Monday, November 29, 2010

Great Anglican Divines: John Jewel (1522-1572)

This article originally appeared in Cross†Way Issue Autumn 1985 No. 18. It has been reprinted with the permission of Church Society.

By Derek Scales

The sixteenth century love of puns makes it unsurprising that Jewel’s epitaph referred to him as ‘a jewel of jewels’ and Archbishop Edmund Grindal called him ‘the jewel and singular ornament of the Church’: but these were no empty ascriptions, for Jewel was one of the outstanding servants of Christ and his Gospel in England in the sixteenth century.


John Jewel was born in Bude in 1522. He showed great diligence in study while a boy, and went up to Oxford in 1535, where his tutor was John Parkhurst (later the Elizabethan bishop of Norwich). A young man of exceptional ability and labour, and of blameless life, he worked so hard that he injured his health.

With the accession of Queen Mary, Jewel was unmolested for some time. Suddenly, however, in 1554 he was required to subscribe some compromising Romanising articles, and with the threat of possible death, he capitulated. Jewel fled abroad to Frankfurt, where he publicly acknowledged his fault: ‘I have confessed it openly, and unrequired. in the midst of the congregation’. He arrived in Zurich in 1556, where the English exiles spent their time together very profitably and happily.

On his return to England in 1559, it was clear that Jewel was destined for high office: he disputed at Westminster, he preached at Paul’s Cross (where he issued his famous challenge to the Romanists that none of their disputed points had either the authority of Scripture or the support of any reputable Church Father of the first six centuries), and he was elected bishop of Salisbury. He spent the rest of his life in that office, engaged chiefly in preaching, writing and study, and died. Burned out at an early age, in 1572.

The ‘Apology’

His classic. An Apology, or answer, in Defence of the Church of England, was published in 1562. In the first of the six main sections, Jewel records the slanders and persecutions which Protestants had to undergo, and challenges his opponents to submit to Scripture. He then expounds the doctrine taught by the Church of England, both the beliefs set forth in the Creeds, and the teachings in the light of subsequent controversies. Jewel thirdly asserts that it is the Reformed Church of England which is in true apostolic succession: ‘We have learned these things of Christ, of the apostles, of the devout fathers’. In the fourth section Jewel points out the moral and doctrinal corruption of Rome, and that error has been found within the institutional church since Old Testament times. Jewel then examines the Roman claim that they had the support of the Church Fathers: this area of learning was Jewel’s speciality, and he showed conclusively that the early church testified against the practices of Rome. Finally, Jewel dealt with the Roman contention that the Protestants should submit to the decisions of the General Council at Trent. ‘Neither do we eschew concord and peace, but to have peace with man we will not be at war with God.’

This article will have done great good if it induces the reader to seek out a copy of Jewel’s Apology and study it.

Lessons for Today

Jewel presents some important lessons to the twentieth-century Church of England. Jewel makes it plain that the difference between the Church of England and the Church of Rome are theological differences. There may have been some change in Rome’s posturing and public relations, but we are not concerned with this superficial realm: in theology Rome has not changed (except for the worse) since Jewel’s time. New ‘common ground’ is an ambiguous and false synthesis: the Church of England was reformed for valid reasons, and those reasons remain. The Reformation was not a mistake, and the Reformed Church which sprung from it was not an unfortunate anomaly. It does not therefore exist to lose itself in another church (pace the Archbishop of Canterbury), but to bear testimony to the Scriptural and Apostolic Faith in this land. Jewel emphasises our duty to maintain it.

The second point is related to the first. For the last one hundred and fifty years, some people have canvassed the via media concept, that the Church of England is a sort of halfway house between Rome and Reformation. This concept is foolish (for on the points of dispute there is no halfway position – the two opposing systems are the logical outworking of their presuppositions) and false: Jewel demonstrates that the Church of England is Reformed according to Scripture.

A third lesson from Jewel relates to leadership. Jewel’s grievous denial of the faith (like Cranmer’s) reminds us of the fallibility of all human leaders. As Protestants we deny the infallibility of the pope; yet too easily within the evangelical movement people are followers of names rather than Biblical principles. We must exercise that right judgement which measures all things by Scripture, and not put leaders in a false position.

There is also a lesson for leaders. If leaders realise they have taken the wrong path, let them publicly say so. Otherwise some become disillusioned with them, and others are confused and misled. During the evangelical downgrade of the last twenty years, many evangelical leaders have done amazing things; claims that they have not changed and that all their actions are consistent have only increased dismay. Bishop Jewel Jewel demonstrated the right course. He lived for 18 years after he ‘confessed his fault’: on only one occasion in that period was he taunted with his weakness – by his bitterest Roman opponent. Our respect for leaders who acknowledge their mistakes is increased.

Finally, Jewel reminds us of true characteristics of ministry generally and episcopacy in particular. When Jewel went to Salisbury in 1560 he was faced with an immense task and had few competent helpers. We find him an assiduous preacher: the lack of ministerial help only increased his efforts. He was a vigorous Reformer: he went about his diocese endeavouring to correct what was amiss. He was a faithful studentt: he set aside time for the study each morning when he was in Salisbury, preparing for the pulpit and his writings. Here are vital and practicable priorities for today.

