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Thomas Cranmer the Protestant reformer during the reign of King Henry VIII

Lionel Windsor (2004)

Introduction: A Protestant Reformer?

For a comfortable theoretician to assess the actions of a man caught up in the cut and thrust of national and international politics is a precarious business, as Martin Bucer warned when, in 1537, the humanist Grynaeus lamented Thomas Cranmer’s slowness to bring about reform in England.1 To understand Cranmer’s actions we must transcend stereotypical surface judgments, for he was a man living in a complex and often dangerous world, with an equally complex and dangerous king. To assess whether Cranmer was a Protestant reformer we need to carefully investigate three questions. Firstly, did Cranmer have personal Protestant theological convictions? Secondly, did Cranmer actively seek to promote these convictions by his public policy? And thirdly, did Cranmer have a measurable effect in his efforts to promote his convictions? These questions cannot be considered in isolation, but must be answered against the political backdrop of Henrician England.

The ‘Orthodoxy’ of Henry VIII

Bromiley assesses Henry as ‘fundamentally a traditionalist’.2 Yet to describe Henry as ‘orthodox’ is a gross oversimplification. Undoubtedly, his ‘instinctive’ conservatism often triumphed.3 This is most clearly demonstrated by his early anti-Lutheran Defence of the Seven Sacraments (1521), where he defends, for example, the Pope’s universal supremacy and the priestly jurisdiction in confession.4 Yet during the rest of his reign Henry rejected significant aspects of this position. Not only does he completely repudiate Papal supremacy, but he also moves away from other fundamental aspects of Catholic doctrine. A notable example is the absence of any reference to the divine institution of auricular confession to priests in the Six Articles of 1539, which severely weakens the Catholic doctrine of priestly jurisdiction regardless of one’s view of Papal authority.5

A more accurate assessment is that Henry allowed his political strategy to take precedence over all other doctrines. As Null observes, ‘For Henry, obedience was the chief theological virtue [. . .]’; a prerequisite for salvation.6 His courtly strategy of ‘divide and conquer’ meant that his theological strategy, as Cranmer once observed to Capito, was to play two competing groups off one another and then pronounce his own judgment.7 This ‘judgment’ was largely determined by political factors. Henry desired that no one group gained too much power: in July 1540 he simultaneously executed three alleged Papalists and three Lutherans.8 Furthermore, Henry was influenced by foreign and domestic issues: for example, the conservative Act of Six Articles coincided with Henry’s need to placate the newly allied Catholic forces of France and Spain.9 This assessment of England’s monarch is important for our understanding of Cranmer’s actions, since working for a king like Henry was a complex and often bewildering game.

Cranmer’s Personal Religious Convictions

To assess Cranmer’s personal convictions is not a straightforward task. His surviving correspondence is almost entirely official rather than personal.10 Furthermore, the strong government controls and inhibitions which applied to these documents must be taken into consideration.11 Hence historians have come to differing conclusions about Cranmer’s beliefs, particularly early in his career. The most vexing question concerns Cranmer’s theological ‘touchstone’: which doctrine, if any, exercised the central and controlling influence over all of Cranmer’s beliefs and actions?

For some, Cranmer’s central belief was the authority of Scripture according to its ancient interpretation, but it took a long time for this cautious scholar to come to any firm conclusions on the basis of his Scriptural exegesis. Having been influenced by Erasmian humanism at his early years at Cambridge, Cranmer gave Scripture normative priority for all of his adult life.12 Bromiley maintains that this committed Cranmer to caution in deciding matters of doctrine, to the extent that Bromiley is unsure of Cranmer’s convictions even in 1536.13 Brownell suggests that this caution allowed Cranmer great leeway in his political compromises.14 Yet it is difficult to believe that a man so passionately committed to the Scriptural basis for Henry’s annulment,15 who also broke his vow of celibacy by marrying Osiander’s niece as early as 1531,16 would be so unsure of his commitment to more weighty matters.

Others posit the Royal Supremacy as the controlling element of Cranmer’s belief. Certainly, Cranmer had a very high (‘Erastian’) view of the status of the King in directing his subjects’ affairs, both spiritual and temporal. In 1540, Cranmer replies to a doctrinal commission,

‘All Christian princes have committed unto them immediately of God the whole cure of their subjects, as well concerning the administration of God’s word for the cure of souls, as concerning the ministration of things political and civil governance’.17

Furthermore, at Edward’s coronation in 1547, Cranmer calls him the New ‘Josiah’ and ‘Christ’s vicar’, using the language of both Old Testament theocracy and the claims of the Roman Pontiff.18 This has led some to label Cranmer as an ‘extremist’ in his Erastianism: God’s temporal and spiritual law does not stand outside the prince but is determined through the prince.19 Cranmer effectively places the King in the power vacuum left by the Pope.20 So, according to Ridley, his obedience to the Prince overrode all his other beliefs.21

