Cranmer - hand in fire2a
Church of England

On this day, 459 years ago, a man was burned at the stake for 'heresy'

 

On this day, 459 years ago, a man was burned at the stake for ‘heresy’ – essentially for holding conflicting personal, political and theological loyalties. He bequeathed to us a tome of carefully balanced liturgical poetry and prose, reflecting an anguished attempt to hold together a church and nation in crisis. As the Book of Common Prayer is incrementally discarded by the church and forgotten by the nation, the same crisis re-emerges as people’s political beliefs and theological loyalties are stretched to breaking point.

On this day, two years ago, Justin Welby was enthroned as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. The service of inauguration included:

The Collect for Thomas Cranmer
Father of all mercies,
who through the work of your servant Thomas Cranmer
renewed the worship of your Church and through his death
revealed your strength in human weakness:
by your grace strengthen us to worship you in spirit and in
truth and so to come to the joys of your everlasting kingdom:
through Jesus Christ our Mediator and Advocate,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.
Amen

In his inaugural sermon – prefaced Commemoration of Thomas Cranmer, Feast of St Benedict – Archbishop Justin said:

The more the Church is authentically heeding Jesus’ call, leaving its securities, speaking and acting clearly and taking risks, the more the Church suffers. Thomas Cranmer faced death with Christ-given courage, leaving a legacy of worship, of holding to the truth of the gospel, on which we still draw.

On which we still draw?

It didn’t sound like an archbishop who would obligingly bow to the gods of this age or meekly roll over when Parliament asserts its immutable creed of uniformity. And he has not done so. But he does both recognise and agonise over the limitations of his constitutional role, which occasionally require him to hold conflicting personal, political and theological loyalties. But there is no need for him to hold his hand in the fire: if Christians aren’t exhorting him to cut it off, the media are roasting it along with his forearm, if not the whole episcopal torso.

Transformation, renewal and reconciliation precede the confident declaration of the Good News of Jesus Christ. You may not agree with every word Archbishop Justin utters or every pragmatic decision he takes in the service of the Church, but don’t ever judge the man’s heart or motives. For he has declared himself to be, like St Benedict, a man of prayer and contemplation; possessing the courage, like Archbishop Cranmer, to take risks in defence of the Truth.

And here, in defence of that truth, is an excerpt from the sermon preached eight years ago in the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Oxford, by the then Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams:

Cranmer lived in the middle of controversies where striking for a kill was the aim of most debaters. Now of course we must beware of misunderstanding or modernising. He was not by any stretch of the imagination a man who had no care for the truth, a man who thought that any and every expression of Christian doctrine was equally valid; he could be fierce and lucidly uncompromising when up against an opponent like Bishop Gardiner. Yet even as a controversialist he shows signs of this penitent scrupulosity in language: yes, this is the truth, this is what obedience to the Word demands – but , when we have clarified what we must on no account say, we still have to come with patience and painstaking slowness to crafting what we do say. Our task is not to lay down some overwhelmingly simple formula but to suggest and guide, to build up the structure that will lead us from this angle and that towards the one luminous reality. ‘Full, perfect and sufficient’ – each word to the superficial ear capable of being replaced by either of the others, yet each with its own resonance, its own direction into the mystery, and, as we gradually realise, not one of them in fact dispensable.

…And in his last days, this was Cranmer’s curse. If there was no easy certainty enough to kill for, was there certainty enough to die for? That habit of mind which had always circled and hovered, tested words and set them to work against each other in fruitful tension, sought to embody in words the reality of penitence and self-scrutiny, condemned him, especially in the midst of isolation, confusion, threats and seductions of spirit, to a long agony, whose end came only in this church minutes before his last hurrying, stumbling walk through the rain to the stake. It is extraordinary to think of him drafting two contradictory versions of his final public confession, still not knowing what words should sum up his struggles. But at the last, it is as if he emerges from the cloud of words heaped up in balance and argument and counterpoint, knowing almost nothing except that he cannot bring himself to lie, in the face of death and judgement. What he has to say is that he has ‘written many things untrue’ and that he cannot face God without admitting this. He cannot find a formula that will conceal his heart from God, and he knows that his heart is, as it has long been, given to the God whom the Reformation had let him see, the God of free grace, never bound by the works or words of men and women. Just because he faces a God who can never be captured in one set of words, a God who is transcendently holy in a way that exacts from human language the most scrupulous scepticism and the most painstaking elaboration possible, he cannot pretend that words alone will save him. ‘If we deny him, he also will deny us’. He must repent and show his repentance with life as well as lips; ‘forasmuch as my hand offended in writing contrary to my heart, therefore my hand shall first be punished’.

…So Cranmer draws the terrible and proper conclusion from a lifetime of skill and balance, of ‘rightly dividing the word of truth’: what appears bit by bit in our words about God as they are prompted and fired by the Word Incarnate is the realisation of the God who is always in excess of what can be said…

…It led Cranmer – as it led so many others in that nightmare age, as it led the martyrs of our own age – Bonhoeffer, Maria Skobtsova, Janani Luwum – to something more than a contemplative silence: to a real death. When we say that the word of God is not bound, we say that death itself can be the living speech of God, as the Word was uttered once and for all in the silence at the end of Good Friday. Cranmer speaks, not only in the controlled passion of those tight balances and repetitions in his Prayer Book, but in that chilling final quarter of an hour. He ran through the downpour to the town ditch and held out his right hand, his writing hand, for a final composition, a final liturgy. And, because the word of God is not bound, it is as if that hand in the flames becomes an icon of the right hand of Majesty stretched out to us for defence and mercy.

Let this blessed day be a day to remember all of our brothers and sisters around the world who are being persecuted, tortured and murdered for their faith in defence of the Truth. May they be strengthened by His grace.

  • Albert

    holding conflicting personal, political and theological loyalties

    That’s nicely put. Cranmer’s position was inherently incoherent. The princely authority he proclaimed as having the right to over-rule and persecute those of different religious opinions, eventually over-ruled his own. As Cranmer put it:

    Nero was Peter’s head, for Nero was head of the church.

    More biblical Christians, startled by the corollary of holding the supremacy of the secular ruler over the Church, will take refuge in:

    Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.

    The breath of the prince who Cranmer supported went forth and he returned to his earth, only to be replaced by a monarch who had little in common with her father, except perhaps his psychopathology. A salutary tale.

