Thursday, May 31, 2007

Anglican Doctrinal Basis


Chris Watson Lee has composed a Doctrinal Basis for the Church of England, modelled on the UCCF one but derived from Anglican documents:

The doctrine of the Church of England is grounded in the Holy Scriptures… In particular such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal.

a.There is but one living and true God… And in unity of this Godhead there be three Persons… the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
b. God [is] of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things.[He] hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning We bless [Him]… for [His] inestimable love in… redemption [He is the] most worthy judge eternal.
c. The Scripture… is the word of the living GOD… His infallible word.[The] Holy Scriptures 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.
d. The fault and corruption of the nature of every man that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is… of his own nature inclined to evil… and therefore in every person born into this world… deserveth God’s wrath and damnation.
e. The Son… begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God… took Man’s nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin… so that two whole and perfect Natures… the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one Person… [The] Christ, very God, and very Man; who truly suffered, was crucified, dead and buried.[He] was made like unto us in all things, sin only except, from which He was clearly void Christ did truly rise again from death, and took again His body, with flesh, bones, and… He ascended into heaven, and there sitteth [and] liveth and reigneth… now and for ever.
f. Christ… was crucified, dead… to reconcile His Father to us, and to be a sacrifice not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men. [The] offering of Christ once made is the perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual, and there is none other satisfaction for sin but that alone. For our sins this most innocent Lamb was driven to death… he suffered the penalty of them himself, to deliver us.Christ… is the only Mediator between God and man.
g. 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… we are justified by faith only. And this justification… we so receive of GOD’S mercy. The merits of Christ’s death and passion, who became man for our sake… if we have… faith… shall be as truly imputed unto us for righteousness.
h. It is the holy Ghost, and no other thing, that doth quicken the minds of men. Man… cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith and calling upon God… without the grace of God by Christ preventing us that we may have a good will.
i. [The] sundry offices proper unto… the holy Ghost [are] to sanctify and regenerate… He do also dwell and abide in [the born again]. By His Spirit working in due season… they be made like the image of His only-begotten Son Jesus Christ; they walk religiously in good works. By the mighty power of the holy Ghost… the… Gospel… may be truly preached.
j. The… holy Catholick Church [is the] body of Christ. The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men.
k. Jesus Christ… shall come to judge the quick and the dead.Our manifold sins and wickedness… provok[e] most justly [God’s] wrath and indignation against us, [there is] condemnation to death everlasting, by [people’s] own sin. God, our heavenly Father… hath promised forgiveness of sins to all them that with hearty repentance and true faith turn unto him… and bring [them] to everlasting life.

22 comments:

  1. I was just yesterday noticing the similarities between UCCF and Anglicanism.

    Shame that this won't be approved any time soon...

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  2. Too wordy, and too doctrinally confident for me. I don't have any problem with strong doctrines (I'm an inerrantist!) but it isn't biblical to load up a statement of faith as much as this. So TBH its a bit wide of the mark for me.

    Creeds are also meant to speak to the issues of the day. Yet this seems to speak to the issues of liberal theology of 10-30 years ago. It doesn't seem to have any provision for the contemporary cultural situation that the church finds itself in.

    Understanding how to write a DB or a statement of faith requires an excellent grasp of contemporary culture. I think that the sheer verbosity of this, could suggest that such a grasp of the contemporary situation is elusive or perhaps unavailable to the author.

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  3. Also, the language backs up my point.

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  4. Tom, with all due respect, I think you missed the point.

    The language is dated because Chris has sourced it from the old anglican books which were written long ago.

    It was an experiment to see whether the CofE holds the same sort of convictions as UCCF. Which it evidently does.

    Given the number of people in the CofE who would disagree with all of the above it very much fits into the contemporary scene there - granted it also misses a lot of other stuff that would need to be said.

    I agree entirely that such statements are too wordy, and creeds should certainly be written for saying not for reading.

    I'd love to see what sort of contemporary statement/creed you'd come up with for the church today. Go for it...

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  5. Paul - in a sense, it's already approved - every word is from the old CofE books and canons... problem is it's ignored.

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  6. Ah, then I have missed the point. I though he had written it recently.

