St Thomas Becket2a
Meditation and Reflection

The martyrdom of Thomas Becket

 

On this day in 1170 Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered by the knights of King Henry II in Canterbury Cathedral. It was muddled politics and religion – the ages-old conflict between the temporal principalities and the spiritual powers. The Archbishop was concerned with the historic integrity and legal privileges of the Church; the King with the political autonomy and jurisdiction of the State. This King Henry of England sought the submission of the clergy and pursued sovereign self-government from Rome some four centuries before that later King Henry of England. And this Archbishop Thomas of Canterbury was a harbinger of that later Archbishop Thomas of Canterbury who was also martyred for his defence of the Church and the purity of the Faith.

One contemporary account of the martyrdom eath of Thomas Becket is recorded thus:

The wicked knight leapt suddenly upon him, cutting off the top of the crown which the unction of sacred chrism had dedicated to God. Next he received a second blow on the head, but still he stood firm and immovable. At the third blow he fell on his knees and elbows, offering himself a living sacrifice, and saying in a low voice, ‘For the name of Jesus and the protection of the Church, I am ready to embrace death.’ But the third knight inflicted a terrible wound as he lay prostrate. By this stroke, the crown of his head was separated from the head in such a way that the blood white with the brain, and the brain no less red from the blood, dyed the floor of the cathedral. The same clerk who had entered with the knights placed his foot on the neck of the holy priest and precious martyr, and, horrible to relate, scattered the brains and blood about the pavements, crying to the others, ‘Let us away, knights; this fellow will arise no more.

One contemporary account of the martyrdom of Thomas Cranmer is recorded thus:

Coming to the stake with a cheerful countenance and willing mind, he put off his garments with haste, and stood upright in his shirt: and bachelor of divinity, named Elye, of Brazen-nose college, labored to convert him to his former recantation, with the two Spanish friars. And when the friars saw his constancy, they said in Latin to one another “Let us go from him: we ought not to be nigh him: for the devil is with him.” But the bachelor of divinity was more earnest with him: unto whom he answered, that, as concerning his recantation, he repented it right sore, because he knew it was against the truth; with other words more. Whereby the Lord Williams cried, “Make short, make short.” Then the bishop took certain of his friends by the hand. But the bachelor of divinity refused to take him by the hand, and blamed all the others that so did, and said, he was sorry that ever he came in his company. And yet again he required him to agree to his former recantation. And the bishop answered, (showing his hand), “This was the hand that wrote it, and therefore shall it suffer first punishment.” Fire being now put to him, he stretched out his right hand, and thrust it into the flame, and held it there a good space, before the fire came to any other part of his body; where his hand was seen of every man sensibly burning, crying with a  loud voice, “This hand hath offended.” As soon as the fire got up, he was very soon dead, never stirring or crying all the while.

These are the austere endings of faithful servants of God. High-handed kings still affirm their notions of secular power, and meddlesome priests still seek to assert their notions of Christian virtue. We may wrap it up in the Royal Prerogative and characterise it as Erastian, and protests over the power of secular courts may have become the interrogation of Wonga and the provocation of foodbanks. But out of the confused mass of religio-political murkiness, the English Church-State settlement has bequeathed three centuries of political peace and incremental happiness, and archbishops of Canterbury still do what only archbishops of Canterbury can.

We do not live in an ideal world, and God is bound by the constraints of His creation. All that we have in the holy reality of the witness of the saints, and they – we – are charged to act in faith and to speak the truth, in season and out. Sometimes believers are called to die at the hands of men, and archbishops are not exempt from that calling. But they follow One who also died at the hands of men, and His greatest torment was the abandonment of the Father. To be murdered in a cathedral is to die at the holy altar in the House of God: to hang on a cross is to shiver and quail in the agony of God-forsakenness.

Christians killing Christians is the open wound of the Church. We used to do it with swords and flames; now we do it with unholy bickering and profane words. We used to erect shrines and commemorate liturgical cults; now we honour bitterness and sanctify devotion to division. You may think Thomas Becket was righteously killed for his subversive political activities. You may think Thomas Cranmer was righteously killed for his subversive theological heresies. But religion and politics were confused and conflated: those who perished did so as faithful disciples of the One who hung on a cross. In the spirit of ecumenical grace, the least we can do is honour the courage and sacrifice of those who died for their sincerely-held beliefs, for they can still move hearts, change minds, and speak to this generation of what it is to be really Christian.

  • Anton

    If four thugs with swords burst in and kill an Archbishop, I’d say he was murdered but not necessarily martyred. The background to this event – which history is unable to prove was instigated by King Henry II – is the investiture controversy concerning whether a king or the pope should choose the bishops in that king’s realm, and the growing assertions of the papacy. Among the things that Becket was insisting on was that clergy should be tried – for any offence – in ecclesiastical courts, not in the king’s courts. That is unconscionable.

    • Albert

      The key expression here is “among”. If there were other things which were legitimate, he was defending, then he was a martyr. Moreover, you may regard the ecclesiastical courts thing as unconscionable, but that does not alter the fact that, if this was taught by the Church as part of her right, then to kill a man who defending that right of the Church makes him a martyr.

      • CliveM

        Makes him a martyr for the Church, but not necessarily for Christ.

        As with so much, religion was being used as a fig leaf for what was essentially a political battle. This was about political authority, more then it was about faith.

        • If in serving the Church he was serving Christ, then he was a martyr for Christ, not the Church.

          • CliveM

            Why? If he died defending a political principle ie Church temporal authority, rather then a faith principle, it makes him a political martyr not a Christian one.

            I don’t believe the Churches right to try Clergy in ecclesiastical courts was ever deemed to be a matter of faith. Therefore if the Church didn’t see it as a matter of faith, more one of authority, then the Church itself will have seen his death as a political act. Which it certainly did.

          • He died defending a faith principle – i.e. the rule of Christ, through His Church, trumps the rule of man – which for Monarchs had political implications. The Church viewed his death as martyrdom and canonised him.

          • Albert

            Happy Jack is right, I think. The canon of scripture is not de fide, I think, but someone who died for it, could be called a martyr.

          • CliveM

            Of course it did, but for political reasons. It underscored its victory over Henry and ensured that the lesson it was keen to propogate was continually re-learnt by succeeding generations.

            Thomas Becket was in no sense a Saintly Man, he was a very political and ‘worldly’ individual.

          • He died a martyr for his faith.
            What is the source of these accusations against his integrity? As Jack sees it, from the day of his appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury, a position he did not want, he placed the Church above personal ambition. If he’d gone along with Henry, it would have benefited him more.

          • CliveM

            HJ

            One of the joys of history so long after the event and with such little independent written sources as to the events, it is possible to interpret all the main players motives in many different ways. As to the worldliness of Thomas Becket, prior to becoming AoB, their are several sources to this and is pretty much universally accepted. His motivation with regards his behaviour on becoming AoB are much harder to be certain about. However lets not kid ourselves, being AoB gave him considerable political influence and that in combination withe the backing of the Pope made him a political power in the land. For an ambitious individual this would be a considerable temptation.

            You must see the RCC of the time as it was and not as it is. It was powerful and trying to be more so. It was wealthy and was a favoured career for the ambitious. Their wasn’t a lot about the medieval church that was ‘other worldly’ and concerned solely with spiritual matters. It was a very temporal body.

          • You have no right without evidence to impute dishonourable motives to Thomas Becket. He didn’t want to be Archbishop. Read about how he changed after being ordained.

          • CliveM

            I refer you to Dominic’s response to a similar question. What I am saying is what some main stream historians say. I am not an original thinker. I just read other peoples work.

            I would also point out that I did say that so long after the events it is difficult to judge with any certainty. All I was highlighting is that other analysis’s of his motivations exist,

          • Well of course “other analysis’s” exist . There are many anti-Catholic myths.

          • CliveM

            Happy Jack,

            Suggesting one martyr may not have been the Saint some have portrayed him to be, does not make someone anti Catholic. I am not anti Catholic and have been quite careful in stating that this describes the Church 900 years ago, not the Church of today.

            I just enjoy history, always have!

          • Anton

            Dear Jack, your phrase “the rule of Christ, through his Church, trumps the rule of man” makes me shiver. We have to wait for Christ’s Second Coming for Him to rule the world through the church, when His faithful will return with Him. Until then we are to behave as He did at His First Coming, giving people warnings of their position before God but allowing them freedom of conscience. Wherever Christians have the privilege of influencing the laws of the earthly lands in which they live, they should lobby (within the law) for godly laws, but never laws to burn peaceable people for their beliefs. I think of the much underrated Lollards, the evangelical church in England before the Reformation.

          • Are you a Christian pacifist?

          • Anton

            Dear Jack, assuming your question is addressed to me, it is unintentionally ambiguous. I am a Christian and I am not a pacifist; I would have had no trouble fighting in WW2, for instance. Physical battle with motivation to further the Christian faith is totally out of order, however. Sure, if I am head of a Christian household and ISIS are coming and the police have fled then I’d feel free to use force, but that’s not in furtherance of the faith.

          • And defending the Christian faith from attack – or other Christians in need of defence? Would you do this?

          • Anton

            Defending Christians from attack – yes there can be a physical aspect to that and I would be willing to take part. Defending the Christian faith from attack – no. That is an exclusively spiritual battle.

            I suspect that you are conflating the two. Let me explain by an example (which many have found clear) how I distinguish. I am to love Nazis but hate Nazism. There is and need be no identification of Nazis with Nazism.

            I am happy to respond to your repeated question-asking but it seems to me that you are looking to catch me out and then if you succeed come down on me like a ton of bricks, rather than look for the truth rather than possible falsehoods in what I am saying.

        • Albert

          I’m not even sure if it makes him a martyr for the CofE. How does that work?

          • CliveM

            I’m talking specifically about Thomas Becket.

            With regards Cranmer, he was a martyr to a Queens stubbornness. Really by executing him, she gave him an authority in death, he had lost in life.

            One major difference, we know Mary executed Cranmer, with Henry and Thomas Becket it’s not so clear.

          • Albert

            Sorry, I misunderstood! There does seem to be a real difference between the two Thomases however. Cranmer really plotted against his Queen to have her overthrown. Becket was, by contrast, a pain, but not a traitor.

          • CliveM

            One thing they both have in common is that despite the ambiguities surrounding them prior to their death, they did both die bravely. And it is their deaths that have lent authority to their respective positions.

