The 42 Articles, which became the 39 Articles, is the doctrinal statement of the Church of England. These articles were not meant to be an exhaustive statement of Anglican doctrine, but to clarify points of difference between the Anglican Church (the Church of England) and the Roman Catholic Church on one hand and various non-Conformist Protestant groups on the other.
The process of creating the 39 Articles started in 1538 with Thomas Cranmer (archbishop of Canterbury and leader in the English Reformation), who produced 13 articles. However, there were still controversies to be settled and issues to be addressed, so in 1553 a larger list of 42 articles was released. Before it could be generally embraced by all the clergy, King Edward VI died, and his sister Mary reunited the Anglican Church with the Roman Catholic Church, and Protestantism was suppressed. Upon Mary’s death, Elizabeth came to the throne and re-established an independent Anglican Church and Protestantism. The 42 Articles were once again brought into consideration and in 1571 revised to become the 39 Articles. The 39 Articles are still accepted by the Anglican Church today as well as the Episcopal Church in the United States (with some modifications as noted within the articles).
The following are the 39 Articles as found at anglicansonline.org/basics/thirty-nine_articles.html (accessed 11/29/20). They can also be found at the website of the Anglican Church of Canada. The short summary of each article (in italics) comes from aocinternational.org/what-are-the-39-articles-of-religion (accessed 11/29/20).
I. Of Faith in the Holy Trinity. There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the Maker, and Preserver of all things both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
Defines our faith as Trinitarian as we believe in a triune Godhead of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit (see St. Matthew 28:19).
II. Of the Word or Son of God, which was made very Man. The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took Man’s nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance: so that two whole and perfect Natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God, and very Man; who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men.
Speaks of God the Son as having two natures: both fully man and fully God, who was virgin-born, and whose death on the cross reconciles all true Christians to the Father (see St. John 1:14).
III. Of the going down of Christ into Hell. As Christ died for us, and was buried, so also is it to be believed, that he went down into Hell.
Makes mention of Christ going down into “Hell.” While there remains some debate concerning his actually going into the portion of the underworld where the evil and notorious are held until the Great White Throne Judgment, it is accepted that he did descend to the lower world (see Ephesians 4:9).
IV. Of the Resurrection of Christ. Christ did truly rise again from death, and took again his body, with flesh, bones, and all things appertaining to the perfection of Man’s nature; wherewith he ascended into Heaven, and there sitteth, until he return to judge all Men at the last day.
Teaches us about the resurrection of Christ and that he will return and judge all people at the last day. (See Revelation 22:12.)
V. Of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one substance, majesty, and glory, with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God.
Defends the inclusion of the filioque as found in the Nicene Creed, which states that the Holy Ghost does indeed proceed from both the Father and the Son (see St. John 14:16, 15:26, and 16:7).
VI. Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation. Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.
Of the Names and Number of the Canonical Books
The First Book of Samuel
The Second Book of Samuel
The First Book of Kings
The Second Book of Kings
The First Book of Chronicles
The Second Book of Chronicles
The First Book of Esdras*
The Second Book of Esdras*
The Book of Esther
The Book of Job
Ecclesiastes or Preacher
Cantica, or Songs of Solomon
Four Prophets the greater
Twelve Prophets the less
* The Anglican Church of Canada explains that these two books are Ezra and Nehemiah.
And the other Books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine; such are these following:
The Third Book of Esdras
The Fourth Book of Esdras
The Book of Tobias
The Book of Judith
The Song of the Three Children
The Story of Susanna
Of Bel and the Dragon
The rest of the Book of Esther
The Book of Wisdom
Jesus the Son of Sirach
Baruch the Prophet
The Prayer of Manasses
The First Book of Maccabees
The Second Book of Maccabees
All the Books of the New Testament, as they are commonly received, we do receive, and account them Canonical.
