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CATECHISM

OF

ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY

 

EPISCOPAL CHURCH

     Question. What does Episcopal mean?
     Answer. It comes from the Greek Word episcopos, which is translated bishop; therefore, it appertains to the bishopric.
     Q. What does Episcopal church mean.
     A. It means a church governed by bishops.
     Q. Is it a state church?
     A. It is.
     Q. What is a state church?
     A. It is a church supported by civil government, and which has exclusive rights in the government.
     Q. With what state or government is the Episcopal church connected?
     A. With England. It is the state church of England; and while the colonies of America were under the control of England, it was the state church here. But when this became a free country. her power as a state church ceased, and religious liberty was enthroned.
     Q. Can there be religious liberty in a country where there is a state church?
     A. No. There may be religious toleration, but not religious liberty. The privileges of other churches are by permission and not by legal right. A state church always has it in its power to persecute other churches, and I am sorry to say that in too many instances this power has been exercised.
     Q. Who is the head of the Episcopal Church?
     A. The King of England.
     Q. What denomination did it come out of?
     A. It is an offspring of the Roman Catholics—a daughter of this prolific trunk.
     Q. Where did it have its beginning?
     A. In England.
     Q. When was it born?
     A. The causes which resulted in the formation of this body of people began to operate about 1527.
     Q. Who was the founder of it?
     A. Henry the Eighth, King of England.
     Q. Was he a good man?
     A. No. I should say he was a very wicked man.
     Q. Will you give some reasons why you think so?
     A. Yes. It was he who burned William Tyndale, one of the most godly and learned Christians of his day. He also was married six times. One of his wives died in wedlock, and one survived him at death, two he abandoned by divorce, and two he ruthlessly murdered.
     Q. Was he an ardent Catholic?
     A. He was. It was he, as a Catholic, who burned Dissenters, and wrote a reply to Martin Luther defending the seven sacraments of the Romish church, for which the Pope of Rome conferred upon him the title of “Defender of the Faith.”
     Q. Can you give some reasons why, and the circumstances connected with his leaving the Catholics and forming the Episcopal Church?
     A. Yes. He became heir to the throne of England by the death of his brother, Arthur, in 1502. At the age of 12, one year later, he was betrothed to Catharine of Aragon, his brother’s widow. She was his senior by several years, and when her beauty, by reason of age, began to fade, he became dissatisfied with her. She had no son to heir the throne, and her age precluding all hope, the people must turn in mind to an objectionable daughter as their prospective ruler. This created an unrest among the people. King Henry took advantage of this, feeling that he would have the support of the people in divorcing his wife and marrying a younger woman, by whom a son might come to the throne. In the meantime he had become infatuated with a beautiful young woman by the name of Anne Boleyn, with whom he also became criminally intimate. He sought divorce at the hands of the Pope, but the Pope was not in such a hurry as was the King, and waived the matter so as to create delay—the very thing Henry did not want. At length his unlawful cohabitation with Anne Boleyn was about to result in an open disgrace in the birth of a child. The delayed proceedings of the Pope would not answer the purposes of his adulterous life, and he could wait no longer. So the oniy thing left was to sever connection with the Pope and appeal to the legal powers. This he did, and was divorced from Catherine and married Anne Boleyn in 1533. Bishop Cranmer came to his relief and put his indorsement on the divorce, or rather (leclared the marriage of Henry and Catherine to have been null from the beginning. The Pope, however, declared Cranmer’ s action illegal, and cited Henry to trial. Henry refused to appear before the Pope, and the English parliament met “under Thomas Cromwell’s guidance,” and “passed an act entirely abolishing the papal authority within the realm, giving the King, as on former occasion,
power to call the act into operation when he pleased.” “It then settled the succession (to the throne) on the issue of Anne Boleyn, to the exclusion of that of Catherine.” Simultaneous with this act of parliament, the Pope declared the marriage of Henry and Catherine legal, refusing Henry a divorce. “On the next day henry called into operation the act abolishing the Pope’s authority.” Being free from the Pope’s authority they formed certain articles of faith, first the “Bloody Six Articles,” and later the “Thirty-nine Articles,” established a body of ruling bishops, and, “Henry declaring himself supreme head of the church,” launched forth as a state church.
     This is a brief statement of the rise of the Protestant Episcopal Church.
     Q. Was Catherine, the wife whom Henry divorced, a bad woman?
     A. No. Some of the best authorities say her personal character was unimpeached, and her disposition sweet.
     Q. What became of Anne Boleyn, his second wife?
     A. It was not long after her first heir was born until his affection for her ceased, as in the case of Catherine. Henry had her “executed” (murdered). The next day after her execution he married Jane Seymore. She died in giving birth to Edward the Sixth. He next married Anne of Cleves. He soon became tired of her, because she was not as attractive as he desired, and divorced her. He then married Catherine Howard. In a few months he became tired of her and had her executed (murdered). He then married Catherine Parr, who survived him. Henry’s record was a record of blood. He even had Thomas Cromwell, who pulled him through his difficulties with the Pope, executed.
     Q. Do you mean to say that this bloody adulterer was the founder of the Episcopal Church, and was acknowledged as its supreme head, all through this dark career?
     A. Yes. That is a fact. It is with reluctance that T pen these facts. But it is a plain statement of unvarnished historical facts.

 
 
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