I like this guy. There aren't a whole lot of English Lutherans. I'm not one either. However, my ancestors are from Suffolk, and I professed the Lutheran faith, taught in Scripture and correctly stated in the Book of Concord, when I was 46. Close enough. At least to really admire Robert Barnes. Not just for what he did but moreso for what we can learn from it now for us. To see what that is, let's get into what he did and his times.
I. Who Is Robert Barnes And Who Are The English?
Barnes was born about 1495 in Lynn, formally Kings Lynn, Norfolk,
England. Norfolk, Suffolk -- that's the North folk and the South folk of East
Anglia, once its own kingdom, named after ourselves, the Angles,
who are named in turn from where we came, Angeln, or Anglia in the
international language of the day, Latin, in the modern state of
Schleswig-Holstein in Germany, way up North damn near, er, just South
Before us, a Brythonic tribe called
the Iceni lived in the area. Who are the Brythons? A Celtic tribe
whose land it was before we, the Saxons, the Danes, the Vikings and
yet more starting piling in. It's from them that we get the word
Britain, British, etc. The Romans invaded Britain in 43 BC, called
the place Brittania, and as they did in many places left the local
stuff pretty much alone so long as they obeyed the Roman governors.
Despite revolts here and there, including the great one by the Iceni
queen Boudica, they held out until about 400 AD. That's when the
Saxons from Germany moved in, uninvited, the bleeders.
were invited. The Iceni ended up pretty much wiped out, but in 433
the Brythons asked us if we'd like to come over and settle since
things were getting a bit sparse, and help against the Picts too. How
about that -- in a world history of pretty much conquer and
re-conquer everywhere, we were invited to come! We Angles are all like that
-- just look at the irenic tone, the stepping back from controversy, the
staid measured writing style, for which I am known throughout the
Lutheran blogosphere. Anyway, about 520, the North folk and the South folk
united to form the Kingdom of East Anglia, one of seven kingdoms that
emerged in what would become the United Kingdom, literally.
Anglia is called such to this day as a region of England, generally
also including Cambridgeshire to the West and often Essex to the
South too. Anglia is the root of the words England and English for
the whole thing and its language, East Anglian or not.
in Norfolk, shows its Celtic origins in that the name simply means
"lake" in Celtic. Robert Barnes was born there, and went to
Cambridge for the university there, where he was associated with the
Augustinian friars, same as Luther. Ah Cambridge. Seems that in
1209, some Oxford scholars got upset at the hanging of two Oxford
scholars by the town for murder and rape of locals, so they went to the school at Cambridge and turned it into a
university, the second oldest in the English speaking world. Ah, the
pure pursuit of learning, when academic freedom also included no
prosecution for murdering and raping locals. Call it academic
immunity. Talk about town and gown! Well, at least there actually is a bridge over a river
II. So How Does An English Guy End Up Reading A German Reformer?
Barnes also hung out at the White Horse Tavern, aka White Horse
Inn, in Cambridge where starting about 1521 groups met to discuss
Luther and his thought, including Thomas Cranmer, Miles Coverdale,
William Tyndale, and others. Because of their interest in the ideas
coming from Germany, the group got the nickname "the Germans". Damn,
wish I was there.
In 1523 he graduated Doctor of
Divinity, or Divinitatis doctor, from Cambridge. At Midnight Mass on
Christmas Eve 1525, Barnes preached an openly Lutheran sermon, at
St Edward's church in Cambridge. He was brought up on charges,
examined by Thomas Cardinal Wolsey -- a Suffolk boy, from Ipswich --
Lord Chancellor to the King, Henry VIII, and ended up being sent to
jail in 1526.
He escaped two years later, made his
way to Antwerp and then Wittenberg, where he met Luther and was his
house guest. I'm guessing they spoke Latin to each other. Maybe he
learned German, like me, hanging around with the fellas. Damn, wish I
was there too. While there, as Luther noted in his work to be
mentioned below, he used neither his title nor his name, enrolling
simply as Antonius Anglus (there's the Angle thing again).
