Full Text for Church History 2- Volume 47 - Entering the Elizabethan Period (Video)

File 47. >> Did Mary and Philip have any children? We seem to be entering the Elizabethan age, according to my memory. Am I correct? If so, I think I remember quite a bit about her influence on the arts and the politics of her time, but what happened to the religion in England? Elizabeth wasn't Catholic, was she? >> No, Paul, she wasn't Catholic. Although she had conformed during the reign of her sister, Elizabeth had been really educated by Protestants and her closest supporters in England had been Protestants under the reign of Edward VI, so it was pretty clear when she inherited the throne in November of 1558 that we were going to have a Protestant regime. I suppose it didn't have to be, but it was pretty clear that it would be. In fact, Elizabeth signaled her intentions when, on Christmas day, she ordered the officiating clergyman not to elevate the host, which was a part of the Catholic liturgy, and when he proceeded to do so anyway, she left the service. That was a clear signal that religious changes were happening were going to happen again. Now, I suppose we shouldn't be too surprised by this. After all, Elizabeth was Henry VIII's daughter by his second wife, Anne Boleyn, and so there was really no love lost between the Boleyn line and family and the Catholics. After all, the Pope had never recognized the marriage between Henry and Elizabeth's mother, Anne Boleyn. Be that as it may, Elizabeth was clearly going to restore Protestantism. The only question was, what kind of Protestant regime would she establish in England. Well, as was the case with monarchs typically, in this period, shortly after coming to the throne she summoned a Parliament, and this Parliament had the responsibility for legislating for religion, just as Mary's Parliaments had done, Edward's, and even Henry's. What they finally came up with in the spring of 1559 were two pieces of legislation that together are usually known as the Elizabethan Settlement, two pieces of legislation that become kind of the framework for Protestant religion during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. The first of those laws was an act of supremacy, and once again, the monarch was placed over the church in England. Henry had been comfortable with the term "supreme head." Elizabeth and her advisors were not so comfortable with that terminology. They chose, instead, "supreme governor," so as to avoid any thought that the monarch challenged the headship of Christ over his church. Christ is the head of the church, but in England the monarch was the supreme governor of the church. So an act of supremacy was the first part of the settlement. The second part of the settlement, the second law of the land here under the reign of Elizabeth, was an act of uniformity. And what the act of uniformity did was to impose a uniform worship on all of the churches in England. Here, Elizabeth really kind of follows the reformation of her brother, Edward, and what she uses as uniform worship is the Book of Common Prayer. We talked about this during the reign of Edward. Now we talk about it here during the reign of Elizabeth. This is now the third edition of the Book of Common Prayer, and it becomes the law of the land. It's the form of worship that has to be used in all of the churches of England. Now, Elizabeth had two choices if she wanted to use what her brother had used. She could either use the first edition or she could use the second edition. She chose the second edition of the Book of Common Prayer, so the Book of Common Prayer of 1559 is almost exactly the same as the prayer book of 1552. And that means that the doctrinal content which undergirds these worship forms in the church of England is basically Protestant of the reformed variety. Now, sometimes historians have tried to make the case that the church of England actually is kind of a halfway house between Catholicism and Protestantism, and they do so by pointing to things like the Book of Common Prayer. But if you actually kind of analyze the book closely, you'll see that the kind of theology that's evident in the communion service is really the sort of theology that you would find in the continental reformed. There was only one place in that communion service where perhaps there was a concession being made to some of the more conservative Christians within England at the time, and that was in the words that the priest used to distribute the sacred elements, because what the Book of Common Prayer specified in 1559 was that the priest should say, "The body of our Lord Jesus Christ and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ," but he attached to the statement about the body and the blood the words of the second prayer book. That is, "Take and eat this and feed on him in thy heart," the words that are most reminiscent of the Calvinist point of view with respect to the Eucharist. So I think it's a pretty hard case to make that in terms of its theology, the Elizabethan supplement was anything other than a reformed Protestant kind of settlement. Furthermore, if somebody's not convinced by looking at the prayer book, we should realize that just a few years later, in 1563, the clergy of the church of England, under the leadership of bishops basically appointed to their posts by Elizabeth, formulated a confession of faith. These are the 39 articles. And what they did was to take Cranmer's old 42 articles, which had been