A number of things can be said in reply. Firstly, we must understand Cranmer’s comments in context. In the answer quoted above, princely rule is set in the context of the Spirit-led wisdom of God’s people and is portrayed merely as a more complete form of God’s guidance of the early Church.22 His rhetorical language at Edward’s coronation is an exposition the Pauline view of authority in Romans 13.23 Hence Cranmer is not replacing the Pope with the King; he is expounding a Scriptural basis for the wise governance of God’s people. Thirdly, ‘absolute obedience’ to a monarch who, as we have seen, is constantly shifting his doctrinal ground would have been an impossible cause to champion; there would be no consistency or conscience in anything Cranmer did were he to make the Royal Supremacy his core belief. Even Rafferty, who believes that Royal Supremacy is Cranmer’s controlling doctrine, has to question Cranmer’s consistency.24 It is better, with MacCulloch, to regard Cranmer’s view of the Royal Supremacy as God’s provision of a means to an end, rather than an altar on which all else is sacrificed.25

A means to what end? Null persuasively argues that, from the time of Cranmer’s contact with the German reformers just prior to 1533, his central and determining doctrine is sola fide: Justification by Faith Alone.26 The early and ongoing influence of the continental reformers on Cranmer, particularly Bucer and Bullinger, is meticulously documented and well-defended by MacCulloch’s biography.27 Null and Hall also defend this influence, Null with detailed exegesis of the documentation.28 Hall, however, splits hairs when he contends that Cranmer mediated Luther’s doctrine so that the fruits of justification were more prominent and the forensic element of justification less prominent.29 Cranmer, like Luther and very much in opposition to medieval scholasticism, believed that while both forensic justification and good works are important, nevertheless the former is always the basis of the latter.30

The centrality of the justification of the totally depraved sinner solely on the basis of the mercy of God through faith and not by anything intrinsic to the sinner, Null argues, has explanatory power for almost all of Cranmer’s other beliefs and actions. His personal forgiveness of enemies despite his official sternness is a simple example.31 More significantly, solifidianism led inevitably to an understanding of God’s complete sovereignty, both in personal predestination and in the course of human history. Cranmer believed that in God’s loving grace he has so directed the course of human affairs that Henry VIII is God’s elect ruler. Despite the faults of Henry (and his vice-gerent Cromwell), God’s loving plan triumphs.32 Hence the Royal Supremacy is determined, controlled and ultimately subservient to sola fide. Cranmer’s ‘strategy’ was to contend for the gospel, obey the king and trust God for the outcome. We will explore the implications of this below when we consider Cranmer’s public policy.

Like Luther, the main area in which Cranmer disagreed with the Southern Continental Reformers was his doctrine of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.33 Cranmer himself admitted that he changed from belief in ‘real presence’ to ‘spiritual presence’ in 1547 or 1548.34 It was once argued that his pre-1547 view was essentially conservative Catholic.35 However, most scholars now agree that Cranmer’s acceptance of Luther’s view on salvation also involved agreement (perhaps independently) with Luther’s view of the Eucharist; he rejected transubstantiation and the sacrificial aspect but retained the real presence throughout his Archbishopric under Henry.36 This will be important when we come to consider Cranmer’s treatment of Frith and Lambert. Sola fide was behind Cranmer’s rejection of the mass as a sacrifice; since Christ’s sacrifice was once-for-all.37

Cranmer’s Public Policy as Archbishop

We have seen that Cranmer’s personal solifidian beliefs were essentially ‘Protestant’ (or ‘evangelical’, to use MacCulloch’s less anachronistic term) throughout 1533–1549, even if his Eucharistic views were Lutheran rather than strictly ‘Reformed’. Now we come to consider Cranmer’s public policy.

General considerations

When we set the boundaries for what constitutes ‘public policy’, we must remember that Cranmer was a theologian, a scholar and an archbishop. Although his actions were inevitably political, Cranmer was not a politician, either by temperament or by appointment.38 Elliott is unfair when he characterises Cranmer’s willingness to correct Henry in private but not in public as ‘weakness’ or the ‘inability to act consistently’.39 Private correction was Cranmer’s mandate; public correction was not. Hence Cranmer’s public policy as Archbishop include all of his actions undertaken in his official capacity which affected the English public, whether or not these actions were immediately open to public view.

In 1533–34, we see Cranmer working hard to place evangelicals in positions of influence in England. For example, he removed the conservative Warham as Archdeacon of Canterbury, and moved to have Latimer and Shaxton appointed to preach before the King and Queen.40 However, from 1535 to 1539, Thomas Cromwell had effective control over the spiritual jurisdiction in England, eclipsing Cranmer’s jurisdiction and even seizing some of his lands.41 Hence, during Cromwell’s ascendancy, Cranmer’s public policy was mostly limited to his attempts to persuade Cromwell and Henry through copious correspondence,42 and to persuade convocation through debate. Between 1540 and 1547, Cromwell was no longer alive but Henry himself was more conservative-leaning and so Cranmer was even less free to act independently. It is only when Edward succeeded the throne that Cranmer was given direct responsibility to enact policy.

