The Other Martin Martin Bucer (1491-1551)
Perhaps, by way of general background, I could invite you to think about the time of the Reformation. What is it that stands out about that time, in your thoughts?
More than likely you would have thought of Martin Luther, especially nailing those 95 Theses to that huge wooden door.
Others could have thought in particular about John Calvin, the great systematiser and commentator of the Reformation. But quite apart from these Reformers, important and gifted though they be, there was at work what we know was a great movement of God. The Reformation is first and foremost a tremendous revival, a work of the LORD that reformed His Church, even though the instituted church as it was then, tried so terribly hard to repress and suppress it.
Just a little reading into this fascinating time of the Reformation shows us the many others there were, sharing and speaking the same precious scriptural truths. From our continental reformed links we meet the names of Guido de Bres, the writer of the Belgic Confession, and Zacharius Ursinus and Caspar Olevianus, who co-wrote the Heidelberg Catechism. On the English side there are the Westminster Divines, those men who met to formulate the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Shorter and Larger Catechisms.
That’s why I have chosen as the title for this article, “The Other Martin”. For we know well the Martin, Martin Luther, but how many others were there? In the light of Martin Luther they may seem to pall to insignificance. But by reflecting a while on them and their place, we will be drawn to an even greater thankfulness to our Lord and Saviour for His Spirit’s reforming work. We can so easily be caught up with what seem to be the great things. Yet it’s this Lord who works especially in the small things and small ways too to bring all things together unto Him, who is the Head, Christ Jesus, ever to be praised!
We begin with a few details regarding the life of Martin Bucer, or Butzer, as he is sometimes called. He was born on November the 11th, 1491, in Schlettsdadt, Germany. This is near Strasbourg. He was named Martin after Saint Martin of Tours, the same saint Martin Luther was named after. His original surname was Kuhhorn (cowhorn) but, as was the practice amongst many, he latinised his name. His background was humble – his father was a poor cobbler. His education, though, was good in childhood. At the age of 15 he entered the Dominican order, where he continued his education, particularly in Scholastic Thought, which is the theology of Thomas Aquinas. From there he was transferred ten years later to a cloister at Heidelberg where he continued to study, learning under Johannes Brentz and reading the works of Erasmus.
Erasmus was one of two major influences in this stage of Bucer’s life. Erasmus was a Dutchman who excelled in the thorough study of the original languages of Scripture, and who was known for his humanism.
Now, we must note here that Erasmus’ humanism was totally different than what we call humanism today. His humanism was actually a Christian humanism, in which he wished to see the church purged of superstition through the use of intelligence and for there to be a return to the ethical teachings of Christ. To quote K.S. Latourette,
He desired no break with the existing Catholic Church. He initiated no innovations in doctrine or worship. Rather he pleaded for ethical living, and in a politically divided Europe, racked by chronic wars, he argued for peace. His approach was rational. He appeared to cherish the conviction that through the appeal to man’s reason both Church and society could be vastly improved.
p661, Vol. I., ‘A History of Christianity’
The second early influence that had a major impact on Bucer was meeting Martin Luther himself. This occurred in April 1518, when Luther came to preside at a disputation during a meeting of the Augustan order.
Bucer, though of the same religious order as Tetzel, was convicted by Luther. Here I quote his own personal impression of Luther:
“Although our chief men contradicted him with all their might, their wiles were not able to make him move one inch from his propositions. His sweetness in answering is remarkable, his patience in listening is incomparable, in his explanations you would recognise the acumen of a Paul not a Scotus; his answers, so brief, so wise, and drawn from the Holy Scriptures, easily made all his hearers his admirers. On the next day I had a familiar and friendly conference with the man alone and a supper rich with doctrine than with dainties. He agrees with Erasmus in all things, but with this difference in his favour, that what Erasmus only insinuates he teaches openly and freely...”
In 1521, Bucer – now a strong supporter of reform – left the Dominican order, despite strong attempts by his ecclesiastical superiors to dissuade him.
Martin Bucer – the Minister
Above all else, Martin Bucer was a preacher of God’s Word. This was recognised immediately following his withdrawal from the Dominican Order, when he became the parish priest at Landstuhl in 1521. There he found himself soon displaced because of yet another change in political events, and he moved on to Weiszenberg, where he was during 1522, through until May 1523, when the political situation forced himself and the minister there, Heinrich Motherer, who had originally invited him, to go to Strasbourg.
