What Are The 39 Articles Of Religion?
The Thirty-nine Articles of Religion or the XXXIX Articles are the rules, regulations, and practices of the Church of England after the English Reformation. These Thirty-nine Articles are a portion of the Book of Common Prayer that is used by both The Episcopal Church and the Church of England.
When Were The Articles Of Faith Written?
These articles came about after Henry VIII broke away from the Roman Catholic Church after he was excommunicated in 1533. Excommunication means that Henry VIII was thrown out of the church because he claimed he was the ultimate authority in his church. After breaking with the Pope, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Rome, Henry VIII put the monarch of England (himself, at the time) as the head of the Church of England. The Articles were first established as the Ten Articles in 1536.
These original articles defined the Church of England in comparison to the rules of the Roman Catholic Church and to the Protestant Reformation.These documents were written and revised over a 30 year period between when Henry VIII was excommunicated and when Elizabeth I was excommunicated in 1570. The Thirty-nine Articles were finished in 1570 and then included in the book of Common Prayer, the Church of England’s second most important book.
The Many Incarnations Of The Rules Of Faith
During the period of 1536 and 1570, the Thirty-nine Articles went through five important sets of changes. The first draft of the Ten Articles was somewhat more pro-Protestant. This was because the English monarchs wanted to maintain a political relationship with the German monarchy, who were Protestant.
In 1539 the next set of changes resulted in the Six Articles. This set of policies did not have a pro-Protestant bent. The King’s Book, revised in 1543 put many of the Roman Catholic sets of rules and regulations back into practices. After Henry VIII’s only son, Edward VI, took over in 1952 the Forty-two Articles were written with the control of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. The Forty-two Articles were the most Calvinist of all of the article revisions. These were never fully implemented because Edward VI died before it could be accomplished. After Edward VI’s death Henry VIII’s oldest daughter Mary I took over the English monarchy and turned back to the Pope and Roman Catholicism.
When Mary I died in 1558, Elizabeth I, her half-sister was coronated as Queen of England. Elizabeth I then returned England to the Church of England. The Archbishop of Canterbury Matthew Parker directed the Convocation of 1563 where the Thirty-nine Articles were instated. These final articles were less Calvinist and are the Church of England practices that are known today.
In 1571 the Thirty-nine articles were finalized and placed into the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer. This book had many effects on England, one of them being that it helped to standardize the written English language across Britan. The book of Common Prayer is also still used today in the Church of England.
Why Were The 39 Articles Of Religion Established?
The Thirty-nine Articles of Religion were established to show the difference between the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England. One main difference is that the Church of England refused the Catholic belief of transubstantiation, which is the belief that during Communion Catholics eat the body of Christ and drink of His blood. The Thirty-nine Articles also made the Bible the most important part of religion, allowing individuals to interact with the Scripture on a personal basis, instead of always needing to go through a priest, as in the Catholic religion. T
he Thirty-nine Articles also allowed those in the clergy to get married and have families. The monarch of England was also put into place as the one having the final say on religion in the Church of England.
Here are the main topics of the 39 Articles of Religion and a brief description of what they mean:
- I. Of Faith in the Holy Trinity
- states that there is but one true God, his son Jesus and the Holy Ghost.
- II. Of the Word or Son of God, which was made very Man
- that Jesus is the Son of God, created through Mary and that he came to bring man the Word of God, or the Bible.
- III. Of the going down of Christ into Hell
- that when Christ died after the crucifixion, he went down into Hell.
- IV. Of the Resurrection of Christ
- is the belief that Jesus did rise from the dead, and went up into Heaven.
- V. Of the Holy Ghost
- is one with God and Jesus.
- VI. Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for salvation
- is the idea that the Bible is all one needs for salvation.
- VII. Of the Old Testament
- this portion states that the Old and New Testament not at odds with each other.
- VIII. Of the Three Creeds
- discusses that the Three Creeds, the Nicene Creed, Athanasius’s Creed, and the Apostles’ Creed should be believed.
- IX. Of Original or Birth-sin
- states that because of Adam and Eve all of mankind has original sin.
- X. Of Free Will
- says that man has free will to follow or not follow God’s instructions.
- XI. Of the justification of Adam
- says that only belief in Jesus can save us from sin, not our good deeds or activities.
- XII. Of Good Works
- says that good work does not erase sin, only faith does so. Good works are a result of proper faith.
- XIII. Of Works before Justification
- says that good works or actions that were done before accepting salvation from Christ don’t count.
- XIV. Of Works of Supererogation
- is somewhat complex, but says that doing more than God asks you to doesn’t make you better, and you don’t get credit for it. You should do what God asks, and then give God credit.
- XV. Of Christ alone without Sin
- is the belief that only Jesus is without sin.
- XVI. Of Sin after Baptism
- is the idea that sins can be forgiven after baptism by properly repenting.
- XVII. Of Predestination and Election
- is the belief that we were meant to be here and God made us to be good and in His image.
- XVIII. Of obtaining eternal Salvation only by the Name of Christ
- means that only through Jesus, God, and the Holy Ghost can one receive salvation.
- XIX. Of the Church
- states that the Church of England is the one true Church, and its teachings are necessary for salvation.
- XX. Of the Authority of the Church
- says that the Church of England has the power to give rules and regulations, yet it cannot make rules that go against the Bible.
- XXI. Of the Authority of General Councils
- states that the General Councils can only be called by the monarch, and also they cannot make rules that go against the Bible.
- XXII. Of Purgatory
- states that unlike Roman Catholicism, there is no purgatory.
- XXIII. Of Ministering in the Congregation
- states that only the initiated can preach in this church.
- XXIV. Of speaking in the Congregation in such a tongue as the people, understandeth
- says that preachers shouldn’t preach in languages unknown to the public.
- XXV. Of the Sacraments
- describes the Sacraments and says that they should be a part of the Church.
- XXVI. Of the Unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not the effect of the Sacrament
- says that even if a minister is evil or untrue to God, that doesn’t mean the Sacraments are tainted or worthless.
- XXVII. Of Baptism
- describes the importance of baptism in the Church of England.
- XXVIII. Of the Lord’s Supper
- discusses the Sacrament of Communion.
- XXIX. Of the Wicked which eat not the Body of Christ in the use of the Lord’s Supper
- describes how to take Communion.
- XXX. Of both kinds
- states that no lay-people (or regular, non-priesthood people) should be denied religion.
- XXXI. Of the Oblation of Christ of Christ finished upon the Cross
- that Jesus’s sacrifice on the Cross is the only thing that gives salvation to mankind.
- XXXII. Of the Marriage of Priests
- states that priests may marry.
- XXXIII. Of excommunicate Persons, how they are to be avoided
- discusses how to keep away from those who have been cut off from the Church.
- XXXIV. Of the Traditions of the Church
- says that minor changes in Church traditions are fine, but that purposeful changes that are made to undermine the Church are not to be accepted.
- XXXV. Of the Homilies
- discusses the homilies or the lessons and lists them.
- XXXVII. Of the Civil Magistrates
- states the order of power in the Church, with the King at the top, and further states that Rome has no power in the Church of England.
- XXXVIII. Of Christian men’s Goods, which are not common
states that the property of the men of the Church of England does belong to them, not to the church, but also states that men should give as they can.
- XXXIX. Of a Christian Man’s Oath
- states that no one should take the Lord’s name in vain.
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