    • Uncle Brian

      Did Cranmer really say that about Nero? That’s a new one to me. Cobbett, in his History of the Protestant Reformation, dwells at length on what he calls “the execrable conduct of Cranmer,” but I don’t remember the Nero quote.

      • ” …. one of Cobbett’s theses — that the Reformation in England had little popular support and was the product of a handful of fanatics backed by the awesome power of the Tudor Monarchy and supported by the greed of those who looted the monasteries and Churches — is now increasingly being accepted by historians.”

        http://www.exclassics.com/protref/protint.htm

        • Anton

          It is true that whereas on the Continent the Reformation began as a religious movement that became political, in England the reverse was the case. But Reformed theology soon entered the country and took root. Admittedly the unpopularity of Catholic Spain during the matter of Queen Mary’s marriage was as much political as religious, but Pius V managed to shoot Rome’s cause spectacularly in the foot in his bull of 1570, Regnans in Excelsis, in which he stated that “We deprive… Elizabeth of her pretended claim to the kingdom…. And we command and forbid her lords, subjects and peoples to obey her…”. From then to Elizabeth’s death in 1603, some 170 clerics who stayed loyal to Rome were put to death (and rather fewer laypersons, mainly for harboring clerics); before that time, Catholics had been tolerated. Rome’s absurd and hubristic pretensions needlessly lost it a great deal of sympathy in England.

          It is a bit much for Catholics to complain that the Reformation was imposed on England from above. Imposition from above had always been Rome’s way!

          An important book toward the thesis that Catholicism remained popular in England was Eamon Duffy’s Stripping of the Altars. In the preface to the second edition he commented on one criticism in particular that had been made of the first edition, namely that he had under-rated the importance of the Lollards (the pre-Reformation English evangelical movement catalysed by the teaching of John Wycliffe). But nothing in Duffy’s new preface managed to knock down that criticism.

          • Corbett wasn’t a Roman Catholic.

          • Anton

            I didn’t mention him, just his argument.

          • And you validated it.

          • Anton

            How?

          • “It is true that whereas on the Continent the Reformation began as a religious movement that became political, in England the reverse was the case.”

            The Reformation began because Henry VIII had “issues”.

          • Anton

            Accepted Jack, but as I said further down my post it then became a popular movement for two reasons: the availability of scripture in the English vernacular, so that the people could see how unscriptural Rome had become; and the hubris of a later Pope in condemning a popular monarch who started her reign by tolerating many shades of religious opinion.

          • You do a great injustice to English martyrs if you begin the Reformation with Henry VIII. The Reformation was gathering pace even before Luther and his 95 theses. Five martyrs were burned to death in Kent in 1511-12, four in Berkshire about the same time, two in London in 1517, seven in Coventry in 1519 and six in Lincoln in 1521, not to mention the deplorable murder of Richard Hunne in prison in 1514 all before Henry started thinking about a divorce.

          • Anton

            Martin, I have visited the field just outside Amersham where several Lollards were burnt to death for their faith in Christ; see

            http://www.amersham.org.uk/tour/martyrs.htm

            You and I are in total agreement about the actual issues involved, and all that we are debating is a question of terminology, namely whether the words “Reformation” and “protestant” are appropriate before 1517. I have no stomach for battle about that; let us agree that these were evangelical Christian martyrs.

          • Thank you, Anton, especially for that link. I am happy to agree with you. My only desire is to contest the argument being made that the Reformation was all down to Henry VIII. It wasn’t.

          • domy

            were’nt ‘Evangelical’ Christian put to death even in Anglican England?
            Or do you think that Lollards are similar or related with the established Church of England?

          • Anton

            I’m a nonconformist and against all politicised Christianity; let Christians be in politics where God makes that possible, but not the church as a corporate body.

            To my knowledge evangelical Christians were persecuted but not executed in England after the Reformation.

          • Busy Mum

            You will be interested to know that at A level, students are taught that Henry VIII started the Reformation. When my daughter queried whether or not they would be studying Wycliffe, the teacher said, ‘Who was that?’
            This teacher has a History degree and specialises in teaching about the Tudors. She is young, very young…and clearly very ignorant. She has never heard of Latimer or Ridley either.

        • Absolutely false. The Reformation in England was a People’s movement and started long before 1517.

          • Not according to most historians today and even Anton has conceded the point.

          • Anton

            Martin is clearly referring to the Lollards, heroic evangelical Christians even though the words “protestant” and “Reformation” were yet to be coined.

          • Albert

            This is a spoof post, right?

          • “The Reformation in England was a People’s movement and started long before 1517.”

            Nonsense, it wasn’t a “people’s movement” at all. That’s like saying the French and Russian Revolutions were people’s movements. Agreed, there were theological concerns about Roman Catholicism – then there always had been disagreements in the Church. This is not the same as claiming a grass-roots popular uprising because the views of these men were supported at a grass root level – they were not.

            In England, in Cobbett’s words, “it was a handful of fanatics backed by the awesome power of the Tudor Monarchy and supported by the greed of those who looted the monasteries and Churches.” Queen Elizabeth’s political acumen was to gain popular support for the Church of England in a country still largely Catholic.

          • The article you quote about Cobbett says, “the buzzing of the bees in Cobbett’s bonnet is quite wonderful” so I’m not sure he can be taken as authoritative. You should be aware that more Protestants were executed under Henry VIII than Roman Catholics.
            Your own lovely Thomas More stated around 1510 that you couldn’t meet two men on the road but one of them was a Lollard.

          • Little Black Censored

            I think Duffy and others have shown that the Reformation in England was certainly not a movement of the common people. Many of them resisted it heroically. But I think he underestimates the importance of the intellectual forces that were at work; and with the circulation of printed texts, and the international communication between scholars, a philosophical change took place which the Church of the school-men, in northern Europe at least, was unable to withstand. For many educated people mediaval Gothic religion lost its respectability. Henry VIII was able to profit from this movement, but he didn’t start it; and there were other powerful people who benefited too.

          • Well, that’s what Jack was saying – every intellectual movement needs supporters in high places. The scandal of Rome provided the cause and opportunity for reform but something else was afoot.

        • magnolia

          This doesn’t work. The advent of printing and the demand for the lay people to have access to the Word in their own vernacular is a very important part of the Reformation. It was already in train. You now benefit from it indeed, and that is no problem for you, is it? The Roman Catholic church itself was partially reformed by the Reformation and you are no longer partakers of the same pre-Reformation mindset or spirituality as a result.

