The Catholic Faith

A Manual of Instruction for Members of the Church of England

by W. H. Griffith Thomas

Revised Edition, 1952

[Bible citations converted to all Arabic numerals.  Spelling selectively modernized.

Footnotes moved into place of citation within square brackets.]



Preface.  Introduction


The Catholic Faith and Individual Life

      I.  The Starting Point

            1. The Individual Christian Consciousness.  2. The Baptismal Covenant.

      II.  Privileges

            1. A Member of Christ.  2. The Child of God.  3. An Inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven.

      III.  Responsibilities

            1. Repentance; Faith; Obedience.  2. The Solemn Obligation.

      IV.  Instruction

            1. The Substance.  2. The Importance.

      V.  Repentance

            1. The Nature and Effects of Sin.  2. The Sources of Sin.  3. The Temptations of the Devil.

            4. The Temptations of the World.  5. The Temptations of the Flesh.

            6. The Meaning of Repentance.

      VI.  Faith

            1. The Meaning of Faith.  2. The Object of Faith.  3. The Necessity of Faith.

            4. The Rule of Faith.

      VII.  The Creeds

            1. The Apostles’ Creed.  2. The Nicene Creed.  3. The Athanasian Creed.

      VIII.  The Creeds (1) The Father

            1. I Believe in God.  2. The Father.  3. The Father Almighty.  4. Maker of Heaven and Earth.

      IX.  The Creeds (2) The Son

            1. His Person.  2. His Incarnation.  3. His Death.  4. His Descent into Hades.

            5. His Resurrection.  6. His Ascension.  7. His Coming.

      X.  The Creeds (3) The Holy Ghost

            1. The Person of the Holy Ghost.  2. The Godhead of the Holy Ghost.

            3. The Work of the Holy Ghost.

      XI.  Explanatory Notes on the Creeds

            1. The Apostles’ Creed.  2. The Nicene Creed.  3. The Athanasian Creed.

      XII.  Chief Doctrines Of The Creed – God The Creator

            1. The Fact of Creation.  2. The Signs of Purpose in Creation.  3. The Course of History.

            4. The Nature of Man.  5. The Methods of Creation.

      XIII.  The Fatherhood of God

            1. A Truth of Revelation.  2. The Meaning.

      XIV.  The Godhead of Christ

            1. The New Testament Revelation.  2. Its Theological Statement.

            3. Church of England Teaching.  4. The Virgin Birth.

      XV.  The Atonement

            1. The Need.  2. The Provision.  3. The Meaning.  4. The Power.

      XVI.  Justification

            1. The Meaning.  2. The Foundation.  3. The Means.  4. The Value.

      XVII.  The Godhead of the Holy Ghost

            1. The New Testament.  2. The Belief of the Church.

      XVIII.  Sanctification

            1. The Meaning.  2. The Method.  3. The Maintenance.

      XIX.  Election

            1. A Fact of the Universe.  2. The Balance of Scripture.  3. The Presentation in Scripture.

            4. The Church of England Article.  5. Final Preservation.

      XX.  The Holy Trinity

            1. The New Testament Revelation.  2. The Old Testament Anticipation.

            3. The Ground of Belief

      XXI.  Obedience (1)

            1. The Meaning.  2. The Standard.  3. The Ground.  4. The Scope.  5. The Character.

      XXII.  Obedience (2)

            1. Duty towards God.  2. Duty to our Neighbour.

      XXIII.  Grace

            1. The Meaning of Grace.  2.  The Need of Grace.  3. The Means of Grace.

      XXIV.  Means Of Grace – Prayer (1)

      1. The Idea of Prayer.  2. The Need of Prayer.  3. The Warrant of Prayer.  4. The Spirit of Prayer.

      XXV.  Means Of Grace – Prayer (2)

            1. The Lord’s Prayer as a Form.  2. The Lord’s Prayer as a Model.

            3. The Lord’s Prayer in the Catechism.

      XXVI.  Means Of Grace – The Bible

            1. A Divine Revelation.  2. A Means of Grace.  3. Meditation.

            4. Plan of Bible Reading.

      XXVII.  Means Of Grace – The Sacraments

            1. The Sacraments in Scripture.  2. The Sacraments in the Church of England.

      XXVIII.  Means of Grace – Baptism

            1. The Meaning of Baptism in Scripture.  2. The Meaning of Baptism in the Prayer Book.

            3. The Conditions of Baptism.  4. The Subjects of Baptism.

      XXIX.  Means of Grace – The Lord’s Supper

            1. The Meaning.  2. The Relation of the Outward and Inward Parts.

