12 May 1548 A.D. Westminster Abbey, London: English communion service introduced under Cranmer & Ridley
A few notes from Prof. Bromiley, p.69.
January 1548: Latimer preached a hot sermon at St. Paul’s against an “unpreaching prelate” and a “rapacious landlord.”
In London, the clergy were ahead of the government. As advanced men, they were certainly ahead of the backhills, hamlets and outer precincts.
The English communion service was “introduced at Westminster” on May 12 1548.
The Latin Mass had already been abandoned at St. Paul’s, London. Bp. Ridley had seen to that.
Also, the private mass abandoned.
The repeal of the heresy law “released flood of theological writings” of which a high proportion were against the Mass.
Problematically, however, Thomas Cranmer the uber-scholar issued a translation of Justus Jonas Catechism. It was Lutheran to the “great disappointment to the more advanced reformers.”
One English Reformer objected about Tom: “This Thomas has fallen into so heavy a slumber that he will not be aroused even by your most learned letter. For lately he has published a catechism, in which he has not only approved that foul and sacrilegious transubstantiation of the Papists in the holy supper of our Savior, but all the dreams of Luther seem to him sufficiently well-grounded, perspicuous and lucid” (Original Letters (PS), II, 380-381).
Tepidity, timidity and luke-warmness were charges that Cranmer faced from more advanced Reformers. (Those charges all changed after 21 May 1556 when his body was reduced to ashes.)
But was this what Cranmer was doing? Was he a Crypto-Lutheran or a Crypto-Ubiquitarian with “wafer-gods” on all Communion Tables before his 1549 Book of Common Prayer went to press? We’ll say more about that elsewhere.
What about Cranmer’s later claim at trial? Cranmer ever-claimed that he once held to Rome’s transubstantiation, but never to Luther’s Ubuqitarianism at the Table. Cranmer was explicit about holding to two and only two views: Transubstantiation and then the Reformed view.
Bromiley notes that “apparently” Cranmer had abandoned “real presence” (PS, I, 374). This word “apparently” needs to be exercised and examined.
“How and when” did Cranmer made up his mind on communion?
Bromiley claims: It “is not known with any certainty” (70)
Cranmer’s teaching is developed in A True and Catholic Doctrine.
It is true Cranmer had been accused of holding 3 views: transubstantiation, Luther’s ubiquitarianism, and the Reformed view.
But, Cranmer says himself: “Nay, I taught but two contrary views in the same” (PS, II, 217-218).
Cranmer in his Answer to Smith’s Preface says he [Smith] did not understand “his book of the catechism.” “By little and little I put away my former ignorance” (PS, I, 374).
Nicholas Ridley was convinced by Bertram (Ridley, PS, 159).
Ridley issued a “modest disclaimer,” to wit, diminishing a claim of influencing Cranmer. However, most think Cranmer’s “new teaching lay primarily with his younger associate” (70).
Cranmer was also helped by Peter Martyr, Tremellius, Ochino, John a Lasco, Bucer and Fagius—Reformed Churchmen living in England. Fagius and Bucer had been put “into university chairs” to “influence a rising generation of ordinands.”
Furthermore, Cranmer tried to arrange a “Protestant conference” including Calvin, Melanchthon, and Bullinger (PS, II, 431-432) with the purpose to oppose the Council of Trent and to craft a General Council of Reformed Churchmen. This was never realized.
What is significant here?
This: that “the doctrine of communion was now emerging as the crucial dogmatic issue of the Reformation in England just as the reform of the communion office as the crucial liturgical issue” was at hand [emphasis added].
In 1548, the controversy became “so violent” that all preachers were forbidden to preach on anything but the Homilies.
Upshot or main point: an English Communion Service was introduced to Parliament under King Edward VI and the Reformed Cranmer.
This is a large and significant development: English services.
England would ultimately get English services while Romanist-dominated countries and communities would labor on with Tridentine Masses in Latin well into the 1970s. The Devil had done well in “stealing” God’s Word from the soil for over 4 centuries (cf. Parable of Sower and the Devil’s operations, Matthew 13 and other parallels).
England and the West was blessed to have an open English Bible and an open, Protestant, and Reformed Prayer Book.