Dear friends,

This blog is part of a series where I look briefly at some of the classic or historic or original Anglican teachings. Each week I am looking at one of the Articles in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion. By the way, the Articles are a key component of Messiah’s Statement of Faith. I will quote the Article accurately, but I may modernize the language sometimes.

ARTICLE VI: Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation. Holy Scripture contains all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not required of any person, that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of Holy Scripture we do understand those Canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never in any doubt in the church. (It then lists the commonly accepted 39 book of the Old Testament). And the other books (as Jerome said) the church reads for example of life and instructions of manners; but yet it does not apply them to establish any doctrine; such are those following (it then lists the Apocrypha). All the books of the New Testament, as they are commonly received, we do receive, and account them Canonical.”

First, note that the Article says that the Apocrypha is NOT Scripture. They are given the status of good human works to read. To make this clear, the Article, in its entirety, lists the books accepted and passed over.

Second, note that the Article is saying that the Bible is “sufficient” for salvation and true doctrine. Nothing else is considered “sufficient for salvation”; not liturgy, institutions, church offices, tradition or reason. Only the Bible is clearly sufficient to tell us the truth about Jesus and the truth about our condition in such a way that an ordinary person like you and I can come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Third, note that the Article says the Bible contains ALL things necessary to salvation. The Bible does not contain only some of the truth, so that it needs to be supplemented by tradition, reason, modern knowledge, mystical experience or institutional efforts. Christians need to read the Bible. Non-Christians need to hear (or read) the Bible as part of their process of coming to saving faith.

Fourth, note that the Article limits the scope and purpose of the Bible. The Article implies that the Bible is always truthful – you do not need a decoder. But, you do not go to the Bible to learn about physics or engineering or math. The Bible is true, but it was not written to address these matters – it is written so that we can know and come to saving faith in, Jesus Messiah – God’s Son and our Saviour and Lord.
George +