Lambeth Articles

Lambeth Articles

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The Lambeth Articles were a series of nine doctrinal statements drawn up by Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. In his role as head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop leads the third largest group...

 John Whitgift
John Whitgift
John Whitgift was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1583 to his death. Noted for his hospitality, he was somewhat ostentatious in his habits, sometimes visiting Canterbury and other towns attended by a retinue of 800 horsemen...

 in 1595, in order to define Calvinist doctrine with regard to predestination
Predestination, in theology is the doctrine that all events have been willed by God. John Calvin interpreted biblical predestination to mean that God willed eternal damnation for some people and salvation for others...

 and justification.

The Articles were designed to settle a controversy that had arisen at Cambridge University regarding whether God predestines men to eternal life and eternal damnation. To clarify the situation, Whitgift drew up a list to define clearly the doctrines of Calvinism, which adhered to a predestinarian view.

The Lambeth Articles (also known as the Nine Articles) were drafted by Dr. William Whitaker
William Whitaker (theologian)
William Whitaker was a prominent Anglican theologian. He was Master of St. John's College, Cambridge, and a leading divine in the university in the latter half of the sixteenth century.-Early life and education:...

, Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, who, along with Humphrey Tyndal, Dean of Ely
Dean of Ely
The position of Dean of Ely Cathedral, in East Anglia, England, was created at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The first Dean of Ely had been the last Benedictine prior of Ely.-List of Deans:*1541-1557 Robert Steward or Welles...

, had been sent to Whitgift by the heads of Cambridge University to settle the controversy. Originally drafted by Whitaker and modified later by Bishops to make them more acceptable to anti-Calvinists, the Articles were signed by: Archbishop Whitgift, Dr. Richard Fletcher, Bishop of London
Bishop of London
The Bishop of London is the ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of London in the Province of Canterbury.The diocese covers 458 km² of 17 boroughs of Greater London north of the River Thames and a small part of the County of Surrey...

, Dr. Richard Vaughan
Richard Vaughan (bishop)
-Life:His father was Thomas ap Robert Fychan of Nyffryn, Llyn, Caernarvonshire. He was educated at St John's College, Cambridge, where he graduated BA in 1574, MA in 1577, and DD in 1589...

, Bishop elect of Bangor, and others.

The Articles

  1. Some are elected to eternal life whereas others are reprobated to death
  2. The cause resulting in predestination to eternal life is only the pleasure of God, not the foreknowledge of faith and good works.
  3. The number of elect (those predestined to eternal life) is unalterably fixed.
  4. Those not predestined to life shall be damned for their sins necessarily.
  5. The elect never fail finally in their true faith.
  6. A true believer - one that has justifying faith (for men are saved by faith alone, sola fide) - has full certainty and assurance of everlasting salvation in Christ.
  7. Saving grace is not communicated to all men.
  8. No one can come to the Father unless there are drawn there by Him, and not all men are drawn to Him.
  9. It is not in all men's power or will to be saved.

The Articles were written on 20 November 1595 and sent to Cambridge University on 24 November. They were not intended as new laws, but as an explanation of the existing laws of the realm. However, they had not received the Queen's sanction, and although Whitgift maintained that he had Elizabeth's approval, her later actions seem to suggest the contrary. Whitgift said that the Articles should be used privately, with discretion.

Queen's reaction

When Queen Elizabeth I discovered that the Articles had been submitted and discussed at a synod
A synod historically is a council of a church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. In modern usage, the word often refers to the governing body of a particular church, whether its members are meeting or not...

 without her permission or authority, she was very angry and ordered that the Archbishop recall and suppress the Articles immediately. This was partly due to her unfavourable attitude towards Calvinism
Calvinism is a Protestant theological system and an approach to the Christian life...

 in general - she preferred a milder, more compromising approach in her Religious Settlement of 1559 and wished to keep it that way - and partly because Whitgift, although one of her favourites, had acted on a matter of religion without her knowledge or consent, which she wanted to discourage. This reluctance to change her Settlement or increase the influence of radical Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 or Puritanism
The Puritans were a significant grouping of English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries. Puritanism in this sense was founded by some Marian exiles from the clergy shortly after the accession of Elizabeth I of England in 1558, as an activist movement within the Church of England...

 can be seen in her treatment of William Strickland
William Strickland (navigator)
William Strickland was an English landowner who sailed on early voyages of exploration to the Americas and is credited with introducing the turkey into England...

 when he introduced a reform bill to Parliament in 1571.

Later reactions

The Lambeth Articles were accepted at the 1615 Convocation of Dublin and consequently engrafted on the Irish Articles (written by James Ussher
James Ussher
James Ussher was Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland between 1625–56...

). One can find the basis of the Five Points of Calvinism, contained in the Canons of Dort (1618-19) in the Lambeth Articles.

Further reading