Wednesday, October 14, 2015

October 1548-1595 A.D. Remembering Prof. William Whittaker—English Reformed Churchman

October 1548-1595 A.D.  Remembering Prof. William Whittaker—English Reformed Churchman                              

Veitch, Donald Philip. “Part Two—An English Reformer, Dr. William Whittaker.  Calvinism or Arminianism?”  Reformed Churchmen.  4 Aug 2009. Accessed 19 Sept 2014.
Part Two begins.

We resume our thinking on Dr. William Whittaker, Cambridge University.

William Whittaker’s A Disputation on the Holy Scripture Against the Papists, Especially Bellarmine and Stapleton, ed. Parker Society (Cambridge Press, 1849). Next to Martin Chemnitz, the second Martin of the Reformation, we find this work to be one of the finest expositions on sola scriptura.

On the frontispiece of this volume[1] the purpose is stated:

“For the Publication of the Works of the Fathers and Early Writers of the Reformed English Church.” Emphasis is added.

Clearly, the use of the word “Reformed” was operative with the editors of this infamous collection of 54 volumes of the English Reformers. We must call attention to this since the plague of liberalism and Romanism, like termite infestations, has rotted the beams in the church. Weakness, ignorance and indifference on the Lambeth Articles of 1595 still informs Western Anglicanism, confessionally.

A downloadable version is available at:

We briefly overviewed Dr. Whittaker's life in Part One. We resume with the discussion of his Calvinism.

William Whittaker did not share the “disciplinary tenets of the puritans,” although he agreed with them in their hostility to developing “Arminian opinions.”[2] Debate and discussion was occurring at Cambridge University. He assisted Archbishop Whitgift in the penning of the Lambeth Articles. A fuller account can be gained from John Strype’s Life of Whitgift. Whitgift died shortly after the Arminian debate and Elizabethan debacle and horrendous decision in 1595.

An accurate, but brief presentation is offered by an Irish Protestant Reformed Church concerning the Lambeth Articles at: Philip Schaff also handles this subject well in Creeds of Christendom.

Here are the nine propositions of the Lambeth Articles of 1595:

1. God from eternity has predestined some men to life, and reprobated some to death.

2. The moving or efficient cause of predestination to life is not the foreseeing of faith, or of perseverance, or of good works, or of anything innate in the person of the predestined, but only the will of the good pleasure of God.

3. There is a determined and certain number of predestined, which cannot be increased or diminished.

4. Those not predestined to salvation are inevitably condemned on account of their sins.

5. A true, lively and justifying faith, and the sanctifying Spirit of God, is not lost nor does it pass away either totally or finally in the elect.

6. The truly faithful man—that is, one endowed with justifying faith—is sure by full assurance of faith ("plerophoria fidei") of the remission of sins and his eternal salvation through Christ.

7. Saving grace is not granted, is not made common, is not ceded to all men, by which they might be saved, if they wish.

8. No one can come to Christ unless it be granted to him, and unless the Father draws him: and all men are not drawn by the Father to come to the Son.

9. It is not in the will or power of each and every man to be saved.

We quote from the article found at the above URL.

"The Lambeth Articles were drawn up by Dr. William Whitaker, Regius Professor of Divinity in Cambridge, with input from Dr. Richard Fletcher (Bishop of London), Dr. Richard Vaughan (Bishop-elect of Bangor) and Humphrey Tyndall (Dean of Ely).

"The Articles were formally approved by the Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr. John Whitgift), the Archbishop of York (Dr. Matthew Hutton), the Bishop of London (Dr. Richard Fletcher), the Bishop-elect of Bangor (Dr. Richard Vaughan), and other prelates convened at Lambeth Palace, London (20 November, 1595). Dr. Whitgift, the Archbishop of Canterbury, sent the Lambeth Articles to the University of Cambridge a few days later (24 November, 1595), not as new laws and decrees, but as an explanation of certain points already established by the laws of the land.

"At the Hampton Court Conference of King James I and several prelates with the leaders of the Puritans (January, 1604), Dr. Reynolds made the request that "the nine orthodoxal assertions concluded on at Lambeth might be inserted into the Book of Articles." But the Lambeth Articles were never formally added to the Church of England's Thirty-Nine Articles (1563). They were, however, accepted by the Dublin Convocation of 1615 and engrafted on the Irish Articles (1615), which are believed to have been largely the work of James Ussher, who was to become Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland (1625-1656). In the Church of Ireland, the Lambeth Articles obtained for some time a semi-symbolical authority. It is stated that they were exhibited at the Synod of Dordt (1618-1619) by the English deputies, as the judgment of the Church of England on the Arminian controversy.

"Sadly, today, most Anglican churches around the world have fallen into Arminian free-willism and worse and the faithful Lambeth Articles are either unknown or rejected." Here endeth the quote.

The article above does not address the involvement of that disaster of a Churchman called Archbishop Laud--who had his own history with Calvinism going back to his student days at Oxford where he was in a clear minority but, with his usual obstinacy, maintained his Arminian narcissism. (His Autobiography is a masterpiece of self-absorption and, at the very best, is a piece of almost no theological just isn't there. He loves to talk about his dreams, however.)

What the above article also fails to note is that Queen Elizabeth 1 disapproved of the 1595 Lambeth Articles on three grounds. First, she did not like Calvinism. Calvinists do not mix with tyrants. Second, she preferred compromise and her religious settlement of 1559. Third, although Archbishop Whitgift was a favorite, she angrily opposed his independent action in calling a Synod without her authority and permission; she feared that as a precedent, just as she had opposed meetings of presbyterial men discussing theology.

She was profoundly in error on all three points.

Calvinism was the theology of the English Reformers. Dr. Whittaker and all the Archbishops through and after Dr. Whitgift were Calvinists. The Lambeth Articles were accepted at the 1615 Convocation of Dublin of Anglican Churchmen. Archbishop Ussher engrafted these nine inexpugnable propositions upon the Irish Articles and this was embraced by the Church of Ireland. One can also see the basis for the five points of Calvinism as would later be adopted at the Synod of Dordrect, 1618-1619. Let there be no mistake here historically. The English Reformers were Calvinists for at least seventy years after Cranmer's death.

How could any exegete of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans take any other view than these "nine orthodoxal statements?"

The Anglican Church has never recovered from this disaster under a Queen who felt she was a theologian and governor of synods. By the time of Archbishop William Laud, “Arminianism” will be the homogenous view of principle sections, leading sections, of the Church of England.

Tolerance of this disaster will be seen in the Church of England of one like John Wesley, a man that should have been defrocked for his Arminianism. George Whitfield and Augustus Toplady were correct in their chastisement of Wesley's hatred of God's sovereignty. Elizabeth’s decision will not bode well for the Calvinists, be they Anglican or Presbyterian.

As such, Anglicanism is mush at this point, historically, in the Laudian period. Anglicans are ignorant and indifferent on these points. Largely, they are to be ignored today, including Bishops.

This fair lamentation also applies to the few bodies in the United States continuing to claim adherence to the English Reformation. If that were so, they'd be following in Dr. Whittaker's and Dr. Whitgift's footsteps and their leadership.

[1] As is stated in every volume of the Parker Society series.
[2] William Whittaker. Disputations on Holy Scripture Against the Papists, Especially Bellarmine and Stapleton, op.cit., 16.


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