Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Monday, July 06, 2009

Reformed Anglican Response to a Lutheran Churchman on "The Means of Grace."

The following remarks are in reference to a Lutheran article posted at Reformation Today, A Lutheran Churchman: Ken Howes on "The Means of Grace."


If anything, Cranmer was closer to Calvin and Zwingli on the sacraments, though I'm sure he was influenced by Luther on soteriology. Your implied remark that I'm more Puritan than Anglican is ridiculous. The English Reformers may not have been Puritans but they were every bit as concerned about reform as the Puritans and the Continental Reformers. This is why the 39 Articles soundly denounce justification by works, that works are acceptable to God before conversion, or that works can give Christians any sort of supererogatory status.

Also, Samuel Leuenberger's book, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer's Immortal Bequest makes it clear that there was at least one Puritan in Cranmer's panel of advisors--John Hooper. The Lutheran influence is limited at best as can be seen clearly in Cranmer's views on the Lord's supper, which you yourself admit were strongly against the Lutheran view in the 42 Articles and were softened in the 39 Articles because the Lutherans were no longer in contention at that time.

Luther was great on the soteriological issues but he completely blew it with his view that the body of Christ is divine after the resurrection rather than human. This is so obviously a monophysite error that almost anyone can figure it out. The human nature is not omnipresent. After the resurrection the glorified human nature of Christ remains human and is not divine. Christ is thus both divine and human perfectly united in one person as the Definition of Chalceon established.

Thus, the only way to partake of the body and blood of Christ, which is in heaven, is by faith. We lift up our hearts to the heavenly realms by faith because that is where Christ is in bodily form. While he may be present to us through the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, this is not a bodily presence but only a divine presence in and with believers, not in and with the bread and wine. Cranmer called the consecrated bread and wine by the names of what they signfied or represented but he adamantly insisted that they were not the true body and blood of Christ, which can only be in heaven at the Father's right hand. The Supper is a spiritual "object lesson" where we feed by faith on the body and blood of Christ in heaven, though we physically eat bread and wine to feed and nourish our physical body. Let me quote from Cranmer to substantiate at least part of what I'm saying here:

For some of them say, that by this pronoun demonstrative, "this," Christ understood not the bread nor wine, but his body and blood.

And other some say, that by the pronoun, "this," he meant neither the bread nor wine, nor his body nor blood, but that he meant a particular thing uncertain, which they call individuum vagum, or individuum in genere, I trow some mathematical quiddity, they cannot tell what.

But let all these papists together show any one authority, either of Scripture, or of ancient author, either Greek or Latin, that saith as they say, that Christ called not bread and wine his body and blood, but individuum vagum; for my part I shall give them place, and confess that they say true.

And if they can show nothing for them of antiquity, but only their own bare words, then it is reason that they give place to the truth confirmed by so many authorities, both of Scripture and of ancient writers, which is, that Christ called very material bread his body, and very wine made of grapes his blood.

Now this being fully proved, it must needs follow consequently, that this manner of speaking is a figurative speech: for in plain and proper speech it is not true to say, that bread is Christ's body, or wine his blood. For Christ's body hath a soul, life, sense, and reason: but bread hath neither soul, life, sense, nor reason.

Likewise in plain speech it is not true, that we eat Christ's body, and drink his blood. For eating and drinking, in their proper and usual signification, is with the tongue, teeth, and lips to swallow, divide, and chaw in pieces: which thing to do to the flesh and blood of Christ, is horrible to be heard of any Christian.

So that these speeches, "To eat Christ's body," "and drink his blood," "To call bread his body," "or wine his blood," be speeches not taken in the proper signification of every word, but by translation of these words, "eating" and "drinking," from the signification of a corporal thing to signify a spiritual thing; and by calling a thing that signifieth, by the name of the thing which is signified thereby: which is no rare nor strange thing, but an usual manner and phrase in common speech.

[Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. A Defense of the True and Catholic Doctrine of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Our Saviour Christ. (East Essex: Focus Ministries Trust, 1987). Reprint.
This is why your accusation that the reformed view is actually semi-pelagian or based on feeling is completely off the mark. Zwingli, Cranmer and Calvin had it right while Luther went off the deep end, which is why there was never a reconciliation on the sacraments between the English/Continental Reformers and the Lutherans. At least the Continental Reformers came to the Consensus of Tigurinus, though that too failed to bring any lasting unity.