Affirms the sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for salvation. It also confirms the canon of Scripture in the sixty-six “commonly received” books of the Old and New Testaments. It also states that the Apocryphal books are outside of the established canon of the church (see II St. Timothy 3:16, 17).
VII. Of the Old Testament. The Old Testament is not contrary to the New: for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to Mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and Man, being both God and Man. Wherefore they are not to be heard, which feign that the old Fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the Law given from God by Moses, as touching Ceremonies and Rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the Civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the Commandments which are called Moral.
In this article, we learn that the Old and New Testaments are not contrary to one another but are two halves of a whole. From its sacred pages, we read of not only the Law, and its attendant ceremonies which are but a shadow of things in heaven (Hebrews 8:5), but of the prophecies and promises regarding not only the redemption of Israel, but our redemption as well through the atoning work of the coming Messiah whom we know from the New Testament as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ ( see Galatians 3:24).
VIII. Of the Creeds. The Nicene Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles’ Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed: for they may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture.
The original Article given Royal assent in 1571 and reaffirmed in 1662, was entitled “Of the Three Creeds”; and began as follows, “The Three Creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius’s Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles’ Creed ...”
Affirms our use of the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. The Apostles’ Creed is the oldest, probably being used in some form in the early Second Century A.D. The Nicene Creed came out of the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D.
IX. Of Original or Birth-Sin. Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam, (as the Pelagians do vainly talk;) but it is the fault and corruption of the Nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam; whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the Spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God’s wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea in them that are regenerated; whereby the lust of the flesh, called in Greek, φρονημα σαρκος, (which some do expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the affection, some the desire, of the flesh), is not subject to the Law of God. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized; yet the Apostle doth confess, that concupiscence and lust hath of itself the nature of sin.
Refers to our birth in this world under original sin. Original sin was given to us by our first parents. On its account, our flesh is drawn to satisfy its lustful desires. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and are baptized, yet our flesh still contains this malady. Only by the workings of the Holy Spirit within the believer will he or she produce the fruits of repentance that are pleasing and acceptable to God.
X. Of Free-Will. The condition of Man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith; and calling upon God. Wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will.
Rejects the concept of “Free-Will.” Our sinful natures are in open rebellion against God and without the working of the Holy Ghost within us, we will never turn to God on our own accord.
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.
Affirms the concepts of justification by faith alone, in Christ alone.
XII. Of Good Works. Albeit that Good Works, which are the fruits of Faith, and follow after Justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of God’s judgment; yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively Faith insomuch that by them a lively Faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit.
Affirms the notion that we cannot work our way into God’s good graces. Only after our acceptance into the fold of Christ will our works bear fruit that is acceptable to God and will reveal that we are in possession of a true and lively faith.
XIII. Of Works before Justification. Works done before the grace of Christ, and the Inspiration of his Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ; neither do they make men meet to receive grace, or (as the School-authors say) deserve grace of congruity: yea rather, for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin.
States that all of our works prior to receiving the grace of Christ and the inspiration of his Spirit are not acceptable to God (see Isaiah 64:6).
XIV. Of Works of Supererogation. Voluntary Works besides, over and above, God’s Commandments, which they call Works of Supererogation, cannot be taught without arrogancy and impiety: for by them men do declare, that they do not only render unto God as much as they are bound to do, but that they do more for his sake, than of bounden duty is required: whereas Christ saith plainly When ye have done all that are commanded to you, say, We are unprofitable servants.
Contradicts the notion that we could ever do more than what God expects of us in the first place (see St. Luke 17:10).
XV. Of Christ alone without Sin. Christ in the truth of our nature was made like unto us in all things, sin only except, from which he was clearly void, both in his flesh, and in his spirit. He came to be the Lamb without spot, who, by sacrifice of himself once made, should take away the sins of the world; and sin (as Saint John saith) was not in him. But all we the rest, although baptized and born again in Christ, yet offend in many things; and if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
Affirms our belief in the sinless nature of our Lord Jesus Christ (see Hebrews 4:15).
