Nail, Sword, and Hammer: The English Reformation
Prov 20:24 A man’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand his own way? Prov 21:30 There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD. Isa 8:10 Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted; propose your plan, but it will not stand for God is with us.
The Hammer of Luther - Like Luther’s unlikely transformation of Christendom . . . there is a mystery as to our intention and God’s sovereign will. We make our plans and purposes, and God accomplishes His will. On the stage of history this is ever so. The precarious events of the Reformation illustrate this . . . The Reformation of England was just as precarious. It was through the work of the proto-Reformer, Wycliffe (1320s-1384), the classical school of John Colet (1467-1519) Tyndale’s (1494-1546) translation, the leadership of a shady prime minister, Thomas Cromwell (1485-1540) who ordered the Englishe Byble to be placed in every church in the realm, and the work of Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556) to edit the Book of Common Worship under Edward VI, and more.
The Sword of Henry the VIII - Henry (1491- 1547) cast himself from the time after his predecessors’ War of the Roses (Lancaster vs York) as the Imperial King, cf all his portraits and Shakespeare. His reign was an intentional media-blitz and “spin” to the effect that he was an Imperial King, like Constantine before. Since he was the emperor in his realm, he could act as the God-ordained king over the Church, ala Constantine. Through all of this however, the foundations of the Rule of Law were established and more importantly the Law of God was published in the language of the people.
The Pen of William Tyndale (1494-1536) - The pen is mightier than the sword. If there should be protestant prayers to saints, we should pray to Tyndale who gave us the Word in our tongue. In 1535 Tyndale was arrested, outside Brussells and after a year’s imprisonment, tried for heresy and treason, strangled and burnt at the stake. It is fitting that he was strangled to suppress the voice of the Word. In his martyrdom he prayed as a loyal subject of the King, “Open the eyes of the King of England.”
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more