Friday, July 01, 2011

Laymen's Guide to the Thirty-Nine Articles

Article XI
Of the Justification of Man
We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort; as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.

Tantum propter meritum Domini ac Servatoris nostri Jesu Christi, per fidem, non propter opera et merita nostra, iusti coram Deo reputamur. Quare sola fide nos iustificari, doctrina est saluberrima, ac consolationis plenissima; ut in Homilia de Iustificatione hominis Fusius explicatur.

Fr. Laurence Wells
In our headnote to the Homily "On the Salvation of Mankind" we have already observed that Article XI is the hinge on which all the Articles turn.  This is the point when we discover that the Articles are not just a series of bullet points, strung together like beads on a string, but actually contain a coherent Body of Divinity.  We are even tempted to say that Article XI makes the rest into something approaching a theological system.  This is the Article which gives point and thrust to all the others.     It is also notable that this article is outstanding in its dry and laconic style.  It contrasts therefore with the Homily it asks us to read, the Homily "On the Salvation of Mankind."  In that sermon/essay, we find a tone which approaches excitement:  ".... every man of necessity is constrained to seek for another righteousness or justification, to be received at GOD'S own hands, that is to say, the forgiveness of his sins and trespasses, in such things as he hath offended. And this justification or righteousness, which we so receive of GOD'S mercy and Christ's merits. embraced by faith, is taken, accepted and allowed of GOD, for our perfect and full justification."  We can almost envision the 16th century preacher pounding the pulpit and raising his voice.  We cannot understand Justification until we come to grips with the fact that it is an exciting idea.  Take note that the Article itself is entitled "Of the Justification OF MAN," and the Homily underlying it is entitled "Of the Salvation OF MANKIND."  Justification is a deeply personal issue.       
Let us begin by asking what Justification is , and what it is not.  A good starting point is Luke 18.14.  "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other."  In these words our Lord set forth two mutually exclusive alternatives, between which there is no compromise, no synthesis, no middle way whatever.  The alternatives refer, of course to the publican and the Pharisee.  There is no suggestion that each man was right in his own way or that they simply had different perceptions of truth or represented different strains of the same tradition, or lived in different corners of one big tent.  Instead, they personify two irreconcilable religions.  Their presence in the same temple at the same time is a superb touch of irony.     
Now what has happened to the publican?  Luke used the word "justified."  The publican is a very bad man in every possible respect.  As far as the parable goes, he walks out of the Temple with no internal change in his heart.  (That would be the topic of another parable.)  What has happened is that his legal status in the sight of God has been totally and finally reversed.  Like a felon emerging from a courtroom, his shackles removed, the publican has been vindicated, declared in the right, set free, and forever released.      
This is more than a little shocking, is it not?  As a rule we disapprove of judges who exonerate guilty criminals, and we are even more surprised at another parable in which our Lord compares God, rather obliquely, to an unjust judge (Lk 18).  The  point is that Divine justice utterly transcends any human notions of justice, since Divine justice and Divine grace are one.  "Is thine eye evil because I am good?"  
Justification means that God does indeed freely pardon and accept sinners as righteous in His sight, because the merit of a Redeemer has been assigned, accredited and accounted to them.  This is what happens when sinners look to Christ, call Him Saviour and acknowledge Him as Lord.  We are told that the publican "would not even look up to heaven."  That was commendable.  He does not strive for spirituality, he does not rely on his own religion, he does not claim any merit.  By not looking up to heaven, he looked to Christ crucified.  Justification is what happens when a lost human says, "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.  Christ took my place, died in my stead, endured the punishment I deserve, rose again to defeat my death, gave me new life, empowered me with His Spirit.  His merits belong to me and I claim His status as thy son.  Let me be acquitted, exonerated, vindicated in thy sight."         
But that is not the whole story.  A popular bumper-sticker reads, "God loves us enough to accept us as we are, but He loves us too much to leave us as we are."  God's loving acceptance of sinners, "Just as I am, without one plea," which we call Justification, is only part of the Gospel.  The lost sinner must not only be pardoned; he must also be rehabilitated.  It is not enough for God to change our legal standing; we must be internally transformed. That inward rehabilitation and transformation is called Sanctification.    
Now this is where we must make a very careful distinction.  We know only too well from painful experience that Sanctification in this present vale of tears is never complete.  We sinners are truly a work in progress, pilgrims "in via."  But even so, God's Justification of us is already a fait accompli.  A grammarian would point out that the term "justified" in Lk 18:14 is passive in voice (which suggests Divine action) and perfect in tense, which indicates a fixed and final state.  Luke might have written "having entered a process of justification," or "hoping to be justified at the Last Judgment." The publican, in God's good time, will become holier, as his inner man is progressively made new.  But he will never be any more righteous than at the moment when he cried out, "Lord be merciful."  God's decree of pardon is both objective and final.   
