Statute of Limitations Proposed for Legacy of Troubles

Statute of Limitations Proposed for Legacy of the Troubles During the Prime Minister’s Question time on 15 July, PM Johnson announced that the government would be bringing forth a statute of limitations in regard to occurencess committed before the Good Friday...

Church of England Considering Legislation Regarding Parishes Seeking Input on Proposals

Church of England Considering Legislation Regarding Parishes Seeking Input on Proposals   Input has been requested on the proposals to change the current legislation regarding parishes within the Church of England.  The review of the Mission and Pastoral Measure...

GAFCON Australia to Support Diocese for Those Forced from Anglican Church of Australia

GAFCON Australia to Support Diocese for Those Forced from Anglican Church of Australia Gafcon Australia has outlined its plan to support Anglicans who leave the Anglican Church of Australia over doctrinal revision which overturns the plain teaching of Scripture. At an...

Church of England Evangelical Council Reacts to Unorthodox Remarks by Bp of Liverpool

Church of England Evangelical Council Reacts to Unorthodox Remarks by Bishop of Liverpool The Church of England Evangelical Council has responded to a widely criticised public address and subsequent apology made last month by the Rt Revd Paul Bayes, Bishop of...

Questions Out of LFF, Letter to the Editor

Dear Sir, I read the first article from Anglican Futures, regarding the document, Living In Love and Faith, [LLF] EC 8083. I found the article helpful, well presented and gives a clear overview of the document.  However, I found myself seriously disquieted and I raise...

Kenyan Bishop Appeals for Orphan Aid: Parental Deaths Due to HIV

Kenyan Bishop Appeals for Orphan Aid Parental Deaths Due to HIV  The Rt Revd John Orina Omangi, Bishop of the Kisii Missionary District in Eastern Kenya is appealing for assistance in caring for 100 children orphaned by the widespread HIV problem in the area.  Kisii...

Christianity & Craft Freemasonry, A Pastoral Guide for Christian Ministers

Christianity and Craft Freemasonry A Pastoral Guide for Christian Ministers Gerard Moate Latimer Trust, 2021 (ISBN: 9781906327705, 70pp) By 1964 a national commission of enquiry estimated the existence of 50,000 books and pamphlets on freemasonry. This literature has,...

Forgotten Reformer: Myles Coverdale

Forgotten Reformer: Miles Coverdale Geoffrey Main Self-published, 2021 (ISBN: 9781916873704, 228pp) Episcopal biographies are always an enjoyable read, not least those of bishops who are better known for their non-episcopal work. Coverdale is of course best known for...

And Just When You Thought You’d Heard Everything, Bats Communications Officer

Whilst considering reducing the number of clergy nationwide, the Church of England is advertising for someone to be employed as its, “Bats in Churches Communications Officer”.  The post, which is located in London, pays between £31,857 and £34,255 (pro rata).  The...

Pilgrim’s Proces: Baptism Depths of Meaning by Peter Sanlon

In my last column we looked at the Lord’s Supper.  Today, we take a look at the other sign our Lord Jesus instituted among us.  These signs, or sacraments, which God gives his people are both simple and profound. In their simplicity, God's grace is powerfully...

Scripture or the Three-Legged Stool? by Mark Pickles

The question of ultimate authority is crucial for any church or denomination but is of particular significance within Anglicanism.

The Thirty-nine Articles are unequivocal the Scripture is to be the Church’s final and ultimate authority.  

Article VI states that “Holy Scripture  all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein nor may be proved thereby, is not the be require of any man, that it should be believed as an article of Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation”.

This article reveals the nuanced Anglican understanding of Scripture that wee will look at more fully shortly, however for now we note that it points us to Scripture as that which reveals the gospel to us.

Article XX addresses the question of the authority of the Church, “The Church hath power to decree Rites and Ceremonies and authority in Controversies of the 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 be repugnant to another.  Wherefore although the Church be a witness and a keeper of holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree anything against the same …”

Article XXI speaking of General Councils, “… and when they be gathered together … 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”.

The Articles are clear that Scripture has authority over Church Tradition and Councils, and that no church council or synod should ever ordain anything contrary to Scripture.  Church Councils can and do err but Scripture is inerrant and the bar against which everything must be checked.

The question of ultimate authority in many ways brings us to the heart of the battle for the soul of Anglicanism.  My point here is simply that historic Anglicanism has always been clear that Scripture and Scripture alone is our ultimate authority.  

The so-called “Three-legged stool” has come to be spoken of as depicting authentic Anglicanism’s approach to this question of authority.  The three-fold sources of authority:  Scripture, Tradition, and Reason are to be held in balance in coming to a common mind on matters of faith and conduct.  This has never been the position of historic Anglicanism and it is certainly not that understanding of authority revealed in the Articles.  Rather, historic Anglicanism greatly prizes both tradition and reason not least because they are invaluable tools in helping us interpret Scripture correctly.  We want to mine the vast resources and treasures of the Christian Church to help us understand God’s Word correctly and we want to be rigorous in applying our minds, the God-given faculty of reason again to help us understand and interpret God’s Word in the right way.

However, what the Articles make abundantly clear is that if there is ever a dispute between tradition and Scripture, Scripture alone is inerrant, infallible, and authoritative.  Church Councils can and do err but Scripture does not.

Excerpted from The Revd Dr Mark Pickles’ book, Gospel-Driven Anglicanism, pages 28-30.