39 Articles

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Ambrose

Puritan Board Freshman
What are the important differences between the 39 Articles and the WCF?

Based on many of the comments I've read from Presbyterians, it seems that the consensus is that they are OK insofar as they go, but are viewed as a "lowest-common-denominator" type document as far as Reformed theology goes. Am I correct on that as representing the typical Presbyterian view?

For example in this thread, Bob Vigneault states:

"The Aglican church did not come out of the reformation. It is basically a popeless RCC that was born out of Henry VIII's illegal divorce of his first wife. Their 39 articles of confession do contain some elements of Calvinism but is really just one large compromise of anything goes doctrines."

So now as a former Baptist that has spent some time in the world of micro-Presbyterianism, what would be a good starting point for learning more about the 39 Articles, the Reformed Episcopal Church, and how they compare and contrast to the WCF and the Reformed Presbyterian denominations? Suggestions on books, essays, etc. would be appreciated as well as tips from the more learned here.

I ain't stupid, just ignorant.
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
In fairness, both the Westminster Standards and continental Reformed confessions are "ecumenical" documents, albeit within the "Reformed Tradition."
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
I don't have time for a full treatment of this at the moment (I'll try to come back to it if it will be helfpul when I have a bit more time) but there are a few things worth keeping in mind.

The 39 Articles represent a creed that is Reformed in soteriology, but Erastian/Episcopal in church-state matters and it follows the normative principle of worship. The Westminster Confession is Reformed in soteriology, Presbyterian and theocratic (Establishment Principle) in church/state government, and it follows the regulative principle of worship.

Another difference is the fact that the 39 Articles makes a specific affirmation of the Apostles and Nicene Creed, while the WCF specifically omits the same. The Westminster Assembly was highly appreciative of the ecumenical creeds but was focused on affirming doctrine directly from Scripture rather than indirectly through other creeds.

It should be remembered that the WCF was born out of an attempt to revise the 39 Articles. Instead, an entirely new confession was prepared which was greatly influenced by the Irish and Lambeth Articles.

The 39 Articles can be read here: http://anglicansonline.org/basics/thirty-nine_articles.html

The WCF can be read here: http://www.apuritansmind.com/WCF/WestminsterConfessionMainPage.htm
 

crhoades

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by VirginiaHuguenotThe Westminster Confession is Reformed in soteriology, Presbyterian and theocratic (Establishment Principle) in church/state government, and it follows the regulative principle of worship.

Way to go Americans!:um::tombstone:
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Originally posted by crhoades
Originally posted by VirginiaHuguenotThe Westminster Confession is Reformed in soteriology, Presbyterian and theocratic (Establishment Principle) in church/state government, and it follows the regulative principle of worship.

Way to go Americans!:um::tombstone:

This might get interesting: presbyteries are used to men taking exceptions on sabbath, paedocommunion, etc. I wonder what would happen if someone took an exception on the American confession.
 

yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
Warfield shows how the Westminster is related to the Irish Articles of Religion

The 39 Articles preceeded the Irish Articles.

The 39 Articles are in many ways an abridgement of the Augsberg Confession of 1540.
 

yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
Originally posted by Chad Degenhart
...what would be a good starting point for learning more about the 39 Articles, the Reformed Episcopal Church, and how they compare and contrast to the WCF and the Reformed Presbyterian denominations? Suggestions on books, essays, etc. would be appreciated as well as tips from the more learned here.

I ain't stupid, just ignorant.

The Reformed Episcopal Articles differ from the original 39 Articles.
 

Ambrose

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by Draught Horse
Originally posted by crhoades
Originally posted by VirginiaHuguenotThe Westminster Confession is Reformed in soteriology, Presbyterian and theocratic (Establishment Principle) in church/state government, and it follows the regulative principle of worship.

Way to go Americans!:um::tombstone:

This might get interesting: presbyteries are used to men taking exceptions on sabbath, paedocommunion, etc. I wonder what would happen if someone took an exception on the American confession.

See RPCUS, RPCGA, CRPC, CRC, PNP, etc.
 

Ambrose

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by yeutter
Originally posted by Chad Degenhart
...what would be a good starting point for learning more about the 39 Articles, the Reformed Episcopal Church, and how they compare and contrast to the WCF and the Reformed Presbyterian denominations? Suggestions on books, essays, etc. would be appreciated as well as tips from the more learned here.