          • Albert

            This is true, but I suppose it’s easier to die bravely when you have no choice!

          • CliveM

            Yes that’s true!

          • CliveM

            One other thing about Henry. One of his major achievements was the imposition of law and order across England. He had implemented a reasonably fair judicial system. The Church’s position with regards it’s clergy was ever harder to defend and it had been abused. On this issue at least Henry was in the right.

          • Albert

            Good point. One needs however, to put the whole controversy in the light of the historical context. The Church was trying to reform herself from laity who took her captive. There can be no doubt that if the Church is subordinated to the state, then sooner or later the state will abuse that position, as happened in the days of Henry VIII. So even while am sympathetic with your position, it is reasonable that Becket could see what Henry was doing as a harbinger of something bad.

          • CliveM

            If Becket had stuck to the popes right to select the bishops, his position would be greatly strengthened. What gives ambiguity to his position was his defence of the ecclesiastical courts. Again if he had limited it to issues directly linked to the Church he would have been in a stronger position but his insistence that the clergy could not be subject to the laws of the realm and the civic courts, undermines his position.

          • Albert

            As a matter of interest, was that the only reason for his martyrdom?

          • CliveM

            Let’s just say that Henry had anger management issues! I don’t think he intended Becket to die, I think events slipped from his control.
            Issues are rarely clear cut, but one thing that exacerbated the situation is that Henry felt betrayed by a friend. I think that helped lead to his death.

    • dannybhoy

      “If four thugs with swords burst in and kill an Archbishop, I’d say he was murdered but not necessarily martyred.”
      Agreed.

  • The Explorer

    “righteously killed for his subversive theological heresies”. Does God give credit to those prepared to die for their faith, even when the faith in question may be misguided? (I was actually thinking of examples other than Cranmer.)

    • Albert

      Even if we accept Cranmer’s faith as orthodox, it is hard to see that he was a martyr. On the one hand, he believed that the monarch was the supreme head on earth of the Church in England, and yet on the other, he was burnt for Protestantism by that same monarch, despite the fact that he had submitted to her Catholic faith. He only fell back into Protestantism when it was clear she was going to have him burnt anyway. Consequently, he was not burnt for his faith, but, vindictively for the harm he had done to her in her life. This harm was not inconsiderable, he had after all been a lead plotter in denying her her throne, which would surely have cost her her life, had he succeeded and this on top of the harm he did to her mother, which in turn put her in danger. I’m not defending the execution, but the reality is, you can’t act in that kind of treacherous way in that era and live.

      • Fr. Peter Joseph writes:

        “The name of martyr belongs only to one who renders testimony to divine truth. A heretic in good faith who dies for Christ may be counted among the martyrs, but a contumacious heretic who dies for his sect is not a martyr because he does not testify to divine truth but to a (false) human teaching.”

        And:

        “There is no canonised martyr whose last words expressed spite or anger or vengeance. Many of the English martyrs prayed for Queen Elizabeth who had decreed their execution …. their love of enemies was always a powerful testimony to their Christian virtue and holiness.”

        • The Explorer

          Albert/HJ
          I was thinking of Tyndale and More. I don’t have a problem with God’s acceptance of both of them: although they disagreed with one another. Much more problematic would be Muslims or Marxists, or kamikaze pilots, who died for their beliefs. Could the intention and the courage be good, even if the beliefs themselves were wrong?

          • “Could the intention and the courage be good, even if the beliefs themselves were wrong?”

            The intention and courage would not be objectively “good”. Dying for a cause is not the same as Christian martyrdom. The Christian cause is objectively true and not a subjective belief. The Marxist and Muslim may be sincere but they are deluded, objectively speaking, and so commit suicide when they lay down their lives for their cause.

          • The Explorer

            I agree that sincerity is not enough. But at the back of my mind is the case of Emeth the Calormene in C S Lewis’ ‘The Last Battle’.

          • Now you’re entering theological choppy waters about the nature of salvation.

            Does faith in Christ alone save or can someone who is born and raised into another faith also, through the merits of Christ’s death, be saved? .

          • More was himself a persecutor and doubtless would have been worse given the opportunity. Tyndale persecuted no one.
            The sad fact is that as soon as the State becomes involved in religion, it becomes involved in persecution.

          • Albert

            Did Tyndale ever have the power to persecute anyone? As far as I can see, in this period, anyone who had power persecuted others. In many ways, we learnt not to do so, because they did.

          • Oh look! It’s an argument from silence. Or is it more of a non sequitur? Tyndale never had power to persecute anyone and therefore we assume he would have done so given the chance? Don’t judge everyone by the standards of your own sect.
            Tyndale is the greatest Englishman of the Second Millennium. It was he who brought about the English Reformation far more than Cranmer. He wanted nothing to do with Bishops and ecclesiastical authority; that is proved by the words he used in his translation.

          • You were comparing Tyndale with More. That was the erroneous comparison.

          • Albert

            Tyndale never had power to persecute anyone and therefore we assume he would have done so given the chance? Don’t judge everyone by the standards of your own sect.

            I’m merely saying that someone doesn’t become virtuous if they avoid a sin they never had the opportunity to commit. As for judging everyone by one standard, I wasn’t referring to individuals but to all the religious groups of the time – Calvinists, Anabaptists, Anglicans, Catholics, Lutherans etc. they all committed atrocities.

            Tyndale is the greatest Englishman of the Second Millennium.

            That really is quite a claim, to coin a phrase.

          • Calvinists, Anabaptists, Anglicans, Catholics, Lutherans etc. they all committed atrocities.
            While this is true as far as it goes it is also an attempt to whitewash the Church of Rome which is the inaugurator and the arch-exponent of atrocity in the name of Christ.

          • Albert

            Two things here: my point was only to say that your defence of Tyndale is invalid. As you agree here, all kinds of Christians committed atrocities, that Tyndale never did is most likely therefore because he did not have the power to do so.

            As for the Church instigating these things, as I recall, the first example of burning was done by an Arian, presumably, therefore, to a Catholic.

          • As you agree here, all kinds of Christians committed atrocities, that Tyndale never did is most likely therefore because he did not have the power to do so.

            Firstly, if you ever read any of Tyndale’s New Testament, you will know better. There are no Bishops there to order burnings. Even if you read his Obedience of a Christian Man, which is a very strong attack upon the Church of Rome, you will find no suggestion of trials for heresy, only the request that the Church should repay what it has stolen from the common people.

            As for the Church instigating these things, as I recall, the first example of burning was done by an Arian, presumably, therefore, to a Catholic.
            I have spent some time looking, and I can find no reference to this. No doubt you can help me out. However, whoever this Arian may have burned it will not have been a Roman Catholic since there was no such thing at that time.

          • Albert

            Firstly, if you ever read any of Tyndale’s New Testament, you will know better. There are no Bishops there to order burnings.

            You don’t need bishops to order burnings – was Calvin a bishop? Or Elizabeth I? Or James I. In fact, bishops didn’t order burnings (although they clearly approved, which is bad enough). Given the OT requirement for burning in certain situations, it is perhaps, not surprising that it happened. Heresy was associated with witchcraft, and witchcraft perhaps identified as a burning crime.

            which is a very strong attack upon the Church of Rome, you will find no suggestion of trials for heresy

            Would you expect one? I mean, Tyndale and his chums were not in power at the time, but would have been regarded as heretics.

            No doubt you can help me out.

            Sadly, I can’t remember where I read that. It’s possible, as I indicated, that I am mistaken, but I think I am right because I remember being shocked at how early the date was.

            whoever this Arian may have burned it will not have been a Roman Catholic since there was no such thing at that time.

            When do you think Catholicism started then, and what are your criteria for making the judgement?

          • Comment deleted by author

          • The Explorer

            “There never was a wretch, I deem, more worthy to be burned.” (May not be More’s exact words, but that’s the essence.) He considered Protestantism to be dangerously misguided belief that needed to be dealt with severely. As a Protestant myself, I think he was wrong in this, but I can see that he was doing what he thought was right. He’s not in the same category as, say, a serial killer who burns his victims alive just for the fun of it.

          • “He considered Protestantism to be dangerously misguided belief …”

            Was he wrong?

          • The Explorer

            The Epimenides paradox. If a Cretan says that all Cretans are liars, is he lying? If a Protestant says that Protestants are not misguided…

          • Albert

            I see what you mean. On which note, you may be interested in More’s words in his trial:

            More have I not to say, my lords, but that like as the blessed apostle Saint Paul, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles, was present and consented to the death of Saint Stephen, and kept their clothes that stoned him to death, and yet be they now twain holy saints in heaven, and shall continue there friends forever: so I verily trust and shall therefore right heartily pray, that though your lordships have now in earth been judges to my condemnation, we may yet hereafter in heaven merrily all meet together to our everlasting salvation.

      • He was not executed for treason as I recall, but for ‘heresy’ just as Latimer, Ridley and the hundreds of others were.

        • Albert

          I can’t remember the details, but wasn’t Cranmer actually convicted of treachery? Moreover, as he had recanted his heresy, he could not be executed for heresy. Protestant myth may recall him as a martyr, but I think it would be hard to make a historical case that he was. Do go ahead though, if you think you can.

          • Cranmer was initially accused of treason, but when it was shown that Edward VI had bequeathed the succession to Lady Jane Grey, his conviction was thought to be doubtful, so the accusation was changed to heresy.
            Always, under English law at the time, Heresy was punished by burning, treason by either beheading, or under certain circumstances hanging, drawing and quartering. If Cranmer was burned, and he was, it was for heresy. The specific heresy, for which all the Marian Martyrs were burned, was the denial of the doctrine of transubstantiation.
            However, if we make burning the criterion for what constitutes a martyr, we have to say that Lady Jane Grey, despite her wonderful Christian testimony, was not a martyr, since she was beheaded for treason.

          • Albert

            but when it was shown that Edward VI had bequeathed the succession to Lady Jane Grey, his conviction was thought to be doubtful, so the accusation was changed to heresy.

            He certainly had two trials, but I cannot see any evidence that his conviction for treason was thought to be doubtful – he admitted it, after all. MacCulloch says of the treason trial:

            The charges as stated could hardly be denied, and they had nothing to do with Edward VI’s will.

            What is your evidence that his first trial was thought to be doubtful?

