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  • Jacob Collins

Deep roots - an insightful book

A review of Deep Roots: A Beginner’s Guide to the Doctrine of the Church of England by Martin Davie, Latimer Trust, 2023

 


In its “Christian Doctrine” series, The Latimer Trust intends to offer a series to “guide readers through the various aspects of the Church’s doctrine” (3). In his introduction, Gerald Bray suggests that the core of Anglican theology is shared in common with all Christians, but that they have “a distinctive way in which Anglicans relate to that common heritage and adapt it for their own mission as witnesses to Jesus Christ in the world” (1). Martin Davie launches the series examining Anglican theology through its unique foundations: Scripture, the teachings of the early church (Fathers, councils, creeds), and the Church of England’s own historic formularies (6).

 

The following chapters address each of these issues in turn. Davie does a brilliant job defending the teaching of Scripture and its central role as the foundation of all church life, for only Holy Scripture is inspired by God and therefore has divine authority in all matters of life and practice (11–18). Davie then turns to the “Tradition,” which he defines as the teaching of the Church Fathers, the decrees of the Church Councils, and the three historic creeds. By offering a balanced and thoughtful approach to the Church’s Tradition, Davie is able to suggest that these things are authoritative insofar as they agree with the clear teaching of Scripture. The Tradition was made by men and for men and therefore is as fallible as anything else we create. Davie offers a balanced reading which acknowledges the authority but also the fallen nature of early Christian leaders. Both the Scripture (without the Apocrypha) and the Tradition are held in common with most other Christians (19–55).

 

Finally, the book examines the unique formularies of the Anglican Church in two separate chapters. First, Davie looks at the 39 Articles of Religion and the Two Books of Homilies (37–49), presenting a bold and compelling case for their enduring relevance and authority for Anglicans today, and then he addresses the Prayer Book and the Ordinal (51–62), through which he establishes the role of clergy and laymen in their personal and corporate devotion to God, the theology which is promulgated in and by the Church, and the discipline the clergy ought to enact on errant Church members.

 

Though this is a brief introduction to a serious topic, Martin Davie does a brilliant job introducing the unique witness of the Anglican Church to Jesus Christ through its authorities. Each chapter concludes with suggestions for further reading, but for all interested laymen, postulants, and clergy who need a reminder of the evangelical roots of their faith, I cannot recommend this introduction to Anglican Doctrine highly enough.

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Jacob Collins teaches Latin and Bible courses at Covenant Classical Christian School in Columbia, South Carolina USA. He received his Master of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School, part of Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama and currently attends All Souls Anglican Church.

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