On the procrastination that softened the impact of the Reformation in England: a piercing critique written in season – To Thomas Cranmer, 1552
‘I, for my part, acknowledge that our cause has made no little progress during the short period the Gospel has flourished in England.
But if you reflect on what yet remains to be done, and how very remiss you have been in many matters, you will discover that you have no reason to advance towards the goal with less rapidity…lest after you have escaped danger, you should become self-indulgent.
But to speak freely, I greatly fear, and this fear is abiding, that so many autumns will be spent in procrastinating, that by and by the cold of a perpetual winter will set in…for external religious abuses have been corrected in such a way as to leave remaining innumerable young shoots, which are constantly sprouting forth.
In fact, I am informed that such a mass of Papal corruptions remain, as not only to hide, but almost to extinguish the pure worship of God.’ (Letters p.141)
Apparently in 1552 the Gospel is still new. He is seems to be referencing the fact that although Christianity in the form of Catholosicm has been around for at least 500 years the Gospel and the Reformation on just began in 1517. And he is correct. There was a massive paradigm shift in terms of Christianity in a very short period. However, with such a shift a lot of work is involved.
Therefore, Calvin is reminding and Cranmer (and to us too) that he still has much to do. To make it relevant to us we have to think that we are called to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. So, by reflecting on this, we see that just like Cranmer we have no reason to slow down.
Calvin also comments on the fact that Cranmer has been remiss on many matters. That to me was very curious. I don’t know anything about Cranmer so I’ll ask about what was Calvin may be referring tonight. Calvin just might be commenting on the fact that we are all generally remiss on matters, as we are human? However, I’d surmise there is something more specific Calvin is referring to here. I believe while reading the entire letter from google that Calvin brought up a few points about missuse of money and people that have stolen from the church.
I love how right after Calvin says that Cranmer has been remiss on many things and is in danger of becoming self-indulgent that he says “But to speak freely”. I was like, what! Calvin and Cranmer must have been pretty good friends because I’d say that so far he has been quite frank. So, maybe this was a bit humorous.
Overall I think I’d like getting letters from Calvin. He has a very nice style and is very forthwith. I find that he has great tact and does a good job of encouraging and speaking the truth in love.
As Calvin ended the letter:
Adieu, most distinguished and esteemed Primate