“Embryo Parson” Prepares to Write a New Article

In reference to my earlier article Facing Criticism, an update by someone calling himself Embryo Parson promises that he will “address his comments when I have a big enough block of time to do so in depth“.

I remember from the 1980’s a sketch on a comedy TV show about two English gentlemen in the very early nineteenth century. One accuses the other of insulting his wife and slaps him across the face with a pair of gloves, indicating that the accuser and husband of the insulted wife was challenging the other gentleman to a duel. Whereupon, the challenged party learns to shoot with a duelling pistol. Finally, on the morning appointed for the duel, the challenger produces a pair of swords to the dismay of the one who had so diligently learned to shoot a pistol.

Embryo Parson describes himself in The Life and Times of The Embryo Parson. He seems to be an interesting and sympathetic fellow who has been through a lot of personal hardship and lack of pastoral sense on the part of clergy in various Churches. His conversion was a radical one, and this can bring the kind of radical commitment Christ asks of his disciples, and it can also bring fanaticism. As Umberto Eco wrote in his famous book The Name of the Rose:

Fear prophets, Adso, and those prepared to die for the truth, for as a rule they make many others die with them, often before them, at times instead of them.

I haven’t had time to peruse the whole site, but I discovered that he is a Calvin apologist. I need to see his expressed opinions through that optic. That seems to be the bee in his bonnet when “modern Anglo-Catholics” say that Calvin has no place in Anglicanism. According to this Embryo Parson, Calvin is intrinsic to Anglicanism (for example The Rev. Roger Salter on the True Nature of Anglicanism).

Calvinism is intrinsic to the fabric of Anglicanism and any vendetta against Calvin himself cannot erase this historical and theological fact. Anglicanism is drenched with Augustinianism.

I am a cradle Anglican and have seen a few churches in my time. I have also lived in France and Switzerland, the former country with a Reformed Church minority. Last summer I visited a Reformed church in La Rochelle quite similar to the one in this old engraving.


Here is another one of a French Reformed church. It must be very “high-church” because there is a cross on the wall!


The Reformed Christians of France and much of French-speaking Switerland (outside Fribourg and Valais) were brave people, and resisted the persecution by Louis XIV and the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. There was a bloodbath. Decidedly, the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were not a time of tolerance and dialogue!

This being said, I do know the difference between the Church of England that baptised me and the Eglise Réformée.

I haven’t studied Calvin very much, still less read the Institution de la religion chrétienne, his flagship work comparable in the Reformed world to the Summa Theologicae of Thomas Aquinas. Without wishing to insult anyone, I have always had the impression that Calvin was the sixteenth-century Christian equivalent of the late Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran. Calvin, like many historical ideologues, needs a good deal of study. Some sources (for example) whose impartiality I cannot guarantee suggest that Calvin was something of a little dictator who gladly put people to torture and death in anticipation of their inevitable damnation as reprobate souls predestined to the fiery pit. The sixteenth century was a nasty time, and Christians – Catholic and Protestant – were behaving not very differently from the Taliban and Al Qaeda in our own times. If a human being was predestined for damnation, then there was no duty of any respect of that person. You can kill them, take their property, rape their wives – and no sin is committed!

Puritans in England and America had an inquisition against women accused of witchcraft that rivalled the Roman Catholic Church’s inquisition in Spain and other parts of the world. The Salem Witch Trials in New England are an example of persecution by Puritans. See Salem Witchcraft: The Events and Causes of the Salem Witch Trials. Can all this be blamed on Calvin? The article makes no such insinuation, but seventeenth-century Puritanism was just as fanatical and murderous as fanatical Catholicism in the same period. What was sure about Calvin is that he set Geneva up as a theocracy and he made the rules!

I’m not going to waste my time reading Calvin’s theology any more than Suarez, Bellarmine, Molina and others. Catholicism in the seventeenth century had Jansenism that also had very pessimistic tendencies derived from Saint Augustine. Lots of damned and very few saved. Do we see where the logic goes? Yes, the Untermensch of the guys in jackboots in the 1940’s, lining up their “unworthy of life” victims for the gas chambers. I am often criticised for reasoning according to the principle of the reductio ad absurdam or taking things to their ultimate consequences. It isn’t always a valid way of thinking, but it can be. I hardly have the taste for wading through Calvin’s theology, since the man had nothing to do with Christianity or the Gospel other than nominally and hypocritically.

Putting aside the accusations of murder, persecution and oppression, because everybody with few saintly exceptions was doing it in those days, there is another consideration. The properly theological considerations are based on late medieval scholasticism based on philosophical systems that forbade the participation of any being in another or any notion of the Universal. God was being put in prison!

I refuse to argue according to the categories of this kind of theological method. No theology is perfect, since it is faith seeking understanding (and not always finding it). Still, it can be said that some approaches to theology are more open to the mystical and spiritual notion of God, to God’s generosity and even to a carefully understood notion of universal salvation or deification (Θέωσις) by grace, or even the orthodox version of Gnosticism of the Alexandrian School. I have written on neo-patristics and the Ressourcement school of twentieth-century Europe.

Our embryo parson friend and I seem to live on different planets, and we seem unlikely to have any common ground on which to base a dialogue. I find this tendency with a few others who run blogs and call themselves “classical Anglicans”. I don’t think they really represent most Continuing Anglican jurisdictions seeking to bring churches together in unity and Christian love. If they did, then we are necessarily faced with the exclusion of Catholic or even “high-church” elements.

If he is thinking of challenging me to a long and drawn-out theological debate, as with Roman Catholic and Orthodox convert apologists, he will be disappointed. But I will maintain that Continuing Anglicanism is home to many Christian folk who are all on their pilgrimages. I am a fairly thick-skinned person, having been blogging for years and facing criticism and occasional insults – but I do take exception to being trashed, as seemed to be implicit when we “modern Anglo-Catholics” are seen as “playing at religion”. It’s always the same dagger – we’re the “true church” and you are the insincere and perhaps deceitful impostors, traps for the unwary and spiritual frauds.

I will not argue with a man who thinks this way. If he wants to initiate a theological argument with a long article, I fear he may be wasting his time. Actually, it might be more apposite to see if he picks his nose in public, forgets to zip up his fly or if he has dirty fingernails! Someone familiar with his writings has told me – I don’t know his real identity, but indications are that he has moved around quite a bit and earned for himself a reputation for being loudly dissatisfied and combative. We’ll see, or perhaps we won’t. Either way…

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

63 Responses to “Embryo Parson” Prepares to Write a New Article

  1. Caedmon says:

    Given that Calvin’s theology is based on Augustine and Aquinas I wonder is there anything in the Prayer Book or the Articles that has to be attributed to Calvin rather than to Augustine and Aquinas?

    • The Black Rubric denying Catholic doctrines and practices around the Eucharist. I’ll look through the 39 Articles and see if I can identify anything specifically Calvinist as opposed to Lutheran or Augustinian.

      • Patricius says:

        In the early days Blessed Thomas Cranmer, chief architect of the Prayer Book, was a Lutheran; there was really nothing else in the early 1530s. It was only later that he became ensnared by Calvinism. I believe it was Knox, a man who was probably insane, who insisted on the ”black rubric.”

      • I would certainly concur that the kind of language in these formularies, like talk of abominations of popish masses, was that of very bitter and hateful men, as you say possibly insane. Other people who wrote English at that time could express themselves beautifully.

  2. Dale says:

    Since many of us are actually continuing Anglicans of one strip or the another, for some of us, our theological formularies are not dependent at all upon the 39 articles, but the seven ecumenical councils. Hence, at least for those of us who are old fuddy-duddy Anglo-Catholics (I speak only for myself) such novel concepts such as predestinationism are not really part of our tradition.

    • We agree. I joined the Anglican Catholic Church and its position is adhesion to the Affirmation of Saint Louis, which states the seven Ecumenical Councils as forming the primary locus theologicus. I don’t know about the American dioceses, but in our Diocese of the United Kingdom, no clergyman is asked to uphold the 39 Articles.

      If there is any influence of Calvin in Anglicanism (eg. through Cranmer), I reject it.

  3. William Tighe says:

    May I be so bold as to declare that there is a fundamental confusion underlying this posting and most of the comments? Of the two principal forms of “magisterial Protestantism,” Lutheranism is justly so termed (although Lutherans came to reject formally a few of Luther’s beliefs, as, e.g., on predestination, and “informally” some others, as, e.g., 17th-Century “Lutheran Orthodoxy’s” embrace of a Melanchthonian view of the nature and duration of the “sacramental union” of Christ’s Body and Blood with the eucharistic bread and wine), but it is misleading to term the other one, originating in Switzerland and SW Germany “Calvinism;” the proper term is “Reformed Christianity.” Calvin was a second-generation Reformer, who originally sought, like his mentor Martin Bucer, a mediating position between Lutheranism and Reformed Christianity (as taught by Zwingli and his successor in Zurich, Hennrich Bullinger [1505-1575], who has been termed “the forgotten Reformer”), but whereas Bucer, and his Strasbourg, came to a partial and uneasy accord with Lutheranism in the 1536 Wittenberg Concord, Calvin, and his Geneva, came to a complete, but still uneasy, accord with Bullinger and Zurich, and the other Swiss Protestant cantons, in the Consensus Tigurinus of 1549. One must, however, bear in mind that there were, and always have been “non-Calvinist alternatives” on some theological loci within Reformed Christianity (e.gg,, a “lower” view the sacraments; an adiaphoristic/erastian concept of church order; and a tendency to deemphasize predestinarian thinking and speculation – cf. the statement in the English 42 Articles of 1552, “the decrees of predestination are unknown to us”), and one may argue that this strain of Reformed thinking was more influential in England, or in the Church of England, than the specifically Calvinist strain. (In Scotland it was otherwise.)

    One might write much about the manner in which Calvin’s theological views were in some respects closer to Lutheran views than to classically Zwinglian views, as on the Eucharist and sacraments in general, and in other respects closer to his fellow-Reformed Christians, as in their belief in the necessity of stripping their churches, both liturgically and physically, of anything hearkening back to Catholicism, and in other respects unique to himself, as on the emphasis he put on double predestination and his belief that a kind of presbyterian Church order could be found in the New Testament, but the point here is that Calvin’s influence on English Protestant thought all came after 1559. Before that date, and after the turn away from Lutheran sacramental ideas on the part of Cranmer and others around 1547, it was Zurich and Bullinger who constituted the pole star of the English Protestant avante-garde.

    I must break this off to run an errand, but I will inquire of Fr. Anthony — did I ever send you photocopies of two or three articles on the English Reformation by Prof. Diarmaid MacCulloch? If I did, they would repay your reading them, as they are most relevant to the subject of this posting.

    • Dear William,

      I’ve just found the articles on the English Reformation by Prof. Diarmaid MacCulloch in piles of papers in my office. Thank you for the reminder. The historical approach is certainly the best.

      • William Tighe says:

        I wrote my comment in some haste. Here follows a note or two:

        “whereas Bucer, and his Strasbourg, came to a partial and uneasy accord with Lutheranism in the 1536 Wittenberg Concord”

        That it was partial and uneasy is demonstrated by how Bucer, once he had to leave Strasbourg in 1548 (when Charles V, backed up by his army, gave it the option of either embracing “strict” Lutheranism or returning to Cathoicism, and it chose the former) and went to England and became Regius Professor at Cambridge, rejected Lutheran eucharistic views and taught a doctrine that was more-or-less the same as that of Calvin. (Incidentally, a lot of nonsense has been written about Bucer’s influence on Cranmer, but if one reads Bucer’s animadversions on the 1549 Prayer Book, and then looks at the 1552 version, one will readily see (1) that in incidentals, ceremonies and the like Bucer wanted more jettisoning of Catholic features than actually happened, but (2) that while he praised various prayers and phrases in the 1549 Holy Communion rite that he saw as reflective of his view that there was a “real” and “spiritual,” but not “bodily,” presence of Christ associated with the eucharistic elements, in the event Cranmer omitted or altered most of these [as when omitting the phrase “in these holy Mysteries” from the Prayer of Humble Access] when preparing the 1552 rite.)

        One “legacy” of Bucer is the fact that the Lutheran landeskirchen of SW Germany (such as the Church of Wurttemberg, and urban churches such as those of Strasbourg, Ulm, Colmar and the like) have always had a form of worship that is historically very much like that of the Swiss Reformed churches, rather than Lutheran churches elsewhere. In other words, like the Swiss (and the Reformed generally), it simply jettisoned the whole Western Catholic liturgical tradition, especially as regards “the Lord’s Supper,” and made up de novo a new way of celebrating it, rather than, as with Lutherans elsewhere, making various excisions from the Catholic Mass, but otherwise retaining its general “shape.”

        “Calvin, and his Geneva, came to a complete, but still uneasy, accord with Bullinger and Zurich, and the other Swiss Protestant cantons, in the Consensus Tigurinus of 1549”

        “Calvinism,” in its specific sense, came to be the dominant influence at the Reformation in the Reformed churches of France, the Netherlands, and Scotland — those Reformed churches which were in closest continual contact with England and the Church of England from 1559 into the 1620s — as well as in some of those German churches (such as in the Palatinate and Brandenburg) which switched from Lutheranism to Reformed Christianity in and after the 1560s — but in Reformed Christianity’s Swiss homeland and in the Reformed churches in Hungary, Poland and Transylvania the “Zurich tradition” was dominant; and there was a good deal of outwardly amicable but quite definite rivalry between Calvin’s heirs in Geneva and Bullinger and his heirs in Zurich, not least (as MacCulloch’s articles make clear) in the divergent advice they gave to those English Protestants, often termed “puritans,” whose impatience for “further reformation” in the Church of England in the late 1560s and 1570s led them to begin to characterize features of the Prayer Book of which they disapproved as popish and (hence) unacceptable, and to reject episcopacy on the same grounds.

      • Transylvania? It isn’t Christ’s blood there! Is there a donor in the house? Sorry I couldn’t resist that! 🙂

        There are many strands to unravel. I’m going to read those articles over the next few days whilst my wife and I are up at Barfleur for our mini-holidays, bridging the 8th May, the Ascension and next weekend as many people do in France.

        I have always understood that Cranmer was more influenced by the German-speaking Swiss Reformers, Bucer, Bullinger and Zwingli rather than Calvin and the roots of the Puritan movement, the Guerres de Religion and the English Revolution.

        When I swam the Tiber (or rather the Rhône – river that flows near the holy house of Ecône), one book that influenced me was Francis Clark’s Eucharistic Sacrifice and the Reformation. I dipped into it during my university days for my work on the Pius V work on the missal and breviary. Real distinctions have to be made for the various players of the Reformation, between those who sought a more Catholic or conciliatory approach, and those who wanted to burn, loot and sack the whole of Christendom.

        Finally, the study of the Reformation is an academic exercise and the issues it raised were so bound to the era and the political upheavals in Europe. Some of the issues found their way into the totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century in forms of grotesque caricatures.

        Nowadays, the world is totally different. Both Catholicism and various forms of Reformation Christianity have changed beyond recognition. It is folly to want to judge and form religious norms by sixteenth-century standards. Today, we have the benefit of accessible information through universities, libraries and the Internet, and this has made us critical and eager to study and get to the bottom of things. People today are not interested in fire-breathing preachers, but in men who live spiritual lives and can bring us to discover a dimension of life that is not bound by materialism.

        I’m not a historian like Dr Tighe, though I do like to read and learn. I’m too tired and cynical to seek the way of fanaticism. I am interested in the pastoral dimension – how to help people aspire to what they already seek in the depths of their beings. Though I don’t have a monastic vocation, my approach is contemplative and not that of the conquistador. These dialogues on the blogs can only help to bring us to make explicit what was implicit, and understand ourselves ever better and more deeply.

        To quote yet again from Oscar Wilde:

        But while to propose to be a better man is a piece of unscientific cant, to have become a deeper man is the privilege of those who have suffered. And such I think I have become.

      • William Tighe says:

        “I have always understood that Cranmer was more influenced by the German-speaking Swiss Reformers, Bucer, Bullinger and Zwingli rather than Calvin …”

        Well, actually, in terms of sacramental theology, at least, Bucer and Calvin (who was in many respects Bucer’s disciple, although he appears to have thought that Bucer had conceded too much to the Lutherans in 1536) are in one boat, and Zwingli and Bullinger in another. Cranmer, IMO, leaned towards Bullinger and Zurich by 1550, and Bucer seems to have died in 1551 a defeated and disappointed man. Richard Hilles (1514-1587) a London merchant, Protestant, and admirer of Zwingli who left England in 1539 to live in Zurich and only returned in 1547, wrote letters back to Zurich in 1550/1 exulting that Cranmer had wholly embraced the views of the Church of Zurich and had rejected the views of both the Lutherans and of Bucer on the Eucharist.