Reforming Public Activities

We will briefly survey some areas where Cranmer acted to reform the church in his official capacity as Archbishop.

Cranmer strenuously advocated for Lutheran doctrine in the Convocation debating the Ten Articles of 1536. 43 His influence and style is clearly present; the document is a compromise between the old and the new, yet in it, Cranmer achieved a great deal for the evangelical cause.44 The Bible and only the first four ecumenical councils (i.e. those accepted by Luther) are fundamental for all doctrine.45 Penance, while necessary for salvation, is defined almost exclusively in terms of justification by faith (realisation of sin and the recognition that we have no works of our own which can satisfy God).46 Works are ‘necessary’ only as fruit of justification, not as a prerequisite for justification.47 The final articles, concerning images, saints, etc. are not commanded by God as necessary for salvation, but rather are commanded by the king as necessary for peaceful order in his realm.48 These activities are permitted, but ultimately superfluous to Christ-centred trust and obedience.49

The Bishop’s Book of 1537 represents an even greater achievement for Cranmer in his policy of debate and persuasion. By convincing Cromwell of the political benefits inherent in achieving closer doctrinal ties with German Lutheran princes,50 and by strenuous argumentation in synod (which he ended up effectively chairing), he achieved a document ‘full of Lutheran overtones’, particularly in its solifidian redefinition of penance based on Patristic sources.51 Cranmer was pleased with the outcome, and the Bishop’s Book, while never really receiving Henry’s approval, was issued as a book of sermons (‘proto-Homilies’).52 When Henry did comment, Cranmer’s private corrections bear witness to his anti-scholastic solifidianism.53

‘For after our justification only begin we to work as the law of God requireth [. . .] they that think they may come to justification by performance of the law, by their own deeds and merits, or by any other mean than is above rehearsed [i.e. by faith alone], they go from Christ, they renounce his grace’.54

This is private correction, unimpeded by the need for public compromise; yet its intention is change in public policy, for its addressee is the King himself.

It is also important to consider Cranmer’s role in the dissemination of the English Bible. Technically, ‘it was the Vice-gerent who led the initiative, with Cranmer merely as cheerleader’.55 Yet this ‘cheerleading’ was, most likely, the key to the success of the enterprise. We have seen Cranmer’s commitment to Scriptural authority. He saw the need for the whole populace to have access to this authority and so was the relentless persuasive force behind Cromwell’s actions.56 His delight at the achievement, in 1537, bears witness to his interest in the matter.57 The Bible was such a success that the conservative Act of Six Articles (1539) did not immediately change Henry’s mind on its dissemination.58 Cranmer’s 1540 Preface to the Great Bible shows his persistent commitment to its propagation.59 At a dangerous time for evangelical belief, Cranmer does not push his doctrine directly. Rather, he urges people to read the Bible, trusting God for the outcome. His caution against overly contentious arguments is not the germ of the classic Anglican via media,60 but rather Cranmer’s attempt to forestall Henry’s wrath which might prevent the Bible being disseminated any further.61

When Henry’s policy turned in a more conservative direction with the Act of Six Articles (1539), Cranmer’s ability to influence public policy was severely curtailed.62 Nevertheless, he did what he could. His ‘hard-core opposition’63 meant that the word transubstantiation did not appear in the Six Articles, and auricular confession was weakened in its import, as we have already noted.64 In 1541–43 he won some minor victories against holy days, shrines and relics, and against plans to re-introduce medieval terminology into the English Bible.65 He kept copious notes on solifidianism in Scripture and the Church Fathers, preparing for opportunities to refute the conservative doctrine of the King’s Book.66 In 1544 he released an English translation of the Litany, using ‘more than the liberty of a translator’ in improving certain aspects of it.67 During this period, he was active, yet restrained.

Disputed Public Activities

We now turn to those of Cranmer’s activities which have come under intense scrutiny and criticism because of their perceived hypocrisy, inconsistency or cowardice.

Often Cranmer is accused of legal inconsistency. At his consecration in Westminster in 1533, his oath of loyalty to the Pope was straightaway followed by a solemn protestation that this oath would not override his loyalty to the law of God, the King, and the reform of the English Church. Rafferty points out the legal contradictions here; both he and MacCulloch accuse Cranmer of hypocrisy.68 They detect a similar inconsistency in Cranmer’s later annulment of the Boleyn marriage.69 Yet, against the backdrop of an age when the King’s momentary will was usually more pertinent than the written oaths and laws, these oaths and laws themselves being fluid, transitory and inconsistent, Cranmer’s ‘hypocrisy’ was technical only. He argued solidly and vigorously for his position so that everybody knew where he stood; and then when it was obvious that he could do no more, he obeyed his King.70 This is consistent with his belief that the purposes of the sovereign God would prevail and his job was to ‘Fear God [and] Honour the King’ (1 Peter 2:16, kjv).

