Who doesn't love a good volley! :p Of course Anglicanism is creedal and not confessional. But my point was that the 39 Articles were the closest thing to a confession of faith that Anglicanism has had. The problem with Anglicanism and that lex orandi lex credendi mode is that nothing is coherent, nothing defined, nothing proclaimed with any confidence or lasting foundation to grab onto. The fact that the Church of England clergy are bound to believe in and uphold the articles and the laity are not points to the absurd contradiction of the whole thing? It's as if the priest or bishop says, "yes, I have to believe that works of supererogation are folly but you can go for broke with them! I have to believe that prayer should only be directed toward Christ and that devotion to the saints is fruitless and actually repugnant to the word of God, but you can all pray to Mary, Jude, and Francis till your heart's content! I will believe that Article IV is correct that Jesus truly rose from the dead bodily but you can all deny the resurrection and feel free to think like gnostics." It just defies logic to ignore the Articles? I wonder what the precedent is for ignoring the Articles prior to the mid 1800's when Anglo-Catholics decided they didn't like the smell of them and wanted to make things try and fit a retro-fitted Anglicanism? It's the legacy of the Elizabethan Compromise...be deliberately vague and you can get anyone to be happy. It's like inviting Liza Minnelli, Liberace, William F. Buckley, George Burns, Victor Davis Hanson, and the Village People into one room. Something for everybody! :D
[quote="GKC, post:7, topic:184838"]
This is a subject always good for a volley or two.
The Articles are not confessional; Anglicanism is creedal, not confessional. They are historical, how Elizabeth I finally decided to control her fractious Church.
Way back when, there were Six Articles, then Ten, when Henry ruled. A quick look at the Six is often confusing to folks who think of Articles as something defining Anglicanism. But in all cases they were how the Head/Governor of the CoE choose to rule at the time, given the perceived conditions; in Henry's case almost completely theologically, in Elizabeth's a mixture of theology (she really opposed the elevation, personally) and more basically, politically. They were intended (what became the 39) to be a balance between what was seen at the time as the two opposite threats, from a sectarian point, to a stable English regime: Roman Catholicism, and Puritanism. The Articles are how she choose a central path, the original via media.
They are not binding, by virtue of being the Articles, on any Anglican, even within the Church of England, save the clergy, since they are erastian civil servants, and bound to affirm (technically) the Articles by the Act of Subscription (1571). No other Anglican is bound to do so, in that sense. Anglicans may choose to affirm, deny (and that's a little difficult, given the "mere Christianity" of many of them) or pick and choose from them.
One might learn a little from a couple of quotes from 17th century bishops, on the Articles:
"We do not hold our Thirty-nine Articles to be such necessary truths, `without which there is no salvation;' nor enjoin ecclesiastical persons to swear unto them, but only to subscribe them, as theological truths, for the preservation of unity among us. Some of them are the very same that are contained in the Creed; some others of them are practical truths, which come not within the proper lists of points or articles to be believed; lastly, some of them are pious opinions or inferior truths which are proposed by the Church of England as not to be opposed; not as essentials of Faith necessary to be believed."
"The Church of England professeth not to deliver all her Articles as essentials of faith, without the belief whereof no man can be saved; but only propounds them as a body of safe and pious principles, for the preservation of peace to be subscribed, and not openly contradicted by her sons. And, therefore, she requires subscription to them only from the clergy, and not from the laity."
"The Articles are to be subscribed to in the sense intended by those whose authority makes the subscription requisite."
In brief, Anglicans generally take a variety of attitudes toward the Articles, or to the propositions in each of them. No Anglican, not subject to the Act of Subscription, needs take any particular attitude toward them, though certainly many choose to affirm some or all of them (and I'll bet I can find a handful that any Trinitarian Christian would affirm). The 1979 prayer book used by the Episcopal Church has at least a few good points. The primary is is that the Articles are now in a section for historical documents. Which is what they are. Which is why some parishes will cut them from a prayer book and used them to kindle the new fire at Easter.