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:

Monday, November 3, 2014

3 November 1529 A.D. The infamous Parliament at which Henry VIII demands answers and reforms of Canterbury and other Prelates

3 November 1529 A.D.  The infamous Parliament at which Henry VIII demands answers and reforms of Canterbury and other Prelates.

d’Aubigne, J.H. Merle. The Reformation in England, Vol.2. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1994. D’Aubigne, Merle.

There are two volumes. Volume 1 goes to the death of Wolsey in 1530. Volume 2 follows this story to the death of Henry VIII in 1547. Volume 3 was planned, but never completed due to Mr. d’Aubigne’s unexpected death in 1872.

Volume 2 is available at: .

Book One: England Begins to Cast Off the Papacy:  The end of this post on Mr. d'Aubigne's argument is powerful

1. The Nation and Its Parties (Autumn 1529), 3-9. The fall of Wolsey in 1529 “divides the old times from the new” (3). Mr. d’Aubigne notes that the Holy Scriptures had been translated, were circulating and being read since the 14th century. We are not sure how influential Lollardy was throughout the 14th-15th century. But there were developments with Tyndale, Fryth (Frith), Latimer and others at Cambridge in the 1520s. Indubitably. Cambridge had the roilings. The Continent was under fire. John Calvin had no part in this as a youngster (b. 1509, 20 years Cranmer’s junior and 26 years Luther’s junior) while the 1520s were underway. (Although Calvin would be influential by way of letters to Edward VI, Regent, Archbishop of Canterbury and Sir William Cecil (Burghley).

“External and “internal” influences. We would add that it’s often claimed that the English Reformation was a “mere act of State.” Or, that the Reformation came "in by the back door." We’ve heard Tractarians sniffily claim this in order to dismiss Edwardean and Elizabethan England (3.0 and 5.0 versions) and to re-introduce, advance and establish their Tractarian, 2.0 version, of Anglicanism. That is, Non-Papal Romanism or the period of the undivided church without an English Reformation. There were “internal” forces at work—theology, Bible, justifying faith, the Triune God, the work of the Holy Spirit. To deny that is sheer blindness. On the other hand, the “external factors” do exist—legal deeds and acts of King and Parliament.

Notably, on November 3, 1529 a Parliament is convened. We would insert that this is three months after Mr. Cranmer’s fateful meeting at Waltham Abbey with Fox and Gardiner, but we digress. Henry had issued a writ on September 25, 1529 for the Assembly. Wolsey’s wide unpopularity led Henry to seek support from the “elected representative of the Commons,” a body that had increased prestige in this period.

The Papal party, notably Mr. (Bishop) Fisher, was “alarmed”, “uneasy,” and “disturbed at seeing laymen called to give their advice on religious matters” (5).

Beneath all this was a simmering anti-clericalism that Henry was willing to indulge; the rest of this post underscores this; it was not new to England (or other countries either).

Mr. (Bishop) Du Bellay, a French bishop of Bayonne and later Paris, wrote from London to the Grand-master of France, Mr. Monmorency, “I fancy that in this parliament the priests will have a terrible fight” (emphasis added, 6). We would add that this is a compelling quote for the current dilemma facing the Roman Anglican apparatchiks, more practical, financial and political than theological…although theology was also simmering too in some precincts. Clearly, this particular French Roman bishop foresaw Parliamentary challenges to the Papal Roman Anglican Church.

Mr. d’Aubigne says that Mr. (bp.) Fisher was “learned, intelligent, bold and slightly fanatical” (6). Mr. Bromiley outrightly stated, contrastingly, that Fisher was not “brilliant” and was not “an outstanding scholar.” But, we'll leave that to the side. Mr. Fisher was pleased that Mr. Thomas More was the new Chancellor and replacement of Wolsey, although he would have preferred an Ecclesastic rather than a Layman; Fisher may have desired that for himself, but that is theory at this point; after all, he [Fisher] had done the yeoman's heavy-lifting of writing against Luther and was party to book burnings at Cambridge; after all, he [Fisher] was a senior statesman linked to the days of Henry VII and Cambridge. But, this much, be that as it may, Fisher saw an ally in Thomas More, a loyal 1.0 Anglican, a Papalist. Mr. d’Aubigne calls this the “hierarchal party.” We would add that Mr. Harpsfield, a Roman Papal Anglican, jailed under Elizabeth, noted this specific More-Fisher axis of power; they were both close and collusive. Shortly, Mr. d'Aubigne will add Canterbury, London, Lincoln, St. Asaph and Rochester to the anti-Reformers in the "hierarchal party" of prelates.