      • Dale says:

        Dr Tighe you stated the following: “[E]xulting that Cranmer had wholly embraced the views of the Church of Zurich and had rejected the views of both the Lutherans and of Bucer on the Eucharist.” And I do not at all doubt the validity of this letter or the opinions expressed, but one is tempted to ask how much of this might have been wishful thinking. Although one must affirm that Cranmer’s Eucharistic theology no longer approximated that of Transubstantiation, are we really that certain, especially in regards to his liturgies that he completely rejected a concept of the Real Presence? And is it not impossible that he more approximated the Panitation position of certain Lutherans?

      • William Tighe says:

        As sure as we can be; cf. Cyril C. Richardson’s *Zwingli and Cranmer on the Eucharist* (1949), which essentially backs up, albeit in a more nuanced fashion, Dom Gregory Dix’s contention that “Cranmer was a Zwinglian,” originally expressed in Dix’s *Shape of the Liturgy* (1945) and which subsequently became the subject of an exchange of pamphlets between G. W. Timms (Archdeacon of Middlesex and Rector of St. Andrews, Holborn), who asserted that Cranmer’s eucharistic doctrine and Calvin’s were identical, and Dix, who repeated his contention that Cranmer was a Zwinglian, and at the very least succeeded in demolishing Timms’ argument. I have never seen a coherent critique of Richardson’s arguments.

        More recently, scholars such as Bruce McGerrish and Diarmiad MacCulloch have claimed that Cranmer’s views on the Eucharist were identical with those of Bullinger, while leaving open the question of whether Bulllinger’s and Zwingli’s views were identical, although expressed in different terms, or whether there were subtle, and significant, differences between them. All agree, though, that Bullinger believed that Calvin’s and Bucer’s views on the subject ran dangerously close to Lutheran ones, and were not acceptable without “explanations;” explanations which were provided by the Consensus Tigurinus in 1549 (in which Calvin made all the concessions, and Bullinger none).

      • Dale says:

        Personally, I have always been rather suspect of certain contentions made by Dix; he is indeed a rather strange animal, an Anglo-Papist who never really seemed able himself to swim the Tiber. If indeed Cranmer were a full-fledged Calvinist, one would expect this to have been more evident in his liturgical production, and I am hard pressed even in his latest liturgical production to find this to be so.

        Of course one is still tempted to ask, so what? The Church of England, regardless of Cranmer is not fully Calvinist in doctrine or liturgy.

      • Michael Frost says:

        Dale, If you have the time and inclination, there is no need to rely too heavily on Dix or anyone else from today. If you want to get a feel and flavor for the outlines and influences of Reformation eucharistic theology, read the major documents of the times. They are in English. Of course, start with the 42/39 Articles. Then compare to…

        Lutheranism: The Invariata Augsburg Confession (1530) and Apology (1531), which become bedrock for Lutherans when adopted in the Book of Concord (1580). And Melanchthon’s Variata Augsburg Confession (1540/1542), which was actually dominant in Lutheranism and many ecumenical discussions in the 1540s and 1550s.

        Reformed: The 1st Helvetic Confession (1536) covers most of the Swiss cities except Geneva. Bullinger’s 2nd Helvetic Confession (1566), which came to be an (the?) essential Reformed Confession of the 16th century.

        Lutheran/Reformed agreed statements: Marburg Colloquy (1529) and Wittenberg Concord (1536). See also Melanchthon’s Variata AC as Calvin, Farel, and Beza each end up signing it in the 1540s or 1550s.

        When studying Cranmer and eucharistic theology in England in the 1540s and 1550s, besides Luther, Zwingli, Oecolampadius, Melanchthon, Bucer, Calvin, and Bullinger, there are also Peter Martyr Vermigli, John a Lasco, Hooper, & Ridley, to name just a few more of the more interesting major players. 😉

      • William Tighe says:

        Dale wrote:

        “Personally, I have always been rather suspect of certain contentions made by Dix; he is indeed a rather strange animal, an Anglo-Papist who never really seemed able himself to swim the Tiber.”

        An account of Dix’s career, and an explanation of his reasons for not “swimming the Tiber” can be found in the autobiographical study of Dix, which I reviewed here:


        It is interesting that Dix seems to have invented the phrase “Continuing Anglicans” (as I indicate in the review).

      • William Tighe says:

        Oh, and by the way, Dale, the suspicion in which Dix’s views are held in some Anglican quarters is why I cited Richardson as evidence, not Dix. Richardson (1909-1976) was an Episcopalian priest and Patristics scholar who taught for many years at Union Theological Seminary in New York. He was a man of “high-church” (but by no mean Anglo-Papalist) views; in fact, IIRC, in his last decade he came to support Bishop Pike, at least to the extent of questioning some aspects of classical orthodox Trinitarian and Christological views, and supported WO.

        Richardson’s lecture which I cited (originally delivered under the title of “Cranmer Dixit et Contradixit” – an allusion to the exchange between Timms, whose pamphlet was entitled “Dixit Cranmer,” and Dix, whose response to Timms was “Dixit Cranmer et Non Timuit”) comes from 1949, when he was by repute an orthodox churchman; it concludes that Cranmer was a Zwinglian on the Eucharist, but not one on Baptism, and that this reflects an underlying inconsistency in Cranmer’s Nominalist philosophical views.

        My friend and colleague Prof. G. W. Jenkins intends to comment on this issue on this thread as well. He is the author of the book *John Jewel and the English National Church: The Dilemmas of an Erastian Reformer* which was published by Ashgate in 2006. He has told me that his comment in currently in moderation.

      • Dale says:

        Hello Dr Tighe, I think that this has already been ably answered here on “Foolishness to the World,” which deals with the same issues:


        One might also add, that Cranmer’s “Prayer of Humble Access,” which undeniable has a theology of the Real Presence is inserted in both his Communion Office of 1549 as well as the far more Protestant 1511 editions.

    • Michael Frost says:

      So many interesting threads, ideas, and subjects! I think the key is just to study the best sources available. I think the best modern scholars first focus on the striking similarities in thought between Lutherans, Reformed, and CofE in so many areas. Older, more sectarian scholars, focused more on the differences.

      This includes Diarmaid MacCulloch’s book The Reformation (2003), though he is hostile to Christianity (e.g., see the Introduction). Also his book Christianity, The First Three Thousand Years (2010).

      Of course, times during the Reformation aren’t what they are now or even in the 19th century. No separation of church and state. The close ties of church and state in England is in full accord with the Swiss Reformation (Zurich & Geneva). Mirian Usher Chrisman’s book, Strasbourg and the Reform (Yale Univ. Press, 1967), gives a great picture of the real influence of a cities’ political class over and above religion. Bucer never came close to achieving what he wanted there. Same for Calvin in Geneva and Zwingli/Bullinger in Zurich.

      Bullinger is sadly neglected, but see Gordon & Campi’s collection of essays in Architect of Reformation: An Introduction to Heinrich Bullinger, 1504-1575 (Baker, 2004).

      Anyone interested in Bucer should read D.F. Wright’s Common Places of Martin Bucer (Courtenay Press, 1972), a rare collection of just a smattering of his writing translated into English, including three works on the eucharist: 1526 Apology, 1536 Wittenburg Concord, and 1550 Confession in Aphorisms. Bucer, like Melanchthon, was willing to re-evaluate his position in light of new evidence and analysis, though the general outlines and emphases stayed pretty constant throughout.

      As for Calvin, Bruce Gordon’s biography, Calvin (Yale, 2009) is outstanding and even handed. A warts and all bio that points out his success and failures. Cottret’s bio, Calvin, (Eerdmans, 2000) is also quite good. His scriptural commentaries are outstanding. I’m working through Romans (Eerdmans, 1960).

      As for Lutherans and Lutheranism, Jacobs’ 2 vol. Book of Concord (Vol. 1) and Historical Introduction, Appendixes, and Indexes (Vol 2). For example, he translates Melanchthon’s Variata Augsburg Confession 1540 which Calvin, Farel, and Beza all subscribe to later. And Bucer’s Tetrapolitan Confession, presented to the Emperor at the same time as Melanchthon’s Invariata Augsburg Confession (1530). Both tried to be broad and ecumenical.

      The updated edition of Arthur Cochrane’s Reformed Confessions of the [16th] Century (Westminster, 2003; original 1966) is excellent. See his Introduction, which has some valuable thoughts on the 16th Century CofE and its relation to the Reformed Confessional Tradition. [Hall’s Harmony of Confessions (1842), both Lutheran and Reformed is reportedly quite interesting. It is an updated expansion of an earlier Reformed work.]

      As for the 39 Articles, Bicknell is still useful after all these years.

      The two most “peaceful” and ecumenical Reformers likely are Melanchthon (see Manschreck’s The Quiet Reformer (Abingdon, 1958)) and Bucer (see Greschat’s Martin Bucer (Westminster, 2004)). Both are outstanding bios!

