Part of the Library of Religious Biography edited by Mark A Noll, Leslie Winfield Williams’ Emblem of Faith Untouched: A Short Life of Thomas Cranmer (TBP, 2016 by Eerdmans) is a wonderful introduction to me of a man which I recall in passing in my reading in both church as well as political history. Williams’ treatment of Cranmer, the first non-Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury during the turbulent reign of Henry VIII and into the reign of Edward VI and then Mary during whose reign he was burned at the stake, is both educational and instructional.
While Williams writes simply and clearly, she addresses the complexity of the issues and personalities that Cranmer had to deal with during his time as Archbishop head on: the “large” and demanding Henry VIII, jealous competitors to his influence and his power, and theological controversies which sprung up from Henry’s desire to cast off Rome’s power and influence. The result is an intense and entertaining (in the best sense of the word) look at man who forgave his enemies, who tried to steer a narrow course as England began to embrace Protestantism and all of the political and theological implications emanating from that choice, who stood (and worked) in the often polar opposite worlds of politics and theology, who served as royal confidant and advisor, and who gave the Anglican Church its Common Book of Prayer which is used today.
I liked this book for the simple and clear writing and how Williams was able to write about complex issues in a way that I understood. I also appreciate this book because it was a helpful reminder of a critical period in Western History and Christianity.
I gave this book a four-star rating on Goodreads.
Note: I received a galley copy of this book in exchange for a review from the publisher via Net Galley. I was not required to write a positive review.