1536 he was able to return to England, working as a liaison between
the English government and Lutheran rulers and churchmen in
Germany. In 1535 they sent him back to Germany, to get Lutheran
support for Henry's efforts to get a divorce from Catherine of
Aragon and Henry's vision of reformation in England. He didn't get
it, and Henry never forgot it. Catherine of Aragon was really Catalina
de Aragon. What does this mean? (If you're Lutheran and ain't
laughing, oh well.)
III. So Why Was An English Guy Reading A German Reformer A Big Deal?
boy here we go. Now Catalina was married to Henry's older brother
Arthur, who was supposed to become king, being the first son of Henry
VII, but he died before his dad (predeceased him, if you like it put
that way) so Henry became the heir. This was a big deal. Henry VII
claimed descent from the legendary King Arthur and said his son to be
would restore the glory days of the equally legendary Camelot, and
thus named him Arthur. And to bolster his kingdom against the French
by an alliance with Spain, just recently united under Isabela I de
Castilla and Fernando II de Aragon, a marriage was arranged when
Arthur was 2 between him and their daughter Catalina.
VII had another problem too. None of the other European monarchs
recognised him as a real king -- you know, by birth. He became king
by his victory over Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Hill in the
"War of the Roses", between the House of Lancaster, which he as
Henry Tudor led, and the House of York, of which Richard III was the
last English king, since he not only lost the battle but was killed
in it. Well hell, Richard had become king by taking power from his
nephew King Edward V, who was just twelve and, um, disappeared after
Richard took power, but they were born to this stuff so it's OK.
Henry Tudor wasn't.
Not only that, his great
grandfather on his mother's side, guy named John Beaufort, was a
bastard. No, not that kind, born out of wedlock. Now John's dad,
John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, was indeed the third son of Edward
III, but he did not lock in wed with John's mother, Katherine Swinford
his mistress of some 25 years, until after John and three other kids
were born, and even at that she was his third wife. Which made the
kids legitimate, but not eligible for the throne because they were
not legitimate by birth.
So here's Henry Tudor with
his claim to the throne, all other claimants from the House of
Lancaster dead in battle, murdered, or executed, resting on military
victory, with an illegitimate ancestor by birth, and not on the male
side of his ancestry. That's why all the stuff about jumping over
all that to the legendary King Arthur. And also why Catalina as
queen would make the House of Tudor accepted as for real by all the
other kings and queens. Catalina was actually of descent from the
House of Lancaster, named after Catherine of Lancaster, her great
grandmother and a legitimate daughter of John of Gaunt and his wife
Constance of Castile, who was his second wife but that's OK as his
first, Blanche, died of the Bubonic Plague two years before they were
married, so there's a wrap on that.
Catalina had all
the cards to make everything OK. Not only that, she was enormously
well though of in all respects: highly educated, devoutly Catholic,
privately critical of many of the moral abuses and superstitions the
Lutherans condemned but had no time for Luther or the Lutherans, was a
lay member of the Franciscan Order -- a secular tertiary, meaning a
lay member of the third order, the first being friars (OFM, Order of
Friars Minor, there ain't no friars major, the phrase is from "little
brothers" or fraticelli translated into Latin) and the second nuns
(OSC, Ordo Sanctae Clarae or Poor Clares, from St Clare, a female
follower of St Francis) -- and praised by such notables as Erasmus,
who called her a defender of the faith, and Thomas More, who said she
was also a complete and total babe, or words to that effect.
a long-distance relationship by mail, Arthur and Catalina finally
met on 4 November 1501 and were married 14 November 1501 at St Paul's
Cathedral in London. He didn't know Spanish and she didn't know
English, and even when they tried the international language of the
day, Latin, that didn't work due to differences in pronunciation!
Then they both get sicker than hell, most likely from the deadly
"sweating sickness" that swept England from 1485 to 1551 and hasn't
come back since. She recovers, but he dies on 2 April 1502 and that
blows the whole thing all to hell.
IV. I'm Henery The Eighth I Am.
gets worse. Now Henry VII has two more problems! One is, with
Arthur dead after not even five months of marriage, he would have to
pay back Catalina's dowry, but he needed the cash! What's a dowry?