          Much common pre-Reformation spirituality in England was decidedly superstitious and in some cases identifiably half-pagan, with bowing and scraping to statues that was to most of our present day eyes clearly idolatrous. There was mass corruption and ignorance and the sale of indulgences- a filthy and immoral practice. The corruption and ignorance is well documented in Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales”. You really see the Pardoner as a golden age of Catholicism, and a crying shame that such were stopped?

          Also albeit Henry’s conversion to Protestant thought may have been in part opportunistic you forget how scholarly he was, probably with more intellectual than moral integrity, and how well read he was, so that intellectual assent was necessary to him. And without the works of scholarship and questioning there would have been nothing for him to latch on to, if you even put it at that lowest of levels.

          • “And without the works of scholarship and questioning there would have been nothing for him to latch on to, if you even put it at that lowest of levels.”

            Translation: he was looking for an excuse to get around the Catholic Church and there were plenty of men willing to provide it for both theological and material reasons.

            And his other ‘marriages’?

          • magnolia

            “There were plenty of men willing to provide it…”

            But Luther’s ideas were already out there, and not due to Henry VIII and his domestic ideas at all, but for entirely different, and wholly better reasons. It is impossible to know the % of opportunism in Henry, but given his scholarship I very much doubt it was entirely opportunistic, though no doubt it was in part.

          • Come now, Magnolia. Look where it repeatedly led him and how many women he killed in his obsession.

          • The Explorer

            Two wasn’t it? Is that a lot in the context of the time, and given that he was responsible for the death of men as well? Ibrahim II of Turkey drowned over 160 of his harem. Now there you’re talking.

      • Albert

        Yes, he did, at his trial (M= Dr Martin & C obviously Cranmer):

        M. – Now sir, as touching the last part of your oration, you denied that the pope’s
        holiness was supreme head of the church of Christ.
        C. – I did so.
        M. – Who say you then is supreme head?
        C. – Christ.
        M. – But whom hath Christ left here in earth his vicar and head of his church?
        C. – Nobody.
        M. – Ah! why told you not king Henry this, when you made him supreme head? and
        now nobody is. This is treason against his own person, as you then made him.
        C. – I mean not but every king in his own realm and dominion is supreme head, and so
        was he supreme head of the church of Christ in England.
        M. – Is this always true? and was it ever so in Christ’s church?
        C. – It was so.
        M. – Then what say you by Nero? He was the mightiest prince of earth, after Christ
        was ascended. Was he head of Christ’s church?
        C. – Nero was Peter’s head.
        M. – I ask, whether Nero was head of the church, or no? If he were not, it is false that
        you said before, that all princes be, and ever were, heads of the church within their
        realms.
        C. – Nay, it is true, for Nero was head of the church, that is, in worldly respect of the
        temporal bodies of men, of whom the church consisteth; for so he beheaded Peter and
        the apostles. And the Turk too is head of the church of Turkey.
        M. – Then he that beheaded the heads of the church, and crucified the apostles, was
        head of Christ’s church; and he that was never member of the church, is head of the
        church, by your new found understanding of God’s word.

        The point being of course, that whatever authority was claimed for the monarch had to be claimed for any monarch – even “the Turk”. You can imagine the eyes rolling in wonder when Cranmer said that. All credit to him for being so honest.

        • Uncle Brian

          All credit to him indeed, Albert. What an amazing conclusion to all his labyrinthine theological and ecclesiological arguments. Never at a loss for words, was he. Thank you for that!

  • Inspector General

    As the song might go “Cranmer was only 66. He didn’t want to die”. And he
    tried like he’d never tried before to escape his destiny. He penned no less than
    seven increasingly submissive recantations, only to be told it was all in vain.
    Having declared the present Queen’s mother’s valid marriage invalid, which
    probably seemed a good idea at the time, Mary could say, “This time it’s
    personal”.

    It’s an awful thing to be marked for death. But when the counter
    revolutionaries came to power, it wasn’t going to end happily, now was it. Why
    he didn’t flee to the continent to join up with his protesting mates is not
    clear to the Inspector. Perhaps Cranmer, with arrogance sufficient thought he
    stood above judgment for all his ‘good works’. It must have gone through his
    mind, that opportunity, that delusion, in his final moments…

    • Albert

      I agree Inspector. Added to what you have put here, he also rather incoherently allowed himself to be part of a plot to dethrone the legitimate monarch (which would have resulted in her execution, surely). My one disagreement with you is that, perhaps his willingness to stay rather than run away was perhaps a kind of greatness.

      • Inspector General

        We have ‘greatness’ from you Albert. We also have delusion. When we look back at a man’s life, do we not err to the positive. Well, most do, not this man here.

  • Inspector General

    For those who are interested, a year earlier bishop Hooper had been burnt at the stake in Gloucester. (His Wiki entry has a picture of the site, chosen apparently so Mary could watch his end from the Cathedral buildings behind. Whether she was there or not is not known).

    The entry also gives a flavour to how things were back then. He was originally arrested for ‘debt’ as there was no law by which he could be detained for his own heretical behaviour. Maybe this had given Cranmer, who was already in prison at the time, false hope to begin with.

    He seemed a decent fellow though, and his monument attains to him being critical of clergy involved in fox hunting, of all things.

  • Shadrach Fire

    Cranmer is dead. Long live His Grace.
    The man was a testimony to his frailty as a human but also his resolve to ultimately triumph in his faith.

    • Anton

      Cranmer did the right thing at the last. But he only reached a position of martyrdom because, a generation earlier, he had been elevated to Canterbury as a man willing to pronounce King Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon invalid.

      Let no man suppose that the canon laws involved in that case trumped its politics. Pope Clement had just granted a similar favour to Henry’s sister Margaret, and the papacy had granted an even more flagrantly political divorce (which it called an annulment) to Louis XII of France in 1498. Both sides used the fine details of Henry’s case merely as excuses for political positions. What really counted was that the Pope needed the favour of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, who was Catherine of Aragon’s nephew.

      • You think the grounds for annulment of Henry’s marriage to Catherine were valid?

        • Anton

          On scriptural grounds (which I regard as definitive), no. On Catholic canon law grounds, uncertain.

          • Then you see him as an adulterer and his first child, Mary I, as his legitimate heir?

          • Anton

            He was already committing adultery with various women while married to Catherine of Aragon. As for Anne Boleyn, Jesus seems to regard remarriages after divorce as genuine marriages even if adultery was involved – although the parties involved should tremble before Him. As for the succession, no guidance is given in the NT as to how a ruler shall choose his successor, and politics is about law whereas the gospel is about grace, so I don’t recognise the notion of “legitimate heir”. Tis a dirty business.

