Thursday, March 05, 2015

39 Artciles Lent Course Session 2 Part 2: Scripture & The Creeds

Lent Course 2015 – The 39 Articles - Session 2 – Handout 2
Articles 6-8: The Scriptures and The Creeds

Article 6: Of the sufficiency of the Holy Scripture for Salvation

Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.

Of the Names and Number of the Canonical Books

And the other Books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine; such are these following: …

All the Books of the New Testament, as they are commonly received, we do receive, and account them Canonical.

The sufficiency of Scripture – 2 Tim 3:16-17; Prov 30:5-6 - not that the Bible tells us everything we “need to know” about everything – the church therefore has a limited authority

Unlike some Reformation radicals not depending on direct revelation from the Spirit. The Roman Catholic church (probably!) claimed Traditions not recorded in the Bible going back to Christ and the Apostles e.g. purgatory and transubstantiation and later papal infallibility (1870), the immaculate conception of Mary (1854) and her bodily assumption into heaven (1950).

The reference to Jerome (Hieronymus in Latin) is from his Preface to the books of Solomon (NPNF, vol VI, p492)

The 1st & 2nd books of Esdras = Ezra & Nehemiah.

Canon = measuring rod, rule – canonical = authoritative

The RC Council of Trent regarded Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch and 1 & 2 Maccabees as part of the canonical OT.

Further reading: Roger Beckwith, The Old Testament canon of the New Testament church (SPCK, 1985)
Bruce Metzger, The canon of the New Testament: Its origin, development and significance (Clarendon, 1987)
Timothy Ward, Words of Life: Scripture as the living and active Word of God (IVP, 2009)

Article 7: Of the Old Testament

The Old Testament is not contrary to the New: for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to Mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and Man, being both God and Man. Wherefore they are not to be heard, which feign that the old Fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the Law given from God by Moses, as touching Ceremonies and Rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the Civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the Commandments which are called Moral.

Continuity and discontinuity between OT & NT - God is consistent so his Word is consistent (but different eras of salvation history) – OT fulfilled not abolished, Mt 5:17-21; 2 Tim 3:16

Salvation is only ever through Jesus – how much Old Testament believers knew about Jesus is debated

All Scripture points to Christ – Lk 24:25-27, 44-47; Jn 5:39

Old Testament hope – Heb 11 esp. vv 10, 13-16, 26; Jn 8:56; 12:41; Rm 4; Gal 3:6-9; 1 Cor 10:1-4; 1 Pt 1:10-12; Heb 12:22 with Rev 21-22 and Is 60 and Ez 47-48; 2 Cor 4:13

Ceremonial, civil and moral law – Can the law be neatly divided like that? New Testament believers are not ancient Israelites living under the Mosaic covenant – do you fence your roof? But you might fence your swimming pool – Jesus is the New Temple and the final sacrifice for sin – Jesus declared all foods clean, Mk 7:14-23  – baptism replaces circumcision

Acts 10:9-16; 15:1-29; Rm 14:14; Gal 2:1-21; 5:1-12; Col 2:16-23; Heb 7:11-10:18

The moral law often thought to be summarised in the 10 commandments (Ex 20 & Dt 5) and 2 greatest commandments (Dt 6:4; Lev 19:18; Mt 22:34-40; Mk 12:28-34)

Article 8: Of the Three Creeds

The Three Creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius's Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles' Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed: for they may be proved by most certain warrants of holy Scripture.

A creed is a summary of belief. The word “creed” comes from the Latin, “credo”, which means “I believe”.  

The C of E’s pattern of using the Apostles’ Creed at Morning and Evening Prayer and the Nicene Creed at Holy Communion goes back to the time of Charlemagne (d. 841). The BCP requires the Athanasian Creed to be used on 13 feast days.  

Our version of the Nicene Creed perhaps comes from the 1st Council of Constantinople in 381 not the 1st Council of Nicea in 325. More technically it is sometimes called the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed. The first unequivocal mention of it comes from the Council of Chalcedon in 451 with the filioque clause added in the West in the 6th century.

The Athanasian Creed is generally thought not to be by Athanasius (the great opponent of Arianism, Bishop of Alexandria, lived c. 296 – 373) and probably comes from Southern Gaul in the late 5th or early 6th century.

Forms of Apostles’ Creed appear as early as the year 200 and it had reached an almost fixed form by the 4th Century but there were minor variations until the 7th or 8th Century.  The creed was not actually written by the Apostles, although according to legend, each of the 12 Apostles was responsible for a different clause of the creed.

See earlier in Prayer Book

The authority of the creeds depends on the authority of Scripture

Further reading: J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Creeds (Continuum, 2006)

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