Anniversaries are celebrated in different ways, but seldom can there have been a parallel to the way the Protestant Episcopal Church has honored the final acceptance of the Thirty-Nine Articles by the English Convocation and Parliament in 1571. Having for many years relegated the articles to an obscure place in small print in the Prayer Book, this church has in the anniversary year brought out an experimental liturgy from which the articles are omitted altogether. Perhaps this is at least honest, for what many of the clergy and people know about the articles seems to be infinitesimal. All the same, it is strange and regrettable that the articles should be treated this way, and the possible consequences are grave in the extreme.
It is strange because the Protestant Episcopal Church regards itself as a Catholic body, and in many respects the articles are a solid reaffirmation of Catholic (as distinct from Roman Catholic) teaching. By formal endorsement the doctrine of the early creeds is incorporated into the structure of Anglican doctrine. The historical canon of Scripture is accepted with a distinction between the Hebrew and Greek books of the Old Testament derived from Jerome. As in the early fathers, only what is found in Holy Scripture is to be regarded and taught as necessary to salvation; the conclusions of councils as well as individual theologians are brought under this rule. When medieval errors are rejected, it is because they are uncatholic as well as unbiblical. They are inventions or innovations representing a departure from the primitive church. While it is not explicitly stated, the thesis of Cranmer and Jewel, and indeed of Zwingli and Calvin, implicitly underlies the articles. The medieval aberration, not ...1
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