16th Century

16th Century

Legacy of the Saints from the 16th Century


What is the Reformation?  The “formal” cause was the issue of sola Scriptura, that the Bible and the Bible alone has the authority to bind the conscience of the believer. Church tradition was regarded with respect by the Reformers but not as a normative source of revelation. The “protest” of Protestantism went far beyond the issue of justification by faith alone, challenging many dogmas that emerged in Rome, especially during the Middle Ages.


John Calvin  – is easily the most important Protestant theologian of all time and remains one of the truly great men who have lived. A world-class theologian, a renowned teacher, an ecclesiastical statesman, and a valiant Reformer, Calvin is seen by many as the greatest influence on the church since the first century.


John Knox – From the first page to the last of John Knox’s written works, the reader is brought relentlessly back to the source of Knox’s greatness: Christ was at the center of every dimension of his life. It is this, and this alone, that made Knox mighty in his weakness.


William Tyndale – made an enormous contribution to the Reformation in England. Many would say that he made the contribution by translating the Bible into English and overseeing its publication. One biographer, Brian Edwards, states that not only was Tyndale “the heart of the Reformation in England,” he “was the Reformation in England.”


Martin Luther – was a German professor of theology, composer, priest, and monk, and a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation.  Luther taught that salvation and, consequently, eternal life are not earned by good deeds but are received only as the free gift of God’s grace through the believer’s faith in Jesus Christ as redeemer from sin.


John Rogers – burned to death at the stake at Smithfield, England on this Monday morning, February 4, 1555.  Among the onlookers who encouraged him were his own children.  What monstrous crime had earned him this cruel death?  Formerly a catholic priest, Rogers converted after becoming friends with William Tyndale and assisted him translate the Old Testament into English.  Upon Tyndale’s execution, Rogers finished the translation.

Lady Jane Grey – On February 12, 1554, 16-year-old Lady Jane Grey was beheaded after a nine-day reign as Queen of England.  As she stood on the scaffold on a gray winter morning, she looked calmly out over the crowd of spectators. Then, mustering the strength she had asked God to provide, she spoke with such a poise and conviction that even her executioners were moved.


Thomas Cranmer – was a leader of the English Reformation and Archbishop of Canterbury during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and, for a short time, Mary I.  During Cranmer’s tenure as Archbishop of Canterbury, he established doctrinal and liturgical structures of the reformed Church of England.  After the accession of the Roman Catholic Mary I, Cranmer was put on trial for treason and heresy.  After a long trial and imprisonment, he was forced to proclaim to the public his error in the support of Protestantism. Despite this, he was sentenced to be burnt to death in Oxford on 21 March 1556.  As flames engulfed him, he stuck his right hand into the fire first, because he had signed his recantation with this hand.