XVI. Of Sin after Baptism. Not every deadly sin willingly committed after Baptism is sin against the Holy Ghost, and unpardonable. Wherefore the grant of repentance is not to be denied to such as fall into sin after Baptism. After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given, and fall into sin, and by the grace of God we may arise again, and amend our lives. And therefore they are to be condemned, which say, they can no more sin as long as they live here, or deny the place of forgiveness to such as truly repent.
In this article we learn that not every sin willingly committed after baptism is a sin against the Holy Ghost and unpardonable. It is by God’s grace that we repent and withdraw from sin, amending our lives through the work of the Holy Spirit within us. This article also condemns those who say “they can no more sin as long as they live here [in the world], or [who] deny the place of forgiveness to such as truly repent.” Such are unbiblical and should be rejected as heresies (see Romans 7:14–25; I St. John 1:7–10 and 2:1–2).
XVII. Of Predestination and Election. Predestination to Life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore, they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God, be called according to God’s purpose by his Spirit working in due season: they through Grace obey the calling: they be justified freely: they be made sons of God by adoption: they be made like the image of his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ: they walk religiously in good works, and at length, by God’s mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity.
As the godly consideration of Predestination, and our Election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and their earthly members, and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things, as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal Salvation to be enjoyed through Christ as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God: So, for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God’s Predestination, is a most dangerous downfall, whereby the Devil doth thrust them either into desperation, or into wretchlessness of most unclean living, no less perilous than desperation.
Furthermore, we must receive God’s promises in such wise, as they be generally set forth to us in Holy Scripture: and, in our doings, that Will of God is to be followed, which we have expressly declared unto us in the Word of God.
Affirms the doctrines of Predestination and Election (see St. John 6:37, 44; 8:44–47; 10:14–16; 17:5–10, 20; Acts 2:47; Romans 8:28–30; I Corinthians 1:2, 4, 9, and 26–31; Ephesians 1:4–5 and 9; 2:1, 8–10; Colossians 3:12; I Thessalonians 1:4; II St. Timothy 1:9; St. Titus 3:3–7; Hebrews 2:10–13; I St. Peter 1:2, 15, 17, and 20–21; St. Jude 1).
XVIII. Of obtaining eternal Salvation only by the Name of Christ. They also are to be had accursed that presume to say, That every man shall be saved by the Law or Sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that Law, and the light of Nature. For Holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the Name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.
Condemns those who say one can be saved apart from the atoning work of Jesus Christ (see St. John 3:23; 11:25–26; Acts 4:10–12; Philippians 2:9–11; I St. John 5:13; Revelation 22:4).
XIX. Of the Church. The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ’s ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.
As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch, have erred, so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of Ceremonies, but also in matters of Faith.
Sets forth the parameters for a true Christian church.
XX. Of the Authority of the Church. The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in Controversies of Faith: and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of Salvation.
States that the church has the power to establish its order of worship and such ceremonies as it sees fit within the framework of “God’s Word written” (see II St. Timothy 3:15–17).
XXI. Of the Authority of General Councils. [The Twenty-first of the former Articles is omitted; because it is partly of a local and civil nature, and is provided for, as to the remaining parts of it, in other Articles.]
The original 1571, 1662 text of this Article, omitted in the version of 1801, reads as follows: “General Councils may not be gathered together without the commandment and will of Princes. And when they be gathered together, (forasmuch as they be an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed with the Spirit and Word of God,) they may err, and sometimes have erred, even in things pertaining unto God. Wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of holy Scripture.”
This article is self-exclamatory [sic].
XXII. Of Purgatory. The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping and Adoration, as well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.
Concerns several unscriptural beliefs and practices of the Roman Church at the time of the Reformation (see Hebrews 9:27; Colossians 2:8–9 and 18–19; Exodus 20:4–5; Psalm 34:17–18; Psalm 49:7–8; St. Matthew 4:10, 17; 5:17–18 and 16:26; Revelation 12—15; 19:10; 20:1–6; and 22:8–9).
XXIII. Of Ministering in the Congregation. It is not lawful for any man to take upon him the office of public preaching, or ministering the Sacraments in the Congregation, before he be lawfully called, and sent to execute the same. And those we ought to judge lawfully called and sent, which be chosen and called to this work by men who have public authority given unto them in the Congregation, to call and send Ministers into the Lord’s vineyard.
Affirms the authority of the Vestry of a respective congregation to call such men as are duly qualified, via the episcopate, to the office of minister. This article precludes the ordination of women, the immoral or other degenerated persons (see I St. Timothy 3:1–16; 4:14 and St. Titus 1:5–9).
XXIV. Of Speaking in the Congregation in such a Tongue as the people understandeth. It is a thing plainly repugnant to the Word of God, and the custom of the Primitive Church to have public Prayer in the Church, or to minister the Sacraments, in a tongue not understanded of the people.
Prohibits speaking in a tongue that the people clearly would not understand.
(Got Questions note: this is not referring to the charismatic practice of “speaking in tongues” but of conducting services in Latin, which was the practice of the Catholic Church even though the average person could not understand Latin.)
XXV. Of the Sacraments. Sacraments ordained of Christ be not only badges or tokens of Christian men’s profession, but rather they be certain sure witnesses, and effectual signs of grace, and God’s good will towards us, by the which he doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm our Faith in him.
There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord.
Those five commonly called Sacraments, that is to say, Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction, are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel, being such as have grown partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles, partly are states of life allowed in the Scriptures, but yet have not like nature of Sacraments with Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.
The Sacraments 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: but they that receive them unworthily, purchase to themselves damnation, as Saint Paul saith.
Addresses the issue of Sacraments within the church. A sacrament is defined as an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. Anglicans have traditionally recognized only two sacraments: Baptism and the Supper of the Lord.
XXVI. Of the Unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not the effect of the Sacraments. Although in the visible Church the evil be ever mingled with the good, and sometimes the evil have chief authority in the Ministration of the Word and Sacraments, yet forasmuch as they do not the same in their own name, but in Christ’s, and do minister by his commission and authority, we may use their Ministry, both in hearing the Word of God, and in receiving the Sacraments. Neither is the effect of Christ’s ordinance taken away by their wickedness, nor the grace of God’s gifts diminished from such as by faith, and rightly, do receive the Sacraments ministered unto them; which be effectual, because of Christ’s institution and promise, although they be ministered by evil men.
Nevertheless, it appertaineth to the discipline of the Church, that inquiry be made of evil Ministers, and that they be accused by those that have knowledge of their offences; and finally, being found guilty, by just judgment be deposed.
Denies that an unworthy minister will hinder the effect of the Sacraments upon the faithful. It also permits the removal of any godless, or profane man from his position as deacon, priest, presbyter or bishop within the Church if it can be objectively demonstrated that he is of such a character.
XXVII. Of Baptism. Baptism is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened, but it is also a sign of Regeneration or New-Birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed, Faith is confirmed, and Grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God.
The Baptism of young Children is in any wise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.
Addresses the Sacrament of Baptism.
XXVIII. Of the Lord’s Supper. The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves one to another, but rather it is a Sacrament of our Redemption by Christ’s death: insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith, receive the same, the Bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of Christ; and likewise the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the Blood of Christ.
Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.
The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper, is Faith.
The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was not by Christ’s ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.
Affirms that the Lord’s Supper is consumed only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. We also learn that the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is not supposed to be set aside for common purposes, carried about, and it is not to be worshiped as the actual body and blood of Christ.
XXIX. Of the Wicked, which eat not the Body of Christ in the use of the Lord’s Supper. The Wicked, and such as be void of a lively faith, although they do carnally and visibly press with their teeth (as Saint Augustine saith) the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ; yet in no wise are they partakers of Christ: but rather, to their condemnation, do eat and drink the sign or Sacrament of so great a thing.
Addresses the issue of the those of the unregenerate and wicked who partake of the Lord’s Supper.
XXX. Of both Kinds. The Cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the Lay-people: for both the parts of the Lord’s Sacrament, by Christ’s ordinance and commandment, ought to be ministered to all Christian men alike.
Affirms the offering of the communion cup to the laity because our Lord instructed that we should both eat of the unleavened bread and drink of the cup until he comes again.
XXXI. Of the one Oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross. The Offering of Christ once made is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin, but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifices of Masses, in the which it was commonly said, that the Priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables, and dangerous deceits.
Affirms that our Lord Jesus Christ made one offering of himself for the sins of the whole world. It goes on to point out that the use of the Roman Mass is contrary to Scripture because it attempts to communicate the very body and blood of Christ to those present for worship even though our Lord is physically present in heaven at the right hand of God (see Hebrews 9:24–28).
XXXII. Of the Marriage of Priests. Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, are not commanded by God’s Law, either to vow the estate of single life, or to abstain from marriage: therefore it is lawful for them, as for all other Christian men, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve better to godliness.
Permits the marriage of bishops, priests and deacons within the Church.
XXXIII. Of excommunicate Persons, how they are to be avoided. That person which by open denunciation of the Church is rightly cut off from the unity of the Church, and excommunicated, ought to be taken of the whole multitude of the faithful, as an Heathen and Publican, until he be openly reconciled by penance, and received into the Church by a Judge that hath authority thereunto.
Reminds us as Christians to avoid the ungodly and those in error (see II Corinthians 6:14–18).
XXXIV. Of the Traditions of the Church. It is not necessary that Traditions and Ceremonies be in all places one, or utterly like; for at all times they have been divers, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries, times, and men’s manners, so that nothing be ordained against God’s Word. Whosoever, through his private judgment, willingly and purposely, doth openly break the Traditions and Ceremonies of the Church, which be not repugnant to the Word of God, and be ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly, (that others may fear to do the like,) as he that offendeth against the common order of the Church, and hurteth the authority of the Magistrate, and woundeth the consciences of the weak brethren.
Every particular or national Church hath authority to ordain, change, and abolish, Ceremonies or Rites of the Church ordained only by man’s authority, so that all things be done to edifying.
Accepts the various traditions and ceremonies that exist across the Anglican Communion as long as they agree with God’s word written.
XXXV. Of the Homilies. The Second Book of Homilies, the several titles whereof we have joined under this Article, doth contain a godly and wholesome Doctrine, and necessary for these times, as doth the former Book of Homilies, which were set forth in the time of Edward the Sixth; and therefore we judge them to be read in Churches by the Ministers, diligently and distinctly, that they may be understanded of the people.
Of the Names of the Homilies.
1 Of the right Use of the Church.
2 Against Peril of Idolatry.
3 Of repairing and keeping clean of Churches.
4 Of good Works: first of Fasting.
5 Against Gluttony and Drunkenness.
6 Against Excess of Apparel.
7 Of Prayer.
8 Of the Place and Time of Prayer.
9 That Common Prayers and Sacraments ought to be ministered in a known tongue.
10 Of the reverend Estimation of God’s Word.
11 Of Alms-doing.
12 Of the Nativity of Christ.
13 Of the Passion of Christ.
14 Of the Resurrection of Christ.
15 Of the worthy receiving of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ.
16 Of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost.
17 For the Rogation-days.
18 Of the State of Matrimony.
19 Of Repentance.
20 Against Idleness.
21 Against Rebellion.
At the time of the Reformation there was a shortage of clergy who were properly trained in Protestant doctrines, so it was necessary to have a set of teachings which were to be read to the people that defined the exclusively Protestant ideals of the Anglican Church. The Homilies provided such doctrine in a specific form which were to be read to the people.
XXXVI. Of Consecration of Bishops and Ministers. The Book of Consecration of Bishops, and Ordering of Priests and Deacons, as set forth by the General Convention of this Church in 1792, doth contain all things necessary to such Consecration and Ordering; neither hath it any thing that, of itself, is superstitious and ungodly. And, therefore, whosoever are consecrated or ordered according to said Form, we decree all such to be rightly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated and ordered.
The original 1571, 1662 text of this Article reads as follows: “The Book of Consecration of Archbishops and Bishops, and Ordering of Priests and Deacons, lately set forth in the time of Edward the Sixth, and confirmed at the same time by authority of Parliament, doth contain all things necessary to such Consecration and Ordering: neither hath it any thing, that of itself is superstitious and ungodly. And therefore whosoever are consecrated or ordered according to the Rites of that Book, since the second year of the forenamed King Edward unto this time, or hereafter shall be consecrated or ordered according to the same Rites; we decree all such to be rightly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated and ordered.”
Affirms the order for consecrations of bishops and ministers as being by the approved formularies of the Church and that all such as have been consecrated or ordained will be recognized as being legitimate ministers of the Church.
XXXVII. Of the Power of the Civil Magistrates. The Power of the Civil Magistrate extendeth to all men, as well Clergy as Laity, in all things temporal; but hath no authority in things purely spiritual. And we hold it to be the duty of all men who are professors of the Gospel, to pay respectful obedience to the Civil Authority, regularly and legitimately constituted.
The original 1571, 1662 text of this Article reads as follows: “The King’s Majesty hath the chief power in this Realm of England, and other his Dominions, unto whom the chief Government of all Estates of this Realm, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Civil, in all causes doth appertain, and is not, nor ought to be, subject to any foreign Jurisdiction. Where we attribute to the King’s Majesty the chief government, by which Titles we understand the minds of some slanderous folks to be offended; we give not our Princes the ministering either of God’s Word, or of the Sacraments, the which thing the Injunctions also lately set forth by Elizabeth our Queen do most plainly testify; but that only prerogative, which we see to have been given always to all godly Princes in holy Scriptures by God himself; that is, that they should rule all estates and degrees committed to their charge by God, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Temporal, and restrain with the civil sword the stubborn and evil-doers.
“The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of England.
“The Laws of the Realm may punish Christian men with death, for heinous and grievous offences.
“It is lawful for Christian men, at the commandment of the Magistrate, to wear weapons, and serve in the wars.”
States that the clergy of the church are subject not only to ecclesiastical courts but to the civil courts of the state.
XXXVIII. Of Christian Men’s Goods, which are not common. The Riches and Goods of Christians are not common, as touching the right, title, and possession of the same; as certain Anabaptists do falsely boast. Notwithstanding, every man ought, of such things as he possesseth, liberally to give alms to the poor, according to his ability.
Dispenses with the socialistic notions that all men’s goods are held in common or ought to be among all Christians.
XXXIX. Of a Christian Man’s Oath. As we confess that vain and rash Swearing is forbidden Christian men by our Lord Jesus Christ, and James his Apostle, so we judge, that Christian Religion doth not prohibit, but that a man may swear when the Magistrate requireth, in a cause of faith and charity, so it be done according to the Prophet’s teaching in justice, judgment, and truth.
Affirms that a Christian can take an oath in court or other place and swear to do this or that without violating God’s word written.
At Got Questions, we would be in agreement with the majority of these articles, with the most notable exception probably being Article 27. As with most churches, there can be a great degree of variation between stated doctrinal positions and actual practices and emphases within the local congregation. Some Anglican and Episcopal churches can be thoroughly evangelical while others can be extremely liberal, both theologically and socially/politically. As always, an individual should research both the doctrinal statement and the way that stated beliefs are actually applied within a local congregation before committing to that church.