Excerpts From
Cranmer's Godly Order
by Michael Davies

The Most Horrible Blasphemy

THE USE of the word "Reformers" is something of a misnomer for the Protestant heresiarchs. It has become the standard usage in histories of the Reformation, another misnomer, but it does not require a very deep study to realise that they were not reformers but revolutionaries-----men out to overthrow the existing religion and replace it with one which they had fabricated themselves on the grounds that it conformed with the teaching and practice of primitive Christianity. l Once they had gained power they tried to inspire in the simple Faithful the same hatred of the Church of Christ which inspired their own fanatical zeal. They were religious revolutionaries, and with perfect revolutionary insight they sensed that the first step in consolidating their power was to inspire hatred of the old order. The old religion, the people were told, is " the idolatrous church . . . being indeed not only a harlot (as the Scripture calleth her) but also a foul, filthy, old withered harlot (for she is indeed of ancient years) . . . the foulest and filthiest harlot that ever was seen . . . the great strumpet of all strumpets, the mother of all strumpets, the mother of whoredom set forth by St. John in his Revelation  . . ." 2

They correctly sensed, not surprisingly as they had almost invariably been priests, that it was the Mass that mattered: that it was against the Mass rather than the Papacy that the brunt of their attack must be launched. 3 This point is stressed by Dr. J. Lortz in his book Die Reformation in Deutschland. 4 One of the most outstanding and perceptive contemporary champions of the Mass was the German theologian John Cochlaeus (1479-1552). He rightly pointed out that in attacking the Mass Luther was attacking Christ Himself "since He is the true founder and perfector of the Mass, the true High Priest of the Mass and also the One Who is sacrificed as all Christian teachers acknowledge." 5 With equal accuracy he diagnosed the contradiction which lay at the heart of the heresiarchs' claim to be "reformers." "They are justly deemed guilty of heresy who instead of seeking remedies for what is amiss, set themselves to abolish the very substance on account of the abuse." 6 He warned his fellow Catholic apologists not to concentrate their main efforts on defending the primacy of the Pope but on defending the Mass, a task which was far more vital, for "thereby Luther threatens to tear out the heart from the body of the Church." 7

The Reformers themselves were bitterly divided concerning the doctrine of the Lord's Supper, but they were united in a common detestation of the sacrificial interpretation which had always been taught in the Catholic Church. 8 Luther was honest enough to admit the traditional nature of the teaching and the support of "the holy Fathers, so many authorities and so widespread a custom constantly observed throughout the world." His answer was " . . . reject them all rather than admit that the Mass is a work and a sacrifice . . ." 9

Luther himself assessed the situation with perfect accuracy when he stated: "once the Mass has been overthrown, I say we'll have overthrown the whole of Popedom." 10

The hatred of the Reformers for the Mass is best illustrated by quoting a few examples from the wealth of material available:

LUTHER: "I declare that all the brothels (though God has reproved them severely), all the manslaughters, murders, thefts and adulteries have wrought less abomination than the Popish Mass." 11 Masses are "the height of idolatry and impiety," an evil introduced by Satan himself. "It is indeed upon the Mass as on a rock that the whole Papal system is built, with its monasteries, its bishoprics, its collegiate churches, its altars, its ministries, its doctrine, i.e., with all its guts. All these cannot fail to crumble once their sacrilegious and abominable Mass falls." 12

It is worth mentioning that on 19th July, 1970, at the Assembly of the World Lutheran Federation at Evian, Mgr. Willebrands, the Pope's envoy, proposed a toast to "the profoundly religious personality of Martin Luther and the honest self-sacrifice with which he sought the message of the Gospel." 13

CALVIN: " . . . Satan blinded almost the whole world with the pestilential error of believing that the Mass is a sacrifice and an oblation for obtaining the remission of sins . . . This abomination of the Mass being presented in a golden vessel, that is under the name of God's word, has made all the kingdoms of the earth so drunk, so besotted and dazed from the greatest to the least, that, some more stupid than brute beasts, they have set the beginning and the end of their salvation wholly in this deadly abyss. Sure it is that Satan never devised a more effective engine for attacking and vanquishing Christ's realm." 14

LATIMER: "We were wont to have sacrificium missae 'the sacrifice of the Mass'; which was the most horrible blasphemy which could be devised, for it was against the dignity of Christ and his passion; but this sacrifice of thanksgiving everyone may make." 15

CRANMER: "But what availeth it to take away beads, pardons, pilgrimages, and such other like popery, so long as the two chief roots remain unpulled up? Whereof, so long as they remain, will spring again all former impediments of the Lord's harvest, and corruption of his flock. The rest is but branches and leaves, the cutting away whereof is but like topping and lopping of a tree, or cutting down of weeds, leaving the body standing and the roots in the ground; but the very body of the tree, or rather the roots of the weeds, is the popish doctrine of transubstantiation, of the real presence of Christ's flesh and blood in the sacrament of the altar (as they call it) and the sacrifice and oblation of Christ made by the priest, for the salvation of the quick and the dead." 16

Pope Honorius III commanded " . . . that the 'priests would diligently teach the people from time to time, that when they lifted up the bread, called the host, the people should then bow down; and that likewise they should do so when the priest carrieth the host unto sick folks.' There be the statutes and ordinances of Rome, under pretence of holiness, to lead the people unto all error and idolatry: not bringing them by bread unto Christ, but from Christ unto bread.

"But all that love and believe Christ himself, let them not think that Christ is corporally in the bread; but let them lift up their hearts unto heaven, and worship him, sitting there at the right hand of his Father. Let them worship him in themselves, whose temples they be, in whom he dwelleth and liveth spiritually: but in no wise let them worship him as being corporally in the bread. For he is not in it, neither spiritually as he is in man, nor corporally, as he is in heaven, but only sacramentally, as a thing may be said to be in the figure, whereby it is signified." 17

BULLINGER: "Moreover man needs to blind himself with these words, high mass, low mass. In the high mass are the selfsame abominations which are in the lowest. In both of them is the institution and ordinance of Christ perverted; in both of them is he worshipped in the bread; in both are idols served; in both, specially in the service of the saints, is help asked of creatures; in both of them is the wicked Canon, the greatest portion of the Mass. There is nothing in it of old antiquity, nothing of the apostolic simplicity." 18

1. RIE, vol. II, p. 158.
2. Ibid., vol. III, p. 102.
3. ESR, p. 107.
4. Die Reformation in Deutschland, 2nd edit., vol. I, p. 229.
5. ESR, p. 337.
6. ESR, p. 64.
7. Op. cit., Note 3.
8. ESR, p. 101.
9. ESR, p. 100.
10. Op. cit,. Note 8.
11. Works, vol. XV, p. 774.
12. Against Henry, King of England: 1522, Works, vol. X, s. II. p. 220.
13. Courrier de Rome, No. 74, 10 September, 1970.
14. Institutes of the Christian Religion, IV. 18.
15. Works P.S., vol. I, p. 445.
16. CW, vol. I, p. 6.
17. Ibid, p. 238.
18. Two Epistles of H. Bullynger, with consent of all the learned men of the church of Tyrgury (London, 1548 A.v.).

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