      • Dale says:

        Hello Michael, I think I shall stick to Khomiakov, Gore, Kelly, and finally Lossky. Of course, like so many of us, with a full-time job, I scarcely have time any more for theological reading at all! I am still trying to get through Frank O’Connor’s rather short two-volume autobiography!

        To be honest, reformation studies as well as reformation theology has never really interested me all that much.

      • ed pacht says:

        Dale, for someone who is not interested in Reformation theology, you certainly seem to have a lot to say about it. I’m not as widely read as Michael, and consequently don’t really have a lot to say in this discussion, but I am listening with great interest and wish my attention span were as sharp as it was a few years ago. Age is catching up, and it’s a lot harder to get through such material than it was. At any rate I am learning from what Michael is saying, and am glad.

      • Michael Frost says:

        I certainly enjoy Lossky et al, too. But I’ve come to really respect the original sources and thinkers. Seems more edifying to read what someone like John Chyrsostom or John of Damascus actually wrote than have it filtered through someone else’s lens today? This is especially true for Reformation studies. Why just read about Melanchthon, Bucer, Calvin, etc. when you can also read them in their own thoughts? My views on Calvin have certainly changed after studying his life and some of his works. He still has a ton of warts, but don’t they and we all? But he was a most interesting thinker!

        Say what you will about the Reformation Era, but boring it isn’t. Great thinkers and history. Religious, political, military, economic, social. A time of epochal change that still reverberates worldwide today.

      • Dale says:

        Hi Ed, that I am not interested does not mean that I have not read some of them; but I find them very, very scholastic and they do tend to take Augustine to an extreme that I find heretical (the logical conclusion of Predestinationism is a complete rejection of all Sacraments, which Cranmer never actually seems to have done; if one is completely Calvinist, no Sacrament can be edifying to one’s Salvation). To be honest, if one is going to read scholastic theology, Thomas is more interesting, but even reading him is, for me (remember this is only personal opinion here!) intellectually trying at times, but I do enjoy his breaking away from Platonism and the revival of Aristotle, but I am not really all that convinced of a empirical proof of the existence of God based upon Aristotle’s scientific method (I far prefer William of Ockham).

        Yes, Michael, you are correct, it is far better to read the actual Fathers. I find the same problem with people who have read the commentaries on the canons of the councils, but have never read what the councils’ canons actually teach!

      • Michael Frost says:

        Dale, I laughed in great concurrence when I read what you wrote: “I find the same problem with people who have read the commentaries on the canons of the councils, but have never read what the councils’ canons actually teach!” Though here I’m focusing on the disciplinary canons! Talk about an unedifying mass and mess of revised Pharisaism! Almost sickening to read at times. And makes one truly wonder what they were thinking and doing. This isn’t the Gospel!

        One of my favorite comments on these sorts of “canons” is from Melanchthon’s Excursus on the Authority of Scripture where he goes one by one through about a dozen patristic fathers. On Basil, after saying he is right on justification and discussing issues with monasticism, Philip says how some books circulated under his name are forgeries and “they contain ridiculous foolery”: “For instance there is a great mass of punishmennts and sastisfactions… ‘If a girl were to laugh in the choir, she should sit for two days in the vestibule’, and there are similar nursery lullabies.”

        Thankfully the times have changed a great deal in this regard! 😉

      • Michael Frost says:

        Dale, When you wrote–“but I find them very, very scholastic and they do tend to take Augustine to an extreme that I find heretical (the logical conclusion of Predestinationism is a complete rejection of all Sacraments, which Cranmer never actually seems to have done; if one is completely Calvinist, no Sacrament can be edifying to one’s Salvation)”–I wonder if you aren’t falling into the stereotype of predestination rather than the reality expressed by various proponents. For example, you should read Bullinger’s 2nd Helvetic Confession, Chpt X, which deads with Predestination and Election, as well as XIX-XXI, on the sacraments. This highly influential confession deals with these issues in a most pastoral manner, taking seriously the call of Christians to behave as Christians.

        The magisterial Reformed like Zwingli, Bucer, Bullinger, Calvin, Beza, et al were not antinomians. They had a high regard for the law and the uses of the law. They abhored sin. They were strong proponents of Christ’s two sacraments. And they expected faith to bear clear good fruit. So when it comes to living out one’s life, there should not be much discernable difference between say a “Pelagian” trying to “earn” his way into Heaven and a Reformed trying to live out his faith as one elected for a definite positive purpose. They would behave as believing Christians. And in both systems the unrepentant are unsaved.

      • ed pacht says:

        To be “completely Calvinist” in the way that many rather thoughtless preachers have presented it is to be radically out of accord with Calvin himself. While I’m not altogether comfortable as to where he put the balance point, I am forced to recognize that both he and his supposed diametric opposite, Arminius took great pains to present a balanced view taking into account seemingly contradictory strains in Scripture. To deny predestination and election outright is to fly in the face of Scripture, which treats both concepts extensively in many places from the beginning of the Old Testament right up to the end of the new.. We have to accept both concepts, but need to keep them in their place simply because of the equally high place in which Scripture puts free will. Both ends of the spectrum are strongly expressed at the core of Biblical teaching. Calvin tended to emphasize one, and Arminius tended to emphasize the other, but neither of them denied the converse of what they emphasized. So-called “Calvinists” who deny free will are not presenting the views of Calvin, but rather falling into a pagan or Islamic fatalism. Those, on the other hand, who deny the role of predestination in God’s economy, are falling into a mold of mere works-righteousness. As for Calvin, though he stresses the sovereignty of God and the role of election, he does not do so to a greater degree than did Augustine, nor is what he said quite as strong as one can read in some of Luther’s works. In short, his stand on predestination, though many (myself included) will question it, is safely within the parameters of traditional Catholic thinking. I wish I could say the same for other aspects of Calvin’s thought.

      • Michael Frost says:

        ed, So very well said about predestination in 16th century. Melanchthon and Bucer tended to avoid word; Philip always had pastoral thoughts in mind and didn’t want Christians to focus on this controversial and complex issue. Bullinger’s views are also rather nuanced. He, like Philip and so many others, wanted Christians to focus on the Gospel and put their trust in Christ rather than try to make sense of predestination.

      • Holy Willie’s Prayer by Robert Burns

        O Thou, who in the heavens does dwell,
        Who, as it pleases best Thysel’,
        Sends ane to heaven an’ ten to hell,
        A’ for Thy glory,
        And no for ony gude or ill
        They’ve done afore Thee!

        I bless and praise Thy matchless might,
        When thousands Thou hast left in night,
        That I am here afore Thy sight,
        For gifts an’ grace
        A burning and a shining light
        To a’ this place.

        What was I, or my generation,
        That I should get sic exaltation,
        I wha deserve most just damnation
        For broken laws,
        Five thousand years ere my creation,
        Thro’ Adam’s cause?

        When frae my mither’s womb I fell,
        Thou might hae plunged me in hell,
        To gnash my gums, to weep and wail,
        In burnin lakes,
        Where damned devils roar and yell,
        Chain’d to their stakes.

        Yet I am here a chosen sample,
        To show thy grace is great and ample;
        I’m here a pillar o’ Thy temple,
        Strong as a rock,
        A guide, a buckler, and example,
        To a’ Thy flock.

        O Lord, Thou kens what zeal I bear,
        When drinkers drink, an’ swearers swear,
        An’ singin there, an’ dancin here,
        Wi’ great and sma’;
        For I am keepit by Thy fear
        Free frae them a’.

        But yet, O Lord! confess I must,
        At times I’m fash’d wi’ fleshly lust:
        An’ sometimes, too, in wardly trust,
        Vile self gets in:
        But Thou remembers we are dust,
        Defil’d wi’ sin.

        O Lord! yestreen, Thou kens, wi’ Meg –
        Thy pardon I sincerely beg,
        O! may’t ne’er be a livin plague
        To my dishonour,
        An’ I’ll ne’er lift a lawless leg
        Again upon her.

        Besides, I farther maun avow,
        Wi’ Leezie’s lass, three times I trow –
        But Lord, that Friday I was fou,
        When I cam near her;
        Or else, Thou kens, Thy servant true
        Wad never steer her.

        Maybe Thou lets this fleshly thorn
        Buffet Thy servant e’en and morn,
        Lest he owre proud and high shou’d turn,
        That he’s sae gifted:
        If sae, Thy han’ maun e’en be borne,
        Until Thou lift it.

        Lord, bless Thy chosen in this place,
        For here Thou hast a chosen race:
        But God confound their stubborn face,
        An’ blast their name,
        Wha bring Thy elders to disgrace
        An’ public shame.

