May 21, 2010
Heinrich Bullinger gets a little carried away with himself in his dedication to King Henry VIII at the beginning of his treatise “On the Authority of Holy Scripture,” making for some jolly fun translation work. After a couple pages spent reassuring Henry that he has been right to take for himself the headship of the Church of England, and not to listen to those who say that kings have no right to rule the Church, he exhorts him to take the reform of the Church firmly into his own hands, and concludes with this rousing encomium:
“But already, O most powerful King, since the Lord has selected and anointed you to be above his people, you understand what is proper for you and what it is necessary to do. You are the king, therefore you are the father of your country. You are the head of the kingdom, therefore you will exercise understanding for yourself and your kingdom. You are the soul of the body of England, therefore you will animate your people for the duties of a holy life. You are the eye, the sun, and the light of the Church of England, therefore, snatching the Church redeemed by the blood of Christ from the jaws of the Antichrist himself, you will illuminate it with the word of Christ, and what is subverted by superstition will also be restored by true religion. You have begun the work of Christ beautifully, and it advances extraordinarily through the grace of God; you will continue fearlessly in hope of the promise of God. They who desire the advancement of the glory of Christ pray to the Lord for you and for your kingdom, and they rejoice for the gifts given by the Lord for those who labor therein.”*
This is especially remarkable, of course, in light of how little the Reformation was advancing under Henry at this point...in fact, this same year he began taking steps to actively repress it, and made denial of transubstantiation a capital offence.
*my own translation