Give your response to the following statements (adapted from the 39 Articles):
1. “Christ ... 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 people.”
2. “Original Sin ... is the fault and corruption of the Nature of every man ... whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil ... and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God’s wrath and damnation.”
3. “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 deservings: Wherefore, that we are justified by Faith only is a most wholesome Doctrine.”
4. “Holy Scripture doth set out to us only the Name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.”
5. “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 it be repugnant to another.”
What one would be looking for in the answers would be, amongst other things, an absence of ‘nuancing’...
Herewith my 'nuancing' :)
1. I would start to nuance at the point of the word 'sacrifice'. What is meant or understood by it? A Pagan concept (like King Kong - appeasing an angry monster) or a fully Biblical concept? - by which I mean something much broader and richer than we've inherited from the Reformation era. I would understand the phrase 'bearing our sins' in a different way to that associated with penal substitution.
2. Wouldn't want to nuance this much - perhaps just pointing out that we were originally created in God's image, and that our sharing in divinity is more basic than our sin.
3. The nuancing would be about how to understand faith; I agree with the substance.
4. I don't agree with this one; that is, I think that the emphasis upon the Name is not something that Jesus himself would recognise (and I think it undercuts a proper doctrine of the Trinity). I would, however, affirm that none can come to the Father except by Him.
5. This I disagree with (see discussion here), mainly because I think it is in itself incoherent and unScriptural (lurking behind it is, I would argue, a faulty understanding of what the Word of God means).
John suggests that those who disagree, substitute in other tests. I'm not averse to there being tests of orthodoxy. If the teaching ministry is essential to ordination (which I think it is) then there does need to be something to mark out what is acceptable and what is not. I think my five tests would look something like this (comments very welcome):
Do you accept:
1) the doctrine of the Holy Trinity as understood and expressed in the Niceno-Constantinopolitan creed?
2) that Jesus of Nazareth was raised from the dead on the third day, and appeared to Peter and the disciples?
3) that Jesus of Nazareth is Lord of all, and the one to whom you owe your final allegiance?
4) that the Church of England is a part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church?
5) the discipline of the Church of England, and will you give canonical obedience to those in authority over you, in all things lawful and honest?
Obviously, my emphases are rather different to John's!