Monday, November 16, 2009

Cranmer & Hope

"Cranmer's sainthood cannot be established on the grounds of sinlessness or denial of weakness, which is an adolescent expectation. He loved life and retained a real measure of the fear of death. The Church, quite early, learned a danger of martyrdom as escape, when some were tempted to give their lives, not so much as witness, but as release from the ambiguities of life and to gain the joys of heaven prematurely.

The Christian paradox, that God uses the weak to confound the strong, can be seen in the life of Cranmer, where strength is above weakness. However, the paradox can be read the other way. There is strength beneath weakness which is obscure to a secular age (cf. II Corinthians 11:30ff.)

There is something everlastingly encouraging about Cranmer's faithful death. All who suffer injustice, betrayal, and defeat of what seems fair and good and according to the purpose of God himself can consider the mind of Cranmer as he died. The burning, dying Cranmer saw nothing with his natural eyes but a bleak Friday with the complete and utter failure and destruction of all he believed in. The unseen Easter reality was Queen Elizabeth's restoration of all his accomplishments and their abiding nurture over subsequent centuries. They were things hoped for but unseen by Cranmer, perceived only by the eye of faith and a heart of hope, faith and trust in the providence of God that gave Cranmer his courage in those last hours."

~C. FitzSimmons Allison in C. Frederick Barbee and Paul F. M. Zahl, The Collects of Thomas Cranmer (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999), xvii.

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