        Lord, mind Gaw’n Hamilton’s deserts;
        He drinks, an’ swears, an’ plays at cartes,
        Yet has sae mony takin arts,
        Wi’ great and sma’,
        Frae God’s ain priest the people’s hearts
        He steals awa.

        An’ when we chasten’d him therefor,
        Thou kens how he bred sic a splore,
        An’ set the warld in a roar
        O’ laughing at us; –
        Curse Thou his basket and his store,
        Kail an’ potatoes.

        Lord, hear my earnest cry and pray’r,
        Against that Presbyt’ry o’ Ayr;
        Thy strong right hand, Lord, make it bare
        Upo’ their heads;
        Lord visit them, an’ dinna spare,
        For their misdeeds.

        O Lord, my God! that glib-tongu’d Aiken,
        My vera heart and flesh are quakin,
        To think how we stood sweatin’, shakin,
        An’ piss’d wi’ dread,
        While he, wi’ hingin lip an’ snakin,
        Held up his head.

        Lord, in Thy day o’ vengeance try him,
        Lord, visit them wha did employ him,
        And pass not in Thy mercy by ’em,
        Nor hear their pray’r,
        But for Thy people’s sake, destroy ’em,
        An’ dinna spare.

        But, Lord, remember me an’ mine
        Wi’ mercies temp’ral an’ divine,
        That I for grace an’ gear may shine,
        Excell’d by nane,
        And a’ the glory shall be thine,
        Amen, Amen!

      • Dale says:

        Hello Ed, I think that we have not so much been discussing the issue of Predestinationism as much as Calvinism and the Sacraments and how that relates to Cranmer’s liturgical productions; if one accepts the concept of a full-blown Predestinationism, the Sacraments can only exist as a symbol, and almost empty ones at that. Not too long ago I did have a conversation with a Baptist minister, Southern, who seemed to have an almost Catholic interpretation of the doctrine of Predestination, that we are all Predestined to Salvation (otherwise the Sacrifice of the Cross makes no sense), of which we have free-will to accept or reject; but then simply stated that so-called Sacraments are only symbols (although he seemed hard pressed to explain why one is baptised after being saved). I would be hard-pressed to accept Calvin’s doctrines as consistent with Catholic teachings on the Sacraments, but perhaps those of Arminius as much closer.

        By the way, I have been re-reading my contributions to the conversation of the theology of the reformed tradition, of which you stated: “[Y]ou certainly seem to have a lot to say about it”; were you trying to be sarcastic? I have been writing mostly about Cranmer’s liturgical theology, which I reject as within the reformed tradition, I have said virtually nothing about either Calvinism nor Zwinglism; and have only stated that Cranmer’s liturgical theology does not reject the Real Presence as had both Calvin or Zwingli. i readily admit that Cranmer’s Eucharist theology is at best ambiguous, and can have a very Protestant or Catholic, or even Eastern Orthodox interpretation; but not really a Calvinist one.

      • Michael Frost says:

        Dale, When you wrote–“I think that we have not so much been discussing the issue of Predestinationism as much as Calvinism and the Sacraments and how that relates to Cranmer’s liturgical productions; if one accepts the concept of a full-blown Predestinationism, the Sacraments can only exist as a symbol, and almost empty ones at that.”–I’m wondering if you’re looking at the issue from the life of the average man in the pews historically. Christendom rejects anti-nomianism. So the RC merits his way into Heaven by obeying the precepts of his Church, following its teachings and teachers, and, ultimately, avoiding mortal sin and confessing same when it happens (otherwise no other sacrament can save him). And the Reformed only knows he is predestined and elected to salvation by living as a Christian; for no one willingly following the ways of evil (which is somewhat akin to mortal sin) without repentence is predestined and elected to salvation. So each “knows” his salvation by his acts, what he does and doesn’t do. And both have to put their trust in their Lord.

        I’d like to think that ultimately it is faith that saves. We have faith in a Triune God. An incarnate Christ. In the Word and message of the Gospel. In the Church. In the sacraments. But without that saving faith, does anything really matter? Forget the name of the idea that says even baptism and the eucharist can be entirely received by faith without water or bread & wine (e.g., like the thief on the cross, in martyrdom, etc.). So ultimately even the sacraments are efficacious in relation to faith.

      • Dale says:

        Hello Michael. Zwingli, perhaps the most advanced “Calvinist,” completely rejected even Luther’s concept of the Real Presence and declared that the “Is” in the Words of Institution really means “signifies” and believed that the Eucharist was only a metaphor and not a physical reality (although one can construe some sort of real presence from this by declaring that the Eucharist is a metaphor for the whole church, the Body of Christ etc.). Cranmer, once again in the Words of Humble Access would seem to reject this definition, since he does refer to the consecrated elements as flesh and blood and that the reception of the Eucharist acts as a kenosis as well as synergy, making us all not only spiritually (which some Calvinist would accept), but also physically part of Christ; this is, perhaps not modern Roman Catholic doctrine, but is most certainly Easter Orthodox and another reason why it is used in western rite Orthodox liturgies.

      • William Tighe says:

        “Zwingli, perhaps the most advanced ‘Calvinist’.”

        Such a phrase strikes me as tantamount to writing something like “Rousseau, perhaps the most advanced ‘Marxist’; I have no idea what it means. Since Zwingli died in 1531, when Calvin was still a Catholic, just, he could hardly have made any advances on Calvin. I suppose one might say that, as a Reformed theologian, Calvin “advanced” on Zwingli (and Bullinger) into a sharper and more explicit formulation of predestinarian teaching, which Zwingli and Bullinger preferred to leave in “decent obscurity,” or at least not to alarm the general public by teaching it openly. He might also be said to have “advanced” towards a more Lutheran view of the sacraments, and especially the Eucharist, under the tutelage of Bucer (although the Lutherans themselves spurned his “advances,” thinking them wholly inadequate); although Bullinger and the shade of Zwingli might have preferred to use the verb “regressed” or “declined” in place of “advanced.”

      • Michael Frost says:

        As regards Bullinger, Calvin, and predestination, Cornelis Venema wrote an interesting work, Heinrich bullinger and the Doctrine of Predestination–Author of ‘the Other Reformed Tradition’?” (Baker Academic, 2002). After surveying most of his more important works, Venema concludes that while there may be a different emphasis, the two really weren’t that far apart theologically. Bullinger was essentially just a lot more pastoral in his concerns and reticent to publicly delve too deeply. One can readily see this in his 2nd Helvetic Confession (1566): “yet we must hope well of all”, “God’s promises apply to all the faithful”, and “For the preaching of the Gospel is to be heard , and it is to be believed; and it is to be held as beyond doubt that if you believe and are in Christ, you are elected.” (Chpt. X Of the Predestination of God and the Election of the Saints)

        Bullinger is with all the magisterial Reformers, including those like Melanchthon and Bucer who tend to avoid predestination and those like Calvin who do not, that ultimately we must put our faith in Christ and our trust in his Gospel. That is where salvation lies. And all who do this are saved. But those who don’t, and this includes those living unrepentent lives, are not saved. I think the LWF-RCC Joint Declaration on Justification essentially holds to this same eternal truth.

      • Dale says:

        Dr Tighe, I was using “Calvinist” in a sense of a theological position, not pertaining to individuals. Sorry you were confused.

      • ed pacht says:

        Dale, you wrote:
        Dr Tighe, I was using “Calvinist” in a sense of a theological position, not pertaining to individuals. Sorry you were confused.

        Dr. Tighe was not confused, but you are. Zwingli’s theological position is NOT Calvinist and is often out of agreement with “Calvinism as a theological position”. Yes, both positions can be seen as subsets of the “Reformed” position, but they are quite distinct from one another. My knowledge of them is not sufficient to call myself a scholar, but I do know enough to see the dramatic differences. I’d suggest that, before you accuse a genuine scholar of being ‘confused’, you get straightened out on what it is that these Reformers, whom you admit to having read only some of, were actually saying. A catholic-minded person who does so will not find himself agreeing with these men on everything, but he will at least get clear in his head what it is that he is disagreeing with. It just doesn’t serve to erect straw men in order to knock them down.

      • Dale says:

        Ed, why do have a tendency to get so nasty? The Reformed Church of Switzerland, where I lived for many years considers itself to be Calvinist in doctrine, and includes both the Churches of Zurich as well as Geneva. At least in Switzerland, there is agreement that both Zwingli and Calvin held common positions on the main points of Salvation, Predestination as well as the symbolic nature of the communion office. Are they different? Yes. But they are far more similar than different in nature; and very much opposed to the theological position of the Lutherans.

