Dale Appleby

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Weekly Reflections

Introducing the Anglican Church: 1. Holy Scripture 1 June14

Introducing the Anglican Church: 1. Holy Scripture

 How do we know what the Anglican Church officially teaches? The place to start is with the 39 Articles. These can be found in the back of any Prayer Book. They were developed at the time of the Reformation to clarify the beliefs of the Church of England as distinct from the church of Rome, the Lutherans, the Anabaptists and other groups. They remain as one of the foundation documents of the Anglican Church of Australia. We will look at some of them in a simple modern English version (the original 16th and 17th century version is in the Prayer Book).

Article 6. About the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for salvation

Holy Scripture contains all things necessary for salvation. No one should be required to believe as an article of the Faith, or to think necessary for salvation, anything that is not read in, or may be proved by, the Holy Scripture. The Holy Scripture are those Canonical Books of the Old and New Testament whose authority was never doubted in the Church. And the other Books (as Jerome said) the Church reads for example of life and instruction in behaviour; but it does not use them to establish any doctrine. All the Books of the New Testament, as they are commonly received, we receive and regard them as Canonical.

The Anglican Church bases its doctrine and practice on the scriptures.

 

“Holy Scripture contains all things necessary for salvation.” This means that there is enough information in the scriptures to tell us the truth about the Christian faith, Christian behaviour, and how to be saved. All our theology must be based on the scriptures. This is one reason why Anglicans think the scriptures are so important, and why we make sure that the sermon is about passages and ideas from the Bible.

The Article states the Anglican position over against both the Council of Trent (which gave equal authority to the traditions handed down in the Catholic Church), and some of the extreme Protestants who gave too much authority to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers.

The books of the Old Testament Apocrypha were listed as part of the Canon by the (Roman Catholic) Council of Trent, but the Anglican church does not use those books as the basis for doctrine. See more here.

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