Why we say the creeds!

NO, THE 39 ARTICLES ARE NOT ‘LOST PROPERTY’

This review of Dr Gerald Bray’s exposition of the Church of England’s 39 Articles of Religion appeared in February’s edition of Evangelicals Now under the interrogative headline ‘Lost Property?’.

The answer to the EN sub-editor’s question is – no, the 39 Articles are not lost property, for Canon A5 affirms that, along with the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal, they express the biblical doctrine of the Church of England.

THE FAITH WE CONFESS:
An Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles
Gerald Bray
The Latimer Trust, pp236, £9.99 (£8 online from Latimer)
ISBN 978-0-946307-84-5

Dr Bray uses his profound depth of doctrinal and historical knowledge to unearth the firm evangelical foundations of the Church of England.

The established Church is currently in big problems but Latimer’s director of research shows that its 39 Articles of Religion contain sound biblical doctrine.

That is why The Faith we Confess deserves to be recommended reading for evangelicals considering Anglican ministry and should inspire confidence.

But it is also helpful for church members. Because it is a collection of pithy essays on each Article, with an excellent introduction, it can be used for example at a church council meeting. I used part of his essay on the Three Creeds (Article 8) at a PCC recently.

I had to point out that there was some specialist language, a bit of Latin and one German location I could not pronounce but that if we listened carefully we would know more about the two creeds we say regularly in church – the Nicene and the Apostles’ – at the end than we did at the beginning.

Dr Bray lucidly shows how Article 8, characteristically of the 39, treats the Bible as the supreme authority:

Acceptance of the creeds was common to the main Reformation churches, but the reasons for this were different from the ones usually put forward by the Roman Catholic Church or sometimes advocated by ecumenical bodies today. The latter like to refer to the tradition of the church, and the more universal that tradition is, the more acceptable is the creed…Article 8 advocates accepting the creeds not for traditional reasons, but because they state the clear and unequivocal teaching of Holy Scripture (p56).

So no ambiguity there. The Christ we confess in the creeds rules his church by ‘God’s Word written’ (as Article 20 refers to the Bible).

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