Review: Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen

“To Machen, liberalism was not simply a different style of churchmanship, or a rival Christian theology. It was an entirely different, and man-made, religion founded on a sentimental and superficial view of God. …”

– At The Gospel Coalition Australia, Andrew Prideaux commends an excellent book, J. Gresham Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism.

(Free versions of the book are available for download at Monergism.)

Remembering Archbishop Thomas Cranmer

On 21 March 1556, Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer died at the stake in Oxford.

Learn about this towering figure of the English Reformation:

In 1989, Canon Allan Blanch wrote this appreciation of Archbishop Cranmer for ACL News.

Also that year, Church Society published these extracts from Cranmer’s works in Cross†Way (PDF).

See also this 1990 article by D A Scales in Churchman (PDF) for an understanding of the key theological issues for which Archbishop Cranmer died:

“The doctrine of the Lord’s Supper was not unimportant in Cranmer’s eyes, because that Sacrament speaks of the central doctrines of the Christian faith — of salvation through the atoning death of Christ. It was instituted, in St. Paul’s words, to proclaim the Lord’s death till he come: right views of the death of Christ and right views of the sacrament will tend to go together; false views of the sacrament will tend to obscure an understanding of our salvation through the finished work of Christ…”

In 2001, ACL News interviewed Dr. Ashley Null, recognised expert on Cranmer.

Further reading:

Masters Of The English Reformation by Marcus Loane (published 1954) is an excellent introduction to the English Reformation and five key figures: Bilney, Tyndale, Latimer, Ridley and Cranmer.

Portrait of Thomas Cranmer by Gerlach Flicke. (This is a re-post.)

Marcus Loane on The English Reformation

Archbishop Sir Marcus LoaneIn 1954, Marcus Loane – later Archbishop of Sydney and Sir Marcus – published his landmark “Masters of The English Reformation”.

It was republished in 2005 by Banner of Truth. If you haven’t read it, you ought to. (Availability.)

Here’s the Introduction —

“It was Martin Luther who declared that the doctrine of Justification by Faith Only is the article of a standing or falling church. The recovery of this doctrine was the key to the Reformation in Europe. It was the corollary of the translation of the Bible into the language of everyday life and its circulation in the homes and hands of ordinary people. These two momentous factors were to penetrate the Realm of England during the reign of Henry VIII and will forever be associated in a special sense with the names of Thomas Bilney and William Tyndale. These two, and many others as well, were to die at the stake as a result of their unswerving loyalty to the doctrines of Grace as made known in the Word of God. Nor did they die in vain. The supreme authority of Holy Scripture in all matters of faith and conduct was written into the sixth of the Articles of Religion; and the doctrine of Justification by Faith Only was summed up in unforgettable language in the Eleventh Article. Those two “Articles of the Christian Faith” are the bedrock on whIch the history of the Church of England since the Reformation must stand or fall.

But the pivot of the Reformation in England during the reign of Edward VI was the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper. Ridley’s discovery of the work of Ratramnus led him to reject the doctrine of Transubstantiation and the Sacrifice of the Mass as totally foreign to the teaching of the New Testament. Ridley was able to convince Cranmer that Ratramnus was right; they came to believe that the bread and wine are “the pledges” of God’s redeeming love and that the presence of the Lord Jesus is not to be found in an earthly altar, but in the hearts of those who feed on Him by faith with thanksgiving. Ridley was to expound this doctrine with clarity and dignity in his Treatise on the Lord’s Supper, and Cranmer was to defend it with great learning in his controversy with Gardiner. This was the doctrine enshrined in the Source of the Holy Communion in the Book of Common Prayer in 1552.

When Queen Mary came to the throne, Ridley, Latimer and Cranmer were the outstanding Reformers who were thrown into prison. In all the debates which ensued, in their trial and condemnation for heresy, and in the sentence of death which consigned them to death by fire, the one basic issue was their doctrine of the Lord’s Supper as opposed to the dogmas of the church with regard to Transubstantiation and the Mass. If the Church were right and they were wrong, they were not only condemned to a terrible form of death as heretics but were doomed to a lost eternity. Their real greatness was seen in the fact that they dared to stand by their convictions, formed as a result of intensive study of the Scriptures, and to die at the stake rather than yield to the pressures that were brought to bear on mind and feeling. And the candle they lit is one which by the grace of God will never go out.

What happened more than four hundred years ago is still vitally relevant. The integrity and authority of the Bible have been under constant assault from many quarters and it is no longer the one Book in the homes and hands of all. Many people today think that a good life, a good name, and a good reputation will somehow make them acceptable to God. And the reformed doctrine of the Lord’s Supper has been obscured by an emphasis on the Real Presence which approximates more and more towards medieval teaching and practice. Let Bilney and Tyndale speak again; let Latimer and Ridley and Cranmer be heard afresh. They witnessed “a good confession” for their heavenly Master and sealed it with their lives.

May this book renew the impact of their life and death on another generation “in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” [1 Cor. 6:11].”