            So far as I am concerned Catharine of Aragon was wronged, but I also wonder if she lied about whether her marriage to Arthur was unconsummated. We simply cannot know, and it matters under Catholic canon law of the time, which she and Henry regarded as binding even if (as I believe) the question is not of any substance before God.

            I genuinely regret not being able to give a simple Yes/No to your question. Human affairs are fallen and messy.

          • “Jesus seems to regard remarriages after divorce as genuine marriages even if adultery was involved – although the parties involved should tremble before Him.”

            No …. divorce was permissible but Jesus described any ‘remarriages’ as adulterous.

            The NT confirms the authority of temporal powers and Edward VI disinherited both of his sisters, Mary and Elizabeth in his will, naming Lady Jane as his successor. This contradicted Henry VIII’s the Succession Act, which restored Mary and Elizabeth to the line of succession

          • Anton

            “No …. divorce was permissible but Jesus described any ‘remarriages’ as adulterous.”

            Yes he did – agreed. But he regarded them as adulterous marriages rather than as non-marriages.

          • Eh? You’ll have to run that one by Happy Jack …….

          • Anton

            He did not deny their status as marriages, but he deplored the adultery that was involved.

          • No. He said they were still married to their divorced spouse.

          • Anton

            Where?

          • In Matthew 19: 5-9 and Mark 10: 6-12 the teaching is crystal clear.
            If a relationship is adultery, by definition it is not a marriage.

          • Anton

            That would contradict Deut 24:1-4 which permits divorce in some circumstances and speaks of subsequent marriage. Jesus demands higher standards of his voluntary followers than in the Law of Moses which Israelites have to conform to, but the terminology is clear. Perhaps Jesus regards it as a form of polygamy?

          • Eh?

            You’re being ironic, right?

          • Anton

            This scripture has to be negotiated without Jesus disagreeing with the laws given by His Father. It’s not a trivial exercise.

          • Albert

            I’m looking for your references you mentioned on the other thread, and I’ve spotted this. I don’t agree with you here. The OT is a shadow of the reality. It is perfectly possible for the OT to be “trumped” therefore by Jesus’ teaching. But I think, particularly in that context, that you have misinterpreted Deut.24. It doesn’t permit divorce. It simply assumes it happens and places restrictions on it. In the OT we can see a trajectory regarding divorce. So, for example, in Malachi 2.16 it says I hate divorce,” says the Lord, the God of Israel

            So here’s the pattern: God hates divorce and it will be meaningless in the fulness of truth, but prior to Deut 24, it is going on in a totally disordered way. Men divorce their wives without even giving evidence of having done it – leaving women destitute. There is then some kind of swinging on as well (Deut.24-2-4). God hates this, and so he first restricts it (Deut.), then he condemns it (Mal.) then he shows why: it is meaningless (the Gospels): Anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery says the Lord. Why is it adultery? Because the previous marriage still exists. Jesus does not contradict the OT law, he fulfils it.

          • Albert

            What’s the argument on Catholic canon law grounds?

          • Anton

            Let Jack correct me if I get this wrong, but to my knowledge the situation was as follows.

            Catherine of Aragon had previously been through a marriage ceremony with Henry’s older brother Arthur, who then died. Had the marriage been consummated then Catherine could not have contracted a marriage to Henry – as happened – because they would have been regarded as relatives via that earlier marriage, and their own marriage would have been incestuous. Before marrying Henry, Catherine swore that her marriage to Arthur had not been consummated. But everybody in the Spanish and English royal families at that time wanted Catherine and Henry to marry, presumably including themselves. We simply cannot know whether, as a teenage girl under pressure from just about everybody, she told the truth.

            I actually regard this is a ridiculous piece of canon law, not least because in the Old Testament a Jew whose brother died was supposed to marry his widowed sister-in-law (Deuteronomy 25:5); while Christians are not under Mosaic Law the divine precedent is clear that this is acceptable; and in any case they were not genetic relatives, which is what incest regulations are intended to legislate against.

            When Catherine of Aragon ceased to bear children, having not given Henry the surviving male heir he craved, Henry tried to invoke another piece of the Law of Moses (Leviticus 20:21) stating that a man should not marry his sister-in-law; but it is clear in context that this regulation refers to stealing your brother’s wife while he is alive. (Otherwise Mosaic Law is self-contradictory!) For good measure Henry also asserted scepticism of his wife’s claim that her marriage to his brother was unconsummated. The ages of that couple when Arthur died do not suggest anything clear about the matter.

            All of this is why I say that there were grey areas in canon law that either side could invoke. What I do assert is that the grey areas were exploited to the hilt by both sides and that the core of the matter was political, however much hiding behind canon law was done. Pope Clement had just granted a similar favour to Henry’s sister Margaret, and the papacy had granted an even more flagrantly political divorce (which it called an annulment) to Louis XII of France in 1498. Both sides used the fine details of Henry’s case merely as excuses for political positions. What really counted was that the Pope needed the favour of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, who was Catherine of Aragon’s nephew.

            Moreover Catholic canon law aimed to outdo Moaisc Law in prohibiting not only first-cousin marriages but 2nd, 3rd, 4th and even 5th cousin marriages. Just about every aristocrat in Europe was that closely related, so they either got a dispensation or they failed to bring the relationship to the attention of the authorities. Then, if they subsequently wanted a divorce, they said that they had just learnt of the relationship.

            Henry wronged Catherine. But the notion that Catholic canon law was the issue is pious nonsense.

          • Albert

            There is clearly no scriptural case to defend Henry, but I’m still unclear on the canon law. As I recall, the dispensation was set out on the assumption that Catherine had consummated the relationship – i.e. to make the dispensation water-tight. Thus, the only grounds one could argue against the dispensation would be that the dispensation was invalid by virtue of the power granting it, not having the authority. But since that power was the pope, and since the objection was from canon law, not God’s law, it follows that, on canonical grounds, the pope could grant the dispensation. So I don’t follow a canon law case.

          • No … it was granted because Catherine’s first marriage had not been consummated. Henry VIII was calling her a liar.

          • Albert

            From David Loades Mary Tudor:

            “a dispensation was obtained from Pope Julius II, which, again as a precaution, assumed the marriage had been consummated, since that would have constituted the greater impediment.”

            But I’ve just remembered Luther’s solution: let Henry have two wives (Philip of Hesse style)! Marvellous isn’t it? Cranmer thinks the head of the Church can be an anti-Christian pagan (who is head even of Peter), while Luther thinks a Christian monarch can resolve his difficulties by having two wives! What a bizarre movement the Protestant Reformation was.

          • Maybe you’re right, it’s been a while since Jack looked into this. Jack thinks Henry’s first submission was based on Wolsey’s plan from Leviticus. It was Catherine who gave evidence to an inquiry that her marriage to Arthur had never been consummated. No consummation, so marriage to Arthur, so no grounds for an annulment. The inquiry had to find Henry’s marriage to Catherine valid.

            As Henry looked for a way to put away his first wife on the argument that it was forbidden by Leviticus, he was seeking permission from the Pope to contract a marriage that would have been forbidden by the same passage. if his request for two ‘marriages’ was granted, he sought permission from Rome to marry Anne Boleyn even though he had fornicated with her older sister, Mary !

            In C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters, senior devil Screwtape laments: “The human souls on whose anguish we have been feasting tonight were of pretty poor quality. Oh to get one’s teeth into a Henry VIII!. There was a real crackling there, something to crunch; a rage, an egotism, a cruelty only just less robust than our own.”

            Weird times ….. Cardinal Kasper would have had a field day!

          • Little Black Censored

            Surely the fornication with the other Boleyn girl has nothing to do with it. (I don’t suppose she was the only other girl friend Henry VIII had.) It has no bearing, strictly, on his marriage.

          • In those times it did because they recognised sex established a relationship between a man and a woman.

          • Anton

            Jack, and others,

            The following references should help:

            The Matrimonial Trials of Henry VIII, by H. Kelly; Stanford, 1976.

            The Divorce Tracts of Henry VIII, eds. E. Surtz and V. Murphy; Angers, 1988.

          • Anton

            Henry argued Leviticus 20:21 as precedent, speciously as this obviously applied when the brother was alive. His other line of attack if that one was rejected was that Catherine was lying about her non-consummation with Arthur, so they were relatives and not free to marry under canon law’s (barmy, IMHO) incest relations.

            Churchmen in England were divided. Henry petitioned Rome but simply never got a reply, and it was clear that the Pope was going to sit on the case as an expedient. When, then, the Archbishop of Canterbury died, Henry appointed another – Thomas Cranmer – who was willing to declare his marriage to Catherine invalid from the start. (I don’t recall which of Henry’s arguments Cranmer cited.) At the same time Henry was willing to declare himself the earthly head of the church in England in place of the Pope.

          • Albert

            Agreed. However, ignoring issues of people’s behaviour, Catherine’s marriage to Henry was valid – so whatever his motivation, the Pope’s behaviour was correct. Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn was invalid and therefore, as Cranmer’s own annulment of the latter marriage showed, Elizabeth I was not the legitimate monarch by succession.

          • Anton

            As I’ve said before, who is the legitimate monarch is a dirty and political business. You might argue that Henry’s father illegitimately usurped Richard III in which case the entire Tudor dynasty is illegitimate. You might argue that Henry IV illegitimately usurped Richard II. And so on; where to draw the line being a matter of political taste.

          • Henry VIII went a little further than the others ….

          • Anton

            Nonsense; most usurpers kill the previous monarch. Henry VIII never committed regicide (just a little uxoricide)…

          • No he brought down marriage – a sacrament – and bumped off a few women along the way. And the religious upheaval his behaviour triggered resulted in the state and the church sanctioning and committing regicide.

          • Anton

            Certainly he took a debased view of marriage. Marriage as sacrament is based on the questionable Latin ‘Vulgate’ translation of the Greek word mysterion in Ephesians 5:32, for the forging-into-one of husband and wife, and also of Christ and his church, as sacramentum. As for his behaviour resulting in the state… sanctioning regicide, this statement shows how far things had come by Charles I’s time that the State was not regarded as co-terminous with the king. Quite right too. And then the question of what to do with a king who freely breaks his word arises. Big issues, and I complain not that you are wrong but that you are simplistically mediaeval.

          • Marriage is a permanent, unbreakable bound between a man and a woman for life – deny it is witnessed by the Church and through this receives grace to strengthen it, if you so choose.
            As for the rest, they’re not so big once a Monarch is crowned and his subjects swear allegiance to him – including his bishops.

          • Anton

            If a people swear allegiance to a king, but that king (to take a hypothetical case) then sells his people down the river, must they obey? This is why I say not that you are wrong but simplistic on the subject. Out of debates like this – and not out of one side – came the modern notion of the State and the freedom of the individual within it, which Burke correctly understood to have been developed in England not revolutionary France.

          • Little Black Censored

            “…he brought down marriage – a sacrament – ,,, and the religious upheaval his behaviour triggered
            resulted in the state and the church sanctioning and committing
            regicide.”

            You ascribe to Henry VIII the awesome importance that modern socialists ascribe to Margaret Thatcher. He is superhuman.

          • Albert

            I agree, but your claim was that it was possible that Henry had a canonical case (you’ve agreed he had no biblical case – indeed it can hardly be taken seriously in the light of everything the OT says about the matter). I cannot see where you have defending the possibility of Henry having a canonical case.

          • Anton

            I haven’t been; I’ve been carefully stating what each side was claiming. Nobody emerges with credit. Only Catherine of Aragon is wholly innocent, and then only if she didn’t lie about not consummating with Arthur. (Lying is wrong even if the matter at hand is irrelevant to God.)

          • Albert

            HJ asked you:

            You think the grounds for annulment of Henry’s marriage to Catherine were valid?

            and you replied:

            On scriptural grounds (which I regard as definitive), no. On Catholic canon law grounds, uncertain.

            It was that last sentence I was picking up on. Surely, if the pope has dispensed with the canonical objections, and there are not scriptural objections, then there is no uncertainty about the canonical status of Henry’s marriage to Catherine?

          • Anton

            But why might the Pope dispense with certain objections? Obviously, on political grounds rather than the theological ones in which such a dispensation would piously be wrapped up. And the politics of both sides of this dispute stink. Remember that Henry’s sister had just been granted by Rome an iffy divorce-by-another-name, ie annulment. Remember also that Rome did not actually pronounce on Henry’s case: it sat on it. Meanwhile Henry had got Anne Boleyn pregnant, which was nothing unusual for Henry and a mistress, but this time it happened after Catherine of Aragon had stopped bearing children so Henry was determined to change Queen.

