The Lambeth Articles were a series of nine doctrinal statements drawn up by Archbishop of Canterbury John Whitgift in 1595 in order to define Calvinist doctrine with regard to predestination and justification.
The Articles were designed to settle a controversy that had arisen at Cambridge University regarding whether God predestines men to eternal life and eternal damnation. To clarify the situation, Whitgift drew up a list to define clearly the doctrines of Calvinism, which adhered to a predestinarian view.
The Lambeth Articles (also known as the Nine Articles) were drafted by William Whitaker, Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge. He had been sent to Whitgift by the heads of Cambridge University, along with Humphrey Tyndal, Dean of Ely, in order to settle the controversy. The Articles were originally drafted by Whitaker and modified later by Bishops to make them more acceptable to anti-Calvinists. They were signed by Archbishop Whitgift, Richard Fletcher, Bishop of London, Richard Vaughan, Bishop elect of Bangor, and others.
- The eternal election of some to life, and the reprobation of others to death.
- The moving cause of predestination to life is not the foreknowledge of faith and good works, but only the good pleasure of God.
- The number of the elect is unalterably fixed.
- Those who are not predestinated to life shall necessarily be damned for their sins.
- The true faith of the elect never fails finally nor totally.
- A true believer, or one furnished with justifying faith, has a full assurance and certainty of remission and everlasting salvation in Christ.
- Saving grace is not communicated to all men.
- No man can come to the Son unless the Father shall draw him, but all men are not drawn by the Father.
- It is not in every one's will and power to be saved.
The Articles were written on 20 November 1595 and sent to Cambridge University on 24 November. They were not intended as new laws, but as an explanation of the existing laws of the realm. However, they had not received the Queen's sanction, and although Whitgift maintained that he had Elizabeth's approval, her later actions seem to suggest the contrary. Whitgift said that the Articles should be used privately, with discretion.
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When Queen Elizabeth I discovered that the Articles had been submitted and discussed at a synod without her permission or authority, she was very angry and ordered that the archbishop recall and suppress the Articles immediately. This was partly due to her unfavourable attitude towards Calvinism in general - she preferred a milder, more compromising approach in her Religious Settlement of 1559 and wished to keep it that way - and partly because Whitgift, although one of her favourites, had acted on a matter of religion without her knowledge or consent, which she wanted to discourage. This reluctance to change her Settlement or increase the influence of radical Protestantism or Puritanism can be seen in her treatment of William Strickland when he introduced a reform bill to Parliament in 1571.
The Lambeth Articles were accepted at the 1615 Convocation of Dublin and consequently engrafted on the Irish Articles (written by James Ussher). One can find the basis of the Five Points of Calvinism contained in the Canons of Dort (1618–19) in the Lambeth Articles.
- Schaff 1877, p. 658.
- Schaff, Philip (1877). The Creeds of Christendom: With a History and Critical Notes. Vol 1. New York: Harper.
- Lake, P. G. (February 1987). "Calvinism and the English Church 1570–1635". Past & Present (114): 32–76. JSTOR 650960.
- White, Peter (2002). Predestination, Policy and Polemic: Conflict and Consensus in the English Church from the Reformation to the Civil War. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-89250-6.