Photo: Ramon Williams. (This is a repost from 2014 in remembrance of the martyrdom of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer on 21 March 1556.)

Richard Johnson’s Address to the Inhabitants of New South Wales

 

This Australia Day, give thanks for the Rev. Richard Johnson, Chaplain to the First Fleet and first Chaplain to the Colony of New South Wales.

In 1792, Johnson wrote a tract designed to be distributed widely in the Colony. He gives his reasons for doing so:  Read more

We Believe — The Story of the Apostles’ Creed

“The Augsburg Confession. The Helvetic Confession. The Gallican Confession. The Belgic Confession. The Westminster Confession and Catechism. The Second London Baptist Confession. The Canons of Dort.

What do these historic evangelical confessions have in common? Each of them has its roots in the Apostles’ Creed.

The Creed, also known as the Twelve Articles of Faith, expresses essential biblical doctrines that have been articulated, defended, and embraced for nearly two thousand years of church history. …”

– At Desiring God, Brian Hanson gives a helpful backgrounder to The Apostles’ Creed.

See also:

Andrew Moody’s series on The Apostles’ Creed at The Gospel Coalition Australia.

Marriage has always been…?

“The purpose of this paper is to provide a short account of the development of marriage within the Christian faith.

It is sometimes argued that the presence of incidental changes to the practice of marriage throughout the history of the Christian church legitimises any kind of further change. It will be demonstrated that while aspects of Christian marriage have changed throughout history, the substance of the doctrine of marriage as a union between one man and one woman does not change. The reasons for the persistence of the core doctrine of marriage fundamentally relate to the Church’s continual effort to remain faithful to Holy Scripture…”

– At The Australian Church Record, Mark Earngey publishes what he wrote as part of the Diocese of Sydney submission to the recent Appellate Tribunal.

Lady Jane Grey: A Firm Faith

Post tenebras spero lucem. After darkness, I hope for light. This phrase was reportedly etched with a pin onto a wall within the Tower of London shortly before 12 February 1554. The significance of these words arises, in part, because of their author: Jane Dudley, otherwise known as Lady Jane Grey, the so-called ‘Queen of Nine Days.’ She was England’s first female monarch, and her execution at age seventeen remains one of the most moving and mysterious episodes of English political and religious history.

These words are also significant because they were etched within the broader context of that great movement of God five hundred years ago, which we know as the Reformation. …”

The Australian Church Record has published this excerpt from Mark Earngey’s short biography of Lady Jane Grey. Copies have been sent to Sydney Anglican Rectors, courtesy of the ACR.

Moore College Library Day 2021 – H.W.K. and Dorothy Mowll

From Moore College:

“H.W.K. Mowll (Archbishop of Sydney) and his wife Dorothy are two of the most significant figures in 20th century Australian church history, and had a lasting and godly influence on Moore College, the Diocese of Sydney and beyond.

Our Library Day for 2021 features Moore College faculty and guest speakers who will explore important aspects of the Mowlls’ life and ministry, onsite and via livestream.”

Details from the College.

The Protestant Understanding of Justification

For Reformation weekend, Ligonier Ministries has this video from R C Sproul. (It’s part of a series.)

Luther: The Life and Legacy of the German Reformer

Thanks to Ligonier Ministries, “For a limited time, watch this documentary in its entirety to discover the events God used in Martin Luther’s life that led him to rediscover the gospel of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.”

The video is temporarily available on YouTube in celebration of Reformation Day.

Once the link is removed (they don’t say when that might be), the movie will still be available for purchase via these sources.

People and the Reformation

“October 31 is remembered in some places, not as a wretched Halloween Day, as the date when, in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses in Latin to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg in Saxony. In doing so, he unwittingly, to some degree at least, triggered off the Protestant Reformation. …”

– The Rev. Dr Peter Barnes, Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, writes for Reformation Day, this coming weekend.

Luther: In Real Time

From Ligonier Ministties:

“It’s 1520. Martin Luther has been declared a heretic by Pope Leo X, and his books are being burned. How much longer before Luther himself is thrown into the fire?

Enter the dramatic story at the dawn of the Reformation. Each episode is released 500 years to the day after the events described, allowing you to walk in Luther’s footsteps from his heresy charges to his famous stand for God’s Word.

Hear, in Luther’s own words, what Protestants are protesting and why it still matters today.”

Sounds interesting.

Plagues and Protestants

“It was unprecedented. Indeed, it was only a matter of time before the outbreak of plague in China, spread over the seas to wreak havoc in Italy, and from there, spread like wildfire throughout the whole of Europe.

No, this is not COVID-19. Rather it was the infamous wave of Bubonic plague that hounded humanity in the fourteenth century. Known as the “Black Death,” probably due to the black spots it produced on skin, this pestilence killed around a third of the population between India and Iceland during the years 1345 to 1352 alone. …”

– Church Society has published online this article by Mark Earngey in the Summer 2020 edition of Churchman.

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