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We update our blog several times a week, with news and comment on ministry, theology, the Bible, liturgy and issues of the day.

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Posted by Glenn Davies, 30 Mar 2017

Glenn Davies looks at the Anglican doctrine of baptism in the 39 Articles.

XXVII — OF BAPTISM
Baptism is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened, but it is also a sign of Regeneration or new Birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed; Faith is confirmed, and Grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God. The Baptism of young Children is in any wise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.

The last recorded words of our Lord in Matthew’s Gospel were to his eleven disciples to go and make other disciples, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that Jesus had commanded (Matthew 28:19-20). The background to this command was the making and baptising of disciples that was part of Jesus’ earthly ministry, as it had been part of John’s (John 4:1-2). The combination of making disciples and the use of water baptism as a ‘seal’ or ‘mark’ of discipleship is striking.

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Posted by Mark Burkill, 29 Mar 2017

Mark Burkill unpacks the teaching of the 39 Articles on church purity and church discipline.

XXVI — OF THE UNWORTHINESS OF THE MINISTERS, WHICH HINDERS NOT THE EFFECT OF THE SACRAMENT
Although in the visible Church the evil be ever mingled with the good, and sometimes the evil have chief authority in the Ministration of the Word and Sacraments, yet forasmuch as they do not the same in their own name, but in Christ’s, and do minister by his commission and authority, we may use their Ministry, both in hearing the Word of God, and in receiving of the Sacraments. Neither is the effect of Christ’s ordinance taken away by their wickedness, nor the grace of God’s gifts diminished from such as by faith and rightly do receive the Sacraments ministered unto them; which be effectual, because of Christ’s institution and promise, although they be ministered by evil men.

Nevertheless, it appertaineth to the discipline of the Church, that inquiry be made of evil Ministers, and that they be accused by those that have knowledge of their offences; and finally being found guilty, by just judgement be deposed.

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Posted by Lee Gatiss, 29 Mar 2017

This week's readings proclaim to us the glorious new life of the Spirit that is ours in Christ through his powerful word. Lee Gatiss expounds the lectionary readings for this Sunday.

The readings for the 5th Sunday of Lent (Year A) are Ezekiel 37:1-14, Romans 8:6-11, and John 11:1-45. In this short video, Lee Gatiss expounds those readings for us today.

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Posted by Wallace Benn, 28 Mar 2017

Wallace Benn takes a look at what the 39 Articles have to say about the sacraments.

XXV — OF THE SACRAMENTS
Sacraments ordained of Christ be not only badges or tokens of Christian men’s profession, but rather they be certain sure witnesses, and effectual signs of grace, and God’s good will towards us, by the which he doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm our Faith in him.

There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord.

Those five commonly called Sacraments, that is to say, Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and extreme Unction, are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel, being such as have grown partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles, partly are states of life allowed in the Scriptures; but yet have not like nature of Sacraments with Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.

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Posted by Andrea Ruddick, 27 Mar 2017

Rident stolidi verba Latina. But Andrea Ruddick looks at why we don't speak the language of the Romans in church.

XXIV — OF SPEAKING IN THE CONGREGATION IN SUCH A TONGUE AS THE PEOPLE UNDERSTANDETH
It is a thing plainly repugnant to the Word of God, and the custom of the Primitive Church, to have publick Prayer in the Church, or to minister the Sacraments in a tongue not understanded by the people.

The use of vernacular language in our church services is something that we take for granted when attending church in our home country. In the medieval period, however, Latin was the language of the Church across Europe. This is not to say that English was never heard in church services. Most preaching to a lay audience was probably delivered in the vernacular. It was a requirement of canon law that a parish priest should be able to speak the language of his flock in order to minister to them. Moreover, by the fifteenth century, numerous devotional texts were available in English, at least to the wealthier and more educated sections of society.

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Posted by Rod Thomas, 25 Mar 2017

Rod Thomas unpacks what the 39 Articles say about calling to ordained ministry and its public authorisation.

XXIII — OF MINISTERING IN THE CONGREGATION
It is not lawful for any man to take upon him the office of publick preaching, or ministering the Sacraments in the Congregation, before he be lawfully called, and sent to execute the same. And those we ought to judge lawfully called and sent, which be chosen and called to this work by men who have publick authority given unto them in the Congregation, to call and send Ministers into the Lord’s vineyard.

Committed disciples of Jesus Christ will periodically ask themselves how they can best serve the Lord within his church. For a number, this question will take the particular form of asking whether or not they ought to set their sights on the ordained ministry. They will then, with the encouragement of senior church representatives, start wondering whether they have a ‘vocation’ or ‘calling’ for ordained ministry. If they believe they do, then it may not seem right to them that anyone should deny them the opportunity of pursuing this goal.

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Posted by Tim Patrick, 24 Mar 2017

Tim Patrick considers a “vain thing, fondly invented” which the 39 Articles say is “repugnant to the word of God.”

XXII — OF PURGATORY
The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping, and Adoration, as well of Images as of Reliques, and also invocation of Saints, is a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.

During their reformation, the leading English divines necessarily focussed a considerable effort on demonstrating the wrongness of several core beliefs of the late medieval Roman Catholic Church. Foremost among these were beliefs about salvation, authority in the church, and the afterlife — with the latter being the focus of Article 22.

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Posted by Mark Earngey, 23 Mar 2017

Mark Earngey explores the teaching of the 39 Articles on the supremacy of scripture over the fallible judgments of church councils.

XXI — OF THE AUTHORITY OF GENERAL COUNCILS
General Councils may not be gathered together without the commandment and will of Princes. And when they be gathered together, (forasmuch as they be an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed with the Spirit and Word of God,) they may err, and sometimes have erred, even in things pertaining unto God. Wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of holy Scripture.

How is the 21st Article of Religion relevant to 21st century Anglicans? With its reference to the ‘commandment and will of princes’, this article may initially appear to some as something of a fossilised relic of the past, and unable to provide any reasonable application to dispersed groups of Anglicans around the world. Indeed, The Episcopal Church of the United States of America (TEC) omitted this article in 1801 on the basis that it was ‘partly of a local and civil nature’. This was, of course, a polite way of referring to the rejection of British rule following the American War of Independence!

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Posted by Mark Pickles, 22 Mar 2017

Mark Pickles examines what the 39 Articles say about the authority of the church in controversies.

XX — OF THE AUTHORITY OF THE CHURCH
The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in Controversies of Faith: And yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of Salvation.

Article 20 is only a short paragraph and yet it packs a powerful and highly relevant punch for today’s Church.

This article deals with the perennially vital question of the Church’s authority. It articulates historic Anglicanism’s careful, clear, and nuanced wisdom on this subject. It demonstrates convincingly J.I. Packer’s comment that, “The 39 Articles seem not only to catch the substance and spirit of biblical Christianity superbly well but also provide as apt a model of the way to confess the faith in a divided Christendom as the world has yet seen.”

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Posted by Lee Gatiss, 22 Mar 2017

The readings for this Sunday focus on light and sight, day and night, and then discriminating distinctions that God makes. Lee Gatiss expounds the lectionary readings for this Sunday.

The lectionary readings for the 4th Sunday of Lent (Year A) are 1 Samuel 16:1-13, Ephesians 5:8-14, and John 9. In this short video, Lee Gatiss expounds those readings for us today.

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