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The 39 Articles of Religion

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  1. The 39 Articles of Religion Part seven: scriptural authority

  2. Article VI. Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for SalvationArticle VII. Of the Old TestamentArticle VIII. Of the Creeds ChristusPanktrator, CafaluCathederal, Sicily

  3. Attacks on scriptural authority • Critics of scriptural authority claim that church fathers established a restricted canon to silence the heterodox voices of a vibrantearly period in which Christian ideas continually evolved Constantine the Great at Nicaea, 325

  4. Scripture and its own authority • Long before formal ‘closure’ of the Jewish canon Old Testament texts were retained, preserved, and treated as containing the authority they claimed for themselves • “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Joshua 1:8 Ezra reading the Law to returned exiles

  5. Apostolic authority and the church • The Churches always drew their authority in doctrine and every area from the Apostle’s teaching. • Where Apostles could not be present in person they wrote their instructions, which the churches treated as equal to oral teaching Council of Jerusalem, Acts 15

  6. ‘Apocryphal’ texts • The Apocryphal texts were part of the Greek Septuagint but not commonly Hebrew collections of OT texts • Jerome included them in his 4th C ‘Vulgate’ translation of the bible • The ultra-reactionary Council of Trent affirmed their canonicity only to assert the primacy of the Latin bible Jerome translating the Latin Vulgate

  7. Dispensations and the covenant • Some view the OT as outmoded and no longer truly authoritative/revelatory • Others see the OT as purely allegorical • Article VII binds Anglicans to view the OT as part of a single covenant with different dispensations but efficacious in all times through Christ’s sacrifice Andrea Del Sarto, The Sacrifice of Abraham, c. 1528

  8. The sufficiency of scripture • All church doctrine emanates from scripture, which is interpreted in light of church tradition and human reason but is primary to both in authority • The Holy Spirit animates the scriptures in the life of every believer and the church. • Scriptural authority counters those who depart from orthodoxy; the Church’s living relationship with scripture answers those who reduce scripture to an inflexible dogmatic catalogue Jusepe de Ribera, Saint Matthew, 1632