A few months ago, we inserted a photo of Archbishop Rowan Williams, head of the Anglican Church bowing and kissing the ring of the current Pope. He and many theologians of the past eighty years have called for reconciliation of Protestantism and Catholicism, completely ignoring past events that led to the Reformation in the first place. Or, for that matter, the warning in The Epistle Dedicatory, excerpts being, “…that the zeal of your Majesty [King James] toward the house of God does not slack or go backward, but is more and more kindled, manifesting itself abroad in the farthest parts of Christendom, by writing in defence of the truth (which has given such a blow unto the man of sin, as will not be healed) …..” Yet, Protestant theologians of all stripes see healing in ecumenism and are willing to accept all the false doctrine, including Rome’s three latest – The Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary (1854), The Infallibility of the Pope (1870) and the Bodily Assumption of the Virgin Mary into Heaven (1950)?
Do you suppose those who sacrificed so much for the faith might be turning in their graves at such a appalling thought. We could name many, including Elizabeth I, who exhibited great strength and courage in combating the forces of Catholicism, despite plots against her life and crown. Still, two men who come to mind, who made the supreme sacrifice for the faith, were Hugh Latimer and Thomas Cranmer and we should always remember their last words.
Latimer, of course, was the Bishop who first exhibited his courage when called to preach before Henry VIII’s court, the king who openly boasted that there was not a noble head in the country he couldn’t make fly. Never a shrinking violet, in the bluntest of terms, Latimer denounced the king and his court. The king was furious and demanded retraction the following Lord’s Day. When the day arrived, Latimer entered the pulpit and began by addressing himself in a loud voice. “Hugh Latimer, doest thou know before whom thou art this day to speak? To the high and mighty monarch, the King’s most excellent majesty, who can take away thy life if thou offendest; therefore take heed that thou speakest not a word that may displease! And then consider well, Hugh, dost thou not know from whence comest thou; upon whose message thou art sent? Even by the great and mighty God! Who is all present! And Who beholdest all thy ways! And Who is able to cast thy soul into hell! Therefore take care that thou deliverest thy message faithfully.” Then, to Henry’s and the Court’s astonishment, he repeated his condemnation of the previous week in even stronger terms. All those present were certain that the king would have Latimer beheaded but to their greater astonishment, Henry was subdued by Latimer’s sincerity and exclaimed, “Blessed be God, I have so honest a servant.” Consequently, on this occasion, Latimer was spared.
Yet, his courage and total commitment to the Reformation made him a victim of persecution during the reign of Mary I (Bloody Mary) who tried so vigorously to restore the Papacy. He was burned at the stake with fellow Bishop Ridley and as Churchill wrote, “their martyrdom rallied to the Protestant faith many who had shown indifference.” Latimer was immortalized through his words to his fellow bishop as the flames were cracking around them, “Be of good comfort Master Ridley. Play the man. We shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England as I trust shall never be put out.” What would Latimer call the influential men and women calling for unity with the Papacy? “Traitors to the Faith,” perhaps?
And what would Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, Rowan William’s predecessor, have had to say about such a movement? His pitiful recantation of the Reformation was followed by a final heroic end and six weeks before being burnt at the stake in Oxford in 1556 by the Roman Catholic authorities in England, he wrote : “Moved by the duty, office, and place, whereunto it hath pleased God to call me, I give warning in His name unto all that profess Christ, that they flee far from Babylon, if they will save their souls, and to beware of that great harlot, that is to say, the pestiferous See of Rome, that she maketh you not drunk with her pleasant win.’’ Towards the end of his `Examination at Oxford’, in September 1555, he charged the Pope with being the author of the erroneous teachings of the papal church, and added : ‘I will never give my consent to the receiving of him into this Church of England.
Sadly, it is a sign of indifference that few today raise their voices against the threat of renewed papal power. (thanks to excerpts from an old National Message article and from Monarchs of Destiny – King Henry VIII)