          • Albert

            If you were arguing only that the whole thing was morally very dubious, then clearly I would agree with you. But your original point was not about morality, but about canon law. Now if the validity of a papal decision is contingent, in canon law on the pope acting with moral rectitude, then again you would have a case. But canon law doesn’t work like that. The Church put in an impediment. The authority competent to remove the impediment, removed it, I cannot really see that there is a canonical argument to be made

            Remember also that Rome did not actually pronounce on Henry’s case: it sat on it.

            The burden of proof rests on proving a marriage is invalid. Thus the marriage is understood to be valid, until Rome says otherwise. Thus silence from Rome has no canonical implications beyond leaving the marriage valid.

          • You’ll need to make a case for each of those as they are not comparable. Catherine’s first ‘marriage’ was deemed not to have been a marriage as it had not been consummated.

          • Anton

            So she said. Personally I don’t think it matters a damn and I regard her marriage to Henry as legitimate whether she and Arthur consummated or not; but the Catholic authorities took a different view and I am unconvinced that she told the truth given that everybody wanted her and Henry married – imagine the pressure. Neither you nor I can know.

          • Lol …. it get’s more confusing the more you look into it.

            The Papal dispensation was originally given to remove the impediment of affinity – it was after Henry’s attempts to use Leviticus that Catherine disclosed her first ‘marriage’ had not been consummated. Jack would be reluctant to claim she lied ..

            In any case, Henry’s ‘troubled conscience’ about Leviticus only surfaced after Catherine had failed to produce a male heir, Wolseley discovered this ground and Henry was besotted by Anne Boleyn who was withholding herself. As Thomas Aquinas wrote: “Unchastity’s firstborn daughter is blindness of the spirit,”

          • Anton

            But surely Catherine of Aragon had had to give assurances that she and Arthur had not consummated their marriage in order to be able to marry Henry right at the start?

            I agree that it gets more confusing the more you look at it…

          • Pubcrawler

            “Henry’s ‘troubled conscience’ about Leviticus only surfaced after Catherine had failed to produce a male heir, Wolseley discovered this ground”

            Maybe it came from Wolsey but I have seen in the British Library a marginal comment at the pertinent passage in Henry’s own hand that is indicative of his disquiet.

          • Depends when he wrote it …. lust can have a powerful effect on the mind and a man’s conscience is very good at finding an excuse for most sin.

          • Pubcrawler

            Very possibly, and I am too many bottles of wine into the evening to engage in detail. One can never underestimate the power of lust, but Henry knew his history and the urgent need, for the sake of the realm (and the legitimacy of the usurping Tudor dynasty) , of a male heir, and pronto. Any straw would be clutched at.

  • The Explorer

    Christians martyred by Christians (or non-Chrisians martyred by Christians, if one defines ‘martyrdom’ as dying for one’s beliefs) is one of the things that distress me most in the historical record. Much easier to cope with when Christians are martyred by pagans, or Muslims, or Marxists.

  • carl jacobs

    It’s difficult for Americans to grasp the motivations of the American Civil War because the war changed us. We in the present don’t comprehend loyalty to state outweighing loyalty to nation. We can read about it but we can’t get underneath the words. I think there is a similar dynamic in play with this subject. It was the terrible intermixing of religion with political loyalty – the idea that the difference between Protestant and Catholic was the measure of treason. I find it revealing the Cromwell accepted Jews but not Catholics. And yet we see a similar dynamic emerging today as Westerners begin to doubt the loyalty of Islam. Is it really so different? We don’t charge heresy anymore. But 500 years ago was a charge of heresy really about heresy?

    The church gives legitimacy to the King as if the archbishop can speak for God. The King declares the true church as if the King has authority to do so. The lesson we can learn is to repudiate the logic of Unam Sanctum and get the church out of the task of legitimizing governments. It was a given 500 years ago that prince and subject were united by church. It should not be so today. The responsibility discredited the church and corrupted it. Venal men sought after power and cloaked it religion. Or could they see a difference between the acquisition of power and the advance of their religion. Either way, it has nothing to do with Scripture. There is no reason to declare a man a traitor because he professes a different faith.

    Rome is not the grasping temporal power that it once was. It’s hard today to understand the motivations of men who grew up in a culture shaped by the political power of the Roman church. So I try not to judge too harshly. We both have blood on our hands from our efforts to conflate church with king. The task is not to wonder after why men were burned but to resolve not to do it again.

    • You need to understand that in Cromwell’s day it was only 45 or so years since a group of Roman Catholics had tried to blow up Parliament, and less than 100 since the Pope had encouraged English Romanists to rebel against Elizabeth I resulting in two assassination attempts.

      • Cromwell, being a Puritan, placed a great deal more emphasis on the OT rather than the NT and the prophecies concerning the Jews; England being the New Jerusalem (i.e before the American colonies).

        • Anton

          I thought is was a bunch of Victorian weirdos who regarded England/London as the New Jerusalem, at the height of the British Empire. Have you evidence that Cromwell did?

        • And your source for that load of twaddle?

          • Jack recalls reading it somewhere …

            “There was interest in Jewish matters in the leadership of the Commonwealth and Protectorate for two reasons, one pragmatic and the other doctrinal. The pragmatic reason was that based on the international trade and commercial connections of the Amsterdam Jewish community it was recognised that a strong Jewish presence in London would be advantageous ….

            The doctrinal reason was the belief amongst godly Protestants, including Cromwell, that the conversion of the Jews to Christianity was essential before Christ would return to reign on earth. 1656 was thought by some to be the actual year in which this would happen ….

            Menasseh ben Israel …. who cultivated links with the new Commonwealth regime in England. It was his belief that the Jewish Messiah would only appear when the Jewish people had spread throughout the world. Establishing communities in England would help to bring about that second coming. Menassen ben Israel published a pamphlet in 1651 appealing to Cromwell

            In September 1655 Menasseh ben Israel arrived in London with a delegation and members of his family and personally petitioned Cromwell for the readmission of the Jews. Cromwell met with him and a committee of the Council of State, and it was agreed that a conference should be convened to discuss the issues. The petition requested citizenship, freedom of worship, burial grounds, freedom to trade and the withdrawal of all laws against Jews.

