Often the word reformation is misunderstood especially when it is applied to Protestantism, although it correctly refers to it. When reformation first came into our knowledge it does not mean to protest but merely to reform some aspect of belief that had gone wrong. Martin Luther may not have the idea of protesting but after his attempt to bring to the higher authority of the Roman Catholic Church what he saw as errors of the church he was branded as protestant.
That brand it self became the uniting factor of all who wish to break from the church as more and more people were enlightened by Luthers initiative. This paper therefore seeks to find how far Protestantism had gone to England and whether England had become protestant during the sixteen century reformation. The religion in England prior to Reformation was Roman Catholicism due to influence of Constantine who during his reign accepted the faith of Christianity because of the miracle he received from one of follower of the Christian faith.
Since then, the whole England took hold of the Roman Catholic view. However, centuries before the reign of Queen Elizabeth, many English people became Protestants because of the influence Protestant Movement who went out to spread the faith, some of whom were Wycliff, Luther, William Tyndale, William Tracy and many others. I would agree with the argument that Protestantism in England was well established before 1547.
In support of this is David Loadis emphasis about some positive factors such as the humanist education, the desire for an English Bible, and the attractiveness of the protestant doctrine of justification. I believe that these factors are attractive not merely to politicians but to townsmen in general. That means England’s Protestantism by this time was not a matter of politics but it really penetrated among the masses as the latter two factors implies that the protestant doctrine had appeals on the common people.
However, many believed that Protestantism in England depends on who was ruling. Haig said that England’s religious future depends upon who favors the king (p10) because there was a struggle between conservative controlled Privy Council and the evangelical which became a “desperate battle for control” of the future. The element of violence which both Roman Catholics and the Protestants may have created confusion among the ordinary people as both sides attacked each others religious belief.
Haig mentions that images which had been objects of particular devotions had been turned down and the practice of burning candle were ordered to ceased(p12), while on the other side, the burning of protestants believed to be heretics was a strong point of evaluation on which side one will chose. In view of the many land marks which was left by the early reformation period, it is quite evident that protestants dominated England from that time up to now with exception probably of brief periods of Roman Catholic domination. But religious conflict continuous to flood in many local courts, as Nicholas Tyacki reveals.
But he noted that despite of the mandate of severe penalties of religious non conformity and also during the persecution of Protestants between 1555 and 1558, cases concerning with this conflict disappeared and that there was a tolerated measure of religious diversity in their jurisdiction (p89). Another factor that supports my view that during this time, England was protestant country was, there were always people who had devoted their lives towards spreading protestant principles and doctrines, not to mention the works of Tyndale, the Wycliff brothers and others.
Many intellectuals after them have committed their lives in spreading not only Protestantism but new testament bibles too, which were forbidden to everyone prior to reformation. Men such as Thomas Bilney, John Barret, and Thomas Rose were only a few of the many other intellectuals who have invested their lives for the cause of religious reformation more popularly known as Protestantism.
Tyacke pointed out that Thomas Bilney “preach through out the Diocese of Norwich, and even in the cathedral city distributing copies of Tyndale New Testament and (Obedience of Christian Man. . John Barret, a former priest doing lectures Protestant doctrines and teachings. Tyacke pointed out that Protestant message begun to have an impact by the mid 1530, (p90). Alarmed by the Protestant growing converts the Roman Catholics began to exert pressure on local courts regarding Religious non conformist. Tyacke said “other urban government took action against religious non conformist in the sixteenth century as well (p90). The influence of these men toward the society were far reaching that it cost them their lives.
But the seeds of Protestantism were widely sown that turn the religious life of the whole England to become protestant. But in 1553, with the ascension of Mary Tudor to the throne, she brought a reversal of the government policies. Papal authority was restored along with other Roman Catholic Church tradition and rituals temporarily. . Robert Whiting pointed out that in 1558; another decree was issued banishing papal authority at once. The decree forbids Roman Catholics of their sacraments and rituals and gave Protestant control of England.
Whiting emphasized that Catholics was the consistent target of disapproval which has resulted in the excommunication of the queen. Thus, it gave protestant control of the whole England. It was indeed quite clear that as early as 1580there was already an establish protestant doctrines in England through the efforts of Calvinist protestants and the puritans. Margo Todd’s compilation of such doctrines dated 1582, 1596, and 1597 proves this. But it was unfortunate that Calvinism’s doctrine of predestination was in conflict with another protestant teaching in the line of the Armenians.
Thus during the early period of reformation, England was already won by the reformers. Calvinism and the puritan did a good job in the development of the modern capitalist society. Therefore, I confirmed my view that England was already a Protestant country during the stage of reformation. Conclusion England is part of Europe where the seed of reformation sprouted, grown, and budded. As one of the most important countries of the world during this time because of its status as the worlds power, it is no surprising that the early reformers was so interested to win England.
Indeed it is in this country that there were most faithful protestant believers who labor so hard against the deviant sexual behavior during the colonial era. The puritans did their best to maintain moral uprightness in the face of society’s seemingly lost moral and sexual conduct. These faithful believers too in their search to find safe place to live because of intense persecution migrated to America and eventually founded the great nation while remaining faithful in their faith in God.
Thus England exported believers to America which in turn were blessed by God and themselves became missionary exporting counties in the 1900s. Not only England produced faithful believers, they too, had had leaders who had been symphatitic to Protestantism even if their own international relation especially in Rome were at stake. As a matter of fact Queen Elisabeth was excommunicated for her attacks on Roman Catholic Church forbidding ritual practices and other catholic traditions.