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The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion
Church of England (Anglican)

Dennis Bratcher, ed.

The Church of England (Anglican), version of 1571. 
Included below as notations are revisions that were made in 1801 by the Protestant Episcopal Church USA.

These Articles of Religion became the basis for several other Faith Statements in traditions that have their ancestry in the Anglican tradition, including the Thirty-Five Articles of Religion of the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Twenty Five Articles of Religion of the Methodist Church.  The influence of these articles can also be seen in later churches in the Wesleyan tradition, such as the Faith Statements of the Church of the Nazarene.

[Note: In the following version, there have been minor editorial changes to modernize archaic language.]

Articles of Religion

Article 1 - Faith in the Holy Trinity

There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there are three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

Article 2 - The Word, or Son of God, which was made very man

The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took man's nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance: so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the Godhead and manhood, were joined together in one person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God and very man, who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile His Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men.

Article 3 - The Descent of Christ into Hell

As Christ died for us, and was buried, so also is it to be believed that He went down into Hell.

Article 4 - The Resurrection of Christ

Christ did truly rise again from death, and took again His body, with flesh, bones, and all things appertaining to the perfection of man's nature, wherefore He ascended into heaven, and there sits until He return to judge all men at the last day.

Article 5 - The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one substance, majesty, and glory with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God.

Article 6 - The sufficiency of the Holy Scripture for Salvation

Holy Scripture contains all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the 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 any doubt in the Church.

The names and number of the Canonical Books.

Genesis Judges The First Book of Chronicles The Psalms
Exodus Ruth The Second Book of Chronicles The Proverbs
Leviticus The First Book of Samuel The First Book of Esdras Ecclesiastes, or the Preacher
Numbers The Second Book of Samuel The Second Book of Esdras Canticle, or Songs of Solomon
Deuteronomy  The First Book of Kings The Book of Esther Four Prophets the Greater
Joshua The Second Book of Kings The Book of Job Twelve Prophets the Less

All the books of the New Testament, as they are commonly received, we do receive, and account them canonical.

And the other books (as Hierome [Jerome] said) the Church reads for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet it does not apply them to establish any doctrine. Such are these following:

The Third Book of Esdras The Book of Wisdom.  Of Bel and the Dragon
The Fourth Book of Esdras Jesus the Son of Sirach The Prayer of Manasses
The Book of Tobias Baruch the Prophet The First Book of Maccabees
The Book of Judith The Song of the Three Children The Second Book of Maccabees.
The rest of the Book of Esther The Story of Susanna

Article 7 - The Old Testament

The Old Testament is not contrary to the New; for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man, being both God and man. Wherefore there are not to be heard which feign that the old fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the law given from God by Moses, as touching ceremonies and rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet, notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called moral.

Article 8 - The Three Creeds

The three Creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius' Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles' Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed; for they may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture.

The 1801 Protestant Episcopal version of this article: "The Nicene Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles' Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed: for they may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture."

Article 9 - Original or Birth Sin

Original sin stands not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk), but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusts always contrary to the spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserves God's wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea, in them that are regenerated, whereby the lust of the flesh, called in Greek phronema sarkos (which some do expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the affection, some the desire of the flesh), is not subject to the law of God. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized, yet the Apostle confesses that concupiscence and lust has itself the nature of sin.

Article 10 - Free Will

The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith and calling upon God. Wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us that we may have a good will, and working with us when we have that good will.

Article 11 - The Justification of Man

We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by faith, and not for our own works or deserving. Wherefore that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort; as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.

Article 12 - Good Works

Albeit that good works, which are the fruits of faith and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins and endure the severity of God's judgement, yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith, insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit.

Article 13 - Works before Justification

Works done before the grace of Christ and the inspiration of His Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ, neither do they make men meet to receive grace, or (as the School authors say) deserve grace of congruity: yea, rather for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin.

Article 14 - Works of Supererogation

Voluntary works besides, over and above, God's commandments which they call Works of Supererogation, cannot be taught without arrogance and impiety. For by them men do declare that they do not only render unto God as much as they are bound to do, but that they do more for His sake than of bounden duty is required: Whereas Christ said plainly, When you have done all that are commanded to you, say, We are unprofitable servants.

Article 15 - Christ alone without Sin

Christ in the truth of our nature was made like unto us in all things, sin only except, from which He was clearly void, both in His flesh and in His spirit. He came to be the lamb without spot, Who by sacrifice of Himself once made, should take away the sins of the world: and sin, as Saint John said, was not in Him. But all we the rest, although baptized and born again in Christ, yet offend in many things: and if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

Article 16 - Sin after Baptism

Not every deadly sin willingly committed after Baptism is sin against the Holy Ghost, and unpardonable. Wherefore the grant of repentance is not to be denied to such as fall into sin after Baptism. After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given and fall into sin, and by the grace of God we may arise again and amend our lives. And therefore they are to be condemned, which say, they can no more sin as long as they live here, or deny the place of forgiveness to such as truly repent.

Article 17 - Predestination and Election

Predestination to life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby, before the foundations of the world were laid, He has constantly decreed by His counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom He has chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation as vessels made to honour. Wherefore they which are endued with so excellent a benefit of God are called according to God's purpose by His Spirit working in due season; they through grace obey the calling; they are justified freely; they are made sons of God by adoption; they are made like the image of His only-begotten Son Jesus Christ; they walk religiously in good works; and at length by God's mercy they attain to everlasting felicity.

As the godly consideration of Predestination and our Election in Christ is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh and their earthly members and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things, as well because it greatly establishes and confirms their faith of eternal salvation to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it fervently kindles their love towards God: so for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God's Predestination is a most dangerous downfall, whereby the devil thrusts them either into desperation or into wretchedness of most unclean living no less perilous than desperation.

Furthermore, we must receive God's promises just as they are generally set forth in Holy Scripture; and in our doings that will of God is to be followed which we have had expressly declared unto us in the word of God.

Article 18 - Obtaining eternal salvation only by the name of Christ

They also are to be accursed that presume to say that every man shall be saved by the law or sect which he professes, so that he is diligent to frame his life according to that law and the light of nature. For Holy Scripture sets out to us only the name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.

Article 19 - The Church

The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure word of God is preached and the sacraments are duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same. As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch have erred: so also the Church of Rome has erred, not only in their living and manner of ceremonies, but also in matters of faith.

Article 20 - The Authority of the Church

The Church has power to decree rites or ceremonies and authority in controversies of faith; and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything 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 is a witness and a keeper of Holy Scripture: yet, as it ought not to decree anything against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce anything to be believed for necessity of salvation.

Article 21 - 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 sometime have erred, even in things pertaining to 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 1801 Protestant Episcopal version of this article: "[The Twenty-first of the former Articles is omitted; because it is partly of a local and civil nature, and is provided for, as to the remaining parts of it, in other Articles.]"

Article 22 - Purgatory

The Roman [Catholic] doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, worshipping and adoration as well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saint, is a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture; but rather repugnant to the word of God.

Article 23 - Ministering in the Congregation

It is not lawful for any man to take upon him the office of public preaching or ministering the sacraments in the congregation, before he is lawfully called and sent to execute the same. And those we ought to judge lawfully called and sent, which are chosen and called to this work by men who have public authority given unto them in the congregation to call and send ministers into the Lord's vineyard.

Article 24 - Speaking in the Congregation in a tongue that the people can understand

It is a thing plainly repugnant to the word of God and the custom of the primitive Church, to have public prayer in the Church, or to minister the sacraments in a tongue not understood by the people.