Jewel reminds us of the true character of our Church, and challenges us to pray and work to reform what is amiss in it today.

Derek Scales was a Vice-Chairman of Church Society Council, and Senior Classics Master at St Lawrence College, Ramsgate.


Reformation said...

Some related facts to Jewel, assuredly, but also Parker and the Articles:

1. In 1566, Archbishop Parker wrote Bullinger noting that "we all here" agree with the Second Helvetic Confession.

2. We cite relevant sections below from Chapter Five.

3. This section ably represents--also--Heritage or Reformation Anglicanism vis a vis the Thirty-nine Articles.

4. Anglo-Catholics, Jack Iker, and others invoke saints. The REC permits it. They are unfaithful parasites on Heritage Anglicans.

5. Virtue has a media-blackout as a PR-centre for the ACNA. There are no explantory articles or inquiries.

6. Invoking saints is unbiblical and suspends the glory, finality, and efficaceousness of the Sole, Sovereign and Exclusion mediation of our only High Priest, the LORD Jesus Christ.


1. Call upon these men to leave Heritage Anglicanism and join any one of the many AC-groups afoot. In short, be men of honour and integrity.


GOD ALONE IS TO BE INVOKED THROUGH THE MEDIATION OF CHRIST ALONE. In all crises and trials of our life we call upon him alone, and that by the mediation of our only mediator and intercessor, Jesus Christ. For we have been explicitly commanded: "Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me" (Ps. 1:15). Moreover, we have a most generous promise from the Lord Who said: "If you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you" (John 16:23), and: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest: (Matt 11:28). And since it is written: "How are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed?" (Rom. 10:14), and since we do believe in God alone, we assuredly call upon him alone, and we do so through Christ. For as the apostle says, "There is one God and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus? (I Tim. 2:5), and, "If any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous," etc. (I John 2:1).

THE SAINTS ARE NOT TO BE ADORED, WORSHIPPED OR INVOKED. For this reason we do not adore, worship, or pray to the saints in heaven, or to other gods, and we do not acknowledge them as our intercessors or mediators before the Father in heaven. For God and Christ the Mediator are sufficient for us; neither do we give to others the honor that is due to God alone and to his Son, because he has expressly said: "My glory I give to no other: (Isa. 42:8), and because Peter has said: "There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved," except the name of Christ (Acts 4:12). In him, those who give their assent by faith do not seek anything outside Christ.

THE DUE HONOR TO BE RENDERED TO THE SAINTS. At the same time we do not despise the saints or think basely of them. For we acknowledge them to be living members of Christ and friends of God who have gloriously overcome the flesh and the world. Hence we love them as brothers, and also honor them; yet not with any kind of worship but by an honorable opinion of them and just praises of them. We also imitate them. For with ardent longings and supplications we earnestly desire to be imitators of their faith and virtues, to share eternal salvation with them, to dwell eternally with them in the presence of God, and to rejoice with them in Christ. And in this respect we approve of the opinion of St. Augustine in De Vera Religione: "Let not our religion be the cult of men who have died. For if they have lived holy lives, they are not to be thought of as seeking such honors; on the contrary, they want us to worship him by whose illumination they rejoice that we are fellow-servants of his merits. They are therefore to be honored by the way of imitation, but not to be adored in a religious manner," etc.

Jack Miller said...

John Jewell...

Indeed, a jewel of a Jewell. I have been studying his Apology and his later Defence (to M. Harding). Excellent presentation of the true doctrine of the Church of England that Anglicans today would do well to read.

Thank you for your continued essays and links...


Reformation said...

26 November 1559: Bishop John Jewel Preaches at St. Paul’s, London

A few discursive and unscientific thoughts about Jewel's sermon.

Luther is dead, 1546. Calvin is about to publish his magnum opus, The Institutes of Christian Religion. Cranmer and others have perished in the flames. Elizabeth is on the throne. Spaniards, France and Rome want England. Danger is everywhere in 1559.

Bishop John Jewel preaches at St. Paul’s on 26 November 1559.

A few observations on Anglicanism drawn from Horton Davies’ Worship and Theology in the Church of England: From Cranmer to Baxter and Fox, 1545-1690, Five Volumes (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996).

Romanists had seven sacraments. Blue-suede-shoe and lime-green gabardine types, like the APA, Walter Grunsdorf and other Romewardizing Anglicans, have seven. Holy Orders was a Roman sacrament, but Ordination was not a sacrament, but a ceremony for the authorizing of Anglican ministry. Confirmation was important, but was never a sacrament; the same went for marriage. For Penance there was no equivalent at all, unless one points to the Declaration of the Remission of Sins by a minister in Christ’s name. Continental Reformers had the equivalent services, including confirmation. It was termed differently, but there is a service of recognition for becoming adult communicant in the Reformed and Presbyterian traditions, as well as Lutheran. Lutherans like Anglicans retained the service. There was no paedo-communion as theonomists like Ray Sutton have introduced. The Articles taught two sacraments.