            Why the second trial? Mary certainly wanted to put the Protestant Reformation on trial. However, Cranmer wouldn’t entirely play ball: he recanted his Protestantism. The fact that he was still burnt tells us nothing: as a repentant heretic it was forbidden in canon law, I believer. Moreover, here is the definition of martyr you agreed to earlier:

            (1) that the victim actually die, (2) that he or she dies in witness of faith in Christ which is directly expressed in words, or implicitly in acts done or sins refused because of faith, and (3) that the victim accepts death voluntarily.”

            Cranmer fails on no.3 and probably no.2 for, if we concede a Protestant can be a martyr, he does not die “in witness of faith in Christ” as such, for, the decree of execution as a heretic was itself invalid, since, he only dissented from Catholicism when it became obvious he was going to be killed anyway.

          • I think you probably have a fair point on No.3, though not on No. 2. Cranmer made a fine witness to faith in Christ at the end of his life.
            Cranmer’s reputation will always be mixed. I am no fan of Archbishops of any kind, but Cranmer’s Prayer Book of 1552 is a fine document, much better than the 1662. On the other hand, he might have done more to save the martyrs burned by Henry VIII. To do so, of course, would have put his own life at risk. He also connived at the burning of Joan of Kent, the only person to be condemned for heresy in Edward VI’s reign.
            He was burned as a heretic, not as a traitor. People were not burned for treason in those days.

          • Albert

            Something else we agree on – 1662 is not the best BCP. Though personally, I prefer 1549!

            He was burned as a heretic, not as a traitor. People were not burned for treason in those days.

            Yes, but someone who is not a heretic could not be condemned to be burnt either. The fact is, even allowing for such a terrible punishment, the whole thing was a miscarriage of justice. But it’s academic really, given that we seem to agree that Cranmer does not pass test number 3.

          • “There is no canonised martyr whose last words expressed spite or anger or vengeance. Many of the English martyrs prayed for Queen Elizabeth who had decreed their execution …. their love of enemies was always a powerful testimony to their Christian virtue and holiness.”

            Thomas Cranmer’s last words could be understood as an act of rebellion against his Catholic Monarch: “And as for the Pope, I refuse him, as Christ’s enemy and antichrist, with all his false doctrine.”

          • Albert

            The model is, of course, that of St Stephen:

            Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

            If Cranmer so thought of the Pope, then, according to the model of Christian martyrdom, Cranmer should have prayed for the Pope – as Christ too prayed for those who killed him. In defence of Cranmer, I would quote this from his final speech:

            The third exhortation is, that you love all together like brethren and sisters. For alas, pity it is to see, what contention and hatred one Christian man hath to another; not taking each other, as sisters and brothers; but rather as strangers and mortal enemies. But I pray you learn and bear well away this one lesson, To do good to all men as much as in you lieth, and to hurt no man, no more than you would hurt your own natural and loving brother or sister. For this you may be sure of, that whosoever hateth any person, and goeth about maliciously to hinder or hurt him, surely, and without all doubt, God is not with that man, although he think himself never so much in God’s favour.

  • David

    “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s; and unto God that which is God’s”. This succinctly sets out a Church/State split. I have always assumed that Jesus’ words in Mark 12:17 started this idea, or can our OT scholars demonstrate an earlier origin ? Did not this division make possible the gradual evolution of the modern nation state, that being impossible elsewhere globally, where no such division is recognised theologically ?

    • dannybhoy

      It seems to me that the early (state) church of the Roman Empire got its self mixed up theologically, and whilst it believed itself to be the replacement for Israel, it nevertheless adopted the relationship of God and the Chosen people as its own; a theocratic system headed up by the Pope..

      • David

        Although I have studied the first few centuries of the Church’s story, from the perspective of the Councils, the heresies and especially the Creeds, I don’t feel I know enough about the post-Constantine relationship of the Church to the Roman state to comment on your point.

        Because mankind is flawed, it was always inevitable that all the institutional Churches would fail, which they have. However as Luther said, after the terrible split, even at its most corrupt worst selling indulgences and such like, the medieval Church always continued to contain strong elements of the original truth, but obscured under centuries of accumulated baggage. It is not that different now, I feel. All the Trinitarian, mainstream Churches contain truth, but also error and sin, from the flawed humans that officiate in them.

        The true Universal Church of Jesus Christ is invisible, cuts across earthly, denominational institutions and includes the departed saints and the living. It’s members are known ultimately, only to God. It is not for us living Christians to judge, who is or who is not, within God’s Church. That’s what I believe.

        • dannybhoy

          David,
          then you know far more than I do! As does Happy Jack, et al.
          I freely admit that my opinions are formed from reading, talking and discussing with fellow Christians and non Christians.
          I am intelligent enough to respect learning, and cynical enough to measure what people say with what they do, their idealised world view with what I see around me.
          Ultimately too, I see that although oppression never ultimately triumphs, it can intimidate and subjugate an awful lot of intellectual and moral minds..

          So going back in time we see that through the Emperor Constantine Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, and like any official organ of State it attracted the educated and ambitious who set about building a bureacracy and chain of command.
          Whilst there were many Christians in that early Church, there was also the seeds of a power structure which would define Christianity and protect and extend the interests and influence of the official State Church……

          The history of that Church is peppered with examples of how that Church put its own interests above that of its Lord.
          Personally I cannot reconcile that strategy with the character of the Lord Jesus Christ as revealed in the New Testament.
          My own view is that like a tree the Church Universal blossoms and withers, experiences new growth and die back. The life and truth of the Spirit always finds new ways to express itself through movements and denominations.
          As you say the Church is made up of redeemed sinners in the process of santification, still prone to error.
          HJ has made the case before for the tactics used by his Church, and whilst I respect him, even like what I know of him I still disagree with his views.

          • David

            I agree with the general thrust of that. As I journey onwards in my Christian life I become increasingly convinced of the truth and goodness of God and the gospel, and less and less enamoured of any of the institutional structures, the earthly Churches, including my own. But when they serve God’s purpose, not their own, they can act as useful conduits.
            But caution is needed, since before we get on too high a horse, we must always remember that it is God not us, who should rightly judge them, and that we too are flawed, just like those Churches that we criticise.

          • dannybhoy

            David,
            I agree with your
            “But caution is needed, since before we get on too high a horse, we must
            always remember that it is God not us, who should rightly judge them,
            and that we too are flawed, just like those Churches that we criticise.”
            In fact after reflection last night, I wished I hadn’t got into this particular discussion.My conscience was troubled, I think precisely of what you said, and also what good comes out of it? We end up taking sides and lobbing “truth shells” at each other.
            Not that these discussions don’t have their place, but we are called to encourage one another, not pull each other down.
            Interesting comments David.
            “As I journey onwards in my Christian life I become increasingly
            convinced of the truth and goodness of God and the gospel, and less and
            less enamoured of any of the institutional structures, the earthly
            Churches, including my own.”
            My own Christian journey has led me to a similar conclusion.

            You say you have always been an Anglican?

          • David

            Well dannyhboy, I hope it helped. For if as Christians, of differing sorts, we don’t come here to help one another, what is the point of blogs like this at all ? I dropped out of this blog for a long time because of the bickering. Difficult as it is, me included, egos don’t lead to the truth but divide. I don’t believe that anyone person, Church or theological movement has a monopoly on the truth, since only God does.
            Me, Anglican. Yes, loosely. I remain in any increasingly flawed denomination because, although I see glimpses of better things in other places, no one human led organisation is sufficiently better than where I am to tempt me to leave. But I learn from other branches happily. I am closest to the Bible following, conservative end of the C of E, but it has its blind spots as well. I have a strong feeling of affinity to all Trinitarian Christians globally, especially Anglicans worldwide. I hope that the AMiE, the reconversion of post-Christian England, to its earlier Protestant faith, now establishing a church in Salisbury, expands and succeeds. The country desperately needs the Gospel.

          • dannybhoy

            “Well dannyhboy, I hope it helped. For if as Christians, of differing sorts, we don’t come here to help one another, what is the point of blogs like this at all ?”

            Most certainly, and I don’t want to be part of something that promotes division rather than unity, that puts theological correctness over Christian discipleship.
            “The country desperately needs the Gospel.” Yes we do.

  • IanCad

    “You may think Thomas Becket was righteously killed for his subversive political activities”

    Exactly!

    • King Henry didn’t think so; why do you?

      • IanCad

        He didn’t think so after the act that’s for sure. He underestimated the power he was up against.

        • He certainly underestimated the strength of Beckett’s faith – a man only ordained the day before he was installed as Archbishop of Canterbury and who, by all accounts, was deeply converted by this.

          • IanCad

            Again Jack, you’re right.
            Speaking as a Protestant though, I would say that he swallowed the errors of Rome, hook, line and sinker.

  • Fr Benedict Ashley says:

    “True martyrdom requires three conditions: (1) that the victim actually die, (2) that he or she dies in witness of faith in Christ which is directly expressed in words, or implicitly in acts done or sins refused because of faith, and (3) that the victim accepts death voluntarily.”

    He explains:

    “‘Martyr’ is often used loosely of anyone who dies for the sake of any cause. But the Christian cause is in fact objectively true, and not a subjective illusion, as are many of the causes for which persons die sincerely but deludedly. Thus those who die for the sake of fanatical religious cults, or as terrorists, or for their own glory, however sincere, are not genuine martyrs, but are objectively suicides. Nor are those who die for a noble but merely human motive, as the parent who dies to save a child, or a soldier for his country, since such virtuous acts can pertain simply to the order of natural virtue.”

    • I think that this definition is a reasonable one. However, on that basis, Thomas Beckett was not a martyr, though his murder was certainly a wicked act. He did not die ‘in witness of faith in Christ’ but for his support for the privileges of the Church of Rome, which is not the same thing at all. That does not mean that he was not a brave and sincere man, but it does mean that he was not a martyr.
      There was a day when Henry VIII had executed three Roman catholics and three Evangelicals on the same day. The Evangelicals were burned as heretics because they denied the doctrine of transubstantiation. The Romanists were beheaded for treason because they insisted that the Pope was head of the Church of England.

      • “He did not die ‘in witness of faith in Christ’ but for his support for the privileges of the Church of Rome, which is not the same thing at all.”

        Here’s an account relating to Thomas Beckett’s death.and his words. He died a Christian martyr:

        Becket turned and cried, “Away, you cowards ! A church is not a castle.” He reopened the door himself, then went towards the choir, accompanied by Robert de Merton, his aged teacher and confessor, William Fitzstephen, a cleric in his household, and a monk, Edward Grim. The others fled to the crypt and other hiding places, and Grim alone remained. At this point the knights broke in shouting, “Where is Thomas the traitor?” “Where is the archbishop?” “Here I am,” he replied, “no traitor, but archbishop and priest of God!” He came down the steps to stand between the altars of Our Lady and St. Benedict.

