The convictions of the author of a classical statement of Anglican theology

Anglicans as well as others often claim that the Reformation in England was mainly ecclesiastical and jurisdictional rather than doctrinal. But do the doctrinal writings of the period support this interpretation? Was the reform in doctrine really confined to a vernacular edition of the Bible (1538) and a vernacular liturgy (1549)? Some formidable theological writers give pause to those who accept such a view uncritically.

Thomas Cranmer, a scholar and theologian of solid worth and historic importance, is one figure to consider in reviewing this claim about the English Reformation. Cranmer was a student of Holy Scripture and of the Church Fathers. He was architect of the Book of Common Prayer and is thought also to be the principal author of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, that irenic, scriptural statement of systematic theology found in the back of nearly all editions of the Book of Common Prayer. Then there is John Jewel, whose Apology of the Church of England remains a monument of the sixteenth-century dialogue with the papacy. Jewel’s great work still deserves thoughtful reading by any Christian whose spiritual ancestry can be traced back to British Christianity.

A generation later, after the fires of Smithfield had been extinguished and the martyrs of reformed England had borne their testimony, there appeared a careful, thoughtful, courteous, and peace-loving scholar who is widely acknowledged as the greatest of all English theologians. The remarkable Mr. Hooker was born in Exeter in 1553 or 1554 and thus was a contemporary of Shapespeare. He seems to have been a youth of modest circumstances who through the influence of none other than Bishop ...

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