This distinction between Justification and Sanctification is mentioned in a couple of our hymns.  In his incomparable "Rock of Ages," Augustus Toplady wrote, "Be of sin the double cure, cleanse me from its guilt and power."  In Justification, we are cleansed from guilt, but the power of sin requires sanctification.  In "There is a green hill far away," Cecil Frances Alexander wrote, "He died that we might be forgiven, he died to make us good, That we might go at last to heaven, saved by his precious blood."  Although naive in tone, this lovely hymn shows theological sophistication in distinguishing forgiveness from transformation, just as both must be distinguished from our final exaltation.           
The Gospel, like a fine jewel, contains many facets.  Justification and Sanctification, necessarily distinguished, are only two.  We must not fail to mention Regeneration (our new birth into God's new creation), Adoption into God's family, (through which Christ becomes our Elder Brother), our final Glorification or Theosis when the Image of God, ruined by the Fall, is perfectly restored, and the distinction between Justification and Sanctification is ultimately erased.       
A "gospel" which exaggerates Justification at the expense of the other facets of salvation is a distorted message.  The balance and the tension must be maintained.  In the 16th century Revival of the Gospel that balance was simultaneously recovered and distorted.  The Mediaeval Church had largely but not totally lost the message of Justification.
What is the role of "Faith" in Justification?  The popular distortion goes somewhat like this:  Our good works cannot save us (true enough).  Therefore God makes His rules easier and says in effect, "Since you cannot keep the law, I will let you get by if only you have faith."  Faith then is turned into a meritorious commodity or "virtue" which (Pelagius smiles!) earns our salvation or at least enables God to change His rules. Faith is thus misconceived as something we have, rather than something we do.  I once met a person who told me, in a pious tone, "I have a lot of faith."  The parable of the mustard seed came to mind, along with Paul's condemnation of "boasting."  
Trusting in Christ, His cross and His victory, unites us to Him so that His merits are ours and truly belong to us.  We are not declared righteous because we have faith; we are awarded that status because we through faith share that status with Him.  Our faith is simply the means by which we grab hold of Him.  It is the finger which touches the hem of His garment.  The full form of the slogan is therefore not "Justification by Faith Alone," but "Justification by Christ's Merits Accounted to those united to Him by believing on Him."    
So where does this leave us?  What happened next in the story of the publican?  When he went down "to his house" in his new legal status of vindication and exoneration, what sort of "house" did he live in from that point?  His inward spiritual health has only begun to recover, and a long process of sanctification lies before him.  But his legal standing can never be better!  This is the miracle and the paradox of Justification.  Luther and Calvin were never more correct than when they coined the slogan "simul iustus et peccator."  (Latinists will ruminate on the precise significance of the "et," when the Reformers might have said "aut," or "vel" or "simul iustus peccatorque”).           
A believer in Christ is, at one and the same time, a sinner and a righteous man.  He does not bounce back and forth from being "in a state of sin" and "a state of grace," hoping somehow to be in the right condition when he draws his last breath.  This paradox (which still remains the unresolved issue between Evangelical and Roman concepts of Justification) truly reveals a deep tension in Christian existence, as the Christian knows himself to be utterly unworthy of the  robe, the ring, and the fatted calf prepared for him.  But "whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our hearts and he knows everything" (1 Jn 3.20).  He knows our sins as yet unconquered, He knows what was accomplished for us on the Cross, and He knows that merely by faith we are truly "in Christ."  
St Paul understood this tension, between "iustus" and "peccator" and dealt with it head on in Romans 7.  After an intensely emotional discussion of the problem of lingering sin in the life of the Christian, Paul burst out, "Wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?"  Only one answer will do: "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord."
·         * *
The following are recommended for further study.
1. Alister E. McGrath, Justification by Faith.  Zondervan, 1988.  176 pages.
            If you are able to read only one book on the topic, make it this one.  But it has an excellent             bibliography at the end.
2. Alister E. McGrath, Iustitia Dei, A History of the Christian Doctrine of JustificationCambridge University Press, 1986.  532 pages.
            Far more technical, but invaluable for showing how theologians have wibbled and wobbled
            down through the centuries.
3. Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, Cranmer and Hooker on Justification.  Perhaps 150 ages 
            I have misplaced my copy and do not have publication data, but it is invaluable for establishing the classical Anglican position. As I recall, the Prayer Book Society had something to do with its distribution. 
4. Thomas Oden, The Justification Reader.  Eerdmans, 2002.  163 pages.
In defiance of those who would drive a wedge between Patristic and Reformational doctrine, Oden concludes, "The major Reformers' appeals to Sola Scriptura, Sola gratia, and Sola fide are found abundantly in the patristic interpreters of Scripture."  Oden's credentials for making such an assessment are evidenced  by the fact that he is General Editor of the "Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture" series. 
5. Hans Kung, SJ, Justification, The Doctrine of Karl Barth and a Catholic Reflection.  Westminster-John Knox Press, 1964.  332 pages.
            Although Kung's proposal has not been totally endorsed by the Roman Catholic Church to which he belongs, his assessment of the Tridentine doctrine of Justification has not been refuted or answered. Among many striking insights, he finds simul iustus et peccator in the Mass of Pius V.
6. J. V. Fesko, Justification, Understanding the Classic Reformed Doctrine.  P & R, 2008.  461 pages.
            Unless you are prepared for intellectual rigor, avoid this book at all costs.  But it happens to be my favorite on this list.  Fesko's rebuttal of N. T. Wright is persuasive.