The two major Gospel sacraments were retained—Baptism, as the sacrament of initiation to the visible Church and Holy Communion, the sacrament of spiritual nourishment.

According to Horton:

The Anglican objections to the Roman Mass were comprehensively and tersely listed by John Jewel in his notable "Challenge Sermon," preached at St. Paul's Cross November 26, 1559 and again on March 31, 1560, which had been repeated at Court exactly a fortnight earlier.

Jewel criticised these points: using Latin and not the vernacular, Communion in one kind, the teaching in the Canon on sacrifice, the adoration of the Sacrament, and private celebration.[i]

It is worth noting by way of practice: no elevation, no kissing of tables, no parading around, etc.

Reformation said...


Jewel followed Cranmer on the Lord’s Supper. Three distinctions were made between Rome and early English Reformed theology: (1) There was a difference between the sign and the thing signified. (2) Christ is in heaven, not bodily on earth. Ubiquitarianism or Eutychianism was insurmountable for Cranmer, Jewel, as well as Continental, Swiss reformers. (3) The body of Christ was “eaten by faith only and none otherwise.” (Jewels’ Works, 1, 449 as cited by Davies, op.cit., 121.

Archbishop Grindal wryly observed:

Christ did eat the sacrament with the apostles: ergo, the sacrament is not Christ.” (The Remains of Edmund Grindal, D.D., ed. William Nicholson, p.43, cited by Davies, 121)

At one place, Hooker--he appears to be indifferent. This scribe has not been highly impressed with Hooker by comparison with Luther or Calvin. "Who cares about transubstantiation or consubstantiation?" asks Hooker.

“…why do we vainly trouble ourselves with so fierce contentions, whether by consubstantiation or else by transubstantiation the sacrament be first possessed with Christ or no? –a thing which no way can either further nor hinders us however it stand, because our participation with Christ in this sacrament dependeth on the co-operation of His omnipotent power which maketh it His body and blood to us, whether with change or without alteration of the elements such as they imagine, we need to not greatly to care of inquire.”[ii]

What are we to make of this? How does this comport with the Thirty-nine Articles?

Reformation said...


At another point, it was said of Hooker: “…he too moved in the tracks laid down by Thomas Cranmer.”[iii] “The real presence is to be sought, according to Hooker, not in things but in person, not in consecrated elements but in consecrated persons receiving grace through faith.”[iv]

Back to Jewel and the sermon at St. Pauls on 26 November 1559. The sense of Jewel appears to follow Cranmer straight back to Calvin and Bucer rather than Zwingli. One must read Wallace's Calvin: The Word and Sacrament, which sounds very Cranmerian.

Beyond Jewel and a few years later, a scurrilous attack was given by a Rev. Bridges in a Sermon at St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1571. Lutherans would be affronted by this. Rev Bridges affirms that the Catholics had:

"…turned Chryst out of his owne likenesse, and made him looke lyke a rounde cake, nothyng lyke to Iesus Christe, no more than an apple is lyke an oyster, nor so mutche, for there appereth neyther armes nor handes, feete nor legges, back nor belly, heade nor body of Chryst: but all is visoured and disguysed under the fourme of a wafer, as lyghte as a feather, as thinne as a paper, as whyte as a kerchiefe, as round as a trenchour, as flat as a pancake, as smal as a shilling, as tender as the Priestes lemman that made it, as muche taste as a stycke, and as deade as a dore nayle to looke upon. O blessed God, dare they `thus disfigure our Lord and Saviour Iesus Christ?"[v]

Lutheran brethren will confessionally affirm that Anglicans did not get it correct, e.g. the "Black Rubric." Hooker’s view of indifference (?) will be unsatisfying to them. I think Calvin had a higher sacramental view than is current among Presbyterians. Baptists and enthusiasts are excluded. We know where the Papists are. Ridley was comfortable with Ratramnus's views, to wit, that in the 9th century he spoke without official rebuke.

Kissing tables, monstrances with the little glass holes in the boxes to “see an impanated Jesus” as bread worshippers, Holy Roods, choking incense, Marian invocations and all were affronts, except for the blue-suede-shoe types. We are reminded of Archbishop Grindal's question, to wit, "If Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper and celebrated it the last night before His death, did He eat Himself?"

[i] Horton Davies’ Worship and Theology in the Church of England: From Cranmer to Baxter and Fox, 1545-1690, Five Volumes (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996), 122.
[ii] Richard Hooker, Ecclesiastical Polity, ed. by Keble, V, lxvii, 12, 359. Davies’, op.cit., footnote 79, 33. Hooker is some of the most wearying reading one can do.
[iii] Horton Davies’ Worship and Theology in the Church of England: From Cranmer to Baxter and Fox, 1545-1690, Five Volumes (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996), 122.
[iv] Richard Hooker, Ecclesiastical Polity, ed. by Keble, V, lxvii, 12, 359. Davies’, op.cit., footnote 170, 122.
[v] Horton Davies’ Worship and Theology in the Church of England: From Cranmer to Baxter and Fox, 1545-1690, Five Volumes (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996), 33.