Serious stuff in those days. No it was not part of a woman being
bought and sold like a commodity. Quite the opposite, a dowry was
meant to insure her well being and provide an incentive against
mistreatment of her. It provided money toward the establishment and
maintenance of the new household, and, there being no "life insurance"
at the time, provided for their support should he die, since the
dowry remained hers, not his. A woman without a dowry might have a
problem getting a husband, and you know what, that is what the
original Santa Claus, St Nicholas, was all about tossing money into
stockings -- to provide poor girls a dowry that their fathers could
not, so they would find husbands and not end up prostitutes or in the
slave trade; it wasn't just something for fun to open on 25 December!
there's the legitimacy that Catalina's descent brought, but, when
her mother died, Castilla (Castile) passed to her older sister, Juana
la Loca (Johanna the Mad) so that diminished somewhat Catalina's
desired cred since she was now just a king's daughter. Nonetheless
it was decided that she would marry the new heir Arthur's younger
brother Henry, five years younger than she, though Henry VII had
second thoughts. The marriage was put off, officially to allow young
Henry to grow up a bit, hell he was only 10 at the time, but really
because it solved the giving back the dowry problem. Henry VII died
on 21 April 1509, and Henry VIII and Catalina were married 11 June
But more problems. In Roman Catholic canon
law (church law) a man cannot marry his brother's widow. For you
canon law freaks, and others uncomfortable with my sometimes offhand
style of discourse, this is called the impediment of affinity. But
given sufficient power and money, and church laws being church laws
but not divine laws, one can get what one wants; like Sister Sarah
said in Two Mules For Sister Sarah, by Clint Eastwood, the pre-eminent
theologian of our time, "The church has dispensations". The Pope at
the time was Julius II, who gave himself some unofficial
dispensations, shall we say, having illegitimate children, one who
survived being Felice, after whose birth he married her mother
(Lucrezia) off to the majordomo of his cousin's (a Cardinal)
household. All quite openly, hell, she's in a painting by Raphael.
Well, like Sister Sarah said...
Henry VII got the
dispensation from Julius II, mostly because Catalina's mom La Reina
Isabela was leaning on Pope Julius to give it too, and in support of
the case for it Catalina said she and Arthur never bopped (oh sorry,
said that the marriage was never consummated). Actually Henry, being
at this point a widower, could have married her himself, and did give
some thought to marrying somebody and having more male heirs.
whyzat, what's wrong with the younger Henry? The thing is, Henry
soon to be VIII was not brought up to be king, Arthur was, and Henry
was educated for a church career, to probably end up Archbishop of
Canterbury -- you didn't think being a bishop in state churches from
the old Roman Empire, the Roman Catholic Church in the West and the
Eastern Orthodox in the East, had a damn thing to do with with being an
overseer (translated bishop) in the Christian church, or was
anything more than a state office, I hope.
Catalina and Henry, now 17 and she 23, were married 11 June 1509, and
on 24 June 1509 (Midsummer's Day, btw) were crowned king and queen
(queen consort actually, meaning a queen who is married to the king
but the king is the ruler) of England in Westminster Abbey. King
V. How the Catalina Thing Played Out.
proved an exceptional queen. Even before her marriage, she had been
the Spanish ambassador to England, the first woman in Europe ever to
hold an ambassadorship. In 1513 Henry made her regent (ruling in
his absence) when he went to France on a military campaign, and
Catalina went downrange herself , leading the army though pregnant
against the invading Scots (holy crap, over a millennium before, the
Brythons asked us to move in and help them with the Picts, and
they're still invading, persistent bleeders!) and won. She also
commissioned a book, The Education of Christian Women, it being a
novel idea at the time that women, Christian or otherwise, be
educated. And she was conversant with the great scholars Erasmus and
Sir Thomas More. Even Cromwell, who hated her, said if she weren't a
woman she could have gone up against any of the great heroes of
But that wasn't enough. Catalina was
pregnant six times: a stillborn daughter in 1510; a son, even named
Henry, who died in 1511 after 52 days; another son who died at birth in
1513; yet another stillborn son in 1514; then in 1516 a healthy baby
but who was a girl (this would be Queen Mary, oh hell ya); and in
1518 another girl who died though. Looked like she couldn't even
give birth to the wrong sex right.
