Having read the BCP, I became quite excited by the 39 Articles (seriously) – but, I still had some questions on individual articles.
A very helpful friend (with a most enormous library which I don’t covet at all, no, not at all….. ahem) has kindly lent me “The Principles of Theology” by W.H.Griffith Thomas (with Intro by J.I.Packer) to help resolve some of the questions.
So – here goes
XVI. Of Sin after Baptism.
* What is ‘deadly sin’?
* What does it mean to ‘depart from grace given’?
TPoT notes 2 errors widespread at the Reformation –
a) that great sins after Baptism could not be forgiven (3rd century idea); and on the other hand
b) it was absolutely impossible for the regenerate to sin
“The phrase ‘deadly sin’ both here and in the Litany means a sin distinct from ordinary wrongdoing, wilful rather than ignorant, serious rather than light”.
XXIII. Of Ministering in the Congregation.
* Questions would be – a) what is publick preaching? and b) what is lawfully called?
– Article probably directed against the Anabaptists who denied any public authority and recognition of ministry, urging that anyone could become a minister since Divine illumination was sufficient.
– Argues that commissioning of ministry has Biblical precedent – cf. Acts 6vv1-6, Acts 14:23, Titus 1v5 and that Acts 6v3 shows that proof of ministry is recognised by the existing body of believers when they determine that the seven are fit for the work.
XXXVII. Of the Civil Magistrates.
* Don’t quite understand this, but seems to support the death penalty and war.
TPoT says… Death Penalty recognises authority and links back to Gen 9v6 but notes that it does not have regard to whether it is advisable (although permissible).
XXXIX. Of a Christian man’s Oath.
* Hmmm…. having problems reconciling ‘forbidden’ and ‘not prohibited’ here…
TPoT argues that the ‘vain and rash swearing’ referred to in XXXIX has in mind Matt 5vv33-37 and JJames 5v12 (helpfully, not providing chapters…!) where vanity and rashness are regarded as profane and irreverent.
TPoT argues that the Article does not forbid solemn statements when required by authority “in a cause of faith and charity” – and notes Deut 6v13, Matt 26v63, Rom 9v1, 2 Cor 1v23, Gal 1v20, Heb 6vv16-18.
End of the Article notes “according to the prophet’s teaching, in justice, judgment and truth” refers to Jeremiah 4v2