to be a subject of considerable debate within the American Church. An informal discussion at the General Convention of 1792 revealed the fact that the bishops themselves were divided in opinion. Eventually, a modified set of Articles was included in the American Prayer Book of 1801. Today, they have been removed to the “historical documents” section at the end of the Prayer Book of 1979, where they belong. If it were up to me, I’d also include the 10, 6 and 42 articles along with them.
While appreciating that the 39A are not without points of discussion, that mixture of Catholic truth and Calvinist 'error' may be agreeable to some of us!
Bear in mind that the Scripture itself went through a process of discernment before everyone agreed on its proper composition. And the Nicene Creed too. Just because there was a process to agree on a final form doesn't mean that final form is undermined.
Kurt, given TEC can hardly say the Creeds with conviction, it's no surprise the 39A don't carry much weight there. Maybe if we held on to the articles more tightly as a confessional statement, we wouldn't be needing all this work on covenants, Jerusalem declarations etc.
“Kurt, given TEC can hardly say the Creeds with conviction, it's no surprise the 39A don't carry much weight there. Maybe if we held on to the articles more tightly as a confessional statement, we wouldn't be needing all this work on covenants, Jerusalem declarations etc.”
It’s this type of slander, Andrew Reid, that promotes the break-up of the Anglican Communion.
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