Articles of Faith
Articles Of Faith, statements of the main points of belief of any single church framed by authority of the church, and binding upon its ministers or members, or upon both. Some object to Articles of Faith. Among the grounds of objection are the following, viz. that they infringe Christian liberty, and supersede the Scriptures by substituting- in their place a number of humanly-formed propositions; that to exhibit the Christian faith in any limited number of statements is virtually to declare that all besides is superfluous. It is objected, also, that such articles nourish hypocrisy, and hinder advancement in divine knowledge. "If employed at all," it is said, "they should be in the words of Scripture." The advocates for " articles of faith," on the other hand, affirm that it is not their purpose to sum up the whole of Christianity in any number of propositions, but merely to set forth the belief of a given church upon the leading truths of religion, as well as upon those matters which have at any period been subjects of heretical corruption or of controversy, and respecting which it is necessary that there should be agreement among such as are to be members of the same church; that articles are not intended to be guides through the whole voyage of Christian inquiry, but only beacon-lights to inform the mariner where lie those rocks and shoals on which preceding voyagers have made shipwreck. It is clear that there is a necessity for such articles, because the sense of Scripture upon any one point of faith lies scattered over too large a surface to be easily collected for himself by every individual member of the church; that scriptural truths are as capable as any other of being translated into common language; and that controversies within the church upon the meaning of Scripture would abound, if the church itself should give no interpretation of them (comp. Ro 6:17; 2Ti 1:13). The most important of these are specially treated below. SEE CONFESSIONS, SEE CREEDS.