There are times when Cranmer takes action as Archbishop against people with whom he has some sympathy. Two notable examples are John Frith (1533) and John Lambert (1538).71 In both cases, evangelical men were brought before Cranmer to pronounce a verdict (although the sentencing was done by others). Their crime was sacramentarianism: denying the real presence in the Eucharist. Since, as we have seen, Cranmer disagreed with this particular view, he pronounced them guilty.72 Cranmer’s sympathy to Frith is seen in a letter describing his repeated attempts to persuade him to change his beliefs, avoiding the term ‘heretic’ and giving the Continental originator of the belief his Latinized academic surname ‘Œcolampadius’, thus ‘recognizing his status as an evangelical fellow-scholar’.73 Yet he had no qualms about committing either Frith or Lambert to trial, no doubt fearing that their ‘so notably erroneous’ views would endanger the evangelical cause in England.74 In neither case is Cranmer hypocritical; in fact, in Lambert’s case, he assiduously avoided the term ‘transubstantiation’ while arguing for a real presence.75

The executions of Anne Boleyn (1536) and Thomas Cromwell (1540) were more personally difficult for Cranmer. Anne was an ally for the evangelical cause and Cranmer’s personal friend;76 Cromwell, as we have seen, was an important agent for reform and also a friend. In both cases, Cranmer did not instigate the accusation of Treason and could not have prevented their deaths.77 In both cases, shocked by learning of the accusations against them, he wrote letters to Henry defending their integrity.78 And in both cases, he escaped without being implicated in their crimes, despite his obvious personal anguish at their deaths.79 Here, his inaction rather than his action is more frequently criticised.80 Yet he is also frequently defended for his courage.81 Moreover, Cranmer is implicated in the persecutions of evangelicals following the passing of the Act of Six Articles. The political background to Henry’s reversal of policy is the threat of a conservative invasion from the newly-allied France and Spain, and the conservative backlash within England itself.82 Cranmer, in obedience to his King, voted for and enforced the Six Articles.83 He also voted for the subsequent bill of attainder that declared the evangelicals Barnes, Garrett and Jerome heretics.

In all these events, was Cranmer culpably compromised?84 Should he have offered himself for martyrdom?85 In accordance with our earlier assessment of Cranmer’s doctrine, we may conclude that Cranmer saw the cause of evangelical doctrine as greater than the deaths of individuals. This is not because he was a heartless ideologue, but because, with Scripture and the Church Fathers, he believed in a glorious afterlife such that martyrdom was not a final blow for God’s elect. Cranmer may well have been prepared to die; but he saw that he had God’s work to do in England and he was not going to needlessly remove himself from that task. Fear, confusion, naivety and indecision may all have played their part, but it was Cranmer’s solifidianism and its corollaries that played the determining role in his public policy.

Conclusion: An Effective Protestant Reformer

The enthronement of Edward VI (1547) marked the culmination of Cranmer’s work and the temporary vindication of his trust in God’s sovereignty over history. His Book of Homilies were based on the strong solifidian doctrine developed during Henry’s reign and foreshadowed in the Bishop’s Book.86 His prior forging of strong evangelical links both at home and abroad enabled Cranmer to put Protestant teachers such as Ridley, Latimer, Bucer, Fagius and others in positions of authority and influence in England.87 His long-term advocacy for the English Bible had paved the way for lay education in Christian doctrine, of which the Book of Common Prayer (1549) was the next logical step. Cranmer was truly a Protestant Reformer, in belief and in action, even though he was not a politician and many of his endeavours took years to bear fruit in the political arena.


Ayris, Paul. ‘God’s Vicegerent and Christ’s Vicar: the Relationship Between the Crown and the Archbishopric of Canterbury, 1533–53’. Pages 115–56 in Thomas Cranmer: Churchman and Scholar. Edited by Paul Ayris & David Selwyn. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1993

Bromiley, G. W. Thomas Cranmer: Archbishop and Martyr. London: The Church Book Room Press, 1956.

Brooks, Peter N. ‘Cranmer from His Correspondence’. The Expository Times 101/1 (1989): 8–12.

Brownell, Kenneth. ‘Thomas Cranmer: Compromiser or Strategist?’. Pages 1–16 in The Reformation of Worship: Papers Read at the 1989 Westminster Conference. London: Westminster Conference, 1989

Clifford, Alan C. ‘Cranmer as Reformer’. Evangelical Quarterly 63/2 (1991): 99–122.

Cross, F. L. and E. A. Livingstone (eds.). ‘Cranmer, Thomas’. Pages 428 in The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. 3rd ed.Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.

_______. ‘Henry VIII’. Pages 752–54 in The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. 3rd ed.Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Elliott, Maurice. ‘Cranmer, a Man Under Authority: An Introduction’. Churchman 109/1 (1995): 61–65.

_______. ‘Cranmer’s Attitude to the Bible: “Lucerna Pedibus Meis Verbum Tuum”’. Churchman 109/1 (1995): 66–76.

_______. ‘Cranmer’s Attitude to the Monarchy: Royal Absolutism and the Godly Prince’. Churchman 109/3 (1995): 238–49.

_______. ‘Cranmer’s Attitude to the Papacy: “And as for the Pope, I Refuse Him as Christ’s Enemy”’. Churchman 109/2 (1995): 132–42.

