The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion together with the Anglican Catechism are the defining statements of Anglican doctrine. They were issued by the Convocation of clergy of the Church of England in 1571 and are printed in the Book of Common Prayer and other Anglican prayer books. From 1673 to 1828, the Test Act made adherence to the Thirty-Nine Articles a requirement for holding civil office in England.

The Articles were not intended as a complete statement of the Christian faith, but as a statement of the position of the Church of England over against the Roman Catholic Church and some continental Reformers. The Articles highlight some of the major differences between Anglican and Catholic doctrine, as well as more conventional declarations of a Trinitarian Christianity. The Articles also argue against some Anabaptist positions such as the holding of goods in common, and the necessity of believer's baptism.

Outside the Church of England, Anglican views of the Thirty-Nine Articles vary. The Episcopal Church in the United States regards them as an historical document and does not require members to adhere to them.

Anglican clergyman John Wesley adapted the Thirty-Nine Articles for utilization by Methodists in the 18th century. The adapted Articles of Religion remain official United Methodist doctrine.

Summary of Content

In the order given in the Book of Common Prayer, the thirty-nine articles are:

  1. Faith in the Holy Trinity
  2. Of the Word or Son of God, which was made very Man
  3. Of the going down of Christ into Hell
  4. Of the Resurrection of Christ
  5. Of the Holy Ghost
  6. Of the Sufficiency of the holy Scripture for Salvation

    • including a recommendation of the Apocryphal books 'for example of life and instruction in manners ... [but not] to establish any doctrine'
  7. Of the Old Testament

  8. Of the Three Creeds (Nicene, Athanasian, and Apostles' Creed
  9. Of Original or Birth-sin
  10. Of Free Will
  11. Of the Justification of Man
  12. Of Good Works
  13. Of Works before Justification
  14. Of Works of Supererogation
  15. Of Christ Alone without Sin
  16. Of Sin after Baptism
  17. Of Predestination and Election
  18. Of Obtaining Eternal Salvation only by the Name of Christ
  19. Of the Church
  20. Of the Authority of the Church
  21. Of the Authority of General Councils
  22. Of Purgatory

    • The source of the phrase a fond thing vainly invented
  23. Of Ministering in the Congregation

  24. Of Speaking in the Congregation in such a tongue as the people understandeth
  25. Of the Sacraments

  26. Of the Unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not the effect of the Sacrament

  27. Of Baptism
  28. Of the Lord's Supper
  29. Of the Wicked which eat not the Body of Christ in the use of the Lord's Prayer
  30. Of both kinds

    • i.e. Communion in both kinds
  31. Of the one Oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross

  32. Of the Marriage of Priests
  33. Of Excommunicate Persons, how they are to be avoided
  34. Of the Traditions of the Church
  35. Of the Homilies

    • Includes a list of Thomas Cranmer's homilies, to be read in Churches
  36. Of Consecration of Bishops and Ministers

  37. Of the Civil Magistrates
  38. Of Christian Men's Goods, which are not common
  39. Of a Christian Man's Oath

External Links to the Articles of Religion online