    Hehehe, I've been thinking about this I might would want to add affirmations or clauses on:

    1. Faith: not irrational, but entirely reasonable. Nobody is asked anywhere in the NT to make a commitment to Christ without sufficient reason.
    2. Discipleship: not matter of doctrinal instruction alone, or matter of making a series of strong commitments, or having a loving experience of the Holy Spirit. Importance of Spiritual Formation in teaching discipleship to the whole person - not just the mind.
    3. Genesis: Fall is historical, but you don't need to think that world was made in 6x24hr days. Theistic evolution and progressive creationism are options for the Christian as well as young earth creationism. All three are compatible with a high view of scripture.
    4. Atonement: Importance of the choice of Jesus to work with the Father in going to the cross. Trinitarian involvement in the atonement. Rejection of the ransom theory. Value of some other models, importance of PSA.
    5. Work is good and valuable. Every Christian is in full time ministry. Working life is the main calling for most Christians. You are doing what God wants even if you don't think you are doing 'gospel' ministry
    6. Culture is part of the Cultural Mandate. Film, tv, politics are good. We want to engage in the arts discussion and give value to freedom of speech rather than burning our TV licences!
    7. We are open to having our faith questioned. We are not above question. We think that all faiths, and Islam in particular would all benefit from allowing a greater freedom of speech to criticise and question religious belief, without necssarily denuding or weakening the doctrines and creeds of these respective faiths.

    That's just how naive I am!!

    T

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  7. I like it. Those are seven vital affirmations for the church today. And very readbly put.

    I wonder if 1 & 7 might be merged. Interesting how Genesis becomes a crucial ground for the church today - much debated and yet the foundation for our doctrines of sin, of work, of creativity etc.

    It's interesting to look at creeds - I mean Nicea doesn't talk about scripture, and yet in an environment where liberalism remains we need to talk about it.

    As a creed for evangelicals I'd sign yours. I wonder if it needs a clause to deal with Individualism vs. Human beings as persons belonging in community particularly the church...

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  8. Hello everyone!

    Thanks for your comments and encouragements. Impressive quick thinking, I was sitting here typing a similar response to Dave's and it has all happened!

    To reiterate, my point in constructing this Anglican doctrinal basis, as Dave pointed out, was to examine whether or not that the Biblical Evangelical Christian truths taught in the UCCF doctrinal basis were evident in the 16th/17th Century foundation documents of the Church of England. It is part of a larger series that I have been running over at my blog. This post, although a significant way through the series, does briefly introduce the purpose of the basis further.

    I did briefly consider the significance of the old 39 Articles in the present day. In a later post I am planning to very briefly paraphrase J.I. Packer’s suggestion that: we need to assimilate, apply and augment the Articles. Finally, this post has a few links to earlier parts of the series that might help you get into the rest of it if you are interested.

    I don't want to be unBiblical about anything!

    Hope that helps,

    Chris

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  9. Er...Tom I agree mostly with your basis, as in the content of it (1 needs clarity that our reason is fallen, and therefore it is the Holy Spirit making us truly reasonable that opens our eyes IMO) BUT, would we want these as a DB? So, I couldn't agree more about culture, but I'd be happy to be in church with and do evangelism with people who take a more pietistic view of culture, much as I disagree with it. It's secondary, in my humble opinion of course.

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  10. Useful point birthday boy.

    I guess the question is what's the point of having a creed/confession... and if it's for Unity how tightly do we need to draw lines...

    UCCF's declaration of belief (when did DB change it's meaning btw?) doesn't even mention evangelism, discipleship, study etc all of which are pretty core to our identity...

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  11. what does c. "nor may be proved thereby" mean?

    I reckon this would mean different things to different people - an open door for contradiction?

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  12. I think a crucial point about the Church of England is that the Church of England is (and IMHO should be) a broad church for the people of England in which we seek to hold together people of many different convictions, in which Evangelicals, Liberals and Anglo-Catholics can find a spiritual home.

    I generally identify myself as an Anglo-Catholic, but that doesn't mean that Scripture becomes any less important. It is just that we might not agree about the atonement, or the meaning of the Mass (or the Breaking of Bread, or the Lord's Supper).

    The thing is though that I don't think I would really want to be part of an Anglican Church in which everybody believed exactly the same things as I do, but rather I value a place in which we all as English Christians can engage with each other and debate with each other. I believe that this might be a truer illustration of what it means to be the body of Christ. It consists of many different members and surely we should value and esteem each other?

    The Church of England should neither be taken to be an 'Evangelical' Church nor an 'Anglo-Catholic' Church and not a 'Liberal' Church. So if we were to come up with a doctrinal basis it should include and focus on statements which we would all be able, in good conscience, to sign.

