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MATTHEW PARKER: CONSTRUCTION Manager for Elizabethan Settlement

MATTHEW PARKER: CONSTRUCTION Manager for Elizabethan Settlement

By Chuck Collins
May 16, 2024

Matthew Parker played a large part in the founding the Church of England. He was the first of three Archbishops of Canterbury who served Elizabeth I (Parker, Grindal, and Whitgift), and Parker in particular was the construction manager for the "Elizabethan Settlement."

With the help of others, he is responsible for making the newly formed church in England thoroughly biblical, theologically reformed and confessional, and liturgically beautiful. He died on this day (May 16, 1575) at Lambeth Palace.

Among the many accomplishments of his 16 years as Archbishop, Parker saw to it that Thomas Cranmer's Book of Common Prayer (1552) was preserved in full in the 1559 version. With the help of John Jewel and a few other bishops he tweaked Cranmer's Forty-two Articles and adopted the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion as the church's official confession of belief (1571).

The Thirty-nine Articles of Religion were written at the same time as the other great Reformation confessions to serve the Church of England in the same way.

Gerald Bray points out that the Articles were not just dusty old position statements on disputed 16th century issues, but rather a general exposition of what Cranmer and Parker believed the church stands for: "that this is so can be seen from the inclusion of a number of articles on subjects that were not particularly controversial at the time, but which formed an integral part of the church's overall confession of faith."

When the Tractarians (Oxford Movement) of the 1830's threatened to ambush the church with their "mostly" Roman Catholic ideas of theology and churchmanship, a group of (mostly) evangelicals in the Church of England countered the attempted coup by publishing 56 volumes of letters, essays, and sermons of the early English reformers (1841-1853).

They named it after Matthew Parker whose Protestantism defined the Church of England, and who was a world-renowned collector of early church manuscripts.

The Parker Society publications are available on-line for everyone to read the inside thinking of the bishops and leaders who were behind the English Reformation and the Elizabethan Settlement.


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