Hall, Basil. ‘Cranmer’s Relations with Erasmianism and Lutheranism’. Pages 3–37 in Thomas Cranmer: Churchman and Scholar. Edited by Paul Ayris & David Selwyn. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1993

Kastan, David S. ‘“The Noyse of the New Bible”: Reform and Reaction in Henrician England’. Pages 46–68 in Religion and Culture in Renaissance England. Edited by Claire McEachern and Debora Shuger. Cambridge: University Press, 1997

MacCulloch, Diarmaid. ‘Archbishop Cranmer: Concord and Tolerance in a Changing Church’. Pages 199–215 in Tolerance and Intolerance in the European Reformation. Edited by Ole P. Grell and Bob Scribner. Cambridge: University Press, 1996

______. Thomas Cranmer: a Life. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996.

Null, Ashley. Thomas Cranmer’s Doctrine of Repentance: Renewing the Power to Love. Oxford: University Press, 2000.

Rafferty, Oliver P. ‘Thomas Cranmer and the Royal Supremacy’. The Heythrop Journal 31 (1990): 129–49.

Redworth, Glyn. ‘A Study in the Formulation of Policy: The Genesis and Evolution of the Act of Six Articles’. Journal of Ecclesiastical History 37/1 (1986): 42–67.

Ridley, Jasper. Thomas Cranmer. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1966.

Primary Document Sources

Cranmer, Thomas. Miscellaneous Writings and Letters of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, Martyr, 1556. Edited by John E. Cox. The Parker Society. Cambridge: University Press, 1846.

Cranmer, Thomas. Writings and Disputations of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, Martyr, 1556, Relative to the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Edited by John E. Cox. The Parker Society. Cambridge: University Press, 1844.

Hardwick, Charles. A History of the Articles of Religion: to Which Is Added a Series of Documents, from A.D. 1536 to A.D. 1615, Together with Illustrations from Contemporary Sources. Revised ed. London: Bell and Daldy, 1859.

Henry VIII. Defence of the Seven Sacraments. Edited by Louis O’Donovan. New York: Benziger Brothers, 1908.

Henry VIII. The King’s Book: Or, a Necessary Doctrine and Erudition for Any Christian Man. Edited by T. A. Lacey. Originally pub. 1543. London: SPCK, 1932.

Henry VIII. ‘The Six Articles Act, 1539’. Pages 303–19 in Documents Illustrative of English Church History. Edited by Henry Gee and William J. Hardy. London: Macmillan and Co., 1910

1 Diarmaid MacCulloch, Thomas Cranmer: a Life (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996), 233–34.

2 G. W. Bromiley, Thomas Cranmer: Archbishop and Martyr (London: The Church Book Room Press, 1956), 36.

3 Glyn Redworth, ‘A Study in the Formulation of Policy: The Genesis and Evolution of the Act of Six Articles’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History 37/1 (1986): 47.

4 Henry VIII, Defence of the Seven Sacraments (ed. Louis O’Donovan; New York: Benziger Brothers, 1908), 200–9, 326–43.

5 The phrase ‘by the law of God’ which appears in articles 2–5 is replaced by ‘expedient and necessary to be retained’ in the sixth article on confession. See Henry VIII, ‘The Six Articles Act, 1539’, in Documents Illustrative of English Church History (ed. Henry Gee and William J. Hardy; London: Macmillan and Co., 1910), 305–6.

6 Ashley Null, Thomas Cranmer’s Doctrine of Repentance: Renewing the Power to Love (Oxford: University Press, 2000), 7.

7 Thomas Cranmer, Miscellaneous Writings and Letters of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, Martyr, 1556. (ed. John E. Cox; The Parker Society; Cambridge: University Press, 1846), 340–41. See MacCulloch, Cranmer, 183.

8 F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone (eds.), ‘Henry VIII’, in The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (3rd ed.; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 752–54, 753.

9 Redworth, ‘Formulation of Policy’, 47–49.

10 Peter N. Brooks, ‘Cranmer from His Correspondence’, The Expository Times 101/1 (1989): 8.

11 Basil Hall, ‘Cranmer’s Relations with Erasmianism and Lutheranism’, in Thomas Cranmer: Churchman and Scholar (ed. Paul Ayris & David Selwyn; Woodbridge: Boydell, 1993), 5.

12 Alan C. Clifford, ‘Cranmer as Reformer’, Evangelical Quarterly 63/2 (1991): 99–122.

13 Bromiley, Cranmer, 37.

14 Kenneth Brownell, ‘Thomas Cranmer: Compromiser or Strategist?’, in The Reformation of Worship: Papers Read at the 1989 Westminster Conference (London: Westminster Conference, 1989), 3–5.

