Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Oxford Martyrs and GAFCON

by Bart Gingerich
October 17, 2013

Yesterday, all self-respecting Anglicans raised a glass to the Oxford Martyrs, brave souls of whom the world was not worthy. After the gradual dissolution of the relationship between the Church of Rome and the Church of England during the reign of King Henry VIII, clergy also began to institute such corrections that became known as the English Reformation. Liturgist Thomas Cranmer was consecrated the 83rd Archbishop of Canterbury, allowing for moderate reform to continue (only 2 bishops left their posts after the break). When Henry’s son Edward VI acceded to the throne, the Church moved in an increasingly Protestant direction. Two low churchmen rose to prominence at the time: Hugh Latimer (a court preacher) and Nicholas Ridley (eventual Bishop of London). Ridley was famous for his moderating influence, holding Continental Reformation excesses at bay while correcting what he saw as grievous abuses.

When King Edward VI fell mortally ill from a lung infection, he named Lady Jane Grey, great-granddaughter of Henry VII, as the next monarch through his will. The Privy Council, which included Cranmer, signed off on the document. The Protestant leaders, of course, were scrambling to keep Edward’s Roman Catholic half sister Mary from assuming the crown. This contradicted the much stronger Third Succession Act, which granted succession rights to both Mary and her half-sister Elizabeth. Mary quickly gathered a military force of Roman sympathizers and was granted the monarchy. She immediately executed political opponents and began to hunt down religious leaders. This was an age when people died and killed for their faith. Ridley, Latimer, and Cranmer were incarcerated in Bocardo prison to stand trial at Oxford.  the rest
In this context of anything goes, Anglicans across the world and especially in the Global South have rejected the spirit of the age. They still hold to such old-fashioned approaches as having Scripture, tradition, and reason be the guides for doctrinal matters. So shamefully impolite and uncooperative!  They dare enforce absolutes and limits, for that is what a commitment to the truth demands of us. How inconvenient and inflexible! And in the unity of truth, these Anglicans will soon meet together in Nairobi at GAFCON. May their orthodox catholic naughtiness light yet another candle in this dark world.


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