* * * * * * * * *
Fr. Robert Hart
Did the German Reformer, Martin Luther, take liberties with Romans 3:28? We are often told that he did, by adding the word “alone” (allein) when translating the Gutenberg Bible.

So halten wir nun dafür, daß der Mensch gerecht werde ohne des Gesetzes Werke, allein durch den Glauben. 

The Authorized Bible (or King James Version, 1611) comes across with economy of words, to say, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Notice, the word “alone” is not present.
          Now, it may be asked, Why take the time to look at the question of the German Reformer’s work to comment on an English Article? The answer is, Because the Article reflects Luther’s translation of that verse, and even throws in the Latin phrase sola fide, rendered “faith only” in the translation. At this point, some may object, we seem to have sailed off the edge.
          Before we go any further, let us consider Luther’s justification for adding this word “allein.” He said: “I know very well that in the original text this word does not occur. Nevertheless it belongs in any good German translation… Whenever we place two things in opposition and want to make clear that we acknowledge or accept the one and reject the other, we use the word ‘only.’ ‘The farmer brings no money but corn only.’ ‘No, at the moment I really have no money, but only grain.’ ‘I have only eaten, but not yet drunk.’ ‘Have you only written, without rereading?’ This is the form which we use in countless expressions: over against ‘not’ or ‘none’ we have the word ‘only,’ to make the contrast clear.”
          A Roman Catholic writer, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, came to Luther’s defense, “[Among] the points that Luther made in his defense of the added adverb were that it was demanded by the context and that sola was used in the theological tradition before him." These include Origen, Hillary, Basil, Ambrosiaster, John Chrysostom, Augustine, Cyril of Alexandria, Theophylact, Theodoret, Thomas Aquinas, Bernard, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Marius and Victorinus.[1] The facts, therefore, show that (once again) an alleged “Protestant innovation” has a strong catholic tradition behind it.
          The argument concerning the context is simple and straightforward, that faith here is separate from "the works of the Law.” That is the sense of the verse, even read in isolation from the text; and when read in context we find that the works of the Law, about which Paul writes, denote man’s efforts to make himself righteous before God. St. Paul’s point is simply that we are bound in sin, incapacitated by the Fall, unable to make ourselves righteous by our own strength.
          The obvious irony is that failure to do good works, when we have opportunity, is itself a sin. If we use the old term, “sin of omission” (“by what we have left undone”), what great reward ought we to have for simple obedience? Jesus taught us, “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.” (Luke 17:10). Should a man imagine that he has attained to God’s standard of perfect justice because he refrained from committing adultery, or stealing, or committing murder, when opportunity arose? If not, how can anyone suppose that he merits justification and forgiveness by some sort of “balancing of the books” with good works? No. In fact it only adds to the weight of guilt if we fail to do them, and profits nothing that we do our duty.
When opportunity arises, therefore, because we ourselves are sinners and incapable of attaining to God’s perfect standard of justice, even the good works we do cannot be free from the nature of sin (as we shall see in Article XII). That is not because the works are sinful, but because we are sinners - even at our best. No matter how good we may feel by having done the works of the Law, we could not have done them perfectly by God’s standard; not because He is unjust, but because He is perfectly just. He is not impressed, and owes no reward: “We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.
What then of the apparent conflict with the second chapter of the Epistle of St. James? In a recent sermon I wrote the following:

“But, it appears at first glance that James contradicts Paul. ‘What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.’ (James 2:14-18) 
“After citing examples from the Old Testament (Abraham & Rahab), James comes right out with the most direct line of all, seeming to contradict Paul: ‘Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.’ (v.24)
          “So, which is right? Is it Paul, who says, ‘a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law’? or James who says, ‘by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.’ Both men are right, both agree, for both were inspired to write their doctrine by the Holy Spirit who guided them in what to say.
          Paul spoke of works of the Law, and James spoke of works of faith. Paul explained that the Law cannot make anyone righteous, but that only faith can justify; and James explained that faith is evident by works. If we find a passage that sums up what both men were saying, in full agreement, it from Paul’s Epistle to the Church in Ephesus:
“’For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.’ (Eph. 2:8-10)
“Paul, again to the Galatians: ‘For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.’ (Gal. 5:6) And, to the Corinthians, ‘And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.’ (I Cor. 13:13) ‘Faith without works is dead, being alone… For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also,’ James tells us. This works well with Paul’s doctrine, that faith is accompanied by love. James says that we show faith by our works, and Paul tells us that faith ‘works by love.’” 

Faith will express itself in works that spring from love, and not just any love. It comes from the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5).
So, what then of Luther’s “alone”? Is the teaching of sola fide a heresy or innovation? Did the German Reformer presume to translate with too much liberty? Perhaps, but if so he was nonetheless firmly within the Catholic Tradition. Neither was he trying to deny the teaching of James; certainly no more than James was trying to deny the teaching of St. Paul, the Apostle who wrote the original Greek version of Romans 3:28. [2]
Wherefore that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort.” Why? Because if we had to earn our own salvation, or make ourselves worthy of it by attaining to God’s perfectly just standard, we would have no hope. Had we no impediment in ourselves by the Fall, as Pelagius taught, we might be able to reach perfect righteousness. But, the truth is, if we tried to save ourselves by our own ability, instead of relying on the Lord Jesus Christ Who is our righteousness (I Cor. 1:30), we would have nothing to look forward to, but only fear at the Last Judgment. So, thank God for the Catholic and Evangelical doctrine of sola fide.

* * * *
1. Fitzmyer, Joseph A.  Romans, A New Translation with introduction and Commentary, The Anchor Bible Series (New York: Doubleday, 1993) 360-361].
2. Contrary to popular belief, Luther did not call the Epistle of James an “epistle of straw” exactly. Rather he wrote: St. John's Gospel and his first Epistle, St. Paul's Epistles, especially those to the Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, and St. Peter's Epistle-these are the books which show to thee Christ, and teach everything that is necessary and blessed for thee to know, even if you were never to see or hear any other book of doctrine. Therefore, St. James' Epistle is a perfect straw-epistle compared with them, for it has in it nothing of an evangelic kind.” (Preface to the New Testament)  
..........That is not to say that he denied the place of the Epistle in the Canon, or its Divine Inspiration, but that he deemed it less useful than other books for learning the Gospel. His opinion in the preface is merely that: His opinion. It belongs rightly to academic argument.