I ain't stupid, just ignorant.

The Reformed Episcopal Articles differ from the original 39 Articles.

Thank you. Are there differences beyond what the other Episcopal denominations have altered or ommitted?
 

Ambrose

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by VirginiaHuguenot
I don't have time for a full treatment of this at the moment (I'll try to come back to it if it will be helfpul when I have a bit more time) but there are a few things worth keeping in mind.

The 39 Articles represent a creed that is Reformed in soteriology, but Erastian/Episcopal in church-state matters and it follows the normative principle of worship. The Westminster Confession is Reformed in soteriology, Presbyterian and theocratic (Establishment Principle) in church/state government, and it follows the regulative principle of worship.

Another difference is the fact that the 39 Articles makes a specific affirmation of the Apostles and Nicene Creed, while the WCF specifically omits the same. The Westminster Assembly was highly appreciative of the ecumenical creeds but was focused on affirming doctrine directly from Scripture rather than indirectly through other creeds.

It should be remembered that the WCF was born out of an attempt to revise the 39 Articles. Instead, an entirely new confession was prepared which was greatly influenced by the Irish and Lambeth Articles.

The 39 Articles can be read here: http://anglicansonline.org/basics/thirty-nine_articles.html

The WCF can be read here: http://www.apuritansmind.com/WCF/WestminsterConfessionMainPage.htm

Thanks Doc. Referencing the REC's 39 Articles, here are a few points of concern:

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.

Based on that, would theonomists need to take an exception here? Or might a theonomist take the position that all Civil precepts are not necessarily required, but only insofar as they reflect the moral law and have not been specifically abrogated.

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.

Would this allow for the possibility of an REC to follow the RPW and dispense with the Holy Days?

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.

This doesn't seem Erastian - am I reading it right?
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Didn't the REC have a controversial merger a couple or few years back? I've read one person who left over this who believed it headed them back Romeward and away from the REC tradition.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Originally posted by Chad Degenhart
Thanks Doc. Referencing the REC's 39 Articles, here are a few points of concern:

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.

Based on that, would theonomists need to take an exception here? Or might a theonomist take the position that all Civil precepts are not necessarily required, but only insofar as they reflect the moral law and have not been specifically abrogated.

I'm not a theonomist, so you might want another opinion. Ray Sutton is a Reformed Episcopal bishop, but I'm not sure if he still advocates theonomy. This statement seems to be upholding the historic understanding that of the trifold division of God's law (moral, ceremonial, judicial) only the moral is binding upon Christians today. This is reflected in WCF 19 and by Puritans such as William Gouge and others. The general equity clause of the WCF is a point of contention between *some* theonomists and non-theonomists (not counting Rushdoony who completely dismisses the WCF's statement as "nonsense"). The 39 Articles does not use a term like "general equity," but I know that Thomas Scott (Anglican, 1747-1821), for example, alluded to the "equity" of the judicial laws. I personally think that a consistent theonomist would need to take exception to both the 39 Articles and the WCF.

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.

Would this allow for the possibility of an REC to follow the RPW and dispense with the Holy Days?

Perhaps Thomas Yeutter can comment on this, but in my view this statement is directly contrary to the regulative principle and the liberty/duty of believers to be free from the yoke of man-made holy days as described in WCF 20.2 and WLC 108-109, 116.

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.

This doesn't seem Erastian - am I reading it right?

True, this statement, as far as I can tell, is not Erastian. As indicated in the link that I provided (which also shows the original wording which is vastly different), it comes from the 1801 Protestant Episcopal Church revision which, like the 1789 American revision of the Westminster Confession, reflects the spirit of the age as found in the American Constitution and Bill of Rights with respect to church-state relations.
 

LadyCalvinist

Puritan Board Junior
I once seriously considered joinng the REC.
If you are interested in their history there is the book, The Irony of the Reformed Episcopal Church by Guelzo. The REC started in 1873, as a reaction against the elements in the Episcopal Church that seemed to be steering them back towards Rome. The REC had had some problems since then (which are detailed in the book) but had recently righted itself.

There was a merger with a small somewhat Anglo-Catholic denomination a few years ago, and it has caused consternation within the REC.