        The knights clamored at him to absolve the bishops, and Thomas answered firmly, “I cannot do other than I have done. Reginald, you have received many favors from me. Why do you come into my church armed?” Fitzurse made a threatening gesture with his axe. “I am ready to die,” said Thomas, “but God’s curse on you if you harm my people.” There was some scuffling as they tried to carry Thomas outside bodily.

        Fitzurse flung down his axe and drew his sword. “You pander, you owe me fealty and submission!” exclaimed the archbishop. Fitzurse shouted back, “I owe no fealty contrary to the King ! ” and knocked off Thomas’ cap. At this, Thomas covered his face and called aloud on God and the saints. Tracy struck a blow, which Grim intercepted with his own arm, but it grazed Thomas’ skull and blood ran down into his eyes. He wiped the stain away and cried, “Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit!” Another blow from Tracy beat him to his knees, and he pitched forward onto his face, murmuring, “For the name of Jesus and in defense of the Church I am willing to die.”

        • Different accounts seem to put different words into Beckett’s mouth.
          Beckett seems to have believed that the name of Christ and the interests of the Church of Rome were the same thing. His cause was a very bad one; the privilege of priests to avoid British justice. That has a contemporary ring to it.
          I would not deny that Beckett was a brave and sincere man, but it does not seem to me that his faith in Christ was the cause of his death. Therefore, according to your own criteria, I cannot see that he was a martyr.

          • “Beckett seems to have believed that the name of Christ and the interests of the Church of Rome were the same thing.”

            He believed in defending the position of the Church as the body holding spiritual authority was serving Christ.

            “I would not deny that Beckett was a brave and sincere man, but it does not seem to me that his faith in Christ was the cause of his death.”

            Well that’s because you don’t agree with his Catholic faith. If he was brave and sincere and Catholicism is objectively the true faith, then he is a martyr.

            “Therefore, according to your own criteria, I cannot see that he was a martyr.”

            No, that’s according to your criteria.

          • I’m trying to be fair.

            “True martyrdom requires three conditions: (1) that the victim actually die, (2) that he or she dies in witness of faith in Christ which is directly expressed in words, or implicitly in acts done or sins refused because of faith, and (3) that the victim accepts death voluntarily.”

            Beckett obviously fulfils the first criterion. If the account you gave above is accurate, he fulfils the third, although other accounts do not report his words. However, let us give him the benefit of the doubt.
            It is the second criterion that I question. Beckett did not die upholding any doctrine of the Christian faith. He died upholding the right of priests accused of various crimes to avoid answering for those crimes in an English court. That is not religious, it is political, and a rank bad cause at that. He is the spiritual father of those bishops who covered up the paedophilia of their priests in our own times.

          • No, he didn’t. You’re making it into a single issue; it wasn’t. What actually preceded his martyrdom was Henry II ignoring Church authority in relation to the ‘coronation’ of his son as heir. Becket died because of his belief in the spiritual authority of the Church.

            “He is the spiritual father of those bishops who covered up the paedophilia of their priests in our own times.”

            Shame on you for that cheap shot. There is no similarity at all. One was a poorly managed response with some individuals covering up crimes. The church court system did not cover up crimes. It tried and convicted people. Henry wanted the punishment of convicted clerics to be administered by the state, not the church. For example, for conviction of theft, the state might chop off a persons hand; the church might send a penitent on a pilgrimage. It was an issue under ongoing negotiation. Henry and others were also after Church assets too.

          • Becket died because of his belief in the spiritual authority of the Church.

            Exactly so. That is why he is not a martyr as far as I am concerned. He did not die for Christ but for the privileges of his church. It is not a church’s business who is king or heir. Christians are to obey governments (Romans 13:1-7), save only that Christians are to preach the Gospel (Acts 4:18-20).

            Next, you are confusing a cheap shot with an open goal. The parallel is very apt. Becket was trying to excuse priests from the rigour of the law. Now to be sure there were some severe punishments in those days, but why should priests not be subject to the same laws as lay people? For a crime for which a lay person might be sentenced to death, a priest would merely be fined by a church court. Becket was protecting wicked men and also the privileges of his church and its prestige. Likewise those bishops who moved priests on when they were rogering their choirboys rather than informing the police doubtless believed that they were acting for the best, but in fact they were protecting wicked men and the prestige of their church at the cost of the abuse of hundreds of children.

            None of this is to pardon the murder of Becket in any way. It was a wicked and evil act and there is no excuse for it whatever.

            Henry and others were also after Church assets too.


            No doubt. It’s just a pity they didn’t get them. The Lord Jesus Christ was poor on earth and so should the churches be. To be a minister of a church should always be a really bad career choice.

          • You’ve made two charges against Becket:

            “He is the spiritual father of those bishops who covered up the paedophilia of their priests in our own times.”

            “He did not die for Christ but for the privileges of his church.”

            You’ve substantiated neither assertion. Jack will not waste his time arguing against that for which there is no evidence.

      • Albert

        If one believes that the Catholic Church is the body of Christ, then someone who dies for that Church, is a martyr. This is evident from Christ’s own words:

        Now as he journeyed he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed about him. And he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
        And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”

        And St Paul speaks of how Christ, loving his Church, loves himself:

        Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church because we are members of his body.

        Moreover, the issue was theological to the degree that it was about which is greater, Christ or the state.

        • len

          Who is greater Christ or the Pope?

          The Gloss of Extravagantes of Pope John XXII says this:

          But to believe that our Lord God the Pope the establisher of said decretal, and of this, could not decree, as he did decree, should be accounted heretical

          • Len, Len …. why do you persist? What is your source for this nonsense? You do know the status of a ‘Gloss’?

            The words “Lord God the Pope ” do not appear in the original gloss text housed in the Vatican. The statement “Lord God the Pope”, allegedly occurs in a Parisian version ‘seen’ in 1685, over 350 year after the original was written in 1325. Yet where is it?

          • Albert

            The Gloss of Extravagantes is not by Pope John XXII. He wrote a document known as Extravagantes. This document does not contain the words you attribute to John XXII.

  • carl jacobs

    The source of the problem was found in the desire of Rome to rule a temporal Kingdom. Popes presumed to set themselves over kings as a king of kings. How then could Rome keep its hands pure from the intrigue and violence the attends the quest for temporal power?

    The source of Rome’s power was sacramental Justification. Without the priest, there was no access to sacrament. Without access to sacrament, there was only the looming spectre of Judgment. The Reformation put the torch to that system of control. It’s no mystery why Rome feared Luther and his ideas. He tore the priest from his position as essential mediator of grace, and thus removed Rome’s hold over men.

    Jesus said that his kingdom was not of this world. Otherwise his servants would have fought of him. Rome made of this world a temporal Kingdom and desired to place the Pope at its pinnacle. Does it surprise then that men should be killed over the relative place of Rome in the struggle between men for kingdoms?

    • This is hyperbole, Carl. The Catholic Church wants God’s law to be respected by States.

      “There are (those) who affirm that the morality of individuals is to be guided by the divine law, but not the morality of the State, for that in public affairs the commands of God may be passed over, and may be entirely disregarded in the framing of laws. Hence follows the fatal theory of the need of separation between Church and State.”
      [Leo XIII: Encyclical: Libertas, June 20, 1888 (PE 103;18)]

      • len

        If the RCC wanted to uphold God`s Word they had the opportunity to do so but chose to create ‘their own word’ and then had the presumption to call ‘God`s ‘.

        “You can fool all the people some of the
        time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the
        people all the time.”
        Abraham Lincoln.

      • CliveM

        HJ the encyclical you quote is dated 1888, long after these events.

        The RCC of the medieval period was a very different beast. At least as interested in temporal power for itself as it was for the spiritual well being of a Realm. And I am putting on a positive spin in the Churches favour by saying that.

        • “The RCC of the medieval period was a very different beast. At least as interested in temporal power for itself as it was for the spiritual well being of a Realm.”

          The encyclical of 1888 restates Church doctrine. It was not a new one. And how do you know the Church at the time of Beckett was as interested in temporal power as it was in spiritual authority? It sought to defend its position as Christ’s spokesperson on earth, thus setting limits on Christian Kings..

          • It sought to defend its position as Christ’s spokesperson on earth
            ‘Nuff said, really. It was all about power and authority, prestige and wealth. At much the same time as Beckett was dying, the Church of Rome was busy persecuting the Waldensians, Petrobusians and Albigensians with horrible cruelty.

          • carl jacobs

            The Pope cast around for a King to destroy the Albighensians and couldn’t find one. So he raised an army of mercenaries on the promise of plunder and granted that army indulgences before the fact for any sins they might commit in service of the Pope. The Pope leading an army in a crusade. How much more temporal can you get.

          • But why would the Church be so troubled by the Albigensians? You do know their political and religious views? They were dissenters spreading both civil and spiritual rebellion. And, if you read the history, you’ll know that little summary you trotted out is a gross distortion of a much more complex situation.

          • carl jacobs

            Jack

            A gross distortion? What I said was true. If you think the Pope was justified in raising an army to crush the Albighensians then say so. And then explain why he wouldn’t be justified doing the same thing today.

            I assume you agree he wouldn’t be justified today.

          • Jack believes the Pope was quite correct in doing all he could to rid Europe of the Albigensian heresy, yes. He called on nobles and Kings to protect Christendom from this evil which could and probably would have destroyed it if it had spread from France.

            Popes in this century continue to call for nations to defend themselves against evil. Different times; different approaches.

          • carl jacobs

            Jack

            So.. Putting Beziers to the sword was an act of spiritual cleansing?

          • Was Beziers any worse than Hiroshima? It was a stronghold of the heresy and refused to surrender. A necessary evil. like all wars.

          • carl jacobs

            Attention Readers. Do not be alarmed. That loud crashing sound you just heard was Albert putting his head through a door. Albert is unharmed but the same cannot be said for the door.

          • carl jacobs

            Jack

            So Popes can declare war, now, can they? Tell me again about how the Pope isn’t a temporal ruler.

            Let me get this straight. To preserve Europe from heresy, the Papal Army killed every man, woman, and child in the city regardless of whether they were faithful Catholics or not. As in:

            Kill them all. God knows His own.

