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The Principles of Theology: An Introduction to the Thirty-Nine Articles Paperback – January 26, 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 602 pages
  • Publisher: Wipf & Stock Pub (January 26, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159752073X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597520737
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,433,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Reviewer's disclaimer: I am an Episcopal/Anglican layman, and not a trained theologian. Hence my insights or lack thereof are informed by a passion for Anglican theology--a theology which by many modern-day Episcopal Church standards is orthodox/conservative.
Edition note: I'm not sure of the differences between this "7th" edition and the one I read, but I will note that the one I read was the last edition published before the author's death circa 1950, listed as a 4th edition. Perhaps the publisher can supply the needed information here.
"The Principles of Theology" is a thorough, engaging work on the classic Anglican statement of the English Reformation, the 39 Articles. These articles can be found in any copy of the American Book of Common Prayer, but are seemingly ignored by a fair number of our current Episcopal leadership. This is a grievous thing, for these statements should continue to inform any 21st century Anglican who takes his or her faith seriously, despite the fact that the Articles are also very much reflective of their times--the ferment of the Reformation.
The "Introduction" covers a number of topics, including Revelation, Faith, Doctrine, Theology, Creeds, and Anglican Articles. There is also a quite lengthy and helpful History of the Articles.
Every one of the 39 Articles is covered in this book; each chapter is systematically laid out and organized so that a number of facets are covered, including a history of the particular Article when necessary. Footnotes are extensive and well worth reading. It should also be noted that the author uses both Greek and Latin terms which are not always translated--a hindrance for this reader.
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For many years this has been something of the standard Low Church (Protestant/Reformed) exposition of the 39 Articles. In recent years a number of Reformed and Evangelical expositions have appeared, but it is unclear as of yet if any of them will surpass this work.

Griffith Thomas's approach to the Articles is both Reformed and analytical as he wrestles with the intended or implied meaning of each article.

If you are serious about the Articles I would, however, supplement this work with that of Bishop Edward Howard Browne for a more in depth discussion of what the Reformers actually intended to say when drafting the Articles.
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All the sections covered in each of the Thirty-nine articles were very well written. It covered the very important historical context of each of the articles. The doctrinal position of the Church of England when the articles were formulated are established within their historical context and a proper exposition is given. It reflects the contrast between Anglicanism and the Church of Rome and interacts with " High Church " Anglicans. It should be read and used by Anglicans. This work is from the " Reformed " aspect of Anglicanism. When one reads this book they will see the big difference between the low church position and the high church branch. True Anglicanism is found in the thirty-nine articles. It's correct exposition of them is right in this work. This work belongs in every theological library for a great study. My personal favorite parts of it was his sections on Sola Scripture and it's chapters on justification and good works. Very solid theological teaching in it ! This work is Reformed Anglicanism and moderately dispensational premillennial as W.H. Griffith Thomas was an Anglican and a dispensationalist who co-founded Dallas Theological Seminary with Lewis Sperry Chafer.
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W.H. Griffith Thomas' "The Principles of Theology" is one of the better commentaries on the Anglican Thirty-nine Articles. It provides an excellent historical discussion of the development of the Articles which may, in fact, be the best part of the book. I also like the way that Griffith Thomas has divided the Articles up into sections that make their order easier to memorize.

"The Principles of Theology" is a 500+ page work; so fortunately, Griffith Thomas is fairly thorough in his discussions without belaboring the points too much. In his discussion of each Article, he is careful to define the important terms and, where it applies, discuss the Roman Catholic theology on the given issue and where it is in error. He follows this with a discussion of the true meaning of each Article, including some excellent historical information and footnotes.

While "The Principles of Theology" is a very good commentary on the Articles, Griffith Thomas was himself an Evangelical Low Churchman, which shows in this work. For this reason, there are, naturally, certain biases that are manifested in Griffith's book. His view of the Church and Sacraments will be "lower" than that of a more High Church or Anglo-Catholic position. It means, as well, that other historic Anglican interpretations are ignored or given too little attention. Griffith Thomas also discusses the Articles in isolation from the Book of Common Prayer (both must be interpreted together for they were composed at the same time by some of the same men with a common theology and vision). Just as importantly, Griffith Thomas argues from an Evangelical or Reformed position, without referring to the Church Fathers, to whom the Reformers themselves and Anglicans in general have looked as the best interpreters of Scripture.
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