Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cranmer's Sermon of Salvation Pt. 2

To the question who is Thomas Cranmer and why is he important to Anglicans, Dr. Ashley Null answers:  "Thomas Cranmer was born in 1489 and baptised into the medieval catholic church. He studied at Cambridge, receiving a Doctorate of Divinity in 1526, and served there as a don. 
As a theologian, Cranmer was very much influenced by Erasmus’ emphasis on going back to the original sources for the Christian faith, in particular, of course, the Bible.
In the late 1520s, the authority of Scripture was at the centre of the most pressing English political issue of the day - Henry VIII’s divorce case.
The king and his scholars argued that the Pope did not have the authority to set aside a clear Scriptural commandment against a moral sin. Since Leviticus 20:21 specifically forbids taking the wife of one’s brother, Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon was invalid, despite having received papal approval. True to his own theological convictions on Scripture, Cranmer agreed.
Once Henry learned of Cranmer’s views on the subject, he invited the Cambridge don to join his team of scholars. In 1532, as part of that effort, Henry sent Cranmer to Germany as his ambassador to the Emperor.
While in Germany, Cranmer came under the influence of Protestantism. Not only did he acquire a new wife - who was the niece of the wife of the German reformer Andreas Osiander - but he also acquired a clearly protestant understanding of justification.
His commitment to Scripture and to the early Church Fathers, like Augustine, helped Cranmer to grasp the Protestants’ emphasis on salvation by grace alone. His Erasmian studies, therefore, laid the bridge for him to cross over from being a catholic to a protestant.
Then, quite unexpectedly, Henry VIII called Cranmer back to be the next Archbishop of Canterbury. Naturally, he was quite reluctant. No doubt, though, he accepted the position because he saw it as his task to use such a powerful position to restore the English Church to its scriptural roots. And, of course, that’s what Cranmer did for the rest of his life as the Archbishop of Canterbury - seeking to bring the Church of England back to a sound, biblical faith.
Under Henry’s successor, the boy king Edward VI, he was primarily responsible for the three key formularies of the Church of England: the Book of Homilies, the Book of Common Prayer and the Articles of Religion. Therefore, understanding Cranmer’s theology is essential for understanding the theological origins of the Anglican Communion."

Below is part two of Thomas Cranmer's three part sermon.  Tomorrow I will post the last part.



WE have heard of whom all men ought to seek their justification and righteousness and how also this righteousness cometh unto men by Christ’s death and merits.  Ye heard also how that three things are required to the obtaining of our righteousness, that is:  God’s mercy, Christ’s justice, and a true and lively faith out of the which faith spring good works.  Also before was declared at large that no man can be justified by his own good works because that no man fulfilleth the law according to the strict rigor of the law.

And St. Paul in his Epistle to the Galatians proveth the same, saying thus:  “If there had been any law given which could have justified, verily righteousness should have been by the law” (Galatians 3.21).  And again he saith: “If righteousness be by the law, then Christ died in vain” (Galatians 2.21).  And again he saith, “Ye that seek to be justified by the law are fallen away from grace” (Galatians 5.4).  And furthermore, he writeth to the Ephesians on this wise:  “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God; and not of works, lest any man should glory” (Ephesians 2.8).  And to be short, the sum of all Paul’s disputation is this:  that if righteousness come of works, then it cometh not of grace; and if it come of grace, then it cometh not of works.  And to this end tend all the prophets as St. Peter saith in the tenth chapter of the Acts, “Of Christ all the prophets”, saith St. Peter, “do witness that through his name all they that believe in him shall receive the remission of sins” (Acts 10.43).

Faith only justifieth is the doctrine of old Doctors.

And after this wise to be justified only by this true and lively faith in Christ, speak all the old and ancient authors, both Greeks and Latins, of whom I will specially rehearse three:  Hilary, Basil, and Ambrose.  St. Hilary saith these words plainly in the ninth Canon upon Matthew:  “Faith only justifieth.”  And St. Basil, a Greek author, writeth thus:  “This is a perfect and whole rejoicing in God when a man advanceth not himself for his own righteousness, but acknowledgeth himself to lack true justice and righteousness and to be justified by the only faith in Christ.  And “Paul”, saith he, “doth glory in the contempt of his own righteousness, and that he looketh for the righteousness of God by faith.”  These be the very words of St. Basil.  And St. Ambrose, a Latin author, saith these words: “This is the ordinance of God, that they which believe in Christ should be saved without works, by faith only, freely receiving remission of their sins.”  Consider diligently these words:  Without works, by faith only, we freely receive remission of our sins.  What can be spoken more plainly than to say that freely without works – by faith only – we obtain remission of our sins?  These and other like sentences that we be justified by faith only, freely, and without works, we do read oft times in the best and most ancient writers as beside Hilary, Basil, and St. Ambrose before rehearsed, we read the same in Origen, St. Chrysostom, St. Cyprian, St. Augustine, Prosper, Ĺ’cumenius, Phocius, Bernardus, Anselm, and many other authors Greek and Latin.