            3. The Requirements for Holy Communion.

      XXX.  Confirmation

            1. The Great Opportunity and Meaning.  2. The Confirmation Service.



The Catholic Faith and Church Life

      I.  The Church

            1. Its Commencement.  2. Its Purpose.  Its Growth.  4. Its Characteristics.

      II.  The Church in History (1)

            1. The Primitive Church.  2. The Growth and Progress.  3. The Church in Britain.

            4.  The Church of the Middle Ages.

      III.  The Church in History (2)

            1. The Reign of Henry the Eighth.  2. The Reign of Edward the Sixth.

            3. The Reign of Elizabeth.  4. The Reformation Settlement.

      IV.  The Christian Ministry.

            1. The Fact.  2. The Form.  3. The Purpose.  4. The Perpetuation.

      V.  Worship

            1. Intelligence.  2. Spirituality.  3. Truth.  4. Reverence.  5. Love.  6. Fellowship.

      VI.  Daily Prayer

            1. Confession.  2. Thanksgiving.  3. Praise.  4. Hearing.  5. Prayer.

      VII.  Holy Communion

            1. Its Place in the Prayer Book.  2. The Order of Holy Communion.

            3. Suggestions for Right Use.

      VIII.  The Lord’s Day

            1. Its Institution.  2. Its Observance in Old Testament Times.

            3. Our Lord’s Relation to the Sabbath.  4. The Sabbath and the Apostolic Church.

            5. The Sabbath and the Church of England.  6. The Essential Elements of the Divine Purpose.

            7. The Blessings of the Day.  8. Our Duty.

      IX.  The Christian Year

            1. The Outline.  2. The Value.  3. The Danger.

      X.  Special Occasions

            1. The Festivals or Saints’ Days.  2. The Fast Days.

      XI.  Occasional Services

            1. The Litany.  2. Occasional Prayers and Thanksgivings.  3. Matrimony.

            4. The Churching of Women.  5. The Visitation of the Sick.  6. The Communion of the Sick.

            7. The Burial of the Dead.  8. The Commination Service.  9. Prayers for those at Sea.

            10. The Accession Service.

      XII.  The Baptismal Services

            1. The Divine Offer of Covenant Blessings.  2. The Acceptance of Covenant Blessings.

            3. The Sealing of Covenant Blessings.             4. The Outcome of Covenant Blessings.

            5. Notes on the Baptismal Service.  6. Private Baptism.  7. Baptism in Riper Years.

      XIII.  The Ordinal

            1. The Ordering of Deacons.  2. The Ordering of Priests.  3. The Consecration of Bishops.

      XIV.  Church Doctrine

            1. The Source of Doctrine.  2. The Standard of Doctrine.  3. The Significance of the Articles.

            4. The Outline of the Articles.  5. The Importance of Christian Doctrine.

      XV.  The Right Use of the Prayer Book

            1. Its Twofold Purpose.  2. Its Remarkable Characteristics.  3. Its Necessary Limitations.



The Catholic Faith and Current Questions


      I.  Authority in Religion

            1. The Need of Authority.  2. The Source of Authority.  3. The Seat of Authority.

            4. The Nature of Authority.  5. The Scope of this Authority.

            6. The Sufficiency of this Authority

      II.  The Authority of Holy Scripture

            1. The Canon of Scripture.  2. The Claim of Scripture.  3. The Testimony of Church History.

            4. The Unique Presence of the Holy Spirit.  5. The Nature of the Case.

            6. The Church of England Teaching.

      III.  The Old Testament

            1. The Canon of the Old Testament.  2. The Permanent Value of the Old Testament.

            3. The True View of the Old Testament.

      IV.  Catholicity (1)

            1. The Meaning.  2. The Marks.

      V.  Catholicity (2)

            3. The Tests.  4. The Maintenance.  5. The Message.

      VI.  Nonconformity

            1. Its Origin.  2. Its Denominations.  3. The Question of Reunion

      VII.  Church Parties

            1. Schools of Thought.  2. Limitations of Difference.  3. The Tractarian Movement.

      VIII.  Ministry and Priesthood

            1. New Testament on Priesthood.  2. New Testament Teaching on the Christian Ministry

      IX.  Confession and Absolution

            1. The Teaching of Scripture.  2. The Teaching of the Prayer Book.

            3. The Sufficiency of Scripture and Prayer Book Methods.

      X.  Infant Baptism.

            1. The Relation of Children to Christ.  2. Scriptural Teaching.