As a result of their sudden departure Bucer wrote his first definite theological treatise, in which he explained to the congregation in Weiszenberg the circumstances surrounding his sudden and mysterious departure from the town.
This short explanation, while clearly showing the belief he shared with Luther about Justification by Faith Alone, also showed a difference from Luther, with a comment regarding the crucialness of the work of the Holy Spirit.
Though it was only a short period of time between leaving the Dominican Order and Bucer’s arrival in Strasbourg, we can already note two key aspects of a reformer:
- Bucer has a God-given determination to preach God’s Word in all its fullness. This shows in his proclamation of the ‘Doctrines of Grace’, but also in his developing the Scriptural doctrine regarding the work and person of the Holy Spirit. This study into the Holy Spirit was certainly no vague spirituality, a subjectivism which dissolves objectives standards in a pottage of undifferentiated experience. Just as much as he believed that God’s Word should never be interpreted apart from the Holy Spirit, so also he believed that spiritual experience has no validity apart from the objective check of the inscripturated Word. For a doctrine to be believed it must agree with the teaching of the Bible;
- Bucer is persecuted and then excommunicated by the church. While in Weiszenberg he suffered persecution from the Franciscans and excommunication by the Archbishop of Speyers.
In 1523 we find Martin Bucer in the ‘free city’ of Strasbourg. It was here that his parents’ citizenship gave him protection. In the turmoil that he was experiencing then, we could say that there is a reflection here of the apostle Paul’s Roman citizenship, which enabled him to continue his ministry. By God’s providence Martin Bucer was now about to develop into an important lynch-pin in the Reformation.
It was in Strasbourg that Martin Bucer’s gift for the ministry was shown. As one historian notes: “His personal charm, intellectual abilities and zeal brought him eventually to a position of leadership in Strasbourg and in southern Germany.” All the New Testament qualities for the teaching eldership were found in this man.
Bucer once defined the Church of Christ this way: “...the gathering and communion of those who in Christ our Lord, by His Spirit and Word, have been assembled and united, in order to be one body and members of one another, in which every one has his own office and task in the universal upbuilding of the whole body and of all its members...” He certainly demonstrated this knowledge in his own life.
Bucer’s preaching brought forth much fruit. Quite aside from the many commentaries on Bible books which he wrote, there were the living letters written on the hearts and lives of those coming to true faith, growing in that faith; and further, ministers going forth preaching that faith, spreading through other congregations the good news about God’s glorious grace.
The biblical work, in which we know Calvin was blessed richly by the Lord, was already happening under Bucer, who is rightly called “the spiritual father of Calvin”. Another historian even described him as “...a Calvinist before Calvin.”
Thus Martin Bucer followed a genuinely biblical theology, the theology of such as the apostle Paul, Augustine of Hippo (the Church Father), and several men who particularly emphasised the doctrines of grace we as a Reformed/Presbyterian audience share today. Like those men, Bucer didn’t hold back from the full truths of the Word, much as that brought misunderstanding and eventually led to his removal from Strasbourg on principle.
In Strasbourg, Bucer was soon working through the Biblical view on church office, and on liturgy – which is public worship and on discipline. Aside from his preaching and teaching these were three key areas in his ministry ... church office, liturgy and discipline; not so different to the kind of areas we need to reflect on today either!
With church office Bucer at first reacted against the Roman Catholic hierarchical system by ignoring any type of order altogether. It seemed, early in his ministry, that he had a kind of charismatic view, with anyone leading and speaking as the Spirit allegedly prompted on occasion. Quite rightly he always emphasised the priesthood of all believers, though initially without a clear distinction between various callings.
It was actually the charismatics of that time, the Anabaptist sects, who brought him to examining scripture on this. Then he realised the double order of offices – the higher ones held by bishops and elders (those who do the preaching/teaching; administering the sacraments; exercising discipline); and the other office assisting these offices in their pastoral care and also actively caring for the needs of the poor. Although rejecting the apostolic succession, Bucer still held a place for a Bishop as a supervisor.
So he advocated a two-office view – that is, elders and deacons – with the elders being further divided into two; those ministering the Word, and those leading the people and exercising pastoral care. This is the model of 1st Timothy 5 verse 17. It was this study which was clearly elucidated in his 1534 Church Order.
In terms of liturgy we can best see Martin Bucer through John Calvin, who followed very closely the principles and practice of Strasbourg. In fact, the kind of worship the Reformed/Presbyterian churches have had for four hundred years comes from Strasbourg, as (and we need to especially say this) Bucer went back to the New Testament Scriptures.