Faith is not a "feeling." It is a direct divine gift given directly to the soul simultaneously with regeneration, repentance, and conversion. The sacraments are there to make our faith outwardly manifest as a tangible object lesson that all can understand and to bind us together in the local church with a common faith. Baptism does not in and of itself save but it does initially make us members of the local church. Your quotation of Calvin is out of context on the issue of baptism as well. Reading Lutheran baptismal regeneration into the text is disingenuous at best.

You said, "Calvin wrote that 'it is beyond any question that we put on Christ in baptism, and that we are baptized for this end—that we may be one with him." He writes further that "by baptism we are admitted into a participation of (Christ's) grace.'"

Calvin's view is one of spiritual union with Christ by faith. So his remarks do not support your Lutheran view of baptismal regeneration. We are one with Christ through an act of faith, baptism. By faith we accept Christ and are baptized into the body of Christ, the church. This is a sign of our spiritual union with him, which is a real participation of grace. Baptism itself is merely an empty ritual without true regeneration and true faith.

In Calvin's discussion of icons and images he allows only two "images" for the Christian church:

A little farther on he says, "Images are more capable of giving a wrong bent to an unhappy soul, from having mouth, eyes, ears, and feet, than of correcting it, as they neither speak, nor see, nor hear, nor walk." This undoubtedly is the reason why John (1 John 5:21) enjoins us to beware, not only of the worship of idols, but also of idols themselves. And from the fearful infatuation under which the world has hitherto laboured, almost to the entire destruction of piety, we know too well from experience that the moment images appear in churches, idolatry has as it were raised its banner; because the folly of manhood cannot moderate itself, but forthwith falls away to superstitious worship. Even were the danger less imminent, still, when I consider the proper end for which churches are erected, it appears to me more unbecoming their sacredness than I well can tell, to admit any other images than those living symbols which the Lord has consecrated by his own word: I mean Baptism and the Lord's Supper, with the other ceremonies. By these our eyes ought to be more steadily fixed, and more vividly impressed, than to require the aid of any images which the wit of man may devise. Such, then, is the incomparable blessing of images—a blessing, the want of which, if we believe the Papists, cannot possibly be compensated!89

89 The French is "qu'il n'y ait nulle recompense qui vaille un marmouset guignant à travers et faisant la mine tortue;"—that no compensation can equal the value of a marmoset looking askance and twisting its face.

Calvin, J., & Beveridge, H. (1996). Institutes of the Christian religion (electronic ed.) (I, xi, 13). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems.

Calvin's allusion to fixing our eyes on baptism and the Lord's supper are parallel to fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). If you will read the verse Calvin alludes to, you will see that it also says that Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father, which is also repeated in the Apostles' Creed.

Clearly, Calvin's view of spiritual union by faith is not one supporting baptismal regeneration as your secondary source seems to insist. Rather let Calvin speak for himself:

16. But as God has manifested himself more clearly by the advent of Christ, so he has made himself more familiarly known in three persons. Of many proofs let this one suffice. Paul connects together these three, God, Faith, and Baptism, and reasons from the one to the other—viz. because there is one faith he infers that there is one God; and because there is one baptism he infers that there is one faith. Therefore, if by baptism we are initiated into the faith and worship of one God, we must of necessity believe that he into whose name we are baptised is the true God. And there cannot be a doubt that our Saviour wished to testify, by a solemn rehearsal, that the perfect light of faith is now exhibited, when he said, "Go and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," (Mt. 28:19), since this is the same thing as to be baptised into the name of the one God, who has been fully manifested in the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. Hence it plainly appears, that the three persons, in whom alone God is known, subsist in the Divine essence. And since faith certainly ought not to look hither and thither, or run up and down after various objects, but to look, refer, and cleave to God alone, it is obvious that were there various kinds of faith, there behaved also to be various gods. Then, as the baptism of faith is a sacrament, its unity assures us of the unity of God. Hence also it is proved that it is lawful only to be baptised into one God, because we make a profession of faith in him in whose name we are baptised. What, then, is our Saviour's meaning in commanding baptism to be administered in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, if it be not that we are to believe with one faith in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit?98 But is this any thing else than to declare that the Father, Son, and Spirit, are one God? Wherefore, since it must be held certain that there is one God, not more than one, we conclude that the Word and Spirit are of the very essence of God.