15 Brownell, ‘Compromiser or Strategist?’, 4.

16 MacCulloch, Cranmer, 71.

17 Cranmer, Writings and Letters, 116.

18 Cranmer, Writings and Letters, 127.

19 Oliver P. Rafferty, ‘Thomas Cranmer and the Royal Supremacy’, The Heythrop Journal 31 (1990): 129–49.

20 Maurice Elliott, ‘Cranmer’s Attitude to the Monarchy: Royal Absolutism and the Godly Prince’, Churchman 109/3 (1995): 244.

21 Jasper Ridley, Thomas Cranmer (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1966), 410.

22 Cranmer, Writings and Letters, 116–17.

23 Paul Ayris, ‘God’s Vicegerent and Christ’s Vicar: the Relationship Between the Crown and the Archbishopric of Canterbury, 1533–53’, in Thomas Cranmer: Churchman and Scholar (ed. Paul Ayris & David Selwyn; Woodbridge: Boydell, 1993), 139.

24 Rafferty, ‘Royal Supremacy’, 142–43, 146.

25 Diarmaid MacCulloch, ‘Archbishop Cranmer: Concord and Tolerance in a Changing Church’, in Tolerance and Intolerance in the European Reformation (ed. Ole P. Grell and Bob Scribner; Cambridge: University Press, 1996), 199–215.

26 Null, Doctrine of Repentance

27 MacCulloch, Cranmer, 60–72, 173–236.

28 Null, Doctrine of Repentance, 102–15; Hall, ‘Erasmianism and Lutheranism’, 15–17

29 Hall, ‘Erasmianism and Lutheranism’, 18

30 Null, Doctrine of Repentance, 21–24; Clifford, ‘Reformer’, 110–113.

31 Null, Doctrine of Repentance, 19–20; cf Brownell, ‘Compromiser or Strategist?’, 4, whose only explanation is that Cranmer was a ‘soft touch’, too ‘good and decent’ for the ruthless Tudor court.

32 Null, Doctrine of Repentance, 249.

33 Cranmer, Writings and Letters, 342–43 where Cranmer disputes Vadian’s Zwinglian view of the sacrament.

34 Thomas Cranmer, Writings and Disputations of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, Martyr, 1556, Relative to the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper (ed. John E. Cox; The Parker Society; Cambridge: University Press, 1844), 374; Hall, ‘Erasmianism and Lutheranism’, 32–33 dates the change.

35 Bromiley, Cranmer, 44–45.

36 MacCulloch, Cranmer, 181.

37 Null, Doctrine of Repentance, 26.

38 Clifford, ‘Reformer’, 106.

39 Elliott, ‘Monarchy’, 242.

40 MacCulloch, Cranmer, 108–15.

41 MacCulloch, Cranmer, 135, 166–69.

42 Brooks, ‘Correspondence’, 9.

43 MacCulloch, Cranmer, 161–65.

44 Hall, ‘Erasmianism and Lutheranism’, 23.

45 Charles Hardwick, A History of the Articles of Religion: to Which Is Added a Series of Documents, from A.D. 1536 to A.D. 1615, Together with Illustrations from Contemporary Sources (Revised ed.; London: Bell and Daldy, 1859), 245–46.

46 Hardwick, Articles, 247–51.

47 Hardwick, Articles, 252.

48 Hardwick, Articles, 244.

49 Hardwick, Articles, 253–56.

50 Cranmer, Writings and Letters, 337–38; see Brooks, ‘Correspondence’, 9.

51 MacCulloch, Cranmer, 185–95; Null, Doctrine of Repentance, 133–34.

52 MacCulloch, Cranmer, 195, 206–7.

53 Cranmer, Writings and Letters, 83–114, esp. 106–14; see Null, Doctrine of Repentance, 121–33; MacCulloch, Cranmer, 209–11.

54 Cranmer, Writings and Letters, 114.

55 MacCulloch, Cranmer, 196.

56 Hall, ‘Erasmianism and Lutheranism’, 28–29; Bromiley, Cranmer, 41–42; Clifford, ‘Reformer’, 101.

57 Cranmer, Writings and Letters, 345–46; see Brooks, ‘Correspondence’, 9.

58 MacCulloch, Cranmer, 258.

59 Cranmer, Writings and Letters, 118–27.

60 Hall, ‘Erasmianism and Lutheranism’, 29.

61 MacCulloch, Cranmer, 260.

62 MacCulloch, Cranmer, 237.

63 Redworth, ‘Formulation of Policy’, 56–61, quotation from page 60.

64 Null, Doctrine of Repentance, 154–55; MacCulloch, Cranmer, 252–53

65 Clifford, ‘Reformer’, 101.

66 Null, Doctrine of Repentance, 157–212.

67 Cranmer, Writings and Letters, 412; see Bromiley, Cranmer, 60.

68 Rafferty, ‘Royal Supremacy’, 139–40; MacCulloch, Cranmer, 88–89, 98.

69 Rafferty, ‘Royal Supremacy’, 142; MacCulloch, Cranmer, 158–59.

70 Bromiley, Cranmer, 25; and Maurice Elliott, ‘Cranmer’s Attitude to the Papacy: “And as for the Pope, I Refuse Him as Christ’s Enemy”’, Churchman 109/2 (1995): 134 make similar points.

