When is it too late to repent? That was the question that faced the dishonored and imprisoned, former Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer. The Reformation movement had shaken all of Europe throughout the 1500’s, and nowhere could its effects be seen more clearly than in England. Through the work of men like William Tyndale, new ideas had been circulated and King Henry the VIII (looking for a way to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon) appointed Reformer Thomas Cranmer as Archbishop of Canterbury. Eager as Cranmer was to promote the Protestant doctrine, his devotion to King Henry forced him to make very difficult decisions. The primary contribution Cranmer made to the Reformation was his Book of Common Prayer, a liturgy of the Anglican church that (in spite of protests) Cranmer made compulsory.
Cranmer’s open support for the Protestants led to serious trouble with the Roman Catholic Church, and after the death of King Henry VIII, and his son Edward VI, Bloody Mary took the English throne and brought the vengeance of the Catholic Church down on Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. Imprisoned and facing execution, Cranmer lost faith and recanted his Protestant beliefs in writing, but this was not enough to satisfy Mary I, who demanded Cranmer make a public confession. Given a script to read for the recantation, Cranmer was taken to University Church and allowed to stand in the pulpit. He began reading but after a brief time he threw the script aside and spoke out against the Catholics, renouncing his recantations he had signed as well as the doctrines of the Pope. Ripped from the pulpit, Cranmer was dragged to the steak where he was to burn alive and as the fire rose around him he quoted the words of the apostle Steven, “I see the heavens open and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”
There are many heroes of the Reformation and we are so excited to be able to look at their work on our Reformation Heroes tour with The Master’s Academy International. At the TMAI conference. Featured speakers like James White, John MacArthur, Mike Abendroth, Paul Washer, and others will be speaking on the topic of the European Reformation, and the brave Christian men whose mission it was to share the truth about God’s Word.