The Fourteen Theses of the Old Catholic Union Conference at Bonn 1874
Article I The Canon and Apocrypha.
We agree that the apocryphal or deutero-canonical books of the Old Testament are not of the same canonicity as the books of the Hebrew Canon.
Article II The Original Text and Translations of the Bible.
We agree that no translation of Holy Scripture can claim an authority superior to that of the original text.
Article III Use of the Bible in the Vernacular Tongues.
We agree that the reading of the Holy Scripture in the vulgar tongue can not be lawfully forbidden.
Article IV Liturgy in the Vernacular Tongues.
We agree that, in general, it is more fitting, and in accordance with the spirit of the Church, that the Liturgy should be in the tongue understood by the people.
Article V Justification by Faith working by Love.
We agree that Faith working by Love, not Faith without Love, is the means and condition of manÌs justification before God.
Article VI Salvation not by Merit.
Salvation can not be merited by merit of condignity, because there is no proportion between the infinite worth of the salvation promised by God and the finite worth of man’s works.
Article VII Works of Supererogation.
We agree that the doctrine of “opera supererogationis”* and a “thesaurus meritorum sanctorum”*, i.e., that the overflowing merits of the Saints can be transferred to others, either by the Church, or by the authors of the good works themselves, is untenable.
Article VIII Number of Sacraments.
1. We acknowledge that the number of sacraments was fixed at seven, first in the twelfth century, and then was received into the general teaching of the Church, not as a tradition coming down from the Apostles or from the earliest times, but as a result of theological speculation.
- Catholic theologians (e.g. Belarmin) acknowledge, and we acknowledge with them, that Baptism and the Eucharist are “principalia, praecipus, eximia salutis nostrae sacramenta.”*
Article IX Scripture and Tradition.
1. The Holy Scriptures being recognized as the primary rule of Faith, we agree that the genuine tradition, i.e. the unbroken transmission—partly oral, partly in writing—of the doctrine delivered by Christ and the Apostles, is an authoritative source of teaching for all successive generations of Christians. This tradition is partly to be found in historical continuity with the primitive Church, partly to be gathered by scientific method from the written documents of all centuries.
2. We acknowledge that the Church of England, and the Churches derived from her, have maintained unbroken the Episcopal succession.
Article X The Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary.
We reject the new Roman doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as being contrary to the tradition of the first thirteen centuries, according to which Christ alone is conceived without sin.
Article XI Public and Private Confession.
We agree that the practice of confession of sins before the congregation or a Priest, together with the exercise of the power of the keys, has come down to us from the primitive Church, and that, purged from abuses and free from constraint, is should be preserved in the Church.
Article XII Indulgences.
We agree that indulgences can only refer to penalties actually imposed by the Church herself.
Article XIII Commemoration of the Departed.
We acknowledge that the practice of the commemoration of the faithful departed, i.e. the calling down of a richer outpouring of Christ’s grace upon them, has come down to us from the primitive Church, and is to be preserved in the Church.
Article XIV The Mass.
1. The Eucharistic celebration in the Church is not a continuous repetition or renewal of the propitiatory sacrifice offered once for ever by Christ on the Cross; but its sacrificial character consists in this, that it is the permanent memorial of it, and a representation and presentation on earth of that one oblation of Christ for the salvation of redeemed mankind, which, according to the Hebrews (9:11,12), is continuously presented in heaven by Christ, who now appears in the presence of God for us (9:24).
- While this is the character of the Eucharist in reference to the sacrifice of Christ, it is also a sacred feast, wherein the faithful, receiving the Body and Blood of our Lord, have communion one with another (I Cor. 10:17).
* “opera supererogationis” and “thesaurus meritorum sanctorum”: these refer to the Roman doctrine that God expects so much merit from each human being, and that some saints lived exemplary lives filled with more merit than was required of God (“opera supererogationis” or works above those required). This extra merit was then kept in escrow by the Church (“thesaurus meritorum sanctorum” treasury of the merits of the saints), who has the authority to portion it out to her children.
* “principalia, praecipus, eximia salutis nostrae sacramenta” original, distinguished, extraordinary sacraments for our welfare