The Five Articles of Perth

Written by King James VI of Scotland / James I of England, accepted reluctantly by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland meeting in Perth in 1618, ratified by the Scottish parliament in 1621, and followed by bitter resistance.

1) that the sacrament of communion should be received kneeling

2) that communion might be administered to the sick privately

3) that baptism might be administered in private houses if necessary

4) that children 8 years old should be presented to the bishop for confirmation

5) that the birth, passion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus and the descent of the Holy Spirit should be commemorated on the days appointed.

The controversy around these was less in the content of most of them (except 1 and 4) than in how they were introduced, by who, and the direction that this appeared to be taking the church.

Scotland took centuries to celebrate Christmas, Easter, Ascension and Pentecost without people feeling that that they were giving in to English and Catholic practices and accepting crown interference in the church whose sole head was Christ.

Of course the rhetoric that the king might be head of the Church of England but Christ was head of the Church of Scotland ignored the fact that the headship of Christ over the church had to be mediated somehow if it was to have meaning. Yet the idea that that headship was properly through assemblies and courts of the church not through someone claiming the divine right of kings was fuelled by a doctrine of the priesthood of all believers and spoke into democratic ideas which continued to emerge. The voice of the people might indeed be the voice of God.