98 98 The French entirely omits the three previous sentences, beginning, "Then, as," &c.

Calvin, J., & Beveridge, H. (1996). Institutes of the Christian religion (electronic ed.) (I, xiii, 16). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems.

The means by which we are converted is the preaching of the Gospel, not through ex opere operato sacraments as you yourself said in your article. Even for Luther the sacraments are a means of preaching the Word. Thus, a sacrament without the Word is useless! Your paper only mentions the Word in union with the sacraments in passing while Luther tied the two together in union the one with the other as a Gospel principle. In other words, the sacraments are in essence another way of preaching the Word! Luther's understanding of real presence and baptismal regeneration are meaningless outside of his view of them as united with the Gospel and the Word.

Regarding absolution the English Reformers did not absolutely forbid private confession but they did forbid the sacrament of penance which contradicts the doctrine of justification by faith alone since the Roman doctrine of penance requires that justification must be restored inherently in the heart by works of merit. This is why in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer the only absolution you will find is in tandem with public and general confession of sin. The "absolution" is a public and general absolution precisely because Cranmer and the other Reformers saw that penitential sentences bring forth our guilt before God, we admit we have sinned in thought, word and deed daily and weekly, and we receive forgiveness by confessing our sins to God and receiving the grace of forgiveness in a restatement of the Gospel of grace and being justified by faith alone. Therefore, we may come boldly to the throne of grace together as the people of God and receive forgiveness together as the body of Christ. Private confessions are to be privately done between the believer and Christ Himself. The Roman doctrine of penance in essence downplays total depravity/inability and the perfect requirements of God's Law so that they can "appear" before men to be meriting their salvation.

In fact, this is why there is a reciting of the Decalogue or Ten Commandments every time the Lord's Supper was observed with each commandment being followed with the Augustinian prayer: "Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law." After the final commandment is read the final prayer reads, "Lord, have mercy upon us, and write all these thy laws in our hearts, we beseech thee." It is to show that we are miserable sinners and we deserve nothing no matter how much we repent. Thus, true repentance is not trusting in our own righteousness but in God's mercy in the Gospel! (See the Prayer of Humble Access).

Thus, the Law serves to convict us of our sins, followed by a general confession and a general absolution which are in tune with a Reformed and Augustinian understanding of Law and Gospel:

ALMIGHTY God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, judge of all men; We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, By thought, word, and deed, Against thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, And are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; The burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; For thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ's sake, Forgive us all that is past; And grant that we may ever hereafter Serve and please thee In newness of life, To the honour and glory of thy Name; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, who of his great mercy hath promised forgiveness of sins to all them that with hearty repentance and true faith turn unto him; Have mercy upon you; pardon and deliver you from all your sins; confirm and strengthen you in all goodness; and bring you to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
I have no problem with your Lutheran views as long as you properly represent those you have opposed, namely the Zwinglians and the Calvinists and the Anglicans on the Cranmerian side of the English Reformation. Hint, stop using secondary sources for your information and go straight to the original sources: the horse's mouth. I would have presented Zwingli's view if time had permitted but suffice it to say that Zwingli's view is not that of a "bare memorial." The Consensus of Tigurinus is proof enough of that:

Article 6. Spiritual Communion. Institution of the Sacraments.
The spiritual communion which we have with the Son of God takes place when he, dwelling in us by his Spirit, makes all who believe capable of all the blessings which reside in him. In order to testify this, both the preaching of the gospel was appointed, and the use of the sacraments committed to us, namely, the sacraments of holy Baptism and the holy Supper.
Article 7. The Ends of the Sacraments
The ends of the sacraments are to be marks and badges of Christian profession and fellowship or fraternity, to be incitements to gratitude and exercises of faith and a godly life; in short, to be contracts binding us to this. But among other ends the principal one is, that God may, by means of them, testify, represent, and seal his grace to us. For although they signify nothing else than is announced to us by the Word itself, yet it is a great matter, first, that there is submitted to our eye a kind of living images which make a deeper impression on the senses, by bringing the object in a manner directly before them, while they bring the death of Christ and all his benefits to our remembrance, that faith may be the better exercised; and, secondly, that what the mouth of God had announced is, as it were, confirmed and ratified by seals.
Consensus Tigurinus.


