Monday, May 07, 2012

Proposed PEARUSA Charter and ACNA/PEARUSA Protocol

By Robin G. Jordan

PEARUSA has posted the proposed PEARUSA charter and the proposed PEAR/ACNA/PEARUSA protocol on its website. The draft charter is to be presented to at the PEARUSA Celebration gathering in Raleigh, NC, June 11-13, 2012, and to be finalized and approved by the House of Bishops of Rwanda by June 30, 2012. I have not fully examined the two document but one thing immediately caught my attention was the draft charter’s adoption of the Protestant Episcopal Church’s 1801 revision of the Thirty-Nine Articles. This revision made changes in the Thirty-Nine Articles that went beyond simply adapting them to the political situation in the United States. The following articles were affected by the 1801 revision.

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 states: "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 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 states: "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 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.” 

To my knowledge the Protestant Episcopal Church never issued a revision of the Books of Homilies. A number of the Homilies provide further exposition of the doctrine of the Thirty-Nine Articles. With the Thirty-Nine Articles (1571) and the Book of Common Prayer (1662) the Books of Homilies comprise the historic formularies of orthodox Anglicanism.

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." 

The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion had its opponents in the Protestant Episcopal Church from the outset. In 1799 the following resolution was brought to the floor of the General Convention: "Resolved, That the articles of our faith and religion as founded on the Holy Scriptures are sufficiently declared in our Creeds and our Liturgy as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer, established for the use of this Church, and that further articles do not appear necessary." The House of Bishops vetoed the resolution. The Bishops favored adopting a formal statement of the faith of the Protestant Episcopal Church. When the revised Articles were adopted in 1801, the clergy of the Protestant Episcopal Church, however, were not required to formally subscribe to the Articles, as were the clergy of the Church of England. What binding force upon belief that they might carry was left to the conscience of the individual.

 I would recommend the substitution of the following language for Article 1., Section C of the proposed charter.

PERUSA accepts the doctrine of the reformed Church of England as set forth in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of 1571 as understood in their plain, natural, and intended sense. PEARUSA allows that parts of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of 1571 such as Article 37 assume and name political structures that do not directly apply to Anglicans or Anglican churches outside of the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth of Nations.

Related documents:
PEARUSA Identity and Vision
Transitional Processes for Affiliation with PEARUSA

Photo: "Amalgamations" - Steven Pearson

1 comment:

James Gibson said...


Thank you for your input on the proposed PEAR USA charter. I would encourage you, if you are able to attend, to bring your suggestions to the Raleigh assembly. We are committed to having an open, gracious, and collegial dialogue.

(the Revd) James Gibson
Website Administrator