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, December 19, 2014

19 December 1534 A.D. Cranmer and Romano-Anglican Buzzsaws

19 December 1534 A.D.  Cranmer and Romano-Anglican Buzzsaws
Mr. (Canterbury) Thomas Cranmer runs into a buzz-saw of obstructionism and stonewalling against a vernacular, English Bible from an Romano-Anglican bishop, old Stokesley.
The details, loc. cit, of events leading thereto and after are found on page 165 of Daniell, David.  The Bible in English: Its History and Influence. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003.
The Convocation of Canterbury in the summer session of 1534 discussed the “Lutheran heresies” and the English books from the Continent, e.g. Tyndale’s works and Bible.  The Upper House resolved that Mr. Cranmer should approach the King: (1) that Scriptures should be translated to English (correcting Tyndale’s, presumably), (2) that a team of scholars be appointed by the King, and (3) that certain men be allowed to instruct from the vernacular Scriptures.
Ralph Morice, Cranmer’s trusted secretary, and, later, an important source for John Foxe affords the insights to the fracas and the result: defeat for Mr. (Canterbury) Cranmer.
Cranmer had divided the Scripture into ten parts for translation. Bishop Stokesley, London, was one appointed translator.  Here’s Morice’s recollection of Stokesley’s obstructionism that surely accords with previous state and ecclesiastical hostilities (1401—to this period), both from the Italian bishops and bishops in Canterbury, but does not quite accord with the slow developments at hand...moving slowly towards a vernacular translation in English:  Here’s Stokesley’s response to Cranmer:
It chanced that the Acts of the Apostles were sent to bishop Stokesley to oversee and correct, then Bishop of London. When the day came, every man had sent to Lambeth their parts corret: only Stokesley’s portion wanted. My lord of Canterbury wrote to the Bishop letters for his part, requiring to deliver them unto the bringer thereof, his secretary. Bishop Stokesley being at Fulham received the letters, unto the which he made this answer: I marvel what my lord of Canterbury meaneth that thus absueth the people in giving them the liberty to read the scriptures, which doth nothing else but infect them with heresies. I have bestowed never an hour upon my portion, nor never will. And therefore my lord shall have his book agains, for I will never be guilty to bring the simple people into error.
My lord of Canterbury’s servant took the book, and brought the same to Lambeth unto my lord, declaring my lord of London’s answer.  When  my lord perceived that the Bishop had done nothing therein, I marvel, quod my lord of Canterbury, that my lord of London is so forward, that he will not do as other men do.  Mr. Lowney stood by, hearing my lord speak so much of the Bishop’s untowardness, said:
I can tell your grace why my lord of London will not bestow any labour or pain this way.  Your Grace knoweth well (quod Lowney) that his porition is a piece of the New Testament.  And then he being persuaded that Christ had bequeathed him nothing in his testament thought it mere madness to bestow any labour or pain where no gain was to be gotten.  And besides this, it is the Acts of the Apostles, which were simple poor fellows, and therefore my lord of London disdained to have to do with any of their acts.
Bishop Steven Gardiner completed his section of Luke and John. 
It is unknown what became of the other sections.  “We know that Gardiner was very hostile to the idea of an English Bible” (167). 
Mr. Daniell concludes that “Cranmer’s excellent intentions had been defeated” (167).
Cranmer went to the flames 21 NOV 1556.
These martyr are not forgotten nor will they be forgotten in that “Great Day,” a day to be remembered in Advent 2013.  And remembered again in this Advent, 2014.
Lest we forget, because His Sovereign Majesty has not forgotten.
Revelation 6.9ff.
“.9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10 and they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.”

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