----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, July 05, 2009 5:47 PM
Subject: Re: Your article

I'm well aware that Cranmer adopted a Calvinist view on the Sacrament late in his life. That does not mean he bought the whole package or that the Church of England did. That's why there were Puritans and Separatists. People like you--including my own forebears--were dissatisfied with the compromises with Lutheranism and wanted a European-type Reformed church. They weren't going to get that from Elizabeth or her successors.

Luther did write in such a way in The Bondage of the Will as to suggest that he supported double predestination. This was by no means his last word on the subject.

Smalcald Articles III.IV

IV. Of the Gospel.

We will now return to the Gospel, which not merely in one way gives us counsel and aid against sin; for God is superabundantly rich [and liberal] in His grace [and goodness]. First, through the spoken Word by which the forgiveness of sins is preached [He commands to be preached] in the whole world; which is the peculiar office of the Gospel. Secondly, through Baptism. Thirdly, through the holy Sacrament of the Altar. Fourthly, through the power of the keys, and also through the mutual conversation and consolation of brethren, Matt. 18:20: Where two or three are gathered together, etc.

From the Large Catechism:

52] Therefore we pray here in the first place that this may become effective with us, and that His name be so praised through the holy Word of God and a Christian life that both we who have accepted it may abide and daily grow therein, and that it may gain approbation and adherence among other people and proceed with power throughout the world, that many may find entrance into the Kingdom of Grace, be made partakers of redemption, being led thereto by the Holy Ghost, in order that thus we may all together remain forever in the one kingdom now begun.
53] For the coming of God's Kingdom to us occurs in two ways; first, here in time through the Word and faith; and secondly, in eternity forever through revelation. Now we pray for both these things, that it may come to those who are not yet in it, and, by daily increase, to us who have received the same, and hereafter in eternal life. 54] All this is nothing else than saying: Dear Father, we pray, give us first Thy Word, that the Gospel be preached properly throughout the world; and secondly, that it be received in faith, and work and live in us, so that through the Word and the power of the Holy Ghost Thy kingdom may prevail among us, and the kingdom of the devil be put down, that he may have no right or power over us, until at last it shall be utterly destroyed, and sin, death, and hell shall be exterminated, that we may live forever in perfect righteousness and blessedness.

No, Luther wasn't a Calvinist.

If you're going to continue with the nonsense about "ignorance" and "trying to fool" people, just stop emailing me. I don't need that garbage in my inbox.


In a message dated 7/5/2009 4:19:12 P.M. Central Daylight Time, cranmer1959@gmail.com writes:

You might fool people who don't know their theology or the English Reformation but the fact of the matter is that Cranmer is the major force behind the English Articles of Religion and the 1662 Prayer Book. Read his theology on the Lord's Supper and get back to me.
The Anglican Reformation was somewhere between Zwingli and Calvin. It most certainly had nothing to do with Luther who had attacked the king and was therefore on the outs.


William said...

Hello Charlie Ray,
You said that the only absolution in the 1662 BCP is the public absolution. The 1662 BCP (along with the 1552/1559 BCP) contains a very strong rite for private confession to the priest with absolution in the Office for the Visitation of the Sick.
1662 (1552/1559) BCP
"Here shall the sick person be moved to make a special confession of his sins, if he feel his conscience troubled with any weighty matter. After which confession, the Priest shall absolve him (if he humbly and heartily desire it) after this sort.
OUR Lord Jesus Christ, who hath left power to his Church to absolve all sinners who truly repent and believe in him, of his great mercy forgive thee thine offences: And by his authority committed to me, I absolve thee from all thy sins, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."