Article 25 - The Sacraments

Sacraments ordained of Christ are not only badges or tokens of Christian men's profession, but rather they are certain sure witnesses and effectual signs of grace and God's good will towards us, by which He works invisibly in us, and not only quickens, but also strengthens and confirms, 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 the like nature of Sacraments with Baptism and the Lord's Supper, for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.

The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon or to be carried about, but that we should duly use them. And in such only as worthily receive the same, have they a wholesome effect or operation: but they that receive them unworthily, purchase to themselves damnation, as S. Paul said.

Article 26 - The unworthiness of Ministers does not hinder the effect of the Sacraments

Although in the visible Church the evil be ever mingled with the good, and sometime the evil has chief authority in the ministration of the word and sacraments; yet because they do not do so in their own name, but in Christ's, and minister by His commission and authority, we may use their ministry both in hearing the word of God and in the 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 those who by faith and rightly receive the sacraments ministered unto them, which are effectual because of Christ's institution and promise, although they are ministered by evil men.

Nevertheless it is part of 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.

Article 27 - Baptism

Baptism is not only a sign of profession and mark of difference by which Christian men are discerned from other that be not christened, but 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 Spirit 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.

Article 28 - The Lord's Supper

The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves, one to another, but rather it is [also] a sacrament of our redemption by Christ's death: to those who rightly, worthily, and with faith receive it, the bread that we break is a partaking of the body of Christ, and likewise the cup of blessing is a partaking of the blood of Christ.

Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of bread and wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Scripture, but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthrows the nature of a Sacrament, and has given occasion to many superstitions.

The body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the means by which the body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is faith

The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.

Article 29 - The wicked which do not eat the body of Christ, in the use of the Lord's Supper

The wicked and those who are void of a lively faith, although they do carnally and visibly press with their teeth (as S. Augustine said) the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, yet in no wise are they partakers of Christ, but rather to their condemnation do eat and drink the sign or sacrament of so great a thing.

Article 30 - Both Kinds

The Cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the lay people; for both parts of the Lord's sacrament, by Christ's ordinance and commandment, ought to be ministered to all Christian men alike.

Article 31 - The one oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross

The offering of Christ once made is the perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual, and there is no other satisfaction for sin but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifices of Masses, in which it was commonly said that the priests offered Christ for the living and the dead to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits.

Article 32 - The Marriage of Priests

Bishops, Priests, and Deacons are not commanded by God's laws either to vow the estate of single life or to abstain from marriage. Therefore it is lawful also for them, as for all other Christian men, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve better to godliness.

Article 33 - Excommunicated Persons, how they are to be avoided

That person which by open denunciation of the Church is rightly cut off from the unity of the Church and excommunicated, ought to be taken by the whole multitude of the faithful as an heathen and publican, until he is openly reconciled by penance and received into the Church by a judge that has authority to do so.

Article 34 - The Traditions of the Church

It is not necessary that traditions and ceremonies be in all places one or utterly alike; for at all times they have been diverse, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries, times, and men's manners, so that nothing be ordained against God's word.

Whosoever through his private judgement willingly and purposely openly breaks the traditions and ceremonies of the Church which are not repugnant to the word of God, and are ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly that others may fear to do the like, as he that offends against common order of the Church, and hurts the authority of the magistrate, and wounds the conscience of the weak brethren.

Every particular or national Church has authority to ordain, change, and abolish ceremonies or rites of the Church ordained only by man's authority, so that all things be done to edifying.

Article 35 - Of Homilies

The second Book of Homilies, the various titles of which we have joined under this Article, contains a godly and wholesome doctrine and necessary for these times, as does the former Book of Homilies which were set forth in the time of Edward the Sixth: and therefore we judge them to be read in Churches by the ministers diligently and distinctly, that they may be understood by the people.

