Tag Archives: anglican

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.

The Lambeth Conference on the Colbert Report

There’s a suprisingly informative and very funny video report on the Colbert Report about the Lambeth Conference and the current crisis in the Anglican communion. I love his sense of Catholic superiority.

Sadly I could get the vieo to embedd, so you’ll have to follow the link.

http://www.comedycentral.com/videos/index.jhtml?videoId=177674

Weekly roundup – evangelism

Scott McKnight makes some good points on evangelism in post modern society, from two books he’s read including James Choung, who I wrote about earlier.

Time magazine has an article about what evanglicals beleive in America at the moment. They claim that increasing numbers no longer beleive that Christianity is the only way to God.

There is lots of stuff going on in the Anglican Communion at the moment, with the GAFCON meeting in Jerusalem and the lead up to the 10-yearly Lambeth conference. One blogger sums it up clearly and humourously here.

An over-zealous Christian out on the streets misses the point of the gospel

Historical Societies oppose modernising churches.


This article appeared in the Observer on Sunday March 16 2008 on p20 of the News section. Old churches are seeing efforts to update their worship space for the benefit of the whole community, by removing Victorian pews, are being thwarted by historical societies who want to maintain the history – even though they never actually visit the church.
It is worth noting that most church pews were later additions in the Victorian era – pulling them out simply allows the church to return to the flexible open-plan worship spaces that they once were, whilst providing for some 21st century needs.

Parishes at war over plans

to rip out pews

Archers-style rifts arise as vicars try to create space for concerts and yoga

Vicars wanting to rip out pews to make their churches more like community centres are meeting resistance from parishioners in a series of acrimonious battles raging across the country.

Small communities are bitterly divided as villagers follow the example set by the fictional folk of Ambridge in Radio 4′s The Archers and fight to retain their church interiors.

In Kildwick, near Skipton, objectors are threatening court action to prevent pews being removed from St Andrew’s church, a Grade 1 listed building. ‘It has caused a real rift. It’s a tragedy,’ said Keith Midgley, chairman of Kildwick Parish Council. ‘They want to replace them with chairs. Really they want to make it rather like a concert hall.’

At St Edmund’s church in Mansfield Woodhouse, Nottinghamshire, the plan to create space for yoga classes and the Women’s Institute by removing a third of the pews has provoked fierce objections from the Victorian Society, which is trying to save the church’s rare ‘poppy head’ pew ends. But vicar Allan Scrivener said it was the only way the 700-year-old church could move back to the centre of the community.

The trend for removing pews seems to be ‘increasing as more churches get the idea’, according to the Victorian Society. Vicars concerned about declining congregations see pew removal as a way of making church space more flexible and relevant to the whole community, not just the worshippers.

Each year, up to 60 of the more controversial cases of church ‘re-ordering’ are referred to the Church of England’s Cathedral and Church Buildings Division, while hundreds more are decided locally. Stephen Bowler, who sits on the Church of England advisory committee dealing with ‘re-ordering’, said it was getting harder for churches to remove pews without putting forward a comprehensive argument.

Public opinion seems to be in the pews’ favour. In an online poll after The Archers aired the issue, 61 per cent of listeners voted against fictional vicar Alan Franks’s proposals to rip out pews.

Sir Roy Strong, the eminent art and cultural historian and former director of the V&A, weighed into the debate last year with an impassioned plea for country churches to put themselves back at the heart of the community, if need be by burning their pews. He told The Observer: ‘Of course people go bananas with “Oh Aunt Maud made the hassock and granny sat there”, but church interiors have always changed.

‘But in rural communities everything has gone – the shop, school, post office – and all that is left is this big old building in the middle. It can’t go on just so that eight little old ladies can have communion once a month.’

For the Rev Roger Powell, vicar at the tiny, Grade 1 listed Norman church of St Andrew in Ogbourne, Wiltshire, applying to remove the fixed-box pews is a difficult solution to his modern problem.

‘It’s the only public building in the village,’ he said. ‘With falling numbers, there is a service here each week, and we don’t always get double figures. So we have got this beautiful, ancient building only being used by a very small number of people for one hour a week.’ He wants to make room for a youth club, concerts and art exhibitions. The Victorian Society is vehemently opposed.

‘It’s tough. In 50 years’ time I don’t want people blaming us for destroying the church. It’s heart-wrenching, and we are torn over what is the right thing. It’s a sticky road for us all,’ he said.

Prophetic Bishops – John Sentamu

There’s an excellent post over on Maggi Dawn’s blog about prophetic actions speaking louder than words. Near the end she relates it to the media’s desire for soundbite – something that contributed to the misunderstandings over Rowan Williams’ comments about Sharai law in the past week. Prophetic actions get people’s attention, speak louder than words and leave people open to hearing what they are about. Her full text follows…

The Archbishop of York and Jeremiah’s underpants

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has developed something of a public image as a man of prophetic action. A few years back he was made Bishop of Birmingham, but during the ceremony, instead of sitting on the Bishop’s Chair himself, he invited twelve local schoolchildren to come forward, gave each of them a golden crown to wear, and then as each of them sat on the Chair in turn, he washed their feet. He then preached about the ministry of a Bishop being that of a servant, not of a Lord. After moving to York, he set up his own prayer tent in the Minster and spent a week publicly fasting and praying. Then three months ago, Archbishop Sentamu appeared live on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show, and talked about his objection to Mr Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe. He said Mr Mugabe had “taken people’s identity” and “cut it to pieces”. He then removed his clerical collar – a symbol, he said, of his own identity as an Anglican and a priest – took a large pair of scissors and cut the collar to pieces. He declared that he would not wear a collar again until Mugabe is out of office. He has been a critic of Mr Mugabe for long enough, but it was this visual act on the TV which, though it may have seemed a little bizarre, caught the national imagination.Last week, speaking in Synod on the meaning of Covenant, Dr Sentamu gave the Archbishop of Canterbury a gift – a four-foot ebony “chief stick” he had brought back from a humanitarian visit to Kenya. This symbolic gesture of respect for Dr Williams’ authority and leadership was all the more powerful after the row in recent days over the “sharia law” lecture and interview (a row which, incidentally, has been reported in blogland to have been largely a media set-up).

So what’s with all this dramatic action? Is the Archbishop of York just playing for media attention? Cynics might think so. But there is a long history of prophetic action in the Jewish-Christian tradition, perhaps its most colourful exponent being the prophet Jeremiah, who once took off his underpants to make a point. In the thirteenth chapter of his book, Jeremiah tells a bizarre story of how he went to buy a new linen loincloth, wore it for a while, and then went down to the riverbank, took it off and buried it. Some time later he went to dig up the underpants, only to find that they had gone rotten. This he used as a sign to show his community how they had become distant from God. They should, he said, have been as intimately close to God as a pair of underpants. But separated from God, they had become rotten and useless.

Jeremiah could, of course, have delivered an elegant speech, using sophisticated religious, political or philosophical language. Or he could have preached a fiery sermon, or written a poem or a song – he could have got the idea across in a number of ways. But it seems that Jeremiah was talking to people who had stopped listening to his words. Jeremiah’s book is littered with stories like this – stories of prophetic, visual actions that take everyday objects and turn them into pictures of what was happening in his world.

There have been a lot of words written and spoken about the other Archbishop in the last ten days, some of them in a fearful and angry response to a taboo subject, many more in a cynical way, apparently planned for media effect. Instead of engaging with the issues, many of the arguments were reduced to nothing more than taking sides. “Are you for the Archbishop of Canterbury, or against him?” a visitor asked me in my Vestry last week. Once last week’s row had reached a pitch where words were no longer being heard, still less change anyone’s mind, the Archbishop of York’s gift of a chief-stick was a moving, visual image that transcended the argument, instead simply placing himself in solidarity with his brother and colleague. Sometimes actions do speak louder than words.

I for one am glad that we do not have dumbed-down Archbishops. The last thing the Church needs is mere symbols of power; what we have in these two leaders is two people who refuse to be tamed into mere institutional bureaucrats; they set the tone for Christians who want to engage properly with thoroughgoing thinking and appropriate action, not simply reduce everything to a soundbite.

Come and hear both Archbishops speak in Cambridge this week on the relationship between faith and society. A World To Believe In, Cambridge, 20-22 Feb