The Thirty-Nine Articles – Part One
By Bishop J.C. Ryle (1816-1900), Bishop of Liverpool , England
The Thirty-nine Articles are a brief and condensed statement, under thirty-nine heads or propositions, of what the Church of England regards as the chief doctrines, which her chief members ought to hold and believe. They were, most of them, gathered by our Reformers out of Holy Scripture. They were carefully packed up and summarized in the most accurate and precise language, of which every word was delicately weighed, and had a special meaning. Some of the Articles are positive, and declare directly what the Church of England regards as Bible truth and worthy of belief. Some of them are negative, and declare what the Church of England considers erroneous and unworthy of credence. Some few of them are simple statements of the Church's judgment on points, which were somewhat controverted, even among Protestants, 300 years ago, and on which Churchmen might need an expression of opinion. Such is the document commonly called the Thirty-nine Articles; and all who wish to read it will find it at the end of every properly printed Prayer-book. At all events, any Prayer-book which does not contain the Articles is a most imperfect, mutilated, and barely honest copy of the Liturgy.
When and by whom were these Articles first drawn up? They were first composed by our Reformers in the days of that admirable young King, Edward the Sixth. Who had the chief hand in the work, history does not reveal; but there is every reason to believe that Cranmer and Ridley our two most learned martyrs, had more to do with it than any. When first sent forth, they were forth-two in number. Afterwards, when Queen Elizabeth came to the throne, they were reduced by Archbishop Parker and his helpers, of whom Bishop Jewell was probably the chief, to their present number, with a few unimportant alterations. They were finally confirmed and ratified by Crown, Convocation, and Parliament, in the year 1571, and from 1571 down to this day not a single word in them has been altered.
The object for which the Articles were drawn up is clearly stated in the title of them, which any one will find in a proper Prayer-book. They are called “Articles agreed upon by the Archbishops and Bishops of both provinces, and the whole clergy, in the Convocation holden at London in the year 1562, for avoiding of diversities of opinion, and for the establishment of consent touching true religion.” About the real, plain, honest meaning of this title, I think there ought to be no doubt. It proves that the Thirty-nine Articles are intended to be “the Church of England 's Confession of faith.” Every well-organized Church throughout Christendom has its Confession of faith: that is, it has a carefully composed statement of the main things in religion, which it considers its members ought to believe. Every reading man know this. The Augsburg Confession, the Creed of Pope Plus IV., the Decrees of the Council of Trent, the Westminister Confession, are documents with which every student of ecclesiastical history is familiar.
Common sense shows the necessity and convenience of such Confessions. In a fallen world like this the terms of membership in any ecclesiastical corporation must be written down in black and white, or else the whole body is liable to fall into disorder and confusion. Every member of a Church ought to be able to render a reason of his membership, and to say what are the great principles of his Church. To do this his Church supplies him with a short creed, manual, or Confession, to which at any time he may refer inquirers. This was the object of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England. They were intended to be “the Churchman's Confession of his faith.”
But taking them for all in all, as a Church's statement of things to be believed, I think that no Church on earth has a better “Confession of faith” than the Church of England. I have no wish to find fault with other Churches. God forbid! We have faults and defects enough to keep us humble within the Anglican Communion. But after carefully examining other Confessions of faith, I find none, which seem comparable to our own. Some Confessions are too long. Some go into particulars too much. Some define what had better be left undefined, and shut up sharply what had better be left a little open. For a combination of fullness, boldness, clearness, brevity, moderation, and wisdom, I find no Confession, which comes near the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England.
The perilous position of the Church of England requires all her sons to spread light and information. He that would know what a true Churchman is, must be content to begin by finding out what is meant by “the Thirty-nine Articles.”
A Father/Son breakfast took place on Saturday, May 5, 2012, at 9:30 a.m. Delicious food and fellowship were enjoyed by all. There was a nautical theme and Rev. Levi spoke about Peter walking on the water to Jesus (Mt. 14:22-33). We thank the ladies of the Women's Guild.
There was a Work Day at the church on Saturday, May 19, 2012. Thanks goes to George Yapp for organizing this work day. We thank Cheryl Yapp for the food and a thank you goes to those who were able to come out and help.
St. Andrew's Preschool had it's final day on Thursday, May 24, 2012, with the 3's & 4's Program and 4's Graduation. Those in attendance thoroughly enjoyed the children's performances. Some sang solos including our own church children, Will Garrison and Lexie Tjoelker. Audrey Garrison was a cheerleader with Lexie, and Joseph Tjoelker, one of our 3's, was up there in the program as well. The 4's and 5's always draw a story of their favorite things.
SPECIAL MUSIC FOR THE SUMMER MONTHS
After Trinity Sunday the choir takes the summer off and we have Special Music from those who like to play instruments or sing. Come to our summer services and hear even some of our youth and children sharing their many talents. See Sunny Stiklius, our Music Director, if you'd like to be involved.
WOMEN'S GUILD RUMMAGE & BAKE SALE
Dates for this fund-raiser are scheduled for Saturdays, June 16 & 23, 2012. The time is 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. both days. Start bringing your items in to sell. Proceeds go to our mission outreaches.
MISSION WORK of the MONTH
Please pray for Love INC ( Love I n the N ame C hrist) of Tinley Park and our new Executive Director, Kimberly Sullivan. There will be a love offering taken every 5 th Sunday to help support this new mission for the needy. Seven church including St. Andrew's are launching this outreach. For history, mission and values: LoveINC.org
Rev. Robert Novak
Frank Levi Jr.