The Names of the Homilies

1.Of the right Use of the Church
2.Against peril of Idolatry
3.Of the repairing and keeping clean of Churches
4.Of good Works: first of Fasting
5.Against Gluttony and Drunkenness
6.Against Excess of Apparel
7.Of Prayer
8.Of the Place and Time of Prayer
9.That Common Prayers and Sacraments ought to be ministered in a known tongue.
10.Of the reverend estimation of God's Word
11.Of Alms-doing
12.Of the Nativity of Christ
13.Of the Passion of Christ
14.Of the Resurrection of Christ
15.Of the worthy receiving of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ
16.Of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost
17.For the Rogation-days
18.Of the state of Matrimony 
19.Of Repentance
20.Against Idleness
21.Against Rebellion

The 1801 Protestant Episcopal USA version of this article adds the following: "[This Article is received in this Church, so far as it declares the Books of Homilies to be an explication of Christian doctrine, and instructive in piety and morals. But all references to the constitution and laws of England are considered as inapplicable to the circumstances of this Church; which also suspends the order for the reading of said Homilies in churches, until a revision of them may be conveniently made, for the clearing of them, as well from obsolete words and phrases, as from the local references.]"

Article 36 - Of Consecration of Bishops and Ministers

The Book of Consecration of Archbishops and Bishops and ordering of Priests and Deacons, lately set forth in the time of Edward the Sixth and confirmed at the same time by authority of Parliament, contains all things necessary to such consecration and ordering; neither has it anything that of itself is superstitious or ungodly.

And therefore whosoever are consecrated or ordered according to the rites of that book, since the second year of King Edward unto this time, or hereafter shall be consecrated or ordered according to the same rites, we decree all such to be rightly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated or ordered.

The 1801 Protestant Episcopal version of this article is as follows: "The Book of Consecration of Bishops, and Ordering of Priests and Deacons, as set forth by the General Convention of this Church in 1792, doth contain all things necessary to such Consecration and Ordering; neither hath it any thing that, of itself, is superstitious and ungodly. And, therefore, whosoever are consecrated or ordered according to said Form, we decree all such to be rightly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated and ordered."

Article 37 - Of the Civil Magistrates

The Queen's Majesty has the chief power in this realm of England and other of her dominions, unto whom the chief government of all estates of this realm, whether they be ecclesiastical or civil, in all causes appertains, and is not nor ought to be subject to any foreign jurisdiction.

Where we attribute to the Queen's Majesty the chief government, by which titles we understand the minds of some slanderous folks to be offended, we give not to our princes the ministering either of God's word or of sacraments, which the Injunctions also lately set forth by Elizabeth our Queen most plainly testifies: but only that prerogative which we see to have been given always to all godly princes in Holy Scriptures by God himself, that is, that they should rule all estates and degrees committed to their charge by God, whether they be temporal, and restrain with the civil sword the stubborn and evil-doers.

The Bishop of Rome has no jurisdiction in this realm of England.

The laws of the realm may punish Christian men with death for heinous and grievous offences.

It is lawful for Christian men at the commandment of the Magistrate to wear weapons and serve in the wars.

The 1801 Protestant Episcopal version of this article: "The Power of the Civil Magistrate extends to all men, as well Clergy as Laity, in all things temporal; but has no authority in things purely spiritual. And we hold it to be the duty of all men who are professors of the Gospel, to pay respectful obedience to the Civil Authority, regularly and legitimately constituted."

Article 38 - Christian men's goods which are not common

The riches and goods of Christians are not common, concerning their right, title, and possession, as certain Anabaptists do falsely boast; still, every man ought of such things as he possesses liberally to give alms to the poor, according to his ability.

Article 39 - A Christian man's Oath

As we confess that vain and rash swearing is forbidden Christian men by our Lord Jesus Christ, so we judge that Christian religion does not prohibit a man from swearing when the magistrate requires in a cause of faith and charity, so it be done according to the Prophet's teaching in justice, judgement, and truth.

 -Dennis Bratcher, Copyright 2018, Dennis Bratcher, All Rights Reserved
(No copyright claims are made for the text of the original document.)
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