Henry began to
think his marriage was cursed because it had been wrong in the first
place. Leaning on Leviticus 20:21 he began to think the prohibition
in the Law against a man marrying his brother's wife, with the
consequence that they be childless, was the basis of what was
happening, and therefore old Julius II even though pope could not
legitimately grant a dispensation. So he took the case to the then
current pope, Clement VII.
Well, there's some
problems with that. For one thing, Catalina always maintained her
marriage to Arthur was not consummated. She rejected appeals to
quietly become a nun. To top it all off, the pope, Clement VII,
following the Sack of Rome, the one in 1527, was the prisoner of Holy
Roman Emperor Charles V, yes, the same one to whom the Augsburg
Confession was presented in 1530, but who also doubled, as Carlos I, as
king of Spain, and was Catalina's nephew. So there was some doubt
he would side with Henry against Aunt Cathy, shall we say, or allow
the pope to do so.
Not to mention, though I am about
to, that about 1521 Henry started bopping Mary Boleyn, one of
Catalina's maids of honour and otherwise Mrs William Carey. No, not
Anne, Mary. Right along with all the Biblical high principles and
stuff. Hey, used to be only kings and royalty and bishops got to do
this kind of stuff and get away with it, now we all do, so no
In 1535 Barnes (remember him, this
post is actually about him!) was sent back to Germany in hopes he
could get his Lutheran friends to side with Henry about the
annulment. Didn't work. Emperor Charles sided with Aunt Cathy, and
so for that matter did Luther himself. So did such otherwise
different men as More and Tyndale. Hell, even Henry's sister Mary
Tudor sided with the queen! So Henry turned to he whom he had earlier
avoided, Thomas Cardinal Wolsey, for the appeal.
Tom, Archbishop of York and Lord Chancellor to the king and created
cardinal by Pope Leo X in 1515, worked like hell to get the
annulment. He argued that the pope could not overrule the Bible,
assuming of course Henry's case fit the Bible's scenario, back to the
whole consummated thing. He argued the wording of the dispensation
was faulty, but, guess what, a properly worded version turned up in,
guess where, Spain! Finally he argued that the decision, he being
papal legate in England and all, should be made in England, and of
course he knew which side he would take. The pope took that one, in
1528, but said he would send a second legate too from Rome, who took
his sweet time getting there and getting things going.
there's more! Remember Mary Boleyn? She was at the royal court and
began an affair with Henry about 1521 and it lasted about 5 years.
She was already good at affairs, having had several in France
including one with the King of France, Francis. Somewhere along the
line her sister, less attractive but more ambitious and intelligent,
Anne, caught the king's eye, but Anne was not about to be any old
mistress like her sister had been, she held out for the whole pie,
queen. Which made getting the annulment all the more imperative.
Man, would to-day's diocesan RC marriage tribunals been handy then!
after all the delays the pope decides Henry may not marry until the
Great Matter, as it was called, was settled in Rome, not England.
Wolsey took the fall for that decision, Anne getting him ousted from
government office in 1529. But old Tom fought back, and tried secret
arrangements with Catalina and the pope to have Anne forced into
exile from England. But he was found out and, though he remained
Archbishop of York, was arrested for treason and would have been
executed except he got sick and died in 1530 on his way to London to
Wolsey was replaced as Lord Chancellor
by Sir Thomas More, Catalina gets banned from the court and her rooms
given to Anne, and when the Archbishop of Canterbury at the time,
William Warham, died, in the finest tradition of apostolic
succession, Anne had the Boleyn family priest Thomas Cranmer, made
the new Archbishop of Canterbury. The pope wasn't too keen on this,
but after the King of France leaned on him a bit -- more apostolic
succession -- he relented and gave the pallium, a sign of a bishop's
special affinity with the pope, to Cranmer.
all went downhill pretty fast after that. Cromwell gets the Law of
Supremacy, which recognised the final authority of the king over the
church in England, passed in Parliament, More resigns over it, Henry
and Anne wed secretly, Henry meets with the King of France to get his
support for the marriage, Anne gets pregnant, the couple is publicly
married 25 January 1533, on 23 May 1533 Cranmer in church court
rules the marriage between Henry and Catalina was no marriage at all
because it was invalid (that's what annulment is, not divorce, a
recognition that no marriage in the sacramental sense ever took place
because the marriage rite was done under invalid conditions, hence
null, hence the term annulment) and on 28 May rules Henry and Anne
are validly therefore truly married, on 1 June Anne is crowned Queen
of England and on 7 September Queen Anne gives birth! To a daughter,
oh MAJOR oops!
Nonetheless Parliament enacts the
Act of Succession of 1533 (hell of a year, that) recognising Anne's,
not Catalina's, children as legitimate and heirs, and in a sign of
things to come, repudiates any appeal to any foreign authority of any
kind (guess who that means) and high treason punishable by death to
publish any such things. Yeah, my kingdom is not of this world
Judas, Parliament even made it a matter of
praemunire facias -- holy crap what's that, well, it's bogus mediaeval
Latin for a bogus mediaeval English idea that it is treason to appeal
to any authority beyond the king re the church in England, from
which acts the sheriff does (that's facias) a warning (that's
praemunire). Praemunire actually means to fortify, but the word was
mistaken for the correct Latin for warning which is praemonere, the
ancestor of the word premonition. Bad Latin for a bad idea.
warn't no Lutheran. In 1521 Henry VIII published Assertio septem
sacramentorum, A Defence of the Seven Sacraments, which he had shown
to Wolsey and then expanded as an attack on Luther's De captivitate
babylonica of 1520, a key influence on me, and dedicated it to
Pope Leo X, who in turn named Henry Fidei defensor, Defender of the
Faith, on 17 October 1521. But after Henry decided he was head of
the church in England in 1530, Pope Paul III revoked the title and
Henry was excommunicated, but the English Parliament restored it,
and the English monarch to this day remains Supreme Governor of the
Church of England, formally above the "Archbishop" of Canterbury.
Charles said in 1994 he wants the title changed to Defender of
Faith, not the Faith. Well, rock on Church of England/Anglican
Hell, Pope Clement blew a gasket at that,
excommunicated Henry and Cranmer, said Cranmer's annulment decision
was itself null and broke off relations with England. Anne
miscarries in 1534 and by year's end Henry is trying with Cranmer and
Cromwell to figure a way to dump Anne without having to go back to
Catalina. Then what the hell but Catalina dies, Henry and Anne
rejoice, death breaking the bond of marriage, Anne's pregnant, and --
MAJOR MAJOR oops, miscarries with a baby boy on, guess what, 29
January 1536 the very day of Catalina's funeral. I ain't making this
up and didn't read it in a Dan Brown novel either. Who needs that
when the truth is way weirder!
VII. And Next?
hell Henry is bopping a lady in waiting at court named Jane Seymour
(no, not the actress) anyway, and hell yes, death ends any claim of
marriage, so whadya know but charges of infidelity and treason are
brought against Anne, she's arrested along with five guys, including her
brother, accused of schtupping her, they are executed and five days
later, 19 May 1536, so is Queen Anne. The next day, Henry and Jane
are engaged, and ten days after that, are married. Wow. An Act of
Succession says now Jane's kids are first in line for the throne.
Jane gets pregnant and gives birth to, guess what, a baby boy (who
will be Edward VI)!
Problem solved? Nope, she also
gets an infection in childbirth and dies on 24 October 1537. Henry
gets his long desired son but loses his queen, whom he always
afterward thought of as his true wife and next to whom he is now
buried in Windsor Castle.
Now it would be easy to
put this all down to attitudes towards women, but that would be to
read it as if it were happening now. Yes, that was part of it, but
only part. We saw above, at least I hope we did, I went on about it
enough, that civil war and legitimate occupancy of the throne had
kept England in a state of civil war at home and in problems abroad
for years and years, and Henry had that much on his mind, also that he
not leave such a situation behind when he died. Having an
unquestioned heir and ruler, at home and abroad, was a really big
deal. Henry had exactly the same problems his dad did, just with
Of course they were centuries from knowing it is the father who determines the sex of the child!
VIII. Number Four and The End For Barnes.
a guy's gotta move on, right? So Cromwell starts thinking this Anne
of Cleves would be a hell of a good idea as his next wife, even gets
a guy to go paint a portrait of her to convince Henry. Why her?
Well, Anne of Cleves is really Anna von Juelich-Kleve-Berg. That's
near Düsseldorf; wherezat, it's the dorf -- village -- near the delta
of the Düssel for crying out loud, a tributary of the Rhein, oh
sorry, Rhine. Anna was the daughter of the Duke there, John II, and
was promised at age 12 to be the wife of Francis I, Duke of
Lorraine, but Cromwell thought she'd make this hell of a wife for
Henry since Protestant German allies would help if the Catholics
invaded England, so Barnes, with his German connexion, was involved
in helping with that, and it happened.
not all that into the idea, hoped Cromwell could find a way out, but
there was too much at stake in alliances with the Germans for that,
so they were married 6 January 1540 by bleeding Cranmer himself, but
there was no consummation of the marriage and by Summer Henry
wanted out. The Duke had ticked off the Holy Roman Emperor and Henry
did not want to get into that either. So Barnes was asked to help
in the annulment of Henry's marriage to his fourth wife, Anne of
Cleves, and an annulment was granted on the basis of the contract
with Francis and there having been no consummation, which, in more
contemporary language, means no sex. Anna went along with it all and
fared pretty well in contrast to Henry's other wives, and for going
along with annulment she lived out her life relatively well, not to
mention in the former home of the Boleyns, Hever Castle, which was
given to her.
But those involved with setting the
marriage up didn't fare so well. Henry already had refused to accept
Lutheran theology, the Six Articles of 1539 effectively renounced
Lutheranism and affirmed Roman practices considered abuses by
Lutherans. The Six Articles affirmed 1) transubstantiation, 2)
communion in host only, 3) clerical celibacy, 4) vows of chastity, 5)
private masses, 6) auricular confession, private confession of sins
to a priest.
Then the annulment in 1540 also
worked against Barnes. He preached against Bishop Stephen Gardiner
(another Suffolk boy), active in the enforcement of Catholic
doctrine, in the Spring, was forced to recant, then recanted his
recant and professed the Lutheran faith, for which he and two others
were burnt alive for heresy under the Six Articles, along with three
others for treason for denying royal supremacy over the church, on
30 July, 1540.
In Germany, Lutherans and Catholics
alike were shocked and outraged. Luther took Barnes' final confession
of faith, translated or had it translated into German, wrote a
preface to it himself, and published it later that year (1540) as
Bekenntnis des Glaubens.
IX. What Happened To The Other Guys and Everyone Else.
was executed 28 July 1540, two days before, by beheading in the
Tower of London. Thomas Cranmer, who would become the first
non-Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury, who believed in the right of
the king to determine the faith of the nation and all its people,
which makes it hard when you go back and forth between Catholic and
"Anglican" monarchs, recanted his recantation of his recantation,
whatever, and was burnt at the stake 21 March 1556 under the Catholic
Remember Mary, that's Catalina's
daughter! Wanna know the kicker? After all this long story coming
from an enormously complicated matter of the legitimacy of and
succession to the Tudor line of kings of England, Henry ruled for just
short of 38 years and left only three heirs of either sex and within
about ten years of his death on 28 January 1547 all three of them
came to the throne -- Anne Boleyn's daughter becoming Elizabeth I and
as we saw Jane Seymour's son becoming Edward VI -- and not a one of
them left an heir! Not a one! Elizabeth I was the last Tudor on the
throne. And she never even married! All that for nothing.
secret negotiations Elizabeth arranged for the House of Stuart (or
Stewart) to take over a combined England and their original Scotland.
Man, the Scots again. And we (Angles) were asked to come there and
keep them out way back when. Now they're the royal line of the whole
damn place! Well, not really, the Stuarts aren't real Scots,
they're Normans from Brittany in France who arrived in Scotland after
the Norman Conquest of England. The last Stuart was Queen Anne, who
died 1 May 1707, and the English again turned to the Germans to
solve things, with the House of Hanover taking over and lasting until
the death of Queen Victoria in 1901.
son, by patrilineal (from the father) descent, which rules in such
things, Edward VII, is of the house of his father, Prince Albert, the
house of Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, Englished to Saxe-Coburg and
Gotha, but which adopted the much more English sounding name Windsor
during World War I, German descended monarchs on a throne in a war
against Germany being too weird. His cousin, who was on the German
throne, Kaiser Wilhelm II, thought that was a riot and said he looked
forward to seeing Shakespeare's new play The Merry Wives of
Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha.
