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  • Mark Earngey

Revisiting the Tudor Church Militant

An insight into our new book edited by Mark Earngey and Stephen Tong.

The reformation continues to excite, perplex, surprise, and inspire us. Indeed, the English Reformation continues to feature frequently in contemporary cultural and church conversations. What responsibility does the King of England have for the Church of England? How much obedience should the church render to the civil authorities during times of plague? Do the Anglican formularies have anything to say to contemporary debates over the doctrine of humanity? Did the reformation end the age of enchantment and usher in an age of secular scepticism? Should we consider the efforts of Luther, Zwingli, Cranmer, and Calvin a tragedy, or a howling success?

This new Latimer Trust publication does not answer all these questions! It does, however, explore an incredibly important period of the English Reformation which has been dubbed the Tudor Church Militant. The short but pivotal period of the English Reformation during the reign of King Edward VI is foundational for understanding Reformation Anglicanism. It was in this period that many of the Anglicanism formularies were first set forth, e.g., the Book of Common Prayer, the Book of Homilies, and the Articles of Religion. And it was in this period that many of the great Anglican reformers flourished. Although the Elizabethan Settlement cemented evangelicalism into the English realm, many of those doctrine developments are rooted in the reign of the boy king Edward, and as such, the Edwardian period is pivotal to our understanding of the English Reformation.

Reformation Anglicanism: Essays on Edwardian Evangelicalism explores this important period of church history. It is a superb set of essays arising from the Moore Theological College symposium on Reformation Anglicanism held in 2019. Featuring essays from various reformation scholars such as Ashley Null, Gerald Bray, Scott Amos, and Mark Thompson, this collection of articles focuses on some foundational documents (e.g. Book of Homilies, Articles of Religion) and foundational reformers (e.g. Thomas Cranmer, Martin Bucer, Heinrich Bullinger) involved with the English Reformation, and its Edwardian phase in particular. This volume not only offers a sustained focus on the often neglected mid-Tudor phase of the Reformation but explores new avenues of research on overlooked subjects such as the 45 Articles of Religion, John Ponet’s Short Catechism, the Reformatio Legum Ecclesiasticarum, the disputed place of cathedrals in the English Reformation, the ministry of John Hooper, and the memory of Martin Bucer. Students and scholars alike will benefit from this fresh examination of these anchors of Anglicanism which were hotly contested both then, and now.

Perhaps a couple of examples might whet your appetite. Ashley Null, one of the world’s leading Cranmer scholars, probes the conundrum concerning whether the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Reformed eucharistic theology was in contradiction to Swiss eucharistic theology? Using recently discovered sources on the Lord’s Supper from Parisian archives, Null unravels some of the shroud covering Cranmer’s sacramental thought and shows its dependence on the thought of Cyril of Alexandria. Ashley Null’s scholarship is required reading for Thomas Cranmer’s eucharistic theology, and this essay illustrates why that is the case.

Indeed, Cranmer’s theology of the Lord’s Supper is reflected with remarkable resemblance by Cranmer’s chaplain and theological adviser, Bishop John Ponet. In Mark Earngey’s essay on John Ponet’s Short Catechisme, he returns this incredibly important formulary to its rightful place as one of the clearest interpretive keys to the Edwardian Articles of Religion. Earngey shows how the Articles were originally bound up with the catechism such that the whole productive was called ‘The Book of the Catechism’. Moreover, Ponet’s Short Catechisme stands as one of the most progressively reformed documents of the Edwardian reformation, even stating that church has, not two, but four marks: faithful preaching, right administration of the sacraments, Christian discipline, and brotherly love.

These examples are representative of what may be gleaned from Reformation Anglicanism: Essays on Edwardian Evangelicalism. The essays and appendices will be immensely useful for students and scholars of the reformation, of particular interest to ordained and lay Anglicans, and may even satisfy some of the curiosity of those peering into the world of Anglicanism from the window. The foundational documents and foundational personalities intertwined with the Tudor Church Militant are what give the English Reformation much of its colour and controversy, and this new book from the Latimer Trust enables us to see and appreciate the picture of the early English Reformation once again.

To buy this excellent book click here.


Mark Earngey is Head of Church History at Moore Theological College, Sydney. He is the co-editor of Reformation Worship: Liturgies from the Past for the Present (New Growth Press, 2018). He is married to Tanya and they have four young children.



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