Jack Miller said...

Fr. Wells,

I am wont to copy and paste several portions of your essay, but I won't. Best to read and read again. I have delved into, more or less extensively, the likes of Stott, Packer, Horton, Fesko, Keller, Luther, Calvin, Cranmer and others over the years on this doctrine. Your essay is as succinct and theologically solid Biblical teaching on justification as one could hope for in such short space. Doctrinal while pastoral.

I hope the best for the ACC. You may know my rather pessimistic (Puddleglum?) take on the state of the continuing churches. With clergymen like you and Fr. Hart... who knows what God may do...

My thanks for your service to the saints scattered throughout the land.


Anonymous said...


Even though our dear Archbishop Haverland has expressed some distaste for the controversy over justification, that doesn't mean his grace doesn't think it unimportant. I get a little concerned when it becomes a point of division among Anglicans. Even among the Westminster Divines there was a controversy over whether justification included Christ's active obedience. Protestants should have a little latitude here. I like the work of Dunn, Wright, and Sanders here, and we shouldn't fear re-engagement on the topic, and not suspect the Gospel is in trouble just because some luminaries have differing thoughts. That said, I agree with Cranmer and Hooker here, but I just think more can be said.

Steven Augustine
ACC Layman

Jack Miller said...

Hello Stephen,

Thank you for your comments. I have no insight at all regarding the Archbishop's views or feelings on justification by faith only or discussions on that topic.

As far as justification being a point of division among Anglicans... if the purpose is to avoid divisions then let's avoid any doctrinal controversy, as it could lead to disunity. Article XI, in the words of Fr. Wells, "This is the Article which gives point and thrust to all the others," echoes Luther's "this is the article upon which the church stands or falls..." Secondly, I would call to mind Fr. Hart's words a while back that (to paraphrase) unity can only come about through truth.

I have no desire to create controversy or division, yet this article on "justification by faith only" is the heart of the good news of God. With all due respect, N.T. Wright muddies this doctrine (by conflating it with sanctification) and thus muddies the gospel (similarly to how the RCC does). Rather than fear engagement on the topic, I consider it imperative that whenever this perspicuous Scriptural doctrine is weakened, changed, or called into question as to the instrument (faith) by which the sinner is accounted righteous, i.e. pardoned for his sins and declared righteous through faith in Christ alone... solely by God's grace, it should be addressed.

Bringing up the Westminster Divines as support for varying views on justification just doesn't wash. Yes, there were some differing minority voices over how to understand the connection of Christ's active obedience to the believer's status before God. There always has been. But the Reformers, Continental and English, were of one mind on this as is expressed in all of the Lutheran and Reformed confessions of which the 39 Articles is one.

The latitude, I think, is that believers who lack understanding here or even hold unBiblical views of justification are nonetheless dear and loved christians fully accepted by Christ and the church. But by extension that does not legitimize every view of this doctrine or allow the church to teach them as potentially valid and acceptable.

Thomas Cranmer, along with rejecting transubstantiation and the authority of the Pope, was martyred for this very doctrine as taught by Fr. Well's and Fr. Hart. And to this very day the RCC's official teaching in Trent calls down an anathema upon any who hold it. Dom Gregory Dix summed up Cranmer's position pretty well when he said that the 1552 Book of Common Prayer stands as the only effective attempt ever made to give liturgical expression to the doctrine of “justification by faith alone”.

Though I am exercised regarding Article XI (and XII which further's its teaching), it is with without ill-will, seeing this discussion as consistent with "contending for the faith once delivered" which is at the center of the Church's calling in this age.

May we all be beneficiaries of the Holy Spirit leading the Church into all truth... and may that be expressed in the Lord's people as "faith working through love."

God's blessings to you my brother,

Anonymous said...

