THE THIRTY-NINE ARTICLES – PART 3
By Bishop J.C. Ryle (1816-1900), Bishop of Liverpool , England
Let us mark, then for one thing, as we read the Articles, the strong and decided language, which they use in speaking of things which are essential to salvation.
Concerning the nature of God and the Holy Trinity, concerning the sufficiency and authority of Scripture, concerning the sinfulness and helplessness of natural man, concerning justification by faith alone, concerning the place and value of good works, concerning salvation only by the name of Christ; concerning all these grand foundations of the Christian religion, it is hard to conceive language more decided, clear, distinct, ringing, and trumpet-toned than that of the Thirty-nine Articles. There is no doubtfulness, or hesitancy, or faltering, or timidity, or uncertainty, or compromise about their statements.
I ask special attention to this point. We live in days when many loudly declare that it is not right to be positive about anything in religion. The clergyman who dares to say of any theological question, “This is true, and that is false, this is right, and that is wrong,” is pretty sure to be denounced as a narrow-minded, illiberal, uncharitable man. Nothing delights many Churchmen so much as to proclaim that they “belong to no party,” that they are “moderate men,” that they “hold no extreme views.” Well! I only ask these Churchmen to settle matters with the Thirty-nine Articles. I want no clergyman to go a bit beyond the authoritative statements of his own Church; but I do want every clergyman not to fall below them. And I shall always maintain, publicly or privately, that to call any one an “extreme” man, or a “party” man, because his doctrinal views are in harmony with the bold, decided statements of the Articles, is neither just, nor fair, nor reasonable, nor consistent with common sense. Give me the clergyman who, after reading the Articles to his congregation, and solemnly promising to abide by them, acts up to his promise, and speaks out boldly, decidedly, and unhesitatingly, like a man, about all the leading doctrines of Christianity. As for the clergyman who, after declaring his assent to the Articles, flinches from their doctrinal distinctness, and preaches hesitatingly, as if he hardly knew what he believed, I am sorry for him. He may be a charitable, a liberal, and a learned man, but he is not in the right place in the pulpit of the Church of England.
Let us mark, in, the next place, as we read the Articles, their studied moderation about things non-essential to salvation, and things about which good Christian men may differ.
About sin after baptism, about predestination and election, about the definition of the Church, about the ministry, about the ceremonies and rights of every particular or national Church, about all these points it is most striking to observe the calm, gentle, tender, conciliatory tone which runs throughout the Articles; a tone the more remarkable when contrasted with the firm and decided language on essential points, to which I have just been referring.
It is clear as day light to my mind, that the authors of the Articles intended to admit the possibility of difference on the points, which I have just been enumeration. They saw the possibility of men differing about predestination and election, as Fletcher and Toplady did. How cautious are their statements, and how carefully guarded and fenced! They believed that there might be Churches differently organized to our own, that there might be many good Christian ministers who were not Episcopalians, and many useful rites and ceremonies of worship unlike those of the Church of England. They take care to say nothing, which could possibly give offence. They scrupulously avoid condemning and denouncing other Churches and other Christians. In short, their maxim seems to have been, “in necessariis unitas, in non-necessaris libertas, in omnibus caritas.” (In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things love.)
Let us mark, in the third place, as we read the Articles, their wise, discreet, and well-balanced statements about the Sacraments. They declare plainly the divine authority of Baptism and the Lord's Supper. They use high and reverent language about them both, as means of grace, “by the which God doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but strengthen and confirm our faith in Him.”
But after saying all this, it is most instructive to observe how carefully the Articles repudiate the Romish doctrine of grace being imparted by the Sacraments “ex opere operato.” (On the basis fo the action performed.) “The Sacraments,” say the Twenty-fifth Article, “were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon, or to be carried about, but that we should duly use them. And in such only as worthily receive the same they have a wholesome effect or operation.”
Let us mark, in the fourth place, as we read the Articles, the thoroughly Protestant spirit which runs throughout them, and the boldness of their language about Romish error.
What says the Nineteenth Article? “The Church of Rome hath erred, not only in living and manner of ceremonies, but also in matters of faith.”
What says the Twenty-second Article? “The Romish doctrine concerning purgatory, pardons, worshipping and adoration, as well of images as of reliques, and also of invocation of saints, is a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.”
What says the Twenty-eighth Article? It declares that “transubstantiation, or the change of the substance of bread and wine in the Lord's Supper, cannot be proved by Holy Writ, is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a sacrament , and hath given occasion to many superstitions.” It also declares that “the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.” [To be continued next month]
A patriotic concert, “God Bless America !” to raise funds for Love INC, took place at St. Andrew's Sunday afternoon, July 1, 2012. “Love in The Name of Christ of Tinley Park ” is a newly formed non-profit organization that is dedicated to mobilizing our local Christian churches to help people in need. The concert was organized by Patty Levi and included performances by our own members and children as well as members of several other churches. There were over 100 people at the event with $1,000.67 in donations received. Music, fellowship, and refreshments were enjoyed by all.
The ladies of the church had a baby shower for Charlotte Corbett on Saturday, July 28, 2012. The baby is due in October.
A 5th Sunday Pot Luck was enjoyed by all following church on Sunday, July 29, 2012. An offering for Love INC was received at that time.
PRESCHOOL & KG OPEN HOUSE
Sunday, August 26, 2012 from 2:00-4:00 p.m.
Sunday, September 9, 2012
Sunday School resumes, and there will be a picnic after church.
Saturday, Sept. 29, starting at 9:00 a.m.
October 14, 2012 Carry-In Dinner
Bishop Royal U. Grote will be with us Sunday, Oct. 14. All Saints' will join with us on that Sunday for worship and fellowship.
John Arthur McNeill, 49, passed away July 19, 2012 in Florida . He is survived by his parents, John & Joan; brothers, Jay and Jim; and sister, Julie. John grew up at St. Andrew's. A special Memorial Service will be held here in September.
MISSION NEEDS of the MONTH
Please pray for the people in the Pokhara area in Nepal . Several Christians died in the floods there in June, homes were lost and widows and families are struggling. Rev. Rinzi Lama, president of the Anglican Church in Nepal , writes, “We are collecting clothes, funds for re-settlement and just to buy food. Please lift up (our relief efforts) in your prayers.” An Anglican Church building was severely damaged and now stands too close to a cliff created by the flood to be safe for use. It will have to be replaced. Gifts for this “ Nepal Relief” ministry for the church and people through the Diocese of Singapore and the Anglican Church in Nepal can be addressed to the REC Board of Foreign Missions, 4141 Dayflower Dr. , Katy, TX 77449 or online at recbfm.org/missions/Nepal.2012flood (See photographs at this website)
Rev. Frank Levi
Rev. Phil Tjoelker