Saturday, March 28, 2015

Mr. J.R.S Taylor’s view (Bp. of Sodor and Main): Three Things About Cranmer

There are, on Mr. J.R.S Taylor’s view (Bp. of Sodor and Main), three things about Cranmer:

i)        Cranmer was a scholar.  He was 40 years old, a Cambridge trained man, a recent D.D., a university lecturer, and had been offered, but declined, a canonry at Christ Church, Oxford. He learned and kept up his language studies: Hebrew, Greek, Latin as well as French, German and Italian.  His private library contained “nearly all the Greek and Latin fathers” and was “reputed to be larger than that of the University of Cambridge.”  As such, he wrote during the “golden age of English prose.”

ii)      Cranmer was a moderate man.  He did things in a “gradual and unhurried” way.  This didn’t satify his “impatient sympathizers.” It caused some to wonder whether he “was fully convinced of his own cause.”  He was “not quick to judgment” but was “sorting out new ideas and principles.” Mr. Taylor offers this dubious and highly debatable gem:  “He [Cranmer] claimed a freedom of conscience for himself, so he allowed it to others.”  This last statement seems to be a serious over-reach, but we will hold it in abeyance for now.  On this point, Mr. Pollard is closer to the mark, to wit, that freedom of speech and freedom of religion was not distinctive in this period and should not be inserted into the narrative.  (Pollard, A.F. Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation, 1489-1556. London: G.P. Putnam’s Son, 1906.)

iii)     Cranmer had singleness of heart.  Mr. Taylor approvingly quotes Mr. Pollard that Cranmer had “in him no guile; his variations were not calculating, but the faithful reflex of developing convictions.”  Henry tolerated, but had no respect for Wolsey and Cromwell; Henry knew they “each had his price.”  On the other hand, Henry trusted Cranmer and “respected” him.  This is an interesting claim by Mr. Taylor.

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