30 July 2008

Commemoration of Robert Barnes, Confessor and Martyr

Today we commemorate Robert Barnes, Confessor and Martyr. From the Synod website:

Remembered as a devoted disciple of Martin Luther, Robert Barnes is considered to be among the first Lutheran martyrs. Born in 1495, Barnes became the prior of the Augustinian monastery at Cambridge, England. Converted to Lutheran teaching, he shared his insights with many English scholars through writings and personal contacts. During a time of exile to Germany he became a friend of Luther and later wrote a Latin summary of the main doctrines of the Augsburg Confession titled "Sententiae." Upon his return to England, Barnes shared his Lutheran doctrines and views in person with King Henry VIII and initially had a positive reception. In 1529 Barnes was named royal chaplain. The changing political and ecclesiastical climate in his native country, however, claimed him as a victim; he was burned at the stake in Smithfield in 1540. His final confession of faith was published by Luther, who called his friend Barnes "our good, pious table companion and guest of our home, this holy martyr, Saint Robertus."

Despised and scorned, they sojourned here;
But now, how glorious they appear!
Those martyrs stand,
A priestly band,
God's throne forever near.
On earth they wept through bitte years;
Now God has wiped away their tears,
Transformed their strife
To heav'nly life,
And freed them from their fears.
They now enjoy the Sabbath rest,
The heavenly banquet of the blest;
The Lamb, their Lord,
At festive board,
Himself is host and guest. -- LSB 676:2


The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

Thank you for writing about Robert Barnes. (Luther's English Connection) and it was fascinating. He also spent quite a while in exile in Germany and was beloved by Luther. He did Henry the VIII's bidding trying to form an alliance between Henry and the Smalcald Alliance, but they would not have him without a confession of faith. Henry didn't understand that.

Henry VIII persisted in holding to a lot of Catholic doctrine, yet renouncing the authority of the pope, so he eventually turned sour on Barnes, who emphasized that he was more loyal than even Henry's advisors, because their oath was to the pope. When Cromwell fell out of favor, Barnes did too...and both were executed.

Mellow Melancthon even stated that someone would be doing the world a favor if they assassinated Henry VIII, and Luther wrote quite the eulogy for him.

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

At the beginning of the White Horse Inn radio show, they talk about how groups were led to discuss Reformation issues in pubs, and one of these inns was the White Horse. Barnes was the leader of the White Horse Inn discussions until he went away into exile.

Rev. James Leistico said...

when I was studying in Cambridge, I did my best to figure out where the White Horse Inn might be, but was told that no one knew.

our sister synod, the ELC-England, has Barnes' Conferences (like our District workshops/conferences). (Check out the latest edition of Ft. Wayne's For the Life of the World mag for articles about the ELCE and Westfield House.)

The latest CTQ has an article on Barnes and the Eucharist that I'm intending to read one of these days.