            It’s acceptable that they were killed because they refused to submit to Papal authority, and surrender, and leave the city. The act of remaining in the city was an act of willful defiance deserving of death. (Whom did they defy, I wonder?) And this is exactly like Hiroshima because this city presented a threat to France so great that the surrounding kings couldn’t be bothered to oppose it. Did I miss the great Albighensian war of conquest that caused the Pope to rise up in defense of Europe?

            You are perfectly at harmony with this outcome? And the only reason you would not support such a crusade today is that Europe is not spiritually united? I suppose if there was revival in Europe you would at the first available opportunity launch a cleansing crusade to rid Europe of its secularists.

            But, no, you wouldn’t do that. I will now await the frantic arm-waiving as you attempt to explain why.

          • The heresy posed as much a political threat as it did a spiritual one. You do know the perilous state of Europe and the instability in France at the time?

            From Hilaire Belloc: ‘The Great Heresies.’

            “But as yet there was no official action against the Albigensians and they were still allowed to develop their strength rapidly for years on years in the hope that spiritual weapons would be enough to meet them. The Papacy was always hoping against hope that there would be a peaceful solution. In 1167 came a turning point. The Albigensians, now fully organized as a counter-church held a general council of their own at Toulouse and by the time the ominous political fact appeared that the greater part of the small nobles, who formed the mass of the fighting power in the centre of France and the south, lords of single villages, were in favour of the new movement. Western Europe in those days was not organized as it is now in great centralized nations. It was what is called “feudal.” Lords of small districts were grouped under overlords, these again under very powerful local men who were the heads of loosely joined, but none the less unified, provinces. A Duke of Normandy, a Count of Toulouse, a Count of Provence, was in reality a local sovereign. He owned deference and fealty to the King of France, but nothing more.

            Now the mass of the smaller lords in the south favoured the movement, as many another heretical movement has been favoured since by the same class of men, because they saw a chance of private gain at the expense of the Church’s landed estates. That had always been the main motive, in these revolts. But there was another motive, which was the growing jealousy felt in the south of France against the spirit and character of Northern France. There was a difference in speech and a difference in character between the two halves of what was nominally the one French monarchy. The northern French began to clamour again for the suppression of the southern heresy, and thus fanned the flame. At last, in 1194, after Jerusalem had been lost, and the Third Crusade had failed to recover it, the thing came to a head. The Count of Toulouse, the local monarch, in that year took sides with the heretics. The great Pope, Innocent III, at last began to move. It was high time: indeed, it was almost too late. The Papacy had advised delay in a lingering hope of attaining spiritual peace by preaching and example: but the only result of the delay was that it allowed the evil to grow to dimensions in which it imperilled all our culture.”

            “And the only reason you would not support such a crusade today is that Europe is not spiritually united? I suppose if there was revival in Europe you would at the first available opportunity launch a cleansing crusade to rid Europe of its secularists.”

            Jack cannot make sense of this argument. What are you asking him?

          • CliveM

            Scary isn’t it.

          • And ISIL of course is totally justified in slaughtering all the Christians it can find to rid the Caliphate of the Christian heresy and to protect Islam from the evil of Christianity which would probably destroy it if it spread. Right!
            ‘For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ’ (2 Cor. 10:3-5).
            Christianity is not spread by violence but by the Gospel. The Crusades were wicked events, called by evil men. Their baneful effects are still being felt today.

          • Another Christian pacifist? The Crusades were necessary to defend Christianity in the Holy Land and in Europe.

            From the safe distance of many centuries, it is easy enough to scoff in disgust at the Crusades. Our faith is nothing to fight wars over. Whether you admire the Crusaders or not, it is a fact that the world we know today would not exist without their efforts. The ancient faith of Christianity survived and flourished because men fought for it against Islam and against dangerous heresies.

          • The ancient faith of Christianity survived because men and women kept it in the face of wicked persecution by the Church of Rome.
            Real Christianity does not call for people to kill for it, though sometimes they may have to die for it. ‘And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death’ (Rev. 12:11)

          • Martin, you can only say that today because of the men who fought in the Crusades against Islam and against the rise of heresies which would have flooded Europe.

          • Which men are those? The ones who slaughtered Jews all the way through France on their way to the Crusades or the ones who couldn’t be bothered to go all the way to Palestine and sacked Constantinople instead?
            Whatever, the Crusades were an horrendous failure, have made the evangelization of Islam immeasurably harder and have given militant Moslems an excuse to hate Christians.
            The fact that the Albigenses were heretical in their understanding of Christianity was no reason at all to slaughter them (eg. 2 Tim. 2:24-6). Moreover, the Church of Rome has never cared much about truth, only about power. It persecuted the Waldensians, the Petrobusians and the Hussites with just as much zeal and violence.

          • Phil R

            The Crusades a disaster? How do you know are you God?

            Your little chapel in Devon is built of blood spilled by you ancestors

          • Really? It was built in 1968. My ancestors, as far as I can trace them back, were rather secular.

          • Phil R

            You know the point I was making.

            Don’t try to dodge it

          • Actually, I don’t. Perhaps you would clarify?

          • Hmmm … is that your answer to the Christians in the Middle East? Suffer in patience; it would go against the Gospel to send military assistance.

          • Well first of all, most of these Iraqi Christian are not Roman Catholic, so presumably you are all in favour of ISIL slaughtering them, since it is doing the Church of Rome’s job for you.
            Secondly, ‘When they persecute you in one city, flee to another’ (Matt. 10:23). There are plenty of verses in the Koran instructing the faithful to slay their enemies, but none in the New Testament. Perhaps you need to decide which holy book you’re going to follow.
            Thirdly, God has moved secular governments (Prov. 21:1) to come to the aid of these Christians by bombing ISIL. Our job as Christians is to support agencies like Barnabus Fund and Open Doors in giving aid to our Christian brothers and sisters. I expect many of us are doing that already.

          • “Well first of all, most of these Iraqi Christian are not Roman Catholic, so presumably you are all in favour of ISIL slaughtering them, since it is doing the Church of Rome’s job for you.”

            What a nasty, small-minded comment. It is unworthy of a response.

            “There are plenty of verses in the Koran instructing the faithful to slay their enemies, but none in the New Testament. Perhaps you need to decide which holy book you’re going to follow.”

            Jack follows the Bible. All of it. The temporal authorities have duties to promote and uphold the common good and provide a society conducive to material and spiritual wellbeing. Where a threat is posed, a response is required. A Christian ruler will apply Christian morality in doing so.

            “Thirdly, God has moved secular governments (Prov. 21:1) to come to the aid of these Christians by bombing ISIL.”

            That’s okay then. As a Christian you divorce yourself from government and secular affairs and leave it to others.

          • What a nasty, small-minded comment. It is unworthy of a response.

            Well, I’m glad I’ve got through to you. Perhaps you will now consider the wicked nature of some of your posts where you have exculpated your church of any guilt in its systematic slaughter of Christians over the years. These ISIL people make no bones that they are returning to Christians what was done to Islam during the Crusades.

            Jack follows the Bible. All of it.

            Is that why you omitted the Bible verse I quoted?

            The temporal authorities have duties to promote and uphold the common good and provide a society conducive to material and spiritual wellbeing.

            That is exactly what I have been arguing.

            That’s okay then. As a Christian you divorce yourself from government and secular affairs and leave it to others.


            As a Briton, I have the privilege of the vote, which was not available to the people in Biblical times. I always exercise it, though not with any great sense of optimism. It is God, not secular governments who, ‘….Guards the paths of justice and preserves the way of His saints’ (Prov. 2:8).

          • Phil R

            Er how did this work or does this work when faced with say the Nazis?

          • In the Bible, it is the secular government that wields the sword (Romans 13:1-7). There was no Christian army fighting Hitler, and quite rightly not. Corrie Ten Boom and her family risked their lives to save others during the war, but they never fought.
            A Christian may be called upon by the Government to fight in a war, and at that time has to pray and examine his own heart as to what he should do, but God forbid that there should be a volunteer ‘Christian’ army going out to fight in Iraq or Syria.

          • Phil R

            Bonhoffer was wrong then?

          • Yes. Bonhoffer was a fine Christian but I believe that in plotting the assassination of Hitler he was wrong.

          • No, it wasn’t “all about power and authority, prestige and wealth.” If you believe that freedom of religion corrupts morals and spreads error and indifferentism to truth then you will do all you can to resist this.

            The Waldensians, Petrobusians and AlbigensiansIf were all deemed to be objectively false and, therefore, harmful to the salvation of individuals and the common good.

          • IanCad

            So; nothing wrong in killing them!!??

          • Thankfully, that’s not for Jack to say.

          • IanCad

            You don’t condemn it?
            Sure hope Rome doesn’t gain ascendancy again; I’d be toast.

          • You’ve noticed this too, have you, Ian? The Church of Rome can do no wrong in the eyes of its acolytes.
            I’ve always thought that these extreme Protestant groups who say that the Pope is the antichrist are a bit O.T.T. The longer I stay on this forum the more sympathetic I become to them.

          • Martin, Jack hasn’t noticed your position hardening at all. You seem to have the same views now about Rome and the Papacy as when you first encountered the Catholics on here.

          • I have not changed my view on the Church of Rome at all. I believe it is deep in error and claims an authority that belongs to Christ alone. However, I have not believed, and at the present time do not believe, that the Pope is the antichrist. Time will tell.

            Just because Catholics are unwilling to participate in simplistic condemnations of the Church does not mean we consider its human history sinless.
            I am glad to hear it, though it would be nice to hear any regret from you concerning the persecutions of Christians by your church over the years.
            The difference between Protestants and Roman Catholics is that we have an infallible Christ, but not an infallible church. I condemn utterly the wicked persecution of Roman Catholics that occurred, for example, at the time of Titus Oates and the ‘Popish Plot.’ I also recall that at the same time, non-conformists were being persecuted by the Church of England.
            Protestants and Roman Catholics have a different understanding of what a church is. The latter regard it as an organization with a hierarchy; the Bible regards it as people- as an assembly of Christians. Here’s a couple of articles I wrote a few years back:

            http://marprelate.wordpress.com/2009/08/31/what-is-a-christian/

            http://marprelate.wordpress.com/2009/08/31/what-is-a-church/

          • DanJ0

            There’s much more of a whiff of social control around the Roman Catholic Church than the Protestant ones. I expect that comes from the centralised, One Truth, One Access nature of it which leads to the sort of paternalism, with hints of darker stuff following, argued for here at times.

