Christ Church, Christchurch VAWhat Evangelical Religion is not

According to J. C. Ryle, Bishop of Liverpool 1880–1900

We have stuck by the church through evil report and good report, while many who once talked more loudly about their Churchmanship have seceded

I go on to say that Evangelical Religion does not undervalue the Church , or think lightly of its privileges. It is not true to say that we do. In sincere and loyal attachment to the Church of England we give place to none. We value its form of government, its Confession of Faith, its mode of worship, as much as any within its pale. We have stuck by it through evil report and good report, while many who once talked more loudly about their Churchmanship have seceded and gone over to Rome. We stick by it still, and will resist all attempts to Romanize it to the very death! We know its value, and would hand it down unimpaired to our children’s children.

But we steadily refuse to exalt the Church above Christ, or to teach our people that membership of the Church is identical with membership of Christ. We refuse to assign it an authority for which we find no warrant either in Scripture or the Articles. We protest against the modern practice of first personifying the Church, then deifying it, and finally idolizing it. We hold that Church councils, Church synods, and Church convocations, may err, and that “things ordained by them as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of Holy Scripture.” We can find no proof in the Bible that the Lord Jesus Christ ever meant a body of erring mortals, whether ordained nor not ordained, to be treated as infallible. We consequently hold that a vast quantity of language in this day about “the Church” and the “voice of the Church” is mere unmeaning verbiage. It is “the talk of the lips, which tendeth only to penury.” (Prov. xiv. 23.)

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