Mr. d’Aubigne postulates a “political party” in opposition to the “hierarchal party” consisting of the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, and Sir William Fitz-Williams, the Royal Comptroller, opposing “ecclesiastical domination.” Little evidence is offered here.

A third party was found in the villages, towns, and smaller units of governance, the “lowly men, artisans, weavers, cobblers, and shop-keepers” who read the Scriptures (7). Mr. d’Aubigne offers little evidence here.

However, Mr. d’Aubigne scores large points--big points--in pp.8-14, to wit, that there was widespread hostility to the Papal Roman Anglican Church, a hostility that Henry helped to foster.  A hostility he would harness in his quest for a divorce from Catherine of Aragon.

Mr. d’Aubigne notes that the nobility were “openly critical of clerics” (8). The French bishop noted above, Mr. Du Bellay, first of Bayonne and later of Paris, will report [from London] hearing these things at varied sumptuous courtly banquets.

• “There are, even in London, houses of ill-fame for the use of priests, monks, and canons” (8). In essence, whore-houses. A subculture. This may be the idea behind the accusation of Cranmer being an "ostler," a frequenter of hotels where female services were offered. No one seems to clearly identify this, but we digress.

• “They would force us to take such men as these our guides to heaven”

• “Witty and biting remarks” by noblemen openly

• “Since Wolsey has fallen, we must forthwith regulate the condition of the Church and of its ministers”

• Mr. Du Bellay in a letter about this Parliament states: “I have no need to write this language in cipher; for the noble lords utter it at open table. I think they will do something that they have talked about” (8)

This evidence offered by Mr. d’Aubigne is forceful.

“Parliament and its Grievances” (November 1529), 10-14

Mr. d’Aubigne hits a homerun with the following evidence. Watch as it develops in this important Parliament. [We’ll use bullets to summarize it:

• The Parliament and its Grievances (November 1529)

• Setting. On November 3, 1529, Henry VIII mounted his barge and went to his Palace at Bridewell. He robed up. He formally proceeded to the Blackfriars Church [central London] where the Parliament met. Mass was heard. Thomas More explained the reasons for the convocation. Thomas Audley was appointed the Speaker of the House.

• There was a “firm resolve to introduce the necessary reforms of both Church and State.” The first day dealt with “abuses of clerical domination” (11).

We'll bring the grievances followed by the telling response to Henry from the Canterbury-Roman Anglican bishops-axis-of-power. Here’s a list of the grievances from the Commons to Henry:

• “First, the prelates of your most excellent realm, and the clergy of the same, have in their convocations made many and divers laws without your royal assent, and without the assent of your lay subjects” [code = state within a state with their own laws]

• "And also many of your said subjects, and especially those that be of the poorest sort, be daily called before the said spiritual ordinaries or their commissaries, on the acccusement of light and indiscreet persons and be excommunicated and put to excessive and impostable charges”

• “The prelates suffer the priests to exact divers sums of money for the sacraments, and sometimes deny the same without the money paid first”

• Also the said spiritual ordinaries do daily confer and give sundry benefices unto certain young folks, calling them their nephews or kinfolk, being in their minority and within age, not apt nor able to serve the cure of any such benefice…whereby the said ordinaries accumulate to themselves large sums of money, and the poor silly souls of your people perish without doctrine or any good teaching”

• “Also a great number of holydays be kept throughout your realm, upon the which many great, abominable, and execrable vices, ideal and wanton sports be used, which holydays might by your Majesty be made fewer in number”