          • DanJ0

            Who’d end up at the stake first, you or me? You know, I’m not so sure it wouldn’t be you!

          • CliveM

            Why not?

          • Why not? You want Jack to judge them through the lens of the 21st century norms? Those there at the time did what they believed to be correct – i.e. rid the world of seditious groups who spread civil disorder and also ideas that would lead men to Hell.

          • CliveM

            Well their is strength in that argument. However on this site the CofE gets a lot of flack for conforming with the norms of the 21st Century. Why should the RCC be exempt for Croatian for conforming with the norms of the 13th Century? After all I would find it had to argue that the slaughter of heretics was more in keeping with the Gospel, then female Priests are.

          • What has Croatia got to do with it?

          • CliveM

            Amended, blasted predictive text!!

          • Read your Old Testament and you’ll see plenty of slaughter of those following false gods.

          • CliveM

            So what is your argument? Is it, it’s ok because it happened in the OT? Or it’s ok because that’s what people did then? Or both? Either way you seem to be implying that the actions were justified.

            I personally still don’t feel it conforms to the Gospel.

          • You would sooner the Popes stood by and let the West be over-run by Islam? Or stood by and allowed the Cathars to corrupt the heart of Christian Europe? Sometimes the Sword is needed to remove evil.

          • CliveM

            The Cathars were heretics. But that didn’t seem to be a political problem to the King if France, so I’m not sure that the measures taken against them were justified.

            With regards Islam, well they were an offensive force, so defending yourself against them is clearly justified.

          • Do you have any notion of the Cathar heresy and its implications? Of course they were a political problem. Worse, they were a spiritual problem.

          • CliveM

            Yes I know what the Cathars were, and I can see that their claims to pre date the Catholic Church would be an issue to it, along with their Gnosticism. However apart fro send a few trouble makers to aid the Pope, the French King was little bothered by their presence. Indeed it is arguable that the Popes actions caused him greater political concerns.

            Now in fairness the Pope did try to convert them is a peaceable manner initially, but it does not justify the slaughter that took place.

            Again it is reasonable in political terms that what he did was reflective of the period, but are we to be judged as Christians so lightly?

          • It was a touch more than Gnosticism, Clive !!!
            Homosexuality, abortion and euthanasia were presented as morally superior to Christianity. They preached the annihilation of humanity because we they taught we came from Satan. After nearly 200 years of attempting to convert these people, and witnessing the steady growth of this evil sect, it was decided action was needed after a Papal delegate was murdered. It was judged Christian Europe was at risk.
            Claim them as proto-protestant martyrs if you will. You are welcome to them.

          • CliveM

            I most certainly do not count the as martyrs, proto Protestant or not. I have described them as heretics. I didn’t say I agreed with them, simply that slaughter may not be In complete sympathy with the Gospel.

            I don’t think they would want to be welcomed by Protestants any more then they wanted to be welcomed by Catholics!

          • Jack added some text from the great author Hilaire Belloc.

          • CliveM

            I’m not sure that addresses my point. I am not defending their orthodoxy, simply questioning (even after other efforts had been made) whether a ‘crusade’ would be the Christian response. We certainly wouldn’t countenance it today and neither would the RCC, even if it had the authority to do so.

            I am a bit confused as to why this is such a big issue for you. The questions I have asked are the same questions that the RCC has asked of itself.

          • We wouldn’t countenance a lot of things today that our forefathers did. It doesn’t mean they were wrong or that we are right.
            It’s important for Jack because he gets sickened by the way this is trotted out as an example of the big, bad Roman system.
            Thank God for the Popes who built up and defended Christian Europe, is what Happy Jack says. .

          • CliveM

            In general the RCC of the period was a force for good. However that doesn’t mean that elements of it weren’t more keen on worldly things then they should have been!

            But the structure of medieval society didn’t help either.

          • The events surrounding the crusade against them are routinely used by protestants to ‘demonstrate’ Rome’s interest in temporal power. The ‘poor’ Cathars’ just wanting ‘religious freedom’ against the big, bad, Vatican.

          • CliveM

            Well their is nothing I can do about that. I am simply asking historical and moral questions. And if it helps, I would happily acknowledge that Protestant Churches (if they had been around) and had the same temporal power would of undoubtedly acted in a similar fashion.

            It’s something all Christians need to acknowledge and be ashamed of.

          • CliveM

            HJ
            My statement isn’t controversial, even within the RCC. You only need to look at where the church got its Bishops, Cardinals and other Princes of the Church. It got them from the elite, the fighting aristocracy. And the reason why the younger sons of the landowning classes went into the church was to ensure that at least some of the power wielded by the Church was done for the benefit of the leading families.

            The Church of the medieval period was interested in temporal power, because it was from the politically important families it recruited it’s leading positions from and they were entered into the Church to protect the respective families positions.

          • Perhaps, like Beckett, many of these recruits took their duties to God seriously. Jack is not denying some in the hierarchy of the Church soiled itself with worldly ambition. This is not to say that the whole Church did so or that this was its prime intent. Nor does it disqualify its doctrine that the temporal order needs to be kept in tune as much as possible with the spiritual order.

          • CliveM

            You need to read more history and less doctrine! :0)

          • Such a judgemental attitude, Clive.

          • CliveM

            Actually I think I was being fair. I did say it wasn’t particularly the individuals fault, but a problem with the expectations of the time. I don’t see that as judgemental.

      • carl jacobs

        Jack

        The Catholic Church wants God’s law to be respected by States.

        Where states demonstrate that respect by submission to the Pope. We seem to have a fundamental confusion here regarding the equation of the Papacy with God’s law.

        Anyways, Jack. Are you seriously suggesting the RCC wasn’t a political player until it was at long finally divested of its remaining temporal holdings by the Italians? That its only interest was the selfless promotion of the Catholic faith?

        • “Where states demonstrate that respect by submission to the Pope.”

          In those areas where the Church has legitimate authority, yes.

          “We seem to have a fundamental confusion here regarding the equation of the Papacy with God’s law.”

          Assuming Catholicism to be the truth, then Jack would draw a distinction between the exercise of rightful authority by the Church, i.e. upholding and promoting spiritual matters in temporal affairs, and actions by ‘the Papacy’ to defend its position in the temporal order in order to do so.

          “Are you seriously suggesting the RCC wasn’t a political player until it was at long finally divested of its remaining temporal holdings by the Italians? That its only interest was the selfless promotion of The Catholic faith?”

          As Jack says above, the Church was then and continues to be now a ‘political player’. It exists in the world in order to convert people and to save souls. It has to promote the common good in nations based on natural law, at the very least, and, ideally, by nations following supernatural truth.

          • carl jacobs

            Your error, Jack, is equating the Monarchial structure of the RCC with the Church. You then compound the error by vesting the spiritual authority of the Church in that Monarchial structure. The RCC has no authority over kings, Jack. Or princes. Or Presidents. Or me, for that matter. The Pope is not a king among kings. He is not the representative of Christ on Earth. He does not wield the Spiritual sword of Unam Sanctum. He is the individual at the top of the Monarchial Structure of the RCC. And nothing more.

          • Jack did preface his comment with “Assuming Catholicism to be the truth …”

            This is where we differ.

          • Albert

            Your error, Jack, is equating the Monarchial structure of the RCC with the Church.

            I can’t see where he has done that. Doubtless, his thinks the papacy is a sine qua non of the Church, but it is fallacious to move from that to the papacy is the Church. Given the role of Mary in the Church, I’m surprised you made this erroneous inference.

            The RCC has no authority over kings, Jack. Or princes. Or Presidents. Or me, for that matter.

            But everyone is subject to God’s law, and the Church, if she proclaims that law, is a higher authority than any other.

    • CliveM

      Good points.

  • dannybhoy

    ” It was muddled politics and religion…”
    Nothing much changed there then.
    Except that politics seems to be winning….

  • Shadrach Fire

    It always makes me feel humble to read the story of Cranmer death. He was not the only one to die that way for the Protestant faith but his is quite remarkable.
    As we say say for those who fought and died for our freedom; ‘Lest We Forget’.

    Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
    Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
    Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
    Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

  • carl jacobs

    History has chained us into a perpetual game of Chess. Protestants and Catholics move their respective martyrs around a Chessboard seeking advantage in a game marked by mutual and perpetual zugswang. The contest serves as a surrogate for the actual conflict – identifying which contestant carries the truth. A man can only be a Christian martyr if he is martyred for the Christian faith. To claim the mantle of martyr as one’s own property is to deny the other contestant carries the truth. A Catholic martyr precludes the possibility of a Protestant martyr and vice versa.

    We did it to ourselves by equating religious conviction with political loyalty. Religious non-conformity became treason and we both have blood on our hands as a result. We neither have standing to point an accusing finger at the other. We should just be grateful we have learned that the church is intended to shape men’s souls and not govern their their lives. The Church has no legitimate presence in the Halls of Gov’t power except it be through its influence on the character of the men who hold the office.

    Tbere should never have been Protestant martyrs at the hands of Catholics. There should never have been Catholic martyrs at the hands of Protestants. And there should never have been a religious veneer smeared over the divine right of Kings when all Earthly kings rule by blood and iron. Ultimately that was the problem – the Church as king maker. Who gave it the authority?

    And don’t say “God.”

    • IanCad

      “–The church has no legitimate presence in the Halls of Gov’t power except it be through its influence on the character of the men who hold the office.–“

      A powerful sentence in one of the best comments you’ve ever made.
      If I may be so bold.

      • dannybhoy

        Yes, a fine sentence, but Christians should not shun politics lest that old saying attributed to Edmund Burke comes to pass,,,
        “All it needs for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing..”

        • IanCad

          Agreed Danny!
          I do not think that the comment suggested that Christian men should not be involved in politics.

          • dannybhoy

            🙂

          • I agree. I have no desire to see a ‘Christian party’ in power and I would never vote for one, but I would certainly like to see more Christians in government. We could certainly use a Lord Salisbury in these days.

      • DanJ0

        It’s a statement in support of secularism.

        • IanCad

          Not so much that, as to not exclude secularists from the halls of government.

          • No, Danjo is correct. It is a statement in support of secularism and religious indifference. He preceding sentence made this clear.

            “We should just be grateful we have learned that the church is intended to shape men’s souls and not govern their their lives.”

            Once again, it’s not either/or. There are some areas of ‘tolerance’, provided they conform to natural law and do no harm to civil society.

          • IanCad

            I just don’t read it that way.

