The purpose of stating the faith : an historical and systematic inquiry into the tradition of fundamental articles with special reference to Anglicanism
Stating the faith in the form of fundamental articles has, historically, provided an important strategy by which the identity and continuity of the Church has been expressed. The issue underlying this ecclesiological context of fundamental articles concerns the truth of the one-in-Christ bond in Christianity. However discussion of fundamental articles of the faith has, from the Post-Reformation period, tended to occur as somewhat disconnected from wider concerns to do with the belief, discipleship and mission of the Church. One result is that important issues and motives implicit in the attempt to articulate the fundamental articles of Christianity remain undisclosed and undeveloped. By means of a multi-level approach - contemporary relevance (Part One), historical development (Part Two), case studies (Part Three) and systematic inquiry (Part Four) - this thesis develops an understanding of fundamental articles which shows how the theme is enmeshed within and contributes to the dynamic of Christian faith in the Church. The resources for this inquiry are drawn from an extensive, but hitherto largely unexamined treatment, of the theme of fundamental articles in Anglicanism. The Protestant tradition of speaking about fundamental articles of faith is found to offer an important medium through which the reality of being one-in-Christ can be identified, communicated and strengthened. In this way the tradition proves a valuable means for uncovering and examining the purpose(s) of stating the faith. The problematic role of fundamental articles in Anglican self- understanding reveals itself as an instance of a more general, controversial and unfinished task in theology to state the truth of God’s creating and redeeming love. The thesis thus draws attention to the significance of fundamental articles for expressing the nature and form of ecclesial faith and discipleship. A positive rationale emerges for a more intensive and discerning engagement with the fundamental articles tradition as a strategy by which theology can serve the mission of the Church.