John Jewel’s Doctrine Of Scriptural Infallibility -- By: André A. Gazal

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 29:1 (Spring 2008)
Article: John Jewel’s Doctrine Of Scriptural Infallibility
Author: André A. Gazal


John Jewel’s Doctrine Of Scriptural Infallibility

André A. Gazal*

*André A. Gazal is Professor of Bible, Theology, and Church History at Eucon International College in Saipan.

I. Introduction

John Jewel (1522-1571) declared in his “Challenge Sermon” at St. Paul’s Cross in London (1560) that

If any man alive were able to prove any of these articles by any one clear or plain clause of sentence, either of the Scriptures, or of the old doctors, or of any general council, or by any example of the primitive church, I promised that I would give over and subscribe unto him.1

This is the common theme which runs through the Bishop of Salisbury’s defense of the Elizabethan Settlement against its Catholic opponents. As the first apologist for the Protestant Church of England established by this settlement, Jewel claimed to argue for its legitimacy on the basis of the four authorities mentioned above. Much of the scholarship on Jewel during the twentieth century has sought to explain not only the relationship of these authorities to one another in his thought, but also his conception of them individually. Regardless of which specific authority is being addressed (i.e., the first four ecumenical councils, the church fathers, or the example of the primitive church), the discussion ultimately revolves around the authority that was primary for Jewel, Holy Scripture.

Jewel’s view of Scripture within the context of the Reformation of the sixteenth century is important to present day evangelicals for two reasons. First, Jewel, as the first apologist for the Protestant Church of England, was an early authoritative voice for what would become Anglicanism, a major tradition which, alongside the Lutheran and the Reformed, emerged from the Reformation. That he was a significant authority is evidenced in the requirement by the 1578 Convocation (the assembly of clerics summoned and presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury) for all undergraduate students at the universities to study his Apology of the Church of

England along with the Heidelberg Catechism and John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion.2 Before this, the Convocation of 1563 intended to join Jewel’s Apology to the Articles of Religion for distribution to all cathedrals and collegiate churches. The move by Archbishop Richard Bancroft in 1609 to have all of Jewel’s works gathered into one volume and placed in every church in England further confirms Jewel’s authoritativ...

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