Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Now the old King is dead, Long live the King

The title happens to be one of my favorite lines from Coldplay's song Viva La Vida, but that's beside the point.  What is important is the idea of rapidly shifting political and religious alliances and the interaction between these beliefs.  I look specifically at the Reformation in England, as kings and queens swapped positions on the throne and religion became not only a personal decision but a political liability.  

This all began with Henry VIII when he divorced Catherine of Aragon and married Anne Boleyn.  His desire was to be reconciled with the Catholic church and the pope, but with the pressure from Parliament he finally capitulated and formed the Church of England.  Now, by forcing his subjects to sign their allegiance not only politically but spiritual, he had greatly complicated the Reformation throughout England.  In Scriptural Perspicuity in the Early English Reformation in Historical Theology by Richard M. Edwards, he points out that A. F. Pollard emphasizes "the role of the national monarchy intertwining with the theological developments of the English Reformation.." (126).  Pollard goes on to argue that the effect of the sanction of ruling bodies did not only aid the religious reformations, but in some ways shaped them.  For example, the Church of England is akin to a parliamentary monarchy, the Lutheran territorial because of German politics, the Calvinists republican like the Swiss republic.

Politics and religion never really squared away, even at the end of the Reformation period.  Because Edward was a Protestant, then Mary was Catholic, and Elizabeth was moderately Protestant, the rapidly changing political sanctioning of religion led many to either attempt to disassociate their religion from politics completely, leading to the religious freedom sought by the Pilgrims and their ilk, or a retreat from religion in general that can be seen even today.  After all, if you are risking your life at the stake for a religion that you are not wholly invested in, why even invest at all?  

King and queens came and went, and along with them their religious preferences.  With all of this turmoil, it is easy to see how the will of the people may become cynical in regards to religion as well as monarchy.  Now the Catholicism is dead, Long live Protestantism (or the opposite) became the cry of the Reformation in England.  

Edwards, Richard M. Scriptural Perspicuity in the Early English Reformation in Historical Theology Google Books.  2009. Web. 9/16/2015

1 comment:

  1. I think that you made a really clear connection to the monarch and the church, which is why it was so complicated during the Reformation. How did you see this connection in the texts we've read though?