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The Principles of Theology: An Introduction to the Thirty-Nine Articles Paperback – January 26, 2005
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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.Read more ›
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.
"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.Read more ›