The Jerusalem Declaration and the 39 articles

At the GAFCON conference in June 2008 in Jerusalem, the delegates worked out and published a declaration, called the Jerusalem Declaration, to outline their common beliefs as anglicans. As the conference was attended by many who did not go to the Lambeth Conference of Bishops which gathers every 10 years, it was described as the start of a split in the Anglican church.

The 39 articles of religion were issued at the beginning of the formation of the Anglican church. I thought I’d see how the Jerusalem statement and the 39 articles matched up. Below are the main points of the declaration and the articles which they relate to. The full statement is here, and the 39 articles in full are here. The italics are mine.

1. We rejoice in the gospel of God through which we have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Because God first loved us, we love him and as believers bring forth fruits of love, ongoing repentance, lively hope and thanksgiving to God in all things. – Article 11 (of Justification)

2. We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God written and to contain all things necessary for salvation. The Bible is to be translated, read, preached, taught and obeyed in its plain and canonical sense, respectful of the church’s historic and consensual reading. – Article 6 (of the sufficiency of the scriptures)

3. We uphold the four Ecumenical Councils and the three historic Creeds as expressing the rule of faith of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church. – Article 8 (of the three creeds)

4. We uphold the Thirty-nine Articles as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s Word and as authoritative for Anglicans today.- (All of them)

5. We gladly proclaim and submit to the unique and universal Lordship of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, humanity’s only Saviour from sin, judgement and hell, who lived the life we could not live and died the death that we deserve. By his atoning death and glorious resurrection, he secured the redemption of all who come to him in repentance and faith. – Article 18 (of obtaining salvation by Christ) and 31(of Christ’s one oblation)

6. We rejoice in our Anglican sacramental and liturgical heritage as an expression of the gospel, and we uphold the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as a true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer, to be translated and locally adapted for each culture. – Article 25 (of the sacraments) and 34 (of the traditions of the church)

7. We recognise that God has called and gifted bishops, priests and deacons in historic succession to equip all the people of God for their ministry in the world. We uphold the classic Anglican Ordinal as an authoritative standard of clerical orders. – Article 36 (of consecration of ministers)

8. We acknowledge God’s creation of humankind as male and female and the unchangeable standard of Christian marriage between one man and one woman as the proper place for sexual intimacy and the basis of the family. We repent of our failures to maintain this standard and call for a renewed commitment to lifelong fidelity in marriage and abstinence for those who are not married. – no specific article but included under article 6 (sufficiency of the scriptures)

9. We gladly accept the Great Commission of the risen Lord to make disciples of all nations, to seek those who do not know Christ and to baptise, teach and bring new believers to maturity. – no specific article (but as it’s in scripture it comes in articles 6 and 20)

10. We are mindful of our responsibility to be good stewards of God’s creation, to uphold and advocate justice in society, and to seek relief and empowerment of the poor and needy. – no specific article (but as it’s in scripture it comes in articles 6 and 20)

11. We are committed to the unity of all those who know and love Christ and to building authentic ecumenical relationships. We recognise the orders and jurisdiction of those Anglicans who uphold orthodox faith and practice, and we encourage them to join us in this declaration. – no specific article (but article 19 is interesting and reflects the time of writing of the 239 articles an it speaks against he teachings of Rome, Alexandria etc.)

12. We celebrate the God-given diversity among us which enriches our global fellowship, and we acknowledge freedom in secondary matters. We pledge to work together to seek the mind of Christ on issues that divide us. – Article 20 (on the authority of the church) says that “although the church be a witness and keeper of holy Writ  [Scripture], yet as it ought not to decree anything against the same, so besides the same ought not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of salvation” [paraphrase - don't take away or add to scripture and the church cannot enforce beliefs that are not necessary for salvation]

13. We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed. We pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord. – Article 19

14. We rejoice at the prospect of Jesus’ coming again in glory, and while we await this final event of history, we praise him for the way he builds up his church through his Spirit by miraculously changing lives. – Article 4

In all, the Jerusalem Declaration seems pretty orthodox to me, and seems to be sticking to the tenets of anglicanism.

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