Barham Downs Churches

  • The Rectory
  • The Street, Barham
  • Canterbury
  • Kent
  • CT4 6PA

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Reformation Re-addressed


“When Martin Luther nailed his protest up to the church door in 1517, he may not have realised the full significance of what he was doing….”

                                                               [Mr Blackitt, The Meaning of Life]

In this humorous sketch the Monty Python team were historically accurate as also supported by Dr David Starkey in an informative and thought-provoking lecture at St John the Baptist Church, courtesy of the Friends of Barham last month. It would seem that the various cinematic and television dramas about Henry VIII may have portrayed him a little too eagerly as a reforming crusader bent on making himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England. Well, yes that did happen, however it appears that the King was more catholic than most when Luther raged against the indulgent practices of Rome. The history of the unfolding Reformation was not pretty with many a principality in Germany and beyond ravaged by conflicts including the later Thirty Years War. England was facing a great uncertainty with its relationships with European states and we may even reflect that today we share a similar angst in terms of future trade rather than religion.

In this half millennial commemoration we see repeated history of religious fanaticism terrorising parts of the world with each faction claiming to have the monopoly on truth. I think we may at times be no wiser than Pilate in his reply to Jesus on trial when he said “what is truth?” (John 18:38).

The truth that Jesus represents is not one of religious-political hierarchy but a truth in which we recognise the goodness of God within each of us when we love unconditionally (1 John 4:7-11).

When Protestants and Catholics come together this month for ecumenical services I hope that we all remind ourselves of a truth that “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Rev’d Stefan   (aka RevT)