Saturday, October 29, 2022

The Reformation in England and Scotland

Master Latimer, preaching before King Edward the sixth
Like my last post, this comes from my notes for a Sunday school class I taught last year on the history of the Reformation. You can listen to the two-part series at this link

Early Martyrs in Scotland

Patrick Hamilton (1504-1528) was a young professor at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. George Wishart (1513-1546) was a teacher at Montrose and Cambridge who then preached throughout Scotland for a few years. Both of them were burnt at the stake at St. Andrews. 

Reform in England during the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI (1520s-1553): 

Henry VIII reigned in England from 1509 to 1547. He remained largely Romanist in his doctrine, but he broke with the pope in 1534 and allowed Protestantism to spread in fits and starts. His last queen, Katherine Parr, was a devout Protestant. His children were Mary Tudor, Elizabeth I, and Edward VI. 

William Tyndale was a teacher at Cambridge and an English reformer during the reign of Henry VIII. After translating much of the Bible into English while living abroad, he was burnt at the stake for heresy in 1536. 

Hugh Latimer was one of several reformers who met at the University of Cambridge. Latimer rose and fell several times under Henry VIII. Under Edward VI, Latimer was a popular and powerful preacher.

Thomas Cranmer, the archbishop of Canterbury, supported Henry VIII’s break with Rome and was the primary author of the Book of Common Prayer (1549, 1552) and the 42 Articles (1553).

Martin Bucer and Peter Martyr Vermigli came from Strasbourg to teach at Cambridge and Oxford and to assist with the reform under Edward VI. Vermigli had the more difficult task at Oxford. Bucer wrote On the Kingdom of Christ to encourage the Reformation in England.

John Knox was a Scottish priest, notary, and tutor who served as George Wishart’s bodyguard for a time. When Protestants gathered in St. Andrews castle, he was called to be a preacher. After being a prisoner on a French galley, became a preacher in England and a chaplain to Edward VI.

Marian persecutions and exile (1553-1558)

In the reign of Mary Tudor, a number of leading Protestants were executed. When Latimer and Ridley were burned, Latimer called out, “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.” Thomas Cranmer was also burned at the stake. Many fled, especially reform-minded clergy, theological students, and gentry. About 800 exiles from England regrouped in Holland, Germany, and Switzerland. About 233 lived in Geneva, while others went to cities like Zurich, Frankfort, and Strasbourg. 

Reformed churches (re)established (1558-1580)

England - The Anglican Church

When Mary Tudor died, Elizabeth I came to the throne in England and reestablished Protestantism in 1558-1559. She reigned until 1603.

The Marian exiles brought back an agenda for reform in England and Scotland informed by Reformed teaching and models in Europe. The exile church in Geneva came back to Britain with the Geneva Bible, an English Psalter, and Calvinist orders for worship and church government. But Elizabeth retained the Book of Common Prayer and government by bishops. Tensions within the exile community concerning worship and church government would produce the Puritan movement, which sought further reformation of the English church from within the church. Despite not going as far as some wanted, most of the Anglican bishops appointed by Elizabeth were returning exiles from Zurich, influenced by Heinrich Bullinger and Peter Martyr Vermigli. Under Elizabeth and James I, the Church of England would be Calvinist in theology and episcopalian in government. 

Important documents for the English Church would include the Book of Common Prayer (1559), the 39 Articles (1571), the Book of Homilies (1571), Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (1563), and the Geneva Bible (1560). 

Scotland - The Kirk of Scotland

The Genevan model of worship and government found a better reception in Scotland. After a few visits, John Knox returned permanently in 1559. In 1560 Scotland adopted the Scots Confession of Faith, written by John Knox and five other men named John. The Book of Discipline (1560) defined the kirk’s presbyterian government (this was expanded in a second book in 1578) and The Book of Order (1556) brought the Genevan liturgy to Scotland.

John Knox and the “Lords of the Congregation” overcame opposition to reform from Regent Mary of Guise and her daughter Queen Mary Stuart. In both cases, this struggle eventually led to fighting, with Catholic France and Protestant England in the background. After Mary Stuart was forced to abdicate, the regents for young James VI (later James I of England) gave time for Presbyterianism to grow strong. John Knox died in 1572, about 59 years old. The King's Confession, which became the core of the Scottish National Covenant, was signed in 1580.
“Yea, whatever shall become of us and of our mortal carcases, I doubt not but that this cause, in despite of Satan, shall prevail in the realm of Scotland. For, as it is the eternal truth of the eternal God, so shall it once prevail, howsoever for a time it be impugned.” 
- John Knox (1559)

No comments: