Cranmer’s Corruption

The following is an excerpt from something the tolerant Calvinist heretic Douglas Wilson blogged about recently (I’m posting this for the historical-theological information provided by Wilson about Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556).

“The sovereign God draws straight with crooked lines. This is not an argument in favor of drawing crooked lines—we are not to sin so that grace may abound—but it does recognize God sometimes gives us unexpected opportunities, and He may use the compromises of others as a means of creating those opportunities. Thomas Cranmer is a hero of the faith, and a martyr, and deserves the place of honor we give him. But part of the way he got into that position was through some pretty dodgy exegesis on the matter of Henry’s divorce. Separation from Rome, three cheers. Courage at the stake, three more cheers. However, comma . . . Why do we look with contempt on another Henry saying that ‘Paris is worth a mass,’ and look the other way with a prim look on our faces when someone else says that ‘London is worth a little funny business with the text’?” (Douglas Wilson, Blog & Mablog; underlining mine–CD)

Thomas Cranmer’s corruption led him to study arguments unduly to make God’s law of marriage null and void.  Cranmer played a key role in strengthening the hands of Henry VIII (1491-1547) that he may not cease from the wickedness of adultery (Jeremiah 23:14; cf. Proverbs 6:32). To this lewd and libidinous king, Cranmer gave a nefarious nod to his commission of, and continuance in adultery.

King Henry VIII wanted to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn.  Thomas Cranmer played reckless and presumptuous games with God’s Word in order to make this happen; he wickedly and vainly attempted to introduce “curiosities” into God’s law of marriage.

Marc D. Carpenter writes (bold brackets and underlining mine–CD):

 “There is a difference between a one-time act of adultery and being called an ‘adulterer’ or an ‘adulteress.’ One who is an ‘adulterer’ or an ‘adulteress’ is a person whose life is characterized by the sin of repeated adultery. Romans 7:1-3 says that someone [Henry VIII] who is in an ongoing marital relationship with someone [Anne Boleyn] other than his/her original spouse [Catherine of Aragon] while the original spouse [Catherine of Aragon] is still alive is someone whose life is characterized by the sin of repeated adultery [Henry VIII] (called an ‘adulteress’ in the case of a woman). And 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 says that such people are unregenerate. Thus, everyone whose life is characterized by the sin of a marital relationship with someone other than the original spouse while the original spouse is still alive is unregenerate” (Marc D. Carpenter, The Law of Marriage: What God Says About Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage).

To repeat, Thomas Cranmer was assisting the king in his continued adultery with Anne Boleyn by declaring his previous marriage to Catherine of Aragon as, “invalid.” Interestingly (according to historians), Cranmer declared Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn “invalid” a couple of days before the king had Boleyn beheaded.

Robert Letham writes:

“During the reign of Henry VIII, the church in England broke away from Rome.  The immediate cause was Henry’s unsuccessful attempt to secure papal approval for his divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.  Henry believed, on the grounds of Leviticus 18:16 and 20:21, that his failure to produce a male heir was due to his having married his brother’s widow.  Thomas Cranmer, before he was archbishop, was dispatched to Europe to argue Henry’s case, but the pope refused to grant an annulment.[1]  In response, Henry forced through Parliament the Act in Restraint of Appeals (1533), effectively ending the papacy’s legal jurisdiction over the English church by preventing appeals to Rome.  Further, the Act of Succession (1534) protected Henry’s subsequent marriage to Anne Boleyn, in open defiance of the pope.  Later that year, the Act of Supremacy gave to the king the right to ‘visit, repress, redress, reform, order, correct, restrain and amend all such errors, heresies…and enormities…which by any manner spiritual authority or jurisdiction ought or may be lawfully reformed.'[2]  Henry was now the supreme head of the Church of England, under Christ.  He had placed the Church of England under royal, not papal, control.  By this time, the ideas of Martin Luther had been gaining headway.[3]  In the following years, a gradual reform took place, largely Erasmian, guided with immense care and caution by Henry’s chancellor, Thomas Cromwell, and by Thomas Cranmer.  Cranmer became archbishop of Canterbury and had as his ultimate aim the alignment of the Church of England with the Reformed churches on the continent [4]” (Robert Letham, The Westminster Assembly: Reading Its Theology In Historical Context, pp. 11-12).

[1]  D. MacCulloch, Thomas Cranmer: A Life (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996), 39-78.

[2]  Ibid., 95-105.

[3]  See C. R. Trueman, Luther’s Legacy: Salvation and the English Reformers, 1525-1556 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994).

[4]  See G.W. Bernard, The King’s Reformation: Henry VIII and the Remaking of the English Church (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005), for a provocative reassessment of Henry’s religious policies.  Bernard argues that Henry deliberately, consistently, and ruthlessly subjected the church to his authority, to the exclusion of all powers outside England and in the face of almost exclusive passivity within.

This is indeed a convoluted and evil history of the English Synagogue of Satan, that was permeated with the pine sap of porneia, murderous bloodshed, and pernicious political and ecclesiastical policies.

“Now, there is no need to assume that Henry’s scruples were entirely fictitious. He is not the only figure in history who has possessed the useful faculty of really convincing his conscience that what is personally desirable and politically expedient must therefore be morally right” (Albert Frederick Pollard, Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation, 1489-1556, p. 33).

And as Doug Wilson observed at the beginning of this post, Cranmer engaged in a little “expediency” of his own.

“Thomas Cranmer is a hero of the faith, and a martyr, and deserves the place of honor we give him. But part of the way he got into that position was through some pretty dodgy exegesis on the matter of Henry’s divorce. Separation from Rome, three cheers. Courage at the stake, three more cheers. However, comma . . . Why do we look with contempt on another Henry saying that ‘Paris is worth a mass,’ and look the other way with a prim look on our faces when someone else says that ‘London is worth a little funny business with the text’?” (Douglas Wilson, Blog & Mablog; underlining mine–CD)

Advertisements