      • Dale says:

        Also Ed, perhaps you as well as the genuine scholar, Dr Tighe, missed my main contention, the liturgical theology of Cranmer is neither Zwinglian or Calvinist on the issue of the Real Presence; although Dr Tighe has insinuated on one hand that Cranmer was a Calvinist, and then later stated that he supported the theology school (Zwinglian) of Zurich; speaking of straw-men.

      • ed pacht says:


        I don’t think either of us missed your main point. I for one am thoroughly in agreement with you. Cranmer clearly was influenced by Lutherans, Zwinglians, and Calvinists, but held views on the Eucharist that did not match any of these, any more than it matched the RC scholastic view of transubstantiation. As for Zwingli. It may be true that his present-day followers are pretty much Calvinists, but it remains that he wasn’t.

        You are correct on that, in my opinion, but you would be much more clearly heard if you did not insist on insulting your disputants, such as by calling them ‘confused”. No, I’m not being mean, I’m simply giving you back your own words so you can try them on for size, and perhaps moderate your expression somewhat. I, for one, would very much like to hear your exposition of the Classical Anglican position and its positive values. I sincerely want to learn more. There certainly is much of value there. However, I can’t hear it very well at all when it comes with such a negative and oppositional spin. If that is an essential part of it, well then my interest ceases – but I don’t believe that to be the case.

      • Dale says:

        Ed, did you miss completely the insinuating tone of Dr Tighe’s message? Whilst I do believe that he knew exactly what my contention really was, he played a very low-level game with dates (does he think that I am so unaware of the different dates between Zwingli and Calvin?).

      • ed pacht says:

        Apologies, but such a startling statement about Zwingli as an advanced Calvinist certainly caused me to assume that you did not know the dates. I was about to post a nearly identical message when I noticed that Dr. Tighe had already done so. Pardon me for thinking it strange that one who did know those dates could refer to the earlier man as a follower of the later. Yes. my assumption was that this fact had somehow escaped you.

        Actually, few of those who claim to be Calvinists today are at all Calvinistic on the Lord’s Supper. Calvin was firm on a genuine, if ‘spiritual’ presence, which Zwingli denied, making it a bare symbol, a view most modern Reformed and other Protestants have come to hold explicitly. A Calvinistic view of the Eucharist is today a rare thing.

      • Dale says:

        ““Rousseau, perhaps the most advanced ‘Marxist’; I have no idea what it means.”

        When one considers Rousseau’s theory of the “Social Contract,” in opposition to the political contract posited by both Hobbes and Locke, this does make sense; so one could easily state, if one is so inclined, that Rousseau’s theory of the political contract being, not between ruler and ruled, but between the people themselves, is indeed Marxist.

      • I think he was referring to historical anachronisms – comparing a person with another who lived later in history. Rousseau could not be a Marxist because Marx had not yet lived. Similarly it would be wrong to compare Ivan the Terrible with Hitler! For an academic historian, this is a very serious sin.

        Perhaps, Rousseau has dialectical characteristics of thought that were taken up later by Marx. In a parallel way, Ivan the Terrible committed atrocities that make us think of World War II. That could be said without committing the “crime” of historical anachronism! 🙂

      • Michael Frost says:

        I think the sad thing today is that so many of the magisterial Reformers are looked down upon because they seriously studied various theological issues over their lives and they adjusted their views on the basis of what they learned. God forbid theologians who mature in their thinking on complex issues. Melanchthon, Bucer, and Cranmer were serious thinkers and theologians who studied complex issues. They rarely adopted simplistic stances. And they were willing to engage others and take seriously the body of work that had come before them.

        Cranmer, like Melanchthon and Bucer, had a maturing, evolving outlook on many issues. Esp. as he interacted with others and studied. Often the best one can do is give an approximation of their thinking at a specific period of time, and even then that can be difficult. But they were not static thinkers. And I think they were trying to be true to themselves, church history, the patristic fathers, and scripture.

        Thinkers like these keep hordes of scholars around the world busy today!

      • Dale says:

        Ed, for many people, even those trained in theology, the term Calvinism or Calvinist means a certain rejection of a physical reality within the Eucharist and does not necessarily have anything to do with the actual John Calvin; and although Calvin does accept a Spiritual dimension, he does reject any Catholic interpretation of a physical reality. Having had to take religion classes in Zurich as a high school student, I am well aware that Zwingli is even more “advanced” in his rejection of a physical Eucharist (hence, although he chronologically pre-dates Calvin, Calvin is in some ways a modified Zwinglianism within the Reformed tradtion, hence my term “advanced” Calvinist, or one could just as easily say that Calvin is a more moderate Zwinglian), which was my point; but many, especially in the English-speaking world, are completely unaware of Zwingli. In the end, it was Dr Tighe himself went one step further, firstly insinuating that Cranmer was a thorough going Calvinist and then stating that he was Zwinglian!

        Also, I am well aware of the academic trick of trying to make those whom one is in disagreement with look foolish by finding fault with dates of all things! Historians are infamous for this.

        And finally, although my doctorate is in Literature, I do have a Candidatus Theologiae from a fairly well respected theological academy, in Orthodox Theology not Protestant theology, but even I can see the vast difference between the Eucharist theology of Cranmer and that of the Reformed thinkers.

      • William Tighe says:

        “In the end, it was Dr Tighe himself went one step further, firstly insinuating that Cranmer was a thorough going Calvinist and then stating that he was Zwinglian!”

        Where did I say, or “insinuate,” that Cranmer was a Calvinist (on the Eucharist)? I think that he and Bullinger held identical views on it and that, if Bullinger was a Zwinglian (a matter of some scholarly debate), so was Cranmer. I challenge anybody to come up with evidence that Cranmer believed in any sort of “real presence” associated with, or linked to, “these thy creatures of bread and wine,” and that is compatible with the curate having the left-overs “for his own use” after the service. It just is not to be found — and the common modus operandi of some commenters on this thread of taking Cranmer’s words, or prayers, in isolation from their context, and then filling them with one’s own preferred meaning, is pretty much an unhistorical manner of arguing.

      • Dale says:

        “[A]and the common modus operandi of some commenters on this thread of taking Cranmer’s words, or prayers, in isolation from their context, and then filling them with one’s own preferred meaning, is pretty much an unhistorical manner of arguing.”

        Dr Tighe, one could accuse you of very much the same thing, you simply disregard Cranmer’s liturgical theology when it suits you. According to Cranmer’s theology of the Eucharist through the reception of the “Flesh” and “Blood” of Christ we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us.” It is hard not too see the connection between the real reception of Christ’s Flesh and Blood a kenosis between God and Man. I fail to see that because of a lack of mentioning, in this instance, of “Creatures of Bread and Wine” makes Cranmer a Zwinglian or a supporter of Zurich.

    • Dale says:

      I am going to agree with Fr Anthony here, our world has changed drastically since the 16th and 17th centuries. Phrases such as, ” In other words, like the Swiss (and the Reformed generally), it simply jettisoned the whole Western Catholic liturgical tradition, especially as regards “the Lord’s Supper,” and made up de novo a new way of celebrating it.” Make no real sense today, especially when one considers that Rome, only recently, jettisoned 1500 years of western liturgical patrimony and we now have the present Pope celebrating mass with dancing Pinocchio puppets and other Disneyland characters. If liturgy does indeed express the Faith, which I do believe, Rome is in trouble as well and to insinuate that this is simply a Protestant issue is not altogether true any longer.

      • Stephen K says:

        I am interested, Dale, in whether you think the world of the 16th and 17th centuries, at least religiously speaking, was better than today’s, or is there a world (say, 1950s, 1840s, 1200s etc) that you would like to see return, and do you think it could realistically remain that way for ever, or be improved?

      • Dale says:

        Stephen, personally, I think that the world of the 16th and 17th century rather horrifying; they were still burning people at the stake for witchcraft as well as heresy. I am, both liturgically as well as theologically more inclined to an easy-going Anglo-Catholicism of the middle of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century, before both the novus ordo and theological modernism (perhaps I am still a left-over to the Romantic Movement, both in religion as well as art). But in all reality, we are stuck with the world that we live in and must have to make the best of our own time and place.

        I find most of the theological squabbles of the advanced “reformers” tiresome actually. Usually it was more personality than substance and I think that the Catholic counter-reformation was really not too much better.

      • Michael Frost says:

        Dale, When you wrote–“I am, both liturgically as well as theologically more inclined to an easy-going Anglo-Catholicism of the middle of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century”–wondered if you’ve studied Archbishop Laud and the Non-jurors? I find them to be some of the most interesting and rewarding Anglicans. [Second half of 19th century in England has the interesting battles over ritual and the response to the Oxford Movement/Tractarians. Plus Disraeli, Gladstone, and Palmerston! And the 1920s shows the collapse of even a pretense at unified dogma (the big CofE report on same) and the BCP parliamentary fiasco.]

    • William Tighe says:

      I’m not so sure, Dale; and I think that the omission of the phrase “in these holy mysteries,” from the version of the Prayer of Humble Access in 1552 rite contradicts and undermines any view that the prayer espouses any sort of Real Presence at all, or at least one in any way connected with “these thy creatures of bread and wine.” Perhaps, with that omitted phrase, the 1549 version can be read as supporting, or at least allowing, for it; but not that of 1552 or any subsequent version.

      • Dale says:

        Dr Tighe, I think that perhaps you are trying to read into this prayer a very Calvinistic interpretation that is in contradiction to the words themselves:

        “so to eate the fleshe of thy dere sonne Jesus Christe, and to drinke his bloud, that our synfulle bodyes maye be made cleane by his body, and our soules wasched through his most precious bloud, and that we may evermore dwel in him, and he in us.” (1552 BCP)

        The 1552 version would seem to reflect a physical reality of the Real Presence that would not be found in Calvinism, especially Zwingli who had rejected even a receptionist doctrine and reduced the communion to simply a remembrance, without a physical reality.

        Indeed the words, “and that we may evermore dwel in him, and he in us,” as it exists within the Antiochian (St Tykhon) and the ROCOR (“The English Liturgy”) western-rite is considered to be a Eucharistic expression of synergy. I sincerely doubt that the Orthodox would have supported your contention that this prayer is Calvinist!

      • ed pacht says:

        Dale beat me to it. I was going to make an observation much like his. When I attend Eucharist in a place that permits congregational recitation of the prayer, I find myself trembling with the affirmation of such a tremendous and solidly real Mystery. I don’t believe the Roman liturgy contains a stronger affirmation of the Real Presence than this.

      • Michael Frost says:

        Dale, When you wrote–“The 1552 version would seem to reflect a physical reality of the Real Presence that would not be found in Calvinism, especially Zwingli who had rejected even a receptionist doctrine and reduced the communion to simply a remembrance, without a physical reality.”–I’m not sure you do adequate justice to Zwingli’s views of the eucharist. To be fair to him, Cranmer, and others, one really has to read what they originally wrote rather than rely on a second-hand modern view that is likely filtered through a denominational lens. A good source is the old book Zwingli and Bullinger, translated & edited by G.W. Bromiley, an Episcopal priest (Westminster Press, 1953). In it you’ll find Zwingli’s treatise On the Lord’s Supper (1526), which runs over 50 pages (pgs. 185-238) and his Exposition of the Faith (1531) which has a lengthy section titled “The Presence of the Body of Christ in the Supper”. And one should keep in mind that the views of Zwingli were used and reinterpreted by Bucer, Calvin, and Bullinger in the Reformed tradition. They were a basic foundation that took the bodily Ascension of Christ seriously and tried to make sense of how we could have real communion with Christ using bread and wine. He was trying to make sense of the most awesome of mysteries taking into account his perception that outwardly the bread and wine appear to us to remain bread and wine , as Paul clearly states in 1 Cor 16-21.

        The one direct link between EO and Reformed eucharistic thinking can be found in the invocation of the Holy Ghost. It is interesting that the epiclesis is so important to the East. And that the linking of the communicants with the ascended Christ by the Holy Ghost is so important to the Reformed. We lift up our hearts while the Holy Ghost makes real the communion with Christ. In comparison, the RCC and Gnesio-Lutheranism rely on just the words of institution, This is my body. This difference tells us something important about the nature of the sacrament, the interaction of the Trinity in time regarding it, and the relation of the communicant to the elements and the Trinity.

    • William Tighe says:

      And also, Dale, while I thank you for the link, I stand by my response to SMM1 on its comment thread.

  4. Cyril Jenkins says:

    Dale, as to your skepticism of Dix I am in somewhat agreement, but not for the reason you wrote, that he couldn’t bring himself to swim the Tiber. I think he had justified reasons for not doing so, well, at least reasons I believe he could sincerely hold. But on the question of Cranmer’s Eucharistic proclivities, Stephen Gardiner to the negative, and Nicholas Ridley and Peter Martyr Vermigli to the positive (if positive we want to call it) had him abandon even the moderately conservative thought of the 1549 BCP. It was Vermigli who introduced him to a spurious manuscript of St. John Chrysostom which gave a Zwinglian interpretation of the real presence (neither Cranmer nor Vermigli had any clue that the ms was a fake), and when Edward VI died Cranmer aligned himself openly with Vermigli that they together would defend the 1552 rite. Vermigli’s notions on the supper were already well-known owing to a disputation he had partaken in at Oxford in 1549 against Tresham et al on the question of the real presence. This had arisen from his lectures on I Cor. 10. This brought out a subsequent Treatise, which is mirrored in Cranmer’s Defence of the True and Catholick Doctrine (1550). Cranmer makes broad use of the ps-Chrysostom ms. In a recent translation of Vermigli’s Treatise, the translator, Joseph McLelland provides footnotes of similarities between Vermigli and Cranmer. Vermigli, after leaving England in 1553, went to Strasbourg, but was expelled by the Lutherans, and so finished his life in Zurich, even though he had an invitation to go to Geneva, which had a much larger Italian congregation. In Jewel’s mind, the doctrine of England was that of Zurich (if you need, I can dig up the quote from the letter of Jewel to Martyr and Simler on this question).

    • Michael Frost says:

      Cyril, Vermigli also engaged with Bucer while Martin was in England. They wrote a lot back and forth. Bucer wrote a final work on the eucharist to address Peter, but it wasn’t published for some time after his death. Of course, Bucer had shared a lot of thoughts with Cranmer about the 1549 BCP. And the prior liturgical work of Bucer & Melanchthon from Cologne 1542-1543 was also used by Cranmer.

      I think Cranmer shares a lot with Melanchthon and Bucer in regard to seriously studying the eucharist over the years and trying to come up with his own mature theological system that tied it to other areas of dogma and was pastorally appropriate. That fascinating area of thought that is to the “left” of Trent & Luther but to the “right” of Zwingli, Oecolampadius, and Vermigli.

      Herman Sasse’s This Is My Body (1958), is a great book that looks at Lutheran versus Zwinglian views on the eucharist. Starts by looking at medieval theology, then to the 1520 debates, and ends with Wittenberg Concord, Melanchthon, and Calvin.

  5. Charles says:

    Hello Dr. Tighe,
    I’ve read a number of your articles and most recently your comments here at Sarum Use. Your words on the German Reformation are a special interest of mine, and I’m hoping you can direct me toward translations of Melancthon’s works or otherwise excellent secondary sources…

    You said seventeenth-century Lutheranism eventually came to reject (informally) certain aspects of rigid Lutheranism, adopting some of Melanchthon’s views about the duration and nature of sacramental union. Do you have any sources for this change of heart (I’d like to know more myself), and how did Lutherans/Phillipists differ over the “duration”? I am partly aware of controversies over ‘nature’ but unaware about intra-Lutheran disagreements about ‘duration’. I certainly didn’t know the 17th century saw a softening of rigid Lutheranism against Reformed theology. I suppose this makes sense as a prelude to the 18th and 19th century Union movements?

    As a final comment: Not enough of Melanchthon’s works have been translated. Unless I’m wrong, I only know a few of his confessional writings (as Michael Frost notes) and some of his Loci. But I have not been able to find (in English) copies of his catechism (which were often attached to the SW German confessions) as well as his response sent to Henry VIII regarding the 1536 Ten Articles. Nor can I find the 1545 Loci which he prefaced (and sent) to King Henry, and there are more than one church order (besides Cologne) that he authored. All of these manuscripts would be of utmost interest for those wishing flesh out the influence of ‘Reformed Christianity’ in England (between the formative Archbishoprics of Cranmer and Parker) but they remain untouched. The same is true of many of Bucer’s works (though we have a few which Mr. Frost listed). The great majority are still untranslated.

    Finally– getting back to Dr. Tighe’s comments on Cranmer– any thoughts on Basil Hall’s essay regarding Hooper’s influence in the 1552 BCP? Do you think Hilles might have confused the Zwinglian view for the Buceran? That’s a recurring problem when dealing with ‘middle positions’ like SW Germans, and too often scholars are unaware of nuances (or even that a third leg of Reformation existed between gnesio-Lutheranism and Swiss late-Reformed).

    Sincerely, Charles

    • Michael Frost says:

      Charles, Sadly so little of Master Philip has been translated into English. But the two best places to start are at Concordia Publishing House. They recently published 2nd Eds. of both his Loci Communes (1559 ed., Latin version) and his Commentary on Romans (1540). These are brand new and available. The 1559 is his mature theology, all around. Including the uses of the law, conversion, and the eucharist.

      There is also a great English translation of his 1555 Loci (German version) by Manschreck, but that is out of print and must be bought used. And the much shorter 1521 Loci is also available in English.

      Jacobs’ Vol. 2 of the Book of Concord (1883) has both Melanchthon’s Variata Augsburg Confession and Bucer’s Tetrapolitan Confession (1530, which is also used by Cochrane in his classic work on Reformed Confessions of the 16th Century). The Variata gives Philip’s more mature eucharistic thoughts.

    • William Tighe says:

      Very briefly, Charles, see: “Domesticating an Untamed Sacramental Rule,” by Keith Killinger, *Lutheran Quarterly* VII:4 (Winter 1993), pp. 401-424. This article is a precis of part of Killinger’s 1991 Th.D dissertation at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, entitled *Hoc Facite: The Role of the Words of Institution in the Lutheran Understanding and Celebration of the Lord’s Supper in the Sixteenth Century.*

      More important still is the two-volume 1968 Th.D dissertation (Concordia Seminary, st. Louis, Missouri) of E. F. Peters, *Origin and Meaning of the Axiom, Nothing Has The Character Of A Sacrament Outside Of The Use, in Sixteenth-Century and Seventeenth-Century Lutheran Theology:*


      I have read recently that this work was published just a few years ago, but I have not been able to find it.

      These very long articles by the late Dr. Tom G. Hardt, whose wonderful book, *Adorabilis et Venerabilis Eucharistia: Eine Studie ueber die lutherische Abendmahlslehre in 16 Jahrhundert* (Goettingen, 1988) is available only in German, may be of interest:



      Briefly, on your two other questions. First, Hilles was an enthusiastic and well-informed “theological Zuricher;” he lived there from 1539 to 1547, and was well-acquainted with Buillinger (whose views, rightly or wrongly, he regarded as the same as those of Zwingli). He regarded Bucer as a “Lutheran,” and his views on the Eucharistic presence as false and ungodly, and rejoiced in the fact (as he saw it) that the 1552 BCP rite constituted a decisive rejection of those views.

      “Philippists” regarded the “sacramental union” of the bread and wine with Christ’s Body and Blood as happening only when and as a piece of the bread and a quantum of wine entered the mouth of each recipient; before that point they were “merely” bread and wine, and the portion of the elements left unconsumed were, likewise, “merely” bread and wine, and could be “disposed of” in any suitable manner, or preserved until the next celebration and there consecrated again. They regarded the Words of Institution as addressed to the congregation, not to the elements, and intended to prepare them for it. it follows from this that any adoration done to the “consecrated elements” is to be eschewed, even if not characterized as “artolatry” and “oinolatry,” as a “popish abuse.” This view was adopted by 17th-Century Lutheran orthodoxy, and is still the “standard teaching” of most conservative Lutheran bodies (such as the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod in the USA, and historically of the Missouri Synod as well).

      Luther’s view, and that of his immediate followers, was that the consecration of the elements, the unio sacramentalis, is effected by the recital of the Words of Institution, and that this union endures indefinitely, but not necessarily permanently (since Scripture provides no information on this question). In this view, it is certainly legitimate, and in some 16th-Century German Lutheran Church Orders it was made mandfatory, for the officiating clergy to adore the consecrated elements, and to invite the congregation to do likewise, before the distribution of communion. (In the 1540 Brandenburg Church Order, the ostensio, in which the celebrant extended the consecrated elements towards the congregation and bade them adore it, was added to the rite to combat “Calvinist errors” in the 1560s.) Luther was uncertain whether the “sacramental union” persisted after the conclusion of the service, and so discouraged the practice of eucharistic reservation, even for the purpose of communicating the sick and dying — he preferred a brief bedside celebration of the Eucharist — but other early Lutherans had no problems with reserving the eucharist for viaticum. All of this disappeared in the course of the 17th Century, however, although in a few odd Lutheran corners of Germany the elevation of the consecrated host and chalice lasted into the 18th Century (it was not abolished in Schleswig-Holstein until 1797).

      • William Tighe says:

        I solicited some responses to my comment from some internet Lutheran (Missouri Synod) friends. Here are their responses to date

        Pastor I:

        Briefly and cursorily, my own study of Luther brings me to a slightly different conclusion regarding his view.

        I ran across some evidence that he may not have favored the viaticum at all, though I don’t know if he said this more than once or twice. This, together with his rather well known exasperated response to the question of the sacramental union’s length (until all the elements are consumed, the lights are turned out, everyone has gone home, etc.), leads me to think that the primary reason it is held that he did not favor reservation of the elements is that he saw no purpose for it. I do not have any record of his ever recommending “a brief bedside celebration of the Eucharist,” and would be very interested to see it if you or anyone has a reference.

        Pastor II (responding to Pastor I):

        Roland Ziegler has a good CTQ article on the Lutheran preference for a “bedside celebration” of the Sacrament (I don’t recall any mention of its “briefness”):

        “Should Lutherans Reserve the Consecrated Elements for the Communion of the Sick?” Concordia Theological Quarterly 67, No. 2 (April 2003): 131–47.

        Pastor III:

        Dr. Tighe,

        I think that’s a fair summary over all.

        I would concur with (Pastor I) that Luther did not favor viaticum in general; it is a point of significant departure from the Reformer that the Church Orders disagreed and regularly provided instructions on how this was to be done. As I recall, Luther’s utterance on this though was in Table Talk, and as always one is never sure how much of Katie’s beer had been consumed before he issued a given pronouncement!

        (Pastor II) helpfully points to Ziegler’s article. It had much useful information, but I do think he was a tad uncomfortable with Luther’s judgment that though he did not LIKE the sacrament being consecrated in church and then carried to the sick in Brandenburg, he could not finally say that it was sinful, wrong, or any such thing. Always looming in the background is Luther’s visceral reaction to the reservation for veneration (Benediction and such). Chemnitz similarly refuses to condemn the earlier church for reserving for communing the sick in the Examen.

        Pastor II (responding to Pastor III):

        It’s been well over a year since I read Ziegler’s article, so I’m not recalling specific details of nuance. It didn’t strike me that he was uncomfortable with Luther’s position; although he may have been, and I just don’t remember. What impressed me was the thoroughness of the article, and its careful assessment of the church orders.

        Chemnitz is always critical to these discussion, and his discussion of this particular point in the Examen is typical of his balanced approach and assessment.

    • Michael Frost says:

      Charles, Forgot to mention two great works by Lutherans on eucharist and liturgics in addition to Sasse’s. Luther Reed’s magisterial The Lutheran Liturgy (1947 1st Ed. & 1958 2nd Ed.). Can’t say enough good things about Reed’s work! Same for Frank Senn’s much more recent The Christian Liturgy (1997). Both are highly ecumenical and comprehensive. Swedish Bishop Brilioth’s work on the liturgy (Eng. translation from around 1930) is also very good. Surprising how much interesting material there is on liturgics by Lutherans?

    • Michael Frost says:

      Charles, Senn (Christian Liturgy, 1997) has a discussion about the church order of Mark Brandenburg (1540) and visitation of the sick (pgs. 336 & 353). He cites two German works on Lutheran Church Orders: Aemelius Richter (1st Ed., 1846 and 2nd Ed., 1871) and Emil Sehling (multi-volume work, 1902-1913). Senn and Reed (2nd. Ed., 1959) both discuss this specific conservative church order; Reed cites Senn’s sources plus some more (Fendt, 1923 & Brightman, 1896). Senn discusses how “At the conclusion of the Service of Holy Communion the home visitation had the minister wearing a surplice and preceed by a sacristan carrying a lantern and bell, took the sacrament from the altar to the sick person’s home and communed him or her there, after hearing his or her confession.” (p. 353)

      Both the Augsburg and Leipzig Interims (1548), demanded by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V of the Lutherans after their military defeat, discuss Unction. They are translated in Sources and Contexts of The Book of Concord (ed. by Kolb & Nestingen, Fortress (2001)). The Leipzig is much more Lutheran in outlook and Melanchthon was heavily involved.

      Ralph Keen translated a selection of Melanchthon’s writings in his A Melanchthon Reader (American Univ., 1988). It includes his 4/8/1529 letter to Oecolampadius on the eucharaist and his Response to the Question of the Heidelberg Controversy (1558). Both are very brief and the former is also translated by Hill in his Melanchthon: Selected Writings (Augsburg, 1962).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s