Thus the Confession of Sin was early in the service. In this part of worship, the minister admonishes the people to make confession of their sins, with a prayer seeking the Lord’s forgiveness. Then God’s pardoning grace is declared to those who believe.
Following this the congregation sings several brief psalms or hymns of praise, after which the minister makes a brief prayer and reads to the congregation a passage from the writings of the apostles, expounding it as briefly as possible.
Then the congregation sings again either the Ten Commandments or another hymn or psalm. The minister then proclaims the gospel and delivers the sermon itself. After this the congregation sings the Articles of Faith. The minister then offers a prayer for the government of the land, in which he prays for an increase of faith and love and grace to keep the remembrance of Christ’s death with profit.
The minister proceeds with the Lord’s Supper, admonishing those who wish to participate in remembering Christ to die to their sins, bear their cross willingly, and love their neighbour truly. All this with being strengthened in faith, as the believer considers what unlimited grace and goodness Christ has shown to us, in that He offered His body and blood to the Father on our behalf.
After this the Bible passages about the Lord’s Supper, as written in the gospels, together with 1st Corinthian 11, are read.
The minister then divides the bread and cup of the Lord among them, also joining in himself. The congregation follows with singing another hymn of praise, the minister closes the Supper with a short prayer, blesses the people, and bids them go in the peace of the Lord.
This was the order of Sunday worship in the morning. There were altogether six services on the Lord’s Day, with four for each day of the other six days of the week. These four daily services were all at different times so that the opportunity was there for each member of the church to go to at least one of them. This may seem somewhat excessive to us today – we have so many members who don’t even go twice on Sunday, let alone all those other days of the week! But Bucer believed it to be vitally important because of the lack of knowledge of the people. Calvin also continued this same practice.
Many of the old hymns were done away with as they were either unscriptural or unsuited for singing, having been written in the medieval sophisticated choir format. Bucer saw that God required His people to be singing together, and not to be silent bystanders in some elaborate ritual.
Dr G.J. van de Poll sums up Bucer’s position in this regard: “Whereas Luther accentuated the soul of the individual in the invisible church, Bucer stressed the priesthood of all believers, embodied in the congregation and its liturgy. Therefore Bucer’s ecclesiology (ecclesiology is the Latin word for church government) showed an altogether different character from those of Wittenberg and Zurich (where the reformer Zwingli was). The features of the Early Church and the ideal of the Humanists stood our clearly in his memory.” p.56
Thus far the liturgy – perhaps the area to which we owe Martin Bucer our greatest debt.
It soon became evident that the general oversight of the elders needed a tighter application than all the congregation being under the same office bearers. So, within a particular church, there were areas set up. We might also know these as sections or groups. In these smaller groups there was a more closely-knit working and encouraging together.
Although Strasbourg was known for its wider toleration of anabaptists and others, this was not at the expense of the churches there. Indeed, as a result of groups such as the anabaptists, Bucer continued to sharpen his understanding of Scripture on discipline throughout his ministry there.
In particular, we find that the period from 1530 to1545 brought forth his richest development in this, as he drew deeper into Matthew 18, the verses 15 ‘til 17, and its application for the church. Van de Poll says of this:
In contrast with Calvin ... Bucer saw discipline as one of the features of the true church, and he wanted to show this to the non-believing world. The fruits of love were essential, in order that the church might present herself as the visible beginning of God’s Kingdom.” Then he quotes Bucer directly: “Thus our Lord and Master Jesus Christ wishes to reign over His members ... that he completes the work of salvation through all the members and through a true communion.
A Match Maker Too!
But church office, liturgy and discipline aside, there was another thing Bucer enjoyed. That, surprisingly enough, was match-making. He was a man who loved married life – marrying first a former nun, like Luther, and then after her death because of a plague, marrying the widow of a fellow reformer in Strasbourg. This love he wished others to enjoy too. So when the ultimate in academic bachelors came to town, John Calvin himself, Bucer was instrumental in his marriage to Idelette de Bure. And though we know Calvin had a few preconceived ideas as to what his wife was to do for him, yet he too grew to love married life – in fact, when his wife died, he spoke highly of how the LORD had blessed him with her. He missed her greatly.
Martin Bucer – the Mediator
Bucer stood as a unique person in the whole ebb and flow of this reformational period. As we have heard, he knew Martin Luther. Bucer was even there at the Diet of Worms in 1521, when Luther was said to have spoken the immortal words: “Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. So help me God!” Bucer also knew well the Swiss Reformers, especially Ulrich Zwingli and those of his school.
