Monday, March 20, 2017

Remembering Archbishop Thomas Cranmer

On 21 March 1556, Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer who has been described as the "architect" of the English Reformation suffered martyrdom for his Protestant beliefs. He was burned at the stake as a heretic in Oxford.

Under Canon Law Archbishop Cranmer Cranmer should have been granted a reprieve as he, by then a frail old man, had in a moment of weakness recanted. But Queen Mary had no intention of sparing him. She had held a grudge against Cranmer since he had helped her father, Henry VIII, obtain an annulment of his marriage to her mother, Catherine of Aragon. With the dissolution of the marriage Mary had been declared to be illegitimate. Mary had never forgiven Cranmer.

Cranmer would publicly recant his recantation. When the flames leaped up around him, he thrust into the fire the hand with which he had signed the most recent recantation. His last words were, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit... I see the heavens open and Jesus standing at the right hand of God."

While Archbishop Cranmer did not produce a single theological magnus opus like Henry Bullinger's Decades or John Calvin's Institutes of Religion, he ranks with Bullinger and Calvin as a Reformed theologian in his own right.

The Anglican Church League has posted a list of articles about Cranmer to commemorate his martyrdom. They are:

Long Ago and Far Away
Cranmer Speaks Today
Thomas Cranmer’s ‘True and Catholick Doctrine of the Sacrament’
Dr. Ashley Null on Thomas Cranmer

For readers who wish to learn more about the English Reformation, these two books are recommended:

Masters of the English Reformation
Theology of the English Reformers, Revised and Expanded Edition

Portrait: Gerlache Flicke

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