Thank you, brother Jack, for your candor. I don't mean to say every exposition of the doctrine of justification is as good as another, and moreover it is ruinous to the Gospel if gotten flat out wrong. The only thing I am trying to guard against is any hint of universalizing a particular expression while absolutely anathematizing any variant understanding. I think of some more extreme reformed proponents who feel the Gospel is obliterated if one does not accept unconditional election, and most sane orthodox Christians will at once see the futility in making such an assertion, for at once half of Christendom would be deemed heretical and outside the fold of True Believers.

Sola fide has been subject of fruitful dialogue, and to Rome's credit some of her own luminaries see the validity in classical Protestant expressions on this subject. Nevertheless most of the Universal Church didn't get the memo that genothema can only be interpreted forensically (I myself am not sure what Paul meant 100%). That's not to say it's unresolvable, but a churchman infected with a little bit of Osiander's theology is the least of my worries. It's the one who thinks he can leverage divine favor by some works of righteousness he has done that I worry about...

At the end of the day I confess my acceptance before God is pure gift, His verdict received by faith only. The life of faith is the necessary outcome lest I kill the gift of faith through constant disobedience.


Steven Augustine
ACC Layman

If you desire to correspond via email, you can reach me at Anglican Thomist [at] g mail dot com (omitting spaces of course)

Brian said...

I am grateful that this post stresses the absolute centrality of this doctrine--both to Anglicanism and our status before God. The ordinariate crowd proves that they were never truly Anglican by being willing to give up this pearl of great price for a mess of Roman pottage. The genius of Anglicanism is that it shows how a catholic ecclesiology and biblical/reformed soteriology support each other.

Fr. Wells said...

"The genius of Anglicanism is that it shows how a catholic ecclesiology and biblical/reformed soteriology support each other."

The great Princeton theologian B. B. Warfield wrote that in the theology of St. Augustine there is what he (Warfield) called a "tension" between the doctrine of salvation and the doctrine of the Church. Warfield opined that in the 16th century, this tension erupted in the split between Rome and the magisterial Reformers.
Someone might have suggested to "the lion of Princeton" that the tension (if indeed that is the right word) was truly maintained and preserved in classical Anglicanism. It probably explains very well the tugging and pulling between two tendencies in true Anglicanism.

And yes, I agree about the Ordinariate crowd. They never knew what Anglicanism is. Too bad for them.

Jack Miller said...

Hello again Stephen,

you wrote: The only thing I am trying to guard against is any hint of universalizing a particular expression while absolutely anathematizing any variant understanding.

I would agree to a point... but would add that we should nonetheless strive to understand what the Scripture teaches on justification and thus what the Church should teach. It is not obscure nor vague. But I would say that some may consider it "scandalous" or "foolish."

Too often the understanding of the forensic aspect of justification is mischaracterized as a "legal fiction" by those who don't understand it and simply seek to marginalize it. And as a result they do change justification in such a way as to place the believer's standing before God at least partially upon his own efforts to attain some level of righteousness, undermining the good news of the "good news." By the way, this is the first of many problems with N.T. Wright's teaching... he misrepresents (apparently out of ignorance?) the teaching on justification held in the various Reformed confessions and then argues from a false premise.

also wrote: I think of some more extreme reformed proponents who feel the Gospel is obliterated if one does not accept unconditional election, and most sane orthodox Christians will at once see the futility in making such an assertion, for at once half of Christendom would be deemed heretical and outside the fold of True Believers.

Who are these so-called "extreme proponents" who are set against the "sane orthodox?" ;-) This seems a bit of a straw man. I do hold that God's unconditional election is indeed foundational to God's sovereign grace and the redemptive work of Christ. As did Archbishop Thomas Cranmer as noted in his "Commonplaces" and other writings. You may be arguing against your own Anglican heritage... ;-)

No Magisterial Reformers, be they of Geneva, Zurich, Anglican or the Presbyterians of the Westminster Confession of Faith have ever deemed someone not a Christian because one did not personally hold to the doctrine of unconditional election.


Curate said...

It is encouraging to know that there are Anglicans who both believe in sola fide, and actively teach it.

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