Together with his deep knowledge of the Roman Catholic church, he became an important link through two decades of attempted mediating conferences. He was a participant in nearly every conference on religion in Germany and Switzerland in the years from 1524 to 1548.
But, rather than detailing each one, let me place before you the two that reflect perhaps his highest and lowest points in this area.
The highest I think would have to be the meeting at Philip of Hesse’s castle in Marburg in October 1529. Here the Lutherans met the Zwinglians, together with Bucer and several others. Of the 15 key points raised, there was agreement on 14. Yes – 14! Even on the fifteenth point they were close. As Latourette writes, “Zwingli was willing to concede that Christ is spiritually present in the Lord’s Supper and Luther granted that, no matter what the nature of Christ’s presence, only faith can make it of benefit to the Christian.” Intercommunion might have been obtained had not Melanchton objected on the ground that for Luther to yield might make reconciliation with the Roman Catholics impossible. Although Melanchthon himself warmed towards the Reformed position, and later was a good friend of Calvin, yet this was the point at which they came so close and still were so far!
Bucer himself had taken the middle ground in the Lord’s Supper issue – a position later followed by Calvin – which recognised the spiritual presence of Christ, though not His physical presence.
The Catholics invariably made much of this break-down, as was shown in the following year at the Diet of Augsburg, when the Lutherans presented their Augsburg Confession, Bucer and several others presented their Confession of the Four Cities, and Zwingli presented his Confession. Though there were some agreements reached with the Lutherans, such as the Wittenberg Concordia in 1536, this Marburg meeting of 1529 would have been the height.
And the pits? Well, it’s always difficult to tell what Bucer himself would have felt, but the hindsight of history would seem to indicate the colloquy at Regensberg in 1546, when some secret negotiations he had been having with reformist Catholics were taken quite out of context, and sprung upon him. He denied their truth. Both Roman Catholics and Protestants rejected what was alleged.
Then the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, broke the Protestant powers by military force, and laid down his own compromise scheme, the Augsburg Interim of 1548. And although the Augsburg Interim didn’t concede much more to Catholicism than some of Bucer’s earlier compromise solutions had, he opposed vigorously its acceptance by Strasbourg. His view was that even a poor compromise was justified if it made some progress toward reform, but that for Strasbourg to accept the Interim would mean going backward. This is very much in the line of the apostle Paul’s word to the Philippians, “...only let us live up to what we have already attained...” (3:16). The city, though, wouldn’t oppose the armies of Charles. Finally they discharged Bucer and several other ministers, all of whom were then invited by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer to come to England.
Considering Bucer’s ecumenical struggles made me wonder about the essentials and non-essentials of ecumenical contact today. The modern ecumenical movement has made much of Bucer, though he, for his part, wouldn’t want to be much involved – if at all – with their views today!
How could he with the dictum, “...let us live up to what we have already attained.” How would he had ever thought of Christians not believing in most of the Apostles’ Creed, let alone just the one difference over Lord’s Supper! The denominator for Bucer was not the lowest common one – quite the contrary! For him any invitations were to be used as a way for fraternal conversation and self-examination with other denominations, so that we discover the sins that have kept us separate. He was truly biblical! And why else are we today Reformed Presbyterian?
Let me assure you, Bucer’s ‘Unionspolitik’ is something quite different than marching down the streets of your local city with clergymen and so-called believers who deny the virgin birth of our Lord, and His bodily resurrection, and personal sin. Martin Bucer wanted to join with those closest to him. But only after agreement had been reached. Otherwise he had nothing to do with them!
Martin Bucer – the Motivator
I have to say that I use the word “motivator” in the sense of a whole-of-life calling that had influence outside and beyond the area where Bucer was himself physically. For Martin Bucer was no flash-in-the-pan, instant man. He was, rather, deeply committed to where he was, and dedicated to an ongoing and thorough biblical exposition. He was a steady grafter, working hard at doing what he believed he was called to do, and not leaving unless principally or forcefully being ejected!
In our age of changing fads and fashions, of instant choices and lack of responsibility, we should appreciate such values. Consider the fruit this brings. Bucer and the other reformers had an immense depth of knowledge. No television, Pentium computers and fax machines then. But they read and debated and spoke and read some more.
Though, let’s not become disheartened. “Dig deeper”, Bucer would have told you. “Search the Scriptures, study the history of the Lord’s Church, discuss these things together.” Isn’t it what the Lord Himself commends, as Mary is contrasted over against Martha?
