Friday, October 24, 2014

Edward VI Criminalizes the Promotion of Freewill Theology (Theonomy Applied)

Edward VI (1537-1553) was king of England and Ireland from 1547-1553. 

During his reign, he criminalized the holding to, and promotion of, freewill theology. On this, Augustus Toplady writes:
[I]t appears hence, that, in the foregoing reign of king Edward, i. e. from the very first establishment of the Protestant Church of England, Pelagianism, or holding and maintaining the doctrine of Free-will and its connected principles, was punished with imprisonment.[1]
It is unclear to me whether simply holding to freewill was punishable, or that in connection with promoting it (which was definitely punishable). 

In any case, whether or not simply holding to freewill theology would be right to criminalize (a discussion for another day), the promotion of this dangerous heresy is a different matter entirely, as it is subversive of Christian society. 

Toplady goes on to make this observation:
I must add, that the usage of "the Free will men" was very severe, both on the right hand and on the left. In the Protestant reign of Edward VI, they had been imrisoned for being too Popish, in the articles of Justification, Election, and Grace; all three of which they supposed to be conditional and emissable. In the Catholic reign of Mary, they were liable to imprisonment, and some of them actually were imprisoned, for not being Popish enough, in the Articles of image-worship and Transubstantiation.[2] 


[1] Augustus Toplady, "Historic Proof of the Doctrinal Calvinism of the Church of England," in The Works of Augustus Toplady (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1987), 52 (f.n.). 
[2] Ibid.

Note about the Theonomy Applied Series: In quoting any particular law, we do not necessarily endorse every aspect of that law as biblical, whether it be the prohibition, sanction, court procedure, etc. Rather, we are merely showing the more or less attempt to apply biblical law in history, whether or not that application was fully biblical. Moreover, in quoting any particular law, we do not necessarily consider those who passed and/or enforced such a law as being fully orthodox in their Christian theology. Professing Christian rulers in history have ranged in their theology from being orthodox (that is, Reformed Protestants) to heretical (for example, Roman Catholics). 

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