Perhaps the best shorthand statement for our doctrinal position as a church is the famous formula set forth by Bishop Lancelot Andrewes, in defining the boundaries of faith and practice for the Church of England.
One canon reduced to writing by God himself, two testaments, three creeds, four general councils, five centuries, and the series of Fathers in that period—the centuries that is, before Constantine, and two after, determine the boundary of our faith.
We affirm that the Canon of Holy Scripture is central to our Rule of Faith, standing as the ultimate norm of belief and practice. We affirm the Bible to be the infallible and revealed Word of God. Hence we test all things by God’s Word written.
We affirm the 39 canonical books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament to be the limits of biblical inspiration. The received books of the Deuterocanon or “Apocrypha”, while being an important subdivision of the greater biblical corpus, are in no way afforded the same status as the inspired books of the Old and New Testaments. The Church may read them “for example of life and instruction of manners,” yet they are not used or applied to establish binding doctrine (cf. Article VI of the Articles of Religion of the Church of England).
We also affirm Two Sacraments as ordained by Christ Himself—Baptism and the Supper of the Lord—ministered with unfailing use of Christ’s words of Institution, and of the elements ordained by Him.
We affirm (1) the Apostles’ Creed, as our Baptismal symbol; (2) the Nicene Creed, as the sufficient statement of the Christian Faith; and (3) the creed known in the West as the “Creed of Saint Athanasius”, as affirming the mysteries of the Triune God and the Personal union of two Natures in our Divine Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
We affirm the dogmatic definitions of the first four ecumenical councils of the undivided Church – (1) Nicaea, A.D. 325, (2) Constantinople, A.D. 381, (3) Ephesus, A.D. 431, and (4) Chalcedon, A.D. 451 – as representing the true mind of the Church Catholic in the face of heresy and controversy, and the consensus of the faithful as led by the Spirit of God into all truth. The later ecumenical councils (i.e., the fifth, sixth, and seventh) are affirmed as orthodox to the degree that they are consistent with, while adding nothing to, the substance of dogma defined by the first four.
We affirm the witness of the Spirit of God during the formative period of the Church, otherwise known as the Patristic era, contained primarily in the writings and testimonies of the great Fathers of the first five centuries (roughly from the Apostles to Gregory the Great). This witness continues to inform our faith and practice, especially in the areas of polity, worship, and evangelical mission.
One further note…Saint Andrew’s REC finds its identity in the Reformed character of the historic Protestant Church of England and the greater Anglican tradition. Thus we cherish and honor the heritage of the Book of Common Prayer, the Articles of Religion contained therein, and the Declaration of Principles of the Reformed Episcopal Church, adopted on December 2, 1873. Nevertheless, we also remain open to fellowship, dialogue and interaction with Christians of all branches of Christ’s Church in the spirit and heritage of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1886/1888.