Reformed Churchmen

We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at:

Friday, August 29, 2014

29 August. 1662 Book of Common Prayer: Beheading of John the Baptist

29 August.  1662 Book of Common Prayer:  Beheading of John the Baptist.
Beheading of St. John Baptist. The observation of this Festival is of early date in the Western Church, probably from a desire to carry out, in the case of St. John Baptist, the usual commemoration of martyrdom without trenching on the greater Festival of his Nativity. Why it was fixed to this day does not appear. -- August 29th.
Elaborating a bit further.
The Beheading of John the Baptist is remembered in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer on 29 August.  It remembers the Biblical narrative his martyrdom by beheading on the orders of Herod Antipas by a vengeful request of his begrudged daughter Salome. John had been calling out the immoralities of the royal court.
On August 29, 2012, during a televised public audience at the summer palace of Castel Gandolfo, Mr. Joseph Ratzinger, called Pope Benedict XVI, asserted the discovery of John’s fragmented head.  Additionally, Mr. Ratzinger stated that the relic was now in the Basilica of San Silvestro in Rome; the relic-story, like the others, is a story with long legs and a long history. It’s good marketing and good for business.  That was the view of Frederick the Wise, Luther’s mentor.  A leg here.  A head over there.  A tooth there. And so it goes with relic-mongery. But back to the story.
According to the Synoptic Gospels, Herod, a tetrarch or sub-king of Judea, imprisoned the bold forerunner of Jesus, the son of a loyal priestly line, Zechariah and Elizabeth. From infancy, he was full of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1.15).
He baptized Jesus.
But, John decided to go modern.  He adopted Joel Osteen and Rick Warren’s “seeker sensitive model.”
He openly reproved Herod for divorcing his wife and unlawfully taking Herodias, the wife of his brother, Herod Philip I. Believers respected him, but he offended some in the court.
At a gala event for Herod, Herodias's daughter danced before the king and his guests. We’ll assume it was not to commemorate the Baptist’s exhortations or to review his endorsement of Jesus Christ. We’ll assume it was akin to something one might see on “Dancing with the Idols.” 
The young maiden’s dancing gratified old Herod. In an assumably drunken condition, he promised her anything up to half of his kingdom.  Hmm, she thought. Better ask the Queen Mum. Then, she consulted with her mother.  The verdict?  We want the head of Baptist.
Herod agreed.  John was achieved his “Purpose Driven Life” and “Your Best Life Now.”  He was executed in the prison.
The Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, in his Antiquities of the Jews, reviewed the event.  Herod took the Baptist’s head "lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his [John's] power and inclination to raise a rebellion, (for they seemed ready to do anything he should advise)…so he thought it best to put him to death."  The historian further claims that many Jews thought the military disaster that befell Herod at the hands of Aretas, his father-in-law, was God's punishment for his unrighteous behavior. (Cf. Jewish Antiquities, XVIII, v, 2) 
This much, John the Baptist had visibility and significance as the Gospel writers so quickly.  We read these accounts so often; we are refreshed and encouraged by honor, courage, fidelity, and the fear of the LORD in this Elijah and forerunner of the Sovereign Redeemer.

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