Turning Point 8: The English Act of Supremacy (1534)


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The English Act of Supremacy (1534) is a major turning point in Church History according to Mark Noll, author of "Turning Points".

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Turning Point 8: The English Act of Supremacy (1534)

  1. 1. The English Act of Supremacy (1534) Turning Point 8 Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity
  2. 2. Turning Points in Christian History <ul><li>Fall of Jerusalem (70) </li></ul><ul><li>Council of Nicaea (325) </li></ul><ul><li>Council of Chalcedon (451) </li></ul><ul><li>Benedict’s Rule (530) </li></ul><ul><li>Coronation of Charlemagne (800) </li></ul><ul><li>Great Schism (1054) </li></ul><ul><li>Diet of Worms (1521) </li></ul><ul><li>English Act of Supremacy (1534) </li></ul><ul><li>Founding of Jesuits (1540) </li></ul><ul><li>Conversion of Wesleys (1738) </li></ul><ul><li>French Revolution (1789) </li></ul><ul><li>Edinburgh Missionary Conference (1910) </li></ul>
  3. 3. The Characters in the Story <ul><li>Henry VIII, King of England </li></ul><ul><li>Catherine of Aragon, Queen of England </li></ul><ul><li>Anne Boleyn, Henry’s mistress </li></ul><ul><li>Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor </li></ul><ul><li>Pope Clement, Bishop of Rome </li></ul><ul><li>Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury </li></ul>
  4. 4. Henry VIII <ul><li>King of England </li></ul><ul><li>Without a male heir </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In pre-Elizabethan England this was unacceptable </li></ul></ul><ul><li>His wife, Catherine of Aragon, had not birthed a son in 23 years of marriage </li></ul><ul><li>Wanted a new wife to give him a son and heir to the throne </li></ul><ul><li>In 1532 his mistress Anne Boleyn became pregnant </li></ul><ul><li>Hence he needed permission from the Pope to divorce his wife Catherine so he could marry Anne Boleyn </li></ul>
  5. 5. Henry’s Dilemma <ul><li>Pope Clement relied on Charles V for political support </li></ul><ul><li>Charles V’s aunt was Catherine of Aragon </li></ul>Pope Clement VII Emperor Charles V Catherine of Aragon
  6. 6. No Catholic Divorce <ul><li>Charles V would not have his aunt’s honor violated by a divorce </li></ul><ul><li>So long as the pope owed his political security to Charles V, he could not permit Henry to divorce Catherine </li></ul><ul><li>But what if Henry could secure a “Christian” divorce apart from the Roman Catholic church? </li></ul>
  7. 7. Birth of the Church of England <ul><li>Henry VIII called upon Thomas Cranmer to grant him a divorce from Catherine </li></ul><ul><li>Cranmer was willing, thus Henry broke the English Church away from the “universal” Roman Catholic Church </li></ul><ul><li>Henry VIII claimed himself (as king of England) as head of the Church of England </li></ul><ul><li>England’s Parliament and ecclesiastical courts supported this break from Rome and the pope </li></ul>
  8. 8. The English Act of Supremacy <ul><li>“… be it enacted by authority of this present Parliament, that the King our Sovereign Lord, his heirs and successors, kings of this realm, shall be taken, accepted, and reputed the only Supreme Head on earth of the Church of England, called Anglicana Ecclesia ; …” </li></ul>
  9. 9. The English Act of Supremacy <ul><li>“… and shall have and enjoy, annexed and united to the imperial crown of this realm, as well the style and title thereof, as all honours, dignities, pre-eminences, jurisdictions, privileges, authorities, immunities, profits, and commodities, to the said dignity of Supreme Head of the same Church belonging and appertaining… ” </li></ul>
  10. 10. Why So Important? <ul><li>Had a general effect on Christendom only because it had a particular effect on England </li></ul><ul><li>Illustrates a powerful new trend in European Christianity in the 2 nd phase of the Reformation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rise of self-consciously local, particular, and national forms of Christianity </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Contemporary Religious Landscape <ul><li>More and more European regions were setting up their own distinct forms of the Christian faith </li></ul><ul><li>Not promoting toleration or religious pluralism in a modern sense, but were establishing small-scale alternatives to the universal Catholic Church </li></ul><ul><li>Development forever changed the face of Christianity in the West </li></ul>
  12. 12. Questions for Discussion <ul><li>What new basis of authority within European Christianity was established with the Act of Supremacy (1534)? </li></ul><ul><li>What kinds of effects have state churches had on spiritual health? On doctrine? </li></ul>
  13. 13. Forces Leading to the Breakup of the Western Church <ul><li>Regionalism </li></ul><ul><li>Nationalism </li></ul><ul><li>Tumultuous new patterns in economic and social life </li></ul><ul><li>Broad intellectual upheaval </li></ul>Protestantism acted as an accelerator for these forces or developments that were already well underway by 1517
  14. 14. Regional Political Background <ul><li>Protestantism required local rulers and urban councils with the ability to act self-confidently and with a fair measure of independence </li></ul><ul><li>Henry’s father (Henry VII) ended the War of the Roses thus extracting England from foreign entanglements </li></ul><ul><li>Henry VII’s reign pacified rivals in the nobility class and secured a firm line of succession for the House of Tudor </li></ul>Henry VII
  15. 15. Nationalism Background <ul><li>Increased concentrations of power around a central monarchial house </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Spain: Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Subduing Moors of Muslim Grenada </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Sponsoring Columbus’s explorations to the new world </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>France: expanding authority </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Strengthening confidence of many German duchies, principalities, electorates, and imperial cities </li></ul><ul><li>Assertions of local autonomy in some eastern European regions </li></ul><ul><li>Growing tensions between local rulers and RCC emissaries </li></ul>
  16. 16. Economic Background <ul><li>Economic recovery since the Black Death of the mid-14 th century </li></ul><ul><li>Money was increasingly a point of friction between the RC church and European countries </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Conditions in England and Germany led to Protestantism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conditions in Italian city-states led to perpetual church-state squabbles while remaining Catholic </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Apart from Protestant theology, economic recovery created new centers of financial power, new situations for potential friction, and new opportunities for fiscal resentment </li></ul>
  17. 17. Social Background <ul><li>Monarchs began aligning themselves with the urban wealthy to counteract the power of landed nobility </li></ul><ul><li>Cities were increasingly socially volatile with the emergence of a new class consisting of merchants, lawyers, and master craftsmen </li></ul><ul><li>Medieval serfdom became extinct </li></ul><ul><li>All levels of ecclesiastical authority were forced to renegotiate the honored social status that had existed as the fabric of society for centuries </li></ul>
