The Thirty Nine Articles in Thirty Nine Tweets
The Thirty Nine Articles, which were completed in 1571, are the Church of England’s confessional statement. They were designed to set out the orthodox Christian faith as contained in the Bible and the Fathers over against the errors of Rome on the one hand and the radical Protestant sects on the other. Alongside the Book of Common Prayer and the 1662 Ordinal they are one of the three ‘historic formularies’ that help to determine the official doctrine of the Church of England.
What follows is my attempt to summarise the Articles in thirty nine tweets that were originally posted on my twitter feed, @MartinBDavie .
Art 1. God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is eternal, incorporeal and all powerful, wise and good. He created and sustains everything.
Art 2. Jesus is both God and Man. He was born of a virgin, and was crucified, died and buried to sort out all that is wrong with us.
Art 3. After Jesus died for us and was buried he went to the place of the dead as a disembodied soul.
Art 4. Jesus rose from death with a normal human body with which he ascended into heaven where he sits at God’s right hand until he comes as judge.
Art 5. The Holy Spirit has his being (proceeds) from the Father and the Son and is as fully and eternally God as they are.
Art 6. Bible = 39 books in Old Testament and 27 in New. It tells you all you need to know to be saved. Apocrypha is good for morals.
Art 7. In both the OT and the NT eternal life is offered through Christ. The moral commandments in the OT are still binding for Christians today.
Art 8. The Apostles, Nicene and Athanasian Creeds should be received and believed because what they say can be proved from Scripture.
Art 9. Original sin is not imitating Adam, but is the corruption of our nature inclining us to evil and making us liable to God’s wrath.
Art 10. Only the grace of God in Jesus Christ can give us the ability to do those good works that are pleasant and acceptable to God.
Art 11. We are right with God because of Christ and not because of what we do or deserve. For more details see the Homily on Justification.
Art 12. Good works cannot save us, but they are pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ and are the sign and fruit of a living faith.
Art 13. The good works we do before we are justified do not make us deserve God’s grace because they are a form of sin.
Art 14. We can never claim credit with God for doing more than he requires of us.
Art 15. Christ is like us in all things except sin. The rest of us are still sinners even if we have been baptised and born again.
Art 16. Even serious and deliberate sins commited after baptism can be forgiven if we truly repent. Sin is a reality so is forgiveness.
Art 17. Predestination is true. Worrying about it is dangerous. We must receive God’s promises and follow his will as set out in the Bible.
Art 18. We cannot be saved by our religion or philosophy or living by natural law, but only by Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).
Art 19. Faithful people + the pure Word preached + the sacraments = the visible Church. Like other ancient churches, Rome has erred.
Art 20. The Church may make decisions about worship and doctrine, but its authority to do this is limited by what is taught in Scripture.
Art 21. General Councils need Princely sanction. They can err so what they say about salvation needs to be checked out against Scripture.
Art 22. The teaching of the Church of Rome about pardons, relics and the cult of the saints is a human invention contrary to Scripture.
Art 23. Only those who are lawfully called and sent by those with authority to do so should preach the word and celebrate the sacraments.
Art 24. The Bible and the Early Church say don’t hold services in a language that people cannot understand.
Art 25. Jesus instituted 2 sacraments, Baptism + Lord’s Supper. They are effective means of grace to be used in the way Jesus intended.
Art 26. Evil ministers should be removed, but their wickedness does not prevent the grace of God being given to us via word and sacrament.
Art 27. Baptism is not only a sign of Christian belonging but an effective sign of our new birth. Child baptism is theologically ok.
Art 28. At the Lord’s Supper believers receive the body and blood of Christ in a ‘heavenly and spiritual manner’ and through faith.
Art 29. The wicked do not receive Christ at the Lord’s Supper, but simply eat bread and drink wine to their own condemnation.
Art 30. All Christians should receive both bread and wine at the Lord’s Supper because Jesus said so.
Art 31. Christ’s death on the cross is the only solution for all sin. This means it is wrong to offer the Mass as a sacrifice for sin.
Art 32. The Bible doesn’t say that clergy should either marry or not marry. They are therefore free to decide what God wants them to do.
Art 33. Excommunicated people ought to be excluded from the Church community until they publicly repent and are officially restored.
Art 34. All churches don’t have to be the same and can change what they do. Churches to be obeyed except if they act against the Bible.
Art 35. The First and Second Books of Homilies contain sound and useful material and so should be read out in a way people can understand.
Art 36. The 1552 Ordinal contains everything necessary to consecrate and ordain people and nothing that is superstitious or ungodly.
Art 37. The monarch has God given authority in this country but the Pope does not. Capital punishment and military service are both OK.
Art 38. Christians do not have to hold all their possessions in common, but those who can should give generously to those who are in need.
Art 39. Vain and rash swearing ‘no.’ Swearing responsibly in a legal context in order to uphold truth and justice ‘yes.’