• “And also the said spiritual ordinaries commit divers of your subject to ward, before they know either the cause of their imprisonment, or the name of their accuser”

• “If heresy be ordinarily laid unto the charge of the person accused, the said ordinaries put to them such subtle interrogatories concerning the high mysteries of our faith, as are able quickly to trap a simple unlearned layman. And if any heresy be so confessed in word, yet never committed in thought or deed, they put the said person to make his purgation. And if the party so accused deny the accusation, witnesses of little truth or credence are brought forth for the same and deliver the party to secular hands”

The King listened to the presentation. But the response from the clerics defending the clerics...if unchecked, on our view, this is the beginning of the end; the Papal Roman Anglican responses end up condemning themselves while thinking they are defending themselves, but we get ahead of ourselves briefly. “The King listened to the petitions with his characteristic dignity and also a certain kindliness” (12). The “Royal communication [wanting answers from Canterbury] was a "thunderbolt to the prelates” as apostolic successors of Petrine supremacy (12). Archbishop Warham and fellow prelates were put on the spot—Warham and the bishops of London, Rochester, Lincoln, and St. Asaph. Some were more fanatical about it. The response is worth reproducing; it actually works against them; Mr. (Canterbury) represented an “inflexible hierarchy” and issued the famous statement non possumus or "we are not able" [to comply].

Here’s Papal Roman Anglicans (1.0-ers) defending themselves while condemning themselves:

• “Sire, your Majesty’s Commons reproach us with uncharitable behavior…On the contrary, we love them with hearty affection, and have only exercised the spiritual jurisdiction of the Church upon persons infected with the pestilent poison of heresy. To have peace with such had been against the Gospel of our Saviour Christ, wherein he saith, I came not to send peace, but a sword. [insert the 1520s; insert Lutheran books and ideas with book burnings in London and Cambridge; insert that Lutheran sympathizers are in the Commons]

• “Your Grace’s Commons complain that the clergy daily do make laws repugnant to the statutes of your realm. We take our authority from the Scriptures of God, and shall always apply diligently to conform our statutes thereto; and we pray that your Highness will, with the assent of your people, temper your Grace’s laws accordingly; whereby shall ensure a most sure and hearty conjunction and agreement” [code = leave us alone please; insert non possumus]

• [code = damned Lutherans to follow; note the abusive terms and "Germany"] “They accuse us of committing to prison before conviction such as be suspected of heresy…Truth it is that certain apostates, friars, monks, lewd priests, bankrupt merchants, vagabonds, and idle fellows of corrupt intent have embraced the abominable opinions lately sprung up in Germany; and by them some have been seduced in simplicity and ignorance. Against these, if judgment has been exercised according to the laws of the Church, we be without blame”

• “They complain that two witnesses be admitted, be they never so defamed, to vex and trouble your subjects to the peril of their lives, shames, costs and expenses…To this we reply, the judge must esteem the quality of the witness, but in heresy no exception is necessary to be considered, if their tale be likely. This is the universal law of Christendom, and hath universally done good”

• “They say that we give benefices to our nephews, and kinsfolk, being in young age or infants, and that we take the profit of such benefices for the time of the minority of our said kinsfolk. If it be done to our own use and profit, it is not well; but if it be bestowed to the bringing up and use of the same parties, or applied to the maintenance of God’s service, we do not see but that it may be allowed” [in other words, non possumus and we'll do as we please, thank you]

• “We entreat your Grace to repress heresy. This we beg of you, lowly upon our knees, so entirely as we can see” (13-14)

We would add this. The reason many modern Anglican leaders avoid the Reformation? They would have to engage with “Lutheran theology” and then “Reformed theology.”  (
But, in contrast, the ACNA is invoking self-conscious efforts to efface Reformed and Reformation theology;  see amnesia-efforts at:

That is verboten with many, said to include, but not limited to: Misters Iker, Ackerman, Paul Hewitt, and associates.

There really was a Protestant and Evangelical Reformation in England. 

Really, there was one.


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