the lessons of the Reformation

what I’m loving about studying Reformation Church History is that it puts before me great heroes of the Faith who previously I had been blind to.

Today’s hero is Bishop John Jewel, who wrote “An Apology for the Church of England” (can anyone tell me where to find it online?).

Jewel is also responsible for the famous “Challenge at St Paul’s Cross” which deserves to be replicated in full here:

The Challenge at Paul’s Cross by Bishop John Jewel.

“If any learned man of all our adversaries, or, if all the learned men that be alive, be able to bring any one sufficient sentence out of any old Catholic doctor or father; or out of any old general Council; or out of the Holy Scriptures of God; or, any one example of the primitive Church, whereby it may be clearly and plainly proved,

  • that – 1. There was any private mass in the whole world at that time, for the space of six hundred years after Christ:
  • or that – 2. There was any communion ministered unto the people under one kind;
  • or that – 3. The people had their common prayers, then, in a strange tongue that they understood not;
  • or that – 4. The bishop of Rome was then called an universal bishop, or the head of the universal Church;
  • or that – 5. The people was then taught to believe that Christ’s body is really, substantially, corporally, carnally or naturally in the Sacrament;
  • or that – 6. His body is, or may be in a thousand places or more, at one time;
  • or that – 7. The priest did then hold up the Sacrament over his head;
  • or that – 8. The people did then fall down and worship it with godly honour;
  • or that 9. The Sacrament was then, or now ought to be, hanged up under a canopy;
  • or that – 10. In the Sacrament after the words of consecration there remaineth only the accidents and shows, without the substance of the bread and wind;
  • or that – 11. The priest then divided the Sacrament into three parts and afterwards received himself alone;
  • or that – 12. Whosoever had said the Sacrament is a pledge, a token or a remembrance of Christ’s body, had therefore been judged a heretic;
  • or that – 13. It was lawful, then, to have thirty, twenty, fifteen, ten or five masses said in one Church, in one day;
  • or that – 14. Images were then set up in churches to the intent the people might worship them;
  • or that – 15. The lay people was then forbidden to read the word of God, in their own tongue:

If any man alive be able to prove any of these articles, by any one clear or plain clause or sentence, either of the Scriptures, or of the old doctors, or any of the old General Council, or by any Example of the Primitive Church; I promise, then, that I will give over and subscribe unto him.”

[from T&T Clark Anti-Nicene Fathers Vol. III, Elucidations V, p267 ]

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3 comments on “the lessons of the Reformation

  1. Well, about #5: How about Christ Himself, in his brief words to those gathered with him on the first Maundy Thursday? (Hoc est corpus meum.) Or St. John, the 6th Chapter, for that matter.

    Would that be “primitive” enough, one wonders, to have satisfied Bishop Jewel?

  2. Nos. 5,6,10,12. I am really getting tired of being dragged back to 16th and 17th century, scholastic, either-or sorts of questions that seem to do nothing but inspire schism.

    As for 14, and possibly also 7,8,9; I guess he doesn’t consider Nicea II in 787 to be a legitimate “General Council”?

    I value Jewel’s contributions to the faith but, not only is he not right about everything, but also, taking his observations and complaints out of their local context (i.e. reactions to corrupt late medieval Roman Catholicism) and applying them universally is a path frought with peril. Come to think of it, I feel the same way about the Articles.

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