somehow this say in the ether for 24 hours…
Today is Reformation Day, the anniversary of the event which kicked off the Reformation, Luther’s nailing of 95 Theses to the door of the Church in Wittenburg.
WIthin a generation the movement had spread throughout Western Europe. Of particular interest to us as Anglicans is the Reformation in England. Whilst it cannot be denied that part of the driving force of the English Reformation was Henry VIII’s desire to assert his autonomy from Rome, not least in the matter of his marriage to Katherine of Aragon, the sea-change in ecclesiology in England was more than political expediency. The writings of Luther were being discussed by prominent churchmen in England – Cranmer, Latimer and Barnes – as early as 1521 (4 years after Wittenburg) at the White Horse Tavern in Cambridge (after which this blog is named).
The influence of the Reformation on Anglicanism cannot be understated. Even a brief read of the Anglican Articles and the Homilies reveal as much, the five solas of the Reformation pervade Anglicanism’s foundational documents . So, for instance,
Sola Scriptura – scripture alone
VI. Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation.
Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.
Sola Fide – faith alone
XI. Of the Justification of Man.
We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by Faith only, is a most wholesome Doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.
Solus Christus – Christ Alone
XVIII. Of obtaining eternal Salvation only by the Name of Christ.
They also are to be had accursed that presume to say, That every man shall be saved by the Law or Sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that Law, and the light of Nature. For Holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the Name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.
Sola Gratia – grace alone
X. Of Free-Will.
The condition of Man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith; and calling upon God. Wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will.
all of which lead us to the final conclusion of the Reformers… Soli Deo Gloria – to God alone be the glory!!!
We reaffirm that because salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God, it is for God’s glory and that we must glorify him always. We must live our entire lives before the face of God, under the authority of God and for his glory alone.
We deny that we can properly glorify God if our worship is confused with entertainment, if we neglect either Law or Gospel in our preaching, or if self-improvement, self-esteem or self-fulfillment are allowed to become alternatives to the gospel.
and let’s not forget such radically “Calvinist” theologies such as…
XVII. Of Predestination and Election.
Predestination to Life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour.
It’s about time we rediscovered these great truths. They are not one way of understanding the gospel but they are The Gospel. This is the great work that God did in Europe almost 500 years ago, bringing about a rediscovery of true doctrine and reasserting His rightful place as the only one who may receive glory.
It is, to my mind, a tragedy that so much of Anglicanism, let alone Protestanism, has neglected it’s roots. If I might be so bold there is even perhaps a lack of integrity amongst those who swear to uphold the Articles, the doctrine of the Anglican Church, and then seek to reinterpret those documents in their own fashion. It is not just Newman who did this and this is not just an issue of rampant revisionism – the dilution of the truths that founded the Anglican Church has spread exponentially wider than Bishop Spong and no. 815.
450 years ago one of the men that met in the White Horse Tavern, Hugh Latimer, was burned at the stake for truths that so many of us sit lightly to today. He went to his death alongside another great man, Nicholas Ridley, and uttered these immortal words,
Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.
All over England and, indeed, all over the world, that candle is sadly spluttering.
Friends, it’s time for us Anglicans to rediscover what it is what our demonimation is founded upon, indeed what the whole of Protestantism is founded upon. Perhaps it’s as simple as reading the Articles and the Homilies and allowing ourselves to be suprised by the strength of the doctrines that are asserted there.
Go on, give it a go. And get that candle burning again.