    As for me, I believe in one holy, catholic (universal) and apostolic church in which we can all find a home and live with the tensions that that brings.

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  13. "when did DB change it's meaning btw?" - when 'Doctrine' became a dirty word and when people starting shying away from the idea of having a basis in place? ;-) Or maybe someone in the office just has always called it that so it's started being called that in resources produced. We could always ask ourselves for a press release on the subject :)

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  14. Matthew - i think chris' point is that when the church of england adopted the 39 articles etc it became a reformed-evangelical church at its core. what's lacking is the application of this to the rest of it...

    who ever decided it should be a broad church? it's documentation (as summarised in the Anglican DB) is far from being broad...

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  15. Thanks again Dave for another helpful reply.

    I've tried to make sure that everything in the DB, (except the words in [brackets], the odd updated spelling etc. and the introduction in bold, which is from Canons (A5) of the Church of England, 6th edn 2000) can be found in the 39 Articles (1571), Book of Common Prayer (1662) and 16th Century Anglican Homilies. You can find links to the original sources and read it "in situ" on my blog; it comes from a longer series I'm running. Towards the end of the 2nd part of the series, I decided to draw a comparison with the historic formularies (or foundation documents) of the Church of England and the modern UCCF Declaration of Belief. I've tried hard to say nothing new, but just highlight something that is already there.

    Hope that helps,

    Chris

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  16. the shift from Doctrinal Basis to Declaration of Belief - is significant.

    The Doctrinal Basis designation indicates a core of truth around which and from which the fellowship of students in each location unite, uphold and proclaim the gospel of Jesus. There is room for manoeuver around secondaries here, the things not held are core or central enough to be indicated within the Basis.

    Doesn't of a 'declaration of belief' indicate that there is not room for as much generostity/diversity on secondaries? "this is what we believe and no more" rather than "this is what we hold to confidently together as the essentials"

    Further to that - "doctrine" is derived from Scripture (or at least should be) "declarations" as made from the human heart. It is an unhelpful transition from one to the other and will be the undoing of much that is valuable.

    Doctrine is not [yet?!?] a word lost to the UK scene is it? Especially in the midst of so much talk of the doctrine of atonement?

    Matthew said:
    "I generally identify myself as an Anglo-Catholic, but that doesn't mean that Scripture becomes any less important. It is just that we might not agree about the atonement, or the meaning of the Mass (or the Breaking of Bread, or the Lord's Supper)."

    here we see the importance of robust (though not unfeeling) clarity on doctrine. It is precisely the categories of atonement and salvation/sanctification (for that is what I think the disagreement around the 'meaning of mass' would indicate) which would be at stake: central and decisive 'doctrine' and not 'declaration'. Maybe this is a discussion that should move to the Coffee Bible Club Blog? Anyone want to open it up there? Maybe I will...

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  17. Andy: please put some coffee on.
    We'll follow up you over.

    I share your caution over the D.B. shift. Let's talk.

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  18. Matthew re:
    "I think a crucial point about the Church of England is that the Church of England is (and IMHO should be) a broad church for the people of England in which we seek to hold together people of many different convictions, in which Evangelicals, Liberals and Anglo-Catholics can find a spiritual home."

    As common as that approach is in the modern Cof E - I think it's an innovation - and quite opposed by the founding documents..

    I think the question that would need to asked is on what basis do you draw the boundaries of 'Evangelical, Liberal and Anglo-Catholic'? Where do you get your sense of 'ought' here? Why not broader? or narrower? Is that a Scriptural boundary? or a recognition of what is? (and if so - what if that balance were to shift to include even broader expressions - would that equally be worthy of defence?)

    If you are saying there are people of faith in each of these communities, then I'm fully in agreement. But of course, that's not the question being asked here is it?

    I'd be interested in your response as to why this status quo and not another? Why not be a general Defender of Faith?

    I ask with genuine interest!

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  19. Well, when I wrote on my blog about creeds, doctrinal statements etc., there seemed to be a feeling that if a new creed were to be written, it would need to speak into the issues of the day, and perhaps ought to have sufficient broadness.

    Of course, the 39 Articles and most of the liturgy at that time, are seeking to redefine faith in the context of establishing a new church after splitting from Rome, but I certainly feel that there might have been an extent to which the baby risked being thrown out with the bath water.

