Saturday, February 03, 2007

William Tighe on the 39 Articles

"I think that the 'Anglican Catholics' ought to have repudiated the 39 Articles as a botch job, and if political considerations prevented them from doing so then, then they ought to do it as soon as possible. I will also admit that I have never been clear how much in the way of 'confessional status' the Affirmation of St. Louis has.

"I think, though, that in the light of Dr. Toon’s recent critique of the Affirmation precisely because of its clear commitment to the ecumenical status and dogmatic authority of the Seventh Council, it would behove Anglican Catholics to think seriously about repudiating the Articles, on the basis of their plasticity and incoherence if for no other reason, and substituting in their stead the Affirmation."

An interesting comment by Dr Tighe in a discussion going on over at Pontifications about a piece he wrote entitled "Can the 39 Articles Function as a Confessional Standard for Anglicans Today?"

6 comments:

Fr. Robert Hart said...

If not for Newman's interpretation, we would have to renounce the 39 Articles. Of course, Newman was not trying to arrive at an accurate assessment of their intended meaning. Rather, the object was to live with them (which eventually he could not do). Nonetheless, as much as it may contradict his later wishes, he did give us a way to live with them.

Nonetheless, it is quite ironic that so many people today believe the Articles are a Formulary, when in fact they vary (however slightly) throughout the Anglican churches, and have no such standing.

As for the Affirmation of Saint Louis, it cannot be said to contradict the Articles (thanks, again, to Newman's help). Furthermore, where it acknowledges the authority of the Catholic Church having reached a consensus in the days of its outward and visible unity, so strong as to be enshrined in Ecumenical Council universally affirmed, it gives weight where weight is due. An Ecumenical Council outranks a mere Anglican Article in authority. If the Articles really did contradict the Catholic Faith- unavoidably- then we would have to renounce them.

As for the Affirmation of St. Louis, we may as well consider it a Formulary to us. In his 2001 interview with David Virtue, Archbishop Morse certainly reaffirmed the Affirmation as a dividing line, a way of knwing who believes as we do, and who does not

Ohio Anglican said...

The Puritans were not a part of the Nobility/Aristocracy. The Puritans were largely from the class of prosperous merchants, many wealthier than the Nobility, however. Because of their wealth, the Puritans were a dangerous threat to the Anglican Church and especially the Monarchy. The 39 Articles were a cleverly written piece of propaganda designed to placate the Puritans and hopefully avoid a civil war between Puritans/Calvinists and the Monarchy and Anglicans. The 39 Articles are more significant for what the DON'T SAY, than what they do say. What they do say is misleading statements to trick the Puritans into thinking they were getting their way. What they DON'T SAY is everything necessary to preserve the undivided holy catholic faith. The only thing they really banished was Roman additions to the faith. For instance, one of the articles bans "Invocation of saints", which the Puritans took as banning everything to do with saints, no praying for the deceased, no praying for the saints, etc. In reality, all it banned was the invocation (opening line of address in the prayer) from being to a saint--the prayer must be addressed to God. But it didn't ban the saying of prayers for the deceased, they saying of prayers for the saints, or asking God to grant prayers of the saints for us. All of the 39 articles are like this. Nothing of the essentials of the catholic faith was destroyed by them. Today, they are nothing more than a historical document that stands as testimony to the dangerous threat posed by the Puritans. The Prayerbook teaches the catholic faith, and the 39 Articles were a necessary ruse to protect it. What the Puritans really wanted was to get rid of bishops and eliminate the word "priest" from the prayerbook. The Monarchy never allowed that to happen, knowing both were necessary to be a legitimate catholic church. The Affirmation of St. Louis is the foundation upon which Continuing Anglicanism is built. It is a firm foundation based on scipture, the three historic creeds, and the undivided catholic tradition. Why worry about the 39 Articles? We simply need to explain to our people that they are nothing but an historical document.

Ohio Anglican said...

We must remember that Protestant Reformation on the continent was as much an economic reformation as a religious one. Especially among those who became followers of John Calvin were the rising merchant class who wanted to get rid of bishops, nobility, and monarchy. They saw catholicism, in any form, Roman or Anglican, as a threat to their goals of building/achieving great wealth. Most historians/sociologists agree that the economic quest for wealth by the rising merchant class was by far the main force behind the Protestant Reformation, not religion. One thing that Calvin quickly got rid of was the Biblical/traditional teachings against "usery"--loaning money out to make interest. It is easy to see how that appealed to the business/merchant class of Puritans.

Alice C. Linsley said...

The 39 Articles are used as a confession by some Anglicans. Consider this statement from the Church of Nigeria: “The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) hereinafter called “The Church of Nigeria” or “This Church” shall be in full communion with all Anglican Churches Dioceses and Provinces that hold and maintain the Historic Faith, Doctrine, Sacrament and Discipline of the one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church as the Lord has commanded in His holy word and as the same are received as taught in the Book of Common Prayer and the ordinal of 1662 and in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion.”

However, it seems to me that the 39 Articles are unnecessary when a body holds to the doctrine and discipline of the one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

My latest post is relevant to this discussion. See Postscript to Septuagesima, High and Low, posted today.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

The Affirmation of St Louis has its foundational status enshrined in the earliest part of the ACC Constitution, which is not amendable. The same section re-affirms the commitment to Holy Tradition and the Ecumenical Councils. The 39 Articles are not mentioned anywhere however.

The TAC also prioritises the Affirmation in its Constitution, though I think it mentions the Articles as well.

I don't know what the APCK Constitution says.