The basic summary of belief of the Church of England, the Thirty - nine Articles of Religion were drawn up by the church in convocation in 1563 on the basis of the earlier Forty - two Articles of 1553. Subscription to them by the clergy was ordered by act of Parliament in 1571. Devised to exclude Roman Catholics and Anabaptists, but not to provide a dogmatic definition of faith - in many instances, they are ambiguously phrased - the articles were influenced by the confessions of Augsburg and Wurttemberg.
They concern fundamental Christian truths (Articles 1 - 5), the rule of faith (Articles 6 - 8), individual religion (Articles 9 - 18), corporate religion (Articles 19 - 36), and national religion (Articles 37 - 39). Retained in use by the various churches of the Anglican Communion, the Articles have been changed only as circumstances require. Thus the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States has retained them, without requiring assent, changing only those articles affected by the independence of the United States from England (Articles 36 and 37).