Dr. Rusten tells the story. We add a few interpolations and musings.
Rusten, E. Michael and Rusten, Sharon. The One Year Christian History. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2003. Available at: http://www.amazon.com/The-Year-Christian-History-Books/dp/0842355073/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1393302630&sr=8-1&keywords=rusten+church+historyBy the 1530s, Antwerp was becoming one of the richest and busiest cities in Europe. The port on the Schedlt River made it the center of international trade and commerce. The whole region was known as Flanders. Charles V, the Emperor of the (Holy Roman, being neither Holy nor Roman) Empire received ½ of its tax revenues from this area alone.
Charles V gave many benefits to this region, except for religious freedom.
The Reformation began in 1517. It soon reached Antwerp. Lutherans and Anabaptists flocked there. Calvinists from Switzerland and France went there. Tyndale, an Englishman, resided in Antwerp to translate the Bible into English, a fugitive from Inquisitor-TFO types in England.
Many Augustinian monks in and around Antwerp followed Luther. One example was James Probst, friend of Martin Luther, and prior of the convent at Antwerp. He preached justification by faith alone, a doctrine now in eclipse in the 21st century in the West and beclouded by such exhorters as Mr. (Bp.) Thomas Wright and half-syncretists like ACNA's Bob and Recon-Ray of the REC. Yet, "justification by faith alone apart from the works of the law" was central to the Reformation.
Many Augustinians supported the Reformation doctrines—from Dordtrecht, Hague, Utrecht, and Ghent. By the 1520s, Luther’s books were being translated into Dutch.
But the Emperor, Charles V, and his IOOs (Inquisitor-Office-Operatives) were opposing Reformation theology in favor of Romanism.
One Dominican reprobate claimed, “I’d like to fasten my teeth around Luther’s throat and I’d proudly go to the Lord’s Supper with his blood dripping from my lips.”
An IO-representative from Rome arrived. The book-burnings began.
Erasmus was in Antwerp at the time and said, “The books leave the shelves, but not the people’s hearts.”
By 1521, the Antichrist of Rome and Gospel-hating bishop of Rome, asked Charles V to forbid the reading or publication of Luther’s books. Charles V ordered courts to enforce the Edict of Worms passed earlier in that year—an Edict that condemned Luther and his followers (however, the general disintegration of political control here and there vitiated Charles' control).
James Probst, the Augustinian prior, and two friends were arrested in Antwerp. We covered that for a 1 July post.
By 1522, 2 Augustinian friars, Henry Voes and Johann Eck, were burned at the stake in Brussels—the first martyrs of the Protestant Reformation.
Erasmus said that the martyrs only made more Lutherans. Interest in Lutheran thinking swelled in Antwerp. Every allusion in plays or sermons to Romanist corruptions was cheered and applauded, an indication of the stature of Romanism.
In 1527, while Cranmer was stilling figuring out who and what he was, the English Ambassador reported that 2/3rds of Antwerp held Luther’s opinions.
Alarmed by the progress of Reformation theology, the Belgian Parliament issued an Edict on 14 October 1529, the beginning of the reign of terror.
The Edict decreed:
1. Death for heretics
2. Death not only for theologians, but for laity expressing support for Lutheran views
3. Prohibition of the discussion of any article of religion.
The art and trade of the Spanish Inquisition had arrived in Flanders. It continued for decades.
This much, you can be sure Henry VIII, Thomas More, Archbishop William Warham, Bishop John Fisher and even Thomas Cranmer was aware of these developments vis a vis diplomatic channels. God give us young scholars who will ply the state of things in England in the 1520s. But, back to the Belgian situation.
During the 16th century, 600 Protestant churches were destroyed. Untold 1000s perished, especially in France. Judgment still awaits these reprobates at the Final Judgment (Rev. 6.9ff.)
William Tyndale would be one Englishman who fell to the Flanders-IOO of Romanism. We tell that story elsewhere.
The Holocaust was successful too. Belgium expunged the Protestant and Reformed faith. But, these Churchmen relocated and continued to Confess and Profess the true, Protestant, Reformed and Catholic Faith.
1. What of Foxe’s Acts and Monuments?
2. What of the history of the Belgic Confession and the history of the Belgian Reformed Church? Why didn’t WTS speak of this more?
3. What of the history of the French Huguenots?
4. What did Elizabeth 1 think of these developments in the late 16th century? The Archbishops of Canterbury? Why did they give refuge to the Reformed and what do that TFOs say?
5. What of John Strype?
Durant. The Reformation. 136-42, 631-7.
Edwards. God’s Outlaw.
Johnstone. Operation World. 5th ed. 114-5.
Smith. Age of the Reformation. 234-46.