NEW

Letter to the Editor: Welcome the Afghani Refugees but Know the Problems

Welcome the Afghani Refugees But Know the Problems   Dear Sir, There is widespread sympathy for resettling Afghans into Britain fleeing from tyranny and persecution and I am supportive of it. Many of them are Muslims and will have every facility to follow their...

Letter to the Editor: Irrational Optimism

  Irrational Optimism Dear Sir, I read the latest [anon.] article from Anglican Futures, EC8087. It is helpful and clear but, for me, there is a deep undercurrent of a seemingly determined [irrational?] optimism. The article outlines the overall workings of...

Letter to the Editor: Covid Restrictions

  Covid Restrictions Dear Sir,  I refer to the letter in Issue 8084 entitled ‘Power belongeth unto Christ’ which Scripturally outlines where all power belongs and exposes the inconsistencies of our Government and their COVID restrictions on the public worship of...

Free Presbyterians Protest COP26 Visit of Pope Francis

Free Presbyterians Protest COP26 visit of Pope Francis  The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland has sent a protest to the First Minister urging her to resist political and diplomatic ties with the Pope, ahead of the COP26 summit of world leaders in Glasgow in...

Episcopal Church Pays $4,500,000 to Diocese of Ft Worth

Episcopal Church Pays $4,500,000 to Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas By Suzanne Gill With encouragement from the 141st District Court, the Diocese entered into mediation with The Episcopal Church (TEC) in early June to settle claims of the Diocese for attorneys’ fees and...

Report from Anglican Ink on Episcopal Church Legal Spending

Report from Anglican Ink on Episcopal Church Legal Spending By Jeff Walton This report follows on the announcement that the Diocese of Fort Worth received $4,500,000 from the Episcopal Church to cover the expenses incurred by the Diocese after it left the Episcopal...

Pilgrim’s Process: Common Grace by Peter Sanlon

Pilgrim’s Process  By Peter Sanlon Common Grace Loving God is so important for satisfaction and joy in life, that it is easy to mistakenly think only spiritual concerns are important in life. There are many ways for this error to arise: We can think the only truly...

Church in Wales Embraces the Zeitgeist

The Church in Wales Embraces the Zeitgeist Meeting on Monday 6 September, the Governing Body of the Church in Wales, voted to approve same-sex blessings but stopped short of approving marriage. The change does not allow for same-sex marriages in a Church in Wales...

The History of Christianity in Britain and Ireland

The History of Christianity in Britain and Ireland From the first century to the twenty-first Gerald Bray Apollos, 2021 (ISBN: 978-1-78974-120-9, 693pp) Throughout his long academic career Bray has ably straddled both doctrine and ecclesiastical history, so it is no...

Anglican Futures: Knitted Together In Love

Anglican Futures "Knitted together in love" - Should Christian Communities be 'Thicker'? The terms 'thick' and 'thin' have been used by sociologists and political scientists to describe cultures  for decades.  Thick cultures are socio-centric; they tend to be...

“Little” Thomas Bilney, Chuck Collins, Center for Reformation Anglicanism

“Little” Thomas Bilney

Evangelist to Hugh Latimer

You probably know the rockstars of the English Reformation (Cranmer, Latimer and Ridley), but do you know Thomas Bilney? Bilney (1495-1531) was the first Reformation Anglican at Cambridge University, the birthplace of reform in England. He was a gentle, little man who had an enormous impact for God. He came across Erasmus’s 1516 Greek New Testament (and new Latin translation) at a time in his life when he was desperate for peace with God – searching for how a mere man can be right before God? (Job 4:17). One day “being lured rather by the Latin than by the Word of God” he was reading Erasmus’s New Testament and he came to 1 Timothy 1:15 (“It is a true saying and worthy of all men to embrace, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am the chief”). “This one sentence,” he wrote, “through God’s instruction and inward working, which I did not then perceive, did so exhilarate my heart, being before wounded with the guilt of my sins, and being almost in despair, that immediately I felt a marvellous comfort and quietness, insomuch that my bruised bones leaped for joy!”

When Thomas Bilney experienced salvation by grace through faith alone, he was a new man altogether and eager to share his new-found faith with others. “Thus to Bilney must be ascribed the first human impulse in the Reformation movement in the schools of Cambridge, and the reformation itself had its cradle in the meetings which were held at the White Horse Inn,” wrote Bilney’s biographer Sir Marcus Loane. In the friendship and community that gathered at the Whitehorse Inn (nicknamed “Germany” because of the discussions that were held there around Luther’s ideas), many of the English Reformation luminaries came to know and experience the power of guilt, grace, and gratitude of which the Bible centrally speaks. This included Tyndale, Frith, Latimer, Barnes, and Matthew Parker who was Bilney’s close personal friend up to the day Bilney was killed (Parker was Queen Elizabeth’s influential first Archbishop of Canterbury). 

One day Bilney famously insisted that the great preacher Hugh Latimer hear his sacramental confession. While listening to Bilney describe his conversion to the evangelical understanding and how the grace of God had changed his life, Latimer was convicted by the truth of the gospel and was himself converted. Later he said in a sermon: “Master Bilney, or rather Saint Bilney, was the instrument whereby God called me to knowledge; for I may thank him, next to God, for that knowledge that I have in the Word of God.” 

On August 19, 1531, at the age of 36, Thomas Bilney was burned at the stake for his Protestant views. This quiet, little man influenced a whole generation of Reformation Anglicans.

“This one sentence, through God’s instruction and inward working, which I did not then perceive, did so exhilarate my heart, being before wounded with the guilt of my sins, and being almost in despair, that immediately I felt a marvellous comfort and quietness, insomuch that my bruised bones leaped for joy!”

— Thomas Bilney

The Revd Canon Chuck Collins is the Director of the Center for Reformation Anglicanism in the USA.

Previous

Next