So, realising the nature of this motivation as being that which reflects the Divine Character, we consider Martin Bucer ... the Motivator!
In the first place, we cannot go past Bucer the writer. Though many of his works were destroyed, the influence they had in his lifetime, and in the period directly following his life, are of vital importance. We reflect on a few now.
There was that first treatise which Bucer wrote to the congregation at Weiszenberg, encouraging them in the faith.
Then in 1524 he wrote the book which title in English was shortened to “Ground & Being.” (The original German title was somewhat longer! – “Grund and Ursach de Neuerungen, von den Nachtmahl, de Herrn, dem Tauf, den Feiertagen, Bilder und Gemeindegesang”).
The reason for this work was the defence of the pastors of Strasbourg against the slander that monks and prelates had spread about their liturgical reformation. The contents in this book deal with how an evangelical church should conduct her services, with its eleven chapters considering the Lord’s Supper (that itself took up seven chapters), and Baptism, Christian Festivals, images, hymns and prayers. The source of this liturgy is scripture, supported by the writing of the Church Fathers.
We have in our age many Christian churches claiming a return to the early church. You may sometimes read the phrase in their promotional literature – something like, ‘We practice New Testament Christianity’, or ‘Like the Early Church’. In particular, those of a pentecostal theology can be very vocal: they do things as they were done in the early church!
Martin Bucer, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, Farel, and the other reformers, though, believe they did just that. And their confessions and liturgies are what the Reformed-Presbyterian churches hold to today.
Why the difference? Have we been wrong all along; have we missed out this tremendous blessing from the Lord in that continuing revelation from Him? How would these reformers argue against what can be quite compelling arguments today?
Well, you know, they did! In their age they had the forerunners of the charismatics and pentecostals of today. And they addressed them by pointing time and again – as they did with the Roman Catholics – to the total picture of Scripture.
Those others, you see, had very small Bibles. Perhaps you notice, as you talk with them, that there are certain texts they keep coming back to ... Acts 2, 4, 8, 10 & 19; 1st Corinthians 12-14. Certain texts which are lifted out of context, out of the flow of salvation history. How about later texts? There is little regard for how the very latest of God’s revelation spoke, as it comes, for instance, through the apostle Paul’s epistles to Timothy and Titus.
It’s actually the very basic Church Order contained in these letters – 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus – which Bucer came to after struggling himself with the local charismatics. In searching through the Scriptures he found what was needed. Let’s pray and work that our churches are also discovering the same!
So as the motivator, Bucer certainly had an effect with his Church Order. Indeed, this was taken over also by the cities of Hesse and Cologne, as well as Strasbourg, and developed further in Geneva.
The mention of Geneva brings to the fore an individual, who, though we should be loath to name any one particular individual as an example of Bucer’s motivation, is perhaps the way through which Bucer left his strongest mark. That person’s name is John Calvin. Yes, you’re thinking, I’ve mentioned him already. But now let’s think about the terribly disappointed figure who makes his way to Strasbourg in 1538. It seems that, despite his strongest efforts at reform, it hasn’t worked out in Geneva. The opposing party has gained political ascendancy, and Calvin is forced forlornly to Strasbourg.
Not that there won’t be a warm welcome there. Calvin had originally been on his way to Strasbourg, to be under Bucer, when in August 1536 Farel, the minister of Geneva, confronted him with a curse from God if he didn’t help out in Geneva. Now he was in Strasbourg.
But what a difference now! There would not now be the quiet scholastic life he had intended originally. Rather, taking up the calling as the minister to the French-speaking refugee congregation there, Calvin was able to freely develop the Church Order, liturgy, and discipline he had desired for Geneva. Indeed, as we speak of Calvin’s liturgy today, it’s the Strasbourg model we turn to for his model of what is most scriptural.
Though financially it became grim for Calvin – he even had to sell some of his precious books, and then they were very valuable, for printing presses had just begun – yet he was able to persevere. Though he was offered a large sum of money if he desisted from preaching the distinctively Reformed doctrines, he yet stayed faithful; and was richly rewarded with what he later described as the most enjoyable period in his ministry. And that was with Martin Bucer, a man he had long admired, and now could work right next to and with. William Pauck said of this association,
The Reformed type of church was Bucer’s gift to the world, through the work of his strong and brilliant executive Calvin.