The current English royal
family is the House of Windsor. There's still Hanovers though, the
current head of that bunch being Ernst August V Prinz von Hannover (I
ain't translating, it's not hard to work out) who is also the current
husband of Princess Caroline of Monaco so maybe he'll end up with a
throne or something. I mean, his titles are not recognised in modern
England or Germany, but they are in Monaco! And the heir to the
English throne, Charles, is through his father of the House of
Gluecksburg, short for the House of
Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Gluecksburg (Schleswig-Holstein, current
name of where we Angles came from!) in turn a branch of the biggest
baddest ones of the all the House of Oldenburg, who have been or are
on the thrones of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Russia (yeah the
Romanovs), Greece and looks like the British Commonwealth one of
After Charles will come the absolutely
delightful William and Catherine, currently the Duke and Duchess of
Cambridge, dear old Cambridge.
X. What We Can Learn From This Now.
something? Ain't no reformation going on here, just getting the
church to baptise, as it were, matters of state, church and state being
all part of one thing. From the Assertio of 1521 to the Six
Articles of 1539, it's Catholic as all hell, just with a little
jurisdictional modification so the king can get an annulment when he
One of the most enduring enticements of
the descendants from the state church of the Roman Empire, in the
West the RCC and those non-Catholic national churches, generally
Anglican or Lutheran, which consider themselves to have taken over
Rome's function within their jurisdictions, and in the East the
Orthodox churches, is the apparent solidity of their continuous
existence, presumably then with a connexion to the catholic church of
the creeds, the Apostles, and Christ himself.
person of a faith not solidly grounded in Christ and the Gospel, this
enticement is so strong as to solve or resolve all doubt. For
example, the ridiculous John Henry Newman, to the point that his
deus-ex-ecclesia shall we say solution to his indecision led him to
declare that really there are only two real possibilities, atheism or
Catholicism, with those not in either camp either on their way "home
to Rome" or not having thought through the implications of not going
While faith in Christ can exist in such an environment, what an unnecessary, distracting and complicating encumbrance to it.
foray about into the situation in which Robert Barnes lived and by
which was ultimately killed is but one of any number of such
situations which show this apparent solidity and continuity is but
the most appalling and grotesque of shams, rooted in NOTHING WHATEVER
of Christ, his Word or his Sacrament, all of that being a
self-justifying veneer over which affairs of state played out.
Miserable blasphemous parodies of the catholic church which have
survived the passing of the states as then constituted which created
We needed Barnes then, and we need him now.
Happily we no longer live under the idea that rulers are agents of
God with the right to choose the religion of their people. Barnes
himself struggled to find his way between the political reality of
this idea in his time and spreading the Gospel in reforming Christ's
church. In England, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England, with
which the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod is in fellowship in the
International Lutheran Council, is the heir of Barnes' work in
Yet, in this freedom now, Christianity,
the church in general, and our beloved synod in particular veer
between the same two poles of those times, namely, on the one hand the
attractive exterior in which the errors of Rome and the Orthodox
are couched, and on the other, the different but no less attractive
exterior in which the errors of Calvinism and the Reformed are
couched, most recently in American "evangelicalism".
beloved synod is greatly beset by this. May the works and example
of Robert Barnes help and strengthen us as they did Luther in our
Bekenntnis des Glaubens, our confession of faith, holding to the Word
rightly preached and the Sacraments rightly administered, and steering
our course so as not to crash on the rocks under the influence of
either of these siren songs, which unlike those of Greek mythology,
are quite real.
From the last words of Robert Barnes, DD, martyr, on 30 July 1540:
if Thou straightly mark our iniquity, who is able to abide Thy
judgement? Wherefore I trust in no work that I ever did, but only in
the death of Jesus Christ. I do not doubt, but through Him to inherit
the kingdom of heaven.
(Quoted from "The
Reformation Essays of Dr Robert Barnes", Neelak S Tjernagel editor.
Eugene OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1963. Republished 19 October
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