            The conference met several times in December 1655 but was, in the end, inconclusive. There was no formal decision to allow readmission but it was soon evident that the presence of Jews would be more openly tolerated. Cromwell permitted Jews to worship in private as they had done prior to the petitioning, and within months a synagogue and burial ground were allowed.”

            http://www.olivercromwell.org/jews.htm

          • That Cromwell allowed the Jews back into Britain is a matter of fact. That he earnestly desired their conversion is also a matter of record. My description of your post as ‘twaddle’ was based on your assertion that the Puritans gave more authority to the Old Testament than the New. The belief that the conversion of the Jews would occur before the return of Christ is based on an interpretation of Romans 11:24ff which is widely believed today. The book of Romans is in the New Testament. I have never read that Cromwell believed it though he may well have done. He certainly did not believe that it would happen in 1656.

          • Romans 11:24 has always been Church doctrine. Cromwell and the Puritans gave it greater prominence and looked for “signs”. Surely you’re not denying the Puritan emphasis on the OT?

          • I read the Puritans extensively. Their emphasis is on the whole Bible. Nor were they obsessed with ‘signs.’ At the time of the Civil War, there were a great many weird doctrines floating about and strange sects like the ‘Levellers’ and ‘Fifth Republic Men.’ The work of the Puritans was to oppose such errors and propagate sound doctrine.
            .
            I suggest that you take the time to read people like Thomas Watson, Richard Sibbes, John Flavel and John Bunyan (who wrote a great deal more than just ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’). John Owen, although he’s quite hard to read, is the greatest theologian this country has produced. Although they had their faults, the Puritan era was a golden age for Christian doctrine and literature. May God raise up such people again in the land.

    • ” …. repudiate the logic of Unam Sanctam and get the church out of the task of legitimizing governments.”
      The logic was unassailable. It ran like this:

      – There is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church outside of which there is neither salvation nor remission of sins.

      – The Church represents the Mystical Body whose head is Christ and in which there is one Lord, one Faith, and one Baptism. This one visible Body on earth has one head, Christ, and His vicar, St. Peter and his successors. If anyone says that he is not subject to the vicar of Christ, Peter’s successor, he declares he is not in the Catholic Church.

      – In the power of the Church are “two swords”, the spiritual and the temporal, to be used by and for the Church. The first is in the hand of priests; the second is in the hand of kings and knights, but is to be used at the direction and permission of the priest.

      – The temporal power should be subject to the spiritual since the latter excels the former in diginity and nobility as spiritual things are superior to temporal things. The spiritual power can establish the temporal power and judge it when it does evil or a matter of sin is involved. If the supreme spiritual power errs, it will be judged not by man but by God alone since the authority although given to men and exercised by them, is not human but divine.

      – In its only infallible definition the Bull concludes that it is absolutely necessary for salvation for all human beings to be subject to the Roman Pontiff
      .
      “Rome is not the grasping temporal power that it once was.”

      By ‘Rome’, do you mean individual sinful men at different times in Church history, or are you saying it was/is intrinsic to Roman Catholicism and its theology?

      • Anton

        “There is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church outside of which there is neither salvation nor remission of sins.”

        Set aside Catholic and Apostolic for now; the rest of this phrase is essentially tautologous, for the definition of the church is simply the collective of Christ’s faithful. The resal issue is whether “This one visible Body on earth has one head, Christ, and His vicar, St. Peter and his successors.” In other words whether the collective of Christ’s faithful is identical with the Roman Catholic church. To which I say, simply, No it is not, and I am willing to bet my salvation on that answer, on the grounds of what I find in the New Testament – the same which Rome reads but grievously often fails to heed.

        Two swords? That doctrine is a totally arbitrary eisegesis of Luke 22:38 and I give thanks to God that the Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this realm of England so that I can freely dispute the claim without risk of being burnt.

        • Do calm down Anton, and cut the hyperbole. Nobody’s trying to burn you.
          Maybe it is tautology but, at the time it was written, 1302, when the economic, social and political system was feudal and rested on oaths of fidelity to God, if you were a Christian in Western Europe you were either a ‘Romanist’ – or a heretic.

          • Anton

            So people who address prayers to Mary label others as heretics? Run that one past me again.

          • Not “people” – the Church and intercessory prayers to the dead has a biblical foundation. In Revelation 5:8, John depicts the saints in heaven offering our prayers to God. John sees that “the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Rev. 5:8). And in 1 Timothy 2:5, Paul says that Christians should interceed: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and pleasing to God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”

            It doesn’t diminish faith in Jesus. He often supplied for one person based on another person’s faith (e.g., Matt. 8:13, 15:28, 17:15–18, Mark 9:17–29, Luke 8:49–55). Surely those in heaven have even greater confidence and devotion to God than anyone on earth.

            And don’t worry about being executed, the Pope has just said: <Nowadays the death penalty is inadmissible, no matter how serious the crime committed. It is an offence against the inviolability of life and the dignity of the human person, which contradicts God's plan for man and society, and his merciful justice, and impedes the penalty from fulfilling any just objective. It does not render justice to the victims, but rather fosters vengeance”.
            (Mind, t is just an opinion requiring prudential judgement, so circumstances could theoretically change)

          • Anton

            “And in 1 Timothy 2:5, Paul says that Christians should interceed: First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and pleasing to God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth

            Too bad, Jack, that you actually stopped immediately before 1 Timothy 2:5, which says: there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus. So if I wish to pray to God then I petition the one mediator Jesus Christ. Not his mother or anybody else.

          • That isn’t a prohibition as all the prayers are offered to God through Jesus Christ.
            And the other passages cited?

          • Albert

            Haven’t you just rendered a single paragraph of scripture self-contradictory?

          • Anton

            Any Christian who wishes to pray to God for anything should do so via the one mediator Jesus Christ. That applies whether the prayer is for the wellbeing of another Christian or for something else, and in the former case it applies whether that Christian has requested prayer or not.

            One mediator for prayer. Jesus Christ. Not his mother or anybody else.

          • Albert

            Firstly, unless one has lost sight of the biblical notion of the Church, to ask another member of the Church to pray for one is to pray through the one mediator, Jesus Christ. Secondly, asking someone else to pray for one does not preclude praying oneself to the Lord. So I cannot see how your invocation of 1 Tim.2 defends the position you are seeking to uphold.

          • Anton

            I believe you are being deliberately obtuse. Anybody can ask anybody else to pray for them. But when a Christian prays to God, it must be through Jesus Christ and no other according to 1 Tim 2:5. Must it not?

