To some members of the Christian world it is a matter for surprise that so strong an evangelical contribution should be made by the Anglican communion. There are, of course, reasons for this surprise. Particularly since the rise of the Oxford Movement, many practices have given Episcopal churches more of a Roman than a Protestant look, and there have been far too many prominent leaders whose personal opinions bear little resemblance to the established positions of their communion. Indeed, agitation to make the communion different from what it has been seems to be the mark of the twentieth-century ecclesiastic.
Nevertheless, there should be no real surprise at the presence of a more genuinely evangelical element. It is part of a long and powerful tradition which goes back through the leaders of the Evangelical Revival to the Puritans of the seventeenth century, and ultimately to the great Anglican reformers of the sixteenth. It is not an eccentric factor; it belongs to the very essence of the communion. Its members, far from being halfhearted churchmen, are among the most consistently faithful of all Anglicans. Its charter is the Anglican Confession, which was adopted by Convocation in 1563 and which, in spite of evasion, relegation to small print, and in some cases open opposition, still remains the basic doctrinal statement of the Church of England and its churches.
The Thirty-Eight Articles as they then were—the thirty-ninth was added a few years later (1570)—are clearly Reformed, and therefore evangelical, in their acceptance of the supreme authority of Holy Scripture (Article 6). They maintain that there is nothing which must be believed for salvation other than what is found in the 66 canonical books of the Old and New ...1
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