  18. 18. Intellectual Background <ul><li>Printing press increased pace of exchange of ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Spread of the Renaissance from Southern to Northern Europe </li></ul><ul><li>Increasing desire to return to ancient learning (pre-medieval thought): ad fontes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Latin and Greek </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pagan and Christian </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Bible </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Questions for Discussion <ul><li>Why might a person conclude that the Reformation was simply a result of political, social, and intellectual causes? </li></ul><ul><li>Why should we be wary of this approach? </li></ul>
  20. 20. Don’t Make These Mistakes! <ul><li>Interpret the dynamic cultural activity that accelerated throughout 15 th century Europe as a mere anticipation of the Reformation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Some developments would fit the Reformation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some developments would fit the Counter-Reformation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some developments would fit secularism </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Interpret the motives of powerful leaders who became Protestants as grabs at the land and influence of the RC church </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Both Protestants and Catholics explained their differences in religious terms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prots abandoned the RC church to pursue the way of salvation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Caths strengthen the church to combat the spiritual chaos caused by Prots </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Crises in the Church <ul><li>Avignon Papacy (Babylonian Captivity of the Church) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Administrative improvement; spiritual regress </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Great Schism & the antipopes </li></ul><ul><li>Spiritual renewal occurring in monasteries did not migrate well to churches or papacy </li></ul><ul><li>Increasing preoccupation with international politics </li></ul><ul><li>Persistent fascination with temporal advantage and dynastic influence </li></ul><ul><li>Persistent inattention to most basic questions of the Christian life </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What must I do to be saved? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Where can I find secure religious authority? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How should the church’s spiritual interests be balanced by the need to live in the world? </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Protestant Answers to Basic Questions <ul><li>What must I do to be saved? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Trust by faith in the free grace of God active for the justification of sinners in the work of Jesus Christ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Where can I find secure religious authority? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The Bible is the sole final authority worthy of implicit trust </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How should the church’s spiritual interests be balanced by the need to live in the world? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The Church is fundamentally a fellowship of priests, with all believers being called to seek God through the mediation of Christ, with all believers called to act as Christ’s agents in the world </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Church is a spiritual democracy (with certain restrictions on who may preach and administer the sacraments) </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Protestantisms <ul><li>By 1540 hope faded for general reform in the entire church </li></ul><ul><li>Protestant leaders suddenly recognized the existence of separate Protestant churches in separate parts of Europe </li></ul><ul><li>Protestant churches were also separated by subtle yet important theological differences that no one had noticed during the early years of attempting to reform the RC church </li></ul>Lutheran Presbyterian Anglican Anabaptist
  24. 24. Different Protestantisms <ul><li>Differentiated by: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Degree of support received from secular authorities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Erastianism on the “far right” (state controls the pace of reform) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Lutheranism/Reformed in the “middle” (Church is autonomous but supported by the state) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Anabaptism on the “far left” (rejected almost all church-state links) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Christian doctrine and practice </li></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Protestant Doctrinal Differences <ul><li>Lutheran and Reformed doctrine of the Lord’s supper </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Consubstantiation (Lutheran) vs. memorial or spiritual presence (Reformed) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Scripture Alone </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is Scripture strictly speaking the only authority? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Yes (Reformed and Anabaptists) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>No (Lutherans) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If Scripture is ultimate authority, how should it be interpreted? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Follow the broad themes of the gospel (Lutheran, Anglican) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Follow NT commands literally, imitate the life of Christ, read the OT symbolically (Anabaptist) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Follow Bible as a whole, especially tracing the covenant through to NT realities like God covenanting with individuals, churches, nations (Reformed) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Why Doctrine Divided Protestants <ul><li>Protestants discovered their differences of scriptural interpretation affected teaching on almost every major Protestant issue </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Meaning of sacraments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who properly receives the sacraments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is required to have sins forgiven after baptism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is proper kind of church music </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Proper for Christians to serve in military or secular gov’t </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How local and regional churches should be organized </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Whether RC mass should be modified or discarded </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Whether to promote education in the traditional liberal arts </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. Paradox of Protestantisms <ul><li>Created conditions in which local renewal of the faith could take place more readily and stir hearts more deeply than in the Catholic regions of Europe </li></ul><ul><li>Created conditions that hastened the secularization of Europe, because without a universal church people were indirectly or directly encouraged to disregard all traditional authority and to think and act on their own </li></ul><ul><li>RC church’s recommitment to the universality of the church created conditions for preserving traditional European respect for religious authority, the revelation of God found in Scriptures, and Christian tradition itself </li></ul>
  28. 28. Application for Today’s Church <ul><li>What were the primary issues that tended to differentiate one brand of Protestantism from another? </li></ul><ul><li>Do these issues still divide denominations today, or have they been replaced by other points of distinction? </li></ul>
  29. 29. Henry VIII’s Marriages A little advice Henry: “ Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth ” (Prov 5:18).