Thursday, April 05, 2012

Ashley Null: "Thomas Cranmer and the Lively Word"

The Protestant Reformers viewed themselves as Catholic Christians living out the ancient faith according to its most authoritative document, the Bible. Secondly, that the Protestant reformers understood true conversion inspired by God working through Scripture to be both an initial moment of the re-orientation of personal identity and an on-going commitment to a changed way of life. The third key insight we need to bear in mind is that Cranmer's biblical hermeneutic was neither the Sola Scriptura of nineteenth-century American Protestantism nor the Patristic consensus of the Caroline and Oxford Movement Divines.

Let's now turn to this last point. Without a doubt, Scripture was the ultimate authority for matters of faith and doctrine for the Edwardian church. Unlike latter Anglican claims, now thoroughly debunked by Jean-Louis Quantin's vociferous The Church of England and Christian Antiquity, the sixteenth-century English Divines did not read Scripture through a Patristic consensus. Yet, Anglicanism's Sola Scriptura did not read the Bible apart from the Fathers.

In a distinction of great importance overlooked by both Low Church and High Church advocates, Cranmer did not look to a Patristic consensus of interpretation to guide his understanding of the Bible. He did, however, very much look to a Patristic consensus for the hermeneutical principles by which he read the Bible as the ultimate Christian authority. Although Cranmer did not always agree with the Fathers' reading of Scripture (after all, they didn't always agree with themselves), it was the Fathers who taught Cranmer how to read Scripture. Read more

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