Wednesday, June 07, 2017

10 Things You Should Know about the Protestant Reformation in England

With the English Reformation we come to the fourth major tradition to emerge from the events of Oct. 31st, 1517 (Lutheran, Reformed [Calvinistic], and Anabaptist being the other three). The reformation in England differed from that on the continent in three ways: 1) The English reformation was dominated by political events. 2) There was no one figure who stood out in the way Luther, Calvin, or Zwingli did in Europe. 3) The struggle in England focused less on theological issues of grace and the authority of Scripture and more on the nature, function and worship of the church.

So here are some 10 things it is important that we know about the reformation in England. Read More
I am posting this article even though it contains a number of historical inaccuracies. For example, the second Prayer Book of 1552 was far more Reformed in doctrine and liturgical practices than the transitional first Prayer Book of 1549. In some instances Sam Storm repeats as historical fact what is a particular interpretation (or even arguably a revisionist reinterpretation) of Anglican Church history.

Being Reformed and Calvinistic are not synonymous. A number of earlier Reformed theologians preceded John Calvin and Calvin would borrow from and build upon their writings.

If the Elizabethan Settlement occupies a middle ground, it is not between Geneva and Rome but Geneva and Zurich. While one group of English Protestants took refuge in Geneva during the Marian persecutions, another group including John Jewel took refuge in Zurich and sat at the feet of Henry Bullinger. Bullinger who is also known as "the Shepherd of the English Reformation," would exercise a strong influence upon English Church during the reign of Elizabeth I. Bullinger's Decades would serve as the theological textbook for clergy seeking a license to preach. Clergy who were not licensed to preach were required to read homilies from one of the two authorized Books of Homilies, which were thoroughly Reformed in their doctrine.

What we do know about Elizabeth I is that foremost on her mind was, having succeeded to the English throne, was retaining the throne and maintaining political stability in her realm. These were major determining factors in decisions that she made in regard to the doctrine and worship of the Church of England. Her hostility toward John Knox and the Genevan Party stemmed from their rejection of her claim to the throne and their aspirations to establish a Genevan style theocracy in England.

Sixteenth century benchmark Anglican theologian Richard Hooker wrote copiously. Scholars with disparate views can cherry-pick from his writings passages that seemingly support their own views. Consequently, anything that is written about his position on a particular issue must be taken with a grain of salt. Thomas Cranmer, John Jewel, and others have received similar treatment. One has to sort through what they wrote and when they wrote it to come up with an accurate understanding of what their views were. Hooker's work on church governance was published after his death and there have been, if I remember rightly ( and I admit that I may be wrong), allegations that it was heavily edited.

No comments: