The ‘Christmas Day’ Articles were authored by Philip Melancthon, advising German Princes (the Elector of Saxony and Landgrave of Hesse) how they were to approach Henry VIII as possible leader of the Smalkaldic League. The Fourteen points contained therein outlined rules of engagement that eventually led to the Wittenberg Concord. It was upon the Wittenberg Concord that the Henrician Ten Articles (1536) were likewise framed. While the Wittenberg Concord detailed points of agreement between Anglican and Lutheran doctors, areas of impasse– later outlined in the six articles— left an insufficient basis for membership in the League. The outcome was an indeterminate prorogue of discussion, remaining true even after Edward VI’s sacramentarian reforms. Yet the Ten Articles go unrecognized as direct descendant several altered-Augsburg Confessions, prototypical to the Protestant media via amongst common amongst royals in Northern Europe. Likewise neglected is Henry’s brief overture as the supreme head of Protestantcy, providing an example that James I and related Palatine princes emulated– suggesting the British throne as a last court of Protestant appeal.
The Christmas Day Articles:
Written December 25, 1535, the Christmas Day Articlesset terms for Anglo-Lutheran unity. The Christmas Day articles exemplified northern catholic conciliar efforts, though biased on the German side. The Christmas Articles may be summarized as having three parts– 1) the Augsburg Confession as common symbol of peace; 2) setting restrictions on unilateral talks with Rome as well as non-League churches; 3) providing certain logistics of military procurement. For this essay, the third section is least interesting while the second simply forbade independent engagements with non-Lutherans. However, the first section– subscribing the Augsburg– is highly pertinent.
The Christmas articles began with some political shuttle board. In rather bold language, the Articles side-stepped Henry VIII’s greater status, especially divine right claims, as “Emperor in England, Wales, and France”. Nor was any flattery spent upon Henry’s renowned theological literacy. The German princes wanted to avoid implications respecting England’s greater dignity. A letter from Cromwell to the Germans admits, “The King, knowing himself to be the learnedest prince in Europe, thought it became not him to submit to them, but them to submit to him”. Therefore, Henry felt the burden of compromise ought to be upon the German legates, leaving the Lutherans to amend the Augsburg to please English prejudice, “something first, in your [the Lutheran] Confession and Apology be modified by private conferences and friendly discussions between learned men”. Neither Henry nor Cromwell were ready to give the Augsburg the esteemed place Melanchthon would have it. Articles I, II dealt with the Augsburg as theological starting point, permitting amendment by multilateral talks. While article VIII stuck to a confederate model, cautious of England’s supremacy or claims to divine right, they read:
“I. That the Most Serene King promote the Gospel of Christ, and the pure doctrine of faith according to the mode in which the Princes and confederated states confessed it in the diet of Augsburg, and defended it according to the published apology, unless perhaps some things meanwhile justly seem to require change or correction from the Word of God by the common consent of the Most Serene King, and the princes themselves.
II. Also, that the Most Serene King, together with the Princes and States confederated, defend and maintain the doctrine of the gospel mentioned, and ceremonies harmonizing with the gospel in future council.
VIII. Also, that neither the aforesaid Most Serene King, nor the aforesaid Most Illustrious Princes or States confederated, ever will recognize, maintain or defend that the primacy or monarch be held today or ever hereafter as de jure divino…” ( p.63-66).
The Ten Articles:
The disputations in Wittenberg carried until late-March. Disagreements revolved around Henry’s divorce with Catherine, but also abuses in the English Mass, clerical celibacy, and, whether the English King should continue other questionable ceremonies. Dubious practices named were the decking of images, masses for purgatory, and invoking saints. Upon the return of English delegates, copies of the Wittenberg Concord and Lutheran Repititio (an elaboration on the former), arrived in England, and Henry established the Ten Articles as a first rejoinder.
The Articles, like Henry’s longer Catechisms, were divided into two parts– one portion belonging to doctrine, the other to ceremony. The part given to explain Faith generally followed the Wittenberg and Augsburg Apologies, yet adding a Henrician emphasis upon good works as evidence of living faith. Agreeing with the Augsburg, Penance is counted as a third sacrament for the remission of sin after baptism. However, unlike Henry’s vocal defense of seven sacraments in 1522, the Ten Articles were purposefully silent on the efficacy of the lesser sacraments. It‘s notable that Protestants at this early period of Reformation were open to either Penance or Holy Orders as a third sacrament. This restraint on sacramental enumeration continued into the 1540′s. Veneration of images and saints, however, were outright banned, at an early date, 1538. But the English defended private mass and concomitance of the elements, and for this reason the Lutherans found the Ten Articles deficient. Nonetheless, delegates expected remaining differences to be ironed out in the future.
Although John Frederick the Elector was anxious to receive the Ten Articles before the summer of 1536, they did not arrive in Germany until late-November. Henry’s tardiness was due to an unfortunate monk revolt in Yorkshire. Once the Articles arrived, Melanchthon said nothing flattering, “[they]were put together with the greatest confusion”. But a decade later, Melanchthon would write the Leipzig Interim that was arguably more Romish than the Ten Articles. Aside from the continued use of the Mass, the Ten Articles agreed with the Wittenberg. Where the two confessions differed was upon limits of adiaphora in ceremony. The Ten Articles retained some questionable ceremonies for the sake of ‘charitable concord’ whereas the Wittenberg and Augsburg purge the Papist Mass. The Preface explains the division between salvific and edifying rites, retaining some for the sake a political order:
“…have not only in our own person many times taken great pain, study labour and travails, but also have caused our bishops, and other the most discreet and best learned men of our clergy of this our whole realm, to be assembled in our convocation, for the full debatement and quiet deliberation and disputations, had of and upon the premises, finally they have concluded and greed upon the said matters, as well those which be commanded of God, and necessary for our salvation, as also the other touching honest ceremonies, and good and politic order, as is aforesaid; which their determination, debatement, and agreement, forasmuch as we think to have proceeded of a good, right, and true judgment, an to be agreeable to the laws and ordinances of God, and much profitable for the establishment of that charitable concord and unity in our church of England” (p. 4, Oxford).
Among the Henrician Bishops to serve as legates in Germany for the Crown was the Rev. Nicholas Heath. Heath’s churchmanship likely characterized the period, 1535-1545. In 1535 Dr. Nicholas Heath was the king’s chaplain. Sent to Saxony along with Henry’s representatives, Foxe and Barnes, Heath was sympathetic to the “New Learning” but placed brakes on Barnes and Foxe’s tendency to hastily agree with Lutheran particulars. This caution resulted in a half-way or altered form of the Augsburg later known as the Ten Articles. According to Pusey’s study on the Anglo-Lutheran continental conferences, Melanchthon held Heath in high regard for his relative conservativism while accusing that Fox “believed too much” (p. 134, The Real Presence). Nonetheless, the Ten Articles mostly agreed with Melanchthon’s Apology (1531) and Loci (1535) though it parted on sometimes contentious aspects of ceremony. However, other Evangelical princes besides Henry had also taken conservative paths in ceremony. German Princes in Bradenburg and Brunswick signed the Augsburg while keeping stubbornness with ‘old faith’, so the equivocations by England shouldn’t be taken as an abject rebuff. Moreover, ceremony was indifferent given rites were reinfused with correct theology. Holy Week, Creeping the Cross, Candlemas, Ash Wednesday, the Easter Sepulchre and other rites gained a lifeline given deference to “right use”. In the 1537 book, Cranmer explained,
“If men will indifferently read these late declarations, they shall well perceive that purgatory, pilgrimages, praying to saints, images, holy bread, holy water, holy days, merits, works, ceremony, and such other, be not restored to their late accustomed abuses; but shall evidently perceive that the word of God hath gotten the upper hand of them all, and hath set them in their right use and estimation”. (p. 178, Tjernagel)
Despite disagreement on catholic ritual, the Wittenberg paved an important theological precedent for Cranmer’s Ten, if not later, Forty-Two Articles. Two points deserve stress: First, the Ten Articles occurred during official dialogue with German counterparts, affirming the core of the Wittenberg conferences. This critical dialogue was not abandoned in 1538 but continued intermittently until 1547 against the backdrop of Trent. Bishop Gibson was wrong to dismiss the influence of Trent[i]. Proto-Tridentine sessions were well-established; particularly, the Diet of Ratisbon and related Leipzig Interim (between 1541 and 1548 respectively) had well-broadcasted the Roman-side, so the theological positions staked out against the Reformation was easily known before the publication of Henry’s 1543 catechism.
Second, the tenor of Anglo-German dialogue in the 1540’s was between Vienna (Erasmus) and Wittenberg (Melanchthon) humanists. The synthesis of reformed-minded Roman Catholics and moderate Lutherans constituted a continental ‘third way’, embodied in works like the Regensberg Book, Leipzig Interim, and Witzel’s Reforms. Historians usually overlook this period of convergence by which the Ten Articles drew. Anglican distinctives from that time include the necessary evidence of works for lively faith, an occasional enumeration of three or four sacraments rather than merely two, and recognizable ceremonial continuity to the medieval.
Among the Henrician Bishops to serve as legates in Germany for the Crown was the Rev. Nicholas Heath. Heath’s churchmanship likely characterized the period, 1535-1545. In 1535 Dr. Nicholas Heath was the king’s chaplain. Sent to Saxony along with Henry’s representatives, Foxe and Barnes, Heath was sympathetic to the “New Learning” but hindered Barnes and Foxe’s tendency agree with Lutheran particulars. This caution resulted in a half-way or conservative form of the Augsburg later known as the Ten Articles. According to Pusey’s study on the Anglo-Lutheran continental conferences, Melanchthon held Heath in high regard despite Heath’s relative conservatism; though, Melanchthon chidded that Fox “believed too much”. Nonetheless, the Ten Articles mostly agreed with Melanchthon’s Apology (1531) and Loci (1535), parting sometimes on more contentious aspects of ceremony.
However, Evangelicals Royals prior to Henry had also taken conservative paths. German Princes in Bradenburg and Brunswick signed the Augsburg while remaining stubborn in ceremonies commonly associated with ‘old faith’. So, Henry’s equivocations weren’t an automatic rebuff. Moreover, English divinity was prepared to retain medieval ceremony given rites were re-infused with correct theology. Thus, Holy Week, Creeping the Cross, Candlemas, Ash Wednesday, the Easter Sepulchre won a lifeline by “right use” principles, explained in the 1537 English catechism,
“If men will indifferently read these late declarations, they shall well perceive that purgatory, pilgrimages, praying to saints, images, holy bread, holy water, holy days, merits, works, ceremony, and such other, be not restored to their late accustomed abuses; but shall evidently perceive that the word of God hath gotten the upper hand of them all, and hath set them in their right use and estimation” (Tjernagel, 178)
Despite England’s difference with Saxony, the Reformation proceeded apace. Cranmer’s 1537 Bishop’s Book along with Cromwell’s 1538 church Injunctions drew Henry closer to the Saxon Elector. These reforms extirpated some outstanding disagreements with Lutherans two years prior. For instance, candles and incense before images were banned. An explicit Purgatory was rejected. By 1539 the largest monasteries were dissolved.
However, in April of 1539 Henry issued the notorious Six Articles. The Six Articles were not the rollback some assume but a concise statement about outstanding differences with Lutherans dating back to 1535. The Articles drew a theological line which Henry expected German accommodation. The Articles are usually thought as an apology for Transubstantiation or the Roman Mass. They retained concomitance in the elements, clerical celibacy, and private eucharist. Though the first article contends a complete annihilation of bread and wine after consecration, the terminology of transubstantiation is missing. This has been noted by McEntegart:
“This question was answered in the negative: only the substance of Christ remained in the sacrament after consecration. This response, though it failed to include the substance of the bread and wine with Christ’s body and blood in the eucharist, as Lutheran teaching demanded, avoided an explicit endorsement of transubstantiation and hence could be acceptable to all parties.”(McEntegart, 159)
Surely, Henry had reasons for Six Articles. The early 1540′s marked turning point for the Lutheran movement in both England and Germany since the Emperor was willing to accommodate the Evangelical cause to rally the Empire against France. Furthermore, Catholics and Evangelicals were finding common ground against growing iconoclasm, identified with Calvinism. As with later Stuarts, Henry identified iconoclasm with democracy; consequently, Henry, together with German princes, often adopted high church views that hedged authority by ceremonial against the iconoclastic ‘leveling’ forces. Schofield has speculated upon Henry’s motives for drawing the six, suggesting:
“The second factor was the King’s aim to establish his own national church, independent of both Rome and Wittenberg, based on scripture and the fathers as Henry interpreted them. He did not seek some vague middle ground; he saw himself as a Christian prince and head of the church like Constantine and Justinian, and looked to the doctrine and dogmas of their times.” (Schofield, 125)
Henry saw no abuse in promulgating six articles since his methods were humanist.While Henry perhaps went too far on certain questions, e.g., calling evangelical counsels the ‘law of God’, precedence was had in other areas. Evangelicals were sometimes receptive to carnal interpretations of the Real Presence in order to fence off Zwinglians. Furthermore, Cranmer would dull the significance of Henry’s six articles in his compilation of the 1543 King’s Catechism. Here, Cranmer tries to dismiss the mode of sacrament in favor of worthy reception,
“Wherefore in this most high mystery no man ought to reason overfar, nor go about to compass the will and work of God by his weak sense and imagination: but we must without further searching give firm assent and credence unto Christ’s almighty word, by the which heaven and earth were made, and not trouble our wits in laboring to comprehend the power and might of God, but rather (steadfastly giving faith to his word) apply our whole will and affection to attain the fruit and profit of this most holy sacrament towards our salvation, according to the intent of Christ’s institution” (Various, 263)
Thus, the six articles not only answered German complaints lodged earlier with the Ten Articles, but they also voiced an emerging conservatism in England’s church, perhaps a cue taken from other conservative Evangelical Germans who anticipated the advantage of Charles V as with a coming Papal Council in Trent. Nonetheless, they belong to the theology of the Reformation, providing a “core” of doctrine that would continue into the Elizabethan Settlement until a better convergence with Philipist-Lutheranism could happen.
Anglicans ought to be encouraged to study the Henrician Formularies, 1536-1543, as laying the basis for Edward and Elizabeth’s final version of the Settlement. A hardcopy can be purchased at Amazon through the same Henry VIII link.
- Jacobs, Henry Eyster. The Lutheran Movement in England During the Reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI. Philedelphia, 1890.
- McEntegart, Rory. Henry VIII, The League of Schmalkalden, and the English Reformation (Boydell Press, 2002)
- Pusey, EB. The Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Our Lord. Oxford, 1858.
- Schofield, John. Philip Melanchthon and the English Reformation (Ashgate Publishing, 2006),
- Tjernagel, Neelak Serawlook. Henry VIII and the Lutherans. Concordia, 1965.
- Various. Formularies of Faith put Forth by Authority During the Reigns of Henry VIII. Oxford, 1825.
While this posting only scratched the surface of Anglo-German relations, Lutheran influence remained formative and largely institutional despite popular Calvinist movements. Elsewhere I’ve been asked to prove the Lutheran content of the Book of Articles, namely, the positive influence of Bishop Edmund Guest especially upon articles 28 and 29 which are normally understood as calvinist. While calvinism was the dominant interpretation among classical English divinity, the Elizabethan revision deserves certain notice, particularly how moderate Lutheran views were comprehended. It remains the thesis of this author the articles on the Supper, composed under the chair of Guest, were a Phillipist, or moderate Lutheran, rather than Calvinist inspiration, so that questions of substantial presence are open to some opinion. Stricter Lutheran clergy, such as Cheyney, were likely disappointed with Guest’s broad terminology. Nor was the language very endearing for those persuaded by Calvin or Bullinger. Provided below are quotes to further assist this understanding:
It’s probable the entreaty with Germans was assumed upon the substance of the Variata since the Articles well-preceded the Formula. Not surprisingly article 28 was framed in the same comprehensive language as the altered Augusta. Again, Guest is credited for the authorship, reassuring Cheyney and Cecil by letter in 1566. According to Hardwick, Guest chaired the revision, was moderate in his Lutheranism, and directly responsible drafting changes from the 42 articles (History of the Thirty-Nine, p. 128), “yet while the romish doctrine of the eucharist was thus rejected, a new paragraph was added, on the motion of bishop Guest, to vindicate the truth from opposite perversions; for this paragraph declares that ‘the body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the Lord’s Supper,’ though ‘only after an heavenly and spiritual manner’”.
Another author, Edgar Gibson, likewise attributes these changes to article 29 (from the earlier 42 articles) to Guest, it being written in terms broad enough to assuage stricter men like Cheyney:
However, Guest’s moderation evidently disgruntled both sides of the Lutheran-Reformed (or German-Swiss) divide:
This is where the question of the real presence stood in 1563. The language expressed was comprehensive, like the altered Augusta, settling upon a ‘real, spiritual presence’. However, in 1571 Parker introduced a new article that at least excluded capernatic eating. evidently Guest was opposed to such, hoping to either continue with the omission of the proposed article or slightly amend the earlier one (the 28th). Gibson says:
To sum, Guest was of the opinion the 28th article was comprehensive enough to satisfy men like Cheyney. However, the later inclusion of the 1571 article makes things more complicated. While this author was never troubled by reading the 29th in terms of ‘profitability’ or worthy receiving, evidently this is a strained reading, proven by the contortions of catholic divines like Pusey, G.F. Hodge, and Edgar Gibson. However, the article appeals to Augustine who seems to contextualize it.
Often terminology is dense and the precise terms, such as “only” versus “profitable”, become critical. There can also be plenty of strawman arguments, especially around the notion of ‘ubiquity’. I’ve found Lutheran definitions of terms like “spiritual”, “local”, “natural”, and “carnal” to be helpful, and they can be read either here or gleamed from the solid declaration of Concord. Sketching the differences between receptionism, viritualism, and consubstantion also helps. In this vein, Bicknell’s explanation of ‘receptionism’ provides a useful critique. Bicknell seems to contrast this with the ‘real presence’, giving a definition to the latter which is not calvinist but a lot closer to the Lutherans. I would say Bicknell is comparing, therefore, ‘receptionism’ (or nominalism) to ‘realism’:
Bicknell goes on to defend the objectivity of the sacrament through the incarnation, “the incarnation was an event discerned by faith but in no way produced by faith”, finally dismissing the logical obstacle of Christ’s fleshly body assumed in heaven by marginalizing the necessity of spatial physics. Of course, Bicknell is anglo-catholic, so he represents one voice in a studied departure from English receptionalism.
I believe whatever Lutheran comprehension was smuggled into the Settlement by Guest or the Queen Elizabeth rapidly gave way to Calvinist sacramentology. Article 29 took care of most traditional explanations. Meanwhile, within the spectrum of reformation BCP’s, the 1549 and 1662 were more comprehensive. Eighteenth-century Scottish liturgics eventually used English oblation prayers, appearing first in the 1637 BCP, as a springboard for consubstantialism. The oblation prayers were, again, recognized as dervived from the 1549 book. Thus, we see a certain relationship between the more robust viritualism encouraged by Carolinians with the later “consubstantialism”, or something very akin, of the Scottish Episcopalians. A modest Lutheranism unfortunately failed to make its way back into the English Settlement, not returning in force until Tractarianism’s influence. In this respect, Pusey’s Real Presence paved the way for a popularization not only of a conjoined substance but likewise some Scottish liturgics, previously mentioned. America also had its own native tractarian influence, also owing to the Scottish Office. Nor should the stymied attempts noted above– of Guest and Cheyney– for an Evangelical widening of the Articles be forgotten. But most important were the moderate Lutherans during the Henrician period– men like Barlow, Ridley and Latimer– who imprinted a Phillipist, or comprehensive sacramentology, that Laud restored the basis of through the restoration of the oblation prayer(s).
Furthermore, talks with Germans were not a one-shot matter. Upon the passing of Queen Anne, question of Protestant/Hanoveran succession renewed discussion. A lively debate stemmed from Pufendorf’s 1695 work, The Divine Feudal Law, which examined possible comprehension between Lutherans and Calvinists from a confessional viewpoint. Pufendorf adopts something like Melanchthon’s mediating position, emphasizing what the two systems have in common, namely, ‘right use’ of the Sacrament,
Nonetheless, Pufendorf is critical of receptionist views of the Zwinglian or low-Calvinist kind:
Where differences occur, the Philipist falls back to ‘mystery’, usually avoiding certain specifics of modus. However, for the Philipist, a substantial presence indeed exists together with the elements, conjoined, though not separate from sacramental action (“at” vs. “in”, “do” vs. “is”). In this respect, the Presence might be identified within the Bread, but only in so far the Bread continues as a proper part of the action. In other words, though the Presence can never exist “at” the bread alone, it has presence there given to right administration of the Sacrament, e.g., the instituted course of blessing-distribution-reception. When the body is given over to purposes other than what is instituted, it’s no longer a sacrament.
