Thomas Cranmer was the architect of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. He was the Archbishop who guided England through the early Reformation, and Henry VIII through the minefield of divorce. In prison, after Mary's accession, he nearly succumbed to recant his life's achievements, but was able to turn the very day of his death at the stake into a dramatic and unequivocal demonstration of his Protestant faith. Through political crises and tortuous theological negotiations, the name of Cranmer is embedded in the history of the Church and State. He was a hesitant hero with a tangled life story, but his legacy to the English Church and the English language is imperishable.
The Archbishop Cranmer blog was founded by Adrian Hilton on March 21st 2006, the 450th anniversary of Thomas Cranmer's martyrdom. It rapidly became one of the most popular political and highest-ranking religion blogs in the UK. Hilton took as his inspiration the words of Sir Humphrey Appleby: "It’s interesting that nowadays politicians want to talk about moral issues, and bishops want to talk politics." It is the fusion of the two in public life, and the necessity for a wider understanding of their complex symbiosis, which necessitates incisive and informed comment on what are often very sensitive issues. The blog adopts a Christian conservative and conservative Christian perspective, if not a Christian Conservative and Conservative Christian perspective (for there is [sadly] an ocean of disparity and a world of divergence between that 'c' and 'C'). The greatest conservatives are those who, as Edmund Burke would say, embody and combine "a disposition to preserve" with an "ability to improve". Hence this blog is in the Catholic and Reformed tradition, still wrestling occasionally with those same theological and ecclesiastical tensions which have busied us for centuries; and probing those same societal stresses and strains which have been the hallmark of Christian civilisation for two millennia.
In 2014, the blog moved to a new platform and took on a Deputy Editor - Gillan Scott, founder of the God & Politics in the UK blog. He observes: "Jesus constantly engaged with the society around him during his ministry. Sometimes he’d be teaching, sometimes demonstrating compassion and healing and sometimes he’d be meeting with those in political and religious leadership. He didn’t shy away from the issues of the day and he definitely wasn’t afraid to speak his mind highlighting hypocrisy, abuse of power and oppression.
"Can the same be said of the church today? There are plenty of Christian individuals and organisations doing just this, but Christians face a constant battle to make their voices heard amongst all the others in the public arena. God’s agenda for society is the best one. Those in positions of power need to be reminded of it and the Church needs to lead and live by example. The United Kingdom has a rich Christian heritage. Most of our laws and values are based on biblical principles. As our society continues to become increasingly secular, moral values inevitably erode to the detriment of everyone who lives in this country. At this time in our history it is crucial that the Church stands up and delivers God’s message even when it is counter cultural and likely to cause offence."
And so this blog takes a Christian perspective – or it attempts to. And that perspective is viewed through the lens of the Church of England, not only because it is the Established Church in England. But, as former Archbishop of Canterbury Geoffrey Fisher observed: "The Anglican Communion has no peculiar thought, practice, creed or confession of its own. It has only the Catholic Faith of the ancient Catholic Church, as preserved in the Catholic Creeds and maintained in the Catholic and Apostolic constitution of Christ's Church from the beginning."
Some will demur, and they are free to do so. But it is that very liberty which, in part, defines and demonstrates the mission of the Church of England. In the words of the Queen and our Supreme Governor: "The concept of our established Church is occasionally misunderstood and, I believe, commonly under-appreciated. Its role is not to defend Anglicanism to the exclusion of other religions. Instead, the Church has a duty to protect the free practice of all faiths in this country. It certainly provides an identity and spiritual dimension for its own many adherents. But also, gently and assuredly, the Church of England has created an environment for other faith communities and indeed people of no faith to live freely. Woven into the fabric of this country, the Church has helped to build a better society – more and more in active co-operation for the common good with those of other faiths."
Freedom of speech must be tolerated, and everyone living in the United Kingdom must accept that they may be insulted about their own beliefs, or indeed be offended, and that is something which they must simply endure, not least because some suffer fates far worse. Comments on articles are therefore unmoderated, but do not necessarily reflect the views of His Grace or any staff. Comments that are off-topic, gratuitously offensive, libelous, or otherwise irritating, may be summarily deleted. However, the fact that particular comments remain on any thread does not constitute any kind of endorsement; it may simply be that they constitute intelligent and erudite contributions to religio-political discourse...or not.
"It hath been found by experience that no matter how decent, intelligent or thoughtful the reasoning of a conservative may be, as an argument with a liberal is advanced, the probability of being accused of ‘bigotry’, ‘hatred’ or ‘intolerance’ approaches 1 (100%).”