"Holy Scripture is the verbally inspired Word of God and containeth all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scriptures, we do understand these canonical books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church."
The canonical books are the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament as produced in the King James Version of these Scriptures.
We have many scriptural references as to the sufficiency of the Scriptures in themselves for salvation and Christian growth and development. Some of them are Psalm 19:7; Luke 24:27; John 17:17; Acts 17:2,11; Romans 1:2; II Timothy 3:15-16; Hebrews 4:12; James 1:21; Peter 1:23; II Peter 1:19-21; and Revelation 22:14, 19.
The original article was written in 1553 in slightly different form; "Holy Scriptures containeth all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is neither read therein, nor may be proved thereby, although it be sometime received of the faithful as godly and profitable for an order and comeliness, yet no man ought to be constrained to believe it as an article of faith or repute it requisite to the necessity of salvation."
Already the apocryphal books placed in the Roman Catholic Bible were having tremendous effect on the Church. The Roman Church had introduced these books to support their teaching concerning purgatory, prayers for the dead and other teachings peculiar to the church.
Slight changes were made in 1563 and a final revision was made by the Church of England in 1571. The Evangelical Methodist General Conference in 1949 made some brief changes in the article adding the words, "Is the verbally inspired Word of God."
These words greatly strengthened the article, because Modernism teaches that Scripture contains in it the Word of God, but that it is not verbally inspired. Therefore, the Bible, while it contains the Word of God, is not all the Word of God. These added words declare that all of the Bible is the verbally inspired Word of God and thus, this addition conforms with the teachings of the Scriptures themselves, (1) Peter 1:19-2 1, "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy (teaching) of Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" and (2) II Timothy 3:16-17, 'All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
Protestantism, in its purity, has always declared "Holy Scripture" to be the sole source of truth and authority. Today when Modernism and Apostasy are attacking the citadel, we, as Evangelical Methodists, need to affirm our belief in the sole authority of Holy Scripture for truth and doctrine.
Our ministers are asked in their ordination vows: "Do you unfeignedly believe all the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testament?" "Will you diligently read or expound the same unto the people whom you shall be appointed to serve?" These questions are asked of those desiring deacons orders.
The elders are also questioned, 'Are you persuaded that the Holy Scriptures have all the truth necessary for eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ? And are you determined out of the same Holy Scriptures, so to instruct the people committed to your charge? Will you teach nothing else as necessary to eternal salvation but that which you shall be persuaded may be concluded and proved by the Scriptures?" "Will you be ready with all faithful diligence to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to Gods Word?"
Yet, many Methodist preachers have agreed to these questions and then have gone out to deliberately leach otherwise. Any minister who is not faithful to his ordination vows cannot be trusted in any other capacity. His word is valueless.
This article on the Holy Scriptures jealously protects the rightful position of these Scriptures as a depository of that "faith once for all delivered to the saints," (Jude 3) and guards against other additions to the original deposit committed to the care of the church.
The Roman Catholic Church has declared that tradition and the teachings of the saints and encyclicals of the Pope are as authoritative as the Scripture. Scripture itself decries this, especially Revelation 22:18-19. There are frequent statements in Scripture indicating that the written law has a security which is lacking in oral tradition. We refer to such passages as Luke 1:1-4, and Acts 1:1-4, also John 20:31.
The Lord, Himself, denounces the Jews for "making the Word of God to none effect through their traditions" (Mark 7:1-13). We are thus warned against trusting to oral tradition. Christ, in His temptations appealed to Scripture for authority. He spoke of the authority and trustworthiness of Scripture in Luke 24. The Berean Christians were commended for their spiritual superiority because they searched the Scriptures, Acts 17:10-11.
Hebrews 1:1-3 declares that Gods final revelation was made through Christ. Not one single writer of the New Testament even suggests the slightest grounds for looking for any further revelation. If the final revelation was made in Christ, and the Scriptures were written for the purpose of preserving an authentic record of that revelation, it seems impossible to believe that any necessary doctrine can be omitted from them.
The Church Fathers in the first four hundred years accepted the canonical scriptures as in the King James Version as the sole source of truth. Athanasius, from whom comes the Athanasian Creed, says, "the holy and divinely inspired Scriptures are sufficient of themselves to the declaration of truth" (AD 318). Augustine in AID 430 stated, "owing unhesitating assent to nothing but the canonical Scriptures.
The word "canon" means, "a straight rod, or, a carpenters rule." It is that which serves to regulate or determine other things, a rule or standard. Paul uses the word in this sense in II Corinthians 10:13, 15, 16 and Galatians 6:16. The books accepted by the Church were said to be "in the canon." The Jewish Fathers only recognized the 39 books of the Old Testament as found in the Septuagint and our King James Bible. All of the apocryphal books contained in the Douay and other Roman Catholic Bibles were not accepted by the Hebrew Fathers as inspired of God. For the first four hundred years of the Churchs history, the Fathers refused to accept anything but the Hebrew Canon. We could quote Melito of Sardis (AD 180), Origen (AD 220), Cyril of Jerusalem (348), Athanasius (367), Gregory Nazianzer (390),Hilard of Porctiers (368), Rufinius (390). Jerome, translator of the Roman Catholic Vulgate (430). Jerome says, "whatever is without the number of these must be placed among the Apocrypha."
Eusebius, the first church historian, in his "Ecclesiastical History," Vol. 3, Chapter 25, lists the books of the canon as we have them in our King James version today. Thus the Scriptures themselves, the Hebrew Fathers, the Church Fathers and Historians have firmly established and fixed the "canon" of authority. That authority alone, inspired by God through the Holy Scripture is sufficient for salvation, practice and growth in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, Savior and Lord.