>

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 Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Catholic?

Ah, the tactics of the devil are still to twist, distort and lie. I have offended an unbeliever, DH, who adheres to the lies of Satan in order to justify his apostasy from the faith once delivered to the saints. In order to do this he has to misrepresent what I said and then to continue on in a deliberate misreading of the Thirty-Nine Articles, an accusation I made against Anglo-Catholicism which he has yet to defend rationally. Evasion seems to be about the best defense he can offer:


  • I have been carrying on a conversation with the blogger of Reasonable Christian the past two days. I found the posts there to be very sectarian and somewhat offensive. Nevertheless keeping to the theme I have set for the blogasphere, I intend to dispel mis-information wherever I see it. In one post the blogger claims adherence to the Anglican Formularies. In another he claims the 5 sola's of the reformation to be supreme. What got the water boiling was that he pretty much thinks any one who uses the label catholic is apostate. He commented on the Union between the APA and REC by stating that he believed the REC had left the faith by uniting with the Anglican Province of America claiming that the APA did not accept the 39 Articles of Religion as though they were fibbing about adherence to them.

First off, the REC and the APA have not yet united as one denomination, though this is the goal. They merely have a concordat at this time. I don't object to being disagreed with but I do object to being blatantly misquoted and misrepresented. First of all, I do not object to the term "catholic" since it simply means "universal." I DO object to Anglo-Catholicism, the Tractarian Movement, etc., which is a departure from the English Reformation and a subtle if not blatant attempt to re-interpret the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion in Roman Catholic and Anglo-Catholic terms. This is not only dishonest but an outright distortion of the original intent of the Articles and of the English Reformers who died for the cause of the Protestant faith in England. I might quote from Bishop Cheney, of the Reformed Episcopal Church, at the risk of being redundant:

  • The theory of the High Church party, down at its very foundation, is that, while the Bible is indeed the inspired word of God, it is to be received by the people, only with the authoritative interpretation of the Church. In other words, if I believe that the Bible teaches me a certain truth, and yet my minister tells me that that truth is not in the Bible. I must accept the teaching of my pastor, because he is the representative of the Church, rather than the plain unvarnished statements of the Scripture that God inspired.
  • The theory of the Low Church party, on the other hand, has ever been that which Chillingworth announced long years ago--that the sole rule of faith and practice is the Bible and the Bible alone; that Scripture is to be interpreted to the Christian conscience, not by Churches, not by Councils, not by creeds, not by confessions of faith, not by doctrines of any human authority whatever, but by the Spirit of God sought in prayer.
  • Between these two systems there can be no harmony. To reconcile them is as impossible as to make truth and error a perfect unit. But, if both these opposites had remained dormant, the work of Reform might have been indefinitely postponed.
  • http://anglicanhistory.org/usa/rec/cec_dec1873.html

Bishop Cheney was disciplined, persecuted and forced out of the Protestant Episcopal Church because he opposed Anglo-Catholicism and the high church movement. His sermon at his election as a Reformed Episcopal bishop is proof enough of this. If I am a sectarian, then I gladly accept the title along with Bishop Cheney, who stood for the Gospel and for what he sincerely believed to be the truth.

Anglo-Catholicism has been the originator of disinformation and misinformation since its inception in the Tractarian movement of the 19th century. In fact, the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion contain all five of the solas of the Protestant Reformation. We might also note the admonition given in the king's preface to the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion:

  • That for the present, though some differences have been ill raised, yet We take comfort in this, that all Clergymen within Our Realm have always most willingly subscribed to the Articles established; which is an argument to Us, that they all agree in the true, usual, literal meaning of the said Articles; and that even in those curious points, in which the present differences lie, men of all sorts take the Articles of the Church of England to be for them; which is an argument again, that none of them intend any desertion of the Articles established.
  • That therefore in these both curious and unhappy differences, which have for so many hundred years, in different times and places, exercised the Church of Christ, We will, that all further curious search be laid aside, and these disputes shut up in God's promises, as they be generally set forth to us in the holy Scriptures, and the general meaning of the Articles of the Church of England according to them. And that no man hereafter shall either print, or preach, or draw the Article aside any way. but shall submit to it in the plain and full meaning thereof: and shall not put his own sense or comment to be the meaning of the Article, but shall take it in the literal and grammatical sense.
  • http://www.churchofengland.freeserve.co.uk/x39arts.htm#artpre

As to the point that the five solas are contained in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion let me quote the appropriate passages. However, due to time constraints I will skip around a bit instead of trying to maintain a strict sequence of the solas:

  • VI. Of the Sufficiency of the holy Scriptures for salvation.
  • HOLY Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the holy Scripture we do understand those Canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.

In Article Six we see that both the Protestant doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture for salvation AND the doctrine of Scripture alone (sola scriptura) as the final authority in matters of faith and practice are taught. I might add that the Sixth Article also declares that only the Sixty-Six books of the Protestant canon are the inspired word of God, though the apocryphal books may be read for edification and not as a source of authoritative doctrine or as a source of divine revelation.