    As I see it, there is generally more that Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals agree on than with liberals say, or we agree on more things than we disagree over.

    I think my point would be that to set up such a doctrinal basis, for me at least, would be to deny the broadness that really exists. If you are going to use words like, 'we believe', then you have to be really careful because the modern Church of England does not exist in such monochrome tones.

    So in a situation where we have different models of the atonement you can say that we can be saved through the death of Jesus but this might not be through the Penal Substitutionary model, as one example.

    Even if you were to say that this 'doctrinal basis' was for Evangelical Anglicans alone, you might find that not all people who would describe themselves as Evangelicals would be able to or want to sign.

    And than when you get to the point about there being people of faith in each of these communities, well yes there are. But of course, we are not the ones to say whether there are or not, and we are certainly not the ones who can say whether or not they are true Christians or are 'saved'.

    I might agree that we need a new doctrinal basis but not that one. It works as a summary of the 16th/17th Century documents but I don't think it does now.

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  20. Here I go again with my random thoughts...

    As William Pitt generalised in 1772:

    "We have a Calvinistic creed, a Popish liturgy, and an Arminian clergy"

    Charles Simeon would disagree about the liturgy, but anyway.

    I only post this because the idealised CofE of Evangelical Anglican's never really existed and we kid ourselves if we think it ever did.

    Dave B:

    "who ever decided it should be a broad church?"

    Elizabeth I? Interestingly more controversial to evangelicals of the past was the narrowing of the CofE under Charles II

    Chris O:

    "[The] Holy Scriptures 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"

    Doesn't this just mean 'The bible contains all that is necessary for your salvation. You cannot force any doctrine or practice upon another person unless it is explicitly taught in the Scriptures (e.g. Christ came in the flesh) or can be extrapolated from what it teaches (e.g. the Trinity)?

    I don't know where confusion could come in? Am I missing something?

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  21. Confusing when there are two Chris' in the thread! I'm the Chris who compiled the DB. Thanks for your thoughts Dave K, sorry, I know the comments aren't directed to me but here are some responses...

    I don't want to view the Church of England's past with unrealistic rose tinted glasses or anything, as I've mentioned.

    As Pitt's caricature suggests, we know much of the practice found in the CofE is often very different to the foundation documents. My concern was to point people to the foundations.

    Although the formularies of the CofE (Articles, Prayer Book), are far from perfect, do you not think the liturgy provides (amongst other things) a clear articulation of "justification by faith alone" a core Biblical truth (e.g. Romans 3) emphasised by historic Protestantism? See for example The Order for The Lord's Supper.

    Interesting point about the Elizabethan Settlement - got me thinking! Of course, the 39 Articles themselves were passed into law during Elizabeth's reign. The 1571 Subscription Act said ministers must be those "...professing the doctrine expressed in the said Articles..."

    Indeed, the Evangelicals of the past were unhappy about the Great Ejection of 1662 under Charles II, but don't forget they were also unhappy about parts of the Church under Elizabeth - the Puritan Movement emerged as a result,as I blogged about (see link above).

    Finally, thanks a helpful response to "Chris O's" question. If anyone's interested I have some more quotes from the Articles and Cranmer (one of the main authors) that I think illustrates the point made by Dave K.

    Hope that's all Biblical!

    Chris

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  22. Chris (not O):

    Thanks for your response. I'm pretty sure you comments are biblical.

    I think in the main you are right, and you clearly know more than me about the subject. All your posts/comments I've read are very judicious and well written.

    I still wonder about a few things, but more about the way discussions about the CofE often go rather than your comments.

    I wonder how people can cling to the 39 articles as an authority, and yet ignore all the other authorities in the CofE which are quite unevangelical, and claim one represents the 'true heart of Anglicanism'.

    I also wonder about how 39 articles was understood at the time (I am not so well read as you so you may be able to tell me). My understanding is that they were an attempt to include as much as include - to exclude Roman Catholicism, but also not limit to puritanism of the time.

    I also wonder about the book of common prayer. So loved by many, and especially Anglican evangelicals. I love the Anglican liturgy (even Common Worship, flawed as it is) - although more because I love liturgy than I love the aspects of it that are 'Anglican'. I think this would put me against the puritans I so admire for they disliked the liturgy because it was liturgy.

    I just wander and wonder as you can see. I really need to do some reading, but perhaps you can contribute as well.

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