Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Confess or Die: How Historic Confessions of Faith Can Save the Church

The Anglican Church League has posted audio files online from several past conferences, the most recent being Confess or Die: How Historic Confessions of Faith Can Save the Church. You will especially want to hear the lecture given by the academic dean of Moore Theological College, Mark Thompson, The 39 Articles and Global Anglicanism.

I am firmly committed to the 39 Articles as confession of faith, not simply a constitutional document with no theological implications. As Thompson says in the lecture, Gerald Bray upholds the plain teaching of the Articles as Protestant and Calvinistic.

This lecture by Mark Thompson is a must hear. Thompson points out several problems with adherence to the 39 Articles as a Confession of Faith. There are always those who "falsely" subscribe. True subscription depends on the integrity of the person subscribing. Also, he points out that Tract 90 opened the door for essentially a "postmodern" reading of the Articles, which are clearly Protestant and Calvinistic. It occurred to me that those who promote Anglo-Catholic views open the door for the sort of postmodern reading of Scripture itself which twists the authority of Scripture in such a way that homosexuality becomes a blessed gift of God instead of immorality and an abomination before God. This lecture by Thompson is particularly interesting in light of the book I posted by the late David Broughton Knox, Thirty-Nine Articles: The Historic Basis of Anglican Faith.

I would like to post also the comments of bishop of a continuing Anglican church in England who e-mailed me with this account of his experience of ordination in the Church of England:

Dear Mr Ray,

Thank you for reproducing Broughton Knox' on the Articles, and for your clear and helpful comments. There are additional ways of avoiding the Articles of Religion. Ever since the earliest days of the Reformation the common way has been, and is, for a candidate for ordination or to an incumbency to swear conformity lightly, shifting ground after as circumstances suit, like the Vicar of Bray'. The second is 'Mental Reservation'. This has increased since it was used by the earliest Anglo Catholics. It was to swear as a Protestant whilst mentally rejecting. This was Newman's advice and example. He held much of the position of Rome, whilst publicly swearing to being a Protestant, and advised his young men to do likewise. When ordaining me the diocesan bishop asked me if I believed the Articles, quickly adding he did not expect me to. I replied I would not have sought ordination if I had not. A third way was quickly adopted by the Anglo-Catholic movement in order to get over the public outcry and indignation and charge of dishonesty caused by 'Mental Reservation'. A man entered a parish as a true Protestant and in some cases as soon as three weeks later, introduced Mass practices, abhorrent to the congregation, thus causing a huge rift and the emptying of the church, as the bishops refused the congregation redress. This marked the end of Church Discipline. The problem was that the State Church finally enforced this by the secular courts. Bishop Ryle took several to court, but shortly the courts washed their hands of this and refused to allow further prosecutions to be brought. The Anglo-Catholic method for justifying themselves was then to say the had believed the Articles all along, but interpreted them. This was other than according to their natural and intended sense. They therefore wrote the 'Tracts for the Times', reinterpreting the Articles in a Roman sense. One was the infamous 'Tract 90', which said that Article 31 calling the central teachings of the masses of Rome 'blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits', was only meaning one bad Mass the writer had seen on some occasion, but did not mean the Mass in general. This method is as old as the Reformation, Gardiner interpreting 'alms and oblations' in the Communion Office. The only way the Articles can be defended and discipline maintained is by the living work of the Holy Spirit, a deep and real work in the deceitful and deceiving human heart.

Yours sincerely,


Interestingly, in his lecture Mark Thompson points out that in the 1970s the Church of England changed its oath of subscription to something more vague allowing that the 39 Articles points to the same faith of the creeds and the Scriptures. Thus, one could ascribe to that "faith" but not the plain and literal meaning of the Articles themselves as a Protestant and Calvinistic document.

See also the Confess or Die website.


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