This is an aside to theonomists but the judicial laws of the Old Testament are null and void according to Article Seven: Although the Law given from God by Moses, as touching Ceremonies and Rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the Civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet not withstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the Commandments which are called Moral.

In Article Eleven we are told that justification is based ONLY on the merits of Christ!

  • XI. Of the Justification of Man.
  • WE are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works or deservings : Wherefore, that we are justified by Faith only is a most wholesome Doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.

I might note here that The Homily of Justification most clearly lays out the Protestant understanding of justification by faith alone (sola fide): http://www.anglicanlibrary.org/homilies/bk1hom03.htm. This homily is titled HOMILY ON THE SALVATION OF MANKIND, but I do believe it is the same homily referred to in Article Eleven since the topic throughout is justification by faith only/alone.

Ok, so far we have two of the five solas (sola scriptura and sola fide) of the English and Continental Reformation stated openly and plainly in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion. Let's continue on.

Articles Fifteen and Eighteen cover the third sola (solus christus). Christ alone is without sin and through Christ alone may we be saved:

  • XV. Of Christ alone without Sin.
    CHRIST in the truth of our nature was made like unto us in all things, sin only except, from which he was clearly void, both in his flesh, and in his spirit. He came to be the Lamb without spot, who, by sacrifice of himself once made, should take away the sins of the world, and sin, as Saint John saith, was not in him. Be all we the rest, although baptized, and born again in Christ, yet offend in many things; and if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
  • XVIII. Of obtaining eternal Salvation only by the Name of Christ.
    THEY also are to be had accursed that presume to say, That every man shall be saved by the Law or Sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that Law, and the light of Nature. For holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the Name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.

The doctrine of salvation by grace alone is established in the article on free will:

  • X. Of Free-Will.
    THE condition of Man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith, and calling upon God: Wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will.

This is clearly an Augustinian view since Augustine argued this very point against the pelagian heresy. If we contribute nothing to what is pleasing to God apart from a grace that is given beforehand, then grace must precede faith. So here we see the doctrine of sola gratia. Justification comes by grace alone through faith alone. To further prove this I will quote from the homily:

  • Let vs all confesse with mouth and heart, that we be full of imperfections: Let vs know our owne workes, of what imperfection they be, and then wee shall not stand foolishly and arrogantly in our owne conceits, nor challenge any part of iustification by our merites or workes. For truely there be imperfections in our best workes: wee doe not loue GOD so much as wee are bound to doe, with all our heart, minde, and power: we doe not feare GOD so much as wee ought to doe: we doe not pray to GOD, but with great and many imperfections: we giue, forgiue, beleeue, liue, and hope vnperfectly: we speake, thinke, and doe imperfectly: we fight against the deuill, the world, and the flesh imperfectly: Let vs therefore not be ashamed to confesse plainely our state of imperfection: yea, let vs not bee ashamed to confesse imperfection, euen in all our best workes.
  • http://www.anglicanlibrary.org/homilies/bk1hom02.htm

If we see ourselves as sinners, we cannot and will not challenge the doctrine of justification by grace alone by appealing to our merits or works.

Finally, all of the glory goes to God alone. This is the fifth sola, which in Latin is soli deo gloria. We find this sola in Article Seventeen primarily:

  • XVII. Of Predestination and Election.
    PREDESTINATION to Life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore, they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God be called according to God's purpose by his Spirit working in due season : they through Grace obey the calling : they be justified freely : they be made sons of God by adoption : they be made like the image of his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ: they walk religiously in good works, and at length, by God's mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity. http://www.churchofengland.freeserve.co.uk/x39arts.htm#art12

I'm only quoting part of the article to highlight the emphasis on God's eternal decrees. However, it should become clear that if God is the source of all that we are and of our eternal salvation, it follows from the article that glory goes to God and God alone. We share none of the glory or credit if in fact God has predestined us as his elect. This article teaches both an Augustinian and a moderate Calvinistic view of double predestination, as can plainly be seen from the text of the article.

I could go on to prove total depravity as the view of the Homilies and the Thirty-Nine Articles. Double predestination is also taught in the articles, as Article Seventeen proves. So it goes without saying that Anglo-Catholics are dishonest and without justification in re-interpreting the Articles in a Roman Catholic or Anglo-Catholic manner. The true "catholic" faith is Protestant, confessing, creedal and, above all else, subject to the final authority of Holy Scripture and not bishops or the church.

1 comment:

DH said...

Generally speaking your explanations of the articles sound good. Despite what you may think of me, Article XI is one of my favorite 39 Articles and I use it a lot. Would I be "bending the meaning" of the Articles if I were to say that Article XI perfectly summarizes the doctrine of faith alone by putting it into the right context -- faith is in Christ's merit that assumes righteousness. The problem I find is that every time I turn around someone has taken this doctrine and twisted it into something that was never intended that makes faith alone into antinomian individualistic form of Christianity.
What about Articles XII, XIII, and XIV? You left these out but I think these are very important in helping to understand XI by condemning the medieval Roman system of merit and treasury of merit and setting the stage for clarifying the confusion over purgatory. God bless you.

Support Reasonable Christian Ministries with your generous donation.