Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thirty Nine Articles

Chris Watson Lee picks up on the current CofE question about the uniqueness of Christ.

Ed says pray, and I agree - but I think there are other lessons too.

1. If you have a doctrinal statement you gotta use it.

The 39 Articles of the Church of England are pretty good (with possible exception of the bit about baptising infants...!). Chris Watson Lee served the blogosphere well recently showing that everything in the UCCF Doctrinal Basis can be found in the 39 Articles - both outline an evangelical theology. Such as:
For holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the Name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.
Article XVIII, Thirty Nine Articles of the Church of England
But, having this on paper in a filing cabinet is no use. Confessions of faith are for worship. Doctrine is for joy (as Ligon Duncan says). They're for shaping the life of the church Biblically. Keeping a doctrinal basis at the heart of UCCF's ministry has kept us on track for 80+ years, but we need to keep using it, if we want Jesus to keep us open. He closes churches that swerve from the gospel, and mission agencies should expect the same.

Question to me: Am I using the UCCF doctrinal basis?

2. What if you don't have a confession of faith?

The CofE has one and it should keep them on track. Many who don't have statements of faith or doctrinal bases of fellowship often don't because they look at the disregard of the CofE and say "let's be relational" instead. And short term that certainly works. But, how does a church that doesn't have a clear doctrinal basis avoid faring the same as a church that has one and ignores it....

So, for example, Newfrontiers is a family of churches of which we're apart. It doesn't yet formally have a doctrinal basis of fellowship. It's a first generation church and the sound doctrine of its leader Terry Virgo is pretty clear to me. But what happens in generation two? Or generation three? Or 400 years down the line? Can we safeguard things? Not for the sake of maintaining an institution but for the sake of God's glory and his people. Are there tools that we can use to ensure that leaders don't teach false doctrine and do teach sound doctrine? I’m convinced the CofE's problem isn’t with the 39 Articles but their non-use… what then happens if you don’t have such statements at all…?

Question to me: How can I keep sound doctrine central in the life of the church I'm in, and how can I make it a joy for our elders to do the same?


  1. Hi Dave,

    Thanks for your kind words and good questions.


  2. Hi Dave

    My understanding was that New Frontiers does have an unwritten doctrinal statement that usesSo, for example, joining churches must be credo baptist. Have I got that right?

  3. Dave,

    Excellent thoughts! A stern challenge to the second generation to both build well and to build well for the generation after.


  4. Martin, yeah that seems to be the case... I can't seem non-charismatic, non-'reformed' churches joining the family really.

    And I think the whole thing is basically EA affiliated so there is some basis written too.