Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
October 26th, 2016 by Joel Watts

Archbishop Cranmer’s Prescient Words

This is in response to Kett’s Rebellion, but somehow… maybe this applies to our context too:

The general cause of all these commotions is sin, and under Christian profession unchristian living. But there be also certain special causes, of the which some pertain both to the high and lower sort, as well to the governors as to the common people; some appertain only to the people; and some again only to the governors and rulers. And of them I will first begin to speak.

The governors and rulers be ordained of God, (as St. Paul declared in his Epistle to the Romans,) for this intent and purpose, that they should be God’s officers and ministers here in earth, to encourage and advance them that be good, and to rebuke and correct those that be evil.

But herein, O good Lord, be merciful unto us, for we have been too remiss in punishing offenders, and many things we have winked at. We have suffered perjury, blasphemy, and adultery, slandering and lying, gluttony and drunkenness, vagabonds, and idle persons, either lightly punished, or else not punished at all, either thinking this clemency for the time expedient for the commonwealth, or else not duly weighing how grievous those offences be in the sight of God. And whilst we lacked this right judgment of God’s wrath against sin, lo, suddenly cometh upon us this scourge of sedition, the rod of God’s wrath, to teach us how sore God hateth all wickedness, and is displeased with his ministers that wink thereat. For except we be duller than stocks and stones, we must needs feel that this plague is the grievous scourge of God for our offences, that we have suffered too much them that have offended against his most holy name. We have dissimulated the matter, we have been cold in God’s cause, and have rather winked at than punished the contempt both of God and his laws.

And this surely is one great cause wherefore we suffer worthily this plague of God. Heli suffered his children too much, and was too soft in chastising of them, when they sinned against God; but that his softness was the destruction of him, his children, and of a great number also of the people of Israel. David, because in time he did not correct his three sons Amon, Absolon, and Adonias, he lost them all three, and was in great danger to be destroyed by them himself. And if the perils of this most chosen king of God do little move us, let us call to our remembrance, I pray you, the plague of God against the whole tribe of Benjamin, because they let pass unpunished the abominable abusing of the Levite’s wife, whereof followed, that the whole tribe of Benjamin was almost utterly destroyed; for there was slain of them above twenty-five thousand, and there was left alive of the whole tribe no mo but six hundred. Consider, I pray you, by this example, how certain and present destruction cometh to common weals, because offenders against God are unpunished. And whensoever the magistrates be slack in doing their office herein, let them look for none other, but that the plague of God shall fall hi their necks for the same. Which thing not only the aforesaid examples, but also experiences within ourselves doth plainly teach us. For whensoever any member of our body is diseased or sore, if we suffer it long to continue and fester, do we not see, that at length it doth infect the whole body, and in process of time utterly corrupted the same? But for what purpose, brethren, do I speak so much of this matter? Verily for none other intent, but that when we know one of the causes of these evils, we may duly repent, and amend the same.1

  1. Thomas Cranmer, The Remains of Thomas Cranmer (ed. Henry Jenkyns; vol. 2; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1833), 250–251.
Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Comments

One Response to “Archbishop Cranmer’s Prescient Words”
  1. “we have been cold in God’s cause, and have rather winked at than punished the contempt both of God and his laws.”…
    “Consider, I pray you, by this example, how certain and present destruction cometh…”

    He gave many historic examples, not just one. However, for every one, there is another.

    The current situation reminds me of the great reformation by Josiah, who brought his people back to the Laws of Moses, when Deuteronomy was found in the Temple during remodeling. Tearing down all those false alters. And not wanting illegal aliens (Egyptians) crossing his land. Got him an arrow in the back by the Egyptians, and got his Kingdom destroyed by the Babylonians.

    “because offenders against God are unpunished…”

    Better to let God do the punishing, and not be judge and executioner ourselves.

    Two things are at odds in this:

    1.”that they should be God’s officers and ministers here in earth, to encourage and advance them that be good, and to rebuke and correct those that be evil.”

    2. “for we have been too remiss in punishing offenders”.

    “Rebuke and correct” does not equal “punish offenders”.

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