      XI.  The Mode of Baptism

            1. The Word “Baptism”.  2. Our Lord’s Commission.  3. Old Testament Usage.

            4. The Old Testament Apocrypha.  5. The New Testament.  6. “Buried with Him by Baptism.”

            7. Conclusions.

      XII.  Controversies About Holy Communion

            1. The Lord’s Supper and the Reformation.  2. The Church and Foreign Protestantism.

            3. The Revisions of the Prayer Book.  4. Present Day Teaching.  5. Other Questions.

      XIII.  The Principal Service

            1. The Early Church.  2. The Reformation.  3. Fasting Communion.

      XIV.  The Athanasian Creed

            1. The Origin of the Creed.  2. The Purpose of the Creed.  3. The Substance of the Creed

            4. The Message of the Creed.  5. The Value of the Creed.  6. The Use of the Creed.

      XV.  The Ornaments Rubric

            1. The Question Stated.  2. The Prayer Book of 1549.  3. The Prayer Book of 1552.

            4. The Prayer Book of 1559.  5. The Prayer Book of 1662.

            6. The Uniform Practice of the Church.  7. Conclusion.

      XVI.  Prayers for the Dead.

            1. The Meaning.  2. The Foundation.  3. The Early History.  4. The Teaching of the Church.

            5. The Safeguard.

      XVII.  Conclusion

            1. The Work to be done.  2. The Power assured.  3. The Hope to sustain.

Books Recommended

General Index & Authors        (omitted for web)



Preface To First Edition

      While an apologetic preface is always unnecessary, a few words explanatory of the writer’s aim may rightly be allowed.

      This Manual represents an endeavour to answer two questions: (1) What is the Church of England?  (2) What does the Church of England teach?  The answers to these questions are found, first, in the Prayer Book and Articles considered in their plain and obvious meaning.  An attempt is then made to indicate the fundamental principles of the Church of England, to show how those principles are expressed in the formularies of doctrine and worship, and to point out what the principles imply and involve in the life of those who are bound by them.  It is also shown that the Prayer Book and Articles need consideration in the light of their origin and compilation, and in view of the circumstances which gave birth to their present form.  The Church of England formularies are thus seen to be the direct outcome of great movements of thought and life in the English nation.

      The treatment of the various subjects is necessarily brief and incomplete, but an attempt has been made at least to touch upon all essential matters.

      The substance of the book represents teaching given in the course of parochial work, in Confirmation Classes and Sermons together with some theological lectures to missionary candidates and congregations in various localities.  All possible care has been taken to verify the statements made, but in a book of this kind it is obviously necessary to deal with results rather than with processes.  As the book represents the reading and study of several years, it is impossible to acknowledge indebtedness in detail; but special mention must be made of help and suggestion derived from several Manuals of Doctrine and other similar books.  After working over the ground myself, I naturally consulted other works, and I gladly acknowledge my indebtedness for suggestions even when I could not agree with particular interpretations.  I refer especially to The Church Catechism Explained, by Rev. A. W. Robinson; Confirmation Lectures, by Canon Barnes Lawrence; The Prayer Book and the Christian Life, by Archdeacon Tiffany; and The Church Catechism, by Canon Stowell.  The summary of Church History in Part II is intended to be a brief statement of the link of connection of the Church of England with the Church of Apostolic days, and an explanation of how she has come to be what she is.  It is mainly a bare narration of facts based on several well known works.  Litton’s great work, An Introduction to Dogmatic Theology, has been referred to and used throughout.  For twenty years past that book has been a constant and treasured companion.

      While I am of course responsible for the general treatment and conclusions of the Chapter on the Ornaments Rubric in Part III, I am greatly indebted to the criticisms of a friend who does not wish his name mentioned, but whose knowledge of this thorny subject is thorough and reliable.