prepared during the reign of Edward VI but had become a dead letter during Mary, well, they took that same document out, revised it slightly so that it became 39 articles instead of 42, but, nonetheless, the theological content of the 39 articles is Protestant and it's Protestantism basically of the reformed variety. So that Elizabeth established in England a church that, at least doctrinally and theologically, lines up with the continental reformed. Now, there were certain respects in which the church of England, under Elizabeth, could be criticized by the reformed. Not so much for its doctrine, but perhaps for its practice. And it was during the reign of Elizabeth that some of her own clergy and lay supporters were unhappy with one element or another within the establishment that they thought should be changed to make it even more like the continental reformed. These people in history came to be known as the Puritans. And we don't need to spend a lot of time on them here, but, among other things, they were concerned with certain elements of the prayer book that they thought were still too medieval, too Catholic. So, for example, they didn't like the idea of kneeling for communion. That's still in the book in 1559, as it was in 1552. Then, again, they didn't like the fact that the clergy were still wearing vestments, were wearing the cassock and the surplus, particularly. That, too, seemed too medieval, too Catholic. And there were other things like that. They weren't particularly critical of the theology of the doctrine, but they were somewhat critical of the of the practice. In that same regard, I should mention that Elizabeth never did change the forms of church government. Oh, the Pope went out and the monarch came in, but Elizabeth kept the system of archbishops and bishops and deans of cathedrals and archdeacons and so forth, all of which was kind of a medieval system of church government, which they did away with in places like Geneva, Zurich, and to a lesser extent even in even in Scotland. So that didn't get changed either. So some of the more earnest reformed Protestants were critical of the church of England, but on the whole, and especially when it came to doctrine, we'd have to say that the church in England lines up pretty closely with the continental reformed. That was certainly the opinion of Englishmen who remained faithful to the Roman Catholic church. They knew that it was a Protestant church, and so they were unhappy with Elizabeth and the Elizabethan settlement. Now, of course most people, including most Catholics, just wanted to be left alone and not bothered by the by the government as they expressed their faith and worshipped in the traditional forms and so forth, but there were some in England who actually went further and sought the overthrow of Elizabeth's government. And so we find, especially in the 1570s and the 1580s, a number of plots that were being planned by English Catholics, with strong support from foreign Catholics, especially especially from Spain Phillip II, kind of a strong supporter of international Catholicism, while some of his people were supportive of this notion of overthrowing Elizabeth so that England would be ruled by a Catholic once again. And as I mentioned earlier, Mary Queen of Scots, she's in England and she's often the subject of these plots. So there was a great deal of kind of anti Protestant, anti Elizabeth agitation by really a small number of English Catholics. This meant, then, that Elizabeth's government also went after Catholics and persecuted them in England, but not the way Mary had done in which people got into trouble for violating religious law or religious practices. Elizabeth could go after her Catholic opponents and treat them as traitors because at least some of them were actually traitors and were involved in these plots. So religious persecution during Elizabeth's reign was often framed as what we might call kind of political persecution, or from the standpoint of the government going after potential traitors and rebels. This kind of agitation against Elizabeth from the Catholic side came to a head in the late 1580s. We talked about the execution of Mary Queen of Scots in 1587. The very next year, 1588, Philip II, the Catholic King of Spain, sent his fleet against England. This was known as the Spanish Armada. And what the Spanish Armada intended to do was to clear the English Channel of shipping and to clear the way for Philip's troops to move from the Netherlands across the English Channel to England and to overthrow Elizabeth and to put on the throne of England a Catholic again. Well, you know from the history books that it didn't work out that way. For one, the English successfully attacked the Spanish, for they'd made their way through most of the English Channel. Nonetheless, the English were able to attack them and disperse their ships. And then when the Spanish fleet attempted to sail around the British Isles in order to return to Spain, they ran into these fierce storms on the North Sea, so that the efforts of the King of Spain to overthrow Elizabeth came to naught, and in one of the great kind of religious political military episodes of the 16th century, the victory went to the Protestant side, the side of Queen Elizabeth. To make make a long story short, Elizabeth's reign lasted long enough for her to reestablish Protestantism and to maintain it, so that by the time she died in 1603, England was well on its way to becoming a Protestant country.