          • Albert

            I am not being deliberately obtuse. Perhaps you don’t understand how “praying to the saints” works. What we do is we ask the saints to pray for us – in the knowledge that death has not broken their communion with us (e.g. Hebrews 12.22-24). The saints pray for us – as any member of the body of Christ does – through Christ. Now if 1 Tim 2.5 excludes that, it excludes 1 Tim.2.1-2 as well (and it makes Rev. 5.9 & 8.3-4 rather hard to understand, as well). Now since, as the 39 Articles say the Church may not so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another it follows that your interpretation of 1 Tim.2.5 must be excluded on solidly Protestant grounds.

          • Little Black Censored

            Jack, forgive my ignorance: was that Aquinas you were quoting?

          • Little Black Censored

            Sorry, I see now, it was Unam Sanctam.

          • Where, Little Black One?

      • carl jacobs

        It was absolutely part of Roman Catholic dogma in 1302, your whitewash of Unam Sanctam’s infallibility notwithstanding. Rome turned the Scripture on its head a made of Christendom a kingdom of this world. The Pope arrogated to himself powers the church was never intended to possess. He made himself a temporal Lord of armies and nations. Is it a surprise then that religion could lead to charges of treason?

        But that is too easy. It’s a common fault of men to be corrupted by power, and gov’ts have been using religion since time immemorial to legitimize themselves. It’s not a uniquely Catholic fault. More like the RC leadership was presented with the temptation and indulged it.

        • Albert

          It was absolutely part of Roman Catholic dogma in 1302

          What is the basis of this claim?

          • carl jacobs

            The infallible declaration of such by Pope Boniface VIII.

          • Albert

            Nice to see you recognize the infallible authority of the Pope. But I’m still unclear, which part of the document makes you think it was infallible? Secondly, what is the scope claimed do you think? Does it apply outside Christendom – e.g. to (what Cranmer called) “the Turk”?

          • It is only the last sentence that is infallible: “Furthermore we declare, state and define that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of all human beings that they submit to the Roman Pontiff.” and it was only applicable to those who were members of Christ’s visible Body, the Roman Catholic Church. And the submission was to the Pontiff’s oversight of spiritual affairs.

          • Anton

            You think that was Boniface’s intended meaning?

          • What else?

            The Fourth Lateran Council, in1215, had already declared: “There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved.”
            Since then the definitions of the ‘Body of Christ’ and ‘People of God’ have deepened.

          • Anton

            Anybody but a sophist would understand Boniface to mean: Listen, Roi Philippe and anybody else, if I excommunicate you then you lose salvation, got it?

          • Albert

            It certainly seems odd to say a Bull is infallible. Infallibility applies only to definitions, that is to individual propositions. Thus infallibility does not seem obviously to apply to an entire document.

        • Jack agrees with this insight, “More like the RC leadership was presented with the temptation and indulged it.” Such were the times and the King of France was challenging the authority of the Church at the time.

      • William Lewis

        ” If the supreme spiritual power errs, it will be judged not by man but by God alone since the authority although given to men and exercised by them, is not human but divine.”

        The supreme spiritual power cannot err for it is the Spirit of the Christ. Unless man claims it is himself, of course.

        • “The temporal power should be subject to the spiritual since the latter excels the former in diginity and nobility as spiritual things are superior to temporal things. The spiritual power can establish the temporal power and judge it when it does evil or a matter of sin is involved.”

          You don’t accept this statement?

          • William Lewis

            No. It makes little sense to me. We are all spiritual beings currently inhabiting temporal bodies. Our battles are spiritual as will our judgement be. All temporal power is ultimately spiritual.

          • Surely we are both spiritual and physical – not spiritual beings inhabiting physical bodies? And our body is at war with our souls until the bodies of those who are saved are glorifies and perfected after death. We should be guided by the Spirit.

          • William Lewis

            Our physical bodies and needs are important but they derive their importance from our spiritual identities.

          • Exactly, which is why: “The temporal power should be subject to the spiritual since the latter excels the former in dignity and nobility as spiritual things are superior to temporal things.”

          • William Lewis

            You seem to be conflating the political and the personal realms. In the political realm the supreme spiritual power is Christ. He cannot err and His kingdom manifests such power. In the personal realm the supreme spiritual power is, ultimately, wherever we place our faith.

          • Maybe, but at the time a distinction between two was not so clear cut. The King’s authority rested on God and as a Christian he should act in ways consistent with His teachings.

            “In the personal realm the supreme spiritual power is, ultimately, wherever we place our faith.In Christ.”

            Agreed, and for a Roman Catholic this is in the visible Church who we believe carries His authority and bishops speak for Him. And Europe was Christian.

  • Dominic Stockford

    1. My avatar is definitely not me. Odd.

    2. The final word of Cranmer should go to Cranmer – whatever may have happened up to that point, his final words make his faith quite clear.

    • Uncle Brian

      I think I’ve seen your new avatar in Parliament Square.

    • This is true and an admirable address it was too, reflecting much soul searching, but for his final sentence and especially so as the Queen was Catholic:

      “And as for the Pope, I refuse him, as Christ’s enemy and antichrist, with all his false doctrine.”

      Contrast these with Thomas More’s last words. When he came to the scaffold, he was prevented from speaking and just asked the people to pray for him, and bear witness he died in the Faith of the Catholic Church, a faithful Servant both to God and the King.

      “I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first.

  • IanCad

    Another superb post YG.
    Thank you for keeping our history alive.
    Thomas Cranmer! Who’s he? I’m afraid it’s that bad.
    Congratulations on nine years of your blog.
    Are any of the original congregation still here?

  • len

    It is not perhaps so surprising that evil men burned others as they behead Christians today but the really surprising thing (to me) is that some people are prepared to defend the actions of those murdering helpless people?.
    Let us remember Cranmer and all those to whom God`s Truth was more important than life itself.

  • chiefofsinners

    From Abel to Cranmer to the present day the blood of the faithful will always cry out from the ground.
    Thank God for the blood of Christ which speaks a better word.

  • preacher

    Thank you sir for reminding us of this anniversary. May we all remember those who in the past & still today choose martyrdom rather than compromise.
    I’m sure I speak for many contributors & even more who read their postings around the World in saying thank you for the time & effort spent in producing this work daily & giving so many of us a chance to declare, debate & defend our faith over so many years.
    Blessings.

  • Lagos1

    Cranmer. A nasty piece of work. At least Thomas Cromwell, in all his brutality, was less of a weasel.