Faith alone, how it is to be understood.

Nevertheless, this sentence – that we be justified by faith only – is not so meant of them that the said justifying faith is alone in man without true repentance, hope, charity, dread, and the fear of God at any time and season. Nor when they say that we be justified freely do they mean that we should or might afterward be idle and that nothing should be required on our parts afterward.  Neither do they mean so to be justified without our good works that we should do no good works at all, like as shall be more expressed at large hereafter.  But this saying that we be justified by faith only, freely, and without works is spoken for to take away clearly all merit of our works as being unable to deserve our justification at God’s hands and thereby most plainly to express the weakness of man and the goodness of God, the great infirmity of ourselves and the might and power of God, the imperfection of our own works and the most abundant grace of our Saviour Christ, and therefore wholly to ascribe the merit and deserving of our justification unto Christ only and his most precious blood-shedding.

The profit of the doctrine, of faith only justifieth.

This faith [that justifieth], the holy scripture teacheth us, is the strong rock and foundation of Christian religion.  This doctrine all old and ancient authors of Christ’s church do approve.  This doctrine advanceth and setteth forth the true glory of Christ and beateth down the vainglory of man.  This whosoever denieth is not to be accounted for a Christian man nor for a setter-forth of Christ’s glory, but for an adversary to Christ and his gospel and for a setter-forth of men’s vainglory.

And although this doctrine be never so true, as it is most true indeed that we be justified freely without all merit of our own good works as St. Paul doth express it and freely by this lively and perfect faith in Christ only as the ancient authors use to speak it, yet this true doctrine must be also truly understood and most plainly declared lest carnal men should take unjustly occasion thereby to live carnally after the appetite and will of the world, the flesh, and the devil.  And because no man should err by mistaking of this doctrine, I shall plainly and shortly so declare the right understanding of the same, that no man shall justly think that he may thereby take any occasion of carnal liberty to follow the desires of the flesh or that thereby any kind of sins shall be committed or any ungodly living the more used.

A declaration of this doctrine, faith without works justifieth.

First, ye shall understand that in our justification by Christ, it is not all one thing, the office of God unto man and the office of man unto God.  Justification is not the office of man, but of God; for man cannot make himself righteous by his own works, neither in part nor in the whole.  For that would be the greatest arrogancy and presumption of man that antichrist could set up against God to affirm that a man might by his own works take away and purge his own sins and so justify himself.  But justification is the office of God only and is not a thing which we render unto him, but which we receive of him; not which we give to him, but which we take of him by his free mercy and by the only merits of his most dearly beloved Son, our only Redeemer, Saviour, and Justifier – Jesus Christ.

So that the true understanding of this doctrine – we be justified freely by faith without works or that we be justified by faith in Christ only – is not that this our own act to believe in Christ, or this our faith in Christ, or this our faith in Christ which is within us doth justify us and credit [deserve] our justification unto us.  For that would be to count ourselves to be justified by some act or virtue that is within ourselves.  But the true understanding and meaning thereof is that – although we hear God’s word and believe it, although we have faith, hope, charity, repentance, dread, and fear of God within us and do never so many good works thereunto – yet we must renounce the merit of all our said virtues of faith, hope, charity, and all our other virtues and good deeds which we either have done, shall do, or can do as things that be far too weak and insufficient and imperfect to deserve remission of our sins and our justification.

And therefore we must trust only in God’s mercy and that sacrifice which our High Priest and Saviour Christ Jesus, the Son of God, once offered for us upon the cross to obtain thereby God’s grace and remission, as well of our original sin in baptism as of all actual sin committed by us after our baptism – if we truly repent and turn unfeignedly to him again.  So that as St. John the Baptist, although he were never so virtuous and godly a man, yet in this matter of forgiving of sin, he did put the people from him and appointed them unto Christ, saying thus unto them, “Behold, yonder is the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world” (John 1.29).  Even so, as great and as godly a virtue as the lively faith is, yet it putteth us from itself and remitteth or appointeth us unto Christ for to have only by him remission of our sins or justification.  So that our faith in Christ, as it were, saith unto us thus:  It is not I that take away your sins, but it is Christ only; and to him only I send you for that purpose, forsaking therein all your good virtues, words, thoughts, and works, and only putting your trust in Christ.

1 comment:

  1. Piscator-- “For to speak properly, that which is in a sinner is not said to be imputed to him, but that which is outside that sinner. And faith is in a believing sinner, but Christ’s satisfaction which faith knows and trusts is outside that sinner."