Cranmer strongly affirmed the continuing value of private confession and absolution by the priest in his various works (though as optional rather than necessary--because Cranmer noted that public confession and absolution in the Sacred Assembly was sufficient for many--the historic Anglican saying "all can, none must, some should" sums up Cranmer's view on Private Confession quite well).

On the issue of absolution in general "Cranmer's Catechism" (which Cranmer had translated from Justas Jones original, edited, and put out under his own name in the reign of King Edward) speaks at great length on the issue.

In the Catechism the role of the keys and absolution is discussed (in conjunction with "penance"--which Cranmer used interchangeably with repentance), and its role in the restoration of a believer who has lost their Salvation is particularly focused on.

Here is one discussion of the matter in Cranmer's Catechism:
"Now ye have heard, good children, how by baptism we are so planted in Christ that by him we have forgiveness of our sins, and are grafted in him as the branch is in the vine. And as the branches have sap and life of the vine, that they may bring forth fruit, so we also (which believe in Christ, and are baptized) have received of him the Holy Ghost, that we may be justified. And if it chance us to fall from Christ through sin or unbelief, or to be put out of the Christian congregation for our open and manifest sins, yet ye have heard how we are received again into the bosom of the church, and joined to Christ's body by the authority of the keys and absolution. But if we will be justified and sanctified it is not enough to be planted in Christ, but we must also abide and continue in him. Wherefore now followeth that doctrine which teacheth us how we ought to order ourselves, that, we may still abide and grow in Christ, after that we are grafted in him. And this doctrine is contained in the institution and receiving of the supper of our Lord Jesus Christ. For as by baptism we are born again, and as by the authority of the keys and penance we are lifted up again, when we are fallen into sin after baptism, so by the communion of the holy supper of the Lord, we are preserved and strengthened, that we may be able stedfastly to stand and fight against the violent invasions of sin and the power of the devil. Wherefore, good children, forasmuch as ye be already planted in Christ by baptism, learn also, I pray you, how ye may continually abide and grow in Christ, the which thing is taught you in the use of the Lord's supper."

Your brother in Christ,
William Scott

Charlie J. Ray said...

who hath left power to his Church to absolve all sinners who truly repent and believe in him...

This is an evangelical absolution for someone who might not recover, i.e. they are dying. Absolution does nothing in an of itself unless there is true repentance and true faith in Jesus Christ. This is noticeably missing in the 1928 Visitation of the Sick absolution which says:

THE Almighty and merciful Lord grant thee pardon and remission of all thy sins, and the grace and comfort of the Holy Spirit. Amen. http://www.episcopalnet.org/1928bcp/visitationsick.html

Also, the 1662 has this same evangelistic/evangelical language throughout the service which is missing from the 1928 BCP visitation of the sick. Notice this line:

that if you truly repent you of your sins, and bear your sickness patiently, trusting in God's mercy, for his dear Son Jesus Christ's sake, and render unto him humble thanks for his fatherly visitation, submitting yourself wholly unto his will, it shall turn to your profit, and help you forward in the right way that leadeth unto everlasting life.

Clearly Cranmer's view of "private" confession has to do with those being sick and not private confession in general. Also, I have no problem with absolution if it is done in the evangelical formula used here in the 1662 BCP. There is no power in the priest to forgive sins apart from the forgiveness given in the Gospel to those who truly repent and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

The keys of the kingdom lie not in the hands of a priest but in the preaching of the Gospel and rightly administering the sacraments. Church membership is the means God uses to bring the elect into a covenant relationship with himself but church membership is not absolutely necessary for salvation for there are exceptions.

While is true that Cranmer advocates private confession for those who are struggling with their assurance of salvation, it is not an obligation or a sacrament of penance as in the Roman Catholic view!


Charlie J. Ray said...

Thirdly, if a man ask you how can water bring to pass so great things ? ye shall answer, Verily, the water worketh not these things, but the word of God which is joined to the water, and faith which doth believe the word of God. For without the word of God, water is water and not baptism, but when the word of the living God is joined to the water, then it is baptism, and water of wonderful wholesomeness, and the bath of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, whom he poured upon us plenteously by Jesus Christ, our Saviour, that we, being made righteous by his grace, may be heirs of everlasting life.


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