I like this guy. There aren't a whole lot of English Lutherans. I'm not one either. Huh? Well, 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 of, Denmark.
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 words Britain, British, etc. The Romans invaded Britain in
43 BC, called the place Brittania after the Brythons, 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.
We 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
In 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 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.
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, and was 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.
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 nonetheless had no time for
Luther or the Lutherans, and was a lay member of the Franciscan
Order. That's what's called a secular tertiary, meaning a lay
member of the third order, the first order 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). She was 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
After 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!
Plus 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 1509.
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
Henry VII got the dispensation from
Julius II, mostly because Catalina's mom La Reina Isabela was also
leaning on Pope Julius to give it. 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 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 queen by
being married to the king but the king is the ruler) of England in
Westminster Abbey. King Henry VIII.
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 good 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 him 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!
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 indeed!
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.
Henry 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, since death breaks 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.
Another 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!
no. 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.
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 we saw that Henry had that
much on his mind, and 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 different details.
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 river 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 Barnes, 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 gonna be 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, that being the third, 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! Caroline got an annulment (yeah annulment again, it's a
Catholic line) of her first marriage, and her second husband died in an
accident, but the Prince on marrying her married a Catholic and so,
under the Act of Settlement of 1701 which allows neither Catholics nor
spouses of Catholics on the throne, boofed himself out of the line of
succession for the British throne, which at 385th in line at the time
was a bit of a long shot anyway.
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. Their first child, Prince George, is now
third in line.
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, the church and the
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 needs one.
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.
a person of a faith not solidly grounded in Christ and the Gospel,
and often troubled by tumult in their churches, this enticement is so
strong as to solve or resolve all doubt. It produces many converts
for this reason. For a famous 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, and that those
not in either camp are either on their way "home to Rome" or have
not thought through the implications of not going to Rome.
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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