What denomination was Oliver Cromwell?

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by Matt Black, Nov 14, 2008.

  1. Matt Black

    Matt Black
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    I've not yet been able to find an answer to this question anywhere. Wikipedia doesn't help (well, it doesn't always I suppose) and none of the biographies I've so far come across actaully make an explicit statement on this point. We know that Oliver broadly favoured religious toleration and pluralism (except for Quakers and Catholics) and that he was sympathetic to the cause of Independency (free autonomous congregations in a free state) but does that mean he was a Baptist or some other kind of Congregationalist, or just an Anglican with strongly Puritan and anti-episcopal leanings? In short, what was he?
     
  2. Jim1999

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    Cromwell was a very vocal and strong Puritan of Welsh heritage on mother's side (I believe).

    In 1653 he reorganized the Church of England and established Puritanism.

    My source is a Biographical Dictionary which I have had on my shelves for more than 40 years. An excellent help.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
    #2 Jim1999, Nov 14, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 14, 2008
  3. Matt Black

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    Thanks. So he was CofE, albeit from its Puritan wing, then?
     
  4. Jim1999

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    Yes, he was CofE. A lot of the puritans and other groups started out in the CofE and eventually branches out to form their own groups.

    Even when I was CofE there were different branches. I grew up in the High Church, but it was very evangelical, much like Christ's Church in London.

    Cromwell had a very ignoble end to his life, as you might already know. His body was exhumed and put on trial, found guilty and hanged. No one knows to this day where his body was buried.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  5. rsr

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    Cromwell was, broadly speaking, an Independent (Congregationalist), though he was not strictly a Separatist.

    While it is true that he was married at an Anglican parish church and his children were all registered at parish churches, it also appears that Cromwell was involved in a house church where he preached, according to John Morrill in his biography of Cromwell. (Cromwell, Oxford University Press, 2007).

    Morrill wrote that Cromwell "was always in favor of a national church to which the great majority should be attached. He believed in a publicly approved and appointed ministry supported by some form of mandatory levy on all householders — tithes until a better system could be worked out. He believed that all sincere protestants who wished to dissociate from that national church and worship God in the light of their own consciences should be permitted to do so. ... He believed that membership of the national church should not privilege anyone in the distribution of offices and responsibilities in civil and military affairs. He expected all those who claimed liberty for themselves to be willing to grant it to others. Beyond that, little is clear."

    Morrill also wrote that, aside from his obvious (Calvinistic) Puritanism, there is no record of how Cromwell worshiped, which makes pigeonholing his personal leanings difficult.

    I also would point out that the Baptists and other Independents were a large part of the Republican army. The Cromwell Association notes that Cromwell's son Henry was named lord deputy of Ireland after Oliver's death and "After a long and difficult struggle, he broke the hold which the Baptists had gained amongst the English army and garrisons in Ireland, for he rightly suspected that Baptism encouraged, and served as a cover for, republicanism and disaffection towards the Protectoral regime and was thus a political threat."
     
    #5 rsr, Nov 16, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 16, 2008
  6. Jim1999

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    My dear Brother RSR. I trust you are well, mate.

    Thanks for your input here. I know how much you are into history and appreciate. I know you will also appreciate that this particular period of Brit history is very troubling. There are as many ideas as there are historians, I fear, and no two writers of Cromwell's history, especially dealing with church connections, has the same story.

    We have Henry VIII revolting from Rome to complete his divorcement yet ge remained Catholic to the core. He modified to a degree for political reasons. Then we had Mary who turned England and the Church of England back to Roman Catholic. Elizabeth had some protestant ideas, and was coerced to bring the CofE back to a protestant base along with a High church and a Low church which gave us the reformers, puritans and independents to keep the Presbyterians from gaining total control.

    During Mary's time, most of the reformers, independents and puritans went to Europe to escape her persecution. They returned under Elizabeth to new freedoms, but many did function from within the CofE. The Congregationalists formed in 1620 and were strong Calvinists.

    I will tell you this, it was the most difficult period of our history to write examinations in school. I don't know how the Masters gave us any pass marks.

    By the way, Cromwell reportedly went through a "conversion" experience when he was 28. That makes it 1627 before he connected with a church other than the CofE. Perhaps this is why some historians presume he was a member of the CofE.

    Cheers, and blessings on you,

    Jim
     
  7. Matt Black

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    Actually the Congregationlists can be dated to Browne and around 1592 IIRC, Baptists to Smyth and Helwys and c1609-11. Also, you didn't mention Cranmer, Bucer, Peter Martyr etc and the Edwardian Reformation of 1547-53; a period which gave us two Prayer Books plus the Forty-Two Articles is surely worthy of mention?
     
  8. Jim1999

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    Thanks Matt. Wish I could retain what I knew 10 years ago let alone 65 years ago. I have enough trouble remembering what day it is now.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  9. rsr

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    Doing well, Jim. Hope you are too.

    Cromwell may be the most violently argued-about figure in British history. Some praise his toleration and republican sentiments; others excoriate him as a tyrant and slaughterer of Catholics. As with many such historical figures, you can generally find the quality (or vice) that you're looking for.

    Historian Robert Massie tells how Churchill, when he was First Lord of the Admiralty, repeatedly petitioned the king to name a new dreadnought for Cromwell, who essentially was the founder of the Royal Navy. George V vetoed the idea, but Churchill kept recommending it even though he knew the king wasn't going to christen a ship for a regicide.
     
  10. Jim1999

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    For my age and 4 strokes later, I can still praise the Lord that I can still take a part in these debates.

    Ah, Mr. Churchill. Loved by many the world over ad despised by us East Londoners. After the Blitz many of us marched on 44 Sussex demanding that Churchill end this bloody war. He did make an appearance and he cautioned us that he would take a gun to the lot of us.

    Still, he was the voice we needed during those troublesome years even though after being bombed day in and day out for a full year we had had enough. He did allow a "secret" document to reach the German hands stating that the real factories were in East London and not in the Middlelands where Hitler had been bombing. The raids changed and we got it.

    Glad to see that you are still on top of history. I remembered that you loved history and would soon enter this thread and fill us with some knowledge.

    Cheers, and bless,

    Jim
     
  11. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K)
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    Ask the Irish. They will say that he was Satan incarnate, and to be fair, even the most balanced view of his treatment of Ireland would not be consistent with a sold out believer of any denomination.

    I think the post above about his 'Baptist army' may give is some evidence, but again 'Baptist' has never been a name of praise, but generally derision.
     
  12. Thinkingstuff

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    I always thought the scourge of Ireland and the Lord Protector of England was a puritan which was a forerunner of the american baptist.

    Also I think the English civil war was a forerunner of the american revolutionary war.
     

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