Cranmer On My Mind....
I know I wrote an earlier post in which I dissed the the mind behind the Book of Common Prayer as a radical Protestant. Since then, I have read among other things Basil Hall's essay in Thomas Cranmer: Churchman and Scholar, in which he clarifies Cramner's eucharistic theology in terms of distinguishing it from the theology of Zwingli and other reformers. Cranmer did believe, as opposed to pure "memorialists", that Christ is present during Holy Communion for the believer. Also, the assertion that Cranmer wanted a more radical Prayer Book than the 1552 is also not correct. So Archbishop Cranmer, all I have to say is: My bad! You are a pretty swell guy after all!
I don't have a lot of time these days for independent study. Most of my time is spent translating Latin, reading novels for a literature class, and reading about theories for opposing oppressive Eurocentric discourses (African American Studies, I need it for my major). I want to study Cranmer more in depth, however, with the little time I have. Can someone who was the impresario behind a spiritual masterpiece like the Prayer Book really be all that bad? I mean, I stand in church everyday and listen to the prayers he re-worked, re-wrote, and composed outright. So there is something there. Something significant.
Much of my thought has been influenced by Catholic polemics against Protestantism and modern philosophy. Notably, Maritain's Three Reformers, attacking Luther, Descartes, and Rousseau, played a big part in my coming to the conclusion that I knew the disease at the root of the postmodern malaise. Now I am not so sure. Many scholars have shown that Descartes was heavily influenced by St. Augustine and other more ancient sources of philosophy. And do we really want to live in a pre-Enlightenment world where "liberty, equality, and fraternity" are merely aspirations of those at the bottom of a rigidly stratified society?
Do I really want to sink my teeth, then, into Protestant theology to see what I can find? Will I just find what I have always thought: it is the product of an overly rationalized, nominalist philosophy? Will I find something I didn't expect?
Cranmer was no dummy. He didn't just get his ideas from the ether. Peter Martyr was a scholar in Patristics. What drove these men to revolutionize the Church the way they did? Can we be so sure of the answer? I know I can't.
Duc in altum.....
(to be continued)