By Robin G. Jordan
Today Friday October 31 is Reformation Day, a day for Anglicans faithful to the Bible and the Anglican confessional formularies to commemorate the Protestant Reformation—what may be the greatest movement of the Holy Spirit since the time of the Apostles.
The English Reformation was a part of the Protestant Reformation. The English Reformation may have evidenced its own peculiarities but it was an integral part of the larger movement.
The English Reformation extended over the reign of five English monarchs—Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary, Elizabeth I, and James I. Some historians would argue that it continued into the reign of Charles I and even later.
During her brief five-year reign Mary would restore the Roman Catholic Church in her realm and would burn a number of English Protestants at the stake as heretics, ordinary common folk as well as Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and other leading figures of the Edwardian Reformation. A number of English Protestants who would play a prominent role in the Elizabethan Reformation went into hiding or fled to Europe. Those who escaped across the Channel found refuge in Geneva and Zurich. In these two cities they drank deeply from the wells of Reformed theology.
The large number of Protestant martyrs who came from ordinary walks of life itself showed the extent that Protestantism had taken hold upon the hearts and minds of the English people in the short reign of the godly prince Edward VI.
What did the English Reformation accomplish? Here is a partial list.
- Translation and publication of the Bible in English
- Translation and publication of the works of the Continental Reformers in English
- Recovery of the New Testament gospel and the New Testament doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone
- Restoration of the Bible as the canon or functioning rule of faith and life
- Repudiation of Papacy—the belief that the Bishop of Rome is the divine instituted head of the whole Church on earth
- Repudiation of the pre-Reformation Medieval Catholic and post-Tridentian Roman Catholic doctrine of the Mass
- Repudiation of the pre-Reformation Medieval Catholic and post-Tridentian Roman Catholic doctrines of purgatory, indulgences, and relics
- Repudiation of the pre-Reformation Medieval Catholic and post-Tridentian Roman Catholic doctrine of the veneration of Mary and the saints
- Repudiation of the pre-Reformation Medieval Catholic and post-Tridentian Roman Catholic doctrines of apostolic succession, holy orders, and sacraments
- Repudiation of the pre-Reformation Medieval Catholic and post-Tridentian Roman Catholic doctrine of salvation
- Removal of images, reliquaries, and holy water stoups from English churches
- Replacement of stone high altars placed against the east wall of the chancel with wooden communion tables at the entrance to the chancel or in the nave itself
- Use of the vernacular in the rites and services of the Church
- Revival of Biblical expository preaching
- Recovery of the communion of the people in both kinds
- Repudiation of the pre-Reformation Medieval Catholic and post-Tridentian Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation
- Authorization and use of a communion service giving liturgical expression to the New Testament doctrine of justification by faith
- Revival of congregational singing in the form of metrical psalmody and Scriptural paraphrases
- Abolition of ceremonial and vestments associated with the pre-Reformation Medieval Catholic and post-Tridentian Roman Catholic doctrines of the Mass and transubstantiation
- Authorization and use of a Biblical and Reformed catechism
- Enactment and enforcement of Biblical and Reformed standards of doctrine and worship in the form of the Book of Common Prayer of 1552, 1559, and 1604; the Thirty-Nine Articles of 1571; the two Books of Homilies of 1549, 1563, and 1571; the Ordinals of 1552 and 1559; and the Canons of 1604
- Creation of a widespread Protestant culture in England
Today is the day for Anglicans faithful to the Bible and the Anglican confessional formularies to call upon like-minded Anglicans to recommit themselves to the Biblical and Reformed principles of the English Reformers and to uphold those principles in our own day. May the candle that Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley lit with their martyrdom burn brightly in this century, in North America and around the world.
Photo: Martyrs' Memorial, Oxford - tripwow.tripadvisor.com