          • carl jacobs

            Yes, it is a statement of support for secularism properly understood. But it has nothing to do with ‘religious indifference.’ It has to do with proper scope of authority. The church has one scope. The King has another. The church does not sit as temporal master over the King. Conversely the King does not sit as spiritual master over the church. Does the prophet rule over the King? Does the King determine the prophesy?

            The RCC arrogated to itself authority it was never intended to exercise. You assume from beginning to end an authority in the RCC to exercise temporal dominion. And you call rejection of this presumed authority ‘indifference.’ The RCC is not the Herald of God’s will on Earth. Neither does it rule in His stead.

          • CliveM

            The RCC of the Medieval period was not simply interested in Souls and good Christian Governance. It was itself riven by competing power bases, reflecting broader society.
            Prior to Henry, England was riven by political unrest and competing claims to the Crown. Different factions within the Church took different sides, typically reflecting family loyalties and alliances.
            Henry was a good King, who brought peace, stability and the Kings justice to the realm. He deserves to be remembered for that and not for Becket.
            Becket was a political martyr, not a Christian martyr. To be that, you need to die for the faith, not an institution.

          • Carl, how can you have “secularism properly understood” without religious indifference? All religions are surely equal and none has the truth?

            “The RCC arrogated to itself authority it was never intended to exercise.”

            The Church simply set out the higher laws of God within which temporal leaders were to conduct their affairs. Since the rulers authority comes from God, it should be used properly.

            “You assume from beginning to end an authority in the RCC to exercise temporal dominion.”

            No, Jack assumes that temporal leaders are to rule within the laws of God – as revealed through His Church.

            “And you call rejection of this presumed authority ‘indifference.’ The RCC is not the Herald of God’s will on Earth. Neither does it rule in His stead.”

            You’re not arguing for a ‘Christian secularism’, now are you? And, the Catholic Church most surely is Christ’s representative on earth, there to keep governments and individuals on the correct path.

        • Anton

          It’s not a statement in support of secularism, it’s a statement against an Established church.

          Ask John Bunyan about that. He wrote the best-loved Christian book (apart, of course, from the Bible) while imprisoned for “unlicensed preaching”.

          • DanJ0

            That’s essentially what I said.

            As an advocate of secularism, and a liberal, there’s no way Bunyan would have been jailed for that in my world. A secular State functioning correctly couldn’t put an Act of Uniformity onto the statute books. Ideally, religions should flourish or otherwise in an open marketplace of ideas. At its simplest, the State should just build and maintain the superstructure to allow that to happen.

    • But who gives temporal rulers legitimate authority, if not God?

      • carl jacobs

        Of course, all rulers are given authority by God. He somehow managed that state of affairs for centuries without the aid of the church confirming His decisions. The Church presumed to legitimize the King by pronouncing God’s favor upon hehe king as if by divine revelation. How does the church determine a legitimate divine right to rule? By coronation the last man standing?

        When you coronary the bastard, you own the crimes of the bastard.

        • If temporal rulers are given their authority by God, then in discharging it they should respect the source of this authority. And how will this be determined? The Church sought to hold Kings accountable to God’s laws.

          • dannybhoy

            Jack then the church became the king maker, ensuring as much as possible that the king conformed to the aims of the church, which was essentially to protect its own interests.
            You cannot deny that.

          • The “aims of the church”, Danny? You really believe these were simply material interests? Jack would most certainly deny that.

          • dannybhoy

            Didn’t say ‘material’ interests Jack.
            I think there was a mixture of motives all based (as I see it) on a false premise, that our Lord said He would build His church on a human rock..
            Who doesn’t empathise with the character St Peter?
            Yet in reading St Peter’s letters I see no hint that he believed our Lord had placed him as head of the Church.
            I really don’t like being critical of a church of a denomination, because we all have failings and blind spots.

          • carl jacobs

            Apologies, Jack, for not really engaging today. I might have spent more time on the Internet today, but I stumbled across Broadchurch on Netflix. My wife and I were both off work today, and the kids are elsewhere, so we killed the day watching it.

            How do you Brits keep coming up with such exceptional TV shows?

          • DanJ0

            You might like The Missing too.

            And this looks interesting:

            Wolf Hall in six parts on BBC Two (starting Wednesday 21 January at 9pm) based on Hilary Mantel’s novels.

          • Danjo, Jack was disappointed with the ending of The Missing. How did you understand it?

        • IanCad

          “Coronate”!? Well, I see there is such a word but it seems so un-English.

          • carl jacobs

            There is nothing wrong with the verb “coronate.” Sure, the snooty grammar police might not like it. But we aren’t French, so we don’t have a Committee to Defend the Language from Unwanted English Intrusions.

            Anyways. “Coronate” sounds more formal.

          • Linus

            “Coronate” sounds like something a lower middle class Dickensian character would say when try to impress the higher orders. He’d be so proud of his “edgy-cayted” use of English, he wouldn’t even notice the cringes and winces such a grating word would induce around him. He’d think people were impressed by his erudition, when really they’d be thinking something quite different and far less flattering.

          • Carl is American Linus. Enough said about the use of language.

          • carl jacobs

            Not one American in 10,000 would distinguish between the words ‘crown’ and ‘coronate’ when it comes to the coronation of royalty. And the one dissident will inevitably be a fussy English teacher who thinks you can never read too much Shakespeare. Americans crown a tooth. We crown a king in the boardgame Checkers. We crown prospective political candidates and baseball players and race horses. But we don’t crown royalty because we don’t have royalty. We don’t have the attachment of a tradition around the word that comes from the Monarchy.

            I chose the verb ‘coronate’ because I used the word ‘coronation’ in the previous sentence. I wanted the parallel construction. I didn’t even realize there was a controversy about it until Clive questioned my use of it. A quick Google search revealed numerous links saying “Coronate is not a verb.” Of course, the word appears as a verb in every dictionary so what they mean is “Coronate shouldn’t be used as a verb because it offends our ears and our tradition.”

            English is a powerful language precisely because it is so adaptive. It absorbs and mutates with incredible speed. When there is no tradition to defend the use of a word, that adaptive process will drive change. But “Proper word for proper context.” I will henceforth use ‘Crown’ in a British context.

          • It is a word, Carl. Are you letting the ‘crowd’ influence you?

          • carl jacobs

            Jack

            It’s not a moral issue like the difference between soccer and football. It’s a matter of proper communication. If I had known there was a controversy, I would have chosen the word “crown” to begin with.

          • The acid test is whether one can use it in scrabble.

          • carl jacobs

            I really hate Scrabble. I also hate Backgammon. By sheer coincidence, those both happen to be games beloved of my wife. I trust the reader will not draw any unwarranted conclusions.

          • carl jacobs

            Once I had two remaining stones on the first point. It was her throw. She had stones all over the place. I would win on my next turn. The only way she could win was to throw two consecutive double sixes. Ah, the anticipation of certain victory so long denied and at long last achieved.

            I really f___ing hate Backgammon.

          • Beats you at both, eh?

          • carl jacobs

            Like a drum.

          • Grasshopper … because you try too hard.

          • carl jacobs

            It’s because she cheats. See below.

          • Have you shared this suspicion with her?

          • carl jacobs

            Repeatedly. And it’s not a suspicion. Two double sixes to win on the last throw of a game is conclusive proof.

            She denies everything and protests her innocence.

          • Hmmm … sore loser too.

          • carl jacobs

            I am a victim of deception, deceit, and trickery.

          • Linus has the measure of American language in his post above, Carl.

          • carl jacobs

            Jack

            He wasn’t talking about American usage if the English language. He was insulting me personally. It was gratuitous and unwarranted.

          • Nah, he’s just fighting back after all the attacks on him because he’s French. Jack doesn’t believe its personal in the way you mean.

          • carl jacobs

            Trust me, Jack. It was personal.

          • Okay.

          • Linus

            I don’t know why enough should be said. I mean, most Québécois manage to speak correct French despite their odd accent and a few strange and antiquated expressions. So exactly why Americans are so linguistically challenged remains a mystery to me.

            Do they not have schools over there? Or are their linguistic skills purchased à la Starbucks? Do American children “rock up” to a linguistics counter and order a regyuhluh decaff Sweet’n’lo-ed cup of simplified English, hold the elegance, nuance and poetry, please …? I wonder how it gets them through the day. On such a thin brew, I’d be asleep by lunch time…

          • Jack thinks you may be on to something there about American culture, Linus. They have no time for grace, eloquence and beauty. All they want is immediacy. Even American engineers understand one has to use the right tool for a job. For them it’s a hammer every time and, in their world, anything can be used as a hammer. It’s all down to concentration levels, you see. They want to adapt and change everything to suit themselves. In reality, this means smashing everything.

            Linguistics teaches us that people see and approach the world through the development of concepts based on their language and it subtlety. Does one need to say anymore?

            A lot of people dislike Americans because they refuse to learn another language. Happy Jack dislikes them because they refuse to learn their own one first.

          • carl jacobs

            Someone is still a little sensitive about having his ass handed to him on a platter, I see.

          • Linus

            I never cease to wonder at the self-absorption of Christian bully boys.

            Do you honestly think a few insulting remarks couched in language unworthy of a 12 year-old would provoke anything more than a wry smile and a moment’s reflection on how the English language died crossing the Atlantic? Apparently it was resurrected, but only after suffering significant brain damage during its oceanic near death experience. What better explanation could there be for the slurred and nasal patois you “Murricans” inflict on us today? And the obsession with God and other hallucinations of an oxygen starved brain? Like, it toadily explains it awl, myan!

            In any case, what you served up to me on a platter had nothing to do with any part of my own vulgarly referenced anatomy. All I saw was a hefty helping of Murrican hatred, ignorance and spleen. Granted, it was a foul tasting dish. But you can’t shock a Frenchman with bad food. You can disgust him, but we know full well that foreigners labour under many disadvantages, so it wouldn’t be right to judge them when they hit out at us in envy and fury.

            I therefore wish you a happy New Year from Paris and hope that 2015 brings you some respite from the all-too-evident hopelessness of your existence. May the obesity epidemic that’s sweeping your nation spare you and may you live to see Hillary storm to power in a third term Democrat presidency that will set the ultra-liberal agenda in stone for a generation to come.

        • CliveM

          I’m not sure that’s altogether fair.

          • carl jacobs

            Clive

            What is not fair, and why?

          • CliveM

            Carl

            The suggestion that you are equally responsible for the crimes of the person you crown, as the person them self. It would depend on what was known about the person prior to the Crowning.

          • carl jacobs

            No one said life was fair. If the church is going to declare divine prerogative for a man to be king, then people are going to associate the actions of the king with the divine pronouncement of the church. The church’s role in the process after all is to legitimize his rule. If the king is a tyrant, the church can’t credibly say after the fact “We made a terrible mistake.”

          • CliveM

            In England it’s was usual that the AoB anointed and crowned the King. However this was not always the case if their was a dispute. Sometimes the AoB refused and another Bishop was used. It is not clear to me that this was always the Church in its institutional sense giving approval, but sometimes a faction (often determined by family loyalties) trying to bestow legitimacy.

  • Inspector General

    Beckett was killed by a king’s wrath. That’s the bottom line. It’s
    difficult to make more of it, as the king regretted what he had said to make
    four knights uncomfortable..

    Historical Cranmer is more curious. One suggests that the only reason he
    didn’t flee to the continent when Mary was in the ascendant and was soon to be
    made Queen, was that he really had reconciled himself with Roman Catholicism.
    That he recanted might be put down to sour grapes. We’ll never know what goes
    through a man’s head in the moments prior to his burning…

    • len

      Cranmer got to the point where God`s Truth became more important than his life…As have so many others then and today…..

      • Albert

        That just isn’t true. He was condemned for treachery. At the time he was due to executed he was a repentant Catholic.

        • Not true. See below.

          • He was convicted for treason and sentenced to death. Thereafter, he was tried for heresy.

          • Dominic Stockford

            No. Mary wanted to try him for treason, but in fact he was only tried for heresy.

          • According to Jack’s research, Thomas Cranmer was found guilty of treason and condemned to death on the 13th November 1553 and imprisoned with Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley. All three men were then tried for heresy on the 12th September 1555 and Ridley and Latimer, who were found guilty at the trial, were burned at the stake on the 16th October 1555. Cranmer, as Archbishop, had to wait for a decision from Rome as to the verdict. In December 1555, Rome sent its decision – he lost his office of archbishop and permission was given for secular authorities to rule on Cranmer’s fate.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Cranmer’s trial for treason was but a pretext; the queen and her advisers did not intend him to die for the technical offence of having supported Northumberland’s support for Jane, whom Edward had named to be his successor, but meant to destroy him for his long-standing offence in promoting Protestantism. They had to wait until they could get Parliament to repeal the acts of Henry VIII and Edward VI and to reintroduce the laws that enabled the secular arm to burn heretics

          • Jack is not a historian and if that’s how you see Cranmer’s death then so be it. What is clear is that it was Queen Mary who executed him for political reasons and contrary to Church law at the time. Rome, having confirmed his heresies, left his punishment to the Monarch. As a heretic who had recanted, he should have been spared execution.

          • Dominic Stockford

            If you read the first chapters of the latest Shardlake novel, accurately historically based as it is, you will note that it was the norm for Mary’s men to execute everyone, regardless of recanting. The irony is that Cranmer, knowing he was to be executed, thought again about his Lord, realised the error of his recanting, and gave his life for the truth of the Bible.

          • CliveM

            I’m not entirely sure of this but didn’t Philip of Spain try to dissuade her?

          • Dominic Stockford

            Probably – he was a far better politician than she ever was – though not particularly any more pleasant.

          • CliveM

            Yes it was more to do with avoiding the creation of martyrs then human compassion.

          • DanJ0

            Shardlake is based during Henry VIII’s reign, including the latest right up until he died.

            The burning of Anne Askew et al in the first chapters of the latest novel make for pretty grim reading, it has to be said.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Indeed so – but we have laid out for us the principle that such execution was not laid aside, even after recantation. What I find interesting in all this is the different way in which Protestant and Roman leaders acted. Cranmer and his buddies didn’t seek the execution of the Roman inclined bishops – far from it, they sought to persuade them – even though, as it turned out, it was to their own detriment.

          • Good point, Dominic. There were no executions for heresy under Edward VI, save only poor old Joan Bocher, who was some strange sort of Anabaptist.

          • Maybe because the population was actually still broadly Catholic and to do so would have been counter productive. These were political decisions.

          • CliveM

            Certainly also true.

          • CliveM

            He died a heretics death, not a traitors death. He was burnt at the stake, NOT hung, drawn and quartered.

          • len

            Exactly right Clive M. Cranmers death (like so many others) was a warning not to oppose the church of Rome and its heretical teachings.

          • Albert

            I don’t think your comment below stands, see further below.

        • len

          Read your history Albert..
          Or ask him yourself?.

          • Albert

            Well, I’ve looked at MacCulloch’s biography of Cranmer. Do you recommend a better source?

      • Inspector General

        No appreciation of a condemned man’s mental turmoil, have you.

        • len

          The ‘condemned man`s turmoil’ was that he had betrayed God`s Truth to save his life and decided that he could not live with that..and chose death with honour rather than life with shame…
          Many are making that same choice today………

    • Hopefully not…

  • Dominic Stockford

    Becket really wasn’t a nice chap. He fancied a goodly grasp of power for himself. That doesn’t make it right to kill him of course, but it wasn’t all as clear cut as some would have it. He saw the backing of the Church of Rome as vital in giving him temporal power in England.

    • “Becket really wasn’t a nice chap. He fancied a goodly grasp of power for himself.”

      You have evidence for that assertion?

      • Dominic Stockford

        The balanced historical position – which to my great surprise was presented in a BBC programme quite recently – is that neither of the two were terribly nice people. The play and film which most people base their knowledge on are, frankly, one-sided.

        The King wanted complete authority over his country, and over ALL his subjects, even the clergy. One can understand that – not being able to discipline clergy for their wrongdoings, and having to leave it to church courts (mates looking after mates) caused great inequality – this is indisputable.

        The Pope wanted to keep the spiritual AND TEMPORAL (see below*) sovereignty that he claimed over all people, and all nations. This was focused through Becket, who was happy to uphold such a ludicrous claim. It gave him great power, and it is historical fact that he loved power, and that he managed to get hold of loads of ‘stuff’ as a result. his personality was recorded by the few who dared to present things in a balanced way at the time, as being almost identical to the King’s. And that wasn’t nice. Hence, he really wasn’t a nice chap.

        Thus there was a tussle for power and authority, and ultimately for sovereignty over this nation. The one who won it would hold it. How the king won is still a matter of debate – did he really order Becket’s death? Probably not, and it caused him more problems than if it hadn’t happened. As a result he ended up ceding temporal authority over this country to Rome – something that took hundreds of years to be put back.

        *In the late 1850’s a Papal Bull was promulgated repeating this assertion, that the Pope has temporal and spiritual authority over the entire world, all people and all nations. it has never been rescinded, or altered, or in any way denied by subsequent Roman decrees.

        • The BBC? Enough said.
          This Bull in 1850 – the title?

          • Dominic Stockford

            Universalis Ecclesiae makes this claim for the UK.
            Later that decade, 1853, he made the same claim specifically for the Netherlands.

          • That Bull simply restored the Catholic Church in England and Wales. What claims did it make about temporal power?

        • Anton

          I know of no bull from the “late 1850’s”. At a guess this is a BBC-garbled reference to some Roman Catholic statements regarding the 1858 kidnapping of 6-year-old Edgardo Mortara by the Vatican from his Jewish parents because their Catholic maid reported to her priest that she had secretly baptised him when he was a baby and he had looked like he would not survive a serious illness. Apologists for Rome point out that it was illegal for Jews to employ Catholics in Italy, and thereby blame the Mortaras. The Vatican has never shown contrition over Mortara’s kidnapping, and the 1983 body of Canon Law, Law 868 (subsection 2) on baptism, taken together with Law 98 (subsection 2) on episcopal authority, could still in principle be used by the Vatican to justify an identical kidnap, while Laws 1311 & 1312 would, on some readings, still be usable to persecute protestants today.

          • Canon Laws 1311 and 1312 concern possible penal sanctions against “Christ’s faithful”. As a protestant, you are therefore safe from prosecution.

            And you’re exercising a little too much imagination in relation to the canon covering baptism and guardianship. Really, you are.

          • Anton

            The Roman Catholic church’s present view is that protestants ARE genuine Christians, even if not such good Christians as Roman Catholics. Therefore, “on some readings” (as I said), and under future popes who reinterpret this phrase without any change of doctrine needed, Rome could seek to exert discipline upon me in places where it happens to have sufficient temporal power. I am glad of goodwill between protestant and Roman Catholic, but I would like to see it translated into doctrine.

          • What doctrinal changes would you wish to see?

          • Anton

            Repudiation of papal infallibility, of the claim that the Roman Catholic church cannot err in its teaching, and of the claim that Mary lived a sinless life would be a good start.

          • Lol …. start with a few small things, eh?

          • Anton

            Why is it unreasonable to ask that all people (except Christ) be regarded as sinful and fallible at all times?

  • Anton

    Becket was murdered but does that make him a “martyr”? Among the causes for which he died was the right of ordained priests to be tried – for any offence whatsoever – exclusively in ecclesiastical courts, not in the king’s courts. Bad idea. The background to his death was the investiture controversy concerning whether bishops in a land would be appointed by the king, or by the pope as Gregory VII had begun insisting a century before.

    It is far from certain that Henry II ordered Becket’s killing and Becket was not killed before refusing the king’s authority.

  • DanJ0

    No doubt the Church and Canterbury did very well indeed out of the murder because of all the extra pilgrims making the trip. Every cloud etc.

    • CliveM

      The Church certainly used his death for very political ends.

      • In what way did they use his murder for political ends?

  • len

    The final battle within (and outside of religion) will be over…. truth.

    Many claim to have’ the truth ‘ except those poor deluded fools who claim there is no such thing as absolute truth and as a consequence of that assumption drift aimlessly on a sea of confusion.
    Christian denominations argue as to who has the truth and Islam also claims to be the last word in truth..
    The RCC claims to have captured the truth and has it locked up in the Vatican with a body of men dispensing this truth as they decipher its mysteries and use this ‘knowledge’ to manipulate and control others.
    What does God say?;His Word is Truth, ,Jesus Christ IS the Truth. “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the
    truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears,
    and he will tell you what is yet to come”.(John 16:13 )

    • Albert

      The final battle within (and outside of religion) will be over…. truth….The RCC claims to have captured the truth and has it locked up in the Vatican

      Oh the irony of your post, Len!