Institution of a Christian Man

Institution of a Christian Man also called The Bishop's Book, is the name of a book containing an exposition of the Apostles' Creed, the Seven Sacraments, the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, the Ave. Maria, Justification, and Purgatory, which was drawn up by a committee of prelates and divines of the English Church in 1537. "for a direction for the bishops and clergy," and to be "an authoritative explanation of the doctrine of faith and manners," and a sort of standard for the desk and the pulpit, or, as it itself expresses it, for the clergy "to govern themselves in the instruction of their flocks by this rule." Some say that Stephen Poynet, bishop of Winchester, wrote the book himself, and that a committee of prelates and divines gave it their sanction. It was called forth at the time of the early reformatory ecclesiastical movements in England during the reign of Henry VIII. At the time of the publication of the "Institution of 'a Christian Man" (printed in Formularies of Faith put forth by authority during the Reign of Henry VIII, Oxf. 1825), the English Church had become alienated from the Church of Rome; at least king Henry had laid claim to his sovereignty over the Church in his dominions, which an act of Parliament in 1533 had secured him, and, with few dissentient voices, the clergy of the land had seconded the opinion of Parliament. In 1536 a convocation, called "the Southern Convocation," published a manifesto, entitled "Articles to stablyshe Christen quietness, and unite amonge us, and to avoyde contentious opinions," which are generally regarded as the starting-point of the English Reformation. "But, upon the whole, these articles breathed rather the animus of the Middle Ages. Thus they took, on the doctrine of justification, a course midway between the Romanists and the Lutherans. They had also paid reverence to some of the Romish superstitions, as the use of images, invocation of saints, and still held to the doctrine of purgatory, which was at this time beginning to encounter a determined opposition from the more radical reformers. To represent more truly the real desires and opinions of the English Church, the Bishops' Book was launched. It discussed at length the Romish superstitions which the Southern Convocation had sanctioned, and declared against a further adherence to them by the English people. They also held that the fabric of the papal monarchy was altogether human; that its growth was traceable partly to the favor and indulgence of the Roman emperors, and partly to ambitious artifices of the popes themselves; that just as' men originally made and sanctioned it, so might they, if occasion should arise, withdraw from it their confidence, and thus reoccupy the ground on which all Christians must have stood anterior to the Middle Ages." See Hardwick, Reformation, p. 202; Collier, Eccles. Hist. of England, anno 1537.

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