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Christian Theologies of the SacramentsA Comparative Introduction$
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Justin S. Holcomb and David A. Johnson

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780814724323

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814724323.001.0001

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Thomas Cranmer

Thomas Cranmer

(p.209) 12 Thomas Cranmer
Christian Theologies of the Sacraments

Ashley Null

NYU Press

This chapter examines the sacramental theology of the leading figure of the English Reformation, Thomas Cranmer. According to medieval Scholasticism, Jesus had established the church as the intermediary between God and his people, so that bishops served as the administrators of saving apostolic spiritual power. Thus, the sacraments were the effective means of dispensing that heavenly grace to the people. However, during the 1530s Cranmer chose to embrace justification by faith, which completely rejected that narrative. He believed that Jesus had come to preach a saving message, which had supernatural power to create a community linking God to his elect by inspiring trust in his divine promises. The question that would occupy Cranmer for the remainder of his life was how exactly the sacraments of the church fit into this new narrative. The sacramental theological writings of Cranmer, particularly in the 1549 and 1552 prayer books, expressed this grace-based Reformation theology in liturgical form.

Keywords:   sacrament, Thomas Cranmer, English Reformation

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