Writing on Cranmer
by Peter Adam
I love reading and studying the history of God’s people over the last 2000 years. This includes lots of biographies, and also books on history. I love finding godly people and good gospel ministry: I am constantly encouraged by them. I benefit from discovering the sins and mistakes of people in the past, and learning from the damage they caused.
Studying the past also helps me understand the present. We stand on the shoulders of gospel ministry over the last two millennia. And it is fascinating to see how people lived as Christians who were not blinded by our contemporary assumptions from our society. Many of them were so willing to suffer for Christ, and to trust that God was still at work amidst illness, frustrations and failures: and how much they longed for eternity with God. What a challenge to us in our comfortable lives and ministries.
I study Cranmer because he had a profound influence on Anglicanism, because he had a vision and responsibility for evangelising his nation, because his Reformed gospel convictions came later in life, and so he saw them and their implications so clearly. He was a reluctant Archbishop, and suffered and died for the gospel. And while his role gave him much influence, he also faced constant frustrations in trying to achieve his gospel aims.
And I found in Cranmer one of my strong beliefs, that of the transforming power of the Bible. He believed in its authority, a common belief in Reformed faith today. But he also believed in its power, and the power of the Bible is one of the main claims it makes about itself. Cranmer believed that the Bible was an effective tool for evangelism. This is a challenge for us today: will we not only teach Biblical truth in our evangelism, but also use the Bible itself in evangelism.
Cranmer has encouraged me to train up gospel ministers in theological colleges, in ministry and preaching conferences, in coaching groups for preachers, and in personal mentoring; and to use the Bible in evangelism. He has also encouraged me to look for gospel opportunities rather than complain about restrictions and barriers, and to suffer for the gospel in the church and in the world.