John Calvin’s theology and practice was nothing new. Bucer had believed and done the same before him. And, in turn, Bucer had largely taken over the belief and practice of the Early Church. Here was where Luther fell short. Though theologically so blessed, he yet failed to work through those implications which would have brought him back more fully to the New Testament Church, and to the reformed view of church.
One door closes – another opens
Still, after the tremendous work he had done, it seemed there was a definite closing of doors when in 1549 Bucer received his marching orders from the authorities in Strasbourg. It was poor thanks after all he had achieved. But political considerations being what they are – and knowing the vacillations of politicians, also ours today! – Bucer had to move on. That’s something we need to remember too. At points in our lives we may well wonder why the Lord suddenly throws up a road block. I mean, didn’t He know how well I had been driving? Still, He means us to walk for a while. There’s something else He has in mind for us then. Do you believe that? Would you even trust that, based on how the Lord has blessed you to that particular point, that He’ll bless you again?
In that sad situation of exile from Strasbourg, Bucer was blessed through his previous motivation. A man no less than the Archbishop of the Church of England himself – Thomas Cranmer – personally invited Bucer and several other reformed exiles from Strasbourg and elsewhere, to assist in the reformation of England. Bucer was even appointed Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge.
At this point, though, some may be wondering what a Calvinist and an Anglican could have in common. I’m reminded here of a story R.B. Kuiper told to Philip Hughes, an Evangelical-Anglican. In this story R.B. tells about two men who were taking a stroll through the cemetery. As these two men looked at the inscriptions on the tombstones, one of them suddenly cried out, “Here’s something different, really different!” “What is it?” his friend asked. “Here are two men in one grave,” came the reply. “Two men in one grave? That’s strange.” “Well, this is what it says on the tombstone: Here lies an Anglican and a Calvinist!”
Or there is the story about the Anglican Priest who vigorously denied the doctrine of predestination in a conversation with a Reformed minister. He was emphatic that he could never support such a doctrine and was most glad to be in a denomination which was against it. That was until the Reformed minister picked up that Priest’s own ‘Book of Common Prayer’, and, turning to the Articles of Religion, began to read out Article 17, precisely about Predestination & Election!
We can thank the Lord for Martin Bucer’s work when we look at a diocese such as Sydney, where the reformed foundation and influence is strong. He was there when these things were being drawn up. His critique of the 1549 Prayerbook set the scene for much of the Calvinistic work which was to follow.
That work in England began with ‘The Anglican Ordinal of 1550,’ a book on offices and ordination. Although he didn’t want to be too radical – for instance, the office of bishop was maintained – he advised the use of one single ordination formula for all the offices, thus showing that there should be no hierarchical order. On the other hand he defended the Scriptural offices against the attacks of Anabaptism, which in his opinion “undervalues or condemns the office.”
Bucer’s influence was further noticeable in the Book of Common Prayer of 1552. Here his critique on the 1549 Prayerbook was extensively used. Calvin, after being invited by John Knox and others to evaluate, gave a mild reply, thus recognising its value. Although later editions partly did away with Bucer’s influence on the Prayerbook, there is still a distinctive strand that remains. A strand of such usefulness that I would recommend any fellow Reformed-Presbyterian colleague to have such a book as this Anglican Liturgy compared with the Bible. This has added a wider appreciation to my private and public prayers.
Though I would by no means want to take away from our precious “free” tradition, yet, as a friend found, while travelling around Australia, at least in an Anglican worship service there is a confession of sin, because of the prayer book!
I quote G.R. Elton, a well-known secular historian, on this vital period in English history:
...from its first archbishop the Anglican Church inherited not only a beautiful liturgy and a readiness to obey civil authority, but also a doctrine half-way between the extremes...”. And further on he summarises “The Prayer Book of 1552, the Ordinal of 1550 which it took over, the act of uniformity which made the Prayer Book the only legal form of worship, and the Forty-Two Articles binding on all Englishmen, clerical and lay – these comprehended the Protestant Reformation in England.
In this light we find even more proof that Martin Bucer was a much-blessed Motivator.
On the 28th of February 1551 Martin Bucer passed through to be with the Lord he dearly loved and served. And although the Roman Catholic reaction under Queen Mary was to have his remains exhumed and post-mortem burnt at the stake, he died as he lived bringing God the glory through the simple exposition of His Word. That Bucer’s name was rehabilitated during Elizabeth’s reign may ease our discomfort, but it did not make one iota of difference to how the LORD had been pleased to richly bless His people through the life of this servant. To God be the glory and honour, for great things He has done; and great things He will continue to do!