71 MacCulloch, Cranmer, 101–2, 232–36.

72 Brownell, ‘Compromiser or Strategist?’, 6, 11.

73 Cranmer, Letters and Writings, 246; MacCulloch, Cranmer, 101.

74 Cranmer, Letters and Writings, 246; MacCulloch, ‘Concord and Tolerance’, 205–10.

75 MacCulloch, Cranmer, 232–36.

76 MacCulloch, Cranmer, 135.

77 MacCulloch, Cranmer, 156–57.

78 Cranmer, Letters and Writings, 323–24, 401.

79 MacCulloch, Cranmer, 159.

80 Bromiley, Cranmer, 27–28; Rafferty, ‘Royal Supremacy’, 142; Elliott, Monarchy, 241.

81 Clifford, ‘Reformer’, 101; MacCulloch, Cranmer, 157–58, 268; Brooks, ‘Correspondence’, 10; Bromiley, Cranmer, 51.

82 Redworth, ‘Formulation of Policy’, 47–50; Bromiley, Cranmer, 46–48.

83 Bromiley, Cranmer, 49.

84 so Brownell, ‘Compromiser or Strategist?’, 11–12.

85 so Rafferty, ‘Royal Supremacy’, 146.

86 Hall, ‘Erasmianism and Lutheranism’, 3; Null, Doctrine of Repentance, 213–36.

87 Brownell, ‘Compromiser or Strategist?’, 10.

Published inChurch HistoryJustification

Publications by Lionel Windsor:

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  1. Essay as blog post! Good on you Lionel. A very fine essay too.

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  • Walking past a telephone booth in OxfordThis love (Ephesians 2:4–5)
    “God loves you”: if I say just those three words, you may not hear what I want you to hear. This is because of a communication problem that arises whenever Christians try to talk about biblical concept of God’s “love”. When we say “love” we mean one thing—something wonderful and life-changing. But the word means quite different things to many English speakers. For example, the word “love” often means “strong desire”. So if I say “God loves you” then it might sound like I’m saying “God has strong feelings for you”. Another, increasingly common, understanding of “love” is the idea of “unconditional approval”. In this view, the way to “love” somebody is to affirm and approve of everything they do. So if I don’t approve of your actions and actively affirm everything you do, then by definition I’m not “loving” you (in fact, by definition I’m “hating” you). On this common definition of “love”, if I say “God loves you” then it might sound like I’m saying “God affirms everything about you and your actions”. But that’s not what the Bible means by God’s “love” either. Given this communication problem, how can I best explain the idea of God’s “love”? Well, it’s not actually that hard. The best way is to see how the word works when the Bible uses it. In Ephesians 2:4–5, Paul uses the word “love”. But he doesn’t just say “God loves you”. He explains and spells out what that love means. And he helps us to see what God’s love really means, and how amazing it is.
  • Entering a tomb in PompeiiWe too: the offenders (Ephesians 2:3)
    Judgmentalism. It’s a bigger problem than we think. Judgmentalism is certainly a danger for God’s people. That’s because God’s people have God’s word. God’s word helps God’s people to see how wonderful God is, and how terrible humanity is in comparison. But Ephesians 2:3 contains two highly significant, emphatic words: “we too”. We too, says Paul, were the offenders. We, too, were the disobedient. These words aren’t talking about all those horrible people “out there”. They’re talking about God’s people. And it’s something we, too, need to hear. These words tell us something incredibly important—something that we ignore at our peril.
  • Photo by Daniel Lienert on UnsplashThe root of the problem (Ephesians 2:1–2)
    I hadn’t visited the dentist for years. Then I felt a tiny amount of pain in one of my teeth. But I ignored it. I didn’t want to bother with a dentist. Anyway, I had my own solution: I’d always brushed my teeth quite thoroughly, and was proud of it. So I just kept brushing. But after a while, the pain came back. This time, it was worse. So I finally visited the dentist. That was painful, too. The root had become so infected that I needed root canal surgery. That was a while ago. But last year, it flared up again, as these things apparently do. And yet I chose to visit the dentist again, even though I knew it might be painful. Why? Because I’d learnt something. I’ve learnt that if I have a problem that goes to the root, and if I know someone who has the solution to the problem, I shouldn’t ignore it or try to fix it myself. I should face up to the root problem, and get help. So I got help. Now, I don’t have a tooth in that spot at all. In Ephesians 2:1–2, Paul seeks to go deep, to the root of the problem. The problem Paul talks about here is incredibly serious. It can be very painful to admit. But Paul can and does admit it—because he also knows the person with the solution. According to Paul, this isn’t a problem to ignore or try to fix ourselves. It’s not something we can educate ourselves out of. This is a problem to face up to, and get help.
  • Captivated by ScriptureCaptivated by Scripture: A personal reflection on D. W. B. Robinson’s legacy for biblical studies
    What made Donald W. B. Robinson such an inspiring and influential teacher for generations of students? His commitment to being captivated by Scripture. This is a paper given by Lionel Windsor at the legacy day and launch of Donald Robinson Selected Works Volume 3: Biblical and Liturgical Studies & Volume 4: Historical Studies and Series Index. Moore Theological College, Sydney, 16 March 2019.
  • The first thing to say about church (Ephesians 1:22–23)
    Here in Ephesians 1:22–23, for the first time in his letter, the apostle Paul uses the word “church”. He’s taken quite some time to get to this point. That might make you think that the church isn’t very important to Paul. But actually, the reverse is true. This is a climactic statement. So far in Ephesians, Paul has poured out his praise to God for his blessings and plans and purposes. He has told his readers how he is praying for knowledge and hope and strength in God. Now, finally, at the highest peak of this amazing prayer, Paul names “the church”. So what is the first thing Paul has to say about the church? What is the word he associates most closely with the church? What matters most to Paul when it comes to the church? The answer is, in fact, obvious. It’s so obvious that you might think it doesn’t need to be said. You might even wonder why Paul bothers saying it, when there are so many other more practical things he could say about the church. But while it might seem obvious, it needs to be said first. Why? Because it’s so easy to assume it. Yet without it, nothing else about the church makes sense.
  • Grave of John BunyanStrength to live (Ephesians 1:19–21)
    What do we do when we feel weak in the face of the powers that be? One response might be just to shut down, close ranks and find a bitter satisfaction in our identity as victims. Another response might be to try to fight as hard as we can to exert our power and dominance over others, seeking to turn the tables so that we become the conquerors instead of the oppressors. Both of these responses involve seeking strength and power in ourselves. They are often the way that oppressed individuals and groups in our world respond to the powers that are oppressing them. But is that the way God wants his people to respond to our weakness in the face of power? In Ephesians 1:19–21, the apostle Paul gives us a far better way to respond. Paul’s response involves looking for strength. But it’s not a strength that comes from within ourselves. It’s a strength that comes from God himself.
  • Christ, the Cross and Creation Care ConferenceConference: Christ, the Cross and Creation Care
    I'll be speaking at the "Christ, the Cross and Creation Care Conference", Sydney. 8.30am to 3.30pm, Saturday 22 June 2019. A conference run by A Rocha Australia
  • Palatine Hill from Roman Forum with contrails – Black and WhiteWhat’s the point of theology? (Ephesians 1:17–18)
    The full name of the college I teach at is “Moore Theological College”. That word “Theological” says something important about who we are. It reminds us about what we're on about. Yes, the Bible is at the centre of everything we do. Yes, we seek to train people for ministry. Yes, we're driven by the worldwide mission of Jesus Christ. Yes, we're committed to learning together, and having our characters formed in loving Christian community. But our careful study of the Bible, and our pastorally-motivated ministry and mission training, and our encouragement of one another in our community, all matter because of something more basic: theology. Unfortunately, the word "theology" can be misunderstood. It sometimes gets used to mean something like “technical details about spiritual things that experts argue about and isn’t much practical use to regular people”. But that's just a caricature. It's not what theology is. Theology is something far more profound, far more life-changing, and far more fundamental—not just for people at a college, but for everyone. In Ephesians 1:17–18, Paul prays for his readers—people who have come to believe in and live for Jesus Christ. It's a prayer for more theology.
  • Youth praying, Finchale PrioryPrayer: What are we actually doing? (Ephesians 1:15–16)
    “A Muslim, a Jew and an Anglican Minister walk into a classroom”. This was the advertising blurb for a local Community College seminar I participated in a few years ago. I joined a Muslim educator and a Jewish academic (who is also a friend of mine) to give a series of presentations on different aspects of our three religions to interested people from the community. When we came to the topic of ‘prayer’, I was fascinated to hear what my co-presenters had to say. Even though we were all using the same word, ‘prayer’, the word meant very different things in the different religions. As a believer in Jesus Christ, what did I have to say about what prayer is? What would you have said? Christians, too, can often be a bit confused or unclear about what prayer actually is. That’s where the Apostle Paul really helps us. In these verses in Ephesians, Paul starts telling his readers about his own prayers for them.
  • Photo by Danielle Macinnes on UnsplashThe Holy Spirit: Our security (Ephesians 1:14)
    The Stanford Marshmallow Experiments are a favourite illustration of motivational speakers. The lesson is this: If you can learn how to delay gratification early in life, you’ll do better in later life. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? But unfortunately, like many popular conclusions drawn from famous psychological experiments, it doesn’t stand up to closer scrutiny. The more up-to-date study demonstrates something far more mundane: if you grow up in a secure home where you know there will always be food on the table, you’re more likely to be able to put off eating a marshmallow. This isn’t a particularly useful lesson for motivational speakers. But it’s a great illustration of what it means to be a child of God.

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