In the half dozen or so services I attended a few years ago, I can say that most REC churches have small congregations, they do not have incense or bells or things like that, but I doubt that many in REC have even heard of the RPW.
On the positive side, I never heard any sermon that I thought had doctrinal error in it.
Hope this helps.
 

Ambrose

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by LadyCalvinist
I once seriously considered joinng the REC.
If you are interested in their history there is the book, The Irony of the Reformed Episcopal Church by Guelzo. The REC started in 1873, as a reaction against the elements in the Episcopal Church that seemed to be steering them back towards Rome. The REC had had some problems since then (which are detailed in the book) but had recently righted itself.

There was a merger with a small somewhat Anglo-Catholic denomination a few years ago, and it has caused consternation within the REC.

In the half dozen or so services I attended a few years ago, I can say that most REC churches have small congregations, they do not have incense or bells or things like that, but I doubt that many in REC have even heard of the RPW.
On the positive side, I never heard any sermon that I thought had doctrinal error in it.
Hope this helps.

Thank you! That book sounds very interesting, and I found a review of it at an REC church website here.

I didn't realize that Sutton "repudiated Reconstructionism". Interesting! :detective:
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
I don't have time for a full treatment of this at the moment (I'll try to come back to it if it will be helfpul when I have a bit more time) but there are a few things worth keeping in mind.

The 39 Articles represent a creed that is Reformed in soteriology, but Erastian/Episcopal in church-state matters and it follows the normative principle of worship. The Westminster Confession is Reformed in soteriology, Presbyterian and theocratic (Establishment Principle) in church/state government, and it follows the regulative principle of worship.

Another difference is the fact that the 39 Articles makes a specific affirmation of the Apostles and Nicene Creed, while the WCF specifically omits the same. The Westminster Assembly was highly appreciative of the ecumenical creeds but was focused on affirming doctrine directly from Scripture rather than indirectly through other creeds.

It should be remembered that the WCF was born out of an attempt to revise the 39 Articles. Instead, an entirely new confession was prepared which was greatly influenced by the Irish and Lambeth Articles.

The 39 Articles can be read here: http://anglicansonline.org/basics/thirty-nine_articles.html

The WCF can be read here: http://www.apuritansmind.com/WCF/WestminsterConfessionMainPage.htm

An excellent book that gives a detailed history and explication of the 39 Articles is: "The Principles of Theology: An Introduction to the Thirty-Nine Articles" by W. H. Griffith Thomas (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1930).

I dare say that this is the standard reference on the subject (59 pages of introductory material [including 21 pages of the background history of the articles' development]; 540 pages of text and an index), from a theologically conservative viewpoint. The book is re-issued occasionally; it's currently available from Wipf & Stock. A 1979 re-issue carried a forward by J. I. Packer, which I haven't read.

So, if you want to read more than you would ever probably want to know, that's where to go.
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
To those tempted to migrate to the REC a word of caution.

Years ago (70s and 80s) the RE was more or less dominated by "prayer-book Presbyterians," i.e., their theology was virtually the same as the confessional Presbyterians. The main differences were in piety (use of the PB) and in polity (episcopacy).

In the years since there has been a real shift in the REs. The "Oxford Movement" has made real inroads. If you don't know what the OM is, then you are not ready to unite with the REs. Please read Allen Guelzo, For the Union of Evangelical Christendom on the history of the REs. Ray Sutton and other bishops have transformed much of the RE into an Anglo-catholic bastion. There are still soteriologically Reformed bishops, but the future isn't promising. Last I knew there was talk of merger with an Anglican communion that would more or less cement the Anglo-Catholic direction of the REs.

rsc

And may be found here: http://rechurch.org/recus/recus/39articles.html

As a side note I may be returning to the Anglican communion from the Baptist side of things, if so then the REC seems to be where I am going to end up.
 

dannyhyde

Puritan Board Sophomore
To those tempted to migrate to the REC a word of caution.

Thanks, for adding this, Dr. Clark. I was going to chime in.

If you want to know what some of the problems with the REC are, you need to contact either Dr. Michael Horton or Dr. Kim Riddlebarger, former ministers at St. Luke's REC in Santa Ana, CA. They will tell you why they left.
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
What are the important differences between the 39 Articles and the WCF?

The Article of Religion are only a minimal statement and open to interpretation. J H Newman attempted a papist interpretation in Tract 90. This led to his crossing the Tiber.
 
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