Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Thirty-Nine Articles (Part 3)

VI. Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scripture 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 Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.
[There follows a list of the books accepted as canonical.]

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.

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.
[NB: The American Revision of 1801, quoted here, changed the original article by omitting a reference to the Athanasian Creed.]

A couple brief comments. The Articles express the supremacy of the Scripture, but this is clearly not considered to be in any way contradictory to receiving and believing creeds. The creeds hold their status because "they may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture."

The 7th Article, attempting to uphold the authority of the OT, invokes the common division of the OT law into ceremonial, civil, and moral categories. This division is foreign to the Scriptures, which views the Mosaic Law as an indivisible whole. In relationship to the NT believer, the Scripture applies the OT law in salvation-historical categories. In other words, the OT law must be applied today from the viewpoint of the coming of Christ and his work.

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