I hope the 39 articles and the mixed theology of the 1549 bcp are better known by the foresaid middle position. Johnson appears to say something of the same re: Lutheran-Calvinist opinion, quoted from Lewis’s reply to Brett:
man, wow, this is some serious white trash fantasy bullshit. and the fetishism with royalty and Anglican empire takes it beyond insane racist revisionism into effeminate altar boy whining. it would be sad if it weren’t so evil.
hello John, Not sure why you chose this particular post re: early anglo-german relations, but I’m actually flattered by your disapproval. Meanwhile, check out the Christian Episcopal Church in Canada . Would a revanchist politics have more cultural traction in the commonwealth? XnEC’s description seems to suggest something of an ethnic or national church, not unlike Russian or Greek Orthodoxy, and I contend the formation of ethnic churches has a normative basis with respect to catholic history– the dilemma between national and universal typically being a false one. Anyway the description below is not unusual for Anglican ‘traditionalists’ who sometimes are willing to explain Anglicanism as both an ethnic and ecclesiastical (locally adapted) instance of catholic faith,
An interesting comment by Thomas Brett against Baron Puffendorf’s alleged commonalities between the Church of England and German Lutherans as it might pertain to ceremony. While Brett felt union an impossibility due to difference in mode of presence and the necessity of episcopacy, the extent 18th century German ceremony was indeed’high’ is fascinating:
I owe something of a retraction regarding the certain ‘contortions’ of tractarians like EB Pusey. While it is true Pusey was apologetic in respect of later recusant ritual, Pusey’s book, The Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ, gives a surprisingly attentive history to Anglo-German relations, their consummate impact upon the 39 articles, engaging Settlement standards rather thoroughly, while tackling articles one-by-one, relying upon letters from “Lutheran and semi-papist” men like Guest and Parker who compiled the final language. The opinion of the Puritans against Guest and Parker, evidently, were low:
Pusey then clarifies the alterations to the 1562 articles as conducted by Parker. While Burnet suggests these changes happened well after the 1563 convocation, Pusey claims Burnet wrong, and, instead, the modifications were effected between sittings of the lower and upper house (p. 190), between the 12th and 20th in January 1563. Parker’s red lead pen marked the 1552 articles, showing something of the thought process which occurred, especially with those articles pertaining to sacrament. Starting with article 25, Pusey notes Parker’s ambivalence over Penance as a gospel sacrament as well as the wider convocation’s disagreement on a corporeal presence:
Pusey describes the work of Parker and Guest as a partial restoration of the Lutheran articles as such were corrected by Bishops Heath and Fox. However, Heath and Fox delineate something of a conservative divergence from Lutheranism, often favoring the side of tradition. While Pusey admits their rapport, he also describes the 39 articles as essentially a catholic correction to the Augsburg, and this is mostly apparent around the power and virtue of the Sacrament:
Pusey continues fleshing out corrections to the Augsburg by Fox and Heath, going on to Article 26 he says,
Perhaps the Augsburg attempted to comprehend, by degree, Protestant opinion? I somewhat doubt the Augsburg limited the sacrament to a stirring of faith. However, this restriction seems a more common ailment among Swiss, of which:
Regarding another difference with Calvinists vs. England’s confession:
Pusey then grapples article 28. After zeroing in on the use of St. Augustine, “a statement about our Lord’s Nature, so directed, and supported out of St. Augustine, was substituted for the general declaration in the former article, as to the properties of human bodies [sic. ubiquity]… ” p. 191, Pusey then summons a letter by Guest to Lord Burleigh, dated 1566, regarding the use of the term, “only”, given in the footnote p. 203:
An entire chapter is devoted to Article 29, and of the wicked partaking, Pusey explains a second letter addressed to Lord Burleigh, this time by Parker, who aimed to avoid disagreement, truncating Augustine on manduction [which seems to boil down to the question of Judas]: