Buying your Theology
In the early 1500’s King Henry VIII of England spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to buy a theological viewpoint. He simply wanted to either have it agreed that his marriage to Catherine (by whom he sired a daughter) be annulled for lack of consummation or, in the alternative, that he be allowed to divorce her. He badly wanted to marry Anne Boleyn. For varying political reasons the Pope opposed him. Henry had been advised by Cranmer (a university theologian, advisor to the King) to get religious scholars to see things in the “correct” theological light–thus permitting a stronger case to the Pope The following narrative by G. J. Meyer describes the failed effort to buy a favorable opinion.
“Henry meanwhile was pursuing Cranmer’s idea of showing learned opinion across Europe to be on his side. His agents, supplied with their master’s theological arguments and abundant supplies of cash, were dispatched to the universities of Italy, France, and Germany. What ensued reflected badly on everyone, not least on Henry himself. Even in England, where to his offers of money the king could add an unrivaled power to make good on promises and threats, getting a favorable opinion out of the theology faculties of the two universities proved an awkward business. Fights broke out in Cambridge, and the women of Oxford stoned three of Henry’s men. In Italy, where at Henry’s request Pope Clement had issued a “breve” urging anyone who was consulted to express himself freely, the search went no better. In the end Henry claimed to have received the support of the universities at Bologna, Ferrara, and Padua, but the process had been so stained with bribery, and the reality of the support was so dubious, that no impartial observer could possibly have taken any of it seriously. In Germany the response was if anything worse: not only the universities in Catholic southern Germany but even the leading radical reformers declared against the divorce. Martin Luther himself, while insisting that the marriage of Henry and Catherine was valid beyond question, suggested that Henry might follow the example of the patriarchs of the Bible and take a second wife. (Even the pope at one point floated such a proposal, later conceding that he lacked the authority to approve any such thing.) None of this was of the slightest use, or interest, to Henry.”
(Excerpt From: G. J. Meyer. “The Tudors.” Delacorte Press, 2011-03-01. iBooks).
We Messianics are critical of Judaism’s manipulation of scripture and likewise the error that has eroded the theology of the Catholic and Protestant church. This critical perception can be justified by even a summary review of the history of the Judeo-Christian faith. So, what lesson is there in this knowledge? At the least a call to be scrupulous in the temptation to interpret the Word–especially when trying to make it support a personal viewpoint
My wife, Janelle, forces herself to back away from and abandon her opinion when trying to find the Lord’s opinion. What a temptation it is to “read and interpret” scripture to make our case. When you approach the Word with an opinion of what you want it to say, you are already on the slippery slope of deception.
In pressing for the Word to support his desires, King Henry VIII broke relationship with the Pope and established the Church of England. It is ironic to me that Henry so wanted the blessing of the church for his domestic actions that he would do anything to gain the blessing–except back away from his opinion and desires.
We may not buy our theology as blatantly and autocratically as King Henry, but the “peasant” can be just as deceived. Going before the Lord and His Word with a blank slate will gain you rewards which you can’t buy!