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nikolai_42


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PostPosted: 12-24-2016 8:40 am
Post Number: 25833
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I'm exposing another one of the gaps in my historical understanding here....

I happen to be watching Wolf Hall while visiting family for Christmas - and reading a used book I picked up on the cheap -- From Tyndale to Madison: How the Death of an English Martyr Led to the American Bill of Rights. (by Michael Farris - a Southern Baptist whose esteem of Calvin is maybe not surprisingly rather minimal). It so happens that I'm reading about Henry's desire for an anullment from Catherine of Aragon to accomodate his desire for Anne Boleyn at the same time it is being fleshed out in the miniseries - so this point was underscored to me.

The book makes the claim that Cranmer - a Cambridge professor who made it mandatory for all of his students seeking higher degrees to demonstrate a high degree of knowledge and understanding of biblical history and theology - made the case that it was against Scripture for a man to have his brother's wife. It was he (claims the book) that wrote a detailed treatise on the matter and circulated it as well as encouraged the king to seek out the counsel of biblical experts in universities across the continent. I haven't read the treatise, but the two things that immediately came to mind as I read this were :

1. Henry's brother was dead when he married Catherine. (EDIT : Not unimportantly to the biblical argument, she was also childless by Arthur -- see my #2)
2. There is Scripture that actually enjoins a man to marry his brother's wife in the event she is widowed.

 If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her.
  Deut 25:5

This is in contrast to the injunction that a man shall not have relations with his brother's wife (while he is living):

 And if a man shall take his brother's wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother's nakedness; they shall be childless.
 Leviticus 20:21

And Jesus even faces questioning from the Sadducees quoting the passage in Deuteronomy. This seems to me to validate my reading that the prohibition in Leviticus 20 has to do with a living brother rather than a dead one. Paul even says that death breaks the marriage bond.

Whether that reasoning is necessary or not, it is as I read it.

So based on that, it seems to me that Cranmer's reasoning was (at best) trying to help Henry find a way to get what he wanted. Thomas More, on the traditional Roman Catholic side of things was inflexible in his advising the king - divorce was not an option (maybe that's why anullment was discussed?). In this case, More seems (to me) to be on the more scriptural side whereas Cranmer (who was supposed to be a great bible scholar) was - if I am understanding his argument correctly - on an unscriptural side or at least a weak argument. I realize there were other considerations, but what was Cranmer's justification for arguing as he did? The Reformation in England seems to hinge on this break with Rome - but it also seems (ironically, to me) that it may have been based on a poor theological argument.

But again, I don't have a lot of detailed historical understanding here. Is there an elephant hiding in plain sight?

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David


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PostPosted: 12-25-2016 2:07 pm
Post Number: 25834
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Whatever the rights or wrongs, it seems that God used the episode to ovrthrow the power of the church of Rome.

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nikolai_42


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PostPosted: 12-25-2016 3:56 pm
Post Number: 25835
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David wrote:
Whatever the rights or wrongs, it seems that God used the episode to ovrthrow the power of the church of Rome.


With that I have no argument. It just would be a bit ironic if Rome had at least as much scriptural foundation for their stance as Henry in something that was so pivotal in weakening Rome (in England, at least). I have read several commentators who seem to have difficulty giving Cramner more than faint praise and comment that the Reformation in England was unusual in that it was a political change that led to the spiritual change....

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David


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PostPosted: 12-25-2016 5:26 pm
Post Number: 25836
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nikolai_42 wrote:
David wrote:
Whatever the rights or wrongs, it seems that God used the episode to ovrthrow the power of the church of Rome.


With that I have no argument. It just would be a bit ironic if Rome had at least as much scriptural foundation for their stance as Henry in something that was so pivotal in weakening Rome (in England, at least). I have read several commentators who seem to have difficulty giving Cramner more than faint praise and comment that the Reformation in England was unusual in that it was a political change that led to the spiritual change....


It was but it was reformers who were working for a break with Rome who were behind it.

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nikolai_42


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PostPosted: 12-25-2016 7:54 pm
Post Number: 25837
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David wrote:
nikolai_42 wrote:
David wrote:
Whatever the rights or wrongs, it seems that God used the episode to ovrthrow the power of the church of Rome.


With that I have no argument. It just would be a bit ironic if Rome had at least as much scriptural foundation for their stance as Henry in something that was so pivotal in weakening Rome (in England, at least). I have read several commentators who seem to have difficulty giving Cramner more than faint praise and comment that the Reformation in England was unusual in that it was a political change that led to the spiritual change....


It was but it was reformers who were working for a break with Rome who were behind it.


Yes...but was there overzealousness (in this one instance, at least) involved? Was the eagerness to break the yoke with Rome stronger than the desire to be scripturally consistent? The way I've read it (admittedly primarily in this one book - haven't found much one way or the other elsewhere on the specific question) it leaves me with the impression that this may have been the case with Cranmer. Are there works elsewhere that frame it differently (and with sufficient detail to clearly address the question I have)?

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nikolai_42


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PostPosted: 12-25-2016 8:02 pm
Post Number: 25838
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Maybe I should ask what a good biography of Cranmer would be? The Cripplegate blog entry that addresses Cranmer and the Reformation cites Christopher Catherwood's Five Leading Reformers and Ryle's Five English Reformers.

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larry joseph pearson


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PostPosted: 12-26-2016 12:43 am
Post Number: 25839
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Hello Nikolai_42: When all this ado about divorce or remarriage was going on Cranmer was still in the Roman Church. It was only after the burning of Firth that his views changed and exposure to the Lutherans in Germany. Cranmer had suffered from marrying himself and only after his wife died was he reinstated to his clerical position because of forsaking celibacy. Anne, Cranmer and the King after the marriage were threatened by the Pope with excommunication. It was never carried out because the Pope feared a final break with England. Politics, because of Anne and her cohorts, secured the Archbishopric of Canterbury for Cranmer with the Pope's blessing. Cranmer had a hand in many of the kings matrimonial affairs as well as his own remarriage he kept secret for years. It was a woman that had Cranmer put to death-----Mary.  Cranmer did ,through the grace of God, enable England to enter  the Reformed  camp. Many of Cranmer's public actions left much to be desired but after all he was subject to the same fallen human condition as we all are. Providence overruled and the Lord accomplished what he desired for the Protestant voice in England though many died at the stake.


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David


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PostPosted: 01-10-2017 5:02 pm
Post Number: 25849
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Frith was one of the leading schlars of his day.  He was burnt at Smithfirld together with a young man who was apprentice to the King's tailor, Andrew Hewet from Feversham, my former home town, now called Faversham. At his inquisition, Andrew was asked "Do you believe that there is a real prsence in the mass?"   "I believe as Frith does." said Andrew. "Why Frith is an heretic condemned to be burnt."  "Therewith I am content," replied Andrew.  They were both burnt at Smithfield in London, now a major meat market, on July 4th 1533

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