      I submitted to several friends the first draft of the synopsis of this work, in order to obtain the benefit of their criticisms.  Among these I must mention Canon E. A. Stuart and Canon R. C. Joynt, of whose great pastoral experience I naturally wished to avail myself for the greater usefulness of the book.  To Canon Barnes Lawrence I am particularly grateful for his trouble in reading through the entire manuscript and for giving me the benefit of his sound judgment and valued criticisms.

      It remains to express the hope and prayer that this endeavour to show what it means to be an English Churchman may be blessed of God to the confirmation of members of the Anglican Church in “ the faith once delivered to the Saints” as it now stands embodied in the Word of God and enshrined in the Prayer Book and Articles of the Church of England.

W. H. G. T.  [1904]


Note to Revised Edition, 1952

      In issuing a new edition of this popular handbook, the publishers have taken the opportunity to produce it in an improved format, and at the same time to undertake a careful revision of the text.  The work of revision was entrusted to a group of three scholars, each of whom made himself responsible for one of the main Parts into which the book is divided, as follows:

      The Rev. Alan M. Stibbs, M.A. (Part I)

      The Rev. G. W. Bromiley, Ph.D., D.Litt. (Part II)

      The Rev. J. Stafford Wright, M.A. (Part III)

      The publishers gratefully acknowledge the assistance which has thus been given in the preparing of this revised edition.  At the same time they wish to make clear that no attempt has been made to rewrite the book or modify its teaching.  The revision has been confined to making alterations and additions to the text in the interests of accuracy and clarity.  Occasional footnotes have been added to amplify particular statements, and the Book List at the end has been brought up to date.  In substance the work remains unaltered.

      Since it was first issued the book has passed through numerous editions, totaling 63,000 copies in all.  It is believed that in this new form it will continue to serve as a clear and concise guide to the faith, history, worship and order of the Church of England.

Frank Colquhoun



      St. Peter, when writing to the Christians of his day, urged them to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh the reason of the hope that is in them”.  Three important lessons are clearly taught us in this Apostolic counsel.  (1) The Christians possessed a “hope,” that is, they enjoyed the experience of being Christians.  (2) They also had “a reason” for this hope; they knew how and why it was they had this experience.  (3) They were urged to “be ready” to give expression to this reason whenever required.

      In the present day these three truths are equally necessary in the case of all “who profess and call themselves Christians.”  It is of the utmost importance first of all that we are Christians, that we are in possession of a genuine spiritual life and experience; then it is very important to know why we are Christians; and it is by no means least important that we should be prepared to justify our position before others.

      Today, however, there is an additional truth for consideration besides the foregoing; that is, the necessity of knowing what it means to be a Christian in association with the Church of England, to know what is involved in belonging to that body of Christians which is called by this title, and to be able to state and justify our position whenever required to do so.

      This is the purpose of the present work, which is addressed to members of the Church of England, more particularly the younger members, in the hope that they will find in it a sufficient statement of what it means to be members of that company of Christian people which for centuries has been known by the title of the Church of England.  To be a Christian is good, to know why we are Christians is still better, while to give to others a reason for our position is best of all, because we thereby become witnesses to our Master and fulfill His purpose concerning us (Acts 1:8).

      As we proceed we shall be able to see how necessary and important it is to have a clear conception of what Christianity and Church membership mean.  Spiritual experience must come first, then follows the intellectual expression of that experience, and in view of inevitable varieties of thought and opinion it is essential for us to have clear views of what is implied in our allegiance to Christ and in our adhesion to the body of His followers.

      A few words are necessary as to the plan and method of this book.  It follows the order of our Prayer Book as it is used by us from our earliest years.  Starting from the realization of our individual consciousness and responsibility as taught by the Church Catechism, the order of the Prayer Book in the instruction and development of the Christian life is followed, and the Prayer Book is thus regarded, not only as a handbook of worship, but also as a rule or method of spiritual life.

      Part 1.  Deals with the relation of the individual Christian to God according to the Prayer Book, and how that relation is formed and maintained.

      Part 2.  Deals with the relation of the individual Churchman to his fellow Churchmen in regard to doctrine, worship, and practice.

      Part 3.  Deals with the relation of the individual Churchman to some important questions of the day.