If the theological journey of Cranmer is taken as a lodestar we see the progress of the man, who so typifies the Anglican movement in its nature, devotional mood, and doctrinal persuasion, through several phases from Catholicism a la Rome to Lutheranism and Zwinglianism, eventually to rest in an agreement with Calvin soteriologically and sacramentally. Knowing that the terms “Calvinism” and “Augustinianism” are convenient indices to general theological direction and not avowals of blind idolatry or total submission to men or systems, we see that the Anglicanism of the last decades of the 16th century and the first two decades of the 17th century were solidly of the mind that grace was free, particular, and effective. The composition of the Lambeth Articles under Archbishop Whitgift is evidence of this, as is David Starkey’s observation (without approval) that in the reign of Elizabeth all the young and rising clergy were Calvinists (Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne, page 286). It was not only the bishops, scholars, and ministers of the church who sought to extol the doctrines of grace but many prominent leaders and members of society (e.g. Drake, Walsingham, his son-in-law Philip Sidney, and a bevy of Elizabethan poets such as Spenser, Fulke Greville, and Joseph Hall). Reformational theology and practice reigned in England as the country eventually rose to become the principal bastion of Protestantism. Under James 1 five delegates from the English Church (one Scottish) were commissioned to participate in the Synod of Dort and Joseph Hall, Samuel Ward, and John Davenant made significant and influential contributions. In their exchanged correspondence Hall and Davenant made it clear that the conclusions of Dort as to saving grace were in full accord with the teaching of their church. Hall said: “I will live and die in the suffrage of that Synod of Dort; and I do confidently avow that those other opinions (of Arminians) cannot stand with the doctrine of the Church of England.” To which Davenant replied: “I know that no man can embrace Arminianism in the doctrines of predestinantion and grace but he must desert the Articles agreed upon by the Church of England.” There can be no dispute as to the theology of the Thirty-nine Articles and what its framers intended to convey. Bishop Ryle’s note on Perseverance at the conclusion of his volume entitled Old Paths ought to satisfy everyone as to the uncontestable Augustinianism of Anglicanism (Banner of Truth, Edinburgh, 1999, pages 518-521). Augustus Toplady’s “Historic Proof of The Doctrinal Calvinism of the Church of England” was regarded by Ryle as unanswerable. The pastoral cautions and consolations expressed in Article Seventeen would have little point to them if unconditional electing love were not the message. The noted Reformational scholar, A.G. Dickens, even went so far as to suggest that they were evidence of a strong supralapsarian position, though one would not necessarily care to contend for that personally (see The English Reformation, Pages 280 281. Penn State Press, 1993). Sir Maurice Powicke illustrates the predestinarianism of the English Reformers with a quote from John Bradford writing to his fellow martyrs Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer, imprisoned at Oxford, concerning the free-willers: “The effects of salvation they so mingle and confound with the cause that if it not be seen to, more hurt will come by them than ever came by the papists – in so much that their life commendeth them to the world more than the papists…They utterly contemn all learning.” (The Reformation in England, O.U.P. London, 1961, page 68).
As to all those cited previously (VOL July 21st) as proponents and defenders of the Augustinian view on grace prior to the Reformation there exists the awareness that many of them nuanced the doctrine of predestination differently and with varying degrees of emphasis (e.g. Prosper endorsed Augustine only with the proviso that a desire for the salvation of all “preceded” the decree. Most of the pre-Reformational Augustinians agreed with this order of priority when considering the mind of the Lord in the effectuation of the plan of salvation. In a later period Donne and Herbert had their differences with the Puritans but their view of grace was virtually identical [Herbert’s correspondence with the Presbyterian leader Andrew Mellville, see Two Gentlemen, The Lives of George Herbert and Robert Herrick, Marchette Chute, Dutton, NY, 1959, page 119. Herbert wrote concerning divine sovereignty, God, “Who gives to man, as he sees fit} Salvation. Damnation.” And see Donne’s sermons on saving grace]. The Jansenists objected to Calvin but the papacy accused them of doctrinal complicity. All this is due to the subtlety of definition as to the volitional freedom of man in the process of effectual calling and the maintenance of the integrity of the human personality and its God-given faculty of free choice, but all agree that grace is ultimately effective (yes irresistible) in its wooing of the sinner and the change in inclination and affection that is accomplished by an overwhelmingly attractive revelation of Christ’s beauty and love) -
Why was I made to hear His voice
And enter while there’s room;
When thousands make a wretched choice,
and rather starve than come?
’Twas the same love that spread the feast,
that sweetly forced me in;
Else I had still refused to taste,
And perish’d in my sin.”
John Newton quoted by C.H. Spurgeon
Confessional integrity or revision is required within Anglicanism. All must deal with their conscience, under God, accordingly. But we must maximize our faithful adherence to the word of God. Hall recommended to the Synod of Dort that all should contemplate Romans chapter nine prayerfully and meditatively, and appeal for the illumination and guidance of the Holy Spirit. In doing so we, too, might discover what Paul actually said, and what Augustine read, and that which we must spread. At least in that way we would be imitating our great and godly forbear Archbishop Thomas Bradwardine and adjust our thinking from being man-centred to God-centred in the matter of our salvation – for salvation is of the Lord!