Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles – Article XVI (Part 1) — The North American Anglican, and Some Commentary of My Own

Article XVI. Of 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…

Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles – Article XVI (Part 1) — The North American Anglican


Readers of this blog know that the whole business of Article XVI, the issue of perseverance and whether Anglicanism is truly a “Reformed” religion have occupied this web space for a long time. It is my opinion that this Article makes that impossible because, as the piece from the North American Anglican points out:

The Calvinist divines, on the contrary, have generally believed that grace once given was indefectible; and this is in fact their doctrine of perseverance. Calvin himself held, that our Lord and St. Paul taught us to confide that we should always be safe, if we were once made Christ’s; and that those who fall away may have had the outward signs, but had not the inward truth of election.[63]

The English reformers, as we have already seen, adopted in this Article the language, not of the Zuinglians and Calvinists, but of the Confession of Augsburg and the Lutherans. This is apparent from the wording of the Article itself, which evidently follows the wording of the Confession of Augsburg; and also from the Homilies, and other documents, both before and after the drawing up of the Articles. “The Necessary Doctrine” has been appropriately cited, which says, “It is no doubt, but although we be once justified, yet we may fall therefrom . . . . And although we be illuminated, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and be made partakers of the Holy Ghost, yet we may fall and displease God.”[64] 

The reason why Anglicanism cannot be a truly “Reformed” religion is that the Calvinists have made themselves into the “reference standard” of what Reformed is, and with their unjustifiably exalted position there’s not much anyone can do about it. That being the case, the adoption of a Lutheran formulation (along with much else in Anglicanism) makes it sui generis. Realising that would go a long way to enhance the whole business of “Anglican identity.” Article XVI also spared me a lot of Baptistic rubbish on the subject of perseverance, as I discuss here.

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