Saturday, June 23, 2012

June 23, 2012

The Church of England: A Reformation Faith With a Different Story

I have often wondered if it is entirely true that the Church of England was founded mostly so Henry VIII could divorce his current wife. That may not have been the only reason, but it was certainly a big one. Henry was no longer interested in Catherine of Aragon and had his eye on Anne Boleyn. Long story short, since Pope Clement VII would not cater to Henry by allowing a divorce, Henry took matters in his own hands (as he is famous for doing) and pulled strings until he could do exactly as he pleased. From this whole mess of political engineering came the “Church of England,” setting the foundation for England becoming one of Europe’s most well-known Protestant nations throughout the 1500s and 1600s.

Of course, the Reformation would have most assuredly come to England even if Henry VIII had not stepped forward. Those “newfound” ideas were already spreading rapidly through Europe during Henry’s divorce quandary. Yet it was not until the days of Edward VI (Henry’s son) that the Church of England began to take on a Protestant flavor melded with the Lutheran doctrines flowing across the sea from Germany. During the reign of Elizabeth I, England became known as Europe’s powerful Protestant power in contrast to the power and might of Catholic Spain.

So this got me thinking: If Henry VIII had *not* instituted the Church of England and had allowed the flow of Reformation ideas to permeate England naturally, Calvinism, which the Puritans later adopted, might have become the religion of the state. If this had happened, and Calvinism / Puritanism would have become the official faith, the Puritans would have had no reason to come to America in the early 1600s to seek religious freedom. And, if they had not come to America, and Jamestown was the only successful English colony, perhaps England’s “empire” in America would have been impossible. That would have made moot the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and so forth. Domino effects are fascinating to ponder.

The Reformation did indeed have an unusual progression. In Germany it came about due to exploitation and corruption that Martin Luther saw as detrimental to the Catholic Church. His protests eventually formed the Lutheran denomination and paved the way for Reformers like John Calvin who also broke from Rome on moral grounds. The Anabaptist church began with those who did not believe the Reformation had reformed and purified enough. And, as mentioned, the Church of England began in part so Henry VIII could marry Anne Boleyn. The good Lord understood that Europe had a need for these Reformation doctrines, but one must think that He certainly had a sense of humor!

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

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